Abbildungen der Seite

I spoke of his playfulness. In con went wrong by following his advice. versation with his particular friends, he The delicacy (I may even call it the would display an amazing exuberance purity) of his mind was greater than I of pleasantry and humour, His know- have known in any other man, at least ledge of nature, and extensive learning, in any other young man; and, in one fupplied him with innumerable images ; fo young, (he died at 22) was truly adand his lively fancy, aided by fimplicity mirable, and worthy of imitation. He of diction, and a ready eloquence, en was aware of the danger of admitting abled him to combine them into the most indelicate or improper thoughts into his diverting forms that could be imagined. mind; for he knew that affociations of He had, what perhaps all people of ob- ideas, disapproved both by reason as infervation have, a flight tendency to congruous, and by conscience as imfatire ; but it was of the gentlest kind; moral, might in a moment be formed, he had too much candour

and good na- in consequence of inattention, even when ture to be either a general satirist or a there was no settled propensity to evil. severe one. That taunting, gibbing rail. To give an example or two of this delery, which some people who mistake licacy, that my meaning may be underill-nature for wit, are so fond of, he stood (one cannot be very explicit on despised and hated : he often, as his this subject) such a book as that most duty required, spoke in order to improve contemptible one called “Scotch Presbyand amend others; but never uttered terian Eloquence displayed,he would a word with a view to give pain. Cha- not have looked into on any account racters, however, there were, of which whatever ; because he had heard, that he was at no pains to conceal what he passages of scripture are introduced in it, thought. If persons, notoriously pro. for the purpose of raising laughter. Silly Aligate ; or who in public office seemed tales and jokes of the same nature he to him to have betrayed their trust; or would fometimes hear in contpany, (they who, rendered impudent by immorality are too often heard from those of whom and ignorance, ventured to retail the better things might be expected) but wretched impieties of infidelity ;-if he always showed displeasure at hearing, such persons happened to be spoken of and never repeated them. And nutin his hearing, it was easy to perceive, withstanding his love of the talent called that his abstaining from general satire Humour, he could never read The was owing to the want, not of talents, Tale of a Tub;" because he had heard but of inclination.

me fay, that there are in

it gross inI mentioned that acuteness of intel- decencies ; and that, by forming Judilect, which enabled him to enter with crous associations of the meanest ideas facility into the abArufeft doctrines of with the most awful truths of religion, the abstract philosopher. He possessed a it could hardly fail, in some degree, to talent still more useful, in which men of disorder and debase the mind. I did acute minds are sometimes deficient; not tell him this, or any thing else, in and that was good sense. He could a dictatorial manner; nor did I ever instantly, and almost intuitively, discern - forbid him to read that book. But his what in human conduct was right or attention was continually awake, to wrong, prudent or imprudent; not only learn, although from the slightest hint, in matters of morality, and science, þut or most trivial circumstance, what might is the general intercourse of the world. be useful in purifying his mind, regulatOf his fuperiority in this talent, I was ing his conduct, or improving his under-fo, sensible, that, during the last four or standing. five years of his life, I seldom resolved Thns formed, thus enlightened, and on any thing that had difficulty in it, thus inured to consideration, a mind without consulting him; and I never poffefied of sensibility can never be de

