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ton, living as a gentleman of independent property and quiet retired habits, and much respected by a small circle of acquaintances, chiefly dissenters. The state of his health, however, was such as to require constant care. His medical attendants, thinking him liable to consumption, recommended to him a very rigorous regimen in diet, which“ laid the foundation,” says one of his biographers, “ of that extraordinary abstemiousness and indifference to the gratifications of the palate which ever after so much distinguished him.” This condition of his health obliged him also to have recourse to frequent changes of air and scene. Newington, however, was his usual place of residence. Here, having experienced much kindness and attention during a very severe attack of illness from his landlady, Mrs Sarah Loidoire, an elderly widow of small property, he resolved to marry her; and although she remonstrated with him upon the impropriety of the step, considering their great disparity of ages--he being in his twenty-fifth, and she in her fifty-second year--the marriage was concluded in 1752. Nothing but the supposition that he was actuated by gratitude, can account for this singular step in Mr Howard's life. The lady, it appears, was not only twice as old as himself, but also very sickly; and that no reasons of interest can have influenced him, is evident, as well from the fact that she was poor in comparison with himself, as from the circumstance of his immediately making over the whole of her little property to her sister. Mr Howard seems to have lived very happily with his wife till her death shortly afterwards, in November 1755.
On his wife's death, he resolved to leave England for another tour on the continent. In his former tour he had visited most of the places of usual resort in France and Italy; during the present, therefore, he intended to pursue some less common route. After some deliberation, he determined to sail first to Portugal, in order to visit its capital, Lisbon, then in ruins from the effects of that tremendous earthquake the news of which had appalled Europe. Nothing is more interesting than to observe the effects which great public events of a calamitous nature produce on different minds; indeed one of the most instructive ways of contrasting men's dispositions, is to consider how they are severally affected by some stupendous occurrence. It is to be regretted, therefore, that we are not informed more particularly by Howard's biographers of the reasons which determined him to visit the scene of the awful catastrophe which had recently occurred in Portugal—whether they were motives of mere curiosity, or whether they partook of that desire to place himself in contact with misery, that passion for proximity to wretchedness which formed so large an element in Howard's character, and marked him out from the first as predestined for a career of philanthropy.
Before leaving England to proceed on his tour to the south of Europe, Mr Howard broke up his establishment at Stoke New
ington, and, with that generosity which was so natural to him, made a distribution among the poorer people of the neighbourhood of those articles of furniture for which he had now no neeessity. The old gardener already mentioned used to relate that his dividend of the furniture on this occasion consisted of a bedstead and bedding complete, a table, six new chairs, and a scythe. A few weeks after this distribution of his furniture, Mr Howard set sail in the Hanover, a Lisbon packet. Unfortunately, the vessel never reached her destination, being captured during her voyage by a French privateer. The crew and passengers were treated with great cruelty by their captors, being kept for forty hours under hatches without bread or water. They were carried into Brest, and confined all together in the castle of that place as prisoners of war. Here their sufferings were increased; and after lying for many hours in their dungeon without the slightest nourishment, they had a joint of mutton thrown in amongst them, which, not having a knife to cut it, they were obliged to tear with their hands, and gnaw like dogs. For nearly a week they lay on straw in their damp and unwholesome dungeon, after which they were separated, and severally disposed of. Mr Howard was removed first to Morlaix, and afterwards to Carpaix, where he was allowed for two months to go about on parolean indulgence usually accorded to officers only, but which Mr Howard's manners and behaviour procured for him from the authorities. He was even furnished, it is said, with the means of returning to England, that he might negotiate his own exchange for some French naval officer, a prisoner of war in the hands of the English. This exchange was happily accomplished, and Mr Howard was once more at liberty, and in England. His short captivity in France, however, was not without its good effects, by interesting him strongly in the condition of those unfortunate men who, chancing like himself to be captured at sea during war, were languishing in dungeons both in France and England, and atoning by their sufferings for the mutual injuries or discords of the nations to which they belonged. Mr Howard's imprisonment may be said to have first given a specific direction to his philanthropic enthusiasm. In his “ Account of the State of Prisons," published a considerable time afterwards, he subjoins the following note to a passage in which he contrasts the favourable treatment which prisoners of war usually receive, with the cruelties which domestic prisoners experience :“I must not be understood here to mean a compliment to the French. How they then treated English prisoners of war I knew by experience in 1756, when a Lisbon packet in which I went passenger, in order to make the tour of Portugal, was taken by a French privateer. Before we reached Brest, I suffered the extremity of thirst, not having, for above forty hours, one drop of water, nor hardly a morsel' of food. In the castle of Brest I lay for six nights upon straw; and observing how cruelly my countrymen were used
there and at Morlaix, whither I was carried next, during the two months I was at Carpaix upon parole I corresponded with the English prisoners at Brest, Morlaix, and Dinnan. At the last of these towns were several of our ship's crew and my servant. I had sufficient evidence of their being treated with such barbarity, that many hundreds had perished, and that thirty-six were buried in a hole at Dinnan in one day. When I came to England, still on parole, I made known to the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen the sundry particulars, which gained their attention and thanks. Remonstrance was made to the French court; our sailors had redress; and those who were in the three prisons mentioned above were brought home in the first cartel-ships. Perhaps what I suffered on this occasion increased my sympathy with the unhappy people whose case is the subject of this book.” In Mr Howard's conduct, as here described by himself, we discern the real characteristic of active philanthropy. How few men are there who, like him, would have turned a personal misfortune to such good account; and who, while enduring sufferings themselves, would have occupied their thoughts with the means of putting an end, for all time coming, to the system which permitted such sufferings! Most men would have occupied the time of their imprisonment with sighs and lamentations, and once at liberty, they would have returned gleefully to the enjoyment of their homes, without troubling themselves about their less fortunate fellow-sufferers whom they had left behind, or at least without conceiving that their exertions could do anything for their benefit. But it is the characteristic of men like Howard, when once their attention is called to a wrong, not to rest until they have seen it rectified.
