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And all those attributes of modest grace,
In days when Fancy wrought unchecked by fear,
Down to the green earth fetch thee from thy sphere,
To sit in leafy woods by fountains clear !

still beloved (for thine, meek Power, are charms
That fascinate the very Babe in arms,
While he, uplifted towards thee, laughs outright,
Spreading his little palms in his glad Mother's sight)
O still beloved, once worshipped ! Time, that frowns
In his destructive flight on earthly crowns,
Spares thy mild splendor ; still those far-shot beams
Tremble on dancing waves and rippling streams


With stainless touch, as chaste as when thy praise

Was sung by Virgin-choirs in festal lays ;

And through dark trials still dost thou explore

Thy way for increase punctual as of yore,

When teeming Matrons yielding to rude faith

In mysteries of birth and life and death

And painfiil struggle and deliverance prayed

Of thee to visit them with lenient aid.

What though the rites be swept away, the fanes

Extinct that echoed to the votive strains ;

Yet thy mild aspect does not, cannot, cease

Love to promote and purity and peace ;

And Fancy, unreproved, even yet may trace

Faint types of suffering in thy beamless face.

Then, silent Monitress ! let us not blind
To worlds unthought of till the searching mind
Of Science laid them open to mankind
Told, also, how the voiceless heavens declare
God's glory ; and acknowledging thy share
In that blest charge ; let us without offence
To aught of highest, holiest influence
Receive whatever good 5 t is given thee to dispense.
May sage and simple, catching with one eye
The moral intimations of the sky,
Learn from thy course, where'er their own be taken,
" To look on tempests, and be never shaken " ;
To keep with faithful step the appointed way
Eclipsing or eclipsed, by night or day,
And from example of thy monthly range
Gently to brook decline and fatal change ;
Meek, patient, steadfast, and with loftier scope,
Than thy revival yields, for gladsome hope I



INDEPENDENTLY of his great attainments in mechan-
ics, Mr. Watt was an extraordinary, and in many respects
a wonderful man. Perhaps no individual in his age possessed
so much and such varied and exact information, had read
so much, or remembered what he had read so accurately
and well. He had infinite quickness of apprehension, a pro-
digious memory, and a certain rectifying and methodizing
power of understanding, which extracted something precious
out of all that was presented to it. His stores of miscella-
neous knowledge were immense, and yet less astonishing
than the command he had at all times over them. It
seemed as if every subject that was casually started in con
versation with him had been that which he had been last
occupied in studying and exhausting, such was the copi-
ousness, the precision, and the admirable clearness of the
information which he poured out upon it without effort or
hesitation. Nor was this promptitude and compass of knowl-
edge confined in any degree to the studies connected with
his ordinary pursuits. That he should have been minutely
and extensively skilled in chemistry and the arts, and in
most of the branches of physical science, might perhaps have
been conjectured ; but it could not have been inferred from
his usual occupations, and probably is not generally known,
that he was c iriously learned in many branches of antiouity.


metaphysics, medicine, and etymology, and perfectly at home
in all the details of architecture, music, and law. He was
well acquainted, too, with most of the modern languages,
and familiar with their most recent literature. Nor was it
at all extraordinary to hear the great mechanician and
engineer detailing and expounding, for hours together, the
metaphysical theories of the German logicians, or criticising
the measures or the matter of the German poetry.

His astonishing memory was aided, no doubt, in a great
measure, by a still higher and rarer faculty, by his power
of digesting and arranging in its proper place all the infor-
mation he received, and of casting aside and rejecting, as it
were instinctively, whatever was worthless or immaterial.
Every conception that was suggested to his mind seemed
instantly to take its place among its other rich furniture, and
to be condensed into the smallest and most convenient form.
He never appeared, therefore, to be at all encumbered or
perplexed with the verbiage of the dull books he perused, or
the idle talk to which he listened ; but to have at once ex-
tracted, by a kind of intellectual alchemy, all that was wor-
thy of attention, and to have reduced it, for his own use, to
its true value and to its simplest form. And thus it often
happened that a great deal more was learned from his brief
and vigorous account of the theories and arguments of
tedious writers, than an ordinary student could ever have
derived from the most painful study of the originals, and
that errors and absurdities became manifest, from the mere
clearness and plainness of his statement of them, which might
have deluded and perplexed most of his hearers without that
invaluable assistance.

