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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 bint 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-estenuation) 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 bits, 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 intuitiou into his character to conjecture
'Pray, my lord, what is it to the purpose where I have been brought np?- 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 burtben 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 ou 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'sıçandour 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
as a brother near the throne,' is farther warned by the impartiality of criticism to preserve a more becoming and respectful distance.
• Dr. Secker was a wise man, an edifying preacher, and an exemplary bishop; but the course of his life and studies had not qualified him to decide on such a work as that of the Divine Legation. Even in the narrow walk of literature, which he most affected, that of criticizing the Hebrew text, it does not appear that he ever attained any great distinction.'
Now it does certainly appear to us, that a critical knowledge of the Hebrew language and antiquities, which Archbishop Secker did, and which Bishop Warburton did not possess, was the best possi-, ble qualification for judging of the Divine Legation. The absence of those attainments, was, perhaps, the author's greatest impediment in writing it; and as to what appeared to the Bishop of Worcester,—the suffrage of a divine who interpreted the word Immanuel,* Deliverer, will scarcely be permitted to weigh against that of Bishop Lowth, who has commended and adopted many of the Archbishop's emendations of the sacred text, as highly probable and judicious.
After all, Warburton was a man, in speaking of whom, Warburtono laudatore opus esset; a character which nothing but genius resembling his own could adequately describe or comprehend. One such contemporary genius there was, who without the blind partiality of his own school, and under the perpetual necessity of detecting his extravagances, never failed to treat him with respect, as well as justice. But Johnson wanted theological and even classical erudition for such an undertaking.
With no want of these qualifications in the present writer, and with a most intimate knowledge of his subject, the attempt is certainly not adequate to the general expectation of scholars. Feebly elegant and coldly panegyrical, it never catches a ray of light or heat from that blaze of genius which it is employed in contemplating. With an emulous and often successful anxiety to copy the graces of Addison, there is in this, as indeed in all the compositions of Bishop Hurd, a primness and a quaintness, which if not entirely his own, have been copied from models far inferior to that great master of unaffected ease and elegance. There is also no small degree of petulance in his manner of denominating his hero's antagonists; some of whom are graciously allowed to be • sizeable men,' while others are styled “insect blasphemers:' yet he made allowance for their prejudices, and when no malevolence intervened, treated their persons with respect.'
The ambiguity of this expression is singularly unfortunate, since
Sermons on Prophecy, Vol. 1. p. 129.
the obvious meaning of the words is assuredly not that of the author, who never thought of imputing malevolence to his friend. For the extravagances of Warburton's criticism, the apology is equally unhappy :- As to what concerns the emendation of the text, the abler the critic, the more liable he is to some extravagance of conjecture, as we see in the case of Bentley, it being dulness and not judgment, that best secures him from this sort of imputation.' Have then the ablest critics uniformly been the most adventurous, and is the attribute of judgment necessarily to be excluded from the definition of an able critic? On the contrary, what we would ask is emendatory criticism itself, but an exercise of the séverest judgment? It is very true that dulness is an effectual preventive of all extravagance in conjecture, but so is indigence an antidote against all luxury and excess. A man of genius and learning is always tempted to some degree of profusion in the use of his intellectual stores; and it is the restraining power of judgment in the use of these intoxicating qualities that constitutes an able critic, as it is that of temperance in the exercise of faculties capable of abuse, which constitutes the virtuous man.
Although the notes on Shakespeare, of which Johnson indulged himself in the hope that their author had long ceased to number thein among his happiest effusions, form no part of the present collection, yet as the zeal of his editor, notwithstanding the omission, has decreed that they shall not sleep in peace, we will first state his opinion on the subject, and afterwards, with due deference, our own.
• Such is the felicity of his genius in restoring numberless passages to their integrity, and in explaining others which the author's sublime conceptions or his licentious expression kept out of sight, that this fine edition of Shakespeare must ever be highly valued by men of sense and taste; a spirit congenial to that of the author breathing throughout, and easily atoning for the little mistakes and inadvertencies discoverable in it.'
Is it possible that the man who wrote this should ever have read the • Canons of Criticism;' and, on the other hand, is it to be supposed that he who took so lively an interest in the literary fortunes of his friend should not have read them? To us, on the contrary, this memorable edition of the great bard exhibits a phænomenon unobserved before in the operations of human intellect--a mind, ardent and comprehensive, acute and penetrating, warmly devoted to the subject and furnished with all the stores of literature ancient or modern, to illustrate and adorn it, yet by some perversity of understanding, or some depravation of taste, perpetually mistaking what was obvions, and perplexing what was clear; discovering erudition of which the author was incapable, and fabricating connec