Изображения страниц


this old favourite of Europe, might not have been as much over the wisdom or the virtue they cholemplated, mortified a theatrical gesture, as the sentimentality of Sierne? at their own infirmities. Thus, ibough there may be no

We must not therefore consider that he who paints vice identity, between the book and the man, sull for us, an with energy is therefore vicious, lest we injure an honour- author is ever an abstract being, and, as one of the Pas able man; nor must we imagine that he who celebrates thers said, 'a dead man may sin dead, leaving books that virtue is therefore virtuous, for we may then repose ou a make others sip. An author's wisdom or hus fully does not heart which knowing the right pursues the wrong, die with him. The volume, nor the author, is our con

These paradoxical appearances in the history of genius panion, and is for us a real personage, performing before present a curious moral phenomenon. Much must be at. us whatever it inspires ; "he being dead, yol speakeih.' iributed to the plastic nature of the versatile faculty itself. Such is the vitality of a book! Men of genius have often resisted the indulgence of one talent to exercise another with equal power; some, who

CHAPTER XIV, have solely composed sermons, could have touched on the foibles of society with the spirit of Horace or Juvenal; Blackstone and Sir William Jones directed that genius to the austere studies of law and philology, which might have

Among the more active members of the republic there excelled in the poetical and historical character. So ver

is a class to whom may be appropriately assigned the

title of Men of Lellers. satile is this faculty of genius, that its possessors are some The man of letters, whose habits and whose whole life times uncertain of the manner in which they shall treat

so closely resemble those of an author, can only be du. their subject; whether to be grave or ludicrous ? When

tinguished by the simplo circumstance, that the man of Breboeuf, the French translator of the Pharsalia of Lucan,

letters is not an author. had completed the first book as it now appears, he at the

Yet he whose sole occupation through life is literaturo, same time composed a burlesque version, and sent both to

who is always acquiring and never producing appears as the great arbiter of taste in that day, to decide which the

ridiculous as the architect who never raised an edifice, or poet should continue? The decision proved to be difficult. Are there not writers who can brew a tempest or

the statuary who refrains from sculpture. His pursus Aing a sunshine with all the vehemence of genius at their

are reproached with terminating in an epicurean selfisti. will? They adopt one principle, and all things shrink into

neys, and amidst his incessant avocations he himsell us the pigmy forins of ridicule ; they change it, and all rise to

considered as a particular sort of idler. starile us, with animated Colossusses. On this principle

This race of literary characters, as they now exit, of the versatility of the faculty, a production of genius is a

could not have appeared vill the press had poured its afflapiece of art which wrought up to its full effect is merely the

ence; in the degree that the nations nf Europe became result of certain combinations of the mind, with a felicity

literary, was that philosophical curiosity kiudled, which

induced some to devote their fortunes and their days, and of manner obtained by taste and habit. Are we then to reduce the works of a man of genius to

to experience some of the purest of human enjoymenis, in a mere sport of his talents ; a gaine in which he is only preserving and familiarising themselves with the monuthe best player? Can he whose secret power raises so genius of every people, through all its eras and whatever

inents of vanished ininds,' that indestructible history of the many emotions in our breasts, be without any in his own ? A mere actor performing a part? Is he unfeeling when length discovered to be found in Books.

men have thought and whatever men have done, were al he is pathetic, indifferent when he is indignant? Aa alien to all the wisdom and virtue he inspires ? No! were

Men of letters occupy an intermediate station between men of genius themselves to assert this, and it is said

authors and readers; with more curiosity of knowledge some incline to it, there is a more certain conviction, than

and more multiplied tastes, and by those procious collec their mistakes, in our own consciousness, which for ever

tions which they are forming during their lives, mure com

pletely furnished with the means than are possessed by assures us, that deep feelings and elevated thoughis must

the multitude who read, and the few who write. spring from their source. In proving that the character of the man may be very ticular subjects ; his tastes are tinctured by theu culture

The studies of an author are usually restricted to par opposite to that of his writing, we must recolleci that the

ing, and his mind is always shaping itself to them. An habits of life may be contrary to the babits of the mind. The influence of their studies over men of genius, is limi

author's works form his solitary pride, and often mark the

boundaries of his empire ; while half his le wears away ted; out of the ideal world, man is reduced to be the ac. tive creature of sensation. An author, has in truth, lwo

in the slow maturity of composition; and still the ambi.

tion of authorship forments its victim alike in disappointdistinct characters; the literary, formed by the habits of his study; the personal, by the habits of situation. Gray,

ment or in possession.

