« EdellinenJatka »
for centuries, as a place of execution, when the Convention, in order to render the insult over royalty still greater, applied the square between the Champs Elise and the Thuilleries to that purpose ; it has since, however, been restored to its former privilege of affording a place for the scaffold of every poor wretch that dies by the sentence of the law : the spot generally chosen for that purpose, from time immemorial, is in the south-eastern corner of the square ; a spot fatal to La Bruivilliers, Desraes, and other outcasts of mankind, and to some also who deserved a better fate : it was here that Gcorges was executed, with eight or ten of his friends and associates. The man who ventures secretly within the boundaries of an established government, with a view to blow the fame of civil war, must be content to forfeit his life, if he is detected; but there are circumstances in some instances, which alleviate the odium of such an enterprise ; and Georges ought not to be confounded with a lurking assassin, whose only object is murder. You will find in Smollet and in Macpherson's History of England, the account of a similar enterprise in the reign of King William, which was undertaken by a number of ill-advised but gallant gentlemen, in favour of the exiled family; and it is thought that the Duke D'Enghien, whose death has been so universally lamented, even in France, had once ventured into Paris, as the Duke of Berwick, tells us in his memoirs, that he did upon an occasion, into London. Had this unfortunate Prince been discovered at the time, and had there been even the formality of justice, and a public trial, the world might still have pitied him, but they must in great measure have exculpated the government, whose severity would have appeared an act of legal self-defence; but from the manner in which this shocking affair was planned and executed, it deserves to be branded with the censure of all mankind : it was a violent outrage, ending in an act of deliberate murder. Some sense of so foul a deed will adhere, it is to be honed, to the conscience of him who ordered it, all hardened as he is ; fortune may not smile upon him always, and in some moment of uncertainty and anxiety, he may have dreams not unlike those of Richard, on Dosworth field, in his tent, and to the full as horrible as that which Clarence speaks of, when he relates all he had suffered in so dismal a night, and tells, in an agony of distress, of the phantom he had seen, and of the shadow like an Angel, with bright hair, dabbled in blood.
In the year 1805 a quarto poem, a posthumous work of the late Dr. John Blair Linn issued from one of the respectable presses of this city. This poetical volume was entitled Valerian, a narrative Poem, intended, in part, to describe the early persecutions of Christians, and rapidly to illustrate the influence of Christianity on the manners of nations. The design of this performance was obviously pious, and the execution, in many instances, perfectly poetical. When it is remembered that it was an unfinished and unrevised work, instead of provoking the severity of Criticism, it ought to experience much of the warmth of Applause. Still it is obviously but an outline which the adventurous artist happily drew, but which the mortal man never filled. What, in our opinion, gives the greatest value to this volume is the Memoir of the author prefixed to his book. This elegant specimen of affectionate Biography is the production of Charles B. Brown, a relative of the deceased, and a man of letters by profession, who is distinguished by many publications both of beauty and utility. On this occasion we think he has acquitted himself with singular dexterity. The subject of his memorial, though unquestionably a man of genius, experienced no extraordinary vicissitudes, achieved no romantic adventures, visited no distant regions, and died at a juvenile age. Still from the scanty incidents afforded by a blameless and sequestered life, our Biographer has contrived to frame a story, which interests both the Imagination and the Passions.
As the volume, in which this memoir originally appeared, is now exceed. ingly scarce, only a few copies being struck off for subscribers, we have thought it honourable to the literature of America, to preserve, in The Port Folio, the Biography of Dr. Linn. This walk of composition has not been very often pursued in this country, and with the exception of the late Dr. Belknap and of Judge Marshall, we do not remember many names, who have distinguished themselves in this delightful department of composition. Mr. B. has very happily succeeded, and in our opinion, he has on more than one occasion, successfully emulated Dr. Johnson when in his best mood. The following article is a fine specimen of a style pure, harmonious, and correct.
ED. A SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER
OF JOHN BLAIR LINN.
John Blair Linn was descended from ancestors who originally came from the British islands. They appear to have been emigrants at an early period, and to have given their descendants as just a claim to the title of American, as the nature of things will allow any civilized inhabitant of the United States to acquire.
His name bears testimony to the paternal and maternal stock' from which he sprung. His great-grandfather, William Linn, was
an emigrant from Ireland, who settled land in the wilderness of Pennsylvania, and whose eldest son, William, was the father of a numerous family.
The father of John Blair Linn received a careful education, which his family enabled him to completc at the college at Princeton. He was trained to the ministry, in the presbyterian church, and married, at an early age, Rebecca Blair, the third daughter of the Rev. John Blair. Her brother and uncle were likewise clergymen, and the family were eminently distinguished by their knowledge and piety
Their eldest son, John Blair Linn, was born in Shippensburg, in Pennsylvania, March 14, 1777, at no great distance from the spot at which his father first drew breath, and where his greatgrandfather first established his residence in this new world. The humble dwelling which was first erected in the forest still existed, at a small distance from that town, and continued for a considerable time after this, to be inhabited by his great-grandfather, who lived upwards of a hundred years.
