Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

serves to be called, and pass an entire day with Coleridge, was a marvellous change indeed. It was a sabbath past expression, deep, and tranquil, and serene. You came to a man who had travelled in many countries and in critical times, who had seen and felt the world in most of its ranks and in many of its vicissitudes and weaknesses--one to whom all literature and genial art were absolutely subject, and to whom, with a reasonable allowance as to technical details, all science was in a most extraordinary degree familiar. Throughout a long-drawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable, but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshalling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and of terror to the imagination ; but pouring withal such floods of light upon the mind, that you might for a season, like Paul, become blind in the very

act of conversion. And this he would do without so much as one allusion to himself, without a word of reflection on others, save when any given act fell naturally in the way of his discourse, without one anecdote that was not proof and illustration of a previous position ; gratifying no passion, indulging no caprice, but, with a calm mastery over your soul, leading you onward and onward for ever through a thousand windings, yet with no pause, to some magnificent point in which, as in a focus, all the parti-coloured rays of his discourse should converge in light. In all this he was, in truth, your teacher and guide; but in a little while you might forget that he was other than a fellow-student and the companion of your way, so playful was his manner, so simple his language, so affectionate the glance of his pleasant eye!HENRY COLERIDGE.

PARVER THE QUAKER, AND HIS TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. Anthony Parver was a quaker, poorer and less educated than most of his brethren; by trade a shoemaker. Can any one assign a reason why so many shoemakers have become eminent for their genius or their enthusiasm ? The employment is still, often solitary, and allows & man to be meditative. Anthony Parver, as he worked with his awl, was over-mastered with an idea that he was called and commanded to translate the Scriptures. His faith attributed the impulse, whose origin he could not trace in his own will or in the concatenation of his human thoughts, to the Divine Spirit. But, if he was an enthusiast, he was an enthusiast of much sanity; for he sought the accomplishment of his end by the necessary means, and did not begin to translate till : he had mastered the original tongues. We know not what assistance

he received in this great undertaking, which was commenced when he had long outlived the years of physical docility; but if it be true, as stated, that he began with the Hebrew first, (and it was the natural course to occur to his mind,) he must have had some, for there was then no Hebrew and English lexicon or grammar. However, he did acquire a competent knowledge of the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac. He afterwards learned Greek, and Latin last of all. But still he could not have accomplished his purpose without pecuniary aid; and that aid was liberally afforded by Dr. Fothergill, at whose sole expense Parver's Translation of the Old and New Testaments, with notes critical and explanatory, in two volumes folio, was printed, and appeared in 1765. The cost of the work is stated at not less than 2001. A short account of this extraordinary effort of faith and perseverance may be found in Southey's Omniana. It is said to be remarkable for a close adherence to the Hebrew idiom. It has not apparently attracted as much notice among biblical scholars as the curiosity, to say no more, of its production would seem to challenge. We never saw it but once, and that was in the library of a Friend. We doubt, indeed, whether any new

translation, however learned, exact, or truly orthodox, will ever ap: pear to English Christians to be the real Bible.

The language of the authorized version is the perfection of English, and it can never be written again, for the language of prose is one of the few things in which the English have really degenerated. Our tongue has lost its holiness.-HARTLEY COLERIDGE. Biographia Borealis, in Life of Dr. John Fothergill.

VOLTAIRE AND JOHNSON.— I found tall Sir Thomas Robinson sitting with Johnson. Sir Thomas said, that the King of Prussia valued himself upon three things—upon being a hero, a musician, and an author. Johnson. “Pretty well, sir, for one man. As to his being an author, I have not looked at his poetry; but his prose

is
poor

stuff. He writes just as you may suppose Voltaire's footboy to do, who had been his amanuensis. He has such parts as the valet might have, and about as much of the colouring of the style as might be got, by transcribing his works." When I was at Femay I repeated this to Voltaire, in order to reconcile him somewhat to Johnson, whom he, in affecting the English mode of expression, had previously characterized as “a superstitious dog;” but after hearing such a criticism on Frederick the Great, with whom he was then on bad terms, he exclaimed, “ An honest fellow!”-BOSWELL. Life of Johnson.

130.—JOHN ELWES, THE MISER.

TOPHAM. [The life of a mere miser can afford so little general instruction, and excite so little general interest, that had Mr. Elwes been one of that unhappy class his biography would, in all probability, so far as Mr. Topham was concerned, have remained unwritten; but Mr. Elwes was not a mere miser, he possessed qualities that might have entitled him to the love and reverence of his friends, and to the respect and admiration of his countrymen, had they but been freely developed: they were, however, during a considerable portion of his life, more or less checkered by the unfortunate desire of amassing money, and they may be said to have ultimately disappeared altogether beneath the hateful influence of that all-absorbing passion. “During the life-time of Mr. Elwes, I said to him more than once, I would write his life. His answer was, • There is nothing in it, sir, worth mentioning.' That I have been of a different opinion, my labours will show.” Thus speaks Mr. Elwes's biographer, in the preface to his very interesting little work, which was at first published in portions in a periodical paper called the • World,' and received by the public with so much approbation that the whole was afterwards issued in a collective form, and ran through several editions. As much of the interest of the publication results from the author's close personal intimacy with Mr. Elwes, and from the easy agreeable style of the narration, the following account is given as nearly as possible in Mr. Topham's own words.?

