Obrazy na stronie


nor were they probably immediately or much enlarged by his matrimonial connection, for his wife kept a boarding-school for young ladies at Bromley in Kent.

[ocr errors]

The friendship of Johnson, however, was of essential service to him; through this medium he became acquainted with many eminent scholars; and it speaks highly in favour of his literary talents, that when the Club in Ivy-Lane was constituted, of the nine members which originally formed its circle, Hawkesworth was selected by Johnson as one.

[ocr errors]

The success of the Rambler as soon as it was collected into volumes, the admiration which it excited in the breast of our author, and the wish, which he was known to entertain, of pursuing the footsteps of Johnson, induced him, in the year 1752, to project and commence a Periodical Paper, under the title of THe Adventurer. For a work of this kind Hawkesworth appears, in many respects, to have been well qualified. His literature, though by no means deep or accurate, was elegant and various; his style was polished, his imagination ardent; his morals were pure, and he possessed an intimate knowledge of the world. He did not, however, attempt the exécution of his scheme, unassisted; his first coadjutor was Dr. Richard Bathurst; and he soon after, in

the view of this resource soon failing, obtained the aid of Johnson, and, through his influence, of Dr. Joseph Warton. The letter of our great moralist, on the occasion, as developing, in a considerable degree, the plan of the Adventurer, it will be proper, in this place, to insert.

"To the Rev. Dr. Joseph Warton."

: "Dear Sir,

no】 ought to have written to you before now, but Lought to do many things which I do not; nor can I, indeed, claim any merit from this letter; for being desired by the authors and proprietor of the Adventurer to look out for another hand, my thoughts necessarily fixed upon you, whose fund of literature will enable you to assist them, with very little interruption of your studies...:

"They desire you to engage to furnish one paper à month, at two guineas a paper, which you may very readily perform. We have considered that a paper should consist of pieces of imagination, pictures of life, and disquisitions of literature. The part which depends on the imagination is very well supplied, as you will find when you read the paper; for descriptions of life, there is now a treaty almost made with an author and an authoress; and the province of

This treaty was never executed.

criticism and literature they are very desirous to assign to the Commentator on Virgil.

[ocr errors]

"I hope this proposal will not be rejected, and that the next post will bring us your compliance. I speak as one of the fraternity, though I have no part in the paper, beyond now and then a motto;* but two of the writers are my particular friends, and I hope the pleasure of seeing a third united to them will not be denied to, dear Sir,

"Your most obedient,

"And most humble servant, "Sam. Johnson."‡

The first of the Adventurers, on a folio sheet, was given to the world on November the 7th, 1752; and the paper was continued every Tuesday and Saturday, until Saturday, the 9th of March, 1754; when it closed with N° 140, signed by Hawkesworth, in his capacity of Editor. The price of each essay was the same as of the Ramblers, and it was printed for J. Payne, at Pope's Head, in Paternoster-Row.

The name, the design, the conduct, and the execution of seventy numbers, of the Adventurer,

Dr. Johnson had, at this time, only written one paper, and the profits were given to Dr. Bathurst.

† Hawkesworth and Bathurst.

+ Boswell's Johnson, vol. 1, p, 216, 217.

are to be ascribed to Hawkesworth. The sale, during its circulation in separate papers, was very extensive; and, when thrown into volumes, four copious editions passed through the press in little more than eight years.

The variety, indeed, the fancy, the taste, and practical morality, which the pages of this perio-. dical paper exhibit, were such as to ensure popularity; and it may be pronounced, as a whole, the most spirited and fascinating of the class to which it belongs.

To his essays in the Adventurer Hawkes..... worth was, in fact, indebted for his fame, and, ultimately, his fortune; and, as they are the most. stable basis of his reputation, a more minute in- ? quiry into their merits will be necessary.

It is scarcely requisite to observe, that he formed his STYLE on that of Dr. Johnson; he was not, however, a servile imitator; his compo sition has more case and sweetness than the model possesses, and is consequently better adapted for a work, one great object of which is popularity. · He has laid aside the sesquipedalia verba, and, `in a great measure, the monotonous arrangement and the cumbrous splendour of his prototype, preserving, at the same time, much of his harmony of cadence and vigour of construction. Of the following paragraphs the first and second

exhibit a style elegant, correct, nervous, and per- ~ spicuous, yet essentially different from the diction of the Rambler, while the third has been evidently formed in the Johnsonian mould.. · 0 0 "The dread of death has seldom been found to intrude upon the cheerfulness, simplicity, and innocence of children; they gaze at a funeral procession with as much vacant curiosity as at any other show, and see the world change before them without the least sense of their own share in the vicissitude. In youth, when all the appetites are strong, and every gratification is heightened by novelty, the mind resists mournful impressions with a kind of elastic power, by which the signature that is forced upon it is immediately effaced: when this tumult first sub sides, while the attachment of life is yet strong, and the mind begins to look forward, and concert measures by which those enjoyments may be secured which it is solicitous to keep, or others obtained to atone for the disappointments that are past, then death starts up like a spectre in all his terrors, the blood is chilled at his appearance, he is perceived to approach with a constant and irresistible pace, retreat is impossible, and resis tance is vain.

[ocr errors]

"The terror and anguish which this image pros duces whenever it first rushes upon the mind, are

« PoprzedniaDalej »