Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 999 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
VISCOUNT STRATFORD CANNING STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE (1786-188o), British diplomatist, was born in Clement's Lane in the city of London, on the 4th of November 1786. His father, Stratford Canning, uncle of George Canning (q.v.), had been disinherited for his marriage with Mehetabel Patrick. He settled in London as a merchant. On his death, six months after the birth of his son, his widow took a house at Wanstead near Epping Forest. Stratford Canning was educated first at a dame's school at Wanstead, then at Hackney, and after 1794 at Eton. In 18o5 he was elected a scholar of King's College, Cam-bridge, but he only kept two terms, and in 1807 was appointed precis writer to the foreign office by his cousin George Canning. He received his degree in 1812, residence having been dispensed with on the ground that he was absent on the king's service. In 1807 he went as secretary to Mr Merry on a diplomatic mission to Copenhagen. In ,8o8 he was appointed first secretary to. Mr (afterwards Sir Robert) Adair, who was sent as ambassador. to Constantinople. When Mr Adair was transferred to Vienna in 181o, Canning remained at Constantinople as charge d'affaires. The British government was then in the very crisis of its strugglewith Napoleon, and it left Canning entirely to his own discretion. His principal task was to persuade the Turkish government not to show undue favour to the French privateers which swarmed in the Levant. In May; 8I2 he was able to play the part of " honest broker " in arranging the peace of Bucharest between Turkey and Russia, which left a powerful Russian army free to take part in repelling Napoleon's invasion. Canning was able to hasten the decision of the Turks, by making judicious use of Napoleon's plan for the partition of their empire. A copy of it had been left in his hands by Mr Adair to be used at the proper moment. In July he left Constantinople with the sincere desire never to return, for he was tired of the corrupt and stiff-necked Turkish officials. His ambition was to lead an active career at home. But his success in arranging the treaty of Bucharest had marked him out for diplomatic employment. His absence from home in early youth and the independent position he had held much before the usual age, had in fact disqualified him for the career of a parliamentary party man. By the friendly intervention of Castlereagh, his cousin's old opponent, he received a pension, or rather a retaining fee, of £1200 a year, on the " usual conditions "—which were that he should bind himself to accept the next diplomatic post offered, and should not attempt to enter parliament. Canning spent his leisure in travel-ling about England, and he wrote some poetry which gained him the praise of Byron, whom he had known in boyhood, and had met in Constantinople. In 1814 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Switzerland. In this capacity he had a share in reorganizing the confederacy after the fall . of the Napoleonic settlement, and he attended the congress at Vienna. He was an eye-witness of the dramatic change produced at, Vienna by Napoleon's return from Elba.. Canning retained his post in Switzer-land till 1818. In 1816 he married Miss Harriet Raikes, daughter of a governor of the Bank of England. Her death in child-birth in 1818, had a strong influence in inducing him to resign his post, of which he was thoroughly tired. The British minister to Switzer,-land had merely formal duties to perform in normal times, and the place was wearisome to a man of Canning's capacity and desire for work. In 1819 he was appointed minister at Washing-ton, a station of great difficulty owing to the ill-feeling created by the war of 1812 and the many delicate questions outstanding between the British and the American governments. Canning, whose naturally quick temper had been developed by early independence, came into occasional collision with John Quincy Adams, the American secretary of state, who was, on his own showing, by no. means of a patient disposition. Yet the American statesman recognized that the " arrogance" of the British minister was combined with absolute candour and that he was above all petty diplomatic trickery. They parted with mutual respect. Canning returned to England in 1823 on leave and did not go back to Washington. The general treaty he had arranged with Mr Adams was rejected by the United States Senate. In 1824 Canning was selected as ambassador to Turkey, and proceeded to Constantinople after a preliminary visit to Vienna and St Petersburg. In the Russian capital he'was engaged in discussing the arrangement of the Alaska boundary, and, partly in sounding the Russian government as to the course to be taken with the Greek revolt against Turkey. He left for Constantinople in October 1825, accompanied by his second wife, the daughter of Mr Alexander of Somerhill near Tonbridge. At Constantinople he was engaged with the ambassadors of France and Russia in an enterprise which he afterwards recognized as having been hopeless from the beginning—namely in endeavouring to indife Sultan Mahmud II. to make concessions to the Greeks, without applying to him the pressure of armed force. After the battle of Navarino (q.v.) on the loth of October 1827, the ambassadors were compelled to retire to Corfu. Here Canning leaned that his conduct so far had been approved, but as he desired to know what view was taken of the final rupture with the Porte he came home. He was sent out again on the 8th of July 182.8. Canning did not agree on all points with his superior, Lord Aberdeen, and in 1829 he, for the time being, turned from diplomatic to parliamentary life. He sat for Old Sarum, for Stockbridge (rotten flows in exquisite wooded reaches, navigable only for small boroughs) and for Southampton, but did not make much mark .in 'parliament. He was twice absent on diplomatic missions. At the end of 1831 he went to Constantinople