« AnteriorContinuar »
with a lady of the Scurlock family. Here he fondly conceived his troubles would cease In this retirement he, hoped to be enabled to collect together the wreck of his scattered fortune, relieve himself from the pecuniary embarrassments in which he had been involved by his indiscretions in the metropolis, and by pursuing a more judi. cious management, and the aid of his splendid literary talents, he thought it possible once more to rise superior to every difficulty, and spend the remainder of his life in a manner suitable to the rank he had before supported in society. But man is not sole arbiter of his own affairs ; and one misfortune which, by the intervention of human prudence may be overcome, is oftentimes the prelude to others that are unconquerable. Even so alas ! it befel poor Steele : ere he could extricate himself from the pressure of his first difficulties, a severe paralytic stroke impaired his mental faculties, and at once deprived him of every resource he had anticipated from the exertion of bia literary abilities. After this he found means to support himself with the scanty residue of his property for some years, but he was now bending under the accumulated evils of affliction, and had degenerated into a lamentable state of idiocy, from which he was at last released only in the arms of death.
".Thus terminated the career of Steele, one of the brightest lumi, naries of the eighteenth century : a man respected, caressed in the days of his prosperity, flattered by the unanimous voice of public praise : admired by all ; - and yet at last deserted !- But although such was precisely the truth: though his fortune, like his talents, were in the wane in his declining years, the biographers of Steele are uniformly incorrect in stating one particular: Sir Richard did not die io abject poverty, a reproach to that country which had never withheld from him the empty recompence of popular approbation ; Providence ordained it otherwise. His income, though small, proved sufficient to support him in his infirmities, above the sufferings of common indigence. He had a decent farm in the vale of Towey, within a quarter of a mile from Caermarthen. To this day the house he inhabited remains. Is is known by the Cambrian appellations of Ty Gwyn, or the white house; and there it is pretty certain he wrote the Conscious Lovers, with some other pieces that fix the standard of his reputation in the annals of dramatic fame.
· In his latter years Sir Richard could afford to keep two men servants to carry him about the town in his open chair.'
• Steele lived to an advanced age; he expired in Caermarthen on the 21st of September, 1729. We may reasonably presume, that before his death he must have acquired some considerable accession to his property, because it is traditionally well known to the inhabitants of ibis city, that his remains were eonveyed with great pomp from the house in which he died to the church for interment. To encrease the solemn grandeur of the ceremony, it was performed at night, and no less than four and twenty attendants, each carrying a branch of lighted torches, formed part of the retinue in the funeral parade. The house in which he drew his latest breath was also his own, and is still standing, being the same that was afterwards converted into an ion, well knowp to travellers by the sign of the Ivy Bush, till within the last three or four years, when that name was transferred by Mr. Norton, the occupier, to another far more commodiuus, near the bank of the Towey river.'
We shall beg leave to pass over what is here said of the famed Merlin, and refer our readers to Ariosto and Spenser : but another memorable personage must not be wholly unnoticed :
• St. Peter's church, to which our curiosity had directed us in search of the burial place of Steele, contains the monuments of other persons who also deserve to be remembered with respect.
The most distinguished of those is that of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, the Cam. brian hero who so nobly assisted the duke of Richmond, to hurl the tyrant Richard the third from the throne of England He met Richmond at Milford Haven, accompanied him with all his forces, which included a powerful body of cavalry, to Bosworth tield, and in the hour of coriflict proved himself worthy the epithet a favourite bard has complimented him with, - “the shield and buckler of his country.”—Th Welsh maintain that he slew richard with his own hands; that he plucked the regal diadem from bis brow, and hastened to place it on the head of Richmond, ere the shouts of victory had proclaimed hirn King. Certain it is, that Rhys, in reward for his eminent services, was the first person knighted in the field of battle by Richmond, now Henry the seventh. Many bonours were after. wards conferred upon him, likewise, by this sovereign. te became constable and lieutenant of Brecknock, chamberlain of Caermarthen, and Cardigan, Seneschall and chancellor of Haverford west, Rouse, and Buelt, justiciary of South Wales, and governor of all Wales, knight banneret, and knight of the garter, and one of the privy counsellors. Besides all this, he was offerd the choice of an earldom, either of Pembroke or Essex, that he might be himself ennobled, and transmit it to posterity. But to this he answered stoutly, that his o profession was arms, and the greatest honour that could be con. ferred upon a soldier, was knighthood : as for his son, or his son's son, and the rest of their posterity, if they were ambitious of ad. vancement, his desire was, that for their greater glory, they should sweat for it as he had done."
