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FOR DECEMBER, 1809.
FROM THE QUARTERLY REVIEW. Essays, biographical, critical, and historical, illustrative of the Tatler, Spectator,
Guardian, Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler, and of the various periodical Papers, which, in imitation of the Writings of Steele and Addison, have been published between the close of the Eighth Volume of the Spectator, and the commencement of the Year 1809. By Nathan Drake, M. D. Author of Literary Hours. 4 vols. octava. London.
PERIODICAL papers devoted to est; women were either the frivolous elegant literature and popular in- idols of the toilette, or the solemn struction, exhibiting pictures of the drudges of the housekeeper's room. manners of the age, constitute a spe- Science, which had felt some encies of literary composition, which couragement from the gayety of with pride and fondness we pro- Charles, was neglected by the phlegnounce to have originated in this matick William, and ridiculed in the country. Our author ascribes the first years of Anne; and it was not honour of the invention to Steele. wonderful that our women could not With him, however, it seems to have spell, when it may be said, that our been nothing more than one of those men had not yet learnt to read. fanciful projects which he easily em- The popular effects produced by braced and easily relinquished. The these papers is unequalled in the hisinvention seems more fairly due to tory of literature. They made us a Addison, who having amassed ma- people of readers, of thinkers, and terials with the assiduity of a student, of writers, and they gave a new di. came prepared to rescue periodical rection to the literature of Europe. composition from the dregs of po- Dr. Drake, has produced some striliticks and polemicks—and to give a king evidence of their influence from new direction to the national taste. two interesting contemporary pam
Dr. Drake opens his work by an phlets. essay which describes the state of
“ Every morning their readers were literature and manners in this island, instructed in some new principle of duty, at the commencement of the Tatler which was endeared to them by the beauThere was a theatre, which incul. ties of description, and impressed on their cated debauchery as a duty, and im- minds in the most indelible characters."
“ All the pulpit discourses of a year scarce morality as a grace; men of the high- produced half the good as flowed from est rank indulged in amusements
the Spectator of a day."-" These writings which are now confined to the low- here set all our wits and men of letters
upon a new way of thinking, of which equal power and pathos, he describes they had but little or no notion before the tyranny of patrons, the torments Every one of them writes and thinks of avarice, and the perfidy of friends, much more justly than they did some time since.”
by those incidents, and touches of Some facts, however, relative to character, which he discovered in his this period, have escaped his indus- own country. In the Spectator of Van try. Budgell declares, that 20,000 Effen, the manners and feelings of of the Spectators have been sold in the Hollanders are given, like copies one day. They penetrated even to the after life, by Heemskirk. The memHighlands, and were read with the bers of his literary club share the news of the week, by the grave po- ponderous gravity of the natives, liticians who met after church on while the boorish pride of the monied Sundays, to arrange national affairs. Dutchman is at once the coarsest and They were soon imitated, and their the truest of portraits. Van Effen has very titles copied, throughout Eu- given a voluminous love-story; but in rope. The lethargick Hollanderawoke a country where that romantick pasto a Spectator, by Van Effen; the
sion does not appear above once in a French had their Babillard; and the century, with more truth than taste. Germans their Guardian. This last,
His Laura is a maid servant, his Peprinted at Hamburgh, found a heavy trarch a carpenter of Amsterdam. sale, till the writer's inserted trans- The first interview takes place as she lations of the English Spectators, stands on the steps of her door, holdwhen the demand for it rapidly and ing one of those stoves of lighted widely increased. At that time, it turf which the women carry to warm was a tribute paid to wit, somewhat themselves. The youth, who has long unexpected from Germany.
watched for the auspicious moment, The bold feature in this new requests to light his pipe at her stove; manner of writing," as it was called, but as every puff closes with a sigh, is the dramatick plan which Addison the pipe of love is to be perpetually adopted with all the felicity of genius, renewed. The dialogue is artless. and which has become the despair of The Dutch_maid is coy, and even his imilators! By the invention of a coquettish. The boor delicate—at a dramatis persona, of opposite hu- certain period of the history, he acmours and pursuits, as in the club of tually exhibits somewhat like the Spectator, and the feigned cha. symptom of despair ! racters of his correspondents, he That the lucubrations of Addison poured all the colours of life into this had such an influence on the popular moving scene. These personages writings of foreigners, is a fact served as vehicles for exhibiting the which seems to have escaped notice. domestick manners of the nation, at a Dr. Drake, does not allude to it, time when there was a decisive cri- though he gives accounts of foreign ginality among our countrymen, now works, which preceded Addison, with so equalized and flattened by artiscial some congeniality of character. Such uniformity. As some of his foreign are the "Cortigiano," of Castilione, imitators copied this invention, they and the “ Galateo” of De la Casa ; exbibit an interesting contrast of na- the former, which the Italians em tional manners. In the Spectator of phatically term, “ the golden book," Miravaux, for instance, we find the displays the politeness which reignportraits of his Parisians; the lively ed among the higher ranks of society Frenchman plays with their levities, during the sixteenth century. The but weeps over their serious distress. latter was the domestick code of cics. The letter of a father on the in- vility throughout Europe, and congratitude of his son, is an eloquent tains the art of living in the world, -i'pcal to the feelings; while with addressed to all ranks of society.
