Obrazy na stronie

sive and approved plan, compiled and pub. dialect.* The leading signification, and the lished, among other aids, it directed its various derivative and secondary meanings, attention to the MSS. containing the mate of each Gaelic word, will be given, not only rials prepared by the contributors to the in English, but also in Latin, in the view dictionary formerly in view ; but, from va of giving more general interest and utility rious causes, the Society was successful only to the work in foreign countries. The ety. in some instances.

mology of words, as far as can be distinctly Referring to the two printed statements traced, is to be briefly indicated, and corpublished by the Society, respecting the responding words of the same origin in other dictionary now compiling, it will be ob- languages, to which the Gaelic has an affi. served, that, besides the Scoto-Celtic, it is nity, are to be given. It is proposed to to embrace much of the Irish dialect of that pretix to the dictionary a dissertation on the language. Rendering the signification of origin, antiquity, relations, and internal the Gaelic vocables in Latin must add structure of the Celtic dialects, with an epi. greatly to the general utility and interest of tome of Gaelic grammar.” the work.

The principal publications in the Gaelic language, since the date of Dr M:Lagan's

LETTER OF DR VINCENT, THE LATE letter, it is believed, are, the translation of DEAN OF WESTMINSTER. the Sacred Scriptures into that language,

(A correspondent, to whom the subsechiefly by Dr Stewart of Luss; the poems ascribed to Ossian, from the Gaelic MS. of

quent letter was addressed, has sent it to them found in the repositories of the well

us. “ The writer,” he observes, “ was not

more eminent for his great learning and known Mr James M.Pherson; and two editions of a Gaelic grammar, by the Rey.

conspicuous station in society, than for the

genuine kindness of his nature, and the upMr Stewart of Dingwall. Some school

right simplicity of his whole conduct. His books, catechisms, poems, &c. have also

works, illustrative of ancient navigation and been published in the interval. June 3d, 1817.

C. G.

commerce, are of a degree and kind of eru.

dition of which the lettered labours of Note B.-“ The Highland Society of Scot

modern Englishmen have produced few land, impressed with the importance of

examples. He was pious from principle,

and attached to the church, of which he was having a dictionary of this ancient and ex

a dignified member, because he firmly bepressive language, upon such a comprehen

lieved its forms to be rational and its tenets sive plan as should explain and illustrate it,

scriptural. He was many years at the head not only to their own countrymen but to

of Westminster school. That school has, the general scholar and antiquary, after having obtained possession of the most an.

since the days of Busby, annually sent forth cient MSS. of various dialects of the Celtic,

its shoots to expand in all the walks of taand other materials for the work, appointed,

lent, valour, and high rank. Of Dr Vin.

cent it may be well said, in the words which in 1814, a committee of its members, conversant with the subject, with authority to

Mr Horner used when drawing an outline

of the character of his late master, Dr take immediate and effectual measures for

Adam, " The men who were educated in the compilation and publication of such

that school, during his time, will long redictionary. The committee availed itself of the opi.

member how he inspired his boys with an

attachment both to himself and to the pur. nions of some of the most eminent Gaelic scholars in this country, in fixing the plan

suits in which he instructed them, and will of the work, and afterwards intrusted its

always regard his memory with affection and

gratitude. In this letter your readers will execution to two gentlemen whom they

y have every reason to believe are well quali.

not fail to remark that tone of good sense

and right feeling, which, more than sprightfied for the task.

liness of manner or variety of remark, disAs the plan of the work, formerly circu

tinguishes the epistolary effusions of our lated by the committee, appears to have given full satisfaction, it may be mentioned, was y mento) in reference to that plan, that it embraces DEAR SIR, all the words of the Gaelic or Scoto-Celtic language that can be collected, either from

