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But see, the sun speeds on his western path
SIR THOMAS BROWNE. — 1682. To glad the nations with expected light.” * This translation is by our own emi
DR. JOHNSON called attention to a nent historian, Prescott, who first called
tract of Sir Thomas Browne entitled, attention to this testimony,t which is not
“A Prophecy concerning the Future mentioned even by Humboldt. Leigh State of Several Nations," where the Hunt referred to it at a later day.I famous author “plainly discovers his Pulci was born in Florence, 1431, and expectation to be the same with that died there, 1487, five years before Co- entertained later with more confidence lumbus sailed, so that he was not aided by Dr. Berkeley, that America will be by any rumor of the discovery which the seat of the fifth empire.” * The he so distinctly predicts.
tract is vague, but prophetic. Passing from the discovery, it may Sir Thomas Browne was born 19th not be uninteresting to collect some of October, 1605, and died 19th October, the prophetic voices about the future
1682. His tract was published, two of America, the “All-Hail Hereafter” of years after his death, in a collection our continent. They will have a lesson of Miscellanies, edited by Dr. Tenison. also. Seeing what has been already As a much-admired author, some of fulfilled, we may better judge what to whose writings belong to our English expect. I shall set them forth in the classics, his prophetic prolusions are order of time, prefacing each prediction not unworthy of notice. They are with an account of the author sufficient founded on verses entitled “ The Prophto explain its origin and character. If ecy,” purporting to have been sent to some are already familiar, others are lit- him by a friend. Among these are the tle known. Brought together into one following : body, on the principle of our national
“When New England shall trouble New Spain, Union, E pluribus unum, they must
When Jamaica shall be lady of the isles and the give new confidence in the destinies of the Republic.
When Spain shall be in America hid,
And Mexico shall prove a Madrid ; Of course I shall embrace only what
When A frica shall no more sell out their Wacks has been said seriously by those whose To make slaves and drudges to the American words are important; not an oracular response, which may receive a double
When America shall cease to send out its treasinterpretation, like the deceptive replies to Cræsus and to Pyrrhus; and not a But employ it at home in American pleasure;
When the New World shall the Old invade, saying, such as is described by Sir
Vor count them their lords but their fellows in Thomas Browne when he remarks, in
trade; his “Christian Morals," that “many positions seem quodlibetically consti
Then think strange things have come to light,
Whereof but few have had a foresight." + tuted, and, like a Delphian blade, will cut both ways.” § Men who have lived Some of these words are striking, esmuch and felt strongly see further than pecially when we consider their early others. Their vision penetrates the date. The author of the “Religio Medifuture. Second sight is little more than ci” seems in the main to accept the clearness of sight. Milton tells us, prophecy. In a commentary on each " That old experience does attain
verse he seeks to explain it. New To something like prophetic strain."
England is “ that thriving colony which Sometimes this strain is attained even hath so much increased in his day"; in youth.
its people are already “industrious,” * Pulci, Morgante Maggiore, Canto XXV. st.
and when they have so far increased † Prescott, Ferdinand and Isabella, Vol. II.
“that the neighboring country will not pp. 117, 118.
contain them, they will range still farLeigh Hunt, Stories from the Italian Poets, p. 171. $ Browne, Works, Pickering's edition, Vol. IV. * Johnson, Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
† Brown, Works, Vol. IV. pp. 232, 233.
