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The movement was at first chiefly excited amongst the Non- | chivalry. Dr. Coke had planted Methodism in the West Indies. conformists, or at least amongst a section of them; and it is not in the year 1791, William Carey, who, till his twenty-fourth year, too much to say, that Nonconformity night have all but dwin- had been a working shoemaker, but now a Baptist minister, prodled away, if it had not been for the movement. Wesley and posed, at a meeting of his brethren, the question, “ Whether it Whitfield took the ball at the rebound, and sent it higher. But were not practicable, and our bounden duty, to attempt somewhat in the religious stir there were many who did not approve unre- toward spreading the Gospel in the heathen world ? " The first şervedly of all the principles and practices of Methodism; and subscription to effect so mighty an object was 131. 2s. 6d.; "but these, joining themselves to Independent and Baptist churches, want of money in such cases is as a molehill in the way of zeal.” greatly increased that portion of the Dissenters. In fact, the word Carey and his coadjutors set out, armed with the Bible and a Nonconformity disappeared ; the Independents, comprehending printing press, to assail the hydra-headed superstitions of India. both the Congregational and the Baptist bodies, took higher Then the newly-discovered South Sea Islands presented another ground. Many ministers of great talent appeared amongst them; field for exertion. In 1794, a project which had been abandoned, the congregations increased in numbers and respectability, com- was renewed in the Evangelical Magazine. “Meetings for prayer prising a large portion of the middle classes, while the triumphs and consultation were held every fortnight during six months; a of Methodism were amongst the hand-working classes. Its suc- society was formed, a general meeting convoked in London ; great cess, however, was not so great in Scotland as in England; the was the company of the preachers, ministers, and Christians of ground was already preoccupied ; the congregations assembled all denominations, assembled ; and so strongly and entirely did to hear a Methodist preacher, too often, instead of giving them- they sympathise in their zeal, that they were constrained to say, selves up to the emotions of fear and alarm created in England, This is a new Pentecost! Subscriptions poured in, and candidates were more disposed to criticise. Whitfield made some impres- in abundance presented themselves, from whom thirty were sion, but Wesley complains of the coldness of the Scotch, and selected. Every possible precaution was taken to secure success accused them of having no heart-an accusation which Burns as far as the foresight of the directors could secure it ; the ship disproved. The truth is, the Scotch were nearly as far advanced was manned with sailors really or professedly religious; and in intellectual capacity and religious instruction as are their Captain Wilson, who left his retirement to take the command, brethren in England at the present day. Had we risen to our was a man especially qualified for the charge by temper and present state of improvement without the aid of Methodism, opinions, as well as professional skill. On the 20th of August, Wesley, and even Whitfield, preaching as they did seventy or 1796, they weighed anchor, and hoisted the missionary flag—three eighty years ago, would often complain of a barren congregation, doves argent in a purple field, bearing olive branches in their bills. and be tempted to accuse the English, as Wesley accused the These colours did not excite more surprise in the navy, than the Scotch, of having no heart. Nevertheless, the religious move- remarkable deportment of all on board ; not an oath was heard ment was felt in Scotland; a great nonconforming body, the among them : and the sailors who were at Spithead when the Secession church, was created by Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine ; Duff' finally departed, long talked of the · Ten Commandments' and from that time to this dissenting bodies of various name and as they called her, in which, when she set sail, the captain, the character have been gradually growing.
crew, and the cargo, were all singing psalms." The religious spirit, now. fast extending itself, and rising But now the religious spirit was about to develop itself more rapidly, began to overflow the boundaries of particular sects and powerfully, and to occupy a larger and a wider sphere. An parties, and to acquire something of a portion of Catholicity. agitation arose amongst the friends of religion respecting a more The remarkable example of John Newton and the delightful extensive distribution of the Bible. A Society did indeed exist—the poetry of William Cowper gave a character to it, and diffused it Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge—which, as a Christian through the middle classes. Hannah More, who had realized Diffusion Society, supplied the Bible in places where it was little the dream of her childhood, had associated with “bishops and known. But its operations were too tardy to satisfy the more booksellers," was the pet of Johnson, the friend of Garrick, and ardent of those who longed to distribute the Bible everywhere. a favourite in fashionable circles, felt its influence, and ventured, They were also of a confined and narrow character, for the though timidly and anonymously, to publish her “ Thoughts on members of the Society did not perceive that the public mind was the Manners of the Great.” This work sold well, and was soon ready to advance, if it only had a leader. At last, after some followed by “ An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable years of delay, inquietude, and indecision, a few individuals who World." But a far more effective impression was made a few were acting together in the spirit of a catholic Christianity, years afterwards. “A Practical View of the Prevailing System formed the rudiments of a new society. But how to go about of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this their work they did not clearly see. All was in a kind of dimness Country, contrasted with Real Christianity,” made its appear- and darkness—they were like men groping their way. They ance in 1797, bearing the undisguised name of " William Wilber- judged it wise, before proceeding farther, to appeal to the public force, Member of Parliament for the County of York." “ Taken respecting their design : and so they issued their manifesto. One in all its probable effects," said the Rev. Thomas Scott, “ I do of their number, the Rev. Mr. Hughes, a Baptist minister, wrote, sincerely think such a stand for vital Christianity has not been “ The Excellence of the Holy Scriptures, an Argument for their made in my time."
