« 上一頁繼續 »
complishments or to his knowledge. When in India, his studies began with the dawn; and, in seasons of intermission from professional duty, continued through the day; while meditation retraced and confirmed what reading had collected or investigation discovered. By a regular application of time to particular occupations, he pursued various objects without confusion; and in undertakings which depended on his individual perseverance, he was never deterred by difficulties from proceeding to a successful termination." With respect to the division of his time, he had written in India, on a small piece of paper, the following lines:—
Sir Edward Coke.
Six hours to law, to soothing slnmber seven,
But we cannot conclude this short sketch of the life of this eminently great and good man, without adding his beautiful encomium on the Bible. Let it be bome in mind that those peculiar attainments which rendered him so fully competent to utter it, were scarcely ever possessed by any oilier man; for he was not only critically acquainted with the original languages of the Bible, but with all the various cognate languages and dialects of the East, a knowledge of which imparts new beauty and lustre to that wonderful book
I have regularly and attentively read the Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion that this volume, independent of its Divine origin contains more sublimity and beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language or age they may have been composed.8
In Imitation of jSleaus.
What constitutes a State!
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not bays and broad-arm'd ports,
Not starrd and spangled courts,
No:—MEN, high-minded MEN,
1 "Ose" U naturally expected, to make tip the twenty-four: Instead of that, by an unexpected turn, be snye " All to heaven," Intending one to he reserved for purpose* of devoUon. See remark* on the aaroe In Macaulay'i Review of Croker*s Bosweli.
I "I am confident," aayi Sir Richard Steele, "that whoever read* the Gospels, with a he.irt aa much prepared In favor of them, as when he site down to Virgil or Homer, will find no passage there which Is not told with more natural force than any episode In either of those wits, who were the cnief of mere mankind."
In forest, brake, or den,
Men, who their duties know,
Prevent the long-aim'd blow,
These constitute a State,
O'er thrones and globes elate
Smit by her sacred frown,
And e'en th' all-dazzling Crown
Such was this heaven-loved isle,
No more shall Freedom smile*
Since all must life resign,
'Tis folly to decline,
Among the most instructive and pleasing of Sir William Jones's prose compositions, are his Letters; from which we take the following charming
Description Of Milton's Residence. To Ladi Sfixceb
September 7, 1769.
The necessary trouble of correcting the first printed sheets of my History, prevented me to-day from paying a proper respect to the memory of Shakspeare, by attending his jubilee. But I was resolved to do all the honor in my power to as great a poet, add set out in the morning, in company with a friend, to visit a place where Milton spent some part of his life, and where, in all probability, he composed several of his earliest productions. It is a small village, situated on a pleasant hill, about three miles from Oxford, and called Forest-Hill, because it formerly lay contiguous to a forest, which has since been cut down. The poet chose this place of retirement after his first marriage, and he describes the beauty of his retreat in that fine passage of his L'Allegro:
Sometimes walking not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, or hillocks ^reen.
• • • • •
While the ploughman, near at hand,
1 In the summer of l7*i the Earl ofSpenccr'i son went to Burrow school, (ten miles N". W. of London,) and Sir William (then Mr.) Jones accompanied Mm thither. During the autumnal varaUoo of the next year, our author visited bis friends at Oxford, and during his residence among: them, he made the cxcuisiun to Forest-Hill, which Is related with so murh animation nnU true pontic frcltng lo this most interesting letter to Lady Spencer.
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe;
And every shepherd tells his tale,
Under the hawthorn in the dale. ■
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasure i,
While the landscape round it measures:
Russet lawns, and fellows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains, on whose barren breast
The laboring clouds do oAen rest;
Meadows trim, with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks and rivers wide;
Towers and battlements it sees,
Bosom'd high in tufted trees.
• • • • •
Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes,
From betwixt two aged oaks, &c.
It was neither the proper season of the year, nor time of the Jay, to hear all the rural sounds and see all the objects mentioned in this description; but by a pleasing concurrence of circumstances, we were saluted, on our approach to the village, with the music of the mower and his scythe; we saw the ploughman intent upon his labor, and the milkmaid returning from her country employment.
As we ascended the hill, the variety of beautiful objects, the agreeable stillness and natural simplicity of the whole scene, gave us the highest pleasure. We at length reached the spot whence Milton undoubtedly took most of his images: it is on the top of the hill, from which there is a most extensive prospect on all sides; the distant mountains that seemed to support the clouds, the villages and turrets, partly shaded by trees of the finest verdure, and partly raised above the groves that surrounded them, the dark plains and meadows, of a grayish color, where the sheep were feeding at large; in short, the view of the streams and rivers., convinced us that there was not a single useless or idle word in the above-mentioned description, but that it was a most exact and lively representation of nature. Thus will this fine passage, which has always been admired for its elegance, receive an additional beauty from its exactness. After we had walked, with a kind of poetical enthusiasm, over this enchanted ground, we returned to the village.
The poet's house was close to the church; the greatest part of it has been pulled down, and what remains, belongs to an adjacent farm. I am informed that several papers in Milton's own hand were found by the gentleman who was last in possession of the estate. The tradition of his having lived there is current among the villagers: one of them showed us a ruinous wall that made part of his chamber; and I was much pleased with another, who had forgotten the name of Milton, but recollected him by the title of the poet.