But the solitude of the man of letters is soothed by the cold, effeminate and timid in his personal, was lofty and awful in his literary character; we see men of polished they possess him. His volumes in trpie rows on theu

surrounding objects of his passion ; he posscases them, and manners and bland affection, in grasping a pen, are thrust

shelves; his porifolios, those moveable galleries of pion ing a poignard; while others in domestic lifo, with the

tures and sketches; bis rich medaillier of coins and gems, simplicity of children and the feebleness of nervous affections, can shake the senate or the bar with the vehemence paintings on which his eye lingers as they catch a mano

that library without books; some favourile sculptures and of their eloquence and the intrepidity of their spirit. And, however the personal character may contrast with there, about his house ; these are his furniture: Every

cal light; and some antiquities of all nations, here and that of their genius, still are the works themselves, genu- thing about him is so endeared to him by habit, and many ine, and exist in realities for us and were so doubtless to themselves, in the act of composition. In the calm study, short time becomes a real suttering; he is one of the lies-heb

higher associations, that even to quit his collections for a a beautiful imagination may convert him whose morals

bers of the Hollanders--a lover or fancier. * He lives whero are corrupt, into an admirable moralist, awakening feelings he will die; often his library and his chamber are continue which yei may be cold in the business of life; since we have shown that the phlegmatic can excite himself into

ous, and this · Parva, sed apta,' this contracted space, lai wit, and the cheerful man delight in Night-thoughts. Sal this act of treachery; she lost her senses and was cmind in lust, the corrupt Sallust, might retain the most sublime a private mad-house, where Sterne twice visited her. He has conceptions of the virtues which were to save the Repub

drawn and coloured the picture of her madness, which be lic; and Sterne, whose heart was not so susceptible in

himself had occasioned! This fact only adds to some which

have so deeply injured the sentimental character of this au. ordinary occurrences, while he was gradually creating thor, and the whole spurious race of his wretched apes. Hie incident after incident, touching the emotions one after life was loose, and shandean, his principles unschied, and another, in the stories of Le Fevre and Maria, might have does not seem that our wit bore a single auraction of personal thrilled-like some of his readers.* Many have mourned affection about him: for his death was characterisk of by

life. Sterne died at his lodgings, with neither tricod wor rela. *Long after this way written, and while this volume was Live by his side ; a hired nurse was the sole companion of the passing through the press, I discovered a new incident in the man whose wit found admirers in every street, but whose life of Sterne, which verifies my conjecture. By some un. heart could not draw one by his death.bed published letters of Sterne's in Mr Murray's Collection of Au. * The Dutch call every thing for which they have a passion tographical Leuers, it appears that early in life, he deeply lief-hebberge-things having iheir love; and as their feeling fixed the affections of a young lady, during a period of ive is much stronger than their delicacy, they apply the tertu to years, and for some canse I know not, he suddenly deserted every thing, from poesy and picture to colupe and intera her and married another. The young lady was too sensible or | Lielhebbers are lovers or fanciors

often marked the boundary of the existence of the opulent whom the centuries behind have conveyed no results, and owner.

who cannot see how the preseni time is always full of the His invisible days flow on in this visionary world of future ; as Leibnitz has expressed a profound reflection. literature and art; 'all the knowledge, and all the tastes, Every thing,' says the lively Burnet, must be brought to which genius has ever created are transplanted into his the nature of tinder or gunpowder, ready for a spark to set cabinet ; there they flourish together in an atmosphere of it on fire,' before they discover it. The man of letters is their own. But tranquillity is essential to his existence ; accused of a cold indifference to the interests which divide for though his occupations are interrupted without incon-society. In truth, he knows their miserable beginnings and venience, and resumed without effort, yet if the realities of their certain terminations ; he is therefore rarely observed life, with all their unquiet thoughts, are suffered to enter as the head, or the rump, of a party, into ins ideal world, ihey will be felt as if something were Antiquity presents such a man of letters in Atticus, who Hung with violence among the trees where the birds are

retreated from a political to a literary life; bad his letters singing,—all would instantly disperse.

accompanied those of Cicero they would have illustrated Such is that life of self-oblivion of the man of letters, for the ideal character of a man of letters. But the sage At. which so many have voluntarily relinquished a public sta. ticus rejected a popular celebrity for a passion not less tion ; or their rank in society ; neglecung even fortune and powerful yielding up his whole soul to study. Cicero, with health. Of tbe pleasures of the man of letters it may be all his devotion to literature, was still ngitated by another said, they combine those opposite sources of enjoyment kind of glory and the most perfect author in Rome imaginobserved in the hunter and the angler. of a great hunter ed that he was enlarging his honours by the intrigues of it was said, that he did not live but hunted ; and the man the consulship. He has distinctly marked the character of letters, in his perpetual researches, feels the like heat, of the man of letters in the person of his friend Atticus, and and the joy of discovery, in his own chase ; while in the has expressed his respect, although he could not content deep calm of his spirits, such is the sweetness of his unin himself with its imitation. • I know,' says this man of terrupted hours, like those of the angler that one may say of genius and ambition, • I know the greatness and ingenuoushim what Colonel Venables, an enthusiastic angler, de ness of your soul, nor have I found any difference between clared of his favourite pursuit, 'many have cast off other us, but in a different choice of life; a certain sort of amrecreations and embraced this ; but I never knew anvan. bition has led me earnestly to seek after honours, while gler wholly cast off, though occasions might interrupt, iheir other motives, by no means blameable, induced you to affections to their beloved recreation.' But' men of the world,' as they are so emphatically adopt an honourable leisure ; honestum otium.'* These

