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Is happy as a lover, and attired
It does not belong to the plan of this work to notice any living examples; but the names of a crowd of naval officers of our own times, who have distinguished themselves as men of science and learning, as well as skilful commanders, will present themselves at once to the memory.
, CHAPTER IX. Literary pursuits of Merchants. Solon; Guys; D. North; Ricardo.
BUT we must now return to civil life, from the higher walks of which we have already quoted several examples of an attachment to literary and scientific pursuits, in the midst of much occupation; and the attainment of eminence at the same time in the world of letters and in that of politics. We shall find that the cares of ordinary business have also left time to many to earn distinction by their learning and their writings, as well as the toils and anxieties of state-affairs. Perhaps the earliest literary merchant we have on record is the celebrated Athenian lawgiver, SoLoN. Although descended from one of the most distinguished families in Athens, Solon found himself obliged, on setting out in life, to attempt the re-establishment of the decayed fortunes of his house, by engaging in foreign commerce. After the manner customary in those days, he proceeded in person to distant countries along with the goods which he had to dispose of. To a mind such as his, however, the opportunities of an occupation of this kind were invaluable. He returned to his native country not only enriched by the success of his speculations, but fraught with all the learning and philosophy of the countries in which civilization had then made the greatest progress; and fitted to inform and controul his fellow-citizens by the lessons of a new wisdom,
made attractive by the charms of eloquence and
poetry. He had sought, in the course of his travels, still more anxiously for knowledge than for wealth, and he had found both in abundance. When he reappeared in his native country, his fame had preceded him, and he was welcomed by all ranks as the fittest person to assume the government and regulation of the state. He accepted the call, and distinguished himself, as all our readers know, by the wise laws which he established, and the admirable ability and rectitude of his administration. But his love of literature and philosophic speculation still clung to him; and after the usurpation of Pisistratus had overturned the system of good government which he had reared, and the folly and ingratitude of his fellow - citizens compelled him to withdraw from Athens, we are told that he employed his old age in finishing some of his poetical compositions, especially his great work, entitled Atlantis, which unfortunately has not come down to us. Solon's fame, however, both as a poet and an orator, long survived among his countrymen, and some fragments of his poetry are still extant. The reader will find an account of the political institutions of Solon in the third chapter of the ‘History of Greece, published in the Library of Useful Knowledge. A French merchant, M. GUYs, has, in modern times, distinguished himself by his learned researches touching the geography and history of the country of Solon. Guys had spent the early part of his commercial life in Turkey, and it was while residing there that he conceived the idea of availing himself of the many opportunities his situation afforded him, to compare the existing condition of Greece, and the manners of its inhabitants, with the accounts handed down to us by the classic authors, of its ancient state. His object was to ascertain what traces of the old times were still to be found, either in the character and habits of the people themselves, or in the natural aspect and architectural monuments of the country. For this purpose, we are told, he repeatedly travelled over both the Morea and the islands of the Archipelago, with Homer and Pausanias in his hand, everywhere comparing what he observed with their descriptions, and those of other ancient authorities. Not satisfied with this anxious investigation of his subject, he did not venture to commence the preparation of his projected work until he had, by long practice, obtained so much skill in the art of composition as gave him reason to hope that he should be able to make it, in all respects, worthy of the acceptance of the public. Keeping his materials by him for some years, he embraced several opportunities of exercising his pen upon lighter topics, producing, among other pieces, a discourse on the ‘Utility of Literary and Scientific accomplishments to a Commercial Man,” which he read before the Academy of Marseilles, where he now carried on business. At last he published, in 1772, his great work, under the title of ‘Literary Travels in Greece,” which immediately procured for him a distinguished reputation as a man of letters. The Greeks themselves, in particular, were so much flattered by the learning and talent which he had brought to the illustration of their usages and antiquities, that they sent him a diploma, creating him a citizen of Athens. After this Guys produced various other performances, both in prose and verse, all of respectable merit, and left, at his death, a considerable number of manuscripts ready for publication; but he is principally remembered for his Literary Travels, of which he was preparing for the press a third and greatly enlarged edition, when he died in 1799, in his seventy-ninth year. He was an associate of the Institute of France, as well as member of various other literary institutions. Our countryman, Sir DUDLEY North, also began the world as a Turkey merchant. In an interesting memoir of his life, which has been left us by his brother Roger, we are told that, having been placed at Bury to learn Latin, “he made but an indifferent scholar,” which is imputed partly to the brutal severity of his master, who used to “correct him at all turns, with or without a fault, till he was driven within an ace of despair, and making away with himself,” and partly to the circumstance of his having “too much spirit, which would not be suppressed by conning his book, but must be rather employed in perpetual action.” It was “this backwardness at school,” the author thinks, that probably determined his destination. “But the young man himself,” he adds, “had a strange bent to traffic, and, while he was at school, drove a subtle trade among the boys by buying and selling. In short, it was considered that he had learning enough for a merchant, but not phlegm enough for any sedentary profession.” Accordingly, after having been sent for some time to a writing and arithmetic school, he was bound by his father, Lord North, to a Turkey merchant, upon the agreement which was then usual, that, after having been initiated in the business at home, he should be sent out to the Levant. “This merchant's business,” however, adds his brother, “ was not enough to keep a man employed, and, having left off rambling, much of his time lay upon his hands. He could not endure to be out of action or idle; therefore, to fill up his intervals, he fell to work at the packing press, (the person with whom he boarded was a packer,) and other business of that trade, by which he made himself a camplete master of the mystery of that trade. This was not any loss of time; for that is one of the chief trades which the Levant merchants are concerned with, for the skilful packing their cloths sent into Turkey. The young gentleman took also a fancy to the binding of books,