Imágenes de páginas

the usual trials appointed by the church of Scotland, he was ordained minister of Athelstaneford, in the county of East Lothian, in 1731, where he passed the remainder of his


As his fortune was easy, he lived very much in the style of a gentleman, and was greatly respected by all persons of character in the neighbourhood. He was not only a man of learning, but of elegant taste and manners. As a poet he is entitled to considerable distinction. · But his highest praise is, that he was a man of sincere piety ; and very assiduous in discharging the duties of his clerical function. As a preacher, he was serious and warm, and discovered the imagination of a poet. He died of a fever in 1746, in the 47th year of his age.

His poem entitled “ The Grave,” is his greatest work, and amply establishes his fame. It is a production of real genius, and possesses a merit equal to many pieces of the first celebrity. It is composed of a succession of unconnected descriptions, and of reflections that seem independent of one another, interwoven with striking allusions, and digressive sallies of imagination. Whatever subject is either discussed or aimed at, the poet always endeavours to melt the heart, and alarm the conscience, by pathetic description and seri. ous remonstrances; and his sentiments are delivered in a novel and energetic manner, that impresses them strongly on the mind. He is always moral, yet never dull ; and though he often expands an image, yet he never weakens its force. If the same thought occurs, he gives it a new form; and is copious without being tiresome. He writes under the strong impression of christian and moral truths. Conviction gives force to imagination ; and he dips his pen in tne stream which religion has opened in his own bosom.

BLAIR, Dr. Hugh, was born in Edinburgh, in the year 1718. After the usual grammatical course at school, he entered the Humanity Class in the University of Edinburgh ; and spent eleven years at that celebrated seminary, assiduously employed in literary and scientific studies. He was ordained as a minister in 1742; and commenced his public life with highly favourable prospects. Besides the testimony given to his talents and virtues, by successive ecclesiastic promotions, the University of St. Andrews, in 1757, conferred on him the degree of D. D. a literary honour which, at that time, was very rare in Scotland. In 1762, the king erected and endowed a professorship of Rhetoric and Belles

Lettres, in the University of Edinburgh į and appointed Dr. Blair, « in consideration of his approved qualifications," Regius Professor, with a suitable salary. His lectures were well attended, and received with great applause. In 1783, when be retired from the labours of the office, he published bis Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres;' and the general voice of the public has pronounced them to be a most judicious, elegant, and comprehensive system of rules, for forming the style, and cultivating the taste of youth.

It was long before he could be induced to favour the world with the publication of his discourses from the pulpit. These elegant compositions experienced a degree of success, of which few publications can boast. They are universally admitted to be models in their kind ; and they will long remain durable monuments of the piety, the genius, and sound judgment of their author. They circulated rapidly and widely, wherever the English tongue extends ; and they were soon translated into almost all the languages of Europe. The king thought them worthy of a public reward ; and conferred on their author a pension of 2001. a year, which coniinued unalierea uni nis death.

In 1748 he married an excellent woman, possessed of great sense and merit. By her he had a son who died in infancy; and a daughter who lived to her twenty-first year, the joy of her parents, and adorned with all the accomplishments that become her age and sex. He lost his wife a few years before his death, after she had, with the tenderest affection, shared in all his fortunes, and contributed near half a century to his comfort and happiness.'

His last summer was devoted to the preparation of the fifth volume of his sermons; and, in the course of it, he exhibited a vigour of understanding, and capacity of exertion, equal to the powers of his best days. But the seeds of a mortal disease were lurking unperceived within him. At the close of the year 1800, he felt that he was approaching the end of his course. He, however, retained to the last moment the full possession of his mental faculties ; and expired with the composure and hope which become a christian pastor.

“Dr. Blair was the perfect image of that meekness, simplicity, gentleness, and contentment, which his writings recom. mend. He was eminently distinguished through life, by the prudence, purity, and dignified propriety of his conduct. His mind, by constitution and culture, was admirably formed

for enjoying happiness. Well balanced in itself, by the nice proportion and adjustment of its faculties, it did not incline him to any of those eccentricities, either of opinion or of action, which are too often the lot of genius. He was long happy in his domestic relations; and, though doomed at last to feel, through their loss in succession, the heaviest strokes of affliction ; yet his mind, fortified by religious habits, and buoyed up by his native tendency to contentment, sustained itself op Divine Providence, and enabled him to persevere to the end, in the active and cheerful discharge of the duties of his station ; preparing for the world the blessings of elegant instruction ; tendering to the mourner the lessons of Divine consolation : guiding the young by his counsels ; aiding the meritorious with his influence ; and supporting, by his voice and by his conduct, the best interests of his country.

CARTER, Elizabeth, was born in the year 1718. She very early in life discovered the superior cultivation, which her mind had received from the superintendence of a sensi. ble, learned, and worthy parent. She was so well versed in ine Latin and Greek languages, and so well qualified to teach them, that she gave to her only brother Henry his classical education, before he went to Canterbury school.

