« PreviousContinue »
titles without virtue; and the obscurity which soon envelopes a name that had nothing but birth and honours to recommend it! If "The proper study of mankind is man," these volumes afford very copious materials for that knowledge. They abound in moral delineation, and political and literary memorials. Most of our General Histories aud Secret Memoirs have been ransacked for every thing that illustrates the character* of the individuals recorded; and no party bias has been allowed to' falsify the colouring, or select partial and garbled extracts.
When it is considered how immense is the apparatus of printed volumes on English history, biography, memoirs, and genealogy, it can scarcely be conceived that many can have the opportunity, and of these how very few can have the leisure, the talent, or the industry, to collect and combine the scattered notices necessary to be brought together for the elucidation of so very extensive a subject. How many of the most able and accomplished minds must be anxious for the result, who yet could not spare the time, labour, or attention to collect it for themselves! Indeed, a literary man must have had a peculiar species of energy, as well as peculiar opportunities, before he could persevere to the end of such a task. Such materials, collected with so much readiness, could never have been brought together upon the spur of the occasion. They are rather, the fruit of a life's intellectual amusement, pursued with passion, begun in the season of youth, when hope is alive, and spirits are unwearied; and carried on in long periods of seclusion from the vexatious interruption of business, or of frivolous society. In those days of happier and more virtuous retirement, the past and the future gain a more lively predominance over the present; and the mind, constantly turned inwards upon itself, has all its faculties, its recollections, its images, and its creations, arranged in clearer order, and capable of more active and vigorous play.
You will perceive, that it is the object of this paper to dwell upon those literary qualities which are least likely to be looked for in a work with a genealogical title. It is not wished to be concealed, that a late occurrence
of a personal nature has led to this. Men who aspire to the highest departments of Literature, to be Poets, and Moralists, and Historians, do not like to be degraded by ignorant misapprehensions of the import of a title. When Horace Walpole gave to the world his ingenious Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, how would he have spurned and ridiculed the incurious and illiterate man, who classed it with the dry lists of publications made out by a mercenary bookseller! Is the new edition of Collins less unlike the former collections of Peerages?
(What is it that distinguishes the biographical talents of Johnson, and makesMiira in that sort of composition so pre-eminent above almost all other writers? He certainly is neither rich nor industrious in facts: but it is the moral charm of his pen; the profound and touching sentiments which flow through every page; the powerful hand with which he draws characters; and the vigorous language in which he cloaths thewhole. This has preserved every thing which he has undertaken to relate from the languor of a compiler, and given it the animation of original composition and genius.
They who have not looked into the Collins, may suppose it to be a collection of insignificant facts and dull dates. It is, on the contrary, wherever there occurs an opening (and that is very frequent in all the eminent families), full of moral remark, of sentiment, and even imagery. The character of Nelson is sometimes blamed as drawn even with an excess of warmth and enthusiasm. Lord Surrey the Poet, with many others of the Howards; the great Lord Buck hurst, afterwards Earl of Dorset; the Ministers Walpole, Pelham, Pulteney, Chatham, Holland, Pitt, Fox; the Yorkes, Mansfield, Camden, Thurlow, Rosslyu, Dunning, &c. are all portraits, which are endeavoured to be drawn with a bold, yet characteristic pen.
When these attractions have been urged, it has been sometimes objected, that they are out of place in a Peerage. But from whom could such comments come? Either from the most uneducated, and most stupid; or from those who were interested in suppressing all the truth of history, and every discrimination of character; who wish the enjoyment of honours to be considered sidered as sufficient proofs of talents and virtues, without farther inquiry; and who think Nobility too sacred to be touched, except by the hand of flattery and panegyric. It has been hinted, that some of the anecdotes or characters may possibly not be true; that they may have been generated by party zeal, and ought not to be revived. Such objections, if valid, ■would put an end to history, and bury the past in a blank oblivion. History stands upon moral evidence; and its lessons must not be lost, to avoid the slight chances of occasional error.
More might be said on this subject, but I am fearful of trespassing on your pages. Yours, &c. D' P—s.
Mr.Urban, ■'«/// 16.
THERE are few things that are so alarming to the inhabitants of the Metropolis as accidents by fire. It must be left to abler heads than mine, to explain how it happens, that there are few houses burnt down in the country towns, and even in Paris; while in London, fires are exceedingly numerous. The subject is very important, and yet it is treated with an apathy that is truly singular.
I beg to suggest to your readers an expedient, in case of fire, calculated to save the children of a family. Make a large bag or sack of strong cloth (it may be used in a house as a bag for holding the linen for washing); when a fire happens, this may be filled partly with cloaths or linen; and if a rope be fastened to it, the children might be lowered down, one by one. A lady informed me, such a bag, on an alarm of fire, had been filled with the smaller valuables of the family without the least loss: had they not possessed such a bag, the greatest confusion and loss must have ensued.
