« VorigeDoorgaan »
Evening Adventures at a
Country Inn, :
299 Smith, Sydney, a Plagiarist, 190 Neighbor-in-Law, . 33
Character and Neuvaine of the Chande-
St. Giles and St. James, 109,
485 Two Graves,
Steeple Chase in France, . 553
574 Unspoken Language, 411
368 Spectre Witnesses, 598
Varieties, 245, 386,438, 499, 581
World not so Bad,
Walsh, Mr., Letters from, 45, 54,
101, 152, 200, 240, 248, 338,
313 Wood's Journey across Mex-
Whig Tremors on Return to
436 Warner's Invention,
41 Whig Government, Will it
Cadet of Colobrières, . 452 Stand?
31 Crusoe, Miss Robinson, 294, Words without Power, 555
383, 468, 601 | Wilderspin,
LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.
From the New Quarterly Review. tunate class, an usher at a school, a walk of life Men of Letters of the time of George the Third. h quy
wme the third he quitted in disgust. “Lobo's History of AbysBy LORD BROUGHAM. London : Colburn, 1846.
·sinia” is among his early literary works : it is a
0. translation. In 1734, after quitting this employ, We are again indebted to the kindness of Lord he marries a widow, a person of no personal recBrougham for the proof-sheets of the work before ommendations, but one of more than ordinary menus. It commences with the life of Dr. Johnson. tal powers, and one who succeeded in obtaining No greater life does the period of George the complete rule over his heart and affections for sixThird contain ; and, whether viewed as moralist, teen years, and after whose decease he ever kept poet, critic, biographer, or lexicographer, Johnson the day of her death as a fast, and offered up is the most distinguished man of his day. Many prayers for her soul. We have witnessed a singumay hesitate to assign him the second of these lar adherence to this habit of praying for the dead wreaths; but however slight in quantity, his poe- in many exalted minds. We trust they were pertry has in it a pith and vigor that well indicates to sonally benefited by it; but the souls of the dead what points he had the power to ascend, had not are fixed in the bodements of glory or glooin, from the stern realities of existence destroyed the ima- which no prayer can rescue. ginative, and compelled him to fix his attention on In the spring of 1737 Johnson came to London, the real and practical objects in which lay his and commenced a literary life. Amid a mass of bread. Few things affect the mind more than the other matters he published his “ London" and desolation of poverty that visited most of the illus- “ The Vanity of Human Wishes." Pope genertrious wits of that period : from it the Titan of the ously expressed his admiration of the “ London." age was not exempt; and this moral and benefi- This period was, however, one of fearful struggle cent Prometheus, while pouring consolation to with him for the means of livelihood, as the corothers, was heart-devoured by the vulture of care respondence with Cave sadly indicates. Johnson and anxiety preying on the immortal liver. John-“ impransus," was the signature to one letter, son was born on the 18th of September, 1709, at while he was translating“ Fra Paolo.” The Lichfield. His father was a bookseller. After a story of the “ Rasselas," written in the evenings somewhat desultory education, he entered, at nine of the week of his mother's death, to defray her teen years of age, Pembroke College, Oxford. funeral expenses and debts-that sacrifice to filial While there he was in great pecuniary difficulty, duty, which God remembered well, produced the and ultimately left it without a degree, though he sad and suffering son only one hundred pounds! continued to the close of life to honor his Alma The terrible affliction of his life preying on him Mater, and spent many of his happiest days in col- with the deeper affection of the heart. We have lege society. It must, however, be noted, that to direct the attention of our readers to the beautiJohnson never assumed the title of Doctor, which ful notice Lord Brougham has taken of this affection, was tardily bestowed upon him after the publica- and the comparison of an analogous instance at p. 16. tion of his dictionary, but wrote himself, on his uc card, “ Mr. Johnson' to the last.
