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FULTON'S ACCOUNT OF HIS FIRST STEAMBOAT.
Classical elegancies and learning must be infused into routes for the canal, and was engaged with zeal in prosethe heart of all branches of polite and solid literature. cuting that object, on the breaking out of the war. In When this is done—when men in all professions and all 1812 he was again experimenting on sub-marine exwalks of life shall have imbibed some spirit and devo- plosions. In 1814 he contrived an armed ship for the tion for the pure antique, the classical, in its chaste and defence of New York and invented a sub-marine vessel sublime elevation, then will such studies work out their for plunging under water. These plans were approved legitimate effects, then bring fruits of ever-growing by the Government, but before he accomplished them, richness and fertility. Oh! what a triumph will have he died very suddenly on the 24th of Feb. 1815. His been achieved, when, taking a firm position among the person was tall, slender and well formed. We have liberal arts and sciences, these enduring records of thought proper to give this full account of the first past ages shall shed around them purifying rays, to heal steamboat, that was constructed in this country, and and refine the wayward passions of mankind. And of the great inventor. The advantages that have folwhy should not these pleasant influences be turned in lowed this discovery are too great to be calculated. upon the whole intercourse of man? Why should not the sphere of human sympathies be enlarged, and fresh Fulton, in a conversation with Judge Story, gave the aspects be thrown over the whole face of society? Tcfollowing account of his experiment: “When,” said the classical student belongs this high behest—'tis his he, “I was building my first boat, the Clermont, at New as a sacred pledge, a rich endowment, which he holds York, the project was viewed by the public either with in trust for the dear youth of his country—to him it indifference or with contempt as a visionary scheme. belongs to rekindle the fires which slumber upon the My friends were civil, but they were shy. They listenaltars of the muses, and to wake in tuneful tone the lyre ed with patience to my explanations, but with a settled of Amphyon.
cast of incredulity on their countenances. I felt the Ulice, July 13, 1844.
force of the lamentation of the poet, Robert Fulton—The first Steamboat.
“Truth would you teach, to save a sinking land,
All shun, none aid you, and few understand.”
As I had occasion to pass daily to and from my build. Fulton was a native of Ne Britain in Lancaster ing yard while my boat was in progress, I had often loitCounty, Pennsylvania, and born in 1765. His parents ered, unknown, near the idle groupe of strangers, gathwere in humble circumstances and were enabled only ered in little circles, and heard various inquiries relato give him a common education. He early exhibited a tive to the object of this new vehicle. The language fondness for painting, and at the age of 18 he establish- was uniformly that of scorn, sneer or ridicule. The ed himself in Philadelphia. At the age of 22 he went loud laugh rose at my expense, the dry jest, the wise to England to advance his talent, and was received into calculations of losses and expenditures, the dull but endthe family of West,—with whom he spent several years, less repetitions of the Fulton Folly. Never did a single and entertained a warm friendship. During his stay he encouraging remark, a bright hope or a warm wish cross became acquainted with the Duke of Bridgewater and my path. Silence itself was but politeness veiling its Lord Storhope, the former famous for Canals, and the remarks or hiding its reproaches. At length the day latter for his love of Mechanism. He soon turned his arrived when the experiment was to be brought into attention to the use of steam for propelling boats. In operation. To me it was a most trying and interesting 1796 he attained a patent for a double inclined plane. occasion. I invited my friends to go on board and witHe also professed himself a civil engineer, and publish- ness the first successful trip. Many did me the honor ed a treatise on Canal Navigation. He soon went to to attend as a matter of personal respect, but it was France and obtained patents for his improvements. He apparent they did it with reluctance, fearing to be partspent the succeeding seven years in Paris, in the family ners in my misfortunes and not of my triumph. I was of Joel Borlem, during which time he made himself well aware that in my case then there were many reaacquainted with the French, Italian, and German Lan- sons to doubt my own success. guages,—and acquired a knowledge of Mathematics, The machinery was new and ill-made, and many parts Physic, and Chemistry. He turned his attention to were manufactured by mechanics unacquainted with submarine explosions in the harbor of Brest, demonstrat- such work; and unexpected difficulties might reasonably ing the success of his discovery. The British Ministry be presumed to present themselves from other causes. invited him to London where he blew up a vessel which the moment arrived when the word was to be given for led them to wish to suppress rather than encourage his the vessel to move. My friends were in groups on the improvements, they therefore gave him noemyloyment. deck. There was anxiety mixed with fear among them.