Too much cannot be said of Captain Manby's valuable inventions: an application of his idea of throwing a line over a ship in distress, might be made by fixing a line of pack thread to a small bullet, which might be thrown to any person in danger, at the top of a house on fire; to the other end of the line might be fixed, either a knotted rope, or a ladder of ropes, or a ladder with the steps made of wood, like the ladders over a ship's stern.
I think the vigilance of our criminal police might be useful at fires.
It is miserable to think that, with 100 excellent expedients in cases of fire, many persons may suffer for want of them, because there is no institution by which they might be had in readiness in cases of fire: the only things thought of are the engines"; even the parish ladders (useful as they might be) are much neglected, and seldom brought to a fire. Let it be strongly impressed on your readers, that the greatest service would be done to humanity, if a light cart, laden with fire escapes, &c. could be in readiness to attend tires. The subject is brought home to all in London, when we ask " where is to be the next fire?"
I ought not to conclude without a word on party walls. A fire may begin in one houses, but in ordinary cases it should stop there ; the builder and District Surveyor (who is well paid) may divide the odium if it goes further. In one instance lately a house, which ought not to have been touched, had the fire communicated by wood let into the party wall, in two of the stories. Can the Surveyor be sued for damages?
Yours, &c. Palatinus.
P. S. I beg to mention, that Mr. Scott, of 302, Strand, has invented a fire escape, by which all persons, even females and children, may safely escape from the window of a house on fire to the window of the adjoining house. The idea seems to me both original and invaluable; and it oilers the best practicable means of safety, in the lofty houses of the Metropolis.
Mb. Urban, Temple, April 10.
THERE are few things of more importance at this present time, than the present state of the law of debtor and creditor: it is certain that the Insolvent Law, which has for its author Lord Redcsdale, a peer of distinguished learniug aud humanity, has failed in its professed object—drawing the fair and just line between debtor and creditor. Your readers will have observed with dismay Ihzifive millions of debts have been spunged off, and the payments to the numerous creditors have been under a farthing in the pouni. I would just further observe, that very different would have been the effect of the old law. Under arrests, many doubtful debts have been paid. As to long imprisonments, professional detur puer, quera laus excitet, queen gloria juvet, qui victug fleat! hie erit alendus ambitu, hunc mordebit objurgatio, hunc honor excitabit; in hoc desidiam nunquam verebor."
I send you a sketch of the proceedings of the last anniversary, on Wednesday in Easter Week.
An Admirer of Classical Learning.
fessional men know they seldom occur. The discharge given by the Insolvent Acts also seems to me to go a great way to weaken, if not to destroy, the common principles of honesty.
I am happy in the opportunity of introducing to your valuable columns the Debtor's prayer, from Bishop Jeremy Taylor. Your readers will there see, that the opinion of that admirable Divine was greatly in opposition to the present feeling of insolvent debtors. Yours, &c. S. P.
A Prayer to be said by Debtors, and all Persons obliged, whether by crime or contract.
O Almighty God, who art rich unto all, the treasury and fountain of all good„of all justice, and all mercy, and all bounty; to whom we owe all that we are, and all that we have, being thy debtors, by reason of our sins, and by thy own gracious contract made with us in Jesus Christ; teach me, in the first place, to perform all my obligations to thee, both of duty and thankfulness j and next, enable me to pay my duty to all my friends, and my debts to all my creditors, that none be made miserable, or lessened in his estate, by his kindness to me, or traffick with me. Forgive me all those sins and irregular actions by which I entered into debt, further than my necessity required, or by which such necessity was brought upon me; but let not them suffer by occasion of my sin. Lord, reward all their kindness into their bosoms, and make them recempence where I cannot; and make me very willing in all that I can, and able for all that I am obliged to; or if it seem good in thine eyes to afflict me by the continuance of this condition, yet make it up by some means to them, that the prayer of thy servant may obtain of thee, at least, to pay my debts in blessings. Amen.
Mr. Urban, July 12.
TO those Parents who are desirous that their sons should enjoy the full advantage of a good classical Education, I beg leave to recommend Rugby School, which I have known between thirty and forty years, and which has never stood so high in the estimation of real scholars as it does at this present time. I never fail to' attend the anniversary of the public speeches in that admirable seminary, where I am continually reminded of the following beautiful sentence of Quintilian, which gives a charming portrait of an ingenuous school-boy, emulous of literary fame: "Mihi ille
The business of the day began with the recitation of the Prize compositions, in Latin and English verse, by the successful candidates. The Latin subject was Panthea and Abradates, whose affecting story is related with inimitable simplicity and pathos by the masterly pen of Xenophon, in the CyropiEdia. The poem on this subject, which gained the prize, was delivered with propriety and unaffected self-possession, by Rust, sou
of Rust, Esq. of Huntingdon.
