Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

bands' ; so singular a favour deserves my earliest acknowledgments, · As much a stranger as it is my misfortune to be to your person, I am no longer so to your genius ; the specimen you have sent me of your Poetry is sufficient to make me judge of your merit. .

I have been in pain for some time to know what was become of the Muses ; they have disappeared a great while from this part of the Old world ; your Poems inform me of their retreat into the New, and I consider with pleasure that their residence, however remote, is still within the British dominions.

I am with great truth,
Reverend Sir,
Your most affectionate
Humble servant,

LANDSDOWNE.

Dr. Byles was twice married. His first wife was Mrs. Anna Gale, niece of the late Govern, our Belcher. By this lady he had six children, only one of whom survived him. He is now rector of Trinity church, St. John's, New-Brunswick. The second wife of Dr. Byles was Miss Rebecca Taylor, daughter of the late lieutenant-gavernour Tyalor, by whom he had three children. The eldest died in in. fancy ; two daughters are still living.

Dr. Byles continued to live happily with his parish in the honourable and useful discharge of his parochial duties, until the late Revolu.

3

tion began to create distrust and animosity bea tween the different parties that existed in the country prior to the war. Many good men, who, like Dr. Byles, fell under the imputation of being Tories, suffered more severely at first, than he did ; but the jealousy and violence of the times separated him from his parish, to which he was never aftewards re-united. Dr. B. was accused of attachment to Great-Britain. The substance of the charges exhibited against him was, that he continued in Boston with his family during the siege ; that he prayed for the king and the safety of the town; and received the visits of the British officers.

In May, 1777, he was denounced in town. meeting, as a person inimical to America ; after which he was obliged to enter into bonds for his appearance at a publick trial before a special court on the second of June following, and of the charges exhibited against him, which were similar to those for which his parish dismissed him, he was pronounced guilty, and sentenced to confinement on board a guardship, and in forty days to be sent with his family to England. When brought before the Board of War, by whom he was treated respectfully, his sentence seems to have been altered, and it was directed that he should be confined to his own house, and a guard placed over him there, which was accordingly done a few weeks, when the guard was removed. A short time afterwards a guard was again placed over him, and again dismissed. Upon this oc

[ocr errors]

casion the Doctor observed with his usual cheerfulness, that he was guarded, reguarded, and disreguarded. Sometime before this, upon being asked, why he did not preach politicks ? He replied, “ I have thrown up four breastworks, behind which I have entrenched myself, neither of which can be forced : In the first place, I do 'not understand politicks ; in the second place, you all do, every man and mother's son of you ; in the third place, you have politicks all the week, pray let one day, in seven be devoted to religion; in the fourth place I am engaged in a work of infinitely greater importance ; give me any subject to preach on of more consequence than the truths I bring to you, and I will preach on it the next Sabbath."

Dr. Byles formed no new connection with any parish after the revolution nor during the war. In the year 1783 he was seized with a paralytick disorder, and on the fifth day of July, 1788, he died, in the eighty-second year of his age.

In person Dr. B. was tall and well proportioned, had a commanding presence, and was a graceful speaker. His voice was strong, clear, harmonious, and modulated with facility to the subject of his discourse,

In conversation and repartee he excelled. Some of his friends have applied to him a pas. sage

from his own poems. Thy conversation !-here the muse could stay, » And in sweet pleasures smile the hours away.

If in grave words you sacred thoughts bestow,
A deep attention sits on every brow;
If through the sciences your fancy strays,
With joy we follow through the flowery maze ;
Or if you mirth and humorous airs assume,
An universal laughter shakes the room ;
Each comes with pleasure ; while he stays ad.

mires ;

Goes with negret, nor unimproved retires.

Of the theological tenets of Dr. Byles the writer is unable to give a description. He leaves that subject, with all others he may have omitted, to the pen of some more competent biographer.

Boston, Dec. 1806.

[ocr errors]

FOR THE POLTANTHOS.

Lucubrations of Nehemiah Notional.

No. II. “Ludere qui nescit, campestribus abstinet armis." * Some have at first for wits, then poets past, "Turned criticks next, and proved plain fools at last." Me. EDITOR,

A CANDID and judicious critick is one of the most valuable members of the literaTy community. By his sentence the fate of every production, worthy of notice is detera

mined. His correct judgment and good taste, matured and refined by extensive reading and information, make his opinion a standard, by which the publick ascertain the merits and demerits of our authors. 'Tis true, that a faithful performance of his duty leads him rather to censure than to praise, to point out defects than 'to select beauties. Yet possessing can. dour, that characteristick of a well informed mind, he condemns without insult ; and a young author may be confident that, though his vanity should sometimes be humbled, his feelings will never be intentionally wounded by the result of a critical examination.

It would be well, did all who assume the important office possess the qualifications of a critick. But unfortunately most of those, who undertake to determine the merits of a writer and graciously communicate their opinion of him to the world, are blind ; or, if they can see, use a smoked glass, which prevents their being dazzled by his splendour, while it enables them to discern with ease his most trifling blemishes. The learned, divided into political and religious parties, labour under prejudices, which make their judgment illiberal and unjust. Their standard of excellence is continually fluctuating, or rather they have no standard; for they form their opinions under the influence of party spirit, and generally judge not the author, but the man.

This want of integrity must make genuine criticism blush and hide her head. She must

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »