« ÎnapoiContinuați »
within the walls of the College, where, with ample leisure and opportunities for study, with the society of tried friends and in the neighbourhood of home, his life was made as happy as life can be without health.
For the last six years he contributed articles regularly to the Spectator and occasionally also to Fraser's Magazine; an employment which suited him under the circumstances better than any other, as his bodily feebleness forbade him to attempt any work of scope and difficulty corresponding to his mental powers. To this, his appointed task, he devoted himself with conscientious diligence. Papers found after his decease show the pains he took to qualify himself for the responsible duty of a literary judge by careful study and elaborate analysis of the books he was about to criticise. Undertaken in this spirit, his work interested and amused him, while at the same time he was cheered and gratified by the attention and admiration which his articles received. In this way also he came to reckon among the number of his friends some of the most eminent literary men of their time. He made no enemies, because, though he never hesitated to state what he
believed to be right, his own sensitive and affectionate nature guarded him from the wanton infliction of pain upon others. Seldom indeed did a petulant sarcasm or an inconsiderate jest fall from his pen. Belonging to no party and to no clique, he was eminently impartial.
With one exception-the paper on Tennyson's Poems which appeared in the Cambridge Essays for 1855-all Mr. Brimley's writings had been published anonymously, and after his decease his near relatives and intimate friends were unanimous in regretting that one who had devoted his whole life and his best gifts to literature should have left no adequate memorial of himself. Such a memorial we trust the present volume will be. This is the primary object of its publication. The editors and proprietors* of the periodicals above mentioned have given to the scheme not merely their ready sanction, but also hearty sympathy and most kind assistance. It was not without due deliberation that we determined upon the undertaking. We know that
*One of these, a faithful and much loved friend, R. S. Rintoul, Esq., has just been called away beyond the reach of our thanks.
such republications are rarely successful even when the contents have received-as these of course have not received-the final corrections of their author. Many an article, which on its first appearance all have agreed to call 'original' and 'brilliant,' seems flat and unprofitable when time has robbed its theories of their novelty and its illustrations of their piquancy. I have endeavoured to guard against such a result in the present case by selecting from the copious materials placed in my hands such papers as have a permanent and still present interest. For my own part a reperusal of them has raised, instead of diminishing, my previously high opinion of their merit. It may indeed be that many a passage recalling pleasant conversations and happy social hours acquires an additional interest in our eyes now that we shall talk with the writer no more- -an interest which no stranger can share; but, after all allowance is made on this score, I am confident that the intrinsic merit of the volume will commend it to thinking readers and acquit us, in their eyes, of undue partiality.
George Brimley's character is thus briefly de
scribed in a letter written soon after his death by one whom he was proud to call 'friend':
"I believe he was an unusually good man, whose goodness was not always prominent to the ordinary observer, but who was, intrinsically, faithful, true, brave and affectionate......... His death is really a loss to literature. He was certainly, as it appeared to me, one of the finest critics of the present day. We shall not soon meet with his like again. A. H.”
He died on the 29th of May, 1857.
He is buried in the new Cemetery at Cambridge. On the foot of the Cross that marks his restingplace is inscribed a text of which the especial appropriateness and significance are known only to those who watched by his death-bed: Mercy and Truth are met together.