Imágenes de páginas

but which nothing has a tendency to fill up—Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best.-There is nobody.-No man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson, If Burke's own mind had been uniformly directed to literature and philosophy, as Johnson's was, and not interrupted by party politics, he would have been even greater than Johnson.

[ocr errors]

Although, except Burke, there was no man whose literary powers were equal to those of Jchnson, there were still some men of very great talents, and many of considerable abilities. Robertson, from the publication of his American History, had rested on his shield. Gibbon had now given to the world a great portion of his able and operose work; a work of which the pious men may disrelish some parts, on account of the anti-christian tendency; acute reasoners may ailedge, that to promote his favourite noțions, he often makes assertions without proof; yet every reader of judgment, comprehension, philosophical and po

litical knowledge, must allow, that it is 'a most illustrious monument of industry and genius. Another history had just appeared, embracing periods much better known; but, though reciting transactions with which every literary man was well acquainted, exhibiting new and profound views of the character of the agents, and unfolding moral and political causes ; marking their operation and effects. The philosophical pen of Fergusson rendered Roman affairs the ground-work of the deepest and most expanded moral and political science. Reid was applying to the subtle subjects of pneumatology the Baconic organ,-induction, much more invariably, and consequently more successfully, than any preceding 'metaphysicians. Horsley was defending our religious articles and establishments against the theories and operations of misemployed genius and learning. Watson was exhibiting the best doctrines and models of divinity; attending to ESSENTIALS, REASON AND TRUTH, in the learning brought forward, rather than to adventitious considerations in

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

the sect or condition of its teachers. Blair was promoting practical religion and morality, by making taste the auxiliary of just sentiment and reasoning; and was disseminating the love of elegant literature, by simplifying to common capacities the rules for the various branches of composition : performances of a lighter cast contain the appropriate excellence. The Rolliad and Birth-day Odes were very happy effusions of wit and satire.

Miss Burney redeemed novels from the disrepute into which they had fallen.

Burke was at this time engaged about no, literary production; his attention, though partly devoted to the temporary subjects of parliamentary discussion, such as the Scriitiny and Irish Propositions, was chiefly employed about Indian affairs. From the year 1772 he had kept a watchful eye over the conduct of the Company's servants. He had accurately investigated the circumstances and causes of Lord Pigot's imprisonment in 1776, and has been one of the principal

agents in the establishment of the delinquency of the Company's officers, and ascertaining the causes.

Afterwards, when Dundas was investigating the conduct of Rumbold, some, circumstances were brought forward respecting Mr. Hastings, from which Burke conceived that there was ground for an inquiry into his conduct.

In contemplating Indian affairs, the Nabob of Arcot's conduct and transactions came to be very minutely considered by him, and were the subject of a'very able speech in the succeeding session.

[ocr errors]

This year Burke was chosen Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. Having arrived in Edinburgh, he was received with the merited attention by those of the literati of the place who were able to appreciate his extraordinary excellence in that pursuit which had procured themselves so much distinction. Doctors Fergusson and Robertson regarded with the highest esteem a genius so exalted. A gentleman of equal talents,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and now of equal celebrity, being by age more active, undertook to do the literary honours of the Scottish capital to so distinguished a visitant. Mr. Digalu Stewart accompanied Mr. Burke to Glasgow; and then impressed on his fellow traveller the opinion which all literary inen, capable of comprehending and estimating philosophic genius, now entertain.

At Glasgow, in the venerable, learned, and eloquent Leechman, and the profound investigator and luminous explainer of the human mind, Reid, Mr. Burke saw that Edinburgh did not monopolize superior genius. With Reid, who, from similarity of minds and studies, was, notwithstanding the great diversity of their age, the most intimate friend of Mr. Stewart, he more frequently associated than with any other of the Glasgow men of learning and ability. He was greatly pleased with a sermon which he heard from Mr. Arthur, one of the clergymen of the city, and afterwards successor to Dr. Reid in the Moral Philosophy chair.

« AnteriorContinuar »