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hours or minutes which he could spare from the labours of the desk, were devoted (in a manner indeed injurious to his health) to several objects of severe study, and the various branches of polite literature. What were his religious impressions at this time, and how strict his principles, appear from some of his letters, and from his early theological pieces. The first of these was a sermon written in great haste, on a subject which had been given him, but shewing a knowledge and piety, a correctness of thought, and elegance of expression, which procured much commendation from those who heard it. Another, written soon after, might have been added to the collection, but that it contained only part of the subject, which was never completed. One of his letters, addressed to a school-fellow, with whom he maintained an intimate friendship, contains the following passage:
- Permit me to recommend THE STRICTEST TEMPERANCE, which is equally indispensable, whether you wish to promote health, ability, happiness, or virtue. It is remarkable, that of the homilies appointed by our church, the first which regards good works is on fasting, evidently considering that, which is only a more rigid abstinence, as the first great ground-work of virtue. The temperance, however, which I recommend, does not consist in temporary severities, which, however useful, may be destroyed by succeeding excess; but by acquiring a constant habit of taking no more nourishment than will properly suffice, and considering meals rather as matters of necessity than pleasure.”
No inconsiderable proof this of the strict principle and self-command practised by a youth of the age of eighteen, residing in a vicious and luxurious metropolis. The same principle shewed itself in his carefully abstaining from all unnecessary expence, as noticed by his father. Let not such circumstances appear trifling; they are introduced for the sake of remarking, that however he might sometimes follow the seductions of a luxuriant imagination, yet the great rules of Christian faith and moral duty having been planted in his mind, were observed with a steadiness and conscientious regard which aimed at the highest excellence. At this time he was much devoted to the works of the late Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke; and some marks of his partiality for these writers may be easily discovered in his own style. He soon also turned his attention to two subjects which he ever afterwards cultivated with much fond assiduity, metaphysics and political economy. The various parts of elegant literature were greedily sought after; he soon began to distinguish himself as a youthful orator; and poetry, which might almost be described as his ruling passion, was a never-failing relief to severer studies. In 1807, after spending some time with an eminent practiser in Chancery, he was called to the bar, and soon distinguished himself in that court, where he drew upon himself the marked attention of the Chancellor and the late Sir Samuel Romilly. He had now emerged rapidly from the obscure condi
tion in which his powerful talents had for some time lain concealed; he had many able and excellent friends; and he was loved and admired by several persons whose situation in life was far above
The charms of society, however, (that fatal snare to many a youthful genius) did not seduce him from his professional studies; which is the more worthy of observation, because he was remarkably eloquent in conversation, and able to set off to the best advantage the talents and knowledge which he possessed. The unusually bright prospects under which his professional career opened were suddenly clouded by a pulmonary attack, which in 1810 compelled him to pass two winters abroad, and to absent himself from London for a longer period. The exertions of a few, who were strongly attached to him, prevented his suffering more than the inconvenience of a temporary interruption, and on his return, he found the kindness of his friends unabated, and his prospects uninjured. It, however, pleased the Almighty Disposer of all things to close the views of domestic happiness and worldly advancement which lay before him, and to take him to the enjoyment of an eternal rest.
From this slight sketch it will appear, that though his talents were brilliant, his industry was great. He knew his own powers, but he never thought of attaining excellence without diligent study and perseverance. This was, perhaps, in
part occasioned by an uncommon turn for meditation. From his childhood his mind was constantly at work, and as he became the director of his own studies, he supplied it with subjects for reflection, by his attachment to abstract science. This turn of mind, perhaps, led him in his speeches to enter largely upon general principles, which excited some doubts of his ultimate success as an orator; yet he was formed to succeed, possessing a happy talent of arranging and simplifying the materials before him, and adorning them with much poetic imagery. His language, too, was always rich, lofty, commanding. If it be at all liable to criticism, it will probably be on account of its maintaining a certain uniform march and stateli
Yet the remark, which has been sometimes made, that every powerful mind is apt to be playful, was verified in him; and he was scarcely more disposed to emulate the greatest, than to amuse the least. But the strong bent, and disposition of his mind was directed to religion. Its principles were early implanted, and very closely he held them to his heart, and very diligently he applied them to the regulating of his conduct. As he advanced in years, he saw more and more clearly its importance, and studied its evidences, its doctrines, and its duties, with the closest attention.
But so powerful and penetrating an understanding could not fail to discover (to use his own words) that “ the seat of religion is the heart;"
that “ love is the great principle of religion under the gospel ; a love of God, founded on the perception of his excellence, and flowing from a grateful sense of his goodness to ourselves.” His warm and lofty feelings corresponded to these principles, and he experienced his greatest delight in “ expressing an ardent and generous affection towards his Maker and Redeemer; in testifying, by filial docility and submission, that entire confidence, that heartfelt gratitude, and adoring love to his Almighty Father, which are the very elements that compose the temper and character of the true Christian. Holy and heavenly elements! which shall survive the lapse of ages, and triumph over the decays of nature !" * With a temper so chastened, and affections, so elevated, he saw his end approaching, at a time when the world seemed likely to gratify every desire he could form. But he calmly, yet firmly, threw aside every thing which could tie him to the earth, and even expressed a fear, lest, in the case of his recovery, the bright prospects of present happiness might recal his affections too strongly to the world. During the few days which preceded his death, he frequently suffered so much oppression upon the chest, as to be able to command his thoughts in prayer for only a few moments at a time. His mind, however, was unclouded, his hopes ele. vated, and he heard, with great delight, and meditated upon some portions of scripture which