In 1758 she translated from the original Greek, all the works of Epictetus which are now.extant ; to which she added an Introduction and many critical Notes. The learning and ability which she displayed in the execution of this work, are well known ; and they have received very high applause. This performance may justly be said to do honour "o her sex, as well as to herself.

In 1762 she published a volume of miscellaneous Poems. They were celebrated among the verses of lord Lyttelton, who had read them in manuscript. The merit and beauty of these compositions have been highly applauded. Simpli. city of sentiment, sweetness of expression, and morality the most amiable, grace every page.

She was also the contributer of two Papers to “ The Rambler," which were much esteemed by Dr. Johnson. The one is an allegory, in which Religion and Superstition are delineated in a masterly manner; and the other an ingenious ironical letter on modish pleasures, bearing the signature of Chariessa.

This excellent woman was greatly respected for her superior understanding, extensive knowledge, scientific and

familiar, from the highest researches in philosophy to the most common useful acquirements. Though she possessed masculine powers of mind, she was invested with such innate modesty, that her eminent attainments never intruded into company. Her beart was susceptible of the keenest sensibility to all the distresses of the afflicted ; and her mind piously resigned to meet with fortitude the changes and chances of life. Her firm faith in the Christian religion strengthened in her the performance of every duty : and it may be truly said, that with all her very rare endowments, goodness of heart, mildness of temper, and suavity of manners, were eminently conspicuous. This amiable and distinguished person died in the year 1806, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.

CICERO, Marcus Tullius,-an illustrious Roman orator and philosopher, was born 105 years before the Christian era. Whether we consider him as an orator, a statesman, or a philosopher, he appears to have been one of the greatest men of antiquity. After having served his country, in an eminent degree, he was assassinated by the orders of Antony, his inveterate enemy. He was distinguished by great powers of mind, which were cultivated to the highest pitch. He had many virtues; but they were obscured by an excessive vanity, which can be palliated but little by the principles and the manners of the age in which he lived.

His dialogues on Old Age, and on Friendship, are extremely elegant and agreeable pieces of moral writing ; and his Orations are perfect models, in that species of composition.

Cotton, Nathaniel. Of his family, birth-place, and education, there are no written memorials. He was bred to the profession of physic, in which he took the degree of doctor. He settled as a physician at St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, where he acquired great reputation in his profession, and continued to reside till his death. In the latter part of his life, he kept a house for the reception of lunatics.

In 1751, he published his “ Visions in verse, for the Entertainment and Instruction of Younger Minds." This publication was favourably received by the polite and religious world. His “ Visions” are the most popular of his productions, and not inferior to the best compositions, of that nature, in the English language. His “ Fables” approach the manner of Gay; but they have less poignancy of satire.

of his miscellaneous poems, “ The Fire Side,” is the. most agreeable. The subject is universally interesting the sentiments are pleasing and pathetic ; and the versification elegant and harmonious. The verses “ To a Child five years old,” are exquisitely beautiful. The “Ode on the New Year,” is pious, animated, and poetical. His lighter pieces are not deficient in ease and sprightliness, and may be read with pleasure.

Cotton died at St. Albans in 1788, and in an advanced age. His moral and intellectual character appears to have been, in a high degree, amiable and respectable. His writings are distinguished by strong marks of piety, learning, taste, and benevolence. As a poet, his compositions are marked by a refined elegance of sentiment, and a correspondent simplicity of expression. He writes with ease and correctness, frequently with elevation and spirit. His thoughts are just and pure. As piety predominated in his mind, it is diffused over his compositions. Under his direction, poetry may be truly said to be subservient to religious and moral instruction. Every reader will regard, with veneration, the writer who condescended to lay aside the scholar and the philosopher, to compose moral apologues, and little poems of devotion, " for the entertainment and instruction of younger minds.”

Cowper, William, an English poet of great celebrity, was born at Berkhamstead, in Hertfordshire, in the year 1731. In his infancy he was extremely delicate ; and his constitution discovered, at a very early season, that morbid tendency to diffidence, melancholy, and despair, which produced, as he advanced in years, periodical fits of the most deplorable depression. He was educated at Westminster school, where his natural timidity was increased, by the arrogant and boisterous behaviour of some of his school-fellows: “I was,” said he, “ so dispirited by them, that I did not dare to raise my eyes above the shoe-buckles of the elder boys."

He was removed from school to the office of an attorney ; from whence, after three years, he settled himself in chambers of the Inner Temple, as a regular student of law, where he resided to the age of thirty-three. But this profession did not suit his diffidence, his love of retirement, or his poetical genius. “I rambled,” said he, “ from the thorny raad of my austere patroness, jurisprudence, into the primrose paths of literature and poetry." Cowper was appointed Clerk of the Journals of the House of Lords, and a parliamentary dispute making it necessary for him to appear at the

« AnteriorContinuar »