In 1803, he made several experiments in steam to ap- They were silent, sad and weary. I read in their souls ply his principle to boats—Chancellor Livingston was nothing but disaster, and almost repented my efforts. then minister to France. Fulton, with his aid, con- The signal was given, and the boat moved on a short structed a boat on the River Seine ; this was in 1803, distance, and then stopped and became immovable. To whích fully evinced the practicability of applying it to the silence of the preceding moment, now succeeded boats. He determined to enrich his country with the murmurs of discontent, and agitations, and whispers and discovery, and immediately embarked for the United shrugs. I could hear distinctly repeated—“I told you States, and in 1806 commenced the construction of the it was somit is a foolish scheme; I wish we were out boat, the results of which we have given. In 1811, Ful- of it.” I elevated myself on a platform, and addressed ton was employed by the Legislature to explore thel the assembly. I stated that I knew not what was the
ACCOUNT OF THE FIRT TRIP.
matter, but if they would be quiet, or indulge me for
It may, at first view, seem unimportant to employ much half an hour, I would either go on, or abandon the voy- labor or time in arriving at a correct definition of this age, for that time.
quality, but it will cease to appear so when viewed in This short respite was conceded without objection. I connection with the cultivation and proper direction of went below and examined the machinery, and discover- genius. It may be considered to be a fact of universal ed that it was a slight maladjustinent of some of the application, that we are enabled to make a better use work. In a short period it was obviated. The boat of every faculty or power, of the nature of which we was again in motion : she continued to move on : all have a clear and correct conception. Assuming this to were incredulous: none seemed willing to trust their be so, which will scarcely be disputed, we may be al. own senses. We left the sair city of New York: we pass lowed, in the first place, to collate a few of the definied through the ever-changing scenery of the highlands: tions of genius which have been proposed at various we described the clustering houses of Albany: we reach-times, and to endeavor to extract from thein all, a right the shores — and then, even then, when all seemed conception of this highest of God's gifts to man. achieved, I was the victim of disappointment. Imagina
Genius is derived from a verb which signifies to bear tion superceded the influence of fact. It was then doubt- or to bring forth, which seems to involve in it the ed whether it could be done again, or if done, if it could idea of originality of the power of conception. It has be made of any value.”
therefore been defined to be “the power or faculty which
bears or brings forth or produces,” which finds out, Letter from Robert Fulton to the American Citizen : discovers and invents; and then by a common figure of New York, August 10, 1808.
speech, it has been applied to the individual possessing Sir-I arrived this afternoon at 4 o'clock, in the such a faculty. We are however here confined properly steamboat from Albany. As the success of my experi- to the quality itself
. It will be our view, subsequently, ment gives me great hopes that such boats may be ren- to show that genius cannot be any single power or fadered of much importance to my country, to prevent er.
culty, but the result of the union of many, when conroneous opinions and give some satisfaction to the friends sidered in its proper and highest sense. of useful improvement, you will have the goodness to
In illustration of the definition just inentioned, Pope, publish the following statement of the facts:
in his preface to the Iliad, says: “Homer was the I left New York on Monday, at 1 o'clock, and arrived greater genius, Virgil, the greater artist," ascribing to at Clermont, the seat of Chancellor Livington, at 1 o' the former the power of conceiving and originating, to clock on Tuesday-time, 24 hours-distance 110 miles. the latter, that of moulding and finishing. On Wednesday I departed from the Chancellor's at 9
Horace, in one of his epistles, speaking of the diffein the morning, and arrived at Albany at 5 in the after-rent dispositions and traits of character observable noon-distance, 40 miles-time, 8 hours. The sum of among men brought up amid the same circumstances,
remarks: this is 150 miles in 32 hours, equal to about 5 miles an hour.
"Scit Genius, natale comes qui temperat astrum,
Naturæ deus humanæ mortalis in anumOn Thursday, at 9 o'clock in the morning, I left Albany, and arrived at the Chancellor's at 5 in the evening.
