In reading the life of a man, whose noble birth, whose military achievements, or whose transcended genius, raise him far above the middle ranks of life, or the sphere of talents usually allotted to mankind, we may gaze with admiration, but we can seldom propose him as a pattern for our imitation. In tracing the character of a man like ourselves, whose situation in life is equal to our own, and whose pursuits are not beyond the reach of our faculties, we, are naturally led to imitate his virtues, and to endeavour to attain that degree of perfection, which rendered him an ornament to society. In this view, the following account, however imperfect, of Dr. BUTT cannot fail to interest, and perhaps to improve, the candid reader.
The Rev. GEORGE BUTT was born at Lichfield, on the 26th of December 1741. His father, Mr. CAREY BUTT, exercised for many years the medical profession in that place, and was a man of exemplary piety, integrity and benevolence. He discovered the genius of Dr. JOHNSON, while that extraordinary man was only a Hercules in the cradle, and pronounced that he would one day be a great man.
GEORGE BUTT exhibited early indications of genius, and it was, as a laudable consequence, determined that he should he educated for holy orders. With this view he was placed in the Grammar School at Stafford, where he continued some years. Among the friends of his father was Dr. THOMAS NEWTON, a native of Lichfield, afterwards Bishop of Bristol, distinguished in the literary world by his Dissertation on Prophecies, and other interesting publications on Theological Subjects. This accomplished Scholar, in his visits to his native city, was pleased with the vivacity and literary promise of young BUTT, and persuaded his father to send him to Westminster School, where the Doctor had received his education. He himself conveyed his young friend to London, who under his patronage was elected on the Royal foundation, and continued in it till he became Captain of the School. He was in this situation at the death of GEORGE II. and walked in procession at the funeral of that King, and at the Coronation of his present Majesty. At school he took little part in the robuster games and exercises of the boys, and passed his leisure in reading English authors, especially the Poets. But the distinguishing bent of his soul was Friendship, which he cultivated with such enthusiasm, that he often followed his companions in schemes of diversion or boyish mischief, for which he had no natural inclination. In defence of some of his school-fellows, who were once engaged in battle with a superior number of Men, he assumed a force, which proved the energy of his mind, seized the leader of the hostile mob and brought him awed and trembling to the College, while the confederates, astonished at his decisive boldness, yielded the palm of victory.
During the latter part of his abode at Westminster, he formed some valuable connexions, which proved the joy and the comfort of his life, with men, who ever loved and valued him, and whose friendship has been highly honorable and advantageous to those, who have happily obtained it. The chief of these were, ISAAC HAWKINS BROWNE, Esq. M.P. JOHN THOMAS BATT, Esq. FRANCIS BURTON, Esq. one of the Welch Judges, and Dr. CYRIL JACKSON, Dean of Christ Church. Their attachment to him was obtained by his affectionate disposition, his generosity, his wit, his original and creative genius, his ingenuous, and even humorous simplicity, by which he became, like Falstaff, "not only witty in himself, but the cause of wit in others."
He was distinguished at school for his poetical compositions, and for his public speaking. A copy of verses was to be presented on a public occasion; the Master of the School, dissatisfied with the close of it, on which several attempts had been made, said at last: "a boy in the school will do it better," and ordered BUTT to try his skill. The pupil obeyed, and succeeded to the Doctor's wish, and to the general admiration. Observing in Westminster Abbey the monument of a man of profligate character, who appears to be rising from the grave on the Day of Judgment, he exclaimed extempore:
Lie still, if you're wise;
You're damned, if you rise!
Many years afterwards, when he was visiting the monuments, the, sexton, who did not recollect him, repeated the lines to him as aft excellent idea of a Westminster boy. In one of the annual theatrical exercises of the school, he acted Demea in the Adelphi of TERENCE with an effect, which is still remembered. He infused inexpressible humor and originality into the character, deviating in this, as he did in several parts of his life, from those traditionary rules and received customs, which are, perhaps, more rigidly observed in Schools and Universities, than in the more extensive walks of life. He succeeded so well in his conception and execution of the part, that he bore the prize of public approbation, and has often declared that this was the only occasion during his life, in which he literally overflowed with money, which was forced upon him by the liberality of the audience, as a mark of the satisfaction, which he had given.
