Imágenes de páginas

We say



spise him. Miss Branghton, the eldest daugh- | nevertheless, seems so essential a part of the ter, is by no means ugly: but looks proud, ill. female character, that I find myself more awk. tempered, and conceited. She hates the city, ward and less at ease with a woman who wants though without knowing why; for it is easy to it than I do with a man.' discover she has lived no where else. Miss This is a good style of its kind; and the folPolly Branghton is rather pretty, very foolish, lowing passage from Cecilia is also in good very giddy, and, I believe, very good-natured." style, though not in a faultless one.

This is not a fine style, but simple, perspicu- with confidence-Either Sam Johnsou or the ous, and agreeable. We now come to Cecilia, Devil. written during Miss Burncy's intimacy with “ Even the imperious Mr. Delvile was more Johnson; and we leave it to our readers to supportable here than in London. Sccure in judge whether the following passage was not his own castle, he looked round him with a at least corrected by his hand:

pride of power and possession which softened " It is rather an imaginary than an actual while it swelled him. His superiority was unevil, and, though a deep wound to pride, no disputed; his will was without control. He offence to morality. Thus have I laid open to was not, as in the weat capital of the kinge you my whole heart, confessed my perplexi. dom, surrounded by competitors. No rival ties, acknowledged my vain-glory, and exposed disturbed his peace; no equality mortified his with equal sincerity the sources of my doubts greatness. All he saw were either vassals of and the motives of my decision. But now, in- his power, or guests bending to his pleasure. deed, how to proceed I know not. The diffi- He abated, therefore, considerably the stern culties which are yet to encounter I fear to gloom of his haughtiness, and soothed his enumerate, and the petition I have to urge I proud mind by the courtesy of condescension." have scarce courage to mention. My family, We will stake our reputation for critical inistaking ambition for honour, and rank for sagacity on this, that no such paragraph as dignity, have long planned a splendid connec- that which we have last quoted, can be found tion for me, to which, though my invariable in any of Madame D'Arblay's works except repugnante has stopped any advances, their Cecilia. Compare with it the following sample wishes and their views immovably adhere. But of her later style: I am too certain they will now listen to no “ If beneficence be judged by the happiness other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where which it diífuses, whose claim, by that proof, I despair of success. I know not how to risk shall stand higher than that of Mrs. Montagu, a prayer with those who may silence me by a from the munificence with which she celecommand.”

brated her annual festival for those hapless Take now a specimen of Madame D'Arblay's artificers who perform the most abject offices later style. This is the way in which she tells of any anthorized calling, in being the active us that her father, on his journey back from the guardians of our blazing hearths ?

Not to continent, caught the rheumatism:

vain-glory, then, but to kindness of heart, “He was assaulted, during his precipitated should be adjudged the publicity of that superb return, by the rudest fierceness of wintry ele- charity which made its jetty objects, for one mental strise; through which, with bad accom- bright morning, cease to consider themselves modations and innumerable accidents, he be as degraded outcasts from all society." came a prey to the merciless pangs of the We add one or two shorter samples. Sheriacutest spasmodic rheumatism, which barely dan refused to permit his lovely wife to sing in suffered him to reach his home, ere, long and public, and was warmly praised on this acpiteously, it confined him, a tortured prisoner, count by Johnson. io his bed. Such was the check that almost “The last of men,” says Madame D'Arblay, instantly curbed, though it could not subdue, “was Doctor Johnson to have abetted squanthe rising pleasure of his hopes of entering dering the delicacy of integrity by nullifying upon a new species of existence-that of an the labours of talents." approved man of letters; for it was on the bed The club, Johnson's club, did itself no honour of sickness, exchanging the light wines of by rejecting on political grounds two distinFrance, Italy, and Germany, for the black and guished men, the one a tory, the other a whig. loathsome potions of the Apothecaries' Hall, Madame D'Arblay tells the story thus: “A writhed by darting stitches, and burning with similar ebullition of political rancour with that fiery tever, that he felt the full force of that which so difficultly had been conquered for Mr. sublunary equipoise that seems evermore to Canning, foamed over the ballot-box to the exhang suspended over the attainment of long clusion of Mr. Rogers.” sought and uncommon felicity, just as it is An offence punishable with imprisonment ripening to burst forth with enjoyment!" is, in this language, an offence " which proHere is a second passage from Evelina: duces incarceration." To be starved to death

