expounding two thousand propositions in will be received as higher authoriall the different classes, which he designs, ties; and to those I may add two of two months hence, to demonstrate at Ve- the most faithful painters of life and nice, in the church of Saint George and

manners in the present age, Miss Saint Paul, having found it impossible, Edgeworth, and the author of Waver ply with the wishes of persons who would ley. I am not without fears of recal gladly listen to him through the whole ling the “ Mountain and the Mouse”

to the recollection of your phlegmatic day.

Printed at Venice, for the brothers Dom. readers of the north. These names and Gio Batt. Guerra, MDLXXX. will perhaps protect me from their

ridicule, which some of my acquaintance think has been, in some instan

ces, severe in proportion as it has been No. 1.--Letters.


I have been master of an academy MR EDITOR,

in this and a neighbouring county for It is a trite observation, that many thirty years, and cannot, therefore, be of the evils of life take their rise from supposed indifferent to the merits of small errors; and we all know that literary dissertations.

Yet it appears merit is not the only ladder by which to me that a periodical work intended men reach distinction. The happi- for general readers should not be ness or misery of many may be traced chiefly occupied with remarks on the I believe to causes which not only ap- style and manner of authors, and with peared at the moment to be of little critical estimates of their faults and importance, but which, in the eye of beauties. If it be true that the learnreason and philosophy, hardly deserve ed and the unlearned write, it is certo be distinguished by epithets either tainly not less true that the latter, a of praise or blame, even after time much more numerous body, read such has unfolded their extraordinary in- miscellanies as yours. Many of these fluence. I do not allude to circum- I hope read for information, and, less stances, often apparently fortuitous, fastidious about the manner than the by which a man's future destiny is matter, wish to carry from the page determined, such as those early asso- the knowledge of facts, and the correcciations by which he is decided in the tion of errors that may be useful in choice of a profession, or those sudden their different pursuits. Others, aand inexplicable feelings that impel gain, delight to survey a state of sohim in the choice of a partner for ciety and manners differing from their life, or that “good luck” which pre- own, and feel a high gratification in served the connubial fidelity of Mar- contemplating human nature under a montel's Marchioness of Lisban, and new aspect, whether it be found in has often decided the fate of battles, the narrative of the adventurous tradynasties, and kingiloms. There is a veller into remote and almost untide in human affairs which some- known regions, or in the often no less times bears the feeblest on to fame faithful pictures of the novelist. The and fortune, while the labours of powo interest which we feel in such a surer and wisdom are washed away, or vey must be greatly enhanced if it whelmed beneath its waves. The embrace the manners, opinions, and source of the good and evil of life, condition of our own ancestors, and however, must not always be sought still more so, perhaps, if the period for in the stars ; much of it certainly selected for description be so little redepends upon our own.conduct; and moved from our own times, that we noi a little on those small matters can recognize in it almost all those which even great men cannot disre- sentiments and institutions with which gard with impunity, and by the ob- we are still familiar, though softened servance of which little men some or embellished in the progress of retimes bear away

finement. This is the great charm of Every one knows the importance at- the popular novels that have lately istached to little things by Chester- sued from the Edinburgh press; and field. He is right in principle, I will freely confess, that nothing that though the follies and vices of polish- has yet appeared in your Magazine ed society misguided his pen in its has given me more pleasure than the application. Addison and Chatham view of the manners of the highet

the prize.

[ocr errors]

ranks of Scotland in the early part of and with their permission. That I last century, inserted in the first and may not inadvertently stumble upon second numbers of your new series. living names, I shall call the former I am aware, however, that there is a Titus, and the latter Sempronius. third class of readers who wish for The conversation, as will naturally something to rouse and animate them; be expected, often turns on the means the elections will soon be over; and of rising in the world, and the circumthere are no new constitutions fabri- stances that are unfavourable to it. cating at Paris, nor invasions, nor bat. În my younger days I sometimes ventles, nor treaties, to gratify the appe- tured to anticipate the future success tite for emotion. If this can be done, of my pupils, according to the rank by clothing an old thought in a new which ihey held in the form. I could dress, or by exhibiting a figure of straw easily conceive that rank and fortune louded with all the tawdry drapery mightderange this estimate; but it was that a wild imagination can supply, not till after many striking instances there is no great harm done. It will of success and failure among those please the little masters and misses who seemed to be unequal in no other for a moment; and when they arrive respect than in talent and application, at the age of twenty-five, if not soon that I was compelled to admit some er, they may learn, by some means or causes that had escaped my observaother, if not altogether incorrigible, tion. My knowledge of the world that sense is the foundation of ex was too limited to enable me to trace eellence,” both in literature and the these causes, and my correspondence business of life. But my old didac- with the individuals themselves seltic habits have led me from my sube dom afforded me a safe clue. There ject.

