Imágenes de páginas


spise him. Miss Branghton, the eldest daugh- | nevertheless, seems so essential a part of the female character, that I find myself more awkward and less at ease with a woman who wants it than I do with a man."

ter, is by no means ugly: but looks proud, illtempered, and conceited. She hates the city, though without knowing why; for it is easy to discover she has lived no where else. Miss Polly Branghton is rather pretty, very foolish, very giddy, and, I believe, very good-natured." This is not a fine style, but simple, perspicuous, and agreeable. We now come to Cecilia, written during Miss Burney's intimacy with Johnson; and we leave it to our readers to judge whether the following passage was not at least corrected by his hand:

This is a good style of its kind; and the fol We say lowing passage from Cecilia is also in good style, though not in a faultless one. with confidence-Either Sam Johnson or the Devil.

"It is rather an imaginary than an actual evil, and, though a deep wound to pride, no offence to morality. Thus have I laid open to you my whole heart, confessed my perplexities, acknowledged my vain-glory, and exposed with equal sincerity the sources of my doubts and the motives of my decision. But now, inThe diffideed, how to proceed I know not. culties which are yet to encounter I fear to enumerate, and the petition I have to urge I have scarce courage to mention. My family, mistaking ambition for honour, and rank for dignity, have long planned a splendid connection for me, to which, though my invariable repugnance has stopped any advances, their wishes and their views immovably adhere. But I am too certain they will now listen to no other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where I know not how to risk I despair of success. a prayer with those who may silence me by a command."

"Even the imperious Mr. Delvile was more supportable here than in London. Secure in his own castle, he looked round him with a pride of power and possession which softened while it swelled him. His superiority was undisputed; his will was without control. He was not, as in the great capital of the king. dom, surrounded by competitors. No rival disturbed his peace; no equality mortified his greatness. All he saw were either vassals of his power, or guests bending to his pleasure. He abated, therefore, considerably the stern gloom of his haughtiness, and soothed his proud mind by the courtesy of condescension."

We will stake our reputation for critical sagacity on this, that no such paragraph as that which we have last quoted, can be found in any of Madame D'Arblay's works except Cecilia. Compare with it the following sample of her later style:

"If beneficence be judged by the happiness which it diffuses, whose claim, by that proof, shall stand higher than that of Mrs. Montagu, from the munificence with which she cele brated her annual festival for those hapless artificers who perform the most abject offices Not to of any anthorized calling, in being the active guardians of our blazing hearths? vain-glory, then, but to kindness of heart, should be adjudged the publicity of that superb charity which made its jetty objects, for one bright morning, cease to consider themselves as degraded outcasts from all society."

We add one or two shorter samples. Sheri dan refused to permit his lovely wife to sing in public, and was warmly praised on this account by Johnson.

"The last of men," says Madame D'Arblay,

Take now a specimen of Madame D'Arblay's later style. This is the way in which she tells us that her father, on his journey back from the continent, caught the rheumatism:

"He was assaulted, during his precipitated return, by the rudest fierceness of wintry elemental strife; through which, with bad accommodations and innumerable accidents, he became a prey to the merciless pangs of the acutest spasmodic rheumatism, which barely suffered him to reach his home, ere, long and piteously, it confined him, a tortured prisoner, to his bed. Such was the check that almost instantly curbed, though it could not subdue,"was Doctor Johnson to have abetted squan the 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 of sickness, exchanging the light wines of France, Italy, and Germany, for the black and loathsome potions of the Apothecaries' Hall, writhed by darting stitches, and burning with fiery tever, that he felt the full force of that sublunary equipoise that seems evermore to hang suspended over the attainment of long sought and uncommon felicity, just as it is ripening to burst forth with enjoyment!"

The club, Johnson's club, did itself no honour by rejecting on political grounds two distin guished men, the one a tory, the other a whig. Madame D'Arblay tells the story thus: similar ebullition of political rancour with that which so difficultly had been conquered for Mr. Canning, foamed over the ballot-box to the exclusion of Mr. Rogers."

An offence punishable with imprisonment is, in this language, an offence "which produces incarceration." To be starved to death is, "to sink from inanition into nonentity." Sir Isaac Newton is, "the developer of the skies in their embodied movements;" and Mrs. Thrale, when a party of clever people sat

Here is a second passage from Evelina: "Mrs. Selwyn is very kind and attentive to me. She is extremely clever. Her understanding, indeed, may be called masculine; but unfortunately her manners deserve the same 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- dulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of In regard to myself, how- such renowned interlocutors, produced as nar ness of her own. ever, 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

VOL V-78

wild satirical harlequinade; but, if we con sider it as a picture of life and manners, we must pronounce it more absurd than any of the romances which it was designed to ridicule.

of Madame D'Arblay's later works, without finding flowers of rhetoric like these. Nothing in the language of those jargonists at whom Mr. Gosport laughed, nothing in the language of Sir Sedley Clarendel, approaches this new euphuism.

