The Rev. Percival Stockdale, vicar of Lesbury and Long-Houghton, in Northumberland, was born on the 26th of October, O.S. 1736, in the village of Branxton, two miles South of the Tweed. A catastrophe, melancholy to Scotland, has made it famous in history; and the pen of Mr. Walter Scott renders it doubly sacred to the poetic mind. The Field of Flodden lies near the Southeast end of Branxton. On this field, and on the 9th of September, 1513, the Battle of Flodden was fought; which, by some old writers, is called the Battle of Branxton.
In the early time of Percival Stockdale's life, while he was yet a child, he often walked over this interesting plain with his father; and, even then, the bold images of heroic deeds and generous fame, with the tender sentiments of filial love, worked powerfully in his ardent and juvenile fancy. With characteristic frankness, in the memoirs of himself, which he published two years ago, he thus writes of a circumstance that happened about this period:
"As my dearest father and I were one day riding within view of Branxton, I said something to him which I have forgotten, relative to my native place. But I well remember, that he turned to me, and said, with a seriousness and emphasis which are indelibly imprinted in my heart, — 'You may make that place remarkable for your birth, if you take care of yourself.' I suppose that I might then be about twelve years of age. My father was a good; scholar; his understanding was clear and strong; and he could penetrate human nature. He already saw that I had natural advantages above those of common men; but he likewise already saw in me the dangerous balance, in favour of common men — exquisite sensibility, and strong passions."
He "saw that his sort had natural advantages, above those of common men; but he saw in him the dangerous balance, in favour of common men — exquisite sensibility and strong passions!" These few words make the epitome of Mr. Stockdale's life. But we will, as briefly as possible, recount the particulars.
This venerable father, whose warning we have just quoted, was the Rev. Thomas Stockdale. He had the vicarage of Branxton, and the perpetual curacy of Cornhill near the Tweed, where his remains sleep. His family was respectable, and had possessed a small landed patrimony in Cumberland. His grandfather was an officer in the Royal army at the time of the great rebellion against Charles the First. He fell in one of the battles which was fought between an unfortunate king and his ungenerous subjects. "Old as I am, (says the ardent Percival Stockdale,) I am yet enthusiastically fond of liberty, and I hate tyrants. But our unreasonable and outrageous advocates for liberty shall never, I hope, make me forget temperate and just moral and political distinctions; they shall never make me forget a period of undetermined, of undefined freedom; I must, with their leave, lay some stress on the excessive prerogative which was claimed and exercised by the predecessors of Charles I.; I must lay some stress on the Parliament's insolent rejection of terms to which they should have been determined by conscience, and by the constitution, to accede; and I shall never be ashamed of the veneration which I pay, nor of the sight which I sometimes offer to the memory of an accomplished, virtuous, and pious, but mistaken and ill-advised king."
The mother of Mr. Percival Stockdale was Miss Dorothy Collingwood, of Murten, in Northumberland, and of the same family with our late brave and lamented Admiral of that name and title.
Percival was their only child, and the child of their old age. They nurtured him with a care so excessive, that they hardly suffered "the winds to visit his frame too roughly;" but his mind they exercised in all the labours of erudition and taste. Even at six years old his passion for learning shewed itself; and soon after that period he read our best English authors with avidity. In remembrance of these early pleasures, at the advanced age of seventy, he thus expressed himself, with regard to British literature:
"Pedants may smile; but, in my intellectual estimation, they who are only acquainted with the elegance of the English language, and with our most elegant and capital English authors, are very learned — very gracefully learned — fitted and accomplished for every achievement of the mind."
This declaration came with peculiar disinterestedness and force from Mr. Stockdale, as he was himself a proficient in all the learned languages, antient and modern.
