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Onward Still 179
Orlando, Modern, . . . 390
Plater, Countess, To, . 36
Peel Lyric* 299
Passing Under the Rod, . 334
Simms' Songs of the South, 139
Truth and Beauty, . . 28
Three Friends,. . . .140
Where shall I spend Eter-
Work while it is Day, . 368
Quixziology of the British
Railway to Asia, .... 156
Venice, . . . 424
Robinson Crusoe, Miss, 294,383,
Society, Usages of, . . . 31
Sea Shore, Studies on the, 64
Street's Poems, .... 163
Opinions of, 217
Smyrna, 24 hours at, . . 201
Sheil, Mr., 225
Sugar Trade, West Indies, 367,
Thompson's Mexico. . . 57
Townseod's Lives of the
Tissues, On the Printing of, 439
Bear Chase 436
Cadet of Colobrieres, . . 452
Crusoe, Miss Robinson, 294,
383, 468, 601
Elizabethines, .... 329
Holly Cottage,.... 491
Neighbor-in-Law, ... 33
St. Giles and St. James, 109,
Two Graves, .... 286
Work Girl 130
Wolf Chase, .... 168
Unspoken Language, . .411
Varieties, 245, 386,438,499, 581
World not so Bad, ... 53
Webster, Daniel, .... 144
Warner's Invention, . . . 389
Words without Power, . . 555
LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.
From the New Quarterly Review.
Men of Letters of the time of George the Third. By Lord Brougham. London : CoTburn, 1846.
We are again indebted to the kindness of Lord Brougham tor the proof-sheets of the work before us. It commences with the life of Dr. Johnson. No greater life does the period of George the Third contain; and, whether viewed as moralist, poet, critic, biographer, or lexicographer, Johnson is the most distinguished man of his day. Many may hesitate to assign him the second of these wreaths; but however slight in quantity, his poetry has in it a pith and vigor that well indicates to whit points he had the power to ascend, had not the stern realities of existence destroyed the imaginative, and compelled him to fix his attention on the real and practical objects in which lay his bread. Few things affect the mind more than the desolation of poverty that visited most of the illustrious wits of that period: from it the Titan of the age was not exempt; and this moral and beneficent Prometheus, while pouring consolation to others, was heart-devoured by the vulture of care and anxiety preying on the immortal liver. Johnran was born on the 18th of September, 1709, at Lxhfield. His father was a bookseller. After a somewhat desultory education, he entered, at nineWen years of age, Pembroke College, Oxford. While there he was in great pecuniary difficulty, and ultimately left it without a degree, though he continued to the close of life to honor his Alma Mater, and spent many of his happiest days in college society. It must, however, be noted, that Johnson never assumed the title of Doctor, which >u tardily bestowed upon him after the publication of his dictionary, but wrote himself, on his card, " Mr. Johnson" to the last.
That morbid, or rather morbific, affection that at limes superinduced a torpor of faculties, began at as early period of even his college life; and this fiant in intellect always labored under the fearful impression that he should become insane. It is more than probable, that the religious tendency of Johnson's mind alone prevented him from suicide; far religion in a strong mind produces that requisite balance of the feelings that is essential to the right ase of them, subduing the intellectual and imaginative within due limits, and educing the moral, reflective, and spiritual faculties. "Law's Serious Call to a Holy Life," (a work the writer has found of admirable influence, notwithstanding its quaint■rws,) has the honor of convincing the judgment of Johnson of the necessity for religion. He came to it to scotT, and remained to pray. It is not every book trial brings a Johnson to his knees. The extent of Johnson's classical acquirements as a Latin venifier was certainly not equal to Milton's; but the suffrage of Pope on this question weighs with at but inflingly, since the brilliant bard knew but indifferently either Greek or Latin in a critical •esse. Johnson became at first one of that unfor
CXU. LIV1NO AOE. VOL. X. 1
tunate class, an usher at a school, a walk of life he quitted in disgust. "Lobo's History of Abyssinia" is among his early literary works: it is a translation. In 1734, after quitting this employ, he marries a widow, a person of no personal recommendations, but one of more than ordinary mental powers, and one who succeeded in obtaining complete rule over his heart and affections for sixteen years, and after whose decease he ever kept the day of her death as a fast, and offered up prayers for her soul. We have witnessed a singular adherence to this habit of praying for the dead in many exalted minds. We trust they were personally benefited by it; but the souls of the dead are fixed in the bodements of glory or gloom, from which no prayer can rescue.