Quodque caput, vultu mutabilis, albus et ator." I started from thence at 7 and arrived at New York on
" But whence these various inclinations rose, Friday at 3 in the afternoon-time, 30 hours-space run
The God of human nature only knows,
That mystic Genius which our actions guides, through, 150 miles—equal to 5 miles an hour. Through Attends our stars and o'er our lives presides ; out the whole way, my going and returning, the wind Whose power appears propitious or malign, was ahead, no advantage could be drawn from my sails;
Stamp'd on each face and varied through each line.” the whole has, therefore, been performed by the power of the steam engine.
In these verses, he, in common with other writers of Your obedient servant,
the same age, evidently understands this term in its ROBERT FULTON. lowest signification, as a mere natural inclination or
A still different idea of genius is entertained by Field
ing, who conceives it to be “ that power or rather those There are few persons who are not sensible of the powers of the mind which are capable of penetrating influence of Genius, capable of appreciating its high into all things within our reach and knowledge, and of and noble nature to some extent, and of perceiving and distinguishing their essential differences.” With him honoring its exhibition. This being the case, it is sin- it is not a mere natural tendency or inclination or ingular how few agree in defining in what it consists. nate power of invention, but the result of the approWe every where ohserve and feel its effects, but are, in priate action of the highest mental faculties in a state most cases, ignorant of its nature and composition. of refined cultivation. There is, perhaps, scarcely any quality of which there Dr. Blair, again, in his lect res on rhetoric, has fal. might be ari ayed more numerous and widely varying len in with the more general definition of this word. definitions and conceptions. This arises from various He says it “always itoports something inventive or crecauses; some have mistaken its effects for genius itself, ative, which does not rest in mere sensibility to beauty while others have fallen into errors of different kinds when it is perceived, but which can moreover produce from an ignorance of the nature and operations of mind, new beauties and exhibit them in such a manner as and this latter class constitute by far the larger number. I strongly to impress the minds of others.” It will be
BY JOHN NEWLAND.
readily perceived that he is here defining genius by one Eccentricity is neither incompatible with nor by any of its effects which is already well known and generally means an invariable accompaniment of a great mind. appreciated. Conscious of the necessity of further ex- This will be clear from the definition which we have plaining himself, he says in another place, “ Taste given of it. Indeed its co-existence with great mental consists in the power of judging, genius in the power endowments is but a sad and humbling instance of the of executing.” “ Genius cannot be found without imperfection of every thing human. The conditions of taste,” “Genius, however, in a poet or orator may our existence are such, that we rarely meet with any sometimes exist in a higher degree than taste; that is, thing in this life which has not stamped upon it some genius may be bold and strong, when taste is neither traces of human depravity and sinfulness. very delicate nor very correct. This is often the case The distinction between eccentricity and genius (used in the infancy of arts, a period when genius fre- in its true signification) will be more clearly perceived quently exerts itself with great vigor and executes with from a concise definition of the latter, which we will great warmth, while taste, which requires experience hazard, though with hesitation, for reasons iv.plied in and improves by slow degrees, hath not as yet attained the previous remarks upon the diversity of existing to its full growth. Homer and Shakespeare are proofs opinions in relation to this quality. of what I now assert."
The mind consists of several distinct faculties or Aside from the questionable assertion of genius con- powers. It rarely happens, and for wise and obvious sisting in the power of executing, the rest is a mere reasons, that all of these are equally developed in an description of the operation of this quality without at eminent degree. There is a necessity in the nature of all clearing up the rnist which obscures its nature. things that each particular department of knowledge
We might extend quotations from many authors who and civilization should receive progressive impulses have used this term advisedly in many very dissimilar from the pre-eminent development in particular minds
It is of course like other words, frequently of some individual power or class of powers. Genius, employed loosely and generally to express either some then, as it is commonly met with and exhibited, we peculiarity of mental character, or some extraordinary conceive, with due deference, to be the result of the degree of mental endowment. Before attempting to pre-eminent development of one or more of the intelreconcile these opinions it may be well to disabuse our lectual powers of the mind influenced by and harmominds of the popular error of mistaking eccentricity for nizing in its or their action with, all the other intelgenius.
