Having lately been travelling in Germany, I spent some time at that University in which Augustus Tomlinson presided as Professor of Moral Philosophy. I found that that great man died, after a lingering illness, in the beginning of the year 1822, perfectly resigned to his fate, and conversing, even on his deathbed, on the divine mysteries of Ethical Philosophy. Notwithstanding the little peccadilloes to which I have alluded in the latter pages of “Paul Clifford,” and which his pupils deemed it advisable to hide from —
“The gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day,”
his memory was still held in a tender veneration. Perhaps, as in the case of the illustrious Burns, the faults of a great man endear to you his genius. In his latter days the PROFESSOR was accustomed to wear a light-green silk dressing-gown, and, as he was perfectly bald, a little black velvet cap; his small-clothes were pepper and salt. These interesting facts I learned from one of his pupils. His old age was consumed in lectures, in conversation, and in the composition of the little morceaux of wisdom we present to the public. In these essays and maxims, short as they are, he seems to have concentrated the wisdom of his industrious and honourable life. With great difficulty I procured from his executors the manuscripts which were then preparing for the German press. A valuable consideration induced those gentlemen to become philanthropic, and to consider the inestimable blessings they would confer upon this country by suffering me to give the following essays to the light, in their native and English dress, on the same day whereon they appear in Germany in the graces of foreign disguise.
At an age when, while Hypocrisy stalks, simpers, sidles, struts, and hobbles through the country, Truth also begins to watch her adversary in every movement, I cannot but think these lessons of Augustus Tomlinson peculiarly well-timed. I add them as a fitting Appendix to a Novel that may not inappropriately be termed a Treatise on Social Frauds; and if they contain within them that evidence of diligent attention and that principle of good in which the satire of Vice is only the germ of its detection, they may not, perchance, pass wholly unnoticed; nor be even condemned to that hasty reading in which the Indifference of today is but the prelude to the Forgetfulness of tomorrow.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48