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The death of this promising youth was attended by the following particularly distressing circumstance. He had gone to bed at night with every appearance of being considerably better, and was considered as in a fair way of recovery. Henry Smellie, a younger brother, since deceased, who lay in the same bed with THOMAS, and was afflicted with the same disease, thought proper towards morning, for some reason now unknown, to endeavour to awaken his brother; when, to his indescribable astonishment and horror, he discovered that THOMAS lay dead beside him,
Not long before his death, Thomas SmelLIE became intimately acquainted with Mr ALEXANDER MURRAY, now minister of the parish of Urr, in the county of Dumfries, and Secretary for foreign correspondence to the Society of Scottish Antiquaries ; who was then a young man about the same age, and had come from the country to prosecute his studies at the University of Edinþurgh. They were introduced to each other by a journeyman printer; and a congeniality of talents and pursuits soon gave rise to a close intimacy between these young men.
The' mature opinion and sentiments of attachment which Mr MURRAY still entertains respecting his long-departed friend were very recently expressed by him in the following letter.
To Mr ALEXANDER SMELLIE from the Rev.
DEAR SIR, Urr, 3d September 1810.
Your brother Thomas had made very considerable progress in Latin and Greek, and would have proved a fine scholar, if he had lived ; being attached to literature for its own sake, which is often its only reward. The regard which I had for him was fully merited, if it had been worth ten thousand times its value, on account of his remarkably fine disposition, and the decided taste which he shewed for literature. I
I am, &c.
It is difficult to speak with propriety of a living person, lest praise may appear as tending towards adulation, or the delicacy of the individual might be unintentionally offended: But we hope, without imputation of the one
or danger of the other consequence, it may be permitted to say, that Mr MURRAY is a rare instance of almost incredible, and certainly unusual attainments in literature and philology, though originally placed in peculiarly discouraging circumstances of situation, every way. adverse, for eliciting or promoting his uncommon talents. Altogether unknown and destitute of patronage, and barely possessing the means of subsistence, that gentleman became in very early youth, entirely by his own exertions, and in a wonderfully short time, complete master of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages. While living in an obscure situation in the country, almost without any assistance whatever, for he is said to have been only three months at school, and hardly able to procure even the most ordinary elementary books, he is reported to have made himself master of seven languages, before he was twenty years
While engaged in theological studies at Edinburgh, he acquired a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, and of the allied dialects or languages, Chaldee, Samaritan, Syriac, and Arabic.; and extended his researches into Persic, German, Dutch, Spanish, and even Gaelic. Having been employed for some
time as editor of the Scots Magazinë; by Messrs Constable and Co. eminent and spirited booksellers in Edinburgh, he undertook in their service the superintendance of a new edition of the celebrated Travels of Bruce into Abyssinia, with considerable additions from the papers of that adventurous traveller. To qualify himself effectually for this purpose, he made himself in a great des gree a proficient in the Ethiopic or Abyssia nian language, which is a dialect of the Arabic; or rather consists of two principal dialects, the Geez, or language of Tigré, and the Amharic, or court language of Abyssinia, since the seat of government has been established at Gondar in Amhara. Mr MURRAY appears to have entered considerably into the study of the barbarous languages, or dialects of the subjects and neighbours of the Abyssinian monarchy, named the Falashan, Gafat, Agow, and Tcherets-Agow; and even to have acquired some knowledge of that spoken by the savage
In the prosecution of his philological studies, Mr MURRAY has carefully examined and made himself master of all the principal dialects or languages of Europe, ancient as well as modern, including, besides those
which are derived from the Latin, those of Teutonic, Sclavonic, and Celtic origin; and such is the facility with which he acquires languages, a task so difficult and irksome to most men, that we are credibly informed he is capable to surmount the obstacles in the way of acquiring any language whatever in one month, so as to understand its grammatical construction and idiomatic phraseology, and to be able to translate from it with accuracy. Mr MURRAY has by no means devoted this extraordinary talent for the acquisition of languages to the barren delight of storing up words and phrases for his own private amusement; but has announced a philosophical work on this curious subject to the public, in which he proposes to trace the affinities and origin of the Greek and Latin languages from one much more simple, regular, and ancient, which he considers as the basis or root of almost all the languages of Europe, ancient as well as modern, and even of the Sanscrit. The title of this intended work, which is said to have been nearly ready for the press two years ago, is, Researches into the Origin and Affinity of the Greek and Teutonic Languages; and which we have some reason to believe
may to press before the present work comes before