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was esteemed an honour, as we learn from Erasmus*, but Sayers is probably the only person who has regarded it as such in latter times. To be born in London usually implies the consequence of being bred there; and the privation of all rural objects and rural enjoyments, in childhood and in youth, is justly considered a misfortune,
After Sayers had remained three years under the tuition of Mr. and Mrs. Barbauld, he was taken from school, and placed in a merchant's counting-house at Yarmouth. A few months afterwards his grandfather died, leaving him an estate, at Pakefield, of about one hundred and thirty acres----too little for independence, and yet enough to unsettle him. It is a pleasing and characteristic trait, that his first act of independence was to erect a monument to the grandfather and grandmother under whose roof his infancy had been past; and hardly less so, that, having at the time affixed his name at the foot of the epitaph, he gave direction in the latter part of his life for having it effaced. One habit, which is rare among literary men, he acquired in the counting-house, that of keeping his minutest accounts with mercantile punctuality, and this he adhered to so rigidly afterwards, as to make it a grievance to him at last, when paralysis had shaken his hand, that he could no longer put down his marketings and post his household expenses.' But the occupations of the counting-house were irksome to him; he indulged his growing love of literature, amused himself with electricity and chemistry, in which a new world had just been discovered for speculative experimentalists; and undervaluing the more liberal pursuits of commerce, failed to perceive the comparative leisure and freedom which they afford, and the opportunities of acquiring knowledge which they offer.
Sayers's future biographer was at this time on the continent, whither he had been sent on leaving school. When he returned to England, in 1782, after three years absence, he found that his friend had relinquished all thoughts of commerce, and had placed himself with a skilful agriculturist at Oulton, in Suffolk, to learn farming-with the intention of occupying his own
* Speaking, in one of his epistles, of Sir Thomas More, he says, 'Natus est Londini, in quá civitate, multò omnium celeberrima, natrem et educatum esse, apud Anglos nonnulla nobilitatis pars habetur.'-Epist. Lib. 27, Ep. 8, p. 1504.
The same opinion is expressed in an old manuscript poem, which is in the Lansdown Collection:
Strong be the walls about theë stonds,
Wise be the people that within thee duells,
Blith be thy churches, well sowning are thy bells.
Fair be thy wives, right lovesome, white, and small;
estate at Pakefield.
Whether,' says Mr. Taylor, the scheme of farming had been adopted as the shortest cut to that prac tical independence which might facilitate the realization of some matrimonial project, is now of little moment. Such rumours circulated, and such things happen at nineteen.'
This plan was soon abandoned. The British farmer is not a man who may pass his life—ut prisca gens mortalium. It is not in Norfolk that the vine may be married to the poplar or the elm. Sayers could not hope to grace his Sabine board with olives of his own growing, nor to gladden his heart with wine from his own vintage. The part of Horace's picture which he was more likely to realize would have been, to lie at ease under some ancient oak, and listen to the fall of waters, or, for the want of them, to the rustling of the leaves. Were the practical farmer to do this, it would not be long
Till Davie Debit in his parlour stand.' If he would thrive, it must be by following the homely precepts of old Tusser
• Good husband he trudgeth, to bring in the gains ;
Good huswife she drudgeth, refusing no pains.' But the youth who had, at this time, the world before him, where, or rather how, to choose, neither contemplated trudging for himself, nor drudging for his wife in his scheme of happiness; and giving up this intention more speedily and more prudently than he had forsaken his commercial plans, he left the pursuits of practical agriculture to those who would not be degraded by having their thoughts engrossed with market-prices, and their conversation employed upon sheep and oxen.
Leaving Oulton, therefore, Sayers went to reside awhile with his mother, who, upon his giving up all thoughts of commerce, had sold, the house at Yarmouth, with its extensive mercantile appurtenances, and fixed herself in the pleasant village of Thorpe near Norwich, in which city her two sisters were settled.
