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have listened with pleasure to the praises of their own nation or family, when compared with others, may be mortified at the same praises when they have reason to apprehend that the unfavourable part of the comparison may fall upon themselves. If a nation or family is esteemed learned, brave, &c. more of those qualities will be expected from every individual of it than from those of another, and it is often observed that a person might be reckoned clever, beautiful, &c. in another family, who is unnoticed in his own, where all excel in those qualities. If they conversed with the inhabitants of other planets, their pride might be gratified by encomiums on human nature; but when this is not the case, the praise bestowed on the whole, tends rather to mortify the pride of each individual. Whatever excellence is ascribed to human nature, will be expected, of course, from every human creature, and no one can value himself upon it; the advances he has made beyond this are all that he can call his own; and the higher the common standard is raised, the more difficult will be the task of every one to rise above it, and the less will he have to boast of that which is peculiar to himself; for the merit of every individual must be estimated, not by the degree of excellence he has attained, but by the proportion his attainments bear to his powers; or rather (as it is not easy to form a perfect estimate of those powers) by the proportion they bear to the attainments of others: thus a high opinion of human nature leads to a low opinion of human merit. Whatever good or bad qualities are ascribed to all, are supposed natural, and, consequently, neither the objects of praise or blame; and pride may often find its own interest in throwing the faults of individuals upon human nature in general, and thereby freeing them from the blame which must otherwise have fallen upon themselves in particular."
The decease of Miss Bowdler was followed, about a twelve-month after, by that of her father. The following character of him was inserted in a small publication which appeared at Bath a few years before his death.
"Turn your eyes to that elderly gentleman in a pompadour coat; he is a constant resident at Bath, and one of the most benevolent men of that, or, perhaps, any other place.
"'Look less upon the world and without thee', says some moralist, 'and turn thine eyes inward, and find felicity there.' That gentleman has long found this observation true. In the midst of the world he totally disregards its false glare and foolish judgments: prudent in his conduct, active in every duty, charitable and pious, he enjoys himself with the greatest cheerfulness and content; he is not guided by the opinion of the world, which he cannot always subscribe to, and never takes any step merely in consequence of the judgment which the world will form of it. In matters of religion he is guided by the precepts of the Gospel, and the dictates of his conscience. In matters of temporal concern, he only considers if they are consistent with his duty, and tending to his present and eternal happiness; if it be, he steadily pursues it; if not, he declines it, without the least regard to what this man may say, or that may think. Thus he has attained to a degree of peace and composure, superior to any I remember, and well deserves to be esteemed a happy man."
This portrait, though it delineates correctly aiew features, is far from being complete. One very remarkable omission, which requires to be supplied, is his peculiar gentleness and suavity. Nothing seemed to have power to ruffle his temper. His was the very milk of human kindness. Even when he had cause of displeasure, his reproofs were conveyed with so much mildness, that he appeared incapable of entertaining an unkind thought, or of uttering a harsh expression. Censure itself assumed a pleasing character as it passed from his lips. With this gentleness of spirit, it is not surprising that he united great warmth of affection and tenderness of heart. He seemed to be always employed in doing good, and no man better understood the art of giving comfort when he could give nothing else. There is, as every one knows, a manner of bestowing a kindness which enhances tenfold the value of the gift. His affection for his friends, and yet more for his children, was such, that were it not for the expressions of pious resignation which flow naturally, and almost uninterruptedly from his pen, the perusal of his letters written during the severe illness of a darling child, which has been already alluded to, would be exceeding painful. To this must be added his extreme playfulness. This made him in his younger years the delight of those who knew him intimately, and his letters show continual proofs of it at a period of life, when age is apt to chill the genial current of the soul, and care and sorrow spread a cloud over the brow. Being naturally'of a very modest and retired character, he was very averse from any display of learning or talent. He was, however, no mean scholar, had an excellent library, and was well acquainted with its contents. Upon religious subjects he was remarkably well read, and the papers to which from time to time he committed many of his thoughts, show a knowledge of the subject and perspicuity of expression which render them well worthy of perusal. His acquaintance with men* and books, his good sense, and playfulness
* The following interesting, and (let it be added) important anecdote is copied from a paper in his hand-writing.
"In the year 1734, I was in company with Colonel Scott, at Boulogne sur Mer in France, when the Colonel called me to him, and said, ' Mr. Bowdler, you are a young man, and I am an old one; I will tell you an anecdote worth your remembering. When the Duke of Monmouth was in the Tower, under sentence of death, I had the command of the guard there, and one morning, the Duke desired me to let him have pen, ink, and paper, for he wanted to write to the King. He wrote a very long letter, and when he had sealed it, he desired me to give him my word and honour that I would carry that letter, and would deliver it into the King's own hand. I told him I would most willingly do it, if it was in my power; but that my orders were not to stir from him till his execution, and, therefore, I dared not leave the Tower. At this he expressed great uneasiness, saying he knew he could have depended upon my honour; but at length he asked me if there was any officer in that place, on whose fidelity I could rely. I told him Captain was one on whom I would confide in any thing on
which my own life depended, and more than that I could not say of any man. The Duke desired he might be called. When he was come, and the Duke had told him the affair, he promised on his word and honour that he would deliver the letter to no person whatever, but to the King only. Accordingly he went immediately to court, and being come near the
of disposition made him a delightful letter writer, and equally agreeable in conversation. He was much valued and beloved by those who knew him, and he engaged, beyond even most parents, the reverence and affection of his children, leaving behind him a remembrance which they cherished with peculiar tenderness. He died in a good old age, in May, 1785, and was interred in the family vault, in the burial ground of St. George the Martyr. The reader may, perhaps, be pleased to see the following extract from a letter written by him only nine months before his decease.
door of the King's closet, took the letter out of his pocket to give to the King. Just then Lord Sunderland came out of the closet, and seeing him, asked what he had in his hand; he said it was a letter from the Duke of Monmouth, which he was going to give to the King. Lord Sunderland said, ' Give it me, I will carry it to him.' 'No, my Lord,' said the Captain, 'I pawned my honour to the Duke that I would deliver it to no man but the King himself.' 'But,' says Lord S.' the King is putting on his shirt, and you cannot be admitted into the closet; but the door shall stand so far open, that you shall see me give it to him.' After many words, Lord S. prevailed on the Captain to give him the letter, and his lordship went with it into the closet. After the Revolution, Colonel Scott (who followed the fortune of King James) going one day to see the King at dinner, at St. Germain's, in France, the King called him to him, and said, ' Colonel Scott, I have lately heard a thing that I want to know from you whether it is true.' The King then related the story, and the Colonel assured him that what his majesty had been told was exactly true. Upon which the King said,' Then, Colonel Scott, as I am a living man, I never saw that letter, nor did I ever hear of it till within these few days.'"