From Westminster he was, in 1760, chosen Student of Christ-Church College, in Oxford. Here he continued the same friendships, and in a considerable degree the same habits, which he had formed at school. Deep solitary study was never his delight; but, with a friend, he loved to read the best authors, and the relaxation of his evenings was literary conversation in select circles. Without a friend to bear a part with him, he seldom studied the dead languages, but eagerly and attentively perused the English Classics. His College exercises were the vivid efforts of a bright understanding, and of a mind soaring on the wings of imagination to the loftiest flights, in which he often "snatched a grace beyond the reach of art." So amiable, was the luxuriance, and even the eccentricity, of his genius, that his friends took little pains to restrain them, but left to time and experience the cultivation of his judgment, the correction of his taste, and the increase of his learning.
In 1765 he was ordained Deacon, and was appointed Curate of Leigh in Staffordshire, a living in the gift of Sir WALTER BAGOT, with some of whose sons he was already connected in friendship. In this retirement he made a considerable addition to big acquisitions in Divinity; he read with deep attention the best models of pulpit eloquence, and composed sermons, which he delivered with a strength and fervor congenial with his spirit, and with an effect, which was long remembered. He was a welcome guest at the hospitable seat of Sir WALTER, on whose public character, and domestic virtues, he always dwelt with rapture: and a frequent change of place from Leigh to Blithfield was very acceptable to his social disposition.
In this, situation he did not continue long. He was recommended as a private Tutor to the only son of Sir EDWARD WINNINGTON, of Stanford Court, in the county of Worcester, and he accepted the offer. He was pleased with an engagement, which would restore him to the society of several of his friends, who were attending the Inns of Court in London, where Sir EDWARD, who was a Member of Parliament, resided a part of the year. He found in his pupil great powers of mind, and a generous and affectionate heart. These he cultivated with extraordinary assiduity and success, as his own heart and affection became deeply interested in the undertaking. For when Friendship called for his exertions, no attentions. however laborious, were ungrateful to him, though he was by no means on common occasions remarkable, for habits of industry.
In October 1767, he brought his pupil to Christ Church, being engaged no longer as his private, but his public, Tutor, and taking other young men at the same time under his tuition. Here the mutual attachment between him and Mr. WINNINGTON led him to associate much with that young gentleman, and consequently with many young Noblemen and Gentlemen -Commoners, to whom his society became highly acceptable on account of that sportive wit and humor which enlivened and that genuine taste and manly sense which dignified, his conversation. To them he was instructive as well as engaging. And though youthful gaiety abounded when he was in their society, no offence against piety or morality was suffered, or perhaps attempted, in his presence. To one, of these Noblemen, the late DUKE of LEEDS, then Lord CARMARTHEN, he was so endeared, that he had an opportunity of becoming his private Tutor. This valuable situation he declined from motives of honor and affection to Mr. WINNINGTON.
With his pupils of an inferior order he also associated freely, contrary to the practice of the College Tutors. He never failed to engage their love and admiration, while his conversation and his lectures inspired them with a taste for moral and literary acquisitions. He on every occasion manifested his zeal for their present and everlasting interest. To an intuitive penetration into character, to a commanding and winning eloquence, and to a uniform practice of the lessons, which he taught, he added the most disinterested regard and affection for them; qualities, which could not fail to produce the happiest effects. Even when be could not immediately succeed in reclaiming a young man from idleness and profligacy, he always sowed the seeds of an early reformation.
Among other exercises it was his custom on Sunday evenings to assemble his pupils, and to read to them his favorite MILTON. Those who have witnessed the divine powers of eloquence, which he so eminently possessed, will not easily forget the impression, which he made on their minds. He expressed, with characteristic force and beauty, every thought of the Author; he warmed or chilled the hearts of his auditors, according to the passion which the Poet intended to delineate.
Among his pupils, he selected one, as the object of his dear affection, the Rev. J. C. WOODHOUSE, now Rector of Donington in Shropshire, and Archdeacon of Salop. This favored pupil became his inseparable companion, and all the energies of his mind were employed, with corresponding success, in forming him to knowledge, to virtue and to piety. Hence arose a friendship, which was manifested in a constant intercourse, of mutual offices, and was only broken with the thread of life. In the summer of 1768, he travelled into Wales with Mr. WOODHOUSE, whom he calls "a friend congenial to his soul," in a beautiful Poem descriptive of that journey, addressed to Mr. WINNINGTON.