was nothing of good or bad fortune The highest gratification of which in the case of any of them. Those at my advanced

age I am susceptible, who were successful owed every thing is derived from a correspondence with to their own merit, and the disapa few of my early pupils, and the vi- pointed and unhappy were the vicsits of two of them, who, having dle- tims of the envy and malice of others, servedly acquired a high reputation and of their own independence of for talents and integrity, were mem character. I am in possession of one bers of the last two Parliaments, hundred and fifty letters to this purthough neither was born to what is pose. My friend Sempronius is wil. held to be an independent fortune. ling to admit the truth of above half One of them, a gentleman who com the number, that is, the letters of the bines a lively imagination with un- unfortunate, but he is ready to dispute common patience of research and the merits of some of the prosperous. soundness of judgment, sometimes Titus, without rejecting the statements trys to lighten the burden of old age of either party, maintains that they (and I often feel myself older than I throw no light on the true cause ; really am, since I retired from active and that, in nine instances out of ten, life two years ago) by amusing anec- it may be found in the outward apdotes of the great world in which he pearance, the manners, the temper, lives. When he perceives me smile in- and the habits of 'my correspondents. credulously,--for I sometimes suspect “ I have known," says 'T'itus,“ a the imagination is brought into play, young man's fortune made or lost by -he instantly undeceives me if my the observance or omission of the most suspicion is unfounded, or laughs at trivial matters of form,--the use of his want of skill to sustain the harm- wax or wafer irr the sealing of a letter, less pleasantry. The other is a more-the want of an envelope,—the supensive character, who delights to re- perscription,—the mode of addressing cur to the sports of childhood, and the and concluding it,--the hand-writing day-dreams of youth, as a relief from too stiff and formal, or blotted, or ilthe cares and sorrows of riper years, in legible ;-a wrong spelt word has which he has had a large share it been the ruin of thousands. You is not necessary to describe them fur- think,” turning to me and seeing me ther; their names, if I were permit- smile, or once thought, that the ted to name them, would secure be- boy who could best translate Homer's lief to far less credible anecdotes than I account of the debates in the Counan about to repeat on their authority, cils of the Gods, or of the prudence

and sagacity of Ulysses, ought to make at last exhausted ; and he set out for a figure as a statesman or diplomatist. London, a distance of 200 miles, by You might as well believe that the the cheapest route, with more in prosblood of Hector and Achilles flows in pect than possession. Before he paid the veins of Wellington, or that we his respects at his Lordship’s house, are indebted to Horace's Art of Poetry not half a mile from Grosvenor for the Lady of the Lake and Lalla Place, it occurred to him that his paRookh. I admit the influence of me tron might be at his seat in Surrey, rit, though I do not know what the and that it would save time to leave word means in every instance. But, a letter, in case he could not then have if we could borrow for a day the re- the honour of a personal interview. collections and cogitations of these The noble lord was at home, but so correspondents of yours, we should be much engaged that he had only time able to trace the fortunes of many of to ask half a dozen of questions, with them to the sources I have just no- his usual rapidity, and then, with a ticed. The web of life is, indeed, an formal apology, moved towards the unequal fabric, patchwork of many door of the apartment. The lieutecolours,-and, as it lengthens, it is nant pulled out his letter, and rethe more exposed to external injuries, quested his early attention to it. It -yet I affirm, that as much depends was hastily opened, and a piece of the upon the skill and attention of the wafer adhered to his Lordship’s thumb. workman in small things as on he 'John!' said he, calling to his serquality of the materials. Miss Edge- vant, 'fetch me a bason of water inworth's anecdote of the Duke of stantly,' - Captain M. I wish you a Greenwich and Lord Oldborough, in good morning, and take notice, her“ Patronage," is perfectly true to John,' as the lieutenant was descenda nature. You recollect the story of ing the stairs, “ I am never at honie the wafer which gave so much offence again to Captain M.'” to his grace, as to threaten serious in “ I have the honour to be known jury to the most important affairs of to this noble lord,” said Sempronius, State. I wonder how any mun can “ and I have had occasion to know have the impertinence to send me his him better than he is aware of himspittle.My worthy old friend, this self. I was once present when he deis a more serious matter than an er- nied a promise he had made in the ror in prosody at school. One of these hearing of hundreds, and was told so. very gentlemen who writes you in so He would have gained thirty-tive gloomy a strain, lost three years of shillings by the falsehood, if it had bis professional life from this cause. not been detected.