more general Diffusion.” This appeal, extensively circulated at Before this time, the religious spirit bad been organized into an appropriate time, because the minds of people were prepared the first really “CATHOLIC" association. The suppression of the for something of the kind, had a powerful effect. The BRITISH Slave Trade presented a rallying point for ardent and benevo- AND Foreign Bible Society was formed, commencing in weaklent minds of all parties and creeds. Mr. Wilberforce became ness and obscurity, but soon to pass the period of its infancy, and the centre of a combination, which taught the lesson of untiring to become the mightiest association for the diffusion of knowledge agitation to accomplish its purpose. And thus, in the very hour that the world has ever seen. Some there were, indeed, who viewed that Burke was exclaiming, “ The age of chivalry is gone !'' he its operations with jealousy, and who were fearful of intrusting might have seen expanding around him a newer and a nobler the great mass of the people with the Bible without note or comment; but the bulk of all classes in the religious world Gibbon came to help Hume, not by impugning Christianity, but hailed the scheme with delight and wonder. They beheld, in its by sneering at it; the first volume of the “ Decline and Fall,” common bond of union, a proof that Christianity was essentially containing the chapters on the progress and extension of Chrisone in its spirit and character, and they hastened, by their con- tianity, was published in 1776. This carried still farther the distributions, to enable the Society to set in motion a machinery, the cussion respecting the divine origin of Christianity, and drew out extent of whose influence on the world at large a future age must numerous productions in defence of it. But while the debate was determine. The excitement respecting the Bible Society has in a going on, and the press teeming with controversy, plain, half-ingreat measure died away; but it still carries on its gigantic opera- formed readers became confused and confounded; they felt as if tions, steadily and quietly supported, and effectively pursued. enveloped in a mist of argument, and could not see their way; until Through its exertions, and the exertions of all those numerous Paley, with his penetrating understanding, his clear, logical head, associations to which it gave origin in Europe and America, the and level style, appeared to throw light on the darkness. Paley's Bible is fivding its way into the language of " every nation under “ Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy" appeared in heaven;" and thus a volume containing the most ancient, the 1785 ; his “ Horæ Paulinæ," in 1790; and his “Evidences of most affecting, and the sublimest compositions, is now, and will Christianity,” in 1794. His "Natural Theology" did not appear be, the most widely diffused of any book that was ever penned. till 1802. The great success of these works shows what a large
and deeply interested audience was now obtained. We must now go back to the period of the commencement of The descent of the infidel spirit upon an ignorant population the movement, and perceive how it was that, as the religious spirit might have produced the most disastrous effects, if its influence ascended, the sceptical or infidel spirit descended. The latter had not been counteracted by the religious spirit. We need not portion of the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth speculate on what would have been the result, if the agitation of century, were periods of considerable controversy respecting the the American war of independence, and the excitement produced EVIDENCES of Christianity, and also its DOCTRINES. “ The by the French revolution, had found the upper classes in Engphilosopher of Malmesbury (Thomas' Hobbes) was, says War- land as loose in morals, and the lower as ignorant, brutal, and burton, “the terror of the last age, as Tindall and Collins are of depraved, as when Methodism began its work. That a very great this. The press sweats with controversy, and every young church- improvement had taken place by the time of the French revoluman-militant would try his arms in thundering on Hobbes's steel tion, is evident, even in spite of the glaring facts of the London cap." It was an intellectual exercise for ministers to defend the and Birmingham riots. There was much dimness and confusion bulwarks of Christianity, or to strengthen the foundations on which in the public understanding ; men were called upon to make up its evidence rests : but the controversy was confined to the their minds on new questions of religion, law, and government, thinkers and readers of the time, who were comparatively few in before they had any thing like a clear conception of what the number. The great body of the people were too ignorant to be things signified ; and hence bitter party spirit, savage rancour, either infidels or Christians; they did not understand the matter. and a confounding of things wholly distinct. But the religious But in the earlier part of the eighteenth century, the general cor- spirit triumphed over the infidel ; a vast body of evidence has ruption of morals which prevailed