Imagens da página
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

of submissiveness. In commenting on a line of Pope, he hazarded a remark on Hogarth's propensity to intermix the ludicrous with attempts at the sublime. Hogarth revenge. fully introduced Dr. Warton's works into one of his satirical pieces, and vowed to bear him eternal enmity. Their mutual friends, how ever, interfered, and the artist was pacified. Dr. Warton, in the next edition, altered his just animadversion on Hogarth into an ill. merited compliment.

“By delaying to re-publish his Essay on Pope, he ultimately obtained a more dispassionate hearing from the public for the work in its finished state. In the meantime, he enriched it with additions digested from the reading of half a lifetime. The author of · The Pursuits of Literature' has pronounced it a common-place book; and Richardson, the novelist, used to call it a literary gossip : but a testimony in its favour, of more authority than any individual opinion, will be found in the popularity with which it continues to be read. It is very entertaining, and abounds with criticism of more research than Addi. son's, of more amenity than Hurd's or Warburton's, and of more insinuating tact than Johnson's. At the same time, while much ingenuity and many truths are scattered over the Essay, it is impossible to admire it as an entire theory, solid and consistent in all its parts. It is certainly setting out from un fortunate premises to begin his 'Remarks on Pope' with grouping Dryden and Addison in the same class of poets ; and to form a scale for estimating poetical genius, which would set Elijah Fenton in a higher sphere than Butler. He places Pope, in the scale of our poets, next to Milton, and above Dryden; yet he applies to him the exact character which Voltaire gives to the heartless Boileau-that of a writer, perhaps, incapable of the sublime which elevates, or of the feeling which affects the soul.' With all this, he tells us, that our poetry and our language are everlastingly indebted to Pope : he attributes genuine tenderness to the . Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady;' a strong degree of passion to the 'Epistle on Eloise ;' invention and fancy to The Rape of the Lock;' and a picturesque conception to some parts of • Windsor Forest, which he pronounces worthy of the pencil of Rubens or Julio Romano. There is something like April weather in these transitions.

" In May, 1766, he was advanced to the head-mastership of Winchester School. In consequence of this promotion, he once more visited Oxford, and proceeded to the degree of bachelor and doctor in divinity. After a union of twenty years, he lost his first wife, by whom he had six children ; but his family and his professional situation requiring a domestic partner, he had been only a year a widower, when he married a Miss Nicholas, of Winchester.

“He now visited London more frequently than before. The circle of his friends, in the metropolis, comprehended all the members of Burke's and Johnson's Literary Club. With Johnson himself he was for a long time on intimate terms; but their friendship suffered a breach which was never closed, in consequence of an argument, which took place between them, during an evening spent at the house of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The concluding words of their conversation are reported, by one who was present, to have been these, Johnson said, “Sir, I am not accustomed to be contradicted.' Warton replied, “Better, .sir, for yourself and your friends if you were : our respect could not be increased, but our love might.'

** In 1782 he was indebted to his friend, Dr. Lowth, Bishop of London, for a prebend of St. Paul's, and the living of Thorley, in Hertford. shire, whicli, after some arrangements, he exchanged for that of Wickham. His ecclesiastical preferments came too late in life to place him in that state of leisure and independence which might have enabled him to devote his best years to literature, instead of the drudgery of a school. One great project, which he announced, but never fulfilled, namely, 'A General History of Learning,' was, in all probability, prevented by the pressure of his daily occupations. In 1788, through the interest of Lord Shannon, he obtained a prebend of Winchester ; and, through the interest of Lord Malmsbury, was appointed to the rectory of Euston, which he was afterwards allowed to exchange for that of Upham. In 1793 he resigned the fatigues of his mastership of Winchester; and having received, from the superintendents of the institution, a vote of well-earned thanks, for his long and meritorious services, he went to live at his rectory of Wickham.

“During his retirement at that place, he was induced, by a liberal offer of the book. sellers, to superintend an edition of Pope. which he published in 1797. It was objected to this edition, that it contained only his

Essay on Pope,' cut down into notes; his biographer, however, repels the objection, by alleging that it contains a considerable portion of new matter. In his zeal to present everything that could be traced to the pen of Pope, he introduced two pieces of indelicate humour, * The Double Mistress,' and the second satire of Horace. For the insertion of those pieces, he received a censure in the Pursuits of Literature,' which, considering his grey hairs and services in the literary world, was unbecoming, and which my individual partiality for Mr. Matthias makes me wish that I had not to record.