In 1769, he experienced a heavy loss in the death of his eldest brother, JOHN MARTEN BUTT, M.D. F.R.S. who had distinguished himself as a physician in Jamaica, and who was rising to great professional eminence in this country. The circle of this excellent man's life was small; but a most correct mind, an elegant courtesy of manners, an active and conscientious discharge of his duties, and the benefits derived from his exertions, social and professional, rendered that circle complete. With a genius scarcely inferior to that of his brother, he possessed a considerable share of that worldly prudence, in which the latter was frequently deficient. His letters, which are still cherished in the family, describe, and endeavour to avert, with the most affectionate solicitude, the probable consequences of that inexperience and inattention. They, at the same time evidence the strength of mind, the literary taste, the genuine piety, and the purity of heart, of the two brothers.
Dr. BUTT, in 1771, was presented by Sir E. WINNINGTON to the Rectory of Stanford, and the Vicarage of Clifton in Worcestershire. The income of this preferment was not great, but the situation of Stanford was delicious, and congenial to the feelings of the Poet, who was an enthusiastic admirer of rural beauty. It was necessary that he should build a new Parsonage-house. For this purpose his eye suggested a spot lovely and romantic, amidst wild woods, hills, dales, and water-falls, whose variety of charms baffled description. Here a wide field was open for the indulgence of his genius, and, the exercise of his taste. The hand of art was employed to give new graces, to the beauties of nature: a lake of water, shrubberies, and walks straying among woods and cascades, were among the decorations, which the place assumed under his direction. He loved hospitality and convenience; he therefore constructed his house with a view to these gratifications. But these objects could not be accomplished without a heavy expense. From this cause, and from his liberality on former occasions, he incurred a debt, which produced many difficulties, and checked the display of his generous spirit, but did not restrain the exercise of his benevolence, during the remainder of his life.
In April 1773, he married Miss MARTHA SHERWOOD, the daughter of a Silk Merchant in London, a lady of a literary and accomplished mind, whose excellent principles were congenial with his piety, and whose wisdom counteracted the effects of that improvidence, which is too often the attendant of superior genius. She early foresaw the consequences of the indulgence of that generous hospitality, in which he delighted: she formed a plan of oeconomy, which he abstractedly approved and commended, but to the practice of which he unwillingly submitted. Yet the strength of his reason, and the firmness of his mind, enabled him to adhere generally to that system, which at last fulfilled every engagement, removed every difficulty, and gave him a prospect of an unrestrained enjoyment of an ample income.
Among the arrangements, which he made to cooperate with the endeavours of his excellent wife, was the admission of a few pupils into his family; a plan, which he continued till the year 1784. His method of instruction was rather desultory than systematic; but he succeeded in inspiring a love of literature into his pupils by his easy and animated manner; and, what ought to he considered as the end of all instruction, he instilled into them a love of virtue and piety, which has been manifested on important occasions. In explaining the Classics, he scarcely ever failed to open their eves to the inchanted land of true Philosophy and the loftiest Poetry. To the Academic grove, and to the haunts of the Muses, he gave new importance and sublimity, by directing every study and every branch of knowledge to the glory of God. He discovered to them, with eloquent feeling, the aspirations of the ancient Philosophers after a brighter light than that of unassisted reason. He exhibited his favorite CICERO as confessing the inadequacy of Philosophy, with all its improvements and discoveries, to the full instruction and effectual reformation of the world. To narrow views of the Arts and Sciences he was an enemy, and recommended BACON'S Advancement of Science as the best antidote, and to point out their connexion with higher objects. The benefit of his exertions was fully proved by the subsequent conduct of those for whose instruction they were made. His first pupil, who is lately dead, confessed that the foundation of those consoling hopes, which changed the terrors of a death-bed into the delightful calmness of resignation, was firmly laid at Stanford. He had been led by accident into scenes of impiety, and had associated with young and unthinking persons, who, shutting their eyes against the sun-shine of Revelation, yield themselves to the guidance of the faint twilight of Reason, which leaves them at the mercy of their imperious passions; and would have been lost among the mazes of a false Philosophy, had he not recollected the lessons of his earlier days, and been thus led back, by the grace of God, to the path of solid truth and real happiness.
