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We are now arrived at Dr. Geddes's translation of the Bible, and Critical Remarks on the Pentateuch. Our judgement on these having been already given, we see no reason to depart from it for any thing Mr. Good has advanced ; and, where a difference of opinion exists between us, we leave the decision to our readers, with the addition only of a short remark. Referring to an observation in our Review, Mr. Good has the following passage.
• Dr. Geddes has been reprehended by some of our professional critics for not having adopted or rather restored this more concise and energetic reading of “ Be light, and light was," instead of continuing the more tame and circuitous version of the standard text. For myself, I heartily wish he had made such an exchange ; yet it would have been but fair in the reviewer, who here reproves him for want of taste, to have added our author's own remark upon the subject, which is as follows: “ Let there be light, and there was light.” The original, 770-7779 78 77", is more concise and emphatical: “ Be light and light was.” And this is the render. ing of our first translator Wickliffe ; who uniformly, in all similar phrases, uses the simple imperative: “ Be light-be a firmament -produce earth—make we man.” P. 339.
We had no design to misrepresent Dr. Geddes, as is here invidiously hinted; nor, on Mr. Good's mis-statement, notwithstanding the omission, can we admit ourselves amenable to the charge. On the contrary, if Dr. Geddes preferred the amendment suggested, and yet inserted in his text (to use Mr. Good's words), that vile expletive there,' the case is still worse. He could not mean, by so doing, to represent the original to the best advantage; and in fact his conduct is an avowal of the contrary :
- Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor.' From the short specimen given of the Psalms, in the doctor's intended version, we have nothing material to anticipate; but we mean not to prejudge.
The manner in which Dr. Geddes executed his translation, brought upon him attacks from various quarters, but more especially from his catholic brethren. The opposition and difficulties he had, on this account, to encounter, were stated by him in An Address to the Public. Indeed the orthodoxy of Dr. Geddes had been questioned before his volume appeared; and, being summoned by those whom he ad. mitted to be the organs of legitimate authority, he obeyed. Histhree judges, however, were either satisfied or silenced, much to the doctor's satisfaction. Shortly afterwards, the first volume of his translation was published; and the result was an ecclesiastical interdict, under the title of A Pastoral Letter, signed
Crit. Rev. Vol. 1, January, 1804.
by IVulmsley, Gibson; and Douglas, as apostolic vícars of the western, northern, and London districts, in which doctor Geddes's work was published to the faithful. Against this prohibition (which bishop Thomas Talbot refused to subscribe) the doctor, first giving bishop Douglas notice, published a spirited remonstrance in a letter addressed to him. Dr. Geddes defended, with great spirit and considerable ability, not himself alone, but also sir John Throckmorton, who, for publishing a book these vicars apostolic could not answer, had been placed under the like interdict with the doctor himself. Previous, however, to such publication, a private corresportdence took place between him and Douglas; the consequence of which was, that the doctor was suspended from all ecclesiastical functions.
The contumelies that Dr. Geddes received, made a deep impression on his mind, which even the consolations of his cousin the bishop of Dunkeld, and his patron lord Petre, were not able to etface. After an interval of some months, however, beginning to recover, he set out on a walk to Norfolk, during which he composed his Norfolk Tale, which contains a beautifully pathetic anecdote that does honour to his heart. This was followed by his Ode to the Hon. Thomas Pelham--Metrical Translation of Dr. Colthurst's Sermon The Battle of Bangor, occasioned by Mr. Grindley's contest with the bishop-his anonymous Fust-day's Sermon, and New-Year's Gift.
These lighter occupations, however, did not draw the doctor from his Biblical pursuits. In 1800 he published the first and only volumme he lived to finish, of Critical Remarks; at the end of which are the Latin verses that contain his creed as to the divine inspiration of Moses, thus rendered by himself :
• You ask me, serious, whether I believe
Yet think not all the draughts that Moses drew
Ah! Jesus! could I but thy law fulfil,
Each wish complete :-but thou to whom is “ given,"
And trust with thee to reach the starry skies. P. 468. The doctor's experience of past difficulties had not been sufficient to fence off a similar return. His various publications had involved him with paper-makers and printers; and, having no other mode of extricating himself than by the assistance of friends, he took courage to make known his situation. Contributions were subscribed in his favour; and, in about two years and a half, 900l. sterling were raised, independently of the annuity paid by lord Petre. His heart was revived, and his Modest Apology for the Roman Catholics of Great Britain, was corrected and published. This work we consider as by far his best, but yet liable to many exceptions.
The fame, however, which his Modest Apology and his Bible had acquired abroad, led some foreigners of eminence to court his acquaintance. Amongst these occur the names of professor Timæus, general Miranda, Eichhorn, and Paulus, with all of whom he maintained a correspondence, of which a letter from each of the two last is given, as a specimen, in the Appendix.
Toward the close of this year (1800), in the exhiliration of good spirits, Dr. Geddes produced another macaronic, which he afterwards turned into English. The celebrated rencontre of Peter Pindar with the virulent Gifford suggested the idea of the Bardomachia, or Battle of the Bards; but, as the subject was temporary and disgraceful to the parties, both the poem and the combatants sunk into contempt.
