« PredošláPokračovať »
forge anchorscut steel into ribands, and impel loaded vessels against the fury of the winds and waves.
It would be difficult to estimate the value of the benefits which these inventions have conferred upon this country. There is no branch of industry that has not been indebted to them; and, in all the most material, they have not only widened most magnificently the field of its exertions, but multiplied a thousandfold the amount of its productions. It is to the genius of one man, too, that all this is mainly owing. And certainly no man ever bestowed such a gift on his kind. The blessing is not only universal but unbounded; and the fabled inventors of the plough and the loom, who were deified by the erring gratitude of their rude contemporaries, conferred less important benefits on mankind than the inventor of our present steamengine.
This will be the fame of Watt with future generations; and it is sufficient for his race and his country. But to those to whom he more immediately belonged, who lived in his society and enjoyed his conversation, it is not perhaps the character in which he will be most frequently recalled, most deeply lamented, or even most highly admired. Independently of his great attainments in mechanics, Mr Watt was an extraordinary, and, in many respects, a wonderful man. Perhaps no individual in his age possessed so much and such varied and exact information, had read so much, or remembered what he had read so accurately and well. He had infinite quickness of apprehension, a prodigious memory, and a certain rectifying and methodizing power of understanding, which extracted something precious out of all that was presented to it. His stores of miscellaneous knowledge were immense, and yet less astonishing than the command he had at all times over them. It seemed as if every subject that was casually started in conversation with him had been that which he had been last occupied in studying and exhausting—such was the copiousness, the precision, and the admirable clearness of the information wbich he poured out upon it, without effort or hesitation. Nor was this promptitude and compass of knowledge confined in any degree to the studies connected with his ordinary pursuits.
That he should have been minutely and extensively skilled in chemistry and the arts, and in most of the branches of physical science, might perhaps have been conjectured. But it could not have been inferred from his usual occupations that he was curiously learned in many branches of antiquity, metaphysics, medicine, and etymology, and perfectly at home in all the details of architecture, music, and law. He was well acquainted, too, with most of the modern languages, and familiar with their most recent literature. Nor was it at all extraordinary to hear the great mechanician and engineer detailing and expounding for hours together the metaphysical theories of the German logicians, or criticising the measures or the matter of the German poetry.
8. THE CHARACTER OF HANNIBAL.
HANNIBAL being sent to Spain, on his arrival there attracted
of the whole army. The veterans believed Hamilcar was revived and restored to them : they saw the same vigorous countenance, the same piercing eye, the same complexion and features. But in a short time his behaviour occasioned this resemblance of his father to contribute the least towards his gaining their favour. And, in truth, never was there a genius more happily formed for two things most manifestly contrary to each other—to obey and to command. This made it difficult to determine, whether the general or soldiers loved him most. Where any enterprise required vigour and valour in the performance, Asdrubal always chose him to command at the executing of it; nor were the troops ever more confident of success, or more intrepid, than when he was at their head. None ever showed greater bravery in undertaking hazardous attempts, or more presence of mind and conduct in the execution of them. No bardship could fatigue his body, or daunt his courage: he could equally bear cold and heat. The necessary refection of nature, not the pleasure of his palate, he solely regarded in his meals. He made no distinction of day and night in his watching, or taking rest; and appropriated
no time to sleep, but what remained after he had completed his duty: he never sought for a soft or a retired place of repose;
; but was often seen lying on the bare ground, wrapt in a soldier's cloak, amongst the sentinels and guards. He did not distinguish himself from his companions by the magnificence of his dress, but by the quality of his horse and arms. At the same time, he was by far the best foot and horse soldier in the army; ever the foremost in a charge, and the last who left the field after the battle was begun. These shining qualities were, however, balanced by great vices; inhuman cruelty; more than Carthaginian treachery; no respect for truth or honour, no fear of the gods, no regard for the sanctity of oaths, no sense of religion. With a disposition thus chequered with virtues and vices, he served three years under Asdrubal, without neglecting to pry into, or perform any thing, that could contribute to make him hereafter a complete general.
9. THE CHARACTER OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS. To all the charms of beauty, and the utmost elegance of external form, Mary added those accomplishments which render their impression irresistible. Polite, affable, insinuating, sprightly, and capable of speaking and of writing with equal ease and dignity. Sudden, however, and violent in all her attachments; because she had been accustomed from her infancy to be treated as a queen. No stranger, on some occasions, to dissimulation ; which, in that perfidious court where she received her education, was reckoned among the necessary arts of government. Not insensible of flattery, or unconscious of that pleasure, with which almost every woman beholds the influence of her own beauty. Formed with the qualities that we love, not with the talents that we admire, she was an agreeable woman rather than an illustrious queen. The vivacity of her spirit, not sufficiently tempered with sound judgment, and the warmth of her heart, which was not at all times under the restraint of discretion, betrayed her both into errors and into crimes. To say that she was always unfortunate, will not account for that
long and almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befell her; we must likewise add, that she was often imprudent. Her passion for Darnley was rash, youthful, and excessive; and though the sudden transition to the opposite extreme was the natural effect of her ill-requited love, and of his ingratitude, insolence, and brutality, yet neither these, nor Bothwell's artful addresses and important services, can justify her attachments to that nobleman. Even the manners of the age, licentious as they were, are no apology for this unhappy passion; nor can they induce us to look on that tragical and infamous scene which followed it, with less abhorrence. Humanity will draw a veil over this part of her character, which it cannot approve, and may, perhaps, prompt some to impute her actions to her situation more than to her disposition; and to lament the unhappiness of the former, rather than accuse the perverseness of the latter. Mary's sufferings exceed, both in degree and in duration, those tragical distresses which fancy has feigned to excite sorrow and commiseration; and while we survey them, we are apt altogether to forget her frailties; we think of her faults with less indignation, and approve of our tears, as if they were shed for a person who had attained much nearer to pure virtue. No man, says Brantome, ever beheld her
person without admiration and love, or will read her history without sorrow.
1.--ST PETER'S CHAPEL IN THE TOWER. The head and body of Monmouth were placed in a coffin covered with black velvet, and were laid privately under the communion table of St Paul's Chapel in the Tower. In truth there is no sadder spot on earth than that little cemetery. Death is there associated, not, as in Westminster Abbey and St Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration and with imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest churches and churchyards, with every thing that is most endearing in social and domestic charities, but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny, with the savage triumph of implacable enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame. Thither have been carried, through successive ages, by the rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies, the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the ornaments of courts. Thither was borne, before the window where Jane Grey was praying, the mangled corpse of Guildford Dudley. Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, reposes there by the brother whom he murdered. There has mouldered away the headless trunk of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and Cardinal of St Vitalis, a man worthy to have lived in a better age. There are laid John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, lord high admiral, and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, lord high treasurer. There, too, is another Essex on whom nature and fortune had lavished all their bounties in vain, and whom valour, grace, genius, royal favour, popular applause, conducted to an early and ignominious doom. Not far off sleep two chiefs of the great house of Howard— Thomas, fourth Duke of Norfolk, and Philip, eleventh Earl of Arundel. Here and there among
graves of unquiet and aspiring statesmen lie more delicate sufferers