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THE

ry merit of the letters selected, or the high character and station of the writers, which renders it a matter of public curiosity to know somewhat of their manners and sentiments.

3. Moreover, in selecting the correspondence, much delicacy should be employed in publishing letters which the writers meant only for the private perusal of the deceased to whom they were addressed. Indeed, it behoves every man to be upon his guard in writing letters to those who are accustomed to preserve their epistoVOL. X.

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THE

ANALECTIC MAGAZINE.

AUGUST, 1817.

Art. I.-Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late John CoAK

LEY LETTSOM, M.D. LL.D.F.R.S. F.A.S. F. L. S. &c. &c. &c. with a selection from his correspondence.-By Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, F. L. S. Member of, &c. &c. &c. 3 volumes, 8vo. London E should hardly have deemed this publication worth the pages

we have dedicated to it, but from the circumstance of its comprising epistolary correspondence between Dr. Lettsom and many persons of eminence of our own country, both dead and living. To American readers therefore, this collection will be an object of curiosity at least, even if it were worth perusing on no other account. Indeed if it contained nothing better to recommend it than the Biography of Dr. Lettsom by his friend Mr. Pettigrew, and the letters of Dr. Lettsom himself, we might safely consign it to the dust of the shelf, a portion of the literary lumber that adds merely to the inutile pondus.

When an author, even in this book-making age, sits down to write the memoirs of the life and writings of his deceased friend, and to present the world with a selection from his correspondence, it is reasonable to expect,

1. That the life of the person in question should be interesting from the great eminence of the deceased from the remarkable character of the events of his life or instructive, from the moral lessons and conclusions which it affords.

2. The selection from his correspondence should be interesting, either from the novelty of fact, the ingenuity of remark, the literary merit of the letters selected, or the high character and station of the writers, which renders it a matter of public curiosity to know somewhat of their manners and sentiments.

3. Moreover, in selecting the correspondence, much delicacy should be employed in publishing letters which the writers meant only for the private perusal of the deceased to whom they were

addressed. Indeed, it behoves every man to be upon his guard in writing letters to those who are accustomed to preserve their episto

VOL, X

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lary correspondence. To such a person, prudence requires that we should write only what we would write to the public: for although we might venture to unbosom ourselves to a friend, whose character we know and esteem, some book-making executor, may compel us to unbosom ourselves to all the world, and make the public at large our confidants, without our knowledge or consent.

Hence it becomes the duty of a man of eminence, to destroy such letters of his friends as do not require preservation from the permanent importance of their contents; for although the communication may be preserved as the writer intended it should be, in the private escrutore of the friend to whom it was directed, yet a legal representative may seize upon it as lawful prey, and expose it for his own purposes to all the world, provided in so doing he keeps within the tether marked out by the law.

It would be difficult to assign any one reasonable motive for writing the life and memoirs of Dr. Lettsom, a man in our time generally regarded rather as a licensed quack, than a regular physicianignorant of the common attainments of the well educated medical men who were his cotemporaries-notorious for his vanity, for his perpetual attempts to puff himself into public notice, for his bustling, ostentatious philanthropy, and his popularity and prosperity as a medical practitioner, in consequence of being considered by a particular sect, as the successor of Dr. Fothergill. Of his medical opinions and discoveries, we know none that have survived him; of his writings it would be difficult to point out one that has earned the approbation of the literary world.

He was a zealous and active promoter of many liberal and charitable schemes; instigated partly by a desire of being useful, and mainly by a wish that the world should notice him as being so. But though a zealous and an active, he was not an efficient promoter of any

of these schemes; for his efforts were not seconded by any weight of personal character. Among those who knew him personally, he was not respected: indeed we incur no risk saying, that his general character was that of a man singularly desirous of popularity, but ignorant, vain, and ostentatious.

This may be deemed by some an ill-natured, harsh account of a character made up, like many others, of some faults and more vir. tues; but it will not be deemed so by those who take the trouble of reading, as we have done, the Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Lettsom, and the Selection from his Correspondence by his present biographer, Mr. Pettigrew: for even Dr. Lettsom seems des. tined to be served up after death by some “ damn'd good natured friend," as Sir Fretful Plagiary expresses it, who, like Bozzi and Piozzi kindly exposes all the failings of his life, to the animadversion of future times.

By the assistance of many trifling anecdotes of many trifling characters, the Life and Memoirs occupy about two hundred pages of the first volume.

Thus in page 5 we are told that John Coakley Lettsom was born in the island of Tortola on the 22d of November, 1744. From

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