It is needless to say that, with those vast resources, his
conversation was at all times rich and instructive in no ordi-
nary degree : but it was, if possible, still more pleasing than
wise, and had all the charms of familiarity, with all the sub-
stantial treasures of knowledge. No man could be more


social in his spirit, less assuming or fastidious in his man-
ners, or more kind and indulgent towards all who ap-
proached him. He rather liked to talk, at least in his
latter years ; but though he took a considerable share of the
conversation, he rarely suggested the topics on which it was
to turn, but readily and quietly took up whatever was pre-
sented by those around him, and astonished the idle and
barren propounders of an ordinary theme by the treasures
which he drew from the mine they had unconsciously opened.
He generally seemed, indeed, to have no choice or predilec-
tion for one subject of discourse rather than another ; but
allowed his mind, like a great cyclopaedia, to be opened at
any letter his associates might choose to turn up, and only
endeavor to select from his inexhaustible stores what might
be best adapted to the taste of his present hearers. As to
their capacity he gave himself no trouble ; and, indeed, such
was his singular talent for making all tilings plain, clear,
and intelligible, that scarcely any one could be aware of such
a deficiency in his presence. His talk, too, though overflow-
ing with information, had no resemblance to lecturing or
solemn discoursing, but, on the contrary, was full of collo-
quial spirit and pleasantry. He had a certain quiet and
grave humor, which ran through most of his conversation,
and a vein of temperate jocularity, which gave infinite zest
and effect to the condensed and inexhaustible information
which formed its main staple and characteristic. There was
a little air of affected testiness, and a tone of pretended
rebuke and contradiction, with which he used to address
his younger friends, that was always felt by them as an en-
dearing mark of his kindness and familiarity, and prized
accordingly, far beyond all the solemn compliments that ever
proceeded from the lips of authority. His voice was deep
and powerful, though he commonly spoke in a low and
somewhat monotonous tone, which harmonized admirably
with the weight and brevity of his observations, and set off


to the greatest advantage the pleasant anecdotes, which he
delivered with the same grave brow, and the same calm
smile playing soberly on his lips. There was nothing of
effort, indeed, or impatience, any more than of pride or lev-
ity, m his demeanor ; and there was a finer expression of
reposing strength and mild self-possession in his manner
than we ever recollect to have met with in any other person.
He had in his character the utmost abhorrence for all sorts
of forwardness, parade, and pretensions ; and, indeed, never
failed to put all such impostures out of countenance, by the
manly plainness and honest intrepidity of his language aud

In his temper and dispositions he was not only kind and
affectionate* but generous, and considerate of the feelings of
all around him, and gave the most liberal assistance and
encouragement to all young persons who showed any indi-
cations of talent, or applied to him for patronage or advice
His health, which was delicate from his youth upwards,
seemed to become firmer as he advanced in years ; and he
preserved, up almost to the last moment of his existence,
not only the full command of his extraordinary intellect, but
all the alacrity of spirit and the social gayety which had
illumined his happiest days. His friends in this part of the
country never saw him more full of intellectual vigor and
colloquial animation never more delightful or more in-
structive than in his last visit to Scotland in autumn,
1817. Indeed, it was after that time that he applied him-
self, with all the ardor of early life, to the invention of a
machine for mechanically copying all sorts of sculpture and
statuary, and distributed among hi a friends some of its
earliest performances, as the productions of a young artist
just entering on his eighty-third year.

