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As I am myself growing old, I cultivate, as much as I can, a disposition to enjoy the happiness of younger people; and I do believe that one great advantage of having young people in whom we are interested is, that it prolongs, in some sort, the warmth of youth, and prevents the blood from cooling, and the heart from freezing, amidst the snows of
I am much obliged to you for mentioning Miss Keir. Through the haze of twenty years I look back upon her with kindness and gratitude: she is an excellent woman; may her remaining years be peaceful, and her transition to a better world easy and happy! When you see her, let her know that I have still the watch she gave me in Edinburgh, which I once shewed to her celebrated brother, and that I have lately had it new gilded and repaired, intending it as a present to my son William.
I hear a very favourable character of
If she be a woman of the discernment I suppose, she will learn to appreciate
properly. To have such a tutor to a young man as he will make, is no common blessing to parents who wish to have their son receive instruction, not by precept only,
* The friend of Watt.
but by the silent, though much surer, way of example.
Adieu, my dear aunt: assure yourself of my kind remembrance, and of my unalterable af. fection. When I think of you, the idea recalls friends long in their graves; and time, which wears away fainter impressions, makes others more deep. Receive, then, for
Receive, then, for yourself my true regard; and receive also some portion of those sentiments of tenderness and veneration which I owe to the best of women *, whose representative on earth I always consider you, and after whom I look with humble hope. Once more adieu.
To Dr. William Wright, F.R.S.L. and E.,
Liverpool, Nov. 21. 1799. MY DEAR SIR, I hope to enter very particularly with you on medical subjects before long; and I should be stupid indeed, if I did not endeavour to profit by
* Miss Duncan, mentioned in the early part of the narrative.
+ This letter is published in the Memoir of Dr. Wright, noticed Vol. I. p. 218.
your power, as well as by your inclination, to
I have received my friend Wells's powerful pamphlet *, and have read it with emotions of sympathy and admiration. It is like the man, in some respects even superior to what I expected. No argument can be put more clearly, nor urged, I think, with more energy. It is impossible but that those against whom it is directed, must wince under the flagellation they have received, which they will neither know how to submit to nor how to repel. It is not possible but that they must shrink under the chastisement of such an adversary, or that they should bear him any other sentiments than those of inveterate enmity, springing out of the mixed sensations of fear and hatred.
I fear my high-minded friend has taken a very imprudent step; and I cannot but calculate the consequences to himself as likely to be injurious. Since he has gone so far, I wish, however, he would publish his book, to prevent the misrepresentations which will otherwise be affixed to it. I hear the lawyers are highly pleased with
*“ A Letter to Lord Kenyon, relative to the Conduct of the Royal College of Physicians of London, posterior to the Decision of the Court of King's Bench in the Case of Dr. Stanger, 1799."
it, especially with the part in which he lashes our profession, which, I confess, I thought too
It seems to me that he has avoided, very successfully, the imputation of disrespect to Lord Kenyon.
What think you of the style? I thought it very superior. What he says of you is universally, I find, thought extremely to the purpose, and has occasioned in Sir L. P. great uneasiness. So I was told by a London lawyer a few days ago. How beautiful is the eulogium on Heberden!
You must know that Wells and I were schoolfellows, and slept a long time in the same room. I know him, of course, well, and am deeply interested in him. The man is singularly noble, brave beyond all sense of fear, -ready to sacrifice his life to serve any generous purpose, –and not capable of a mean or base thing to save his life. He has the corresponding faults,
--an unbend ing pride, unaccommodating manners, inflexible determination, a disposition to act solely under the impulse of his own lofty spirit, and to scorn the consequences, whatever they may be. With all these obstacles to success, such is the strength of his talents, that he would rise to the first rank of society, if the life of man were lengthened to twice or thrice its present duration. I wish he could get a professorship in your University : there he would shine, and he could lecture on any branch of science. Pray excuse all this: I write in confidence. Your much obliged friend and servant,
To Walter Scott, Esq., (now Sir Walter Scott, Bart.), Edinburgh.
Liverpool, Nov. 28. 1800. SIR, I should sooner have answered your letter of the 18th October, had not the occupation of my time, with other pressing objects, deprived me of the leisure necessary to make the examination into the MSS. of Burns, which a compliance with your request required.
The unfortunate bard never arranged his papers: the only division made of them has been into poetry and prose, and the subdivision of poetry into such as was written by himself, and such as was communicated to him by others. In this last division only could be expected any of the objects of your research. It is extensive: a great part consists of poems in the Scottish dialect, addressed to Burns himself, in general