In the spring of 1737 Johnson came to London, and commenced a literary life. Amid a mass of other matters he published his "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes." Pope generously expressed his admiration of the " London." This period was, however, one of fearful struggle with him for the means of livelihood, as the correspondence with Cave sadly indicates. Johnson "impransus," was the signature to one letter, while he was translating "Fra Paolo." The story of the " Kasselas," written in the evenings of the week of his mother's death, to defray her funeral expenses and debts—that sacrifice to filial duty, which God remembered well, produced the sad and suffering son only one hundred pounds! The terrible affliction of his life preying on him with the deeper affection of the heart. We have to direct the attention of our readers to the beautiful notice Lord Brougham has taken of this affection, and the comparison of an analogous instance at p. 16.
"Great wits to madness sure arc near allied, And small partitions do their bounds divide,"
is too true in the morbid tendency remarkable in Collins, Johnson, and Newton. Among the contributions of Johnson to the Gentleman's Magazine," were the debates in parliament. Johnson nevpr designed that these should be considered as actual reports of the proceedings in the house, but many persons have viewed them in that light. The acquaintance with Savage during his first five years in London, was in all respects unfortunate for Johnson. Few, however, can do other than sympathize with the generous defence of Savage when dead, or feel other than astonished at the darin? attack on bis unfeeling mother. Lady Macrlrsfirld was seventy years of age when the life of Savaye appeared, and the chief scandal of that life find been fifty years previous; so that we fully concur with Lord Brougham, that the escape of Johnson from action for libel is somewhat marvellous. The aged mother was therefore probably too conscious of the truth, if not of all, of much, that Johnson had written; still so aged a woman is not the light in which, from that life, we are prepared to regard Savage's mother.
The miscellaneous character of Johnson'a labors, as enumerated by Lord Brougham, is quite astounding during the twenty-five years of his London life, but we doubt not is far below trfe truth. Yet how inadequate the remuneration. "The Vanity of Human Wishes" produced him fifteen guineas! The "Irene" failed from want of dramatic interest •, and it is curious to see Johnson and Goldsmith both experiencing the vanity of dress in no moderate degree. The author of " Irene," Samuel Johnson, in a scarlet and gold-laced waistcoat and gold-laced hat, fancying himself induing the fitting costume for a dramatic author. The "Rambler" appeared in 1750 and 1751. It will live in some of its papers while the language lasts. The "Idler" saw the light in 1758 and 1759. They were nearly all Johnson's own papers, unsupported, as Addison was in his " Spectator," by numerous friends. He announced the Dictionary in 1747. His dispute with Lord Chesterfield at its outset is not favorable to Johnson's amenity of disposition, a faculty in which he did not abound; nor if the Btory of a small pecuniary gift from the earl be true, which he neglected to acknowledge, in all respects to his seldom impeached veracity. The stipulated price was XI575; but the expenses of amanuenses for a long period of time, left him but a small gainer by it.
In 1759 he lost his mother; in 1753 his wife. He then entered on that singular line of conventional existence with Miss Williams, Mrs. Desmoulines, and Mr. Levett, an apothecary, all of whom were materially aided by his benevolence, and the second only survived Johnson. His lines •on his humble companion, Levett, show both affection and imagination. Johnson had struggled on unstained by any act of meanness, subserviency, or dishonesty to fifty-four years of age. At this period Ix>rd Bute incurred the rancor of the "North Briton" to no small extent, by conferring on the first of English lexicographers a pension from the crown of X300 per annum. How fearful an influence does party exercise! Men like Wilkes and Churchill grudging the veteran Johnson this X300 per annum, which, given earlier, had enriched England with many a noble and matured production, and enabled Johnson to write something nearer to the perfect model of an English dictionary. Wilkes did not fail to turn upon him the full force of his own definitions of a pensioner—" a slave of state paid to obey a master," and a pension, " pay, given to a state hireling for treason to his country." Both are as erroneous and prejudiced as possible, and certainly conduce in no respect to the credit of the writer of a dictionary, who ought to be unimpassioncd. It is to us no sufficient answer to sav, that the twenty-two years of his life that followed after the grant of the pension did not produce the same relative portion of high literary performance with the preceding twenty-five. Johnson had worked too hard to work long; his malady, too, gained on him. The "Lives of the Pools," however, his master-piece, was produced, and over this period his two pamphlets. "Taxation no Tyranny," and "On the Falkland Idles." In 17(15 he commenced his intimacy with Mrs. Thrale. The circumstances of this intimacy, and the marriage with Piozxi of this lady, are not dwelt upon by Lord Brougham with the same degree of bitterness that manv persons ihave evinced. Of the character of Mrs. Piozzi and of her subsequent passion, we presume we must • call it, for Conway, the actor, and of the deception