This happy and useful life came at last to a gentle
close. He had suffered some inconvenience through the
Bummer, but was not seriously indisposed till within a few


weeks from his death. He then became perfectly aware of
the event which was approaching ; and, with his usual tran-
quillity and benevolence of nature, seemed only anxious to
point out to the friends around him the many sources of
consolation which were afforded by the circumstances under
which it was about to take place. He expressed his sincere
gratitude to Providence for the length of days with which
he had been blessed, and his exemption from most of the
infirmities of age, as well as for the calm and cheerful even-
ing of life that he had been permitted to enjoy, after the
honorable labors of the day had been concluded. And thus,
full of years and honors, in all calmness and tranquillity, he
yielded up his soul, without pang or struggle, and passed
from the bosom of his family to that of his GOD.'



MANKIND, says a Chinese manuscript, which my
friend M. was obliging enough to read and explain
to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate their meat
raw, clawing or biting it from the living animal, just as
they do in Abyssinia to this day. This period is not
obscurely hinted at by their great Confucius in the second
chapter of his Mundane Mutations, where he designates a
kind of golden age by the term Cho-fang, literally the
Cooks' Holiday. The manuscript goes on to say, that the
art of roasting, or rather broiling (which I take to be
the elder brother) was accidentally discovered in the
manner following: The swineherd, Ho-ti, having gone
out into the woods one morning, as his manner was, to
collect mast for his hogs, left his cottage in the care of
his eldest son, Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being
fond of playing with fire, as yonkers of his age commonly
are, let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which
kindling quickly, spread the conflagration over every part
of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes. To-
gether with the cottage, (a sorry antedeluvian makeshift
of a building, you may think it,) what was of much more
importance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less
than nine in number, perished. China pigs have been
esteemed a luxury all over the East, from the remotest


periods that we read of. Bo-bo was in the utmost conster-
nation, as you may think, not so much for the sake of the
tenement, which his father and he could easily build up
again with a few dry branches, and the labor of an hour
or two. at any time, as for the loss of the pigs. While he
was thinking what he should say to his father, and wring-
ing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of th
untimely sufferers, an odor assailed his nostrils, unlike I
scent which he had before experienced. AVhat could it pro-
1 from? not from the burnt cottage, he had smelt
that smell before, indeed this was by no means the tirst

Ment of the kind which had occurred through the D
licence of this unlucky young firebrand. Much less did it
mble that of any known herb, weed, or flower. A pre-
monitory moistening at the same time overflowed his nether
lip. He knew not what to think. He next stooped down
to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in it. He
burnt his lingers, and to cool them he applied them in his
booby fashion to his mouth. Some of the crumbs of the
scorched skin had come away with his lingers, and for the
first time in his life (in the world's life indeed, for before
him no man had known it) he tasted crackling.' Again
he felt and fumbled at the pig. It did not burn him so much
now, still he licked his lingers from a sort of habit. The
truth at length broke into his slow understanding, that it
was the pig that smelt so. and the pig that tasted so deli-
cious : and surrendering himself up to the new-born plea-
sure, he fell to tearing up whole handful s of the scorched
skin with the flesh next it. and was cramming it down his
throat in his beastly lashion. when his sire entered amid
the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel, and
finding how affairs stood, began to rain blows upon the
young rogue's shoulders, as thick as hailstones, which
Bo-bo heeded not any more than if they had been flies.
The tickling pleasure, which he experienced in his lower


regions, had rendered him quite callous to any inconve-
r.i.-iices he might feel in those remote quarters. His
father ini^lit lay on, hut he could not beat him from his
'11 he ha<l fairly made an end of it, when, becoming
a little more sensible of his situation, something like the
following dialogue ciiMi<-d.

4 - You graceless whelp, what have you got there de-
vouring? Is it not enough that you hav- burnt rue down
ili re.- houses with your dogs tricks, and be lunged to
you! but you must be eating fire, and I know not what;
what have you got there, I say ? "

"O father, the pig, the pig! do come and taste how
nice the burnt pig eats."

Tin- cars of Ho-ti tingled with horror. He cursed his
son, and he cursed himself that ever he should beget a
son that should eat burnt pig.

