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accompanied every recollection of the state of his family; and it must have been inevitable to a man like him, to have that recollection almost continually in his mind. The direct allusions, however, are not often repeated, and with much propriety Sir William 'has no doubt omitted many paragraphs relating to the subject.
Dr. Beattie's style is singularly free and perspicuous, and adapted in the highest degree to the purpose of familiar lecturing to his pupils ; but for an author, we should deem it something less than elegant, and something less than nervous.
In early life he took great pains to imitate Addison, whose style he always recommended and admired. But Addison's style is not sufficiently close and firm for the use of a philosopher, and as to the exquisite shades of its colours, they can perhaps never be successfully imitated. We were rather surprised to find the enthusiastic admirer of Addison preferring the old Scotch version of the Psalms to every other; and the opinion of so respectable a judge put our national partialities in some degree of fear. But we soon recovered our complacency in our own venerable Sternhold and Hopkins, who, in point of harmony and elegance, richness and majesty, and all the other high attributes of poetry, have surely beaten their northern rivals.
„Sir William acknowledges that Dr. Beattie's talent for humour was less than he was willing it should be thought; but the first part of the following letter is not a bad specimen, while the latter part is a piece of lively and discriminative criticism.
My hopes and my spirits begin to revive once more. I flatter myself I shall
soon get rid of this infirmity ; nay, that I shall eré long be in the way of becoming a great man. For have I not head aches like Pope ?" vertigo, like Swift? grey hairs, like Homer? Do I not wear large shoes, (for fear of corns) like Virgil ? and sometimes complain of sore eyes, (though not of lippitude) like Horace ? Am I not, at this present writing, invested with a garment, not less ragged' than that of Socrates ? Like Joseph the patriarch, I am a mighty dreamer of dreams; like Nimrod the hunter, I am an eminent builder of castles in the air). I procrastinate, like Julius Cæsar , and very lately, in imitation of Don Quixote, I rode a horse, lean, old, and lazy, like Rosinante. Sometimes, like Cicero, I write bad verses ; and sometimes bad prose, like Virgil
. This last instance I have on the authority of Seneca. "I am of small stature, like Alexander the Great ; I am somewhat inclinable to fatness, like Dr. Arbuthnot and Aristotle ; and I drink brandy and water, like Mr. Boyd. I might compare myself, in relation to many other infirmities, to many other great men ; bat if fortune is not influenced in my favour by the particulars already enumerated, I shall despair of ever recommending myself to her good graces. I once had some thought of soliciting her patronage on the score, Vob, IIL
of my resembling great men, in their good qualities ; but I had so little to say on that subject, that I could not for my life, furnish matter for one well rounded period: and you know a short ill turned speech is very improper to be used in an address to a female deity.
Do you not think there is a sort of antipathy between philosophical and poetical genius? I question whether any one person were ever eminent for both. Lucretius lays aside the poet when he assumes the philosopher, and the philosopher when he assumes the poet: In the one character he is truly exce!lent, in the other he is absolutely nonsensical. . Hobbes was a tolerable metaphysician, but his poetry is the worst that ever was. Pope's
Essay on Nian” is the finest philosophical poem in the world ; but it seems to me to do more honour to the imagination than to the understanding of its author : I mean, its sentiments are noble and affecting, its images and allusions apposite, beautiful, and new: its wit transcendantly excellent; but the scientific part of it is very exceptionable. Whatever Pope borrows from Leibnitz, like most other metaphysical theories, is frivolous and unsatisfying : what Pope gives us of his own is energetic, irresistible, änd divine. The incompatibility of philosophical and poetical genius is, I think, no unaccountable thing. Poetry e. hibits the general qualities of a species ; philosophy, the particular qualities of individuals. This forms its conclusions from a painful and 'minute examination of single instances ; that decides instantaneously, either from its own instinctive sagacity, or from a singular and unaccountable penetration, which at one glance sees all the instances which the philosopher must leisurely and progressively scrutinize, one by one. This persuades you gradually, and by detail ; tre other overpowers you in an instant by a single effort. Observe the effect of argumentation in poetry; we have too many instances of it in Milton : it transforms the noblest thoughts into drawling inferences, and the most beautiful language into prose
: it checks the tide of passion by giving the mind a different employment in the comparison of ideas.' pp. 92-95. (Vol. I.)