He was a

ficient in talte or critical fagacity. In fimplicity of which delights me ; and this respect he was highly accomplished; with this impression on my mind, I canof which, however, it is no proof to not just now relish the flowery defcripfay, that at the age of eighteen he was tions of Fenelon.". He mentioned a better judge of composition than I other objections, which I need not rehad been at thirty. It may be thought, peat. I said, he might lay Telemaque that I would not negle&t to explain to aside, till he found himself disposed to him the principles of good writing, as resume it, and in the mean time return far as I knew them ; and this part of to his Homer ; for whose simplicity and my duty I did oot neglect : but my grandeur I was much pleased to find diligence in it bore no proportion to his that he had a true taste. proficiency; which l'impute to his na. bout fifteen when this little conference tural rectitude of understanding, aided passed. It may give modish readers a by constantly reading the best authors, mean opinion of his judgment : on those and abstaining, as he scrupulously did, who have conversed, as he had, with from such as fall below, or do not rise ancient authors, it may perhaps have a above, mediocrity. They, who may contrary effect. be pleased to say, that at this rate he Time was not allowed him for going must have kept at a distance from what deep into the literature of France : his I have attempted in writing, are at favourite authors of that nation were Jiberty to think so. To me,' and to Moliere and Boileau. Of Rousseau he every thing conne&ted with me, he was knew little ; and such was his opinion partial, as I have acknowledged already; of Voltaire's principles and character, and they who understand human nature that he had no curiosity to inquire after will not think the worse of him, either his books. Of the French tongue he as a man, or as a critic, for having had seemed to think, that its want of barthis infirmity. A dislike of ambitious mony, and being almost entirely made ornaments, and what I might almost call, up of idiomatic phrases, rendered it unan abhorrence of ostentation, appeared fit for the higher poetry, and for elevatin him very early in life ; and were ed composition in general ; but he did heightened and confirmed by studying not think himself fufficiently skilled in it thole ancient writers, particularly Ho- to pretend to judge of its merits. Italian, mer, Xenophon, Herodotus, Cæsar, which he would probably have found and others, who are distinguished by more to his mind, he meant to study, a severe and majestic simplicity of style. but did not live to do it.

When he began to learn the French He was a master of Greek and Lalanguage, of which, under an experienc- tin; and in getting those languages was ed teacher, he acquired very exactly much aided by his skill in the grammathe elements and pronunciation, I, re- tical art : without which it is indeed immembering with what delight I had possible (though projectors have thought in my youth read Telemaque, recom- otherwise) to learn them with accuracy ; mended that work to his perufal, and and, if they are not accurately learned, told him he would be highly entertained the acquisition is not of great value. I with it. In this, however, I was mis. find, by his papers, that he had exerciftaken. After going through one half, ed himself a little in Greek composition, he begged I would not insist on his which I believe is not often done in reading the other, at least, at present. Scotland. Latin he spoke correctly “I acknowledge,” said he, “ the au- and readily: In that language, he and thor's merit as a politician and moralist, I sometimes conversed when we were and I believe he writes the French by ourselves ; and he soon became my tongue in its utmost purity ; bùt I have superior in this, as in every other talent. been studying Homer's Odyssey, the Most of the things I have published of Vol. LVIII,



late years were submitted in manuscript and of his own opinion of those printo his revifal, and received from him ciples, 1 leave the candid reader to valuable emendations. What he pro- judge from the preceding narrative. posed in this way I'never faw reason to In infancy, his health was very delireject.

cate, and he was somewhat timorous ; By some people; more prompt to not more so, however, than well-naturspeak and prone to censure, than acute éd children, who fear to offend, comto observe, his character was mistaken. monly are. But his piéty and good They imputed his modesty to timorous- fense; the månly exercises in which he ness; and thought, or faid at least, that delighted, and his being so early acI kept him secluded from society, o. customed to the use of arms, got the bliged him to apply too much to books, better of that timidity; so that, before and

gave him no opportunities of know- he grew up to manhood, he was as fearing the world.

In justice both to him less as a man ought to be. I know not and to myself, I must enter into some any one on whose fortitude I could have particulars on this subject.

confided more on any perilous emerWhen at home, indeed, he was not gency. Several times I have seen him frequently seen in the street ; a laudable in danger; once particularly in Yarregard to health, and a passionate love mouth roads, when every person on of rural scenery, leading him to daily board aur vessel, every person at least excursions in the fields : it is also true, who was on the upper deck, imagined that of tea-tables he was no regular fre- it was on the point of foundering. I quenter, and that at card-tables and in took him by the hand, made him swal. ball-rooms (things of no small impor- low a glass of wine ; and, on looking Eance in a country town) he never ap- at him, saw his countenance perfectly peared at all. By the intelligent rea- undismayed, and I believe more compoder, after what he has heard of him, it fed than any other in the ship. He was will not be supposed, that this was the then in his fixtecnth year. effect of any restraint on my part : on It was also supposed by fome, that as the contrary, it would have been an un- he was often seen walking alone, or with reasonable and cruel restraint, if in these me, and seldom or never with more things I had not readily complied, as I than one companion, that he must be of constantly did, with his inclination. an unsocial disposition. The reverse

