« AnteriorContinuar »
Byron condescended to sanction, namely, that genius rence on that judicial seat which has derived inis a source of peculiar unhappiness to its possessors: creased celebrity from his demeanour-a youth of -Men of truly great powers of mind have gene-enterprise-a manhood of brilliant success-and rally been cheerful, social, and indulgent; while a "honour, love, obedience, troops of friends," entendency to sentimental whining or fierce intole-circling his later years-mark him out for venerarance may be ranked among the surest symptoms of tion to every son of that country whose name he little souls and inferior intellects. In the whole list has exalted throughout Europe. We need not speak of our English poets we can only remember Shen- here of those graces of mind and of character that stone and Savage-two certainly of the lowest-who have thrown fascination over his society, and made were querulous and discontented. Cowley, indeed, his friendship a privilege.' * used to call himself melancholy; but he was not in earnest, and at any rate was full of conceits and affectations, and has nothing to make us proud of him. Shakspeare, the greatest of them all, was evidently of a free and joyous temperament; and so was Chaucer, their common master. The same disposition appears to have predominated in Fletcher, Jonson, and their great contemporaries. The genius of Milton partook something of the austerity of the party to which he belonged, and of the controversies in which he was involved; but even when fallen on evil days and evil tongues, his spirit seems to have retained its serenity as well as its dignity; and in his private life, as well as in his poetry, the majesty of a high character is tempered with great sweetness, genial indulgences, and practical wisdom. In the succeeding age our poets were but too gay; and though we forbear to speak of living authors, we know enough of them to say with confidence, that to be miserable or to be hated is not now, any more than heretofore, the common lot of those who excel.' Innumerable observations of this kind, remarkable for ease and grace, and for original reflection, may be found scattered through Lord Jeffrey's critiques. His political remarks and views of public events are equally discriminating, but of course will be judged of according to the opinions of the reader. None will be found at variance with national honour or morality, which are paramount to all mere party questions. As a literary critic, we may advert to the singular taste and judgment which Lord Jeffrey exercised in making selections from the works he reviewed, and interweaving them, as it were, with the text of his criticism. Whatever was picturesque, solemn, pathetic, or sublime, caught his eye, and was thus introduced to a new and vastly-extended circle of readers, besides furnishing matter for various collections of extracts and innumerable school exercises.
Francis Jeffrey is a native of Edinburgh, the son of a respectable writer or attorney. After completing his education at Oxford, and passing through the necessary legal studies, he was admitted a member of the Scottish bar in the year 1794. His eloquence and intrepidity as an advocate were not less conspicuous than his literary talents, and in 1829 he was, by the unanimous suffrages of his legal brethren, elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. On the formation of Earl Grey's ministry in 1830, Mr Jeffrey was nominated to the first office under the crown in Scotland (Lord Advocate), and sat for some time in parliament. In 1834 he was elevated to the dignity of the bench, the duties of which he has discharged with such undeviating attention, uprightness, and ability, that no Scottish judge was ever perhaps more popular, more trusted, or more beloved. has been his enviable lot, if not to attain all the prizes of ambition for which men strive, at least to unite in himself those qualities which, in many, would have secured them all. A place in the front rank of literature in the most literary age-the highest honour of his profession spontaneously conferred by the members of a bar strong in talent and learning eloquence among the first of our orators, and wisdom among the wisest, and universal reve