The family name of Mr. Elwes was Meggot; and, as his Christian name was John, the conjunction of Jack Meggot' made strangers sometimes imagine that his intimates were addressing him by an assumed appellation. His father was a brewer of eminence, who died while Mr. Elwes was only four years old; little of the character of Mr. Elwes was therefore to be attributed to him: but from the mother it may be traced at once; for, though she was left nearly one hundred thousand pounds by her husband, she starved herself to death. At an early period the boy was sent to Westminster school, where he remained

ten or twelve years. During that time he certainly had not misapplied his talents, for he was a good classical scholar to the last; and it is a circumstance not a little remarkable, though well authenticated, that he never read afterwards. His knowledge of accounts was very trifling, which

may in some measure explain the total ignorance he was always in as to his affairs. From Westminster school he removed to Geneva, where he soon entered upon pursuits more agreeable to him than study. The riding-master of the academy there had to boast of perhaps three of the best riders in Europe, Mr. Worsley, Mr. Elwes, and Sir Sidney Meadows. Of the three, Elwes was reckoned the most desperate; the young horses were always put into his hands, and he was the rough rider to the other two. During this period he was introduced to Voltaire, whom he somewhat resembled in point of appearance; but, though he has mentioned this circumstance, the genius, the fortune, the character of Voltaire never seemed to strike him, they were out of his contemplation and his way; the horses in the riding-school he remembered much longer, and their respective qualities made a deeper impression on him. On his return to England he was introduced to his uncle, Sir Harvey Elwes, who was then living at Stoke, in Suffolk, perhaps the most perfect picture of human penury that ever existed. Mr. Elwes, being at that time in the world, dressed like other people. This would not have done for Sir Harvey: so the nephew used to stop at a little inn at Chelmsford, the expense of which he did not much like, and begin to dress in character; a pair of small iron buckles, worsted stockings darned, a worn-out old coat, and a tattered waistcoat were put on, and onwards he rode to visit his uncle, who used to contemplate him with a miserable kind of satisfaction, and seemed pleased to find his heir attempting to come up with him in the race of avarice. There they would sit, saving pair! with a single stick upon the fire, and with one glass of wine occasionally betwixt them, talking of the extravagance of the times; and when evening shut in they would retire to rest, as “going to bed saved candle-light.” But the nephew had then, as at all other times, a very extraordinary appetite, and this would have been a monstrous offence in the eyes of the uncle, so Mr. Elwes was obliged to pick up a dinner first with some neighbour in the country, and then return to Sir Harvey with a little diminutive appetite that was quite engaging. I trust, continues Mr. Topham, a small digression, to give the picture of Sir Harvey, will not be

3!

thought unamusing or foreign to the subject. He was, as may be imagined, a most singular character. His seclusion from the world nearly reached that of a hermit, and could the extremity of his avarice have been taken out of the question a more blameless life was never led.

His life shows that a man may at length so effectually retire into himself, that he may remain little else but vegetation in a human shape.

Providence perhaps has wisely ordered it that the possessions of estates should change like the succession of seasons: the day of tillage and the seed-time, the harvest and the consumption of it, in due order follow each other, and, in the scale of events, are all alike necessary. This succession was exemplified in the character of Sir Harvey Elwes, who succeeded to Sir Jervoise, his grandfather, a very worthy gentleman, who had, however, involved, as far as they would go, all the estates. On his death, Sir Harvey found himself nominally possessed of some thousands a-year, but really with an income of one hundred pounds per annum. He said on his arrival at Stoke, the family seat, " that never would he leave it till he had entirely cleared the paternal estate ;” and he lived to do that, and to realize above one hundred thousand pounds in addition. But he was formed of the very materials to make perfect the character of a miser. In his youth he had been given over for a consumption, (though, such is the power of temperance, he lived till betwixt eighty and ninety years of age,) so he had no constitution and no passion; he was timid, shy, and diffident in the extreme, of a thin spare habit of body, and without a friend

earth. Next to his greatest delight, the hoarding up and counting over his money, was that of partridge-setting, at which he was so great an adept, and game was then so plentiful, that he has been known to take five hundred brace of birds in one season. He lived upon partridges, he and his whole household, consisting of one man and two maids. When the day was not so fine as to tempt him abroad, he would walk backwards and forwards in his old hall, to save fire. His clothes cost him nothing, for he took them out of an old chest, where they had lain since the gay days of Sir Jervoise. One evening, after he had retireil, some robbers, watching their opportunity, obtained admittance into the house; having previously bound the servants, then going up to Sir Harvey, they presented their pistols and demanded his money. At no part of his life did Sir Harvey behave so well as in this transaction.

upon

« AnteriorContinuar »