Billeder på siden


philosopher is sensible that there are combinations of moral qualities which never can take place but in idea. There is a different air and complexion in characters as well as in faces, though perhaps each equally beautiful; and the excellencies of one cannot be transferred to the other. Thus if one man possesses a stoical apathy of soul, acts independent of the opinion of the world, and fulfils every duty with mathematical exactness, you must not expect that man to be greatly influenced by the weakness of pity, or the partialities of friendship: you must not be offended that he does not fly to meet you after a short absence; or require from him the convivial spirit and honest effusions of a warm, open, susceptible heart. If another is remarkable for a lively active zeal, inflexible integrity, a strong indignation against vice, and freedom in reproving it, he will probably have some little bluntness in his address not altogether suitable to polished life; he will want the winning arts of conversation; he will disgust by a kind of haughtiness and negligence in his manner, and often hurt the delicacy of his acquaintance with harsh and disagreeable truths.

“ We usually say — that man is a genius, but he has some whims and oddities; - such a one has a very general knowledge, but he is superficial; &c. Now, in all such cases, we should speak more rationally did we substitute therefore for but. He is a genius, therefore he is whimsical; and the like.

“ It is the fault of the present age, owing to the freer commerce that different ranks and professions now enjoy with each other, that characters are not marked with sufficient strength: the several classes run too much into one another. We have fewer pedants, it is true, but we have fewer striking originals. Every one is expected to have such a tincture of general knowledge as is incompatible with going deep into any science; and such a conformity to fashionable manners as checks the free workings of the ruling passion, and gives an insipid sameness to the face of society, under the idea of polish and regularity.



“ There is a cast of manners peculiar and becoming to each age, sex, and profession; one, therefore, should not throw out illiberal and common-place censures against another, Each is perfect in its kind. A woman as a woman: a tradesman as a tradesman. We are often hurt by the brutality and sluggish conceptions of the vulgar; not considering that some there must be to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, and that cultivated genius, or even any great refinement and delicacy in their moral feelings, would be a real misfortune to them.

“ Let us then study the philosophy of the human mind. The man who is master of this science, will know what to expect from every one. From this man, wise advice; from that, cordial sympathy; from another, casual entertainment. The passions and inclinations of others are his tools, which he can use with as much precision as he would the mechanical powers; and he can as readily make allowance for the workings of vanity, or the bias of self-interest in his friends, as for the power of friction, or the irregularities of the needle.”


No. IV.



[ocr errors]

Although the period of Mr. Wolfe's death places him rather beyond the usual limits of our work, yet we prefer the slight relaxation of a general rule, to the omission, in the “ Annual Biography,” of all notice of an individual who was esteemed and beloved by every person to whom he was known; and who has left behind him more than one production of his genius, “which the world will not willingly let die.” To an interesting publication, in two volumes, by the Rev. John A. Russell, M.A., chaplain to his excellency the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and curate of St. Werburgh's, Dublin, entitled “ Remains of the late Rev. Charles Wolfe,” we are indebted for the greater part of the materials of which the following memoir is composed. Another little work, called “ College Recollections,” in which the friends of the author are designated under various fictitious names, and, among the rest, Wolfe, under that of “ Waller," has also afforded us much aid, We have still further to express our acknowledgments to one of Mr. Wolfe's most intimate college friends; by whom we have been kindly favoured with some very valuable communications.

The Wolfes came originally from Oughtarard, in the county of Kildare. The military achievements of the illustrious hero of Quebec, render the name conspicuous in the annals of British renown; but we do not believe that General Wolfe was related to the subject of this memoir, whose family, however, has certainly to boast of the late eminent and muchlamented judge, Lord Kilwarden.

Charles Wolfe was the youngest son of Theobald Wolfe, Esq., of Blackhall, in the county of Kildare. His mother was the daughter of the Rev. Peter Lombard. He was born in Dublin, on the 14th December 1791. At an early age he lost his father, not long after whose death the family removed to England, where they resided for some years. In the year 1801, Charles was sent to a school at Bath, from which, in a few months, he was obliged to return home in consequence of the delicacy of his health, which interrupted his education for twelve months. Upon his recovery, he was placed under the tuition of Dr. Evans, in Salisbury; but was removed in the year 1805, and soon after was sent as a boarder to Hyde Abbey School, Winchester, of which Mr. Richards, senior, was then the able master. 66 There," observes Mr. Russell, “ he soon distinguished himself by his great proficiency in classical knowledge, and by his early powers of Latin and Greek versification, and displayed the dawnings of a genius which promised to set him amidst that bright constellation of British poets which adorns the literature of the present age. The many high testimonies to his amiable disposition and superior talents, which are supplied by the affectionate letters of his schoolmasters, show that he was not overvalued by his own family, with every member of which he seems to have been the special favourite. I cannot better describe the manner in which his character as a boy was appreciated at school and at home, and how deservedly it was so prized, than in the following simple language of a very near relative, to whom I am indebted for some of the particulars of his life already mentioned: - The letters I enclose you bear testimony to the amiable character of my dear, dear Charles, such as I ever remember it. Those from Mr. Richards I can better estimate than any one else, from knowing that he was not easily pleased in a pupil, or apt to flatter. He was greatly attracted by superior talents ; but you will see, that he speaks of qualities of more value. He never received even a slight punishment or reprimand at any school to which he ever went; and in nearly twelve years that he was under my mother's care, I cannot recollect that he ever acted contrary to her wishes, or caused her a moment's pain, except parting with her when he went to school. I do not know whether he ever told


that he had, when a boy, a wish to enter the army, which was acquired by being in the way of military scenes ; but, when he found it would give his mother pain, he totally gave up the idea, which I am sure, all his life he thanked God that he had done. In 1808, he left Winchester (where he had been three years), owing to our coming to Ireland, as my mother could not think of leaving him behind. His company was her first earthly comfort, and she could not relinquish it; indeed we used to count the hours when the time drew near that he was expected. We were often told that we would spoil him, but you know whether it was so. When we arrived in Ireland, it was intended that he should go to some other school, but he did not go to any, nor bad he any one to read with him, so that he entered college with much less previous instruction than most others. I believe you knew him soon after; and I need not tell


of him since, or what he has been, even if I could. I have never heard of a school-fellow or a college acquaintance who did not respect or love him, but I will not say more to you. The pleasing testimony to his character and abilities contained in this extract, is indeed fully borne out by the accounts which some of his school-fellows have given of him to the writer. They spoke of him with the strongest affection, and represented him as the pride of Winchester school.”

This description of his early proficiency is corroborated by other testimony.

“ His classical attainments," observes one of his most intimate friends*, “ distinguished him when very young. The facility and elegance with which he wrote Latin verse excited admiration. With most boys it is a mechanical labour, and it is indeed absurd to make it a general practice at our schools. But the mind of Wolfe was keenly sensitive of the charms of the Augustan age of com

* John Sydney Taylor, Esq. in a letter in the Morning Chronicle which will presently be adverted to.




« ForrigeFortsæt »