The soul of the minstrel breathes in the following passage: describing the effect produced on his mind by a transition from the toil of abstract studies to the reading of some of the great works of romantic imagination, he says,
I am like a man who has escaped from the mines, and is now drink. ing in the fresh air and light, on the top of some of the mountains of Dalecarlia. These books put me in mind of the days of former years, the romantic ära of fifteen, or the still more careless period of nine or ten, the scenes of which, as they now stand pictured in my fancy, seem to be illuminated with a sort of purple light, fanned with the softest purest gales, and painted with a verdure to which nothing similar is to be found in the degenerate summers of modern times. Here I would quote, the second stanza of Gray's “ Ode on Eton College,” but it would take up too much room, and you certainly have it by heart. Vol. I, p. 153.
We have never seen a complex variety of descriptive circumstances moru tinely harmonized into one effect, than in the sensible observations on second sight, in a letter to Mrs. Montague.
• All our Highlanders believe in this second sight ; but the instances, in which it is said to operate, are generally so ambiguous; and the revelations supposed to be communicated by it so frivolous, that I cannot bring myself to acquiesce in it. Indeed this same historian has made me more incredulous than I was before ; for his whole book betrays an excess of folly and weakness. Were its revelations important, I should be less inclined to unbelief; but to suppose the Deity working a miracle, in order to announce a marriage, the arrival of a poor stranger, or the making of a coffin, would require such evidence as has not yet attended any of these tales, and is indeed what scarce any kind of evidence could make one „suppose. These communications are all made to the ignorant, the super. stitious, and generally to the young ; I have never heard of a man of learning, sense, or observation, that was favoured with any of them ; a strong presumption against their credibility. I have been told, that the inhabitants of some parts of the Alps do also lay a claim to a sort of second-sight: and I believe the same superstition, or something like it, may be found in many other countries, where the face of nature, and the solitary life of the natives, tend to impress the imagination with melancholy. The Highlands of Scotland are a picturesque, but gloomy region. Long tracts of solitary mountains covered with heath and rocks, and often obscured by mist; n:rrow vallies thinly inhabited, and bounded by precipices that resound for ever with the fall of torrents ; a soil so rugged, and a climate so dreary, as to admit neither the amusements of pasturage, nor the chearful toils of agriculture; the mournful dashing of waves along the friths and lakes that every where intersect this country ; the portentous sounds, which every change of the wind, and every increase and diminution of the waters, is apt to raise in a region full of rocks, and hollow cliffs, and caverns ;
the grotesque and ghastly appearance of such a landscape, especially by the light of the moon ;-objects like these diffuse an habitual gloom over the fancy, and give it that romantic cast, that disposes to invention, and that melancholy, which inclines one to the fear of unseen things, and unknown events, It is observable too, that the ancient Scottish Highlanders had scarce any other way of supporting themselves, than by hunting, fishing, or war; professions that are continually exposed to the most fatal accidents. Thus, almost every circumstance in their lot tended to rouse and terrify the imagination. Accordingly, their poetry is uniformly mournful ; their music melancholy and dreadful, and their snperstitions are all of the gloomy kind. The fairies confined their gambols to the Lowlands; the mountains were haunted with giants and angry ghosts, and funeral processions, and other prodigies of direful import. That a people, beset with such real and imaginary bug-bears, should fancy themselves dreaming, even when awake, of corpses, and graves, and coffins, and other terrible things, seems natural enough ; but that their visions ever tended to any real or useful discovery, I am much inclined to doubt. Not
that I mean to deny the existence of ghosts, or to call in question the • accounts of extraordinary revelations, granted to individuals, with which both history and tradition abound. But in all cases, where such accounts
are entitled to credit, or supported by tolerable evidence, it will be found, that they referred to something which it concerned men to know; the overthrow of kingdoms, the death of great persons, the detection cf atrocious crimes, or the preservation of important lives.? Vol. I. pp. 221. 223.
Our readers will be pleased with the good sense and spirited danguage of one of the letters to Mr. Arbuthnot.
