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in his writings on general ethics and criticism, he did not so much excel in political discussion.
While Burke and Johnson differed on subjects of political expediency, they cooperated in performing the duties of private friendship and justice. They this summer appeared together at the Old Bailey, to give evidence to the character of a gentleman tried for his life. Mr. Baretti, so well known in the literary world, had been attacked by a woman of the town, near the Haymarket.. In endeavouring to get away, he was surrounded by three fellows, who supported the woman in her impudence, and, with much scurrilous abuse, struck him. They continued to molest him ; on which, apprehensive of his life, he drew a knife, warning them to keep off: a scuffle ensuing, he stabbed two of them, of whom one died. Burke and Johnson, with several others, bore testimony to the goodness of his general character and the peaceableness of his disposition. The jury considered the homicide
as in self-defence, and he was accordingly. acquitted. Baretti was very intimate with the members of the liierary club, especially with Burke and Johnson, and highly valued by those illustrious personages.
Mr. Burke about this time paid a visit to Ireland, and was received with the kindest affection by his friends in that hospitable country. As his character for genius, literature, and parliamentary eloquence, was now very high, he found many claimed kindred with him, of whom he had never before heard; and that many pretended to have long foreseen his eminence, whose penetration was of that sort that enabled them to discover a character to be great, when universally affirmed to be so; and whose estimates of genius and virtue depended in a considerable degree on the newspapers which they happened most frequently to read. Justly appreciating such sagacity and claims of relation, he behaved with the greatest affability and benevolence to all the intimates of his youth. His
master, Mr. Shackleton, whom I have before mentioned, had a distinguished share of his attention. With his old school-fellows he indulged himself in retracing the scenes of his juvenile days, and frequently corresponded with them. One of his greatest intimates, and with whom he spent much of his time whenever he went to Ireland, was Mr. Michael Smith, who had been his classfellow under Mr. Shackleton, and was now a country schoolmaster, but always valued by the great mind of Burke, according to his abilities and personal character, and not according to his accidental situation. He at this time was master of the Grammar-school of Fenagh, in the county of Leitrim. Letters frequently passed between them, one of which, on each side, I shall select as a specimen of the respectable ability of Mr. Smith, and the estimation in which he was held by his illustrious correspondent. They were written at a much earlier period of Burke's life than that at which we are now arrived; but could not before be introduced with propriety, as an opportunity had not
occurred of mentioning Mr. Smith. It appears, that soon after his arrival in London, Mr. Burke had received a letter from Mr. Smith, to which the following is the answer :
MY DEAR MICHAEL,
Mr. Balf was so very kind as to deliver me your friendly epistle about half an hour ago. I read it over, blest the first inventor of letters, and as I have plenty of ink, pens, and paper, and as this is one of my holidays, I intend to dedicate it to friendship.Balzac having once escaped from a company, where he found it necessary to weigh every word that he uttered, chanced to meet a friend : “ Come,” said he to him, “ let us retire to some place where we can converse freely' together, and commit as many solecisms as we please."..I need not tell you the application. You'll expect some short account of my journey to this great city. To tell you the truth, I made very few remarks as I rolled along, for my mind was occupied with many thoughts, and my eyes often filled with tears, when I reflected on all the dear friends I left behind; yet the prospects could not fail to attract the attention of the most indifferent: country seats sprinkled round on every side, some in the modern taste, others in the stile of old de Coverley Hall, all smiling on the neat, but humble cottage; every village as gay and compact as a bee-hive, resounding with the busy hum of industry, and inns like palaces. What a contrast between our poor country, where you'll. scarce find a cottage ornamented with a chimney! But what pleased me most of all was the progress of agriculture, my favourite study, and my favourite pursuit, if Providence had blessed me with a few paternal acres. A description of London and its nations would fill a volume. The buildings are very fine: it may be called the sink of vice : but her hospitals and charitable institutions, whose turrets pierce the skies, like so many electrical conductors, avert the very wrath of Heaven. The inhabitants may be divided into two classes,