force me then to tell you,” cried she, bursting into tears. “Know then that the prince you are so desirous of serving, is the author of my shame and of your father's death. I was about fifteen, and among the attendants who waited on his mother, when the wretch, imposing on my age and credulity, by the most sacred oaths, contrived to seduce me, -In short, I was ruined. The perfidious prince, soon after, went to Spain, in hopes of marrying the infania. I should have been entirely lost, if your father had not come to London. To him I was obliged to own my misfortune and the consequences which I dreaded. That dear brother, afflicted even to tears, ran immediately to the queen, obtained permission to take me away, and sent me to one of his seats near Edinburgh, where I remained till I was perfectly recovered. Alas !” added she, “I was doomed to see him no more. The grief which he conceived for my undoing soon killed him, and his worthy wife, who after bringing you into the world, survived only a month.” Such, my dear nephew, were the secret and deplorable motives which reduced me to that obscurity in which I have since lived, and of which you are alone a quainted. Judge now, my friend, if after the care I have taken of your infancy, and the education I have procured you, say, can you devote your for 'une and arms 10 the author of so many calamilies, to a barbarian who has corried death into the breasts of your parents, and into mine eternal remorse ?" “No!” cried I, “by G**! no! the wretch is unworthy of life, and he shall die by my hand !" To tell you, my lord, by what means as refined as dangerous, my fury against the king continually increasing, was at last able to fulfil my revenge and execrable oath ; to tell you all the events, and the ex. cess of remorse which soon followed my crime, would be now too grievous in my weak state to relate. Be satisfied with knowing, that you may abhor me as much as detest myself; that the executioner of king Charles I. who appeared on the scaffold under a mask, was in fact no other than your unworthy, too guilty great grandfather, Sir George Stair.

From 1649 (when Charles I. was beheaded) to 1743 (when the battle of Dettingen was fought) there is an interval of 94 years. On a supposition that sir George Stair was 20 years old when he committed his crime, his age in 1743 must have been 114 years.

The anonymous author of these memoirs, adds ; that whatever were the emotions of lord Stair at reading this letter, his first care was to look for the street and house where he had seen his great grandfather ; but finding the house empty, he had learnt from the neighbours that it had only been occupied since eight days; that it was never known by whom ; that since the preceding night the servants had abandoned it, furnished as it was; that they could not tell of whom the tenant held the house ; the proprietor being long since settled in America.


DISTANCE FROM LAND. NAUSCOPY is the art of discovering the approach of ships, or the neighbourhood of lands, at a considerable distance.

This knowledge is not derived either from the undulation of waves, or from the subtilty of sight ; but merely from observation of the horizon, which discovers signs indicating the proximity of large objects. On the approximation of a ship towards the land, or towards another ship, there appears, in the atmosphere, a meteor of a particular nature, which, with a little attention, is visible to any person.

M. Bottineau, a native of the island of Bourbon, laid this discovery before M. de Castries, in 1784. The minister sent him back to the island to continue his observations there under the inspection and superintendance of the government.

M. Bottineau engaged, that not a single ship should arrive at the island without his having sent information of it several days before.

An exact register of his communications was kept in the secretary's office. All his reports were compared with the ship's books as soon as they arrived, to see whether the variations of weather, calms which retarded them, &c. &c. were such as agreed with his reports.

It must be observed, that when his reports were made, the watchmen, stationed on the mountains, could never perceive any appearance of ships ; for M. Boétineau announced their approach when they were more than a hundred leagues distant.

From the authenticated journal of his reports, which has been published, it appears that he was wonderfully accurate. Within eight months, and in sixty-two reports, he announced the arrival of one hundred and fifty ships of different descriptions.

Of the fact there can be no reasonable doubt; because every method was adopted to prevent deception, and his informations were not only registered, as soon as they were made, in the government office, but were also publickly known over the whole island. The officers of government, moreover, were far from being partial to M. Bottineau ; on the contrary, they were highly displeased with him for obstinately refusing to sell them his secret, which they wanted to purchase at a high price, so that he could expect no favour from their representations. Truth, however, obliged them to give abundant testimony to the reality of his extraordinary talent, in their letter to the French minister, which is published in a “Memoire sur la Nauscopie, par M, Bottineau."

