Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

presque partout considéré comme sacré, comme un don du ciel. On l'a voulu entretenir continuellement sur les autels : on a consacré pour cela des vierges, des prêtres, dans différens pays: tout cela ne semble-t-il pas prouver que l'homme n'a jamais été privé d'un don si utile, et qu'il l'a reçu de la main de Dieu même. Pourquoi un Créateur, dont la bonté éclate partout, auroit-il laissé souffrir à sa créature des inconveniens si terribles, si capables de l'abutir, lorsqu'il lui étoit si aisé de l'en délivrer. Ne'st-il pas naturel de croire, que lui ayant enseigné (comme l'Ecriture le dit expressément) à lui offrir des sacrifices, ce premier acte d'obéissance après sa chute fut récompensé par un témoignage visible de l'acceptation de Dieu, seul capable de rassurer l'homme pécheur; Et quel signe plus convenable que celui d'un feu miraculeux, tel que celui qui consuma le sacrifice à la consécration du tabernacle, et qui par l'ordre de Dieu ne devoit jamais s'éteindre ? Signe miraculeux, signe frappant de la colère divine, exerçant sa juste vengeance sur l'image du pécheur; mais signe plein de bénédictions pour l'homme; puis-qu'il lui faisoit connoître la bonté de son Père tout-puissant par la connoissance d'un élément si utile; et que, selon toute apparence, il n'eut jamais pu découvrir par lui-même.

6 Monsieur Buffon auroit pu aussi apprendre de Moise que Dieu avoit enseigné à l'homme à se vêtir." ui no

By the death of his father, Mr. Bowdler became possessed of such an income as he deemed sufficient to enable him to live, as those who preceded him had lived, humbly, but respectably, without the labour and anxiety of

WS

attending a profession. So great a change was afterwards made, through various circumstances, that he was sometimes reduced to much difficulty. In the year 1786, however, the country was recovering from the effects of the American war, and under the administration of the extraordinary man who was then at the head of our councils, all things promised a long course of peace and increasing prosperity. Mr. Bowdler removed from London to Sevenoaks, in Kent, where he rented a house, upon a seven years' lease. Sevenoaks is one of the choicest spots in , a county which nature and art have equally combined to adorn ; rich in wood and lawn, in grove and meadow, in vallies standing thick with corn, or luxuriant in hops and fruit; and (unless they have degenerated from the praise of their ancestors) in the bravery and civility of its inhabitants. Mr. Bowdler inhabited a house in a highly favoured situation, enjoying a paddock of forty acres; bounded on one side by the magnificent beech woods of Knowle, the venerable residence of the Duke of Dorset, and opening on the other to a beautiful view down the valley, which runs at the foot of the chalk hills. The house is now pulled down, and the place much altered; but memory loves to trace the spots which were rambled over in the simplicity, if not the innocence, of childhood; when every object assumed a magnitude and importance which it did not

really possess, and every part was distinguished by boyish freaks or playful fancy.

The life of an English country-gentleman has been often celebrated as affording a large portion of that comfort which is the boast of this island. The health and ease, the retirement from noise and bustle, from the war of the tongue and of the sword, the happy removal from the splendour of the great, and the sufferings of the humble :these, with a thousand other circumstances, make it the envy and the aim of many whose lot has been cast in a different situation, and the subject of praise both to the poet and the philosopher. To Mr. Bowdler, who was much averse from mixing in the business or the politics of the parish or the county, it opened a prospect of that mode of life which seemed well suited to the views and desires of an useful, unambitious man. Various circumstances, and matters of business, afforded him sufficient employment, and any plan which tended to promote the good of his fellow-creatures, found in him an active and zealous supporter. Thus, he was particularly forward in the establishment of Sunday schools, in that extensive parish, which was divided into three districts, for that purpose. He took an active part in the management of them during his residence there, and contributed to them an annual subscription afterwards. Here he engaged the regard and friendship of several excellent persons, particularly of Multon Lanbard, Esq.

(whose name must not be mentioned, without re- . cording the service which, in union with his friend and neighbour, Lord Amherst, he has rendered to that parish, and to the church of Christ, by the erection and endowment of a chapel in a populous and ill-instructed district), and of his amiable and excellent, much beloved and much lamented brother, the Rev. Thomas Lambard, the pious and benevolent pastor,—the sound and wellread divine,—the affectionate friend and relative, —the accomplished scholar, and polite gentleman. In him were found, in happy union, the soberest judgment with the tenderest heart; the warmth of affection which attaches the equal, and the benevolence which engages the inferior; the studies which dignify retirement, and the elegancies which adorn society; the piety which elevates the mind, and the poverty of spirit which qualifies it for the kingdom of God. His saltem accumulem donis!

The regular attendance which Mr. Bowdler gave to the service of the church, and the uniformly strict propriety of his conduct, together with his charity to the poor, obtained the respect, as well as regard, of his friends and neighbours. This was never, through life, purchased by undue compliance with the humour of the idle or the fashion of the gay. Regardless of both, though unwilling to give offence to either, and always disposed to promote innocent mirth, he kept the steady and

[ocr errors]

m

[ocr errors]

en

“ noiseless tenor of his way." Yet his desire to do good led him sometimes to put himself forward and offer advice unasked, and which might, perhaps, be unheeded. He was particularly anxious to prevent disputes and reconcile differences; and often interposed upon such occasions, though at the risk of giving offence. He was continually seeking opportunities to direct in the right way, those over whom he possessed any influence. To the young, and especially to the children of his friends, he would give counsel, and inculcate sound religious principles, with all the anxious care of one who knew the value of that wisdom which is more precious than rubies; and some of them have deeply felt, in their walk through life, the value of the precepts which they received from him. The following letter was addressed by him to a young man who was his godson.

66 Though I did not, in person, answer for you at the font, yet when your father desired me to be your godfather, he certainly meant more than that I should give a trifling gratuity to your nurse; and, as he was, and is, and, I hope, will ever be, my old and good friend, I considered myself as in some measure bound to do the duty of a godfather by you. As I have seen little of you since, I have had few opportunities of executing this office, and as you have enjoyed the great blessing of virtuous parents, who have, themselves, attended to your education, there was the less occasion for my interference. The time is now

« FöregåendeFortsätt »