« ElőzőTovább »
and he followed them with his wonted alacrity and confidence. In 1821, he published the ' Correspondence of Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury,' illustrated and connected by historical and biographical narratives; and the remaining years of his life, durmg which his sight became wholly extinguished, were employed upon the Memoirs of the Pelham Administration. It is said by those who assisted him in these labours, that ' his memory, originally retentive, seemed to improve after his loss of sight; and the attention being less withdrawn to external objects, could be more uninterruptedly fixed upon whatever was the immediate object of research.' His power of mental calculation was, from the same cause, rather improved than impaired. The readiness with which he could explain names and reconcile facts and dates became the more admirable, when he could no longer depend on written helps to his memory. He would occasionally detect an error in numbers which escaped those about him; and in referring to authorities for statistical or historical details, it appeared to them that he rather guided than received guidance.
'aax' eturh rijutu rreifiv ifyyov!suos.—Soph. (Ed. Colon.
The close of this long, virtuous, and useful life was easy. In his eighty-first year, till which time he had enjoyed almost uninterrupted health, he was attacked by a disorder, not alarming at first, but which soon showed itself to be the forerunner of death. With a calm but not presumptuous spirit he composed himself to obey the awful citation; and, if man may so pronounce of his fellow-mortal, his last end was that of the righteous.
Few have ever left life more rich in 'all that should accompany old age,' public approbation, the affection and reverence of friends and kindred, the esteem of great men and the gratitude of humble ones. It would be no common eulogy to say of so long and active a career that it was accomplished without reproach; but this negative praise would ill express the fervid and generous quality of virtues that were not merely active, but had in them something of enthusiasm. An impatient aversion to base and disingenuous vices, and an ardent and indefatigable benevolence, were the strongest features of his character. The most vindictive man never followed up an injury more keenly than he pursued a scheme of kindness. Not only his pecuniary means, but his time, his labour, and his influence, were devoted to the offices of charity or friendship with a frankness, and singleness of heart which disclosed at once the most ingenuous mind and the warmest affections. If, as has been observed, he contributed but slightly to literature as a divine, he greatly adorned life as a Christian. Trained up from infancy in the faith and principles which that
name name implies, and not forgetful of them in his youth, he embraced them with a still firmer attachment when, by assuming the clerical office, he became bound not only to cultivate them in himself, but mculcate them upon others ; and there were found after his decease some scattered memorials of his most secret thoughts, which proved that even Herbert, his pious predecessor at Bemerton, scarcely entered upon the sacred ministry with deeper awe or more anxious self-exammation.
The vigour of constitution and the lively spirit, which enabled him to go through so many and such various labours, appeared in his person and movements—in an upright stature, lightsome gait, and ruddy but clear complexion, till a very late period of his life. His countenance was strongly marked, indicative of much sense and shrewdness, and readily assuming the expression of playful humour or the most animated benevolence. No one could be long in his society without perceiving that he was a man highly endowed by nature and education, and experienced in the world; but there was an occasional eccentricity in his manner which it is impossible to describe adequately, though any picture of him would be imperfect in which it was wholly omitted. As far as it can be expressed by words, it seemed to be a struggle between the fastidious and shy humour, commonly ascribed to Englishmen—of which he had a more than ordinary portion—and the warmth of heart and impetuosity of temperament by which he was no less distinguished. Something of that wilful singularity in trifles, usually said to be characteristic of old bachelors, appears to have been natural to him even in early youth. About the time of his first leaving college, he passed a few weeks at Margate. After his return, a lady, hearing him speak with enthusiasm of chess, observed that he ought to have been at Margate lately, for there was a melancholy gentleman there who used to play chess by himself in the public library, for hours at a time. Mr. Coxe asked if she knew his face, —' No, indeed,' was the answer; ' but 1 am sure I should remember his back.' Mr. Coxe placed himself in the attitude of the chess-player, and was immediately recognized as the melancholy gentleman of the Margate library.
According to the custom of subjoining an autograph to a portrait, we must add that the worthy Archdeacon's handwriting was not the least striking of his peculiarities. It was a cipher of which few, even among those accustomed to it, were wholly masters. His correspondents, who valued all his words, (for they were those of wisdom and kindness,) were sometimes tantalized by the total impossibility of extricating them from the tangled black skein that ran along his paper. The infirmity or bad habit which occasioned this defect began early in his life and established itself in spite of
expostulation expostulation. Mr. Melmoth remonstrated in round and plaintive periods, but in vain :—
'I am much obliged to you,' writes Lord Ellenborough to Coxe when at Strasburg, 'for the entertainment three very agreeable letters have afforded me; they have paid me richly for the trouble I had in deciphering them, for, enlre nous, they were written in so very Jine a character, I could scarcely conjecture what they meant to convey, and had not my mind been very congenial to your own, I should never have made it out. Pray, my dear friend, write legibly to your great folks, for it would be melancholy to lose all the effect of the many good things I am sure you send them, by the carelessness of packing them up. For my own part, I continually regret having paid so little attention to so very necessary an art; and as it is now somewhat too late to aim at the graces of writing, I stick fast to what is only in my power, a good plain, stiff, legible character.'
Jacob Bryant, with his homely humour, professed that he thought Buckinger wrote a better/oo<. 'But,' he added, ' be your hand or foot what it may, your letters, like a mystic talisman, however secret the characters, will always have a pleasing influence with me.' Another friendly and more dignified monitor, the late venerable Bishop Barrington, once addiessed him on the same subject, in a letter which, if the most gentle and courteous remonstrance could subdue an inveterate bad habit, might have brought that wonder to pass.