But I doubt, whether any other young was his character ; he was social, cheer. man in North Britain, of his years and ful, and affectionate, and by those station, had better opportunities than he, friends who thoroughly knew him, be. of feeing what is called the world ; and loved even to enthusiasm. In his choice a more accurate, or more fagacious ob- of friends, indeed, he was not hally. server of it, I have not known. He For, in discerning characters, he was, never was in a foreign country; but in as already observed, fingularly perspicaEngland and Scotland, his acquaint- cious; and the flightelt appearance of ance was nearly as extensive as mine ; immorality, vanity, pedantry, coarse and to many persons, in both countries, manners, or blameable levity, disgusted of great distinction in rank and litera- bim; though he fewed his disgust by ture, he had the honour to be known, bis Gilence only, or withdrawing from and to be indebted for particular civili- the company. ties. To give a list of names' may be He had a palkon for visiting places thought to favour of vanity rather than that had been remarkable as the abodes of gratitude ; yet it is not improbable of eminent men, or that retained any

that gratitude may one day induce me 'memorials of them; and as in this I reto give such a litt. Of the principles sembled him, we often walked together on which I conducted his education, on what he called claffic ground. Welt


minster-abbey, in the neighbourhood of ed to study fireworks; and, finding in which we lived several months, was a London a systematic book on the subfavourite haunt of his, and suggested ject, applied to it so successfully, that, many images and meditations. He had for several years after, he would now wandered in the bowers of Twicken- and then exhibit in that way, for the ham, and amid the majestic scenes of amusement of his friends. Blenheim and Windsor. Ac Oxford, Among his Latin memorandums, where we passed some time, he met with there is a resolution

never to engage in many interesting objects, and attentive games of chance ! Cards he detelted; friends. He kissed (literally he did so) as destructive of time, at least, if not of the grave-stone which covers the dust of money; which in him I thought the Shakespeare at Stratford ; and sat in the more remarkable, as he had, when a chimney corner, and in the same chair, boy, learned (I know not how) to play in which tradition tells that the immor- at what is called quadrille, and some o. tal bard was wont to fit. " He once or ther games. In those days, he often twice visited the village, the house, and urged me to play at cards, saying he even the chamber (near Collsworth in was sure it would amuse me. I told Lincolnshire) in which Sir Isaac New. him, I had several times attempted quaton is said to have been born. The last drille; but that, of the directions given time he and I were in Cambridge, I me, some I could never understand, gratified him with a sight of those apart- and some I could never remember. He ments in Pembroke hall, which were begged leave to write a few directions ; once honoured with the residence of my and I gave him leave, being curious to memorable and long-lamented friend. Mr know, how a lad of eleven years


age Gray; of whom he was a warm ad- would acquit himself in respect of style, mirer, thinking him the greatest poetic and the arrangement of his matter. He cal genius that Britain had produced brought me two treatises, (still extant) since Milton. He composed an ode, one of quadrille, the other of backgaminscribed “ To the Genius of Gray," of mon, written with a propriety, perspi. which I find among his papers a few cuity, and correctness, that very agreestanzas ; but the far greater part is ir- ably surprised me. I could not help recoverably loft. This ode, I think, telling him, as was true, that I underhe wrote, or planned, while we were stood them much better than any oral palling fome time, in 1787, at Winda information I had ever received on those for ; where, from the terrace, he had topics. a view of Stoke church, in which Gray

There is another fashionable recreais buried, and toward which I often tion, to which he could not reconcile, found him directing his eyes.