" Great wits to madness sure are near allied, That morbid, or rather morbific, affection that all And small partitions do their bounds divide," times superinduced a torpor of faculties, began at is too true in the morbid tendency remarkable in an early period of even his college life; and this Collins, Johnson, and Newton. Among the contrigiant in intellect always labored under the fearful butions of Johnson to the Gentleman's Magazine,'' impression that he should become insane. It is were the debates in parliament. Johnson nerer more than probable, that the religious tendency of designed that these should be considered as actual Johoson's mind alone prevented him from suicide ; reports of the proceedings in the house, but many for religion in a strong mind produces that requisite persons have viewed them in that light. The acbalance of the feelings that is essential to the right quaintance with Savage during his first five years use of them, subduing the intellectual and imagin- in London, was in all respects unfortunate for ative within due limits, and educing the moral, re- Johnson. Few, however, can do other than symflective, and spiritual faculties. “Law's Serious pathize with the generous defence of Savage when Call to a Holy Life,” (a work the writer has found dead, or feel other than astonished at the daring of admirable influence, notwithstanding its quaint- attack on his unfeeling mother. Lady Macclesfield ness,) has the honor of convincing the judgment was seventy years of age when the life of Savage of Johnson of the necessity for religion. He came appeared, and the chief scandal of that life had to it to scoff, and remained to pray. It is not every been fifty years previous ; so that we fully concur book that brings a Johnson to his knees. The ex- with Lord Brougham, that the escape of Johnson tent of Johnson's classical acquirements as a Latin from action for libel is somewhat marvellous. The versifier was certainly not equal to Milton's ; but aged mother was therefore probably too conscious the suffrage of Pope on this question weighs with of the truth, if not of all, of much, that Johnson us but triflingly, since the brilliant bard knew but had written ; still so aged a woman is not the light indifferently either Greek or Latin in a critical / in which, from that life, we are prepared to regard sense. Johnson became at first one of that unfor- Savage's mother.
cxn. LIVING AGE. VOL. X. 1
The miscellaneous character of Johnson's labors, reputed to have been practised on him relative to as enumerated by Lord Brougham, is quite astound- the disposal of her property, Johnson would probaing during the twenty-five years of his London life, bly have approved much less : but surely he could but we doubt not is far below the truth. Yet how not have loved Mrs. Thrale, to which cause Lord inadequate the remuneration. “ The Vanity of Brougham, and we own with some appearance of Human Wishes”, produced him fifteen guineas ! justice, appears to have assigned his irate feelings The “ Irene” failed from want of dramatic in- on her marriage with Piozzi. But we entertain terest; and it is curious to see Johnson and Gold- little doubt that Madame Piozzi continued to sink smith both experiencing the vanity of dress in no lower and lower in the scale of society by her moderate degree. The author of Irene," Sam- marriage, and at length found herself almost enuel Johnson, in a scarlet and gold-laced waistcoat tirely surrounded by mimes and musicians. We and gold-laced hat, fancying himself induing the are far from insinuating that some of the highest fitting costume for a dramatic author. The minds of our era are not to be found among these ; “Rambler" appeared in 1750 and 1751. It will but the general class is unmixedly bad and frivolive in some of its papers while the language lous, and mere pretenders to intellectuality. The lasts. The “ Idler” saw the light in 1758 and life of Johnson grew more pleasant and conven1759. They were nearly all Johnson's own pa- tional during his latter years, and tours in various pers, unsupported, as Addison was in his “Specta- parts enabled him to obtain deeper insight into tor," by numerous friends. He announced the mankind, which the “ Rasselas” and many other Dictionary in 1747. His dispute with Lord Ches- of his works fail to exhibit. In 1783, when 74, terfield at its outset is not favorable to Johnson's he suffered from a paralytic stroke. Under amenity of disposition, a faculty in which he did this affliction he was still himself in a wonderful not abound; nor if the story of a small pecuniary degree. Conscious of the blow, from a confusion gift from the earl be true, which he neglected and indistinctness in his head for half a minute, he to acknowledge, in all respects to his seldom prayed for the preservation of his faculties, and impeached veracity. The stipulated price was then turned his devotions into Latin verse, to see £1575; but the expenses of amanuenses for a that he was equal to an effort of order. How long period of time, left him but a small gainer similar to the death of Wollaston, who, hearing by it.
