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Biographical Sketch of Mr. Roscoe.
between good and evil, independent, future rewards and punishments. Now, of all law, or there is not :--If there is when we consider that the “ gospel such a distinction, then no finite unne- read or preached,” is “ indispensably cessitated moral being can possibly necessary” (not to their salvation, but) exist, without being capable of BOTH; to give the Heathens proper views of and, (unless bis Creator shall please these subjects, and to direct their to give him a written Law, more moral agency, in order that they may distinctly to mark the boundaries of obtain an incomparably greater degree good and evil,) the consciousness of this of happiness and holiness in this world, capacity will be his LAW, Is not this and a far more exceeding and eternal what St. Paul means, when he says, weight of glory in the next, every "These, having not the law, are a law nerve should be stretched, every purse unto themselves ?” Rom. ii. 14. But if should be opened, and every heart such beings exist without any law at all, should pray, that the honour of the then they may do what evil they please, Redeemer's name, and “ his domiwithout being punishable for their nion, may be from sea to sea, and from crimes, and this would introduce dis- the rivers unto the ends of the earth.” order and confusion into the universe.
J. SMITH. But, on the other hand, if there is not Hutton Rudby, Nov. 9, 1820. an eternal distinction between good and evil, then it will be impossible to prove that God is eternally good; and
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF indeed upon this supposition, he can
MR. ROSCOE. neither be good nor evil; and how any
(With a Portrait.) such things as good and evil could The history of the Author of the Life ever have existed, I am at a loss to of Lorenzo de Medicis, evinces the conceive.
wonderful effects which result from asTHE ETERNAL GOODNESS OF GOD, siduous industry, superadded to the therefore, is a sure proof that there is rapidity of genius. Favoured by no an everlasting difference between good, advantages of education, fostered by and its opposite, evil; and this eternal no patronage, raised by the native difference is as sure à proof of the energies of his mind alone, Mr. Rosmoral agency of man, independently of coe has reached a pitch of literary revelation.
eminence, which is rarely attained Having thus proved that the moral even by those who have made the best agency of man is independent of reve- use of the privileges of academic inlation, it is upon this immutable basis struction. that his salvability, or capability of His parents moved in the humbler salvation, principally rests.
sphere of life; they were, of course, To the reasonings that I have adopt- precluded by their circumstances from ed, it will be objected, that they will giving their son a very extensive eduhave a tendency to paralyze public cation; and, with a strange perverseefforts in the cause of missions to the ness of temper, he himself obstinately Heathen.” Ans. This is the same ob- refused to attend at the day-school jection that was raised against St. where his father wished him to be Paul's reasonings on the same sub- taught writing and arithmetic. In ject : “ What advantage then hath the consequence of this untoward event, Jew, or what profit is there of circum he did not enjoy even the common opcision ? Much, every way: chiefly, be-portunities of acquiring knowledge, cause that unto them were committed usually possessed by those of the the oracles of God.” See Rom. iii. same station in life as himself. He 1,2.
was thus fated to be the architect of Now the advantages of revelation his own fame. are manifest, viz.-. It shews the But though he threw off the tramboundaries of right and wrong ; the mels of the school, he was not idle :excellence of the one, and the exceed- he read much, and thought more. ing sinfulness of the other. 2. Reve- At an early age he was articled as lation alone, assures us of pardon upon clerk in the office of Mr. Eyes, an atproper grounds, the blood of Christ. torney, in Liverpool. Soon after this 3d. It brings “ life and immortality to period, he was stimulated to underlight," 1 Tim. i. 10. 4. It instructs take the study of the Latin language, those who receive it in the nature of by one of his companions boasting
No. 23,-Yol. III.
Biographical Sketch of Mr. Roscoe.
that he had read Cicero de Amicitia, | About this time he commenced an and speaking in high terms of the acquaintance with the late Dr. Enelegance of the style and sentiments field,* and the present Dr. Aikin, both of that celebrated composition. Mr. of whom were then residents at WarRoscoe immediately procured the rington, the former being tutor in the treatise in question; and smoothing belles lettres in the academy there, and his difficulties by perpetual reference the latter established as a surgeon to his grammar, as well as to his dic- in that town. These gentlemen were tionary, he drudged through the task early sensible of his surprising talents, which emulation had incited him to and they contracted with him a friendundertake. The success experienced ship which was sure to be lasting, as in his first effort prompted him to pro- it was built on the solid basis of muceed; and he did not stop in his ca- tual esteem. reer till he had read the most distin-1 Mr. Roscoe seems to have been guished of the Roman classics. In early gifted with a correct taste in the this pursuit he was encouraged by the arts of painting and statuary. On friendly intercourse of Mr. Francis the 17th of December, 1773, he recited Holden, an eccentric but excellent before the Society formed in Liverscholar.
