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you are, as you say, rising seventy-five, but I am rising (perhaps more properly falling) eighty-and I leave the excuse with you till you arrive at that age; perhaps you may then be more sensible of its validity, and see fit to use it for yourself.

"I must agree with you that the gout is bad, and that the stone is worse. I am happy in not having them both together; and I join in your prayer, that you may live till you die without either. But I doubt the author of the epitaph you sent me is a little mistaken, when, speaking of the world, he says, that 'he ne'er car'd a pin What they said or may say of the mortal within.'

"It is so natural to wish to be well spoken of, whether alive or dead, that I imagine he could not be quite exempt from that desire; and that at least he wished to be thought a wit, or he would not have given himself the trouble of writing so good an epitaph to leave behind him."-"You see I have some reason to wish that in a future state I may not only be as well as I was, but a little better. And I hope it: for I, too, with your poet, trust in God. And when I observe, that there is great frugality as well as wisdom in his works, since he has en evidently sparing both of labour and materials; for, by the various wonderful inventions of propagation, he has provided for the continual peopling his world with plants and animals, without being at the trouble of repeated new creations: and by the natural reduction of compound substances to their original elements, capable of being employed in new compositions, he has prevented the necessity of creating new matter; for that the earth, water, air, and perhaps fire, which being compound ed, form wood, do, when the wood is dissolved, return, and again become air, earth, fire and water;I say, that when I see nothing annihilated, and not even a drop of water wasted, I cannot suspect the annihilation of souls; or believe that he will suffer the daily waste of millions of minds ready made that now exist, and put himself to the continual trouble of making new ones. Thus finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall in some shape or other always exist. And with all the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to a new edition of mine; hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be corrected."-Vol. ii. pp. 546-548.

**

their way home) whether, now they had seen how much more commodiously the white people lived by the help of the arts, they would not choose to remain among us-their answer was, that they were pleased with having had an opportunity of seeing many fine things, but they chose to live in their own country: which country, by the way, consisted of rock only: for the Moravians were obliged to carry earth in their ship from New York, for the purpose of making there a cabbage garden!”—Vol. iii. pp. 550, 551.

"You are now seventy-eight, and I am eightytwo. You tread fast upon my heels; but, though you have more strength and spirit, you cannot come up with me till I stop, which must now be soon; for I am grown so old as to have buried most of the friends of my youth; and I now often hear Mr. such a one, to distinguish them from their sons, persons, whom I knew when children, called old now men grown, and in business; so that, by liv. have intruded myself into the company of posterity, ing twelve years beyond David's period, I seem to when I ought to have been abed and asleep. Yet had I gone at seventy, it would have cut off twelve of the most active years of my life, employed, too, in matters of the greatest importance: but whether I have been doing good or mischief, is for time to discover. I only know that I intended well, and I hope all will end well.

"Be so good as to present my affectionate respects to Dr. Rowley. I am under great obligations to him, and shall write to him shortly. It will be a pleasure to him to hear that my malady does not grow sensibly worse, and that is a great point; for it has always been so tolerable, as not to prevent my enjoying the pleasures of society, and, being cheerful in conversation. I owe this in a great measure to his good counsels."-Vol. iii. PP. 555, 556.

"Your eyes must continue very good, since you are able to write so small a hand without spectacles. I cannot distinguish a letter even of large print; but am happy in the invention of double spectacles, which, serving for distant objects as well as near ones, make my eyes as useful to me as ever they were. If all the other defects and infirmities of old age could be as easily and cheaply remedied, it would be worth while, my friend, to live a good deal longer. But I look upon death to be as necessary to our constitutions as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning. Adieu, and believe me ever, &c."-Vol. iii. pp. 544, 545.

