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interest. In the “Task” there is nothing which could be carped at on that score, even by a supercilious critic, and yet the reader feels that the poet is continually present; he becomes intimately acquainted with him, and this it is which gives to this delightful poem its unity and its peculiar charm.


The object of a good and wise man in this transitory state of existence should be to fit himself for a better, by controlling the unworthy propensities of his nature, and improving all its better aspirations; to do his duty first to his family, then to his neighbors, lastly to his country and his kind; to promote the welfare and happiness of those who are in any degree dependent upon him, or whom he has the means of assisting, and never wantonly to injure the meanest thing that lives; to encourage, as far as he may have the power, whatever is useful and ornamental in society, whatever tends to refine and elevate humanity; to store his mind with such knowledge as it is fitted to receive, and he is able to attain ; to employ the talents committed to his charge, that when the account is required, he may hope to have his stewardship approved.

and so

JOHN FOSTER, 1770—1843.

Joan Foster, the author of many well-known Christian essays, was born in Yorkshire, in 1770, and was educated in the Baptist College at Bristol. After completing his course of theological studies, he was settled as a clergyman in several different places, the last of which was at Donnend, near Bristol: but the character of his mind being such as fitted him for a life of meditation and study rather than for the regular exercise of the pastoral office, he retired from public engagements, and spent the remainder of his time in literary pursuits in Stapleton, near Bristol, where he resided-preaching only occasionally-until the time of his death, which took place on the 15th of October, 1843.

In 1805, he first published his “Essays, in a Series of Letters to a Friend," which took rank, immediately, as among the most original and valuable works of the day. These essays were four in number, namely, “On a Man's writing Memoirs of Himself;". “ On Decision of Character;" “On the Application of the Epithet Romantic;" and "On some of the Causes by which Evangelical Religion has been Rendered less Acceptable to Persons of Cultivated Taste.” These essays passed through many editions, and are “ models of vigorous thought and expression, uniting metaphysical nicety and acuteness with practical sagacity and com

mon sense.

IIe also wrote a volume on the “Evils of Popular Ignorance," and many critical contributions to the “ Eclectic Review."!

The following notice of Mr. Foster appeared in the “Bristol Mirror,” a short time after his death :-" The well-known character of his various essays, instinct as they are with an energy of feeling and surpassing vigor of conception, such as at once make the reader feel himself listening to a spirit of pre-eminent powers, makes it unnecessary for us to attempt any lengthened portraiture of his massive intellect. Few writers in the whole range of literature possess in an equal degree the power to touch and set in motion the springs of serious reflection. A closer inspection of his mind convinced those who were admitted to the rare privilege of personal intercourse with him, that those really masterly productions, though much elaborated, were not exhausting efforts, but rather natural spocimens of the thoughts and sentiments which habitually dwelt within him. They testify that, with a mind profoundly meditative, deeply imbued with the powers of the world to come,' and ardently, even to impatience, desirous of the advancement of mankind in freedom, truth, and piety, he united vast stores of knowledge on a great variety of subjects, and an exquisite perception and appreciation of whatever was sublime or beautiful, whether in thought, nature, or art. The same strong principle of benevolence which has tinctured his writings with so vehement a hatred of all that tends to make men vicious and miserable, communicated to his conversation and demeanor a kindness, and even gentleness, which could not fail to win for him the love as well as veneration of all who knew him. His piety toward God, and charity toward men, were as deep as they were unostentatious. He was an unaffoctedly great and good man." 2


If a reflective aged man were to find at the bottom of an old chest—where it had lain forgotten fifty years—a record which he had written of himself when he was young, simply and vividly describing his whole heart and pursuits, and reciting, verbatim, many passages of the language which he sincerely uttered, would he not read it with more wonder than almost every other writing could at his age inspire? He would half lose the assurance of his identity, under the impression of this immense dissimilarity. It would seem as if it must be the tale of the juvenile days of some ancestor, with whom he had no connection but that of name. He would feel the young man thus introduced to him separated by so wide a distance

1 These have been published in one volume, under the title of " Biographical, Literary, and Philosophical Essays, contributed to the Eclectic Review."

9 llis celebrated friend, the late Robert Hall, bestowed upon him the following just and beautiful eulogium :-"lle paints metaphysics, and has the happy art of arraying what in other hands would appear cold and comfortless abstractions in the warmest colors of fancy. Without quitting his argument in pursuit of ornament or imarety hii imurination

of character as to render all congenial sociality impossible. At every sentence he would be tempted to repeat—"Foolish youth, I have no sympathy with your feelings; I can hold no converse with your understanding.” Thus, you see that in the course of a long life a man may be several moral persons, so various from one another that, if you could find a real individual that should nearly exemplify the character in one of these stages, and another that should exemplify it in the next, and so on to the last, and then bring these several persons together into one society, which would thus be a representation of the successive states of one man, they would feel themselves a most heterogeneous party, would oppose and probably despise one another, and soon after separate, not caring if they were never to meet again. If the dissimilarity in mind were as great as in person, there would in both respects be a most striking contrast between the extremes at least, between the youth of seventeen and the sage of seventy. The one of these contrasts an old man might contemplate if he had a true portrait for which he sat in the bloom of his life, and should hold it beside a mirror in which he looks at his present countenance; and the other would be powerfully felt if he had such a genuine and detailed memoir as I have supposed. Might it not be worth while for a self-observant person, in early life, to preserve, for the inspection of the old man, if he should live só long, such a mental likeness of the young one ? If it be not drawn near the time, it can never be drawn with sufficient accuracy.

