Imagens das páginas

and discursive. Often original and always generous in his criticism, he seems to revel in the boundless resources of his diction as it offers itself to clothe the varied and vivid imagery of his mind; and this is all made to bear upon the subject before him-poetry, satire, and Juvenal.

It was in that splendid specimen of hyperbolic and exalted panegyric that he was pleased to say of his patron--a wit and a gentleman no doubt, and Lord Chamberlain to boot; and whose greatest effort in literature, says Johnson, was a song of eleven stanzas. "That in tragedy and satire I shall undertake to maintain against some of our modern critics, that this age and the last, in England, have excelled the ancients in both these kinds of composition ; and I would instance Shakspeare in the former, and your Lordship in the latter sort.” And this was written by the author of Mac Flickase" and “ Absalom and Achilophel,” with Juvenal and Persius in his hand, and to whom Horace was not unknown.

And here we cannot but remark, that there is something approaching the sublime in the very excess and plenitude of Dryden's encomium -clothed as it is in language of such consummate elegance, and set off by every grace and ornament with which praise from one mortal can be offered up to another. Let any body take up and read four or five of the first pages of the address we are now referring to, and he will, we think, feel the truth of what we say, and will perhaps recognise an example of the justness of a theory of a very profound philosopher, when he asserted that a passion or a sentiment in itself disagreeable or repulsive, may be so heightened at once, and so refined by the force of eloquence, as to overpower the imagination in delight, and hold the heart in a kind of rapture.

" There are no factions," says the Poet, addressing his patron, “though irreconcilable to one another, that are not united in their affection to your Lordship. Titus was not more the delight of human kind. Universal empire made him only more known, but could not make him more beloved. I have one privilege which is almost particular to myself, that I saw you in the East at your first rising above the hemisphere. I was soon sensible of that light when it was just shooting out, and beginning to travel towards the meridian. I made my early addresses to your Lordship, and there bespoke you to the world wherein I have the right of a first discoverer. When I was myself in the rudiments of my poetry, without name or reputation in the world, having rather the ambition of a writer than the skill; when I was drawing the outlines of an art without any living master to instruct me in it-an art which had been better praised than studied here in England; wherein Shakspeare had written rather happily than knowingly and justly; when thus I was sailing in a vast ocean before the use of the loadstone or a knowledge of the compass, I had the presumption to dedicate to your Lordship. Yet was I stronger in prophecy than in criticism ; I was inspired to fortel you to mankind as the restorer of poetry, the greatest genius, the truest judge, and the best patron.

“Good nature and good sense are never separated, though the

Hume-Essay on Tragedy.

ignorant world has thought otherwise. 'Tis incident to an elevated understanding like your Lordship’s, to find out the errors of other men; but it is your prerogative to pardon them : to look with pleasure on those things which are somewhat congenial and of a remote kindred to your own conceptions; and to forgive the many failings of those who, with their wretched art, cannot arrive to those heights that you possess from a happy, abundant, and native genius, which are as inborn to you as they were to Shakspeare, and for aught I know, to Homer, in either of whom we find all arts and sciences, all moral and natural philosophy, without knowing that they ever studied them.” And so he goes on, sentence after sentence, in a stream of praise so lavish, so intense, so exquisite, so prodigal in expression, that had Dryden left no other monument of his genius behind him, we think the dedication to Dorset would alone have placed him, on the score of composition, among the first writers of English prose.