The correspondence between Dr authentic literary compositions, or from the

Adam and myself commenced by my vernacular dialect of the present inhabitants addressing him upon finding that boys, of the Highlands of Scotland ; a principal sent from the High School to Westobject being to shew what the language has minster, were qualified, by their atbeen, as well as what it now is.-From the tainment in Latin, to a high rank, intimate connection of the Irish dialect of the Celtic with that of Scotland, and from An Irish-English Dictionary, by Ed. the consideration that many of the ancient ward O'Reilly, V. P. of the Gaelic Society

MSS. are written in the former, the dic. of Dublin, was announced in the notices at * tionary will also embrace much of the Irish the beginning of our last number. EDIT. but, from their want of Greek, were sold of my second edition : But I am of necessity placed in our lower classes. contented with the approbation of some He replied much at large on this sub- of the most excellent judges of the age, ject; but his conclusion was, “Greek and the reception it has met with in in Scotland is the business of the Uni- India and abroad. I sent a copy of versity, and that is the reason we my second edition to the Advocates' have so little Greek in our country.” Library; and I will thank you if you I afterwards learnt that he had had a will inquire whether a copy of my transcontest with Dr Robertson on this lation of the two Greek I'racts reached question, and had latterly taught Greek that collection last year. It is the in the High School. I think it pro- completion of the work :--if it arrived bable that his letter may be preserved, I need not trouble you to write again, and when I go to London I will look -if otherwise, upon hearing from for it.

you, I will send it. I never saw Dr Adam but once, When I can look into my papers, if I when he spent a day with me at Hen- find any thing of Dr Adam's worthy ly, which passed, I believe, with mu- of communicating, I will convey it to tual happiness to both parties; but I you. I respect him as one of the most know all his extreme attention to his indefatigable instructors, and one that profession, and his excellent method loved his profession. I never loved it, of teaching. His publications were though I hope I did my duty. There not merely useful, but the best of their is a pleasure in teaching and seeing kind. The Antiquities and Latin Dic- the progress of the attentive ;-but the tionary were formed upon an excellent inattention of the many, and the anxiemodel, and the former, particularly by ty of the charge, is a sad countergiving the Latin phrases for the cir balance to the pleasure. I am now, cumstance explained, was one of the thank God! in retirement, ease, and best school books published in my affluence. I am at anchor (as Paley time. His Geography was correct, in expresses it), after the storms and farespect to which I claim some merit, tigues of life; and with an affectionate as I recommended the engraving of family around me, feel all the blessD'Anville's maps to accompany it, ings that the age of seventy-one is which completed the work, and I be- capable of enjoying. These,' I trust lieve promoted the sale.

and hope, will never fail till they are The remainder of our correspondence replaced with better prospects. 'Be. related chiefly to Dr Doig of Stirling, lieve me, dear sir, your most obedient who was a very excellent Greek and faithful servant, scholar, and whose article of Philology,

W. VINCENT. in the Encyclopædia, will do him Islip, September 24, 1810. lasting honour. I had, through Dr Adam, much intercourse with him, P.S.- I shall be in town in October, and much satisfaction from it. He and will be happy to receive your work, was rather systematical, but highly which you may send up, by means of informed, and exceedingly acute. Ballantyne, to Cadell & Davies.

The last letter I received from Dr Mr HAdam related to my work on the Com. 22, Prince's Street, mere of the Ancients. He was mani.

Edinborough. festly not satisfied with it, and reproved me kindly for not making it a more popular work;—but to have done this

OBSERVATIONSON MR WORDSWORTH'S I must have formed a plan totally dif

LETTER RELATIVE TO A NEW EDI. ferent, and I should have been thought TION OP BURNS' WORKS;

to have encroached on Dr Robertson's By a Friend of Robert Burns. • Disquisitions. If it has done me credit [The following communication, for the

in the north, credit is all that I critical department of our Magazine, was wanted, and I have been gratified transınitted to us from England, by a more by its estimation in your country,

try gentleman of distinguished literary talents. and on the Continent, than by its re