At a very small distance from Dr. BUTT'S house, in a little dingle surrounded by hills and woods, "sequestered from the busy haunts of men," stood a cottage situated on the sloping side of a sunny bank, through which ran a clear stream of the purest water. Here he fitted up a room, of which he filled the windows, with old painted glass, and hung the walls with old pictures. Here he frequently took his pupils to study, and here he composed many of his Poems and Sermons. Here he indulged his fondness for nature in her simplest beauties; and reaped the comforts, which soothed his retirement from the active scenes of society.
He had exercised his genius in Dramatic composition. In the year 1777, he proposed to bring his Tragedy of Timoleon on the stage: but this play, though abounding in beauty and pathos, though regular in the plot, interesting in the progress, and affecting in the catastrophe, did not possess those prominent features, which captivate the public in this age. This play he had submitted to the inspection of Mr. GARRICK, to whose society he had been admitted in his younger days. The English Roscius, who had now left the stage, and therefore may he supposed to have given an opinion uninfluenced by considerations attending his former situation, admired the play, but said it required alteration before it could he brought out. The Author requested Mr. GARRICK to point out in what part he thought alteration necessary, with a view to improvement. The Actor read it several times, and at last confessed his inability to discover a fault in it. Happy was it for Dr. BUTT that he followed the advice of his friend: his disposition never could have submitted to the mortifications, which both Authors and Actors are often doomed to undergo, from the mysterious intrigues of the management of a Theatre.
Nearly at this time he relinquished some promises of preferment from a noble family for the sake of a beloved younger brother, who obtained the living of Arley in Staffordshire. The delightful harmony, which always existed in his family, was the fruit of that generosity and piety, which marked the disposition of every member of it.
In the year 1778, his first Patron, the Bishop of BRISTOL, presented him to the small living of Newchurch in the Isle of Wight, tenable with his other preferment. In his visit to this place, he wrote the Patriot Vision, a Poem, which he published and dedicated to the Memory of the great Earl of CHATHAM. The subject he introduces by describing the scene, which suggested the idea;
—where sublimely rides
BRITANNIA'S fleet, and waits the dread command
To scatter vengeance o'er a guilty land.
There, as the moon upon the ocean stream
Dealt wide the glimmering of her silver beam,
That melancholy night, in pensive mood
Upon the sea-beat strand the Poet stood,
When, at dread intervals, the solemn roar
Of cannons thundering o'er the watery shore,
Proclaimed aloud that CHATHAM was no more!
Several of his fugitive pieces of Poetry were written for the vase of Lady MILLER, from whom he received many of those honorary prizes, which were considered by persons of talents as objects of attention. On her death, in 1781, he wrote an elegy, perhaps the most elegant monument to her memory. It is printed in his Collection of Poems.
In the year 1783, he exchanged his living of Newchurch for that of Notgrove in Glocestershire, of which the comparative proximity to Stanford formed the principal recommendation. In the same year, he was, by the interest of Lord HERTFORD, appointed one of the Chaplains in Ordinary to his Majesty. This situation afforded him the opportunity of displaying to advantage that talent of pulpit eloquence, which he possessed by nature, and had so successfully cultivated.
He obtained permission, in the year 1784, to dedicate his Versification of Isaiah to the King. The rapidity with which he executed this work, the intenseness of thought, and the daily and nightly application of his mind to one object, had an alarming effect on his health. To this circumstance may be attributed a visible, change, which took place in his constitution, and laid the foundation of that disorder, which terminated his life.
This alteration, and the necessity of a yearly visit to London in his turn of residence at St. James's, induced him to decline the offers of new pupils. He had hitherto watched over the education of his only son, now in the 10th year of his age. He was persuaded, in 1784, by his friends to give him a public education; and the DEAN Of CHRIST CHURCH, — whose wisdom and benevolence in private life can be equalled only by the literary pre-eminence and dignity of action, which mark his public character, charged himself with the superintendance of it. The young man was sent to Reading School, where he remained, till it was necessary to remove him to Westminster in order to qualify him for a Studentship of Christ Church. Between Dr. BUTT and the Master of Reading School the foundation was thus laid of a friendship, which death only could dissolve. To Reading the former paid an annual visit during the rest of his life. His affection to the School he took every occasion to manifest. He entered into all its interests, he attended all its public exercises, and took the greatest delight in assisting at their preparation. If the pupils of that seminary have deserved credit for public speaking, his active and affectionate cooperation in their instruction was one of the principal causes of their proficiency in that useful art. Nor was that distinction unfelt or unrepaid. To prove their sense of this kindness, the School-meeting unanimously elected him an honorary member of their society, a mark of respect without precedent, and without imitation. Dr. VALPY had been attacked, with much strength of invective, in a pamphlet by a Calvinistic writer, for an expression in an Assize Sermon preached and published at Reading. Dr. BUTT assumed the weapons of polemical warfare in the cause of his friend, and published an answer under the title of The Practice of Liberal Piety vindicated. It is difficult to say whether that little tract was most distinguished for elegance of language, fairness of argument, or force of application.
