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“ with good health : to enjoy but one and a half of these three is hard.” Swift tells Gay by letter:“I would fain have you get enough against you grow old to have two or three servants about you, and a convenient house. It is hard to want these subsidia senectuti, when a man grows hard to please, and few people care whether he be pleased or not,” For the Dean of St. Patrick's was not the man to forget the riches of which David died full, as a leading clause in the subsidia senectutithe things which should accompany old age, and support, sustain, solace it. Not that he underrated the other clauses. He wrote feelingly in his fragment of a History of England, when he said of King Stephen, after the loss of his son Eustace, “He was now in the decline of his age, decayed in his health, forsaken by his friends, who, since the death of Eustace, fell daily from him”; albeit
“ Time had not yet so dried that blood of his,
Nor age so eat up his invention,
To quit him of them throughly," should they either cross him too far or slight him too much.
Happy the moribund monarch that cherishes no faintest envy of his heir. Happy the David that is more than resigned to resign sceptre and sway to a beloved Solomon. For in
of an English Opium-eater, whose “splendid villa of Mendip Lodge” excited the admiring curiosity of his friends. Why should the D.D., then so old a man, spend his time in creating a show box? Well, he answered, precisely because he was old. He was naturally of a gloomy turn, and was convinced that we English, constitutionally haunted by melancholy, are apt to encourage it by the gloomy air of the mansions we inhabit. To young Thomas de Quincey he said: “Your fortunate age, my friend, can dispense with such aids : ours require continual influxes of pleasure through the senses, in order to cheat the stealthy advances of old age, and to beguile us of our sadness. Gaiety, the riant style in everything, is what we old men
fulness of days, or when the days of his reign and of his life are fulfilled, David must go hence and be no more seen, while Solomon his son shall reign in his stead. The king is dead ; long live the king.1
It is a commonplace in all royal chronicles, from the Books of the Chronicles downward, that, this king dead, this other reigns in his place. It is the old version of the epigrammatic French formula, conventionally a lamentation and a gratulation in one and the same breath, “ Le Roi est mort; Vive le Roi." King David died in a good old age, and Solomon his son reigned in his stead. Aņon the time comes for the chronicler to record, that Solomon slept with his fathers, and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead. Verses with the same scope throng upon the reader. “So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David ; and Asa his son reigned in his stead.” “And Asa slept with his fathers; . .. and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.” “Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers; ... and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.” Joash is slain, and Amaziah his son reigns in his stead. Uzziah sleeps with his fathers, and his sceptre is his son's, Jotham. Jotham dead, Ahaz his son is king. Ahaz gone, Hezekiah his son begins to reign. The demise of the crown to Manasseh involves the sway of a king not yet in his teens; but Manasseh reigns for all his being but twelve years old, and reigns for fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And then the trite sequel has its way: “So Manasseh slept with his fathers; ... and Amon his son reigned in his stead.” Dead is the king, and gone ; long live the king that is new come!
What Ross adds to Northumberland's news, in Shakspeare's Richard II., aptly expresses the rule of record :
1 Referring to the celebrated French phrase, Mr. Freeman observes, in one of his historical essays, that it was through the practice of crowning the king's son in his father's lifetime that the French crown became more strictly hereditary than any other. Though one king was dead, there was already another king ready crowned and anointed; and for more than three hundred years there was always a son thus ready to succeed his father.
“ North. Well, lords, the Duke of Lancaster is dead.
Ross. And living too; for now his son is duke.” Or one might apply, with a sufficiently wrenched or wrested meaning, what York says in the same play :
" Com'st thou to me because the king is hence ?
Why, foolish boy, the king is left behind.” Over dying, dying, now dead King John, Salisbury utters the lament, “But now a king—now thus !” and Prince Henry takes up the moral, and adds, “Even so must I run on, and even so stop.” The courtier's moral is set forth by Buckingham in a later tragedy:
• You cloudy princes, and heart-sorrowing peers,
That bear this mutual heavy load of moan, ...
We are to reap the harvest of his son.” The sun has set, but no night has set in : Sol occubuit, nox nulla secuta est. Camden ascribes the flattering phrase to Giraldus, as referring to the succession of Richard on the death of Henry I. It is with a line of kings as with the ten thousand chosen Persians of old time, who were styled the Immortals, 1 because whoever of them died, whether in battle or in bed, had his place immediately supplied; and thus their number? was invariably the same. Berkeley, in Hyperion, quotes the timetried Italian proverb, “ The king never dies," and then relates of the court of Naples, that when the dead body of a king lies in state his dinner is carried up to him as usual, the court physician tasting it to see that it is not poisoned; the servants
? Readers of Tasso may remember the so called Immortal Squadron of the Jerusalem Delivered:
“ Immortal called is that band of right,
For of that number never wanteth one,
Steps in, when any man is dead or gone." 2 So with the Forty of the French Academy, nicknamed the Immortals for the same reason.