pool for the encouragement of deHaving made considerable progress signing, drawing, painting, &c. an in the Latin language, Mr. "Roscoe, Ode, which was afterwards published, still without the assistance of a master, together with his poem entitled Mount proceeded to the study of French and Pleasant. Of this Society he was a Italian. The best authors in each of very active member, and occasionally these tongues soon became familiar to gave public lectures on subjects approhim; and it is supposed, that few priate to the object of the institution. natives of the country possess so When the voice of humanity was general and recondite a knowledge of raised against the slave-trade, Mr. Italian literature, as the subject of Roscoe, fearless of the inconvenience the present memoir.
to which the circumstances of his During the whole of this period, local situation might expose him, Mr. Roscoe regularly attended at the stood forth a zealous and enlightened office: his seasons of study were the advocate for the abolition of that inintervals of business.
human traffic. In his boyish days, His attachment to the muse was of indeed, he had expressed his feela very early date. While yet a boy ings on this subject, in the following he read with avidity the works of the charming lines, which are extracted best English poets. Of their beauties from the poem already alluded to, he had an exquisite sense; and it | page 40:may easily be imagined that the first of his compositions was of the poeti
1-There Afric's swarthy sons their toils repeat,
Beneath the fervors of the noon-tide heat; cal class. “Mount Pleasant,” a de- Torn from each joy that crown'd their native scriptive poem, which he wrote in his soil, sixteenth year, is a record not only of No sweet reflections mitigate their toil; the fertility of his genius, but of the From morn to eve, by rigorous hands opprest, correctness of his taste.
Dull fly their hours, of every hope unblest:
Till broke with labour, helpless and forlorn, Soon after the expiration of his
From their weak grasp the ling’ring morsel clerkship, Mr. Roscoe was taken into
torn; partnership by Mr. Aspinwall, a very The reed-built hovel's friendly shade deny'd; respectable attorney of the town of The jest of folly, and the scorn of pride; Liverpool; and the entire manage
Drooping beneath meridian suns they lie,
Lift the faint head, and bend th' imploring eye ; ment of an office, extensive in prac
Till death, in kindness, from the tortur'd breast tice, and high in reputation, de Calls the free spirit to the realms of rest. volved upon him alone. In this situa Shame to mankind! but shame to Britons tion he conducted himself in such a most, manner as to gain universal respect:
| Who all the sweets of liberty can boast, for, notwithstanding his various pur
Yet, deaf to every human claim, deny
That bliss to others which themselves enjoy ; suits, he paid strict attention to his profession, and acquired a liberal and
* When Dr. E. published the second vominute knowledge of law. In short, linn
; lame of the Speaker, Mr. R. furnished him .in clearness of comprehension, and with an Elegy to Pity, and an Ode to Edacarapidity of dispatch, he had few equals. tion.
Life's bitter draught with harsher bitter fill, perhaps too cordially united,) Mr. Blast every joy, and add to every ill ;. Roscoe was busily employed in writThe trembling limbs with galling iron bind,
ing the History of Lorenzo de Medicis. Nor loose the heavier bondage of the mind.
This work was begun about the year Thus by his own reflections, Mr. | 1790, and published early in 1796. Roscoe was prepared to enter with On its first appearance, public opiardour into the views of the friends nion proclaimed in its favour; and of suffering humanity. He had fre- this was confirmed by the decisions of quent conversations with Mr. Clark- criticism, through the ordeal of which son, who first drew the attention of the it quickly passed. Since that period, the kingdom at large to this national dis- literary world have had time to recover grace. A specious pamphlet was pub- from the dazzle of surprise; and the lished in defence of the trade, en- buzz of ignorant applause, raised by titled, “ Scriptural Researches into the the leaders of literary fashion, is now Licitness of the Slave Trade," and writ-still. The sentence of sober judgment ten by a Spanish Jesuit of the name
confirms the verdict which was proof Harris. Mr. Roscoe answered it nounced according to the dictates of with great spirit and acuteness, in a first impressions. The liberal acumen counter-pamphlet, called “ A Scriptu- of Parr has assayed the Life of Loral Refutation of a Pamphlet lately renzo, and has found it sterling gold. published by the Rev. Raymund Harris.” Its dignity and grace have shielded
But this copious and interesting sub- its author from the merciless tomahawk ject awaked all his sympathies, and of the writer* of the Pursuits of Litethe public were gratified by a most rature; and we may fairly presume, affecting poem, entitled, “ The Wrongs that its rank is fixed among the most of Africa,” which Mr. Roscoe intended splendid ornaments of English comto complete in three parts. The two
position. first appeared in 1787, and 1788, but The admiration with which the the lovers of genuine poetry have to public have been affected by the perulament that he has not yet fulfilled his
sal of this work will, no doubt, be inpromise of favouring them with the
creased by a knowledge of the cirthird. During several years, expecta cumstances in which it was composed. tion was kept alive; but circumstances At the time when it was projected, have still occurred, to diminish the Mr. Roscoe lived at the distance of hopes that were once entertained. two miles from Liverpool, whither he
A mind so active and generous as was obliged daily to repair to attend Mr. Roscoe's, could not remain unin- the business of his office. The dry terested in that stupendous event, the and tedious details of law occupied French revolution.