It has been a long time the fashion, and still continues to be so, to sneer at the editors and commentators of Shakspeare, as a set of incurable dunces-men of no mark or likelihood, and to consider them as having rather obscured than illuminated by their labour the genius of the Poet. We cannot agree to this. On the contrary, we regard as not amongst the least of the glories attendant on the name of Shakspeare, that he has numbered amongst those who have songht to extend his fame and illustrate his works, three such men as Pope, Warburton, and Johnson. Now the prefaces of two of these prefixed to their respective editions of his works, are equally distinguished perhaps for the beauty and elegance of the style. Johnson's has been pronounced by many to be the finest composition in the English language. Adam Smith declared that it was unsurpassed for original and manly criticism. Burke extolled it in the highest terms; Parr preferred it to all the other writings of its author; and, unbiassed by such authorities, if we may presume to add our humble tribute in its praise, we will say, that had we to point out a disquisition distinguished for correct and classic taste-bold, yet liberal criticism, teeming with classical allusion, and adorned with the utmost magnificence of language, we assuredly know nothing that we should prefer in the wide range of English literature to the preface to Shakspeare. Yet did Johnson himself, as is well known, consider Pope's as superior to his own, for it is recorded that when a lady once complimented him by saying how much his preface to the great Poet was superior to Pope's, he answered, “ I fear not, madam; the little fellow has indeed done wonders.”

But of this at some other time. The preface to Shakspeare is not the only one of similar compositions with which Johnson has enriched our tongue. We read very lately the striking discourse which he prefixed under that title to his Dictionary of the English language; and we read it not without paying to it that tribute which haply we may not be much accustomed to pay when sometimes called upon by a more direct importunate appeal to our sympathy. We may possibly conclude this rambling paper by citing the concluding paragraphs of that remarkable production, and we will venture to say, that few of our readers will feel disposed to dispute with us, that the consciousness of

Dedication to Juvenal.

virtue and the pride of intellect, exerted for the use and instruction of his fellow men, never were expressed in language of higher dignity and pathos.

But we have lost sight of Warburton. It may startle some of our readers to find that almost forgotten, but once formidable name thus joined with those two imperishable names of Pope and Johnson. Yet surely the Bishop of Gloucester was no ordinary person. Compared with whom even Johnson confessed that he was ignorant; of whom he expressed himself—not in his preface to Shakspeare when Warburton was living, but at a later period* when he was no more, and when there could be no longer a motive—if such could ever have swayed the mind of Johnson—to fear or flatter the haughty prelate in terms like these : “He was a man of vigorous faculties. A mind fervid and vehement, supplied by incessant and unlimited inquiry, with wonderful extent and variety of knowledge, which yet had not oppressed his imagination or elouded his perspicacity. To every work he brought a memory full fraught, together with a fancy fertile of original combination, and at once exerted the powers of the scholar, the reasoner and the wit.”+

Yet of his mighty genius, thus spoken of, what are the remains, or what is his present fame! A vast voluminous book of controversy, big with erudition and wit, eloquence and knowledge---rarely referred tomore rarely quoted, and never read! It was said of a great statesman of the last age, that he,

“ Though born for the universe, narrowed his mind,

And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.” It may be said in like manner of Warburton, that he sacrificed to the rearing a fanciful hypothesis in divinity those faculties which if they had been otherwise employed might have produced a work that would have endured as long as the language in which it was written, and earned for its author a celebrity in sone measure commensurate with the intellectual powers he possessed. His notes to Shakspeare sometimes display a force of imagination hardly surpassed by the text they are designed to illustrate.

Another very admirable preface we remember is that to Hampton's translation of “ Polybius,” and we have heard an intimate friend of the late Dr. Parr say, that the Doctor once observed to him, that he was sure he could detect the author of the “ Rambler” in that composition; and he added that it was not the only one of his writings in which the latent and original whiggism of Johnson might be distinctly traced, maugre the acquired and high-flying tory politics which he always proclaimed.

We have little doubt that Dr. Parr was right in his conjecture. The preface was assuredly not wholly written by Johnson; but that it contains passages of his composition, and something of the general impress of his hand, can hardly be questioned. The supposition is the less improbable, perhaps, from the circumstance of a translation of “ Polybius” being numbered, if we recollect rightly, amongst the early literary projects of Johnson himself, from his known intimacy with Hampton, and his critique of the work when published, which appeared in the Literary Magazine, a journal of that day.