lectual, moral and impulsive powers of the same What is eccentricity? This word means, literally, mind. The rare existence of this pre-eminent deveout of the centre; that is, when applied to mental lopement, combined with this harmony, accounts for operations, irregular, unbalanced, singular or inconsis- the comparatively few instances of high and refined getent. Do any of these elements necessarily or properly
nius which we find in the pages of history or meet with enter into the composition of Genius? Does a mind in our personal experience. A beautiful writer who without compass to direct its movements excel in any
coincides, in some measure, with this idea of genius, particular, one under the government and direction of appears to have fallen into an error which will perhaps a sound judgment? A ship in the same situation, may
assist in illustrating this definition. He selects as a depossibly, by the force of the current and the winds, scription of this quality, the well-known and glowing coine in sight of some hitherto unknown land, but runs
lines of Shakespeare, which cannot be too often tranthe imminent risk of being either previously cast away
“The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling or of being dashed in pieces upon the coast of the new
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to hcaven, and unknown country to which it has been accidentally
And as imagination bodies forth directed. The same fate would naturally, and most fre The form of things unknown, the poet's pen quently does, attend in some shape, a rnind thus imper Turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing fectly constituted. Dr. Blair, who is excellent authority upon subjects of this kind, whenever they involve We apprehend the author himself intended to do nothe discussion of no abstract question, says in the pas- thing more here, than to describe the fiery and energetic sage above quoted, that genius cannot be found without action of the poets imagination, as all that he says is taste, and this remark is derived from his own reading compatible with the action of this faculty alone. There and personal experience, and therefore full reliance is in the process described by Shakespeare in these may be placed in its truth. Now taste results from a verses, necessarily involved, no great intellectual exersensibility to that which is beautiful, enlightened and tion. Indeed the enthusiastic and impetuous workings directed by a sound judgment and correct perceptions. of the mind of the poet as here described, seem rather It is evident then that the existence of genius being in to forbid the idea of the existence of any high intelleccompatible with the absence of taste, it cannot be sy- tual effort. The latter is characterized by calmness and nonymous with eccentricity, the predominating charac- steadiness, and the great master, not of the heart only, ter of which latter is the absence of a controlling judg- but of the whole mind, knew too well how to paint ment and correct perceptions.*
each of its lineaments, to confuse the picture by any
mistake of this kind. He here pourtrays beautifully * It will be observed that the peculiarities of eccentricity thus considered, have been supposed to consist of intellectual defi- denounced Donsterswivel as a 'scoundrel,' and being remon. ciencies. There are others who have been more uncharitable strated with, for the application of so severe a term to a person or severe. But we are not disposed to coincide with the opinion who was only 'an eccentric genius,'causticly replied, in a mutof Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck, although high authority, who having Itering tone, 'pretty much the same in the Greek.'
A local habitation and a name."
the action of excited and enthusiastic feeling, with, at different from the case in which no truly inventive the most, the moderate and common exercise of an power, no sublime creations of the imagination subdued intellectual faculty which enabled the poet to realize and moulded by an enlightened judgment, exist. or pourtray in words, the creations of his high-wrought Leibnits too, under a hasty judgment, might be ex. fancy.
cluded from the distinction which belongs to genius, on It was imagination then only, and not the higher account of one unfortunate trait in his character, which qualities of genius which he intended to illustrate. We has, it is true, much diminished the lustre of his name, have known many instances of the possession of the and detracted from the value of his labors.* most luxuriant imagination combined with a power of Yet after all, each one can better feel than express copious and happy expression, and yet they could not what genius is, and each individual who is so happy ay be said to evidence the possession of genius, because to possess it, will not fail quickly to be conscious of his they lacked that harmony of action in the mental con- high distinction. This quality is, in this respect, anastitution, that co-existence of discriminating judgment, lagous in some degree to poetry. What is poetry? right perceptions of the relations of physical objects, How difficult a question to answer, and how many dif. and a correct appreciation of moral relations, all of ferent answers have been given to it; and yet those who which seem necessary to constitute what can properly have refined tastes and correct reflecting powers, can be styled genius. It is, in fact, and in the fewest words, easily recognise and appreciate it. No rules or defini. the perfection of mental action in some particular di- tions can be invented within whose prescribed limits rection and towards some particular and constant end. we can bring it. It was a just and important remark of To use a somewhat homely illustration, minds differ Lord Byron, that every poet must be his own Aristotle, only in the relative size of the wheels that compose the and thus it is with genius. machine; but if these wheels do not bear a certain re
It will be perceived that the definition of genius lation to each other in size, if one or more be too large, which we have hazarded, does not fail to recognise, but the machine cannot work perfectly or harmoniously. distinctly implies, a natural inventive or creative This defect is most frequently observed in the faculty power. The pre-eminent development of any one or usually denominated the “imagination,” or that which more of the mental faculties can scarcely be produced feels and appreciates the beautiful. How often is the by cultivation, because we lack the will or power of so delicately wrought mental machine of the sensitive exercising them as to make it or them outstrip the othpoet unhinged by the undue development of this power,
There must be, therefore, a natural and original or if his misfortune extend not so far, how frequently inequality of developinent. It is as evident and well esis our compassion, not our laughter, excited by the tablished a fact in mental philosophy, that the very large incongruous creations of his disordered and unregulated development of any faculty is followed by strong and fancy. This cannot be GENIUS.
