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and patient contemplation; a thousand slight and harmonising touches, the merit and the effect of which are equally imperceptible to vulgar eyes; and a thousand indications of the continual presence of that poetical spirit which can only be recognised by those who are in some measure under its influence, and have prepared themselves to receive it, by worshipping meekly at the shrines which it inhabits.
In the exposition of these there is room enough for originality, and more room than Mr Hazlitt has yet filled. In many points, however, he has acquitted himself excellently; particularly in the development of the principal characters with which Shakspeare has peopled the fancies of all English readers—but principally, we think, in the delicate sensibility with which he has traced, and the natural eloquence with which he has pointed out, that familiarity with beautiful forms and images—that eternal recurrence to what is sweet or majestic in the simple aspects of nature—that indestructible love of flowers and odours, and dews and clear waters—and soft airs and sounds, and bright skies, and woodland solitudes, and moonlight bowers, which are the material elements of poetry—and that fine sense of their undefinable relation to mental emotion, which is its essence and vivifying soul—and which, in the midst of Shakspeare's most busy and atrocious scenes, falls like gleams of sunshine on rocks and ruins—contrasting with all that is rugged and repulsive, and reminding us of the existence of purer and brighter elements—which he alone has poured out from the richness of his own mind without effort or restraint, and contrived to intermingle with the play of all the passions, and the vulgar course of this world's affairs, without deserting for an instant the proper business of the scene, or appearing to pause or digress from love of ornament or need of repose; he alone who, when the subject requires it, is always keen, and worldly, and practical, and who yet, without changing his hand, or stopping his course, scatters around him as he goes all sounds and shapes of sweetness, and conjures up landscapes of immortal fragrance and freshness, and peoples them with spirits of glorious aspect and attractive grace, and is a thousand times more full of imagery and splendour than those who, for the sake of such qualities, have shrunk back from the delineation of character or passion, and declined the discussion of human duties and cares. More full of wisdom, and ridicule, and sagacity, than all the moralists and satirists in existence, he is more wild, airy, and inventive, and more pathetic and fantastic, than all the poets of all regions and ages of the world; and has all those elements so happily mixed up in him, and bears his high faculties so temperately, that the most severe reader cannot complain of him for want of strength or of reason, nor the most sensitive for defect of ornament or ingenuity. Everything in him is in unmeasured abundance and unequalled perfection; but everything so balanced and kept in subordination as not to jostle or disturb or take the place of another. The most exquisite poetical conceptions, images, and descriptions, are given with such brevity, and introduced with such skill, as merely to adorn without loading the sense they accompany. Although his sails are purple, and perfumed, and his prow of beaten gold, they waft him on his voyage, not less, but more rapidly and directly, than if they had been composed of baser materials. All his excellences, like those of Nature herself, are thrown out together; and instead of interfering with, support and recommend each other. His flowers are not tied up in garlands, nor his fruits crushed into baskets, but spring living from the soil, in all the dew and freshness of youth; while the graceful foliage in which they lurk, and the ample branches, the rough and vigorous stem, and the wide-spreading roots on which they depend, are present along with them, and share, in their places, the equal care of their Cre:
Of the invention of the steam-engine he remarks with a rich felicity of illustration:
It has become a thing stupendous alike for its force and its flexibility—for the prodigious power which it can exert, and the ease, and precision, and ductility with which it can be varied, distributed, and applied. The trunk of an elephant, that can pick up a pin or rend an oak, is as nothing to it. # can engrave a seal, and crush masses of obdurate metal before it— draw out, without breaking, a thread as fine as gossamer, and lift up a ship of war like a bauble in the air. It can embroider muslin and forge anchors, cut steel into ribbons, and impel loaded vessels against the fury of the winds and waves.