The following are two of the reports extracted from this Memoire. “On the 20th of August, 1784, I discovered some vessels at the distance of four days from the island. On the following day the number multiplied considerably to my sight. This induced me to send information of many vessels. But though they were only at four days distance, I nevertheless stated in my report, that no settled time could be fixed on for their arrival, as they were detained by a calm. On the 25th, the calm was so complete, as to make me think, for a few hours, that the fleet had disappeared, and gone to some other place. I soon after perceived again the presence of the Aeet, by the revived sigrs. It was still in the same state of inaction, of which I sent information. From the 20th of August to the 10th of September, I did not cease to announce, in my reports, the continuation of the calm. On the 13th I sent word that the fleet was no longer becalmed, and that it would arrive at the island within forty-eight hours. Accordingly, to the surprise of the whole island, M. de Regnier's fleet arrived at Port Louis on the 15th. The general astonishment was greatly increased, when it was known that this fleet had been becalmed, since the 20th of August, near Rodriguez islands, which was precisely the distance that I had pointed out in my reports.

" I soon had another opportunity of showing the certainty of my observations.

A few days before the arrival of M. de Regnier's feet, I announced the appearance of another fleet, which became perceptible to me. This created a great deal of uneasiness, because, as no other French fleet was expected, that which I discovered might be English ships. I was ordered to

repeat my observations with the greatest accuracy. I clearly perceived the passage of several ships, and declared that they were not bound for our island, but were taking another course. In consequence of this : nation, the Naiade frigate and the Duc de Chartres cutter, were sud

atched to M. de Suffrein. The culter actually saw and

lish feet in the ninth degree, but unfortunately, did no

in the bay of Trincomalee. The report of the cutter eft. incredulous of the reality of my discovery."

The last circumstance of despatching the frigate and c the confidence which the French officers must have puti: of M. Bottineau. It shows also that he deserved their confi


Conjectures respecting the Phenomenon on which the preceding

were founded. The waters of the ocean form an immense gulf, in which su all kinds are swallowed up.

The innumerable multitudes of animals, fish, birds, vegetable, and productions, which decay, and are decomposed in that vast basin, pr fermentation abounding in spirits, salt, oil, sulphur, &c. &c.

The existence of these is sufficiently apparent by the disagreeable : and flavour of sea water, which can only be rendered drinkable by distillat and by the evaporation of those heterogencous particles which infect it.

The spirits intimately united to the sea waters, continue undisturbed, a long as those waters remain in a state of tranquillity ; or, at least, they ex. perience only an internal agitation, which is slightly manifested externally.

But when the waters of the sea are set into motion by storms, or by the introduction of an active mass which rides upon their surface, with violence and rapidity, the volatile vapours contained in the bosom of the sea escape, and rise up a fine mist, which forms an atmosphere round the vessel.

This atmosphere advances with the vessel, and is increased every moment by fresh emanations rising from the bottom of the water.

These emanations appear like so many small clouds, which, joining each other, form a kind of sheet projecting forward, one extremity of which touches the ship, whilst the other advances into the sea, to a considerable distance.

But this train of vapours is not visible to the sight. It escapes observation by the transparency of its particles, and is confounded with the other fluids which compose the atmosphere.

But as soon as the vessel arrives within a circumference, where it meets with other homogeneous vapours, such as those which escape from land, this sheet, which till that time had been so limpid and subtil, is suddenly seen to acquire consistence and colour, by the mixture of the two opposite columus.

This change begins at the prolonged extremities, which by their contact. are united, and acquire a colour and strength; afterwards, in proportion to the progression of the vessel, the metamorphosis increases and reaches the centre. At last the phenomenon becomes the more manifest, and the shin makes its appearance.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Memoir of

{*, the Inmate of Dr. Johnson for near thirty Years... Written

• Steevens, Esq. the celebrated Commentator on Shakspeare.

blished in Boswell's Memoirs of Johnson.] R:

TT, though an Englishman by birth,* became ear. ly in 1

coffee-house in Paris. The surgeons who frequented the b

m of an inquisitive turn, and attentive to their conversatis

e for him, and gave him some instructions in their art. Tb

rnished him with the means of other knowledge, by prowtimission to such lectures in pharmacy and anatomy as

ablest professors of that period. Hence his introduction
milch afforded him a continual, though slender maintenance.

iddle parts of his life were spent is uncertain. He resided
cars under the roof of Johnson, who never wished him to be

inferiour, or treated him like a dependantot
sted with the doctor every morning, and, perhaps, was seen
ľ nim till midnight. Much of the day was employed in attend.