The prize was a handsome folio, value ten guineas.—The English subject was " Christ rejected," as represented in a picture by West. The prize, a beautiful edition in 4to of ApolloniusRhodius, value six guineas,
was gained by White, son of
White, Esq. of Lichfield.—Then followed the speeches in Greek, Latin, and English. The first was a beautiful scene from one of Dryden's Plays, between Mark Antony and Ventidius. Antony by Proby, son of the Dean of Lichfield; Ventidius by Moor, son of the late Rector of Sapcote in Leicestershire, who supported well the character of the veteran and faithful soldier: his aim was, to recall his master from the despair of a disappointed lover, and the anguish of his ill success at Actium, to right feelings and a sense of duty. Antony was well represented; the expression of his countenance at the commencement of the scene, from wrath, misery, and despair, was gradually changed to a manly and warlike resolution to fight again at the head of his troops, and lead them on to victory.
The next speech was delivered by
Forster, son of Forster, Esq. of
Southend, Kent; it was the address of Scipio to his soldiers, from Livy; wherein he exhorts them bravely to fight against the inveterate enemy of Rome, Hannibal: his action was not particularly good; but he seemed to enter into the spirit of his author, and recited the speech with emphasis and energy.
The next speakers who came forward were Sir John Johnstone, of Hackney, near Scarborough, Yorkshire; and lili-mil. son of— B Irwin, Esq. of Llantanaiu Abbey, Monmouthshire, in the characters of Alonzo and Zanga, in Young's tragedy of the Revenge. Johnslone appeared rather pushed beyond hi» power» a» Alonzo; but in the conclusion, where, at the instigation of the perfidious Zanga, he determines to slay Leonora, his intended bride,believing her affections not to be placed on him, he was very spirited. Blewitt, as Zanga, displayed powers of acting incredible in > a school-hoy; his action appeared naturally to follow his words; there was nothing studied; the speaker seemed lost and forgotten in Zanga; and in that part of the scene where, by enlargiog on the glory of the deed, he inspires Alonzo with the resolution of murdering his bride to gratify his own malice, the performance was excellent. Tomlinson, son of — Totnlinson, Esq. of Clifte Ville, Staffordshire, delivered Demosthenes with spirit; it was that part of the first Philippic, where the orator is most energetic in exhorting the Athenians to oppose the measures of Philip of Macedon, with equal activity. Vicars, son of an eminent Irish Barrister; and Hamilton, son of the celebrated Dr. Hamilton, Physician at Edinburgh, aid, if we mistake not, Professor in the University, exhibited fromOlway's Venice Preserved: Vicars in the character of Jaffier, and Hamilton in that oll'riiili. The angry father was well represented by the latter; as was Jaffier, the unfortunate lover, by the former.
Then followed thedialogue between Jupiter, Venus, and Juno, in the beginning of the tenth book of Virgil's Eneid, where the two rival Goddesses • carry on a sharp objurgatory war of words before the mighty Thunderer.
Collins, son of Collins, Esq.
of Yoxford, in Suffolk, represented Jupiter, and gave a dignified exhibition of the Father and King of Gods and men, seated upon his throne on the summit of Olympus. Massingberd, son of a Lincolnshire Clergyman, represented the Paphian Dante, and made a very interesting appearance on account of his youth, being only fourteen. The arts of the Goddess of Love to soften the heart and unbend
the awful brow of Jupiter, as well as to impress him with a sense of the obduracy of his royal spouse towards her favourite Trojans, were unaffectedly displayed by her young representative at Rugby. The stern and unrelenting Juno was exhibited by Winthrop, son of Dr. Winthrop, a Physician. This young gentleman, who is only a beginner in the art of speaking, gave promising signs of future improvement.
Then followed the representation of part of Mason's Caractacui. Paulion, son of a Russian Merchant, appeared as Canctacus, and was very much admired; he shewed a just conception of the character, and exhibited the sentiments with good taste and grace. TheBardwasperformedby Caldecott, son of Abraham Caldecott, Esq. of Rugby, with great propriety and force; and Hume, son of ——— Hume, Esq. of Bilton, did justice to the interesting character of Evelina.
The next exhibition was a scene from the Ajax of Sophocles, performed by Macaulay, son of the Rev. A. Macaulay, of Rothley in Leicestershire; Kynaston, son of the Rev. Mr. Kynaston, of Bury St. Edmund», in Suffolk; and Peel, son of Sir IL Peel, Bart, of Tamworth. Macaulay was Ajax, Kjnaston Chorus, Peel Tecmessa; and they performed their parts in a sty le worthy of the Athenian Buskin; or, to borrow the words of the Mantuan Bard, Sophocleo digna cothurno. Macaulay conceived his part well, in the scene where Ajax, disregarding the entreaties of Tecmetsa, determines to commit suicide, in his rage against Ulysses, on being disappointed of the arm' of Achilles; his articulation was distinct and clear, and his delivery and action were just and appropriate. Feel as Tccmessa was perfectly natural. The introduction in this performance of a little boy, seven years old, to personate Eurysacar, the son of Ajax, excited universal attention, from the interesting appearance of the boy; and was doubly gratifying to those who understood the Greek language, when Ajax came to take leave of his son, and exhorted him to follow the steps of his father; although the looks and manner of the father spoke alanguage sufficiently intelligible to the rest of the auditory.
The concluding exhibition was a