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of a foundation: instead of the angels and archangels mentioned by the informer, nothing was discovered but a wooden image of Lord Mulgrave going down to Chatham as a head-piece for the Spanker gun-vessel: it was an exact resemblance of his lordship in his military uniform; and therefore as little like a god as can well be imagined.’ The effects of the threatened French invasion are painted in similar colours. Mr Smith is arguing that, notwithstanding the fears entertained in England on this subject, the British rulers neglected the obvious means of self-defence:— “As for the spirit of the peasantry in making a gallant defence behind hedgerows, and through plate-racks and hencoops, highly as I think of their bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so likely to be struck with panic as the English; and this from their total unacquaintance with sciences of war. Old wheat and beans blazing for twenty miles round; cart mares shot; sows of Lord Somerville's breed running wild over the country; the minister of the parish wounded sorely in his hinder parts; Mrs Plymley in fits; all these scenes of war an Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four times over; but it is now three centuries since an English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English ground, or a farm-house been rifled, or a clergyman's wife been subjected to any other proposals of love than the connubial endearments of her sleek and orthodox mate. The old edition of Plutarch's Lives, which lies in the corner of your parlour window, has contributed to work you up to the most romantic expectations of our Roman behaviour. You are persuaded that Lord Amherst will defend Kew Bridge like Cocles; that some maid of honour will break away from her captivity and swim over the Thames; that the Duke of York will burn his capitulating hand; and little Mr Sturges Bourne giveforty years' purchase for Moulsham Hall while the French are encamped upon it. I hope we shall witness all this, if the French do come; but in the meantime I am so enchanted with the ordinary English behaviour of these invaluable persons, that I earnestly pray no opportunity may be given them for Roman valour, and for those very un-Roman pensions which they would all, of course, take especial care to claim in consequence.’ One of the happiest and most forcible of Mr Smith's humorous comparisons is that in which he says, of a late English minister, on whom he had bestowed frequent and elaborate censure—“I do not attack him from the love of glory, but from the love of utility, as a burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke, for fear it should flood a province.’ Another occurs in a speech delivered at Taunton in 1831 — I do not mean,’ he says, “to be disrespectful, but the attempt of the lords to stop the progress of reform reminds me very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and of the conduct of the excellent Mrs Partington on that occasion. In the winter of 1824 there set in a great flood upon that town—the tide rose to an incredible height—the waves rushed in upon the houses —and everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, and squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a tempest.’ Illustrations of this kind are highly characteristic of their author. They display the fertility of his fancy and the richness of
his humour, at the same time that they drive home his argument with irresistible effect. Sidney Smith, like Swift, seems never to have taken up his pen from the mere love of composition, but to enforce practical views and opinions on which he felt strongly. His wit and banter are equally direct and cogent. Though a professed joker and convivial wit—“a diner out of the first lustre,’ as he has himself characterised Mr Canning—there is "not one of his humorous or witty sallies that does not seem to flow naturally, and without effort, as if struck out or remembered at the moment it is used. Mr Smith gives the following account of his connexion with the Edinburgh Review:— “When first I went into the church I had a curacy in the middle of Salisbury Plain. The squire of the parish took a fancy to me, and requested me to go with his son to reside at the university of Weimar; before we could get there, Germany became the seat of war, and in stress of politics we put in to Edinburgh, where I remained five years.
The principles of the French Revolution were then
fully afloat, and it is impossible to conceive a more violent and agitated state of society. Among the first persons with whom I became acquainted were Lord Jeffrey, Lord Murray (late Lord Advocate for Scotland), and Lord Brougham; all of them maintaining opinions upon political subjects a little too liberal for the dynasty of Dundas, then exercising supreme power over the northern division of the island. One day we happened to meet in the eighth or ninth storey or flat in Buccleuch Place, the elevated residence of the then Mr Jeffrey. I proposed that we should set up a Review; this was acceded to with acclamation. I was appointed editor, and remained long enough in Edinburgh to edit the first number of the Edinburgh Review. The motto I proposed for the Review was—
“Tenui musam meditamur avena"— We cultivate literature upon a little oatmeal.