In the summer of 1745, the young Percival was entered by his parents at the Grammar-school of Alnwick. Thence he was removed, six years afterwards, to the Grammar-school at Berwick. At these places he became intimately acquainted with the Greek and Latin classicks, and from the poets an enthusiastic love of rural scenes. This passion he indulged to the utmost in his holiday-visits to his father; who had changed his abode from Branxton to Tillmouth, a pretty village, situated at the confluence of the Till and the Tweed. It was about this period that he entered on the luxuriant and Elysian province of the Muse. His first verses were very humble, suitable to his age (thirteen) and the subject; they described the beauties of a favourite cat. Their author, from his earliest infancy to his latest hour, was fond of the dumb creation: he has been their benefactor as far as his own little jurisdiction extended, and their eloquent and ardent advocate to the world at large. As an instance of this Christian spirit, we need only mention his humane pamphlet, written on that most cruel and unmanly sport, bull-baiting.
The temperament of Percival Stockdale was that of acute sensibility. We find it described simply and most pathetically in a sketch he has given of his youthful feelings. He writes of returning to school after visiting his parents:
"At this juncture, some of my schoolfellows observed my passion for solitude, and my great dejection, which they endeavoured to remove. They pressed me to go with them into a neighbouring wood, to pull nuts. Their earnest entreaties prevailed; and I accompanied them. When the mind is absorbed in grief, it is, incapacitated from enjoying amusements and diversions; indeed, to mix in them only mocks and heightens our grief. Every attempt at gaiety and mirth, every social attempt to excite them, rankled, or palled in the sickness of my heart. I was, in imagination, in the excursions of my soul, far distant from my companions, and from the wood. I was, in imagination, at Tillmouth, reading or walking with my father. There are mental wounds, there are pungent mental tortures, through every stage of our existence, of which common minds have not the least it idea or perception. Whit inexpressible pains have a picturesque fancy, and impetuous passions, cost me! For amidst all my extravagant follies, amidst all my intemperate sallies, my thinking hours intervened; and, in them, I was strongly actuated with the principles and sentiments of what was right. The distress and melancholy which I have endeavoured to describe, awakened and kept alive in my mind those religious impressions which had been deeply fixed there by the pious attention of my excellent parents. I had with me the New whole Duty of Man, which they recommended to my frequent reading; a very good book, which has at the end several well-composed prayers for various occasions. Passed events, with severe grief, I used to review in fancy; and, with that book for my guide, in unostentatious solitude, I often poured forth my sorrows and supplications to the throne of grace, in the apartment where I slept."
In the year 1754, being in his eighteenth year, he left school entirely, to reside with his father at Cornhill, near the Tweed. There, a translation which he made of an ode of Cornelius Gallus, into English verse, introduced him to the acquaintance and friendship of Lord Delaval, and his brother Sir Francis Blake Delaval; he also cultivated the esteem of the classical Sir Francis Blake, and his no less accomplished son; and derived from their society every advantage of a learned and elegant conversation.
In the autumn of this year, our young Poet went to St. Andrew's, in consequence of his father having obtained for him an Exhibition (in Scotland termed a Bursery) in the united colleges of St. Leonard and St. Salvador, in the university of that antient city. Here he passed a happy time in the alternate exercise of the head and heart; he studied under the most respectable professors; and spent his hours of leisure in a delightful intercourse of friendship with his brother collegiates, the late Earl of Moray, Mr. Maxwell of Springhell, Mr. Warchup of Niddrie, Mr. Lockhart of Carnwath, and several other young Scotsmen, who have since distinguished themselves and their country.
In the summer of 1755, he was recalled to the Tweed by the melancholy intelligence of the death of his father. His mother was then at Berwick; and thither, almost frantic with grief, he hastened to join her. He found her in a situation approaching indigence; but her friends obtaining for her a small pension, and uniting, though sparingly, to provide an income on which her son might prosecute his studies for the Church, he applied with redoubled vigour. But the bread of dependence is ever bitter; and preparations for a war with France appearing about this time, caused a sad rebellion in the grave resolves of young Percival. His spirit shrink from being an object of charity; his heart panted to emulate the heroes of Xenophon and Caesar; and second lieutenancy in the 23d, or Royal Welsh Fusileers being offered to him by a friend, it decided his hardly-wavering mind, and he a accepted it with transport. His commander was General John Huske; he had fought at Dettingen, and at the memorable battle of Culloden, under the Duke of Cumberland.
