« PreviousContinue »
THE EARL OF CARLISLE.
WHERE hereditary honours, splendid fortune, and personal graces, have secured, from the first dawn of youth, the external respect and gratifying attention of the world, it is seldom found that their possessor has emulously and sedulously distilled the sweetness from the classic fountains. There is no flattery in observing, that of those rare instances your Lordship is conspicuously one. Such energetic industry involves a superior claim to estimation than where it has appeared the only means by which native talent and laudable ambition could have pierced the mists of obscurity.
You, Sir, have nobly chosen to adorn your rank, instead of indolently leaning upon its inherent distincttion, or even satisfying yourself with the acquirement of senatorial eloquence. Professedly a disciple of the Muses, and on public proof an highly-favoured disciple, you must be interested in the life and character of one of the most eminent of your poetic contemporaries.
Hence, my Lord, do I presume to lay these Memoirs of Dr. Darwin at your feet. From all I hear of Lord Carlisle's virtues, as from all I know of his genius, it is one of my first wishes for this little Tract, that it may interest and amuse a transient hour of his leisure, and obtain that approbation from him which must reward biographic integrity, while literary reputation brightens in his smile.
I have the honour to be, with the most perfect respect
Your Lordship's faithful
and obedient servant,
In publishing these Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Darwin, I am conscious of their defects ; that they do not form a regular detail of biographical circumstances, even in that moiety of his professional existence formed by his residence at Lichfield; while of that which passed at Derby I am qualified to present no more than a merely general view.
My work consists of the following particulars: the person, the mind, the temper of Dr. Darwin; his powers as a Physician, Philosopher, and Poet; the peculiar traits of his manners; his excellencies and faults; the Petrarchan attachment of his middle life, more happy in its result than was that of the Bard of Vaucluse; the beautiful poetic testimonies of its fervour, while yet it remained hopeless; an investigation of the constituent excellencies and defects of his magnificent poem, the Botanic Garden; remarks upon his philosophic prose writings; the characters and talents of those