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5. His conversation was such as might have been expected from a man whose fascy was so creative, whose knowledge omnifarious, and whose recollection so unbounded. He combined scholastic accuracy with unaffected ease; condensed and pointed, yet rich and perspic uous. Were it possible for his numerous friends, by any energy of reminiscence, to collect his discourse, John Henderson would be distinguished as a voluminous author, who yet preserved a Spartan frugality of words.
6. In all companies he led the conversation. But in no instance was his superiority oppressive. Calm, attentive and cheerful, he confuted more gracefully than others compliment; the tone of dogmatism El and the smile of contempt were equally unknown to him. Sometimes, indeed, he raised himself stronger and more lofty in his eloquence ; then chiefly, when, fearful for his weaker brethren, he opposed the arrogance of the illiterate deist, El or the worse jargon of sensual and cold-blooded atheism. Ei He knew that the clouds of ignorance which enveloped their understandings steamed up from the pollutions of their hearts, and, crowding bis sails, he bore down upon them with salutary violence.
7. But the qualities which most exalted John Henderson in the estimation of his friends were his high sense of honor and the great benevolence of his heart; not that honor which originates in a jealous love of the world's praise, nor that benevolence which delights only in publicity of well-doing. His honor was the anxious delicacy of a Christian, who regarded his soul as a sacred pledge, that must some time be re-delivered to the Almighty lender; his benevolence a circle, in which self indeed might be the centre, but all that lives was the circumference.Et This tribute of respect to thy name and virtues, my beloved Henderson! is paid by one who was once proud to call thee tūts, and friend, and who will do honor to thy memory till his spirit rests with thine!
8. Those who were unacquainted with John Henderson's char. acter may naturally ask, “ What test has he left the world of the distinguished talents thus ascribed to him ?” None! Le cherished a sentiment, which, whilst it teaches humility to blin proud, explains the cause of that silence so generally regretted. Upon the writer of this brief notice once expressing to him some regret at his not having benefited mankind by the result of his deep and varied investigations, he replied, “ More men becomo writers from ignorance than from knowledge, not knowing that they have been anticipated by others. Let us decide with cau tion, and write late.” Thus the vastness and variety of his acquirements, and the diffidence of his own mental maturity, alike prevented him from illuminating mankind, till death called him to graduate in a sphere more favorable to the range of his soaring and comprehensive mind. He died on a visit to 08. ford, in November, 1788, in the thirty-second year of his age.
9. It would be wrong to close this brief account of John Hon. derson without naming two other excellences with which he was eininently endowed. First, the ascendency he had acquired over kis temper. There are moments in which most persons are susceptible of a transient irritability, but the oldest of his friends never beheld him otherwise than calm and collected. It was a condition he retained under all circumstances, and which, to those over whom he had any influence, he never failed forcibly to inculcate, together with that unshaken firmness of mind which encounters the unavoidable misfortunes of life without repining; and that from the noblest principle, - a conviction that they are regulated by Him who cannot err, and who, in His severest allotments, designs only our ultimate good.
10. As a proof of his self-command, the following incident may be addūced. During his residence at Oxford, a student of a neighboring college, proud of his logical acquirements, was solicitous of a private disputation with the renowned Henderson. Some mutual friends introduced him, and, having chosen his subject, they conversed for some time with equal candor and moderation; but at length Henderson's antagonist, perceiving his confutation inevitable, in the height of passion threw a full glass of wine in John Henderson's face. Henderson, without altering his features or changing his position, gently wiped his face, and then coolly replied, “ This, sir, is a digression; now for the argument.” It is hardly necessary to add, the insult was resented by the company turning the aggress'or out of the room.
11. In a letter from Oxford to my brother Amos, his late pupil, for whom John Henderson always entertained the highest esteem, he thus expresses himself : “ See that you govern your pussions. What should grieve us but our infirmities? What make us angry but our own faults? A man who knows he is mortal, and that all the world will pass away, and by and by seem only like a tale, -- a sinner who knows his sufferings are all less than his sins, and designed to break him from them, — one who knows that everything in this world is a seed that will have its fruit in eternity, — that God is the best, the only good friend, -- that in Him is all we want, that everything is ordered for the best, so that it could not be better, however we take it, - he who believes this in his heart is happy.”
12. The other excellence referred to was the simplicity and condescension of his manners. From the gigantic stature of his understanding, he was prepared to trample down his pigmy com
petitors, and qualified at all times to enforce his unquestioned preëminence; but his mind was conciliating, his behavior unas suming, and his bosom the receptacle of all the social affections. It is these virtues alone which can disarm superiority of its terrors, and make the eye which is raised in wonder beam at the same moment with affection. There have been intellectual, as well as ciyil despots, whose motto seems to have been, “Let them hate, provided they fear.” Such men may triumph in their fancied distinctions; but they will never, as was John Henderson, be followed by the child, loved by the ignorant, and yet emulated by the wise.
LXXV. - SELF-KILLING. 1. As the world is at present situated, it is possible to acquire learning upon almost every subject, and an infinite amount of knowledge, useful and otherwise, without even by chance lighting upon a knowledge of the most indispensable observances necessary for the preservation of a sound mind in a sound body. Half of the multiforms languages of Asia may be mastered, while the prodigy who boasts so much learning knows not that to sit a whole day within doors at close study is detrimental to health ; or, if he knows so much, deliberately prefers the course which leads to ruin. Leyden, Ei an enthusiast of this order, was ill with a fever and liver complaint at Mysore, and yet continued to study ten hours a day.
