« НазадПродовжити »
he sold the copyright in 1781, until which time he was accustomed to publish upon his own account. But the true account of the copyright of the essay is stated by Mr. Henry G. Bohn in his pamphlet on the “ Question of Unreciprocated Foreign Copyright in Great Britain”:—“De Lolme,” says Mr. Bohn, “finding his work approved, set about translating it into English, which translation was not published till five years after the French work, viz. in June, 1775. In the meantime two London booksellers had procured a translation and were on the eve of publishing it, but consented to sell it to De Lolme, who paid them ten pounds, in order,' to use his own words, to engage them to drop the undertaking. He afterwards published his work on joint profits with a bookseller; and there seems little doubt but this very translation is the one he used, the language of the work being very superior to his own preface, or to anything else he afterwards wrote. In his preliminary essay he congratulates himself that he was allowed to sell and profit by his book without molestation. It seems, therefore, that unless he had bought up and made terms with the booksellers who had projected the translation, he would have had no benefit therein. There is no doubt but that there was a copyright in this particular translation, but had there been any temptation to make another there was nothing to prevent it. In 1781 the work was bought of De Lolme by the trade, and was thereafter published under their mutual protection as what is technically called a share book.”
After experiencing various vicissitudes of fortune-at one time mingling with the first society in the kingdom and enjoying the hospitalities of the great, or becoming comparatively rich by gambling and jobbing in the funds, and soon afterwards reduced by his extravagance and imprudence to poverty and rags — he was enabled by the benevolence of a few men who admired his genius, learning, and abilities, to return to Geneva, where he became possessed of some property, left him, it is said, by an uncle. He was about the same time elected a member of the Council of Two Hundred. He died in 1806-7 at Gawen in the canton of Geneva, aged nearly 66 years ; having, it is
said, shortly before been made a sous-prefet under the Emperor Napoleon.*
Thus lived and died John Louis De Lolme, whose genius and abilities were only obscured by his imprudent and extravagant habits. Had he returned to France after the publication of his “ Essay on the English Constitution,” so great was his reputation that if he had been free from dissipation, irregularities, and caprice, he would probably have been elevated to one or more of the most distinguished public trusts under the empire. He was well grounded in the sciences, and he was a profound mathematician. Among his favourite studies were mechanics and chemistry. Although a spendthrift he was a man of honourable principle; for on acquiring the means of payment at Geneva, he remitted the amount of the debts which he owed in England. He complained of ingratitude on the part of great men in this country; and Dr. Wolcott says, “At length, to the disgrace of our nation, this illustrious foreigner, unpatronized by our Parliamentary phalanxes, who admired his talents and quoted his political lucubrations, retired in penury from this ungrateful country, where he had moved a comet amid a cluster of political stars, to part with existence amid the frigid and inhospitable mountains of Switzerland.”
His other works were published in French and English, but they are now unknown to the public of Europe, although they may be found in some of the principal libraries. The first was a “Parallel between the English Constitution and the Ancient Government of Sweden," published in quarto in the year 1772.t His next is the “History of the Flagellants, or Memoirs of Superstition, by One who is not a Doctor of the Sorbonne," published in quarto in 1778 by Walker, and in French. Then follow “An Introduction to Defoe's History of the Union of Scotland with England,” and afterwards' “ The British Empire in Europe,” in three parts, 1787, by White; “ Thoughts on the Window Tax”
* It appears doubtful if he ever filled this office, for in Geneva it was usually believed he died in poverty.
+ In the title-page of this work De Lolme styles himself LL.D., but it has not been discovered where he obtained this degree.
(no date); “Thoughts on the Shop Tax and the Imposts on Hawkers and Pedlars."
Among his letters which appeared in the journals, Dr. Coote mentions a paper of great merit on the Question whether the Impeachment of Mr. Warren Hastings abated by the Dissolution of Parliament ?* He also published in French a work entitled “ Examen Philosophique et Politique rélatif de lois relatives aux mariage, répudiation, divorce, et séparation” (no date); and in the same language he published in 1796 an Essay, in quarto, on the Union of the Church and State of England.
His friend, Dr. Wolcot, tells us that “the figure of De Lolme was neither diminutive nor gigantic; his features were animated and pleasing; his eye was replete with splendid vivacity, and emitted rays of sagacious intelligence; his observations demonstrated a felicity of thought and a profound knowledge of men and things; his utterance, clear and unembarrassed, united to its promptness an eloquence that would have shone in our courts of judicature, or in the more important circumference of Parliamentary discussion; his manners were mild: opposed in argument, he had too much politeness to exhibit displeasure at discomfiture, too much candour to be hostile to the voice of truth : when he made his secession from company, he seldom departed without leaving behind him some gem of sentiment that, in idea, pleasingly prolonged his presence; his conversation was strikingly vivid. The stores of his mind were immense, and the course of his imagination was the flight of an eagle.”
Dr. Coote, in a sketch of De Lolme, says, “his perception was acute and his mind vigorous. Not content with a hasty or superficial observation of the characters of men and the affairs of states, he examined them with a philosophic spirit and a discerning eye. He had the art of pleasing in conversation, possessed a talent for pleasantry and humour, and has been compared to Burke for the variety of his allusions and the felicity of his illustrations.
* That no such abatement can take place by a dissolution of Parliament was settled by the Bill of Rights.
LIFE OF DE LOLME.
His general temper has been praised, but his spirit was considered by many as too high for his fortune: yet in one respect his mind assimilated to the occasional penury under which he laboured, for in his mode of living he could imitate the temperance and self-denial of a philosopher.”
The frailties of De Lolme have, however, departed with him: his genius and learning still remain in his works. England should not have allowed him to starve : for his “Essay on the English Constitution” has made many thousands acquainted with our government, our institutions, our civil and religious liberties, to those who would not otherwise have appreciated the inestimable blessings which have enabled us in defiance of the general wars produced by the French Revolution, and while other countries were subjected to the greatest domestic calamities, to preserve happiness in our homes, order in our streets, security for our persons and property on our highways and in the open country; and under which we have become the only nation in Europe which enjoys freedom of speech,-freedom of the press,-freedom from arbitrary arrests and imprisonment,freedom of political opinion,-equality before the law,—and the enjoyment of political and religious liberty..
De Lolme's “Essay on the Constitution of England” will therefore always form a standard work, so long as we enjoy the blessings of freedom and of a secure and moderate government.