페이지 이미지

tigations of reason ; while the ardent so miscellaneous in its nature, is exoprepossessions, the luxuriant sallies of cuted, it is somewhat difficult to speak the poet, were chastened by the deli- distinctly. Thus far, however, it berate inspection, and the accurate inay be stated, that the letters are penetration of the sage.”. “The style perspicuously, easily, and elegantly of this work,” he remarks in another written, and often finely diversified place, " is perspicuous, elegant, and by translations from moderu foreign interesting

authors; that the writer is lively In afterwards noticing the last and without levity, and serious and judigreatly enlarged editions of these his cious without be heavy; that his two principal wurks, we shall take the sentiments concerning goveruments opportunity of offering a few observa. are liberal, but his patriotic prefer. tions on the merits of his poetry and ence of the British constitution alhis criticism.

ways evident; that the whole book, The next literary productions by in short, is dictated by classical Mr Richardson were some papers in taste, and displays no inconsiderthe Mirror and Lounger, his contri- able acquaintance with a number of butions to the former, as would ap- authors, as well as an ease in appear from the enumeration of the plying that knowledge to particular correspondents by Dr Drake, entitling purposes. him to rank first among them. That

The next work from the pen of Mr critic gives the following account of Richardson was presented to the Mr Richardson's communications.- world in 1784, and was entitled, “ In enumerating the papers written Essays on Shakespeare's Dramatic by the correspondents of the Mirror, Characters of Richard III., King Lear, we shall commence with Professor and Timon of Athens; to which is Richardson, a gentleman of establish- added, an Essay on the Faults of ed reputation in the critical and poeti- Shakespeare ; and Additional Obsercal world. From his stores the Mire vations on the Character of Hamlet." ror has been enriched with five es. This continuation of the Analysis fulsays, Nos. 8, 24, 29, 66, and 96. I'wo filled the expectations which its preof these, Nos. 24 and 66, are accurate decessor had raised, and contributed and elegant pieces of criticism on the to increase, rather than impair, the Allegro and Penseroso of Milton ; and reputation which its author had preon the love-scene between Richard viously acquired. Soon after, à seand Lady Ann, in Shakespeare's Ri- cond sequel made its appearance, conchard the Third." A critique on the sisting of " Essays on Shakespeare's poetry of Hamilton of Bangour is the Dramatic Character of Sir John Fale only paper which Mr Richardson fur- staff, and on his Imitation of Female nished to the Lounger.

Characters, with Observations on the In, 1783, Mr Richardson published Chief Objects of Criticism in the his " Anecdotes of the Russian Em- Works of Shakespeare.” These two pire." During the four years which last mentioned works, together with he spent in Russia, he had enjoyed the Analysis, were collected into one opportunities of observing the man- volume, and published with a uniners of the Russians, as well as of form title, in 1797. knowing the characters of distinguish In the April of the same year aped individuals. The facts he records peared a work, which public opinion, were either witnessed by himself, or and the very great resein blance of the communicated to him by persons on style to that usually employed by Mr whose information he could rely. A Richardson, concur to warrant our considerable number, indeed, of the considering as his production.

We letters of which the volume is com- refer to the Philanthrope, a series of posed, have little or no connection essays, after the manner of a periodi. with the author's general design. cal paper.“ It consists of thirty-five “But a reader of taste will not regret essays, the diction of which possesses an intermixture which affords agree- great amenity, perspicuity, and spirit; able diversity, and where national the morality of this little work is pure, anecdotes are suspended only to make the criticism acute, the poetry above room for philosophical reflection, or mediocrity, and the tales interesting. some beautiful production of poetry;" In 1780, Mr Richardson, in con

Of the manner in which this work, junction with his friend, Professor

[ocr errors]

Arthur, produced “ Original Essays which give such interest and effect to and Translations," a work to which the productions of our masters in this allusion has already been made, and art, and which are exemplified in the which was intended for the benefit of plays of Shakespeare and in the poems the Reverend Mr Chapman, the pub of Byron. But his lively and sprightlisher. Of Mr Richardson's contri- ly fancy impregnates all his verses butions, the following are a few: with the sentiment of poetry. Form“ The History of Sarah Th ing his conceptions and his diction in translated from the French,” “ Fas the mammer of a poet, the wanderings bles from the German of Gellert,” of fiction are yet never suffered to ex“An Account of the Sacrifices of tend beyond the bounds of a regard to Heathen Nations," and “ The In some object in view, or some useful dians, a Tale.” Of this volume, effect to be produced on the mind of which is now very scarce, we need say the reader. The intimate acquaintnothing more, than that it bears the ance which he had with history, with starnp of the talent for which its au- polite literature, with the arts of life, thors were distinguished.

