Imágenes de páginas


Biographical Portrails.-Rt. Hon. Henry Erskine. (vol. 2 It was the good fortune, (for in the rather for their use than their beauty. families of the great and rich, it is good And unquestionably they often enabled fortune so far as intellectual cultivation is him to state a fine argument, or a nice concerned,) of the brothers we have distinction, not only in a more striking named to be the younger branches of their and pleasing way, but actually with greatnoble house. Their education was com- er precision than could have been attainmitted to a tutor every way worthy of ed by the severer forms of reasoning. that charge, James Buchanan, of Glasgow. In this extraordinary talent, as well

From this able tuition, the three broth- as the charming facility of hii eloquence, ers were transferred to the University of and the constant radiance of good bumour St. Andrew, thence to Glasgow, and fi- and gaiety which encircled his manner ia nally, to complete the course of study, to debate, be had no rival in his owo times, the capital of Scotland.

and has yet had no successor. That part Henry Erskine was called to the Scot- of eloquence is now mute,—that honour tish bar in the year 1768, when in bis in abeyance. 22d year. From that era, till the year The character of Mr. Erskine's elo1812, when he retired from practice, be quence bore a strong resemblance to that was one of the brightest ornaments of his of his Noble Brother, (Lord Erskine) profession-classical, witty, luminous, but being much less diffusive, it was betand eloquent. In the course of his le- ter calculated to leave a forcible imprese gal career he held for several years the sion : he had the art of concentrating his appointment of Dean of the Faculty of ideas, and presenting them at once in so Advocates, from which, party politics luminous and irresistible a form, as to then running very high in Scotland, he render his hearers masters of the view he was driven by the ascendancy of that took of his subject ; which, however dry party to which he was opposed. He or complex in its nature, never failed to was also twice appointed Lord Advo- become entertaiping and instructive in cate, namely, under the Rockingham Ad- bis hands ; for, to professional knowledge ministration in 1782, and the Grenville of the highest order, he united a most er. and Fox Administration in 1806. Du- tensive acquaintance with history, literaring the latter, he represented the Dunbar ture, and science : and a thorough conand Dumfries district of Boroughs in Par- versancy with human life, and moral and liament, and the writer of this article can political philosophy. The writer of this state, from a perfect recollection of the article has witnessed, with pleasure and fact, that he produced a strong imprez- astonishinent, the widely different einosion upon the House, by the speeches tions excited by the amazing powers of which he delivered. It is seldom that bis oratory ; fervid and affecting in the the oratory of the bar can bear transplant- extremest degree, when the occasion calling to the senate, but in this instance the ed for it ; and no less powerful in oppneffect was equal, and what was wont to site circumstances, by the potency oi wit convince in the one place, did not fail to and the brilliancy of coinie humour, carry great weight with it in the other. which constantly excited shouts of laugh

In his long and splendid career at the ter throughout the precincts of the court, bar, Mr. Erskine was distinguished not --the mirthful glee even extended itself only by the peculiar brilliancy of his wit, to the ermined sages, who found too much and the gracefulness, ease and vivacity of amusement in the scene to check the fassevis eloquence, but by the still rarer power cinating actor of it. He assisted the of keeping those seducing qualities in great powers of his understanding by an perfect subordination to his judgment. indefatigable industry, not commonly By their assistance be could not only annexed to extraordinary genius ; and make the most repulsive subjects agreea- he kept his miod open for the admission ble, but the most abstruse, easy and in- of knowledge by the most unaffected telligible. In his profession, indeed, all modesty of deportinent. The harmony his wit was argument, and each of his of his periods, and the accuracy of his delightful illustrations a material step in expressions, in his most unpremeditated his reasoning. To himself it seemed speeches, were not among the least of bis always as if they were recommended oratorical accomplishments. In the most

