Page images

非 *



bulk ; he plays and frolicks in the ocean of royal bounty. Huge as he is, and whilst “ he lies floating many a rood,” he is still a creature. His ribs, his fins, his whalebone, his blubber, the very spiracles through which he spouts a torrent of brine against his origin, and corers me all over with the spray,—every thing of him and about him is from the throne. Is it for him to question the dispensation of the royal favour?

Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I should have been according to my mediocrity, and the mediocrity of the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family; I should have left a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be viewed, in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honour, in generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment, and every liberal acconıplishment, would not have shown himself inferior to the Duke of Bedford, or to any of those whom he traces in his line. His Grace very soon would have wanted all plausibility in his attack upon that provision which belonged more to mine than to me. He would soon have supplied every deficiency, and symmetrized every disproportion. It would not have been for that successor to resort to any stagnant wasting reservoir of merit in me, or in any ancestry. He had in himself a salient, living spring, of generous and manly action. Every day he lived he would have re-purchased the bounty of the crown, and ten times more, if ten times more he had received. He was made a public creature, and had no enjoyment whatever but in the performance of some duty. At this exigent moment, the loss of a finished man is not easily supplied.

But a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose wisdom it behoves us not at all to dispute, has ordained it in another manner, and (whatever my querulous weakness might suggest) a far better. The storm has gone over me; and I lie like one of those old oaks which the late hurricane has scattered about me. I am stripped of all my honours; I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth! There, and prostrate, I most unfeignedly recognize the divine justice, and in some degree submit to it. But whilst I humble myself before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the attacks of unjust and inconsiderate men. The patience of Job is proverbial. After some of the convulsive struggles of our irritable nature, he submitted himself, and repented in dust and ashes. But even so, I do not find him blamed for reprehending, and with a considerable degree of verbal asperity, those ill-natured neighbours of his who visited his dunghill, to read moral, political, and economical lectures on his misery. I am alone. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate. Indeed, my lord, I greatly deceive


myself, if in this hard season I would give a peck of refuse wheat for all that is called fame and honour in the world. This is the appetite but of a few. It is a luxury; it is a privilege: it is an indulgence for those who are at their ease. But we are all of us made to shun disgrace, as we are made to shrink from pain, and poverty, and disease. It is an instinct; and under the direction of reason, instinct is always in the right. I live in an inverted order. They who should have succeeded me have gone before me. They who should have been to me as posterity are in the place of ancestors. I owe to the dearest relation (which ever must subsist in memory) the act of piety, which he would have performed to me;. I owe it to him to show that he was not descended, as the Duke of Bedford would have it, from an unworthy parent.”

EXAMPLE 10.-" They stood pretty high upon the side of the glen, which had suddenly opened into a sort of amphitheatre to give room for a pure and profound lake of a few acres extent, and a space of level ground around it. The banks then arose every wliere steeply, and in some places were varied by rocks in others covered with the copse which run up, feathering their sides lightly and irregularly, and breaking the uniformity of the green pastureground. Beneath, the lake discharged itself into the huddling and tumultuous brook, which had been their companion since they entered the glen. At the point at which it issued from its 'parent lake,' stood the ruins which they had come to visit. They were not of great extent; but the singular beauty, as well as wild sequestered character of the spot on which they were situated, gave them an interest and importance superior to that which attaches itself to the architectural remains of greater consequence, but placed near to ordinary houses, and possessing less romantic accompaniments, The eastern window of the church remained entire, with all its ornaments and tracery work, and the sides upheld by light flying buttresses, whose airy support, detached from the wall against which they were placed, and ornamented with pinnacles and carved work, gave a variety and lightness to the building. The roof and western end of the church were completely ruinous, but the latter appeared to have made one side of a square, of which the ruins of the conventual buildings, formed the other two, and the gardens a fourth. The side of these buildings, which overhung the brook, was partly founded on a steep and precipitous rock; for the place had been occasionally turned to military purposes, and had been taken, with great slaughter during Montrose's wars. The ground formerly occupied by the garden was still marked by a few orchard trecs. At a greater distance from the buildings were detached oaks, and elms, and chesnuts, growing singly, which had attained great size. The rest of the space between the ruins and the hill was a close-cropt sward, which the daily pasture of the sheep kept in much finer order than if it had been subjected to the scythe and broom. The whole scene had a repose, which was still and affecting without being monotonous. The dark, deep basin, in which the clear blue lake reposed, reflecting the water-lilies which grew on its surface, and the trees which here and there threw their arms from the banks, was finely contrasted with the haste and tumult of the brook, which broke away from the outlet, as if escaping from confinement, and hurried down the glen, wheeling down the base of the rock on which the ruins were situated, and brawling in foam and fury with every shelve and stone which obstructed its passage. A similar contrast was seen between the level green meadow in which the ruins were situated, and the large timber trees which were scattered over it, compared with the precipitous banks which arose at a short distance around, partly fringed with light and feathery underwood ; partly rising in steeps clothed with purple heath, and partly more abruptly elevated into fronts of grey rock, chequered with lichen, and those hardy plants which find root in the most arid crevices of the crags."

EXAMPLE 11.-“ It is nearly impossible for me to convey to my readers an idea of the 'vernal delight, felt, at this period, by the Lay Preacher, fir declined in the vale of years. My spectral figure, pinched by the rude gripe of January, becomes as thin as that

dagger of lath,' employed by the vaunting Falstaff; and my mind, affected by the universal desolation of Winter, is nearly as vacant of joy and bright ideas, as the forest is of leaves and the grove is of song.

