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offered him a bishopric in queen Anne's time, which he declined with grateful acknowledgements. According to his son's account, he was a most laborious student, employing ten or twelve hours a day, without any interruption, but that of casual sickness, for fifty years successively. Jis principal business was in referring every difficult part of scripture to those particular passages in the fathers, and eminent modern divines, who kad explained then expressly or occasionally.
The time of our poet's birth has not been settled. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine fixes it about the year 1707, but an earlier date will correspond better with circumstances. If he was born in 1707, his lines to lady Hertford must have been written at eleven, which is highly improbable; yet there is some difficulty in adjusting the date of this poem. In Lintot's edition, it is subscribed September 30, 1725, but Francis, the late marquis of Hertford, was born in 1719, a year after his father's marriage, and when Mr. Harte, according to the above account, could have been only eleven years of age. We have his own authority that all the poems published in this volume were written when he was under nineteen, consequently the date of 1725 must be an errour, especially if Collins's account of the Hertfort family be correct. But here, too, there is something that requires ex. planation, for the title of Beauchamp was not conferred on the family for many years after the publication of these poems.
He received his education at Marlborough school, under the rev. Mr. Hildrop, to whom he dedicates the few divine poems in the volume published in 1727. At. what time he went to Oxford does not appear, but he took his master's degree June 30, 1720, according to the last edition of the graduates of that university, a clear proof that he must have been born long before 1707. With Pope he acquired an early intimacy, and shared rather more of his friendship than that poet was wont to bestow on his brethren. Pope encouraged his poetical enthusiasm, and inserted many lines in his poems, and Harte repaid the instructions of so distinguished a preceptor, by compliments introduced not without elegance and propriety in his Essays on Painting and on Satire, and elsewhere.
In 1727, he published the volume of poems, already mentioned, dedicated to the gallant and eccentric earl of Peterborough who was, as the author acknowledges, the first 66 who took notice of him.” This volume was ushered in by a very nu. merous list of subscribers, among whom is the name of Alexander Pope, for four copies. An edition of these poems may be sometimes picked up, dated 1739, and printed for John Cecil, instead of Barnard Lintot the original publisher. As the same list of subscribers is repeated, it is probable that these were the remaining copies bought at Lintot's sale, (who died in 1737) and were at this time published with a new title page.
In 1730 he published his Essay on Satire, 8vo. and in 1735, the Essay on Reason, folio, to which Pope contributed very considerably, although no part of his share can be exactly ascertained, except the first two lines. He afterwards published two sermons, the one entitled the Union and llarmony of Reason, Morality, and revcaled Religion, preached at St. Mary's Oxford, February 27, 1736-7, which excited so much admiration, or curiosity, as to pass through five editions. The other was a fast sermon, preached at the same place, January 9, 1739–40. He was afterwards vice-principal of St. Mary Hall, and held in so much reputa. tion as a tutor, that lord Lyttelton, who was one of his earliest friends, recom.
mended him to the earl of Chesterfield, as a private and travelling preceptor to his natural son. With this young man, to whom his lordship addressed those letters which have so much injured his reputation, Mr. Harte travelled from the year 1746 to 1750. Lord Chesterfield is said to have procured for him a canonry of Windsor, in 1751, “ with much difficulty" arising from his college connections, St. Mary Hall, of which Dr. King was principal, being at that time noted for jacobitism.
In 1759, he published his history of Gustavus Adolphus, 2 vols. 4to, a work on which he had bestowed much labour, and in which he has accumulated very value able materials. An edition was soon published in German by George Henry Martini, with a preface, notes,and corrections, from the pen of the translator John Gutlieb Bohme, Saxon historiographer, and professor of history in the university of Leipzic. The success, however, at home, was far inferior to his hopes, yet sulficient to encourage him to publish an octavo edition in 1763, corrected and im. proved. At this time he resided at Bath, dejected and dispirited between real and imaginary distempers. In November 1766, a paralytic stroke deprived him of the use of his right leg, affected his speech, and in some degree his head. He employed, however, his intervals of health, in preparing the Ainaranth for the press, which was published in 1767. In the following year, he had entirely lost the use of his left side, and he languished in this melancholy condition till March 1774, when he breathed his last, having just outlived the publication of the celebrated letters addressed to his pupil Mr. Stanhope, but which it is hoped he did not see. At the time of his death he was vicar of St. Austel and St. Blazy ja Cornwall.
Frequent mention of his character and writings occurs in Chesterfield's letters.
" Next week Harte will send you his Gustavus Adolphus (March 30, 1759,) in two quartos: it will contain many new particulars of the life of that real hero, as he had abundant and authentic materials which have never yet appeared. It will, upon the whole, be a very curious and valuable history: though, between you and me, I could have wished that he had been more correct and elegant in his style. You will find it dedicated to one of your acquaintance, who was forced to prune the luxuriant praises bestowed upon him, and yet has left enough of all conscience to satisfy a reasonable man. Harte has been very much out of order, these last three or four months, but is not the less intent upon sowing his lucerne, of which he had six crops last year, to his infinite joy, and, as he says, profit.”