his mind, the reading of romances. When his curiolity was raised with The time employed in that way be held respect to any work of art, he always to be lotto 'Don Quixote, however, wilhed to make himself malter, at least, Robinson Crusoe, and Cecilia, he read of the theory of it. In his early days with pleasure, and began, but could not he was skilled in various forts of leger. get through, Gil Blas. Hearing that demain; but left it off entirely, as trif- an acquaintance of his had almost has Jing in itself, and oftentatious in the per- his brain turned with the Adventures formance. One evening of his thir- of Roderick Random, he had the cu. teenth year, he and I arrived in Ne- riosity to ask for that book, but quickly wark on Trent, just as an exhibition of laid it aside, and would never after refireworks was beginning in the market- lume it. To amuse some hours of lanplace. It was indeed a magnificent gour, in the commencement of his last Spectacle, and the first of the kind he illness, I advised him to look into Fieldbad ever seen. He immediately resolva "ing; and he read Tom Jones, and, I


4 N 2

[ocr errors]

think, Amelia. He gave that author his son's character in these affecting no little praife for his humour, for the words : very skilful management of his fable, “ I have lost the pleasantest, and for the variety and contrast of his characters, the last four or five years of his short and, with a few exceptions, for the life, one of the most instructive compabeautiful fimplicity of his style: but still panions, that ever man was delighted the time spent in reading it was loft; with. But-The Lord gave ; the Lord and there was more danger from the in- bath taken away ; blessed be the name delicacy of particular passages, than hope of the Lord-I adore the Author of all of its doing good by the fatire, the mo- good, who gave him grace to lead such ral sentiments, or the distributive jus. a life, and die such a death, as makes it tice dispensed in winding up the cata- impoffible for a Christian to doubt of strophe.

bis having entered upon the inheritance Dr Beattie concludes this sketch of of a happy immortality.”


OF THE COUNT DE BUFFON*. I BHELD, says M. Herault, a fine His son has erected a monument to figure, noble and placid. Notwithstanding the father in the gardens of Montbart. he is 78 years old, one would not attri- It is a simple column near a lofty tower, bute to him above 60 years; and although and is inscribed he had spent fixteen sleepless nights, Excellä turri humilis columna in consequence of being afflicted with Parenti fuo filius BUFFON, 1785. the stone, he looked as fresh as a child, The father burst into tears on seeing and as calm as if in health. His bust, this monument, and said to the young by Hudon, appears to me very

like ; al-
man, Son, this will do

you honour." though the effect of the black eyes and The fon thewed me about the grounds. brows is lost.

We came to the closet in which this His white hair was accurately drest: great man laboured ; it is in a pavilion this is one of his whims, and he owos called the tower of Saint Louis, and it it. He has it papered at night, and is up stairs. The entrance is by a curled with irons sometimes twice in green folding door. The fimplicity of a day, in the morning and before supper. the laboratory astonishes. The cicling He had five fmall curls on each side, is vaulted, the walls are green, the floor His bed.

gown was a yellow, and white is in squares : it contains an, ordinary - stripe, flowered with blue.

wooden desk, and an arm chair : but His voice is strong for his age, and not a book nor a paper.

This naked. very pleasant : in general, when he nefs has its effe&t: The imagination Speaks, his looks are fixed on nothing, clothes it with the splendid pages

of but roll unguardedly about. His fa- Buffon. There is another sanctuary in vourite words are tout ca, and pardieu, which he was wont to compose; _- The which recur perpetually. His vanity is Cradle of Natural History.” as Prince undisguised and prominent : here are Henry called it, when he went thither. a few instances.

It was there that Rousseau prostrated I told him I read much in his works. ' himself and kissed the threshold. I “ What are you reading ?” said he. 1 mentioned this circumstance to Buffon. answered; the Vues sur la Nature.“There Yes, said he, Rousseau bowed down to are passages of the highest eloquence in This cabinet is wainscoted, furthem :" replied he inftantly.

nished with screens, a sofa, and with

The * Extracted from a MS.journey to Mont- drawings of birds and bearts. Lart in 1795, by Herault de Sechelles ; the chairs are covered with black leathes, work was in the press when Robespierre sent and the desk is near the chininey, and author to the scaffold.

of walaut-tree. A treatise on the load


« ZurückWeiter »