« AnteriorContinuar »
ears to their softly flowing accents. As to the state of learning in this city, you know I have not been long enough in it to form a proper judgment of that subject. I don't think, however, there is as much respect paid to a man of letters on this fide the water as you imagine. I don't find that genius, the 6 rath primrose, which forsaken, dies," is patronized by any of the nobility, so that writers of the first talents are left to the capricious patronage of the public. Notwithstanding this discouragement, literature is cultivated in a high degree. Poetry raises her enchanting voice to Heaven. History arrests the wings of time in his flight to the gulph of oblivion. Philosophy, the queen of arts, and the daughter of heaven, is daily extending her intellectual empire. Fancy sports on airy wing like a meteor on the bosom of a summer cloud, and even Metaphysics spins her cobwebs and catches some flies. The House of Commons not unfrequently exhibits explosions of eloquence, that rise fuperior to those of Greece and Rome, even in their proudest days. Yet after all a man will make more by the figures of arithmetic than by the figures of rhe: toric, unless he can get into the trade wind, and then he may fail secure over pactolean fands. As to the stage, it is sunk, in my opinion, into the lowest degree; I mean with regard to the trash that is exhibited on it, but I don't attribute this to the taste of the audience, for when Shakespeare warbles his 65 native wood notes," the boxes, pit, and gallery, are crowded--and the Gods are true to every word, if properly winged to the heart.
“Soon after my arrival in town, I visited Westminster Abbey; the moment I entered I felt a kind of awę pervade my mind, which I cannot describe; the very Silence seemed facred. Henry the Seventh's charel is a very fine piece of Gothic architecture, particularly the roof, but I am told that it is exceeded by a chapel in the University of Cambridge. Mrs. Nightingale's monument has not been praised beyond
its merit. The attitude and expression of the husband, in endeavouring to shield his wife from the dart of death, is natural and affecting. But I always thought that the image of death would be much better represented with an extinguished torch, inverted, than with a dart. Some would imagine that all these monuments were so many monuments of folly-I don't think fo; what useful lessons of mortality and sound philosophy do they not exhibit. When the high-born beauty surveys her face in the polished parian, though dumb the marble, yet it tells her that it was placed to guard the remains of as fine form, and as fair a face as her own. They shew besides how anxious we are to extend our loves and friendship beyond the grave, and to snatch as much as we can from oblivion--fuch is our natural love of immortality; but it is here that letters obtain the noblest triumphs; it is here that the swarthy daughters of Cadmus may hang their trophies on higid, for when all the pride of the chiffel, and the pomp of heraldry yield to the filent touches of time, a single line, a half worn-out inscription, remain faithful to their trust. Bleft be the man, that first introduced these strangers into our islands, and may they never want protection or merit. I have not the lealt doubt, that the finest poem in the English language, I mean Milton's Il Penseroso, was composed in the long resounding ifle of a mouldering cloiiter or ivy d abbey. Yet after all, do you know that I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a little country church yard, than in the tomb of the Capulets. I should like, however, that iný dust invuid mingle with kindred duft. The good old exprcilion, “ Family burying-ground,' has something pleasing in it, at least to me. I am glad that Dr. Sheridan is returned, and determined to spend the rest of his days in
your quarter. I should send him fome Botanic writings, which I have in view, if I were not certain that the Irish Hippocrates would rather read nature in her own works; with what pleasure I have seen him trace the delicate texture of a lily, and exclaim with the God in humanity, that “ Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of those," and you know that, our lilies are fairer than new fallen fnow, I am extremely sorry that any dispute should arise betwixt you and your brother-in-law; he is, I know, a little hot-headed, especially when he takes a glass, and I am afraid he leans a little too much to the social can. Mr. Peyton, however, is a peace maker, and I am sure, if the whole was laid before him, that he would fettle it to your satisfaction, and the fooner the better. You are quite mistaken when you think I don't admire Plutarch, I prefer his writings to those of any other.-Sacra femper excipio, quæ in fummâ arce locare fas eft & æquum nunquam non in manibus habende.