to attend the conferences on the delimitation of the Greek frontier, arriving immediately after the receipt of the news of Mehemet Ali's invasion of Syria (see MEHEMET ALI). Sultan Mahmud now proposed to Canning an alliance between Great Britain and Turkey, and Canning strongly urged this upon Palmerston, pointing out the advisability of helping the sultan against Mehemet Ali in Order to forestall Russia, and of at the same time placating Mehemet Ali by guaranteeing him certain advantages. This advice, which largely anticipated the settlement of 1841, was not followed; but Canning himself was in high favour with the sultan, from whom he received the unique distinction of the sovereign's portrait set in diamonds. In 1833 he was selected as ambassador to Russia, but the tsar Nicholas I. refused to receive him. The story that the tsar was influenced by merely personal animosity seems to be unfounded. Nicholas was no doubt sufficiently informed as to the peremptory character of Sir Stratford Canning (he had been made G.C.B. in 1828) to see his unfitness to represent Great Britain at a really independent court. After Canning had declined the treasurership of the Household and the governor-generalship of Canada, he was again named ambassador at Constantinople. He reached his post in January 1842 and retained it till his resignation in February 1858. His tenure of office in these years was made remarkable—first by his constant efforts to induce the Turkish government to accept reform and to conduct itself with humanity and decency; then by the Crimean War (q.v.). Canning had no original liking for the Turks. He was the first to express an ardent hope that they would be expelled from Europe with " bag and baggage "—a phrase made popular in after times by Gladstone. But he had persuaded himself that under the new sultan Abd-ul-Mejid they might be reformed, and he was willing to play the part of guiding providence. He certainly impressed himself on the Turks, and on all other witnesses, as a strong personality. In particular he struck the imagination of Kinglake, the author of the Invasion of the Crimea. In that book he appears as a kind of magician who is always mentioned as the" great Elchi " and who influences the fate of nations by mystic spells cast on pallid sultans. Great Elchi is the Turkish title for an ambassador, and Elchi for a minister plenipotentiary. The use made of the exotic title in Kinglake's book is only one of the Corinthian ornaments of his style. In sober fact Canning's exertions on behalf of reform in Turkey affected little below the surface. His share in the Crimean War cannot be told here. On the fall of Palmerston's ministry in February 1858 he resigned, and though he paid a complimentary farewell visit to Constantinople, he had no further share in public life than the occasional speeches he delivered from his place in the House of Lords. He had been raised to the peerage in 1852. During his later years he wrote several essays collected under the title of The Eastern Question (London, 1881)' In 1873 he published his treatise, Why I am a Christian, and in 1876 his play, Alfred the Great at Athelney. The only son of his second marriage died before him. His wife and two daughters survived him. Lord Stratford died on the 14th of August 188o, and was buried at Frant in Sussex. A monument to him was erected in Westminster Abbey in 1884. See Life of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, by S. Lane Poole (London, 1$88). STRATFORD-ON-AVON, a market town and municipal borough in the Sfratford-on-Avon parliamentary division of Warwick-shire, England; on a branch line of the Great Western railway and on the East & West Junction railway, in connexion with which it is served from London by the Great Central (922 m.) and the London & North-Western railways. Pop. (Igor), 8310. The town lies mainly on the right (west) bank of the Avon. The neighbourhood, comprised in the rich valley of the Avon, is beautiful though of no considerable elevation. The river boats. The Stratford-on-Avon canal communicates with the Warwick and Birmingham canal. The river is crossed at Stratford by a stone bridge of 14 arches, built by Sir Hugh Clopton in the reign of Henry VII. The church of the Holy Trinity occupies the site of a Saxon monastery, which existed before 691,. when the bishop of Worcester received it in exchange from Ethelred, king of Mercia. It is beautifully placed near the river, and is a fine cruciform structure, partly Early English and partly Perpendicular, with a central tower and lofty octagonal spire. It was greatly improved in the reign of Edward III. by John de Stratford, who rebuilt the south aisle. He also in 1332 founded a chantry for priests, and in 1351 Ralph de Stratford built for John's chantry priests " a house of square stone," which came to be known as the college, and in connexion with which the church became collegiate. The present beautiful choir was built by Dean Balshall (1465-1491), and in the reign of Henry VII. the north and south transepts were erected. A window commemorates the Shakespearian scholar J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. The foundation of the chapel of the gild of the Holy Cross was laid by Robert de Stratford. The gild, to which both sexes were admitted, was in existence early in the 13th century, and it was incorporated by a charter from Edward III. in 1322. It was dissolved in 1547. The guildhall is a picturesque half-timbered building. A beautiful house of the 16th century belonged to one Thomas Rogers, whose daughter was mother of John Harvard, the founder of Harvard College, U.S.A. Among public buildings are the town hall, originally dated 1633, rebuilt 1767, and altered 1863; market house, corn exchange and three hospitals. There are recreation grounds. Brewing is carried on, but the trade is principally agricultural. Area, 4013 acres. Shakespearian Connexion.