Our constitution seems not to be well understood with you. If the congress were a permanent body, there would be more reason in being jealous of giving it powers. But its members are chosen annually, and cannot be chosen more than three years successively, nor more than three years in seven, and any of them may be recalled at any time, whenever their constituents shall be dissatisfied with their conduct. They are of the people, and return again to mix with the people, having no more durable preeminence than the different grains of sand in an hour-glass. Such an assembly cannot easily become dangerous to liberty. They are the servants of the people, sent together to do the people's business, and promote the public welfare; their powers must be sufficient, or their duties cannot be performed. They have no profitable appointments, but a mere payment of daily wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their expenses; so that, having no chance of great places and enormous salaries or pensions, as in some countries, there is no intriguing or bribing for elections. I wish Old England were as happy in its government, but I do not see it. Your people, however, think their constitution the best in the world, and affect to despise ours. It is comfortable to have a good opinion of one's self, and of every thing that belongs to us; to think one's own religion, king, and wife, the best of all possible wives, kings, and religions. I remember three Greenlanders, who had travelled two years in Europe, under the care it a very useful reading for all young persons of some Moravian missionaries, and had visited Germany, Denmark, Holland, and England: when of unconfirmed principles, who have their I asked them at Philadelphia (when they were in fortunes to make or to mend in the world.

His account of his own life, down to the year 1730, has been in the hands of the public since 1790. It is written with great simplicity and liveliness, though it contains too many trifling details and anecdotes of obscure individuals. It affords however a striking example of the irresistible force with which talents and industry bear upwards in society; as well as an impressive illustration of the substantial wisdom and good policy of invariable integrity and candour. We should think

There is something extremely amiable in old age, when thus exhibited without querulousness, discontent, or impatience, and free, at the same time, from any affected or unbecoming levity. We think there must be many more of Dr. Franklin's letters in existence, than have yet been given to the public; and from the tone and tenor of those which we have seen, we are satisfied that they would be read with general avidity and improvement.

Upon the whole, we look upon the life and cess; and has only been found deficient in writings of Dr. Franklin as affording a striking those studies which the learned have geneillustration of the incalculable value of a rally turned from in disdain. We would not be sound and well directed understanding; and understood to say any thing in disparagement of the comparative uselessness of learning of scholarship and science; but the value and laborious accomplishments. Without the of these instruments is apt to be over-rated slightest pretensions to the character of a by their possessors; and it is a wholesome scholar or a man of science, he has extended mortification, to show them that the work the bounds of human knowledge on a variety may be done without them. We have long of subjects, which scholars and men of sci-known that their employment does not insure ence had previously investigated without suc-lits success.

(September, 1816.)

The Works of JONATHAN SWIFT, D. D., Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin. Containing Additional Letters, Tracts, and Poems not hitherto published. With Notes, and a life of the Author, by WALTER SCOTT, Esq. 19 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh: 1815.

By far the most considerable change which | that they are declined considerably from the has taken place in the world of letters, in our high meridian of their glory,' and may fairly days, is that by which the wits of Queen be apprehended to be hastening to their setAnne's time have been gradually brought ting.' Neither is it time alone that has down from the supremacy which they had wrought this obscuration; for the fame of enjoyed, without competition, for the best part Shakespeare still shines in undecaying brightof a century. When we were at our studies, ness; and that of Bacon has been steadily some twenty-five years ago, we can perfectly advancing and gathering new honours during remember that every young man was set to the whole period which has witnessed the rise read Pope, Swift, and Addison, as regularly and decline of his less vigorous successors. as Virgil, Cicero, and Horace. All who had any tincture of letters were familiar with their writings and their history; allusions to them abounded in all popular discourses and all ambitious conversation; and they and their contemporaries were universally acknowledged as our great models of excellence, and placed without challenge at the head of our national literature. New books, even when allowed to have merit, were never thought of as fit to be placed in the same class, but were generally read and forgotten, and passed away like the transitory meteors of a lower sky; while they remained in their brightness, and were supposed to shine with a fixed and unalterable glory.