He of course his attention during the whole of the
He of course caught the enthusiastic glow that morning and afternoon; his evenings warmed the breasts of the friends of alone. he was able to dedicate to freedom, while they beheld a mighty / study: and it will be easily conceived: nation throwing off the fetters of des- that a gentleman, surrounded by a potism; and fondly hoped that the numerous family, and whose company consequences of their exertions would was courted by his friends, must have be lasting peace, good order, and
experienced, even at these hours, a equal laws. He even tuned the lyre variety of interruptions. No public on this bewitching theme, and pro- library provided him with materials. claimed the praises of Freedom in a The rare books which he had occasion translation of one of Petrarch's Odes, to consult, he was obliged to procure which found its way into the Mercurio in London at a considerable expense. Italico; a song entitled, “ Millions be But in the midst of all these difficulFree;" and the famons poem, “The ties, the work grew under his hands; Vine-covered Hills,” which may be
and in order that it might be printed classed among the most finished com | under his own immediate inspection, positions in the English language. he established an excellent press in
During the season of tumult and the town of Liverpool, and submitted discord, which succeeded the attempt to the disgusting toil of correcting the of the combined powers to reinstate,
proofs. in the plenitude of its authority, the "Soon after the appearance of his despotism of France, (an attempt, in which this country, fatally to itself,
* Mr. Mathias,
history, Mr. Roscoe relinquished the sentation of his native town. After profession of an attorney, and en- an arduous struggle, he was returned tered himself at Gray's Inn, with a at the head of the poll. But when his view of becoming and acting as a friends retired from office, he expebarrister.
rienced the mutability of popular faHe took advantage of the leisure vour, and found the probability of supwhich the relinquishment of business port so much diminished on the dissoafforded him, to enter upon the study lution of parliament, which took place of the Greek language; in which, ac in 1807, that he declined standing ancording to the report of his intimate other contest. friends, he has made considerable pro It was, however, a high gratification gress.
to him, that during the short period of The literary public had been so much his parliamentary life, it was his lot gratified by the perusal of Mr. Ros- to assist in the proscription of that coe's Life of Lorenzo de Medicis, that blot on the national character, the they unanimously called upon him for African slave trade. On one of the the life of the son of that distinguished debates on the bill, for the abolition of patron of letters and learned men, that odious traffic, he made a speech the celebrated Pontiff Leo X. The marked by firmness, good sense, and undertaking of this work was entirely good feeling. congenial with Mr. Roscoe's taste Mr. Roscoe seems to have brought and wishes, and he soon commenced with him, on his return from public to its composition with his usual zeal and private life, a taste for political disindustry. In the year 1805, it was cussion, which he evinced in the publipublished in four volumes in quarto.cation of a few pamphlets on the topics Its reception was not quite so favour of the day. These, as might be ex, able as that which was experienced by pected, were received with much comthe Life of Lorenzo de Medicis. The mendation by one party, and with charm of surprise was diminished; much abuse by the other. Whatever and by his strictures on the conduct of may be their merits or demerits in some of our early reformers, who, other respects, it was universally ac“ though they had suffered persecu- knowledged, that they were written in tion, had not learned mercy,” Mr. a spirit of urbanity which political Roscoe gave umbrage to ecclesiasti-writers in general would do well to cal bigotry. It soon, however, came imitate. to a second edition, and competent The sequel of Mr. Roscoe's history judges recognize in it the same fide- cannot be narrated without pain. lity in the narration of facts, the same Whilst he was engaged in the pursuits taste in the fine arts, as characterised of elegant literature, and in deeds of its precursor; expressed in a tone of active benevolence, a series of unstyle more nervous and compressed, toward events compelled the banking than its author had hitherto exhibited. establishment, in which he was con
Whilst employed in the arrange cerned, to suspend its payment. By ment of the materials for this work, the liberality of the creditors, indulMr. Roscoe was invited to take the gence was afforded to enable it to situation of chief and active partner retrieve its affairs; but the difficulties in the banking-house of Clarke and of the times precluded the possibility of Sons, which had been long established this, and Mr. Roscoe, and his partin Liverpool; a situation which, with ners, were obliged to submit to the much reluctance, and, as the event process of bankruptcy. proved, unfortunately for himself, his To a man of Mr. Roscoe's temperafamily, and the public, he accepted. ment, this calamity, as affecting the
During the whole of his life, Mr. interests of others, is no doubt exRoscoe had been an ardent admirer tremely grievous. As to himself, we are of the political principles of Mr. Fox; confident that he will bear misfortune and whilst the last Whig Administra- with firmness. In the hour of his advertion were in office, he was solicited by sity he will be consoled by the symthe friends of that administration in pathies of friendship; and the activity Liverpool, and by many others of dif- of bis mind will discover in the wide ferent political sentiments, on the dis- field of science and literature, objects, solution of parliament in the year the contemplation of which will be1806, to stand candidate for the repre- guile the sense of affliction.