reputed to have been practised on him relative to the disposal of her property, Johnson would probably have approved much less: but surely he could not have loved Mrs. Thrale, to which cause Lord Brougham, and we own with some appearance of justice, appears to have assigned his irate feelings on her marriage with Piozzi. But we entertain little doubt that Madame Piozzi continued to sink lower and lower in the scale of society by her marriage, and at length found herself almost entirely surrounded by mimes and musicians. We are far from insinuating that some of the highest minds of our era are not to be found among these; but the general class is unmixedly bad and frivolous, and mere pretenders to intellectuality. The life of Johnson grew more pleasant and conventional during his latter years, and tours in various parts enabled him to obtain deeper insight into mankind, which the " Rasselas" and many other of his works fail to exhibit. In 1783, when 74, he suffered from a paralytic stroke. Under this affliction he was still himself in a wonderful degree. Conscious of the blow, from a coufusion and indistinctness in his head for half a minute, he prayed for the preservation of his faculties, and then turned his devotions into Latin verse, to see that he was equal to an effort of order. How similar to the death of Wollaston, who, bearing his friends speak of him as dead, motioned for a pencil, and continued to mark strokes on the paper fainter and fainter, until he expired! He recovered from the immediate effects of this first blow, but did not get his speech until the second day. For a year he remained in a weakly state, but not, however, without seeing his friends, and going out at times, but died on the 18th December, 1784, " having suffered," says Lord B., " far less from apprehension of the event than his former habit of regarding it with an extreme horror might have led us to expect." The following observations of Lord Brougham on his understanding are as sound as comprehensive :—
"The prevailing character of his understanding was the capacity of taking a clear view of any subject presented to it, a determination to ascertain the object of search, and a power of swiftly perceiving it. His sound sense made him pursue steadily what he saw was worth the pursuit, piercing at once the husk to reach the kernel, rejecting the dross which men's errors and defects of perspicacity or infirmity of judgment had spread over the ore, and rejecting it without ever being tempted by its superficial and worthless hues to regard it with any tolerance. Had he been as knowing as he was acute, had his vision been as extensive as it was clear within narrow limits, he would only have gained by this resolute determination not to be duped, and would not have been led into one kind of error by his fear of falling into another. But it must be allowed, that even in his most severe judgments he was far oflcner right than wrong; and that on all ordinary questions, both of opinion and of conduct, there were few men whom it was moro hopeless to attempt deceiving, either by inaccurate observation, by unreflecting appeals to the authority, whether of great names or of great numbers, by cherished prepossessions little examined, or by all the various ] forms which the cant of custom or of sentiment is wont to assume. Out of this natural bent of his understanding arose as naturally the constant habit of referring all matters, whether for argument or for opinion, to the decision of plain common sense. I His reasonings were short; his topics were homely; his way to the conclusion lay in a straight line, the shortest between any two points; ana though he would not deviate from it so as to lose himself, he was well disposed to look on either side, that he might gather food for his contemptuous and somewhat sarcastic disposition, laughing at those whom he saw bewildered, rather than pitying their errors. To the desire of short and easy proof, and the love of accuracy when it could be obtained, and to which he sometimes sacrificed truth by striving after exact reasoning on subjects that admit not of it, we may ascribe this great fondness for common arithmetic, one of the very few sciences with which he was acquainted. With (he vices of such an understanding and such a disposition he was sufficiently imbued, as well as with its excellencies. He was very dogmatical —very confident, even presumptuous; not very tolerant. He was also apt to deal in truisms, and often inclined, when he saw through them himself, to break- down an argument, sometimes overwhelming it with the might of loud assertion, sometimes cutting it short by the edge of a sneer. Seeing very clearly within somewhat narrow limits, he easily believed there was nothing beyond them to see; and fond of reducing each argument to its simplest terms and shortest statement, he frequently applied a kind of reasoning wholly unsuited to the subject matter, pronounced decisions of which the dispute was not susceptible, and fell into errors which more knowing inquirers and calmer disputants, without his perspicacity or his powers of combining, would easily and surely have avoided."
The remarks on the style, the well-known Roman, of our great lexicographer, we should scarcely have been led to anticipate from a writer so close u> the model of Addison and Robertson as Lord Brougham.