In his way to the field of duty, the young soldier paid a visit to London. His eager, animated, and enthusiastic mind had ample scope there fur it was then in habited by a host of gennius. The theatres were in their first splendour; for it was the reign of Shakespeare and of Garrick. Mr. Stockdale found himself on enchanted ground: enjoyments seemed to await him at every turn; for his own talents, and passion for cultivated and brilliant society, introduced him to the most celebrated characters of the age. Garrick was the first on his list; and thus, in his Memoirs, does he apostrophize this lamented friend and wonderful man:
"Let me begin with the High-priest of the Oracle of Avon. Can I ever forget thy powers of infinite diversity, and of imperious controul over the human heart? No! — Thy image is, I hope, eternally impressed in my mind, both by private friendship and by public glory! Can I forget thy attitudes and thy voice, formed and inspired by the soul of Shakspeare and the Graces; in the most impassioned scenes, not too vehement; in the tenderest, not too languid; alike uninflated with the bombast, and uncorrupted with the affectation, which went before, and which have come after you; ever preserving, with the perfection of judgment, the spirit, and the flow, which were dictated by nature and the occasion. I now see the lightning of thine eye, attempered to the moment, and transfixing it object: — I mark the forcible silence of thy pause, arresting the fancy with its mute expression of 'strange, unutterable things,' in all unconfined and emphatical eloquence, too unbounded, and too powerful, for the pressure of words. Can I forget thee, thou versatile, magical, and delightful Proteus! equally great, and equally darting the emanations of transcendent and flexible genius, in opposite and seemingly incompatible characters: in Archer and in Scrub, in Ranger and in Brute, in Richard and in Hamlet, Drugger and in Lear!"
In the spring of 1756, Stockdale left London, and joined Admiral Byng's fleet at Portsmouth, then ready to sail for the Mediterranean. Our young soldier embarked in H.M.S. Revenge, Capt. Frederick Cornwall. In the beginning of May, the fleet anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar. With his usual vivacity of feeling, Mr. Stockdale speaks of this place:
"I should unwillingly apply to a Spanish night the epithet of Young — 'Night, sable Goddess.' At Gibraltar, she is not a sable, but a shining goddess! a goddess of mild, yet of delightfully serious, of religious majesty. With what poetical pleasure, with what ascending of the soul, have I walked, on an evening after sunset, on the old parade at Gibraltar! Through the finest atmosphere, an aether of spotless and vivid azure saluted the eye and charmed the mind. The galaxy streamed with a golden and white effulgence, totally unsullied with Northern vapours. All the heavenly host shed down the emanations of their splendid eloquence; displayed the magnificent characters of Deity; gave the demonstrative lie to atheists; and proclaimed, with oracular emphasis, the theology, of the skies. The regions below bore a part, is this divine service, with those above. Bland and gentle was the air; and it conveyed from the geraniums and flowering shrubs of the Rock, their aromatic odour. The fragrance filled the atmosphere; and it seemed a pious evening sacrifice, an offering of gratitude from the earth, to the benignity and grandeur of the heavens."
Mr. Stockdale was sent, with part of his regiment, on-board the Revenge, in the memorable expedition commanded by Admirals Byng and West, to the relief of the besieged garrison of St. Philip, in the island of Minorca. The particulars of this mysterious and melancholy affair form a most interesting detail in his printed Memoirs, reviewed in our vol. LXXX. Part I. p. 248.
During Mr. Stockdale's military life, he did not neglect the Muses; but, soldier-like, generally made them sing in the service of the fair. In Gibraltar, he became enamoured of a beautiful Spanish lady. And, indeed, he always confessed that his heart was ever too susceptible of "la belle passion."
