« ПретходнаНастави »
tales that had delighted my youth, the poets, philosophers, heroes, all that was great and good and excellent in the annals of heathenism; they reminded me of what should shortly be my own fate, and disposed me to reflect with humility on the boasted acquirements of mankind, when I saw that a few passing years sufficed to crumble in the dust their fairest and noblest edifices. With the ingratitude of my countrymen fresh in my memory, I at first thought every place that received me preferable to the misty and swampy land of my nativity ; but those feelings soon wore away: I learned to separate the men from the country; and when the wolves of the Alps, or the scorching siroch of Italy, were compared with the blessings which tradition assigns to the prayers of our patron saint, the green little island rose higher in my estimation than ever.
When I returned, I thought the disappointments of my youth had steeled my heart to the nicer impressions of sensibility: the long indulgence, however, of my favorite propensity, had made it almost a second nature, and I was still inquisitive. I never could completely curb this disposition, and in order to gratify it to its utmost extent, I adopted a most uncommon resolution. I had always been fond of reading, and in the course of my desultory studies had perused Smollett's celebrated novel, Peregrine Pickle, in which I thought Crabtree the most amusing character. This extraordinary personage, by pretending deafness, was enabled to indulge a most rancorous and malignant genius: and I imagined I could essentially improve the idea, and through its aid in the most effectual manner procure the indulgence of my more innocent desire. Leaving all who possessed any claims on my acquaintance, and converting all my property into cash, I travelled hither, and having changed my name, disguised my person, and altered my dress from the modes of this to those of the last century, I have ever since been known here, only as a gentleman whose total deafness and easy temper have rendered him at the same time an useless and a harmless member of society. Assisted by accidental circumstances and a judicious display of wealth, I have attracted the notice of many, who, seeing me an isolated being, without friends, and without relations, hoped by some trising attentions to secure the reversion of my imaginary estates. I call at all hours; I know my visits would gladly be dispensed with; yet the idea of the reversion saves me from open rudeness. If the servists are ordered to tell me the fa. mily are not at home, my deafness excuses me from hearing;
VOL. I.--20, .
on which occasions the extended hand and smiling countenance that seem to welcome me, are generally accompanied with muttered execrations on my impertinence ; which as they are pot intended for my ears, I usually return with thanks for the donor's kindness, and a wisir that all his prayers may fall with tenfold benefit on his own head. If a chance interrogatory is put to me, I make some answer better applicable to any other question than the one for which it is intended ; and as I generally amuse myself with the lap-dogs, and am for the most part excluded from the conversation, I am no more regarded than my dumb companions, while the usual routine of talking, and scolding, and fighting, goes on as uninterruptedly as if no one was present to witness it. I have thus had frequent opportunities of hearing things which would otherwise have been unknown to all except the immediate actors.
For some time the novelty of this situation delighted me ; I imagined that the world deserved my hatred, and my spleen was gratified by so near a view of their follies and inconsistencies; but the human mind is ever busjed ; and from mingling among men, my natural love for them returned with redoubled fervor. The very method I adopted to gain an insight into their affairs, convinced me that they were not so vicious as I supposed. I saw that no innate love of depravity hurried them away. I saw that they had faults; but saw that I likewise had mine, and was of course ill qualified to constitute myself their censor.
I saw that my former endeavors to assist them, though originating in the purest motives, were mostly without that delicacy which alone confers a value on obligation. I could now witness the uprestrained emotions of the heart, and see that fashion and prejudice were the chief enemies of virtue: that every man had in his soul such principles as, guided by prudence and directed by the fostering precepts of religion, delivered without acrimony and enforced by example, would eventnally lead him from the paths of error, in which my blunt and often unseasonable advice had only served to bewilder him. I saw that it was cowardice which made fools; that those whose actions sank beneath the dignity of man, and who were conscious of this dereliction of duty, were afraid to act rightly in opposition to the dictates of fashion. In short, I gave up my projeet of misanthropy.
My former disappointment had taught me experience; and my assumed character would inevitably be discovered, if I should openly profit by the information so secretly gained:
Sketch of the Life of Joseph Atkinson, Esq.
hence, all the advice and assistance which I now gave, was offered in the most secret manner. But this method of proceeding would confine within too narrow a sphere the benefits which society might derive from my exertions ; and the light of knowledge, derived from so many sources, should not be hidden. It is the duty of every man to labor for the advantage of that company of which he is a member; and if the PHILANTHROPIST, by presenting himself to public notice, can cause one emulous heart to pursue with more ardor the path of rectitude, or recoil with more horror from the precipitous abyss of guilt, his humble undertaking shall not have proved wholly successless; and from his labors he shall reap the only reward he desires—the satisfaction that arises from the commission of a benevolent action.