When we see this brave disinterested soldier adventuring his life and fortune to serve the cause of Henry the seventh, the heart recoils at the base ingratitude of his successor Henry the eighth towards the posterity of a man, through whose means alone, ii may be literally said, he was elevated to the throne of England. Upon the most frivolous pretext imaginable, this worthless monarch caused Rhys Gryfich, the grandson of Sir Rhys, to be attainted of high vreason, of which he was convicted, and being executed as a traitor, his immense possessions were alienated to the crown. This accusairon was founded on a supposed conspiracy to depose Henry the cighth, and place James the fifth, king of Scotland, on the throne instead. Rice, about this time, thought proper to resume the old surname of Fitzurien, which had been in the family a thousand years before. This alone was construed into an intent to seize upon the
principality of Wales. The assistance to be derived from Rice by the Scottish king, could be only proved by the concurrence of a pretended prophecy, which declared, that James of Scotland, with the red hand, together with the raven, should conquer England. The crest of Rice being the raven, no doubt remained that he was guilty, and he was condemned accordingly. Upon the restoration of Charles the second, the hononr of knighthood was restored to the family with a triling part of the estates, being all remaining at that time in the power of the crown. The lineal descendants of Sir Rhys, however, have now the honours of peerage, under the title of lord of Dinevawr.'
How did it happen that Grongar Hill, situated in the vale of Towey, has escaped the notice of the present inquisitive tourist ? –This country, which so much arrests the attention of Mr. Donovan, furnishes his page with a piece of information scarcely less marvellous than the prophecies of Merlin. Having noticed the monuments which evince the residence of the Romans in the neighbourhood, he observes :
• Such memorials of the Roman age might be naturally expected, but what may iu reality appear extraordinary, I am credibly informed, that in this part of Caermarthenshire there are many descendants of the Romans, who were stationed here between the first and fourth century of the Christian æra : they are acknowledged by the Welsh as such, bear Roman surnames, and though for the greater, part consisting of the meanest class of peasantry, pride themselves not a little above the Britons on their illustrious ancestry:-One cir. cumstance I may be allowed to mention : about eight years ago the Rev Mr. Barker, in his official capacity, granted a marriage license to Miss Paulini, of the parish of Cûl y Cwm: a family name we are not to recognize as one of Cambrian origin-Neither shall we seek in vain at this day for a plebeian peasant, bearing the name of the great Paulinus, the leader of armies, the glorious supporter of Roman fame: who may proudly boast his lineage, while toiling for subsist. ence at the 'miserable drudgery of a daily labourer. - The Welsh appear to entertain no very favourable opinion of the moral integrity of those descendants of the Romans.'
A considerable number of engravings add to the value and interest of these agreeable volumes. Altogether, the performance is creditable to its author for its particulars relative to natural history and antiquities; and it proves that he possesses a mind very much alive to the beauties of rural scenery. Yet, repeated as have been his excursions into this part of the principality, they have not enabled him to render complete his ac-, counts of the districts through which he passed. The deficiency may be easily seen by comparing his details with the most elaborate of the tours into South Wales, we mean that of Mr. Malkin. As far, however, as Mr. Donovan undertakes to deseribe, he performs his duty well; and no good humoured
reader will peruse his volumes without being pleased, or without acknowleging his obligations to the author.
in various instances, Mr. D. professes to correct the state. menis of former tourists; between whom and himself, in local matters, we cannot undertake to decide : but with respect to language we must obscrve that the present work is frequently open to criticism. In the extracts which we have made, marks of careless inaccuracy occur, even to the commission of false concords; the omissions of the relative which are innumerable, and often very harsh; and we also detect the vulgar use of the participle laying instead of lying.
