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Scilicet hæc stultos mortales fallit inanis
Theodori Beza, Juvenilia.
It is not always that the manuscripts of authors fall into good and faithful hands. He, the substance of whose history is now about to be given, would frequently make this observation, but he little thought what would be the ultimate destination of his own, Our friend was of a character somewhat singular; yet, like most other men, he had very mixed qualities. The world gave him credit for learning and talents; many of his productions were very favourably received, and extensively circulated. He did not, however, so much pride himself upon his reputation, as on the means by which he acquired it. From an humble origin and obscure sítuation, with many obstructions to remove, and VOL. 1.
great difficulties to overcome, he contrived to raise
Of some of the advantages which such connections promised, he did not ayail himself as far as he might; others he turned to the best of purposes. He had always a weak and delicate constitution, which, aided by a sedentary life, excited a morbid sensibility, and occasioned an improper and timid distrust of himself, at times, and on occasions, when te most wanted self-confidence. This nervous weakness, which he often and deeply, lamented,
materially obstructed his elevation to situations of honour and of rank, to which certain of his quali. fications seemed naturally to point the way, and the avenues to which, might eventually have been facilitated to him, by some at least of his high connections.
Notwithstanding these and other infirmities, a few friends loved him well. Among some of his better qualities, he possesse : good conversation talents, talents he used to say not so much cultivated in this country as they ought, since they never fail to produce a powerful impression, and often outweigh more substantial and important endowments. Every man, he would assert, of the commonest observation, if he has lived at all in the world, must have much to remember which desérves communication. He was once urging this in his careless way, when he was reminded by a friend, whose judgment he much valued, that few were better qualified than himself, to produce from what he must have remembered, and was certainly able to communicate, a pleasing and a useful memorial of himself and his contemporaries; their entrance into and progress in life; their pursuits, successes, and disappointments. He promised to think of it, and it appears that he did so.
It is to be apprehended that some untoward circuinstances, some' mortifications or disappointB 2
ments, clouds of duskier hue, attended him in the decline of life. He disappeared rather abruptly from among
One morn we missed him on the 'customed hill,
the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
The circumstances of his death are but imperfectly known. No one was more likely to fall a premature victim to too great anxiety, and it was conjectured that too large a share of it, accelerated his withdrawing himself from the society he loved. Be this as it may: a few months since, was advertised to be sold by auction, at the rooms of a popular auctioneer, under a fictitious name, his well chosen library. Among the books were some manuscripts, which it was thought the family ought to have preserved. One in particular, was a very large Common-place-book, from the examination of which it was evident, that at some period of his life or other, he had meditated the composition of Memoirs of his literary life, with anecdotes of all the distinguished personages, with whom he had lived on terms of greater or less familiarity. But all was confusion ; there was nothing like arrangement. In one place, “ Anecdotes of Bishop ****" in another, “ Particulars of my Interview with the
Lord Chancellor.” In the very middle of the volume, “ A Narrative of my Boyish Days till I went to the University.” This last, as far as it
goes, seems the only portion of the manuscript, in which any thing like chronological order was observed.
In the hurry of the sale, by some accident or other, this Common-place-book was disregarded, which may in some degree be accounted for from the following circumstance :-Our friend wrote a miserable hand; the rapidity to which he accustomed himself, made his manuscript almost illegible. On this subject he would often tell many facetious stories of himself and his printer. On one occasion he was grievously tormented by a devil, at the moment of his being helped to a second slice of venison, (for he loved good eating) who came with two large sheets of copy to beg that he would put dots to his i’s. At another time, he was seriously remonstrated with by his printer, a very worthy and primitive sort of man, for being the cause of more profane swearing in the printingoffice, than is usually heard at Billingsgate.-
Sir,” exclaimed the honest printer, ment copy from you is divided among the compositors, volley succeeds volley, as rapidly and as loudly as in one of Lord Nelson's victories." Our friend' shook his head, but he was incorrigible. To return to the auction. Several of the company