amongst the upper classes was been erected around Christianity; and though Paine's “ Age of favourable to a propagation of infidelity; and accordingly infi- Reason," or Volney's “Ruins of Empires,” continued for a pordelity became fashionable. The religious excitement caused it to tion of the present century to puzzle and pervert young, unindescend upon the classes below. Cool and sober people, who structed, or petulant minds, intellectually the infidel spirit was were offended by many of the extravagances of which Methodism broken; and SUNDAY SCHOOLS, and LENDING LIBRARIES, was guilty in the early part of its career, considered those extra- came to give their influence and their power over the minds of vagances as part of Christianity itself, and by the reaction of the rising generation. provocation became infidel in their opinions. Methodism also supplied a number of infidels. For amongst those who became Methodists there were some who deceived themselves and others, and for a time were zealous in their profession. But when their
II. THE POLITICAL INFLUENCES. artificial heat died away, and they fell into indifferency or into The discussion on the principles of political science had sin, the ghosts of their departed characters haunted them, and they been confined, in England, to the few thinkers and readers, rushed into profligacy or into infidelity to hide themselves. Then who found pleasure in dissecting the structure of society. But came Hume, “ the most subtle, if not the most philosophical, of a change was coming-political discussion was about to shake the deists, who, by perplexing the relations of cause and effect, both Europe and America. In 1753, William Blackstone, who boldly aimed to produce a universal scepticism, and to pour a more a barrister, and afterwards became a Judge, began to than Egyptian darkness over the whole region of morals." The lecture, at Oxford, on the principles of the laws and constitution discussion which arose spread still wider the principles of infide- of England. His lectures acquired great celebrity, and widely lity. The works of Lardner and of Leland bear testimony to the diffused a kind of political knowledge to readers who would diffusion of scepticism. Lardner, in the Preface to his “ Credi- never have dreamed of attempting to understand the subject, but bilty of the Gospel History," tells us he wrote, pot for learned, for the manner in which it was treated. Blackstone's great anbut for plain men; and in like manner Leland gave his “ View tagonist, Jeremy Bentham, terms his lectures " correct, elegant, of the Deistical Writers," that the “bane and antidote" might be unembarrassed, ornamented; the style is such as could scarce seen together. Still, a large audience had not yet been obtained ; fail to recommend a work still more vicious in point of matter to the discussion was almost confined to the comparatively small the multitude of readers. He it is, in short, who, first of all insti. number of readers and thinkers; but amongst them Hume's tutional writers, has taught jurisprudence to speak the language writings produced a considerable influence. The works of Hume, of the scholar and the gentleman ; put a polish upon that rugged in which he has directly assailed Christianity, are the “ Essay on science ; cleansed her from the dust and cobwebs of the office ; Providence and a Future State," and the " Essay on Miracles." and if he has not enriched her with that precision that is drawn
only from the sterling treasury of the sciences, has decked her of what they have since done, but the occasion they laid hold on." out, however, to advantage, from the toilet of classic erudition, Thomas Paine published, in 1776, his “ Common Sense," enlivened her with metaphors and allusions ; and sent her abroad, exhorting the Americans to resistance ; he boasts that the in some measure to instruct, and in still greater measure to demand ran to one hundred thousand copies. On the other side, entertain, the most miscellaneous and even the most fastidious John Wesley, who agreed with Dr. Johnson that “taxation was societies." Some controversies arose on incidental points touched no tyranny,'' issued a “Calm Address," of which forty thousand upon in Blackstone's lectures. But on the whole they were recopies were issued in three weeks. ceived with almost unbounded applause, as the first great popular A few years before this, namely 1771, the Press obtained a attempt to exhibit the laws and constitution of England, and triumph over the Legislature, the importance of which, as in. to give to the increasing body of readers a why and a because for Auencing the future character of the country, can scarcely be the government and state of things under which they lived. De exaggerated. Hitherto, whatever reports of proceedings in ParLolme, on the “Constitution of England," was to Blackstone liament had been given to the public had been done in a sinister what Paley was to Lardner, breaking down the larger and more manner, and under sufferance. But now, as if the Press had felt elaborate work into a smaller, adapted not for professional, but that it was past its nonage, and was about to enter on the exercise for general readers.