April 16, 1759. “I am very sorry to tell you, that Harte's Gustavus Adui. phus does not take at all, and consequently sells very little: it is certainly informing, and full of good matter : but it is as certain too, that the style is execrable : where the d--lhe picked it up, I cannot conceive, for it is a bad style, of a new and singular kind : it is full of Latinisms, Gallicisms, Germanisins, and all isms but Anglicisms : in some places pompous, in others vulgar and low.”
November 27, 1762. “ Harte is going to publish a new edition of his Gustavus, in octavo : which, he tells me he has altered, and which, I could tell him, he should translate into English, or it will not sell better than the former.”
December 18, 1763. “ Harte has a great poetical work to publish, before it be long : he has shown me some parts of it; he had entitled it Emblems : but I persuaded him to alter that name for two reasons: the first was, because they were not emblems, but fables: the second was, that, if they had been emblems, Quarles had degraded and vilified that name to such a degree, that it is impossible to make use of it after him : so they are to be called fables, though moral tales would, in my mind, be the properest name ; if you ask me what I think of those I havo seen, I must say that sunt plura bona : quædam mediocria, et quædam."
September 3, 1764. “ I have received a book for you, and one for myself, from Harte. It is upon agriculture, and will surprise you, as I confess it did me. This work is not only English, but good and elegant English : he has even scattered graces upon his subject : and in prose, has come very near Virgil's Georgics in verse, I have written to him, to congratulate his happy transformation.”
November 28, 1765. 6 Poor Harte is very ill, and condemned to the Hotwell at Bristol. He is a better poet than a philosopher : for all this illness and melan. choly proceeds originally from the ill success of his Gustavus Adolphus. He is grown extremely devout, which I am very glad of, because that is always a com. fort to the afflicted.”
July 2, 1767. “Poor Harte is in a most miserable condition : he has lost one side of himself, and in a great measure his speech: notwithstanding which, he is going to publish his Divine Poems, as he calls them. I am sorry for it, as he had not time to correct them, before this stroke, nor abilities to do it since.”—
In these opinions there is some truth and some flippancy. His lordship, however, must have entertained a very high opinion of Mr. Harte's learning and integrity, when he confided to him the early and most interesting years of that son on whom all his hopes were fixed; yet Dr. Maty expresses his wonder, that he should not have chosen a tutor who understood a little better the external decora. tions which his lordship prized so highly. “ Harte,” says Dr. Maty, “had none of the amiable connecting qualifications, which the earl wished in his son."
“It was impossible he should succeed in finishing the polish of his education in the manner lord Chesterfield wished: and it is a matter of astonishment that the earl should not have perceived how much the tutor's example must have defeated his precepts.
The three principal articles he recommended to his son, were his appearance, his elocution and his style. Mr. Harte, long accustomed to a college life, was too awkward both in his person and address to be able to familiarize the graces with his young pupil. An unhappy impediment in his speech, joined to his total want of ear, rendered him equally unfit to perceive as to correct any defects of pronounciation, a careful attention to which was so strongly recom. mended in all lord Chesterfield's letters, as absolutely necessary for an orator.”
All this, however, lord Chesterfield knew, and yet appointed Mr. Harte, appears to have been perfectly satisfied with his conduct, and treated him with great kindness, and condescending familiarity as long as he lived. Dr. Maty seems to have forgot that Harte left his pupil before his lordship had fully developed that abominable plan of hypocrisy and profligacy which, notwithstanding his biogra. phers' softenings, has irrecoverably disgraced his memory; and as it is acknowledged that Mr. Stanhope did not practise the system which his father so elegantly and artfully recommended, let us hope that he was preserved by the better foun. dation Mr. Harte had laid.
His life of Gustavus Adolphus was a very unfortunate publication. He had learning, industry, and the spirit of research : and he had acquired a considerable
degree of political and military knowledge. He had besides access to the most valuable materials, and his work may be considered as in many respects original. But either through affectation, or by means of some desultory course of reading in every language but his own, he was led to adopt a style peculiarly harsh and pedantic, and often unintelligible by the irregular construction of his sentences, by new words of his own coinage, or by old words used in a new sense. The wonder is, that in all this he fancied himself “ writing in a stylc less laboured and ornamental than is usually exhibited by the fluent writers of the present age.” George Hawkins, his bookseller, we are told, sometimes objected to his uncouth words or phrases, while the work was in the press, but Harte refused to change them, and used to add with a complaisant sneer, “ George, that's what we call writing!” It is, such writing, however, as we do not find in his sermons printed in 1737, and 1740, far less in his Essays on Husbandry, which ought to have been mentioned as printed in 1764, and which, with very few exceptions, are distinguished for perspicuity of style, and for more elegance than that subject is generally supposed to admit.
