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Chapman, minister of Kinfauris, in relation to an academy for the education of a few young gentlemen, which he was preparing to open yê
Lord Cathcart, having fulfilled his diplomatic appointment, returned to Britain in the September of 1772, when Mr Richardson accompanied his only surviving pupil to the University of Glasgow. Before he had been a year in Scotland, he became a candidate for the Humanity Chair in Glasgow College, then vacant by the death of Mr Muirhead. The high literary character which Mr Richardson maintained, and the powerful influence of Lord Cathcart, who was at that time Lord Rector of the University, were circumstances greatly in favour of his claims. The result was, that, after a keen contest, in which he was preferred to the present Proefessor of Logic only by the casting vote, he was elected. His appointment to this situation took place on the 9th October 1773, or who do
Mr Richardson began his professional career under the most favourable auspices. Of the particular manner in which his earliest efforts in this department were conducted, we have had no opportunity of being informed; but it is probable, making due allowances for the improvements to which practice and experience must have given rise, that the plan which he then adopted was much the same as that which he latterly pursued, and which, without any reference at present to the merits of the teacher, it may not be improper in this place shortly to describe.
The Humanity Class, at the period of our acquaintance with it, was divided into two great parts, the Public and Private. In the former, the Professor prelected on some portion of a Latin author, which a considerable portion of the class, who said from their own preparation, had previously translated in public, and which was then appointed to be acquired before the next meeting by an inferior order of students, who, from their youth or standing, were under the necessity of hearing a translation from the Profes sor prior to their preparing the passage. The stated hours of meeting each day, Saturday excepted, were two, when all the students assembled, and when they read, or were examined
promiscuously. There were other hours, however, thats did not enter into the fixed arrangements of the class, in which the Professor met with the several divisions separately;rrand when the matiner of teaching was adapted to their respective circumstances. The books commonly read during the course, in succession, were Livy, Cicero, and sometimes Cæsar, at the morning hour; and ate the second meeting, Virgil, sometimes Horace, and Terence, or Plautus, the two last being annually alternated. ing the week, exercises of various kinds, such as translations from Latin into English, and English into Latin, with tasks in prosody were prescribed. Reading Buchanan's Psalms, and revising the lessons of the preceding week, formed the chief occupation on Saturdaysdreas no regular order was preserved in calling on the students to read, all of them were obliged to be prepared in the passage, and to be attentive while the business was advancing. Fines were exacted for absence or Jateness, and for non-preparation, except in some cases, when the last offence was punished by disgrace or the imposition of tasks. Rewards at the close of the season were bestowed on the several divisions, according to the regularity of attendance, the propriety of behaviour, and the proficiency in learning, of the different students to moit
The private class consisted of students from all the classes. The initiatory discipline of the other class was here dispensed with, as those who attended it were, for the most part, of some maturity of understanding. During a part of the hour, a passage from Horace or some other author being selected, the meaning of diffi cult words was given, intricacies of expression unfolded, critical dissertationsread, the readings of different.commentators mentioned, and a considerable portion of the text translated, first literally, and then with elegant and idiomatic freedom. The remainder of the hour was occupied with what was called the Lecture Mr. Richardson here pursued a particular course, of which the outlines were printed in a small syllabus, and which embraced, together with a great variety of collateral topics, the daily life of a Roman, in all relations and cir
cumstances, from his cradle to the grave; the progress of literature among the Romans, from its earliest, through its most flourishing, to its declining state; and the art of writing in general, with illustrations from ancient and modern authors. These lectures were very useful in illustrating the Roman writers to those per sons who were more immediately em ployed in studying them, in exciting their ardour, as well as in improving the taste and guiding the efforts of the superior students. In themselves, they were models of fine composition and classical elegance,
Such is an imperfect sketch of the manner which the Latin class was
taught by Mr Richardson, and we be
lieve there are none of our readers, who commenced, at this time, their literary career at Glasgow, but will retain a grateful recollection of the instructors who conducted their initia tory studies, without adverting at present to the celebrated Professors in the higher branches, although certainly no University could boast throughout all its departments of greater or more diversified excellence. The young stu dent had before his eyes the model of an elegant mind of refined taste, and of polished manners, in one who was well acquainted with the writings and language of Rome, and fitted to per ceive the nicer beauties of poetry and of diction, as well as able to inspire bim with a relish for every thing that was correct, and tasteful, and refined, in sentiment and expression.In another eminent scholar, he could not but admire a vigour, an acute ress,randhas luminousness of mind, a concentration of intellect and information, of the highest order, brought to bear on the investigation and evolution of the intricacies of language, and nd grammar,a profundity of research, a clearness of idea, and a perspicuity in the conveyance of his thoughts, even on the most abstruse subjects; and on his favourite theme an enthusiasm of manner, such as to inflame the coldest heart, and to kindle rapture in the bosom of genius. A third will live in the memory of more than one generation as the noblest work of God—an honest man," glow ing with warm affection to his pupils, and with ardent interest in their wel fare; one well acquainted with the
springs of action in youth, and skilful in using those means by which the juvenile mind is animated in its pursuits and expanded in its faculties one who was of incalculable use to young men in animating their desires after intellectual and moral excellence, in impressing upon them feelings of generous emulation, and, by precept and example, directing them to all the purest sources of thought and of action. I
The two last of these distinguished men happily remain full of years and honour and we are far from wishing to insinuate that the reputation of the University, although deprived of several of its brightest ornamentsg has at all declined; yet, in going back to the recollections of our youths it is ever a natural illusion to supli pose that the glory of existence isbat an end! 6 winsg
It is as commonly remarked as experienced, that the life of a literary man presents few circumstances inte resting to the curiosity of the world. From the period of his becoming a Professor to his death, the history of Mr Richardson was, in a great measure, of this description. For fortyone years, during which he dischargcd the functions of Professor, his life exhibited little else than the regular succession of laborious application to his proper business in winter, and of rural retirement and professional preparations in summer, except, indeed, which was not unfrequent, when the publication of some work relieved the uniformity of his occupations. But who will say that a life of this kind, though not so conspicuous as that of the statesman or of the warrior, may not be crowned with the utmost enjoyment to the individual, with the greatest interest and advantage to the world, and that all the glories of mind, and all the graces and charities of the heart, may not, in this little sphere, find scope for their most ex pansive exercise?
Mr Richardson, as we have seen, devoted the greatest part of his attention to the labours of his vocation, in which, both from personal taste and inclination, and from the desire of being useful to his pupils, his heart seemed to be engaged; and his time was thus chiefly occupied in attendance on his various classes, or in, dec
33 Early in 1774 he gave to the world a volume of poetry, under the name of " Poems, chiefly Rural," &c. which were so much approved of by the cri ties, and relished by the public, as in a short time to pass through three editions, two in Glasgow by the Messrs Foulis, and one in London. The following extracts, from the pen of a contemporary reviewer, Dr Gil bert Stuart, not the most lenient of erities, express, we suppose, the opibion of these poems which was then prevalent. It must give us, (the reviewers in the Edinburgh Magazine and Review,) and every sincere enthusiast for literature, the most real and sensible pleasure, to see a new genius arise in our country, who, to the fire and fancy of a genuine poet, adds the propriety and elegance of a fine writer. On the whole, in We cannot express our general sentiments of this poet more happily than in the words of Virgil Polo Tue 1.07k
Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta! Quale soper fessis in gramine; quale per æstum,
Dulcis aquæ saliente sitim restinguere
On by the gentle gales that blow Refreshing from the mountain's brow, By the vermil bloom of morn, By the dew-drop on the thorn, By the sky-lark's matin lay, By the flowers that blooming May Sprinkles on the meads and hills, By the brooks and fuming rills, Come, smiling Health! and deign to be Our queen of rural sports and glee. What sudden radiance gilds the skies! What warblings from the groves arise! A breeze more odoriferous blows! The stream more musically flows!" A brighter smile the valley chears! And lo! the lovely queen appears! O Health! I know thy blue-bright eye, Thy dewy lip, thy rosy dye,
Thy dimpled cheek, thy lively air, ste
Goddess ever blithe and
Our queen of rural sports and glee.m with us, and deign to be a dou od sw basebo Myd jdgust
This volume of poetry contained Odes, Idyllions, and Anacreontics; Rural Tales; Runnymead? Corsi ca; Elegy on the Death of a Lady; Miscellaneous Verses; and the Pro gress of Melancholy" It was int scribed to Lord Cathcart. In the seq cond edition, there was subjoined to the whole, a tale, entitled The Ins dians," afterwards dramatised into the
tragedy of that name. Of these poems Mr Richardson acknowledges only three editions, though a fourth was printed by Andrew Foulis.bodanoq to
About two months after the lapy pearance of his poems, he published in a small volume Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of some of Shakespeare's Remarkable Charaed ters," dedicated to his friend Robert Buntine, Esq. of Ardoch, afterwards Graham of Gartmore. The charac ters analysed and illustrated are Maeu beth, Hamlet, Jacques, and Imogen. This work went through several editions, and placed its author high mong the philosophical critics of his country, while it added to his repus tation as a classical and elegant writer. The reviewer, from whose encomium on Mr Richardson's poetry we have already made an extract, after stat ing, in a review of the present work, the great difference, or even opposition, between poetry and phiu losophical research, and expressing his fear that our author would not have succeeded equally in both de partments, thus goes on: But how agreeable was our surprise to find the exuberance of inventions and the warmth of enthusiasm rendered sub servient to the cool and severe inves
tigations of reason; while the ardent prepossessions, the luxuriant sallies of the poet, were chastened by the deliberate inspection, and the accurate penetration of the sage.' "The style of this work," he remarks in another place, is perspicuous, elegant, and interesting"
In afterwards noticing the last and greatly enlarged editions of these his two principal works, we shall take the opportunity of offering a few observa tions on the merits of his poetry and his criticism.
The next literary productions by Mr Richardson were some papers in the Mirror and Lounger, his contributions to the former, as would ap pear from the enumeration of the correspondents by Dr Drake, entitling him to rank first among them. That critic gives the following account of Mr Richardson's communications. "In enumerating the papers written by the correspondents of the Mirror, we shall commence with Professor Richardson, a gentleman of establish ed reputation in the critical and poetical world. From his stores the Mirror has been enriched with five essays, Nos. 8, 24, 29, 66, and 96. Two of these, Nos. 24 and 66, are accurate and elegant pieces of criticism on the Allegro and Penseroso of Milton; and on the love-scene between Richard and Lady Ann, in Shakespeare's Richard the Third." A critique on the poetry of Hamilton of Bangour is the only paper which Mr Richardson furnished to the Lounger.
In 1783, Mr Richardson published his" Anecdotes of the Russian Empire." During the four years which he spent in Russia, he had enjoyed opportunities of observing the manners of the Russians, as well as of knowing the characters of distinguished individuals. The facts he records were either witnessed by himself, or communicated to him by persons on whose information he could rely. A considerable number, indeed, of the letters of which the volume is composed, have little or no connection with the author's general design. "But a reader of taste will not regret an intermixture which affords agreeable diversity, and where national anecdotes are suspended only to make room for philosophical reflection, or some beautiful production of poetry.”
Of the manner in which this work,
so miscellaneous in its nature, is executed, it is somewhat difficult to speak distinctly. Thus far, however, it may be stated, that the letters are perspicuously, easily, and elegantly written, and often finely diversified by translations from modern foreign authors; that the writer is lively without levity, and serious and judi cious without being heavy; that his sentiments concerning governments are liberal, but his patriotic prefer ence of the British constitution always evident; that the whole book, in short, is dictated by classical taste, and displays no inconsider able acquaintance with a number of authors, as well as an ease in applying that knowledge to particular purposes.
The next work from the pen of Mr Richardson was presented to the world in 1784, and was entitled,
Essays on Shakespeare's Dramatic Characters of Richard III., King Lear, and Timon of Athens; to which is added, an Essay on the Faults of Shakespeare; and Additional Observations on the Character of Hamlet." This continuation of the Analysis fulfilled the expectations which its predecessor had raised, and contributed to increase, rather than impair, the reputation which its author had previously acquired. Soon after, a second sequel made its appearance, consisting of "Essays on Shakespeare's Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff, and on his Imitation of Female Characters, with Observations on the Chief Objects of Criticism in the Works of Shakespeare." These two last mentioned works, together with the Analysis, were collected into one volume, and published with a uniform title, in 1797.
In the April of the same year appeared a work, which public opinion, and the very great resemblance of the style to that usually employed by Mr Richardson, concur to warrant our considering as his production. We refer to the Philanthrope, a series of essays, after the manner of a periodical paper. "It consists of thirty-five essays, the diction of which possesses great amenity, perspicuity, and spirit; the morality of this little work is pure, the criticism acute, the poetry above mediocrity, and the tales interesting.”
In 1780, Mr Richardson, in conjunction with his friend, Professor
Arthur, produced "Original Essays and Translations," a work to which allusion has already been made, and which was intended for the benefit of the Reverend Mr Chapman, the publisher. Of Mr Richardson's contributions, the following are a few: "The History of Sarah Thtranslated from the French," "Fa bles from the German of Gellert," "An Account of the Sacrifices of Heathen Nations," and "The In dians, a Tale." Of this volume, which is now very scarce, we need say nothing more, than that it bears the stamp of the talent for which its authors were distinguished.
In 1803, Mr Richardson appeared before the world in the capacities of Editor and Biographer. He was einployed by the relations of his friend Professor Arthur to publish his works, and to write his life. This duty he discharged with credit to himself; and it is almost unnecessary to add, that the life of Arthur displays its writer's usual taste, and his felicity and elegance of language.
In 1805, our author published, in two volumes duodecimo, an edition, corrected and enlarged, of his dramatic and other poetical performances, consisting of the "Poems, chiefly Rural,"―of others that had been occasionally offered to the public in miscellaneous and periodical publications, of the Poetical Epistle,-Morning Walk, and Epithalamium,-which had appeared at different times before, together with the Maid of Lochlin, a lyrical drama, presented to the world in 1801, and The Indians, a tragedy, published in 1790, and acted with considerable applause at Glasgow and Richmond, and, lastly, of three pieces, for the first time printed. From a perusal of these two volumes, we shall give what we conceive to be the general character of Mr Richardson's poems, of which want of room precludes any individual notice.
His imagination is evidently under the control of judgment and taste. His poems are full of thought and of method, couched and disguised under poetical language and illustration. This he derived from his philosophical turn of mind; and hence it is that we seldom discover in his poetry any of those eccentric excursions, or, if we may be pardoned such an expression, any of those lawless bursts of passion,
which give such interest and effect to the productions of our masters in this, art, and which are exemplified in the plays of Shakespeare and in the poems : of Byron. But his lively and sprightly fancy impregnates all his verses with the sentiment of poetry. Forming his conceptions and his diction in the manner of a poet, the wanderings of fiction are yet never suffered to extend beyond the bounds of a regard to some object in view, or some useful, effect to be produced on the mind of the reader. The intimate, acquaintance which he had, with history, with polite literature, with the arts of life, and the appearances of Nature, sup plied him with plentiful, pleasing, and varied illustration. of language, and that wonderfully, happy propriety and precision of expression, which impress one with the idea that there is nothing to be im proved, either in the choice of words or in the order of their construction, are derived from a careful study of the classical models of poetical writing in our own language, as well as among ancient and foreign authors. The smoothness and suavity of his verse give evidence of a soul alive to the finest impressions of taste and sensibility, and of an ear attuned to the nicest harmony of numbers.
His lyrical poems, though they do. not rise to the enthusiasm and fire of the sublimer productions in that species of poetry, are in a high degree pleasing and sprightly. When he pays a compliment, narrates a circumstance, or expands an incident, he is indeed most happy. Two small pieces, for instance, called The Chaplet and The Painter, are simple, neat, and elegant.. His two dramas, of which "The Indians" is by far the more excellent, are not distinguished, indeed, for intricacy of plot, for very interesting incident, or bold and masterly displays of the workings of human nature and passion; but they are correct in plan, awaken and sustain the softer emotions in the mind of the reader, and always please, and frequently delight, him by the diversity of poetical imagery, apposite illustration, and elegant expression, in which they everywhere abound. The chief defect of his poet ry, in our opinion, consists in a superabundance of mythological allusion,, and in that occasional languor which is a concomitant or consequence of too