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marvellous rapidity and accuracy of critical judgment. As a critic, his perceptions were exquisite, and his resources boundless. He could put a new or an old idea into a sort of kaleidoscopic variety of striking and novel aspects, and with a charming facility. He could bring out a meaning often more distinctly and happily than his author himself. His rich, comprehensive, and penetrating criticism shed new splendour over Homer, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Dryden, and whomsoever else he willed to set before his own and his reader's eye.
One of his most distinguished contemporaries, not apt to bestow eulogy lavishly or unworthily,-I mean Mr Hallam,-in his Introduction to the Literature of Europe, while sketching the character of Spenser, thus alludes to a fine series of papers by Professor Wilson on the Fairy Queen: "It has been justly observed by a living writer, of the most ardent and enthusiastic genius, whose eloquence is as the rush of mighty waters, and has left it for others, almost as invidious, to praise in terms of less rapture, as to censure what he has borne along in the stream of unhesitating eulogy, 'that no poet has ever had a more exquisite sense of the beautiful than Spenser'" adding, in a note, "I allude here to a very brilliant series of papers on the Fairy Queen, published in Blackwood's Magazine, during the years 1834 and 1835." I think the observation which the Professor makes concerning Spenser, may be well applied to the gifted critic himself. I fear, however, that I am wandering too far from the object of this humble tribute to the memory of Professor Wilson.
I never heard him speak in disparaging terms of any of his contemporaries; but how tremendous, in his earlier years, were his flagellations of those whom he considered deserving of them as literary offenders, is known to all well-informed literary readers. I have conversed with him much about literary men, and often admired his forbearing and generous spirit.
Shortly after Mr Dickens had so suddenly eclipsed in popularity all his contemporaries, Professor Wilson spoke to me of him in terms of high admiration, as a man of undoubted and great genius; and he spoke of "Nelly" as a beautiful creation.
Professor Wilson told me that there were two things he specially hated -letter-writing, and being "made a lion of," or, as I recolleet him saying contemptuously, a lionet." As for letter-writing, I never received from him but one in my life; and that was written on half a sheet of paper, evidently the blank sheet of some old letter. Mentioning a late accomplished dignitary of the Church, he said, laughingly, will continue writing to me, though I never answer his letters, nor will!" One of those letters happened to contain a friendly allusion to myself, and he sent it to me through a common friend, thinking it would please me.
He never called on me in the Temple but once; and then sate a long time, asking a multitude of ques tions about the Temple,—its history, the nature of chamber life, &c. &c., with lively interest; almost suggesting that he might be thinking of writing something on the subject.
He used to be a daily visitor at Messrs Blackwood's saloon,* in George Street, to chat with them and one or two other friends, read the newspapers, and skim over the magazines, reviews, and new publications. He was much attached to all the Blackwoods, giving them many proofs of his zealous and affectionate good-will. How pleasantly have I chatted with him in that saloon! How fresh and genial he always was! How sly his humour! How playfully his eye glittered while he was good-humouredly making fun of you! How racy his comments on literary and political topics! How ready and correct his knowledge in all kinds of subjects, even while he professed "to know very little about them!"
I saw him last in that saloon, towards the close of September 1851. I had been for ten days in Edinburgh,
This is a spacious room dedicated by Messrs Blackwood to the use of their friends, where are lying numerous newspapers and magazines; and ornamented with busts and pictures of their distinguished literary allies.
superintending-as that was the long vacation-a work which was on the eve of publication, and had lived quite secluded all the time. In passing hastily through the saloon with some proofs in my hand, I came upon Professor Wilson, sitting there as usual; but I had not seen him for several years. He had become a great deal stouter than I had ever seen him before; he was also aged much; but his face was as fine, his eye as bright, and his manner as delightful as ever. He did not, however, speak with his former energy. "They tell me," said he, laughing good-humouredly, "that you've quite buried yourself since you have been here! What have you been about?" I told him. "Aye-it's a capital title, and promises well. You have set us all gaping to know what we're to have! Tell me what it's about-I'm anxious to hear. What's your idea?" told him, as briefly as I could. "Let me hear some of it," said he, after I had given him my notions of the scope of the work; and I read him, at his desire, a considerable portion. How I recollect his full, keen eyes, watchfully fixed upon me as I read !
always felt deep interest, on his approaching marriage. I was in the saloon at the time; but on being told that he would be pleased to see me, though he was feeble and could not converse, I went to the carriage door. Shall I ever forget father and daughter,* as they sate opposite to each other, she eyeing her gifted but afflicted father with such tender anxiety! Never! His hat was off, and his countenance, on which fell the rays of setting sunlight, was fine as ever; his eye was not dim, nor did his natural force seem abated, as he sate, and looked at me, and stretched forth his hand; but when he attempted to speak, alas! it was in words few, indistinct, and unintelligible. To me it was an affecting moment-but a moment; for he was not allowed to become excited. Again he shook my hand; and I had looked my last on Professor Wilson. The next I heard of him, was his peaceful death; and then a burial befitting one of the great men of Scotland.