The recruited health and good spirits of the doctor, in the following year, were severely checked by a deprivation that nothing could compensate. This was the loss of his patron, lord Petre, who died suddenly of the gout on the 2d of July. In bed, and debilitated with grief, Dr. Geddes gave vent to the emotions of his heart in a Latin elegy, which is among his best compositions, and of which Mr. Good has given a poetical version of equal merit with the original. Mindful of his friend, the noble lord bequeathed him an annuity of 1001. for life. This, though a permanency to the doctor, was but half the sum be before had received. Lest, however, the defalcation should be felt, it was proposed by Mr. Timothy Prown that the difference should be compensated by his former bencfactors, engaging at the same time, on the failure of his proposal, to make up the deficiency himself.
For this generous offer there was no occasion. The present lord Petrę no sooner perceived the expediency, than he most handsomely doubled his father's bequest. These repeated kindnesses somewbat soothed the mind of the sufferer, though they could not restore its original vigour. Dr. Geddes's literary efforts were again exerted, upon his version of the Psalms, and a Latin Ode on the Return of Peace. It would be uncandid, however, to remark their defects, as their author was now labouring under both mental depression and bodily pain. The latter arose from that dreadful malady, a cancerous affection of the rectum. This complaint, amid the most excruciating torture, admitted some intervals of ease; and, in one of these, he composed his Elegy on the Death of Mr. Wakefield. Considering the circumstances under which it was written, it certainly deserves considerable praise. Mr. Good bas given it entire in the Life, followed by an English translation of his own.
• It was not,' says the ingenious biographer, more than a day or two afterwards that the bed on which he died was removed from his own chamber on the second floor into the front room, or chief library, on the first, in consequence of his being now incapable of moving either up or down stairs witliout extreme pain; and from this bed he scarcely ever rose afterwards. To this assertion I nevertheless remember one exception, and it affords a strong proof of the occasional triumph of the mind, when roused to a high degree of excitement, over all the pains and infirmities of the body. I called at his house one morning, doubtful whether I should find him alive or dead: he had not actually expired, but had refused admittance to all except his professional friends. He was alone, and requested to see me. He was lying on his bed agonized with torture, ghastly in countenance, and extremely depressed in his spirits. He seized my hand with avidity ; “ Forgive me, my dear friend!” said he abruptly, while the tears started from his eyes, .“ Forgive me this weakness! I did think I should have been able
to have endured suffering with more fortitude and resignation; but . I cannot support it, and am impatiently wishing for death.” I endeavoured to console him—and added, that instead of accusing him of weakness, all his friends were astonished at the general tranquillity and strength of mind with which he submitted to his affliction. By degrees I drew him into a conversation upon one or two subjects which I knew lay nearest his heart. I introduced his version of the Bible ; I requested information upon a passage in the Song of Soloman, which I was then in the act of translating: our ideas upon this passage did not altogether coincide; he became animated in the defence of his own opinion-he forgot the disease he was laBoring under-suddenly rose from his bed--and to my utter astonishment ran rapidly up stairs in pursuit of some annotations of his own, which he had formerly written upon the controverted question. I remained with him for about half an hour afterwards, and he still continued to enjoy himself: he suffered me to depart with great reluctance, and thanked me most cordially for the good I had done him. He soon, however, relapsed, and died a few days afterwards, February 26, 1802, in the sixty-fifth year of his age; the rites of his own communion having been regularly administered to him, and received with great consolation on his own part, by M. St. Martin, a catholic clergyman and confidential friend. p.518.
Concerning the circumstances attending the death of Dr, Geddes, and the malignant attack upon him in the Gentle: man's Magazine (which was supposed to have travelled from
Winchester), we cannot pass over the biographer's remarks, without applauding his zeal for his friend. .
The account of Dr. Geddes's last interview with M. St. Martin is too interesting not to be inserted.
M. St. Martin found the doctor extremely comatose, and be. lieved him to be in the utmost danger: he endeavoured to rouse him from his lethargy, and proposed to him to receive absolution, Dr. Geddes observed that, in such case, it was necessary he should first make his confession. M. St. Martin was sensible that he had neither strength nor wakefulness enough for such an exertion, and replied that in extremis this was not necessary ; that he had only to examine the state of his own mind, and to make a sign when he was prepared. M. St. Martin is a gentleman of much liberality of sentiment, but strenuously attached to' what are denominated the orthodox tenets of the catholic church: he had long beheld, with great grief of heart, what he' conceived the aberrations of his learned friend ; and had Hattered himself, that in the course of this last illness he should be the happy instrument of recalling him to a full belief of every doctrine he had rejected; and with this view he was actually prepared upon the present occasion with a written list of questions, in the hope of obtaining from the doctor an accurate and satisfactory reply. He found, however, from the lethargic state of Dr. Geddes, that this regular process was impracticable. He could not avoid, nevertheless, examining the state of his mind as to several of the more important points upon which they dif. fered. “ You fully,” said he, “believe in the Scriptures?" He roused himself from his sleep, and said, “ Certainly."-" In the doctrine of the trinity?” " Certainly, but not in the manner you mean."-" In the mediation of Jesus Christ ?"_"No, no, no-not as you mean: in Jesus Christ as our saviour-but not in the atone. ment." I inquired of M. St. Martin if, in the course of what had occurred, he had any reason to suppose that his religious creed either dow, or in any other period of his illness, had sustained any shade of difference from what he had formerly professed. He replied, that he could not positively flatter himself with believing it liad: that the most comfortable words he heard him utter were immediately after a short-pause, and before the administration of absolution, “I consent to all;" but that to these he could affix no definite meaning. I showed him the passage to which I now re