But this was too near the truth to be admitted, and so we took our present grave motto from Publius Syrus, of whom none of us had, I am sure, ever read a single line; and so began what has since turned out to be a very important and able journal. When I left Edinburgh it fell into the stronger hands of Lord Jeffrey and Lord Brougham, and reached the highest point of popularity and success.” Mr Smith is now, we believe, above seventy years of age, but his vigorous understanding, his wit and humour, are still undiminished. The chief merit and labour attaching to the continuance and the success of the Edinburgh Review fell on its accomplished editor, FRANCIs JEFFREy, now one of the judges of the Court of Session in Scotland. From 1803 to 1829 Mr Jeffrey had the sole management of the Review; and when we consider the distinguished ability which it has uniformly displayed, and the high moral character it
has upheld, together with the independence and
fearlessness with which from the first it has promulgated its canons of criticism on literature, science, and government, we must admit that few men have exercised such influence as Francis Jeffrey on the whole current of contemporary literature and public opinion. tendence, Mr Jeffrey was a large contributor to the Review. The departments of poetry and elegant literature seem to have been his chosen field; and he constantly endeavoured, as he says, “to combine ethical precepts with literary criticism, and
earnestly sought to impress his readers with a sense both of the close connexion between sound in
tellectual attainments and the higher elements of 696
Besides his general superinduty and enjoyment, and of the just and ultimate subordination of the former to the latter.” This was a vocation of high mark and responsibility, and on the whole the critic discharged his duty with honour and success. As a moral writer he was unimpeachable. The principles of his criticism are generally sound and elevated. In some instances he was harsh and unjust. His reviews of Southey, Wordsworth, Lamb, and Montgomery, are indefensible, inasmuch as the writer seems intent on finding fault rather than in discovering beauties, and to be more piqued with occasional deviation from established and conventional rules, than gratified with originality of thought and indications of true genius. No excuse can be offered for the pertness and flippancy of expression in which many of these critiques abound, and their author has himself expressed his regret for the undue severity into which he was betrayed. There is some ground, therefore, for charging upon the Edinburgh Review, in its earlier career, an absence of proper respect and enthusiasm for the works of living genius. Where no prejudice or prepossession of the kind intervened, Jeffrey was an admirable critic. His dissertations on the works of Cowper, Crabbe, Byron, Scott, and Campbell, and on the earlier and greater lights of our poetry, as well as those on moral science, national manners, and views of actual life, are expressed with great eloquence and originality, and in a fine spirit of humanity. His powers of perception and analysis are quick, subtle, and penetrating, and withal comprehensive; while his brilliant imagination invested subjects that in ordinary hands would have been dry and uninviting, with strong interest and attraction. He seldom gave full scope to his feelings and
sympathies, but they occasionally broke forth with inimitable effect, and kindled up the pages of his criticism. At times, indeed, his language is poeti
cal in a high degree. The following glowing tribute to the universal genius of Shakspeare is worthy of the subject:
Many persons are very sensible of the effect of fine poetry upon their feelings, who do not well know how to refer these feelings to their causes; and it is always a delightful thing to be made to see clearly the sources from which our delight has proceeded, and to trace the mingled stream that has flowed upon our hearts to the remoter fountains from which it has been gathered; and when this is done with warmth as well as precision, and embodied in an eloquent description of the beauty which is explained, it forms one of the most attractive, and not the least instructive, of literary exercises. In all works of merit, however, and especially in all works of original genius, there are a thousand retiring and less obtrusive graces, which escape hasty and superficial observers, and only give out their beauties to fond 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 * by worshipping meekly at the shrines which it in
In the exposition of these there is room enough for originality, and more room than Mr Hazlitt has yet 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 aspect 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. ces, 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
All his excellen
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 Creator.
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. 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 Miscellaneous WRiters.