The character of Steele branches, He detected the fallacy of the Southunder the fertile pen of our author, sea scheme, while he himself invented into six essays, including his bio- projects, neither inferiour in magnifigraphy_his style—his taste and cri- cence nor in misery. Yet, gifted at all tical abilities-his invention, imagery, times with the susceptibility of geand pathos-his humour and deline- nius, he exercised the finest feelings ation of character-his ethicks and of the heart. The same generous senmorality. These are treated with timents which deluded his judgment considerable ingenuity, and with that and invigorated his passions, rennice discrimination of the charac- dered him a tender and pathetick drateristicks of an author, in which Dr. matist; a most fertile essayist; a Drake is so expert.
patriot without private views; an The life of Steele is not that of a enemy, whose resentment died away retired scholar; hence his moral cha- in raillery; and a friend, who could racter becomes more instructive. He warmly press the hand that wounded was one of those whose hearts are him. Whether in administration, or the dupes of their imaginations, and expelled the house-whether affluwho are hurried through life by the ent, or flying from his creditors in most despotick volition. He always the fulness of his heart he, perhaps, preferred his caprices to his interests; secured his own happiness. But such or, according to his own notion, very men live only for themselves; they ingenious, but not a little absurd are not links in the golden chain of 6 he was always of the humour of society. In the waste of his splendid preferring the state of his mind to talents he had raised sudden enmities, that of his fortune." The first act of and transient friendships. The world his life develops the succeeding uses such men as eastern travellers ones. His uncle could not endure a do fountains; they drink their waters, hero for his heir: but Steele had seen and think of them no more! Steele a marching regiment-he therefore lived to be forgotten. He opened his enlisted as a private in the horse career with folly; he hurried through guards, and cocking his hat, and put it in a tumult of existence; and he ting on a broad sword, jack boots, closed it by an involuntary exile, and shoulder belt, with the most ge- amidst the wrecks of his fortune and nerous feelings he forfeited a good his mind! estate! His frank temper and his wit His writings are often careless, and conciliated esteem, and extorted ad- rarely graceful. His literary excelmiration. The private was raised to lence consists in his delineation of an ensign, and the ensign plunged character. He copies life with all the into all the dissipations of the town. faithfulness of a Flemish painter; But genius is often pensive amidst and if, contrasted with Addison, he its orgies. It was in the height of be found without the sofiness of his these irregularities that he composed colouring, and the delicacy of his his “ Christian Hero,” a moral and penciling, it cannot be denied that religious treatise, which the con- he is more versatile and vigorous, tritions of every morning dictated, and and the most original sketcher after to which the disorders of every even- life of the early part of the last cening added another penitential page. tury. His portraits, like those of He was, at once, a man of the town Lely, preserve the likenesses of our and a censor; and he wrote lively es- ancestors; but not being formed on says on the follies of the day in an the general and permanent principles enormous black peruke which cost of art, he is more a painter of fashions him fifty guineas ! He built an elegant than of nature. villa; but as he was always inculca- The character and writings of ting economy, he called it a hovel. Addison occupy six essays, in the
manner of the preceding ones on facturer," in consequence of a con. Steele. Among these are introduced troversy between the dealers in the some curious dissertations One on woollen and calico manufactures. the progress of English style, divi- From the copious list of papers ded into three periods; the first from
we shall select a few, the middle of Elizabeth's reign to distinguished for their literary cast. the restoration; the second from the The Lay Monastery was the united restoration to the accession of queen labour of sir Richard Blackmore and Anne; and the third from this last Hughes, the poet. Our author gives era, to the year 1714, when Addison a specimen from a parallel between published his best productions. In poetry and painting, drawn up, as he another dissertation, our author in- says, by sir Richard; but so elegant quires into the introduction of east- and ingenious that the writer of it ern imagery amongst us, and has may at least be doubted. collected much interesting matter on The Free-Thinker, was published the subject, with sufficient erudition by Ambrose Phillips, powerfully for that class of readers which he ad- aided by Boulter, archbishop of Ardresses.
magh; Pearce, bishop of Rochester; The fourth volume opens with an Wesi, lord Chancellor of Ireland, enumeration of periodical papers and many of the first scholars of the from the publication of the Tatler to age. It abounds with elegant fictions the commencement of the Rambler. which display a happy combination These consist of no less than eighty, of fancy and precept. forming an aggregate of near three Terræ Filius was a Saturnalian ef. hundred volumes, whose existence is fusion; a witty but intemperate satire scarcely suspected. Yet even this on the manners and politicks of Oxample catalogue is incomplete. We ford. The portraits have an extravapossess more than one paper, not gant kind of likeness, and are so false inserted in the list. These works, and yet so true, that they provoked worthless as a whole, continue, how- their originals to expel the writer. ever, the view of the progress of po- This was Nicholas Amhurst, the lite literature and domestick manners, political adventurer, who so long to the days of Johnson. They con- conducted “the Craftsınan.” The life tain many thousand essays; and if of this man may “ point a moral.” some of our literary idlers, with that Though guilty of the grossest irrekind of goodhumoured patience which gularities, he affected an outrageous they sometimes so admirably exert, zeal for popular reformation. Yet would put them into their crucibles, this grand reformer of the age bowed they might extract from these moun- to all the drudgery of a faction, who tains of sand, a few grains of gold. neglected the instrument of their
The taste for periodical publica- profligate purposes, and flung him tions became so general that every off to perish. Amhurst died brokenliterary adventurer considered him- hearted, and owed the charity of a self entitled to lay his fugitive leaf on
grave to his bookseller. the breakfast table. It was also ima. The Plain Dealer was written by gined that every possible subject was Aaron Hill and a Mr. Bond, of whom equally adapted to the purposes of it is recorded that "the character of the essayist; and consequently we
the work was observed regularly to find such titles as, “ The Mercator,” rise in Mr. Hill's papers and fall in ** The British Merchant,” &c. Nay, Mr. Bond's.” Literary partners are the town was, for some morning's, subject to mortifications. addressed by the humble authors of, Memoirs of the Society of Grub** The Weaver," and, “ The Manu- street, is one of the most curious of
these works. It is a kind of minor “The maid drew back her languid head, chronicle of our literature. In a fine And, sighing forth his name, expired!" vein of irony it attacks the heroes of He could add nothing to the truth of the Dunciad, and tells some secrets nature'and the truth of fact. of their obscure quarrels. The as- Dr. Drake, in his “Life of Johnson," sumed names of Bavius and Mævius has judiciously altered his arrangeconcealed Dr. Richard Russel, and ment. He had no novelties to reani. Dr. John Martyn, professor of botany mate his exhausted biography, and at Cambridge, physicians eminent has therefore contrived to make it for their publications.
serve as a frame for his literary canCommon Sense, though chiefly a vass. The plan is at once novel and political paper, was supported by useful. The scattered outlines of his some characters in the fashionable former chronological criticisms, here and learned world. Chesterfield and drawn together, are worked up with Lyttleton contributed essays on to- all their light and shade into a more picks of more permanent interest perfect design; and the colouring and than politicks.
pencil of our industrious artist have The Champion, by Henry Fielding. produced, on the whole, a highly -A great portion of it is employed finished picture of the genius of the on the follies, vices, amusements, and last age. literature of the age; and the remain- Dr Drake has fancifully compared der is occupied by political wit and our periodical writers with the great discussion. To every paper is an- painters. Such criticism, if it does not nexed what is termed - an index to invigorate the understanding, rethe times,” consisting of news, mis- freshes the imagination, and the ingecellaneous and political, frequently nious reader may interest his taste charged with the most sarcastick and his feelings in discovering the irony. In the critical department are analogies. to be found many ingenious disserta
“In Addison we discern the amenity and tions on literary subjects.
ideal grace of Raphael; in Johnson, the We close the list with Eliza Hay- strengthened energy of Michael Angelo; wood's Female Spectator, and another in Hawkes worth, the rich colouring and paper from the same quarter, entitled warmth of Titian; the legerity and frolick The Parrot. The former was very Moore, Thornton, and Colman; the pa
elegance of Albani, in the productions of popular in its day, and seems to have theticksweetness of Guido in the draughts claims still on that class of readers to of Mackenzie, and the fertility and harwhich it is addressed. From the monious colouring of Annibale Carracci, Parrot, which only consists of nine in the vivid sketches of Cumberland.” papers, Dr. Drake gives some inte- On the whole we have been agreeresting extracts. This weekly publica- ably entertained with Dr. Drake; and tion appeared during the time of the shall be pleased to receive the proexecution of the chiefs of the rebel- mised volume, which is to furnish us lion, in 1746. We find in it the story with the literary lives of Dr. Hawkesof James Dawson, on which Shen- worth and his fellow-labourers; and stone's simple and pathetick ballad is to close with the more delicate task founded. The poet has literally co- of criticising the periodical papers of pied the closing and affecting circum- the present period. stance, of