ther, and be able in time to set forth
BISHOP BERKELEY. — 1726. great armies, seek for new possessions, or make considerable and conjoined mi- It is pleasant to think that Berkeley, grations.” The verse about Africa will whose beautiful verses predicting the be fulfilled “when African countries shall future of America are so often quoted, no longer make it a common trade to was so sweet and charming a character. sell away their people.” And this may Atterbury wrote of him, “So much uncome to pass “whenever they shall be derstanding, knowledge, innocence, and well civilized and acquainted with arts humility I should have thought conand affairs sufficient to employ people fined to angels, had I never seen this in their countries.” It would also come gentleman." Swift said, “ He is an abto pass “if they should be converted solute philosopher with regard to monto Christianity, but especially into Ma- ey, title, and power.” Pope let drop hometism ; for then they would nev- a tribute which can never die, when he er sell those of their religion to be said, slaves unto Christians." The verse
“To Berkeley every virtue under Heaven." about America is expounded as fol- Such a person was naturally a seer. lows :
He is compendiously called an Irish "That is, when America shall be bet- prelate and philosopher; he was born ter civilized, new policied, and divided in Kilkenny, 1684, and died in Oxford, between great princes, it may come to 1753. He began as a philosopher. While pass that they will no longer suffer their still young, he wrote his famous treatise treasure of gold and silver to be sent on “ The Principles of Human Knowlout to maintain the luxury of Europe edge,” in which he denies the existence and other ports; but rather employ it of matter, insisting that it is only an to their own advantages, in great ex- impression produced on the mind by ploits and undertakings, magnificent Divine power. After travel for several structures, wars, or expeditions of their years on the Continent, and fellowship
with the witty and learned at home, The other verse, on the invasion of
among whom were Addison, Swift, the Old World by the New, is thus ex- Pope, Garth, and Arbuthnot, he conplained :
ceived the project of educating the abo“That is, when America shall be so rigines of America, which was set forth well peopled, civilized, and divided into in a tract, published in 1725, entitled, kingdoms, they are like to have so little “Scheme for Converting the Savage regard of their originals as to acknowl- Americans to Christianity by a College edge no subjection unto them; they may to be erected in the Summer Islands, also have a distinct commerce them- otherwise called the Isles of Bermuda.” selves, or but independently with those Persuaded by his benevolence, the minof Europe, and may hostilely and pirat- isters promised twenty thousand pounds, ically assault them, even as the Greek and there were several private subscripand Roman colonies after a long time tions to promote what was called by the dealt with their original countries.” | king“so pious an undertaking." Berke
That these speculations should arrest ley possessed already a deanery in Irethe attention of Dr. Johnson is some- land, with one thousand pounds a year. thing. They seem to have been in part Turning away from this residence, and fulfilled. An editor remarks that, “To refusing to be tempted by an Engjudge from the course of events since lish mitre, offered by the queen, he Sir Thomas wrote, we may not unrea-. set sail for Rhode Island, “which lay sonably look forward to their more com- nearest Bermuda,” where, after a teplete fulfilment.” I
dious passage of five months, he ar
rived, 230 January, 1729. Here he lived * Browne, Works, Vol. IV. p. 236.
on a farm back of Newport, having 1 Ibid. Ibid., p. 231, note.
been, according to his own report, “ at
great expense for land and stock.” In seemed to be revealed to him, and he familiar letters he has given his impres- wrote the famous poem, the only one sion of this place, famous since for fash- to be found among his works, entitled, ion. “ The climate," he says, “is like “ Verses on the Prospect of Planting that of Italy, and not at all colder in the Arts and Learning in America.” * The winter than I have known it everywhere date may be fixed at 1726. Such a north of Rome. This island is pleas- poem was an historic event. I give antly laid out in hills and vales and ris- the first and last stanzas. ing grounds, hath plenty of excellent
“ The Muse, disgusted at an age and clime springs and fine rivulets and many de- Barren of every glorious theme, lightful landscapes of rocks and prom
In distant lands 110w waits a better time,
Producing subjects worthy fame, ontories and adjacent lands. The town of Newport contains about six “Westward the course of empire takes its way; thousand souls, and is the most thriv
The first four acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day ; ing, flourishing place in all America
Time's noblest offspring is the last." for its bigness. It is very pretty and
It is difficult to exaggerate the value pleasantly situated. I was never more agreeably surprised than at the first
of these verses, which have been so sight of the town and its harbor." *
often quoted as to become one of the He seems to have been contented here, tics. There is nothing from any oracle,
commonplaces of literature and poliand when his companions went to Boston stayed at home, “ preferring,” as he
there is very little from any prophwrote, “quiet and solitude to the noise ecy, which can compare with them. of a great town, notwithstanding all
The biographer of Berkeley, who wrote the solicitations that have been used to
in the last century, was very cautious, draw us thither.” |
when, after calling them “a beautiful The money which he had expected, copy of verses," he says that “another especially from the ministry, failed, and age will, perhaps, acknowledge the old after waiting in vain expectation two conjunction of the prophetic character
with that of the poet to have again years and a half, he returned to Eng
The vates of the Roland, leaving an infant son buried in the yard of Trinity Church, and bestow
mans was poet and prophet; and such ing upon Yale College a library of eight
was Berkeley. hundred and eighty volumes, as well as
The sentiment which prompted the his estate in Rhode Island. During his prophetic, verses of the good Bishop residence at Newport he had preached
was widely diffused; or, perhaps, every Sunday, and was indefatigable in
was a natural prompting. I Of this
an illustration is afforded in the life of pastoral duties, besides meditating, if not composing, “The Minute Philoso" Benjamin West. On his visit to Rome pher," which was published shortly af
in 1760, the young artist encountered ter his return.