He returned to England in the October of 1756. He was now destined to country quarters; but his versatile talents brought around him the choice society of every county, and his social hours were those of enjoyment, for they were passed with agreeable companions and warm friends, with men of generous hearts, of pleasant conversation, and of polished manners, whom he loved, and by whom he was admired and esteemed.
In 1757, Mr. Stockdale was encamped, under the command of Lord George Sackville, on Chatham Lines. His written account of that Nobleman's conduct at the battle of Minden, is one of the most striking parts of his Memoirs, and seems to place the affair in it very clear and convincing light. These foreign and domestic campaigns brought Mr. Stockdale into terms of intimate acquaintance with some of the must conspicuous military characters of the day, Lord George Sackville, Lord Tyrawley, General O'Hara, &c. &c. But, his regiment being under orders for India, he determined to quit this brilliant situation altogether, and retire from the Army. He was in ill-health at the time, and that was the ostensible reason for resigning his commission; but, with his usual frankness, he has thus spoken of himself on this subject:
"The mutability of my disposition was, perhaps, one cause of this change in my mind; but I can assign for it more rational and respectable causes: the frequent, sudden, and arbitrary, removals from place to place, which are indispensable in the life of a soldier, and the mechanical and laborious military exercises, which produced many rude interruptions, many wide and unideal intervals, in my literary pursuits."
His friends remonstrated with him in vain against this resolution; and, in the month of November 1751, he bade adieu to the Army for ever.
In his way to Berwick, where he meant to pay his duty to his mother, and decide on some future plan of life, he paid a visit to the Rev. Dr. Thomas Sharp, archdeacon of Northumberland, at his residence in the episcopal city of Durham. This worthy member of the Established Church was a son of the patriotic Archbishop of York, who so intrepidly asserted the cause of the Church of England, in the gloomy and dangerous reign of James II. Dr. Thomas Sharp was not only thus nobly descended, but he had the honour of being the father of Granville Sharp, the illustrious friend of humanity and man. This excellent family conceived a warm friendship for Mr. Stockdale. At their earnest request, he took up his abode at their house, and there determined on entering into Holy Orders. His studies had well prepared him for the ministry; for he was not only a good Greek and Latin scholar, but he was intimate with the Hebrew, the Arabic, the Syriac, and most of the Eastern languages connected with the Sacred Scriptures.
At Michaelmas in 1759, and at Auckland-castle, he was ordained Deacon by Dr. Trevor, then Bishop of Durham. Immediately after his ordination he went to London, where he was to be one of Mr. Sharp's substitutes in the curacy of Duke's-place, near Aldgate.
Finding himself again in the Metropolis, the emporium of taste, science, and elegant pursuits, he did not decline re-enjoying the charms of the society it presented; and again we see him with Garrick, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Browne, Goldsmith, Hawkesworth, the great and good Lord Lyttelton, and others of the like literary and moral dignity.
Events removed Mr. Stockdale from this Elysian circle to Berwick, and from Berwick to London again; and, being without any church employment, in 1767 he embarked in the Thames for the shores of Italy. He resided two years in the town of Villa-Franca, and there read and wrote very assiduously. He returned to England, and to London, in 1769.
About this period he translated Tasso's Aminta: it was published by Davies. Drs. Johnson and Hawkesworth gave the translator their warm approbation; and it attracted to the shrine of his Muse many of the first book sellers in London. Amongst other engagements with them, he succeeded Dr. Guthrie in the management of the Critical Review; and wrote a very elegant life of Waller, the Poet, for Davies. He also translated, for the same publisher, the Antiquities of Greece, from the Latin of Lambert Bos. In 1771, his ready and valuable talents compiled the Universal Magazine; and, in 1773, he published three Sermons, two against Luxury and Dissipation, and one on Universal Benevolence. In the summer of this year appeared Mr. Stockdale's most distinguished work, his poem of The Poet. Immediately on its publication, it was generally read and approved; it was admired by the first judges of poetical merit; and was honoured with several verses in its praise, in the public prints, which, for taste and genius, deserved the gratitude of poetical ambition. Garrick, in the tenour of the praise which he bestowed on this poem, observed, that "our poetical Sun had been long shrouded by the clouds of Dullness; but now (added he) the splendid deity
Forth from the Eastern chambers sheds his ray,
And, in The Poet, pours a flood of day!"