66 Mr. Balfe sets out for Germany in the spring, on a visit to his uncle, who is now in Vienna. The General is very rich, and advancing in years, so that it is probable when he is called to repose or his laurels, that his nephew will be his heir, and I need not tell you that he is worthy of it. I expect, in a day or two, to be introduced to Miss Woffington, our country-woman. She is rapidly rising into theatric fame; I could wish to publish a few anecdotes of her. She is of low origin, it is true, but talents and nature often avenge themselves on fortune in this respect. The roses of Florida spring out of the finest foil, they are the fairest in the universe, but they emit no fragrance. I recollect that she read her recantation in a liule country church, somewhere in the county of Cavan. Mr. Fleming of Stahalmuck, wrote fome verses on that occafion. I wish procure a copy of them for me as soon as posible. I also with that you could procure fome anecdotes of Mr. Brooke, author of the juftly celebrated tragedy of Guitavus Vasa."
The remainder of this letter touches on some of Mr. Smith's family affairs, which would not be proper to publish.
That the Reader may judge of the epistolary stile of Mr. Burke's correspondent, it may not be unacceptable to insert the answer.
MY GOOD. Sir, 6 I once read of a King of Spain, Alphonsus, I think, who was cured of a dangerous disease by reading a passage in Livy. Your kind letter had much the same effect on me, for my spirits were so low the moment I received it, that it is not in the power of words to describe my situation ; but scarce had I read fix lines, when my heart began to emerge, and the sun shone as bright as ever, and if you pity a poor dealer in Syntax, buried alive, I may say, write to me as often as you can. My school is on the increase, it is true, but the people are so poor that they cannot pay. I have thirteen Latin scholars, at a crown a quarter, and fix and twenty in writing and figures. I have taken a little farm, of about five acres, so that betwixt the cultivation of my fields, and that of the tender mind, I have very little time on my hands, or my feet, I may fay, for sometimes I mingle in the dance. As to Greek, there is no attention paid to it in this quarter.
Last week I endeavoured to prevail on, Mr. Johnson to permit me to give his nephew a few lessons in the language of Heaven. He said he had no objection, if I could ·allure him that it would enable Jack to buy a cow or a horse to more advantage. Having cast his eye on a Greek book, which I had in my hand, What, said he, would you have my nepiew spend his time in Jearning these pot-hooks and hangers ? Thus you see how learning is prized in this part of the world; and from your own account, I don't find that the Mules are he'd in such high eftiination in England, which I was carsy taught to consider as the seat of arms and arts. What, then, is to become of their votaries?-neglected, and I am afraid despised!You'll forgive me, I feel myself so uneasy and depressed as often as I think on this matter, that I can. not help dropping a tear on my books—the only fource and companions of my folitary hours, so that you fee we have little cause to boast of the triumph of letters over the breathing marble, or the proudest trophies of war. Yet I join with you in blessing the memory of the man that first introduced the swarthy daughter of Cadmus into these islands. Į think I can recollect some lines on this subject in the form of an ænigma, which, perhaps, you have not seen. Bis venere novem juvenes ad mænia nostra
Ex aliis, huc ad nos rediere, locis: Conspicui formå, pariles florentibus annis,
Attamen his minime par decor oris adeft. Nil est egregiæ quod dicas de effe cohorti,
non potis eft edere lingua Non illis vox eft, fed fecum quemque godales foros.
Ducunt, ex his, ut verba loquantur, habent; Submcto nullum dicunt interprete verbum,
Orbe fed eft toto gloria magna verüm. Whilst I am on this interesting subject, I am sorry to tell you that our old Irish bard, who could conduct thofe nymphs through all the myftic mạzes of poetic dance, resigned his tuneful breath last week. I accompanied his remains to the grave. He has left me all his manuscripts, and I shall select some of the finest passages of them for you, and translate thern for you as well as I can.
My school-house was levelled with the ground last week in a storm;---Boreas, of true Russian descent, pays very little respect to learning. The neighbours, however, assembled the next day, and raised me a new one, on a more pleasing fcite, fo that my bare-footed pupils are quite happy, as it is better