a famous improvvisatore, who, on learnHe had not been forgotten at home ing that he was an American come to during his absence ; and shortly after study the fine arts in Rome, at once his return he became Bishop of Cloyne, ration, and to the music of his guitar.
addressed him with the ardor of inspiin which place he was most exemplary, After singing the darkness which for devoting himself to his episcopal duties, to the education of his children, and
so many ages veiled America from the the pleasures of composition.
eyes of science, and also the fulness It was while occupied with his plan America had been raised from the deep
of time when the purposes for which of a college, especially as a nursery for the Colonial churches, shortly before
would be manifest, he hailed the youth sailing for America, that the future * Berkeley, Works, Vol. II. p. 443.
+ Ibid., Vol. I., Life prefixed, p. 15. * Derkeley, Works, Vol. I., Life prefixed, p. 53. Grahame, History of the United States, V.I. IV.
pp. 136, 448.
+ Ibid., p. 55.
before him as an instrument of Heaven America is to give the law to the rest to raise there a taste for those arts which of the world."* elevate man, and an assurance of refuge The traveller is none the less an auto science and knowledge, when, in the thority for the prevalence of this sentiold age of Europe, they should have for- ment because he declares it “illusory saken her shores. Then, in the spirit and fallacious,” and records his convicof prophecy, he sang:
tion that “ America is formed for hap* But all things of heavenly origin, piness, but not for empire.” Happy like the glorious sun, move westward; America! What empire can compare and truth and art have their periods of with happiness! But, to make amends shining and of night. Rejoice then, 0 for this admission, the jealous traveller, venerable Rome, in thy divine destiny; in his edition of 1796, after the adopfor though darkness overshadow thy tion of our Constitution, announces that seats, and though thy mitred head must " the present union of American States descend into the dust, thy spirit im- will not be permanent, or last for any mortal and undecayed already spreads considerable length of time,” and “that towards a new world." *
that extensive country must necessarily John Adams, in his old age, dwelling be divided into separate states and on the reminiscences of early life, re- kingdoms.” † Thus far the Union has cords that nothing was more ancient stood against all shocks, foreign or in his memory than the observation domestic; and the prophecy of Berkethat arts, sciences, and empire had ley is more than ever in the popular travelled westward, and in conversa- mind. tion it was always added, since he was a child, that their next leap would be
TURGOT. – 1750. over the Atlantic into America.” With the assistance of an octogenarian neigh- AMONG the illustrious
of bor, he recalled a couplet that had been France there are few equal to that repeated with rapture as long as he of Turgot. He was a philosopher could remember :
among ministers, and a minister among “ The Eastern nations sink, their glory ends, philosophers. Malesherbes said of
And empire rises where the sun descends." him, that he had the heart of L'Hôpital . It was imagined by his neighbor that and the head of Bacon. Such a person these lines came from some of our ear- in public affairs was an epoch for his ly pilgrims, — by whom they had been country and for the human race. Had “ inscribed, or rather drilled, into a rock his spirit prevailed, the bloody drama on the shore of Monument Bay in our of the French Revolution would not old Colony of Plymouth." +
have occurred, or it would at least Another illustration of this same have been postponed. I think it could sentiment will be found in Burnaby's not have occurred. He was a good “ Travels through the Middle Settle- man, who sought to carry into governments of North America, in 1759 and ment the rules of goodness.