“As a critic, Dr. Warton is distinguished by his love of the fanciful and romantic. He examined our poetry at a period when it ap. peared to him that versified observations on familiar life and manners had usurped the


honours which were exclusively due to the “The school of the Wartons, considering bold and inventive powers of imagination. them as poets, was rather too studiously prone He conceived, also, that the charm of descrip to description. The doctor, like his brother, tion in poetry was not sufficiently appreciated certainly so far realized his own ideas of inin his own day: not that the age could be spiration, as to burthen his verse with few said to be without descriptive writers; but observations on life which oppress the mind because, as he apprehended, the tyranny of by their solidity. To his brother he is ob. Pope's reputation had placed moral and di- viously inferior in the graphic and romantic dactic verse in too pre-eminent a light. He style of composition, at which he aimed; but therefore strongly urged the principle, 'that in which, it must nevertheless be owned, that the most solid observations on life, expressed in some parts of his Ode to Fancy' he has with the utmost. brevity and elegance, are been pleasingly successful. From the sub. morality, and not poetry.' Without examining joined specimens, the reader will probably be how far this principle applies exactly to the enabled to judge as favourably of his genius, character of Pope, whom he himself owns not as from the whole of his poems; for most of to have been without pathos and imagination, them are short and occasional, and (if I may I think his proposition is so worded, as to be venture to differ from the opinion of his liable to lead to a most unsound distinction amiable editor, Mr. Wooll), are by no means between morality and poetry. If by the marked with originality. The only poem of most solid observations on life' are meant any length, entitled : The Enthusiast,' was only those which relate to its prudential written at too early a period of his life, to be management and plain concerns, it is certainly a fair object of criticism.”—Campbell's “Spetrue, that these cannot be made poetical, by cimens," pp. 663-7. the utmost brevity or elegance of expression. It is also true, that even the nobler tenets of morality are comparatively less interesting, in an insulated and didactic shape, than when they are blended with strong imitations of life,

THOMAS BLACKLOCK. where passion, character, and situation bring them deeply home to our attention. Fiction is “ This amiable man deserves praise for his on this account so far the soul of poetry, that, character and for his conduct under very without its aid as a vehicle, poetry can only peculiar circumstances, much more than for give us morality in an abstract and (compara his poetry. He was born at Annan, where tively) uninteresting shape. But why does his father was a bricklayer, in 1721. When Fiction please us? surely not because it is about six months old, he lost his eyesight by false, but becanse it seems to be true ; because small-pox. His father used to read to him, it spreads a wider field, and a more brilliant especially poetry, and through the kindness crowd of objects to our moral perceptions, of friends he acquired some knowledge of than reality affords. Morality in a high the Latin tongue. His father having been sense of the term, and not speaking of it as accidentally killed when Thomas was ninea dry science) is the essence of poetry. We teen, it might have fared hard with him, but fly from the injustice of this world to the Dr. Stevenson, an eminent medical man in poetical justice of Fiction, where our sense of Edinburgh, who had seen some verses comright and wrong is either satisfied, or where posed by the blind youth, took him to the our sympathy, at least, reposes with less capital, sent him to college to study divinity, disappointment and distraction, than on the and encouraged him to write and to publish characters of life itself. Fiction, we may in poetry. His volume, to which was prefixed deed be told, carries us into a world of gayer an account of the author, by Professor Spence tinct and grace,' the laws of which are not to be of Oxford, attracted much attention. Blackjudged by solid observations on the real world. lock was licensed to preach in 1759, and three

" But this is not the case, for moral truth years afterwards was married to a Miss Johnis still the light of poetry, and fiction is only stone of Dumfries, an exemplary but plainthe refracting atmosphere which diffuses it; looking lady, whose beauty her husband was and the laws of moral truth are as essential wont to praise so warmly that his friends to poetry, as those of physical truth (Anatomy were thankful that his infirmity was never and Optics, for instance), are to painting. removed, and thought how justly Cupid had Allegory, narration, and the drama make their been painted blind. He was even, through the last appeal to the ethics of the human heart. influence of the Earl of Selkirk, appointed to It is therefore unsafe to draw a marked dis the parish of Kirkcudbright, but the parishion. tinction between morality and poetry; or to ers opposed his induction on the plea of his speak of 'solid observations on life' as of want of sight, and, in consideration of a small things in their nature unpoetical; for we do annuity, he withdrew his claims. He finally meet in poetry with observations on life, which, settled down in Edinburgh, where he supported for the charm of their solid truth, we should himself chiefly by keeping young gentlemen as txchange with reluctance for the most in | boarders in his house. His chief amusements genious touches of fancy.

