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that part when he was present. He was petit | looking like any thing important and parochial.
He thought that he approached nearer to that stamp daily. He had a general aversion from being treated like a grave or respectable character, and kept a wary eye upon the advances of age that should so entitle him. He herded always, while it was possible, with people younger than himself. He did not conform to the march of time, but was dragged along in the procession. His manners lagged behind his years. He was too much of the boy-man. The toga virilis never sate gracefully on his shoulders. The impressions of infancy had burnt into him, and he resented the impertinence of manhood. These were weaknesses; but such as they were, they are a key to explicate some of his writings.
He left little property behind him. Of course the little that is left, (chiefly in India bonds,) devolves upon his cousin Bridget. A few critical dissertations were found in his escrutoire, which have been handed over to the editor of this Magazine, in which it is to be hoped they will shortly appear, retaining his accustomed signature.
and ordinary in his person and appearance. I have seen him sometimes in what is called good company, but where he has been a stranger, sit silent, and be suspected for an odd fellow; till some unlucky occasion provoking it, he would stutter out some senseless pun, (not altogether senseless perhaps, if rightly taken,) which has stamped his character for the evening. It was hit or miss with him; but nine times out of ten, he contrived by this device to send away a whole company of his enemies. His conceptions rose kindlier than his utterance, and his happiest impromptus had the appearance of effort. He has been accused of trying to be witty, when in truth he was but struggling to give his poor thoughts articulation. He chose his companions for some individuality of character which they manifested. Hence, not many persons of science, and few professed literati, were of his councils. They were, for the most part, persons of an uncertain fortune; and as to such people commonly nothing is more obnoxious than a gentleman of settled, (though moderate,) income, he passed with most of them for a great miser. To my knowledge this was a mistake. His intimados, to confess a truth, were in the world's eye a ragged regiment. He found them floating on the surface of society; and the colour, or something else, in the weed pleased him. The burrs stuck to him-but they were good and loving burrs for all that. He never greatly cared for the society of what are called good people. If any of these were scandalised, (and offences were sure to arise,) he could not help it. When he has been remonstrated with for not making more concessions to the feelings of good people, he would retort by asking, what one point did these good people ever concede to him? He was temperate in his meals and diversions, but always kept a little on this side of abstemiousness. Only in the use of the Indian weed he might be thought a little excessive. He took it, he would say, as a solvent of speech. Marry-as the friendly vapour ascended, how his prattle would curl up sometimes with it! the ligaments, which tongue-tied him, were loosened, and the stammerer proceeded a statist!
He has himself not obscurely hinted that his employment lay in a public office. The gentlemen in the Export department of the East India House will forgive me, if I acknowledge the readiness with which they assisted me in the retrieval of his few manuscripts. They pointed out in a most obliging manner the desk, at which he had been planted for forty years; showed me ponderous tomes of figures, in his own remarkably neat hand, which, more properly than his few printed tracts, might be called his "Works." They seemed affectionate to his memory, and universally commended his expertness in book-keeping. It seems he was the inventor of some ledger, which should combine the precision and certainty of the Italian double entry, (I think they called it,) with the brevity and facility of some newer German system-but I am not able to appreciate the worth of the discovery. I have often heard him express a warm regard for his associates in office, and how fortunate he considered himself in having his lot thrown in amongst them. There is more sense, more discourse, more shrewdness, and even talent, among these clerks, (he would say,) than in twice the number of authors by profession that I have conversed with. He would brighten up sometimes upon the "old days of the India House," when he consorted with Woodroffe, and Wissett, and Peter Corbet, (a descendant and worthy representative, bating the point of sanctity, of old facetious bishop Corbet,) and Hoole who translated Tasso, and Bartlemy Brown whose father (God assoil him therefore,) modernized Walton-and sly warm-hearted old Jack Cole, (King Cole they called him in those days,) and Campe, and Fombelle-and a world of choice spirits, more that I can remember to name, who associated in those days with Jack Burrell, (the bon vivant of the South Sea House,) and little Eyton, (said
I do not know whether I ought to bemoan or rejoice that my old friend is departed. His jests were beginning to grow obsolete, and his stories to be found out. He felt the approaches of age; and while he pretended to cling to life, you saw how slender were the ties left to bind him. Discoursing with him latterly on this subject, he expressed himself with a pettishness, which I thought unworthy of him. In our walks about his suburban retreat, (as he called it,) at Shacklewell, some children belonging to a school of industry had met us, and bowed and curtseyed, as he thought, in an especial manner to him. They take me for a visiting governor," he muttered earnestly. He had a horror, which he carried to a foible, of
to be a fac simile of Pope-he was a miniature of a gentleman,) that was cashier under him, and Dan Voight of the Custom House that left the famous library.