How just, also, and how finely expressed, is the following refutation of a vulgar error that even Byron condescended to sanction, namely, that genius is a source of peculiar unhappiness to its possessors:
Men of truly great powers of mind have generally been cheerful, social, and indulgent; while a tendency to sentimental whining or fierce intolerance may be ranked among the surest symptoms of little souls and inferior intellects. In the whole list of our English poets we can only remember Shenstone and Savage— two certainly of the lowest—who were querulous and discontented. Cowley, indeed, used to call himself melancholy; but he was not in earnest, and at any rate was full of conceits and affectations, and has nothing to make us proud of him. Shakspeare, the greatest of them all, was evidently of a free and joyous temperament; and so was iChaucer, their common master. The same disposition appears to have predominated in Fletcher, Jonson, and their great contemporaries. The genius of Milton partook something of the austerity of the party to which he belonged, and of the controversies in which he was involved; but even when fallen on evil days and evil tongues, his spirit seems to have retained its serenity as well as its dignity; and in his private life, as well as in his poetry, the majesty of a high character is tempered with great sweetness, genial indulgences, and practical wisdom. In the succeeding age our poets were but too gay; and though we forbear to speak of living authors, we know enough of them to say with confidence, that to be miserable or to be hated is not now, any more than heretofore, the common lot of those who excel.
Innumerable observations of this kind, remarkable for ease and grace, and for original reflection, may be found scattered through Lord Jeffrey's critiques. His political remarks and views of public events are equally discriminating, but of course will be judged of according to the opinions of the reader. None will be found at variance with national honour or morality, which are paramount to all mere party questions. As a literary critic, we may advert to the singular taste and judgment which Lord Jeffrey exercised in making selections from the works he reviewed, and interweaving them, as it were, with the text of his criticism. Whatever was picturesque, solemn, pathetic, or sublime, caught his eye, and was thus introduced to a new and vastly extended circle of readers, besides furnishing matter for various collections of extracts and innumerable school-exercises. The chief defect of his writing is the occasional diffuseness and carelessness of his style. He wrote as he spoke, with great rapidity and with a flood of illustration.
At the bar, Jeffrey's eloquence and intrepidity were not less conspicuous than his literary talents. In 1829 he was, by the unanimous suffrages of his legal brethren, elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and he then resigned the editorship of the Review into the hands of another Scottish advocate, the late MR MACVEY NAPIER (1777–1847). In 1830, on the formation of Earl Grey's ministry, Jeffrey was nominated to the first office under the crown in Scotland—Lord Advocate—and sat for some time in parliament. In 1834 he gladly exchanged the turmoil of politics for the duties of a Scottish judge; and as Lord Jeffrey, he sat on the bench until within a few days of his death, on the 26th of January 1850. As a judge he was noted for undeviating attention, uprightness, and ability; as a citizen, he was esteemed and beloved. He practised a generous though unostentatious hospitality, preserved all the finer qualities of his mind undiminished to the last, and delighted a wide circle of ever-welcome friends and visitors by his rich conversational powers, candour, and humanity. The more important of Jeffrey's contributions to the Edinburgh Review were collected by him in 1844, and published in four volumes, since reprinted in one large volume. We add a specimen, from a review of Campbell's Specimens of the British Poets, 1819.
[The Perishable Nature of Poetical Fame.]