The Critical and Historical Essays contributed to the Edinburgh Review, by T. B. MACAULAY, three volumes, 1843, have enjoyed great popularity, and materially aided the Review, both as to immediate success and permanent value. The reading and erudition of the author are immense. In questions of classical learning and criticism-in English poetry, philosophy, and history-in all the minutiae of biography and literary anecdote-in the principles and details of government-in the revolutions of parties and opinions-in the progress of science and philosophy-in all these he seems equally versant and equally felicitous as a critic. Perhaps he is most striking and original in his historical articles, which present complete pictures of the times of which he treats, adorned with portraits of the principal actors, and copious illustrations of contemporary events and characters in other countries. His reviews of Hallam's Constitutional History, and the memoirs of Lord Clive, Warren Hastings, Sir Robert Walpole, Sir William Temple, Sir Walter Raleigh, &c. contain a series of brilliant and copious historical retrospects unequalled in our literature. His eloquent papers on Lord Bacon, Sir Thomas Browne, Horace Walpole's Letters, Boswell's Johnson, Addison's Memoirs, and other philosophical and literary subjects, are also of first-rate excellence. Whatever topic he takes up he fairly exhausts-nothing is left to the imagination, and the most ample curiosity is gratified. Mr Macaulay is a party politician-a strong admirer of the old Whigs, and well-disposed towards the Roundheads and Covenanters. At times he appears to identify himself too closely with those politicians of a former age, and to write as with a strong personal antipathy against their opponents. His judgments are occasionally harsh and uncharitable, even when founded on undoubted facts. In arranging his materials for effect, he is a consummate master. Some of his scenes and parallels are managed with the highest artistical art, and his language, like his conceptions, is picturesque. In style Mr Macaulay is stately and rhetorical-perhaps too florid and gorgeous, at least in his earlier essays-but it is sustained with wonderful power and energy. In this particular, as well as in other mental characteristics, the reviewer bears some resemblance to Gibbon. His knowledge is as universal, his imagination as rich and creative, and his power of condensation as remarkable. Both have made sacrifices in taste, candour, and generosity, for purposes of immediate effect; but the living author is unquestionably far superior to his great prototype in the soundness of his philosophy and the purity of his aspirations and principles.
WILLIAM HOWITT, &c.
WILLIAM HOWITT, a popular miscellaneous writer, has written some delightful works illustrative of the calendar of nature.' His Book of the Seasons, 1832, presents us with the picturesque and poetic features of the months, and all the objects and appearances which each presents in the garden, the field, and the
*North British Review for 1844.
waters. An enthusiastic lover of his subject, Mr Howitt is remarkable for the fulness and variety of his pictorial sketches, the richness and purity of his fancy, and the occasional force and eloquence of his style. If I could but arouse in other minds,' he says, that ardent and ever-growing love of the beautiful works of God in the creation, which I feel in myself—if I could but make it in others what it has been to me
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
if I could open to any the mental eye which can
ment in the management of our colonies.
JOHN CLAUDIUS LOUDON, &c.
JOHN CLAUDIUS LOUDON (1783-1843) stands at the head of all the writers of his day upon subjects connected with horticulture, and of the whole class of industrious compilers. He was a native of Cambuslang, in Lanarkshire, and pursuing in youth the bent of his natural faculties, entered life as a landscape-gardener, to which profession he subsequently added the duties of a farmer. Finally, he settled in London as a writer on his favourite subjects. His works were numerous and useful, and they form in their entire mass a wonderful monument of human industry. His chief productions are an Encyclopædia of Gardening, 1822; The Greenhouse Companion; an Encyclopædia of Agriculture, 1825; an Encyclopedia of Plants, 1829; an Encyclopædia of Cottage, Villa, and Farm Architecture, 1832; and Arboretum Britannicum, 8 volumes, 1838. The four encyclopædias are large volumes, each exhausting its particular subject, and containing numerous pictorial illustrations I feel, however, an animating assurance that nature in wood. The 'Arboretum' is even a more remarkwill exert a perpetually-increasing influence, notable production than any of these, consisting of four only as a most fertile source of pure and substantial pleasures-pleasures which, unlike many others, produce, instead of satiety, desire-but also as a great moral agent: and what effects I anticipate from this growing taste may be readily inferred, when I avow it as one of the most fearless articles of my creed, that it is scarcely possible for a man in whom its power is once firmly established to become utterly debased in sentiment or abandoned in principle. His soul may be said to be brought into habitual union with the Author of Nature
Will be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Haunted for ever by the Eternal Mind.
