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with that moderation, candour, and patience, which befit their station.
. With these dispositions, surely the abominable frequency, expence, inefficacy, and divers other ill consequences of law. suits, might, in great part, be obviated; by instituting some sort of AMICABLE, yet folemn JUDICATORY, for the summary decision of disputed matters of insurance : at least, such as might not be of a very abstruse nature, to consist of such a number of persons as might be deemed requisite (with proper affistants, or clerks) to be elected, from amongst gentlemen of sagacity and respectability, and who have had a large experience of these affairs; annually, or for a longer term; or three new ones each year; by all such merchants, insurers, and insurance brokers, who might be inclined to refer their differences thereto, and to support the charges thereof, even with proper salaries, by subscripe tion.
“The members, who might compose this court, should sit at stated times, weekly, monthly, or otherwise, and act on oath, as do the judges, and juries, in the law courts : Parties, their agents, and witnesses, should also, previously to their being heard, make proper affidavits before a judge, or other magistrate (which should be filed) to give true information :-The mode of proceeding might be duly regulated, and open :- The decisions rendered absolutely, or only occasionally final, according to the greater or less importance of the case, or question, by the parties agreeing, in bonds of submission, that they should be made a rule of the court of King's-Bench, as is now done with respect to awards, in common arbitrations.
• Moft of our litigations turn upon disputed falls: and there, as well as persons, papers, evidences, &c. would be much more speedily and effe&tually discovered, and examined, than can be done by means even of all the courts of law and equity together (whose tardy and intolerably expensive operations absolutely frustrate this necessary end); and, therefore, ill-designing and fraudulent persons would be kept, by the method proposed, in greater awe; and few, except such, would be indisposed to contribute to the support, and to refer themselves to the authority of such an amicable judicature.'
We entirely agree with Mr. W. in taking it for granted, that < the necesity, advantage, and general convenience of such an inftitution, are too obvious to be denied ;'-and we think, that the experienced advantages derived to merchant-adventurers from the chambers of asurance in foreign maritime countries, are sufficient to countenance his propo.al. Some objections may, how ever, be made to it. Of these our Author is well aware ; and he endeavours to obviate them: in which, we think, he is per fectly successful.
exique by our inves, our dernier cader, we
Art. IV.The Pofthumous Works of the late Learned and Rev. Isaac Watts,
D. D. Compiled from Papers in Poriellion of his immediate Successors. Published by a Gentleman of the University of Cam.
bridge. 2 vols. 8vo. 8 s. sewed. Becket, &c. 1779. 6 THE officiousness of friends hath frequently done more
T injury to the reputation of a man than the malice of his enemies.” -We are not fond of your grave saws and oracular apothegms, notwithstanding our age and station might claim a sort of prescription for their use. But in general we wave our privilege; and if, for once, we introduce ourselves to the public with a wise countenance-a solemn eye- and a grey beard, we hope we are entitled to their indulgence.
We are sorry, that any thing which bears the name of Dr. Watts, should have made us stumble on a trite proverb. But in its propriety we overlooked its commonness. The convenientia cuique we with never to lose sight of: and if we cannot supply them by our invention, we must refer to our memory; and if that should fail us, our dernier resort is our common-place-book. - And now, at last, gentle Reader, we have unfolded to thee, after thirty years hard labour in this literary vineyard, the whole art and mystery of reviewing.
Dr. Watts hath so long been the idol of a particular class amongst the Disfenters, that his fame would not be affected in their account, if this collection contained more trilling things than we find in it; or our criticism were more severe on it than we intend it shall be. The Doctor was so excellent a character, that we should be disposed to spare him for his heart's fake, even if we held his head in less estimation than we really do.
It is generally agreed, by men of taste and science, that Dr. Watts hath no claim to superiority either as a poet, a philosopher, or a divine. He was an ingenious writer. He had a lively and fertile imagination ; and some of his poems have been deservedly admired : but he wanted a correct judgment to restrain that hey-dey of the spirit, which too frequently led him astray into the wilds of fanaticism, to play at bo peep with the faints. Here it was he most exposed the weakness of his uns, derstanding. Like David, he uncovered his nakednels, when he danced before the Ark. Far be it from us to accuse this good inan of insincerity. The natural enthusiasm of his temper improved on a fanatical education. Hence, without design, he ran into certain devotional absurdities : but it needed the genius of a Milton to adopt the cant of Calvinism, and yet maintain the dignity of poetry. “ A great gulph lies between!" And “ a man must be upborn on an eagle's wings (as John Wesley says of an emigration of another kind) to fly over the immense charm that divides these two extremes.”
A smoothness of style, and a redundancy of metaphor, fre, quently serve to cover a deficiency of thought in your des votional poets. Imagination is amused by a serious kind of play, where much is faid, but little understood. Smitten with the wand of mystery, the fancy is faicinated by an inexpressible delufion. Thus charmed, it distantly descries objects which vary their forms, and shift their places every moment. This is a spiritual harlequinade: and by the very obscurity of its figures and scenery, the languor of the mind is prevented :- for if it could understand and comprehend all that is said or sung, the play of fancy would be at an end : and judgment in persons who are to be captivated by such an amusement, having little to do, and very few objects to converse with, would grow lift. less, and fall asleep for want of employment. And now, Reader, we have unfolded to thee the secrets of another mystery. The former, we learnt in our garret in Grub-street:
-and the latter, at - - but we shall not fill up our Review with the names of a thousand churches, and chapels, and meeting-houses: and all the tabernacles in the kingdom.