“Mrs. Selwyn is very kind and attentive to is, “to sink from inanition into nonentity.” me. She is extremely clever. Her understand. Sir Isaac Newton is, “the developer of the ing, indeed, may be called masculine; but skies in their embodied movements;" and Mrs. unfortunately her manners deserve the same Thrale, when a party of clever people sat epithet. For, in studying to acquire the know- silent, is said to have been “provoked by the ledge of the other sex, she has lost all the soft- Aulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of ness of her own. In regard to myself, how- such renowned interlocutors, produced as narever, as I have neither courage nor inclination cotic a torpor as could have been caused by a to argue with her, I have never been personally dearth the most barren of all human faculties." hurt at her want of gentleness—a virtue which,' In truth, it is impossible to look in any page of Madame D'Arblay's later works, without wild satirical harlequinade; but, if we con finding flowers of rhetoric like these. Nothing sider it as a picture of life and manners, we in the language of those jargonists at whom must pronounce it more absurd than any of the Mr. Gosport laughed, nothing in the language romances which it was designed to ridicule. of Sir Sedley Clarendel, approaches this new Indeed, most of the popular novels which enphuism.

preceded Evelina were such as no lady would It is from no unfriendly feeling to Madame have written; and many of them were such D'Arblay's memory that we have expressed as no lady could without confusion own that ourselves so strongly on the subject of her she had read. The very name of novel was style. On the contrary, we conceive that we held in horror among religious people. In have really rendered a service to her reputa- decent families which did not profess extra. tion. Thai her later works were complete fail-ordinary sanctity, there was a strong feeling ures is a fact too notorious to be dissembled; against all such works. Sir Anthony Absolute, and some persons, we believe, have conse- two or three years before Evelina appeared, quently taken up a notion that she was from spoke the sense of the great body of sober the first an overrated writer, and that she had fathers and husbands, when he pronounced the not the powers which were necessary to main circulating library an evergreen tree of diatain her on the eminence on which good-luck bolical knowledge. This feeling, on the part and fashion had placed her. We believe, on of the grave and reflecting, increased the evil the contrary, that her early popularity was no from which it had sprung. The novelist, have more than the just reward of distinguished ing little character to lose, and having few merit, and would never have undergone an readers among serious people, took without eclipse, if she had only been content to go on scruple liberties which in our generation seem writing in her mother-tongue. If she failed almost incredible. when she quitted her cwn province, and at- Miss Burney did for the English novel what tempted to occupy one in which she had nei. Jeremy Collier did for the English drama; and ther part nor lot, this reproach is common to she did it in a better way. She first showed her with a crowd of distinguished men. New- that a tale might be written in which both the ton failed when he turned from the courses of fashionable and the vulgar life of London the stars, and the ebb and flow of the ocean, to might be exhibited with great force, and with apocalyptic seals and vials. Bentley failed broad comic humour, and which yet should when he turned from Homer and Aristophanes not contain a single line inconsistent with rigid to edit Paradise Lost. Inigo failed when he morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She attempted to rival the Gothic churches of the took away the reproach which lay on a most fourteenth century.

Wilkie failed when he useful and delightful species of composition. took into his head that the Blind Fiddler and She vindicated the right of her sex to an equal the Rent-Day were unworthy of his powers, share in a fair and noble province of letters. and challenged competition with Lawrence as Several accomplished women have followed a portrait painter. Such failures should be in her track. At present, the novels which we noted for the instruction of posterity; but they owe to English ladies form no small part of detract little from the permanent reputation of the literary glory of our country. No class of those who have really done great things. works is more honourably distinguished by

Yet one word more. It is not only on ac- fine observation, by grace, by delicate wit, by count of the intrinsic merit of Madame D'Ar-pure moral feeling. Several among the sucblay's early works that she is en:itied to hon- cessors of Madame D'Arblay have equalled ourable mention. Her appearance is an her; two, we think, have surpassed her. But important epoch in our literary history. Eve- the fact that she has been surpassed gives her lina was the first tale written by a woman, and an additional claim to our respect and grati. purporting to be a picture of life and manners, tude; for in truth we owe to her, not only Evethat lived or deserved to live. The Female lina, Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfield Quixote is no exception. That work has un Park and the Absentee. doubtedly great merit when considered as a