* It was now,' says Mr. Taylor, that our friendship became truly intense. In his society was always found both instruction and delight; at this time I first fancied my society was become of value to him. I could describe Paris, and, what he more delighted to hear about, Rome and Naples. The literature of Germany, then almost unknown in England, I had peryasively studied, and was eager to display; and fre-, quently I translated for his amusement such passages as appeared to me remarkable for singularity or beauty. We read the same English, books, in order to comment them when we met. My morning walk was commonly directed to Thorpe: we prolonged the stroll together on the then uninclosed heath, and he frequently returned with me to Norwich, dined at my father's table, and took me back to tea with his
mother. During the winter season, he occupied at pleasure a bedroom in our attic story, when he wished to attend the Norwich theatre, or some evening-party. Our family consisted of my father, my mother, myself, and of Mr. Casenave, my father's partner, a native of Bayonne, and a catholic. To him Sayers would sometimes read French, with a view to correct his pronunciation. In short, he was as dear to us all, as if he had been my brother, and was more familiarly at home with us, than in the statelier establishment of his uncle Alric.'- vol. i. pp. xix. xx.
Mr. Alric, who had married an aunt of Sayers, was a Genevan; he came to Norwich as a foreign clerk, was taken into partnership by the merchant-manufacturers who had originally engaged him, had realized what was in those days a considerable fortune, and, having no children, had wisely retired from business, to live on the income of this capital. A brother of the Lord Chancellor Thurlow was one of his early friends, and being at this time raised to the bishopric of Lincoln, he wrote to Mr. Alric, and offered him a living of 3001. a year
relative or friend whom he might wish to The result must be told in the characteristic words of Dr. Sayers's biographer.
• My friend would have liked the clerical profession, and was adapted for it; but he had been brought up among dissidents, was in the habit of accompanying his mother to the Octagon, an unitarian chapel in Norwich, and had at that time serious objections to the articles of faith, and liturgic services, of the Anglican church. He was not formed to hesitate between principle and prudence. He declined the proffered patronage. Bred among unitarians, factiously attached to the writings of Dr. Priestley, and not unread in those of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Lessing, I had still stronger prejudices than himself against the church; and my conversation, no doubt, uniformly tended to corroborate his disinterested decision. I have since lamented it. As his opinions were eventually to hitch into the rut of orthodoxy, it would have been fortunate if they had done so while in the road to preferment. The addition of three hundred a year to his then narrow income would have enabled him to marry conveniently, and would thus have surrounded his latter years with higher tendernesses of domestic comfort. The praise of principle must always remain to him; but when those opinions give way to which sacrifices have been made, virtue itself entails a something of remorse.'—vol. i. pp. xxi. xxii.
In his twentieth year Sayers went to Edinburgh as a general student, and while there, determined upon following the profession of physic. He returned to Thorpe, and finding the income of his estate barely adequate to the expense of carrying on his studies, he sold it, and vested its proceeds, at a prudent season, in the funds.
• This,' says his friend, ' was a season of civic ferment. In our walks, indeed, Sayers and I seldom talked politics; but often at my
father's table, who was active in elections, hospitable to partisans, and an adherent of the Coalition. We two, on the contrary, were agreed to contend for Pitt and parliamentary reform: yet in this our sympathy there was not entire concord; we had entered a common path from different quarters : a zealot of the rights of the people, I was content with any administration which would undertake to carry them into effect; Sayers was more attached to the crown, and though willing, under its shelter, to welcome every improvement which seemed a natural evolvement of the constitution, he was not friendly to any attempt at inserting the graft from without.
• Mr. Windham at this time came frequently to Norwich, and, when his visits had electioneering purposes, slept occasionally at our house, where he saw and argued with Sayers, inquired his destination, and observed to my father that, with so fine a person, and so fine an intellect, that young man would, in any professional line, become speedily an ornament to his country.'-vol. i. p. xxiii. xxiv.