Next to the impression of the vast fertility, compass, and beauty of our English poetry, the reflection that recurs most frequently and forcibly to us in accompanying Mr Campbell through his wide survey, is the perishable nature of poetical fame, and the speedy oblivion that has overtaken so many of the promised heirs of immortality. Of near two hundred and fifty authors, whose works are cited in these volumes, by far the greater part of whom were celebrated in their generation, there are not thirty who now enjoy any thing that can be called popularity-whose works are to be found in the hands of ordinary readers, in the shops of ordinary booksellers, or in the press for republication. About fifty more may be tolerably familiar to men of taste or literature: the rest slumber on the shelves of collectors, and are partially known to a few antiquaries and scholars. Now, the fame of a poet is popular, or nothing. He does not address himself, like the man of science, to the learned, or those who desire to learn, but to all mankind; and his purpose being to delight and to be praised, necessarily extends to all who can receive pleasure, or join in applause. It is strange, and somewhat humiliating, to see how great a proportion of those who had once fought their way successfully to distinction, and surmounted the rivalry of contemporary envy, have again sunk into neglect. We have great deference for public opinion; and readily admit that nothing but what is good can be permanently popular. But though its vivat be generally oracular, its pereat appears to us to be often sufficiently capricious; and while we would foster all that it bids to live, we would willingly revive much that it leaves to die. The very multiplication of works of amusement necessarily withdraws many from notice that deserve to be kept in remembrance; for we should soon find it labour, and not amusement, if we were obliged to make use of them all, or even to take all upon trial. As the materials of enjoyment and instruction accumulate around us, more and more must thus be daily rejected and left to waste: for while our tasks lengthen, our lives remain as short as ever; and the calls on our time multiply, while our time itself is flying swiftly away. This superfluity and abundance of our treasures, therefore, necessarily renders much of them worthless; and the veriest accidents may, in such a case, determine what part shall be preserved, and what thrown away and neglected. When an army is
decimated, the very bravest may fall; and many poets, worthy of eternal remembrance, have been forgotten, merely because there was not room in our memories for all. By such a work as the Specimens, however, this injustice of fortune may be partly redressed—some small fragments of an immortal strain may still be rescued from oblivion—and a wreck of a name preserved, which time appeared to have swallowed up for ever. There is something pious, we think, and endearing, in the office of thus gathering up the ashes of renown that has passed away; or rather, of calling back the departed life for a transitory glow, and enabling those great spirits which seemed to be laid for ever, still to draw a tear of pity, or a throb of admiration, from the hearts of a forgetful generation. The body of their poetry, probably, can never be revived; but some sparks of its spirit may yet be preserved, in a narrower and feebler frame. When we look back upon the havoc which two hundred years have thus made in the ranks of our immortals—and, above all, when we refer their rapid disappearance to the quick succession of new competitors, and the accumulation of more good works than there is time to peruse—we cannot help being dismayed at the prospect which lies before the writers of the present day. There never was an age so prolific of popular poetry as that in which we now live; and as wealth, population, and education extend, the produce is likely to go on increasing. The last ten years have produced, we think, an annual supply of about ten thousand lines of good staple poetry—poetry from the very first hands that we can boast of—that runs quickly to three or four large editions—and is as likely to be permanent as present success can make it. Now, if this goes on for a hundred years longer, what a task will await the poetical readers of 1919: Our living poets will then be nearly as old as Pope and Swift are at present, but there will stand between them and that generation nearly ten times as much fresh and fashionable poetry as is now interposed between us and those writers; and if Scott, and Byron, and Campbell, have already cast Pope and Swift a good deal into the shade, in what form and dimensions are they themselves likely to be presented to the eyes of their great-grandchildren? The thought, we own, is a little appalling; and, we confess, we see nothing better to imagine than that they may find a comfortable place in some new collection of specimens—the centenary of the present publication. There—if the future editor have anything like the indulgence and veneration for antiquity of his predecessor—there shall posterity still hang with rapture on the half of Campbell, and the fourth part of Byron, and the sixth of Scott, and the scattered tithes of Crabbe, and the three per cent of Southey: while some good-natured critic shall sit in our mouldering chair, and more than half prefer them to those by whom they have been superseded ! It is an hyperbole of good-nature, however, we fear, to ascribe to them even those dimensions at the end of a century. After a lapse of two hundred and fifty years, we are afraid to think of the space they may have shrunk into. ...We have no Shakspeare, alas! to shed a never-setting light on his contemporaries; and if we continue to write and rhyme at the present rate for two hundred years longer, there must be some new art of short-hand reading invented, or all reading must be given up in despair.
hi ENRY LORD BROUGH AM.