The life of Gustavus probably employed many of his years, at least the plan must have occupied his mind for a very considerable time before he began to collect his materials. The undertaking was suggested to him by lord Peter. borough, with whom he could have had no communication, except previously to the year 1734, when his lordship's growing infirmities deprived him of the plea. sures of society, and in the following year of life. When travelling with Mr. Stan. hope, our author procured access to various sources of information, and dwelt so long on his subject with a fond regard, that when he found how coolly his work was received by the world, and how harshly by the critics, he became uneasy, fretful, and according to lord Chesterfield, seriously ill with disappointment. Dr. Johnson was of opinion, that the defects of his history proceeded not from imbecility, but from foppery: and it is certain that the critics, while they pointed out the defects in his style, paid due encomiums on the merit of the history in other respects.
According to Boswell, Dr. Johnson said, “ he was excessively vain. He put copies of his book in manuscript into the hands of lord Chesterfield and lord Granville, that they might revise it. Now how absurd was it to suppose that two such noblemen would revise so big a manuscript. Poor man! he left London the day of the publication of his book, that he might be out of the way of the great praise he was to receive : and he was ashamed to return, when he found how ill his book had succeeded. It was unlucky in coming out the same day with Robertson's History of Scotland."
Not the same day, for Robertson's History was published a month sooner, but Hume's House of Tudor came out the same week; and after perusing these, poor Harte's style could not certainly be endured. It was not, however, so very absurd to submit his manuscript to lord Chesterfield or lord Granville, if they permitted him, and the former certainly did peruse it, although he might think it too generally contaminated for a few friendly hints or corrections.
With Pope, Harte appears to bave been on very intimate terms, and we find his encomiastic lines among the testimonies of authors prefixed to the Dunciad. He had even attained so much character both as a poet and a philusopher, that the Essay on Man was at first attributed to him. It may not be impertinent to introduce here an anecdote, related by Ds. Wartoti, who was very intimate with Ilarte. Pope told Mr. Harte, that in order to disguise his being the author of the Second Epistle of the Essay on Man, he made, in the first edition, the fol. lowing bad rhyme :
A cheat! a whore! that starts not at the name,
In all the inns of court, or Drury-Lane. " And Harte remembered to have often heard it urged, io inquiries about the author, whilst he was unknown, that it was impossible it could be Pope's, on account of this very passage.”- Warton, it may be added, always spoke with respect of Harte's abilities.
From every evidence, he appears to have been a man of extensive learning, and acquainted not only with the best authors of his time, but with the classics, the fathers of the church, and other eminent writers of antiquity, which Dr. Maty, rather inconsiderately, calls “ Gothic erudition.” It is true that he often discovers that kind of reading which is seldom read, but the illustrations he has appended to the poems in the Amaranth from the fathers, &c. are generally apt and judicious. Towards the close of life, he cheered his painful and solitary hours by devotional reading.
He died unmarried, and at one time seems to have considered the married state as unfavourable to the exertions of genius. In his Essay on Painting, he very ungallantly recommends that the artist should be
“ Untouch'd by cares, uncumber'd with a wise.". Notwithstanding the unfortunate reception of his history, he projected ano. ther undertaking of the same kind. This we learn from the concluding passage of his Gustavus: in which he says his intention was to carry the history of Germany down to the peace of Munster, but that he was deterred by the magnitude of the undertaking. He adds, however, in a note, that he had completed the history of the thirty years war, from the breaking out of the troubles in Bohemia in 1618 to the death of Gustarus in 1632. These papers, with whatever else he left, are supposed to have fallen into the hands of his servant Edward Dore, who after. wards kept an inn in Bath. Dore and his family are no more, and the manu. scripts are probably irrecoverably lost. We have his own authority also, that he intended to have written a criticism on the poetry of Dryden, which he seems to have appreciated with just taste. The Advertisement to Religious Melancholy, from which this information is taken, is inserted almost entire, by Dr. Warton in his edition of Pope, as the result of a conference between Pope and Harte.
Harte's poems in general are entitled to considerable praise, although it may probably be thought that he was a better critic than a poet, and exhibited more taste than genius. His attachnient to Pope led him to an imitation of that writer's manner, particularly in the Essay on Reason and that on Satire, which are now added to his other works. His Essay on Reason has been somewhere called tine philosophical poem. It might with more propriety be called a fine Christian poem, as it has more of religion than philosophy, and might have been aptly enti. tled An Essay on Revelation. The Essay on Satire has some elegant passages, but is desultory, and appears to have been written as a compliment to the Dun.