of a giant's strength, a number of the London newspapers began One of Blackstone's pupils at Oxford, where the lectures were to publish boldly the parliamentary debates. In 1771, the subdelivered, was Jeremy Bentham, a young man, then only sixteen ject was taken up by the House of Commons. Furious were the years of age. According to his own account, he was, even then, debates, and the divisions were almost endless. Printers were dissatisfied with many of Blackstone's reasons, which he con- apprehended by the officers of the House of Commons, and sidered as so many fallacies. The first volume of Blackstone's released by the Lord Mayor of London, Crosby, and Aldermen Commentaries was published at Oxford, in 1765 ; and in 1776, Wilkes and Oliver. Crosby and Oliver were sent by the House appeared Bentham's first work, " A Fragment on Government." of Commons to the Tower. Great public excitement prevailed, It was published anonymously; and, though it was a book not and immense multitudes assembled nightly around the House of calculated to gain many readers, it at least startled the thinkers. Commons. But after an exhausting struggle, the matter was Dr. Johnson attributed it to Dunning, the celebrated lawyer, dropped, and the debates have ever since been regularly published. who was afterwards created Lord Ashburton. Bentham's book To this great cause of public excitement may be added the was the first philosophic attack upon many of the distinguish- various political and party strifes, interesting the people in ing characteristics of the English constitution. In it he pro- political affairs more keenly than ever, just at the time when pounded his famous doctrine of Utility, as a universal solvent great exertions were making to supply them with food for their of all difficulties in law and government, as the grand test of new appetite. The “ Letters of Junius" taught newspaper political right and wrong. The "Fragment on Government” may be writers to come out boldly, and accustom their readers to the roll said to have been the commencement of his long career of projects of the leading article. of reform. He sowed in his closet the seeds of those reasons and At last, after gathering for a century, the French Revolution arguments which were made use of by other men, and which have burst out. It was an awful time. Some, the eyes of whose unmaterially influenced the demand for the great changes that have derstand were hut opened, and who saw “men as trees walkbeen made in English forms of government and law. In the ing," shouted aloud for joy; the hearts of others failed them for preface to the “ Fragment on Government,” he says, “ The age fear, “because of those things that were coming upon the earth." we live in is a busy age, in which knowledge is rapidly advancing Dr. Price preached a sermon on the 4th of November, 1789, on towards perfection. In the natural world, in particular, every " the love of our country,” and Burke made it the text of his thing teems with discovery and improvement. The most distant famous “ Reflections on the French Revolution." “Dr. Richard and recondite regions of the earth traversed and explored; the Price,” says Burke, “a non-conforming minister of eminence, all-vivifying and subtle element of the air so recently analyzed preached at the Dissenting meeting-house of the Old Jewry to and made known to us, are striking evidences, were all others his club or society a very extraordinary miscellaneous sermon, in wanting, of this pleasing truth.” And, in like manner, De Lolme which there are some good moral and religious sentiments, and introduces his book on the English Constitution, by telling us not ill expressed, mixed up in a sort of porridge of various polithat “ The spirit of philosophy which peculiarly distinguishes the tical opinions and reflections, but the Revolution in France is the present age, after having corrected a number of errors fatal to grand ingredient of the cauldron." Burke's impassioned and society, seems now to be directed towards the principles of society eloquent “Reflections” were read with amazing avidity. Six itself; and we see prejudices vanish which are difficult to over. editions were issued within a year, and thirty thousand copies come, in proportion as it is dangerous to attack them."
