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taught Greek and Latin in a public seminary at the age of twelv* years. Some time after, his father commencing a boarding-school in the neighborhood of Bristol, young Henderson undertook, to teach the classics;" which he did with much reputation, extending, at the same time, his own knowledge in the sciences and general literature to a degree that rendered him a prodigy of intelligence.
2. At the age of eighteen, by an intensity of application of which few persons can conceive, he had not only thoughtfully perused all the popular English authors of a later date, but taker an extensive survey82 of foreign literature. He had also waded through the folios" of the Schoolmen," as well as scrutinized, with the minutest attention, into the more obsolete" writers of the iast three centuries; preserving, at the same time, a distinguishing sense of their respective merits, particular sentiments, and characteristic traits; which, on proper occasions, he com'mented upon in a manner that astonished the learned31 listener, not more by his profound remarks than by his cool and sententious eloquence.
3. So surprisingly retentive was his memory, that he never forgot what he had once learned, nor did it appear that he ever suffered even an image to be effaced from his mind; whilst the ideiis which he had so rapidly accumulated existed in his brain not as a huge chaos, but as clear and well-organized systems, illustrative of every subject, and subservient to every call. It was this quality which made him 60 superior a dis'putant; for, as his mind had investigated the various sentiments and hypotheses" of men, so had his almost intuitive discrimination stripped them of their deceptive append'ages, and separated fallacies from truth, marshalling their arguments so as to elucidate or detect each other.
4. But, in all his disputations, it was an invariable maxim with him never to interrupt the most tedious or confused opponents, though, from his pithy questions, he made it evident that, from the first, he anticipated the train and consequences of their reasonings. His favorite studies were, Philol'ogy," History," Astioncaiy,* Medicine," Theology," Logic," and Metaphysics," with all the branches of Natural and Experimental PhilosOt .hy; and that his attainments were not superficial will be readily admitted by those who knew him best. As a linguist," he wa, \ acquainted with the Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, together with the French, Spanish, Italian, and German; and he not only knew their ruling principles and predominant distinctions, so as to read them with facility, but in the greater part eon* versed fluently.
6. His conversation was such as might have been expected from a man whose fancy was so creative, whose knowledge omnifarious,1' 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" and the smile of contempt were equally unknown to hiin. Sometimes, indeed, he raised himself stronger and more lofty in his eloquence ; then chiefly, when, fearful for his weaker brethren, lie opposed the arrogance of the illiterate deist," or the worse jargon of sensual and cold-blooded atheism." He knew that the clouds of ignorance which enveloped their understandings steamed up from the pollutions of their hearts, and, crowding his 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 publicity18 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.1' This tribute of respect to thy name and virtues, my beloved Henderson! is paid by one who was once proud to call thee tute and friend, and who will do honor to thy memory till his spirit rests with thine!
8. Those who were unacquainted with John Hendersoc's character may naturally ask, " What test has he left the world of the distinguished talents thus ascribed to him?" None! IIo cherished a sentiment, which, whilst it teaches humility to Iho proud, explains the cause of that silence so generally regretted. Upon the writer of this brief notice once expressing tc 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 niore favorable to the range of his soaring and comprehensive mind. He died on a visit to Oxford,1' in November, 1788, in the thirty-second year of his age.
9. It would be wrong to close this brief account of John Henderson without naming two other excellences with which he waa eminently endowed. First, the ascendency he had acquired ovex his 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 arc 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 adduced. 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 p-^sions. 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."
1S2. 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 preeminence; but his mind was conciliating, his behavior unassuming, 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 civil 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. Joskph Cottle.
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 multiform" 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," 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 familiar of the sciences would have warned him against entering. Alexander Nicoll, a recent professor of Hebrew at Oxford," 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" study which so effectually but so uselessly had gained him distinction.
3. Dr. Alexander Murray, a similar prodigy, died in Lis 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," 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's" holiday!" The premature extinction of early prodigies of genius" 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 balked57 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 dissolute to live, and remove the ardent benefactor of his kind, the hope of parents, the virtuous and the self-devoted; never reflecting that the highest moral and intellectual qualities" 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 vessel30 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 Languet" 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 patriotic enterprises, the animal will sink under excessive labor or inadequate nutrition; 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,"— 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 taws of that perishable frame with which it is connected; that, in cultivating the mind, we must neither overtask nor undertask the body, neither push it to too great a speed, nor leave it neglected