his friends speak of him as dead, motioned for a In 1759 he lost his mother ; in 1752 his wife. pencil, and continued to mark strokes on the paper He then entered on that singular line of conven- fainter and fainter, until he expired! He retional existence with Miss Williams, Mrs. Des covered from the immediate effects of this first 'moulines, and Mr. Levett, an apothecary, all of blow, but did not get his speech until the second whom were materially aided by his benevolence, day. For a year he remained in a weakly state, and the second only survived Johnson. His lines but not, however, without seeing his friends, and on his humble companion, Levett, show both going out at times, but died on the 18th December, affection and imagination. Johnson had struggled 1784,“ having suffered," says Lord B., “ far less on unstained by any act of meanness, subserviency, from apprehension of the event than his former or dishonesty to fifty-four years of age. At this habit of regarding it with an extreme horror might period Lord Bute incurred the rancor of the have led us to expect." The following observa* North Briton” to no small extent, by conferring tions of Lord Brougham on his understanding are on the first of English lexicographers a pension as sound as comprehensive :from the crown of £300 per annum. How fear “The prevailing character of his understanding ful an influence does party exercise! Men like was the capacity of taking a clear view of any Wilkes and Churchill grudging the veteran John- subject presented to it, a determination to ascertain son this £300 per annum, which, given earlier, the object of search, and a power of swisily perhad enriched England with many a noble and ma- ceiving it. His sound sense made him pursue tured production, and enabled Johnson to write steadily what he saw was worth the pursuit, something nearer to the perfect model of an En- piercing at once the husk to reach the kernel, reglish dictionary. Wilkes did not fail to turn upon jecting the dross which men's errors and defects him the full force of his own definitions of a pen- of perspicacity or infirmity of judgment had spread sioner—" a slave of state paid to obey a master, over the ore, and rejecting it without ever being and a pension,“ pay, given to a state hireling for tempted by its superficial and worthless hues to treason to his country.”. Both are as erroneous regard it with any tolerance. . Had he been as and prejudiced as possible, and certainly conduce knowing as he was acute, had his vision been as in no respect to the credit of the writer of a dic- extensive as it was clear within narrow limits, he tionary, who ought to be unimpassioned. It is to would only have gained by this resolute determius no sufficient answer to say, that the twenty-two nation not to be duped, and would not have been years of his life that followed after the grant of the led into one kind of error by his fear of falling into pension did not produce the same relative portion another. But it must be allowed, that even in his of high literary performance with the preceding most severe judgments he was far oftener right twenty-five. Johnson had worked too hard to than wrong ; and that on all ordinary questions, work long; his malady, too, gained on him. The both of opinion and of conduct, there were few “ Lives of the Poets, however, his master-piece, men whom it was more hopeless to attempt dewas produced, and over this period his two pam-ceiving, either by inaccurate observation, by unrephlets, " Taxation no Tyranny,” and “On the flecting appeals to the authority, whether of great Falkland Isles." In 1765 he commenced his inti- names or of great numbers, by cherished preposmacy with Mrs. Thrale. The circumstances of sessions little examined, or by all the various this intimacy, and the marriage with Piozzi of this forms which the cant of custom or of sentiment is lady, are not dwelt upon by Lord Brougham with wont to assume. Out of this natural bent of his
the same degree of bitterness that many persons understanding arose as naturally the constant habit I have evinced. Of the character of Mrs. Piozzi and of referring all matters, whether for argument or of her subsequent passion, we presume we must for opinion, to the decision of plain common sense. call it, for Conway, the actor, and of the deception His reasonings were short ; his topics were homely;
his way to the conclusion lay in a straight line, the weight of a style like Dr. Johnson's is somethe shortest between any two points; and though what cppressive, and that little meaning is at times he would not deviate from it so as to lose himself, concealed under pompous expression : still, even he was well disposed to look on either side, that this style without matter is better than that fearful be might gather food for his contemptuous and negation of both that so many modern writers exsomewhat sarcastic disposition, laughing at those hibit. The facility of Johnson's composition may whom he saw bewildered, rather than pitying be gathered from the fact, that he composed furtytheir errors. To the desire of short and easy eight printed pages of the life of Savage in one proof, and the love of accuracy when it could be night. On these matters of facility of composition, obtained, and to which he sometimes sacrificed persons must necessarily rely on the testimony of truth by striving after exact reasoning on subjects personal friends of one another. The following that admit not of it, we may ascribe this great remarks on Johnson, who was a stiff and uncomfondness for common arithmetic, one of the very promising Tory and a Jacobite, may not, however, few sciences with which he was acquainted. be far from truth. With the vices of such an understanding and such “ Yet he so greatly loved established things, so a disposition he was sufficiently imbued, as well deeply venerated whatever had the sanction of as with its excellencies. He was very dogmatical time, that he both shut his eyes to many defects - very confident, even presumptuous; not very in his view consecrated by age, and unreasonably tolerant. He was also apt to deal in truisms, and transferred to mere duration the respect which often inclined, when he saw through them himself, reason itself freely allows to whatever has the to break down an argument, sometimes over- testimony of experience in its favor. whelming it with the might of loud assertion, " The established church, the established gove sometimes cutting it short by the edge of a sneer. ernment, the established order of things in general, Seeing very clearly within somewhat narrow limits, found in him an unflinching supporter, because a he easily believed there was nothing beyond them sincere and warm admirer; and giving his confito see ; and fond of reducing each argument to its dence entirely, he either was content to suspend his simplest terms and shortest statement, he fre- reason in a great majority of instances, or, at least, quently applied a kind of reasoning wholly unsuited to use it only for the purpose of attaining the conto the subject matter, pronounced decisions of clusion in favor of existing institutions, and' which the dispute was not susceptible, and fell excluding all farther argument touching their into errors which more knowing inquirers and foundations." calmer disputants, without his perspicacity or his His prejudices were certainly strong, both with powers of combining, would easily and surely respect to the French and Americans. His horror have avoided.'