and the appearances of Nature, supIn 1803, Mr Richardson appeared plied him with plentiful, pleasing, and before the world in the capacities of varied illustration. His copiousness Editor and Biographer. He was em- of language, and that wonderfully ployed by the relations of his friend happy propriety and precision of exProfessor Arthur to publish his works, pression, which impress one with the and to write his life. This duty he idea that there is nothing to be imdischarged with credit to himself ;- proved, either in the choice of words and it is almost unnecessary to add, or in the order of their construction, that the life of Arthur displays its are derived from a careful study of writer's usual taste, and his felicity the classical models of poetical writand elegance of language.

ing in our own language, as well as In 1805, our author published, in among ancient and foreign authors. two volumes duodecimo, an edition, The smoothness and suavity of his corrected and enlarged, of his drama- verse give evilence of a soul alive to tic and other poetical performances, the finest impressions of taste and senconsisting of the Poems, chiefly sibility, and of an ear attuned to the Rural,"—of others that had been oc- nicest harmony of numbers. casionally offered to the public in mis His lyrical poems, though they do cellaneous and periodical publications, not rise to the enthusiasm and fire of -of the Poetical Epistle,-Morning the sublimer productions in that speWalk,--and Epithalamium, - which cies of poetry, are in a high degree had appeared at different times before, pleasing and sprightly. When he pays -together with the Maid of Lochlin, a compliment, narrates a circumstance, a lyrical drama, presented to the world or expands an incident, he is indeed in 1801, -and The Indians, a tragedy, most happy. Two small pieces, for published in 1790, and acted with instance, called The Chaplet and The considerable applause at Glasgow and Painter, are simple, neat, and elegant. Richmond, -- and, lastly, of three His two dramas, of which “ The Inpieces, for the first time printed.- dians” is by far the more excellent, From a perusal of these two volumes, are not distinguished, indeed, for inwe shall give what we conceive to be tricacy of plot, for very interesting inthe general character of Mr Richard- cident, or bold and masterly displays son's poems, of which want of room of the workings of human nature and precludes any individual notice.

passion; but they are correct in plan, His imagination is evidently under awaken and sustain the softer emothe control of judgment and taste. tions in the mind of the reader, and His poems are full of thought and of always please, and frequently delight, method, couched and disguised under him by the diversity of poetical imapoetical language and iilustration. gery, apposite illustration, and elegant This he derived from his philosophi- expression, in which they everywhere cal turn of mind ; and hence it is ihat abound. The chief defect of his poetwe seldom discover in his poetry any ry, in our opinion, consists in a superof those eccentric excursions, or, if we abundance of mythological allusion, may be pardoned such an expression, and in that occasional languor which any of those lawless bursts of passion, is a concomitant or consequence of too


с с

much labour and refinement, and Thus instructing and amusing the which arises also from the want of public, and improving the minds of those flights of fancy, and blazes of youth, did Mr Richardson pass the feeling, by which the soul is enrap- greatest and most important part of tured and its attention sustained. his life. Very rarely was this che

In 1812, Mr Richardson produced quered by any remarkable incident. his great work,—that for which he Occasionally, indeed, he relieved its is most esteemed at the present day, uniformity by a visit to England, and on which his claims to future where he was known to the learned. fame must chiefly rest,--the last edi. As a member, too, of the General tion of his Essays on Shakespeare, Assembly of our National Church, he containing, besides those separate pora frequently had occasion to be in Edintions already mentioned, an" Essay burgh. In this intellectual city he on Shakespeare's Representation of found congenial society, particularly National Characters, illustrated in that that of his friends, Lord Craig and of Fluellen ; together with Two Ori- Mi Henry Mackenzie, with the latginal Letters from Mr Burke, consiste ter of whom he generally on those ing of Observations on Shakespeare, occasions “ spent at least one day, and other Literary Subjects.” His when their conversation chiefly turnintention in this work is to make poet- ed on subjects of literature and critiry subservient to philosophy, and to cism." His extensive correspondence, employ it in tracing the principles of also, afforded him a variation of emhuman conduct. Yet he does not, ployment. Among the number of his with this view,--like his predeces- correspondents were the author of the sor in the same path, Lord Kames Man of Feeling ; Grettin, Dean of leify Shakespeare, or bestow on Hereford; Samuel Rose, the friend him papal infallibility. He does not of Cowper; Dr Charters, minister of from this poet collect certain im- Wilton, and one of his most particumutable principles of truth, to which lar friends; and Dr Anderson of Edinour conduct must be conformed; burgh. Respecting the occasion of but he evinces, from personal oh- his connection with one of these servation, and by illustrations from friends, Hayley, in his Life of Cowhuman life, how natural the charac- per, says,