VOL. V.-75

3 D*



Some reviewers are of opinion that a lady is, that she has had to describe men and things who dares to publish a book renounces by that without having either a correct or a vivid idea act the franchises appertaining to her sex, and of them, and that she has often fallen into ercan claim no exemption from the utmost rigour rors of a very serious kind. Some of these of critical procedure. From that opinion we errors we may, perhaps, take occasion to point dissent. We admit, indeed, that in a country out. But we have not time to point out one which boasts of many female writers, eminently half of those which we have observed; and it qualified by their talents and acquirements to is but too likely that we may not have obinfluence the public mind, it would be of most served all those which exist. The reputation pernicious consequence that inaccurate history which Miss Aikin has justly earned siands so or unsound philosophy should be suffered to high, and the charm of Addison's letters is so pass uncensured, merely because the offender great, that a second edition of this work may chanced to be a lady. But we conceive that, probably be required. If so, we hope that on such occasions, a critic would do well to every paragraph will be revised, and that every imitate that courteous knight who found him- date and statement of fact about which there self compelled by duty to keep the lists against can be the smallest doubt will be carefully veriBradamante. He, we are told, defended suc- fied. cessfully the cause of which he was the cham- To Addison himself we are bound by a senpion; but, before the fight began, exchanged timent as much like affection as any sentiment Balisarda for a less deadly sword, of which he can be which is inspired by one who has been carefully blunted the point and edge.f

sleeping a hundred and twenty years in WestNor are the immunities of sex the only im-minster Abbey. We trust, however, that this munities which Miss Aikin may rightfully feeling will not betray us into that abject idolaplead. Several of her works, and especially try which we have often had occasion to reprethe very pleasing Memoirs of the Reign of hend in others, and which seldom fails to make James the First, have fully entitled her to the both the idolater and the idol ridiculous. A privileges enjoyed by good writers. One of man of genius and virtue is but a man. All those privileges we hold to be this, that such his powers cannot be equally developed; nor writers, when, either from the unlucky choice can we expect from him perseci self-knowledge. of a subject, or from the indolence too often We need not, therefore, hesitate to admit that produced by success, they happen to fail, shall Addison has left us some compositions which not be subjected to the severe discipline which do not rise above mediocrity, some heroic it is sometimes necessary to inflict upon dunces poems hardly equal to Parnell's, some criticism and impostors; but shall merely be reminded as superficial as Dr. Blair's, and a tragedy not by a gentle touch, like that with which the La- very much better than Dr. Johnson's. It is putan flapper roused his dreaming lord, that it praise enough to say of a writer, that, in a high is high time to wake.

department of literature, in which many emiOur readers will probably infer from what nent writers have distinguished themselves, he we have said that Miss Aikin's book has dis has had no equal; and this may with strict appointed us. The truth is, that she is not weli justice be said of Addison. acquainted with her subject. No person who As a man he may not have deserved the ado:s not familiar with the political and literary ration which he received from those, who, be. history of England during the reigns of William witched by his fascinating society, and indebted III., of Anne, and of George I., can possibly for all the comforts of life to his generous and write a good life of Addison. Now, we mean delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly in no reproach to Miss Aikin, and many will his favourite temple at Button's. But, after full think that we pay her a compliment, when we inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long say that her studies have taken a different di- been convinced, that he deserved as much love rection. She is better acquainted with Shaks- and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our peare and Raleigh, than with Congreve and infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may Prior; and is far more at home among the ruffs undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the and peaked beards of Theobald's than among more carefully it is examined, the more will it apthe Steenkirks and flowing periwigs which sur-pear, touse the phrase of the oldanatomists, sound rounded Queen Anne's tea-table at Hampton. in the noble parts—free from all taint of perfidy, She seems to have written about the Elizabethan of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. age, because she had read much about it; she Men may easily be named in whom some parseems, on the other hand, to have read a little ticular good disposition has been more conabout the age of Addison, because she had de-spicuous than in Addison. But the just hartermined to write about it. The consequence mony of qualities, the exact temper between the

stern and the humane virtues, the habitual ob* The Life of Joseph Addison. By LUCY AIKIN. 2 vols. Evo. London. 1843.

servance of every law, not only of moral rec+ Orlando Furioso, xlv. 69

titude, but of moral grace and dignity, distin

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guish him from all men who have been tried by College, Oxford; but he had not been many equally full information.

months there, when some of his Latin verses His father was the Reverend Lancelot Ad- fell by accident into the hands of Dr. Lancas. dison, who, though eclipsed by his more cele ier, dean of Magdalene College. The young brated son, made some figure in the world, and scholar's diction and versification were already occupies with credit two folio pages in the such as veteran professors might envy. Dr

