Page images

1. We may remark in the first place, that this table exhibits a very favourable specimen of the duration of human life. The tables deduced from observations at London, Vienna, Stockholm, Berlin, and such other large cities, manifesta far more rapid diminution; and even those formed from human mortality at Norwich, Northampton, and Chester, are not so favourable. The table we have quoted corresponds most nearly with the tables deduced from observations at Holy Cross near Shrewsbury, and in the district of Vaud, in Switzerland; thus proclaiming in a remarkable manner the advantages which villages possess over large towns in point of longevity.

From this table it appears, that in Sweden, generally, half the persons born are living at 30 years of age. So again, at Holy Cross, half are living at 29 years of age; and in the district of Vaud, half are living at 40. While at Chester half are dead before they reach the 17th year ; half at Northampton before the 8th year ; half at Norwich before the 5th year; and at London, Vienna, Stockholm, and Berlin, more than half in the course of the second year ;-a „melancholy proof of the deleterious operation of the tainted atmosphere and profligare manners of great cities, upon human existence.

The expectation of lives in general, as deduced from this table, would be-at 10 years of age, more than 45 years ; at 20, more than 38 years; at 30, more than 31; and at 40, nearly 25: while at London the expectation for the same ages, would be only about 35, 29, 24, and 191 respectively.

2. A very curious and striking fact, deducible from this table, is the difference between the probabilities of life among males and females, in favour of the latter. It has been long since observed by Dr. Derham, that the proportion of male to female births is about as 14 to 13: and the later observations of M. Muret, M. Susmilch, Dr. Haygarth, Dr. Price, and others, as well as the observations for 21 years in Sweden, from which the above table was computed, confirm the fact

except that it makes the medium proportion of male to female births about as 20 to 19. Notwithstanding this, all the tables which are so constructed as to admit of the 'comparison shew, that the number of living females is always somewhat greater than the number of living males; a circumstance which cannot be accounted for, but by supposing that males are more short-lived than females. It has been frequently remarked, that the Supreme Being has provided that more males than females should be born, on account of the greater devastation among the former, occasioned by war and accidents., But, says Dr. Price, . Perhaps it might have been observed with more reason, that this provision had in view that particular, weakness or delicacy in the constitution of males which makes them more subject to mortality; and which consequently renders it necessary that more of them should be produced, in order to preserve in the world a due proportion between the two sexes.' Without pronouncing decisively on a proposition, which, no doubt, will startle many, we shall leave our readers to form their own opinion, after stating a few more particulars. The comparison is in favour of females in every country, from the beginning to the end of life; and, indeed, if we may so speak, before life. For it has been ascertained by Mr. Kerseboom and others, that the still-born and chrysom males, are to the still-born and chrysom females, as 3 to 2. The proportion of female to male chil. dren under 10 years of age, is generally as 40 to 36. In the district of Vaud, half the females are alive at 46 and upwards, while half the males die under 35. In Sweden, as appears from the above table, half the females are living at 36, while half the males only reach 30. At Chester half the females reach 28, while half the males are dead at 18. At Stockholm one fourth of the females live to 36, while three fourths of the males are dead at 26. It appears, too, that the females above 90 years of age are nearly double the number of males; and that, from 6 years of age, the decrements of life are in favour of fen:ales almost to the extremity of existence, except from the age of 30 to 35; an anomaly for which a satisfactory reason will readily suggest itself. Whether this induction of particulars tends to corroborate Dr. Price's position, or not, it clearly proves, that the real value of survivorships will be greater, when computed for females, tban for males; ard that those Societies for Assurances, &c. err exceedingly, which do not take this consideration into their account.

3. The preceding table will assist us in ascertaining the proportional part of the inhabitants of a nation, who are capable of bearing arms, supposing them to be the males between the ages of 18 and 50. The computist will only have to find the sum of all the males in the table below 18, and above 50, and compare it with the aggregate of males and feniales in the whole table. This will give about the proportion of one to five. Dr. Halley, by extending the age of men capable of bearing arms to 56, estimates them at rather more than one fourth of the number of jobabitants. Our estimate, though much lower than Dr. Halley's, yet gives a proportion considerably above what those who are not conversant in such computations would suppose.