There are but two possible solutions for phenomena of this sort. Our taste has either degenerated-or its old models have been fairly surpassed; and we have ceased to admire the writers of the last century, only be cause they are too good for us-or because they are not good enough. Now, we confess we are no believers in the absolute and permanent corruption of national taste; on the contrary, we think that it is, of all faculties, that which is most sure to advance and improve with time and experience; and that, with the exception of those great physical or political disasters which have given a check to civilization itself, there has always been a sensible progress in this particular; and that the general taste of every successive generation is better than that of its predecessors. There are little capricious fluctuations, no doubt, and fits of foolish admiration or fasti

All this, however, we take it, is now pretty well altered; and in so far as persons of our antiquity can judge of the training and habits of the rising generation, those celebrated writers no longer form the manual of our studiousness, which cannot be so easily accountdious youth, or enter necessarily into the in- ed for: but the great movements are all prostitution of a liberal education. Their names, gressive: and though the progress consists at indeed, are still familiar to our ears; but their one time in withholding toleration from gross writings no longer solicit our habitual notice, faults, and at another in giving their high and their subjects begin already to fade from prerogative to great beauties, this alternation our recollection. Their high privilieges and has no tendency to obstruct the general adproud distinctions, at any rate, have evidently vance; but, on the contrary, is the best and passed into other hands. It is no longer to the safest course in which it can be conthem that the ambitious look up with envy, ducted. or the humble with admiration; nor is it in We are of opinion, then, that the writers their pages that the pretenders to wit and who adorned the beginning of the last ceneloquence now search for allusions that are tury have been eclipsed by those of our own sure to captivate, and illustrations that cannot time; and that they have no chance of ever be mistaken. In this decay of their reputa- regaining the supremacy in which they have tion they have few advocates, and no imita- thus been supplanted. There is not, however, tors and from a comparison of many obser- in our judgment, any thing very stupendous vations, it seems to be clearly ascertained, in this triumph of our contemporaries; and

the greater wonder with us, is, that it was so beth, it received a copious infusion of classical long delayed, and left for them to achieve. images and ideas: but it was still intrinsically For the truth is, that the writers of the former romantic-serious-and even somewhat lofty age had not a great deal more than their judg- and enthusiastic. Authors were then so few ment and industry to stand on; and were in number, that they were looked upon with always much more remarkable for the few- a sort of veneration, and considered as a kind ness of their faults than the greatness of their of inspired persons; at least they were not beauties. Their laurels were won much more yet so numerous, as to be obliged to abuse by good conduct and discipline, than by en- each other, in order to obtain a share of disterprising boldness or native force;-nor can tinction for themselves;-and they neither it be regarded as any very great merit in those affected a tone of derision in their writings, who had so little of the inspiration of genius, nor wrote in fear of derision from others. to have steered clear of the dangers to which They were filled with their subjects, and dealt that inspiration is liable. Speaking generally with them fearlessly in their own way; and of that generation of authors, it may be said the stamp of originality, force, and freedom, that, as poets, they had no force or greatness is consequently upon almost all their producof fancy-no pathos, and no enthusiasm ;- tions. In the reign of James I., our literature, and, as philosophers, no comprehensiveness, with some few exceptions, touching rather depth, or originality. They are sagacious, no the form than the substance of its merits, apdoubt, neat, clear, and reasonable; but for pears to us to have reached the greatest perthe most part cold, timid, and superficial. fection to which it has yet attained; though They never meddle with the great scenes of it would probably have advanced still farther nature, or the great passions of man; but in the succeeding reign, had not the great nacontent themselves with just and sarcastic tional dissensions which then arose, turned representations of city life, and of the paltry the talent and energy of the people into other passions and meaner vices that are bred in channels-first, to the assertion of their civil that lower element. Their chief care is to rights, and afterwards to the discussion of avoid being ridiculous in the eyes of the their religious interests. The graces of literawitty, and above all to eschew the ridicule ture suffered of course in those fierce contenof excessive sensibility or enthusiasm-to be tions; and a deeper shade of austerity was at once witty and rational themselves, with thrown upon the intellectual character of the as good a grace as possible; but to give their nation. Her genius, however, though less capcountenance to no wisdom, no fancy, and no tivating and adorned than in the happier days morality, which passes the standards current which preceded, was still active, fruitful, and in good company. Their inspiration, accord- commanding; and the period of the civil wars, ingly, is little more than a sprightly sort of besides the mighty minds that guided the good sense; and they have scarcely any in- public councils, and were absorbed in public vention but what is subservient to the pur- cares, produced the giant powers of Taylor, poses of derision and satire. Little gleams and Hobbes, and Barrow-the muse of Milof pleasantry, and sparkles of wit, glitter ton-the learning of Coke-and the ingenuity through their compositions; but no glow of of Cowley. feeling-no blaze of imagination-no flashes or genius, ever irradiate their substance. They never pass beyond "the visible diurnal sphere," or deal in any thing that can either lift us above our vulgar nature, or ennoble its reality. With these accomplishments, they may pass well enough for sensible and polite writers, but scarcely for men of genius; and it is certainly far more surprising, that persons of this description should have maintained themselves, for near a century, at the head of the literature of a country that had previously produced a Shakespeare, a Spenser, a Bacon, and a Taylor, than that, towards the end of that long period, doubts should have arisen as to the legitimacy of the title by which they laid claim to that high station. Both parts of the phenomenon, however, we dare say, had causes which better expounders might explain to the satisfaction of all the world. We see them but imperfectly, and have room only for an imperfect sketch of what we see.