Biographia Britannica.” Lancelot was sent Lancaster was desirous to serve a boy of such up, as a poor scholar, from Westmoreland to promise ; nor was an opportunity long waniQueen's College, Oxford, in the time of the ing. The Revolution had just taken place; Commonwealth; made some progress in learn and nowhere had it been hailed with more deing; became, like most of his fellow-students, light than at Magdalene College. That great a violent royalist; lampooned the heads of the and opuient corporation had been treated by university, and was forced to ask pardon on his James, and by his chancellor, with an insolence bended knees. When he had left college, he and injustice which, even in such a prince and earned an humble subsistence by reading the in such a minister, may justly excite amazeliturgy of the fallen church to the families of ment; and which had done more than even the those sturdy squires whose manor-houses were prosecution of the bishops to alienate the scattered over the Wild of Sussex. After the Church of England from ihe throne. A prerestoration, his royalty was rewarded with the sident, duly elected, had been violently expelled post of chaplain to the garrison of Dunkirk. from his dwelling. A papist had been set over When Dunkirk was sold to France, he lost his the society by a royal mandale: the Fellows, employment. But Tangier had been ceded by who, in conformity with their oaths, refused to Portugal to England as part of the marriage submit to this usurper, had been driven forth portion of the Infanta Catharine; and to Tan- from their quiet cloisters and gardens, to die gier Lancelot Addison was sent. A more mise- of want or to live on charity. But the day of rable situation can hardly be conceived. It was redress and retribution speedily came. The difficult to say whether the unfortunate settlers intruders were ejected; the venerable house were more tormented by the heats or by the was again inhabited by its old inmates: learn. rains; by the soldiers within the wall or the ing flourished under the rule of the wise and Moors without it. One advantage the chaplain virtuous Hough; and with learning was united had. He enjoyed an excellent opportunity of a mild and liberal spirit, too often wanting in studying the history and manners of the Jews and the princely colleges of Oxford. In conseMohammedans; and of this opportunity he ap- quence of the troubles through which the sopears to have made excellent use. On his return ciety had passed, there had been no election of to England, after some years of banishment, he new members during the year 1688. In 1689, published an interesting volume on the polity therefore, there was iwice the ordinary number and religion of Barbary; and another on the of vacancies; and thus Dr. Lancaster found it Hebrew customs, and the state of rabbinical easy to procure for his young friend admittance learning. He rose to eminence in his profes-to the advantages of a foundation then generally sion, and became one of the royal chaplains, a esteemed the wealthiest in Europe. doctor of divinity, archdeacon of Salisbury and At Magdalene, Addison resided during ten dean of Litchfield. It is said that he would years. He was, at first, one of those scholars have been made a bishop after the Revolution, who are called demics ; but was subsequently if he had not given offence to the government elected a fellow. His college is still proud of by strenuously opposing the convocation of his name; his portrait suill hangs in the hall; 1689, the liberal policy of William and Tillotson. and strangers are still told that his favourite

In 1672, not long after Dr. Addison's return walk was under the elms which fringe the from Tangier, his son Joseph was born. of meadow on the banks of the Cherwell. It is Joseph's childhood we know little. He learned said, and is highly probable, that he was dishis rudiments at schools in his father's neigh tinguished among his fellow-students by the bourhood, and was then sent to the Charter delicacy of his feelings, by the shyness of his House. The anecdotes which are popularly manners, and by the assiduity with which he related about his boyish tricks do not harmo- often prolonged his studies far into the night. nize very well with what we know of his riper It is certain that his reputation for ability and years. There remains a tradition that he was learning stood high. Many years later the the ringleader in a barring-out; and another ancient doctors of Magdalene continued to tradition that he ran away from school, and hid talk in their common room of boyish com himself in a wood, where he fed on berries and positions, and expressed their sorrow that no slept in a hollow tree, till after a long search copy of exercises so remarkable had been he was discovered and brought home. If these preserved. stories be true, it would be curious to know It is proper, however, to remark, that Miss by what moral discipline so mutinous and en- Aikin has committed the error, very pardonterprising a lad was transformed into the gen-able in a lady, of overraling Addison's classitlest and most modest of men.

cal attainments. In one department of learn. We have abundant proof that, whatever Jo- ing, indeed, his proficiency was such as it is seph's pranks may have been, he pursued his hardly possible io overrate. His knowledge studies vigorously and successfully. At fifteen of the Latin poets, from Lucretius and Cahe was not only fit for the university, but car. lullus down to Claudian and Prudentius, was ried thither a classical taste, and a stock of singularly exact and profound. H. understood learning which would have done honour to a them thoroughly, entered into their spirit, and master of arts. He was entered at Queen's I had the finest and most discriminating perce


