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suggested itself as productive of still higher
'It was not, however, without diffidence that such a resolution was taken. From that, and several other circumstances, it was thought proper to observe the strictest secrecy with regard to the authors; a purpose in which they have been so successful, that, at this moment, the very publisher of the work knows only one of their number, to whom the conduct of it was intrusted.'
The MIRROR is a paper of much ease, elegance, and simplicity; and for general utility, and the captivating style of its writers, may come into competition with almost any of its predecessors. That air of elderliness which pervades the compositions of STEELE and ADDISON, and sheds over their pages a mellowness and a charm that speak of other times, and breathe of ancestral manners, is but faintly, if at all traceable, beyond the GUARDIAN. In the RAMBLER and the IDLER, there are now and then, some phraseological obsoletenesses, which announce a comparative antiquity of date: but the stride of JOHNSON, in the modernization of style, has been colossal, and we readily perceive the immense distance between him, and the fathers of the periodical essay. But between him and his successors, the mos et norma loquendi bears the trace only of the most imperceptible variations; and a paper in the MIRROR might indifferently be attributed either to his age
or our's, without any violence to verisimilitude.
Of HENRY MACKENZIE, the chief contributor to these volumes, and their responsible conductor as they appeared periodically, no biographical memoir seems to be yet before the public. Mention, however, is made of him, by the author of some late admirable sketches of Scottish character and manners, already extensively known by the title of Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk.
Dr. MORRIS, who is remarkable for the graphic happiness with which he has touched off these flying portraitures, had been furnished with an introductory letter to our venerable essayist. As it is impossible to give the account of this interesting interview in any language but his own, it is hoped that this little freedom of extract will not occasion umbrage to the proprietors of his work.
'As I walked,' says the doctor, 'in the direction of his house, with a certainty that a few minutes would bring me into his company, I was conscious of an almost superstitious feeling-a mysterious kind of expectation-something like what I can conceive to have been felt by the Armenian, when the deep green curtain hung before him, the uplifting of which, he was assured, would open to him a view into departed years, and place before his eyes the actual bodily presence of his long buried ancestor. I had read his works when yet in the years of my infancy. The beautiful visions
of his pathetic imagination, had stamped a soft and delicious, but deep and indelible impression upon my mind, long before I had heard the very name of criticism; perhaps, before any of the literature of the present age existed certainly long, very long, before I ever dreamt of its existence. The very names of the heroes and heroines of his delightful stories sounded in my ears like the echoes of some old romantic melody, too simple, and too beautiful, to have been framed in these degenerate over-scientific days. HARLEY, LA ROCHE, MONTALBAN, JULIA DE ROU BIGNE, what graceful mellow music is in the well remembered cadences, the wadatov ovoμar' oveρwv! And I was in truth to see "in the flesh" the hoary magician, whose wand had called those ethereal creations into everlasting being. A year before, I should have entertained almost as much hope of sitting at the same table with GOLDSMITH, or STERNE, For ADDISON, or any of those mild spirits so far removed from our nature, oi vvv BooTOL EOμEV. For the first time in my life, I could not help being ashamed of my youth, and feeling, as if it were presumptuous in me to approach, in the garb of modern days, the last living relics of that venerable school.
The appearance of the fine old man had no tendency to dissipate the feelings I have just attempted to describe. I found him in his library, surrounded with a very large collec
tion of books, few of them apparently new ones, seated in a high-backed easy chair, the wood-work carved very richly in the ancient French taste, and covered with black hair. cloth. On his head he wore a low cap of black velvet, like those which we see in almost all the pictures of POPE. But there needed none of these accessories to carry back the imagination. It is impossible that I should paint
you the full image of that face. The only one I ever saw, which bore any resemblance to its character, was that of WARREN HASTINGS. You well remember the effect it produced, when he appeared among all that magnificent assemblage, to take his degree at the installation of Lord GRENVILLE. In the countenance of MACKENZIE, there is the same clear transparency of skin, the same freshness of complexion, in the midst of all the extenuation of old age. The wrinkles, too, are set close to each other, line upon line; not deep, and bold, and rugged, like those of most old men, but equal and undivided over the whole surface, as if no touch but that of time had been there, and as if even he had traced the vestiges of his dominion with a sure, indeed, but with a delicate and reverential finger. The lineaments have all the appearance of having been beautifully shaped, but the want of his teeth has thrown them out of their natural relation to each other. The eyes alone have bid defiance to the approach of the adversary. Beneath bleached and hoary brows,
and surrounded with innumerable wrinkles, they are still as tenderly, as brightly blue, as full of all the various eloquence and fire of passion, as they could have been in the most vivacious of his days, when they were lighted up with that purest and loftiest of all earthly flames, the first secret triumph of conscious and conceiving genius.'
So looked, only four years ago, the yet living literary veteran, to whom we are indebted for so large a portion of the beauties which are thick-scattered through the MIRROR and the LOUNGER!-In his manners, Dr. MORRIS represents him as a perfect man of the world, without the least tinge of pedantry in his conversation. He was one who had followed literature as an amusement, never as a toil; and eminently as he now ranks in the galaxy of his country's literati, his habits and his appearance suggested any ideas, but those of the recluse and abstracted scholar.
At that time, 'he still mounted his poney in autumn, to take the field against the grouse, with a long fowling-piece slung from his back, and a pointer-bitch, to the full as venerable among her species, as her affectionate master is among his.' He talked with great vivacity of his last campaign in the moors, and anticipated, with an almost boyish keenness, the return of trouting-time *.
We know not a richer feast, to a mind ca
* See the whole of this admirable description in the first vo lume of Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk.'-LETTER X.