Our first literature consisted of saintly legends, and romances of chivalry,-though Chancer gave it a more national and popular Character, by his original descriptions of external nature, and the familiarity and gaiety of his social humour. In the time of Eliza

The Restoration introduced a French court under circumstances more favourable_for the effectual exercise of court influence than ever before existed in England: but this of itself would not have been sufficient to account for the sudden change in our literature which ensued. It was seconded by causes of far more general operation. The Restoration was undoubtedly a popular act;—and, indefensible as the conduct of the army and the civil leaders was on that occasion, there can be no question that the severities of Cromwell, and the extravagancies of the sectaries, had made republican professions hateful, and religious ardour ridiculous, in the eyes of a great proportion of the people. All the eminent writers of the preceding period, however, had inclined to the party that was now overthrown; and their writings had not merely been accommodated to the character of the government under which they were produced, but were deeply imbued with its obnoxious principles, which were those of their respective authors. When the restraints of authority were taken off, therefore, and it became profitable, as well as popular, to discredit the fallen party, it was natural that the leading authors should affect a style of levity and derision, as most opposite to that of their op

ponents, and best calculated for the purposes and to this praise they are justly entitled. This was left for them to do, and they did it well. They were invited to it by the circumstances of their situation, and do not seem to have been possessed of any such bold or vigor. ous spirit, as either to neglect or to outgo the invitation. Coming into life immediately after the consummation of a bloodless revolution, effected much more by the cool sense, than the angry passions of the nation, they seem to have felt that they were born in an age of reason, rather than of feeling or fancy: and that men's minds, though considerably divided and unsettled upon many points, were in a much better temper to relish judicious argument and cutting satire, than the glow of enthusiastic passion, or the richness of a luxuriant imagination. To those accordingly they made no pretensions; but, writing with infinite good sense, and great grace and vi vacity, and, above all, writing for the first time in a tone that was peculiar to the upper ranks of society, and upon subjects that were almost exclusively interesting to them, they naturally figured, at least while the manner was new, as the most accomplished, fashionable, and perfect writers which the world had ever seen; and made the wild, luxuriant, and humble sweetness of our earlier authors appear rude and untutored in the comparison. Men grew ashamed of admiring, and afraid of imitating writers of so little skill and smartness; and the opinion became general, not only that their faults were intolerable, but that even their beauties were puerile and barbarous, and unworthy the serious regard of a polite and distinguishing age.