molives appear in the interesting memoirs of this man of distinguished, imagine that a man so hiteless in the world' letters--a contempt of political intrigues with a desire to must be one of the dead in it, and, with mistaken wit, escape from the bustle and splendour of Rome to the learnwould inscribe over the sepulchre of his library, · Here lies ed leisure of Athens; to dismiss a pompous train of slaves the body of our friend.' If the man of letters has volun. for the delight of assembling under his roof a literary tarily quitted their ó world,' at least he has past into another society of readers and transcribers ; and there having colwhere he enjoys a sense of existence through a long suc- i lected the portraits or busis of the illustrious men of his cession of ages, and where Time, who destroys all things for

country, he caught their spirit and was influenced by their others, for himn only preserves and discovers. This world virtues or their genius, as he inscribed under them, in conis best described by one who has lingered amongi's inspi- cise verses, the characters of their mind. Valuing wealth rations. • We are wafted into other times and strange only for its use, a dignified economy enabled hiin to be laods, connecung us by a sad but exalting relationship with profuse, and a moderate expenditure allowed him to be the great events and great minds which have passed away. generous. Our studies at once cherish and controul ihe imagination, The result of this literary life was the strong affections by leading it over an unbounded range of the noblest scenes of the Athenians; at the first opportunity, the absence of in the overawing company of departed wisdom and The man of letters offered, they raised a statue to him, genius'*

conferring on our Pomponius the fond surname of Auicus. If the man of letters is less dependent on others for the To have received a name from the voice of the city they very perception of his own existence, his solitude is not inhabited, has happened to more than one man of letters. that of a desert, but of the most cultivated humanity ; for all Pinelli

, born a Neapolitan, but residing at Venice, among there tends to keep alive those concentrated feelings which other peculiar honours received from the senate, was there cannot be indulged with security, or even without ridicule, distinguished by the affectionate title of the Venetian.' in general society. Like the Lucullus of Plutarch, he Yet such a character as Atticus could not escape cenwould not only live among the votaries of literature, but

sure from .men of the world;' they want the heart and the would live for them ; he throws open his library, his galo imagination to conceive something better than themselves. lery, and his cabinel, to all the Grecians. Such are the The happy indifference, perhaps the contempt, of our Almen who father neglected genius, or awaken its infancy by ticus for rival factions, they have stigmatised as a cold neuche perpetual legacy of the Prizes of Literature and trality, and a timid cowardly hypocrisy. Yet Atticus science ; who project those benevolent institutions where could not have been a mutual friend, bad both not alike they have poured out the philantbrophy of their hearts in held the man of letters as a sacred being amidst their disthai world which they appear to have forsaken. If Europe guised ambition ; and the urbanity of Atticus, while it is hicerary, to whom does she owe this, more than to these balanced the fierceness of two heroes, Pompey and Cæsar, ten of leuers? To their noblo passion of amassing through could even temper the rivalry of genius in the orators life those magnificent collections, which often bear the Hortensius and Cicero. A great man of our own country Dames of their founders from the gratitude of a following widely differed from the accusers of Atticus ; Sir Mais age? Venice, Florence, and Copenhagen, Oxford and thew Hale lived in limes distracted, and took the characLondon, attest the existence of their labours. Our Bod

ter of our man of letters for his model, adopting two prinlevs and our Harleys, our Cotions and our Sloanes, our ciples in the conduct of Atticus; engaging with no party Cracherodes and our 'Townleys, were of this race! In the or public business, and atfording a constant relief to the perpetuity of their own studies, They felt as if they were unfortunate of whatever party, he was thus preserved extending human longevity, by throwing an unbroken light amidst the contests of times. Even Cicero bumself, in his of knowledge into the nexi age. Each of the public works, happier moments, in addressing his friend, exclaims—I for such they become, was the pmject and the execution had much rather be sitting on your little bench under Arisola solitary man of letters during half a century ; the gene. totle's picture, than in the curule chairs of our great ones.' rous enthusiasm which inspired their intrepid labours ; This wish was probably sincere, and reminds us of another the difficulurs overcome ; the voluntary privations of what great politician in his secession from public affairs, retreatthe world calls its pleasures and its honours would form ing to a literary life, when he appears suddenly to have an interesting history not yet written ; their due, yet un discovered a new-found world. Fox's favourite line, which discharged.

he often repeated, was, Living more with books than with men, the man of let. ters is more tolerant ofopinions than they are among them

• How various his employments whom the world selves, nor are his views of human affairs contracted to

Calls idle.'