In the summer of 1773, when several ships of war were put into commission, Mr. Stockdale was desirous of being made chaplain to one of them. Lord Sandwich was then First Lord of the Admiralty, with whom Garrick was on the most intimate footing. He wrote to his Lordship in his friend's favour; and, in a short time after, Mr. Stockdale was appointed to the Resolution, a guardship of 74 guns, which was lying at Spithead. He remained attached to that ship for three years; but passed his time alternately on-board, in the Isle of Wight, at London, or on visits to different friends. His poem of The Poet had introduced him to many new and desirable acquaintance; and, amongst the rest, to the family of the celebrated Lord Lansdown. With Mr. Fitzmaurice, his Lordship's brother, he enjoyed the beauties of the Isle of Wight, and composed some characteristic minor poems, besides translating into English Sabbatier's Institutions, Customs, and Manners of the Antient Nations. This useful work was undertaken at the suggestion of Garrick. But (to adopt his own expression) "while he was thus wandering in the venerable groves of Academeus, he forget not the more hallowed garden of Gethsemene."
It was at this time that he composed his Six excellent Sermons to Seamen. Some time afterwards, he wrote an Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope in vindication of that Poet, against the Essay by Warton on the same subject. In these compositions he met with the warm approbation of many literary men; amongst whom were, Gibbon the Historian, Edmund Burke, and Dr. Johnson: indeed, on the Essay on Pope, Dr. Johnson one evening thus expressed himself to a circle of literary friends — "Stockey, said he (that kind of diminutive being used by him towards his familiar acquaintance), is perfectly right. He has defended the cause of Pope with incontrovertible arguments, and with great eloquence; and he must be supported in his defence of that great Poet."
In the year 1778, Mr. Burke obtained a promise from Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, that Mr. Stockdale should have his patronage in the Church. But our Poet never derived any solid advantage from this promise. It was about this time he was introduced to the celebrated Novelist Miss Burney; and it has been said, that from the animated, ingenious, and eccentric Percival Stockdale, she drew the Belfield of her admirable Cecilia.
In the summer of 1779, he wrote several political Letters, with the signature of Agricola. They were published by Woodfall, in the Public Advertiser. At this period, several of the principal booksellers of London determined to publish a now edition of the English Poets, with a previous account of the life of each Poet. Mr. Stockdale's Life of Waller had given them so high an idea of his ability to execute their plan, that they resolved, in this meeting, to apply to him to be its biographer and editor. The agreement was accordingly made; but, by some strange misunderstanding, Mr. Stockdale was deprived of this employment [Here must be some grand error. EDIT.], and Dr. Johnson wrote the Lives of the Poets! Owing to this circumstance, a feud arose between our injured Author and some of these booksellers, which has never subsided, and from which he may date not a few of the misfortunes and vexations of his life.
At this time he had left the Resolution; and, being without any regular employment, he was advised by his friends to accept a situation which now presented itself, that of Tutor to the late Lord Craven's eldest son. No situation seems more worthy of honour than that of a tutor to youth. But experience proves that it is not considered so; and Mr. Stockdale, finding it a state of vassalage, totally incompatible with his independent sentiments, quitted it the following spring.