He now entered regularly upon his professional studies, and pursued them, first in London, under Cruikshank, Baillie, and John Hunter, afterwards at Edinburgh under Monro, Black, and Cullen. There he was visited by his friend.
• Sayers soon imparted to me his own warm admiration of the place : he compared its site with the ground-plan of Athens ; called its castle the Acropolis ; its great church the Parthenon; and its port the Piræus. He pointed out to me in turn the sublime, the beautiful, and the romantic features of this magnificent city—the High-street, the long and the broad, which, with the width of a market-place, is darkened into the likeness of a lane, by the colossal elevation of the bordering buildings, piled seemingly by a people of giants—the New Town, with its white and trim elegant modern edifices—the bridges, which, like aqueducts of antiquity, carry from hill to hill an endless stream of people—and that vast magical prospect of mingled edifice, wood and water, which bursts at so many stations on the wanderer. ther examined, in Holyrood House, the apartments which had witnessed the adventures of Mary, Queen of Scots; we attended the lecture-room of science; and walked in a pilgrimage, then sympathetic, to the sepulchre of Hume. Our evenings were divided between the play-house, where we saw Mrs. Siddons in Lady Randolph, and supper-parties of the students, who sometimes received us at their lodgings, and sometimes met us at Scrimgeour's oyster-cellar.
. Among the companions of Mr. Sayers, I especially recollect our Palgrave schoolfellow, William Lord Daer; Mr. Joseph Cappe, afterwards Dr. Cappe, of York; Mr. Davy, now Dr. Davy, and Master of Caius College, Cambridge; and Mr. Mackintosh, now, with the title of Sir James Mackintosh, the brightest ornament of the British House of Commons.' - vol. i. pp. xxvi-xxviii.
The two friends performed what is now called the short tour of the Highlands together. To have undertaken this was some proof
of enterprise at that time, for the age of tourists had not yet commenced. They took with them a copy of Ossian, both believing then the poems to be genuine, that they might have the pleasure of comparing his descriptions with the lake and highland scenery, and so of feeling and enjoying the truth of the poetry. But though they tried it in mist and in moonshine, and gave it especially the advantage of a drizzly morning at Loch Lomond, even their willing faith was foiled. They did not as yet distrust the imposture; but Sayers observed, that though it was difficult to become persuaded that Homer could have been blind when he wrote, it was not difficult to believe so of Ossian. His friend went home deeply struck with what he calls the palmary state of mind which Sayers was attaining. Sayers was, indeed, a most extensive and assiduous student during bis residence at Edinburgh: he not only pursued his professional studies, in all their collateral branches, but he applied himself also to the arduous task of attaining a critical knowledge of Greek, and devoted to this object hours which should have been appropriated to exercise and relaxation or sleep. His health was seriously injured by this intemperance in study. Of the English psychological writers, we are told that Hume was at this time his guide and philosopher, Berkeley and Hartley were lastingly his favourites; that he was not familiar with Hobbes, and valued Locke lower than is usual ; and that Lord Monboddo's book assisted in preparing him for that change of opinions which was to settle in a fixed and conscientious conformity with the doctrines of the Church of England.
He thought favourably of Dr. Brown's theory of medicine, which was then in season—not of its practice; and he observed to his biographer, that there was great merit in thus banishing jargon and mystical language from the schools, and in accustoming young men to understand what they talked about. There is some truth in the remark, and some error in the application; and no person could have been more sensible than Sayers, in his maturer age, how much evil arises from the error common among young men, of supposing that they understand difficult subjects, because they have learnt to talk about them in that sort of fluent language Hobbes says, with many words makes nothing understood.' Sayers could pursue the theory of medicine with the interest of an active and inquisitive mind; but he seems to have been physically incapable of the practice. He had overcome, not without difficulty and exertion, the disgust which may well be excited by a London dissecting-room; but the sight of an operation on the living subject was more than he could bear; and when he attempted to go through a course of clinical lectures at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, more than once he fainted by the bedside of the patient to whom he should have administered relief. God had given