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 Chaucer, 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 criHis 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 exerC1SeS. Francis Jeffrey is a native of Edinburgh, the son of a respectable writer or attorney. After completing his education at Oxford, and passing through the necessary legal studies, he was admitted a member of the Scottish bar in the year 1794. His eloquence and intrepidity as an advocate were not less conspicuous than his literary talents, and in 1829 he was, by the unanimous suffrages of his legal brethren, elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. On the formation of Earl Grey's ministry in 1830, Mr Jeffrey was nominated to the first office under the crown in Scotland (Lord Advocate), and sat for some time in parliament. In 1834 he was elevated to the dignity of the bench, the duties of which he has discharged with such undeviating attention, uprightness, and ability, that no Scottish judge was ever perhaps more popular, more trusted, or more beloved. ‘It has been his enviable lot, if not to attain all the prizes of ambition for which men strive, at least to unite in himself those qualities which, in many, would have secured them all. A place in the front rank of literature in the most literary age—the highest honour of his profession spontaneously conferred by the members of a bar strong in talent and learning—eloquence among the first of our orators, and wisdom among the wisest, and universal reve
have thrown fascination over his society, and made his friendship a privilege.” The Critical and Historical Essays contributed to the Edinburgh Review, by T. B. MACAULAY, three volumes, 1843, have enjoyed great popularity, and materially aided the Review, both as to immedi success and permanent value. The reading and erudition of the author are immense. In questions of classical learning and criticism—in English poetry, philosophy, and history—in all the minutiae of biography and literary anecdote—in the principles and details of government—in the revolutions of parties and opinions—in the progress of science and philosophy—in all these he seems equally versant and
unequalled in our literature. His eloquent papers
on Lord Bacon, Sir Thomas Browne, Horace Walpole's Letters, Boswell's Johnson, Addison's Memoirs, and other philosophical and literary subjects, are also of first-rate excellence. Whatever topic he takes up he fairly exhausts—nothing is left to the imagination, and the most ample curiosity is gratified. . Mr Macaulay is a party politician—a strong admirer of the old Whigs, and well-disposed towards the Roundheads and Covenanters. At times he appears to identify himself too closely with those politicians of a former age, and to write as with a strong personal antipathy against their opponents. His judgments are occasionally harsh even when founded on undoubted facts. In arranging his materials for effect, he is a consummate master. Some of his scenes and parallels are managed with the highest artistical art, and his language, like his conceptions, is picturesque. In style Mr Macaulay is stately and rhetorical—perhaps too florid and gorgeous, at least in his earlier
essays—but it is sustained with wonderful power and energy. In this particular, as well as in other
mental characteristics, the reviewer bears some resemblance to Gibbon. His knowledge is as universal, his imagination as rich and creative, and his power of condensation as remarkable. Both have made sacrifices in taste, candour, and generosity, for pur
poses of immediate effect; but the living author is
unquestionably far superior to his great prototype in the soundness of his philosophy and the purity of his aspirations and principles.
# North British Review for 1844.
JOHN CLAUDIUS Lou Don.
waters. An enthusiastic lover of his subject, Mr Howitt is remarkable for the fulness and variety of his pictorial sketches, the richness and purity of his fancy, and the occasional force and eloquence of his style. “If I could but arouse in other minds,’ he says, “that ardent and ever-growing love of the beautiful works of God in the creation, which I feel in myself—if I could but make it in others what it has been to me—
The nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being—
if I could open to any the mental eye which can never be again closed, but which finds more and more clearly revealed before it beauty, wisdom, and peace in the splendours of the heavens, in the majesty of seas and mountains, in the freshness of winds, the ever-changing lights and shadows of fair landscapes, the solitude of heaths, the radiant face of bright lakes, and the solemn depths of woods, then indeed should I rejoice. Oh that I could but touch a thousand bosoms with that melancholy which often visits mine, when I behold little children endeavouring to extract amusement from the very dust, and straws, and pebbles of squalid alleys, shut out from the free and glorious countenance of nature, and think how differently the children of the asantry are passing the golden hours of childood; wandering with bare heads and unshod feet, perhaps, but singing a “childish wordless melody” through vernal lanes, or prying into a thousand sylvan leafy nooks, by the liquid music of running waters, amidst the fragrant heath, or on the flowery lap of the meadow, occupied with winged wonders without end. Oh that I could but baptize every heart with the sympathetic feeling of what the citypent child is condemned to lose; how blank, and poor, and joyless must be the images which fill its infant bosom to that of the country one, whose mind Will be a mansion for all lovely forms, His memory be a dwelling-place For all sweet sounds and harmonies!
I feel, however, an animating assurance that nature will exert a perpetually-increasing influence, not only as a most fertile source of pure and substantial pleasures—pleasures which, unlike many others, produce, instead of satiety, desire—but also as a great moral agent: and what effects I anticipate from this growing taste may be readily inferred, when I avow it as one of the most fearless articles of my creed, that it is scarcely possible for a man in whom its power is once firmly established to become utterly debased in sentiment or abandoned in principle. His soul may be said to be brought into habitual union with the Author of Nature—
Haunted for ever by the Eternal Mind.