The collection now before us, is introduced with an account of the life and character of Dr. Waits. Of the biographical talents of his Cambridge editor, we have but little to say, though, if we were disposed to be fevere, we might say a good deal about his affectation in stopping so frequently to moralize and drop sage reflections fomething after the manner of Dr. Johnson--fed haud pafsibus æquis!
In this account, we are informed, that Dr. Watts was born at Southampton, July 17, 1674. The genius (says his Biographer) which afterwards shone with such distinguished Juítre through all the refined countries of Europe, had with him a very early dawn. He discovered in his earliest infancy a quickness of apprehension, which was generally esteemed an auspicious presage of his future abilities. Montaigne is faid to have understood Latin almost before he could speak; and Lipsius, to have written a book, as it is ludicrously described by an ingenious countryman, which must have been meditated in utero. _ What a pretty story this is, by way of introduction to the life of Dr. Watts ! Sterne hath something of this fort in his life of Tristram Shandy. He hath presented us with a long list of rare and premature geniuses-of scholars of three years old-philosophers of four, and divines of five--all fit to commence authors for the edification of the world. But to complete the ridicule of this strange subject, he hints at the most extraordinary occurrence in the whole circle of poflible genius,-viz. -of a child who composed a work the very day he was born :
which, as Uncle Toby wisely observes, “ his friends had better have wiped up, and said no more about it,”
But to proceed with this Biographer. It is certain (says he), without the affectation of a miracle, that Dr. Watts commenced a pupil to Mr. Pinhorne, at the age of four, for the purpose of learning the Latin language, which, at that period, he acquired with an astonishing facility. He remained with this gentleman till the year 1690, when he was removed to London, for academical education, under the care of the Reverend Mr, Thomas Rowe.
( When he had entirely completed the course of academical education, he returned to his father's house *, where he devoted himself with a most indefatigable perseverance to study in general, and to the meditation of the Holy Scriptures in particular.
During the last year of his residence with Mr. Rowe, he had begun to imbibe a very strong propensity to the profession of the church, and being powerfully impressed with the awful importance of the subject, he, from that time, applied himself to the acquisition of it in all its extent, with unremitted labour,
He spent two years in this learned retirement with his father; from whence, in 1696, he was invited by Sir John Hara topp, Bart. to reside in his house at Stoke-Newington, as tutor to his son. He continued in this situation four years : and so well did he blend the learned tutor with the good and amiable man, that he won the respect, love, and esteem, of the whole family.
• He commenced his clerical duty on his birth-day, in the year 1698, with a sermon, which did him great credit as a preacher. . During the course of this same year, he was chosen aslistant to Dr. Isaac Chauncy, who, at that time, had the spiritual care of the church of Bury-street, St. Mary Axe. His exertion, however, in this sacred duty, proved too much for a frame not constituted for any intenseness of corporeal labour; and he was soon after attacked with a severe disorder, which produced a suspension of his religious exercises for near five months. As soon, however, as he was restored to his health, he proceeded on the same indefatigable principle, and would not suffer himself to be intimidated, by the apprehension of any personal consequences, from the due exertion of so important a trust.
o In January 1701, he succeeded Dr. Chauncy in his church; to which situation he was invited by the urgent and unanimous solicitation of the parishioners to
* If we mistake not, Dr. Watts's father was the clerk of Southampton Meeting. Rev.
+ Our Biographer speaks like a Cambridge-man.-The parishioners [as such) of St. Mary Axe had nothing to do with the choice of a
fequided on vates, Papeeted of a 8
hce to all mereft calda was the
• It was a remarkable and discouraging circumstance, that on the very day on which he fignified his acceptance of this preferment, the great patron of the Disfenters, King William III. died. So insecurely, at that time, was 'religious toleration cstablished, that an event of this kind was of the utmost con. sequence to all the sects in the kingdom. Their exiitence depended on the merest casualties.
Dr. Watts, perhaps, was the only Protestant Dissenter in the kingdom, unaffected by these general apprehensions. He had assumed the exercise of a great trust, and was determined not to be deficient in the execution of it. To use his own expression, “ He had set his hands to the plough, and would not go back;” and under the support of this resolution, he despised the expected dangers, and was ordained to the pastoral office on the eighteenth of March following.-Exempt, almost in every sense of the term, from mental infirmity, he was the perpetual victim of corporal weakness, and found his best schemes, and. most favourite exercises, perpetually interrupted by it. .To the great grief of the church, to which he had been so recently elected, he was now attacked by a painful and threatening illness, which again produced a suspension of his religious labours. He recovered by very flow degrees from this disorder; and his church, that no improper exertion might impede so desired an end, thought proper to chuse him an affiftant*, to relieve him in his duty. As his health returned, however, be renewed his diligence in his ministry, and with more effect, perhaps, than ever accompanied the industry of any other man. He became the delight of his followers, and the object of general esteem with mankind.
In the month of September (1712) he was visited by a violent fever, which shook his constitution exceedingly, and left a weakness of nerves + behind it, which he never afterwards entirely recovered. -
• There was a consequence attending this sickness, which, in the opinion of Dr. Watts, was a sufficient compensation for all the miseries he endured under it: it was the means of intro.' ducing him to the family of a very excellent person, Sir Thomas Abney, Knight and Alderman of London ; who, on a principle of the most generous friendship, received him in a very languishing state of health to his house, and cherished him
pastor to a church that was formed by Owen and Chauncy, on the molt rigid model of independency. The nomination belongs to the Members as they are.called, i. e. The Communicants.
* This affiitant was the Rev. Mr. Price (uncle of the present Dr. Price), with whom he lived in uninterrupted harmony for a great number of years. Rev. + He had the hypochondria to a most dreadful degree.