constant manifestations, directing all its energies in its Dr. Johnson, in his life of Cowley, gives a definition own particular sphere, and continually modelling and of this quality which but for one word, and that in remodelling all its appropriate objects of exercise. volving in our estimation, serious error, would coincide
These are the two principal elements contended for in substance with the one above given. He says, “the
by various writers, as constituents of genius, and they true genius is a mind of large powers, accidentally
are both, as we conceive, comprehended in our definidetermined to some particular direction. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great painter of the present age, had the who have possessed it, is an unnecessary, and in some
tion. To give examples of genius, to cite individuals first fondness for his art excited by the perusal of Richardson.” The single term “ accidentally" involves the degree, unpleasant task. To exclude some who have whole difference between two systems of mental phi- generally been considered to possess it, and to include
others whose claims to this distinction have not been losophy, and therefore this would not be the proper occasion to criticise its use in this passage. But, with all this task, would but excite difference of opinion with
commonly recognized, as might happen by undertaking due deference to the shade of its great author, we would out any beneficial effects. But there is one case which venture to question whether the perusal of Richardson or any other work, however remarkable, could have may be safely cited, and I do it the more readily beroused into action those great powers of design and exe
cause it is one not generally known and coming from a cution which Sir Joshua displayed, if they had not re
country with which we are but little acquainted. ceived from the hand of nature, an unusual or superior
Peter HORBERG, the Swedish painter, born in 1746, development.
is the instance of unaided and almost unfriended geThis harmony in the mental constitution of which nius alluded to. He was by birth, one of the humblest we have spoken, may be more or less perfect and com- peasants of his poor country ; obliged from childhood plete, and we would not confine the possession of ge- through a good portion of his life to obtain a scanty nius to that fortunate and very limited number of indi- living by rural labor, and indulging the inestimable viduals who possess it in its highest degree and retain promptness of his genius during many years, only in it under all circumstances. If so, we would perhaps *“ Leibnits—whose genius we cannot too much admire-Lei. fall into the dilemma of proscribing the illustrious bnits was hinself a disciple of Descartes ; a disciple, it is true, Shakespeare himself, who sometimes led away by the who surpassed his master, but who unfortunately led away by bad taste of his age, has indulged in freaks of the ima. distractions of political life, has only thrown out some admira
a universal curiosity or passion for all kinds of glory and the gination and vagaries and quips which no refined mind ble views, without any clear and definite system.”—M. Cousin's can now read without regret and pain. But this is very | Introd. to Analyses of Kant's Works.