Fortunately, for my happiness, this is only periodical spleen, Though, in the bitter months, surveying my extenuated body, I exclaim with the melancholy prophet, ‘My leanness, my leanness, wo unto me! and though, adverting to the state of my mind, I behold it all in a robe of darkest grain;' yet, when April and May reign in sweet vicissitude, I give, like Horace, care to the winds; and perceive the whole system excited, by the potent stimulus of sunshine.

An ancient bard, of the happiest descriptive powers, and who noted objects, not only with the eye of a poet, but with the accuracy of a philosopher, says, in a short poem, devoted to the praises of mirth, that

Young and old coine forth to play

On a sunshine holiday.”

In merry Spring-time, not only birds, but melancholic old fellows like myself, sing. The sun is the poet's, the invalid's and the hypo


chondriac's friend. Under clement skies and genial sunshine, not only the body is corroborated, but the mind is vivified, and the heart becomes

open as day.' I may be considered fanciful in the assertion, but I am positive that many, who, in November, December, January, February, and March, read nothing but Mandeville, Rochefoucauld, and Hobbes, and cherish malignant thoughts, at the expense of poor human nature, abjure their evil books and sour theories, when a softer season succeeds. I have myself in winter, felt hostile to those, whom I could smile upon in May, and clasp to my bosom in June. Our moral qualities, as well as natural objects are affected by physical laws; and I can easily conceive that benevolence, no less than the sun-flower, flourishes and expands under the luminary of the day.

With unaffected earnestness, I hope that none of my readers will look upon the agreeable visitation of the sun, at this beauteons season, as the impertinent call of a crabbed monitor, or an importunate dun. I hope that none will churlishly tell him how they hate his beams.' I am credibly informed that several of my city friends, many fine ladies, and the worshipful society of loungers, considered the early call of the above red-faced personage, as downright intrusion. It must be confessed that he is fond of prying into chambers and closets, but, not like a rude searcher, or libertine gallant, for injurions or licentious purposes. His designs are beneficent, and he is one of the warmest friends in the world.

Notwithstanding his looks are soinetimes a little suspicious, and he presents himself with the fiery eye and fushed cheek of a jolly toper, yet this is only a new proof of the fallacy of physiognomy, for he is the most regular being in the universe. He keeps admirable hours, and is steady, diligent, and punctual to a proverb. Conscious of his shining merit, and dazzled by his real glory, I must rigidly inhibit all from attempting to exclude his person. I caution sluggards to abstain from the use of shutters, curtains, and all other villanous modes of insulting my ardent friend. My little garden, my only support, and myself, are equally the objects of his care, and were it not for the constant loan of his great lamp, I could not always see to write."

EXAMPLE 12.-" There is great equability, and sustained force, in every part of his writings. He never exhausts himself in flashes and epigram, nor languishes into tameness and insipidity; at first sight you would say, that plainness and good sense were the predominating qualities; but, by the by, this simplicity is enriched with the delicate and vivid colours of a fine imagination—the free and forcible touches of a powerful intellect—and the lights and shades of an unerring, harmonizing taste. In comparing it with the styles

of his most celebrated contemporaries, we would say that it was more purely and peculiarly a written style--and therefore, rejected those ornaments that more properly belong to oratory.

It had no impetuosity, hurry or vehemence—no burets, or sudden turns, or abruptness, like that of Burke; and though eminently smooth and melodious, it was not modulated to a uniform system of solemn declamation like that of Johnson, nor spread out in the richer and more voluminous elocution of Stewart; nor still less broken into that patchwork of scholastic pedantry and conversational smartness which has found its admirers in Gibbon. It is a style, in short, of great freedom, force, and beauty; but the deliberate style of a man of thought and of learning; and neither that of a wit, throwing out his extempores with an affectation of careless grace- nor of a rhetorician, thinking more of his manner than his matter, and determined to be admired for his expression, whatever may be the fate of his sentiments.

But we need dwell no longer on qualities that may be gathered hereafter from the works he has left behind him.—They who lived with him mourn the most for those which will be traced in no such memorial ; and prize, far above these talents, which gained him his high name in philosophy, that personal character which endeared him to his friends, and shed a grace and a dignity over all the society in which he moved. The same admirable taste which is conspicuous in his writings, or rather, the higher principles from which that taste was but an emanation, spread a similar charm over his whole life and conversation; and gave to the most learned philosopher of his day, the manners and deportment of the most perfect gentleman.”


We may now pause before that splendid prodigy, which towered amongst us like some ancient ruin, whose frown terrified the glance its magnificence attracted.

Grand, gloomy, and peculiar, he sat upon the throne, a sceptered hermit, wrapt in the solitude of his own originality.

A mind bold, independent, and decisive—a will, despotic in his dictates — an energy that distanced expedition, and conscience pliable to every touch of interest, marked the outline of this extraordinary character— the most extraordinary, perhaps, that, in the annals of this world, ever rose, or reigned, or fell.

Flung into life in the midst of a Revolution, that quickened every energy of a people who acknowledged no superior, he commenced his course, a stranger by birth, and a scholar by charity.

With no friend but his sword, no fortune but his talents, he rushed into the lists where rank, and wealth, and genius had arrayed

« EelmineJätka »