Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Clerc's account. In the sketch of Sir Francis Wallingham's Life, the compiler discovers still greater ignorance. He says, that the famous letter written by Sir Francis and secretary Davison to Sir Amias Poulet, was, so far as he can find, first published by Mr. Freebairne, in the Romance of the Queen of Scots, translated from the French. Next follows a copy of the letter, with which we shall not here trouble the reader, as it has been published in many histories. The objections urged to its authenticity by this collector are curious. He tells us, that the original is lodged in the Harleian library, with Sir Amias's answer ; but he is not sure whether the letter is signed by Walfingham's hand, though he acknowleges that it is well known.

With the like critical abilities, he thinks, that Walsinghant was too cautious a minister to trust a letter (which Davison, in a postscript, earnestly desired might be burnt) into the hands of another. This compiler ought to have known, that the fame caution which impelled Walsingham and Davison to desire their letter to be burnt, prevailed upon Poulet to keep it. To say the truth, dissimulation even with one another was the cha. racteristic of Elizabeth and all her ininisters. Cecil, afterwards earl of Salisbury, was as cautious as Walfingham, and trusted to the honour of James I.. and his Scotch ministers, for burning all the dangerous letters he wrote to them before Elizabeth's death. But, behold! they were carefully preserved, and are faithfully printed from the originals, with the very postscripts and paffages requiring them to be burnt.

• Secretary Davison's capacity (says our collector) makes no very great figure in history: but we are sure it is quite inconsistent with Sir Francis Walsingham's known cautiousness, cunning, or call it what you please, to trust a dangerous letter out of his hands, and stand to the chance of having it burnt.' This author is mistaken in every word of this pasiage. Davison was one of the ablest ministers, as well as one of the most polite scholars in Europe ; and it was to his caution that the request of burning the letter was owing. But to put the authenticity of the letter quite out of the question, it may be proper to inform the reader, that so far back as the year 1722, long before the appearance of Freebairne's book, Dr. Mackenzie, in his Lives of the Scots Writers, published not only the letter in question, but the apology made by Davison himself, from his own writing, and which does not leave the smalleft doubt as to the reality of the intended murder ; so well do the facts, dates, and circumstances, agree. This compiler is so very uninformed, as not to know that the date of the letter is after Mary's trial and condemnation by her judges. VOL. XXIII. June, 1767.

F f

Some

are

Some curious particulars, of the life of Mr. Wycherley the poet, next follow. We have some objections to the curiofity of those particulars. In the first place, we more than suspect that this is not the first time they have been published; and in the next, we not a little doubtful as to their authenticity. Lastly, we think that the character of Mr. Wycherley as a wit and a poet, has been most egregiously exaggerated.

This division of characters is clofed with one of Cromwell, and a parallel between him and Montrose, by the Abbe Raynal Our collector, in printing those characters, proves himself to be a mere enthusiast for French publications. < In de bate, says he, Cromwell was the most eloquent, and in an af. seinbly of divines the most learned –Chance and natural teme per; continues he, which determine the conduct of other men, did not influence the most inconsiderable of his actions. We believe, if the most ingenious romancer in England had been employed to draw a picture of Cromwell which should be the real reverse of his true character, he could not have succeeded better than this Abbé has done. We shall add one paffage more, as a specimen of French discernment. • Montrose, says this Abbé, had an integrity of heart, which always fixed hiin in the interest of his king and country'Vanity, continues he, properly made his character.' Very metaphyfically distinguished, indeed, Mr. Abbé !

As to the remaining part of this collection, it would be doing the compiler injustice not to acknowledge, that it contains many excellent and instructive extracts from the most approved authors, poets, and philosophers of the present times.

T

X. Letters on different Subjects; in Four Volumes : Among i thich

are interspersed the Adventures of Alphonfo after the Destruction of Lisbon. By the Author of The unfortunate Morher's Advice to her abent Daugbters. Vol. Ill. and IV. 8vo. Pr.gs. Bristow. HE merits of this lady, as a writer, are so well known

by her former publications, that it would be unnecessary for us to say any thing of her literary abilities, and her manner of writing. It may be sufficient to observe, in general, that these letters contain many sensible remarks, and indisputable proofs of the writer's penetration and judgment.

Some of the principal subjects of the preceding volumes are diere continued. Several of these letters are calculated to give a just representation of the author's character. With that view, many additional anecdotes are related, and her conduct, on

several

several occasions in the early part of her life, which has been misunderstood, is accounted for, by being placed in a proper light. From these little incidents

young
minds

may

derive no inconsiderable advantage, by being led to reflect on the consequences

of inconsiderate actions. Here also some useful hints are suggested to those people, who, by meddling in matters which they do not understand, or in which they have no bufia nefs to interfere, often do an irreparable injury, where, perhaps, they mean to be of service.

Some of these letters are of the philosophical kind, upon predispositions and innate ideas; others contain some short stories, some little pieces of poetry, observations on marriage, the improper method of treating young children, and other subjects of importance. In the following letter the reader will find some

very

useful advice.