were poetry and music. His conduct to (1786) and correspondence with Burns are too well provost of the college, in the year 1781. He known to require to be noticed at length here. I was also chaplain to the king, and rector of He published a paper of no small merit in the Farnham Royal, in Buckinghamshire. In • Encyclopædia Britannica' on Blindness, and 1771 he published, in three parts, ‘A Poetiis the author of a work entitled Paraclesis ; cal Essay on the Attributes and Providence or, Consolations of Religion,' - which surely of the Deity. Two years afterwards, 'A none require more than the blind. He died of Poetical Epistle to Christopher Anstey, on a nervous fever on the 7th of July, 1791, so the English Poets, chiefly those who had far fortunate that he did not live to see the written in blank verse ;' and in 1774, his ruin of his immortal protégé.

poem of Judah Restored,' a work of no “Blacklock was a most amiable, genial, and common merit.” – Campbell's “Specimens," benevolent being. He was sometimes subject

| p. 628. to melancholy-unlike many of the blind, and one especially, whom we name not, but who, still living, bears & striking resemblance to Blacklock in fineness of mind, warmth of

THOMAS PENROSE. heart, and high-toned piety, but who is cheerful as the day. As to his poetry, it is undoubtedly “Thomas Penrose, born 1743, died 1779. wonderful, considering the circumstances of The history of Penrose displays a dash of its production, if not per se. Dr. Johnson warlike adventure, which has seldom ensays to Boswell, As Blacklock had the mis livened the biography of our poets. He was fortune to be blind, we may be absolutely sure not led to the profession of arms, like Gasthat tho passages in his poems descriptive of coigne, by his poverty, or like Quarles, Davevisible objects are combinations of what he nant, and Waller, by political circumstances ; remembered of the works of other writers who but, in a mere fit of juvenile ardour, gave up could see. That foolish fellow Spence has | his studies at Oxford, where he was preparing laboured to explain philosophically how Black to become a clergyman, and left the banners lock may have done, by his own faculties, what of the church for those of the battle. This it is impossible he should do. The solution, was in the summer of 1762, when the unfor. as I have given it, is plain. Suppose I know tunate expedition against Buenos Ayres sailed a man to be so lame that he is absolutely in under the command of Captain Macnamara. capable to move himself, and I find him in a It consisted of three ships : the 'Lord Clive,' different room from that in which I left him, of 64 guns; the ‘Ambuscade,' of 40, on board shall I puzzle myself with idle conjectures that of which Penrose acted as lieutenant of maperhaps his nerves have, by some unknown rines; the Gloria,' of 38; and some inferior change, all at once become effectivo? No, vessels. Preparatory to an attack on Buenos sir ; it is clear how he got into a different room Ayres, it was deemed necessary to begin with —he was CARRIED.'

the capture of Nova Colonia, and the ships “Perhaps there is a fallacy in this some approached closely to the fortress of that what dogmatic statement. Perhaps the blind settlement. The men were in high spirits ; are not so utterly dark but they may have military music sounded on board; while the certain dim simulacra of external objects new uniforms and polished arms of the before their eyes and minds. Apart from this, marines gave a splendid appearance to the however, Blacklock's poetry endures only from scene. Penrose, the night before, had written its connection with the author's misfortune, and despatched to his mistress in England a and from the fact that through the gloom he poetical address, which evinced at once the groped greatly to find and give the burning affection and serenity of his heart, on the eve: hand of the peasant poet the squeeze of a of danger. The gay preparative was followed kindred spirit,-kindred, we mean, in feeling | by a heavy fire of ser ral hours, at the end of and heart, although very far removed in which, when the Spanish batteries were almost strength of intellect and genius.”--Gilfillan's silenced. and our countrymen in immediate “Less-known British Poets,” vol. ii., pp. expectation of seeing the enemy strike his 279, 280. See Allibone's “ Crit. Dict. Eng. colours, the Lord Clive was found to be on Lit."; Beeton's “Dict. Univ. Biog."

fire; and the same moment which discovered the flames showed the impossibility of extin. guishing them. A dreadful spectacle was then exhibited. Men who had the instant before

assured themselves of wealth and conquest, WILLIAM HAYWARD ROBERTS.

