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DEATI OF HIS WIFE-GOD'S DEALINGS WITH MAN.
me, in justice to her memory, to tell you what she was, and what I owed her. I was guided in my choice only by the blind affection of my youth. I found an intelligent companion, and a tender friend, a prudent monitress, the most faithful of wives, and a mother as tender as children ever had the misfortune to lose. I met a woman who, by the tender management of
my weaknesses, gradually corrected the most pernicious of them, She became prudent from affection; and though of the most generous nature, she was taught economy and frugality by her love for me. During the most critical period of my life, she preserved order in my affairs, from the care of which she relieved me. Το her I owe whatever I am; to her whatever I shall be.
The philosophy which I have learnt only teaches me that virtue and friendship are the greatest of human blessings, and that their loss is irreparable. It aggravates my calamity instead of consoling me under it. My wounded heart seeks another consolation. Governed by these feelings, which bave in every age and region of the world actuated the human mind, I seek relief, and I find it, in the soothing hope and consolatory opinion that a Benevolent Wisdom inflicts the chastisement as well as bestows the enjoyments of human life; that Superintending Goodness will one day enlighten the darkness which surrounds our nature, and hangs over our prospects; that this dreary and wretched life is not the whole of man; that an animal so sagacious and provident, and capable of such proficiency in science and virtue, is not like the beasts that perish; that there is a dwelling place prepared for the spirits of the just, and that the ways of God will yet be vindicated to man. The sentiments of religion which were implanted in my mind in my early youth, and which were revived by the awful scenes which I have seen passing before my eyes in the world, are, I trust, deeply rooted in my heart by this great calamity.
CONVERSATION AND LETTERS."
When a woman of feeling, fancy, and accomplishment has learned to converse with ease and grace, from long intercourse
! "Some, when they write to their friends, are all affection; some are wise and sententious; some strain their powers for efforts of gayety; some write
with the most polished society, and when she writes as she speaks, she must write letters as they ought to be written ; if she has acquired just as much habitual correctness as is reconcilable with the air of negligence. A moment of enthusiasm, a burst of feeling, a flash of eloquence may be allowed; but the intercourse of society, either in conversation or in letters, allows no more. Though interdicted from the long-continued use of elevated language, they are not without a resource. There is a part of language which is disdained by the pedant or the declaimer, and which both, if they knew its difficulty, would dread; it is formed of the most familiar phrases and turns in daily use by the generality of men, and is full of energy and vivacity, bearing upon it the mark of those keen feelings and strong passions from which it springs. It is the employment of such phrases which produces what may be called colloquial eloquence. Conversation and letters may be thus raised to any degree of animation, without departing from their character. Anything may be said if it be spoken in the tone of society; the highest guests are welcome, if they come in the easy undress of the club; the strongest metaphor appears without violence, if it is famíliarly expressed; and we the more easily catch the warmest feeling, if we perceive that it is intentionally lowered in expression, out of condescension to our calmer temper. It is thus that harangues and declamations, the last proof of bad taste and bad manners in conversation, are avoided, while the fancy and the heart find the means of pouring forth all their stores. To meet this despised part of language in a polished dress, and producing all the effects of wit and eloquence,
is a constant source of agreeable surprise.
JOHNSON'S LIVES OF THE POETS.
Towards the end of his life, when intercourse with the world had considerably softened his style, he published his “Lives of the English Poets,” a work of which the subject insures popularity, and on which his fame probably now depends. He seems to have poured into it the miscellaneous information which he had collected, and the literary opinions which he had formed during his long reign over the literature of London. The critical part has produced the warmest agitations of literary faction. The
news, and some write secrets; but to make a letter without affection, without wisdom, without gayety, without news, and without a secret, is doubtless the great epistolic art.
Johnson's Letter to Mrs. Thrale.
time may, perhaps, now be arrived for an impartial estimate of its merits. Whenever understanding alone is sufficient for poetical eriticism, the decisions of Johnson are generally right. But the beauties of poetry must be felt before their causes are investigated. There is a poetical sensibility which, in the progress of the mind, becomes as distinct a power as a musical ear or a picturesque eye, Without a considerable degree of this sensibility, it is as vain for a man of the greatest understanding to speak of the higher beau. ties of poetry as it is for a blind man to speak of colors. To adopt the warmest sentiments of poetry, to realize its boldest imagery, to yield to every impulse of enthusiasm, to submit to the illusions of fancy, to retire with the poet into his ideal worlds, were dispositions wholly foreign from the worldly sagacity and stern shrewdness of Johnson. If this unpoetical character be considered, if the force of prejudice be estimated, if we bear in mind that in this work of his old age we must expect to find him enamored of every paradox which he had supported with brilliant success, and that an old man seldom warmly admires those works which have appeared since his sensibility has become sluggish, and his literary system formed, we shall be able to account for most of the unjust judgments of Johnson, without recourse to any suppositions inconsistent with honesty and integrity.