« Samuel Rose was sent in ters, incidents, and circumstances, are 1784 to Glasgow; there he resided in in the works of our great dramatist. the house of Professor Richardson, a The ideas and language of the poet lead philosopher and a poet-amiable in him, by association, into fertile fields every character, and so just to the of philosophical discussion. When we merits of youth, that a friendship and add, that Mr Richardson's work tends correspondence commenced between to enlarge our acquaintance with the the tutor and his pupil, which termifaculties and principles of the human nated only with the life of the latter." mind, with the laws of writing and But this long, elegant, and useful taste, - with the import and merits of life, was now approaching its elose. a great and popular author.--and with In 1814, Mr Richarılson had comthe theory and practice of morality,-- menceil, as usual, the business of the we must be convinced of the utility Session, had taught his class for some of his plan, and of the importance of weeks, and appeared to enjoy better the service which he has performed. “ health than for a long time before.

During the latter part of his life he

had been much subject to the gout, Besides the more prominent produce the fits of which at last, recurring tions of Mr Richardson's pen which have more frequently, and with greater sebecn considered, the following may be verity, greatly weakened him. In his merely mentioned : “ Memoir of the Rev. Dr Craig,” in the Biographia Britannica. 146 Essay on the Origin of Superstition, il- the method observed by himself in teaching lustrated in the Mythology of the Poems of Latin. He has left a work on Figurative Ossian,” which was read in the Literary Language, prepared for the press, of which Society, and afterwards appended to Dr there is reason to think that the publication Graham's Essay on the Authenticity of the cannot diminish bis reputation, but will Poems of Ossian. Some Reviews, Essays, rather exhibit, to more advantage than any &c. in the Edinburgh Magazine and Re- of his former writings, his extensive readvicw. A small posthumous publication on ing and research.

[ocr errors]

usual state of health, however, he at- and engaging in an employment more tended a meeting of the Faculty on dignified, rational, intellectual, and Wednesday the 26th of October ; but congenial, he could expand himself, on the following day he was attacked to meet the capacities of his auditory, by his habitual distemper, which, in- in the freedom of disquisition and ilcreasing soon to a degree of excessive lustration in which he delighted and painfulness, disclosed symptoms of excelled. It was in this province of his coming dissolution. Through the office that he frequently charmed his whole attack he exhibited great fortie audience by his beautiful theories, by tude, uttering not a murmur or com- the admirable manner in which he unplaint

. When near his end, the in- folded, and transfused into his native tensity of his sufferings seemed to re- language, the beauties of Latin story, lax, and he was able to see and con- sentiment, and idiom, by eloquent verse with his relations, and to ar- and pleasing illustrations, by a sprightrange his secular affairs. He expres- ly humour, an understanding finely sed, about this time, his firin belief cultivated, and a taste which was nicein the truths of our holy religion, and ly chastened ; and by the elegancies an earnest desire of obtaining the fa- of a choice phraseology, and of a Four of God, and the happiness of graceful elocution. heaven, blessings, for the enjoyment In private society, he displayed of which he rested his prayers and himself to great advantage. Though hopes on the infinite merits and me- in companies of a mixed kind, or diation of the Divine Redeemer. On where the persons were not so famiThursday morning, the 3d of Novem- liar to him, he was easy and elegant ber, about two o'clock, he exchanged in conversation, yet he was especially this life for another, and, it is hoped, so in his own house, where, freed a better. “ His passage into the other from restraint, he poured forth a world,” to use the words of an inti- stream of rich, fluent, and correct dicmate acquaintance, “ was placid, and tion, in which close reasoning, ingemight, in respect of his hopes, as ex- nious remark, and beautiful illustrapressed to one of his friends, be com- tion, were uniformly conveyed to the pared to one retiring from a scene, in delighted listener. When he indulwhich he had completed his part, into ged in sallies of humour, they were another, where he trusted he would divested of satirical poignancy, were enjoy the favour of an all-gracious seasoned with good-nature, and might God, through the merits of that Sa- in fact be termed pleasantry. Nemo viour with whom he had early and unquam urbanitate, nemo lepore, nelong been acquainted.”

mo suavitate conditior. He had a In delineating the character of Mr double advantage in conversation. Richardson, we shall consider it only He was a philosopher, and therefore in a personal and professional point of sensible and judicious; being a poet, view, as the observations already made he was consequently fanciful and eloon his separate works may suffice to quent. In no person's conversation shew what he was as an author. perhaps, have these two characters

As a teacher, Mr Richardson un- been more happily united to produce doubtedly possessed no inconsiderable an excellent converser. His convermerit. In the public class, where strict sational talents produced no rapture, discipline was requisite, he was severe indeed, nor sublimity of emotion : without sternness, dignified, and im- but they delighted, they charmed. partial. The plan which he followed There was a simplicity and chastity, has been questioned, but it appeared to a propriety and grace in his expreshim, no doubt, to be the best, and it sions, which made his manner of saycertainly was faithfully, ably, and pro- ing, like his way of doing, anything, fitably followed up. In the private irresistibly fascinating. These, with class, however, he was more in his his politeness of address and extensive element. He took peculiar delight, knowledge of the world, contributed it is said, in this department of his to render him, perhaps, one of the duty, and it was here unquestionably most polished men, one of the com

Feeling, probably, the pletest gentlemen of his age. He had consciousness of his merit being here nothing of the pedant about him. He properly appreciated, disengaged from was superior in his manners to those the drudgery of drilling mere boys, who excelled him in general know

that he shone.

ledge, and he surpassed the mere man tation. Should many not have it in of the world both in graceful and their power to be useful to young men in more substantial qualifications. in pecuniary matters, or should the

His taste was exquisite. It was latter, from a principle of independcomposed of a most correct judgment, ence, and from feelings of delicacy, and refined sensibility. He was acute not choose to accept of such assistance, and ready, almost intuitively so, in there are a thousand other ways in discerning what was faulty or not which aid can be afforded to those pleasing in writing or conduct. This who, though possessing high merit, quality was improved by his study of are struggling with difficulties. Even those authors who have successively the notice and approbation of an older given law to men in matters of fine man, eminent in the walks of literature, writing. By their rules he was per- and in a superior station of life, is haps too much trammelled, especially most grateful and encouraging to the in his poetry, in which every thing is young beginner in the course of learn. sometimes so much refined, that the ing; imparting to him a rapture and sense is frittered away, or suspended an impulse, which surmount difficulon the smallest modification of a term. ties, which gladden his heart, which The constant endeavour to square one's gild his otherwise gloomy prospects. productions by other rules than those Admitting young inen, too, to society which are suggested by nature and superior either by learning or rank to experience, must prevent that free un- that in which they were accustomed fettered exercise of the intellectual formerly to mix, has the effect of expowers, which is necessary to original tending their views and improving thinking, to the production of works their manners, while it often warms of genius, and to great and splendid the heart, and exhibits a standard of achievements in science or art. This estimation which they are ambitious may partly account for the fact, that of reaching, and which they will not Mr Richardson's essays are superior suffer themselves to fall below by subto his poems. In the former, he sea- sequent misconduct or relaxation of sonably manifested his extensive and effort. But it is impossible to enuintimate acquaintance with the prin- merate all the beneficial results of the ciples of the human mind, and with species of kindness to which we have the laws of writing; while, the lat. referred, and which usually appears ter, he had to be regulated and re on the aspect of the literature and sostrained by that very strict observ- ciety, not only of one period, but also ance of these, which proceeded from of many ages. Few of the acts even his particular knowledge of them. of Mr Richardson's beneficence are

Mr Richardson was benevolent, to known to us, because many of them a great extent, to his relations and were studiously concealed from the to young students of talent, who were world ; and few, therefore, of their in circumstances of comparative penge effects can be traced. Like the noisery. Many persons, now high in the less dew, they have fallen in the world, are the living monuments and night, and unheeded; or, like the evidences of his pecuniary liberality; hidden streamlet, they have refreshed while others, who fill eminent situa- and fructified the places throngh tions in the learned professions, will which they have passed, while their confess, that they owe their prosperi- source is unexplored, and while, in ty, in a great measure, to his early pa- their progress, they have been blendtronage and kind encouragements. ed in the confluence of many currents Many students have been stimulated of benevolence. There is a period, by the notice of the Professor, when however, yet to be evolved, when the they had discovered abilities such as number and nature of all such deeds to excite expectations of future emi- shall be most exactly ascertained, and nence. Others has he benefited by most equitably rewarded. admitting them gratuitously to his With the following traits in the lectures, by getting them situations character of Mr Richardson, by the as tutors in families, or by recom- pencil of one who had the best oppormending them to those who had it in tunities of knowing him, we shall contheir power to be of assistance to clude this imperfect sketch. “ Mr them. The example of Mr Richard- Richardson possessed an intimate acson in this respect' is worthy of imi- quaintance with the great doctrines

« 이전계속 »