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THE

MONTHLY REVIEW,

For SEPTEMBER 1809.

ART. 1. Letters from a late eminent Prelate to one of his Friends. 8vo. PP. 516. 128. Boards. Cadell and

Second Edition,

Davies. 1809.

W

ARBURTON was certainly in his day a star of magnitude. and lustre in the theological hemisphere; and whether he will or will not continue to illuminate the world from age to age, his light yet shines before men sufficiently to render him, his writings, and his friends, the objects of literary interest. It cannot be denied, then, that these letters from him to Bishop Hurd may be termed the correspondence of an Eminent Prelate; nor can it be doubted that they will excite a degree of attention which, after having perused them, we do not hesitate to say will be amply gratified. Indeed, persons who are acquainted with the literary history of Warburton and a Warbur tonian will regard this collection of letters as a great curiosity; and the avidity of the public for these beaux morceaux has already been unequivocally indicated."

These Right Reverend correspondents, who may not improperly be termed the clerical Pylades and Orestes, figure throughout in all the glowing colours of the warmest friendship; and we presume that the surviving prelate, who directed the publication of the letters, derived no inconsiderable gratification from reflecting on the manner in which he should be held up to posterity by the great Warburton. While, however, we make all favourable allowances for what Milton calls "the last infirmity of noble minds," we cannot refrain from expressing some surprize that the author of "the Address to Dr. Jortin on the Delicacy of Friendship," (see "Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian,") who reprobates "the gross indelicacy with

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A propos of Milton: we may be allowed to advert in this place to an expression of Warburton respecting our great poet, which is a strong trait of character. Speaking of Lauder's silly and kravish book,' he adds; however, in one view it does not displease me: it is likely enough to mortify all the silly adorers of Milton, who deserve to be laughed at? (P: 29.)

VOL. LX.

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which some persons usually conduct themselves in the expression of this virtue," and sneers at "the civil things which lettered friends are. pleased to say of one another," should so far forget himself as to make a public exposure of all the flattery which is liberally bestowed on him by Dr. Warburton. It is true that the commerce of adulation is fairly carried on, and that Dr. Hird is not tardy in returning praise for praise. Indeed the shuttle-cock is kept up with equal zeal and dexterity; and as the game is gratifying to their vanity, they contrive to retain it snug to themselves. They cherish the proud belief that the sense, learning, and virtue of the age are for the most part in their possession *; and that all who fancy themselves scholars have nothing to do with their writings but to admire them. Warburton finds none but dunces in the world (p.373); and friend Hurd, not to be behind-hand in discovery, recognizes in this literary hemisphere only coxcombs. (p. 377-) They seem to say with the French academician,

"Nul n'aura de l'esprit que nous et nos amis."

Poor Drs.Leland and Jortin, however high their reputation, pass for mere pigmies in literature in the estimation of this par nobile; and Hurd, in order to curry favour with his great friend, treats them in the most supercilious and sarcastic manner. As we proceed in the correspondence, we perceive in what way this devotion to his patron is repaid; and we follow the good fortune of Mr. Hurd under Warburtonian auspices, till, from one step of preferment to another, he arrives at episcopal honours. Yet in the midst of the littleness which, in one respect, is observable in this intercourse, we notice with pleasure the evidences of a long and uninterrupted friendship; we contemplate the proud Warburton in several amiable points of view; we see him at his ease; we are gratified by the brilliant flashes which proceed from his mind without effort, are amused by its sprightliness, and are convinced that his heart was endued with some excellent social qualities.As to Hurd, also, it must not be omitted that the warmth of his gratitude, his devotion to letters, his exemplary affection towards his parents, and the unsullied moral virtues of a long life, are properties of character which will ensure the general esteem which they deserve.

*At p. 463. Warburton thus writes to Hurd, If you should die, in the present state of things, darkness (as the Poet strongly expresses it) will be the burier of the dead: there will not be light enough left to see or apprehend our loss.'

Again, P. 114. What will not such a capacity and such a pen do, either to shame or to improve a miserable age!'

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On a blank leaf in the first of five portfolios containing the originals of this collection, the editor made the following entry :

"These letters give so true a picture of the writer's character, and are, besides, so worthy of him in all respects (I mean, if the reader can forgive the playfulness of his wit in some instances, and the partiality of his friendship in many more), that, in honour of his memory, I would have them published after my death, and the profits arising from them applied to the benefit of the Worcester Infirmary. R. WORCESTER."

"January 18th, 1793.

The series commences with a letter from Mr. Warburton to Mr. Hurd, dated Bedford-Row, June 1, 1749, acknowleging the receipt of a copy of Horace's Epistle to the Pisos, which the latter had published with a critical commentary; and it finishes with a letter written by Dr. W., Bishop of Gloucester, June 8. 1776, addressed to Dr. H. then Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, to be opened and delivered to him after the decease of the writer: in which he solemnly commends Mrs. Warburton to Dr. Hurd's protection, and

conjures him to afford her his assistance, and to aid her against all persons who may be disposed to injure or bear hard* upon her.'

1.

It appears, then, that this correspondence occupied the space of 27 years. Three years after the date of the last-mentioned letter, Dr. Warburton died, i. e. June 17, 1779; (see the account of his life by the Bishop of Worcester, M. R. Vol. 16. N. S. p. 322;) and in 1788 a splendid edition of his works in seven quarto volumes (sce M. R. Vol. 81. p. 352.) was given to the world by his surviving friend: though, for reasons not explained, the Memoir which was intended to serve as an introduction, and to contain an account of the life, writings, and character of the author, was then withholden, and was not published till 1794. We look in vain for the developement of the mystery which hangs over this affair, in the letters now presented to the curious eye: but, if we find nothing to gratify that keen appetite for scandal which prevails both in the great and the little world, we are furnished with various traits which together form a true picture of the writer's mind,' and place his character in a fairer light than that in which he has been generally contemplated, From the strange paradoxes which he maintained, and from the profusion of learning with which he laboured to defend them against the opinion of scholars, some persons have been induced to regard Dr. Warburton as more intent on the display of gigantic abili

The meaning of this expression it is not for us to investigate.
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