« PreviousContinue »
is by no means orthodox, particularly with regard to the Trinity. Read his Treatise de Oratione, and his Exhortatio ad Martyrium. He forbids prayer to Christ, because he differs from God the Father “in substance,” s. 15. I find nothing in the Exhortation to Martyrdom, that peculiarly attracts my attention.
Read Barrow's China; a History of the Orkney Islands; and Tassoni's Secchia Rapita. This poem is said to be the earliest of the burlesque epic kind. Some of the descriptions are in the gorgeous style of colouring used by Marino, who is mentioned, canto xii., st. 11, together with Tasso, Bracciolino and Ariosto. The heathen deities form the machinery. The time of the war, occasioned by the fatal bucket being carried off in skirmish from Bologna by the Modanese, is in the thirteenth century. But there are many designed and humorous anachronisms. The episode of the enchanted island, which occupies the ninth canto, is highly fanciful, and has much drollery in its conclusion. The poem is in many parts disgraced with indecency, to be found neither in the Lutrin, nor in the Rape of the Lock. The latter has the advantage over both its rivals in point of machinery. Tiraboschi mentions its (the Secchia Rapita) having been translated into English, as does Muratori, referred to by Mr. Hayley, Essay on Epic Poetry, Ep. 3., n. viii., where the translation is said to have been printed in 1715. P.S. In a life of Tassoni, by Mr. Cooper Walker, there are
quotations from the translation, which was made by Ozell. In the ninth canto Don Quixote is mentioned.
My father's favourite studies were now interrupted, first by domestic affliction, and then, as the result of that affliction, by a long and distressing malady. Several members of his family were attacked by typhus fever, himself amongst the number; before he had well recovered from the effects of the fever, his youngest daughter Harriet fell a victim to that complaint. She died in the month of May, 1807.
In early childhood, his mother, as we have seen, had remarked the strength and tenderness of his affections: the enjoyment, for a series of years, of happiness as pure and unmixed as can well fall to the lot of man, in the society of a wife and children whom he tenderly loved, tended only to increase the fervour of his natural disposition. The loss of a beloved child was more than he could stand up against. Mind and body both fell prostrate at the blow. Shortly after his daughter's death, a removal to London was found necessary for the sake of procuring the best medical advice. For several months a suspension of all mental occupation was indispensable, and, as his wife says in a letter to his sister, Mrs. Price," he was unable to read for many minutes together.”
At intervals, however, he was able to exert him
self, and though incapable of a continuous course of study, could attend to the claims of friendship or the calls of duty.
The following letter to Mr. Birch, written on occasion of the death of his friend's mother, will show not only how far sympathy for another's sufferings could make him, for the time, forget his own, but also, how applicable to himself is the remark he several years before had made on the letters of Cowper, that from them one may form an estimate of the characters of the persons to whom he was writing. Mr. Birch was possessed of remarkable firmness of mind, joined to strong, but well-regulated affections; he owned a spirit without guile, a cheerful but unobtrusive devotion; and could not but be sensibly affected by his friend's allusion to his own bereavement, a subject on which nothing but the hope of giving consolation would have induced him to touch. Indeed, so deep and lasting was my father's sense of the loss of his own mother, that I never heard him make the most indistinct allusion to it, till after his wife's death, in comparison of which all other afflictions, especially such as were distant, were as nothing.
TO THE REV. WALTER BIRCH.
Kingsbury, October 1, 1807. MY DEAR BIRCH, If I had not been aware, both from the manner in which your last letter is written, and from my knowledge of your just way of feeling on such occasions, with how much composure and resignation of mind you bear the loss of your mother, I should not have let a day pass without offering you my condolence on that event. Her advanced age, the prosperity of a large family, the presence of her children, the quiet manner of her falling asleep, would have been so many lenitives even to an intemperate sorrow. In your mind they must have tended powerfully to heal the wound almost in the moment it was inflicted.
You appreciate too, with due gratitude, the value of a blessing so long enjoyed. I hope it is not with a culpable repining, that I consider the difference of our lots. You reach almost to the middle of your natural term, before you are deprived of the advantage and comfort of having such a parent. Mine was taken away from me in early childhood, so that not even the slightest impression of her form remains on my memory, though I can recollect something of a sweetness, which is known to me chiefly from the extreme bitterness with which I felt its loss.
For this remembrance, however, let me be grateful. It has sometimes had a good influence on my mind, when other motives might perhaps have failed.
I have some hopes that I may enjoy rather more of your company next winter than I have done for some years past. I think of taking a house in the neighbourhood of Westminster School, from after the Christmas holidays to the ensuing Whitsuntide,
for the sake of sending my boys there and assisting them, during their examination for becoming King's Scholars. I am led to believe they have made that degree of proficiency which is necessary for entitling them to become candidates.
Their instruction, added to the continuation of my work as a translator, has occupied my time pretty fully. I have nearly reached the end of the Purgatorio, which is, within one canto, as long as the Inferno. The critique which you hear has done me some justice, is from a partial hand, that of Price, who is now becoming a frequent writer in the Review where it appeared.
These are not his only productions. Within this month he has had another little girl born. He has now three pupils, the sons of his relations; and I believe would be glad to add another to the number. My wife and children are all well. The long and sad illness of one of my sisters, who for near a twelvemonth has entirely lost the use of her limbs, and during that period, has appeared several times at the point of death, has been the severest deduction from our family happiness. The preceding year had also been one of great suffering with her, and we were just beginning to indulge hopes of her recovery, when she was again levelled by a typhus fever, which has left her in this state of extreme weakness and danger. Her mildness and patience have been exemplary throughout; and they are of the more value, because she has a mind capable of