Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

the Minority you met with Congreve and Swift. Burke, who was one of the wittiest of men himself, was also the cause * of wit in others, as · Simkins's Letters to his Brother Simon in Wales' can testify.

This versified attack on Burke's proceedings against Hastings made its first appearance in “ The World,' a fashionable paper of the day, conducted by Edward Topham, Esq. the same gentleman, I believe, who before undertook to answer Burke's · Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.' • The World teemed with paragraphs, apparently intended to be severe on the conduct of the Managers of Hastings's trial, and especially on Burke. The strictures on that subject, both in

prose and verse, were usually very inferior to - Simkins's Letters.' The composition of · The World' -f was evidently

* The Monthly reviewers, who have done me ample justice in essentials, have here made a trifling mistake as to quotation.

+ About the same time that'The World' was so much distinguished for sonorous trifles in prose, there was an

that of a mind by no means congenial, either in taste or genius, to Burke's. It was not surprising that the author of turgid phraseology and pompous inanity, frivolous conceits and declamatory rant, should disrelish beauty, sublimity, knowledge, and philosophy

Burke frequently spent a considerable part of the recess either in visiting Ireland, or different parts of this kingdom. Some years before the period of his life at which I am now arrived to the best of

my

recollection in 1785), Mr. Windham and he took a jaunt to Scotland: they rode their own

R 2

inundation of verse of the same species, under the signatures of Della Crusca, Anna Matilda, Laura Maria, and others, of whose writings the leading characteristics were reciprocity of extravagant compliment, multiplicity of superfluous epithet, and abundance of melodious nonsense. The vigorous and severe satire of Gifford, by his Mæviad, either silenced these versifiers, or gave their talents (such as they were) a different direction. Laura Maria has been of late extremely prolific in democratic and sentimental novels. See Anti-Jacobin Review of "Walsingham,' August, 1798, and False Friend,' May, 1799.

1

horses, went by Edinburgh, and proceeded northward to the Highlands. Though Burke, like his friend Johnson, delighted chiefly in the exhibition of the human mind in its constitution and diversity of operations, he also was much delighted with external appearances of nature. Passing through Athol,-a district of Perthshire, watered by the Tay and its tributary rivers, and abounding in picturesque scenery, variegated from the verdant sweetness of cultivated vallies, and of woods interspersed with streams, and divided by a majestic river, to the bare rocks and heathy mountains of the Grampians,-they viewed Dunkeld and Blair, seats of the Duke of Athol, by art and nature wonderfully fitted to gratify a taste for the BEAUTIFUL and SUBLIME. In their

way from Dunkeld to Blair, they were very

much astonished and delighted with the beautiful villa, parks, and pleasure grounds of Faskaly; one of the most charming seats in Scotland, in which the softness and sweetness of nearest scenery is contrasted and enhanced by the prominent boldness and rude grandeur of the more distant tremendous waterfalls, woody precipices, hills covered with dingy firs, and o’ertopt by high and heathy mountains. Coming, in their return, to a country inn, they were much struck with the beauty and elegant manners of the landlord's daughters. The father, they found, was a gentleman, the representative of a respectable family, but of small fortune ; and that in order to enable him to give his children a good education, to supply the deficiency of his patrimony, he had had recourse to industry. Mr. Burke and Mr. Windham were very much pleased with the conversation of the

young ladies; and from the first town they came to, sent them a copy of · Cecilia ;' a present at once a high compliment to the taste of the young

ladies and the genius of the author ; and which they prized very highly, coming from such donors. One of the Misses M.Laren (that was their name) was soon married to a gentleman in the neighbourhood. The younger, some years after, married a medical gentleman who procured

[ocr errors]

an appointment in India. The following circumstance is said to have produced the appointment and accelerated the marriage: Mr. Dundas, riding from his hunting seat in Strathern, to visit the Duke of Athol at Blair, stopped at the inn. Accosting Miss MLaren with his usual gallantry, and bestowing high and just praises on her beauty, he said, ' he was surprizcd that so fine a girl had not got a husband.' Sir,' replied she, “ my marriage depends upon you.'

On me, how so?' • There is,' she answered, • a young gentleman, to whom I am under promise of marriage as soon as circumstances will permit. He has been 'in the shipping service of the East India Company, and wishes to procure a settlement in Bengal, as an intimate friend of his, Mr. Dick, married to my eldest sister, is one of the principal surgeons in Calcutta, and would have it in his power very effectually to serve him in his business. Mr. Dundas, having, on inquiry, found that Mr. M‘Nabb (the gentleman in question) was a man of merit and professional skill, on his return to Lon

« PreviousContinue »