Mr Howitt belongs to the Society of Friends, though he has ceased to wear their peculiar costume. He is a native of Derbyshire, and was for several years in business at Nottingham. A work, the nature of which is indicated by its name, the History of Priestcraft (1834), so recommended him to the Dissenters and reformers of that town, that he was made one of their aldermen. Disliking the bustle of public life, Mr Howitt retired from Nottingham, and resided for three years at Esher, in Surrey. There he composed his Rural Life in England, a popular and delightful work. In 1838 appeared his Colonisation and Christianity, which led to the formation of the British India Society, and to improve
volumes of close letter-press, and four of pictorial
Essays on Natural History, by CHARLES WATERTON, Esq. of Walton Hall, is an excellent contribution made to natural history by a disinterested lover of the country; and Gleanings in Natural History, by EDWARD JESSE, Esq. surveyor of her majesty's parks and palaces, two volumes, 1838, is a collection of well-authenticated facts, related with the view of
portraying the character of animals, and endeavouring to excite more kindly feelings towards them. Some Scottish works of this kind are also deserving of commendation-as RHIND's Studies in Natural History; M'DIARMID'S Sketches from Nature; MILLER'S Scenes and Legends, or Traditions of Cromarty; DUNCAN'S Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons, &c. A love of nature and observation of her various works are displayed in these local sketches, which all help to augment the general stock of our knowledge as well as our enjoyment.
The Thames and its Tributaries, two volumes, 1840, by CHARLES MACKAY, is a pleasing description of the scenes on the banks of the Thames, which are hallowed by the recollections of history, romance, and poetry. The same author has published (1841) Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions.
ROBERT MUDIE (1777-1842), an indefatigable writer, self-educated, was a native of Forfarshire, and for some time connected with the London press. He wrote and compiled altogether about ninety volumes, including Babylon the Great, a Picture of Men and Things in London; Modern Athens, a sketch of Edinburgh society; The British Naturalist; The Feathered Tribes of Great Britain; A Popular Guide to the Observation of Nature; two series of four volumes each, entitled The Heavens, the Earth, the Sea, and the Air; and Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter; and next, Man: Physical, Moral, Social, and Intellectual; The World Described, &c. He furnished the letter-press to Gilbert's Modern Atlas, the 'Natural History' to the British Cyclopædia, and numerous other contributions to periodical works. Mudie was a nervous and able writer, deficient in taste in works of light literature and satire, but an acute and philosophical observer of nature, and peculiarly happy in his geographical dissertations and works on natural history. His imagination could lighten up the driest details; but it was often too excursive and unbridled. His works were also hastily produced, to provide for the day that was passing over him;' but considering these disadvantages, his intellectual energy and acquirements were wonderful.
A record of English customs is preserved in Brand's Popular Antiquities, published, with additions, by SIR HENRY ELLIS, in two volumes quarto, in 1808; and in 1842 in two cheap portable volumes. The work relates to the customs at country wakes, sheep-shearings, and other rural practices, and is an admirable delineation of olden life and manners. The Every-day Book, Table Book, and Year Book, by WILLIAM HONE, published in 1833, in four large volumes, with above five hundred woodcut illustrations, form another calendar of popular English amusements, sports, pastimes, ceremonies, manners, customs, and events incident to every day in the year. Mr Southey has said of these works-'I may take the opportunity of recommending the Everyday Book and Table Book to those who are interested in the preservation of our national and local customs by these very curious publications their compiler has rendered good service in an important department of literature.'