were sold before the first demand was satisfied. The same year, 1776, in which Bentham's “ Fragment on In answer to Burke, and to the party for whom he appeared, Government” was published, saw the publication of another far there were many writers; amongst them were two young men shorter work, but far more significant and startling in its nature. who had been fellow-students, and who continued in friendly corThis was the American “ Declaration of Independence." It was respondence through life. These were Sir James Macintosh a kind of thunder-shock in the moral and political world. The and Robert Hall, the celebrated Baptist preacher. Sir James American War of Independence was a natural product of natural Macintosh produced “ Vindiciæ Gallica; a Defence of the causes. It was caused by the expansion of the democratic element, French Revolution and its English Admirers, against the Accusaand the war opened a wide chasm for the passage of the ascendations of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke." This work was the ing body, and allowed it to rest on the surface. John Wesley, cause of the introduction of Sir James Macintosh into fame and writing at the time, says, " forty years ago, when my brother was public life. Thomas Paine came out with his “Rights of Man ; in Boston, it was the general language there, 'We must shake off being an answer to Mr. Burke's attack on the French Revolu. the yoke ; we shall never be a free people till we shake off the tion.” Robert Hall replied to an Independent clergyman, in yoke; and the late acts of Parliament have not been the cause
Christianity Consistent with a Love of Freedom;"
and afterwards issued “ An Apology for the Freedom of the between the years 1759 and 1763 ; and it is commonly said, that Press and for General Liberty ; to which are prefixed, Remarks Watt was led by them to his improvement of the steam-engine. on Bishop Horsley's Sermon, preached on the 30th of January, | “ This is, we think," says an author of the life of Black, "a 1793, before the House of Lords.” Hannah More also appeared mistaken view of the matter. That heat will generate steam, and on the stage in this great time of excitement. She issued “ Vil. cold condense it, are facts that were well known, independently of lage Politics, by Will Chip ;" of which the Bishop of London, the doctrine of latent heat ; though that doctrine undoubtedly writing to her, says, Village Politics is greatly extolled ; it has gives the explanation of them. The knowledge of these facts been read and admired at Windsor, and its fame is spreading might therefore have been practically applied to the construction rapidly over all parts of the kingdom. I gave one to the Attor- of the steam-engine, had Dr. Black's discovery never been made. ney-General, who has recommended it to the Association at the
It is at the same time perfectly true, that this theory supplies us Crown-and-Anchor, which will disperse it through the country.' with accurate data dependent on the quantity of heat necessary to The country was shaken to its centre ; and with political associ- to be communicated, on which calculation must proceed ; and it ations, political or state trials, and the Irish Rebellion, seemed is on the basis of such exact investigation, that the great improve. on the verge of destruction. The war that ensued diverted for a
ments in the application of steam have been brought about." season the internal strife ; but it revived with tenfold vigour after | But in spite of this objection, which almost moves in a circle, peace was secured, and produced, as its fruits, the Repeal of the the popular notion is very probably true ; “ Black taught, and Test and Corporation Acts, Catholic Emancipation, and Parlia-" Watt learned ;” and the fruits are the application of a physical mentary Reform, with all the other reforms and alterations of power, which is changing the whole relative positions of men to power which have followed.
About the year 1765, Mr. Cavendish discovered and described the properties of inflammable air, since called hydrogen gas; and
on the 1st of August, 1774, Dr. Priestley made the great and III. THE PHYSICAL INFLUENCES.
important discovery of what he called dephlogisticated air, since The advance of the lower and middle classes is strikingly illus- termed oxygen gas. From that period chemistry has risen into a trated by the fact of the great number from these classes who con
science of almost inconceivable value, as affecting the whole phytributed to all the departments of agitation or improvement, sical condition and existence of the human race. especially in science and art. Thus, though Washington, Jefferson,
