« ZurückWeiter »
toils of an unbroken solitude, and send forth There will be no decay of talent whatever, the fruits of them, in one rich tide of moral in respect to the existence of it. The only and literary improvement over our land. decay will be in the exercise of talent. It It is true, that all the labours of that pe. will be that her solitudes have all been vioriod were not rendered up, in one conse- lated that her claims have all been unheedcrated offering, to the cause of theology. It ed and despised
that her delicacies have all is true, that among the names of Wallace, been overbornem
above every thing, that her and Henry, and Robertson, and Blair, and exertions and her capabilities have been, M*Knight, and Campbell, some can be grossly misunderstood-it not being known singled out, who chose the classic walk, or how much restraint stifles her and the emgave up their talent to the speculations of ployments of ordinary business vulgarise general philosophy. Yet the history of each her and distraction impedes the march of individual amongst them, proves that, in her greater enterprizes
and the fatigue shę these days, there was time for the exercise incurs by her own exercises, if accumulated by of talent--that these were the days, when the fatigue of other exercises, which do not he, among the priesthood, who had an ex. belong to her, may at length enervate and clusive taste for theology, could give the exhaust her altogether. Thus it is, that an whole force of his mind to its contempla- unlearned public may both admit the existtions that these were the days, when a ence of the mischief, and lament the evils of generous enthusiasm for the glories of his it, and yet be utterly blind to the fact, that, profession, met with nothing to stifte or vul- it is a mischief of their own doing. They garise it--that these were the days, when lay their own rude estimate on a profession, the man of prayer, and the man of gospel of the cares and the labours of which they ministrations, could give himself wholly to have no experience and, instead of cheerthese things, and bring forth the evidence ing, do they scowl upon the men who vindi- , of his profiting, either in authorship to all, cate the privileges of our order. They are or in weekly addresses to the people of his perpetually measuring the habits and the own congregation. It is true, that the names conveniencies of literary business, of which which I have now gathered, are all from the they know nothing, by the habits and confield of a lofty and conspicuous literature. veniencies of ordinary business, of which Yet I chiefly count upon them, as the to- they know something. And thus it is, that kens of such a leisure, and of such a seclu. instead of the blind leading the blind, the sion, and of such an habitual opportunity, blind, in the first instance, turn upon their for the exercises of retirement, as would leaders they give the whole weight of their give tenfold effect to the worthiest and most influence and opinion to that cruel process, devoted ministers of a former generation by which the most enlightened priesthood in as enabled the Hamilton and Gillies of our the world, if they submit to it, may, by the own city, to shed a holier influence around lapse of one generation more, sink down inthem, and have throned, in the remem- to a state of contentment with the tamest, brance of living men, the Erskine, and and the humblest, and the paltriest attainWalker, and Black, of our metropolis, who
Nor will it at all alleviate, but fearmaintained, throughout the whole of their fully embitter, the whole malignity of this history, the aspect of sacredness, and gave system, should its operation be such, that, every hour of their existence to its contem. in a succeeding age, both our priests and plations and its labours.
