« PreviousContinue »
your own time. Before you give it up, you have no further occasion for it.
After what I have said of myself, you will expect no news or entertainment from me. I am not yet completely thawed. I hope soon, however, to be alive enough to receive entertainment from you, whenever you have leisure or inclination to give me a line.
Yours very sincerely,
Welbeck Street, February 23. 1784.
The following extract of a letter from William. Roberts, Esq., author of the Life of Mrs. Hannah More, and who was one of Mr. Burgess's College pupils, gives an expressive sketch of his habits and manners at the time now referred to:
My first acquaintance with Dr. Burgess began in 1784, when at the age of fifteen I was elected scholar of Corpus Christi College in Oxford, of which Dr. Cooke was the President, and Mr. Thomas Burgess the tutor. I attended his lectures, which were very able and instructive, for several years, and was honoured with many special marks of his kindness and regard. He had then lately distinguished himself by his edition of Dawes's Miscellanea Critica, and an Essay on the Study of Antiquity, which gained the Chancellor's prize, contended for by the Bachelors of the University. His great object was the cultivation of
Greek literature; and during the period in which I received his instructions, he attained the distinction of being considered the best Greek scholar in the University. I read through one of Aristotle's treatises with him in private; and, while I was so engaged, I had every day fresh reason to be grateful for his instructions, and for the very kind interest he took in my progress and improvement. It was always with real pleasure I ascended the stairs which led to his apartment over the gateway, in which I used to admire his well-stored bookshelves, over which the stained glass in his window spread a soft and solemn light. His countenance, voice, and manner were remarkably prepossessing, from which whatever he taught borrowed additional efficacy and impression. He was so kind as to employ my humble services in occasionally instructing some of his pupils, and assisting him in some of his collations and commentaries, and he rewarded my industry by implanting in my mind principles of conduct, and elements of thought and argument, for which I trust I have had the greatest reason to be thankful. His own demeanour, sentiments, and habits, were always singularly pure, upright, and exemplary.
My intercourse with him at that time had relation chiefly, if not altogether, to literary subjects, till I took my Master's degree, when I ceased to reside at College; but from that time till the death of the Bishop, a period of near half a century,
we kept up an occasional correspondence. The subjects of our epistolary intercourse were generally of a critical or literary cast; and it has been very agreeable to me to receive, through this medium, some of the maturest fruits of the Bishop's reading and meditation, which were always directed to philanthropic ends and often very often to the best interests of the soul. After his eyes began to fail, his letters were necessarily short, but generally comprised some matter of useful information.”
AT the commencement of the year 1785, Mr. Burgess took an active part in the establishment of an Agricultural Society at Odiham. Lord Rivers was President. The society was supported by annual subscriptions. It invited communications from its members upon subjects of rural economy, offered premiums for useful discoveries and improvements, and rewards to servants for good and faithful service. There was one branch of its operations, -the establishment of Sunday and daily schools, in which Mr. Burgess took a lively interest. Several of his own family, his father in particular, were among the active members, and the fundamental rules and resolutions were drawn up by his own pen.
In the course of this year he was appointed chaplain to Dr. Shute Barrington, then Bishop of Salisbury, under circumstances truly honourable to his character. That Prelate had no actual acquaintance with him; but, being desirous of
selecting, as his chaplain, a clergyman of superior worth and learning, he was induced, after due inquiry, to apply to Mr. Burgess. As this event tended much to his subsequent preferment, and as we shall frequently have to allude to the Bishop in the course of the following pages, we shall here pause a little in the direct course of our narrative, in order to make the reader acquainted with the distinguishing traits of his personal history.
The character of Dr. Shute Barrington, as a Bishop, a Christian, and a Gentleman, stood so high, that it is just matter of regret that the literature of our country has not yet been enriched with any authorised memoir of his useful life; the more so, because the fruits of his personal observation of men and things, had they been culled and collected by any of his friends competent to the undertaking, would have been full of interest, comprising a period extending from the last struggle of the Stuarts, through the Spanish, American, and French wars, down to the year 1826. His memory was richly stored with anecdotes, gathered in conversation with statesmen who had successively taken an active part in public affairs during the whole of the eighteenth century; he was one of the favourite church dignitaries of George III.; the associate, and in many instances the patron, of some of the most distinguished literary characters of the age.
He was born in the year 1734. His father, the