the few leisure hours which he could snatch from toil riority over common minds, he has neglected to acquire The education which the humble means of his parent those necessary items of information which alone can could afford hiin, was of course extremely limited, and secure success in the world at large, and is too apt to the small attainments of his father, who was his first expect the latter to await, as a matter of course, the and principal teacher, could not, even with a parent's mere exhibition of his exalted mental endowments. zeal, do much for his son. But this son possessed that Or, perhaps, the same result may arise from the excluwithin his own mind, which did not, it is true, make sive devotion of all the powers of his mind to the par
for instruction, but enabled him to turn what he re- ticular sphere of his genius : the absorption, as it were, ceived to its utmost account, and prompted him unceas- of every idea into the magic circle which it throws ingly to further and higher acquirements. While em- around it. Both of these causes are equally insufficient ployed as a shepherd boy, he filled up his leisure hours in palliation of their unfortunate effects. They are no with copying from memory, on birch bark, the rude necessary, though it may be, frequent accompaniments wood-cuts he had cursorily seen in the almanacks and of genius. They point to a neglected or partial educasmall catechisms then used in Sweden; and afterwards tion as their ultimate cause, and impose with fearful carved in soft wood with his knife, the altar-pieces and certainty the responsibility of their consequences upon other ornaments of the parish church. Entirely igno- the authors of, and accessaries to, this neglect or ignorant of the nature and composition of oil colors, he dis-rance, covered for himself the method of using ochre, burnt The other truth is that the possession of genius will clay, chalk and charcoal practised by painters in rayons. not compensate for the want of study and diligent apIn this humble way he proceeded for several years, till plication. The almost only defect in the paintings of he arrived at the age of sixteen, when, by an accident, Horberg resulted from his having been deprived of the he was transferred to one of the principal towns of advantages of one kind of study, the mode of finishing Sweden. His progress in his art was, of course, slow, his works. This he could not learn by himself or from unaided by instruction of any value, and destitute of inferior masters; but all his excellencies were the remeans of studying the master-pieces of his own or other sult of the inspirations of his genius, trained and directcountries. But the enthusiasm of his genius sustained ed by long and intense study. him amid all the difficulties of his situation, and un I am aware that this latter inference is directly optiring application and study enabled him, at an early posed to the prevailing opinion of the present day. It period, to produce pieces of superior excellence, which is generally supposed that the possession of genius disdecorated some of the principal churches of Sweden. penses with the necessity of study, and by an absurd in
He possessed an ardent thirst for knowledge, and his ference, that the habit of study proves the absence of mind required continual nourishment. During the ne- this quality. No opinion can be more erroneous or cessary intervals of rest from the mechanical prosecu- highly noxious to the progress and improvement of the tion of his art, he studied and mastered its theory, ob- young particularly. The highest and most favorable lained an education, though not classical nor highly development of any mental faculty cannot, aside from refined, yet immeasurably above that common to his study and reading, make its possessor acquainted with rank in life. His success in his profession was such as the state and condition of the particular department of to enable him in his old age to retire from active em- knowledge to which its tendencies direct him. By a ployment and to engage himself in the writing an ac- neglect of study, if his mind does not fall into an indocount of his life, published after his death and upon lent and lethargic habit, he can, at best, like the young which a Swedish writer makes this observation, that it Ferguson, as he lay watching the stars, but vainly busy was “a work remarkable in many respects, and the himself in working out inventions and discoveries which publication of which is a valuable acquisition to the li- have ceased to be new, and thus but tread again the path terature of Sweden.”
which has already been discovered and threaded, perWe have given no details of the life of this remarka-haps centuries before. And this, too, is the brightest ble man, nor of the character of his works. Suffice it view of the case. The most probable fate that awaits a to say, that the latter were characterized by vividness mind that despises study and application, is incurable and grandness of conception, combined with accuracy indolence and lethargy. The most brilliant intellect or of detail, and deficient only in finish arising from his imagination, if left to riot on itself, will soon fail in fur. want of early instruction,
nishing its necessary and appropriate nourishment, and Two facts of some importance, especially to young will go out in darkness and disgrace. Let not then the men, may be deduced from the history of Horberg. The diligent student be scoffed at or despised. For why first is, that genius is not necessarily unfortunate: that should he? If possessed of genius, he can employ it it can, united with the qualities of perseverance and to ten-fold advantage when enriched with the labors of industry, attain success as easily and surely as less kindred spirits that have preceded it, and nourished highly gifted individuals. The opinion so commonly with the fruits of by-gone ages. Despised? Rather let entertained, that the possession of genius is synonymous such an one, if his efforts be directed to laudable ends, with misfortune, is partly founded in truth, arising from be respected and praised, for he is using the high pow. the faults and imperfections of the mind that possesses it. ers which his Creater has bestowed upon him, in their The individual thus highly endowed, generally, from an legitimate manner. Rather let those who laugh at the imperfect or neglected education, has grown up in igno- diligent and retiring student, be despised for their ignorance of the world and its ways. Perhaps early imbued by rance, their thoughtlessness, their heartlessness; heart. some partial friend, with an exaggerated idea of his supe- lessness that would attempt, by their unmeaning scoffs