תמונות בעמוד

liamentary appearances were creditable to his talents, and honorable to his taste and feelings. His first publication appeared in 1708, and was a Letter on Enthusiasm, prompted by the extravagance of the French prophets, whose zeal had degenerated into intolerance. In 1709, appeared his Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody, and Sensus Communis, an essay upon the freedom of wit and humor. In this latter production he vindicates the use of ridicule as a test of truth. In 1710 he published another slight work, A Soliloquyor Advice to an Author. Soon afterwards ill health compelled him to seek a warmer climate ; and he fixed on Naples, where his death occurred in February, 1713, at the early age of forty-two. A complete collection of his works was published in 1716, under the general title of Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times.

The style of Lord Shaftesbury is lofty and musical. He bestowed so great pains on the construction of his sentences, that the labor is apparent. Desirous also of blending the nobleman and man of the world, with the author, a tone of assumption and familiarity deforms some of his arguments and illustrations. He was an ardent admirer of the ancients, and in his dialogue entitled “ The Moralists,' has adopted, in a great measure, the elevated style of his favorite Plato. With those who hold in like estimation the works of that divine philosopher,' and who are willing to exchange continuity, precision, and simplicity, for melody, and stateliness of diction, * The Moralists' can not fail to be regarded with enthusiastic admiration.

As a moralist, Lord Shaftesbury holds a very conspicuous place. He was the founder of that school of philosophers by whom virtue and vice are regarded as naturally and fundamentally distinct, and who consider man to be endowed with a “moral sense' by which these are discriminated, and at once approved of or condemned, without reference to the self-interest of him who judges. In opposition to Hobbes, he maintains that the nature of man is such as to lead to the exercise of benevolent and disinterested affections in the social state ; and he earnestly inculcates the doctrine, that virtue is more conducive than vice to the temporal happiness of those who practice it. He speaks of conscience, or a natural sense of the odiousness of crime and injustice ;' and remarks, that as, in the case of objects of the external senses," the shapes, motions, colors, and proportions of these latter being presented to our eye, there necessarily results a beauty or deformity, according to the different measure, arrangement, and disposition of the sev eral parts ; so, in behaviour and actions, when presented to our understanding, there must be found, of necessity, an apparent difference, according to the regularity and irregularity of the subject

. The mind,' says he, “ feels the soft and harsh, the agreeable and disagreeable, in the affections; and finds a foul and fair, a harmonious and dissonant, as really and truly here as in any musical numbers, or in the outward forms or representations of sensible things. Nor can it withhold its admiration and ecstacy, its aversion and scorn, any more in what relates to one than to the other of these subjects. However false or corrunt it be within itself, it finds the difference,

as to beauty and comeliness, between one heart and another; and accordingly, in all disinterested cases, must approve in some measure of what is natural and honest, and disapprove what is dishonest and corrupt. This doctrine has been successfully followed out by Dr. Hutcheson of Glasgow, and subsequently adopted and illustrated by Reid, Stewart, and Brown.

The religious tendency of Lord Shaftesbury's writings has been the subject of frequent and extensive discussion. That he was a decided and powerful opponent of atheism, is universally admitted; and he would doubtless have opposed Christianity with equal warmth and energy, had not its nominal profession then been fashionable. In his Characteristics' he speaks of revelation, a future state, and other Christian doctrines, in such a manner as to justify Dr. Leland in including him among deistical writers. We close our remarks upon the Earl of Shaftesbury with the following extract from

The Moralist:


I have now a better idea of that melancholy you discovered; and, notwithstanding the humorous turn you were pleased to give it, I am persuaded it has a different foundation from any of those fantastical causes I then assigned to it. Love, doubtless, is at the bottom, but a nobler love than such as common beauties inspire.

Here, in my turn, I began to raise my voice, and imitate the solemn way you had been teaching me. Knowing as you are (continued I), well knowing and experienced in all the degrees and orders of beauty, in all the mysterious charms of the particular forms, you rise to what is more general; and with a larger heart, and mind more comprehensive, you generously seek that which is highest in the kind. Not captivated by the lineaments of a fair face, or the well-drawn proportions of a human body, you view the life itself, and embrace rather the mind which adds the lustre, and renders chiefly amiable.