were seen crowding to the sides of the ship,

with the dreadful alternative of perishing by “William Hayward Roberts, born 1745, died fire or water. The enemy's fire was redoubled 1791. He was educated at Eton, and from at the sight of their calamity. Out of Mac. thence was elected to King's College, Cam namara's crew, of 340 men, only 78 were bridge, where he took the degree of master of saved. Penrose escaped with his life on board arts, and of doctor in divinity. From being | the • Ambuscade,' but received a wound in the an under master at Eton he finally rose to be action; and the subsequent hardships which he underwent, in a prize-sloop, in which he light, airy, and pleasant, but his royal odes was stationed, ruined the strength of his con possess many faults. He wrote an “Apology' stitution. He returned to England ; resumed for his own life, which is very amusing, as it his studies at Oxford; and having taken | depicts many of his own foibles and peculiari. orders, accepted of the curacy of Newbury, in ties with considerable candour. — His son Berkshire, of which his father was the rector. Theophilus followed, for a short time, the He resided there for nine years, having married theatrical profession, and wrote a ballad opera the lady already alluded to, whose name was called 'Pattie and Peggy.' Born 1703, died Mary Slocock. A friend at last rescued him on his passage to Ireland, 1758.”—Beeton's from this obscure situation, by presenting him “Dict. Univ. Biog." See Allibone's “Crit. with the rectory of Beckington and Stander. Dict. Eng. Lit." wick, in Somersetshire, worth about £500 a year. But he came to his preferment too late to enjoy it. His health having never reco. vered from the shock of his American service,

JAMES BEATTIE. obliged him, as a last remedy, to try the hot wells at Bristol, at which place he expired, in “James Beattie was born in 1735 in the his thirty-sixth year.”—Campbell's “Spe parish of Lawrence Kirk, in Kincardinecimens," p. 561.

shire, Scotland. His father, who rented a small farm in Lawrence Kirk, died when the poet was only seven years old; but the loss of a protector was happily supplied to

him by his elder brother, who kept him at SIR JOHN HENRY MOORE.

school till he obtained a bursary at the “Sir John Moore, Bart., born 1756, died

Marischal College, Aberdeen. At that univer1780. This interesting and promising young

sity he took the degree of master of arts ; man died of a decline in his twenty-fourth

and, at nineteen, he entered on the study of year.”—Campbell's “ Specimens."

divinity, supporting himself in the mean time by teaching a school in the neighbouring parish. Whilst he was in this obscure situation, some pieces of verse, which he transmitted to the Scottish Magazine, gained

him a little local celebrity. Mr. Garden, an RICHARD JAGO.

eminent Scottish lawyer, afterwards Lord

Gardenstone, and Lord Monboddo, encouraged " Richard Jago, born 1715, died 1781, the

him as an ingenious young man, and introauthor of 'Edge-Hill,' a descriptive poem,

duced him to the tables of the neighbouring was vicar of Snitterfield, near Stratford-on

gentry; an honour not usually extended to a Avon. Shenstone, who knew him at Oxford, parochial schoolmaster. In 1757, he stood where Jago was a sizar, used to visit him

candidate for the place of usher in the highprivately, it being thought beneath the dig.

school of Aberdeen. He was foiled by a comnity of a commoner to be intimate with a

petitor who surpassed him in the minutiæ of student of that rank, and continued his friend

Latin grammar; but his character as a scholar ship for him through life.” – Campbell's

suffered so little by the disappointment, that “ Specimens."

at the next vacancy he was called to the place without a trial. He had not been long at this school, when, in 1761, he published a volume

of Original Poems and Translations which (it COLLEY CIBBER.

speaks much for the critical clemency of the

times) were favourably received, and highly “ Colley Cibber, born in London 1671, died commended in the English Reviews. So little 1757, an English poet and play-writer, the son satisfied was the author himself with those of Gabriel Cibber, the sculptor, served in the early effusions, that, excepting four, which he army of the prince of Orange at the Revolu admitted to a subsequent edition of his works, tion, and afterwards went on the stage ; but he was anxious to have them consigned to not attaining to eminence as an actor, turned oblivion; and he destroyed every copy of the his attention to dramatic writing. His first volume which he could procure. About the play was 'Love's Last Shift,' which was per- | age of twenty-six, he obtained the chair of formed in 1695, and met with great applause ; | Moral Philosophy in the Marischal College of after which he wrote a number of others. His | Aberdeen, a promotion which he must have best work is considered to be the Careless I owed to his general reputation in literature ; Husband,' performed in 1704 ; but the 'Non- / but it is singular, that the friend who first juror' brought him the most fame and profit. proposed to solicit the High Constable of George I., to whom it was dedicated, pre- / Scotland to obtain this appointment, should sented him with £200, and appointed him to have grounded the proposal on the merit of the office of Poet-laureate. His comedies are Beattie's poetry. In the volume already

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

mentioned there can scarcely be said to be a kind of poem, but would have formed an budding promise of genius.

