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his, accompanied with indefatigable perseverance, a strong constitution, and an unblushing front, would at no long interval elevate him to the next rank of his profession, and ultimately, perhaps, to one of its highest honours.
The transition is neither unusual nor difficult; and some of the great ornaments of the judicial bench within our recollection have risen from beginnings equally unpromising. But under circumstances, which in almost every diocese of the kingdom would now preclude a candidate from holy orders, for a man to have started aside into that jealous and exclusive profession, to have rendered himself, by pertinacious application in the solitude of a country benefice, the first theologian of the age, and without servility, turbulence, or political connexions properly so called, in short, without any moving cause, but his own transcendent talents, to have raised himself to the highest rank in the church, may well be considered as a phænomenon unparalleled in tranquil times.-We say, in tranquil times, for there have been in the history of the English Church, periods of revolution in which talents far inferior to those of Warburton, successfully exerted in favour of the prevailing party, have been allowed to supersede all the claims of merit purely profes sional. Under circumstances like these, within the last three centuries the Church of England has seen five priests elevated at one step to the see of Canterbury.
In the latter years of George the Second, indeed, Whig politics had greatly relaxed the old and rigid requirements in the previous education and principles of bishops, and the advancement of Warburton to the see of Gloucester was preceded, at no great distance of time, by that of a medical student to Canterbury, and of a dissenter to Durham. Still it is matter of admiration, that one situated like Warburton, should in such times have been able to break through the impediments of usage and prejudice. It is insinuated by the right reverend biographer, that an early seriousness of mind determined our author to the ecclesiastical profession. It may be so; but the symptoms of that seriousness were very equivocal afterwards, and the certainty of an early provision from a generous patron in the country may, perhaps, be considered by those who are disposed to assign human conduct to ordinary motives, as quite adequate to the effect. If not devout, however, he was unquestionably sincere; and in defending the outworks of Christianity, which is certainly consistent with some degree of inattention to the citadel itself, indefatigably useful.
Meanwhile it cannot be unamusing to speculate on what Warburton would have achieved had he held on his original course in the profession of the law.-Acute and positive, presumptuous and unabashed, fond of paradox, and fonder of debate, he would have
bullied at the bar, and dogmatized on the bench; he would have found in almost every statute a meaning which the legislature never intended, and a profundity which his brethren would be unable to comprehend: he would have defined where every thing was plain, and distinguished without the shadow of a difference. Gifted, however, and disposed as Warburton unquestionably was, with an inexhaustible copiousness of invention, and in private conversation, with powers of utterance unusually voluble and expressive, it was expected on his introduction to the House of Lords, that he would have transgressed those rules of delicate and decorous respect which in later times his brethren have usually prescribed to themselves; but his promotion took place late in life:—the convocation, which in former times had been the preparatory school of episcopal eloquence in parliament, even in his earlier days, subsisted only in its shadow, and the faculty of public extemporaneous speaking, however it might have existed with him by nature, or to whatever degree of perfection it might have been cultivated by him in early life, had in the period of forty years perished by neglect, or been chilled by caution and advancement.
With the life of this wonderful person, as given by his most devoted friend, it is impossible for us to express our entire satisfaction. In truth, it would have been difficult to find a man in the whole compass of English literature competent to the task, excepting the immortal biographer of the English poets. To any writer of his own school, as such, there were certain general objections, and against every individual in the number, particular exceptions might be taken. In the first place, the prejudices of the whole body were excessive, and their views of the subject narrow and illiberal in the extreme. In an age of ability and learned independence, they had erected their leader into a monarch of literature, and whoever presumed to contest his claim was, without ceremony, sacrificed to it, while with the rancour which ever pursues this single species of delinquency, the mangled limbs of the departed enemy were held up with savage derision to the scorn or commiseration of mankind.
But even among the disciples of the Warburtonian school, Hurd assuredly was not the man whom we should have wished to select for the delicate and invidious task of embalming his patron's remains. Subtle and sophistical, elegant, but never forcible, his heart was cold, though his admiration was excessive. He wanted that power of real genius, which is capable of being fired by the contemplation of excellence, till it partakes of the heat and flame of its object. On the other hand, he wanted nothing of that malignity which is incident to the coolest tempers, of that cruel and anatomical faculty, which, in dissecting the character of an antago6 € 4
nist, can lay bare, with professional indifference, the quivering fibres of an agonized victim. For this purpose his instrument was irouy; and few practitioners have ever employed that, or any other, more unfeelingly than did the biographer of Warburton, even when the ground of complaint was almost imperceptible, as in the cases of Leland and Jortin.
As to Dr. Baiguy, who has been pointed out by the learned writer above hinted at, though more independent and impartial, as well as less blindly devoted to the patron or the party, he was deficient, perhaps, in that Promethean fire which is required to animate once more the resemblance of a departed genius. With a clear and manly understanding, chastized as well as improved by scholastic education, he was in some degree unqualified by his very attainments, for pursuing the flights of an irregular and untutored adventurer over the realms of undiscovered science.
To the author of the Delicacy of Friendship, however, the office of biographer to Warburton, whether wisely or otherwise, was in fact consigned; and it cannot be denied, that he has executed his task in a style of elegance and purity worthy of an earlier and better age of English literature. Informed and assisted, as he must have been, by those who from his early days were best acquainted with the subject of this memoir, we must also presume that his facts and dates are sufficiently correct: but to opinion there are scarcely any assignable bounds, and to prejudice, none. The same facts, the same general course of conduct, which would lead every reflecting mind nearly to the same conclusions, if applied to Warburton and Lowth, or to Warburton and Secker, according to the incurable prepossession of party, will in different individuals, labouring under some peculiar influence, suggest opinions and inferences almost diametrically opposite to each other.
