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tribute to the memory of our countryman—a memory painful from many associations, but yet worthy of preservation, as even the follies of one portion of mankind are warnings to those who would prosecute the same course, and incentives to those who have not left the paths of virtue to persevere.
Dermody was the son of a gentleman who followed the profession of Plato, but differed from this illustrious teacher in the respect that he was more given to the use of whiskey toddy, than beseems a learned and wise man. The son inherited (the only chattels he did inherit) the propensities of the parent, and in spite of all that could be done to save himin spite of the patronage and unremitting kindness of the Countess of Moira, he went from bad to worse, and at length died from the effects of dissipation and disappointment, at the age of twenty-seven, a very miserable and very undeserving son of the Muses. How great was his merit may be surmised from these verses which we give, headed as we find them, "Croydon, A Monody." (In this monody, the author, a youth of ten years. of age, bewails the death of his brother, who died of the small pox, anno 1785, ætatis 7.)
"We sat like roses twain upon one thorn,
Her modest frontlet from the clouds around,
To quote the whole would be more than the editor would deem proper, but we think that these few lines, though of no great merit, abstracting from the author's age, are about as extraordinary as any in the early poems of Cowley or Tasso.
The histories of Heinecken, Baratier, and Candiac, in addition to being more curious than those of any other known examples of precocity, have, besides, the merit of inculcating the moral of Doctor Blimber's, and similar establishments; namely, that the mind in one respect resembles the body, inasmuch as it is capable of a certain degree of labour; and that any effort to obtain more will result in the production of an imbecile specimen of intellectual man, like "I-never-was-better-thank-you," Mr. Toots of world-wide celebrity. Christian Henry Heinecken deserves the place of honour, for he was, without exception, the most singular instance of premature intelligence supplied by history, ancient or modern. There is something credible in what has been related of others, but the very early age at which Heinecken died, and the numerous, yet distinct acquirements he is said to have been possessed of, render the accounts of him extremely open to be doubted, or, at the very least, induce us to believe that they must have received considerable additions on their passage to posterity. At ten months old he began to speak, at twelve he knew the facts of the Pentateuch, of the Old Testament at thirteen, and what icquires some
stretch of conscience to admit, by the end of his fourteenth month he was intimately acquainted with the names, dates, and history contained in the whole Bible. To learn the scripture in this manner is a work of years, to remember those unusual names, and form a correct notion of its involved chronology and topography would, ordinarily speaking, require a life of thought and study, and when we hear of the task having been accomplished by a mere infant, it is difficult, we confess, to resist the impulse which will at first incline us to return so improbable a statement to the land of myths. But it is better not to be sceptical too soon, the land we tread upon just now is full of nice views and prospects for all kinds of doubters, against which we must at once close our eyes, or have no possible chance of ever gaining the last turnpike. When a little more than two years old, he had say his biographers, entered deeply into the study of ancient and modern history, and it was difficult to hit upon any fact in these regions that had escaped his research. Geography, too, he mastered with his usual success; and by the time he had completed two and a half years he had added to his store of knowledge a critical acquaintance with the French, Latin, and German languages. Next on this immense programme of attainments, comes the histories of all the great European families: their genealogies from barons and freebooters, and belted gentlemen of the forest; their intermarriages, and the collateral shoots that might claim consangunity with the parent stock, upon all which perplexing questions, young Mein Herr was equal to a conclave of representative heralds, representative of every country and generation. During a tour, which he made in his third year, through Denmark, for the purpose, probably, of putting a polish upon his education, he excited considerable admiration at the Danish Court, where he was presented, examined, applauded, and viewed as a very composite, inexplicable piece of human nature, on new principles. But these exhibitions were not destined to be repeated; Christian Henry's soul had eaten out its scabbard; he pined and sickened, and, at length, on the 25th June, 1725, a few months after being weaned from his nurse, he died of nervous fever and exhaustion.-Sic transit, &c.
Johnson, who appeared so very sceptical to Hogarth on every point except the Bible, could not refuse credence to what were told him of John Philip Baratier, or Barretier, the second martyr to the circumstance of too much genius. The great man does, indeed, appear to have entertained some scruples in the beginning, but, by-and-bye, he argued himself very sensibly into the conviction that Baratier's talents were proclaimed by too many trumpets, in too many different keys, to have them denied or, indeed, questioned, by any reasonable man "As any incredulity," says the ever pompous, though admirable, Doctor, "may, perhaps, be the result rather of prejudice than reason, as envy may beget a disinclination to admit so immense a superiority, and as an account is not to be immediately censured as false, merely because it is wonderful, I shall proceed to give, &c." The very extraordinary youth, of whose attainments the learned lexicographer thought so highly, was born at Schwabach, on the 19th January, 1720-21. Of his progress, until his fourth year, we know little, but at
that period of his life he spoke French and Latin with the same fluency as his mother tongue. When five years old, he acquired Greek, and the year after, Hebrew, in a manner so interesting, that Doctor Johnson thought it worthy of being specially attended to by every one anxious to study languages, without the trouble usually undergone for this purpose. The only book he made use of," he continues, was the Bible, which his father laid before him in the language he proposed to learn, accompanied with a translation, being taught by degrees the inflections of nouns and verbs." This is exactly the system of Hamilton, and so are these the results promised by its upholders, but we very much doubt, after all, if the old way of proceeding by grammar, dictionary, and translation be not much better than the goodnatured proposal of putting sweets upon the medicine cup. It may do, may the Hamiltonian practice in some exceptional cases, but the practice of antiquity, with some assistance from Messieurs Arnold and Riddle, will be found much easier in the long run, and far more efficacious in accomplishing its object, namely, of imparting a sound grammatical knowledge of language.