our people will sit down in quietness, and “ What is it that must cause all resem- in great mutual satisfaction with each other blance of this to disappear from a future ge- -the one fired by no ambition for profese neration ? Not that their lot will be cast in sional excellence; the other actuated by no an age of little men. Not that Nature will demand for it-the one peaceably leaning send forth a blight over the face of our down to the business of such services as they establishment, and wither up all the graces may be called to bear; the other not seeka and talents which, at one time, signalized it. ing, and not caring for higher services. Not that some adverse revolution of the ele- Every thing that is said for the evils of ments will bring along with it some strange such a system, should elevate, in public esdesolating influence on the genius and liter- timation, all our living clergymen. It came ature of the priesthood. The explanation is upon them in the way of gradual accumulanearer at hand, and we need not seek for it tion; and, at each distinct step, it wore the among the wilds or the obscurities of mysti- aspect of a benevolent and kind accommodacism. Nature will just be as liberal as be- tion to the humbler orders of society. They fore ; and bring forth the strongest and the are not to blame that it has been admitted; healthiest specimens of mind, in as great a- and I call upon the public to admire, that bundance as ever ; and will cast abroad no they have stood so well its adverse influence killing influence at all, to stunt any one of on all their professional labours. But there its aspiring energies; and will just, if she is one principle in human nature, which, if have free play, be as vigorous with the mo- the system be not done away, will, in time, ral as with the physical productions of a for- give a most tremendous certainty to all our mer generation. This change, of which the predictions. It does not bear so hard on the fact will be unquestionable, however much natural indolence of man, to spend his life the cause may elude the public observation, in bustling and miscellaneous activity, as to will not be the work of Nature, but of man. spend his life in meditation and prayer. The
former is positively the easier course of there may be leisure for the pursuits of the
ertion, are excitement and leisure. The “ And here I cannot but advert to the first is ministered in abundance out of all those observation of Hume, who, be his authority diversities of taste and understanding which in religion what it may, must be admitted run along the scale of a mighty population. to have very high authority in all matters of The second element, if we give way much mere literary experience. He tells us, in longer to the system which prevails among the history of his own life, that a great city you—if we lay no check upon your exeris the only fit residence for a man of letters; tions, and make no stand against the vaand his assertion is founded on a true dis riety of your inconsiderate demands upon cernment of our nature. In the country, us--if we resign our own right of judgment upon our own habits and our own conveni ployments of literature. They would leave ences, and follow the impulse of a public, not one moment of time or of tranquillity who, without experience on the matter, can for the pursuits of literature. They would feel no sympathy and have no just calcula- consume by a thousand preposterous servition about the peculiarities of clerical em- lities all those energies of the inner man, ployment--then should we be robbed of which might, every one of them, be consethis second element altogether. We should crated with effect, to the advancement of lie under the malignity of an Egyptian bon- literature. In one word, they would dedage-bricks are required of us, and we throne the guardians of this sacred cause have no straw. The public would like to from the natural eminency of their office see all the solidities of argument, and all altogether ;-and, weighing them down with the graces of persuasion, associated with the the burden of other services, they would cause of sacred literature.
But then they vulgarise them out of all their taste and all would desolate the sanctuaries of literature. their generous aspirings after literature.” They would drag away mind from the em
NOTICES OF REPRINTS OF CURIOUS OLD BOOKS,
The Life and Errors of John Dunton.* Though at the end of the “ Short England at the beginning of the last Memoir of the Author” we observe the century. The period in which the initials, J. B. N., yet we have no doubt Livery of London could name John that we owe this, which is beyond all Dunton among its members, was incomparison the most amusing reprint deed a very remarkable one; and its we have been called upon to notice, to history, civil, political, military, ecclethe excellent and venerable Mr Ni- siastic, and even literary, may in gechols, whose genuine love for liter- neral be conceived to be pretty well ary history has already been so well known. In the midst, however, of all displayed in the productions which the innumerable treatises which have have issued from his press. The pub- preserved for us so much minute inforlisher of the Gentleman's Magazine, mation concerning all the great perand the compiler of the Literary Anec- sonages of that age, from Queen Anne dotes, could not possibly have amused and George I, up to Swift, Addison, a portion of his old age with any occu- and Steele, it is not to be denied that pation more congenial to his own taste there still remain many, very many than with the superintendence of this points, in regard to which a common new edition of the Autobiography of reader is left to complete for himself the once celebrated, or at least noto- the unfinished picture that has come, rious, though now forgotten, John down to us. Those who take the Dunton. Neither, unless we are much trouble to peruse the two comely octamistaken, could he easily have drawn vos which have now been given to us out from the neglected mines of our by Mr Nichols, will perhaps have little minor literature, any thing more likely difficulty in confessing that a certain to find favour in the eyes of those read- part of the vacuum has been supplied ers who are penetrated with some por- by the indefatigable self-love of the tion of the love of antiquarianism. Nay, institutor of the Athenian Club, we might go much farther than this; and the author of the Dublin Scuffle.". for those who enjoy gossip, scandal, We would fain hope that the example slander, quaintness, humour, and ex- of this eminent individual may not be travagant self-conceit, all will find altogether thrown away on his sucabundant gratification in their depart- cessors, our own contemporary bibed bibliopole's delineation of himself, liopoles ; and should have much pleahis friends, his enemies, and above sure could we imagine that our comall, in his solemn commemoration of mendations of him and his works “all the spurns his patient merit took” might add any additional stimulus to from the government and the people of excite some among their number to
# The Life and Errors of John Dunton, citizen of London, with the Lives and Characters of more than a thousand contemporary Divines, and other persons of literary eminence; to which are added, Dunton's Conversations in Ireland-Selectior:s from his other genuine Works--and a faithful portrait of the author. 2 vols 8vo. Nichols, Son, and Bentley, London. 1818.