Cowper. the day, Is those who in the heat and hurry of life can acı If the personal interests of the man of letters are not only on expedients, and not na principles; who deem them too deeply involved in society, his individual prosperity seiver politicians because they are not moralisis ; to however is never contrary to public happiness. Other * Quarterly Review, No. XXXII, p. 148.

* Ed Acticum, Lib. i. Ep. 17.'

professions necessarily exist by the conflict and the cala sustained the general cause of science. The corresmities of the community ; the politician is great by batch-pondence of Peiresc branched out to the farthest bounds ing an intrigue; the lawyer is counting his briefs; the of Ethiopia, connected both Americas, and had touched physician his sick-list; the soldier is clamorous for war, the newly discovered extremiues of the universe, when and the merchant riots on the public calamily of high this intrepid mind closed in a premature death. prices. But the man of letters only calls for peace and I have drawn this imperfect view of Peiresc's character, books, to unite himself with his brothers scaliered over that men of letters may be reminded of the capacities they Europe ; and his usefulness can only be felt, when, after possess. There still remains another peculiar feature.

long interchange of destruction, men during short inter With all these vast views the fortune of Peiresc was not vals, recovering their senses, discoyer tható knowledge great ; and when he sometimes endured the reproach of is power.'

those whose sordidness was started at this prodigality of of those eminent men of letters, who were not authors, mind, and the great objects which were the result, Peiresc the history of Peiresc opens the most enlarged view of replied that a small matter suffices for the natural wants their activity. This moving picture of a literary life had of a literary man, whose true wealth consists in the miobeen lost for us, had not Peiresc found in Gassendi a twin numents of arts, the treasures of his library, and the brospirit; so intimate was that biographer with the very therly affections of the ingenious.' He was a French thoughts; so closely united in the same pursuits, and so judge, but he supported the dignity more by his own chaperpetual an observer of the remarkable man whom he has racter than by luxury or parade. He would not wear silk, immortalized, that when employed on this elaborate resem and no tapestry hangings ornamented his apartments ; but blance of his friend, he was only painting himself with all the walls were covered with the portraits of his literary the identifying strokes of self-love.

friends: and in the unadorned simplicity of his study, his It was in the vast library of Pinelli, the founder of the books, his papers, and his letters were scattered aboun him most magnificent one in Europe, that Peiresc, then a on the tables, the seats, and the floor. There, stealing youth, fest the remote hope of emulating the man of letters from the world, he would sometimes admit w his spare before his eyes. His life was without preparation, not supper his friend Gassendi, "content,' says that amiable without foriunate coincidences, but there was a grandeur philosopher, ' to have me for his guost.' of design in the execution, which originated in the genius Peiresc, like Pinelli, never published any work. Pew of the man himself.

days, indeed, passed without Peiresc writing a better on The curious genius of Peiresc was marked by its pre- the most curious inquiries; epistles which might be concosity, as usually are strong passions in strong minds; this sidered as so many little books, observes Gamsendi. was the germ of all those studies which seemed mature in These men of letters derived their pleasure, and perhaps his youth. He resolved on a personal intercourse with the their pride, from those vast strata' of knowledge which great literary characters of Europe; and his friend has

their curiosity had heaped together in their mighty color. thrown over these literary travels, that charm of detail by tions. They either were not endowed with that faculty of which we accompany Peiresc into the libraries of the genius which strikes out aggregate views, or with the talearned; there with the historian opening new sources of lent of composition which einbellishes minute ones. Thes history, or with the critic correcting manuscripts, and set- deficiency in the minds of such may be attributed to a tling points of erudition; or by the opened cabinet of the

thirst of learning, which the very means to allay can ong antiquary, decyphering obscure inscriptions, and explain- inflame. From all sides they are gathering information ; ing medals; in the galleries of the curious in art, among and that knowledge seems never perfect to which every their marbles, their pictures and their prints, he has often day brings new acquisitions. With these men, to con revealed to the artist some secret in his own art. In the

pose is to hesitate ; and to revise is to be mortsfied by museum of the naturalist, or among the plants of the fresh doubts and unsupplied omissions. Peirese was eabotanist, there was no rarity of nature, and no work of art ployed all his life in a history of Provence; and day aher on which he had not to communicate ; his mind toiled with day he was adding to the splendid mass. But • Peiresc,' that impatience of knowledge, that becomes a pain only in observes Gassendi, . could not mature the birth of his lite the cessation of rest. In England Peiresc was the asso rary offspring, or lick it into any shape of elegant form; ho ciate of Camden and Selden, and had more than one inter was therefore content to take the midwife's part, by help view with that friend to literary men, our calumniated

ing the happier labours of others.' James I; one may judge by these who were the men