they had in view. The nation, too, was now for the first time essentially divided in point of character and principle, and a much greater proportion were capable both of writing in support of their own notions, and of being influenced by what was written. Add to all this, that there were real and serious defects in the style and manner of the former generation; and that the grace, and brevity, and vivacity of that gayer manner which was now introduced from France, were not only good and captivating in themselves, but had then all the charms of novelty and of contrast; and it will not be difficult to understand how it came to supplant that which had been established of old in the country,-and that so suddenly, that the same generation, among whom Milton had been formed to the severe sanctity of wisdom and the noble independence of genius, lavished its loudest applauses on the obscenity and servility of such writers as Rochester and Wycherly.

This change, however, like all sudden changes, was too fierce and violent to be long maintained at the same pitch; and when the wits and profligates of King Charles had sufficiently insulted the seriousness and virtue of their predecessors, there would probably have been a revulsion towards the accustomed taste of the nation, had not the party of the innovators been reinforced by champions of more temperance and judgment. The result seemed at one time suspended on the will of Dryden-in whose individual person the genius of the English and of the French school of literature may be said to have maintained a protracted struggle. But the evil principle prevailed! Carried by the original bent of his genius, and his familiarity with our older models, to the cultivation of our native style, to which he might have imparted more steadiness and correctness for in force and in sweetness it was already matchless he was unluckily seduced by the attractions of fashion, and the dazzling of the dear wit and gay rhetoric in which it delighted, to lend his powerful aid to the new corruptions and refinements; and in fact, to prostitute his great gifts to the purposes of party rage or licentious ribaldry.

The sobriety of the succeeding reigns layed this fever of profanity; but no genius arose sufficiently powerful to break the spell that still withheld us from the use of our own peculiar gifts and faculties. On the contrary, it was the unfortunate ambition of the next generation of authors, to improve and perfect the new style, rather than to return to the old one;-and it cannot be denied that they did improve it. They corrected its gross indecency-increased its precision and correctness -made its pleasantry and sarcasm more polished and elegant-and spread through the whole of its irony, its narration, and its reflection, a tone of clear and condensed good sense, which recommended itself to all who had, and all who had not any relish for higher beauties.

These, and similar considerations, will go far to account for the celebrity which those authors acquired in their day; but it is not quite so easy to explain how they should have so long retained their ascendant. One cause undoubtedly was, the real excellence of their productions, in the style which they had adopted. It was hopeless to think of surpassing them in that style; and, recom mended as it was, by the felicity of their execution, it required some courage to depart from it, and to recur to another, which seemed to have been so lately abandoned for its sake. The age which succeeded, too, was not the al-age of courage or adventure. There never was, on the whole, a quieter time than the reigns of the two first Georges, and the greater part of that which ensued. There were two little provincial rebellions indeed, and a fair proportion of foreign war; but there was nothing to stir the minds of the people at large, to rouse their passions, or excite their imaginations-nothing like the agitations of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, or of the civil wars in the seventeenth. They went on, accordingly, minding their old busi ness, and reading their old books, with great patience and stupidity: And certainly there never was so remarkable a dearth of original talent-so long an interregnum of native genius-as during about sixty years in the middle of the last century. The dramatic

This is the praise of Queen Anne's wits-art was dead fifty years before-and poetry

which it gave occasion-the genius of Edmund Burke, and some others of his land of genius-the impression of the new literature of Germany, evidently the original of our lake-school of poetry, and many innovations in our drama-the rise or revival of a more evangelical spirit, in the body of the people -and the vast extension of our political and

seemed verging to a similar extinction. The few sparks that appeared, too, showed that the old fire was burnt out, and that the altar must hereafter be heaped with fuel of another quality. Gray, with the talents, rather of a critic than a poet-with learning, fastidiousness, and scrupulous delicacy of taste, instead of fire, tenderness, or invention-began and ended a small school, which we could scarce-commercial relations, which have not only familiarized all ranks of people with dista countries, and great undertakings, but have brought knowledge and enterprise home, not merely to the imagination, but to the actual experience of almost every individual.--All these, and several other circumstances, have so far improved or excited the character of our nation, as to have created an effectual demand for more profound speculation, and more serious emotion than was dealt in by the writers of the former century, and which, if it has not yet produced a corresponding supply in all branches, has at least had the effect of decrying the commodities that were previously in vogue, as unsuited to the altered condition of the times.