Of the original contributors to the Edinburgh
Review, the most persevering, voluminous, and varied
was HENRY BRouGHAM, also, like Jeffrey, a native
of Edinburgh. His family, however, belonged to the
north of England. The father of the futu: lord 54
chancellor came to reside in Edinburgh, and lodged with the widow of a Scottish minister, a sister of Dr Robertson, the historian. This lady had a daughter, and Eleanora Syme became the wife of Henry Brougham, younger of Brougham Hall in Westmoreland. The first offspring of the marriage was a son, born in 1778 or 1779, and named, after his father, Henry." At an early age, Henry Brougham was sent to the High School of Edinburgh, and his
contemporary, Lord Cockburn, in his Memorials of his Time, relates a characteristic anecdote, typical of Brougham's future career. “Brougham, he says, ‘made his first public explosion in Fraser's (the Latin) class. He dared to differ from Fraser, a hot, but good-natured old fellow, on some small bit of Latinity. The master, like other men in power, maintained his own infallibility, punished the rebel, and flattered himself that the affair was over. But
Henry Lord Brougham.
Brougham reappeared next day, loaded with books, returned to the charge before the whole class, and compelled honest Luke to acknowledge he had been wrong. This made Brougham famous throughout the whole school. I remember having had him pointed out to me as the fellow who had beat the master. From the High School, Brougham entered the University, and applied himself so assiduously to the study of mathematics, that in 1796 he was able to contribute to the Philosophical Transactions a paper on Experiments and Observations on the Inflection, Reflection, and Colours of Light. In 1798 he had another paper in the same work, General
* The peerage books give the 19th September 1778 as Lord Brougham's birthday, but the Scots Magazine records the *:::marriage under the date of 25th May 1778.
Theorems, chiefly Porisms in the Higher Geometry. Thomas Campbell, who then lived in Edinburgh, said the best judges there regarded these theorems, as proceeding from a youth of twenty, “with astonishment. Having finished his university course, Henry Brougham studied for the Scottish bar, at which he practised till 1807. In 1803, besides co-operating zealously in the Edinburgh Review, he published an elaborate work in two volumes, An Inquiry into the Colonial Policy of the European Powers, in which he discussed the colonial systems of America, France, Spain, and England. His unwearied application, fearlessness, and vehement oratory made him distinguished as an English barrister, and in 1810 he entered the House of Commons, and joined the Whig opposition. There he rose to still greater
| eminence. His political career does not fall within
the scope of this work, but it strikingly illustrates the sagacity of his friend, Francis Horner, who said of him in January 1810: ‘I would predict that, though he may very often cause irritation and uncertainty about him to be felt by those with whom he is politically connected, his course will prove, in the main, serviceable to the true faith of liberty and liberal principles. In the course of his ambitious career, Henry Brougham fell off from his early friends. We have no trace of him in the genial
correspondence of Horner, Sydney Smith, or Jeffrey. ||
Politicians neither love nor hate, according to Dryden; but though Brougham could not inspire affection, and was erratic and inconsistent in much of his conduct, amidst all his personal ambition, rashness, and indiscretion, he was the steady friend of public improvement, of slave abolition, popular education, religious toleration, free-trade, and law reform. Here were ample grounds for public admiration; and when in 1830 he received the highest professional advancement, by his elevation to the office of Lord Chancellor, and the name of the great commoner, Henry Brougham, was merged in that of Lord Brougham and Vaux, the nation generally felt and acknowledged that the honours were well won, and worthily bestowed. Lord Brougham held the Great Seal for four years, retiring with his party in November 1834. This terminated his official life, but he has since laboured unceasingly as a law reformer. His withdrawal from office also left him leisure for those literary and scientific pursuits which he had never wholly relinquished. Since that period the noble lord has brought out a variety of works–Memoirs of the Statesmen of the Reign of George III., Lives of Men, and Letters and Science in the Reign of George III.; Political Philosophy; Speeches, with Historical Introductions, and Dissertation upon the Eloquence of the Ancients; Discourse on Paley's Natural Philosophy: Analytical View of Sir Isaac Newton's Principua; Contributions to the Edinburgh Review; and several pamphlets on Law Reform. A cheap collected edition of these works, in ten volumes, was issued in 1855–6. In his youth, the noble lord is said to have written a novel, and to have tried his hand at poetry! There is, perhaps, no department of science or literature into which he has not made incursions. He has only, however, reaped laurels on the fields of forensic and senatorial eloquence. As an essayist or critic, he must rank below his youthful associates, Francis Jeffrey and Sydney Smith. His style is generally heavy, verbose, and inelegant; and his time was, during the better part of his life, too exclusively devoted to public affairs to enable him to keep pace with the age, either in exact scientific knowledge or correct literary information. In his sketches of modern statesmen, however, we have occasionally new facts and letters, to which ordinary writers had not access, illustrative of interesting and important events.