During his yearly visits to London as King's Chaplain, he was introduced to some of the most celebrated characters of the age. Among these were Mr. POTTER, the intelligent and nervous translator of the Greek Tragedians, Mr. ERSKINE, Dr. WARREN, and General PAOLI. He was particularly pleased with the ingenious FUSELI, whom he describes as one of the first classical Scholars, as well as Painters, of his time; and whom, on his first visit, he found painting Hamlet and the Ghost, and reading HOMER. He was often requested to sit for his picture to that great Artist, who said that he wished to preserve a countenance which was compounded of the features of STERNE and LAVATER. He was introduced to Mr. TOWNLEY, whom he called the British Maecenas. Seeing in that gentleman's house a most exquisite bust of Homer, he exclaimed extempore:
Thy genius in thy Sculptor lit the flame,
Which almost made his skill eclipse thy fame.
In the year 1787, he was presented by Lord FOLEY to the valuable Vicarage of Kidderminster. This preferment afforded an additional proof of the affectionate activity of his friends: It was conferred on him by the applications of Sir E. WINNINGTON, of the MARCHIONESS Of STAFFORD, and of his old Master, the ARCHBISHOP of YORK. To this place, which afforded a greater scope for his abilities as a Preacher, his exertions as a Parish Priest, and his exercise of the christian graces, he removed in 1788.
In this memorable year of the King's illness, he preached, at the Chapel Royal, on that affecting subject, a Sermon, which made a deep and lasting impression. The Discourse, which described the critical state of an afflicted nation, and expressed the lively sentiments of general loyalty, was followed by a most pathetic Prayer, delivered with peculiar strength of feeling and fervor of devotion. The eyes of a numerous and noble audience were suffused with tears. After the service, the Preacher received the general expression of the warmest gratitude. LORD SYDNEY, then Secretary of State, requested an introduction to him by the MARQUIS of STAFFORD, and thanked him with great sensibility. The Sermon was mentioned with rapture in the public papers, and printed by universal desire. His acquaintance was now sought by many exalted characters in the Royal circle, who were able to promote his interest. It was even expected by many of his friends that some substantial proof of approbation would be bestowed on him by those, whose sensibilities must have been deeply excited by so signal a mark of attachment and respect shown to the person of his Majesty.
The celebrity, which his Sermons had acquired at Court, loudly called for the publication of them. Desirous of rewarding the perseverance, with which he was satisfying the claims of his creditors, his friends advised the mode of subscription. A more productive and a more honorable list is not to be found in the annals of the Press. He enriched the work with collateral and critical Notes of great judgment, taste and piety, published it in 1791, in two octavo volumes, and dedicated it to the ARCHBISHOP of YORK, for whom he entertained almost a filial regard. He presented the Sermons to Their Majesties, who expressed their admiration of them. In conveying the Royal Message to the Author, Lord HERTFORD emphatically added: "Your line is bold, original, and full of imagination: You must follow that line."
He collected, in 1793, and printed in two volumes, his Poems. The greatest part of the copies of a very small Edition he presented to his friends. These, and his Sermons, were printed at Kidderminster, in a style of elegance little surpassed by the late improvements in the typographical art. To the first volume is prefixed a resemblance of the Author, from a painting by Mr. KEAN, who succeeded, as far as it was possible to do justice to that fire of genius and benignity of aspect, which characterized his countenance. Of the second volume the frontispiece exhibits a view of his favorite Stanford. This work he dedicated to LORD VISCOUNT VALENTIA, who had been his pupil, and who returned his affectionate cares with the most active love and respect. This young Nobleman caught a great portion of the spirit of his revered Tutor. To an extensive information in modern and ancient languages and general literature he adds a correct taste and lively genius. Like his Master, he has written a Tragedy, full of beauty and sublimity, but more calculated for the closet than for the present stage. In pursuit of political, geographical and botanical knowledge, he has formed the singular project of visiting India; and the polite attention of MARQUIS WELLESLEY has furnished him with the means of gratifying his curiosity and enriching his mind.
