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determined to discover, however, what had become of him, and accordingly he paid a visit to the executioner. Assuming an official tone, he threw the fellow off his guard, and bade him answer without equivocation the questions he had come to put to him. "Can you," he said, "inflict the knout so as to occasion death in a very short time V "Yes," was the answer. "In how short a time V continued the questioner. "In a day or two." "Have you ever so inflicted it?"—"I have." "Have you lately ?"—" Yes; the last man who was punished by my hands with the knout died of the punishment." "In what manner do you thus render it mortal ?"— "By one or two strokes on the sides, which carry off large pieces of flesh." "Do you receive orders thus to inflict the punishment?"—"I do." So much for the Russian boast, and Howard's mode of operation.
Through Russia and Poland, and then home byway of Prussia, Hanover, Holland, and the Austrian Netherlands. In 1783 Howard quitted Falmouth for Spain and Portugal. These countries by no means suffered in comparison with England. The prisons in both were clean, imprisonment for debt had been abolished, the sexes were separated, and criminals alone suffered detention. Returning to England after this tour, Howard published the result of his latest investigations in a second appendix to his great work. Twelve years had passed since he first gave himself up to the absorbing pursuit of his life, and he had taken in turn every country of Europe. He had visited and minutely inspected the gaols of all the chief cities of the continent, he had travelled upwards of 42,000 miles, and he had expended on his travels, and in relieving the poor, the
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sick, and the friendless, upwards of 30,000?. In his 60th year Howard might fairly claim to take his rest. The work, however, that he was born to do was not accomplished.
Towards the end of November, 1785, Howard, anxious, if possible, to discover a remedy for the plague, to which so much of human life was annually sacrificed, quitted his native shores again. His plan was to visit Marseilles, Leghorn, Venice, and Valetta; and then boldly to encounter the scourge itself in the cities of Smyrna and Constantinople. The French, remembering the publication of the pamphlet on the Bastile, forbade his appearance upon the soil of France. Disregarding the interdict, Howard disguised himself and entered Paris. Upon the night of his arrival he was roused from his bed by the police. A lucky thought enabled him to dispose of his visitors for a few minutes, and he seized the opportunity to escape from the capital and to make the best of his way to Marseilles. There he contrived to obtain admission into the lazaretto, and to secure the information for which he came. From Smyrna, where the plague was raging, the resolute pilgrim took his passage to the Adriatic by an infected vessel, with a foul bill of health, in order that he might personally be subjected to the strictest quarantine, and with his own eyes inspect the smallest details of the lazaretto. The sufferings of Howard, his privations and perils whilst in quarantine for 40 days, were fearful; still worse, while he lay consumed by a scorching fever, news came to him that his country was about to raise a monument to his honour, and that his only son, after a short career of the wildest dissipation, had given evidences of downright insanity. His martyrdom had commenced. Chained to his cell, unable to move, even if liberty were accorded him, the afflicted man wrote to his friends in England to take what care they could of his boy until he should return, and as they loved him to prevent the erection of a monument which could not be raised without occasioning him the deepest distress. When Howard finally recovered, and came home again, his first step, after he had satisfied himself of the nature of his son's malady, was to write to the public papers a declaration of his repugnance to the scheme that was intended to do him honour, and an earnest request that no further steps should be taken in the business. The money subscribed for the statue was accordingly returned to the subscribers, or spent in the liberation of poor debtors from gaol.
We have said that sickness and misfortune accompanied John Howard from the cradle to the grave. Whilst he lay in the former, his mother died and left him a sickly child. As he stood on the verge of the latter, his son, the slave of debauchery and vice, perished a raving madman. Let us not stay to make the painful inquiry how far the exertions of the philanthropist may have interfered with the office of the father. It is enough to say, that bereft of domestic happiness, Howard took his last journey, knowing it to be the last. He visited Cardington, provided for the wants of the poor in that neighbourhood, made his will, and parted with his humble friends as a father from his children. His intention was to extend his inquiries on the subject of the plague, and to proceed through Holland, Germany, and Russia to Turkey, Anatolia, Egypt, and the
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states of Barbary. He departed on the 5th of July, 1789, and got as far as Cherson, in Kussian Tartaiy. There, surrounded by strangers, far away from his country and his home, in the prosecution of his benevolent work, he caught a virulent and infectious fever, and expired. He had marked a spot near the village of Dauphiny, in which, as soon as he was attacked, he expressed a wish to be buried. "Lay me quietly in the earth," he said to one at his bedside, "place a sundial over my grave, and let me be forgotten." He died on the 20th of January, 1790, in the 64th year of his age; a benefactor of his kind whose deeds still exercise a mighty influence in the world—a man who had no thought of himself save inasmuch as he could minister to the welfare of his fellows, and who had no thought for them except in obedience to the supreme commandment of God. Not a word of comment need be added. The tale speaks for itself.
Sept. 11, 1849.
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
The life of Robert Southey is a picture the very first sight of which elicits boundless satisfaction; frequent and close inspection qualifies delight; a last and parting look would seem to justify the early admiration. The faults of the subject may therefore be considered secondary and accidental; its merits of the highest order and unimpeachable. So fine a form, perhaps, is seldom disfigured by such uncouth drapery. The vices of Southey's character are the blunderings of the journeyman; its virtues are the perfect work of Nature and of Genius.
We may be justly proud of our late Laureate. Literature does not every day present us with so worthy a son; students who forsake the trodden paths of life to earn their difficult crust by patient spinning of the brain, cannot find a more illustrious example. The pursuit of letters was the business of Southey's life; it was also the first and last joy of his heart. Rather than not at intervals breathe the pure air and partake of the golden light that await the worshipper on the topmost heights of Parnassus, he condescended to work as a bondman, through winter and summer from year to year, on its barren sides. Litera