« הקודםהמשך »
Lecture the Forty-srrond.
CONYERS MIDDLETON - NATHANIEL LARDNER — ARCHIBALD BOWER -- THOMAS
CARTE-WILLIAM LAW-WILLIAM STUKELEY-JOSEPH BUTLER-JOHN LELAND -FRANCIS HUTCHESON-JAMES FOSTER—JOHN GILL-JOHN JORTIN-WILLIAM WARBURTON-PHILIP DODDRIDGE-JOHN WESLEY-GEORGE WHITEFIELD-FERDINANDO WARNER-THOMAS LELAND-LORD CHESTERFIELD-LORD KAMES.
NE of the most striking features of the prose writing of this period is
the variety and extent of the subjects which it embraces. Periodical essayists, novelists, historians, metaphysicians, theologians, political writers, and writers of miscellanies, were equally numerous. Without reference, therefore, to their relative claim upon our attention, we shall notice them as the order of time presents their names.
DR. CONYERS MIDDLETON, the first that occurs, was the son of the rector of Hinderwell, near Whitby, and was born at York, on the twenty-seventh of December, 1683. At the age of seventeen he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he afterwards became fellow. In 1709, he joined the other fellows of the society in opposition to Dr. Bentley, the master; but having soon after married a widow lady of large property, he relinquished his fellowship and retired from the college. His life now presented little variety for a number of years; but in 1723, desiring an active occupation, he accepted the office of principal librarian at Cambridge. In the following year he was induced, by the death of his wife, to visit the continent, and wherever he went he was received by men of learning and rank with the greatest kindness and respect.
Soon after his return to England, Dr. Middleton issued some letters and other papers, which created suspicions of his orthodoxy, and by this means he was involved in a succession of controversies, which consumed, very unprofitably, many years. During much of this period, however, he was engaged in preparing and arranging materials for a history of the Life and Writings of Cicero, and the great work made its appearance in 1741. Re
viewing the whole of the celebrated orator's public career, and the principal transactions of his times--mingling together questions of philosophy, government, and politics, with the details of biography, Middleton compiled a highly interesting work, full of varied and important information, and written with great care and taste. An admiration of the rounded style and flowing periods of Cicero, seems to have produced in his biographer a desire to attain to similar excellence; and perhaps no author, prior to Dr. Johnson, wrote English with the same careful finish and sustained dignity. The graces of Addison, it is true, were wanting, but certainly no historical writings of the day were at all comparable to Middleton's memoir. The following sentences from his summary of Cicero's character will be sufficient to exemplify the author's style :
CHARACTER OF CICERO. He made a just distinction between bearing what we can not help, and approving what we ought to condemn; and submitted, therefore, yet never consented to those usurpations; and when he was forced to comply with them, did it always with a reluctance that he expresses very keenly in his letters to his friends. But whenever that force was removed, and he was at liberty to pursue his principles and act without control, as in his consulship, in his province, and after Cæsar's death-the only period of his life in which he was truly master of himself-there we see him shining out in his genuine character of an excellent citizen, a great magistrate, a glorious patriot; there we could see the man who could declare of himself with truth, in an appeal to Atticus, as to the best witness of his conscience, that he had always done the greatest service to his country when it was in his power; or when it was not, had never harboured a thought of it but what was divine. If we must needs compare him, therefore, with Cato, as some writers affect to do, it is certain that if Cato's virtues seem more splendid in theory, Cicero's will be found superior in practice; the one was romantic, the other was natural; the one drawn from the refinements of the school, the other from nature and social life; the one always unsuccessful, often hurtful; the other always beneficial, often salutary to the republic
To conclude: Cicero's death, though violent, can not be called untimely, but was the proper end of such a life ; which must also have been rendered less glorious if it had owed its preservation to Antony. It was, therefore, not only what he expected, but, in the circumstances to which he was reduced, what he seems even to have wished. For he, who before had been timid even in dangers, and desponding in distress, yet, from the time of Cæsar's death, roused by the desperate state of the republic, assumed the fortitude of a hero; discarded all fear; despised all dangers; and when he could not free his country from a tyranny, provoked the tyrants to take that life which he no longer cared to preserve. Thus, like a great actor on the stage, he reserved himself, as it were, for the last act, and after he had played his part with dignity, resolved to finish it with glory.