In the summer of Dr. BUTT brought his family to reside at Stanford. But his attention to Kidderminster was unremitted; and it was hoped that the frequent rides between his livings would strengthen a constitution which now began to verge towards decay. A mental exertion, incessant and almost unprecedented, had undermined and impaired his nervous system. Yet the zeal of his Friendship continued to burn with a warmth, which no debilities of nature had the power to cool. On the resignation of Dr. JAMES, he, together with Dr. PARR, Mr. QUAYLE, Mr. BENWELL, and other literary characters, formed a plan to induce Dr. VALPY to remove to Rugby School. He prevailed on his friend to visit Stanford, accompanied him to Rugby, used every argument of ingenuity and good will to dispose him to become a candidate for that munificent foundation; and returned with him to Reading to urge his solicitations with his, family; nor did he leave him till he saw him inflexibly determined not to change his situation.
The first symptom of the decay of his mental faculties appeared in the additions, which he now attempted to make to his "Felicia." As a relaxation from the laborious attentions, which he paid to his pupils, he had begun, and almost finished a work under that title. It holds a medium between the old Romance and the modern Novel, and is cast in the descriptions and in some of the adventures, in the mould of the fifteenth century. The language is nervous and flowing, the story is simple and affecting, the characters strongly drawn and delicately shaded, the scenes are rich and luxuriant, and the conduct of the several parts natural and interesting. In morality it holds forth the noblest examples of principle and action; for it is founded on the pure doctrine and heavenly practice of Christianity. This work has been lately completed by one of his daughters, who has distinguished herself by productions of a similar nature, of which the public approbation has stamped the high value; and will, it is hoped, be permitted to add to the stock of liberal instruction and rational amusement. Although the additions, that he now made, were a melancholy and affecting proof of the approaching extinction of that flame of genius, which had shed so beneficial a heat, yet in those late attempts his benevolence and piety still shone with a characteristic warmth and vivacity. Still Friendship could animate his exertions. In the autumn of this year he published a Sermon on the death of Lady WINNINGTON, the wife of his beloved pupil. In this Discourse the blaze of his setting genius appeared as pure and chearing, though perhaps not so dazzling, as in its meridian splendor. Whether he delighted to draw a picture of that rare pattern of piety and charity, which he had always admired in that Lady, or whether Death was a subject, in which he now felt himself more peculiarly interested, this little composition is among the most perfect of his writings.
In the beginning of the year 1795 he saw himself on the point of enjoying the fruit of his toils and privations by the completion of the payment of his debts. He came into the full possession of an estate, which, since the death of his mother, he had invariably devoted to that purpose. He had now ample reason to bless the goodness of God for a provision, which was thus secured to his family, when the support of his preferment might be taken from them. This was a source of sweet consolation to him, whilst he retained the powers of reflexion. He had now attained that great object, which he had kept in anxious view during more than twenty years, and to which all his considerations and labors, not employed in the service of others, had been directed. He now wrote letters to his friends, expressive of the highest gratification to himself, and gratitude to Providence, for the prospect, which was now opening, of following the natural bent of his heart in acts of hospitality and benevolence, without the fear of leaving a claim unsupplied; in being just and generous. But no sooner did the current of his cares and activity cease to flow, than the pulse of his life ceased to beat. Such is generally the progress of the human course: such is the termination of all the enterprizes, the labors, and the hopes of man. He exerts all his mental faculties, he exercises all his physical. powers, in the pursuit of some darling object. No sooner has he attained the wishes of his heart, than he drops into the grave!
