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the artificial ornaments of style. Yet have these four unlearned men effected, by their artless simplicity, a work to which the talents of the two greatest writers of antiquity were not more than equal.
They have exhibited a character far more lovely in itself, and far more venerable, than fiction has ever painted; and in their mode of exhibiting it, they surpass the fidelity, the distinctness, and precision which two of the most celebrated writers have been able to preserve, when exerting the whole powers of their genius, and actuated by the fondest attachment, they were endeavouring to do justice to the noblest pattern of real virtue of which antiquity can boast. In Jesus have the Evangelists described brighter and more numerous virtues than Socrates is said even by his professed admirers to have possessed. In their description they have, without effort, and under the influence, it must be allowed, of sincere conviction only, maintained a greater uniformity than the most prejudiced reader can discover in the beautiful compositions of Plato and Xenophon.
If the desire of communicating their own favourite opinions, or the mutual jealousy of literary fame, be assigned as a reason for the diversity of representation in the two Greek writers, we allow the probability of both suppositions; but we contend that each of these motives is inconsistent with that love of truth which is necessary to establish the credibility of a biographer. We also contend that the Evangelists were really possessed of this excellent quality; that they never deviated from it in order to indulge their enmity or envy; and that, with apparent marks of difference in their language, their dispositions, and, perhaps, in their abilities, they have yet exhibited the character of Christ the most striking, if their narratives be separately considered; and the most consistent, if they be compared with each other. Be it observed too, that the difficulty of preserving that consistence increases both with the peculiarity and magnitude of the excellences described, and with the number of the persons who undertake the office of describing them.
If it be said that the superior pretensions of Christ, as a divine teacher, required more splendid virtues than what are expected from Socrates, who taught morality upon principles of human reason only, whence is it that the unpolished, uncultivated minds of the Evangelists should even conceive a more magnificent character than the imagination of a Plato or a Xenophon? What aids did they apparently possess for representing it more advantageously? That those four unlettered men should have drawn such a character, with more uniformity in the whole,
and with more sublimity in the parts, is therefore a fact which can be accounted for only by admitting the constant and immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, the real existence of Christ's perfections, and the strong and lasting impression they made upon those who conversed with him. Those perfections themselves were, indeed, extraordinary both in kind and degree. In their kind they are admirable patterns for the conduct of Christ's followers; and in their degree, they are eminently and indisputably proportioned to the transcendent and unrivalled dignity of his own mission. Sermons before the University of Oxford, at the Bampton Lecture, 1784.
ALEXANDER FRASER TYT
born in Edinburgh, 1747, was from 1780 to 1786 Conjunct-Professor (with John Prin gle), and from 1786 to 1800 sole Professor, of Civil History and Greek and Roman An tiquities in the University of Edinburgh, Judge Advocate of Scotland, 1790, raised to the Bench of the Court of Session as Lord Woodhouselee, 1802, Lord of Justiciary, He was the author of 1811, died 1813. Supplement to Lord Kames's Dictionary of Decisions to 1778, Edin., 1778, fol., 2d edit., 1797, fol., Supplement to 1796, 1797, fol.; Plan and Outlines of a Course of Lectures on Universal History, Edin., 1782, 8vo; Lectures, Lond., 1834, 6 vols. 18mo; Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch: to
which are added Seven of his Sonnets, translated from the Italian, Lond., 1785, 8vo, Edin., 1810, p. 8vo, 1812, 8vo; Essay on the Principles of Translation, Lond., 1791, 8vo; England Profiting by Example, Edin., 1799, 8vo; Essay on the Military Law and the Practice of Courts-Martial, Edin., 1800, 8vo; Elements of General History, Ancient and Modern, Edin., 1801, 2 vols. 8vo; Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Hon. Henry Home of Kames, Edin., 1807, 2 vols. 4to, large paper, r. 4to, Supplement, 1810, 4to, large paper, r. 4to, 2d edit., Edin., 1814, 3 vols. 8vo. He contributed to The Mirror, The Lounger, etc.
