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prehend the whole; and that he should possess such exquisite art, that whilst every child shall feel the whole effect, his learned editors and commentators should yet so very frequently mistake or seem ignorant of the cause. A sceptre or a straw are in his hands of equal efficacy; he needs no selection; he converts every thing into excellence; nothing is too great, nothing is too base. Is a character efficient like Richard, it is every thing we can wish: is it otherwise, like Hamlet, it is productive of equal admiration: action produces one mode of excellence and inaction another : the chronicle, the novel, or the ballad ; the king or the beggar, the hero or the madman, the sot or the fool; it is all one ;-80thing is worse, nothing is better. The same genius pervades and is equally admirable in all. Or, is a character to be shown in progressive change, and the events of years comprised within the hour,—with what a magic hand does he prepare and scatter his spells! The understanding must, in the first place, be subdued ; and lo! how the rooted prejudices of the child spring up to confound the man! The weird sisters rise, and order is extinguished. The laws of nature give way, and leave nothing in our minds but wildness and horror. No pause is allowed us for reflection : horrid sentiment, furious guilt and compunction, air-drawn daggers, murders, ghosts, and enchantment shake and possess us wholly. In the mean time the process is completed. Macbeth changes under our eye, the milk of human kindness is converted into gall; he has supped full of horrors, and his May of life is fallen into the sear, the
yellow leaf; whilst we, the fools of amazement, are insensible to the shifting of place and the lapse of time, and till the curtain drops never once wake to the truth of things, or recognise the laws of existence.-On such an occasion, a fellow like Rymer, waking from his trance, shall lift up his constable's staff, and charge this great magician, this daring practiser of arts prohibited, in the name of Aristotle to surrender; whilst Aristotle himself, disowning his wretched officer, would fall prostrate at his feet and acknowledge his supremacy.
GEORGE BUCHANAN. This year, so afflicting to Mary, was the last in the life of Buchanan; and his ability, his virtues, and his demerits are too conspicuous to be passed without notice. Afflicted with the stone, and pressed down with the infirmities of old age, he felt the approaches of his dissolution, and prepared for it like a philosopher: he resigned his employments, and tired of the living, waited with resignation for the moment that was to number him with the dead. At Edinburgh, in the seventyseventh year of his existence, on the twenty-eighth day of September, a little past five o'clock in the morning, his spirit took its flight. The envy that attends on eminence, and the bitterness that fill the heart of an enemy, are commonly extinguished when their object is removed. But Buchanan was pursued with reproaches while in his grave. Many writers have described him as a monster
of impiety, as habitually besotted with wine, and as deluded with women. It is impossible to give any credit to the vileness of calumny; and it were equally vain to yield without reserve to the heated admiration of panegyrists. Sir James Melvil, whose political sentiments were different from his, has done him the justice to declare, that he died a sincere member of the reformed church, In passing from the errors of popery, he discovered not, indeed, the flaming zeal of a convert; and his moderation was the effect of his wisdom. A superstitious grimace was no part of his character; and to a person of his uncommon endowments it would be an error to impute the most scrupulous adherence to every tenet in any popular faith. His life was liberal, like his opinions. From the uncertain condition of his fortune, or from his attachment to study, he kept himself free from the restraint of marriage ; but if a judgment may be formed from the vivacity of his temper and the wantonness of his verses, he was no enemy to beauty and to love, and must have known the tumults and the languor of volup. tuousness. Violent in his nature, he embraced his friend with ardour, and indulged in the play of social affections. Proud of mental superiority, he was prone to treat with contempt men of high rank, whose chief recommendation was their birth or their riches. Against his enemies he was animated with an atrocity of revenge; a malignant keenness glanced in his eye; and the persecu. tions of priests and the oppressions of misfortune served to augment the natural fretfulness of his disposition, and gave an edge to his spleen. His conversation was gay, ingenious, and satirical.
When he was possessed of wealth there were no bounds to his prodigality; when in want, he submitted to little arts to procure the means of expense ; and being careless of the future, he made no provision for the season of dotage and helplessness. His money and his life terminated in the same moment. He was rather low in stature; of his dress he was negligent; and his external appearance bore no marks of the cultivation of his taste. Yet in the slavish occupations of a pedagogue, in which he passed the better part of his days, he had contracted no pedantic impertinence. No meanness of situation could destroy the greatness of his mind. He passed with propriety from the school to the cabinet, and felt himself alike a scholar and a courtier. In poetry he was deemed unrivalled by his contemporaries. He is more nervous, more various, more elegant than the Italian poets. He has imitated those of Rome with greater grace and purity. His Psalms, in which he has employed so many kinds of verse, display admirably the extent and universality of his mind, the quickness and abundance of his fancy, and the power and acutenesss of his judgment. In history he has contended with Livy and Sallust. The chequered scenes of his life had given him a wide experience of the world, and he was naturally of a thoughtful disposition. He treats accordingly the transactions of men with great prudence and discernment. In the precision and exactness of his narration he is not equally successful. Minute facts too often escape his attention ; and important ones do not always receive from him that niceness of examination, and that fulness of detail, which they merit. Of ornament he is more studious than of truth; and the fables which disgrace the earlier portions of his history are not more disgusting than the partiality with which he records the events of his own times. A love of liberty, and a respect for the best interests of mankind, pervade and illustrate his work; but his admiration of tyrannicide, and his contempt of royalty, betray a propensity to licentiousness and faction. His learning is admirable; his penetration better than his learning. The vigour of his mind, the interest of his manner, the dignity of his narration, the deepness of his remark, the purity of his diction, are all conspicuous. But while his genius and ability adorned the times in which he lived, and must draw to him the admiration of the most distant posterity, it is not to be forgotten that his political conduct was disgraceful in the greatest degree, and must excite its regrets and provoke its indignation. His zeal for the Earl of Murray overturned altogether his allegiance as a subject, and his integrity as a man. His activity against Mary in the conferences in England was in a strain of the most shameless corruption; and the virulence with which he endeavoured to defame her by his writings, was most audacious and criminal. They involve the complicated charge of ingratitude, rebellion, and perjury. That he repented of his political transactions, and of his malignity to Mary, has indeed been affirmed with great probability ; but no decisive vouchers of his sorrow have been recorded ; and in the short Memoir he left of himself, he has avoided all