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Among the many eminent men who questioned the justice with which they shed lustre on the latter part of what had been bestowed. The labours of has been termed the Georgian era, a long life have been at length closed certainly not the least conspicuous was by death, yet no man has hitherto-atSir John Sinclair. The position which tempted to tear a leaf from his chaphe held in public esteem was altoge- let, and the high place he occupied in ther peculiar, and the means by which public opinion remains--and is long he attained it were not less so. Sir likely to remain-untenanted. John Sinclair entered public life at a The public were entitled to expect period more than ordinarily fruitful in that the memoirs of a life so successgreat men and great events; when fully devoted to their service should the departments of law, science, poli- be written for the instruction both of ties, and literature were crowded with the present generation and posterity. competitors, and consequently the at. This duty, we rejoice to say, has been tainment of distinction was in the discharged with a degree of talent, highest degree difficult. Under such good taste, and sound judgment which circumstances he might, at first sight, leaves nothing to be desired. The appear to have been deficient in many biographer is already well known to of the qualities requisite to success. the world as the author of several vaConsidered merely in a literary point luable works on criticism and theology, of view he was not a great author; and the present work will assuredly nor was he highly gifted as an orator, not derogate from his high reputation. nor profoundly versed in any branch of In the execution of his task Mr Sinclair science ; nor had he drank deeply at has not suffered his feelings of filial “ the stream divine of high philoso- attachment to influence his judgment, phy; " nor as a politician did he rise Indeed, if he has even erred at all, it above the middle rank. With all certainly has not been in forming too these disadvantages, however, his suc- lofty an estimate either of the characcess was extraordinary. No man ever ter or services of his distinguished fasucceeded in acquiring a reputation ther. Of eulogy Mr Sinclair is even more honourable or more widely rigorously sparing. He never heaps spread. Throughout Europe and the measure of his praise, and in some America his name became familiar instances we think that a larger por: almost as a household word, and he tion might have been fairly arrogated enjoyed his great honours, with this by the biographer of Sir John Sinclair, remarkable distinction, that none ever and are quite sure it would have been
Memoirs of the Life and Works of the late Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart. By his Son, the Rev. John Sinclair, M.A., Pemb. Coll. Oxford, F.R.S.E.; Author of Dissertations vindicating the Church of England ; an Essay on Church Patronage, &c. In Two Volumes. William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. 1837.
VOL. XLII, NO. CCLXI.
freely conceded by the public. It is remarkable. In his writings we rarely a defect, perhaps inseparable from discover any close and connected chain the memoirs of men of genius, that, of reasoning. Perhaps the most prohowever largely they contribute to the minent feature of his intellect was its gratification of curiosity, they rarely extraordinary vivacity. His faculties convey a lesson generally useful. In- never slept. They were always up dividuals so gifted may be considered and stirring ; always on the look-out; as exhibiting exceptions to the ordi. always active. Two other qualities nary laws which regulate and limit he possessed in a remarkable degree human intellect, and their success be. -enthusiasm and perseverance. The ing the result of a rare idiosyncrasy, one led him to make light of difficultheir example is little available to those ties, however formidable, and the other who, from difference of mental organic enabled him to overcome them. We zation, can experience but imperfect do not believe that Sir John Sinclair sympathy either with their peculiar ever resigned a task he had undertemptations or higher impulses. But taken from dread of any obstacle—or the case is different in regard to indi. shrank from any degree of labour, viduals who, without any remarkable however vast, which might be necessuperiority of original endowment, sary for its completion. To know that have achieved great objects merely success was possible was all that he by the strenuous and judicious appli- required ; for, with this knowledge, cation of powers which they possess his confidence in his own powers was in common with the majority of man- too great to have a doubt of his atkind. The lives of such men must taining it. This sanguine constitution ever be full of valuable instruction of mind was fortunate, both for him. The instruments of their success are self and his country: without it, he within reach of all. They were en. could have brought few of his great dowed with no preternatural strength, works to a successful termination, and nor did they wield a charmed weapon. in all probability the Statistical AcYet men so constituted and so armed, count of Scotland would have remainwithout dazzling appliances of any ed unwritten. sort, have achieved the most astonish- No man, perhaps, was ever less fiting results, and established a perma- ted than Sir John Sinclair for a life of nent and acknowledged claim to the contemplation. Action was as neces. gratitude of mankind.
sary to him as the air he breathed. It Of this class, it is almost needless was to his mind what the pole is to the to say, was Sir John Sinclair. His needle-the terminus, towards which life was one of intense activity and la. all his thoughts and intellectual im. bour, and scarcely less remarkable for pulses were directed. He could not, the variety of pursuits to which it was like Mr Coleridge, be content to dwell devoted, than for the degree of suc- in a world of visionary abstractionscess by which, in most of them, his merging all thought of material exlabours were rewarded. In almost all istence in contemplation of the microhis works we find a picture of his cosm within. To the latter, the ab. mind, and in these we might almost stract and speculative were every thing trace its progress from youth to mid- the purely practical nothing. In dle age, and from that period to the the material wants and necessities of closing years of a long and valuable man he took no interest.
In him aclife. Perhaps the writings of no man tion was at all times the offspring ra. were ever more legibly impressed with ther of painful necessity than of vothe character of their author. Unlike luntary impulse. In the eyes of Mr those writers who think it necessary Coleridge the great globe itself, and to appear before the public with an all that it inhabit, were valueless, when air of rhetorical pomp, Sir John Sin- compared with that universe of mys. clair despised such artifices, and wrote terious possibilities on which lie de. as he spoke and as he thought, with lighted to speculate and refine. Perperfect simplicity and directness. With haps a more striking contrast was never genius he was not endowed. His mind exhibited in human character than exwas deficient in imagination, and the isted between these two distinguished powers connected with it, which pro- individuals. bably he had never cultivated; and his The Memoirs of Sir John Sinclair's talent for logical deduction was not Life are, of course, those of his Works.