LETTER CXXXVI. Dr. Beattie to Robert Arbuthnot, Esq. • Mr. Boswell's book is arrived at last, and I have just gone through it. He is very good to me, as Dr. Johnson always was; and I am very grateful to both. But I cannot approve of the plan of such a work. To publish a man's letters, or his conversation, without his consent, is not, in my opinion, quite fair: for how many things in the hour of relaxation, or in friendly correspondence, does a man throw out, which he would never wish to hear of again ; and what a restraint would it be on all social intercourse, if one were to suppose that every word one utters would be
en ered in a register! Mr. Poswell indeed says, that there are few men who need be under any apprehension of that sort. This is true ; and the argument he founds on it would be good, if he had published nothing but what Dr. Johnson and he said and did : for Johnson, it seems, knew, that the
publication would be made, and did not object to it; but Mr. B. has published the sayings and doings of other people who never consented to any such thing; and who little thought, when they were doing their best to entertain and amuse the two travellers, that a story would be made of it, and laid before the public. I approve of the Greek proverb, that says, * I hate a bottle companion with a memory." If any friend after eating a
bit of mutton with me, should go to the coffee-house, and there give an account of every thing that had passed, I believe I should not take it well.
Of Dr. Johnson himself, as well as others, many things are told which ought to have been suppressed; such, I mean, as are not in any respect remarkable, and such as seem to betray rather infirmity or captiousness, than genius or virtue. Johnson said of the “ Man of the World,” that he found little or nothing in it. Why should
this be recorded? Is there any wit in it; or is it likely to be of any use? The greatest dunce on earth i. capable of saying as good a thing. Of a very promising young gentleman, to whom Dr. Johnson was under the highest obligations, (for he had risqued his life in Johnson's service) and who, to the great grief of all who knew him, unfortunately perished at sea about ten years ago,
Dr. Johnson said, that it was a pity he was not more intellectual. "Why should this be recorded ! I will allow, that one friend might, without blame, say this to another in confidence; but to publish it to the world, when it cannot possibly give pleasure to any person, and will probably give pain to some, is, in my opinion, neither wit nor gratitude : and I am sure Mr. Boswell, who is a very good-natured man, would have seen it in this light, if he had given himself time to think of it. At Aberdeen the two travellers wers most hospitably entertained, as they themselves acknowledge ; and when they left it, they said to ane another, t'iat they had heard at Aberdeen nothing which deserved attention. There was nothing in saying this: but why is it recorded ? For no reason that I can imagine, unless it be in order to return evil for good. I found so many passages of this nature in the book, that upon the whole it left rather a disagreeable impression upon my mind; though I readily own there are many things in it which pleased me.' Vol. II. pp. 176. 178.
In many parts of these letters, we are constrained to perceive a degree of egotism inconsistent with the dignity of a philosopher or a man. The writer seems unwilling to lose any opportunity of recounting the attentions, the compliments, the testimonies of admiration, which he has received from individuals or the public. The complacency with which he expatiates on himself and his performances, is but imperfectly disguised by the occasional and too' frequent' professions of holding himself and those performances cheap. This is a very usual but unsuccessful expedient, with those who have reflection enough to be sensible that they have rather too much ostentation, but not resolution enough to restrain. themselves from indulging it. It will unluckily happen' sometimes, that these professions of self-disesteen will be brought into direct contrast with certain things that betray a very different feeling. There is an instance of this in the second volume, p. 173, where the expression, "you have paid too much attention to my foolish remarks,” is printed in the same page with this other expression, “poor Mr. Locke."
Another conspicuous feature of this correspondence, is the gross flattery interchanged between Dr. Beattie and his friends. The reader is sometimes tempted to suspect, that he has been called to be present at a farce, where the principal persons are flattering for a wager. During the perusal, we have been obliged again and again to endeavour to drive out of our imagination the idea of a meeting of friends in China, where the first mandarin bows to the floor, and then the second mandarin bows to the floor, and then the first mandarin bows again to the floor, and thus they go on till friendship is satisfied or patience tired. In his letters to one individual, a Duchess, the Doctor felt it his duty to take some notice of person as well as abilities and virtues. But we should conclude that all the other gentlemen of her acquaintance must have been very sparing of compliments to her beauty, if she could be gratified by such as those of the professor.
If it is not gross Hattery that abounds in these letters, we have the more cause to be sorry for having come into the world some years later than Dr. Beattie and Sir W. Forbes. There have been better times than the present, if, during the main part of this correspondence, every gentleman was an accom