In the summer of 1780, Adam Gordon, who had the living of Hineworth in Hertfordshire, offered Mr. Stockdale the curacy of that place. He accepted it with gratitude, and there wrote fifteen Sermons. At this period he took Orders. In 1782, he wrote his Treatise on Education; a little work which Mr. Burke held in such high esteem, that he declared it had entirely made him convert to its principles. In the autumn of the succeeding year, Lord Thurlow (the then Lord Chancellor) in consequence of having read a volume of Mr. Stockdale's Sermons, and without any other recommendation, presented him with the Living of Lesbury, in Northumberland. To this the Duke of Northumberland added that of Long Houghton, in the same county. Here Mr. Stockdale wrote his tragedy of Ximenes. He pursued his literary studies with avidity, and performed his functions as a minister with no less zeal: but the bleakness of the climate injured his health; and on mature deliberation, he determined to accept an invitation he received, in 1781, from his friend Mr. Matra, British Consul at Tangier, to pass some time with him, under its more genial sky.
In the year 1790, he returned from the Mediterranean; and, from the researches he had made in Spain, and on the coast of Barbary, wrote a large account of Gibraltar, comprehending its natural and political history. It was composed with great attention and diligence, and written with a spirit and elegance which would have ensured it immediate publicity and lasting fame. But, when he had arrived within a day's-work of its completion, in consequence of some recent and mortifying events, his literary adversity, and all his other misfortunes, took fast hold of his mind, oppressed it extremely, and reduced it to a stage of the deepest despondency. In this unhappy view of life, he made a sudden resolution — never more to prosecute the profession of an author! to retire from the world; and read only for consolation and amusement. That he might have the less temptation to break his vow, in a desperate moment, he threw his History of Gibraltar into the flames! But a vow to abandon the Muse is like that of a fond and jealous lover to abandon his mistress. Her first smile draws him again to her feet. Mr. Stockdale sought "consolation and amusement" in a re-perusal of our great English Poets, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Young, Gray, and Chatterton; and he resolved to write a course of Lectures upon their respective merits. While in this agreeable study, he composed two Poems: The Banks, of the Wear, and The Invincible Island. His Lectures on the Poets were completed, and published in the year 1807. We cannot give a better proof their merits than by transcribing a Letter which Mr. Jerningham, the Poet, wrote to Mr. Stockdale on the subject:
"Dear Hermit of the North,
Your Lectures were sent to me on Saturday evening; and I was induced, or rather impelled by an inexplicable attractive preference, to peruse the Life of Chatterton. I finished those six Lectures about half an hour ago; and I hasten to write to you while I am still under the pressure of that overwhelming composition. 'Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn,' meet me in every page, and warm me with delight. The argumentative parts are finely relieved by glowing illustrations; and your metaphoric expression conveys new and underived images, made at home, moulded, heated, and purified in the focus of your own genius. The 'ver assiduum,' and the 'alienis mensibus aestas,' may justly be applied to your time of life. 'Fortunate senex! Tua rura manebunt'; not the 'rura' covered with golden dust, but the possessions of the mind are given you, free from the taxation of time and infirmity. I make no doubt but that I shall receive equal gratification (if possible) from your other Lectures. With regard to your Lectures on Chatterton, I am so sincere in this effusion of my judgment, and so invincibly posessed with their excellence, that you may, if you please, insert this letter, when you come to the period of the publication of the Lectures, in your Memoirs.