• Lives of the Poets.-Pope.

+ Life of Pope.

There was manifested a disposition some time back amongst the sciolists and witlings, the sophisters and economists of this precocious age, to undervalue the genius and to carp at the fame of Johnson. We trust it has passed away, like other fashions, and that the vigour of his intellect, the variety of his learning, the loftiness of his morals, may still be admitted, even in an age which has produced Mill, and Bentham, and Carlyle, albeit he could write English, and believed in the existence of a God.

The whole passage is rather too long for insertion here, but the following forms part of that noble and pathetic strain with which he closes the preface to his Dictionary.

“In hope of giving longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of my country; that we may no longer yield the palm of philology without a contest to the nations of the continent. The chief glory of every people arises from its authors : whether I shall add any thing by my own writings to the reputation of English literature, must be left to time: much of my life has been lost under the pressure of disease, much has been trified away, and much has always been spent in provision for the day that was passing over me; but I shall not think my employment useless or ignoble if, by my assistance, foreign nations and distant ages gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and understand the teachers of truth—if my labours afford light to the repositories of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, to Hooker, to Milton and to Boyle.

“When I am animated by this wish I look with pleasure on my book, however defective, and deliver it to the world with the spirit of a man that has endeavoured well. That it will immediately become popular, I have not promised myself. When it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed, and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns, yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it that the • English Dictionary' was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive--if the aggregated knowledge and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians did not secure them from the censure of Beni-if the embodied critics of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their work, were obliged to change its economy, and give their second edition another form, I may surely be contented without the praise of perfection, which if I could obtain in this gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are emply sounds; I therefore dismiss it wiih frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.”




By the Hon. E. PHIPPS.


Thus far had Spechbacher's efforts been ever attended with success; he was now, however, about to undertake a task which, from its very nature, brought with it delays and difficulties peculiarly galling to his impetuous temper. He was sent to lay siege to the strong fortress of Kufstein, situate near a town of the same name on the frontiers of Bavaria. Instead therefore of finding himself in the midst of friends, his ranks ready to be reinforced whenever he issued his stirring summons, and the familiar music of war in his ears, he had to set down in apparent inaction, with an army constantly diminishing from distaste in his men for the trammels of daily duty and desire to return to their rural occupations : he was, moreover, in a hostile district, for the townspeople of Kufstein were devoted to the Bavarian interest.

Many a surprise did he plan, many a night attack for which he hoped to find the garrison unprepared, but on every such occasion they appeared, as if by magic, to be made acquainted with his plans, and the storming party was repelled with loss. He at length discovered that certain fair dames of the town of Kufstein, who met with no cold reception from his sturdy troops when they came to beguile the tedious hours of their camp duty, had been apparently very much interested in any intelligence they could procure about the plans of the general. To forbid them the camp would he knew be useless; to command his men not to receive them still more hopeless; selecting therefore two of the prettiest and the most inquisitive, he had them brought before him.

Conscious of their crime, they approached him trembling, tears in their eyes and their long black hair hanging in dishevelled locks about their beautiful faces. It was a scene to remind one of Scipio and his captives, and equally temperate, but not equally merciful was the mountaineer general. Turning to a soldier at his side, who appeared aware of his intended plans, and pointing to the heads of the trembling captives, he uttered only the oninous words, “Cut them off, Franz.”

A cry of agony burst from the unfortunate maidens, who threw themselves at his feet, while intercessions for mercy were made both by word and look from those about him.

“Oh, spare our lives, noble sir,” said the captives, “only spare our lives, and we will never come here more ?"

“ Your lives?” said Spechbacher, “I threaten not your lives. I said not, cut off your heads, but your flowing tresses, which made you so dangerous to my poor fellows. Our good friend Franz here is not the executioner but the barber of the regiment. Be sure you shave them close, Franz.”

Strange to say, this order which produced smiles on the countenances of some, and loud laughter from others, appeared in no degree to di

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