We had not then read Mr Wordsworth's

Letter," but a consequent perusal of it has ception at home. The French tran

induced us to insert the Observations here, * slator published two large editions as they partake more of the character of an

at once, in quarto and octavo, while original essay than of a review. We wish in London only 150 copies have been our Magazine to be open to liberal discus. Vol. I.


sion; and if there seems to be too much But, in the first place, we conceive acrimony in some of our correspondent's re- that Mr Wordsworth has made a slight marks, we fear that the poet has set him the mistake, in saying that Gilbert Burns example. The Letter is before the public, has done him the honour of requesting and the public will judge between the par. his advice. This does not appear to ties.)

have been the case; the request was It has been generally understood, made by Mr Gray, and not by Mr that a new edition of Burns' Work:s Burns, who, we have good reason to is preparing for publication by Cadell know, was scarcely aware of Mr & Davies, and that Mr Gilbert Burns Wordsworth's existence,-had never is to furnish a Life of his illustrious read a single line of his poetry, and brother. The more editions of the had formed no idea, good, bad, or inimmortal Scottish Bard the better; different, of his character. and we have no doubt that Gilbert In the second place, it appears that Burns, a man of feeling and intelli- this “ Letter" was originally a private gence, will do himself honour by his communication to Mr Gray, and it is share in the publication. There is a pity that it did not remain so; for something very touching and affecting we think that there is great indeliin the idea of brother performing this cacy, vanity, and presumption, in thus sacred duty to brother,--the grave, coming forward with printed and pubthe sedate, and the reflecting inind, lished advice, to a man who most asdescribing the life and character of suredly stands in no need of it, but the more highly-gifted, but also the who is infinitely better acquainted more erring and unfortunate.

with all the bearings of the subject It would appear, that Gilbert Burns than his officious and egotistical adhad communicated to Mr James Gray viser. of the High School of Edinburgh, a In the third place, Mr Wordsworth inan, we understand, of ability and says, “ do not give publicity to any virtue, his intention of writing his portion of these (his opinions), unless brother's life, and that he had request it be thought probable that an open ed the aid and advice, which that gen- circulation of the whole may be usetleman is, in many respects, so well qua- ful;" and to this very pompous inlified to bestow. A painphlet soon at- junction he adds, in a note, “ that it ter appeared, we presume in conse- was deemed that it would be so, and quence of this request, containing the Letter is published accordingly.” Observations, by a Mr Peterkin, on We wish to ask Mr Wordsworth, Who the criticisms in the Quarterly and deemed it would be so? Did Gilbert Edinburghi Reviews upon Burns' life Burns so deem? Did Mr Gray so and genius, and a letter from Mr deem? Or was it only Mr WordsGray to the said Mr Peterkin, com- worth himself who did so deem? We inunicating what he knew of Burns' believe that the latter gentleman alone habits and mode of life ; and, if recommended its publication. we distinctly understand the pam. In the fourth place, it is natural to phlet, the result of the inquiry seems ask, what peculiarly fits Mr Wordsto be, that, in the opinion of these worth to give advice on this subject ? gentlemen, the character of our great He has never lived in Scotland, he poet has been ignorantly, wantonly, knows nothing about Burns,-he very and grossly traduced, -that he was imperfectly understands the language not addicted to dissipation,-that he in which Burns writes,- he has not was a most exemplary family-man, even read those publications which are and that all stories to the contrary are supposed to be unjust to his memory; exaggerations, fabrications, and false. yet, in the midst of all this portentous hoods.

ignorance,--and in the face of these ma. This pamphlet, it appears, Mr Gtay nifest disqualifications,--he has the eftransmitted to Mr Wordsworth, re- frontery to offer advice toGilbert Burns, questing the opinion of that celebrated one ot the most intelligent and strongperson, on the best mode of composing minded men alive, on a subject nearest the biographical memoir. Mr Words and dearest to his heart, which he has worth writes to Mr Gray a very long doubtless contemplated in every posand laboured Letter on the subject, sible light, and of which he must and of that Letter we shall give our know many deeply interesting partireaders soine little account.

cülars, unthought of by the world.