In 1767, James Hargreaves, an illiterate but ingenious mechanic, and Adams, may be claimed by the upper classes, they belong invented the spinning jenny; in 1769 Arkwright took out his strictly to the middle class. Franklin was emphatically a "working patent for spinning by rollers ; Mr. Crompton, of Bolton, invented man.” Of the three men whose discoveries laid the foundation of the mule jenny in 1775 ; and the Rev. Mr. Cartwright took out modern chemistry, Black, Cavendish, and Priestley, Cavendish alone
a patent for his invention of the power loom in 1787. The belonged to the upper classes, being related to the noble family of improvements made by Watt on the steam-engine, gave a giant's Devonshire. Watt, the great improver of the steam engine, was
hand and strength to the cotton manufacture; and both together a mathematical instrument maker. Fulton, who introduced steam developed trade and commerce to an extent almost inconceivable, navigation into America, was the son of Irish emigrants. Ark-sustained a war of enormous weight, and supplied an expenditure wright, through whose discoveries the cotton manufacture was
far beyond the most sanguine imagination of the most daring destined to receive so prodigious an impulse, had been a barber. speculator, who only knew Britain previous to the year 1767 ; and Brindley, the creator of canal navigation in England, was the son aided in the increase of a population, whose numbers and demands of a labourer. Captain Cook, one of the most scientific of mari. will yet produce extraordinary changes in society. time discoverers, rose from the condition of a common sailor. In 1767 Captain Cook sailed on his first voyage of discovery to Sir William Herschel, the worthy and remarkable parent of a
the South Pacific Ocean. He clearly proved that there was no worthy and remarkable son, was of very humble origin. Dollond, Terra Australis incognita, no unknown continent, supposed to the justly celebrated optician, had been a Spitalfields silk weaver. exist, as a counterpoise to the great mass of land in the northern James Ferguson, one of the earliest of the diffusers of science in hemisphere. And yet the many isles of the southern seas are a popular form amongst the people, and to whom the extension destined to be the seat of a “New World ;" a safety valve for the of knowledge owes much, acquired the rudiments of astronomy old world, and a resting-place for its civilisation. The “
voyages while watching sheep. John Hunter, the profoundest and most of Captain Cook " revived for a time the old spirit of maritime philosophical of surgeons, worked in his youth as a cabinet discovery, to which the “ Mutiny of the Bounty" added a maker. Edward Jenner, the discoverer of vaccination, was a
romantic interest. humble medical practitioner, though his discovery made him rich. We might easily accumulate a number of facts, exhibiting the In literature and religion, the Wesleys, Goldsmith, Cowper, prodigious change which the physical influences have produced Coleridge, &c., by virtue of being children of clergymen with on society; and in reading how, in a century, the National Debt small stipends and large families, belong to the middle class ; but was increased from 50,000,000 to 800,000,000, and the populaWhitfield was the son of a tavern keeper. Burns was the child tion of Britain, in half a century, from eight to sixteen millions of a poor farmer, and held the plough. Adam Clarke, the most -how roads were formed, and mail coaches began to run, and learned man whom the Methodists have produced, was the son Brighton, Ramsgate, and Cheltenham sprang up—we fancy that of Irish cotters. Gifford, the celebrated editor of the Quarterly we see something of the change, and think that we understand Review, worked as a shoemaker, as did Carey, the chief of the how the present world differs from the past. But even if we had British pioneers of Christianity in the East Indies. To the a visible glimpse of the old world, and saw our fathers dressed middle classes belonged Bentham, Sir Walter Scott, Cuvier, Sir out in wig, and square-cut coat, and high-heeled shoes, we should Hamphry Davy, &c.—we need mention no more, unless it be the form but a vague notion of the change which the physical influ. name of William Cobbett.
ences have produced on our moral nature. We no longer breathe Dr. Black matured his speculations on the nature of heat in the same atmosphere of thought and opinion ; man has become a new creature ; old things have passed away, and all things have they soon brought themselves into an opinion that they really become new. Pope, writing a century ago, exclaimed
deserved the fine things which were mutually said and sung of “ Life's stream for observation will not stay,
each other. Thus persuaded, they were unwilling that their It hurries all too fast to mark our way ;
inimitable productions should be confined to the little circle that In vain sedate reflection we would make,
produced them ; they therefore transmitted them hither; and as When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take."