patients, who were chiefly of the lowest rank of tradesmen,
ader of his hours he dedicated to Hunter's lectures, and to as
rent opportunities of improvement as he could meet with on the
uitous conditions. « All his physical knowledge,” said Johnson,
is not inconsiderable, was obtained through the ear. Though
books, he seldom looks into them, or discovers any power by which
be supposed to judge of an author's merit."

ore he became a constant inmate of the doctor's house, he married a woman who had persuaded him (notwithstanding their place of congress was a small coal-shed in Fetter-lane) that she was nearly related to a nobleman, but was injuriously kept by him out of large possessions. It is almost needless to add, that both parties were disappointed in their views. If Levett took her for an heiress, she regarded him as a physician already in considerable practice. Compared with the marvels of this transaction (as Johnson himself declared, when relating them) the Tales in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments seem familiar occurrences Never was infant more completely imposed upon than our hero. He had not many days been mar. ried, before he was arrested for debts incurred by his wife. In a short time afterwards she was tried (providentially, in his opinion) for theft at the Old Bailey. Levett attended the court, in the hope she would be hanged: and was very angry with the counsel who underlook her defence.

“ I once thought,” said he, “ the man had been my friend; but this behaviour of his has proved the contrary.” She was, however, acquitted ; and Johnson himself concerted the terms of separation for this ill-starred couple, and then took Levett home, where he continued till his death, which happened suddenly, and without pain, at the age of eighty.

As no relations of his were known to Dr. Johnson, he advertised for them.

• He was born at Hull, in Yorkshire.

† Dr. Johnson has often declared, that Levett was indebted to him for nothing more than house room, his share in a penny loaf at breakfast, and now and then a dinner on a Sunday.

* He had acted for many years in the capacity of physician, surgeon, and apothecary, to Johnson. After the good and learned Dr. Lawrence retired from business, the care of Johnson entirely devolved upon Levett; nor was any other physician ever called in till after Levett's death, which happened in January, 1782.

In the course of a few weeks an heir-at-law appeared, and ascertained his title to what effects the deceased had left behind him.

Levett's character was rendered valuable by repeated proofs of honesty, tenderness, and gratitude to his benefactor, as well as by an unwearied dili. gence in his profession. His single failing (if it may be called one) was an occasional departure from sobriety. Johnson would observe, “ he was, perhaps, the only man who ever became intoxicated through motives of prudence. He reflected, that if he refused the gin or brandy offered him by some of his patients, he could have been no gainer by their cure ; as they might have nothing else to bestow upon him— The habit of taking a fee, in whatever shape it was exhibited, could not be put off by a Ivice, or admonition of any kind. He would swallow what he did not like nay, what he knew would injure him, rather than go home with an idea that his skill had been exerted without recompense.”

“ Had,” continued Johnson, « all his patients maliciously conubined to reward him with meat and strong liquors instead of money, he would either have burst, like the dragon in the Apocrypha, through repletion, or have been scorched up, like Portia, by swallowing fire.” But let not from hence an imputation of rapaciousness be fixed upon him ; though he took all that was offered him, he demanded nothing from the poor, nor was known, in any instance, to have enforced the payment of even what was justly his due.

His person was middle sized, and thin ; his visage swarthy, adust, and corrugated; his conversation, except on professional subjects, barren: when in dishabille, he might have been mistaken for an alchymist, whose complexion had been hurt by the fumes of the crucible, and whose clothes had suffered from the sparks of the furnace.

Such was Levett, whose whimsical frailty, if weighed against his good and useful qualities, was

A floating atom-dust that falls unheeded
Into the adverse scale—nor shakes the balance.”


To the above prose character of Levett, by Mr. Steevens, we cannot resist giving the fine poetical one written by Dr. Johnson, which is equally worthy of the pen and the heart of the author.

Condemned in hope's delusive mine,

As on we toil from day to day,
By sudden blast or slow decline,
Our social comforts drop away.

Well tried, through many a varying year,

See Levett to the grave descend;
Of every friendless name the friend.

Yet still he fills affection's eye,

Obscurely wise and coarsely kind ;
Nor lettered arrogance deny
Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.

When fainting nature called for aid,

And hovering death prepared the blow,
His vigorous remedy displayed

The power of art, without the show.

« VorigeDoorgaan »