ePub 版

months, the little debt he owed to my father ; and till matters were thus settled with the father, it was not natural he should feel disposed to pay a visit to the son, who, at that time, was all but unknown to him. The stay of the Prince must, I think, have been but short. By whatsoever cause this shortness was produced, no dissatisfaction towards the Mentor, in the breast either of the Prince or of his royal uncle, could have had any part in it. A letter I remember seeing from the King to him shortly after the return of the Prince to Warsaw, concluded with these words :- ' Et dans tout ce que je vois en lui, je reconnois votre ouvrage.'

In addition to the two situations above mentioned, one of which, by his departure from Warsaw, the other by the departure of the Prince from England, were become sinecures, one which I have not yet mentioned, was far indeed from being so. From the day of his arrival in London to I believe the day of his death, which took place before that of the virtuous and unhappy King, scarce a post-day arrived, in which he did not write a Letter to the King: in short, he was in fact the Minister, and more than the Plenipotentiary of the King to this Court in trust and effect, though not in name. In name he would have been, but it was a maxim with George the Third, and being so natural an one, I know not that in his instance it was a new one, not to receive as a diplomatic agent for doing business with him, and in this way on a footing savouring of equality, any subject of his own: the same maxim prevented, I remember, another old friend of mine from being received in form as agent from the free city of Hamburgh. As an expedient for producing the substance without the form, a Pole, of the name of Bukati, was sent by the King with the concurrence of the Senate, if that was necessary, in the character of resident to reside in this Court, in which character he continued to reside for a considerable number of years, and I believe as long as he lived. I knew something of him; I used every now and then to see him; I remember dining with him on a summer's day, at a comfortable and pleasant apartment he had in a spacious mansion, occupied as a boarding-school, by Johnson's friend, Elphinston, who published a book in such English as you see employed in French Grammars, for the purpose of teaching Frenchmen how to pronounce English, written for the purpose of demonstrating, that it is an Englishman's bounden duty to write English exactly as he speaks it.* But Elphiniston was

[James Elphinston was a miscellaneous writer and schoolmaster, was born at Edinburgh Dec. 6, 1721, died Oct. 8, 1809. “In 1751, he married, and leaving Scotland, fixed his abode near London, first at Brompton, and afterwards at

not Bukati, nor in intellect would he have gained much by being so; not that he was at all the worse for this, but the better. It was for the express purpose of officiating in the character of a cypher, that he was sent to this country and retained in it. In every thing but bulk, in which

Kensington, where for many years he kept a school in a large and elegant house opposite to the royal gardens, and had considerable reputation ; his scholars always retaining a very grateful sense of his skill as a teacher, and his kindness as a friend.” “ About 1753, he composed an English Grammar for the use of his school, which he afterwards enlarged and published in 2 vols. 12mo." (The Analysis of the French and English Languages, with their Roots and Idioms. Lond. 1756. 2 vols, 12mo. 58. Principles of the English Language Digested, Lond. 1765. 2 vols. 12mo. Abridged, Lond. 1765.

8vo. 3s. Animadversions upon ELEMENTS OF Criticism, oal-, 'culated equally for the Benefit of that celebrated Work, and

the Improvement of English Style; with an Appendix on Scotticisms. Lond. 1771. 8vo. 2s. 6d.' Dr. Watt's Bibl. Brit.) “ The late Mr. John Walker, a very competent judge, spoke highly of this work. In the year 1763, Mr. Elphinston published a poem called Education ; but his taste was ill-adapted to poetry, of which unfortunately he never could be persuaded ; and this erroneous estimate of his talents led him to translate Martial, for which he issued proposals about 1778, and was at least fortunate in the number of his subscribers. Previous to this he had, for what reason we are not told, given up his school, and in 1778, removed altogether from Kensington, where in the same year bis wife died. He then visited Scotland, and while in that city there was a design started of establishing a Professorship of Modern Languages in the University of Edinburgh, with a view that Mr. Elphinston should he reminded one of a fat ox; he was a puppet, and Lind it was that moved the wires.

Every now and then I used to see a letter from the King to his faithful, intelligent, and zealous agent. Once I remember, at my friend's desire, in consequence of a sudden and imperafill the chair ; but, although this never took place, he gave a course of Lectures on the English language, both at Edinburgh and Glasgow. After his return to London, he published bis Translation of Martial, in 1782, 4to, which exhibited most wonderful proofs of a total want of judgment, both in the Translation and Notes. In the latter he gives some specimens of his new mode of spelling, which he explained more at large in 1786, in a work entitled Propriety Ascertained in her Picture, 2 vols. 4to. In this he endeavoured to establish a system of spelling according to pronunciation, and although he stood entirely alone in his opinion of its value, he persisted in his endeavours, and followed it up by English Orthography Epitomized, and Propriety's Pocket-Dictionary. In 1794," (1791,) “ he published in 6 vols. 12mo. a selection of his Letters to his friends, with their answers," (Forty Years' Corres pondence between Geniusses ov boath Sexes, and James Elphinston, in six Pocket-Vollumes, foar ov Oridginal Letters, two' ov Poetry ; two other volumes were published in 1794, with this corrected title, Fifty Years' Correspondence, Inglish, French, and Lattin, in Proze and Verse, between Geniusses of boath Seres and James Elphinston, in 8 Pocket-Vollumes, including an Appendix Miscellaneous. Dhe Oridginal Letters, to be seen in dhe Hands ov dhe Edditor.) "entirely spelt in


appearance of which was so unnatural, and the reading so difficult and tiresome, that by this, as well as bis other works on the same subject, he must have been a considerable loser," (but the eight volumes are printed on very Vol. II.


his new way;

pen in

tive call to other occupations, I held the his stead: the function was a flattering one to my young ambition.

A pun I remember letting off, gives some indication as to the time. The Cabinet-squabbles, produced by the collision of two such hard and rough characters, as Minister Pitt and Chancellor Thurlow, were matter of notoriety, and formed part and parcel of the history of the day. The account I gave of them, was expressed by three words, Le chancellier chancele, and the truth of the intelligence was not long after demonstrated by the event.

At the above-mentioned residence, economical as was necessarily the style of it, Lind was occasionally visited by foreign Ministers, and

common paper.) “As an author, indeed, Mr. Elphinston was peculiarly unfortunate, having scarcely published any thing, in which he did not afford the critics many opportunities to exemplify his total want of taste and judgment." Chalmers's Biographical Dictionary. In a note Mr. C. quotes the following passage from a Letter addressed by Dr. Beattie to Sir Wm. Forbes,and inserted in the Life of the former :-“Elphinston's Martial is just come to hand. It is truly an unique. The specimens formerly published did very well to laugh at ; but a whole quarto of nonsense and gibberish is too much. It is strange that a man not wholly illiterate, should have lived so long in England, without learning the language.” Mr. C. adds : —

“ These remarks may be extended to more of Elphinston's publications than we have enumerated."

These quotations abundantly illustrate and confirm the observation of Mr. Jeremy Bentham. E. H. B.]

« 上一頁繼續 »