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We are everywhere entertained with pleasing shows and apparitions; we discover imaginary glories in the heavens and on the earth, and see some of this visionary beauty poured out upon the whole creation; but what a rough unsightly sketch of Nature should we be entertained with, did all her colouring disappear, and the several distinctions of light and shade vanish! In short, our souls are at present delightfully lost and bewildered in a pleasing delusion: and we walk about like the enchanted hero in a romance, who sees beautiful castles, woods, and meadows, and at the same time hears the warbling of birds and the purling of streams; but, upon the finishing of some secret spell, the fantastic scene breaks up, and the disconsolate knight finds himself on a barren heath or in a solitary desert. It is not improbable that something like this may be the state of the soul after its first separation, in respect of the images it will receive from matter.

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As the writers in poetry and fiction borrow their several materials from outward objects, and join them together at their own pleasure, there are others who are obliged to follow nature more closely, and to take entire scenes out of her. Such are historians, natural philosophers, travellers, geographers; and, in a word, all who describe visible objects of a real existence.

Among this set of writers, there are none who more gratify and enlarge the imagination than the authors of the new philosophy; whether we consider their theories of the earth or heavens, the discoveries they have made by glasses or any other of their contemplations on nature. We are not a little pleased to find every green leaf swarm with millions of animals, that at their largest growth are not visible to the naked eye. There is something very engaging to the famcy, as well as to our reason, in the treatises of metals

, minerals, plants, and meteors. But, when we survey the whole earth at once, and the several planets that lie within its neighbourhood, we are filled with a pleasing astonishment, to see so many worlds hanging one above another, and sliding round their axles in such an amazing pomp and solemnity. If, after this, we contemplate those wild fields of ether, that reach in height as far as from Saturn to the fixed stars, and run abroad almost to an infinitude, our imagination finds its capacity filled with so immense a prospect, and puts itself upon the stretch to comprehend it. But, if we yet rise higher, and consider the fixed stars as so many vast oceans of flame, that are each of them attended with a different set of planets; and still discover new firmaments and new lights that are sunk farther in those unfathomable depths of ether, so as not to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes; we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and wɔrlds, and confounded with the immensity and magnificence of nature.




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PROSE. 1. Theology-Warburton-Bishop Butler's Analogy-Watts and Doddridge

Philosophy-Butler's Ethical System-The Metaphysics of David Hume-Jonathan Edwards-Franklin.--2. Miscellaneous Prose-Minor Writers-New Series of Periodical Essays-Magazines and Reviews.-3. Samuel Johnson-His Life—His Literary Character --4. Johnson's Works. 5. The Novelists - Their Moral Faultiness. -Poetry. 6. The Drama-Non-Dramatic Poetry-Rise in Poetical Tone Didactic Poems-Johnson-Young-Akenside-Narrative and Descriptive Poems -Thomson's Seasons.--7. Poetical Taste of the Public—Lyrical Poems of Gray and Collins.


1. Among the Theological Writers who may be assigned to the reign of George the Second, the most widely famous in his day, though by no means the most meritorious, was the arrogant and pugnacious Bishop Warburton. His best known work, “ The Divine Legation of Moses," is admitted to be, notwithstanding its curious variety of illustration, worthless in regard to its main design. Greater value is attributed to his defence of church establishments, and his vindications of the Christian faith against infidelity. The latter task, however, was performed with incomb. 1692. parably greater ability in Bishop Butler's “ Analogy of

Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature." This admirable treatise, one of the most exact pieces of reasoning in any language, is intended to show, that all objections which can be urged, either against the Religion of Nature or against that of Christianity, are equally valid in disproof of truths which are universally believed, and which regulate the whole tenor of human action. No writer can be further than Butler from being either eloquent or elegant: and his incessant tide of close reasoning calls for very severe exertion, on the part of those who would be borne along on the stream with intelligent attention. His bareness and clumsiness of style are proofs of that sterling and extraordinary force of thought, which impresses us so deeply without any extraneous assistance.

d. 1752.

The works in Practical Theology were increasingly numerous ; and some of them, such as the eloquent sermons of Sherlock, retain a place in literary history. Hervey's writings do not deserve that honour for any thing except their goodness of intention. But there is mach literary merit in those of the gently pious Watts, and still more in those of the fervidly devout Doddridge. Nor were these two the only men who supported the reputation of the Nonconformists. Leland did good service by his dissections of deistical writers; and Lardner's works are still of very high worth, as stores both of learning and of thought.

In the Church of England, and out of it, there was a waxing zeal, and a more cordial recognition of the importance of religion : and much good was done, through seeming separation, by the increased prosperity of the Dissenters, and the formation of the two bodies of Methodists. These were things which gradually leavened much of the literature of the times.

Meanwhile Philosophy had distinguished votaries, with Butler at their head. The high-toned Ethical System of this excellent thinker has received full justice from most of our recent speculators on the theory of morals. Much inferior in power as well as clearness, but still useful in the same field, was Hutcheson, an Irishman, who taught in Glasgow, and has sometimes been called the founder of the Scottish school of mental science. He contributed also to the Theory of Art; in which, and in that of Language, much ingenuity was shown by Harris. To that generation belongs Hartley's attempt to resolve all mental phenomena into the association of ideas; a view which, though almost always resisted in Scotland, has found in England many distinguished supporters.

