Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

quently happened, that a considerable de gree of information was obtained from their free and unreserved communication of sentiments.

Though the mathematical department was at that time filled by Dr. Robert Simpson, the editor of Euclid's Elements, and the author of several mathematical works, yet he declined entering as one of his students. Probably he had made so considerable a proficiency, as to have advanced beyond the regular reading of the classes; or he might choose to dedicate more of his time to those studies, that were immediately connected with his theological pursuits. He enjoyed however the private friendship of the Doctor, and was frequently assisted by him in his mathematical inquiries. Though profoundly erudite in the science, Dr. Simpson was never regarded by Mr. Walker as possessing an elegant taste, his demonstrations being at times unnecessarily long and tedious, and devoid of neatness and perspicuity.

The university at that time exhibited such

a con

a constellation of literary characters, as perhaps no single seminary of education could with justice boast. Beside the two gentlemen above mentioned, luminaries of the first magnitude, the celebrated Dr. Adam Smith lectured upon moral philosophy, the professorship of humanity was occupied by Mr. Muirhead, and that of Greek by Dr. Moore. All these were men eminent in their several 'departments, and might vie with any, who had ever filled these distinguished seats of learning.

The period was now approaching, when he was to relinquish the peaceful studies of an academical life, and adventure upon the busy theatre of the world. The part that he was called upon to sustain was of more difficulty, than what is allotted to the generality of it's actors. It required an exemp. tion from those minor blemishes and imperfections, that might have passed unnaticed in subordinate characters, but in him would have impaired those excellencies, that were to enable him to support it with dig

nity and propriety. He has answered the trial ; he has performed the part assigned him; and through every varying scene he has trodden the stage with honour and applause. The curtain has at length dropped on him, and he is seen no more ;

the approbation or censure of the world can no longer affect him: we may therefore, in conformity with the maxim of an ancient sage, definitively pronounce upon the part that he has performed, we may retrace his path of life, and hold it up to the imitation of those, who are destined to succeed him.

In the spring of 1754, he returned to his father's house, having finally left college. He was now a candidate at large for the ministerial office; but, as no situation immediately presented itself, he commenced his professional career by occasional assistance to the neighbouring ministers. It is probable, that his first sermon was preached at his native place, as his mother, who was a strict church-woman, sacrificed on this oc

casion her religious scruples to her desire of witnessing her son's initiatory address. If she decided however by this first exhibition, she would not have augured very favourably of his future success.

A more trying situation can scarcely be imagined, than where a young man for the first time addresses an audience to whom he is personally known, and where he is conscious that the anxious fears of his friends, the expectations of his acquaintance, and the curiosity of all, are strongly excited. The fear of disappointing their hopes increases his diffidence, and induces a perturbation of mind, that debilitates his powers and enfeebles his delivery. Mr. Walker experienced this strongly in the present instance, as it occasioned such a depression of his voice, that he was sometimes scarcely audible.

At the latter end of this year he again visited his uncle, with the intention of remaining with him till he was regularly established as a minister. There he frequently preached to his congregation, which gene

rally

His compo

[ocr errors]

rally consisted of a thousand hearers. His uncle observed of him on this occasion ; “ I have had an opportunity of hearing “ George preach several times, and think he “ promises exceedingly well. “ sitions are really good, and have no fault but

one, that they are too elaborate for the “ lower sort of people; but I do think, if he

applies himself to theological studies and “ compositions for three or four years, he “ stands the chance of being one of the first

rate preachers among the dissenters. His reading his

prayers

indeed is not so well “ relished by some, but when I say by

some, I mean only the weakest. The “ more intelligent approve of it, and speak “ of the contrary only in condescension to " their prejudices. I have advised George to

attempt praying in this way, and doubt “ not in a little time, and with a little pains, '« he will be as ready and expert at it as 66 others.' When we reflect

upon the peculiar excellence of his extemporaneous prayers, it is sin

gular,

« AnteriorContinuar »