« AnteriorContinuar »
tained that it was Pope Alexander VII. observation, “well, doctor, so you have who, in the "disguise of a coalman,” at last taken to spectacles," replied, came over to England and caused the ' yes, I found I could not read without great fire of London, &c. Aubrey says of them, and wonder I have so long." him, “ His manner of studie was thus : Among the pains and penalties of he wore a long quilt cap, which came authorship, the critical censorship of two or three inches over his eies, which the press has had its share. Cumberserved hin for an umbrella to defend land once said, "authors should be shellhis eies from the light; about every ed like the rhinoceros;" but it would three houres, his man was to bring him be bard, says one, were the linnet, or a roll and a pott of ale, to refocillate his the nightingale, to cease from warbwasted spirits; so he studied and ling, because they cannot sing in a storm. drank, and this maintained him till Severe and unmerited criticism has night, when he made a good supper." been but too frequently the bane of litThese are but few of the modes resorted erature, although, as in the instance of to by literary men to produce mental Byron, it has ultimately tended to elicit excitement; many singular contrarieties the nobler developement of talent, of disposition they afford us; but we which otherwise might never have been had forgotten Dryden, who used to brought into action, Some writers ply himself with physic and phleboto- have been driven mad, and others have my
before sitting down to any inpor- actually died of criticism. Hawkes. tant work. His fancy would be the worth was a case of the latter, and least likely to captivate our modern Tasso the former. Voltaire called scribes, as we are fast receding from these “ dreaded ministers of literary justhe age of voluntary self-martyrdom. tice," la cannaille de la litterature, but
To what curious extremes their ha- he, like Pope, suffered retribution at bits of mental abstraction would have their hands; and no less remarkable is led, but for the indulgence of authors the fact of the erroneous criticism of in such harmless, though singular pas some of the learned respecting the protimes, it is difficult to conjecture. lew ductions of other writers—differing in ton, when once engaged on a mathe- their estimates of literary merit as wide matical subtlety, would suffer nothing as the world apart. One memorable to interrupt his investigations. It is re case might be named here, which went Jated of him that more than on one beyond mere criticism: we refer to that such occasion he kept the dinner wait- of Count Mazarin, who kept a complete ing three whole hours; and a similar collection of the libels written against interval also once intervened in the him—it amounted to forty-six quarto very act of his assuming his nether gar- volumes; and there have been also more ments. Morel, the French writer, instances than one of unfortunate urie possessed such devotion to study, that ters of state libels, being compelled to when the fatal sickness of his wife, and recant them in the most emphatic manshortly afterwards her death, were an ner -- by eating literally their own nounced to him, he could not be pre- words. One occurred at Moscow, vailed upon to resign his pen, but simply where the poor advocate of the liberreplied, " I am very sorry, she was a ties of the people paid this most uumergood woman."
And another learned ciful penalty of his patriotism. A scafscribe, po less indifferent to connubial fold boing erected in a conspicuous claims, actually devoted tho whole of part of the city, with a surgeon on one his wedding day to his books. Mason, side, and the knout on the other, our the author of the “Spiritual Treasury," worthy author was compelled to swalwhile engaged upon that work, being low his book leaf by leaf, neatly rolled called upon by a person in business, up like a lottery ticket-taking what gave his name and address; but when the surgical attendant deemed a suitathe author subsequently referred to ble quantum at a time for a digestiblo the card on which he ought to have meal, during three whole days in which written the same, it contained instead he accomplished the humiliating task, the following-Acts ii., v. 2! This is to the singular entertainment of the about equal to the divine, who for tho populace he had sought to serve. He, first time appearing with spectacles at any rate, could subscribe to the sentiwhich he did not use, as he placed them ment, that a great book is a great bore. over his forehead, being met with the An amusing anecdote is related of a
certain French writer, who, failing to and it was Southey's friendly hand that please the critics of his day, by his first gathered his scattered and despi. avowed productions, afterwards resort- sed works, and gave them to the world. ed to the expedient of publishing three The philosophic Newton was far volumes of poetry and essays, as the from being invulnerable to the shafts of works of a journeyman blacksmith. his critical oponents; for even WhisThe trick succeeded-all France was ton, the friend of twenty years, forfeitin amazement; and the poems of this ed his favor for all time by a single conchild of nature-this untutored genius tradiction; for “no man,
says he, —this inspired son of Vulcan, as he “was of a more fearful temper.” was now called, were immediately and Whiston farther declares, that he would enthusiastically praised, even by the not have thought proper to have pubvery critics who before repudiated the lished his work against Newton's effusions of the same pep. Byron was Chronology in his lifetime, as he firmly condemned, among other crimes, for believed it would have killed him; and not having dated his first poems from it was the expressed opinion of Dr. the purlieus of Grub-street; and Keats Bentley, that Locke's thorough refutawas barbarously attacked in a similar tion of the Bishop's metaphysics about manner, by no less a critic than Gifford the Trinity, actually haste ned his end. --a circumstance, to which has been Our sympathies become the more remotely ascribed the premature decease deeply enlisted for the penalties of auof that gifted poet; for, on reading the thorship, when we remember the pains article in question, his feelings became with which the productions of genius so excited, that he burst a blood vessel, have been accompanied ; and these are which induced consumption, of which not likely to become overrated by the he died at the age of twenty-four. many.