'• The peculiarities of his style may be traced to the same Bource—the characteristic features of his understanding and disposition. What he perceived clearly, ho clearly expressed. His diction was distinct; it was never involved; it kept ideas in their separate and proper places; it did not •Sound in synnnymes and repetition; it was manly, and it was measured, despising meretricious and trivial ornament, avoiding all slovenliness, rejecting mere surplusage, generally throughout very concise, often needlessly full, and almost always elaborate; the art of the workman being made manifest in the plainly artificial workmanship. A love of hard and learned words prevailed throughout; and a fondness for balanced periods was its special characteristic. But there was often (rest felicity in the expression, occasionally a pleasing cadence in the rhythm, generally an epigrammatic turn in the language as well as in the idea. Even where the workmanship seemed most to bras the material, and the word craft to be exerr!»cl needlessly, and the diction to run to waste, lh*re was never any feebleness to complain of, and always something of skill and effect to admire. The charm of nature was ever wanting, but the r<rv*«;nee of great art was undeniable. Nothing »n of the careless aspect which the highest of artists ever give their master-pieces—the produce of elaborate but concealed pains; yet the strong hand of an able workman was always marked; and it wa» observed, too, that he disdained to hide from ru the far less labor which he had much m/rrv easilv bestowed."
We perfectly agree with Lord Brougham that
the weight of a style like Dr. Johnson's is somewhat oppressive, and that little meaning is at times concealed under pompous expression: still, even this style without matter is betler than that fearful negation of both that so many modern writers exhibit. The facility of Johnson's composition may be gathered from the fact, that he composed furtyeight printed pages of the life of Savage in one night. On these matters of facility of composition, persons must necessarily rely on the testimony of personal friends of one another. The following remarks on Johnson, who was a stiff and uncompromising Tory and a Jacobite, may not, however, be far from truth.
"Yet he so greatly loved established things, so deeply venerated whatever had the sanction of time, that he both shut his eyes to many defects in his view consecrated by age, and unreasonably transferred to mere duration the respect which reason itself freely allows to whatever has the testimony of experience in its favor. .
"The established church, the established government, the established order of things in general, found in him an unflinching supporter, because a sincere and warm admirer; and giving his confidence entirely, he either was content to suspend his reason in a great majority of instances, or, at least, to use it only for the purpose of attaining the conclusion in favor of existing institutions, and' excluding all farther argument touching their foundations."
His prejudices were certainly strong, both with respect to the French and Americans. His horror of infidels we like, and wish only that the feeling were more general. Johnson did not possess any knowledge of the exact sciences; hence in his criticism on Newton, whom he undertook to review, he only indicated his own ignorance. His Dictionary, however faulty, and it is most remarkably so in etymons, and faulty where we should least have anticipated it, even in Latin and Greek derivations, is—notwilhstanding the AngloSaxon deficiencies, which are still greater—a work of wonderful merit.
We have stated our high opinion of the " Lives of the Poets." The omission of Goldsmith is certainly singular; and we quite agree with the noble lord before us in assigning very high merit to that of Pope, of Drydcn, and of Cowley. lie is also, all things considered, wonderfully impartial in his judgment on Milton. With regard to personal character and habits, we think there is mingled matter of praise and censure. Dogmatic he most assuredly was, and often dogmatically wrong; as often insufferably right, repeatedly judicious, firm, and strenuous in opinions. Benevolence he possessed in a remarkable degree; and though his morals exhibited much to regret, from that feverish knowledge he ever appeared to possess, to investigate the feelings at heart of even the must depraved, and which often led him into that society, still was he sound at heart, and regretted that, knowing his duty well, his knowledge and practice were not equal. Lord Brougham to us does not appear, in the main, to have liked Johnson, who was certainly a hearty haier; but the concluding paragraph of his lifo is as generous as it is just.
"He was friendly, and actively so, in tlie greatest decree; he was charitable beyond what even prudential considerations might justify; as firmly as he believed the Gospel, so constantly did he practise its divine maxim, ' that it is more bU^aed to give than to receive.' His sense of justice was strict and constant; his love of trulh was steady and unbroken in all matters, as well little as great; nor did any man ever more peremptorily deny the existence of white lies: for he justly thought that when a habit of being careless of the truth in trifling things once has been formed, it will become easily, nay, certainly applicable to things of moment. His habitual piety, his sense of his own imperfections, his generally blameless conduct in the various relations of life, has been already sufficiently described, and has been illustrated in the preceding narrative. He was a good man as he was a great man; and he had so firm a regard for virtue, that he wisely set much greater store by his worth than by his fame." (p. 85.)