Indeed, most of the popular novels which preceded Evelina were such as no lady would have written; and many of them were such as no lady could without confusion vn that she had read. The very name of novel was held in horror among religious people. In decent families which did not profess extra

It is from no unfriendly feeling to Madame D'Arblay's memory that we have expressed ourselves so strongly on the subject of her style. On the contrary, we conceive that we have really rendered a service to her reputation. That 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, havmore 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 own 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, bycount of the intrinsic merit of Madame D'Ar- pure moral feeling. Several among the sucblay's early works that she is entitled 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 gratis purporting to be a picture of life and manners, tude; for in truth we owe to her, not only Eve that 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

3 D⚫



SOME reviewers are of opinion that a lady who dares to publish a book renounces by that act the franchises appertaining to her sex, and can claim no exemption from the utmost rigour of critical procedure. From that opinion we dissent. We admit, indeed, that in a country which boasts of many female writers, eminently qualified by their talents and acquirements to influence the public mind, it would be of most pernicious consequence that inaccurate history or unsound philosophy should be suffered to pass uncensured, merely because the offender chanced to be a lady. But we conceive that, on such occasions, a critic would do well to imitate that courteous knight who found himself compelled by duty to keep the lists against Bradamante. He, we are told, defended successfully the cause of which he was the champion; but, before the fight began, exchanged Balisarda for a less deadly sword, of which he carefully blunted the point and edge.†

Nor are the immunities of sex the only immunities which Miss Aikin may rightfully plead. Several of her works, and especially the very pleasing Memoirs of the Reign of James the First, have fully entitled her to the privileges enjoyed by good writers. One of those privileges we hold to be this, that such writers, when, either from the unlucky choice of a subject, or from the indolence too often produced by success, they happen to fail, shall not be subjected to the severe discipline which it is sometimes necessary to inflict upon dunces and impostors; but shall merely be reminded by a gentle touch, like that with which the Laputan flapper roused his dreaming lord, that it is high time to wake.


Our readers will probably infer from what we have said that Miss Aikin's book has disappointed us. The truth is, that she is not weli acquainted with her subject. No person who s not familiar with the political and literary history of England during the reigns of William III., of Anne, and of George I., can possibly write a good life of Addison. Now, we mean no reproach to Miss Aikin, and many will think that we pay her a compliment, when we say that her studies have taken a different direction. She is better acquainted with Shakspeare and Raleigh, than with Congreve and Prior; and is far more at home among the ruffs and peaked beards of Theobald's than among the Steenkirks and flowing periwigs which surrounded Queen Anne's tea-table at Hampton. She seems to have written about the Elizabethan age, because she had read much about it; she seems, on the other hand, to have read a little about the age of Addison, because she had determined to write about it. The consequence The Life of Joseph Addison. By LUCY AIKIN. 2 vols. Svo. London. 1843.


Furioso, xlv. 68.

is, that she has had to describe men and things without having either a correct or a vivid idea of them, and that she has often fallen into errors of a very serious kind. Some of these errors we may, perhaps, take occasion to point out. But we have not time to point out one half of those which we have observed; and it is but too likely that we may not have observed all those which exist. The reputation which Miss Aikin has justly earned stands so high, and the charm of Addison's letters is so great, that a second edition of this work may probably be required. If so, we hope that every paragraph will be revised, and that every date and statement of fact about which there can be the smallest doubt will be carefully verified.

To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like affection as any sentiment can be which is inspired by one who has been sleeping a hundred and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. We trust, however, that this feeling will not betray us into that abject idolatry which we have often had occasion to reprehend in others, and which seldom fails to make both the idolater and the idol ridiculous. A man of genius and virtue is but a man. All his powers cannot be equally developed; nor can we expect from him perfect self-knowledge. We need not, therefore, hesitate to admit that Addison has left us some compositions which do not rise above mediocrity, some heroic poems hardly equal to Parnell's, some criticism as superficial as Dr. Blair's, and a tragedy not very much better than Dr. Johnson's. It is praise enough to say of a writer, that, in a high department of literature, in which many eminent writers have distinguished themselves, he has had no equal; and this may with strict justice be said of Addison.

As a man he may not have deserved the adoration which he received from those, who, bewitched by his fascinating society, and indebted for all the comforts of life to his generous and delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly in his favourite temple at Button's. But, after fall inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long been convinced, that he deserved as much love and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the more carefully it is examined, the more will it ap pear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound in the noble parts-free from all taint of perfidy, of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. Men may easily be named in whom some par ticular good disposition has been more conspicuous than in Addison. But the just har mony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern and the humane virtues, the habitual ob servance of every law, not only of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distin

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. Lancasdison, who, though eclipsed by his more cele-ter, 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 wantQueen'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 opulent 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 the 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 mandate: 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: learnrains; 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 twice 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 dean of Litchfield. It is said that he would have been made a bishop after the Revolution, if he had not given offence to the government | by strenuously opposing the convocation of 1689, the liberal policy of William and Tillotson. In 1672, not long after Dr. Addison's return from Tangier, his son Joseph was born. Of Joseph's childhood we know little. He learned his 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 overrating Addison's classi tlest and most modest of men. cal attainments. In one department of learn