In the county He was a lieutenant in a great naval where his estates lie he is despised by action, during the late war; and, on all those who do not fear him, and the promotion which ensued, was at once dreaded and detested by some time out of employment. Dur- every one who has the misfortune to ing his residence in the country, he depend upon him. If his tenantry made the acquaintance of a certain had the choice between a strong gale noble lord, who was thought to possess or a week s rain in the middle of harsome interest at the admiralty, and, vest, and a visit from his lordship, modestly preferring his claim to an they would prefer the former ; yet, appointment, solicited his lordship’s in his absence, his place is well supgood offices with the board. There plied by a kindred spirit, who has the was nothing in the appearance or additional merit of being regardless of manners of this personage to com- the forms of civilized society,-a brute mand respect ; and the professions in his manners, as well as a tyrant in of service flowed from him with his heart,-a solitary vindictive monk, such rapidity and apparent sinceri- —a slave to the grossest appetites, -a ty, that the honest-hearted tar forgot wretch with whom no one who refor a moment that he was neverthe- gards his character would choose to tess a lord, and hiinself little better than a poor lieutenant still. His " Stop, stop, my friend !” cried I; lordship, at the proper time, return “there is more in this vehemence than ed to London, and, at the end of six it may be proper for you to tell, or for months, had made no progress in the us to hear. The nobleman you alaffair. The lieutenant's patience was lude to is almost as obscure and insig

[ocr errors]

nificant beyond the bounds of his own must confess I have my doubts on county as his counterpart ; let them some points, the practice is so irregutemain so; it has been their misfor- lar, and the authorities on opposite tune to come into the world too late sides so nearly balanced. Reasoning by 500 years; they would have made from analogy, however, I would say, a figure if they had appeared on the that the possessive 'my' ought to be debateable lands between the two very cautiously employed in writing British kingdoms, about the middle to our superiors. It might not be of the fourteenth century.”

safe even for a barrister to use it in “But to return to the wax and writing to a Scots baronet. I hapwafer," said Titus, or rather let us pen to know an instance' where a break the seal, and get at the contents. young poet lost the good graces of a * I received yours is vulgar,' on the gentleman, of established reputation authority of no less a person than in the same line, by this irregularity, Lord Chatham, in his letters to his though he had in three letters ada nephew, the late Lord Camelford. dressed his junior in the same terms

Inclose your letters in a cover,' he himself. This was a hard case, and I adds, 'it is more polite. I mention hope there are not many such. One this merely as an instance of this of the greatest orators and statesmen great man's attention to small matters, of the last century used to write for for I do not at this moment recollect periodical works in his younger days, any fatal results from the conduct and, it is said, with difficulty escaped disapproved of. It is a pity that his the penalty of loss of employment and lordship did not subject letter-write bread, for a similar fault committed aing to a closer scrutiny. Nothing, gainst the dignity of a great London for instance, in the whole range of bibliopolist. politics and morality is more unsettled “ In the present century,” said than the mode in which a letter Sempronius," I hope there is less should begin, unless it be its perora- folly stirring. Ceremony is not now tien, if I may use such a word. The the sin that most casily besets us. I only point that may be held as esta- think, indeed, there is too little ata blished on this important subject, in tention paid to the just claims of rank, so far as I know, is, that the junior whether it has been conferred as the partner in a 'writer to the signet's of- reward of eminent services, or dea fice' must not address a Scots baronet scended from one's ancestors. I by the title of 'Dear Sir.' He dears am told they manage these things me too, you see,' says Sir Arthur better in Scotland, and I once had Wardour to his daughter, in the An a proof of it. In that half civiltiquary, this impudent drudge of a ized country, where they now stab writer's office, who, a twelvemonth one another with the pen instead of ago, was not fit coinpany for my se the sword, it is not to be expected cond table ;-I suppose I shall be that their forms of politeness should dear knight with him by and by.' be always uniform or very discrimiBut this throws but little light on the nating. But the feelings from which obscurity, for, besides 'Sir,' and Re- they flow deserve our applause. In verend Sir,' and · Honoured Sir,' and the summer of 1801, I accompanied a Dear Sir,' there are “My Dear Sir,' friend on a tour through the Highand 'Dear B.' and 'My Dear B.,' and lands, and spent a few days at the I know not how many other forms. house of a distant relative in one of The same difficult questions occur at the border counties on my return. the conclusion, where the writer ‘has My cousin was the owner of a small the honour to be,' or is, with great estate, which he farmed himself. To esteem and respect,' or is only “truly, make the time pass pleasantly, he insincerely, faithfully, cordially, &c. vited several of his neighbours to dina your very obedient and humble sere ner, most of them great sheep farmers; vant,' or perhaps only your friend,' and we returned their visits. The of neither your servant nor your manners of these inen, though they friend, but simply' yours. I have seemed to have few ideas beyond their made this subject very much my own profession, gave me rather a fastudy, and will show you, on some vourable opinion of them. But there future occas on, twenty-nine folio was a venerable clergyman among the pages of annotations on it, and yet I number one day, who engaged my