—To no town has the memory of one famous son brought wider notoriety than that which the memory of William Shakespeare has brought to Stratford; yet this notoriety sprang into strong growth only towards the end of the 18th century. The task of preserving for modern eyes the buildings which Shakespeare himself saw was not entered upon until much of the visible connexion with his times had been destroyed. Yet the town is under no great industrial or other modernizing influence, and therefore stands in the position of an ancient shrine, drawing a pilgrimage of modern origin. The plan of Shakespeare's Stratford at least is preserved, for the road crossing Clopton's bridge is an ancient highway, and forks in the midst of the town into three great branches, about which: the village grew up. The high cross no longer stands at the market-place where these roads converged. But the open space where is now a memorial fountain was the Rother market, and Rother Street preserves its name. The word signifies horned cattle, and is found in Shakespeare's own writing, in the restored line " It is the pasture lards the rother's sides " (Timon of Athens), where " brother's " was originally the accredited reading. In Henley Street, close by, is the house in which the poet was born, greatly altered in external appearance, being actually two half-timbered cottages connected. A small apartment is by immemorial tradition shown as his birth-room, bearing on its white-washed walls and its windows innumerable signatures of visitors, among which such names as Walter Scott, Dickens and Thackeray may be deciphered. Part of the building, used by the poet's father as a wool-shop, is fitted as a museum. Shakespeare may have attended the grammar school attached to the old guildhall in Church Street. This was a foundation in connexion with the gild of the Holy Cross, but was refounded after the dissolution by King Edward VI. in 1553, and bears his name. The site of Shakespeare's house, New Place, bought by him in 1597, was acquired by public subscription, chiefly through the exertions of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, and was handed over to the trustees of the birthplace in 1876. The house was built by Sir Hugh Clopton. Shakespeare acquired a considerable property adjacent to it, retired here after his active Iife in London, and here died. Sir John Clopton destroyed the house in 1792 (as it had reverted to his family), and the mansion he built was in. turn destroyed by Sir Francis Gastrell in 1759. The site, which is traceable, is surrounded by gardens. Shakespeare is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity church, his wife lying next to him. The slab over the poet's grave bears the lines beginning " Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare To digg the dust enclosed heare "; while the effigy on the mural monument above may well be an authentic representation, though somewhat altered and damaged by time and restoration (see SHAKESPEARE: Portraits). Apart from the interest attaching to the pleasant country town and its pastoral environment, through their influence trace-able in Shakespeare's writings, there are further connexions with himself and his family to be found. The house adjacent to New Place known as Nash's house was that of Thomas Nash, who married Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Hall; it is used as a museum. At Shottery, 1 m. west of Stratford, is the picturesque thatched cottage in which Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, was born. It was purchased for the nation in 1892. The maiden name of the poet's mother was Mary Arden, and this name, that of an ancient county family, survives in the district north-west of Stratford, the Forest of Arden, though the true forest character is long lost. At Snitterfield to the north, where the low wooded hills begin to rise from the valley, lived Shakespeare's grandfather and uncle. The principal modern monument to the poet's memory in Stratford is the Shakespeare Memorial, a semi-Gothic building of brick, stone and timber, erected in 1877 to contain a theatre, picture gallery and library. A performance of one of the plays is given annually. The memorial stands by the river above the church, and above again lie the Bancroft or Bank croft gardens where, in 1769, a celebration in honour of the poet was organized by David Garrick. Evidence of the intense interest taken by American visitors in Stratford is seen in the memorial fountain and clock-tower presented in 1887, and in a window in the church illustrating scenes from the Incarnation and containing figures from English and American history. History.—Stratford-on-Avon (Stradforde, Strafford, Straffordon-Avon) is a place of great antiquity. A Roman road may have run past the site; coins, &c., have been found, and the district at any rate was inhabited in Roman times. The manor was granted by King Off a to the bishopric of Worcester; and it was under the protection of the bishops of Worcester, who were granting them privileges as early as the reign of Richard I., that the inhabitants of the town assumed burghal rights at an early date. The Gild of the Holy Cross, founded in the 13th century for the support of poor priests and others, exercised great authority over the town for many years. Its dissolution was the cause of the incorporation charter of Edward VI. in 1553, by which the town was incorporated under the title of the bailiff and burgesses, who were to bear the name of aldermen. Another charter, confirming former liberties but altering the constitution of the corporation, was granted in 1611. By the charters of 1664 and 1674 the corporation was given the title of mayor, aldermen and burgesses. The governing body now consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen and • 18 councillors. A market, formerly held on Thursdays by a grant of 1309, is now held on Fridays. The various trades of weaving, saddlery, glove-making, collar-making, candle-making and soap-making were carried on during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, but have lost their importance.

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.