Such are the silent cultivators of knowledge, who are whom he first sought, and by whom he himself ever after rarely authors, but who are often, however, contributing was sought. Such indeed were immortal friendships ! im- to the works of authors: without their secret labourr, the mortal they may be justly called, from the objects in which public would not have possessed many valued works. they concerned themselves, and from the permanent re That curious knowledge of books which, since Europe bas, sults of their combined studies. Another peculiar greatness in this literary character knowledge ; and literary history itself, which is the his:

become literary, is both the beginning and the result of was his enlarged devotion to literature for itself; he made tory of the age, of the nation and of the individual, one on his own universal curiosity the source of knowledge to

the important consequences of these rast collections of other men; considering the studious as forming but one books, has almost been created in our own times. These great family wherever they were, the national repositories sources, which offer go much delightful instruction to the of knowledge in Europe, for Peiresc, formed bui one col. lection for the world. This man of letters had possessed vation of literature and the arts, and consutute more pare

author and the artist, are separate studies from the cultihimself of their contents, that he might have manuscripts ticularly the province of these men of letters. collected, unedited pieces explored, extracts supplied, and The philosophical writer, who can adorn the page or even draughtsmen employed in remote parts of the world, history, is not always equal to form it. Robertson, after to furnish views and plans, and to copy antiquities for the his successful history of Scotland, was long irresolute in student, who in some distant retirement discovered that the fiterary treasures of the world were unfailingly opened to

his design, and so unpractised in researches of the sort

he was desirous of attempting, that his admirers had him by the secret devotion of this man of letters. Carrying on the same grandeur in his views, Europe introduction to Dr Birch enabled him to open the clasped

nearly lost his popular productions, had not a fortunato could not limit his inextinguishable curiosity; his universal mind busied itself in every part of the habitable globe. has confessed his inadequate knowledge and his overflow

books, and to drink of the sealed fountains. Rotenison He kept up a noble traffic with all travellers, supplying ing gratitude, in letters which I have elsewhere printed them with philosophical instruments and recent inventions, A suggestion by a man of letters has opened the career of by which he facilitated their discoveries, and secured their reception wwen in barbarous realms; in return he claimed, at his own cost, for he was born rather to give than to re

* The history of the letters of Peires ia remarkable He ceive,' Says Gassendi, fresh importations of orientat preserved copies of his entire correspondence ; tut it has leun literature, curious antiquities, or botanic rarities, and it fuel, by the obstinate avorice of a niece. This would not have was the curiosity of Peiresc which first embellished his been a solitary instance of eminent men leaving their collec. own garden, and thence the gardens of Europe, with a Lions to unworthy descendants. However, a tier the silence or rich variety of exotic flowers and fruits. Whenever he more than a century, some of these leuens forelven recovered was presented with a medal, a vase, or a manuscript, he

and may be found in some French journals of A. Millio. never slept over the gift till he had discovered what the

They descended from the gentleman wlio mortied this very donor delighted in ; and a book, a picture, or a plant, when

niece, probably

the remains of the collection. The letters apo

swer to the description of Gassendt, full of curious knowledge manev could not be offered, fed their mutual passion and I and observation.


many an aspirant; a hint from Walsh conveyed a new vigour, and envy leaves you in peace.' The opening of conception of English poetry to one of its masiers. The one of' La Mothe le Vayer's Treatises is striking : I celebrated trcause of Grotius, on · Peace and War,' was should but ill return the favours God has granted me in the projected by Peiresc. It was said of Magliabechi, who eightieth year of my age, should I allow myself to give knew all books and never wrote one, that by his diffusive way to that shameless want of occupation which I have communications he was in some respects concerned in all condemned all my life ;' and the old man proceeds with the great works of his times. Sir Robert Cotton greatly his observations, on the composition and reading of assisted Camden and Speed; and that hermit of litera books.' The literary character has been fully occupied ture, Baker of Cambridge, was still supplying with his in in the eightieth and ninetieth year of life. Isaac Wallon valuable researches, Burnet, Kennel, Hearne, of Middle still glowed while writing some of the most interesting ton. Such is the concealed aid which these men of letters biographies in his eighty-fifth year, and in his ninetieth afford our authors, and which we may compare to those enriched the poetical world with the first publication of a subterraneous streams, which flowing into spacious lakes, romantic tale by Chalkhill, the friend of Spenser.' Bodare still, unobserved, enlarging the waters which alıraci mer, beyond eighty, was occupied on Homer, and Wielthe public eye.