"Mr. Mackenzie returning from his lordship's literary retirement, meeting Mr. Alison, finely said that he hoped he was going to Woodhouselee; for no man could go there without being happier, or return from it without being better.""
SUFFERINGS UNDER AN ECONOMICAL WIFE. TO THE LOUnger.
SIR,-I am a middle-aged man, possessed of a moderate income, arising chiefly from
the profits of an office of which the emolument is more than sufficient to compensate the degree of labour with which the discharge of its duties is attended. About my forty-fifth year I became tired of the bachelor state; and taking the hint from some little twinges of the gout, I began to think it was full time for me to look out for an agreeable help-mate. The last of the juvenile tastes that forsakes a man is his admiration of youth and beauty; and I own I was so far from being insensible to these attractions, that I felt myself sometimes tempted to play the fool, and marry for love. I had sense enough, however, to resist this inclination, and, in my choice of a wife, to sacrifice rapture and romance to the prospect of ease and comfort. I wedded the daughter of a country gentleman of small fortune, a lady much about my own time of life, who bore the character of a discreet, prudent woman, who was a stranger to fashionable folly and dissipation of every kind, and whose highest merit was that of an ex
When I begin by telling you that I repent of my choice, you will naturally suppose, Mr. Lounger (a very common case), that I have been deceived in the idea I had formed of my wife's character. Not at all, Sir: I found it true to a tittle. She is a perfect paragon of prudence and discretion. Her moderation is exemplary in the highest degree; and as to economy she is all that I expected, and a great deal more too. You will ask, then, of what it is that I complain? I shall lay my grievances before you with
A man, Sir, who, with no bad dispositions, and with some pretensions to common sense, has arrived at the age of five-and-forty, may be presumed to have formed for himself a plan of life which he will not care hastily to relinquish, merely to gratify the caprices of another. I entered the matrimonial state with a firm resolution not to quarrel with my wife for trifles; but really, Sir, the sacrifices daily exacted on my own part, and the mortifications I have been forced to submit to, are at length become so numerous and so intolerable, that I must either come to a downright rupture, or be hooted at for a silly fellow by all my acquaintance.
Before I married, having, as I already informed you, a decent income, I thought myself entitled to many of those little indulgences to which a social disposition inclines a man who is possessed of the means of gratifying it. The necessary business in which my office engaged me, occupying several hours of the day, it was my highest pleasure to pass the evening with a few sensible friends either at my own lodgings, at
theirs, or in the tavern. I found myself, likewise, a very welcome guest in many respectable families, where, as the humour struck me, I could go in at any hour and take my part of a domestic meal without the formality of an invitation. I was a member too of a weekly club, which met on the Saturday evenings, most of them people of talents, and some of them not unknown in the world of letters. Here the entertainment was truly Attic. A single bottle was the modicum, which no man was allowed to exceed. Wit and humour flowed without reserve, where all were united by the bonds of intimacy; and learning lost her gravity over the enlivening glass. O Noctes cœnæque Deum!
As my profession was a sedentary one, I kept, for the sake of exercise, a couple of good geldings, and at my leisure hours contrived frequently to indulge myself in a scamper of a dozen miles into the country. It was my pride to keep my horses in excellent order; and when debarred by busi ness from riding them, I consoled myself with a visit to the stable. Shooting was likewise a favourite amusement; and though I could not often indulge it, I had a brace of springing spaniels, and a couple of excellent pointers. In short, between my business and amusement my time passed most delightfully; and I really believe I was one of the happiest bachelors in Great Britain.
Alas, Sir, how little do we know what is for our good! Like the poor gentleman who killed himself by taking physic when he was in health, I wanted to be happier than I was, and I have made myself miserable.