Nor is the enjoyment of such a single beauty sufficient to satisfy such an aspiring soul. It seeks how to combine more beauties, and by what coalition of these to form a beautiful society. It views communities, friendships, relations, duties; and considers by what harmony of particular minds the general harmony is composed, and common weal established. Nor satisfied even with public good in one community of men, it frames itself a nobler object, and with enlarged affections seeks the good of mankind. It dwells with pleasure amidst that reason and those orders on which this fair correspondence, and goodly interest is established. Laws, constitutions, civil and religious rites; whatever civilizes or polishes rude mankind; the sciences and arts, philosophy, morals, virtue; the flourishing state of human affairs, and the perfection of human nature; these are its delightful prospects, and this the charm of beauty which attracts it.

Still ardent in this pursuit (such is its love of order and perfection,) it rests not here, nor satisfies itself with the beauty of a part, but extending further its communicative bounty, seeks the good of all, and affects the interest and prosperity of the whole. True to its native world and higher country, 'tis here it seeks order and perfection, wishing the best, and hoping still to find a just and wise administration. And since all hope of this were vain and idle, if no Universal Mind presided; since, without such a supreme intelligence and providential care, the distracted universe must be condemned to suffer infinite calamities, 'tis here the generous mind labours to discover that healing cause by which the interest of the whole is securely established, the beauty of things, and the universal order happily sustained.

This, Palemon, is the labour of your soul; and this its melancholy: when unsuecessfully pursuing the supreme beauty, it meets with darkening clouds which intercepts its sight. Monsters arise, not those from Libyan deserts, but from the heart of man more fertile, and with their horrid aspects cast an unseemly reflection upon nature. She, helpless as she is thought, and working thus absurdly, is contemned, the government of the world arraigned, and Deity made void. Much is alleged in answer, to show why nature errs; and when she seems most ignorant or perverse in her productions, I assert her even then as wise and provident as in her goodliest works. For 'tis not then that men complain of the world's order, or abhor the face of things, when they see various interests mixed and interfering; natures subordinate, of different kinds, opposed one to another, and in their different operations submitted, the higher to the lower. 'Tis, on the contrary, from this order of inferior and superior things, that we admire the world's beauty, founded thus on contrarieties; whilst from such various and disagreeing principles a universal concord is established.

Thus in the several orders of terrestrial forms, a resignation is required—a sacrifice and mutual yielding of natures one to another. The vegetables by their death sustain the animals, and animal bodies dissolved enrich the earth, and raise again the vegetable world. The numerous insects are reduced by the superior kinds of birds and beasts; and these again are checked by man, who in his turn submits to other natures, and resigns his form, a sacrifice in common to the rest of things. And if in natures so little exalted or pre-eminent above each other, the sacrifice of interests can appear so just how much more reasonably may all inferior natures be subjected to the superior nature of the world !—that world, Palemon, which even now transported you, when the sun's fainting light gave way to these bright constellations, and left you this wide system to contemplate.

Here are those laws which ought not, nor can submit to any thing below. The central powers which hold the lasting orbs in their just poise and movement, must not be controlled to save a fleeting form, and rescue from the precipice a puny animal, whose brittle frame, however protected, must of itself so soon dissolve. The ambient air, the inward vapours, the impending meteors, or whatever else is nutrimental or preservative of this earth, must operate in a natural course; and other good constitutions must submit to the good habit and constitution of the all-sustaining globe. Let us not wonder, therefore, if by earthquakes, storms, pestilential blasts, nether or upper fires, or floods, the animal kinds are oft afflicted, and whole species perhaps involved at once in common ruin. Nor need we wonder if the interior form, the soul and temper, partakes of this occasional deformity, and sympa. thizes often with its close partner. Who is there that can wonder either at the sicknesses of sense or the depravity of minds inclosed in such frail bodies, and dependent on such prevertible organs ?

Here, then, is that solution you require, and hence those seeming blemishes cast upon nature. Nor is there aught in this beside what is natural and good. 'Tis good which is predominant; and every corruptible and mortal nature, by its mortality and corruption, yields only to some better, and all in common to that best and highest nature which is incorruptible and immortal.

LAURENCE ECHARD, an English historian and divine, was born at Bassam, Suffolkshire, in 1671, and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he took his master's degree, in 1695. He entered into orders, and soon after obtained the livings of Welton and Elkington, in Lincolnshire; and in 1712 he was preferred to the archdeaconry of Stowe, and became also a prebendary in the cathedral of Lincoln. His leisure was devoted to historical and other literary pursuits ; and he published a History of England, a General Ecclesiastical History, a History of Rome, a General Gazetteer, and also translations of Plautus and Terence. After passing many years in the faithful discharge of his professional duties, his declining state of health compelled him to go to Scarborough for the benefit of the waters; but he died by the way, in his chariot, on the sixteenth of August, 1730.

