Sidor som bilder

come to his grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season. Faxit Deus.

“I ask leave to condole with the Hon. Lady Abney on the death of Mrs. Gunston, and to congratulate her on the mercy of God in her own recovery. May she live long in good health, a still more extensive blessing to her family and this unworthy world!

“ I thank you, Sir, very heartily for your share of the fiftyfour discourses delivered at Mr. Coward's lecture, the two volumes being sent me by my excellent friend Dr. Guyse.

“ I pray God to pour out upon you and upon your brethren more and more of his Holy Spirit. That you may be faithful to your great Lord and Master, even unto death, and then receive the crown of life, is the prayer of,

“My dear friend,

“Your most obliged and most humble servant,


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The biography of Watts has been hitherto a detail of literary labours; few incidents occurred to disturb the calm and even flow of his history; and little presents itself to interest those who are fond of novelty and eager for excitement. “The life of a scholar," says Goldsmith, “seldom abounds with ad. venture — his fame is acquired in solitude.”

solitude." That retirement which is indispensable for literary pursuits, deprives those who would distinguish themselves by intellectual exertion of the opportunity, and often of the inclination, to mingle prominently in the active concerns of life. In the language of Milton they must shut themselves up

“ In some high lonely tower,
Where they may oft outwatch the boar
With thrice great Hermes."


The studious are seldom practical men : years of patient devotion to abstruse pursuits, unfit them for the tumult of a bustling world; or the sensitiveness which usually accompanies the higher endowments of genius, leads them to recoil from a contact with the prejudices and passions of mankind; or the timidity which is the usual product of long habits of seclusion, causes them to shun those engagements which induce prominence and notoriety. The tendency of Watts's mind was towards a life of retirement; this disposition was strengthened by the ill health to which he was subject; but when summoned to the post of duty, he never failed to tear himself from his beloved solitude, to meet the task that was assigned unto him. And when free from the attacks of his complaint, the duties that devolved upon him were many and arduous. Besides his regular ministry at Bury Street, he had an extensive correspondence at home and abroad to maintain; he was intimately connected with the various plans of usefulness that were formed among the dissenters; in the concerns of New England he took a prominent part; and he was frequently called to the discharge of extraordinary ministerial services. In the midst of such avocations, and a constant martyr to disease, to produce such a number of important works, embracing a range of subject so extended, evinces an industry and application rarely equalled, never surpassed. What is said of Gallus in Cicero's treatise on Old Age, was often true with reference to Watts at the commencement of his career when he sat down to write in the morning, he was surprised by the evening; and when he took up his pen in the evening, he was surprised by the appearance of the morning.

It was the happiness of Dr. Watts to be placed in circumstances the most favourable for the gratification of his taste and genius: he had none of the anxieties of domestic life, with a large share of its comforts: the kind attentions of Lady Abney anticipated all his wants, and afforded erery facility for the prosecution of his studies. Under her roof he pursued the “noiseless tenor of his way,” a blessing to the family, the church, and to the world, repaying the regard of his hostess with his prayers and counsels. In doing good he was truly in labours more abundant; he was constantly on the watch for opportunities of usefulness; and suffered no occasion of advancing the cause of his divine Master to escape him unimproved. The end at which he aimed in his numerous writings was not to procure applause, or to relieve his readers of a vacant hour; but to communicate a medicine to the mind diseased, to vindicate Christianity from the aspersions of shallow philosophers and licentious wits, and assert the great principles of virtue and religion in a degenerate age. At the entrance of his study, on the outside, appeared the following lines of Horace, denouncing the faithless friend, printed and hung up in a frame:

“ Absentem qui rodit amicum
Qui non defendit, alio culpante; solatos
Qui captat risus hominum, famamq; dicacis,
Fingere qui non visa potest, commissa tacere
Qui nequit, hic niger est; hunc tu, Romane, caveto."

Sat. 4. I. 81.

The spaces in the study where there were no shelves, were abundantly covered with prints of considerable persons, mostly divines. On one side of the large and high pannel over the fire-place an inscription from Horace was hung up among the portraits :

"Locus est pluribus umbris."

On the other side of the pannel there was another inscription, encircled with portraits, soliciting an addition to his illustrious shades:

“Quis me doctorum propria dignabitur umbra.”

The house at Stoke Newington in which Lady Abney re

sided, and which was occupied by her surviving daughter* until the year 1782, still retains some interesting memorials of Dr. Watts. There is a costly apartment, called the painted room, a curious specimen of the taste of the age in which it was arranged. The mouldings are gilt, and the whole of the pannels on the sides are painted with subjects taken from Ovid. On the window-shutters are some pictorial decorations, which are supposed to have been added by Watts's pencil. These consist of the emblems of Death and Grief, together with the arms of Gunston and Abney, evidently alluding to their lamented decease. The contrast between these mournful emblems and the other embellishments of the room, is strongly marked. Dr. Watts frequently employed his pencil in his leisure hours; and some of his paintings, the heads of Democritus, Heraclitus, Aristotle, and Alexander, are said to have been executed with considerable taste and skill. In the grounds attached to the manor house the stately “elms” still remain, which are mentioned in his poems as the scene of friendly intercourse with their beloved owner.t Associations of a pleasing and profitable kind, connect themselves with a spot, the residence for so many years of so much piety and genius; the devout mind is humbled by a sense of its own deficiencies, and excited to emulate the example of eminent attainment placed before it; and the prayer is prompted in the heart of the Christian visiter, that as “the harvest" is still “plenteous,” more such labourers may be sent forth by the Lord of the harvest.

The infirmities of age began now rapidly to advance upon Dr. Watts ; he already trembled beneath the weight of years;

* Of this lady the late Dr. Winter was accustomed to relate an anecdote of his early life with great glee. Dressed in the costume of a belle of George the First's reign, with formidable hoop and all the appurtenances of the ancien régime, her appear. ance betokened considerable antiquity. On being introduced to her presence the boy was abashed ; but the good dame, by way of being familiar, condescended to inquire how old he thought she was. The awe-struck youngster, eyeing the venerable figure before him, replied, “Madam, nine hundred years!

+ Brown's Stoke Newington.

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