of infidels we like, and wish only that the feeling The remarks on the style, the well-known were more general. Johnson did not possess any Roman, of our great lexicographer, we should knowledge of the exact sciences; hence in his scarcely have been led to anticipate from a writer criticism on Newton, whom he undertook to reso close to the model of Addison and Robertson as view, he only indicated his own ignorance. His Lord Brougham.
Dictionary, however faulty, and it is most remark“ The peculiarities of his style may be traced ably so in etymons, and faulty where we should to the same source--the characteristic features of least have anticipated it, even in Latin and his understanding and disposition. What he per- Greek derivations, is-notwithstanding the Angloceived clearly, he clearly expressed. His diction Saxon deficiencies, which are still greater-a was distinct ; it was never involved; it kept ideas work of wonderful merit. in their separate and proper places; it did not We have stated our high opinion of the “ Lives abound in synonymes and repetition; it was of the Poets." The omission of Goldsmith is manly, and it was measured, despising meretri- certainly singular; and we quire agree with the cious and trivial ornament, avoiding all slovenli-noble lord before is in assigning very high merit ness, rejecting mere surplusage, generally through- to that of Pope, of Dryden, and of Cowley. He out very concise, often needlessly full, and almost is also, all things considered, wonderfully impartial always elaborate; the art of the workman being in his judgment on Milton. With regard to permade manifest in the plainly artificial workman-sonal character and habits, we think there is minship. A love of hard and learned words prevailed gled matter of praise and censure. Dogmatic he throughout; and a fondness for balanced periods most assuredly was, and often dogmatically wrong ; was its special characteristic. But there was often as often insufferably right, repeatedly judicious, great felicity in the expression, occasionally a firm, and strenuous in opinions. Benevolence he pleasing cadence in the rhythm, generally an epi- possessed in a remarkable degree ; and though his granimatic turn in the language as well as in the morals exhibited much to regret, from that feveridea. Even where the workmanship'seemed most ish knowledge he ever appeared 10 possess, to to bias the material, and the word craft to be ex-investigate the feelings at heart of even the most ercised needlessly, and the diction to run to waste, depraved, and which often led him into that there was never any feebleness to complain of, and society, still was he sound at heart, and regretted always something of skill and effect to admire. that, knowing his duty well, his knowledge and The charm of nature was ever wanting, but the practice were not equal. Lord Brougham to us presence of great art was undeniable. Nothing does not appear, in the main, to have liked Johnwas of the careless aspect which the highest of son, who was certainly a hearty hater ; but the artists ever give their master-pieces—the produce concluding paragraph of his life is as generous as of elaborate but concealed pains; yet the strong it is just. hand of an able workman was always marked; “ He was friendly, and actively so, in the greatand it was observed, too, that he disdained to hide est degree; he was charitable beyond what even from as the far less labor which he had much prudential considerations might justify; as firmly more easily bestowed."
as he believed the Gospel, so constantly did he We perfectly agree with Lord Brougham that practise its divine maxim, that it is more blessed
to give than to receive.' His sense of justice was accuracy of his views on the various subjects to strict and constant; his love of truth was steady which his mind was bent, there can be but one and unbroken in all matters, as well little as great; opinion. His understanding was enlarged, and it nor did any man ever more peremptorily deny the was versatile ; his sagacity, when he applied himexistence of white lies : for he justly thought that self deliberately to inquiry or to discussion, was when a habit of being careless of the truth in tri- unerring; his information was extensive and corfling things once has been formed, it will become rect; his fancy was rich and various ; his taste, easily, nay, certainly applicable to things of mo- formed upon the purest models of antiquity, was ment. His habitual piety, his sense of his own simple and chaste. His integrity was unimpeachimperfections, his generally blameless conduct inable, and the warmth of his affections knew no the various relations of life, has been already suffi- chill, even when the languor of age and the weight ciently described, and has been illustrated in the of ill-healıh was upon him ; his nature was kindly preceding narrative. He was a good man as he in the greatest degree, and his benevolence was was a great man; and he had so firm a regard for extensive, leading him to indulge in acts of private virtue, that he wisely set much greater store by charity, pushed beyond his means, and concealed · his worth than by his fame.” (p. 85.)