Echard's History of England was attacked by Calamy and others, but it long maintained its ground as a text book, and a work of general reference. His Ecclesiastical History has been often reprinted, and is still regarded as a reliable compilation of the events of which it treats.

John POTTER, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of a linen-draper, at Wakefield, in Yorkshire, and was born in 1674. At fourteen years of age he entered the university of Oxford, and soon became distinguished for his attainments in the Greek language. In 1694 he was chosen fellow of Lincoln College, and soon after went into orders. Through various church preferments he passed with great celebrity, and, in 1737, succeeded Dr. Wake as Archbishop of Canterbury. His death occurred in 1747, in the seventy-second year of his age.

The most valuable of Dr. Potter's literary performances, is his work on the Antiquities of Greece. The researches of modern philologists have greatly enriched this department of literature; but Potter led the way, and supplied a ground-work for future scholars. He also successfully edited the writings of Lycophron, and wrote a number of original works, consisting of treatises and discourses on church government, and other theological subjects, all of which were published at Oxford, in 1753. With the learning of the English hierarchy, Dr. Potter united too much of the pomp and pride which occasionally mark its dignitaries : he disinherited his eldest son for marrying below his rank.

BASIL KENNETT was born at Postling, in Kent, on the twenty-first of October, 1674. In 1690, he entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he soon distinguished himself by his uncommon abilities, and rapid advances in classical learning. He took the degree of master of arts in 1696, was chosen fellow of his college the same year, and soon after produced his Romæ Antiquæ Notitia, or the Antiquities of Rome. This work performed the same service for Roman antiquities that Archbishop Potter's did for Grecian. For nearly a century it was regarded as the standard work on the subject of which it treats ; but it has recently been superseded by the Roman Antiquities of Dr. Adams. In 1706, Kennett, having previously entered into orders, was appointed chaplain to the English factory at Leghorn, where he no sooner arrived than he met with the greatest opposition from the Papists, and was in danger of the Inquisition. He remained at Leghorn until 1713, when ill health compelled him to return to his own country, for the benefit of his native air. The year after he arrived in England, he was

elected president of his college, and made doctor of divinity; but died soon after, of a disease which he had contracted in Italy.

Kennett was greatly esteemed by his contemporaries, for his learning, piety, and modesty, and was a writer of much more than ordinary excellence. Besides his ‘Roman Antiquities,' he wrote Lives of the Grecian Po ets, an Exposition of the Creed, and a collection of sermons.

HENRY Sr. John, afterwards Viscount Bolingbroke, was descended from an ancient family, and was born at Battersea, Surrey, in 1672. His early education was conducted with great strictness, under the care, as is supposed, of a Presbyterian clergyman; and having afterwards passed successfully through Eton school, he thence entered Christ's Church College, Oxford, where he greatly distinguished himself for the soundness of his understanding, and the extent of his learning. After some years passed in dissipation, he reformed his habits, entered parliament, and became successively secretary of war, and secretary of state. In 1712, he was elevated to the peerage by being created Viscount Bolingbroke. On the death of Queen Anne, the seals of office were taken from him, and he was threatened with im. peachment for the share he had taken in negotiating the treaty of Utrecht. Bolingbroke retired to France, and entered into the Pretender's service, as secretary. His heart, however, was evidently not in this business ; and he therefore soon became unpopular with the party with whom he now acted, and was accused, by them, of neglect and incapacity. Dismissed from his second secretaryship, he had recourse to literature, and produced his Reflections on Exile, and a Letter to Sir William Wyndham, containing a defence of his conduct.

In 1723, Bolingbroke obtained a full pardon, and returned to England; but though his family inheritance was restored to him, he was excluded from the House of Lords. He then commenced an active opposition to secretary Walpole, and wrote a number of political tracts against the Whig ministry. In 1735 he retired again to France, and resided there seven years, during which time he produced his Letters on the Study of History, and a Letter on the True Use of Retirement. He once more returned to his native country, took up his residence at Battersea, and there remained until his death, which occurred on the fifteenth of November, 1751.

In 1749, Bolingbroke's Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, and Idea of a Patriot King, with a preface by David Mallet, appeared, and immediately led to a bitter and acrimonious war of pamphlets. Boling broke's treatise had been put into the hands of Pope, that he might have a few copies printed for private circulation. After the death of Pope, it was discovered that fifteen hundred copies had been printed, and this Boling

broke affected te consider a heinous breach of trust. Pope's conduct in the transaction, must however, be attributed to admiration for his friend; for he had not only expended his time in correcting the work, but his money in printing it, with out any possibility of deriving from it either credit or advantage.'

« הקודםהמשך »