Ever yours most sincerely,
His Memoirs were his next publication. They were written in, the seclusion of his vicarage at Lesbury; they were written under the pressure of extreme debility and nervous irritation, from the rapid increase of a disorder he inherited from his cradle. To this morbid sensibility of his nerves, may be derived all the faults which have east a temporary shade over the brightness of his character. These shades, persons, "severe to mark" the failings of their fellow-creatures, have aggravated into defects of a deeper dye. They judge a man of genius as if genius entirely exempted the possessor from the imperfections of human nature. They allow no mercy to the commonest errors that "flesh is heir to," when those errors belong to a man of superior talents. And, certainly, from extraordinary endowments we have a right to look for the greatest examples of virtue; but we must also recollect, that God, when he gives genius, gives proportionate passions, with which it must fight "the good fight." A few stumbles in the contest ought not to be considered, by the more temperately-constituted race of men, as an inexcusable fall; nay, they ought, in Christian humility, to cheek their self-approving triumph, and remember, that the all-perfect God is gracious and long-suffering, and, on repentance, "blotteth out all iniquity;" else who, among even the saints of the earth, could stand in his presence! Like Rousseau, (whose character his resembled to almost a fac-simile,) Mr. Stockdale's heart was always right, though his temper, or rather the mal-construction of his nervous system, often made his conduct wrong. Like Rousseau, he was erratic, jealous of offence, quick in resentment, and imprudent and impetuous in its demonstration. But, like him, he was also full of benevolence to all mankind, placable, ready to weep if his indignation exceeded the real matter of offence, and as ready to receive to his bosom his bitterest enemy, did that enemy express the smallest regret for past injuries, and profess any awakening regard with his repentance. Though from bodily constitution often erring against the judgment of his fine mind, he was not the less severe upon his lapses; and thus he expresses himself on the subject:
"Education should begin at the cradle; and, were it prosecuted in a calm, philosophical, and determined manner, its pupil would he trained, and permanently habituated to mental serenity, to useful knowledge, and to virtue. I think that I have already observed that there is much of what is good, and much of what is bad, in human-nature: if the bad is fatally let loose at an early period, if it is indulged, if it is bribed, if it is applauded; the die is most probably thrown for life; the man is ruined in the boy. But, if this compounded being is managed and conducted with a liberal and masterly art; if, as occasions demand, he is wooed and encouraged, or gently, but firmly restrained, he will he fortunate, virtuous, and happy. Even the bad that is in him may be so softened and changed, that it may prove a friendly stimulus to the good; as poisons are often ministers of health, when they are happily blended in a medical composition. If I had fortunately been modelled by this judicious, persevering, and uniform discipline, perhaps, at this moment, my hoary head, instead of being exposed to the frost of uncharitable minds, would have been secured and honoured under the venerable protection of a Mitre."
Mr. Stockdale, in this, seems to date the irritability of his temper (which was his only fault) to errors in his education; but, certainly, his constitutional nervous irritation was the primary cause of this defect and hard, and cold must be the heart, by whom it will ever be remembered, but with pity, regret, and the spirit of reconciliation.
In the year 1808, Mr. Stockdale paid his last visit to the Metropolis. He lodged in Bateman's-buildings, Soho-square; and there published a selection of his best poems, in one volume octavo. From this period his health rapidly declined; and, oppressed by the heaviness of a London atmosphere, in the autumn of 1810, he returned by easy journeys to his vicarage in Northumberland. In this peaceful retirement, amidst his affectionate parishioners, and attended by two faithful domestics, he closed his earthly career on the 14th of September, 1811. He sleeps with the remains of his parents, at Cornhill on the Tweed; leaving behind him the remembrance of his charities in the breasts of the poor, and the image of his amiable worth in the hearts of his lamenting friends.
In rural bow'rs to pass the virtuous day,
Far from the crowd, where rival passions sway;
By intellectual toils, his mind to raise,
And seek from mental efforts, all his praise;
Sure, will at last the tongue of Slander charm,
And Hell's malignity itself disarm!
For, not with hate his glowing breast was fraught;
Far other throes his tearful feeling taught:
Soft to the mild, though to the clam'rous loud;
Humble to meekness, though to insult proud;
Prompt to forgive, if ready to resent;
E'en when in anger, just, he would relent.
Sleep then, my Friend! no more by wrongs opprest,
Beneath the clouds of Sorrow seek thy rest;
And, long o'erwhelm'd by undeserved blame,
Tried by Adversity's relentless flame,
With suff'rings and with "dangers compass'd round,"
Shall lie, a martyr, on the stony ground!
The word has pass'd, that calls thee to the skies,
To leave a thankless world for "Heaven's Harmonies!"