2. His physician warned him of the dangerous consequences that were likely to ensue, when he answered, " Very well, doctor, you have done your duty, but I cannot be idle : whether I am to die or live, the wheel must go round to the last.”—“I may perish in the attempt,” he said, on another occasion; “but, if I die without surpassing Sir William Jones a hundred-fold in Oriental learning, let never tear for me profane the eye of a Borderer.” And he eventually sank, in his thirty-sixth year, under the consequences of spending some time in an ill-ventilated library, which a slight acquaintance with one of the most famil. iar of the sciences would have warned him against entering. Alexander Nicoll, a recent professor of Hebrew at Oxford, El who was said to be able to walk to the wall of China without the aid of an interpreter, died at the same age, partly through the effects of that intense El study which so effectually but so uselessly had gained him distinction.
3. Dr. Alexander Murray, a similar prodigy, died in his thirty-eighth year of over-severe study; making the third of a set of men remarkable for the same wonderful attainments, and natives of the same country, who, within a space of twenty years, fell victims to their deficiency in a piece of knowledge which any well-cultivated mind may acquire in a day. Excessive application unquestionably cut short the days of Sir Walter Scott, and also of the celebrated Weber, Es whose mournful exclamation in the midst of his numerous engagements can never be forgotten,“ Would that I were a tailor, for then I should have a Sunday'sEl holiday!” The premature extinction of early prodigies of geniusEi is generally traceable to the same cause. We read that while all other children played they remained at home to study, and then we learn that they perished in the bud, and balked the hopes of all their admiring friends.
4. The ignorant wonder is, of course, always the greater, when life is broken short in the midst of honorable undertakings. We wonder at the inscrutable decrees which permit the idle and the dissolūte to live, and remove the ardent benefactor of his kind, the hope of pārents, the virtuous and the self-devoted ; never reflecting that the highest moral and intellectual qualitiesEl avail nothing in repairing or warding off a decided injury to the physical system, which is regulated by an entirely distinct code of laws. The conduct of the Portuguese sailors in a storm, when, instead of working the vessel properly, they employ themselves in paying vows to their saints, is just as rational as most of the notions which prevail on this subject.
5. When Sir Philip Sidney was at Frankfort, he was advised by the celebrated printer Languetki in the midst of his studies not to neglect his health, “ lest he should resemble a traveller who, during a long journey, attends to himself, but not to his horse." The body may indeed be well likened to a horse, and the mind to its rider; for the one is the vehicle of the other, and whatever be the object of the journey, whether to perform the most generous actions, or engage in the most pātriotic enterprises, the animal will sink under excessive labor or inădëquate nutri. tion; there being only this important difference, that with the horse the rider sinks also, as their existence cannot be separated without death.
6. It ought to be universally made known, by means of education, l and for this purpose the best-informed amongst us would require to go back to school, — that the uses of our intellectual nature are not to be properly realized without a just regard to the laws of that perishable frame with which it is connected ; that, in cultivating the mind, we must neither overtask nor undertask the body, ncither push it to too great a speed, nor leave it neglected
and that, not withstanding this intimate connection and mutual dependence, the highest merits on the part of the mind will not compensatest for muscles mistreated, or soothe a nervous system which severe study has tortured into insanity.
7. To come to detail, - it ought to be impressed on all, that to spend more than a moderate number of hours in mental exercise diminishes insensibly the powers of future application, and tends to abbreviate life; that no mental exercise should be attempted immediately after meals, as the processes of bought and of digestion cannot be safely prosecuted together; that pure air and thoroughly ventilated apartments are essential to health ; and that, without a due share of exercise to the whole of the mental faculties, there can be no soundness in any, while the whole corporeal system will give way beneath a severe pressure upon any one in particular. These are truths completely established with physiologists, El and upon which it is undeniable that a great portion of human happiness depends. CHAMBERS.
LXXVI. — HUMANITY OF ROBERT BRUCE. 1. One morning the English and their Irish auxiliaries were pressing hard upon King Robert Bruce,Et who had given his army orders to continue a hasty retreat ; for to have risked a battle with a much more numerous army, and in the midst of a country which favored his enemies, would have been extremely imprudent. On a sudden, just as King Robert was about to mount his horse, he heard a woman shrieking in despair. “ What is the matter ? " said the king; and he was informed by his attendants that a poor woman, a laundress or washerwoman, mother of an infant who had just been born, was about to be left behind the army, as being too weak to travel.
2. The mother was shrieking for fear of falling into the hands of the Irish, who were accounted very cruel, and there were no carriages or means of sending the woman and her infant on in safety. They must needs be abandoned if the army retreated. King Robert was silent for a moment when he heard this story, being divided betwixt the feelings of humanity, occasioned by the poor woman's distress, and the dānger to which a halt would expose his army. At last he looked round on his officers, with eyes which kindled like fire.
3. " Ah, gentlemen,” he said, “ let it never be said that a man who was born of a woman, and nursed by a woman's tenderness, sbould leave a mother and an infant to the mercy of barbarians