At Magdalene, Addison resided during ten years. He was, at first, one of those scholars who are called demies; but was subsequently elected a fellow. His college is still proud of his name; his portrait still hangs in the hall; and strangers are still told that his favourite walk was under the elms which fringe the meadow on the banks of the Cherwell. It is said, and is highly probable, that he was dis

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 to 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- tullus down to Claudian and Prudentius, was ried thither a classical taste, and a stock of singularly exact and profound. He 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 had the finest and most discriminating percep

All the best ancient works of art at Rome and Florence are Greek. Addison saw them, however, without recalling one single verse of Pindar, of Callimachus, or of the Attic dramatists; but they brought to his recollec tion innumerable passages in Horace, Juvenal, Statius, and Ovid."

tion of all their peculiarities of style and melody; nay, he copied their manner with admirable skill, and surpassed, we think, all their British imitators who had preceded him, Buchanan and Milton alone excepted. This is high praise; and beyond this we cannot with justice go. It is clear that Addison's serious 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 to 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 confdinary 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 Adverse. His knowledge of Greek, though doubt-dison, would suspect that the Greek coins were less such as was, in his time, thought respect- 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 from Eton and Rugby. A minute examination of his work, if we had time to make such an examination, would fully bear out these remarks. We will briefly advert to a few of the facts on which our judgment is grounded.

Great praise is due to the notes which Addison appended to his version of the second and third books of the Metamorphoses. Yet these notes, while they show him to have been, in his own domain, an accomplished scholar, show also how confined that domain was. They are rich in apposite references to Virgil, Statius, and Claudian; but they contain not a single illustration drawn from the Greek poets. Now if, in the whole compass of Latin literature, there be a passage which stands in need of illustration drawn from the Greek poets, it is the story of Pentheus in the third book of the Metamorphoses. Ovid was indebted for that story to Euripides and Theocritus, both of whom he has sometimes followed minutely. But neither to Euripides nor to Theocritus does Addison make the faintest allusion; and we, therefore, believe that we do not wrong him by supposing that he had little or no knowledge of their works.

If it were necessary to find any further proof that Addison's classical knowledge was confined within narrow limits, that proof would be furnished by his "Essay on the Evidences of Christianity." The Roman poets throw little or no light on the literary and historical ques tions which he is under the necessity of ex amining in that essay. He is, therefore, left completely in the dark; and it is melancholy to see how helplessly he gropes his way from blunder to blunder. He assigns as grounds for his religious belief, stories as absurd as that of the Cock-lane ghost, and forgeries as rank as Ireland's "Vortigern;" puts faith in the lie about the thundering legion; is convinced that Tiberius moved the senate to admit Jesus among the gods; and pronounces the letter of Agbarus, king of Edessa, to be a record of great authority. Nor were these errors the effects of superstition; for to superstition Addison was by no means prone. The truth is, that he was writing about what he did not understand.

Miss Aikin has discovered a letter from which it appears that, while Addison resided at Oxford, he was one of several writers whom the booksellers engaged to make an English version of Herodotus; and she infers that he must have been a good Greek scholar. We can allow very little weight to this argument, when we consider that his fellow-labourers were to have been Boyle and Blackmore. Boyle is remembered chiefly as the nominal author of the worst book on Greek history and' philology that ever was printed; and this book, bad as it is, Boyle was unable to produce without help. Of Blackmore's attainments in the ancient tongues, it may be sufficient to say that, in his prose, he has confounded an aphorism with an apophthegm, and that when, in his verse, he treats of classical subjects, his habit is to regale his readers with four false quantities to a page!

It is probable that the classical acquirements of Addison were of as much service to him as if they had been more extensive. The world generally gives its admiration, not to the man who does what nobody else even attempts to do, but to the man who does best what multitudes do well. Bentley was so immeasurably superior to all the other scholars of his time that very few among them could discover his

His travels in Italy, again, bound with classical quotations, happily introduced; but his quotations, with scarcely a single exception, are taken from Latin verse. He draws more illustrations from Ausonius and Manilius than from Cicero. Even his notions of the political and military affairs of the Romans seem to be derived from poets and poetasters. Spots made memorable by events which have changed the destinies of the world, and have been worthily recorded by great historians, bring to his mind only scraps of some ancient Pye or Hayley. In the gorge of the Appennines he naturally remembers the hardships which Hannibal's army endured, and proceeds to cite, not the authentic narrative of Polybius, not the picturesque narrative of Livy, but the languid hexameters of Silius Italicus. On the banks of the Rubicon he never thinks of Plutarch's iively description; or of the stern conciseness of the commentaries; or of those letters to Atticus which so forcibly express the alternations of hope and fear in a sensitive mind at a great crisis. His only authority for the events f the civil war is Lucan.

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