ly have wished to become permanent, admirable in many respects as some of its productions are being far too elaborate and artificial, either for grace or for fluency, and fitter to excite the admiration of scholars, than the delight of ordinary men. However, he had the merit of not being in any degree French, and of restoring to our poetry the dignity of seriousness, and the tone at least of force and energy. The Whartons, both as critics and as poets, were of considerable service in discrediting the high pretensions of the former race, and in bringing back to public notice the great stores and treasures of poetry which lay hid in the records of our older literature. Akenside attempted a sort of classical and philosophical rapture, which no elegance of language could easily have rendered popular, but which had merits of no vulgar order for those who could study it. Goldsmith wrote with perfect elegance and beauty, in a style of mellow tenderness and elaborate simplicity. He had the harmony of Pope without his quaintness, and his selectness of diction without his coldness and eternal vivacity. And, last of all, came Cowper, with a style of complete originality, and, for the first time, made it apparent to readers of all descriptions, that Pope and Addison were no longer to be the models of English poetry.

Of those ingenious writers, whose characteristic certainly was not vigour, any more than tenderness or fancy, SWIFT was indisputably the most vigorous-and perhaps the least tender or fanciful. The greater part of his works being occupied with politics and personalities that have long since lost all interest, can now attract but little attention, except as memorials of the manner in which politics and personalities were then conducted. In other parts, however, there is a vein of peculiar humour and strong satire, which will always be agreeable-and a sort of heartiness of abuse and contempt of mankind, In philosophy and prose writing in general, which produces a greater sympathy and anithe case was nearly parallel. The name of mation in the reader than the more elaborate Hume is by far the most considerable which sarcasms that have since come into fashion. cecurs in the period to which we have al- Altogether his merits appear to be more unique luded. But, though his thinking was English, and inimitable than those of any of his conhis style is entirely French; and being natu- temporaries; and as his works are connected rally of a cold fancy, there is nothing of that in many parts with historical events which it eloquence or richness about him, which char-must always be of importance to understand, acterizes the writings of Taylor, and Hooker, we conceive that there are none, of which a and Bacon-and continues, with less weight new and careful edition is so likely to be acof matter, to please in those of Cowley and ceptable to the public, or so worthy to engage Clarendon. Warburton had great powers; the attention of a person qualified for the and wrote with more force and freedom than undertaking. In this respect, the projectors the wits to whom he succeeded-but his of the present publication must be considered faculties were perverted by a paltry love of as eminently fortunate the celebrated perparadox, and rendered useless to mankind by son who has here condescended to the func an unlucky choice of subjects, and the arro- tions of an editor, being almost as much gance and dogmatism of his temper. Adam distinguished for the skill and learning re Smith was nearly the first who made deeper quired for that humbler office, as for the reasonings and more exact knowledge popu- creative genius which has given such unexlar among us; and Junius and Johnson the ampled popularity to his original compositions first who again familiarized us with more glowing and sonorous diction-and made us feel the tameness and poorness of the serious style of Addison and Swift.

and uniting to the minute knowledge and patient research of the Malones and Chalmerses, a vigour of judgment and a vivacity of style to which they had no pretensions. In the exercise of these comparatively humble functions, he has acquitted himself, we think, on the present occasion, with great judgment and ability. The edition, upon the whole, is much better than that of Dryden. It is less loaded with long notes and illustrative quota

This brings us down almost to the present times-in which the revolution in our literature has been accelerated and confirmed by the concurrence of many causes. The agitations of the French revolution, and the discussions as well as the hopes and terrors to

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