Lardner, Bower, Carte, Law, Stukeley, Butler, Leland, Hutcheson, Foster, Gill, Jortin, Warburton, Doddridge, and Wesley, are among the earliest writers of this period who distinguished themselves by any marked excellence.
NATHANIEL LARDNER, a dissenting minister, was born at Hawkhurst, in Kent, where his father owned a small estate, in 1684. His early studies
1766 A.D.) ARCHIBALD BOWER. THOMAS CARTE.
were pursued in London, after which he went to Utrecht, and thence to Leyden, where he remained until his education had become very complete. In 1713, he became tutor to the younger son of Lady Treby, widow of the chief justice of the English common pleas, with whom he travelled over France, Holland, and the Netherlands. In 1723, having returned to England, Lardner was employed with others in a course of lectures at the old Bailey; but though his abilities were great and universally acknowledged, he did not obtain a settlement among the dissenters until the forty-fifth year of his age, when he became assistant minister at Crutched Friars. His literary labors had now so distinguished him that the university of Aberdeen conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Towards the close of his life this learned divine retired to his patrimonial estate at Hawkhurst, where he died of natural exhaustion, in 1768.
Some of Dr. Lardner's theological treatises are of the highest importance to the divinity student. His greatest performance is his Credibility of the Gospel History, in fifteen volumes, and in which proofs are brought from innumerable sources in the religious history and literature of the first five centuries in favor of the truth of Christianity. Another voluminous work, entitled A Large Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Religion, appeared towards the close of the author's life, and completed a design, which, making allowance for the interruptions occasioned by other studies and writings of less importance, occupied his attention for forty-three years.
ARCHIBALD BOWER was born at Dundee, in Scotland, on the seventeenth of January, 1685, and educated at Douay, in France, whence he went to Rome, and became a Jesuit. Dissatisfaction, however, with his relations to the order, induced him, in 1726, to escape to England, where he soon after embraced the Protestant faith. His learning recommended him to the great, and he had the good fortune to become acquainted with Lord Aylmer, in whose family he passed several years. Unsteady and insincere in his principles, and not realizing the advantages that he had anticipated from his union with the Protestants, he became, in 1745, reconciled to the Jesuits ; but two years afterwards he again made public his dissent from the religion of those within whose pale he had lately been received as a penitent refugee. Late in life Bower gave to the public his great literary performance, a History of the Popes. This work displays extensive learning, and much skill in composition ; but unfortunately the versatile character of the author, and the want of stability in his religious principles, render his statements of doubtful authority. His death occurred on the second of September, 1766.
Thomas CARTE was born at Clifton, Warwickshire, in April, 1686, and educated at University College, Oxford. Immediately after he left the university he entered into orders, and being appointed reader of the Abbeychurch, Bath, he there, in a sermon, ably vindicated the memory of Charles
the First, and soon after issued his first literary performance, The Irish Massacre, set in a Proper Light. On the accession of George the First to the crown, Carte refused to take the oaths required, and as he renounced the clerical habit, he has been accused of participating in the rebellion of 1715. Continuing his attachment to the Stuarts, he became secretary to Bishop Atterbury, a circumstance which rendered him suspected to the government, so that, on the imprisonment of the prelate, a thousand pounds were offered for his apprehension. He, however, escaped into France, and there remained, under the assumed name of Phillips, for six or seven years, sedulously engaged in various literary pursuits. At length Queen Caroline, who knew and respected his merits, procured his recall; and soon after his return to England he published a Life of James Duke of Ormond, remarkable for the fullness of its information, but tinctured with the author's Jacobite predilections.