A taste for literary history and anecdote was diffused by MR ISAAC DISRAELI, author of the Curiosities of Literature, and other works. The first volume of the Curiosities was published in 1791; a second appeared a few years afterwards; and a third in 1817. A second series was afterwards published, in three volumes. The other works of Mr Disraeli are entitled Literary Miscellanies; Quarrels of Authors; Calamities of Authors; Character of James I.; and The Literary Character. The whole of these are now printed in one large volume. In 1841 this author,
authors have traversed so many fields of literature, and gleaned such a variety of curious and interesting particulars. After a long life spent in literary research and composition, Mr Disraeli died at his seat of Bradenham House, Bucks, in 1848, aged eighty-two. In the following year a new edition —the fourteenth—of the Curiosities of Literature was published, accompanied with a memoir from the pen of his son, the Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli, who has since (1858) published a collected edition of his father's works in seven handsome portable volumes. The family of Disraeli settled in England in 1748. The father of Isaac was an Italian descendant of one of the Hebrew families whom the Inquisition forced to emigrate from the Spanish peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century, and who found a refuge in the Venetian republic. “His ancestors, says Mr Benjamin Disraeli, “had dropped their Gothic surname on their settlement in the Terra Firma, and, grateful to the God of Jacob who had sustained them through unprecedented trials, and guarded them through unheard-of perils, they assumed the name of Disraeli [more correctly D'Israeli, for so it was written down to the time of its present political owner], a name never borne before or since by any other family, in order that their race might be for ever recognised. This seems a poetical genealogy. Benjamin Disraeli, the first English settler of the race, entered into business in London, made a fortune while still in middle life, and retired to Enfield, where he died in 1817, at the age of ninety. Isaac, his son, was wholly devoted to literature. His parents considered him moon
struck, but after various efforts to make him a man of business, they acquiesced in his determination to become a man of letters. He wrote a poem against Wolcot, a satire On the Abuse of Satire, and then entered on that course of antiquarian literary research which has made his name known to the world. His fortune was sufficient for his wants, his literary reputation was considerable, and he possessed a happy equanimity of character. “His feelings,’ says his son, ‘though always amiable, were not painfully deep, and amid joy or sorrow, the philosophic vein was ever evident. His thoughts all centered in his library ! The Curiosities of Literature still maintain their place. Some errors —chiefly in boasted discoveries and second-hand quotations—have been pointed out by Mr Bolton Corney, in his amusing and sarcastic volume of Illustrations (1838), but the labours of Disraeli are not likely to be soon superseded. He was not the first in the field. “Among my earliest literary friends, he says, “two distinguished themselves by their anecdotical literature; James Petit Andrews, by his Anecdotes Ancient and Modern, and William Seward, by his Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons. These volumes were favourably received, and to such a degree, that a wit of that day, and who is still (1839) a wit as well as a poet, considered that we were far gone in our ‘anecdotage.” Disraeli's work, The Literary Character, or the History of Men of Genius drawn from their own Feelings and ConJessions, is his ablest production. It was a favourite with Byron—‘often a consolation, and always a pleasure.’
An excellent collection of apophthegms and moral reflections was published in 1820, under the title of Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words; addressed to those who Think. Six editions of the work were disposed of within a twelvemonth, and the author in 1822 added a second volume to the collection. The history of the author of Lacon conveys a moral more striking than any of his maxims. The REv. CALEB C. Colton was vicar of Kew and Petersham; gambling and extravagance forced him to leave England, and he resided some time in America and in Paris. In the French capital he is said to have been so successful as a gamester that in two years he realised £25,000. He committed suicide at Fontainbleau in 1832. We subjoin a few of the reflections from Lacon.
