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In the oblivious Lethæan gulf,
Improve the Fathers of a distant age !" “Such productions of true genius,” says Wharton, 6 with a natural and noble consciousness, anticipating its own immortality, are seldom found to fail.” To conclude, however, this imperfect sketch, if there are any lines in this poem more touching and sublime than any which have been quoted, they will be found in the anticipation of such a son uniting in praise with such a father in a brighter and a better world :
“We too, ourselves, what time we seek again
Our native skies, and one eternal now
And make the starry firmament resound." Such were the expressions of filial obligation by a man, who has been styled, by Sir William Jones, “the most perfect scholar as well as the sublimest poet that our country ever produced.”
BOERHAAVE.—Though of but a delicate constitution of body, this was one of those men who seem to think nothing worthy of their efforts, but what appears insurmountable to common understandings. He has been celebrated chiefly as a physician : he was, however, not only eminently skilled in history and genealogy, and versed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but his diligent employment, and delight for years, consisted in reading the Sacred Scriptures in their original languages: he added physic to divinity, chemistry to the mathematics, and anatomy to botany; and to all these, various branches of polite literature. He examined systems by experiment, and formed experiments into systems; he examined the
opinions of other men, but trusted only to his own. His all he had expended on his education; when he afterwards amassed great wealth ; but his charities were very extensive. Known over all Europe, he received visits from three sovereigns--the Grand Duke of Tuscany, William the Third, and Peter the Great; the last of whom slept in his barge all night, before the house of the professor, that he might enjoy two hours of conversation with him early in the morning. Nor was his celebrity, especially as a physician, confined to Europe. A Chinese mandarin, anxious to obtain his advice, is said to have addressed his letter “To the illustrious Boerhaave, Physician in Europe,” which was safely delivered. Amidst all this, Boerhaave was conspicuous for humility, amiable temper, and habitual piety. He it was who often said, when he heard of a criminal condemned to die, “Who can tell whether this man is not better than I ? or, if I am better, it is not to be ascribed to myself, but to the goodness of God.” Being once asked by a friend, who had admired his patience under great provocations, whether he knew what it was to be angry? he answered, with the utmost frankness and sincerity, that he was naturally quick of resentment; but that he had, by daily prayer and meditation, at length attained to this mastery over himself; and often would he affirm, that a strict obedience to the doctrine, and a diligent imitation of the example of our blessed Lord, was the only foundation of true and lasting tranquillity. In perfect harmony with these frequent affirmations, as soon as this man rose in the morning, it was, throughout his whole life, his daily practice to retire for an hour to private prayer and meditation. This, he said, gave him spirit and vigor in all the business of the day, and this he therefore used to commend as a rule of life. In one word, so far was Boerhaave from being made impious by philosophy, or vain by knowledge, that he as
cribed all his abilities to the bounty, and all his piety to the grace of God.
Now, to whom, under God, do we stand indebted for such a character ? His eminence as a physician has been remarked; and for this, although his choice was finally decided by a successful cure which he performed on himself, and the effect of very cruel and unjust scandal thrown on his character, as if he favored infidel principles, when he was actually about to combat them, yet he has been supposed to have derived an hereditary inclination to the study of physic from his Mother. She, however, died when he was young ; and whatever may be said of this conjecture, his other attainments formed the basis of his character when living, and his Christianity alone remains of value to him now. That he regarded Christianity as infinitely superior to every branch of knowledge or science, is evident from his determination when resolved to pursue medicine for his livelihood ; for even then he still intended to make Christianity the great employment of his life. The truth is, that his profound admiration of the Scriptures, as well as his delight in reading them, was owing to his father, a good man, having intended him for the ministry, in which he was himself engaged. He instructed him in grammar and the first elements of language, and the son continued under the father's
and instructions until his fourteenth year. Boerhaave was distinguished as a botanist ; and here also we recognize the influence of a Father, who, to preserve his but too delicate constitution, used to send him out into the fields, and employ him in rural occupations. His father wished to blend the active with the contemplative, and thus saved his son from those distempers and depressions which are too frequently the result of indiscreet diligence, and uninterrupted application to study.*
* See the Life of Boerhaave, by Dr. Samuel Johnson.
SIR CHARLES LINNÆUS is universally known as the author of a revolution in the study of nature, by an entire new classification and nomenclature of her three principal kingdoms; for, though his theory involved him in controversy with the most ingenious philosophers of the age, he finally received from them all, the profoundest testimonials of their conversion to his opinions, and their deference for his genius. Not less than three thousand letters, from celebrated persons of all nations, were found after his decease among his papers, expressive of the regard and admiration of the writers. The most brilliant period in the life of this ardent student of Nature, was spent at Upsal, in Sweden, where, amidst the beauties of one of the most flourishing botanic gardens in Europe, and daily improving it, he used to deliver lectures on his favorite pursuit. “The lectures, which had been, until the time of Linnæus, a mere matter of form, became, under the charms of his eloquence, a subject of national interest. The hall was crowded while he delivered them. His discourses embraced botany, natural history, the medicinal virtues of plants, the materia medica, and nosology. He made excursions in the summer, at the head of two hundred pupils, besides many foreigners and persons of distinction. They set out in small parties to explore the country; and whenever any rare plant or natural curiosity was discovered, a signal was given with a horn or trumpet, when the whole corps joined their chief, to hear his demonstrations and remarks. They used to return with their hats adorned with flowers, and the sound of musical instruments. The inhabitants were always pleased to see them come back in this style of innocent triumph; and to such delightful rambles, many of the young men were indebted at once for increasing their intellectual stores, and preserving them from the degrading and debasing haunts of dissipation and folly. At that time all the
young students of divinity were obliged to learn the elements of botany and domestic medicine, in order that they might be enabled to administer to the bodily afflictions of their flocks, in remote districts, where regular medical assistance might not be attainable in a moment of emergency; and the number of Linnæus's pupils and admirers was greatly increased in consequence of this wise and humane regulation.”
The mind of Linnæus was not, however, to be confined even to the varied productions of his garden. Under him the first Royal Museums were established in Sweden; both the king and queen being devoted to the sciences in general, though above all to natural history. The king, therefore, caused every remarkable curiosity in the kingdom to be shown to Linnæus, in order that he might describe it from his own observation. Still the garden occupied him chiefly, and as a specimen of the ardor with which he pursued his studies, though in a declining state of health, I may mention the following:
“The seed of the Lotus Ornithipodioides had been sent to him by Professor De Sauvages, from Montpelier. It prospered and bore two flowers. Delighted with them, he recommended them to the strictest care of the gardener; and two days after, returning home late in the evening, he immediately went into the garden to look at them, but they were not to be found. The next night he went again: they were still invisible. The next morning they appeared as usual; but the gardener thought they were fresh ones, as there was not any to be found the evening before. Linnæus pondered over the circumstance, and went again the same evening, intent on solving the mystery: they had again vanished; but, searching more closely for the fugitives than he had hitherto done, he at last found them closely folded up, and their leaves contracted over them. To a mind inquisitive as that of Linnæus's, this discovery was enough to awaken a new train of ideas. Intent on surprising Nature in her most secret operations, he might now be seen perambulating the garden, and the hot-houses, in the dead of the night, with a lantern in his hand; and constantly finding the vegetable creation in a dormant state, their flowers concealed, and their leaves contracted