do for their age what Dunton has done “ In this condition," he continues, for his. To say the truth, we are not “ and long before I had any articulate acquainted with any class of men whose use of my tongue, I gave the world sufopportunities are more favourable for ficientevidence of a child of Adam, and the collecting of valuable materials of the certain tokens of corrupt nature anecdote, than the worthy “ fathers and passion were more and more apof the Row.". There are no traffickers, parent as I made advances in age and with whose minutest and most pecus strength.”-We cannot pretend to offer liar objects of interest so large a portion any conjecture what sinful symptoms of readers must at all times be found these might be, that typified at so early to sympathize. The autobiography a period the after offences of John of any other tradesman or merchant Dunton's life and conversation--the would attract few but those of his own disturbance he created among his own particular calling ; but we venture to family and relations by the fretfulness say, that few books of that species of his dispositions and the many sheets would present a more agreeable amuse- which his future Cacoethes scribendi ment to many great masses of the read- was destined to cover with its impurities. ing public, in the year 1919, than a The incidents of the tender years of Sketch of the Life and Errors of Wil- our hero are not in general, however, liam Blackwood, or Archibald Con- of a very extraordinary nature. We stable, or John Ballantyne, citizens of shall only take notice of one or two reEdinburgh, ,—or of William Davies, or markable persecutions which the “non John Murray, citizens of London, sine diis animosus infans” experienced. written in true Duntonian fulness and -He once fell into the water, and had freedom, by any one of these intelli- like to be drowned ; “ but, as Provigent heads of the profession.
dence would have it, my cousin John But, to begin from the beginning, Reading was lying on the bank, and as our author himself has done.—John saved me."-Another time he swal. Dunton, the hero of this his own long lowed a leaden bullet, and just when story, was born at Graffham, in Hunt- the family have given up all hopes of ingdonshire, the 14th of May, 1659; him,“ behold ! up it bolted;"_" and of which place his father, the
Rev. Mr here,” he goes on, “ that I may not John Dunton, was rector. The parti- prove ungrateful to a preventing Merculars of his birth are detailed by theau, cy, I shall add a third danger that my tobiographer as minutely as if he could childish curiosity exposed me to." He have accurately remembered every was amusing himself, it seems, with thing that occurred; for, as he saga- chewing a bearded ear of corn, when ciously insinuates, there is nothing so it stuck in his throat, and he could small in itself which it is not intereste not get rid of it. In this extremity, ing to know concerning a great man.
some of my relations, viz. Who is not delighted to read in Plu- Malmesey of Chesham, aunt Reading, tarch how the bees clustered around her daughter Anne, Mrs Mary Gossam, the cradle of Alexander ? Who does Sarah Randal, &c. &c. who were walknot sympathize with the distress of the ing in the fields, found me, speechless midwife, who at first thought that and gasping, and with much difficulty John Dunton had come a dead man- set me to rights again.” John conchild into the world,--and her joy fesses, notwithstanding of all these when the infant Worthy began, at the events, that he still continued to be a sprinkling of a little cold water, to ex- true child of Adam. He has no diffihibit some symptoms of that vigour dence in owning, that it was more easy which was destined in after days to for him to utter a lie than a truth, and keep Paternoster-Row in a ferment? remarks, that he has reason to be thank“ The first appearance I made,” says ful to Providence for having made him our candid historian, was very mean
a coward—but for which circumstance, and contemptible; and, as if Nature he owns, he would have been the forehad designed me to take up only some most in all pranks of petty pilfering. insignificant and obscure corner in the When the boys of the school robbed universe, I was so diminutive a crea- an orchard, John Dunton was always ture that a quart pot could contain the placed sentinel at a considerable diswhole of me with ease.”