Under this head, and as a proof of the author's happy faculty of damning by faint praise,' we shall select two specimens. Of Bishop Lowth, the dignified, the spirited, the only equal antagonist of Warburton, our biographer permits himself to speak in the following terms of measured approbation and comparative, though disguised, contempt.
Dr. Lowth was a man of learning and ingenuity, and of many virtues, but his friends did his character no service by affecting to bring his merits, whatever they were, into competition with those of the Bishop of Gloucester. His reputation as a writer was raised chiefly on his Hebrew literature, as displayed in two works, his Latin Lectures on Hebrew Poetry, and his English Version of the Prophet Isaiah: the former is well and elegantly composed, but in a vein of criticism not above the common: the latter, I think, is chiefly valuable, as it shews how little is to be expected from Dr. Kennicott's work, &c.'
"On the subject of his quarrel with the Bishop of Gloucester I could say a great deal, for I was well acquainted with the grounds and the progress of it. But besides that I purposely avoid entering into details of this sort, I know of no good end that is likely to be answered by exposing to public censure the weaknesses of such men.'
This reserve on the part of the good bishop, it must be confessed, was discreet and charitable; but as he is careful to premise, that while the dispute was managed on both sides with too much heat, but on the part of the Bishop (Warburton) with that superiority of wit and argument which he could not help,' (meaning, as we suppose, that he earnestly endeavoured to appear inferior,) we shall beg leave to hint a suspicion that it was not the weaknesses of two great men, but the strength of Lowth and the petulance of Warburton, which the biographer of the latter shrunk from exposing. True it is, that in this correspondence there are many things which the Bishop of Worcester acted wisely in suppressing many pages of scurrility, equally unworthy the character of scholars, of Christians, and of gentlemen; but there are two passages, at an early period of the quarrel, and before the combatants in their rage had exchanged more gentlemanly weapons for stones and mud, which, as the pamphlets are not in every one's hands, we cannot forbear to lay before the reader, in order to enable him to discover, if possible, that infinite superiority of wit and argument which Warburton (with all his disposition to self-extenuation) could not help.
The Bishop of Gloucester, forgetful of his own education, but not forgetful of the slur which had been thrown upon him by the University of Oxford, thought proper to speak of that venerable body, and of its most distinguished professor in his day, as follows: 'But the learned professor has been hardily brought up in the keen atmosphere of wholesome severities, and early taught to distinguish between de facto and de jure.' This indiscretion drew down upon him the following inimitable retort, in which the application of Lord Clarendon's character of an attorney's clerk, was one of those lucky hits, which are seldom given to the most witty and dexterous of mankind more than once in a life. With what affected scorn, with what inward rage and vexation such a blow must have been received by Warburton, it requires nothing more than an ordinary intuition into his character to conjecture
'Pray, my lord, what is it to the purpose where I have been brought up?-To have made a proper use of the advantages of a good education is a just praise, but to have overcome the disadvantages of a bad one is a much greater.-Had I not your lordship's example to justify me, I should think it a piece of extreme impertinence to enquire where you were bred, though one might possibly plead as an excuse for it, a
natural curiosity to know where and how such a phænomenon was produced. It is commonly said that your lordship's education was of that particular kind, concerning which it is a remark of that great judge of men and manners Lord Clarendon, that it peculiarly disposes men to be proud, insolent, and pragmatical. "Colonel Harrison was the son of a butcher, and had been bred up in the place of a clerk to a lawyer, which kind of education introduces men into the language and practice of business; and if it be not resisted by the great ingenuity of the person, inclines young men to more pride than any other kind of breeding, and disposes them to be pragmatical and insolent." Now, my lord, as you have in your whole behaviour, and in all your writings, remarkably distinguished yourself by your humility, meekness, good manners, good temper, moderation with regard to the opinions of others, and modest diffidence of your own, this unpromising circumstance of your education is so far from being a disgrace to you, that it highly redounds to your praise.
But I am precluded from all claim to such merit; on the contrary, it is well for me if I can acquit myself of a charge that lies hard upon me, the burthen of being responsible for the great advantages which I enjoyed. For, my lord, I was educated in the University of Oxford. I enjoyed all the advantages, public and private, which that famous seat of learning so largely affords. I spent many years in that illustrious society, in a well regulated course of useful discipline and studies, and in the improving commerce of gentlemen and scholars, in a society where emulation without envy, ambition without jealousy, contention without animosity excited industry, and awakened genius; where a liberal pursuit of knowledge, and a generous freedom of thought was raised, encouraged and pushed forward by example, by commendation, and by authority. I breathed the same atmosphere that the Hookers, the Chillingworths, and the Lockes had breathed before-who always treated their adversaries with civility and respect-who made candour, moderation, and liberal judgment, as much the rule and law, as the subject of their discourse, who did not amuse their readers with empty declamations and fine spun theories of toleration, while they were themselves agitated with a furious inquisitorial spirit, seizing every one they could lay hold on, for presuming to dissent from them in matters the most indifferent, and dragging them through the fiery ordeal of abusive controversy. And do you reproach me with my education in this place, &c.
To the dignity, spirit, indignation and eloquence of this passage, we know of nothing which can fairly be opposed on the part of Warburton; and it is farther memorable as one proof, though not the last, that the venerable and illustrious body, whose insulted honour the writer so nobly defends, has never to despair of finding a son able and willing to inflict ample vengeance on the assailant.
The next instance of our biographer's candour must be supplied by his character of Archbishop Secker, a friend of his hero, who having, by the indiscretion of his admirers, been treated too much