My wife's ruling passion is the care of futurity. We had not been married above a month before she found my system, which was to enjoy the present, was totally incon sistent with those provident plans she had formed in the view of a variety of future contingencies, which, if but barely possible, she looks upon as absolutely certain. The prospect of an increase to our family (though we have now lived five years together without the slightest symptom of any such accident) has been the cause of a total revolution of our domestic economy, and a relinquishment, on my part, of all the comforts of my life. The god of Health, we are informed, was gratified by the sacrifice of a cock; but the god of Marriage, it would seem, is not so easily propitiated: for I have sacrificed to him my horses, my dogs, and even my friends, without the smallest prospect of securing his favour.
In accomplishing this economical reformation my wife displayed no small address. .. What ways women have of working
out their points! She began by giving me frequent hints of the necessity there was of cutting off all superfluous expenses; and frequently admonished me that it was better to save while our family was small, than to retrench when it grew larger. When she perceived that this argument had very little force (as indeed it grew every day weaker), and that there was nothing to be done by general admonition, she found it necessary to come to particulars. She endeavoured to convince me that I was cheated in every article of my family-expenditure. It is a principle with her that all servants are thieves. When they offer themselves to be hired, if they demand what she thinks high wages, she cannot afford to pay at the rate of a Duchess; if their demand is moderate, she is sure they must make it up by stealing. To prove their honesty, she lays temptations in their way, and watches in a corner to catch them in the fact. In the first six
months after our marriage we had five search-warrants in the house. My groom (as honest a fellow as ever handled a currycomb) was indicted for embezzling oats; and though the sleek sides of my geldings gave strong testimony to his integrity, he was turned off at a day's warning. This I soon found was but a prelude to a more serious attack; and the battery was levelled at a quarter where I was but too vulnerable. I never went out to ride but I found my poor spouse in tears at my return. She had an uncle, it seems, who broke a collar-bone by a fall from a horse. My pointers, stretched upon the hearth, were never beheld by her without uneasiness. They brought to mind a third cousin who lost a finger by the bursting of a fowling-piece; and she had a sad presentiment that my passion for sport might make her one day the most miserable of women. "Sure, my dear," she would say, "you would not for the sake of a trifling gratification to yourself render your poor wife constantly unhappy! yet I must be so while you keep those vicious horses and nasty curs." What could I do, Sir? A man would not choose to pass for a barbarian.
repetitions, being smoked by my companions, I was forced to vindicate my honour before them by kicking the messenger down stairs.
Matters were yet worse with me when I ventured to invite my old cronies to a friendly supper at my own house. In the place of that ease and freedom which indicates a cordial reception, they found, on my wife's part, a cold and stiff formality which repressed all social enjoyment; and the nonsensical parade of a figure of empty show upon the table, which convinced them of the trouble their visit had occasioned. Under this impression, you may believe there is no great danger of a debauch in my house. Indeed, my wife commonly sits out the company. If it happens otherwise, we have a stated allowance of wine; and if more is called for, it is so long in coming that my friends take the hint and wish me a good-night.
But even were I more at liberty to indulge my social dispositions than I unfortunately find myself, there are other reasons, no less powerful, which would prevent me from inviting my friends to my house. My wife, Sir, is absolutely unfit for any kind of rational conversation. Bred from her infancy under an old maiden aunt, who had the management of her father's household and country farm, she has no other ideas than what are accommodated to that station. Unluckily her transplantation to town, by removing her from her calves, her pigs, and her poultry, has given her fewer opportunities of displaying the capital stock of her knowledge. She still finds, however, a tolerable variety of conversation in the rise and fall of the markets, the qualities and prices of butcher-meat, the making of potatoe-starch, the comparative excellence of Leith and Kensington candles, and many other topics of equally amusing disquisition. Seriously, Sir, when alone, I can find refuge in books; but when with her in company, she never opens her mouth but I am in terror for what is to come out of it.