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

rapid of his flights, when his tongue could by distress ;-in no situation of his life scarce keep pace with his thoughts, he was he ashamed or afraid of discharging never failed to seize the choicest words in his duty, but constant to the God whom the treasury of our language. The apt, he worshipped he evinced his confidence beautiful, and varied images which con- in the faith he professed, by his actions ; stantly decorated his judicial addresses, to his friends he was faithful, to his enesuggested themselves instantaneously, mies generous, ever ready to sacrifice his and appeared, like the soldiers of Cadmus, little private interests and pleasures to in complete armour and array to support what be conceived to be the public welthe cause of their creator, the most re- fare, or to the domestic felicity of those inarkable feature of whose eloquence around him. In the words of an eloquent was, that it never made him swerve by writer he was " a man to choose tor a one hair-breadth from the minuter details superior, to trust as a friend, and to love most befitting his purpose ; for, with as a broiher :" the ardency of his efforts matchless skill, he rendered the most daz- to promote the happiosss of his fellowzling oratory subservient to the uses of creatures was a prominent feature in his consummate special pleading, so that his character; his very faults had their origin prudence and sagacity as an advocate, in the excessive confidence of too liberal were as decisive as his speeches were splen- a spirit, the uncircumscribed beneficence did. Mr. Erskine's attainments,, as we of too warm a lieart. It has been rehave before observed, were not confined marked of a distinguished actor, that he to a mere acquaintance with his profes- was less to be envied whilst receiving the sional duties; he was an elegant classical meed of universal applause than at the scholar, and an able mathematician ; and head of his own table: the observation he also possessed many minor accom- may justly be applied to Mr. E. In no plishments in great perfection. His sphere was the luistre of his talents more knowledge of music was correct, and his conspicuous, while the unafiected grace execution on the violincello most pleas- and suavity of his manners, the benevoing. In all the various relations of pri- lent smile that illumined bis intelligent vate life Mr. E.'s character was truly es- countenance in the exercise of the hospitimable, and the just appreciation of its talities of the social board, rendered 1virtues extended far beyond the circle of deed a meeting at his house “ a feast of his own family and friends; and it is a reason and a flow of soul.” In person, well-authenticated fact, that a writer (or, Mr. E. was above the middle size, well as we should say, attorney) in a distant proportioned but slender; his features part of Scotland, representing to an op- were all churucter, and most strikingly pressed and needy tacksman, who had expressive of the rare qualities of his applied to him for advice, the futility of mind. In early life his carrjage was reentering into a lawsuit with a wealthy markably gracelul--dignified and impresneighbour, having bimself no means of sive as occasion required it ; in manner defending bis cause received for answer, he was gentie, playful, and unassuming, “ Ye dinna ken what ye say, Maister, and so persuusive was his address that he there's nae a puir man in Scotland need never failed to attract attention, and by want a friend or feur an enemy while the spell of irresistible fascination to fix Harry Erskine lives !” How much and enchain it. His voice was powerful honor does that simple sentence convey and melodious, his enunciation unconito the generous and benevolent object of monly accurate and distinct, and there it! He had, indeed, a claim to the af- was a peculiar grace in bis utterance fection and respect of all who were with- which enhanced the value of all he said, in the knowledge of his extraordinary tal- and engraved the remembrance of it inents and more uncommon virtues. delibly on the minds of his hearers. For

With a mind that was superior to many years of his life, Mr. Erskine had fear and incapable of corruption, regula- been the victim of ill health, but the nated by undeviating principles of integrity tive sweetness of his temper remained and uniformity, elevated in adversily as unclouded, and during the painfully proin prosperity, neither subdued by pleasure tracted sufferings of bis last illness, the into effeminacy, nor sunk into dejection language of complaint was never heard

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

to escape bis lips, nor the shadow of dis- ourselves to a very few examples of Mr. content seen to cloud bis countenance ! Erskine's lighter vein. “ Nothing in his life became him like the

IMPROMPTU Op mooRE'ANACREON. leaving it,” he looked patiently forward

Oh ! mourn not for Anacreon deadto the termination of his painful exist

Oh ! weep not for Anacreon fledence, and received with mild complacen The lyre still breathes he touched before, cy the intelligence of his danger, while . For we have one Anacreon Moore. the ease and happiness of those, whose

EPIGRAM. felicity through life had been his primary on that high bench where Kenyon holds his seat,

England may boast that Truth and Justice meet; thoughts. It is said that Swist, after "

af But in a Northern Court, where Pride commands the

chair, having written that celebrated satire on Oppression holds the seales,andJudgment's lost in âyr! mankind, Gulliver's Travels, exclaimed

ANECDOTE. while meditating on the rare virtues of in his friend Arbuthnot, “Oh! were there

The following anecdote is strikingly ten Arbuthnots in the world, I would

characteristic of Mr. Erskine's wellburn my book."- It is difficult to con

known humourous disposition :-During template such a character as Mr. Erskine's

a theatrical representation at Edinburgh, without a similar sentiment, --- without

of a presuming young coxcomb chose to feeling that were there many Erskines"

render himself conspicuous by standing one should learn to think better of man-up

up in the middle of the pit all through the kind. The general voice placed him,

progress of the first act of the Play ; bis while living, high among the illustrious

: neighbours were at first 100 polite to insist characters of the present age ; may the

on his coaforming to the usual regulations, humble memorial the author is giving to

aid merely represented to him the incon

venience those behind him suffered, to the public, preserve his name uoblemished by mis-representation till some more equal

by which he paid no manner of attention ; pen shall hand it down to posterity as a

the audience at last began to testify their

displeasure, and the cry of “lurn him brigbt example of what great usefulness

out," became universal, and a riot would extraordinary talents may prove to sociaty when under the direction of sound

À most probably have ensued, from the in.

