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indeed who are not informed by it, and incorrigible whose tempers are not mended by it.
What then shall we say of Mr. Dyer who could read it, approve it, and so far shake off his natural phlegm as to declare himself fascinated by, and actually begin a translation of it, yet could abandon his work, and sink into the very character against which it was an antidote, but that sloth had obtained the dominion over him, that a paralysis had seized his mental faculties, and that rejecting the prudent counsels, the moral precepts, and the religious instruction contained in this elegant tract, he had given himself up to criminal indolence and selfgratification, and defeated the hopes of his best friends ?
In the translation into English, much of the spirit of the original has evaporated; but it has merit, as some particulars which the different manners of the two nations made it fit to alter, are properly adapted in it to the genius of our country, and indeed the translation, even if it had had less claim to our regard, must have been acceptable, as it extended the benefits of this valuable tract.
Dyer's support, in the idle way of life which he had made choice of, was the produce of a patrimony in the funds, that could not be great; his father, from whom he derived it, having left, besides himself, a widow, an elder son and a daughter. Johnson and myself, that he might be getting something, strongly pressed him to write the life of Erasmus ; but he could not be induced to undertake it. A work of less labour, but less worthy of him, he was however prevailed on
by Mr. Samuel Sharp, the surgeon, to engage in : this was a revision of the old translation of Plutarch's lives by several hands. He undertook, and, with heavy complaints of the labour of his talk, completed it, and had for his reward from Mr. Draper the partner of Mr. Tonson, whom Mr. Sharp had folicited to find some employment for him, the sum of two hundred pounds.
While he was a member of the club, Johnson fufpected that his religious principles, for which at first he honoured him, were giving way, and it was whispered to me by one who seemed pleafed that he was in the secret, that Mr. Dyer's religion was that of Socrates. What farther advances he made in Theism I could not learn, nor will I venture to assert, that which some expressions that I have heard drop from him led me to fear, viz. that he denied, in the philosophical sense of the term, the freedom of the human will, and settled in materialism and its consequent tenets.
As all his determinations were now and deliberate, and seemed to be the result of reason and reflection the change in his principles and conduct here noted was gradual. Of this the first fymptoms were an imbecillity to resist any temptation abroad on a Sunday evening, that should eafe him of the trouble of such exercises as he had been accustomed to perform in the family of his mother, and an eager curiosity in the perusal of books not merely of entertainment, but of such, as together with a knowledge of the world, furnished his mind with such palliatives of vice as made him half a convert to it.
While his mind was in this state of trepidation, a young gentleman who had been a fellow-student with him at Leyden, arrived in England, disordered in his health, of whom and whose conversation he became so enamoured, that to entertain him while he was seeking the recovery of it, Dyer was almost loft to all the rest of his friends. To those with whom he was most intimate, he would, notwithstanding the closeness of his nature, describe him and display his attractions, which as he represented them, were learning, wit, politeness, elegance, particularly in the article of dress; free and open manners, a genteel figure, and other personal charms that rendered him the delight of the female sex. It was a question that some of those with whom he was thus open would frequently ask him, • What are the most of these qualifications to you, "Mr. Dyer, who are a man of a different character ? you who know the value of wisdom, and have a mind fraught with knowledge, which you are capable of applying to many beneficial purposes, can never be emulous of those distinctions which discriminate a 'man of pleasure from a philosopher :' his answers to which served only to shew that his judgment was corrupted; The habitation of his friend, whom he thus visited, was a brothel, and his disease such as those seldom escape who frequent houses of lewd resort. The folicitude which the females in that place shewed for the recovery of his friend, their close attendance on him, and assiduity in adminiftering to him his medicines, and supplying all his wants, he attributed to genuine love; and seemed almost to envy in him that power which could interest so many Q3
young persons of the other sex in the restoration of his health.
What effect these visits, and the blandishments to which, as often as he made them, he was a witness, had upon Dyer, I know not, fave that to defeat the enchantments of these fyrens he practised none of the arts of Ulysses : on the contrary, they seemed to have wrought in him an opinion, that those mistook their interest, and shewed their ignorance of human life, who abitained from any pleasure that disturbed not the quiet of families or the order of society ; that natural appetices required gratification, and were not to be dismissed without it ; that the indulgence of the irascible pasiions alone was vice; and that to live in peace with all mankind, and in a temper to do good offices, was the most effential part of our duty.
Having admitted these principles into his mind, he settled into a sober sensualist; in a perfect consistency with which character, he was content to eat the bread of idleness, laying himself open to the invitations of those that kept the best tables, and contracting intimacies with men not only of opposite parties, but with some who seemed to have abandoned all principle, whether religious, political or moral. The houses of many such in succession were his home; and for the gratifications of a well-spread table, choice wines, variety of company, card-parties, and a participation in all domestic amusements and recreations, the owners thought themselves recompensed by his conversation and the readiness with which he accon.modated himself to all about him. Nor was he ever at a loss for reasons to justify this abuse of his parts or 9
waste of his time: he looked upon the practice of the world as the rule of life, and thought it did not become an individual to resist it.
By the death of his mother, his brother and sister, all of whom he survived, he became possessed of about 8cool. in the funds, which, as he was an economist and inclined to no extravagance, it seemed highly improbable he would ever be tempted to dispate ; but he had contracted a fatal intimacy with some persons of desperate fortunes, who were dealers in India stock, at a time when the affairs of the company were in a state of fluctuation; and though, from his indolent and abstracted temper of mind and ignorance of business, the last man to be suspected of yielding to such delusions, he first invested all he had in that precarious fund, and next became a candidate for the office of a director of the company, but failed in his attempt. After this, he entered into engagements for the purchase or sale of stock, and by violating them, made shipwreck of his honour. Lastly, he made other contracts of the like kind, to the performance whereof he was strictly bound : these turned out against him, and swallowed the whole of his fortune. About the time of this event he was seized with a quinsey, which he was assured was mortal ; but whether he refigned himself to the Now operation of that disease, or precipitated his end by an act of felf-violence, was, and yet is, a question among his friends. He left not in money or effects sufficient to defray the expence of a decent funeral, and the last office of humanity towards him was performed by one of those who had been accessary to his ruin. A por