I should perhaps complain the less of being reduced to this state of involuntary It was a more difficult task to wean me domestication, if I saw any endeavours on from those social enjoyments I mentioned, her part to make my home somewhat comfortand to cure me of a dangerous appetite I able to me. I am no epicure, Mr. Lounger; had for the company of my friends. If I but I own to you I like a good dinner, and passed the evening in a tavern I was sure have somehow got the reputation of being to have a sermon against intemperance, a a pretty good judge of wines. In this last warning of the too sensible decay of my article I piqued myself on having a critical constitution, and a most moving complaint palate; and this my friends knew so well, of the heaviness of those solitary hours that I was generally consulted when their which she spent in my absence. Those cellars needed a supply, and was sure to be hours, indeed, she attempted sometimes to summoned to give my opinion at the openshorten by sending my servant to acquainting of a new hogshead or the piercing of a ine that she had gone to bed indisposed. butt. You may believe I took good care This device, however, after two or three that my own small stock of liquors should
not discredit my reputation; and I have often, with some exultation, heard it remarked, that there was no such claret in Edinburgh as Bob Easy's yellow seal.
Good claret, which I have long been accustomed to consider as a panacea for all disorders, my wife looks upon as a little better than slow poison. She is convinced of its pernicious effects both on my purse and constitution, and recommends to me, for the sake of both, some brewed stuff of her own, which she dignifies with the name of wine, but which to me seems nothing but ill-fermented vinegar. She tells with much satisfaction how she has passed her currant wine for cape, and her gooseberry for champagne; but for my part, I never taste them without feeling very disagreeable effects; and I once drank half a bottle of her champagne, which gave me a cholic for a week.
In the article of victuals I am doomed
to yet greater mortification. Here, Sir, my wife's frugality is displayed in a most remarkable manner. As every thing is to be bought when at the lowest price, she lays in during the summer all her stores for the winter. For six months we live upon salt provisions, and the rest of the year on fly blown lamb and stale mutton. If a joint is roasted the one day, it is served cold the next, and hashed on the day following. All poultry is contraband. Fish (unless salt herrings and dried ling, when got a bargain) I am never allowed to taste.
Thus mortified in my appetites, divorced as I am from my friends, having lost all my mirth, and foregone all custom of my exercise, I am told that even my face and figure are totally changed; and in place of the jolly careless air of a bon vivant, I have got the sneaking look and starved appearance of a poor wretch escaped from a spunginghouse, and dreading a dun in every human being that accosts him.-That it should come to this!-But I am determined no longer to endure it. My wife shall read this letter in my presence: and while she contemplates her own picture, I shall take my measures according to the effect it produces on her. If she takes it as she ought, 'tis well-if not, and a rupture is the consequence, still better-I shall be my own man again.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
Lichfield, 1781, 4to, 2d edit., New York,
See the Beauties of Anna Seward, by W. C.
ON POPE, MILTON, THOMSON, AND MRS
To MRS. STOKES.
LICHFIELD, July 31, 1796.
I have not seen Wakefield's observations
on Pope. They may, as you tell me they are, be very ingenious; but as to plagiarism, Pope would lose little in my esteem from whatever of that may be proved against him; since it is allowed that he always rises above his clumsy models in their tinsel dra
Poetry, being the natural product of a highly-gifted mind, however uncultivated, must exist, in a rude form at least, from the instant that the social compact gives to man a superplus of time from that which is employed in providing for his natural wants, together with liberation from that anxiety about obtaining such provision, which is generally incompatible with those abstracted ideas from which poetry results. As this leisure, and freedom to thought, arises with the progress of subordination and inequality of rank, men become poets, and this long before their language attains its copiousness and elegance.
The writers of such periods, therefore, present poetic ideas in coarse and shapeless ingenuity. In the unskilled attempt to refine them they become, in the next stage of the progress, an odd mixture of quaintness and simplicity: but it is reserved for genius,
The Lounger, No. 63, Saturday, April 15, learning, and judgment in combination, sup
born 1747, died 1809, was the author of Monody on the Unfortunate Major André,
ported by the ample resources of a various, mature, and complete language, to elevate, polish, and give the last perfection to the rudiments of poetry, first so coarse and abortive, afterwards so quaint, and so shredded out into wearisome redundance. That work of ever-new poetic information and instruc
"As from their own clear north, in radiant streams, Bright over Europe bursts the Boreal morn."