tance, till on one occasion his fears for “ From such beginnings mighty things arise; himself got the better of his sense of So small a star can brighten all the skies.” duty, and by a too precipitate flight Vol. VI.
says he, "
he left all his associates in the lurch. “ I was strangely surprised,” says he, “ at After this, John had no apples to roast this Billet-doux, and more in regard the lady at night, and grew very sulky with had all the little and the charming pretti. every body about him.
nesses both of wit and beauty that might John was a bad scholar--the natu- easily have gained her as many conquests ral difficulties of the Greek tongue, extravagant was my folly, that I gave her
as she pleased ; in short, so licentious and and “what worse," says he,
a billet the same day, in which I made an passion for a virgin in my father's appointment to meet her in Grocers' Garhouse quite unhinged all my resolu- den the next evening, where we both attions of study.”. His father, however, tended ; but so soon as I revealed the ocwas determined still to give him a
casion, she told me she was ignorant of it. chance of “ some affinity to the However, this romantic courtship gave muses :" so at the age of fifteen years making a timely discovery of it, sent the
both of us a real passion ; but my Master, he was bound apprentice to Mr Tho- lady into the country; and absence cooled mas Packhurst, bookseller in London, our passions for us, and by little and little “ a religious and just man.” Here, as we both of us regained our liberty." he says, he might at least have the
At the expiration of the apprenticeopportunity of becoming skilled in ship, which was spent in this manner, si the outside of erudition-the shell John gave an entertainment to no less and casks of learning.” The confine- than a hundred apprentices, to celement of the shop sickened him at first, brate the funeral. It must be obe and being quizzed by the other ap- served, however, that John was no prentices, he once fairly ran off to ordinary apprentice when he his father in the country. But there guilty of this piece of extravagance. the gravity of paternal admonition, He had made himself conspicuous as and John's own good sense soon re- a principal leader on the part of the stored him to his right mind—and he whigs; i. e. the whig apprenticesreturned to Mr Packhurst, after an when they on one occasion made an absence of a few days, with a settled address to Sir Patience Ward, Lord purpose, which was soon changed into Mayor of London. John having been a settled love of application; nor from one of the first in the procession
which this time does it appear that he ever carried this address, was of course one had any doubt for a moment that the of the first who' heard the Lord highest, as well as the most delightful Mayor's excellent advice in reply, of all human occupations is that of a “ Go home and mind your business, bookseller. Henceforth, Piso seemed boys,”—but he could not help regardin his eyes a greater man than twentying himself already as a party-man of Horaces—and Pope himself was scarce
some consequence-and, indeed, in a ly regarded as any thing better petition to George II. written a great than a piece of the furniture of Lin- many years after, we find him still tot's shop. The only interruption to returning to the whiggery of his apwhich his professional avocations were prenticeship, as one of his greatest now exposed, arose out of his old merits. However, he now became a tendre for La Belle Passion. The bookseller on his own account, but to origin of his first apprentice flame is avoid too large a rent he took only somewhat whimsical-although very half a shop, a warehouse, and a famuch we can believe in the course of shionable chamber. apprentice life. One of his fellow ap
“ PRINTING was now the uppermost in prentices forged a love-letter to him,
my thoughts, and Hackney Authors began in the name of a certain “
to ply me with “ Specimens," as earnestly, gin,” then a boarder with Mr Pack- and with as much passion and concern, as hurstmas follows:
the Watermen do Passengers with Oars
and Scullers. “ DEAR SIR,_We have lived some time together in the same family, and your dis
“ I had some acquaintance with this Getant conversation has given me a little im
neration in my Apprenticeship, and had patience to be better acquainted with you, gard I always thought their great concern
never any warm affection for them ; in reI hope your good nature will not put any lay more in how much a Shect, than in any constructions upon this innocent address to my disadvantage; and should you disco- generous respect they bore to the Common
wealth of Learning; and, indeed, the ver it, it would certainly expose yourself at Learning itself of these Gentlemen lies very the expence of your
often in as little room as their Honesty; “ SUSANNAH SING.” though they will pretend to have studied