Mr Howitt belongs to the Society of Friends, though he has ceased to wear their peculiar costume. He is a native of Derbyshire, and was for several years in business at Nottingham. A work, the nature of which is indicated by its name, the History of Priestcraft (1834), so recommended him to the
issenters and reformers of that town, that he was made one of their aldermen. Disliking the bustle of public life, Mr Howitt retired from Nottingham, and resided for three years at Esher, in Surrey. There he composed his Rural Life in England, a popular and delightful work. In 1838 appeared his Colonisation and Christianity, which led to the formation of the British India Society, and to improve
ment in the management of our colonies. Mr Howitt afterwards published The Boys' Country Book, and Visits to Remarkable Places, the latter (to which a second series has been added) descriptive of old halls, battle-fields, and the scenes of striking passages in English history and poetry. Mr and Mrs Howitt now removed to Germany, and after three years' residence in that country, the former published a work on the Social and Rural Life of Germany, which the natives admitted to be the best account of that country ever written by a foreigner. Our industrious author has also translated a work written expressly for him, The StudentLife of Germany. The attention of Mr and Mrs Howitt having been drawn to the Swedish language and literature, they studied it with avidity; and Mrs Howitt has translated a series of tales by Frederika Bremer, which are characterised by great truth of feeling and description, and by a complete knowledge of human nature. These Swedish tales have been exceedingly popular, and now circulate extensively both in England and America.
John CLAUDIUS Loudon, &c.
John CIAUDIUs Loudon (1783–1843) stands at the head of all the writers of his day upon subjects connected with horticulture, and of the whole class of industrious compilers. He was a native of Cambuslang, in Lanarkshire, and pursuing in youth the bent of his natural faculties, entered life as a landscape-gardener, to which profession he subsequently added the duties of a farmer. Finally, he settled in London as a writer on his favourite subjects. His works were numerous and useful, and they form in their entire mass a wonderful monument of human
industry. His chief productions are an Encyclopædia
of Gardening, 1822; The Greenhouse Companion; an Encyclopædia of Agriculture, 1825; an Encyclopædia of Plants, 1829; an Encyclopædia of Cottage, Villa, and Farm Architecture, 1832; and Arboretum Britannicum, 8 volumes, 1838. The four encyclopædias are large volumes, each exhausting its particular subject, and containing numerous pictorial illustrations in wood. The ‘Arboretum' is even a more remarkable production than any of these, consisting of four volumes of close letter-press, and four of pictorial illustrations, and presenting such a mass of information, as might apparently have been the work of half a lifetime to any ordinary man. These vast tasks Mr Loudon was enabled to undertake and carry to completion by virtue of the unusual energy of his nature, notwithstanding considerable drawbacks from disease, and the failure, latterly, of some of his physical powers. In 1830 he married a lady of amiable character and literary talent, who entered with great spirit into his favourite pursuits. The separate publications of Mrs Loudon on subjects connected with botany, and for the general instruction of the young, are deservedly high in public estimation. It is painful to consider that the just reward of a life of extraordinary application and public usefulness, was reft from Mr Loudon by the consequences of the comparative non-success of the ‘Arboretum,’ which placed him considerably in debt. This misfortune preyed upon his mind, and induced the fatal pulmonary disease of which he died. Essays on Natural History, by CHARLEs WATERtoN, Esq. of Walton Hall, is an excellent contribution made to natural history by a disinterested lover of the country; and Gleanings in Natural History, by Edward JEsse, Esq. surveyor of her majesty's parks and palaces, two volumes, 1838, is a collection of well-authenticated facts, related with the view of
TILL THE PRESENT TIME.
portraying the character of animals, and endeavouring to excite more kindly feelings towards them. Some Scottish works of this kind are also deserving of commendation—as RHIND's Studies in Natural History; M'DIARMID's Sketches from Nature; MILLER's Scenes and Legends, or Traditions of Cromarty; DUNCAN's Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons, &c. A love of nature and observation of her various works are displayed in these local sketches, which all help to augment the general stock of our knowledge as well as our enjoyment.
The Thames and its Tributaries, two volumes, 1840, by CHARLEs MACKAY, is a pleasing description of the scenes on the banks of the Thames, which are hallowed by the recollections of history, romance, and poetry. The same author has published (1841) Memoirs of Ertraordinary Popular Delusions.
Robert MUDIE (1777–1842), an indefatigable writer, self-educated, was a native of Forfarshire, and for some time connected with the London press. He wrote and compiled altogether about ninety volumes, including Babylon the Great, a Picture of Men and Things in London; Modern Athens, a sketch of Edinburgh society; The British Naturalist; The Feathered Tribes of Great Britain; A Popular Guide to the Observation of Nature; two series of four volumes each, entitled The Heavens, the Earth, the Sea, and the Air; and Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter; and next, Man: Physical, Moral, Social, and Intellectual; The World Described, &c. He furnished the letter-press to Gilbert's Modern Atlas, the “Natural History’ to the British Cyclopaedia, and numerous other contributions to periodical works. Mudie was a nervous and able writer, deficient in taste in works of light literature and satire, but an acute and philosophical observer of nature, and peculiarly happy in his geographical dissertations and works on natural history. His imagination could lighten up the driest details; but it was often too excursive and unbridled. His works were also hastily produced, “to provide for the day that was passing over him; but considering these disadvantages, his intellectual energy and acquirements were wonderful. | A record of English customs is preserved in | Brand's Popular Antiquities, published, with additions, by SIR HENRY ELLIs, in two volumes quarto,
in 1808; and in 1842 in two cheap portable volumes.