On the last day of June he was attacked by a stroke of the palsy at Kidderminster, from the worst effects of which he was relieved by the skill and attention of his nephew, Dr. SALT. He was brought home to his family, from whose feelings he wished to conceal the extent of the danger; but his incoherent manner of speaking, and his difficulty in giving proper names to things, notwithstanding his more than usual chearfulness, gave too certain causes of alarm. From this time to the end of September he gradually declined. During this interval, the characteristic gentleness of his manners, and his amiable, affectionate conduct, appeared in the strongest light. His excellent and beloved friends, Mr. WOODHOUSE and Mr. HAWKINS BROWNE, with several others, who loved and honored him came to visit him; he received them with his usual attention, but he could not converse with his usual force and clearness. He was still able to walk, and he often pointed out improvements in his grounds, which proved that his rare and exquisite taste was little impaired.
The greatest source of affliction visible in him was, that he was deprived of that employment, which had formed the delight and comfort of his life: he could no longer read. Nothing can be a more awful lesson to the pride of man, than to see a mind like his gradually sinking under the weight of bodily infirmity. Disgusting is the sight of a second childhood rising on the ruins of that proud intellect, which boasts the high pre-eminence derived from the powers of an all-sufficient reason. Dr. BUTT had during his life maintained a constant intercourse with his God; and that merciful Being did not forsake him when "his flesh and his heart began to fail." In proportion as he was deprived of the reason and judgment of a man, he was blessed with the chearfulness and innocence of an infant. He received his illness with humility, and with a perfect confidence in the Wisdom of the Divine Dispensations. The last words which he committed to paper, were the following, which may be considered "tanquam cygnea vox divini hominis," conveying a sentiment of sincere piety, though not perhaps expressed in his usual elegance: "The visitation of disease is one of the most beneficent gifts of God. Bad habits to mind and body are weakened by this new visitation; and God by nature and grace assists us to regenerate ourselves in better habits than otherwise might have been known to us."
In the last walks, which he was able to take in his grounds, supported by his children, he retained his usual delight in holding forth the beauties of nature to their admiration and in deducing from them lessons of gratitude and adoration to the Great Creator. Still he instructed them "to look from Nature up to Nature's God." The sublime oak overshadowing the brook, the elegant sycamore, the towering elm, and the sombrous yew, afforded subjects for heavenly meditation. "If so lovely," he would say, "are the works of God, when uncontaminated by art, in this lower world, how much more lovely will be the scenes of Heaven!" Even when his powers of expression were almost lost, his thoughts continued to dwell on allusions to objects of devotion, and to keep open the communication between his soul and his God. A favorite robin, which had regularly visited his study, and been fed by the family, was moulting. He gazed at the bird with earnestness, and observed that his rough coat would soon be changed to a brilliant plumage, and endeavoured, though in an imperfect manner, to compare this change to the Resurrection. Frequent, humble and devout, were his addresses to that gracious Being, into whose presence he was so soon to be admitted.
The affectionate anxiety of his family was seconded by the unremitting attention of Dr. SALT and Dr. HALL. That no possible means of relief might be unattempted, Dr. DARWIN was sent for; but the force of the disorder was irresistible. Still his patience and sweetness of disposition never forsook him. When no longer able to converse, he cast a smile of heavenly benignity on his attendants, as appeared to irradiate the face of an Angel. He remained imperfectly sensible almost to the end. At that awful period, he fixed his dim eyes on a print of our Saviour bearing his cross, and in a faltering voice he said; "It is that which now gives me comfort!" Shortly after he expired.
He was buried in the Church at Stanford, in which is the following inscription, written by Dr. SALT:
This Tablet is sacred to the memory of
the Rev. GEORGE BUTT, D.D.
a man, in whom learning was recommended
by urbanity of manners,
and genius combined with purity of heart.
Actuated by the warm spirit of Benevolence,
and the sacred principles of Religion,
he was a friend to Man,
and a faithful servant of his God.
He was born at Lichfield, Dec. 26, 1741,
and died at Stanford, Sept. 30, 1795.
As a rare instance of affection and respect, the principal inhabitants of Kidderminster at his death hung the Church with black at their own expense, and attended divine service in mourning.
He has left three children, a son and two daughters. His son, the Rev. JOHN MARTEN BUTT, Student of Christ Church, lives on a Curacy at Abberley in Worcestershire. He is a young man of most amiable manners and promising talents. He has paid great attention to Theological studies, and has written some pious and ingenious remarks on the Prophecies. — His elder daughter is married to Mr. SHERWOOD, an officer in the 53d Regiment. The younger resides with Mrs. BUTT at Stockton, near Worcester....