Bo-bo, whose scent was wonderfully sharpened since
morning, soon raked out another pig, and fairly rending
it asunder, thrust the lesser half by main force into the
fists of Ho-ti, still shouting out, " Eat, eat, eat the burnt
pig, father, only taste ; O Lord ! " with such-like barba-
rous ejaculations, cramming all the while as if he would

Ho-ti trembled every joint while he grasped the abom-
inable thing, wavering whether he should not put his son
to death for an unnatural young monster, when the crack-
ling scorching hi- fingers, as it had done his son's, and
applying the same remedy to them, he in his turn tasted
some of its flavor, which, make what sour mouths he
would for a pretence, proved not altogether displeasing to
him. In conclusion (for the manuscript here is a little
tedious) both father arid son fairly set down to the mess,
and never left off till they had despatched all that remained
of the litter.

Bo-bo was strictly enjoined not to let the secret escape,


for the neighbors would certainly have stoned them for a
couple of abominable wretches, who could think of im-
proving upon the good meat which God had sent them.
Nevertheless, strange stories got about. It was observed
that Ho-ti's cottage was burnt down now more frequently
than ever. Nothing but fires from this time forwa.d.
Some would break out in broad day, others in the night
time. As often as the sow farrowed, so sure was the
house of Ho-ti to be in a blaze ; and Ho-ti himself, which
was the more remarkable, instead of chastising his son,
seemed to grow more indulgent to him than ever. At
length they were watched, the terrible mystery discovered,
and father and son summoned to take their trial at Pekin,
then an inconsiderable assize town. Evidence was given,
the obnoxious food itself produced in court, and verdict
about to be pronounced, when the foreman of the jury
begged that some of the burnt pig, of which the culprits
stood accused, might be handed into the box. He han-
dled it, and they all handled it ; and burning their fingers,
as Bo-bo and his father had done before them, and nature
prompting to each of them the same remedy, against
the face of all the* facts, and the clearest charge which
judge had ever given, to the surprise of the whole court,
townsfolks, strangers, reporters, and all present, without
leaving the box, or any manner of consultation whatever,
they brought in a simultaneous verdict of Not Guilty.

The judge, who was a shrewd fellow, winked at the
manifest iniquity of the decision ; and when the court was
dismissed, went privily, and bought up all the pigs that
could be had for love or money. In a few days his Lord-
ship's town-house was observed to be on fire. The thing
took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fire
in every direction. Fuel and pigs grew enormously dear
all over the district. The insurance offices one and all
shut up shop. People built slighter and slighter every


day, until it was feared that the very science of architec-
ture would iii no long time be lost to the world. Thus
this custom of firing houses continued, till in process of
time, says my manuscript, a sage arose, like our Locke,
who made a discovery, that the flesh of swine, or indeed
of any other animal, might be cooked (burnt, as they
called it) without the necessity of consuming a whole
house to dress it. Then first began the rude form of a
gridiron. Roasting by the string or spit came in a cen-
tury or two later ; I forget in whose dynasty. By such
slow degrees, concludes the manuscript, do the most use-
ful, and seemingly the most obvious arts make their way
among mankind.

Without placing too implicit faith in the account above
given, it must be agreed, that if a worthy pretext for so
dangerous an experiment as setting houses on fire (especially
in these days) could be assigned in favor of any culinary
object, that pretext and excuse might be found in ROAST

Of all the delicacies in the whole mundus edibilis, I will
maintain it to be the most delicate princeps obsoniorum.

I speak not of your grown porkers things between pig
and pork those hobbydehoys but a young and tender
suckling under a moon old guiltless as yet of the
sty with no original speck of the amor immunditice, the
hereditary failing of the first parent, yet manifest his
voice as yet not broken, but something between a childish
treble and a grumble the mild forerunner, or prcdudium
of a grunt.

He must be roasted. I am not ignorant that our ances-
tors ate them seethed, or boiled, but what a sacrifice of
the exterior tegument !

There is no flavor comparable, I will contend, to that of
the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, crackling,
as it is well called, the very teeth are invited to their


share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the
coy, brittle resistance, with the adhesive oleaginous
O call it not fat ! but an indefinable sweetness growing
up to it, the tender blossoming of fat fat cropped in
the bud taken in the shoot in the first innocence
the cream and quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure

food, the lean, no lean, but a kind of animal manna,

or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) so blended and
running into each other, that both together make but one
ambrosian result, or common substance.