The work relates to the customs at country wakes, sheep-shearings, and other rural practices, and is an admirable delineation of olden life and manners. The Every-day Book, Table Book, and Year Book, by WILLIAM HoNE, published in 1833, in four large volumes, with above five hundred woodcut illustrations, form another calendar of popular English amusements, sports, pastimes, ceremonies, manners, customs, and events incident to every day in the year. Mr Southey has said of these works—‘I may take the opportunity of recommending the Everyday Book and Table Book to those who are interested in the preservation of our national and local customs: by these very curious publications their compiler has rendered good service in an important department of literature.'
A singular but eminent writer on jurisprudence and morals, MR JEREMY BENTHAM, was an author throughout the whole of this period, down to the year is34. He lived in intercourse with the leading men of several generations and of various countries, and was unceasingly active in the propagation of his opinions. Those opinions were as much canvassed as the doctrines of the political economists. Mr
solicitor, and was born on the 6th of February 1749. He was entered of Queen's college, Oxford, when only twelve years and a quarter old, and was even then known by the name of ‘the philosopher. He took his Master's degree in 1766, and afterwards studying the law in Lincoln's Inn, was called to the bar in 1772. He had a strong dislike to the legal profession, and never pleaded in public. His first literary performance was an examination of a passage in Blackstone's Commentaries, and was entitled A Fragment on Government, 1776. The work was prompted, as he afterwards stated, by “a passion for improvement in those shapes in which the lot of mankind is meliorated by it.’ His zeal was increased by a pamphlet which had been issued by Priestley. “In the phrase “the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” I then saw delineated, says Bentham, “for the first time, a plain as well as a true standard for whatever is right or wrong, useful, useless, or mischievous in human conduct, whether in the field of morals or of politics.' The ' phrase is a good one, whether invented by Priestley or Bentham; but it still leaves the means by which happiness is to be extended as undecided as ever, to be determined by the judgment and opinions of men. To insure it, Bentham considered it necessary to reconstruct the laws and government—to have annual parliaments and universal suffrage, | secret voting, and a return to the ancient practice of paying wages to parliamentary representatives. In all his political writings this doctrine of utility, so understood, is the leading and pervading principle. In 1778 he published a pamphlet on The Hard Labour Bill, recommending an improvement in the mode of criminal punishment; Letters on Usury, 1787; Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Politics, 1789; Discourses on Civil and Penal || Legislation, 1802; A Theory of Punishments and Rewards, 1811; A Treatise on Judicial Evidence, 1813; Paper Relative to Codification and Public Instruction, 1817; The Book of Fallacies, 1824, &c. By the death of his father in 1792, Bentham succeeded to property in London, and to farms in Essex, yielding from £500 to £600 a-year. He lived frugally, but with elegance, in one of his London houses—kept young men as secretaries—corresponded and wrote daily—and by a life of temperance and industry, with great self-complacency, and the society of a few devoted friends, the eccentric philosopher attained to the age of eighty-four. His various productions have been collected and edited by Dr John Bowring and Mr John Hill Burton, advocate, and published in 11 volumes. In his latter works Bentham adopted a peculiar uncouth style or nomenclature, which deters ordinary readers, and indeed has rendered his works almost a dead letter. Fortunately, however, part of them were arranged and translated into French by M. Dumont. Another disciple, Mr Mill, made known his principles at home; Sir Samuel Romilly criticised them in the Edinburgh Review, and Sir James Mackintosh in the ethical dissertation which he wrote for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the science of legislation Bentham evinced a profound capacity and extensive knowledge: the error imputed to his speculations is that of not sufficiently ‘weighing the various circumstances which require his rules to be modified in different countries and times, in order to render them either more useful, more easily introduced, more generally respected, or more certainly executed.' As an ethical philosopher, he carried his doctrine of utility to an extent which would be practically, dangerous, if it were possible to make the bulk of mankind act upon a speculative theory.
Bentham was a native of London, son of a wealthy | |