In the fifth place, if Mr Words- no better model as to proportion, worth really feels all that anxiety for and the degree of detail required, nor, the reputation of Burns which this indeed, as to the general execution, Letter might lead us to suppose, and if than the life of Milton by Fenton." he thinks Dr Currie's life of the poet These three passages are the most immost injurious to his memory, what portant that we could discover ; and could have kept him silent for twen- we hope that Mr Gilbert Burns' graty years? Why not come forward titude will be in proportion to the value boldly and unasked, unsupported of the advice. The pompous inanity of either by Mr Gray or Mr Peterkin, to all this is unaccountable,--and affords vindicate the slandered reputation of a a melancholy proof how vanity, selfman of genius? We shall have oc- conceit, arrogance, and presumption, casion, by and bye, to shew, that his finally undermine the intellect, and present zeal is of a mixed character, can reduce a tolerably strong underand not altogether free from that ego standing to the very lowest level. tism for which this gentleman is so dis. The other advices which he gives agreeably distinguished.

form a complete system of mystificaHaving made these preliminary re- tion. He tells Mr Gilbert Burns to marks, and cleared our way a little, speak the truth, -and that boldlywe now come to the “ Letter," which but he is not to speak all the truth contains some general advices to Gil yet he is not told what to conceal ; bert Burns,--some peculiar notions on then he is to consult his conscience ; the subject of biography in general, then he is to beware of undue parsome severe charges against Dr urrie, tiality ;-and, finally, “ to fix the

a sort of critique on the poetical point to which Burns' moral characgenius of Burns,-a philippic against ter had been degraded !"-And here the Edinburgh Review,-and a pane- we may remark, that Mr Gilbert gyric on the Author of the Excursion. Burns had better inform the public

First, his advice to Gilbert Burns. what degree of truth there is in the The utter dulness, triteness, and ab- following stanza of Mr Wordsworth, surdity, of this part of the Letter are while that gentleman himself will be almost beyond credibility.-"I strenu- pleased to shew its consistency with the ously recommend, that a concise life abuse he throws on Dr Currie, for unof the poet be prefixed from the pen undisguisedly admitting that Burns of Gübert Burns, who has already was too much addicted to the use of given public proof how well qualified spirits. In an address to the Sons of he is for the undertaking." "This is Burns, Mr Wordsworth thus speaks really humorous, What was Mr of their deceased father : Wordsworth dreaming about? All this

“ Strong-bodied, if ye be to bear was fixed long ago;-there was no need

Intemperance zeith less harm, beware! of any recommendation from him.

But if your father's wit ye share, What would he think of the under Then, then, indeed! standing of a correspondent who should Ye sons of Burns, of watchful care recommend him to go on with his There will be need." Poem, the Recluse, and who at the Mr Wordsworth himself has here same time gave him advice how to said, in miserable doggrel, what Dr write it.-" If it be deemed advise- Currie has said in elegant prose. able to reprint Dr Currie's narrative, The second part of the letter conwithout striking out such passages as tains Mr Wordsworth's notions on bithe author, if he were now alive, would ography, and these, we think, if modiprobably be happy to efface, let there fied and qualified, tolerably rational and be notes attached to the most ob- judicious, though delivered with a most noxious of them, in which the misre- laughable solemnity and true Wordspresentations may be corrected, and worthian self-importance. He wishes the exaggerations exposed.”—-What to say, that biographers have no right novelty, ingenuity, and profundity of to lay before the world the habits, thought! We entreat Mr Gilbert customs, and private characters, of liBurns to pay particular attention to terary men; and that such informathis advice; for it may probably not tion makes no part of their duty. He have occurred to him, that he must thus oracularly speaks: *