incongruous counterpart to the piece as it now “Upon his appointment to this professor stands, which, as a picture of still life, and a ship, which he held for forty years, he imme vehicle of contemplative morality, has a charm diately prepared a course of lectures for the that is inconsistent with the bold evolutions students; and gradually compiled materials of heroic narrative. After having portrayed for those prose works, on which his name his young enthusiast with such advantage in would rest with considerable reputation, if he a state of visionary quiet, it would have been were not known as a poet. It is true, that too violent a transition to have begun in a he is not a first-rate metaphysician ; and the new book to surround him with dates of time Scotch, in undervaluing his powers of abstract and names of places. The interest which we and close reasoning, have been disposed to attach to Edwin's character, would have been give him less credit than he deserves, as an lost in a more ambitious effort to make him elegant and amusing writer. But the English, a greater or more important, or a more locally who must be best able to judge of his style, defined being. It is the solitary growth of admire it for an ease, familiarity, and an his genius, and his isolated and mystic abAnglicism that is not to be found even in the | straction from mankind, that fix our attention correct and polished diction of Blair. His on the romantic features of that genius. The mode of illustrating abstract questions is fan. simplicity of his fate does not divert us from ciful and interesting

his mind to his circumstances. A more un“In 1765, he published a poem entitled worldly air is given to his character, that *The Judgment of Paris,' which his bio instead of being tacked to the fate of kings, grapher, Sir William Forbes, did not think he was one · Who envied not, who never fit to rank among his works. For more thought of kings;' and that, instead of minobvious reasons Sir William excluded his gling with the troubles which deface the lines, written in the subsequent year, on the creation, he only existed to make his thoughts proposal for erecting a monument to Churchill the mirror of its beauty and magnificence. in Westminster Abbey-lines which have no Another English critic has blamed Edwin's beauty or dignity to redeem their bitter ex vision of the fairies as too splendid and artipression of hatred. On particular subjects, ficial for a simple youth ; but there is nothing Beattie's virtuous indignation was apt to be in the situation ascribed to Edwin, as he lived hysterical. Dr. Reid and Dr. Campbell hated in minstrel days, that necessarily excluded the principles of David Hume as sincerely as such materials from his fancy. Had he the author of the Essay on Truth; but they beheld steam-engines or dock-yards in his never betrayed more than philosophical hos sleep, the vision might have been pronounced tility, while Beattie used to speak of the to be too artificial ; but he might have heard propriety of excluding Hume from civil of fairies and their dances, and even of tapers, society.

gold, and gems, from the ballads of his native “His reception of Gray, when that poet country. In the second book of the poem visited Scotland in 1765, shows the enthu there are some fine stanzas ; but he has taken siasm of his literary character in a finer light. Edwin out of the school of nature, and placed Gray's mind was not in poetry only, but in him in his own, that of moral philosophy; many other respects, peculiarly congenial and hence a degree of languor is experienced with his own; and nothing could exceed the by the reader. cordial and reverential welcome which Beattie “Soon after the publication of the Essay gave to his illustrious visitant. In 1770, he | on Truth,' and of the first part of the Minpublished his · Essay on Truth,' which had a strel,' he paid his first visit to London. His rapid sale, and extensive popularity; and reception, in the highest literary and polite within a twelvemonth after, the first part of circles, was distinguished and flattering. his “Minstrel.' The poem appeared at first The university of Oxford conferred on him anonymously; but its beauties were imme- the degree of doctor of laws, and the sovereign diately and justly appreciated. The second himself, besides honouring him with a perpart was not published till 1774. When Gray | sonal conference, bestowed on him a pension criticised the .Minstrel' he objected to its of £200 a year. author, that, after many stanzas, the de “On his return to Scotland, there was a scription went on and the narrative stopped. proposal for transferring him to the university Beattie very justly answered to this criticism, of Edinburgh, which he expressed his wish to that he meant the poem for description, not decline, from a fear of those personal enemies for incident. But he seems to have forgotten whom he had excited by his Essay on Truth. this proper apology, when he mentions in one This motive, if it was his real one, must have of his letters his intention of producing Edwin, been connected with that weakness and irritain some subsequent books, in the character of | bility on polemical subjects which have been ab warlike bard inspiring his countrymen to already alluded to. His metaphysical fame battle, and contributing to repel their in. perhaps stood higher in Aberdeen than in vaders. This intention, if he ever seriously! Edinburgh ; but to have dreaded personal entertained it, might have produced some new , hostility in the capital of a religious country,

« AnteriorContinuar »