land on Cicero's Letters.* But the delight of opening a Such are these men of letters! but the last touches of new pursuit, or a new course of reading, imparts tho vitheir picture, given with all the delicacy and warmth of a vacity and novelty of youth even to old age; the revoluself-painter, may come from the Couni de Caylus, cele tions of modern chemistry kindled the curiosity of Dr brated for his collections and for his generous patronage Reid to his latest days; and a deservedly popular author, of artists.

now advanced in life, at this moment, has discovered, in • His glory is confined to the mere power which he has a class of reading to which he had never been accustomed, of being one day useful to letters and to the arts; for his what will probably supply him with fresh furniture for his whole life is employed in collecting materials of which mind during life. Even the steps of time are retracea, learned men and artists make no use till after the death of and what has passed away again becomes ours; for in him who amassed them. It affords him a very sensible advanced life a return to our early studies refreshes and pleasure to labour in hopes of being useful to those who renovates the spirits; we open the poets who made us pursue the same course of studies, while there are so enthusiasts, and the philosophers who taught us to think, great a number who die without discharging the debt with a new source of feeling in our own experience. Adam which they incur to society.'

Smith confessed his satisfaction at this pleasure to pro

fessor Dugald Stewart, while he was reperusing, with CHAPTER XVII.

the enthusiasm of a studemt, the tragic poets of ancient Greece, and Sophocles and Euripides lay open on his

table.' The old age of the literary character retains its enjoyments, and usually its powers, a happiness which accom

Dans ses veines tvujours un jeune sang bouillone,

El Sophocle á cent ans peini encore Antigone. panies no other. The old age of coquetry with extinci beauty; that of the used idler left without a sensation ; The calm philosophic Hume found death only could interthat of a grasping Cræsus, who envies his heir ; or that rupl the keen pleasure he was again receiving from Luof the Machiavel who has no longer a voice in the cabinet, cian, and which could inspire him at the moment with a makes all these persons resemble unhappy spirits who humourous sell-dialogue with Charon. cannot find their graves. But for the aged man of letters Not without a sense of exultation has the literary chamemory relurns to her stories, and imagination is still on racter felt his happiness, in the unbroken chain of his the wing, amidst fresh discoveries and new designs. The habits and his feelings. Hobbes exulted that he had outothers fall like dry leaves, but he like ripe fruit, and is lived his enemies, and was still the same Hobbes ; and to valued when no longer on the tree.

demonstrate the reality of this existence, published, in the The intellectual faculties, the latest to decline, are often eighty-seventh year of his age, his version of the Odyssey, vigorous in tho decrepitude of age. The curious mind is and the following year, his Iliad. Of the happy results of still striking out into new pursuits ; and the mind of genius literary habits in advanced life, the Count de Tressan, the is still creating. ANCORA IMPABO Yet I am learn-elegant abridger of the old French romances, in his liteing! Such was the concise inscription of an ingenious rary advice to his children,' bas drawn a most pleasing device of an old man placed in a child's go-cart, with an picture. With a taste for study, which he found rather hour-glass upon it, which Michael Angelo applied to his inconvenient in the moveable existence of a man of the own vast gepius in his ninetieth year.*

world, and a military wanderer, he had however contrived Time, the great destroyer of other men's happiness, to reserve an hour or two every day for literary pursuits ; only enlarges the patrimony of literature to its possessor. the men of science, with whom he had chiefly associated, A learned and highly intellectual friend once said to me, appear to have turned his passion to observation and • If I have acquired more knowledge these last four years knowledge, rather than towards imagination and feeling ; than I had hitherto, I shall add materially to my stores the combination formed a wreath for his grey hairs. When in the next four years; and so at every subsequent period Count de Tressan retired from a brilliant to an affectionof my life, should I acquire only in the same proportion, ale circle, amidst his family, he pursued his literary tastes, the general mass of my knowledge will greatly accumu with the vivacity of a young author inspired by the illusion late. If we are not deprived by nature or misfortune, of of fame. At the age of seventy-five, with the imagination the means to pursue this perpetual augmentation of know. of a poet, he abridged, he translated, he recomposed his ledge, I do not see but we may be suillfully oecupied and old Chivalric Romances, and his reanimated fancy struck deeply interested even to the last day of our earthly term.' fire in the veins of the old man. Among the first designs In such pursuits, where life is rather wearing out, than of his retirement was a singular philosophical legacy for rusting oui, as Bishop Cumberland expressed il, death his children; it was a view of the history and progress of scarcely can take us by surprise: and much less by those the human mind--of iis principles, its errors, and its adcontinued menaces which shake the old age of men, of no vantages, as these were reflecied in himself; in the dawnintelectual pursuits, who are dying so many years. ings of his taste, the secret inclinations of his mind, which