PRIVATE AND DOMESTIC CHARACTER-CONDUCT AS A
On his return to England, Mr Howard went to reside on the small estate of Cardington, near Bedford, which had been left him by his father, and which he had increased by the purchase of an additional farm. He appears to have resided here for the next two years, leading the life of a quiet country gentleman, superintending his farms, and earning the respect and good-will of all the people in the neighbourhood, by his attention to the comforts of his tenants, and his charities to the poor. It was during this period also, on the 13th of May 1756, that he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; an honour which did not necessarily imply that he possessed reputation as a scientific man, or even as a man of brilliant abilities, but only that he was a gentleman of respectability, who, like many others of his class, took an interest in scientific pursuits. Howard's attainments in science do not seem to have ever been very great, and the only point of his character which connected him particularly with a scientific body, was his taste for meteorological observations.
On the 25th of April 1758 Mr Howard contracted a second marriage with Miss Henrietta Leeds, eldest daughter of Edward Leeds, Esq. of Croxton, Cambridgeshire. The lady whom he had selected as his partner in life is described as amiable, affectionate, pious, and in everyway worthy of such a husband. Her tastes were the same as his, and she cordially seconded all his charitable plans for the assistance and relief of those who depended upon his benevolence.
For seven years Mr Howard enjoyed uninterrupted happiness in the society of his wife. During this period he resided first at Cardington, next for about three years at Watcombe in Hampshire, and latterly at Cardington again. The even tenor of his existence during these years presents few incidents worth recording. Reading, gardening, and the improvement of his grounds, occupied most of his time. His meteorological observations were likewise diligently continued; and it is mentioned, as a proof of his perseverance in whatever he undertook, that on the setting in of a frost, he used to leave his bed at two o'clock
every morning while it lasted, for the purpose of looking at a thermometer which he kept in his garden. His charities, as before, were profuse and systematic. His desire, and that of his wife, was to see all around them industrious and happy. To effect this, they used all the influence which their position as persons of property and wealth gave them over the villagers and cottagers in their neighbourhood. One of their modes of dispensing charity was to employ persons out of work in making articles of furniture or ornament; and in this way, it is said, Mrs Howard soon increased her stock of table-linen to a quantity greater than would ever be required by any household.
On the 31st of March 1765 Mrs Howard died in giving birth to son, the first and only issue of their marriage. This event was a source of poignant affliction to her husband. On the tablet which he erected to her memory in Cardington church, he caused to be inscribed the following passage from the book of Proverbs :—“She opened her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the law of kindness.” Her miniature was ever after his constant companion by sea or land; and the day of her death was observed by him annually as a day of fasting, meditation,
From the death of his wife in 1765 to the end of the year 1769, Mr Howard appears to have remained in England, and at Cardington as before, with the exception of a month or six weeks in the year 1767, which he devoted to a tour through Holland. His principal occupation during these four years was the education of his infant son. From the circumstance that this boy, when he arrived at the years of manhood, conducted himself in a profligate manner, and at last became insane, much attention has been drawn to Mr Howard's mode of educating him in his infancy; some insisting that his conduct as a parent was harsh
and injudicious, others going so far as to assert that this manwhom the world reveres as a philanthropist, and whose benevolent soul yearned for the whole human race-was in his domestic relations a narrow and unfeeling tyrant. This last assertionalthough, abstractly considered, there is nothing impossible or absurd in it, inasmuch as we may conceive such a thing as real philanthropy on the large scale conjoined with inattention to one's immediate duties as a husband or a father-appears to have absolutely no foundation whatever in Howard's case; and to have originated either in malice, or in that vulgar love of effect which delights in finding striking incongruities in the characters of great men. Nor does the other assertion that Howard's mode of educating his infant son was harsh and injudiciousappear more worthy of credit. The truth seems to be, that Howard was a kind and benevolent man, of naturally strict and methodical habits, who entertained, upon principle, high ideas of the authority of the head of a family. A friend of his relates that he often heard him tell in company, as a piece of pleasantry, that before his marriage with his second wife he made an agreement with her, that in order to prevent all those little altercations about family matters which he had observed to be the principal causes of domestic discomfort, he should always decide. Mrs Howard, he said, had cheerfully agreed to this arrangement; and it was attended with the best effects. The same principle of the supremacy of the head of a family--a principle much less powerful in society now than it was a generation or two agoguided him in his behaviour to his son. “Regarding children,” says Dr Aikin, “as creatures possessed of strong passions and desires, without reason and experience to control them, he thought that nature seemed, as it were, to mark them out as the subjects of absolute authority, and that the first and fundamental principle to be inculcated upon them was implicit and unlimited obedience.” The plan of education here described may to some appear austere and injudicious, while others will cordially approve of it, as that recommended by experience and common sense; but at all events, the charges of harshness and cruelty which some have endeavoured to found upon it are mere calumnies, refuted by the testimony of all who knew Mr Howard, and were witnesses to his affection for his son.
Sensible of the loss which the boy had sustained by the death of his mother, Mr Howard placed him, in his fifth year, under the care of a lady in whom he had confidence, who kept a boarding-school at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. This and other arrangements having been made, he went abroad on a fourth continental tour towards the end of 1769. Proceeding through the south of France, and spending a few weeks at Geneva, he visited most of the remarkable places in Italy, some of them for the second time; and returned home through Germany in the latter part of 1770, having been absent in all about twelve months.