It is impossible for his survivors to recount the earliest inci. dents of his life; to trace the first indications of future character and genius; or enumerate the little adventures and connexions of his childhood. The juvenile stages of our moral and intellectual progress, which are in all cases entertaining and instructive, are so, in a particular manner, when they relate to eminent persons. The authentic memorials of any man's life and character are only to be found in his own narrative compared with the observalions of others. In the present case, Mr. Linn's modesty preveni. ed him from being his own historian, and peculiar circumstances occasioned his early life to pass over without much observation from others. We cannot any longer profit by his own recollections: the hand is now cold, and the tongue silent, which were best qualified to gratify the curiosity of love or veneration. We only know that lie acquired the rudiments of knowledge at an age somewhat carlier than is customary. He was initiated into the Latin language while yet a child, and evinced very early a strong attachment to books. On his father's removal to New-York, when John was only nine years old, he enjoyed new opportunities of improvement, under several respectablc teachers. The happiest pericd of his life, however, in his own opinion, consisted of
two or three years which he spent at a place of education at Flatbush, in Long-Island. He was in his thirteenth year when he left this seminary for New-York, where, at Columbia College, his oducation was completed.
Fortunate is that man who has spent any part of bis early years at a country school. In youth, every object possesses the charms of novelty; care and disease have as yet made no inroads on the heart, nor stained that pure and bright medium, through which the external world makes its way to the fancy. The noise, the filth, the dull sights and unwholesome exhalations of a city are, in consequence of this enchantment, ever new and delightful to the youthful heart ; but how much is this pleasure heightened, when the objects presented to view, and by which we are surrounded, are in themselves agreeable! There is something in the refreshing smells, the green, the quiet, the boundless prospects of the country, congenial to the temper of human beings at all ages; but these possess ineffable charms at that age, when the joints are firm and elastic, when the pulse beats cheerily, and no dark omens or melancholy retrospects invade the imagination. To roam through a wood with gay companions, to search the thicket for blackberries, to bathe in the clear running brook, are pleasures which fill the memory with delicious images, and are frequently called up to afford a liitle respite to the heart from the evils of our subsequent experience.
Dr. Linn was indebted to nature for a healthful rather than a robust constitution. He was a stranger to disease till after he had reached manhood, and of that constitutional vivacity, which mere health confers, he possessed a very large share. His fancy was alive to the beauties of nature, and he experienced none of those little vexations and crosses, which some lads are doomed to suffer, through the malice of school-fellows, the tyranny of ushers, and the avarice of housekeepers. Hence, in the latter part of his life, no recollections were so agreeable as those of the time he passed at Flatbush, when he revelled in the full enjoyment of health, and its attendant cheerfulness. They formed a vivid contrast to that joyless and dreary state, to which disease afterwards reduced him.
He was near fourteen years of age when he returned home and went to college. He now entered on a scene widely different, in all respects, from that to which he had been previously accustomed: a new system of scholastic discipline, a new circle of associ
ates, the sensations and views incident to persons on the eve of manhood.
The ensuing four years were active and important ones. The moral and intellectual dispositions, which men may possibly bring into the world with them, become fixed and settled, and receive their final direction at this age. When the appetites are vigorous, the senses keen, and the conduct regulated by temper and passion, rather than by prudence and experience, we are most alive to all impressions, and generally take that path which we pursue for the rest of our days. It was during this period that Mr. Linn's taste was formed; and though his moral and professional views. underwent considerable changes afterwards, the literary inclina. tion which he now imbibed, or unfolded, continued to adhere to him for the rest of his life.
His genius now evinced a powerful tendency to poetry and criticism. What are called the fine writers of the age, and especi. ally the poets, became his darling study. In a youthful breast, the glow of admiration is soon followed by the zeal to imitate; and he not only composed several pieces, both in prose and verse, but procured the publication of some of them in a distinct volume, before his seventeenth year. These performances possess no small merit, if we may judge of them by comparison with the youth and inexperience of the writer. They manifest considerable reading, a remarkably improved taste, and talents which only wanted the discipline and knowledge of age to make them illustrious.
In a city where there is an established theatre, a young man, smitten with a passion for letters, can scarcely fail of becoming an assiduous frequenter of its exhibitions. Plays form a large portion of the fashionable literature of a refined nation. The highest powers of invention are displayed in the walks of dramatic poetry; and what the young enthusiast devours in his closet, he bastens with unspeakable eagerness to behold invested with the charms of life and action on the stage.. At that period, some performers of merit had been recently imported from Europe, the theatre was, in an eminent degree, a popular amusement, and Mr. Linn was at that age when the enchantment of such exhibitions is greatest.' The theatre accordingly became his chief passion.
To austere and scrupulous minds, the theatre is highly obnox. jous, not only as hurtful in itself, but as seducing unwary youth