A singular but eminent writer on jurisprudence and morals, MR JEREMY BENTHAM, was an author throughout the whole of this period, down to the year 1834. He lived in intercourse with the leading men of several generations and of various countries, and was unceasingly active in the propagation of his opinions. Those opinions were as much canvassed as the doctrines of the political economists. Mr
Bentham was a native of London, son of a wealthy solicitor, and was born on the 6th of February 1749. He was entered of Queen's college, Oxford, when only twelve years and a quarter old, and was even then known by the name of the philosopher.' He took his Master's degree in 1766, and afterwards studying the law in Lincoln's Inn, was called to the bar in 1772. He had a strong dislike to the legal profession, and never pleaded in public. His first literary performance was an examination of a passage in Blackstone's Commentaries, and was entitled A Fragment on Government, 1776. The work was prompted, as he afterwards stated, by a passion for improvement in those shapes in which the lot of mankind is meliorated by it.' His zeal was increased by a pamphlet which had been issued by Priestley. In the phrase "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," I then saw delineated,' says Bentham, for the first time, a plain as well as a true standard for whatever is right or wrong, useful, useless, or mischievous in human conduct, whether in the field of morals or of politics.' The phrase is a good one, whether invented by Priestley or Bentham; but it still leaves the means by which happiness is to be extended as undecided as ever, to be determined by the judgment and opinions of men. To insure it, Bentham considered it necessary to reconstruct the laws and government-to have annual parliaments and universal suffrage, secret voting, and a return to the ancient practice of paying wages to parliamentary representatives. In all his political writings this doctrine of utility, so understood, is the leading and pervading principle. In 1778 he published a pamphlet on The Hard Labour Bill, recommending an improvement in the mode of criminal punishment; Letters on Usury, 1787; Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Politics, 1789; Discourses on Civil and Penal Legislation, 1802; A Theory of Punishments and Rewards, 1811; A Treatise on Judicial Evidence, 1813; Paper Relative to Codification and Public Instruction, 1817; The Book of Fallacies, 1824, &c. By the death of his father in 1792, Bentham succeeded to property in London, and to farms in Essex, yielding from £500 to £600 a-year. He lived frugally, but with elegance, in one of his London houses-kept young men as secretaries-corresponded and wrote daily-and by a life of temperance and industry, with great self-complacency, and the society of a few devoted friends, the eccentric philosopher attained to the age of eighty-four. His various productions have been collected and edited by Dr John Bowring and Mr John Hill Burton, advocate, and published in 11 volumes. In his latter works Bentham adopted a peculiar uncouth style or nomenclature, which deters ordinary readers, and indeed has rendered his works almost a dead letter. Fortunately, however, part of them were arranged and translated into French by M. Dumont. Another disciple, Mr Mill, made known his principles at home; Sir Samuel Romilly criticised them in the Edinburgh Review, and Sir James Mackintosh in the ethical dissertation which he wrote for the Encyclopædia Britannica. In the science of legislation Bentham evinced a profound capacity and extensive knowledge: the error imputed to his speculations is that of not sufficiently weighing the various circumstances which require his rules to be modified in different countries and times, in order to render them either more useful, more easily introduced, more generally respected, or more certainly exe cuted." As an ethical philosopher, he carried his doctrine of utility to an extent which would be practically dangerous, if it were possible to make the bulk of mankind act upon a speculative theory.
only on subjects connected with his favourite studies.
A series of works, showing remarkable powers of thought, united to great earnestness in the cause of evangelical religion, has proceeded from the pen The Elements of Political Economy, by MR JAMES of ISAAC TAYLOR, who is, we believe, a gentleman MILL, the historian of India, 1821, were designed of fortune living in retirement. The first and most by the author as a school-book of the science. DR popular is the Natural History of Enthusiasm, 1829, WHATELY (afterwards Archbishop of Dublin) pubin which the author endeavours to show that the lished two introductory lectures, which, as professor subject of his essay is a new development of the of political economy, he had delivered to the unipowers of Christianity, and only bad when allied to versity of Oxford in 1831. This eminent person malign passions. It has been followed by Saturday is also author of a highly valued work, Elements of Evening, the Physical Theory of Another Life, &c. Logic, which has attained an extensive utility among The reasoning powers of this author are consider-young students; Thoughts on Secondary Punishments, able, but the ordinary reader feels that he too often and other works, all displaying marks of a powermisexpends them on subjects which do not admit of ful intellect. A good elementary work, Conversadefinite conclusions. tions on Political Economy, by MRS MARCET, was published in 1827. The REV. DR CHALMERS has on various occasions supported the views of Malthus, particularly in his work On Political Economy in Connexion with the Moral Prospects of Society, 1832. He maintains that no human skill or labour could make the produce of the soil increase at the rate at which population would increase, and therefore he urges the expediency of a restraint upon marriage, successfully inculcated upon the people as the very essence of morality and religion by every pastor and instructor in the kingdom. Few clergymen would venture on such a task! Another zealous commentator is MR J. RAMSAY M'CULLOCH, author of Elements of Political Economy, and of various contributions to the Edinburgh Review, which have spread more widely a knowledge of the subject. Mr McCulloch has also edited an edition of Adam Smith, and compiled several useful and able statistical works.