" To Mr. B« Dear Sir,

• It was by mere accident, that I received your two last letters unopened, and I must begin this by chiding you for being so careless in the direction, notwithstanding I had told you that some others had met with a contrary fate by being carried to a person of the same name in my neighbourhood ; neither is this all I have to find fault with you for ; your late behaviour at (so thoroughly inattentive to all the punctilio's that you ought there particularly to have remember'd, which has this moment been told me) is yet more blameable. Do not wrap yourself up so much in philosophical contemplations, as to be above a necessary regard to the common occurrences and duties of life. There are but few young men to whom such a caution would be necessary--I will acknowledge that you have chosen the better part, but let me add in the words of the fame person on another occasion,—These things ought you to have done, and not left the other undone.

· I am pleased with the account of the rational manner in which you pass your time-Had a man nothing else to do in life but to improve his mind and please himself, such a situation would be by far the most eligible; but you know there are many other duties to be discharged, though these vary according to the different ranks and views of mankind; yet all have some that cannot be dispensed with, and which it ought to be their principal care to qualify themselves for'the dircharge of.

• 'Tis high time for you, my good friend, to quit retirement and books, and to bend your studies towards men and manners; these are never to be known by report; we must Ff 2

mix

mix amongst men to acquire any useful knowledge of mankind. The more we see of the world, the more cause, perhaps, may we find to dislike it. Pride, paflion, selfishness, envy, malice, and falshood too generally prevail.-Fools are the dupes of knaves, honesty is made the prey of craft; the good daily fuffer from the designs of the bad; the rich opprefs the poor ; the poor revile the rich, and general discontent seems to reign ainongst all ranks of men. Sincerity is become an empty name, and offers of friendship but unmeaning sounds, which custom and common consent have made it esteem'd a mark of ignorant innocence to place any confidence in.

Such is the world on whose public stage you are hastening; how necessary therefore is a competent knowledge of it to guard against the surrounding evils that must be encounter'd. Books are here of but little use ; experience only can teach this intricate science, without which the best understanding, and the brightest genius will never make it's way to the esteem of more than the discerning few, who only can do justice to intrinsic merit. • Quit therefore

your

favourite studies, bid adieu to caves' and cottages, to H-'s pleasing shades, and think no more of that retirement which now grows every day more prejudicial to you. The mind, whose chief delights consists in the encrease of knowledge, and the enjoyment of a rational society, is too apt to confine itself within too narrow a sphere of action, and prefer the pleasing and improving conversation of a few valuable friends to all the hurry, and hypocrisy that must be encounter'd in a public life; but this disposition indulged would in time rob the commonwealth of all its most useful members. Those who are capable of being serviceable to the community, are indispensably bound to. mix in society with a view of being fo; the advantages which may thereby be reaped to their private fortune ought to be only the secondary consideration ; for when that unhappily becomes the first, 'tis the bane of

every

noble and generous sentiment. I.et it be your principal point to make a good figure in the world ; that can only be done by a proper discharge of all the private, domestic, and social duties. of

your station in it; this will fecure to you the esteem of the wife and virtuous, and you need not then fear acquiring a deserved fortune, which, under proper reftriations, is a laudable endeavour in any young man who is not born to the possession of an estate.

* You are much mistaken in believing, that by what you call the study of history, you are encreasing your knowledge of men and manners ; I know several persons who are perfectly acquainted with all the best histories of every kingdom in the

known

known world, can tell you almost every memorable event in every reign, describe the views and designs of every king and every minister that have made any great figure, and point out the supposed cause of almost every revolution that has happen'd; yet these people are totally ignorant of the customs and manners of their own country; acquainted only with books, they know not how to mix in conversation, or to behave with propriety amongst men, are the objects of ridicule in every company, and the constant dupes of all who think it worth their while to impose upon them; ever mistaking appearances for realities, and wholly unaccuftoin'd to the reading mankind, seldom penetrate into the motives of actions, or the views and designs of the persons about them. This is to be acquired only by the study of men, and such an accurate observation of the general tenor of their actions, as may enable us to investigate their different characters, and lead, almost with certainty, through a thousand false appearances, to the true motives of their conduct toward ourselves. This knowledge you will soon find extremely necessary to you, and ought to lose no time in attaining it; the immense advantage you will

rеар from the acquisition will more than repay the trouble it may coft

you. ' I thank you for the poetical part of your epistle, which is pretty. Your genius wants just that sort of cultivation you are giving to the spot described; the flowers in either lofe half their beauty from being too much crouded, which produces a general confusion. The greatest difficulty you will find in forming elegant compositions will be that of confining your imagination within proper bounds, and lopping off every shoot, that, however beautiful in itself, separately considered, tends only to obstruct the general beauty of the whole. You know you are never to expect flattery from me, but will always have my real sentiments with that perfect freedom which becomes my professions of being,

My dear Sir,

« Your sincere friend, &c.' The subsequent letter on the necessity of beginning the forination of the temper in the earliest infancy, merits the attention of those who are concerned in the management of children.

" To LOUIS A. * I can never be unwilling to comply with any request of yours, my dear Louisa, but little more can be added to the general directions my last contained, and your own good judgment will suggest all that is necessary without any affisance.

It

6

Ff 3

« AnteriorContinua »