dignation of one party, and the tenacious. judginent, incorruptible integrity, and

ness of the other, had it not been for Mr. enlarged philanthropy.* Like most men, whose wit procures

E., who laying a wager with a gentleman thein a high reputation in society for

near him, that he would accomplish the those accomplishments which render so

wier by a single sentence, stood up

and addressing biinself to the persons who cial converse so delightful, for a long period almost all the boo-mots and jeux

were forcing compliance on the obstinate d'esprit, circulated in the northern metro

youtli, exclaimed, “ leave himn alone,

Gentlemen, it is only a Tailor resting polis were ascribed to Mr. Erskine. We i might collect a volume of his happy

himself ;"—a roar of laughter followed thoughts and expressions, without trench

the exclamation ; the efficacy of which ing on those of doubtful origin, but our

was immediately testified, by the disaptext is too serious to admit of much suit- P

pointed object of it, whose only motive able relief from pleasantry, and we limit

was a desire to impress those around him with a high idea of his fashion and gen


. On the death of his first lady, in 1804, he married But we have given enough to trifling Mrs. Turnbull, the widow of Turnbull, Esq., and the daughter of a Mr. Munro, of Edinburgh. This

he plying, from the greatest of the Roman amiable and respected lady survives bim : by her he has lit no issue, but two sons and daughters of his for mer union. The eldest son, who succeeds to his estate, the greatest Roman Orator, one quotation (and is now the presumptive heir of the ancient Earl- to our subject dom of Buchan,) married, in 1811, the eldest daughter of the late Sir Charles Shipley.

Semper bonos, nomenque tuum, laudesque manebunt.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

From “ Time's Telescope."
TARCH, though cold and windy, is He warbling on, awaits the sunny beam

generally conducive to health. That mild gleams down, and spreads o'er all the grove. The superabundant moisture of the earth This bold and pleasing songster, from is dried up, and the process of vegeta- his high station, seems to command tion is gradually brought on. The the concert of the grove, wbile, in the latest springs are always the most favour. beautiful language of the poet, able, because, as the young buds do not The jay, the rook, the daw, appear so soon, they are not liable to be

And each harsh pipe (discordant beard alone),

Aid the full concert, while the stock-dove breathes cut off by chilling blasts. Often may we

A melancholy murmur through the whole. say with the poet, in this and the follow

The linnet and goldfinch join the geing month,

neral concert in this month. Goldfinches Thou lingerest, Spring ! still wintry is the scene,

construct very neat and compact comThe fields their dead and saplet russess wear; Scarce does the glossy pile-wort yet appear

partments, with moss, dried grass, and Starring the sunny bank, or early green

roots, which they line with wool, hair, The elder yet its circling tufts put forth.

the down of thisiles, and other soft subThe sparrow tenants still the eaves-built nest,

stances. The females lay five white eggs, Where we should see our martins' snowy breast Oft darting out. The blasts from the bleak north

marked with deep purple spots at the And from the keener east still frequent blow. larger end : they feed their young with Sweet Spring, thou lingerest! and it should be so;

caterpillars and insects ; but the old birds Late let the fields and gardens blossom out!

subsist on various kinds of seeds, especialLike man when most with smiles thy face is drest, "Tis to deceive, and he who knows ye best,

ly those of the thistle, of which they are When most ye promise, ever most must doubt. extremely fond.

The melody of birds now gradually sometimes, suspended at the limber end swells upon the ear. The throstle (tur- of planetree spray, among the broad-leaved shoots, dus musicus ), second only to the night. The tiny hammock swings to every galė;

Sometimes in closest thickets 'tis concealed; ingale in soug, charms us with the sweet

Sometimes in hedge luxuriant, where the brier, ness and variety of its lays. Its head, The bramble, and the plum-tree, branch. back, and lesser coverts of the Warp through the thorn, surmounted by the flowers wings, are of a deep-olive-brown; and Of climbing vetch, and honeysuckie wild,

All undefaced by art's de forming hand. the inner surface of the latter is yellow.

W. But mark the pretty bird himself! how light The cheeks and throat are mottled with and quick his every motion, every note ! brown and white; the belly and breast How beautiful his plumes ! his red-ringed head; are of a pale yellow colour, with large

with large His breast of brown: and see him stretch his wing, black spots. Throstles build their nests

A fairy fan of golden spokes it seems. in some low bush or thicket: externaliy, Rooks and crows, it has been proved, they are composed of earth, moss, and are by no means so detrimental to wie straw, but the inside is curiously plaster- farmer as is generally imagined, though ed with clay. Here the female deposits many of them still cominit great havoc afive or six pale-bluish green eggs, mark- mong these birds, and use every means ed with dusky spots. From the top of in their power to frighten them away. high trees, for the greater part of the The ordinances of nature, however inyear, it pours its song,

comprehensible they may appear to hu

man observation, are founded on princiVaried as his plumes ; and as his plumes Blend beauteous, each with each, so run his notes

ples which are intended for our universal Smoothiy, with many a happy rise and fall.