The next life before us is Adam Smith. After a brief summary on economical science, commencing with Antonio Dandiai, of Sienna, who in the year 1737 recommended to the Grand Duke of Tuscany a free trade in corn, and reviewing De Gournay, De Quesnay, and others, we have Adam Smith introduced: he was born in 1723. Smith, having received the rudiments of education in Scotland, entered Baliol College, Oxford. He remained at that university seven years. Oxford did not, however, rise higher in his estimation by residence, and probably, as Lord Brougham remarks, inhibiting him from reading Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature" did not much mend his dislike. In 1743 he removed to Edinburgh, and then became acquainted with most of the celebrated men of the day. Glasgow offered him the Professorship of Logic; but he soon exchanged it for that of Moral Philosophy. He taught moral philosophy for twelve years; but of these discoveries we have no remains. He was a contributor to the Edinburgh Review in 1755. His " Theory of Moral Sentiments" made its appearance in 1759, and to this was appended a " Dissertation on the Origin of Languages." He resigned his professorship in 1763, to attend the Duke of Buccleuch upon his travels. On this tour he made the acquaintance of various learned continental scholars; and among others, one whose pursuits were analogous to his own, Quesnay. He returned to England; and in 1766 his celebrated work, " The Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation*," made its appearance. Hume lived to see it, and to approve it. He became shortly after a Commissioner of Customs—an appointment certainly by no means suited to him, and ill chosen. In 1788 he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow. That university conferred on him, in 1762, the degree of LL.D. The duties of his office in the Customs were extremely laborious; and no doubt the influence of these dull details affected the powers of a mind that might otherwise have produced a work to rival his " Opus Magnum.' He died in 1790, and the account given in Mutton of his last interview with his friends is highly interesting. Great men mislike to see their immature productions outlive them, and Adam Smith madu his friends promise that his should not survive their author; and consequently all his other writing, comprising eighteen folio volumes of MS., were destroyed, excepting his " Speculative History of Astronomy."
Lord Brougham's general summary of his character and acquirements is extremely fair.
"The true picture of the great author's intellectual character is presented by his writings; and of the depth, the comprehensiveness, the general,
accuracy of his views on the various subjects to which his mind was bent, there can be but one opinion. His understanding was enlarged, and it was versatile; his sagacity, when he applied himself deliberately to inquiry or to discussion, was unerring; his information was extensive and correct; his fancy was rich and various; his taste, formed upon the purest models of antiquity, was simple and chaste. His integrity was unimpeachable, and the warmth of his affections knew no chill, even when the languor of age and the weight of ill-health was upon him; his nature was kindly in the greatest degree, and his benevolence was extensive, leading him to indulge in acts of private charily, pushed beyond his means, and concealed with the most scrupulous delicacy towards its objects. Stern votaries of religion have complained of his deficiencies in piety, chiefly because of his letter upon the death of his old and intimate friend, Mr. Hume; but no one can read the frequent and warm allusions, with which his works abound, to the moral government of the world, to reliance upon the All-wise Disposer, to the hopes of a future state, and not be convinced that his mind was deeply sensible to devout impressions. Nay, even as to his estimate of Mr. Hume's character, we are clearly entitled to conclude that he regarded his friend as an exception to the rule that religion has a powerful and salutary influence on morals, because he has most forcibly staled his opinion, that whenever the principles of religion which are natural to it are not perverted or corrupted, 'the world justly places a double confidence in the rectitude of the religious man's behavior.' " (p. 120 )
Few persons were more opposite than Johnson and Smith. Johnson loved argument—engrossed conversation. Smith sat and watched. He was one of the most absent men conceivable; few mure abstracted from common objects.
The "Theory of Moral Sentiments" contains much beautiful writing; and Lord Brougham hns selected some of the choicest morceavx. We own the notice which we subjoin rather amused us, when we read it.
"How well has he painted the man of system, and how many features of this portrait have we recognized in Mr. Bentham, and others of our day! 'He is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely, in all its parts, without any repard either to the great interests or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society wiih as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces on a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion beside that which the hand impresses upon them ; but that in the great chess-board of human society, evety single piece has a principle of action of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If these principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easilr and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.' 'For a man to insist upon establishing, and upon establishing all at once and in spite of all