In 1738, Carte issued proposals for a Complete Domestic, or Civil History of England ; and so great was the popularity of his name, that while he was collecting materials in public and private libraries, subscriptions upon subscriptions poured in upon him, until they amounted to six hundred pounds a year. The first volume appeared in 1747, the second, in 1750, the third in 1752, and the fourth, which extends the history to the year 1654, and which was posthumous, in 1755. The work is a composition of very unusual merit, and displays the author's abilities to great advantage. That there are prejudices and partialities in the narrative can not be denied; but the history is valuable for the accurate information which it imparts in reference to many curious, important, and interesting facts. Carte died on the second of April, 1754.
William Law, by whose writings a permanent service was rendered to the cause of Christianity, was the author of a still popular treatise, A Serious Call to a Holy Life. This work happening to fall into the hands of Dr. Johnson, at college, gave that eminent man ‘the first occasion of thinking in earnest of religion after he became capable of rational inquiry.'
Law was born at King's Cliff, Northamptonshire, in 1686. He was educated at Oxford, where he took his degrees, after which he designed to enter into orders ; but on mature reflection he found his scruples with respect to the necessary oath, not to be overcome, and he therefore determined to take up his lot with the dissenters. As a preacher he possessed great influence, his doctrines being powerfully enforced by the meekness and sincerity of his life, and his inoffensive manners. Law died in 1761, at the house of Mrs. Gibbon, aunt of the famous historian, where he had, for several years, found an hospitable asylum.
WILLIAM STUKELEY, a celebrated antiquarian writer, was born at Holbeck, Lincolnshire, on the seventh of November, 1687. Having received his education at the university of Cambridge, and there taken his degrees as doctor
of medicine, he first settled as a physician in Boston, and thence, in 1717, removed to London, where he was soon after, at the recommendation of Dr. Mead, elected fellow of the royal society, and member of the society of antiquarians. In 1726, he left London and settled at Grantham, in his native county, the noblest and most respectable families of which, soon be came his friends and patrons.
Dr. Stukeley had long evinced a strong inclination to enter the church, and upon this course he finally resolved, being ordained by archbishop Wake, in 1730, and immediately after presented to the living of All Saints, in Stainford. After one or two other country preferments, he was induced. by the pressing solicitations of the Duke of Montague, to accept, in 1747, the rectorship of St. George, Queen's Square, London, where he remained till his death, which occurred on the twenty-seventh of February, 1765.
The best known and most celebrated of Dr. Stukeley's productions are An Account of the Antiquities and Curiosities of Great Britain, and An Account of Stonehenge. Besides the celebrated works, Stukeley was the author of Discourses on the Monuments of Antiquity, that relate to Sacred History, and several treatises pertaining to the medical profession. His kuowledge of druidical history was so extensive and accurate, that he was usually called, by his friends, the arch druid of his age.
JOSEPH BUTLER, a prelate of the most distinguished learning and piety, was born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 1692. His father was a presbyterian, and as his son early evinced a strong inclination for learning, he sent him, first to the grammar-school of his native town, and afterwards to an academy in Gloucestershire, in order to qualify him for a dissenting preacher. Young Butler had not long been at the academy, before he resolved to leave the presbyterians and conform to the established church; and he, therefore, in 1714, removed to Oxford, and was admitted a commoner of Oriel College. Here he contracted an intimate acquaintance and friendship with Edward Talbot, son of the bishop of Durham, and brother to the lord chancellor ; which, in concert with his own rare qualities, laid the foundation of his subsequent advancement. Having completed his studies at the university, he entered into orders, and was immediately appointed preacher at the rolls, and rector of Houghton and Stanhope, two rich and valuable benefices in the bishopric of Durham. On quitting the rolls, in 1726, he published a volume of Sermons, which at once placed him, both as a writer and a divine, in a very prominent position. During the seven following years he resided constantly at Stanhope, devoting himself exclusively to the duties of his office; but in 1733, he was called to attend the lord chancellor Talbot as his chaplain, who bestowed upon him a prebend in the church of Rochester, In 1736, he was appointed clerk of the closet, to Queen Caroline, and two years after was nominated to the bishopric of Bristol, and the deanery of St. Paul's, London. He now resigned his living at Stanhope, and having been made clerk of the closet to the king, was, in 1750, raised to the rich and im