« السابقةمتابعة »
“ 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 you, 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 to' mention 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 ignorance than superstition, and I am extremely glad that the progress of religion, as it has enlightened the minds of men to the truth, ha3 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
(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 besief 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 withain 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, itwould have done for the prediction, or if he had been slair 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 of
escape, for the words 'near this time' give him a latitude which his believers will interpret in his favour, whether it be VOL. II,
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, and 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 but 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."
PITY AND LOVE,
That pity leads to love is a sentiment confirmed by every day's experience, and remarkably exemplified at the present mornent.
Numbers of English women have married exiled Frenchmen, and
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 means attractive ; the lovers, in every instance I was acquainted with, had no other recommendation than genuine distress, and fortunes ruined beyond recovery.
“ La pitié,” says one of their writers, toutes les passions, a ses 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 prede. cessor 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 bis power, and occasionally repenting his visits, became strongly interested in her welfare, and, at the same time, so fascinated with her person, disposition, manners and accomplishinents, 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 perųsąl 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, ingenuwe juventutis fautor,
DOUBLE ACROSTIC. The following example of the double Acrostic is taken from Alexander Nevill's Lacrymæ Academiæ Cantabrigiensis tumulo nobilissimi Equitis D. Phllidpi Sidnei sacratæ ; a very curious and exceedingly rare tract.
PH-armaca mens spernens mediis stans dira trumphi-S
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
An Account of the Life and Writings of James Beattie,
L. L.D. late Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logiç, in the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen : including many of his original Letters, By Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Baronet, one of the Executors of Dr. Beattie. 4to, 2 vols. London, 1806.
Dr. Beattie and his biographer are unconscious now. both of censure and praise ; Sir William Forbes died very soon after the publication of these volumes, which give a faithful, feeling, and satisfactory account of Dr. Beattie's life and writings, and, perhaps, some will think too undiscriminating a selection of his epistolary correspondence : but Dr. Beattie's letters, though sometimes upon trifling subjects, cannot be read without interest, and as his acquaintance was extensive, and included nearly all the literary characters of his day, we are more inclined to thank his biographer than censure him for the copious stores to which he has admitted us.
The works on which Dr. Beattie's reputation is principally founded, are the Minstrel, a poem in every hand, and in alnıost everybody's inouth ; and the Essay on Truth, a very elaborate composition, which does its author immortal honous, and is one of the best antidotes to infidelity which has ever issued from the press. One of its greatest recommendations is its perspicuity ; the intricate speculations of former writers are thoroughly examined, and by appeals to facts and experience, by familiar illustrations and examples he solves every difficulty which scepticism has interposed to conceal the truth, and detects all her arts and fal. lacies, by tracing the different kinds of evidence up to their first principles.
This admirable performance rendered the doctor very popular, and procured him a pension of 2001. a year, It also was the means of introducing him to a private