Behold him, while he is " doing " it seemeth rather a
refreshing warmth, than a scorching heat, that he is so
passive to. How equably he twirleth round the string !
Now he is just done. To see the extreme sensibility of
that tender age ! he hath wept out his pretty eyes radi-
ant jellies shooting stars.

See him m the dish, his second cradle, how meek he
lieth ! wouldst thou have had this innocent grow up to
the grossness and indocility which too often accompany
maturer swinehood ? Ten to one he would have proved a
glutton, a sloven, an obstinate, disagreeable animal
wallowing in all manner of filthy conversation, from
these sins he is happily snatched away,

Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
Death came with timely care

his memory is odoriferous, no clown curseth, while his
stomach half rejecteth, the rank bacon, no coal-heaver
bolteth him in reeking sausages, he hath a fair sepulchre
in the grateful stomach of the judicious epicure, and for
such a tomb might be content to die.

He is the best of sapors. Pineapple is great. She is
indeed almost too transcendent a delight, if not sinful,
yet so like to sinning that really a tender conscienced per-
son would do well to pause too ravishing for mortal taste,


she woundeth and excoriateth the lips that approach her
like lovers' kisses, she biteth she is a pleasure bordering
on pain from the fierceness and insanity of her relish
but she stoppeth at the palate she meddleth not with the
appetite and the coarsest hunger might barter her con-
sistently for a mutton chop.

Pig let me speak his praise is no less provocative
of the appetite, than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of
the censorious palate. The strong man may batten on him,
and the weakling refuseth not his mild juices.

Unlike to mankind's mixed characters, a bundle of virtues
and vices, inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be un-
ravelled without hazard, he is good throughout. No
part of him is better or worse than another. He helpeth,
as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the
least envious of banquets. He is all neighbor's fare.

I am one of those, who freely and ungrudgingly impart
a share of the good things of this life which fall to their
lot, (few as mine are in this kind) to a friend. I protest
I take as great an interest in my friend's pleasures, his
relishes, and proper satisfactions, as in mine own. ** Pres-
sents," I often say, " endear Absents." Hares, pheasants,
partridges, snipes, barn-door chickens, (those " tame vil-
latic fowl,") capons, plovers, brawn, barrels of oysters, I
dispense as freely as I receive them. I love to taste them,
as it were, upon the tongue of my friend. But a stop
must be put somewhere. One wouid not, like Lear, "give
everything." I make my stand upon pig Methinks it is
an ingratitude to the Giver of all good flavors, to extra-
domiciliate, or send out of the house, slightingly, (under
pretext of friendship, or I know not what.) a blessing so
particularly adapted, predestined, I may say, to my indi-
vidual palate It argues an insensibility.

I remember a touch of conscience in this kind at school.
My good old aunt, who never parted from me at the end


of a holiday without stuffing a sweetmeat, or some nice
thing, into my pocket, had dismissed me one evening with
a smoking plum-cake fresh from the oven. In my way to
school (it was over London bridge) a grayheaded old beg-
gar saluted me (I have no doubt, at this time of day. that
he was a counterfeit.) i had no pence to console him with,
and in the vanity of self-denial, and the very coxcombry of
charity, schoolboy-like, I made him a present of the
whole cake ! I walked on a little, buoyed up, as one is on
such occasions, with a sweet soothing of self-satisfaction;
but before I had got to the end of the bridge, my better
feelings returned, and I burst into tears, thinking how
ungrateful I had been to my good aunt, to go and give her
good gift away to a stranger that I had never seen before,
and who might be a bad man for aught I knew ; and then
I thought of the pleasure my aunt would be taking in
thinking that I I myself, and not another would eat
her nice cake, and what should I say to her the next
time I saw her, how naughty I was to part with her
pretty present! and the odor of that spicy cake came
back upon my recollection, and the pleasure and the curi-
osity I had taken in seeing her make it, and her joy when
she sent it to the oven, and how disappointed she would

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 35 of 66)