The next, and last time I saw him, was also the last time that he left his own house. During the intervening years, he had had a paralytic seizure, which affected his powers of motion and speech, and to some extent his mental faculties. He had driven up to Mr Blackwood's door, accompanied by a fond daughter, for the purpose of congratulating one in whom he had
I am almost ashamed to commit to the press this sudden and spontaneous, but poor tribute to the memory of such a man of genius and goodness. I am altogether unequal to the task of his intellectual portraiture; but what I have written is true, and comes from my heart; wherefore I hope it will be accepted in the spirit in which it is offered.
Adieu, Christopher North! Adieu, John Wilson!
* Mrs Gordon.
INDEX TO VOL. LXXVI.
Aali Pasha,72—his defeat at Lepanto, 81. Athenians, employment of white marble
regards the war, 100-his views on it, Australia, the gold discoveries in, and
the, 281, 282.
students at, 136–Highland students her present position, &c., 104 — her
tween her position in Italy and that of
Great Britain in India, 183.
Babylon, the ruins of, 462, 463, 471.
Balbek, the position of the, 633.
sent state of the, 493—its amount and Barron, Dr Robert, 146.
means for its improvement, 495. Basque race, the, 168.
417—its stationary condition in Greece Bavarians, mal-administration of Greece
and Turkey, and causes of this, 500. by the, 405 et seq.
Russia under, 99-review of his con- Bedouins, character of the, 254.
Bejant, origin of the term, 432.
King's College, Aberdeen, by, 431. Belgium, position of, with regard to Rus-
Bendigo gold-fields, the, 271.
Bills of exchange, first use of, 582.
Births, town and country proportion of,
Blair-Drummond, whale found at, 167.
Blind, number of, in Great Britain, 523.
Boglione, defence of Famagusta by, 78.
Bragadino, Marco Antonio, 78.
Bretons, the, 168.
review of, Part I., 288– Part II., 371.
Brigandage, prevalence of, in Greece,
BRITISH AMERICA, THE GROWTH AND PROS-
PECTS OF, 1.
BRITISH INDIA, THE GANGETIC PROVINCES Christianity, relations of the discoveries of
the telescope to, 289.
Christina, Queen, feeling against, in Spain,
363 — difficulties of the government
with regard to her, 365—her departare
from Spain, 477.
CHRISTOPHER NORTH, A FEW PERSONAL
of the, 253.
Clarendon, lord, on the war, 233.
States, 268-its future prospects, 269 Clergy, numbers of the, 517.
Clive's DREAM BEFORE THE BATTLE OF
Rendezvous, 619-chap. ii. The Move- Cod-fisheries of Newfoundland, the, 14.
FORTUNES OF OUR, 268.
COLOU'R IN NATURE AND ART, 539.
to statuary, 318.
Comte, M., views of, as regards literature,
ing, 99-Greek account of the capture
Cordova, regiment of, its revolt, 152.
Cornwallis, lord, system of, in India, 186
CORREGGIO, A TRAGEDY, review of, 698.
Corruption, prevalence of, in Greece, 407.
Cousin on classical education, 564.
sian conquest of it, 105 — movement of
Criminals, proportions of male and female,
CRYSTAL PALACE, THE, 317.
269-and to Australia, 270-peculiar- regard to, 414-conduct of M. Soulé
with reference to it, 480-danger of it
Currency, depreciation of the, in Turkey, the precious metals, 579—amount of
gold in, before and after the discovery
of America, 673.
Evelyn, John, sketch of, 38.
CIVILISATION—THE Census, 435, 509.
Fasti Aberdonenses, the, 135.
those of Nova Scotia, 13-those of
which overthrown, 230—benefits to the Florence, the early banking business of,
Fontenelle's Plurality of Worlds, on, 294.
Forbes, Dr John, 147.
France, traces of pre-historic races in, 166
early employment, coinage, &c. of the
precious metals in, 579.
GANGETIC PROVINCES OF BRITISH INDIA,
Geelong, progress of, 276.
Geology, argument from, against the plu-
rality of worlds, 373 sketch of the
George III., influence of, on the national
German powers, views of the, regarding
al life of, 460—influence of gold on, 576. Germanic confederation, present state of
tralia from, 270- the early mercantile
to America, 15-to Australia, influence Gladstone, Mr, position of, 237.
Glasgow, Mrs Stowe at, 302.
35 et seq. — the national career of, 461 in, 136-judicial administration of, 425.
God in NATURE, 94.
AND SOCIAL POSITION OF THE WORLD,
Part I., 576—Part II., 672.
Gold, the discovery of, in California, and
363—his reception in Madrid, 364-his 270.
istics of, 577.
Golden Age steamer, the, 282, 283.
dition during the middle ages as regards Napoleon III., 238.