It must not be omitted, that the groves near this village are famous for nightingales, which are so elegantly described in the Penseroso. Most of the cottage-windows are overgrown with sweetbriers, vines, and honeysuckles; and that Milton's habitation had the same rustic ornament, we may conclude from his description of the lark bidding him good-morrow:
Through the swectbrier, or the vine,
for it is evident that he meant a sort of honeysuckle by the eglantine, though that word is commonly used for the sweetbrier, which ho could not mention twice in the same couplet. If I ever pass a month or six weeks at Oxford, in the summer, I shall be inclined to hire and repair this venerable mansion, and to make a festival for a circle of friends, in honor of Milton, the most perfect scholar, as well as the sublimest poet, that our country ever produced. Such an honor will be less splendid, but more sincere and respectful, than all the pomp and ceremony on the banks of the Avon.
I have, &c.
ROBERT BURNS. 1759—1706.
Robist BuR!»s, the celebrated Scottish poet, was born in Ayrshire,' one of the western counties of Scotland, January 25, 1759. His father was a small farmer, and Robert had no advantages of early education beyond what the parish schools afforded. But he made the most of what he had; and in the possession of discreet, virtuous, and most pious parents, he bad the best of all education, the education of the heart; and in the "Cotter's Saturday Night," we see what was the foundation of the whole—Thi Bum. He early showed a strong taste for reading; and to the common rudiments of education he added some knowledge of mensuration, and a smattering of Latin and French. But poetry was his first delight, as it was his chief solace through life. A little before his sixteenth year, as he tells us himself, he had » first committed the sin of rhyme." His verses soon acquired him considerable village fame, to which, as he made acquaintances in Ayr and other neighboring towns with young men of his own age, he greatly added by the remarkable fluency of his expression, and the vigor of his conversational powers. The charms of these social meetings, at which he shone with so much distinction, gradually introduced him to new habits, some of which were most destructive to his happiness and his virtue.
About this time, to escape the ills of poverty, and to break away from some of the associations by which he was surrounded, he resolved to. leave his native country, and to try his fortune in Jamaica. In order to raise fundi for this purpose, lie resolved to publish a volume of his poems. They were received with great favor, and Burns cleared, thereby, twenty pounds. He
1 He waa born la a clay built cottage, about two muea to toe ftouth of the town of Ayr.
engaged his passage, his chest was on the road to Greenock, from which port he was to sail, and he had taken leave of his friends, when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to one of the friends of the poet completely altered his resolution. "His opinion," says Burns himself, '• that'I would meet with encouragement in Edinburgh for a second edition of my poems, fired me so much, that away I posted for that city, without a single acquaintance, or a Single letter of introduction."1
The result was, die introduction of the poet to all who were eminent in literature, in rank, or in fashion, in the Scottish metropolis. The brilliant conversational powers of die unlettered ploughman seem to have struck all with whom he came in contact, with as much wonder as his poetry. Under the patronage of Dr. Robertson, Professor Dugald Stewart, Mr. Henry Mackenzie, and other persons of note, a new edition of his poems was published, which yielded him nearly five hundred pounds. With this he returned, in 1788, to Ayrshire—advanced two hundred pounds to relieve his aged mother and brother, who were struggling with many difficulties on their farm—and with the rest prepared to stock another farm for himself in Dumfrieshire, where he took up his abode in June of that year, having before publicly solemnized his union with Jean Armour, to whom he had long been attached.
But the farm did not prosper well, and he obtained the office of exciseman or guager, in the district in which he lived. In 1791 he abandoned the farm entirely, and took a small house in the town of Dumfries. By this time, his habits of conviviality had settled down to confirmed intemperance, "and almost every drunken fellow, who was willing to spend his money lavishly in the ale-house, could easily command the company of Burns. His Jean still behaved with a degree of maternal and conjugal tenderness and prudence, which made him feel more bitterly the evil of his misconduct, although they could not reclaim him. At last, crippled, emaciated, having the very power of animation wasted by disease, quite broken-hearted by the sense of his errors, and of the hopeless miseries to which he saw himself and his family depressed, he died at Dumfries on the 21st of July, 1796, when only thirtyseven years of age."*
"Burns," says Professor Wilson, "is by far the greatest poet that ever sprung from the bosom of the people, and lived and died in an humble condition. Indeed, no country in the world but Scotland could have produced such a man; and he will be for ever regarded as the glorious representative of the genius of his country. He was born a poet, if ever man was, and to his native genius alone is owing the perpetuity of his fame. For he manifestly had never very deeply studied poetry as an art, nor reasoned much about its principles, nor looked abroad with the wide ken of intellect for objects and subjects on which to pour out his inspiration. The condition of the peasantry of Scotland, the happiest, perhaps, that Providence evet allowed to the children of labor, was not surveyed and speculated upon by him as the field of poetry, but as the field of his own existence; and he chronicled the events that passed there, not merely as food for his imagina
t This wai tn 178G, when he was twenty-seven years old.
t Rend— an IntcresUng sketch of Ms life In Chambers's Blographirnl Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen also, "Currle's Life," "Lockhart's Life," and "Cunningham's Life," prefixed to his edition of the poet's works. This Is now the most complete And best edition of Burns, containing ISO pieces more titan Dr. Currle's edlUon. Bond, also, the "Qenlus and Character of Burns," by Professoi Wilson, No. XXI. of Wiley and Putnam's Library of Choice Reading. Also, two arUcles In the Edln b.ir«h Review, vol. 13, and vol. «B, and one in the first volume of the Lnndoi Quarterly