There have been in this period several writers on the subject of political economy, a science which 'treats of the formation, the distribution, and the consumption of wealth; which teaches us the causes which promote or prevent its increase, and their influence on the happiness or misery of society.' Adam Smith laid the foundations of this science; and as our commerce and population went on increasing, thereby augmenting the power of the democratical part of our constitution, and the number of those who take an interest in the affairs of government, political economy became a more important and popular study. One of its greatest names is that of the REV. T. R. MALTHUS, an English clergyman, and Fellow of Jesus college, Cambridge. Mr Malthus was born of a good family in 1766, at his father's estate in Surrey. In 1798 appeared his celebrated work, an Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society. The principle here laid down is, that population has a tendency to increase faster than the means of subsistence.Population not only rises to the level of the present supply of food, but if you go on every year increasing the quantity of food, population goes on increasing at the same time, and so fast, that the food is commonly still too small for the people.' After the publication of this work, Mr Malthus went abroad with Dr Clarke and some other friends; and in the course of a tour through Sweden, Norway, Finland, and part of Russia, he collected facts in illustration of his theory. These he embodied in a second and greatly improved edition of his work, which was published in 1803. The most important of his other works are, An Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, 1815; and Principles of Political Economy, 1820. Several pamphlets on the corn laws, the currency, and the poor laws, proceeded from his pen. Mr Malthus was in 1805 appointed professor of modern history and political economy in Haileybury college, and he held the
situation till his death in 1836.
MR DAVID RICARDO (1772-1823) was author of several original and powerful treatises connected with political economy. His first was on the High Price of Bullion, 1809; and he published successively Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency, 1816; and Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 1817. The latter work is considered the most important treatise on that science, with the single exception of Smith's Wealth of Nations. Mr Ricardo afterwards wrote pamphlets on the Funding System, and on Protection to Agriculture. He had amassed great wealth as a stockbroker, and retiring from business, he entered into parliament as representative for the small borough of Portarlington. He seldom spoke in the house, and
In 1830 MICHAEL
The opponents of Malthus and the economists, though not numerous, have been determined and active. Cobbett never ceased for years to inveigh against them. MR GODWIN came forward in 1821 with an Inquiry Concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind, a treatise very unworthy the author of Caleb Williams.' THOMAS SADLER published The Law of Population: a Treatise in Disproof of the Superfecundity of Human Beings, and Developing the Real Principle of their Increase. A third volume to this work was in preparation by the author when he died. Sadler (1780-1835) was a mercantile man, partner in an establishment at Leeds. In 1829 he became representative in parliament for the borough of Newark, and distinguished himself by his speeches against the removal of the Catholic disabilities and He also wrote a work on the the Reform Bill. condition of Ireland. Mr Sadler was an ardent benevolent man, an impracticable politician, and a florid speaker. His literary pursuits and oratorical talents were honourable and graceful additions to his character as a man of business, but in knowledge and argument he was greatly inferior to Malthus and Ricardo. An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, and the Sources of Taxation, 1831, by the REV. RICHARD JONES, is chiefly confined to the consideration of rent, as to which the author differs from Ricardo. MR NASSAU WILLIAM SENIOR, professor of political economy in the university of Oxford in 1831, published Two Lectures on Population, and has also written pamphlets on the poor laws, the commutation of tithes, &c. He is the ablest of all the opponents of Malthus.
REVIEWS AND MAGAZINES.
In no department, more than in this, has the character of our literature made a greater advance during the last age. The reviews enumerated in
the Sixth Period continued to occupy public favour, though with small deservings, down to the beginning of this century, when a sudden and irrecoverable eclipse came over them. The Edinburgh Review, started in October 1802 under circumstances elsewhere detailed, was a work entirely new in our literature, not only as it brought talent of the first order to bear upon periodical criticism, but as it presented many original and brilliant disquisitions on subjects of public concernment apart from all consideration of the literary productions of the day. It met with instant success of the most decided kind, and it still occupies an important position in the English world of letters. As it was devoted to the support of Whig politics, the Tory or ministerial party of the day soon felt a need for a similar organ of opinion on their side, and this led to the establishment of the Quarterly Review in 1809. The Quarterly has ever since kept abreast with its northern rival in point of ability. The Westminster Review was established in 1824, by Mr Bentham and his friends, as a medium for the representation of Radical opinions. In point of talent this work has been comparatively unequal.