From this explanation, gentle reader, do not imagine that my papers will be filled solely with the language of the dull and tiresome moralist: such conduct would defeat my purpose. My object is, to promote the cause of virtue-to emancipate my fellow-citizens from the dominion of follyto disenthral them from the tyranny of prejudice and fashion--to persuade them to plaee their only boast in the integrity and purity of their actions—to allure, but not to force. Never shall these essays be converted into vehicles of abuse ; never, through their medium, shall the social circle of domestic life be invaded, nor the private happiness of society undermined : instruction shall, if possible, be conveyed with entertainment, but certainly not with satire.
JOSEPH ATKINSON, ESQ. M.R.J. A. &c.
Of Melfield, County Dublin.
Δάκρυα όσα θίλεισ. .
When Biography traces the actions of exalted characters, who have attracted notice from their elevation rather than
Sketch of the Life of Joseph Atkinson, Esq.
their worth, it seldom attains that interest which follows the memoirs of the more private classes of society. The distinguishing features of the one are the bold historical group that crowd the painting and distract the eye-magnificent, perhaps, but confused ; that will not permit admiration to linger with one figure, but seduces it to wander over a multitude: the attractions of the other are the simplicity of the coloring, that has nothing glaring or intrusive---the justness of the outline and the natural ease of the attitudes. There is a superior value in the moral which is applicable to common life, and capable of guiding the affections on ordinary occasions; and there is something affecting in the memorial which disinterested friendship raises to the memory of departed excellence. When we dwell upon the annals of the illustrious, embellished by the names and attributes of glory and power, we pause over the details which they present to us, with an imagination so much hurried from one scene of splendor to another, that the useful escapes us in our admiration of the brilliant :- from the perusal of those records, where the peculiar traits of singular minds are pointed out, their fojbles exposed, and their extravaganciés delineated, there results less gratification, and as little benefit~that which was extraordinary in one man, must also be so in another, and it is better to remain unacquainted with what we should not imitate; but the simple history which pourtrays the honest heart, untainted by prejudices, and unstained by crimes—that moved in its private and domestic circle, beloved in its intercourse and followed in its changesis one which the ingenuous would be earnest to applaud and to emulate; there is nothing in it that is dull or capricious, and we pursue it through its varieties with impatience and delight.
In introducing the name of the late Joseph Atkinson into the pages of the DUBLIN INQUISITOR, we feel the ornament it bestows, and are the more willing to devote a portion of our space to his memory when we reflect, that wherever his influence extended, he was the Mæcenas and Halifax of our city—that the wild and magic genius which has given a name and a character to the poetry of our country, sprang up under the fostering shelter of his protection-and that the talents he possessed were offered up to the soil that gave him birth, in celebrating her romantic beauties and eulogising the few who remained with her in her loneliness. In what we have to remark, we regret we can afford little beyond a brief notice of a few circumstances of his life, as the
Sketch of the Life of Joseph Atkinson, Esq.
materials from which we have drawn our information were scanty, although authentic.
Joseph Atkinson was born about the year 1750, and was the son of Captain Atkinson, who had served in the army from an early period of his life. Imbibing from the habits of his childhood, which was involved in scenes of military existence, a taste for the
“ Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," we find that he became a captain in a regiment which was then commanded by Lord Forbes. At the time the British court had reached the height of splendor and refinement, when the present king was Prince of Wales, in the prime of life, and in the exercise of all the powers of gifted and prosperous youth, Mr. A. was one of those companions of his earlier days who gave a charm to society: for there was a pleasing simplicity in his conversation that seemed to throw its own naïveté over every subject upon which it dwelt, and robbed it of its tediousness.
He served in America with the late Lord Moira, with whom he contracted a friendship that existed to the end of that nobleman's life. About this period, his taste for the Belles Lettres began to expand, and he evinced a considerable fondness for literature and composition. He dedicated many of his leisure hours to the perusal of MSS. which the partiality of his friends induced them to submit to him; and he gave his opinion with all that good-natured frankness and warmth of heart that were so peculiarly the attributes of his character. He did not exercise that critical severity which indulges in the detection of insignificant and verbal faults, but rather struck at the broad inconsistencies that disfigured general excellence: nor was he one of those commentators who delight in dwelling upon the misapplication of images, the ill-arrangement of cadences, and the repetition of words—who draw forth the spirit of a sentence, and strip it of its embellishments—who destroy the urn, and lay open the naked spring—but one who objected only to prominent irregularities, and the want of lucid connection in the order of the subject. Of the many names that grew into fame under his auspices, that of THOMAS Moore is the most illustrious. When the late Bishop of Ossory was provost of Trinity College, Mr. Moore first attracted the attention of Captain Atkinson, who was charmed by the singular freedom and simplicity of his manner: unsatisfied, however, with admiring what was so excellent,