For APRIL, 1807.
METAPHYSICS. An Essay on the Principles of Human Action : being as Argument in Favour of the natural Disinterestedness of the Hu. man Mind. To which are added, some Remarks on the Systems of Hartley and Helvetius. 12mo.
PP. 263. 55. Boards. Johnson. T" best judges on subjects of this nature have acquiesced in Dr.
Hartley's mode of accounting for our social and benevolent feels ings. We have anxiously endeavoured to ascertain the principles on which his doctrines are here combated, but we are constrained to owa that they have eluded our grasp. We would not, however, discou. rage others from making an attempt in which we have been unsuccessful, because we uniformly encourage fair and liberal criticism on im portant theories ; and had we been able to embody the objections of the author, we should have laid them before our readers. He writes with candour, and he states perspicuously the notions which he com. bats : but the reasoning which he opposes to them we are wholly unable to apprehend. Let the curious reader peruse the tract, and decide whether it is on the author's or on our part that capacity is wanting for metaphysical researches.
• Whatever,' says this author, may be the manner in which we acquire disinterested feelings, I do not think that much good can be done by tracing these feelings back again to a selfish origin, and leaving virtue no other basis to rest upon than a. principle of refined self interest.'
We do not see any evil that is likely to arise from this solution of these phænomena : but the question in a didactic treatise is not what is the tendency of a doctrine, but whether it be true or false. The hypothesis here disputed represents the most perfect disinterestedness as growing out of absolute selfishness, and that the latter is refined into the former by moral cultivation. The strength of manhood grows out of infant weakness: but is it on that account rendered less estimable or less valuable ?
The passages subjoined will furnish our readers with specimens of the author's manner; and also, we believe, with the outlines of his system and views :
• The scheme of which I have liere endeavoured to trace the general outline differs from the common merlod of accounting for the origin of our affections in this, that it supposes what is personal or selfish in our affections to be the growth of time and habit, and the principle of a disinterested love of good as such, or for it's own sake without any regard to personal distinctions to be the foundation of all the rest
In this sense self-love is in it's origin a perfectly disinterested, or if I may so say impersonal feeling. The reason why a child first distinctly wills or pursues his own good is not because it is bis, but because it is good. For the same reason he prefers his owa gratification to that of others net because he likes himself better than others, but because he has a more distinct idea of his owa wants and pleasures than of theirs Independently of habit and association, the strength of the affection excited is in proportion to the strength of the idea, and does not at all depend on the person to whom it relates except indirectly and by implication. A child is insensible to the good of others not from any want of good will to wards them, or an exclusive attachment to self, but for want of knowing better. Inderd he can neither be attached to his own in. terest nor that of others but in consequence of knowing in what it consists. It is not on that account the less natural for him to seck to obtain personal pleasure, or to avoid personal pain after he has felt what these are. We are not born benevolent, that is we are not born with a desire of we know not what, and good wishes for we know not whom : neither in this sense are we born with a principle of self love, for the idea of self is also acquired. When I say therefore that the human mind is naturally benevolent, this does not refer to any innate abstract idea of good in general, or to an instinctive desire of general indefinite unknown good, but to the natural connec. tion between the idea of happiness and the desire of it, independently of any particular attachment to the person who is to feel it'
• I do not originally love my own particular positive good as a portion of general good, or with a distinct reference in my mind to the good of the whole ; for I have as yet no idea of, nor any concern about the whole. But I love my own particular good as consisting in the first conception I have of some one desirable object for the same reason, for which I afterwards love any other known good whether my own, or another's, whether conceived of as consisting in one or more things, that is because it possesses that essential property common to all good, without which it would cease to be good at all, and which has a general tendency to excite certain given affections in my mind. I conceive that the knowledge of many different sorts of good must lead to the love or desire of all these, and that this knowledge of various good must be accompanied with an intermediate, composite, or indefinite idea of good, itself the object of desire, because retaining the same gene al nature : now this is an abstract idea. This idea will no doubt admit of endless degrees of indefiniteness according to the number of things, from which it is taken, or