Abbildungen der Seite

nions on the receipt of this sagacious companied by a request to give it epistle. We the more regret a few publicity. I send you, therefore, the of these things, that they tend to following letter from Dr Laing, which confirm an impression which is very I know you will not hesitate to pub. general among the people about lish, particularly too, as he fears not Aberdeen, and which we have heard

to encounter any responsibility which frequently expressed, that the Doctor may be incurred by such a proceed. danced, or rather dangled attendance ing. upon the Duchess during the few

Peterhead, Oct. 3. 1806. years that she thought it worth her while to attend to him, in a manner

DEAR SIR, not very consistent with the dignity

On looking into the Literary of philosophy, and not very impres. Journal for July 1806, I was pleased sive on the esteem of the fair and il.

to observe the first article to be a lustrious lady herself ; as appeared by criticism on Sir William Forbes's acthe levity with which she treated count of the Life and Writings of him, and the amusement she often Dr Beattie; and from the candour derived at his

apparent at the beginning, I hoped expence When these sentences met my eye,

to find those sentiments of gratifica. I felt an emotion such as arises in the

tion and instruction confirmed which mind on hearing an imputation of every person I had conversed with unworthiness attached to a much-va. expressed on reading that book. -lued friend. I regarded Dr Beattie

Some fault indeed is found with the as a genuine poet-not the mere ma

author for not furnishing more minufacturer of lines and stanzas, not

nute information on Dr Beattie's the mechanical fabricator of verses,

education, and the early part of his and a mercenary dealer in figures of

life. But it is often a very difficult

thing indeed to find such 'minute in. reflected the powers and the virtues of formation, especially stich asis both achis mind ; whose soul was impressed curate and instructive. The genius with the liveliest images of moral ex

that is to appear afterwards is not cellence, and whose spirit was an ema

always indicated' by out ward

appearnation of “ beauty immortal.”. Į

ances in early life ; and frequently

the man who has made no literary 6. was therefore unwilling to believe a statement which degraded the author gure afterwards, has given as fair proof “ The Minstrel” into a sneaking

mises as he who has shone most parasite, a contemptible beggar of brightly at a future period. A great smiles from one who despised and de- deal depends on' accidental circumrided him. Under this feeling.(which stances. A young man of fine'mental many others must have experienced powers may by chancé be placed in a in common with me) I enquired of a counting-house, or in the army, wliere gentleman who had long been honour. his employment shall lead him away ed with the most endearing friendship from speculation to constant action': of Dr Beattie, and to whom I had the

no pleasure of being known, whether there haps of inferior powers, shiall, by his was any

truth in the remarks made company, or by his position in life, by the reviewer? His answer I

be stimulated to mental exertion, and

yesterday received, and I received it with by industry arrive at a high literary the more satisfaction, that it was ac

station. Often also the changes going on in the mind of a studevit can

be known ooly to himself: 'perhaps * Pagés 25, 29, and 27. in his anxiety to advance he does not



[ocr errors]

mark those changes, or more proba- such a person, therefre, hanowed bly still does not record them. But Dr Beattie with her approbation and it is known that Sir William For- favour, is it to be wondered at chac bes had written many particulars of a man of his just taste and grateful the life of Dr Beattie which do not turn of mind should express himself now appear ; being omitted by the with warmth in writing to her! advice of eminent friends, for the sake The reviewer dislikes both the of brevity, and to secure a perusal to matter and manner of Dr Beattie's things still more useful.

letters to the Duchess of Gordon : In this censure, however, though but many, seemingls as good judges, there was diversity of opinion, there have thoughi those letters as excei.

want of candour on the lent as any in the whole collection, part of the reviewer : but, on the He blames the gallantry in them ; contrary, boih Dr Beattie and his

but I may truly affirm, that if the biographer meet with much just letters she received from many of the commendation. But how much was most eminent persons in the nation, I surprised to find at the end of the whose intellectual'exertious have de. paper a total dereliction of all can. lighted and benefited the world, were dour, byinsinuations of such meanness before the public eye, they would as would have rendered Dr Beattie appear to be not less complimental. unworthy of that respect which Sir As to that letter on 'wlrich the DocWilliam Eorbes shews such solici- tor says he wept after parting with the tude to claim for him, and which the Duchess, perhaps a little more of her most honourable persons in the na- history and of his would be necessary tion so liberally bestowed. The art for fully understanding it. The truth of vilifying great characters consists is, the Doctor wept, not barely for in ascribing to them, not great crimes, leaving the society of the Duchess, for that the world would not so easily however delightful it was to him ; receive ; but such meannesses as imply but because he left hier in a very low little criminality, but much sordid state of health and spirits, and was ness of mind. For this purpose, the himself at that time, in such a state of writer has endeavoured to give cur. affliction, as excited a tender symparency to some vulgar aspersions, foun. thy with the sufferings of his friends. ded solelyon the misrepresentations of The Duchess was not the only one those who smarted under his reproof, of the family that honoured Dr or envied his success. What still more Beattie with esteem and friendship. aggravates the fault is, that a lady of The Duke ever shewed the highest the bighest respectability and rank is respect for him, and invited him to petulantly introduced as a subject of spend as much time at Gordon Casvulgar and groundless obloquy. Those tle as he could spare; and whether his who have had the honour of the Du. Grace or the Duchess most admired chess of Gordon's acquaintance have him might have been hard to determine. always declared her elevated above Nor was his gratitude to the Duke, the generality of the species, not, and affection for him and his family more by her beauty, and by her rank, legs ardent, as appears from the high ihan by her merit, and by the powers regard with which he ever spoke of of her mind-by her wit, her erudi. 'that nobleman, and from his dedication, her exquisite sense and approba- ting a favourite part of his works to tion of all excellency, moral and intel. his son the Marquis of Huntiy. lectual--by her unrivalled skill in ma- The writer of the article in quesnaging conversation, and by the charm tion sneers at Dr Beattie's advice to of making all around her happy. If the Duchess, not to yield too much