. not aid and abet the calumniators “ Such philosophy runs a risk of becomof his brother's memory." I know ing extinct among us, if the coarse intruda


sions into the recesses, the gross breaches formation concerning their source or upon the sanctities, of domestic life, to cause. This error of the biographer, which we have lately been more and more he says. gave him “ acute sorrow.” accustomed, are to be regarded as indica excited “ strong indignation." " moved tions of a vigorous state of public feeling favourable to the maintenance of the liber- um

him beyond what it would become him ties of our country.-Intelligent lovers of to express.” Now Mr Wordsworth freedom are, from necessity, bold and hardy might have spared himself all this lovers of truth; but, according to the meas- unnecessary emotion ; for the truth is, ure in which their love is intelligent, is it that no man can, with his eyes open, attended with a finer discrimination, and a read Dr Currie's Life of Burns, and more sensitive delicacy. The wise and good the multitude of letters from and to (and all others being lovers of license rather the poet which his edition contains, than of liberty are in fact slaves) respect, as one of the noblest characteristics of Eng.

without a clear, distinct, and perfect

knowledge of all the causes from which lishmen, that jealousy of familiar approach, which, while it contributes to the mainten- the misfortunes and errors of that ance of private dignity, is one of the most mighty genius sprung. His constant efficacious guardians of rational public free struggles with poverty through boy

hood, youth, and manhood,-the But, passing from such general disc warmth and vehemence of his pasquisition, Mr Wordsworth commences sions,-his sudden elevation to fame a most furious and a most unfair attack and celebrity,—the disappointment of upon Dr Currie's Life of Burns, which, his hopes,-the cruel and absurd in his opinion, is false, crude, erro- debasement of his occupation,—the neous, imperfect, and unphilosophical. temptations which assailed him from Let us see how he makes out his every quarter,-his gradual and incharges against that excellent man, creasing indulgences,—the sinkings whom all the world, save Messrs of heart and soul which consequently Wordsworth and Peterkin, consider oppressed him,-his keen remorse for an admirable biographer. He accuses every violation of duty which his Dr Currie of “ sacrificing Burns' me- uncorrupted conscience often forced mory, almost without compunction." him to feel more acutely than the This is false. Never, in any one in- occasion seemed to demand, -the pure stance, does Dr Currie speak of the and lofty aspirations after a nobler failings or errors of Burns, but with kind of life, which often came like emotions of pity and indulgence; and a sun-burst on his imagination, the concluding sentences of his Life' his decay of health, of strength, and are of themselves sufficient to vindicate spirit,-ihe visitations of melancholy, his memory from this absurd and in- despondency, and despair, which, at solent slander.

the close of his eventful life, he too ." It is indeed a duty we owe to the liv. often endured ;-this, and more than ing, not to allow our admiration of great all this, Mr Wordsworth might have genius, or even our pity for its unhappy learnt from the work he pretends to destiny, to conceal or disguise its errors. despise: and with such knowledge But there are sentiments of respect, and laid before the whole world, shame to even of tenderness, with which this duty the man who thus dares to calumniate should be performed; there is an awful sanctity which invests the mansions of the

the dead, and to represent as the igdead ; and let those who moralize over the

norant, illiberal, and narrow-minded graves of their cotemporaries reflect with enemy to genius, him who was its humility on their own errors, nor forget most ardent admirer, its most strenuhow soon they may themselves require the ous, enlightened, and successful decandour and the sympathy they are called fender! upon to bestow.”

Mr Wordsworth brings another acThere is more sense, more feeling, cusation against Dr Currie, equally more truth, more beauty of expres- false with the preceding. He asserts, sion, in this small paragraph, than that Dr Currie spoke of Burns' errors in all the thirty-seven pages of Mr and failings in an undisguised and open Wordsworth’s epistle.

manner, because the 16 social condiBut when Mr Wordsworth brings tion" of the poet was lower than his his specific charge against Dr Currie, own; and that he would not have what is it?-He accuses him of nar. ventured to use the same language, sating Burns' errors and misfortunes, had he been speaking of a gentleman. without affording the reader any in- Orthis no proof'is given, and it is there

« PoprzedniaDalej »