with the most scrupulous delicacy towards its obThe next life before us is Adam Smith. After jects. Stern votaries of religion have complained a brief summary on economical science, commenc- of his deficiencies in piety, chiefly because of his ing with Antonio Bandini, of Sienna, who in the letter upon the death of his old and intimate year 1737 recommended to the Grand Duke of friend, Mr. Hume; but no one can read the Tuscany a free trade in corn, and reviewing De frequent and warm allusions, with which his works Gournay, De Quesnay, and others, we have Adam abound, to the moral government of the world, to Smith introduced: he was born in 1723. Smith, reliance upon the All-wise Disposer, to the hopes having received the rudiments of education in of a future state, and not be convinced that his Scotland, entered Baliol College, Oxford. He mind was deeply sensible to devout impressions. remained at that university seven years. Oxford Nay, even as to his estimate of Mr. Hume's chardid not, however, rise higher in his estimation by acter, we are clearly entitled to conclude that he residence, and probably, as Lord Brougham regarded his friend as an exception to the rule remarks, inhibiting him from reading Hume's that religion has a powerful and salutary influence “ Treatise on Human Nature" did not much mend on morals, because he has most forcibly stated his his dislike. In 1748 he removed to Edinburgh, opinion, that whenever the principles of religion and then became acquainted with most of the cel- which are natural to it are not perverted or corebrated men of the day. Glasgow offered him the rupted, the world justly places a double confiProfessorship of Logic; but he soon exchanged it dence in the rectitude of the religious man's for that of Moral Philosophy. He taught moral behavior.'” (p. 120 ) philosophy for twelve years; but of these discov- Few persons were more opposite than Johnson eries we have no remains. He was a contributor and Smith. Johnson loved argument-engrossed to the Edinburgh Review in 1755. His “ Theory conversation. Smith sat and watched. He was of Moral Sentiments' made its appearance in 1759, one of the most absent men conceivable; few mure and to this was appended a “ Dissertation on the abstracted from common objects. Origin of Languages." He resigned his profes- The “ Theory of Moral Sentiments" contains sorship in 1763, to attend the Duke of Buccleuch much beautiful writing ; and Lord Brougham has upon his travels. On this tour he made the ac- selected some of the choicest morceaux. We own quaintance of various learned continental scholars; the notice which we subjoin rather amused us, and among others, one whose pursuits were anal- when we read it. ogous to his own, Quesnay. He returned to "How well has he painted the man of systein, England; and in 1766 his celebrated work, “ The and how many features of this portrait have we. Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth recognized in Mr. Bentham, and others of our day! of Nations," made its appearance. Hume lived to · He is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and see it, and to approve it. He became shortly after is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of a Commissioner of Customs—an appointment cer- his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot tainly by no means suited to him, and ill chosen. suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. In 1788 he was elected Rector of the University He goes on to establish it completely, in all its of Glasgow. That university conferred on him, parts, without any regard either to the great interin 1762, the degree of LL.D. The duties of his ests or to the strong prejudices which may oppose office in the Customs were extremely laborious; it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the and no doubt the influence of these doll details different meinbers of a great society with as much affected the powers of a mind that might otherwise ease as the hand arranges the different pieces on a lave produced a work to rival his “ Opus Mag- chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces num." He died in 1790, and the account given upon the chess-board have no other principle of in Hutton of his last interview with his friends is motion beside that which the hand impresses upon highly interesting. Great men mislike to see their them ; but that in the great chess-board of human immature productions outlive them, and Adarn society, every single piece has a principle of action Smith made his friends promise that his should of its own, altogether different from that which the not survive their author ; and consequently all his legislatáre might choose to impress upon it. If other writing, comprising eighteen folio volumes these principles coincide and act in the same direcof MS., were destroyed, excepting his “Specula tion, The game of human society will go on easily tive History of Astronomy.”
and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy Lord Brougham's general summary of his char- and successful. If they are opposite or different, acter and acquirements is extremely fair.
the game will go on miserably, and the society “ The true picture of the great author's intel- must be at all times in the highest degree of dislectual character is presented by his writings; and order.' “For a man to insist upon establishing, of the depth, the comprehensiveness, the general | and upon establishing all at once and in spite of all