Numerous instances are upon Moore relates that such also was the record, proving that the emanations of effect of the savage attack upon Byron, mind have been attended with severe that a friend who happened to call on
and laborious industry; and we may as him shortly after he had read it, in- well cite a few, perhaps here. quired whether he had received a chal So scrupulously fastidious was Pope lenge, such fierce defiance was depicted as to nicety of expression, that it is in his countenance. It was about the known he seldom committed to the same time that the opposite critical or- press anything till it had passed under gan commenced a paper on Words- his repeated inspection and revision, worth's " Excursion," with the derisive sometimes keeping it by him even a words—This will never do ; we give year or more for the purpose ; and his him up as altogether incurable and be publisher, Dodsley, on one occasion yond the power of criticism.” The deemed it easier to reprint the whole sweet sonneteer of Windermere has of his corrected proofs than attempt the fortunately outlived ignorant intole needed emendations. Thomson, Akenerance of this sapient censor, as he now side, Gray, and Cowper, were equally occupies the highest honors of the tem- devoted in their elaboration of a line; ple of fame. Poor Kirke White was and Goldsmith gave seven long years to another sad instance of literary assassi- the perfection of his inimitable producnation : when only seventeen he pub- tion, the Deserted Village : producing, lished his volume of poems, in hopes on the average, something like three by its sale of procuring sufficient ino or four lines per diem, which he thought ney to enable him to go to college; but a good day's work. Hume and Roberthe was doomed to the merciless cru son were incessantly laboringover their elties of an attackin the Monthly Review. language-the latter used even to write How grievously the unjust criticism his sentences on small slips of paper, tortured his sensitive mind may be ga. and after rounding and polishing them thered from his own words : " This to his satisfaction, he entered them in a Review,” he says, goes before me book, which afterwards was again subwherever I turn my steps, and is, I verily jected to a final revision. believe, an instrument in the hands of Many an immortal work, that is a Satan to drive me to distraction." source of exquisite enjoyment to manSouthey kindly consoled and encour- kind, has been written with the blood ed him to persevere, but wasting dis- of the author, at the expense of his hapease soon hurried the young poet away, piness and of his life. Even the most
jocose productions have been composed Scott, Moore, Campbell, and Bulwer, with a wounded spirit. Cowper's hu- the last of whom used to victimise the morous ballad of Gilpin was written in patient printer for seven successive rea state of despondency that bordered vises. We might swell the list of laboupon madness. "I wonder,” says the rious writers still further, but it is needpoet, in a letter to Mr. Newton, “that less; and yet we have not alluded to à sportive thought should ever knock at many of the craft who devoted their the door of my intellects, and still more whole lives to a single production, that it should gain admittance. It is as like Dr. Copland, whose renowned Dicif harlequin should intrude himself into tionary of Practical Medicine has althe gloomy chamber where a corpse is ready occupied his undivided attention deposited in state." "In a late number more than twenty years. We cannot, of the Quarterly Review, it was justly however, refrain from quoting one more observed, that « our very greatest wits name--that of the erudite, but ill-fated have not been men of a gay and vivacious Castell, the author of Lexicon Hepdisposition. Of Butler's private histo- taglotton, since it presents so singular ry nothing remains but the record of an example of great literary generosity, his miseries, and Swift was never combined with the most herculean liteknown to smile.” Lord Byron, wło rary industry. He was literally a was irritable and unhappy, wrote some martyr to letters, a case of voluntary of the most amusing stanzas of Don immolation of himself and his fortune Juan in his dreariest moods. In fact, to his darling pursuits. It is impossithe cheerfulness of an author's style is ble to read unmoved his pathetic apalways but a doubtful indication of the peals to Charles II., in which he laserenity of his heart.