VOL. 111.



particular attention and respect. He This, Mr Editor, is the substance was of an age to remember the forms of a conversation that passed at my of genteel society more than half a house about three weeks ago. Per century before, and appeared to feel haps the illiberal expressions regardthat the times had altered for the ing your countrymen may give ofworse. But he might be taken for a fence. If it suits your Miscellany, model of good breeding himself, ac- you will probably hear again from cording to the notions of good breed

C. G ing in that country. The wits of Middleser, 16th June, 1818. Queen Anne's reign have ridiculed the appropriate forms of salutation, from My Lord, your most humble ANECDOTES OF ALEXANDER SELKIRK, Servant,' down to 'How d'ye do Jack;' my reverend friend preserved them all. I was particularly struck with his nice discrimination in drink

[In the Scots Magazine for the years ing the healths of the company in his 1805 and 1806, a pretty full account has own house,—where we were most hos- been given of what may be called the pub.

lic life of this singularly-fated person, who, pitably received by his family, consisting of his wife and two daughters four months on the then uninhabited island

as every one knows, passed four years and grown up to women, and still unmar- of Juan Fernandez in the South Sea, and riel. He had two scales, the services whose adventures form the ground-work of and the healths, each properly gra- De Foe's admirable tale of Robinson Cruduated, by which he marked his re Selkirk must have been a man of unspect for his guests. The principal common strength of mind to have endured person had his humble service, in a situation so helpless, and that for so long the superlative degree, and then pro

a period, that it might well be supposed ceeding downwards he came to my the last ray of hope would have ceased to service şimply, omitting

both the de play upon his forlorn heart. Yet it appears gree and the term denoting its quali- solitude had not rendered him proof against

from the account we have referred to, that ty. The scale of healths began where the common frailties of his profession ; and the services ended, and at three steps the following notices of his early life, exterminated in the anticlimax of the tracted from the parish records of Largo Scottish,. Here's t'ye,' withSir,' or in Fife, where he was born, exhibit an ir. • Friend,' or the name or surname ap- ritability and violence of temper but ill apended to it. He did me the honour dapted to sustain his future destiny, though to proffer me his humble service on two not unlikely to lead to it. Nothing, howoccasions, and I never descended into ever, is more curious in these notices than the scale of healths, till I met him at the light they throw on the state of manthe table of a man of fortune, who ners in the country parishes of Scotland at had a younger brother and a nephew, when religion seems to have supplied the

the beginning of the eighteenth century, both bachelors. These engrossed ali

place of law, and its ministers that of civil the services of the old gentleman magistrates,-—when the terror of public and his family.

penitence probably operated with as much “ You are not serious, Sempronius. effect in checking the progress of vice, as You would not recommend such a the fear of Bridewell or Botany Bay in our starched whalebone group as your

own times. Even the turbulent spirit of clergyman and family as well-bred Selkirk yielded to the influence of his early people.”—“I recommend nothing but associations, though, it would appear, not the principle, Sir. But the scene to

without a struggle. ) which I have rather inadvertently al

1695. luded, calls up the images of joys long Aler. Selchraig to be summoned. since past, and that never can return. I shall grow too serious.

August 25.—This same day the Sese

sion mett. part."

The qlk day Alexr. Selcraig, son

to John Selcraig, elder, in Nether Our Correspondent has given the name Largo, was dilated for his undecent of this worthy clergyman, who is now no beaiviar in ye church; the church of

Upon inquiry, we understand that ficer is ordirred to ga and cite him to Sempronius has scrupulously adhered to compear befoor our Session ag' ye nixt truth.Editor.


Let us


« ElőzőTovább »