« PreviousContinue »
justly observed, would be general and unappropriate. So much for this important business.
I am sorry that you are still confined by those teasing enemies on your feet-as the winter, instead of his icy crown, wears “ an odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds.”
H. F. CARY.
To return to the question agitated in his last letter to his friend Price—the choice of a profession. His father's wishes at length prevailed, and he came to the resolution of taking orders. As he was wont to say to his own sons in after-life, though not always with the same result, “My father knew better than I did what course of life was best suited to me.” He was accordingly, in the spring of 1796, admitted to the order of deacon in the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, and shortly afterwards to that of priest, having been presented by the Earl of Uxbridge to the vicarage of Abbots Bromley, in Staffordshire.
The time had now arrived when he was able to realise his favourite project of devoting his life to study; and no sooner was he settled at Abbots Bromley than he set to on a regular system, keeping a journal of what he read, and, added to this, a note-book containing extracts, with occasional remarks, of the most striking passages of the several authors; these were all classed according to the plan of Locke's Common-Place-book, under their appropriate heads. It is probably to this system of carefully registering all that struck him as most worthy of notice, that is to be attributed the excellence of the illustrative and explanatory notes with which his translation of Dante is enriched. His commonplace-book contained vast stores of learning, gathered from authors ancient and modern, on almost every subject of literature and taste, to which he had ready access without the labour of search, or the necessity of availing himself of the researches of others.
It is my intention to embody the whole of this journal in the present work, as giving a better view of the life of a scholar than any mere record of his literary labours could do. It begins as follows :
May 26. Read Tibullus, books i. and ii.
27. Finished Tibullus. Read Horace's Odes, book iv.
28. Read Horace's Odes, book iii., and book ii. to ode 12.
June 1. Finished book ii. of the Odes of Horace, and read book i. to ode 16.
At Cannock: read some sermons of Carr and Logan. Read Armstrong's didactic Poem on Health.
2. Finished book i. of Horace's Odes.
3. Read book v. of Horace's Odes. Resumed Pindar, after a long interval, and read Nem. vi.
June 4. Continued Pindar, Nem. vii. viii. and ix.
12. Continued Pindar, Nem. x., xi., and Isthm. i. The tenth Nemean ode is distinguished by the beautiful description of Castor's death and the fraternal piety of Pollux. I read the Isthmian odes last year or the year before at Cannock. The Olympian and Pythian odes I have read, I believe, only once, and that was when I went through Pindar at college.
13. Continued Pindar, Isthm. ii. to vi. The fourth Isthmian ode has some fine parts; the sixth presents a noble subject for the historic painter, when the eagle appears in consequence of the vow made by Hercules for the prosperity of Ajax, the son of his host Telamon. This passage has, I think, pleased me as much as anything in all Pindar : but that is saying much.
14. Read Pindar, Isthm. vii., viii., the two last odes. The eighth Isthmian has a striking passage about the marriage of Thetis. Began Valerius Flaccus and read book i. of his Argonautics in the edition of Nic. Heinsius. The first book describes the sailing of the Argos, the heroes who sailed in the expedition, a storm, the anger of Pelias against Jason for taking his son Acastus away with him, his revenge in putting Æson to death, Æson's horrid imprecations against him, and his flight to Elysium, on which there are some fine lines that close the book. Thetis riding on the back of a dolphin
to her marriage with Peleus is introduced as a painting in the ship Argos: this, and Chiron bringing the infant Achilles to his father, are two delightful passages.
June 15. Continued Valerius Flaccus, book ii., containing the progress of the Argos, the account of the Lemnian women destroying their husbands, and the rescue of a virgin by Hercules from a seamonster.
16 to 18. At Cannock. Read a Tour overland to India, by Duncan Campbell; interesting, and written with such naïveté as to make one like the writer. The description of a story-telling and a play at Aleppo, and his account of his travelling from that place into Persia with a Tartar guide highly entertaining
19. Continued Valerius Flaccus, book iii. The Argonauts, proceeding on their voyage, are hospitably received by king Cyzicus and his subjects : but unfortunately killing a lion sacred to Cybele, they are attacked, and a skirmish ensues in which Cyzicus and several more are slain. The part where Mopsus directs Jason how to appease the manes of those who had fallen, is in a strain of solemn sublimity. The remainder of the book relates the death of Hylas and the consequent loss of Hercules, who remains in search of him.
Read Chaucer. The second Nonnes Prologue and Tale, viz., the Life and Death of St. Cecily.
June 20 to 22. At Cannock. Read Maximes, &c. du Duc de la Rochefoucauld. They contain much unpleasant truth, some useful and some, perhaps, dangerous instruction. Read Montalbert, a novel, by Charlotte Smith, in three volumes.
24. Continued Valerius Flaccus, books iv. and v. The Argonauts proceed on their voyage, and Amycus, king of the Bebrycians, who cruelly sacrificed all who came on his coast, is killed by Pollux. When they pass the Bosphorus, Orpheus sings the fate of Io. Calais and Zetus deliver Phineus from the Harpies. In return he prophesies to the Argonauts. They proceed and are hospitably entertained by Lycus, king of the Mariandyni. During their stay here Idmon and Typhys die. They are afterwards replaced by some companions of Hercules. After passing the Chalybes, they arrive at the river Phasis, the end of their voyage. Medea meets and brings them to her father Æetes, who is at war with his brother Perses, and they engage to assist him. The fifth book concludes with a dispute between Mars and Juno and Minerva.
Read Chaucer; Chanon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale. A canon extorts money from a priest under pretence of discovering to him the method of transmuting silver into gold.
25. Read Valerius Flaccus, book vi. The sixth book is rather dry. It contains an account of the war and the nations engaged in it. Juno appears to