In that earlier portion of his life, too, David Hume 3. 1776. { published his Philosophical Works; works which must be allowed, even by those who dissent most strenuously from their results, to have constituted an epoch and turning point in the history of metaphysics. We must not be alarmed, by the religious infidelity of this celebrated man, into a forgetfulness of the value which belongs to his metaphysical speculations, wrong as his opinions here also will be admitted to have been. In accepting the principles of philosophy, which had been received by the metaphysicians of our country, and showing that these led to no conclusion but universal doubt, he served philosophy as the architect serves the owner of a house when he lays bare a flaw in its foundations. The exposure could not have been more thoroughly made, than in his clear, calm, thoughtful fragments of acute objection. Succeeding thinkers have accepted the challenge ; and, amidst all differences of opinion as to the success of the methods by which the attack has been met, it may at least be asserted sately, that but for Hume, philosophy would have wanted, not only the subtle speculations of Kant, but the more modest and cautious systems of Reid and the rest of the Scottish school.

b. 1711.

Before quitting the theological and philosophical literature of this generation, we must record, as belonging to it, the first remarkable name which America contributed to the history of b. 1703. English letters. Of Jonathan Edwards, it was said by d. 1758. / Mackintosh, that “his power of subtile argument was perhaps unmatched, certainly unsurpassed among men.” The religious value possessed by the writings of this excellent man, is far from being their only claim on our attention. Some of them hold a place, which they are not likely to lose, in the annals of mental philosophy. Perhaps no process of metaphysical and psychological reasoning has ever had a wider or more commanding influence, than his celebrated treatise On the Will; and his works On Religious Affections, and on the Nature of Virtue, entitle him to be enrolled with distinction among the cultivators of ethical science.

Along with him we may set down, in passing to a different department, the name of another of the great men who have


arisen among our Transatlantic kinsmen. Benjamin

Franklin, though most famous in the history of his country and in that of physical science, might almost be ranked among the teachers of practical ethics; and, at any rate, his homely sagacity and vigour forbid his being forgotten among the miscellaneous writers of his time. His literary activity belongs chiefly to the period which we are now surveying.

2. The Miscellaneous Literature of this, the age of Johnson, cannot, in any respect stand comparison with that which was headed by Addison.

We encounter a new group of Periodical Essays, which are but poor successors to the Spectator. First, commencing in 1750, came the “Rambler," written almost entirely by Johnson. It has little of liveliness besides the inapt name: its few attempts at humour are very heavy, and its sketches of character disappointingly meagre.

But it is full of the author's finest vein of religious moralizing. It was followed by the “ Adventurer” of Hawkesworth, the best and earliest of Johnson's imitators, but not more than an imitator ; by the “World,” edited by Moore the dramatist, and more amusing, though without much substance; and by

b. 1706. d. 1790.

the Connoisseur, which is chiefly notable for containing several papers by the poet Cowper, the only links connecting him with the time we are now studying. The series was closed in 1758 by the “ Idler” of Johnson.

Essays, Criticisms, and Imaginative Sketches, were now received into another class of periodicals, the Magazines and Reviews. These, though as yet neither very systematic nor exercising much influence, employed the talent, and assisted in furnishing the livelihood, of some of the best writers of the time. The “Gentleman's Magazine,” which still survives, was enriched for years by the toil of Johnson: the Monthly Review, conducted ably by less famous writers, called forth, by its patronage of Whiggism and Dissent, the Critical Review to advocate Tory and High-Church principles ; a task chiefly performed, with equal ability and vehemence, by Smollett, and sometimes assisted in by Johnson.

Throughout this generation, as in that before it, Historical Writing had hardly any merit beyond the industrious collection of materials. Almost the only exceptions were Hooke's spiritedly written Roman History, Middleton's Life of Cicero, and Jortin's Life of Erasmus.

We lose little by not learning the names of other minor writers, and passing to that of one who was the most industrious as well as the most celebrated among the professional authors of the eighteenth century.

3. Samuel Johnson, compelled by poverty to leave

his education at Oxford uncompleted, came to London in 1737, to seek the means of living. Thenceforth, unpatronized and long obscure, and failing in repeated attempts to extricate himself from a profession which is always more harassing and uncertain than any other, and was then peculiarly painful to a high-minded man, he laboured with dogged perseverance till, in the beginning of George the Third's reign, a pension enabled him to relax his efforts, and enjoy in his declining years the fame he had so hardly won.

Won it was not till, in his own desponding words,“ most of those whom he wished to please had sunk into the grave, and he had little to fear or to hope from censure or from praise.” Yet the celebrity which did at length surround him, in the generation after that which we are now surveying, was such as might have satiated the most grasping literary ambition; and the influence which his writings had was so vast, that it now makes us wonder, whether we look to their bulk, their topics, or their contents. That their reputation was above their deserts, cannot and must

b. 1709. d. 1784.

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