And what spirit does Pope often give his lines by using this inversion in the impera
tion, T. Warton's Critical Notes to Milton's version is beautifully used, while its author Lesser Poems, will show you how very is paying, in a simile, the finest compliment largely Milton took, not only from the clas-imaginable to the talents and excursive sics, but from his verse-predecessors in our spirit of his countrymen :— own language: from Burton's writings, interlarded with verse; from Drayton; from Spenser; from Shakspeare; from the two Fletchers, and from Drummond. The entire plan, and almost all the outlines, of the sweet pictures in L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, are in Burton's Anatomie of Melancholy, or a Dialogue between Pleasure and Pain, in verse, with a passage of his in prose; and these were taken and combined in Milton's imagination with the fine hints in a song in Beaumont and Fletcher's play, the Nice
Valour, or Passionate Madman.
In Comus, Milton was much indebted to Fletcher's beautiful pastoral play, The Faithful Shepherdess; but Milton and Pope, though with excellence different both in nature and degree, were arch-chymists, and turned the lead and tinsel of others to the purest and finest gold.
Dr. Stokes is mistaken in supposing Milton my first poetic favourite. Great as I deem him, the superior of Virgil, and the equal of Homer, my heart and imagination acknowledge yet greater the matchless bard of Avon.
I thank you for the discriminating observations in your letter of April the 24th upon my late publication. Milton says, that from Adam's lip, not words alone pleased Eve; so may I say, that from your pen praise alone would not satisfy my avidity of pleasing you. The why and wherefore you are pleased, which is always so ingenious when you write of verse, from the zest, which makes encomium nectar. Mr. Haley's [Hayley's?] letter to me on the subject is very gratifying: it joins to a generous ardency of praise the elegance, spirit, and affection of his former epistles. Ah! yes, it is very certain that not only some, but all our finest poets, frequently invert the position of the verb, and prove that the British Critic, who says it is not the habit of good writers, is a stranger to their compositions. When Thomson says,
"Vanish the woods, the dim-seen river seems Sullen and slow to roll his misty train,"
it is picture; which it would not have been, if he had coldly written,
"The woods are vanished;"
since in the former, by the precedence of the verb to the noun, we see the fog in the very act of shrouding the woods: but to these constituent excellencies of poetry the eye of a reviewer is the mole's dim curtain. Again, in the same pocm, Autumn, this in
"Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem, rise!"
Then, as to the imputed affectation of the word Lyceum, Thomson calls the woods "Nature's vast Lyceum." For his purpose it was necessary to elevate the term by its epithet, for mine to lower it by that which I applied,-minute Lyceum; and in neither place is its application affected. I am allowed to be patient of criticism, and trust no one is readier to feel its force, and, when just, to acknowledge and to profit by it; but to a censor who does not know the meaning of the word thrill, I may, without vanity, exclaim,
"Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests!"
Nature and Art? She is a favourite novelist Have you seen Mrs. Inchbald's late work, with me. Her late work has improbable situations, and is inferior to her Simple of this composition, to which it is better Story, which ought to have been the title yet we find in Art and Nature the characsuited than to the history of Dorriforth: teristic force of her pen, which, with an air of undesigning simplicity, places in a strong point of view the worthlessness of such charShe seems to remove, as by accident, their acters as pass with the world for respectable. specious veil, and without commenting upon its removal: and certain strokes of blended pathos and horror indelibly impress the
the eminent Law Reformer, born 1748, died 1832, was the author of A Fragment on Government, Lond., 1776, 8vo; Principles of Morals and Legislation, printed 1780, published 1789; Defence of Usury, 1787; Traites de Législation Civile et Pénale, Paris, 1802, in English by R. Hildreth, Boston, 1840, 2 vols. 12mo; Théorie des Peines et des Récompenses, Lond., 1811, 2 vols. 8vo, in English, as follows: The Rationale of Reward, Lond., 1825, 8vo, and the Rationale of Punishment, Lond., 1825, 8vo; and other works. Works Published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring, with an Introduction by John Hill Burton, Esq., Edin., 1843, 8vo.