Well, Elia is gone-for aught I know, to be reunited with them-and these poor traces of his pen are all we have to show for it. How little survives of the wordiest authors! Of all they said
or did in their lifetime, a few glittering words only! His essays found some favourers, as they appeared separately; they shuffled their way in the crowd singly; how they will read, now they are brought together, is a question for the publishers, who have thus ventured to draw out into one piece his "weaved-up follies."
BY SIR J. MACKINTOSH, T. B. MACAULAY, ESQ., M. P.,
GEO. DEARBORN, PUBLISHER.
ARISTOTLE and Bacon, the greatest philosophers of the ancient and modern world, agree in representing poetry as being of a more excellent nature than history. Agreeably to the predominance of mere understanding in Aristotle's mind, he alleges as his cause of preference that poetry regards general truth, or conformity to universal nature; while history is conversant only with a confined and accidental truth, dependent on time, place, and circumstance. The ground assigned by Bacon is such as naturally issued from that fusion of imagination with reason, which constitutes his philosophical genius. Poetry is ranked more highly by him, because the poet presents us with a pure excellence and an unmingled grandeur, not to be found in the coarse realities of life or of history; but which the mind of man, although not destined to reach, is framed to contemplate with delight.
The general difference between biography and history is obvious. There have been many men in every age whose lives are full of interest and instruction, but who, having never taken a part in public affairs, are altogether excluded from the province of the historian. There have been also, probably, equal numbers who have influenced the fortune of nations in peace or in war, of the peculiarities of whose character we have no information; and who, for the purposes of the biographer, may be said to have no private life.
These are extreme cases. But there are other men, whose manners and acts are equally well known, whose individual lives are deeply interesting, whose characteristic qualities are peculiarly striking, who have taken an important share in events connected with the most extraordinary revolutions of human affairs, and whose biography becomes more difficult from that combination and intermixture of private with public occurrences, which render it instructive and interesting. The variety and splendour of the lives of such men render it often difficult to distinguish the portion
of them which ought to be admitted into history, from that which should be reserved for biography. Generally speaking, these two parts are so distinct and unlike, that they cannot be confounded without much injury to both ;--either when the biographer hides the portrait of the individual by a crowded and confined picture of events, or when the historian allows unconnected narratives of the lives of men to break the thread of history. The historian contemplates only the surface of human nature, adorned and disguised when the actors perform brilliant parts before a great audience, in the midst of so many dazzling circumstances, that it is hard to estimate their intrinsic worth; and impossible, in a historical relation, to exhibit the secret springs of their conduct. The biographer endeavours to follow the hero and the statesman, from the field, the council, or the senate, to his private dwelling, where, in the midst of domestic ease, or of social pleasure, he throws aside the robe and the mask, becomes again a man instead of an actor, and, in spite of himself, often betrays those frailties and singularities which are visible in the countenance and voice, the gesture and manner, of every man when he is not acting a part. It is particularly difficult to observe the distinction in the case of sir Thomas More, because he was so perfectly natural a man that he carried his amiable peculiarities into the gravest deliberations of state and the most solemn acts of law. Perhaps nothing more can be universally laid down, than that the biographer never ought to introduce public events, except as far as they are absolutely necessary to the illustration of character, and that the historian should rarely digress into biographical particulars, except as far as they contribute to the clearness of his narrative of political occurrences.
SIR THOMAS MORE was born in Milk Street, in the city of London, in the year 1480, three years before the death of Edward IV. His family was respectable,--no mean advantage at that time. His father, sir John More, who was born about