Page images

nius for drawing, employed him to trace the figures on the wood: this accustomed him to drawing; and the figures in Bewick's History of Quadrupeds will be lasting monuments of his genius and abilities. A lady in Newcastle, observing his taste and abilities, was at the expense of keeping him at an academy for drawing; and, by the time his apprenticeship was finished, he was considered as almost fit for London. He determined, however, to work at home till he could work more to his mind, and had been employed for about six months on his own account, when he agreed to go to Kenmore: he had been so successful, that he made his aged father give up his tools, for which he was now too infirm, and took upon himself his support. In this and several other respects his private character was most exemplary; and such of his drawings as can be had will bring great prices, and it is expected will raise a little fund to support the inconsolable parents, who have now no child left. His funeral charges came exorbitantly high, from eleven to twelve pounds: we have a great inclination to subscribe a little towards them: perhaps you may feel so disposed also. Excuse my freedom.


Nov. 21st, 1796.

I am honored with your favor of the 7th inst. It affords me much pleasure to find that my friend

Ouseley's oriental labors meet your approbation; and he, I am sure, will consider himself much honored and much flattered by your favorable opinion of them. He is, indeed, a very extraordinary young man, and will, I doubt not, rise to literary eminence.

I am happy to learn that your History is in the press, and shall anxiously expect its appearance. But, even if Dilly should give you a few sets for your friends, I should be sorry you would bestow a copy on one who has so little claim to such a favor.

I am indeed enamored of Italian literature: I find its charms irresistible. It is my present intention to divide this winter between the Italian poets and historians. I cheerfully subscribe to your opinion of Guicciardini, though my acquaintance with him is but slight. I have often dipped into, and often consulted his work, but never read it regularly through. Of Hawthornden's poems, I shall endeavor to get a copy, and do as you desire. Marini's Sampogna, and Slaughter of the Innocents, I possess; but I have not at present a copy of the Adone. However, I can borrow it from a friend, who indulges me with the free use of his very valuable collection of Italian books. My own collection of the authors who shone in the poetical region which I am now exploring, is not inconsiderable. During my stay in Italy I picked up several scarce and curious old plays and other Italian productions, seldom to be met with, in La divisa dal mondo ultima Irlanda.

I have read with great pleasure Gibbon's Me

moirs, &c. They are highly amusing and instructive. Yet, though we peruse with pleasure and profit a progressive detail of the studies of an eminent literary character, there are many parts of the journal which might be spared. How much more acceptable would have been some of the pieces, which his noble biographer enumerates in the preface to the second volume! But I flatter myself that all his posthumous works will one day see the light. Gibbon was a writer of uncommon industry, sound judgment, and elegant taste; but he is often pompous where he should be familiar, and frequently becomes obscure from an over anxiousness to compress. In many parts of his History, he rather excites than gratifies curiosity. Often, when we expect to find a fact fully displayed, it only darkly appears peeping through a rich tissue of words. However, Gibbon must ever be considered as one of the brightest ornaments of English literature, and his History a splendid monument of taste and genius, painful research, and almost boundless reading. Of his many just and elegant eulogiums on late and living writers, his panegyric on the historian of the Goths, does most honor to his taste and judgment.

Such was the eager demand for Mr. Roscoe's work in London, that the Irish booksellers could hardly get a few copies. Therefore I have not as yet read it; but I expect a copy in the course of this week. I am, you may suppose, from the nature of the subject, anxious to read that admired work. I am not unacquainted with the libraries from which Mr. Roscoe drew his principal materials. I

have passed some delicious hours in them; but, alas! my stay in Florence was short. The respective publications of my learned and ingenious friends Mr. Hayley and Dr. Burney, I have read with great pleasure. Perhaps it would be difficult to find a more perfect piece of biography than the Life of Milton.


London, Nov. 30th, 1796.

I was yesterday favored with yours, inclosing the corrected copy of the charter by King Malcolm, which I have this day forwarded to Mr. John Davidson, acquainting him that you had taken the trouble of going to the Museum on purpose; and, as you had yourself examined the manuscript there of Sir James Balfour's handwriting, that he may depend on the accuracy of the copy now sent, though it differs in many respects from that given by George Crawfurd.

[ocr errors]

I send you inclosed an Extract from Simpson's Genealogical History, from which you will observe that, in page 61, he has given a very particular account of the charter granted on Christmas day, 1296, by Sir John Stuart of Bonhill, in presence of his brother, James, the Stewart of Scotland,

The manuscript in question was the Charter from King Malcolm IV. in favor of Walter, the son of Allan, A. D. 1158.

and many other witnesses, to the abbot and convent of Melross, for two pounds of wax to be paid yearly, &c.

The description is so very particular, that it appears to me incredible that Simpson should have invented this charter; and yet it is extraordinary that it should not have been found in the search you have made in the chartulary of Melross. Is there any likelihood that there should have been another copy of the chartulary of Melross kept somewhere in Scotland, and more full than that which is at the Museum? Or, can it be supposed that Simpson has, by mistake, stated the charter to have been granted to the monastery of Melross, instead of the monastery of Paisley, or some other monastery?—I should be glad to find out where the mistake lies; as the charter in question is of some use in the chain of proofs.

I had intended to have taken a ride your way this very day, but have got a little of a cold and sore throat, which obliges me to keep the house for a day or two. If I do not soon get to Hampstead, I shall take some opportunity of sending to you Simpson's book, and at the same time returning your copy of Richard Kay's Essay on the Origin of the Royal Family of Stuart. I have got another copy of it from Scotland since you favored me with yours, which ought to have been returned sooner. Can you inform me whether there is at the Museum, or any where in England, a copy of the chartulary of Paisley? I know that there is in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh a manuscript copy of that chartulary, which I be

« PreviousContinue »