[ocr errors]


to serious contemplation. He little her mind would often bave in her knows the nature of her Grace's mind. company any one capable of jeering The truth is, she is naturally of a se at Dr Beattie's sentiments : and if, rious and religious temper ; and her in the promiscuous assemblage that religion in general expresses itself must sometimes be collected, such an in acis of rational devotion, in sup one should happen to be present, she porting the cause of virtue and truth, could easily silence his imperti. and in works of beneficence very wide. nence, or dexterously lead the conly extended. Not only does she em

versation another way. ploy much of her fortune in well- After what I have said of the judged acts of charity, but I may characters of these two eminent per: say she writes more in recommend. sons, it is almost needless to refute ing fit persons to the good offices of the mean slander, that Dr Beattie her friends in power, than some pro- danced, or rather dangled attendance fessed authors do for their daily bread. upon the Duchess, during the few But a mind of this turn might rea- years that she thought it worth her dily, during bad health and low spi. while to attend to him, in a manner rits, indulge too much in melancholy not consistent with the dignity of pbie contemplation; and such was actual. losophy, & ç.” That Dr Beatrie paid ly the case when the advice now a respectful attention to the Duchess mentioned was given. But from the of Gordon is what he was proud to gaiety and festivity of her Grace in avow;, and that it was repaid with public, the writer concludes there equal respect, is not less certain. But was little need to advise her against that he paid any mean attention, un. excessive seriousness. I have, how. worthy of his character, I positively ever, had opportunity of knowing deny. Could he have been capable when the Duchess has been suffering of it, her Grace esteemed him too severely with habitual head-ach, that much to have allowed it. Why inshe has, yet, during a part of those deed should he fawn on any person ? very days, dispatched more effectual He needed it not for courting the study, and business, than many per- company of the great ; for of that sons who had nothing else to occupy

his merit had secured him an abun. their minds ; and at other parts of dant share spontaneously offered. the same days she has proved the For worldly emolument he did not animating spirit of cheerfulness and court any one ; as may appear

from social happiness. It would be rare his conduct in regard to the offers to find one who can so effectually made to him by the Queen, by Bisuppress all appearance of pain and shop Thomas, and many others. The sorrow, as she can do, when she conversation of the Duchess of Gorthinks her duty to society requires don then could be bis only motive, it. As to her friendship to Dr Beat. and to obtain that he had no need for tie, it was real, steady, and uninter. mean observances. But what is still rupted, to the day of his death. Nay a stronger proof, how could Dr Beat. what is remarkable, she was in his tie have preserved to the last the un. soom, on a visit of tender friendship, interrupted esteem of Sir William while he lay a-dying ; and ever since. Forbes, and of the highest characters his death she never mencions his name in the nation, had he been capable of without evident marks of respect and such mean conduct ? the thing is affection. That she should therefore impossible. That contemptible slan. expose his letters to the derision of der could only have arisen from the her company is most unlikely circumstance of Dr Beattie's being is it very probable that a person of invited, among a select party, every


night, to supper with the Duchess du- question, which you, in your anxiety ring her stay at one time in Aberdeen. for the honour of Dr Beattie as a In that feast of the mind all the wise 'great and good maii, proposed to me. and good who knew of it rejoiced In return, I have to beg of you as by sympathy ; but the vain and fool. a favour, that you will make these ish envied the parties, and raised the observations as public as you can, absurd tale. Dr Beattie was admi. that some reparation may be made red, esteemed, and beloved, uyall good to the injured character of two'emi. persons who really knew him ; but, as nent persons, who have deserved well usually happens in such cases, he was of all they could, and ill of none. envied and hated by a party. The