ments the seventeen years of incredible Burke had all his principal works pains, during which he thought himself printed once or twice at a private press idle when he had not devoted sixteen before submitting them to his publish- or eighteen hours a-day to the Lexi
Johnson and Gibbon were excep- con; that he had expended all his intions to these, it is true; they wrote heritance (more than twelve thousand spontaneously, and their first draft was pounds); that it had broken his conthe only one they gave to the press : stitution, and left him blind, as well and yet the majesty and beauty of their as poor. When this invaluable Polydiction remain, perhaps, unsurpassed at glott was published, the copies remained the present day. The French writers, unsold in his hands; for the learned Rousseau and St. Pierre, carried their Castell had anticipated the curiosity scrupulosity to an amusing excess. The and knowledge of the public by a full former used to write out his new He- century. He had so completely deloise on fine gilt edged paper, and with voted himself to Oriental studies, that the two-fold affection of a lover and a they had a very remarkable conseparent, repeatedly rehearsed his effu- quence; for he had totally forgotten sions to the ravishment of his own de- his own language, and could scarcely lighted ears before sending them to the spell a single word. This appears in printer; and the latter transcribed his some of his English letters, preserved Paul and Viginia no less than nine by Mr. Nichols, in his valuable “Litetimes, with the view of rendering it as rary Anecdotes." perfect as any mundane thing may be. It is supposed that above five hun. Sheridan, it has been well observed, dred of his Lexicons were unsold at watched long and anxiously for a bright the time of his death. These were idea, and when he was visited with placed by his niece and executrix in a one, he sought to attire it suitably, and room at Martin, in Surrey, where for afterwards discovered no less assiduity some years they lay at the mercy of in rewarding it with a glass or two of gen- the rats; and when they came into erous port. Burns was another hard the possession of this lady's executors, worker with his brain; when his fickle scarcely one complete volume could muse jaded, he used to rock himself on be formed out of the remainder, and a chair, and gaze upon the sky, pa- the whole load of learned rags sold tiently waiting her inspiration. He only for seven pounds! A single imperwas fastidious to a fault in the perfec- fect copy recently sold for a larger sum. tion of his phrase and rhythm. The
[To be Continued.] same delicate sense characterises Byron
THE ELEMENTS OF MORALITY; INCLUDING POLITY.*
Now, let us pause a moment, to re- tends, as we have seen, that we cannot call to mind what our author has pro- deduce any conclusions from the notion mised, and what he has performed. of Justice, without running into “conHe promised, that he would lay down tradiction and confusion ;'' and hence, certain self-evident truths or proposi- the practical rule of justice is to be derivtions, analogous to the axioms of geo- ed from the law of the state. It would metry, and deduce the elements of be wrong to conclude from this, howmorality from them, by “ rigorous rea ever, that he does not hold a contradicsoning.” One of these fundamental tory doctrine. For although he teachpropositions one of these self-evidentes, that we dare not make any practitruths, he informs us, is his principle of cal application of the great principle of justice. Now, where are the moral justice, independent of the law of the rules he has deduced from this ? Alas! land; yet he declares, on the other he tells us, that if we undertake to hand, that “the State has, for one of "draw inferences from the notion of its offices, to remove out of the Laws Justice," we shall run into all kinds of all that is unjust, so as to make them * contradiction and confusion." He more and more just."-p. 148. “ States proves this by a specimen of his own. may aim at constantly making their ** Thus," says he, “ if we say that Jus- Laws continually more and more just.” tice is Equality, and if we thereupon-p. 149. But how the law-giver is to attempt to make the Property of all make the law conform to the dictates citizens always equal, we destroy the of justice, on the supposition that we conception of Property."--p.149. Now, cau learn what things are just only by Mr. Whewell offers this as a proof a reference to the law, is a mystery that we should not attempt to draw which our author has not been so good inferences from the notion of Justice; as to explain. Indeed, in his matchand we admit, that it is a conclusive less system, Law and Justice are proof, that he, at least, should not attempt made to revolve around each other, like to deduce " the elements of morality” twin stars; each being upheld and supfrom such a source. Why, then, did ported by the power of the other. he attempt to do it? Why did be un But let us suppose that it should hapdertake to give us a chain of copse pen, that a man is firmly persuaded quences flowing from this great prin- that the law of God requires one thing, ciple of justice, as the bright and beauti- while the law of the land requires anoful truths of geometry now from defi- ther;—which is he to obey ? Hobbes, nitions and axioms ? We are now whatever may be thought of his princitold, that these consequences are not ples, has at least answered this questo be defined by us at all, but by the tion like a man ; let him obey the law law of the land! Instead of mathema- of God, says he, and take the consetical deductions from self-evident truths, quences; he ought to be willing to sufwe have moral rules deduced from the fer martyrdom, if needs be, for conlaws of civil society; and which are, science sake. But Mr. Whewell finds therefore, as fluctuating and change- it a very delicate question. If he had able, as the source from which they are been a true moralist, he would have derived. We scarcely know, which found no difficulty in such a question ; the more to admire, the magnificence but, as it is, it stands in his way, and of the promise, or the insignificance of he must make his escape from it in the perforınance. Mr. Whewell con some manner or other. For this pur
The Elements of Morality; including Polity. By William Whewell, D. D., author of the History and Philosophy of the loductive Sciences. In two volumes. New-York: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-street. Pp. 101 and 426. VOL. XIX.NO. CI.