As in his judgment of life and character, so in his criticism on poetry, he was a sort of freethinker. He suspected the refined of affectation, he rejected the enthusiastic as absurd, and he took it for granted that the mysterious was unintelligible. He came into the world when the school of Dryden and Pope gave the law to English poetry. In that school he had himself learned to be a lofty and vigorous declaimer in harmonious verse; beyond that school his unforced admiration perhaps scarcely soared; and his highest effort of criticism was accordingly the noble panegyric on Dryden. His criticism owed its popularity as much to its defects as to its excellencies. It was on a level with the majority of readers-persons of good sense and information, but of no exquisite sensibility; and to their minds it derived a false appearance of solidity from that very narrowness which excluded those grander efforts of imagination to which Aristotle and Bacon eonfined the name of poetry.
Among the victories gained by Milton, one of the most signal is that which he obtained over all the prejudices of Johnson, who was compelled to make a most vigorous, though evidently reluctant, effort to do justice to the fame and genius of the greatest of English poets. The alacrity with which he seeks every occasion to escape from this painful duty, in observation upon Milton's life
and minor poems, sufficiently attests the irresistible power of " Paradise Lost." 'As he had no feeling of the lively and graceful, we must not wonder at his injustice to Prior. Some accidental impression, concurring with a long habit of indulging and venting every singularity, seems necessary to account for his having forgotten that Swift was wit. As the “Seasons” appeared during the susceptible part of Johnson's life, his admiration of Thomson prevailed over that ludicrous prejudice which he professed against Scotland, perhaps because it was a Presbyterian country. His insensibility to the higher order of poetry, his dislike of a Whig university, and his scorn of a fantastic character, combined to produce that monstrous example of critical injustice which he entitles the “Life of Gray.”
Such is the character which may be bestowed on Johnson by those who feel a profound reverence for his virtues, and a respect approaching to admiration for his intellectual powers, without adopting his prejudices or being insensible to his defects.
The reduction of the law of nations to a system was reserved for Grotius. It was by the advice of Lord Bacon and Peiresk that he undertook this arduous task. He produced a work which we now indeed justly deem imperfect, but which is, perhaps, the most complete that the world has yet owed, in so early the progress of society, to the genius and learning of one man. So great is the uncertainty of posthumous reputation, and so liable is the fame of even the greatest men to be obscured by those new fashions of thinking and writing which succeed each other so rapidly among polished nations, that Grotius, who filled so large a space in the eye of his contemporaries, is now, perhaps, known to some of my readers only by name. Yet, if we fairly estimate both his endowments and his virtues, we may justly consider him as one of the most memorable men who have done honor to modern times. He combined the discharge of the most important duties of active and public life with the attainment of that exact and various learning which is generally the portion only of the recluse student. He was distinguished as an advocate and a magistrate, and he composed the most valuable works of his own country; he was almost equally celebrated as an historian, a scholar, a poet, and a divine ; a disinterested statesman, a philosophical lawyer, a patriot who united moderation with firmness,
and a theologian who was taught candor by his learning. Unmerited exile did not damp his patriotism; the bitterness of controversy did not extinguish his charity; the sagacity of his numerous and fierce adversaries could not discover a blot in his character; and in the midst of all the hard trials and galling provocations of a turbulent political life, he never once deserted his friends when they were unfortunate, nor insulted his enemies when they were weak. In times of the most furious civil and religious faction, he preserved his name unspotted; he knew how to reconcile fidelity to his own party with moderation towards his opponents. Such was the man who was destined to give a new form to the law of nations, or rather to create a science of which only rude sketches and undigested materials were scattered over the writings of those who had gone before him. By tracing the laws of his country to their principles, he was led to the contemplation of the law of nature, which he justly considered as the parent of all municipal law.
Dugald Stewart was the son of Dr. Matthew Stewart, professor of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, a station immediately before filled by Maclaurin, on the recommendation of Newton. He was born in 1753. He was educated in Edinburgh, and he heard the lectures of Reid at Glasgow. He was early associated with his father in the duties of the mathematical professorship; and, during the absence of Dr. Ferguson, as secretary to the commissioners sent to conclude a peace with the United States, he occupied the chair of Moral Philosophy. He was appointed to the professorship on the resignation of Ferguson.
This office, filled in immediate succession by Ferguson, Stewart, and Brown, received a lustre from their names which it owed in no degree to its modest exterior or its limited advantages, and was rendered by them the highest dignity in the humble, but not obscure, establishments of Scottish literature. The lectures of Mr. Stewart, for a quarter of a century, rendered it famous through every country where the light of reason was allowed to penetrate. Perhaps few men ever lived who poured into the breasts of youth a more fervid and yet reasonable love of liberty, of truth, and of virtue. How many are still alive, in different countries, and in every rank to which education reaches, who, if they accurately examined their own minds and lives, would not