good; and the subversion of them is only How prettily upon his parded breast,

calculated to draw down misery upon The vividly contrasted tints unite

ourselves. To please the admiring eye! so, loud and soft, And high and low, all in his notes combine,

The farmer sboots rooks, &c. and hangs In alternation sweet, to charm the ear.

them up in terrorem, though these birds Fula earlier than the blackbird he begins

cover his fresh-ploughed land, not in His vernal strain. Regardless of the frown Which winter casts upon the vernal day.

search of grain, but of various grubs and Though snowy flakes melt in the primrose cup,

worms which are injurious to his future


Usefulness of Birds, &c.-Migration of Birds.


crop. The hedge-hog, another proscrib- Those birds which have passed the ed animal, falsely accused of sucking winter in England now take their deparcows, and even getting into their udders, ture for more northerly regions. The in like manner feeds altogether upon field-fares ( turdus pilaris) travel to Rusbeetles, cockchafers, and other insects, sia, Sweden, and Norway, and even as which are extremely injurious to the agri- far as Siberia. They do not arrive in culturalist, either in their larva or perfect France till December, when they asstate. Worms and grubs are also the semble in large flocks of two or three food of the mole; and although, in his thousand. The red-wing (turdus iliamining process, he undoubtedly overturns cus), which frequent the same places, many growing plants, yet, he is probably, eats the same food, and is very similar in upon the whole, more useful than injuri- manners 10 the field fare, also takes ous to man. In short, there is scarcely leave of this country for the season. an instance of a proscribed animal that Soon afterwards the woodcock (scolopar deserves the treatment he meets with. rusticola) wings its aërial voyage to the Superficial observation is by no means countries bordering on the Baltic. 'Yea, sufficient to justify cruel proscription. the stork in the heaven knoweth her ap

Many years since, it is recorded, that pointed times; and the turtle, and the the farmers in Buckinghamshire, most of crane, and the swallow, observe the time whom had pigeon-houses on their farms, of their coming.'-Jeremiah. calculating upon the quantity of corn con- Milton styles the feathered race, thus sumed by these birds, entered into a mu- divinely taught, intelligent of seasons;' tual agreement to suppress these hordes and the venerable prophet above adduces of plunderers; but instead of experien- this instinctive and invariable observacing an increase of crop in consequence, tion of their appointed time, as a circumthey unfortunately found their coro over- stance of-reproach to the chosen people run with melilot to such a degree, as soon of God, who, although taught by reason to induce them to wish for their pigeons and religion, 'knew not,' he adds, the back again. By examining the crops of judgment of the Lord.'--Jer. viii, 7. pigeons, it will be found that these birds The migration of birds, which is comuniformly prefer leguminous seed to the mon to the quail, the stork, the crane, cerealia. Wheat and barley will not be the fieldfare, the woodcock, the nightintouched wbile they can procure peas, gale, the cuckoo, the martin, the swalbeans, or even the small seeds of the tine. low, and various others, is, indeed, a vetare and melilot, which are weeds among ry curious article in natural history, and the corn.

furnishes a very striking instance of a TO THE CROW.

powerful instinct impressed by the CreSay weary bird, whose level flight

ator. Dr. Derham observes two circumThus, at the dusky hour of night,

stances remarkable in this migration : the *Tends thro'the midway air,

first, that these untaught,unthinking crea. Why yet beyond the verge of day

tures, should know the proper umes for Is lengthened out thy dark delay,

their passage, when to come, and when The wren within her mossy nest

to go; as also, that some should come Has hashed her little brood to rest;

when others go, No doubt, the tempeThe wood-wild pigeon, rocked on high,

rature of the air as to beat and cold, and Has cooed his last soft note of love, And fondly nestles by his dove,

their natural propensity to breed their To guard their downy young from an inclement sky. young, are the great incentives to these Each twittering bill and busy wing,

creatures to change their habitations. That flits through morning's humid spring, But why should they at all change their Is still-list'ning perhaps so late

habitations? And why is not some cerTo Philomel's enchanting lay, Who now, ashamed to sing by day,

tain place to be found, in all the terra. Trills the sweet sorrows of her fate,

queous globe, that, all the year round, Haste, bird, and nurse thy callow brood,

can afford them convenient food and haThey call on Heaven and thee for food,

bitation ? Bleak-on some cliff's neglected tree;

The second remarkable circumstance Haste, weary bird, thy lagging flightIt is the chilling hour of night;

is, that they should know which way to Fit hour of rest for thee!

steer their course, and whither to go.

Adding another to the hours of care?

« AnteriorContinuar »