I am, dear Sir,
honest and respectable labours of Sir

Respectfully yours,
William Forbes have fixed his fame

WILLIAM LAING M. D. on an immovable basis. The Duchess

Minister of St Peter's Chapel, Peterhead. of Gordon, also, though admired for her wit and beauty, esteemed for a The publication of this attack on character appropriate to her high Dr Beattie's name appears to indicate rank, and blessed for her benignity, an equal degree of malevolence and yet has not escaped the tongue of mental imbecility. malice. Our sex naturally regarded That unfounded scandal should her with veneration and affection, as be regarded as complete evidence did the honest and candid of the O- of demerit in a person of ihe highest ther. Many of her own sex, however, literary eminence, and of a character could not forgive her for so far out. till now unimpeached, is an outrage shining themselves. But if such dis

upon justice too gross to be endured. appointed females found any con- If such were universally to be received solation for their inferiority in low as the criterion by which talents and slanders, it ill becomes grave virtues were to be estimated, the --viewers, who profess to point out most illustrious and exalted of our and patronise truth, to endeavour to species might be embalmed in infamy. give currency, and permanency to base It betrays a credulity unusually suscepfalsehoods. I have thought it in-' tïble, when a man takes the splenetic cumbent upon me, therefore, who effusions of tea-table envy as the have been honoured with the friend. guide of his opinion : and I see little ship both of Dr Beattie and of the to admire in the sagacity, and less to Duchess of Gordon, to bear testimony approve in the morality, which canto the truth in the above respects, not, or will not, discriminate between from my own knowledge, so that no the servility of a sycophant and the person may persist in propagating affectionate kindness of friendship. these false and foolish stories through And what, let me ask the reviewer, ignorance. Those who have been was the nature of the friendship misled merely by popular reports, if which subsisted between Dr Beattie they know me, will probably alter and the Duchess of Gordon? I produce their sentiments : and if those who tothe world, the testimony ofonewhom speak evil of these exalted charac. nobody will venture to contradict, that ters, through malignity, do not cease it was such an intercourse as their practices, I ought not to be equally honourable to the Lady of disappointed ; nor shall I trouble rank and to the Man of letters.;--them or myself any more, even though that it was the reciprocal interthey should honour me also with a change of esteem and kindness, which share of their contempt and abuse. takes place between congenial minds And now, Şir, I have answered the when they meet in Society ;-bat

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]


it was a voluntary offering of applause vourable prepossessions than we have to genius and to worth, on the one

done in the case of the preselit meside ; and on the other, the grateful moir. The subject of it had become but independent homage of a gen- the object of a pecul ar interest, both tleman and a scholar to the brightest by the merit of his writings, by the qualities that adorn the female cha- beneficence of their tendency, and tlie racter. If in this there be any thing amiable feelings which they , ex. which could for a moment afford pressed. In regard to the author, room for misconception, it must be whose singular worth has been so the circumstance that the Lady was long known to the inhabitants of in an elevated rank: but although this city, it was agreeable to discoI do not think the possession of such ver, both the respect he entertained accidental greatness deserved, for the memory of his departed friend, would have obtained the veneration and that a life of useful industry and of a mind like Dr Beattie's, I do not active benevolence were in him digni. see why it should deprive a titled tied and adorned by the pursuit of personage of the most precious letters and pbilosophy. and the proudest enjoyments of life. Considering the character of the Perhaps, indeed, Dr Beattie may writer as a man of business, and of have mistaken the character of the the world, it cannot be supposed that Duchess of Gordon : but I should his composition should be polished consider the man who had the most and adorned like that of a professed enviable opportunities of knowing it anthor. But he every where disto be fully as well qualified to form plays good sense, a careful attention an accurate estimate of its nature to matters of fact, and a sincere at. as the good citizens of Aberdeen, tachment to the friend whose history and their humble echo,--a writer in he records ; nor where the subject the Literary Journal.

requires it, is his style deficient in Of all the crimes which the laws energy and aniination. And we may do not punish, there is none more a- easily forgive a slight tincture of not trocious than that which robs depart. unamiable vanity, which prompts him ed genius of its honour, the antici- studiously to record the names of pated treasure which, in moments persons distinguished by genius and of depression, is its dearest consola. virtue with whom he enjoyed the intion, and, too often, its only reward. tercourse of private friendship. To vilify the memory of him whose

The greater part,

of these volumes lips are sealed in eternal silence, to


occupied with the letters of Dr pour dishonour on the tomb, is in. Beattie. The worthy Baronet, fol. deed'a mixture of cowardice and of lowing the example of Mason in his wickedness for which language wants life of Gray, after giving an account an appropriate epithet.

of Dr Beattie's early life, has done Edinburgh. ?

little more tban connect these letters

A. P. 7th Oct. 1806.

by his parrative. We have perused

them with a degree of pleasure which SCOTTISH REVIEW,

we have not always derived from the

correspondence of literary men. Many, 1. The Life of Janies Beattie, L. I.. De especially of the last age, have distin

late Professor of Moral Philoso- guished themselves by an affectation phy in the University of Aberdeen. Of smartness, and of saying everything By Sir William Forbes Bart. 2 vols. in a Hippant, half-witty style, of little 410.21. 123. 6d, Constable & Co.

value, even where it appears in per. WE

E do not remember to have fection (as it does in the writings of opened any work with more fa. Lady Mary Montague) but which is



« ZurückWeiter »