pose, he not only teaches that the Elements had done po violence to Mogreat “ Ideas” of Truth, and Justice, rality. He every where speaks of the and Goodness, which spring from the Law as “ fixed,” and of Morality, indemoral nature of man, are dark, vague, pendent of human law, as " more flexand floating notions, leading only to ible,”-p. 331 ; as something dark and " contradiction and confusion;" but he uncertain in its determinations. Hence, also labors, in every conceivable way, we must be permitted to say, that he and in some that were not conceivable, has given us a very rigid and despotic to impress the mind of the reader that system of law indeed, but an exceedthe law of the land is, in Great Bri- ingly loose system of morals : not that tain at least, the very perfection of it excludes any thing good; but that, Reason. He wishes * each rising ge- along with the good, it includes every peration” to derive “its education from thing bad. The low philosophy of the existing Laws and Customs of the Hobbes, and the “immutable morality Nation," and to be deeply " imbued of his great antagonist, Cudworth; the with a belief that these Laws, and the brightest precept of recollection, and Maxims which they imply, are right the darkest blunders of reason; are here and just;" so that the stability and united by the flimsiest ties of sophistry. consistency of the State will be pre Though our author did not, as he served."'--p. 151. « We often find ex tells us, intend to treat of moral philopressions of the Legislator, or of the sophy, but only of the elements of Jurists who comment upon the Law, morals; yet has he decided the two which imply that they could not conceive • great questions about which moral phia Law which did not aspire to be just.” losophy is chiefly conversant.
The -p. 83. Fortunately, we know nothing first of these questions is, whepce do of such legislators and jurists; but it is we derive the ideas of right and wrong, quite certain, that our author could not or under what circumstances do they clearly conceive of the injustice of a arise ? This question has been decided British law, if of any other. Shall we in the works before us, as we have suppose, that the great “ ldea of Jus- seen, by referring the origin of our tice? given by the moral nature of man, moral sentiments to the operation of is in conflict with the “ Fact supplied human laws. The second question is, by the Law ?" If so, our author will what are the characteristics of right remind us, that “The Idea and the and wrong, or how are they distinFact cannot be separated.”—p. 149. guished from other things ? This Justice without the law is a blind question the author likewise disposes guide ; we can only see what justice is of in his attempt to illustrate the idea by looking at its image reflected in the of moral goodness." law.
“ We conceive human actions," If our author has read, with much says he, “ to be absolutely right, when care, the Equity Jurisprudence of Sto- they are conformable to the Supreme ry, from which he professes to have Rule of human action."—p. 156. What, borrowed so freely, he must have seen, then, is this supreme rule? We are it appears to us, how unmeaning is the told a great many things about it, but obsolete jargon about the perfection of what it is, we cannot so easily learn reason manifested in the common law from our author. The supreme law of England. Surely our author has of our actions must be a law for all not forgotten the great and wonderful powers of action. It must include the changes which have so recently been whole of our nature. Its rule for affeceffected in that law, in spite of the in- tion and design must be, not that they sane eulogies that its admirers have shall be extinguished, but that they lavished upon it. Nor will the idle shall be right affection and right deflatteries and compliments of our au- sire," &c., &c. But what is the rule ? thor, (the one-hundredth part of which Why, “ the conceptions to which Mowe have not noticed,) prevent other rality directs our desires and affections, wholesome reformations which are may be collected, in a general way, destined to be wrought in it.
from what has been said of the concepWe should not have dwelt upon this tions from which the impulses of Mosubject so long, if, in seeking to do ho- rality urge us. As Morality calls us nor to “the Law," the author of the from anger, malice, covetousness, lying,