tion of all their peculiarities of style and All the best ancient works of art at Rome melody; nay, he copied their manner with and Florence are Greek. Addison saw them, admirable skill, and surpassed, we think, all however, without recalling one single verse their British imitators who had preceded him, of Pindar, of Callimachus, or of the Attic Buchanan and Milton alone excepted. This is dramatists; but they brought to his recollechigh praise; and beyond this we cannot with tion innumerable passages in Horace, Juvenal, justice go. It is clear that Addison's serious Statius, and Ovid. attention, during his residence at the univer- The same may be said of the “Treatise on sity, was almost entirely concentrated on Latin Medals.” In that pleasing work we find about poetry; and that, if he did not wholly neglect three hundred passages extracted with great other provinces of ancient literature, he vouch- judgment from the Roman poets; but we do safed io them only a cursory glance. He does not recollect a single passage taken from any not appear to have attained more than an or- Roman orator or historian; and we are confidinary acquaintance with the political and dent that not a line is quoted from any Greek moral writers of Rome; nor was his own writer. No person who had derived all his Latin prose by any means equal to his Latin information on the subject of medals from Ad

His knowledge of Greek, though doubi- dison, would suspect that the Greek coins were less such as was, in his time, thought respeci- in historical interest equal, and in beauty of able at Oxford, was evidently less than that execution far superior to those of Rome. which many lads now carry away every year If it were necessary to find any further proof from Eion and Rugby. A minute examination that Addison's classical knowledge was conof his work, if we had time to make such an fined within narrow limits, that proof would be examination, would fully bear out these re-furnished by his “Essay on the Evidences of marks. We will briefly advert to a few of the Christianity." The Roman poets throw little facts on which our judgment is grounded. or no light on the literary and historical ques.

Great praise is due to the notes which 'Ad- tions which he is under the necessity of exdison appended to his version of the second amining in that essay. He is, therefore, left and third books of the Metamorphoses. Yet completely in the dark; and it is melancholy these notes, while they show him to have been, to see how helplessly he gropes his way from in his own domain, an accomplished scholar, blunder to blunder. He assigns as grounds for show also how confined that domain was. his religious belief, stories as absurd as that They are rich in apposite references to Virgil, of the Cock-lane ghost, and forgeries as rank Statius, and Claudian; but they contain not a as Ireland's “ Vortigern;" puts faith in the lie single illustration drawn from the Greek poets. about the thundering legion; is convinced that Now is, in the whole compass of Latin litera- Tiberius moved the senate to admit Jesus ture, there be a passage which stands in need among the gods; and pronounces the letter of of illustration drawn from the Greek poets, it Agbarus, king of Edessa, to be a record of is the story of Pentheus in the third book of great authority. Nor were these errors the the Metamorphoses. Ovid was indebted for effects of superstition ; for to superstition Adthat story to Euripides and Theocritus, both dison was by no means prone. The truth is, of whom he has sometimes followed minutely. that he was writing about what he did not unBut neither to Euripides nor to Theocritus derstand. does Addison make the faintest allusion; and Miss Aikin has discovered a letter from we, therefore, believe that we do not wrong which it appears that, while Addison resided him by supposing that he had little or no know at Oxford, he was one of several writers whom ledge of their works.

the booksellers engaged to make an English His travels in Italy, again, bound with clas- version of Herodotus; and she infers that he sical quotations, happily introduced; but his must have been a good Greek scholar. We quotations, with scarcely a single exception, can allow very little weight to this argument, are taken from Latin verse. He draws more when we consider that his fellow-labourers illustrations from Ausonius and Manilius than were to have been Boyle and Blackmore. from Cicero. Even his notions of the political Boyle is remembered chiefly as the nominal and military affairs of the Romans seem to be author of the worst book on Greek history and derived from poets and poetasters. Spots made philology that ever was printed; and this book, memorable by events which have changed the bad as it is, Boyle was unable to produce withdestinies of the world, and have been worthily out help. Of Blackmore's attainments in the recorded by great historians, bring to his mind ancient tongues, it may be sufficient to say only scraps of some ancient Pye or Hayley. that, in his prose, he has confounded an aphoIn the gorge of the Appennines he naturally rism with an apophthegm, and that when, in remembers the hardships which Hannibal's his verse, he treats of classical subjects, his army endured, and proceeds to cite, not the habit is to regale his readers with four false authentic narrative of Polybius, not the pic- quantities to a page! turesque narrative of Livy, but the languid It is probable that the classical acquirements hexameters of Silius Italicus. On the banks of Addison were of as much service to him as of the Rubicon he never thinks of Plutarch's if they had been more extensive. The world iively description; or of the stern conciseness generally gives its admiration, not to the man of the commentaries; or of those letters 10 who does what nobody else even attempts to Atticus which so forcibly express the alterna- do, but to the man who does best what multitions of hope and fear in a sensitive mind at a tudes do well. Bentley was so immeasurably great crisis. His only authority for the events superior to all the other scholars of his time [ the civil war is Lucan.

that very few among them could discover his

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