ADVANTAGES OF DECISION OF CHARACTER. One signal advantage possessed by a mind of this character is, that its passions are not wasted. The whole amount of passion of which any mind, with important transactions before it, is capable, is not more than enough to supply interest and energy to its practical exertions; and, therefore, as little as possible of this sacred fire should be expended in a way that does not augment the force of action. But nothing can less contribute to vigor of effort than protracted anxious fluctuation, intermixed with resolutions decided and revoked, while yet nothing causes a greater expense of feeling. The heart is fretted and exhausted by being subjected to an alternation of contrary excitements, with the ultimate mortifying consciousness of their contributing to no end.

The long-wavering deliberation, whether to perform some bold action of difficult virtue, bas often cost more to feeling than the action itself, or a series of such actions, would have cost; with the great disadvantage, too, of being relieved by none of that invigoration which, to the man in action, would have sprung from the spirit of the action itself, and have renovated the ardor which it was expending. A person of decisive character, by consuming as

little passion as possible in dubious musings and abortive resolutions, can secure its utmost value and use, by throwing it all into effective operation.

Another advantage of this character is, that it exempts from a great deal of interference and persecution, to which an irresolute man is subjected. Weakness, in every form, tempts arrogance; and a man may be allowed to wish for a kind of character with which stupidity and impertinence may not make so free. When a firm, decisive spirit is recognized, it is curious to see how the space clears around a man, and leaves him room and freedom. The disposition to interrogate, dictate, or banter, preserves a respectful and politic distance, judging it not unwise to keep the peace with a person of so much energy. A conviction that he understands and that he wills with extraordinary force, silences the conceit that intended to perplex or instruct him, and intimidates the malice that was disposed to attack him. There is a feeling, as in respect to fate, that the decrees of so inflexible a spirit must be right, or that, at least, they will be accomplished.

But not only will he secure the freedom of acting for himself; he will obtain also, by degrees, the coincidence of those in whose company he is to transact the business of life. If the manners of such a man are free from arrogance, and he can qualify his firmness with a moderate degree of insinuation; and if his measures have partly lost the appearance of being the dictates of his will, under the wider and softer sanction of some experience that they are reasonable; both competition and fear will be laid to sleep, and his will may acquire an unresisted ascendency over many who will be pleased to fall into the mechanism of a system which they find makes them more successful and happy than they could have been amid the anxiety of adjusting plans and expedients of their own, and the consequences of often adjusting them ill. I have known several parents, both fathers and mothers, whose management of their families has answered this description; and has displayed a striking example of the facile complacency with which a number of persons, of different ages and dispositions, will yield to the decisions of a firm mind, acting on an equitable and enlightened system.

the minds of his associates, spending several hours in laboring to convince them. But he found he made no impression, while he was exhausting the strength which was to be reserved for another mode of operation. He then calmly told them it should now be a trial who could endure confinement and famine the longest, and that they might be quite assured he would sooner die than release them at the expense of the prisoner's life. In this situation they spent about twenty-four hours, when, at length, all acceded to his verdict of acquittal.

CHARACTER OF FRANKLIN. In a general moral estimate of Franklin's qualities, insincerity would seem to find very little place. His principles appear to have borne a striking correspondence, in simplicity, directness, and decision, to the character of his understanding. Credit may be given him for having, through life, very rarely prosecuted any purpose which he did not deliberately approve; and his manner of prosecution was distinguished, as far as appears, by a plain honesty in the choice of means, by a contempt of artifice and petty devices, by a calm inflexibility, and by a greater confidence of success than is usually combined with so clear and extended a foresight of the difficulties; but indeed that foresight of the difficulties might justify bis confidence of the adaptation of his measures for encountering them.

He appears to have possessed an almost invincible self-command, which bore him through all the negotiations, strifes with ignorance, obstinacy, duplicity, and opposing interest, and through tiresome delays and untoward incidents, with a sustained firmness, which preserved to him in all cases the most advantageous exercise of his faculties, and with a prudence of deportment beyond the attainment of the most disciplined adepts in mere political intrigue and courtpractice. He was capable, indeed, of feeling an intense indignation, which comes out in full expression in some of the letters, relating to the character of the English government, as displayed in its policy toward America. This bitter detestation is the most unreservedly disclosed in some of his confidential correspondence with David Hartley, an English member of Parliament, a personal friend of Franklin, a constant advocate, to a measured extent, of the Americans, and a sort of self-offered, clandestine, but tacitlyrecognized medium for a kind of understanding, at some critical periods, between the English government and Dr. Franklin, without costing the ministers the condescension of official intercourse and inquiry. These vituperative passages have a corrosive energy, by virtue of force of mind and of justice, which perfectly precludes all appearance of littleness and mere temper in the indignation. It

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