their friends were enjoined not to show them, they were first What language would he hold now? “If we were to prophesy," handed about the town with great assiduity, and then sent to the says the Edinburgh Review, “that in the year 1930, a population
press. of fifty millions, better fed, clad, and lodged than the English of " A short time before the period we speak of, a knot of fanour time, will cover these islands—that Sussex and Huntingdon- tastic coxcombs had set up a daily paper called the World.' shire will be wealthier than the wealthiest parts of the West It was perfectly unintelligible, and therefore much read; it was Riding of Yorkshire now are—that cultivation, rich as that of a equally lavish of praise and abuse ; and, as its conductors were at flower-garden, will be carried up to the very tops of Ben Nevis once ignorant and conceited, they took upon them to direct the and Helvellyn--that machines, constructed on principles yet taste of the town, by prefixing a short panegyric to every trifle undiscovered, will be in every house—that there will be no high- which came before them. ways but railroads, no travelling but by steam-that our debt, vast “At this auspicious period the first cargo of poetry arrived from as it seems to us, will appear to our great grand-children a trifling Florence, and was given to the public through the medium of incumbrance, which might be easily paid off in a year or two- this favoured paper. There was a specious brilliancy in these many people would think us insane. Yet, if any person had told exotics, which dazzled the native grubs, who had scarcely ever the parliament which met in perplexity and terror after the crash ventured beyond a sheep, and a crook, and a rose-tree grove, in 1720, that in a century the wealth of England would surpass all with an ostentatious display of blue hills, and crashing tortheir wildest dreams--that the annual revenue would equal the rents,' and ` petrifying suns!' From admiration to imitation is principal of that debt which they considered as an intolerable but a step. While the epidemic malady was spreading from fool to burden-that for one man of £10,000 then living there would be fool, Della Crusca came over, and immediately announced himfive men of £50,000 ; that London would be twice as large and self by a 'Sonnet to Love.' The fever turned into a frenzy: twice as populous, and that nevertheless the mortality would have Laura Maria, Carlos, Orlando, Adelaide, and a thousand other diminished to one-half of what it then was—that the post-office nameless names, caught the infection; and from one end of the would bring more into the exchequer than the excise and customs kingdom to the other all was nonsense and Della Crusca.” had brought in together under Charles II.—that stage coaches To crush the“ tinkling trash,'' Gifford published his " Baviad," would run from London to York in twenty-four hours—that men and afterwards the “ Mæviad," a similar satire directed against would sail without wind, and would be beginning to ride without the puerilities and extravagances of the modern drama. Pope's horses-our ancestors would have given as much credit to the
“ Dunciad,” Gifford's “Baviad and Mæviad," and Byron's prediction as to Gulliver's Travels."
“ English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,'' are satires of a class.
Crabbe is the link that connects Goldsmith, Cowper, and
Burns, with Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, IV. LITERARY INFLUENCES, EXTENSION OF
Campbell, and Moore. Crabbe and Gifford have something very EDUCATION, &c.
similar in their fortunes. Both had a hard struggle in youth; The rhetorical age of literature, when tropes and figures were and both attained literary eminence and comparative affluence, nearly as much valued as ideas, and a thought was little esteemed | The romantic portion of their respective histories ends at an unless it was elaborately dressed, began to go out on Dr. Johnson's early period, and the rest of their lives are only marked by their death. Three men, who may be taken as the representatives of their productions. respective countries, Goldsmith, Cowper, and Burns, introduced The publication of Scott's Novels commenced in 1814 ; and the reign of genuine poetry, natural feeling, and common sense. the prodigious influence which they had in still farther stimu. The Scotch philosophers, Reid, Stewart, Brown, &c., were specu- lating the public appetite for reading is well known. Goldsmith's lating on the human mind; and Adam Smith had modelled the exquisite “ Vicar of Wakefield" indicated a class of novels, to science of Political Economy. Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon, which some of our female writers, Miss Edgeworth, for instance, taught a new mode of history. While literature was thus ascending, and Miss Hamilton, in her admirable “ Cottagers of Glenburgie, a curious “ literary episode " occurred. A style of poetry, called powerfully contributed ; but the general English school of novels the “ Della Cruscan” arose, and was in high favour for a time. merited, to the full extent, Cowper's indignant denunciation, as Della Crusca, that is, literally, "of the bran or chaff,” was the vile trash, that marred what they affected to mend. Scott opened name of the celebrated Italian Academy, which undertook the a new novel world; and the interest which his writings excited, sifting or purifying of the national tongue, and whose dictionary as well as the sale which they obtained, showed something more is the standard authority for the Italian language. The following than the fact of their intrinsic excellence: they showed how is the origin of the Della Cruscan style of poetry as given by rapidly had been the intellectual growth of the middle classes, Gifford :
and to what a vast audience literature could now appeal. A " In 1785, a few English of both sexes (amongst whom was portion of “ Waverley " was written in 1805 ; and we may put Mrs. Piozzi, formerly Mrs. Thrale, the celebrated patroness of Dr. the question, if the success of the series would have been so great, Johnson) whom chance had jumbled together at Florence, took a if the publication had then commenced, instead of being delayed fancy to while away their time in scribbling high-flown panegyrics till 1814? All successful things are largely dependent upon apon themselves, and complimentary canzonettas' on two or three propriate time and opportunity. Scott's poetry had been creating Italians, who understood too little of the language in which they the demand for his novels, and preparing the way; and when were written to be disgusted with them. In this there was not Byron, with his impassioned and fever-heated lays, was carrying off much harm, nor, indeed, much good; but, as folly is progressive, a portion of his popularity, the time was come for their appearance.