Active enjoyments in the decline of life, then, consti the men of genius of the age with whom he associated had tute the happiness of literary men: the study of the arts developed ; in expatiating on their memory, he calls on his and literature spread a sunshine in the winter of their children to witness the happiness of study, in those pleadays; and their own works may be as delightful to them sures which were soothing and adorning bis old age. selves, as roses plucked by the Norwegian amidse his Without knowledge, without litera!ure, exclaims the snows; and they will discover that unregarded kindness venerable enthusiast, in whatever rank we are born, we of nature, who has given powers that only open in the can only resemble the vulgar.' To the Centenary Fonevening, and Hower through the night-time. Necker offers tenelle the Count de Tressan was chiefly indebted for the a beautiful instance even of the influence of lale studies happy life be derived from the cultivation of literature ; in life ; for he telts is, that the era of three-score and ten and when this man of a hundred years died, Tressan, is an agrecable age for writing ; your mind has not lost its himself on the borders of the grave, would offer the last

• This chararteristic form closes the lectures of Mr Fuseil, fruits of his mind in an eluge to his ancient master; it was who has indirectly reminds us of the last words of Reynolds the voice of the dying to the dead, a last moment of the and tha graver of Blake, vilal as the pencil of Fuseli, has raised the person of Michael Angelo with its admirable por. * See Curiosities of Literature on 'The progress of old age trait, breathing inspiration

in new studies.'



love and sensibility of genius, which feeble life could not derived from birth, nor creation, but from public opinion; extinguish.

and as inseparable from his name, as an essential quality If the genius of Cicero, inspired by the love of literature, is from its object; for the diamond will sparkle and the has thrown something delighiful over this latest season of rose will be fragrant, otherwise, it is no diamond nor rose. life, in his de Senectute ; and if to have written on old age, The great may well condescend to be humble to Genius, in old age, is to have oblained a triumph over time,* ihe since genius pays its homage in becoming proud of that literary character, when he shall discover himself like a humility. Cardinal Richelieu was mortified at the cele stranger in a new world, when all that he loved has not brity of the unbending Corneille ; several noblemen were life, and all that lives has no love for old age; when he at Pope's indifference to their rank; and Magliabechi, the shall find himself grown obsolete, when his ear shall cease book-prodigy of his age, whom every literary stranger to listen, and nature has locked up the man entirely within visited at Florence, assured Lord Raley, that the Duke of himself, even then the votary of literature shall not feel the Tuscany had becomo jealous of the attention he was redecline of life ;-preserving the flame alive on the altar, ceiving from foreigners, as they usually went first to see and even at his last moments, in the act of sacrifice. Such Magliabechi before the Grand Duke. A confession by was the fate, perhaps now told for the first time, of the Montesquieu stales, with open candour, a fact in bis life, great Lord Clarendon; it was in the midst of composition which confirms this jealousy of the Great with the Lite. that his pen suddenly fell from his hand on the paper, he rary Character. On my entering into life, I was spoken took it up again, and again il fell; deprived of the sense of of as a man of talents, and people of condition gave me a touch. be found his hand without mouion; the earl per- favourable reception; but when the success of my Persian ceived himself struck by palsy--and thus was the life of Letters proved perhaps that I was not unworthy of my the noble exile closed amidst the warmth of a literary reputation, and the public began to esteem me, my pepwork, unfinished.

tion with the great was discouraging, and I arperienced in

numerable mortifications.' Montesquieu subjoing a reflecCHAPTER XVIII.

tion sufficiently humiliating for the mere noblcman : - The Great, inwardly wounded with the glory of a celebrated

name, seek to humble il. In general he only can patiently Literature is an avenue to glory, ever open for those in

endure the same of others, who deserves fame him

This sort of jealousy unquestionably prevailed in the late genious men who are deprived of honours or of wealth. Like that illustrious Roman who owed nothing to his an

Lord Orsord; a wii, a man of the world, and a man of cestors, videtur ex se nalus, they seem sell-born; and in

rark, hut while he considered literature as a tnere amuse. the baptism of fane, they have given themselves their

ment, he was mortified at not obtaining literary celebrity; The sons of a sword-maker, a poller, and a tax

he felt his anthurial, always beneath his personal charac gatherer, were the greatest of Orators, the most majestic hiin as their friend; and how he has delivered his feelings

ler; he broke with every literary man who looked up to of poets, and the most graceful of the satirisis of antiquity. The eloquent Massillon, the brilliant Flechier, Rousseau

on Johnson, Goldsmith and Gray, whom unfortunately for and Diderot ; Johnson, Akenside, and Franklin, arose

him he personally knew, it fell to my lor to discorer; ! amidst the most humble avocations.