4. Lasıly, by adding up and comparing the corresponding columns, it may be inferred--that of those between the ages of 20 and 30, about a hundredth part die annually; of those Vol. VI.

[ocr errors]

between 30 and 40, about an eightieth ;=of those between 40 and 50, about a fifty-fourth;—and of those between 50 and 60, about a thirty-sixth part. Towards either extremity of life, the proportion of the dying to the living is still more striking and impressive. Butwe have only selected those periods in which mankind are most actively running the career of dissipation, of ambition, or of avarice. We would intreat even the healthiest and busiest of them to contemplate this picture—far more pleasing, in truth, than could be sketched from almost any other table of mortality; to recollect the salutary admonition of a wise heathen,

Vitæ est avidus, quisquis non vult

Mundo secum pereunte mori : and especially to reflect with seriousness upon the solemn language of inspiration, “ He will come as a thief in the night-Blessed is that servant whom when his Lord cometh he shall find watching !" Art. III. The Life of George Romney, Esq. By William Hayley, Esq.

4to. pp. 430. price 21. 2s. Royal 4to 31. 38. Payne. 1809. WE

E have always thought that the life of an artist cannot be

written effectively, unless by one of the same profession; and our conviction has been confirmed by several of the late instances of inadequate attempts, in this very delicate and difficult branch of biography. Mr. Malone, in his Meinoir of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the medical editor of the Works of Barry, and we are sorry to add, Mr. Hayley in the work before us, hắve all of them recently encountered the difficulties of this species of composition, and have, it appears to us, decidedly failed.

A sketch of the professional career of Romney, if executed by one who had been fully capable of appreciating his real and relative powers as a painter, would have been, and would still be, a performance of sterling value. Such a memoir would give us the just estimate of the artist's life and character, while it might charitably and delicately avoid a reference to that part of his conduct which has covered the memory of the man with infamy.

It has struck us, we must confess, with considerable astonishment, that a person so' strict in the discharge of moral and social duties as Mr. Hayley, should have stood forward as the apologist of one whose whole life was disgraced by an habitual and aggravated disregard of the most sacred ties. It is not well that the biographer of Cowper should be the eulogist of Romney.

We have a high opinion of Mr. Hayley's talents, and a still higher value for his excellent and amiable character; and we feel, in consequence, considerable reluctance to express ourselves in terms of disapprobation either of his sentiments or of his manner of communicating them. But we owe it to our: selves, and to those who may be influenced by our decisions, not to suffer the sophistry and perversion of the following passage to pass unregarded.

• In advanced life, there is no occupation more attractive than such affectionate study, as enables a man to recal, and delineate, in the truest point of view, the various endowments of persons worthy of everlasting remembrance, whom it has been his lot to know perfectly, to love, and to lose. The society of a living friend is justly ranked among the most valuable of human pleasures; but to vindicate, and promote, the jast honor of the dead is a delight of peculiar sweetness and sanctity. Perhaps every man in contemplating the very best of his living friends, is occasionally hurt by some inequality of character, some accidental asperity, of humour, or some of the numberless infirmities, “ that flesh is heir to;' but in reviewing the meritorious mortal divested of mortality, all painful remembrance of his imperfections, is so absorbed, or softened, in the blaze of his predominant merit, that genius and virtue then produce their full and unobstructed effect. The real character of such a mortal, preserved in true, appropriate praise, operates on his surviving friends as a powerful medicine conveyed in a perfume. In regaling the sense it invigorates the heart.'

Our readers will have observed that it is not so much in the character of the artist, as in that of the man of talent, feeling, and worth, that Romney is spoken of in the preceding cita-tion. It is in this light that he is worthy of everlasting remembrance, it is in these respects that the just honour of the dead' is to be " vindicated. Romney is, enphatically,

the meritorious mortal,” the appropriate praise of whose real character is to regale the sense and invigorate the heart." Throughout the whole of the work we are called upon to admire the exquisite tenderness and genuine benignity of his heart, and to sympathise with the perilous acuteness of his feelings.' That our readers may be able to estimate his ' tenderness,' ' feeling,' 'honour,' and 'virtue,' at their just value, we request their attention to the leading incident of the following brief sketch of Romney's early life,

George, the third child of John and Anne Romney, was born the 26th of December, 1734, at Dalton in Furness, a singular and picturesque tract of high and low land, in the county of Lancaster. Joho, his father, was a native of the same place, and engaged in various occupations, as a builder, a merchant, and a farmer. George, the subject of this memoir, attended, for a very few years, a school in the village of Dendron, but was educated chiefly at home. He assisted his father in superintending his workmen ; and was consulted, in all points, as a friend, by that affectionate parent, after he had attained the age of 12 years. The for-“




tunate incident which led him to a cultivation of the particular art, that he was destined to profess, and to adorn, was simply this : in his youth he ot:served a great singularity of countenance in a stranger at church ; his parents to whom he spoke of it, desired him to describe the seized a pencil, and delineated the features from memory with such a strength of resemblance, as amazed and delighted his affectionate parents. The applause that he received from this accidental performance excited him to draw with more serious application.'

His first situation on leaving home, was under the care of Mr. Wright, a friendly cabinet maker of Lancaster, who informed Mr. Robinson of Windermere, the worthy pupil of our painter, that having observed in young Ronney a frequent habit of occupying his own time, and also that of the workmen, his associates, in sketching such attitudes from them, as particularly struck his fancy, he suggested to his father the idea of making his son a painter, and at the same time recommended a person, from whom he imagined the youth might soon acquire considerable knowledge of an art, to which he had discovered so strong an inclination. This person was a young travelling artist, who had then acquired so much business in Kendal, that he wanted a pupil

. The master, who was destined to be the chief instructor of a disciple so illustrious, was himself but 24 years old, and had received no instruction but what he derived from Richard Wright, a painter of shipping at Liverpool, and from a year's residence in Paris, This man, whose name was Steele, bad engaged the affections of young lady, and projected an elopement to Scotland with her, though she was vigi. lantly guarded. This circumstance induced him to employ his young pupil in conducting the delicate and private business of his love, instead of confining him to the severer labours of the pencil

. In this anxious affair the vigilant and active Romney contracted a violent fever, which had nearly proved fatal to his life, and which, in its singular consequences, had a very important effect upon all his subsequent days.';

• The juvenile pupil left desolate and sick in the lodgings of his distant master, was attended by a young woman of the house, whom he described as a person of a compassionate character. The pity so natural to a female attendant on a young, lonely invalid, and the gratitude of a lively convalescent, produced an event which can hardly surprize any person ac. quainted with human nature, a precipitate marriage.- George Romney,' the inexperienced apprentice to a painter, himself of little experience, was married in Kendal, to Mary Abbot of Kirkland, on the 14th day of October, 1756.-The terror of precluding himself from those distant hopours which he panted for in his profession, by appearing in the world as a young married man, agitated the ambitious artist almost to distraction, and made him resolve very soon after his marriage, as he had no means

of breaking the fetters, which he wildly regarded as inimical to the improvement and exertion of genius, to hide theni as much as possible from his troubled fancy. The return of his master from his nuptial excursion, a and his sudden removal from Kendal to York, which took place a few days after the marriage of his apprentice, afforded a most seasonable termination to this excruciating conflict in the mind of Romney. On his return from York to Kendal, after an absence of several months, he bad not only a dutiful wife, but an infant boy, to attach him to a domesti: esta.. blishment; but the imagination of Romney, though tender and eren treme

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »