صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

it be asked, on what this contemptible person grounded his pretensions, he tells you, that he had a good deal of marketable ware, parliamentary interest; and by boroughs could insure six members of parliainent. Yet the Duke seems to have valued him according to his real inerits; for the King would not receive him to any mark of his favour. Pages 223. 299. 308. 315. of the Diary of George Bubb Doddington, Lord Melcombe, by Henry Penruddocke Wyndham. 1784, 8vo.

Though this Diary erery where displays that mean, base, and villainous spirit, which, without any regard to connections and obligations, submits to court and flatter the powers that are ; though it shews its author to have been wholly directed by motives of avarice, vanity, and selfishness; yet I entirely think with the editor, that Lord Melcombe, far from suspecting any inference from it dishonourable to himself, meant it as an apology for his political conduct. So different, as he adds, is the moral sense of courtiers from that of other men! Editor's Preface.

To put things of a sort together, let me subjoin another picture of human meanness,

taken from the Memoirs of Madame de Pompadour.

When this lady became mistress of Lewis XV. all France paid her their court; and persons,

'who had de cried her birth, afterwards claimed a relationship to her. The following letter to her, from a gentleman of a very ancient family in Provence, will shew to what intense meanness human nature is capable of descending.

“ My dear cousin, “ I was ignorant of belonging to you, till the king had nominatedyou Marchioness of Pompadour : then an able genealogist proved to me, that your great grandfather was my grandfather's cousin in the fourth degree. You see by this, dear cousin, that there is a real consanguinity between us. If it is your pleasure, I will send you the genealogical tree of our relationship, that you may present it to the king. My son, however, your cousin, who served with distinction for some years, would be glad to have a regiment; and, as he cannot hope to obtain it by his rank, I pray you to ask it from the king as a favour,”.


[ocr errors]

“ I shall embrace the first opportunity of requesting the king to grant your son the regiment you desire ; but I have in my turn a favour to ask of


which is, to permit me not to have the honour of being your relation. Family reasons hinder me from believing that my ancestors have been allied with the ancient houses of the kingdom.”-She adds, in her narrative, that she should "put the half of France to the blush, were she tomention all the letters she had received, full of the most abject submissions, from the first families in the king: dom.” Annual Register for 1766.




Nothing is a surer symptom of ignora

rance than

superstition, and I am extremely glad that the progress religion, as it has enlightened the minds of men to the truth, has freed the mind in a great degree from the effects of that debasing malady. Sorcerers with their wands, and witches riding upon broom-sticks, have no power to scare our senses or alarm our fears in these days. We laugh now at those marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins at which our grandmothers shook with terror. If the conjuror with his cups and balls has still his place among us, we are merely amused by his skill, but we know that the whole is a deception, however well practised. But still the day of dreams and presentiments is not yet quite gone by, and there are some amongst us who still lend a believing ear to predictions, and are weak enough to suppose that the conjunction of the stars and planets influence the events of life and the destinies of men.

Moore's Almanack is still the book of reference for the changes of the weather, and even the changes of empire, to many an old woman who never looks much beyond an almanack for intelligence of any kind. And many are credulous enough to give to these predictions all the weight of true prophecy. Now, sir, as a man who is perpetually firing, though at random, will chance, some time or other, to hit the mark, so it has happened that the Editor of this Moore's Almanack

[ocr errors]

(for Moore has himself long since gone to the worms) has blundered out a prediction that is to a certain extent verified; and as this circumstance may chance to bring superstition a little into repute it may be worth while to examine for a inoment the credit due to the Almanack maker in his character of prophet. Now, sir, if this is any thing more than a random assertion verified, it must be either an inspired prophecy, or an event foretold by consulting the planets. For the writer is either a prophet or an astrologer, or he is neither. Now as the be lief of astrology is gone pretty well out of fashion, and as the blunders contained in the event foretold, prove it not to have been matter of actual inspiration, we can only ascribe it to what is called, in many cases, a lucky hit. A prophecy ought to be verified with exactness, of it is worth nothing as a prophecy. But let us examine in the present case, how wide the prediction is given; and how much

may be made to come within it. this time the Turkish emperor dies, or it may be hides his head," _Here it is clear this calculator could not tell whether he would do either the one or the other, $0 that he takes care by the convenient phrase or it may be' to slip in, äs it were, between both, and to secure credit either way. If he had died a natural death, it would have done for the prediction, or if he had been slain in an insurrection of his subjects in these revolutionary times, it would have just as well applied, for he still would have died. But it was possible in case of any public revolt, he might effect an escape and secret himself; in this case, he will be said to hide his head, or if it should be cut off, still it will be made to apply, for though he cannot be himself said to hide his head, yet his subjects hide it for him, and in these cases when we cannot suite the prophecy to the fact, we must square the fact to the prophecy. This is matter of no great difficulty, for those who are determined to make a dream or a prophecy come true, will always cut and contrive some fact till it fits. Well, but you must allow that the foretelling this event, considering in what manner it has happened, is extraordinary? But let us ask in return, suppose it had not happened? why in that case the prophecy would have been forgotten, or if the failure had been remarked, the astrologer had carved out for himself a way of escape, for the words near this time' give him a latitude which bis believers will interpret in his favour, whether it be VOL. II.


[ocr errors]

greater or less, but if no such event had happened at all, still he saves his reputation, nay, in the opinion of many, would perhaps have encreased it, for he takes care to conclude thus: “if he can save his life let him, I give him fair warning of it.” Thus if matters go on right, it might still have been said, “the Turkish emperor had no doubt profited by this precaution, and had so concerted measures in consequence of it, as to save his life, otherwise he no doubt would have lost it" so that the astrologer takes care, like a cat, always to fall upon his legs. Lord Bacon speaking on the subject of these kind of prophecies, says, "My judgment is that they ought all to be despised, aud ought to serve but for winter talk by the fire side. Though when I say despised, I mean it as for belief; for otherwise the spreading or publishing of them, is in no sort to be dispised, for they have done much mischief. That which hath given thein grace, and some credit, consisteth in three things. First, that men mark when they hit, and never inark when they miss, as they do generally, also, of dreams. The second is, that probable conjectures, many times turn themselves into prophecies ; while the nature of man, which covereth divination, thinks it no peril to foretell that which they do hut collect. The third and last is, that almost all of them, being infinite in number have been impostors, and by idle and crafty brains, merely contrived and feigned after the event past.”



That pity leads to love is a sentiment confirmed by every day's experience, and reinarkably exemplified at the present moment.

Numbers of English women have married exiled Frenchmen, and many instances have occurred, in which virgins, widows, mothers of families, and buxom abigails, have been seduced by these strangers, whose persons, tempers, and manners, were by no ineans attractive; the lovers, in every instance I was acquainted with, had no other recommendation than genuine distress, and fortuues ruined beyond recovery:

“ La pitié," says one of their writers, “ toutes les passions, a 8€s sophismes, et ses erreurs.”


But if this amiable weakness sometimes leads to error and degradation, it occasionally is the handmaid of happiness and domestic comfort; a case strongly in point occurred in the life of Dr. John Burton, formerly fellow of Eton College, a man never recollected by his cotem. poraries without love and regret.

Dr. Burton having been presented by his college to the vicarage of Maple-Derham, in Oxfordshire, repaired to that place in order to be inducted; when a melancholy scene presented itself; the widow of his predecessor in that preferment, (Dr. Edward Lyttleton), with three infant daughters, without a home, and without fortune!!

The worthy doctor insisted that the lady should on no account be put to the trouble of quitting the parson, age'; he consoled her by every means in his power, and occasionally repeating his visits, became strongly interested in her welfare, and, at the same time, so fascinated with her person, disposition, manners and accomplishments, that, after a decent time, they became man and wife, · Those who have a relish for learning, embellished by taste and guided by good sense, will find them happily united in the Opuscula of this excellent man; a Latin oration spoken before the university of Oxford, and afterwards published under tbe title of “ Heli, or an instance of a Magistrate erring through lenity," is well worthy the perųsal of vice chancellors, proctors, and heads of houses,

The following passage of his monumental inscription is strictly appropriate ; Vir, inter primos, doctus, inge niosus, pius, opum contemptor, ingenuæ juventutis fautor,

DOUBLE ACROSTIC. The following example of the double Acrostic is taken from Alexander Nevill's Lacrymae Academiæ Cantabrigiensis tumulo nobilissimi Equitis D. Phllidpi Sidneii sacratæ ; a very curious and exceedingly rare tract.

PH-armaca mens spernens mediis stans dira trumphi-S
1-njicit in pectuş Sidneii tela Philipp-I
L-ongius ergo fugis saccos 0 Anglia ? numqui-D
I-n cineres differs tua gaudia vertere? nemo-N
P-loratum luget Comitem ? cui nulla tuler-E
P-ace, fideque parem, permagni secula mund-I
V-i superans, virtute valens sui belliger ict-V.
.S-ternitur astra petens lenibus Sidneius ali-S


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »