Slike strani
PDF
ePub

Ecclesiastical History (1751-1754) and Life of Erasmus (1758), without tempting the reader to enthusiasm, are scholarly and well-written works.

ROBERT LOWTH (1710 - 1787), Bishop of St. Davids in 1766, translated to Oxford in the same year, and to London in 1777, refused the primacy on the same occasion as Bishop Hurd. His chief works were his Translation of Isaiah (1778) and his Latin Prælections on Hebrew Poetry (1753). These were professorial lectures at Oxford-he was a fellow of New College-and have had a great influence on modern biblical criticism.

RICHARD WATSON (1737-1816), Bishop of Llandaff, wrote answers to Gibbon (1776) and Tom Paine (1796). These, the Apologies for Christianity and the Bible, are well known.

Of other writers, who have added little to English literature, and yet have been of great service in shaping the moral and religious thought of the country, we may mention the brothers EBENEZER and RALPH ERSKINE (1680-1754 and 16851752); the great JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791), of Christ Church, Oxford, fellow of Lincoln, and founder of the Wesleyan Methodists; and JAMES HERVEY (1714-1758), author of Meditations among the Tombs (1746), Theron and Aspasio (1755),

etc.

B.-PHILOSOPHERS.

(1) Scotland takes the philosophical honours of this age. Apart from Hume and Adam Smith, her two greatest gifts to the period, she produced a tribe of metaphysicians between 1750 and 1800. The chief influences, however, which led these men to think for themselves, were English. On the one hand, they had a veneration for the incomplete deist, Shaftesbury; on the other, the works of the Arian Churchman, Samuel Clarke, left a deep impression on them. Later on, the influence of Butler at once modified ⚫ their tendencies and extended their range of thought.

FRANCIS HUTCHESON (1694-1746),

an Ulsterman, may be definitely considered as the founder of the Scottish metaphysical school. He studied at Glasgow, became Professor of Moral Philosophy there in 1729, and was Adam Smith's master. His Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, published in 1725-6, while he was a schoolmaster in Dublin, is directly the result of the study of Shaftesbury. His chief work, A System of Moral Philosophy (1755), appeared posthumously, under his son's editorship.

HENRY HOME, LORD KAMES (1696-1782), an Edinburgh law-lord, enjoyed an immense popularity as a mental philosopher. His chief book, the Elements of Criticism (1762), was eulogised by Johnson, not as an original piece of work, but as telling "old things in a new way." Of his other works, the Introduction to the Art of Thinking (1761) and the anecdotal miscellany called Sketches of the History of Man (1774), were only a little less famous. Kames is to-day a dreary writer; but we can understand his reputation in an age when everybody read philosophy with the utmost greediness.

Another law-lord, JAMES BURNETT, LORD MONBODDO (17141799), dabbled in philosophy, and wrote an Essay of the Origin and Progress of Language (1773-92) and a work on Ancient Metaphysics (1779-99), but is now principally remembered by the innumerable anecdotes of his eccentricities. pet theory was that mankind had at one time been adorned with tails, but, by a long course of sitting, had worn them away. Numerous references to his peculiarities will be found in Boswell, who criticises his style as " exceedingly dry and hard.

His

These judges were merely amateurs. One of the principal metaphysicians, and the head of a very important school, was THOMAS REID (1710-1796), Professor of Moral Philosophy, first at King's College, Aberdeen, and afterwards at Glasgow, where he succeeded Adam Smith. His Inquiry into the Human Mind (1764) attacked

Hume's scepticism, but vindicated a common-sense view of morality as opposed to ideal theories. In 1785 he published Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, and in 1788 Essays on the Active Powers of Man.

Reid's great disciple was DUGALD STEWART (1753-1828), an Edinburgh man, who attended his lectures at Glasgow, and held successively the chairs of Mathematics and Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. His great work, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, appeared at various times-the first volume in 1792, the second in 1814, and the third in 1827. The famous Philosophical Essays were published in 1810. Stewart's character was the admiration of the day, and his moral influence on the society of Edinburgh was extraordinary. His Essays show his elegant and polished style at its

best.

THOMAS BROWN (1778-1820), a poet and philosopher distinguished for his power of analysis, was Stewart's coadjutor from 1810 to 1820 in the chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh.

A third Edinburgh professor was ADAM FERGUSON (1723-1816), a native of Perthshire and a member of St. Andrews University, who wrote A History of the Roman Republic (1782) and Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792).

(2) Of the English philosophers, DAVID HARTLEY (1705-1757), a Yorkshireman and fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, has a considerable reputation as the founder of that school which explained the various states of the mind by the principle of association, and had among its later members James Mill. Hartley spent a great part of his life as a doctor, and his single work of importance is the Observations on Man, his Frame, Duty, and Expectations (1749), to which he devoted the most laborious attention. His work was very original, and does not deserve the oblivion into which it has fallen among general readers. A follower of Hartley's doctrines was ABRAHAM TUCKER (1705-1774), a country gentleman,

who wrote, under the pseudonym of Edward Search, a book called The Light of Nature Parsued (1768).

RICHARD PRICE (1723-1791), a Welshman, who became a Nonconformist minister in London and taught in the Nonconformist College at Hackney, endeavoured, in his Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (1757), to interpret the ideas of Cudworth, who had traced moral obligation to the perceptions of the understanding. He wrote several able works on financial sub

jects-Observations on Reversionary Payments (1770) and an Appeal to the Public on the subject of the National Debt (1772)—and, in 1778, after his defence of the revolted Americans in his Observations on Civil Liberty (1776), was invited to settle in the United States and assist in regulating the finances. His Discourse on the Love of Our Country, delivered to the so-called Revolutionary Society in 1789, was a warm defence of the French Revolution, and called down the wrath of Burke in his Reflections on the great outbreak. His modern reputation almost entirely depends on the enmity which he thus excited.

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY (1733-1804) was chosen Price's successor as morning preacher at Hackney in 1793. He was a Yorkshireman, and became a Nonconformist minister in various parts of England. Originally a Calvinist, he gradually changed his opinions and became an aggressive Unitarian. While he was at Birmingham, between 1780 and 1791, the French Revolution broke out; and his sympathy with it was so strongly expressed that some rioters set fire to his house and destroyed his library and scientific appara

[blocks in formation]

life was spent amid a rain of controversial pamphlets. He attacked the Scottish metaphysicians, and argued with Gibbon. His chief fame, however, springs from his discoveries in experimental physics. He was one of the fathers of chemistry, and made several discoveries in relation to light and colour. He left England for America in 1794, and died, ten years later, at Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

C.-HISTORIANS AND

SCHOLARS.

THOMAS BIRCH (1705-1766), a clergyman, was the author of many laborious works on modern history. He also published a General Dictionary, Historical and Critical (173441), and edited Thurloe's State Papers (1759). Johnson, who knew Birch during the period in which he was writing his own Dictionary, said, "Tom Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation, but no sooner does he take a pen in his hand than it becomes a torpedo to him and benumbs all his faculties."

JACOB BRYANT (1715-1804), secretary to the Duke of Marlborough, who gave him a lucrative place in the Ordnance office, was the author of several works on classical and mythological subjects. His fancy often carried him too far in paradox and speculation, but he established and defended his theories with great ingenuity and research.

His lead

ing works were: A New System, or an Analysis of Ancient Mythology (1774-6); On the Plain of Troy (1795); and A Dissertation concerning the War of Troy (? 1796).

JEAN LOUIS DE LOLME (1740?1807), a lawyer of Geneva, published in 1775 a work on The Constitution of England, written and published originally in French (1771), but translated by himself into fluent English. It was of value as an authority in its day, but has been superseded since then by more modern works.

JAMES GRANGER (1723-1776) was a clergyman who wrote a Biographical History of England (1769), illus.

trated with a splendid collection of engraved portraits. He must not be confounded with James Grainger, the West Indian doctor and poet. His book was continued by Mark Noble.

SIR DAVID DALRYMPLE, LORD HAILES (1726-1792), a Scottish Lord of Session, wrote Annals of Scotland from Malcolm Canmore to the accession of the house of Stewart (1776-9), edited the fifth book of Lactantius, with Latin notes, and published many other legal and historical works. His name occurs constantly in Boswell, and he was one of the few Scotsmen of whom Johnson spoke with consistent kindness.

ROBERT HENRY (1718-1790), a native of Stirlingshire, and a Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh, published a History of England (177193) which was popular in its day. It extended to the reign of Henry VIII, and treated at some length the internal affairs, manners, and customs of the people.

JOHN, LORD HERVEY (1696–1743). son and heir, by the death of his half brother, to the first Earl of Bristol, and himself called to the House of Lords in 1733 as Lord Hervey of Ickworth, wrote Memoirs of the Reign of George II, which were published in 1848 under the editorship of John Wilson Croker. The more scandalous passages were, however, left out; and the book, in its abridged state, forms a delightful storehouse of amusing anecdote. Hervey, who was educated at Westminster and Clare Hall, Cambridge, was concerned with all the Court intrigue of his time, principally as the supporter and confidant of George II's Queen. He married the maid of honour, Molly Lepell, so famous for her beauty. To-day he is remembered chiefly as the Sporus of Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.

"His wit all see-saw, between that and this,

Now high, now low, now master up,

[blocks in formation]

wrote a History of Scotland (1802) | from the union of the crowns in 1603 to the union of the kingdoms in 1707. He completed and edited Robert Henry's history, and was an unsparing opponent of the Ossianic myth.

THOMAS LELAND (1722-1785), D.D. and fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, besides his well-known translation of Demosthenes (1754-61), published a History of Ireland (1773). A similar work (1763) was written by FERDINANDO WARNER (1703-1768), the author of Ecclesiastical History to the Eighteenth Century (1756–7).

GEORGE, first LORD LYTTELTON (1709-1773), a man of great virtue and many accomplishments, and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1755, was the author of a History of Henry II (1767-71), but is perhaps best known by his Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul (1747). His poetry, belonging to the school of James Thomson, is of very slight merit, with the exception of one or two pieces, but gained him a place in Johnson's Lives.

CATHARINE MACAULAY (17331791), called by Walpole "the henbrood of faction," was the wife of a physician, and devoted her life to the service of Republicanism.

Her chief work was the celebrated History of England during the Stewart dynasty (1763-83), which provoked considerable attention at the time, owing to its vigorous and popular style. She crossed the Atlantic and visited George Washington. She even ventured to measure her strength with Burke, and attacked (1790) his Reflections on the French Revolution.

WILLIAM OLDYS (1696-1761), Norroy King-at-Arms, was a busy historian and antiquarian. In 1736 he wrote the Life of Sir Walter Ralegh as a preface to a new edition of Ralegh's History of the World; he edited the Harleian Miscellany between 1744 and 1746, and wrote several articles for the Biographia Britannica (1747-60). He was at one time very poor, and was imprisoned in the Fleet.

JOHN PINKERTON (1758-1826),

born in Edinburgh, was a laborious and learned writer, and the author of numerous works, among which may be mentioned a collection of Ancient Scottish Poems (1786), a History of Modern Scotland (1797), Modern Geography (1802), Voyages and Travels (1807-14), etc.

RICHARD PORSON (1759-1808), fellow of Trinity College and Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge, was born in Norfolk of humble parents, but became one of the greatest Greek scholars in the country. Besides his well-known contributions to classical literature, Porson wrote English Letters to Archdeacon Travis (1788-9) on the disputed verse, 1 St. John v. 7, on account of which he deserves a place among English writers.

WILLIAM RUSSELL (1741-1793), a native of Selkirkshire, is known as the author of Russell's Modern Europe (1779-84), which long kept the field as a general text-book of modern history.

GILBERT STUART (1742-1786) of Edinburgh wrote a History of the Establishment of the Reformation in Scotland (1780) and a History of Scotland (1782) in which he vehemently attacked Robertson. He was an active writer in the Scottish reviews, and engaged in bitter controversy with many of his contemporaries.

WILLIAM TYTLER (1711-1792), the father and grandfather of historians, wrote himself an Inquiry into the Evidence against Mary Queen of Scots (1759), which had a great vogue at the time, and was intended as a criticism of Robertson and Hume's treatment of the subject.

GILBERT WAKEFIELD (17561801) was a well-known writer on divinity and a classical scholar, whose Unitarian convictions led him to leave the Church of England. He published a translation of certain books of the New Testament, and answered Tom Paine in a work on the Evidences of Christianity (1793). In replying to Bishop Watson of Llandaff on behalf of the French Revolution (1798), he was found guilty of libel and sentenced to imprisonment for two years. He was a hasty

"

but honest man, "as violent against | Greek accents," said Porson, as he was against the Trinity, and anathematised the final y as strongly as episcopacy."

ROBERT WATSON (1730?-1781), Professor of Logic at St. Andrews, continued Robertson's Charles Vin an unprofitable History of Philip II (1777).

JOHN WHITAKER (1735-1808) wrote a History of Manchester (1771-5) and a book called Mary, Queen of Scots, Vindicated (1787) which deserve a passing mention.

The Universal History, in 23 volumes, was completed in 1760, under the care of Swinton, Archibald Bower, George Psalmanazar, and others. Goldsmith wrote a preface for it, and received three guineas for the task.

D.-MISCELLANEOUS
WRITERS AND CRITICS.

THOMAS AMORY (1691?-1788), an Irishman by descent, resided in Westminster, was a staunch Unitarian, and lived to the great age of ninety-seven. His Memoirs, containing the Lives of several Ladies of Great Britain, appeared in 1755. In The Life of John Buncle, Esq. (1756-66), he approaches the domain of the novel. The book is an erratic narrative written in the first person, full of humour, quotation, and meditative digression, and reminding the reader, in its oddness, of Burton's Anatomy.

SIR WILLIAM JONES (1746-1794), a celebrated Oriental scholar, and the author of many works in various branches of literature, was the son of an eminent mathematician. He was educated at Harrow and University College,; Oxford, was called to the bar in 1774, and, in 1783, was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, where he died in 1794. He was one of the first Europeans who studied Sanskrit, and contributed many valuable papers to the Researches of the Bengal Asiatic Society. While in India he translated from the Sanskrit, Sakúntala, a dramatic poem by Kalidása, and the Hitopadesa, a collection of fables.

He has obtained a place among English poets on account of a few original pieces and several transla tions from the Eastern writers, published at Calcutta in 1800.

JOHN LANGHORNE (1735-1779) was born in Westmorland, and held the living of Blagdon in Somerset. He was a preacher of some popu larity, and wrote tales and poems. In company with his brother, WIL LIAM LANGHORNE (1721-1772), he published a translation of Plutarch's Lives (1770), which superseded North's magnificent version in the correct taste of the eighteenth century, and, until quite recently, was the standard English edition of the great work.

CHARLOTTE LENNOX (1720-1804) wrote two popular novels, Harriot Stuart (1750) and The Female Quixote (1752).

FRANCES SHERIDAN (1724–1766), née Chamberlaine, mother of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, wrote two very tearful novels in the sentimental manner, Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761) and Nourjahad (1788), the first of which was greatly admired by Johnson. Her two come. dies, The Discovery (1763) and The Dupe (1764), are not as able as her novels.

JOHN HORNE TOOKE (1736-1812) was the son of a London poulterer named Horne. He received his education at Westminster, Eton, and St. John's College, Cambridge, after which, taking Holy Orders, he threw himself into the great political struggles of those days, and wrote in 1765 in favour of Wilkes. In 1773 he resigned his preferment in the Church in order to study for the bar; but the benchers refused to call him because he was a clergyman. Mr. Tooke of Purley, whose name he afterwards adopted, left him his fortune. In 1796 he was a candidate for Parliament as member for Westminster, and in 1801 was elected for Old Sarum. Previously, in 1794, he had been tried for high treason, when he was defended by Erskine. The declining years of his life were passed at his literary retreat at Wimbledon, where his friends often came to enjoy the hospitality,

« PrejšnjaNaprej »