[True Genius always United to Reason.]
The great examples of Bacon, of Milton, of Newton, of Locke, and of others, happen to be directly against the popular inference, that a certain wildness of eccentricity and thoughtlessness of conduct are the necessary accompaniments of talent, and the sure indications of genius. Because some have united these extravagances with great demonstrations of talent, as a Rousseau, a Chatterton, a Savage, a Burns, or a Byron, others, finding it less difficult to be eccentric than to be brilliant, have therefore adopted the one, in the hope that the
*Those works are now rarely met with. The Anecdotes of JAMEs PETIT ANDREws (1737-1797) were published in 1789-90. He wrote also a Continuation of Henry's History of England, and other historical and antiquarian works. WILLIAM SEwARD (1747–1799) published his Anecdotes of Some Distinguished Persons, in two volumes, in 1794. . He added three more volumes, and afterwards another work of the same kind, Biographiana, two volumes, 1799. Mr Seward was the son of a wealthy brewer, partner in the firm of Calvert and Co. *: # him will be found in Boswell's Life of Johnson.
world would give them credit for the other. But the greatest genius is never so great as when it is chastised and subdued by the highest reason; it is from such a combination, like that of Bucephalus reined in by Alexander, that the most powerful efforts have been produced. And be it remembered, that minds of the very highest order, who have given an unrestrained course to their caprice, or to their passions, would have been so much higher, by subduing them; and that so far from presuming that the world would give them credit for talent, on the score of their aberrations and their extravagances, all that they dared hope or expect has been, that the world would pardon and overlook those extravagances, on account of the various and manifold proofs they were constantly exhibiting of superior acquirement and inspiration. We might also add, that the good effects of talent are universal, the evil of its blemishes confined. The light and heat of the sun benefit all, and are by all enjoyed; the spots on his surface are discoverable only to the few. But the lower order of aspirers to fame and talent have pursued a very different course; instead of exhibiting talent in the hope that the world would forgive their eccentricities, they have exhibited only their eccentricities in the hope that the world would give them credit for talent.
[Error only to be Combated by Argument.]
We should justly ridicule a general, who, just before an action, should suddenly disarm his men, and putting into the hands of all of them a Bible, should order them, thus equipped, to march against the enemy. Here we plainly see the folly of calling in the Bible to support the sword; but is it not as great a folly to call in the sword to support the Bible? Our Saviour divided force from reason, and let no man presume to join what God hath put asunder. When we combat error with any other weapon than argument, we err more than those whom we attack.
* [Mystery and Intrigue.]
There are minds so habituated to intrigue and mystery in themselves, and so prone to expect it from others, that they will never accept of a plain reason for a plain fact, if it be possible to devise causes for it that are obscure, far-fetched, and usually not worth the carriage. Like the miser of Berkshire, who would ruin a good horse to escape a turnpike, so these gentlemen ride their high-bred theories to death, in order to come at truth, through by-paths, lanes, and alleys; while she herself is jogging quietly along, upon the high and beaten road of common sense. The consequence is, that those who take this mode of arriving at truth, are sometimes before her, and sometimes behind her, but very seldom with her. Thus the great statesman who relates the conspiracy against Doria, pauses to deliberate upon, and minutely to scrutinise into divers and sundry errors committed, and opportunities neglected, whereby he would wish to account for the total failure of that spirited enterprise. But the plain fact was, that the scheme had been so well planned and digested, that it was victorious in every point of its operation, both on the sea and on the shore, in the harbour of Genoa, no less than in the city, until that most unlucky accident befell the Count de Fiesque, who was the very life and soul of the conspiracy. In stepping from one galley to another, the plank on which he stood upset, and he fell into the sea. His armour happened to be very heavy—the night to be very dark —the water to be very deep—and the bottom to be very muddy. And it is another plain fact, that water, in all such cases, happens to make no distinction whatever between a conqueror and a cat.