By the method alluded to by Johnson, Baratier made great progress in many tongues, amongst which may be enumerated Hebrew, Arabic, and English. He could translate the Bible into any one of these with great facility, preserving the idioms of each, and even the slightest peculiarities of construction. In his twelfth year he afforded a most convincing proof of his linguistic powers, by translating the travels of the Rabbi Benjamin from Hebrew into French, and to this book he added notes, of which Dr. Johnson speaks in such terms as the following:-"The notes contain so many curious remarks and enquiries out of the common road of learning, and afford so many instances of penetration, judgment, and accuracy, that the reader finds in every page some reason to persuade him that they cannot possible be the work of a child, but of a man long accustomed to these studies, enlightened by reflection, and dexterous by long practise in the use of books," so that Baratier was not merely a linguist but an accomplished scholar, at the ripe age of eleven or twelve. Then, in the same year as his translation was finished, he sends to the Royal Society of Berlin, to the Royal Societies of London and Paris, a scheme for the discovery of that great poser, the longitude; commences the study of the Fathers of the Church; and two years after out comes his "Anti-Artemonius, sive Initium Evangelii, Sti. Joannis adversus Artemonium vindicatum," (AntiArtemonius, or defence of the beginning of St. John's Gospel from the attacks of Artemonius,) which created a great sensation, and obtained for him a no less important patron than the King of Prussia. He was made a Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Hale, and defended the theses which were selected for the occasion, with wit, learning, and strength of reason he was presented to the King of Prussia at Berlin; he refused to be bred a statesman; he delighted, and astounded, and confounded all the sapientes and all the bigwigs; he published a Chronological Dissertation on the succession of the Bishops of Rome, in Latin, (Utrecht, 1740;) continued to read books in Greek, Latin, German, Dutch, Italian, French,
English, and Arabic; became a member of the Royal Society of Berlin ; and last, scarce of all in this eventful history, he died the 5th of October, 1740, at the age of nineteen years and nine months.
A little more fortunate than Heinecken, he has had Johnson for a biographer, preserved in whose pages, he will go down to posterity with a reputation analogous to that of an Egyptian hieroglyphic, equally strange and equally inexplicable.
John Lewis Candiac de Montcalm deserves to be remembered as the brother of that gallant Marquis de Montcalm, who was the opponent of Wolfe at the battle of Quebec. But if Lewis had no other claim to immortality, it is not unfair to say that his name would not now have a niche in Encyclopædias, and that it would have been very difficult by any amount of research, hope, and despair, and perseverance, to learn the apparently trivial fact, that the said John Lewis Candiac de Montcalm was born at Aismes, in the year one thousand seven hundred and nineteen. Like his contemporaries, Heinecken and Baratier, Lewis began his literary career almost at the moment he gave over his rattles—if, indeed, such a child can be conceived ever to have indulged in such vanities, or in any other game than that of conjugating Greek and Latin verbs. At three, Lewis spoke the Latin language with as much ease and correctness as his native French; at six, Greek and Hebrew, and by this time also he had studied that science of which the chief attractions are such terms as or and argent, bend and pale, saltier and chevron. He might have continued increasing in knowledge and years, but for that tyrant who respects neither rich nor poor, the noble as little as the sansculotte, and the poet as little as the idiot, came to him one day, and put an end to all his troubles. He died in the year 1726, aged seven years and a few months.
These are all melancholy examples of early intelligence cut short, in its stride to greatness, by disease. It is mournful to hear of Swift's last days, when the shadows came upon him, and the world within was swallowed up in darkness; it is mournful to hear of Scott's decay, and that dim twilight through which Moore passed into eternal being; but it is not less sorrowful, we think, to pause by the names of those who might have, but have not, accomplished great and noble destinies. Swift and Scott and Moore lived through the ordinary course of life, and left behind names indelibly impressed on the world's mind-but for the premature flowers who have for a moment scented the air, and bequeathed to us a few traditions concerning their existence, there is a feeling of regret, unmingled with the triumph, with which actions achieved console us for the loss of those who in achieving them built up for themselves palaces in Time. The very impulse of the heart is of compassion and unrelieved pity, but it moves us at the same time to honor what was as that which would be, and to pay the same reverence to intellect in a child, as intellect concentrated and formed in the natural order of study and experiment.
THE linnet swung high on the gold laburnum,
The shrill lark twinkled on pulsing pinions
The river ran cool, thro' violet hazes,
And the lowing of herds came slowly windward,
Then slow thro' the jewelly, radient weather,
By bowry hollow and nook,
I went with the fugitive July shadows,
O brook, what meaneth that crystal babble,
Of upland breezes, that shake the heather,
There is a glittering, mystic cypher
In all you utter and say,
As down thro' the hearts of the branchy woodlands,
You will not tell it, you will not speak it;
I pluck this lily-the shielded secret
And she whom I love shall yet reveal it
Shall break the blossom, and read the cypher
Onward the brook; and I returning,
Thro' many an ocean gloom,
Saw the gray day break, fired with crimson,
I heard the moan of the inland poplars,
The murmurous echos that troop at daylight