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BIOGRAPHICAL, CRITICAL, AND HISTORICAL.
THE LITERARY LIFE OF DR. HAWKESWORTH.
JOHN HAWKESWORTH was born in the year
1719; his parents were dissenters, and, in the early part of his life, he frequented the meeting of Mr. Bradbury, a celebrated preacher of his sect. He was intended for the profession of the Law, and placed as a hired clerk with Mr. Harwood, an attorney in the Poultry. Soon disgusted, however, with his employment, he deserted it for the more precarious, though more pleasing, occupation of literature.
In what mode, or at what school, he was qualified for the pursuit which he had now adopted, is not known. Sir John Hawkins has
affirmed, that he was a man of fine parts, but no learning: his reading," he declares, “had been irregular and desultory: the knowledge he had acquired, he by the help of a good memory retained, so that it was ready at every call; but on no subject had he ever formed any system. All of ethics that he knew, he had got from Pope's Essay on Man and Epistles; he had read the modern French writers, and more particularly the poets; and with the aid of Keill's Introduction, Chambers's Dictionary, and other such common books, had attained such an insight into physics, as enabled him to talk on the subject. In the more valuable branches of learning he was deficient."
There is reason to think that this account does not do justice to the acquirements of Hawkesworth, and that even at the age of twenty-five he had obtained no small reputation as a literary character; for at this period, namely, in the year 1744, he was engaged, by the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, to succeed Johnson in the compilement of the Parliamentary Debates; then deemed a very important part of that interesting miscellany.
To Mr. Urban's pages he was for four years, also, a poetical contributor under the signature of
* Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 252.
Greville, and of his poems in this work the following catalogue has been given by Mr. Duncombe. For 1746, the Devil Painter, a Tale; the Chaise Percee; Epistle to the King of Prussia; Lines to the Rev. Mr. Layng, and to Dr. Warburton, on a series of theological inquiries; a Thought from Marcus Antoninus, and the Smart. For 1747, the Accident; Ants' Philosophy; Death of Arachne; Chamont and Honorius; Origin of Doubt; Life, an Ode; Lines to Hope; Winter, an Ode; and the Experiment, a Tale. 1748, the Midsummer Wish; Solitude; the Twỏ, Doves, a Fable, and Autumn. For 1749, Poverty Insulted; Region allotted to Old Maids; the Nymph at her Toilet; God is Love, and Chloe's Soliloquy.
Several of these little productions, the occa sional amusement of his leisure, are elegant and pleasing; but, like Johnson, the powers of his imagination are in a much higher degree displayed in his prose than in his verse.
The domestic circumstances of our author, at this period, are little known; and it is remarkable, that not one of his relations, or literary friends, has thought it necessary to preserve.or record the events of his life. His pecuniary resources, during his early connection with the Gentleman's Magazine, are supposed to have been very confined;