• MongeweU, Jan. Slh, 179S. 'Dear Sir,—A Frenchman of high rank under the Monarchy, answering a letter which he had received from a person of similar rank, expressed himself thus :—Par respect, Monsieur, je rous ecris de ma propre main; mats, pour facililer la lecture, je vous envoye une copis de malctire. I will in future forgive the want of respect, if you will have the goodness to follow this Frenchman's example. I wish to comply with your request—for so far I can decipher, that there is a request —but I must beg to know from your amanuensis what it is. 'I am, dear Sir, with much regard,
'Your faithful servant,
Of Mr. Coxe's literary character, we have said much in the foregoing pages—a few words only remain to be added. Utility was the great aim of all his works. In all of them, even from the earliest, we recognize a predominating good sense and good temper, sound moral and religious principles, and a hearty and honest determination, neither relaxed by indolence nor disturbed by any idle ambition, to do that justice to his subject which shall satisfy a rationally inquisitive reader. If, as a biographer, he sometimes took the tone of an advocate (a failing not easily avoided), the materials were always at hand, supplied by his integrity and diligence,
from from which, if his own judgment were faulty, the reader might form a more accurate opinion for himself. As a writer on English history, he was acute, moderate, extensively informed, firmly attached to the well-balanced constitution which this country in his time enjoyed, and a warm friend of that genuine, social liberty, which is but another name for the highest and most comprehensive justice. He combined with a sincere love of truth, an unbounded ardour of research. To his industry nothing seemed impracticable; the works of which we have made some mention are but a part of the labours he achieved, and only the smaller portion of those which he projected.* But his zeal for the extension of knowledge was controlled by an undeviating discretion; and in availing himself of the vast series of original and private documents from which he drew the substance of his biographical and historical writings, he never transgressed against the sacred laws of propriety and good faith. To this perfect rectitude of conduct, more even than to his literary celebrity, may be attributed the success of Mr. Coxe, in obtaining, from the representatives of so many distinguished families, the treasures of documentary illustration with which, beyond the example of any former writer, he has enriched English history: and his works, considered in this point of view, are a monument not more of his talents as an author, than of his pure and upright character as a man. 'Hoc non solum ingenii ac literarum, verum etiam naturae atque virtlitis fuit.'f
Akt. V.—Narrative of Voyages to explore the Shores of Africa, Arabia, and Madagascar; performed in his Majesty's Ships Leven and Barracouta, under the direction of Capt. W. F. W' Owen, R.N. 2 vols. London. 1833. "\V7"H ENEVElt we take up a narrative of travels in Africa, or "a voyage to explore or survey its coasts, hai hours, and rivers, we do so with a dread certainty of meeting with many distressing scenes of human suffering, and a more than ordinary waste of life. Yet we are equally certain that, let the extent of the calamity be ever so great which may have befallen any former expe
* Among the publications which we have not enumerated, are 'The Life and Select Works of Benjamin Stillingfleet;' 'Lives of Handel and Smith;' a ' Vindication of lite Celts "Tracts on the Prisons and Hospitals of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark;' a 'Letter on the Secret Tribunal of Westphalia;' fc Lives of Corregio and Parmegiano;' Sermons preached at the Assizes at Salisbury, and at the Anniversary of the Meetmg oi the Sons of (he Clergy; Tracts on the Church Catechism and on Confirmation ; and a Commentary on the Office forthe Visitation pf the Sick, published since his decease by his brother.
f Cicero, pro Aichia poeta.
dition, dition, it will have no effect in diminishing, in the smallest degree, the ardour of new adventurers ready to run the same hazards: it would almost seem, indeed, that the greater the peril, the more numerous and anxious are the competitors tor sharing in it; and this spirit of braving disease and dangers is sometimes carried to such a romantic pitch as to be almost incredible. We have heard an anecdote (which we believe to be authentic) of a gallant and distinguished naval officer, who was so dreadfully wounded in battle as to have been most properly remunerated with the honourable distinction of a knight-commander of the Bath and a double pension, going one day to the Secretary of the Admiralty to request that his name might be put down as a candidate for exploring the north-west passage. The Secretary attempted to dissuade him from entertaining such a thought, alleging his many wounds, from which he was still suffering great inconvenience, the loss of one eye, and the sympathetic affection of the other; stated the painful inconveniences to which he would be exposed from the extreme cold, and the probability of being shut up for a whole winter in the ice; and he thought that these arguments had convinced him of his unfitness for so perilous an undertaking; but, on leaving the room, the candidate for glory turned round, and with great emphasis observed, ' My ancestor perished honourably in the ice, and I think it very hard that 1 should be denied the possibility of sharing the same fate:' such is the thirst after fame, 'that last infirmity of noble minds.'
Africa, however, may be said to possess a stronger attraction than most other regions of the globe, from its having been less explored ; and, consequently, affording a more fertile and extensive source of novelty for the gratification of curiosity and adventure. It was said of old, and the saying holds good at the present day, 'Africa semper aliquid novi offert;' and this very circumstance is a sufficient spur to a daring and inquisitive mind. Great as the progress has been in our day in the development of geographical information relative to this great continent, consequent on the exertions and zeal of Hornemann, Park, Oudney, Denham, Clapperton, Laing, and many other travellers, not forgetting the last, and by no means the least—the modest, unpretending, and straightforward Lander—much still remains to be done to complete the geography even of Northern Africa; and as to the southern part of this continent, it continues to exhibit almost a blank on our maps. A nautical survey of its eastern coast was the main object of the present expedition; and the united labours of the surviving officers of the little squadron are detailed in the volumes, of which we are about to give a short account. Of the interior we are just as ignorant as before.