The same improvement which the Edinburgh Review originated in the critical class of periodicals was effected in the department of the magazines, or literary miscellanies, by the establishment, in 1817, of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, which has been the exemplar of many other similar publications-Fraser's, Tait's, the New Monthly, Metropolitan, &c.-presenting each month a melange of original articles in light literature, mingled with papers of political disquisition. In all of these works there is now literary matter of merit equal to what obtained great reputations fifty years ago; yet in general presented anonymously, and only designed to serve the immediate purpose of amusing the idle hours of the public.
The plan of monthly publication for works of merit, and combining cheapness with elegance, was commenced by Mr Constable in 1827. It had been planned by him two years before, when his active mind was full of splendid schemes; and he was confident that if he lived for half-a-dozen years, he would make it as impossible that there should not be a good library in every decent house in Britain, as that the shepherd's ingle-nook should want the salt poke.' 'Constable's Miscellany' was not begun till after the failure of the great publisher's house, but it presented some attraction, and enjoyed for several years considerable though unequal success. works were issued in monthly numbers at a shilling each, and volumes of three shillings and sixpence. Basil Hall's Travels, and Lockhart's Life of Burns, were included in the Miscellany, and had a great sale. The example of this Edinburgh scheme stirred up a London publisher, Mr Murray, to attempt a similar series in the English metropolis. Hence began the Family Library,' which was continued for about twelve years, and ended in 1841 with the eightieth volume. Mr Murray made his volumes five shillings each, adding occasionally engravings and woodcuts, and publishing several works of standard merit- including Washington Irving's Sketch-Book, Southey's Life of Nelson, &c. Mr Irving also abridged for this library his Life of Columbus; Mr Lockhart abridged Scott's Life of Napoleon; Scott himself contributed a History of Demonology; Sir David Brewster a Life of Newton, and other popular authors joined as fellow-labourers. Another series of monthly volumes was begun in
1833, under the title of Sacred Classics,' being reprints of celebrated authors whose labours have been devoted to the elucidation of the principles of revealed religion. Two clergymen (Mr Cattermole and Mr Stebbing) edited this library, and it was no bad index to their fitness for the office, that they opened it with Jeremy Taylor's Liberty of Prophesying,' one of the most able, high-spirited, and eloquent of theological or ethical treatises. The Edinburgh Cabinet Library,' commenced in 1830, and still in progress (though not in regular intervals of a month between each volume), is chiefly devoted to geographical and historical subjects. Among its contributors have been Sir John Leslie, Professors Jameson and Wallace, Mr Tytler, Mr James Baillie Fraser, Professor Spalding, Mr Hugh Murray, Dr Crichton, Dr Russell, &c. The convenience of the monthly mode of publication has recommended it to both publishers and readers: editions of the works of Scott, Miss Edgeworth, Byron, Crabbe, Moore, Southey, the fashionable novels, &c. have been thus issued and circulated in thousands. Old standard authors and grave historians, decked out in this gay monthly attire, have also enjoyed a new lease of popularity: Boswell's Johnson, Shakspeare and the elder dramatists, Hume, Smollett, and Lingard, Tytler's Scotland, Cowper, Robert Hall, and almost innumerable other! British worthies, have been so published. Those libraries, however (notwithstanding the intentions and sanguine predictions of Constable), were chiefly supported by the more opulent and respectable classes. To bring science and literature within the grasp of all, a society was formed in 1825 for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, at the head of which were several statesmen and leading members of the Whig aristocracy-Lords Auckland, Althorp (now Earl Spencer), John Russell, Nugent, Suffield, Mr Henry Brougham (afterwards Lord Brougham), Sir James Mackintosh, Dr Maltby (Bishop of Durham),