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THIS celebrated woman once known in the annals of gallantry by the name of Perdita, was afterwards distinguished in the circles of fashionable literaturė under the signature of LAURA-MARIA. The zeal with which in the wane of her beauty she devoted herself to the Muses did her honour; but it may candidly be doubted whether she ever drank at the true waters of Helicon. Her style both in prose and verset was the most unchaste that ever was exhibited; and she seemed to deal more in an exuberance of glittering words than in thoughts of any kind. She paid in her latter days by neglect and poverty for the vanity and vices of her youth. She died Dec. 26, 1800, at her cottage on Englefield Green, aged about forty. Some Memoirs of her written by herself have since been published. She
was a native of Bristol; her maiden name was Darby.
MRS. ROBINSON. “
ART. DCLXXXVI. REV. WILLIAM COLLIER.
WAS many years Tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Hebrew Professor there from 1771 to 1790, whence at length pecuniary embarrassments, arising, I believe from indolence and carelessness, removed him. He fell afterwards, as I have heard, into severe distresses, and was for some time in legal confinement. He then published a Collection
* She published a small 8vo. volume of Poems as early as 1775.
See her two volumes of Poems, 1791 and 1792; and her most absurd novel entitled, Vancenza.
of his Poems, with Translations from Authors in various Languages, 2 vols. 12mo. 1800, in the hope of relieving his necessities; but was most severely and most unjustly treated by periodical critics, who, in his days of prosperity would have looked up to his talents and acquirements. I will not venture to pronounce upon his poems, because the volumes never fell into my hands; but I remember the character which his abilities had acquired him at Cambridge, and his fame as an elegant classical scholar; and an inscription which I once saw written in a pure and classical style, and which I think was turned into Greek by Professor Porson when an undergraduate, confirmed me in the justness of his reputation. He died Aug. 7, 1803, æt. 61, at Newington, Surrey, being then Senior Fellow of Trinity College, and Rector of Orwell, Co. Cambridge.
AN eccentric character, originally a dissenting minister, but afterwards a farmer, published in 1795 a poem, called The Art of War, 4to. and in 1803 War Elegies. He died at Hedgegrove, near Watford, Essex, Jan. 24, 1804.
ART. DCLXXXVIII. Rev. Mr. WILSON of Halton Gill.
"AMONG the singular characters of Craven," says Dr. Whitaker, "it will now give pain to no one, if I notice Mr. Wilson, formerly curate of Halton-Gill in Arncliffe, and father of the late Rev.
Edward Wilson, canon of Windsor. He wrote a tract entitled The Man in the Moon;' which was seriously meant to convey the knowledge of common astronomy in the following strange vehicle: A cobler, Israel Jobson by name, is supposed to ascend first to the top of Penigent; and thence, as a second stage, equally practicable, to the moon ; after which he makes a tour of the whole solar system. From this excursion, however, the traveller
brings back little information which might not have been had upon earth, excepting that the inhabitants of one of the planets, I forget which, were made of pot-metal. The work contains some other extravagances; but the writer, after all, was a man of talents, and has abundantly shewn, that, had he been blessed with a sound mind and a superior education, he would have been capable of much better things. If I had the book before me, I could quote single sentences here and there, which, in point of composition, rise to no mean degree of excellence.
"Mr. Wilson had also good mechanical hands, and carved well in wood; a talent which he applied to several whimsical purposes. But his chef d'œuvre was an oracular head like that of Friar Bacon and the disciple of the famous Escotillo,+ with which he diverted himself, and amazed his neighbours, till a certain Reverend wiseacre seriously threatened to
*"It is rarely to be met with, having, as I am told, been industriously bought up by his family. I have only seen one copy, and my recollection of what I read is not very particular."
+"See Don Quixote, b. iv. c. 10."
complain of the poor man to his metropolitan as an After this the oracle was mute."* ·
ART. DCLXXXIX. DR. JOHN WALKER. From Lord Woodhouselie's Memoirs of Lord Kames. "DR. JOHN WALKER, minister of Moffat, afterwards Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh, was a man most eminently qualified' for the office of surveying the Western Islands of Scotland, to which he was appointed through the interest of Lord Kames, as joining to every endowment of scientific knowledge requisite for the undertaking, an ardent mind and a great portion of natural sagacity and penetration.'
"It was his custom for a great part of his life to indulge himself in nocturnal study; seldom feeling the resolution to quit his books and papers till four or five o'clock in the morning; and of course passing the better part of the day in bed: a practice which destroyed a good constitution, and in the end was attended with a total loss of eye-sight, for the last six or seven years of his life. Yet though thus deprived of the principal source of his enjoyment, and deeply suffering from domestic misfortune, the blessings of a well-regulated mind, an equal temper, a happy flow of original spirits, and a memory rich in knowledge, and stored with amusing anecdotes, not only rendered his conversation delightful to his friends, but supplied the means and power of still
*Whitaker's History of Craven, p. 433.
Occupying his time with his favourite literary and Scientific pursuits."*
ART. DCXC. DR. DAVID DOIG.
From the same.
"DR. DAVID DOIG was the son of a small farmer in the county of Angus. His father died when he was an infant, and it was his good fortune that his mother entered into a second marriage with a worthy man, who, though in very moderate circumstances, and soon burdened with a young family of his own, discharged to him the duty of an affectionate parent. From a constitutional defect of eye sight, he was twelve years of age before he had learned to read: but as his intellects were uncommonly quick, he had no sooner overcome that difficulty, than he made so rapid a progress, that after three years instruction of a parish schoolmaster, in Latin, writing, and arithmetic, he presented himself a candidate for a Bursary, or endowment for poor scholars in the University of St. Andrew's, and obtained it on a comparative trial of his abilities with the competitors. Having finished with great approbation the usual course of philosophy and classical learning, he took the degree of A. B. and entered on the study of divinity. Certain conscientious scruples, however, concerning some articles of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is framed according to the principles of the most rigid
*Life of Lord Kames II. 12-105.