His ca1760,” a work which was first published reer from beginning to end was one in 1775.
In his reflections at the close continuous beneficence. Such a nature of his book the traveller thus re- was essentially prophetic, for he dismarks:
cerned the natural laws by which the “An idea, strange as it is visionary, future is governed. has entered into the minds of the gen- He was of an ancient Norman family, erality of mankind, that empire is travel whose name suggests the god Thor; he ling westward: and every one is looking was born at Paris, 1727, and died, 1781. forward with eager and impatient ex- Being a younger son, he was destined pectation to that destined moment when for the Church, and commenced his * Galt, Life of West, Vol. I. pp. 116, 117.
* Burnaby, Travels, p. 115. John Adams, Works, Vol. IX. Pp. 597 – 599.
# Ibid., Preface, p. 21.
studies as an ecclesiastic at the an- to follow him in saying, “ The glory of cient Sorbonne. Before registering an arms cannot compare with the happiirrevocable vow, he announced his re- ness of living in peace.” He anticipugnance to the profession, and turned pated our definition of a republic, when aside to other pursuits. Law, litera- he said “it was formed upon the ture, science, humanity, government, equality of all the citizens,” – good now engaged his attention.
words, not yet practically verified in sociated himself with the writers of all our States. Such a government the Encyclopædia, and became one of he, living under a monarchy, bravely its contributors. In other writings pronounced the best of all; but he he vindicated especially the virtue of added that he “had never known a toleration. Not merely a theorist, he constitution truly republican." This soon arrived at the high post of in- was in 1778. With similar plainness tendant of Limousin, where he devel- he announced that “the destruction of oped a remarkable talent for adminis- the Ottoman empire would be a real tration, and a sympathy with the peo- good for all the nations of Europe," ple. He introduced the potato into and — he added still further – for huthat province. But he continued to manity also, because it would involve employ his pen, especially on questions the abolition of negro slavery, and beof political economy, which he treated cause to strip “our oppressors is not as a master. On the accession of Louis to attack, but to vindicate, the comXVI. he was called to the cabinet as mon rights of humanity.” With such Minister of the Marine, and shortly thoughts and aspirations, the prophet afterwards he gave up this place to be died. the head of the finances. Here he be- But I have no purpose of writing a gan a system of rigid economy, founded biography, or even a character. All on a curtailment of expenses and an that I intend is an introduction to enlargement of resources. The latter Turgot's prophetic words relating to was obtained especially by a removal America. When only twenty-three of disabilities from trade, whether at years of age, while still an ecclesiastic home or abroad, and the substitution at the Sorbonne, the future minister of a single tax on land for a complex delivered a discourse on the Progress multiplicity of taxes. The enemies of of the Human Mind, in which, after de-, progress were too strong at that time, scribing the commercial triumphs of and the king dismissed the reformer. the ancient Phænicians, covering the Good men in France became anxious coasts of Greece and Asia with their for the future ; Voltaire, in his distant colonies, he lets drop these remarkable retreat, gave a shriek of despair, and words :addressed to Turgot some remarkable “Les colonies sont comme des fruits verses entitled Épitre à un Homme. qui ne tiennent à l'arbre que jusqu'à Worse still, the good edicts of the min- leur maturité; devenues suffisantes à ister were rescinded, and society was elles-mêmes, elles firent ce que fit depuis put back.
Carthage, - ce que fera un jour l'AméThe discarded minister gave himself rique.” * to science, literature, and friendship. “ Colonies are like fruits, which hold He welcomed Franklin to France and to the tree only until their maturity; to immortality in a Latin verse of mar- when sufficient for theneselves, they did vellous felicity. He was already the that which Carthage afterwards did, companion of the liberal spirits who that which some day America will do." were doing so much for knowledge On this most suggestive declaration, and for reform. By writing and by conversation he exercised a constant * Turgot, (1:47*res, Tome II. p. 66. influence. His “ideas” seem to illu
Condorcet, (Eures, Tome IV., l'ie ite Targit;
Louis Blanc, Ilistrire dla Révolution Française, mine the time. We may be content Tome I. pp. 527 - 533.