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forgetting that this letter has yet to cross the Atlantic.*
To return to the ..... ....... of the United States. His political adversaries alledge that he is a mere lawyer ; that his mind has been so long trammel. led by judicial precedent, so long habituated to the quart and tierce of forensic digladiation, (as Doctor Johnson would probably have called it) as to be unequal to the discussion of a great quéstion of state. Mr. Curran, in his defence of Rowan, seems, to have sanctioned the probability of such an effect from such a cause, when he complains of his own mind as having been narrowed and circumscribed, by a strict and technical adherence to established forms; but in the next breath, an astonishing burst of the grandest thought, and a power of comprehension to which there seems to be no earthly limit, proves that his complaint, as it relates to himself, is entirely without foundation. Indeed, if the objection to the ..... ......., mean any thing more than that he has not had the same illumination and exercise in matters of state, as if he had devoted his life to them, I am unwilling to admit it. The force of a cannon is the same, whether pointed at a rampart or a man of war, although practice may have made the engineer more expert in the one case than in the other. So it is clear, that practice may give a man a greater command over one class of subjects than another; but the inherent
* The sentiment which is suppressed, seems to wear the livery of Bedford, Moira and the Prince of Wales.
energy of his mind remains the same, whithersom ever it may be directed. From this impression I have never seen any cause to wonder at what is called a universal genius ; it proves only that the man has applied a powerful mind to the consideration of a great variety of subjects, and pays a compliment rather to his superior industry, than his superior intellect. I am very certain that the gentleman of whom we are speaking, possesses the acumen which might constitute him a universal genius, according to the usual acceptation of the phrase. But if he be the truant, which his warmest friends represent him to be, there is very little probability that he will ever reach this distinction.
Think you, my dear S......., that the two gen. tlemen whom I have attempted to pourtray to you, were, according to the notion of Helvetius, born with equal minds, and that accident or education, have produced the striking difference which we perceive to exist between them? I wish it were the case ; and that the...... ....... would be pleased to reveal to us, by what accident, or what system of education, he has acquired his peculiar sagacity and promptitude. Until this shall be done, I fear I must consider the hypothesis of Helvetius as a splendid and flattering dream..... But I tire you ..... adieu, for the present, friend and guardian of my youth.
L ETTER VI.
James Town, September 27. I HAVE taken a pleasant ride of sixty miles down the river, in order, my dear S......., to see the remains of the first English settlement in Virginia. The scite is a very handsome one. The river is three miles broad; and, on the opposite shore, the country presents a fine range of bold and beautiful hills. But I find no vestiges of the ancient town, except the ruins of a church stee. ple, and a disordered groupe of old tomb stones. On one of these, shaded by the boughs of a tree, whose trunk has embraced and grown over the edge of the stone, and seated on the head-stone of another grave, I now address you. What a moment for a lugubrious meditation among the tombs ! but fear not ; I have neither the temper nor the genius of a Herveyand, as much as I revere his pious memory, I cannot envy him the possession of such a genius and such a temper. For my own part, I would not have suffered the mournful pleasure of writing his book, and Doc. Young's Night Thoughts, for all the just fame which they have both gained by those celebrated productions. Much rather would I have dancerl, and sung, and played the fiddle with Yorick, through the whimsical pages of Tristrain Shandy; that book which every body justly censures and admires alternately, and which will continue to be read, abused and devoured, with ever fresh delight, as long as the world shall relish a joyous laugh, or a tear of the most delicious feeling. By the bye, here, on one side, is an inscription on a
grave stone, which would constitute no bad theme for an occasional meditation from Yorick himselfThe strine, it seems, covers the grave of a man who was born in the neighbourhood of London ; and his epitaph concludes the short and rudely executed account of his birth and death, by declaring him to have been “a great sinner, in .“ hopes of a joyful resurrection;" as if he had sinned, with no other intention, than to give him. self a fair title to these exulting hopes. But awkwardly and ludicrously as the sentiment is expressed, it is, in its meaning most just and beautiful ; as it acknowiedges the boundless mercy of Heaven, and glances at that divinely consoling proclamation, “come unto me, all ye, who are to weary and heavy laden, and I will give you .66 rest."
The ruin of the steeple, is about thirty feet high, and mantled, to its very summit, with ivyIt is difficult to look at this venerable object, surrounded as it is with these awful proofs of the mortality of man, without exclaiming in the pathetic solemnity of our Shakespeare,
The cloud capt towers...the gorgeous palaces.ice
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, • Leave not a wreck behind.
Whence, my dear S......., arises the irrepressible reverence and tender affection with which I look at this broken steeple ? Is.it, that my soul, by a secret, subtle process invests the mouldering ruin with her own powers ; imagines it a fellow being ; a venerable old man; a Nestor, or an Osc
sian, who has witnessed and survived the ravages of successive generations, the companions of his youth, and of his maturity, and now mourns his own solitary and desolate condition, and hails their spirits in every passing cloud ? Whatever may be the cause, as I look at it, I feel my soul drawn forward, as by the cords of gentlest sym. pathy, and involuntarily open my lips to offer consolation to the drooping pile.
Where, my S......., is the busy, bustling croud which landed here two hundred years ago ?.... Where is Smith, that pink of gallantry, that flower of chivalry?....I fancy that I can see their first, slow and cautious approach to the shore ; their keen and vigilant eyes, piercing the forest in every direction, to detect the lurking Indian, with his tomahawk, bow and arrow. Good Heavens! What an enterprize! How full of the most fearful perils ;.... and yet how entirely profitless to the daring men who personally undertook and atchieved it!! Through what a series of the most spirit chilling hardships, had they to toil ? How often did they cast their eyes to England in vain; and with what delusive hopes, day after day, did the little, famished crew strain their sight to catch the white sail of comfort and relief! But day after day, the sun sat, and darkness covered 'the earth ; but no sail of comfort or relief came. How often in the pangs of hunger, sickness, solitude and disconsolation, did they think of London; her shops, her markets groaning under the weight of plenty, her streets swarming with gilded coaches, bustling hacks, with crouds of lords, dukes and commons, with healthy, busy, contente