could add, but not diminish, what has been called the it It is the prerogative of genius 10 elevate obscure men

verity of that delincatson.* to the higher class of socieir; if the influence of wealth in

Who was the dignified character, Lord Chesterfield of the present day has been justly said to have created a new

Samuel Johnson, when the great author, proud of his la. aristocracy of its own, and where they already begin to be bour, rejected his lordship’s sneaking patronage? I value jealous of their ranks, we may assert that genius creates

myself,' says Swift. - upon making the ministry desire to a sort of intellectunl nobility, which is conferred on some

be acquainted with Parnell, and yot Parnell with the minute Literary Characters by the involuntary feelings of the

try.' 'Piron would not suffer the Literary Character to be public; and were men of genius to bear arms, they might publenian, who was conducting another peer to the sur's

lowered in his presence. Entering the apartment of a consist not of imaginary things, of griffins and chimeras, head, the latter stopped to make way for Piron. Pas but of deeds performed and of public works in existence. When Dondi raised the great astronomical clock at the

on my lord,' said the noble inaster, pass, he is only : University of Padua, which was long the admiration of poet.' Piron replied, “ since our qualities are declared, I Europe, it gave a name and nobility to its maker and all

shall take my rank, and placed himself before the lord. his descendants; there still lives a Marquis Dondi dal'

Nor is this pride, the true source of elevated character, Horologio. Sir Hugh Middleton, in memory of his vast

refused to the great artist as well as the great authof. enterprise, changed his former arrus to hear three piles, by Rone, found ihai intrigue haul indisposed his Huluess to

Michael Angelo, invited by Julius II, to ihe Court of which instruments he had strengthened the works he had invented, when his gemins poured forth the waters through fered to linger in attendance in the anu-chamber One

wards him, and more ihan onco, the great artist was sufour metropolis, distinguishing it froin all others in the world. Should not Evelyn have inserted an oak-tree in

day the indignant man of genius exclaimed, tell bis habe his bearings ? For our author's 'Sylva' occasioned the

ness, if he wants me, he must look for me elsewhere.' Bie plantation of many millions of timber-trees,' and the

flew back to his beloved Florence, to proceed with thal present navy of Great Briiain has been constructed with celebrated cartoon, which afterwards became a favourite the oaks which the genius of Evelyn planted. If the pub Study wahali artists. Thrice the Pope wrote for his re fic have borrowed the names of some Lords to grace a

turn, and at length menaced ibu bule state of Tuscany Sandwich and a Spenser, we may bo allowed to raise into

i Michael Angelo prolonged his absence. He titles of liter.ery nobility those distinctions which the public of the Church, turning aside his troubled countenance in

returned. The sublime artist knelt at the feet of the Father voice has attached to some authors; Æschylus Putier, silence: an intermeddling Bishop offered himself es auch Alhenian Swart, and Anacreon Movre. This intellectual nobility is not chimerical; does it not

diator, apologizing for our artist by observing, that of this separate a man from the crowd? Whenever the rightful proud humour are these painters made! Julius luded io possessor appears, will not the eyes of all spectators be

This pitiable mediator, and as Vasari tells used a swich on fixed on him? I allude to scenes which I have wiinessed.

this occasion, observing, you speak injuriously of him, Will not even literary honours add a nobility to nobility ? Michael Angelo, Julius II, embraced the man of georas

while I am silent. It is vou who are ignorant.' Racing and teach the nation io esteem a name which might other. I can make lords of you every dav, but I catinet create a wise be hidden under iis rank, and reinain unknown ? Our illustrious list of literary noblemen is far more glorious than Titian,' said the Emperor Charles V to his courtiers, who the satirical “Catalogue of Noble Authors," drawn up

had become jealous of the hours, and the ball-bours, by a polished and heariless cynic, who has pointed his

which that inunarch managed, that he might converse witte brilliant shafts at all who were chivalrous in spirit, or ap

the man of genius at his work. There is an elevalai inpertained to the family of genius. One may presume un

tercourse between Power and Genius; and if they are de. the existence of this intellectual nobility, from the extra

ficient in reciprocal esteem, neither are great. T'he rotel ordinary circumstance that the Great have actually felt a

lectual nobility scoms to have been asseried by De Harlav, jealousy of the literary rank. But no rivality can exist in

a great French statesman, for when the academy was the solitary honour conferred on an author: an honour not

once not received with royal honours, he courplained to

the French monarch, observing, that when a man of le* Spurinna, or the Comforts of Old Age, by Sir Thomas ters was presented to Francis I, for the first time, the king Bernard

* Calataitier ot' Authors, Vol. L

with war,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »