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resort of literary men. Pendrell did not, however, avail himself of any opportunity of becoming known to the literary characters he was accustomed to meet here. On the contrary, he always shunned notice, and made it a practice invariably to conceal his name when a lot was knocked down to him. He had often met in these rooms the learned Bishop Lowth, who frequently fell into conversation with him, as they sometimes happened to meet before the sale began. The Bishop was much interested with his conversation, and one day asked Paterson who he was ; on which Paterson took the first opportunity to inquire his name, acquainting him, at the same time, who the person was that felt interested in his favour. The poor shoemaker, however, from extreme diffidence, declined telling Paterson his name, although the introduction to the Bishop, of which an opportunity was thus given him, might probably have drawn him from obscurity and led to some improvement of his humble circumstances. Pendrell's knowledge of mathematical science was profound and extensive, embracing fortification, navigation, astronomy, and all the different departments of natural philosophy. He was also familiar with our poetical literature ; and had a thorough acquaintance with most English writers in the department of the belles lettres. He resided for several years before his death at Gray's-buildings, Duke-street, Manchester-square, and died in the seventy-fifth year of his age. He was descended, it is supposed, from the Pendrell who concealed Charles II. after the battle of Worcester.
Force of Application. Dr Alexander Murray.
With the exception of Magliabecchi, the names we have as yet mentioned under our present head have been those of persons whose acquirements, although most honourable to themselves, and well entitled to our admiration, when the circumstances in which they were made are considered, have yet hardly been such as to secure for their possessors any permanent place in the annals of the learned. They are remembered not so much on account of what they accomplished, as on account of the disadvantages under which it was accomplished. But he whom we are now to introduce, while the narrative of his progress from obscurity to distinction presents to us as praiseworthy a struggle with adverse circumstances as is any where else recorded, had taken his rank, even before his premature death, among the scholars of his time ; and although suddenly arrested when in the very speed of his career, has bequeathed something of himself in his works to posterity. We speak of the late Dr Alexander Murray, the celebrated orientalist ; nor are there many more interesting histories than his in the whole range of literary biography. Happily the earlier portion of it, with which we have principally to do, has
been sketched by his own pen* with characteristic naïveté ; and we are thus in possession both of a very full, and of a perfectly trustworthy detail of everything we can desire to know respecting him. This piece of autobiography, which is prefixed to Dr Murray's posthumous work, The History of European Languages,' is, we believe, comparatively but little known to ordinary readers ; and both for this reason, and from its value as an illustration of our subject, we shall allot as much space as can be afforded to an abstract of it. There are one or two other sources, from which a few additional particulars with regard to Dr Murray, may be gathered, and to which we shall occasionally refer.
He was born in the parish of Minnigaff in the shire of Kirkcudbright, on the 22d of October, 1775. His father was at this time nearly seventy years of age, and had been a shepherd all his life, as his own father, and probably his ancestors for many generations, had also been. Alexander's mother was also the daughter of a shepherd, and was the old man's second wife ; several sons, whom he had by a former marriage, being all brought up to the same primitive occupation. This modern patriarch died in the year 1797, at the age of ninety-one ; and he appears to have been a man of considerable natural sagacity, and possessed, at least, of the simple scholarship of which the Scottish peasant is rarely destitute.
It was from his father that Alexander received
* In a letter to the Rev Mr Maitland, minister of Minnigaff, written in 1812,-evidently a hasty composition, as it bears to be, and intended only for the eye of a friend, but more beautiful and touching in its unlaboured, and sometimes, even incorrect simplicity of phrase and manner, than any less natural eloquence could have made it.
his first lessens in reading. This was in his sixth year ; and he gives an amusing account of the pro
The old man, he tells us, bought him a Catechism (which in Scotland is generally printed with a copy of the alphabet, in a large type, 'prefixed) ; but as it was too good a book,” he proceeds, “ for me to handle at all times, it was generally locked up, and he, throughout the winter, drew the figures of the letters to me, in his written hand, on the board of an old wool card, with the black end of an extinguished heather stem or root, snatched from the fire. I soon learned all the alphabet in this form, and became writer as well as reader. I wrought with the board and brand continually.
Then the Catechism was presented, and in a month or two I could read the easier parts of it. I daily amused myself with copying, as above, the printed letters. In May, 1782, he gave me a small Psalmbook, for which I totally abandoned the Catechism, which I did not like, and which I tore into two pieces, and concealed in a hole of a dike. I soon got many psalms by memory, and longed for a new book. Here difficulties rose. The Bible, used every night in the family, I was not permitted to open or touch. The rest of the books were put up in chests. I at length got a New Testament, and read the historical parts with great curiosity and ardour. But 1 longed to read the Bible, which seemed to me a much more pleasant book ; and I actually went to where I knew an old loose-leaved Bible lay, and carried it away in piece-meal. I perfectly remember the strange pleasure I felt in reading the histories of Abraham and David. I liked mournful narratives ; and greatly admired Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Lamentations. I pored on these pieces of the Bible in secret for many months, but I durst not shew them openly ; and as I read constantly and remem
bered well, I soon astonished all our honest neighbours with the large passages of scripture I repeated before them. I have forgot too much of my biblical knowledge, but I can still rehearse all the names of the . Patriarchs from Adam to Christ, and various other narratives seldom committed to memory.”
His father's whole property consisted only of two or three scores of sheep, and four muirland cows. “ He had no debts,” says his son, “ and no money." As all his other sons were shepherds, it was with him a matter of course that Alexander should be brought up to the same employment ; and accordingly, as soon as he had strength for any thing, that is, when he was about seven or eight years of age, he was sent to the hills with the sheep. However, from the first he gave no promise of making a good shepherd, and he was often blamed by his father as lazy and useless. The truth is, he was not stout, and was likewise shortsighted*, which his father did not know. Besides, “I was sedentary,” says he, “indolent, and given to books, and writing on boards with coals." But his father was too poor to send him to school, his attendance upon which, indeed, would have been scarcely practicable, unless he could have been boarded in the village, from which their cottage, situated in a wild and sequestered glen, was five or six miles distant. About this time, however, in May 1784, a brother of his mother's, who had made a little money, came to pay them a visit ; and hearing such accounts of the genius of his nephew, whose fame was now the discourse of the whole glen, he offered to be at the
expense of boarding him for a short time in New
* This defect, according to the author of the · Literary Hissory of Galloway,' who has given a sketch of Dr Murray's life, made his father often think that his son willfully deceived him by the incorrect accounts he gave of the sheep, when sent to observe in what directions they were straying.