So again with the Everlasting Club, celebrated in the Spectator. “It is a maxim in this club that the steward never dies ; for as they succeed one another by way of rotation, no man is to quit the great elbow chair till his successor is in a readiness to fill it," etc.
then bearing it out again, with the gravely uttered announce ment, “The king does not dine to-day.” So when the body of the emperor Constantine, adorned, in Gibbon's phrase, “with the vain symbols of greatness, the purple and diadem," was laid on the golden bed in a splendidly furnished and illuminated room,--the forms of the court were strictly maintained; and every day, at the appointed hours, the principal officers of the state, the army, and the household, approaching the person of their sovereign with bended knees and a composed countenance, offered their respectful homage as seriously as if he had been still alive.
At the accession of the younger Justin, the proclamation of equal justice is said by Gibbon to have indirectly condemned the partiality of the former reigns. “Ye blues, Justinian is no more! ye greens, he is still alive !” There is about the proclamation a full-mouthed (and ore rotundo) flavour of Le roi est mort, vive le roi. The French formality of this verbal enunciation was last observed at the death of Lewis the Eighteenth, when at daybreak the chief physician undrew the curtains to feel his royal patient's pulse, which was just ceasing to beat. Sir Archibald Alison, in his narrative of the incident, does not give us to understand that the pulse had quite done beating,
1 “From motives of policy, this theatrical representation was for some time continued ; nor could flattery neglect the opportunity of remarking, that Constantine alone, by the peculiar indulgence of Heaven, had reigned after his death.”—Gibbon, Roman Empire, chap. xviii.
The chief functionary in Thibet, we are told, in theory never dies : his gifted soul passes immediately to his successor,—the favoured gainer by this transmigration being presumably indicated to the priests by a variety of signs.
Not until Lord Elgin had returned to China from Japan did he learn that the Tycoon whom he had supposed himself to be visiting and negotiating with, had, in fact, died about the time of his arrival in Yedo. “Either for the sake of ensuring quiet succession to his successor, or for some other reason of state convenance or convenience peculiar to Japan, the Tycoon always disappears nayboen, or incognito, from the scenes of this busy world.” And it appears to have been uncertain whether even his plenipotentiaries really knew "under which king” they were treating with Lord Elgin when they apologised for his majesty's indisposition,—the actual date of his decease remaining for years afterwards still a dubious secret, if not so remaining to this day.
when, “The king is dead," said the physician, bowing to the Count of Artois,—“Long live the king!” How often had that formula been more or less formally recited, from the royal demisel celebrated by Béranger, downwards —
"Or il meurt, son fils lui succède, 2
Et Turpin répète au convoi :
Vite qu'on l'enterre, et vive le roi !" Lewis the Eighteenth had been himself studious to conceal his most dangerous symptoms from his attendants. His view of the case, however, found this verbal expression, which is quite a “various reading” of the textus receptus : “A king of
1 Using that term as not abusing it. The penny-a-liners abuse it sadly; in their hands it has lost its meaning, as so many other words have done, are doing, and will do.
2 Of the house of Vipont, as commemorated in a well known fiction, this account is given, that, looking back through ages, it seems as if the house of Vipont were one continuous living idiosyncrasy, having in its progressive development a connected unity of thought and action, so that through all the changes of its outward form it had been moved and guided by the same single spirit. “Le roi est mort—vive le roi ! A Vipont dies—live the Vipont !” When Simon the Glover, in Scott's tale of fair Perth, asks in alarm, “How? is the captain of the Clan Quhele dead ?” “The captain of the Clan Quhele never dies,” is the clansman's answer ; “but Gilchrist Maclan died twenty hours since, and his son Eachin Maclan is now captain.” The funeral feast is blended with that given at the "inauguration” of the young chief. The barge which has just borne the dead to the grave now conveys the young Maclan to his new command ; and the minstrels send forth the gayest notes to gratulate Eachin's succession, as. they had lately sounded their most doleful dirges when carrying Gilchrist to his grave. From the attendant flotilla ring notes of triumph and jubilee, instead of those yells of lamentation which had so lately disturbed the echoes of Loch Tay; and a thousand voices hail the youthful chieftain, as he stands on the poop, in the flower of early manhood, beauty, and activity, on the very spot where his father's corpse had so lately been extended, and surrounded by triumphant friends as that had been by desolate mourners.
Barry Cornwall professes to be offering us a faint impression of Hogarth in the narrative poem entitled, after him, the Rake's Progress, which opens to the tune of Le pere est mort, vive le fils !
“The Old Man is dead-toll heavily, ye bells !