Page images

capable of being wrought with less effort, were afterwards employed.

This amiable and accomplished philosopher was 110w drawing near the end of his earthly pilgrimage; he had long suffered from a nervous disease which ended in apoplexy. A friend who saw him a few weeks previous to his death writes thus,-“I have seen poor Davidson, but Oh! what a change. Of his vigorous intellect nothing now appears to remain but a melancholy ruin, in which I can scarcely recognise the outline of those stately proportions which so often filled me with admiration and delight.” He died at the latter end of the year 1826.

Mr. Davidson was twice married, his first wife was Isabella Dods, by whom he has one surviving daughter, and his second the daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Young, of Harwick, whose children arrived only at that age at which they begin to attract a father's notice. The assaults of these family afflictions had doubtless an unfavourable effect in accelerating the progress of the nervous disease under which he then laboured. Both ladies managed his experiments with a neatness and grace, which excited general admiration and put to shame the clamsy manipulations of us male practitioners. As a public lecturer Mr. Davidson was much admired. The following extract from one of his manuscript lectures will be read with interest, and is no unfavourable specimen of his style.

“For what purpose was the greal volume of creation unfolded to the view of mankind ? and why were the perfections of its infinite author, there delineated in characters so legible, that they cannot possibly be mistaken ? if it was uot ineant for our instruction to afford us an opportunity of fulfilling in part the great design of our being. The man who can enttertain a doubt that the stupendous fabric of the universe was built by a being whose wisdom, power, and goodness, shine with undiminished lustre in every part of his works, is either one who never possessed a rational faculty, or who in the course of his enquiries has given it such violent exercise as to render it absolutely unfit for discharging its proper functions. Such an accident, however, although it is the misfortune of of some, is by no means the consequence of their researches into the works of nature; for while the interests of society are promoted by such researches, they are calculated at the same time, to strengthen the powers of the mind, to conduct the man of science by sure and uninterrupted steps, to the fountain of existence in general, and to the absolute dependence of every link in the great chain of causes and effects, on the will of that Almighty Sovereign who regulates the whole by fixed and invariable laws; and on whose awful scale hangs the determination of every event. The more, in short, he indulges in this study, the greater pleasures will he receive ; for in the great laboratory of nature, he meets with every thing, that can either gratify his curiosity, excite his admiration, enlarge his understanding, add to his humility, soften his disposition, or awaken the very finest sympathies of his soul.”


MACOME's Life of DAVIDSON,- The Mechanics Magazine, Manuscript Lectures of Mr. D.





“ Erin from her green throne surveys

The progress of her tuneful son,
Exulting as the minstrel plays,

At the applause his harp has won.
Then grieve not for the loss that shades

Fair nature's landscape from your view :
The genius, that no gloom invades,

She gave in recompense to you."

CAROLAN was one of the last, and most celebrated of the Irish bards, whose compositions have been as much admired for their extraordinary variety, as for their exquisite melody; he is said to have composed upwards of four hundred pieces. This account, however, is perhaps exaggerated; but be this as it may, the Irish national music has been greatly enriched by his productions. I am sorry to say that we know but little of the history of this extraordinary genius. It appears that he

his life as an itinerant musician, and was made welcome at the houses of the great; and there, with the tales of other days, enlightened the convivial hours.


This celebrated poet and musician, was born in the year 1670, in the village of Nobber, in the county of Westmeath, on the lands of Carolan's town. His father was a poor farmer, the humble proprietor of a few acres, which yielded him a scanty subsistence.

The small pox deprived Carolan of his sight, at so early a period of his life, that he retained no recollection of colours ; thus was “knowledge at one entrance quite shut out,” before he had taken even a cursory view of nature. His inusical talents were soon discovered, and his friends determined to cultivate them. About the age of twelve, a proper master was engaged to instruct him in the practice of the harp; but though fond of that instrument, he never struck it with a master's hand. Genius and diligence are seldom united, and it is practice alone which can perfect us in any art; yet his harp was seldom unstrung, though in general he used it only to assist himself in composition. He married a young lady of the name of Miss Maguire, of a good family, in the county of Fermanagh. After this event he took up his residence at a small farm near Moss-hill, in the county of Leitrim : here he built a neat little house, where he gave every friend a kind and hearty welcome. Hospitality consumed the produce of his little farm; he ate, drank, and was merry, and improvidently left to-morrow to provide for itself. This sometimes occasioned embarrassments in his domestic affairs, but he had no friend to remind him, that nothing can supply the want of prudence, and that negligence and irregularity, long continued, will make knowledge and wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.

At what period of his life Carolan became an itinerant musician, is not related, nor is it certainly known whether he was urged to this change in his manner of living by want, or induced by his fondness for music. However this may be, he continued, during the remainder of his life, to travel through the country in that character, mounted on a good horse, and attended by a domestic who carried his harp, on another.

It was during these peregrinations that: Carolanı composed all those airs, which are still the delight of his countrymen. He thought the tribute of a song due to every house in which he was entertained, and he never failed to pay it, choosing for his subject either the head of the family, or one of the loveliest of its branches.

A period was now approaching when Carolan's feelings were to receive a violent shock. In the year 1733, the wife of his bosom was torn from him by the hand of death. This melancholy event threw a gloom over his mind, that was never after entirely dissipated. As soon as the transports of his grief had a little subsided, he composed a monody to her memory, now known by the name of “Mary Maguire," of which I subjoin a translation, MONODY ON THE DEATH OF MARY MAGUIRE. Were mine the choice of intellectual fame,

Of skilful song and eloquence divine,
Painting's sweet power, philosophy's pure flame,

And Homer's lyre, and Ossian's harp were mine,-
The splendid arts of Erin, Greece, and Rome,

In Mary lost, would lose their wonted grace;
All would I give to snatch her from the tomb,

Again to fold her in my fond embrace !

« PreviousContinue »