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it is impossible not to regret that "Rasselas" is the only work on which he can properly found a claim to the title. Yet we must add that, if in beauty of imagery, sublimity of sentiment, and knowledge of men and manners, too much praise cannot be given to this philosophic tale, it is obligatory on us to confess that it is greatly deficient in two essential qualifications of a legitimate novel, plot and incident. "Rasselas," indeed, is merely the vehicle of the author's opinions on human life, and which, we are sorry to remark, partake of the same gloom which darkens the pages of the "Rambler."

A very few lines will sketch our author's pretensions to the honors of a Commentator. The plan of his edition of Shakspeare has been much and justly admired; and no greater proof can be given of its excellence than that every subsequent annotator has pursued the path which he had laid open. He was himself, however, too indolent, and too deficient in the very line of reading which he had recommended for the illustration of his bard, to carry his own instructions into effect; his edition, therefore, though it has been the parent of the best that we possess, is now of little value.

Not much, I am afraid, can be said in favor of our author as a Politician. He was at one time a most furious Jacobite, and his tenets at all times, with regard to legislation, were vehement, confined, and partial; so arbitrary, indeed, as to be frequently repugnant to the spirit of the British Constitution. He was, however, a high-flown Tory on principle; and his political pamphlets, though deficient in candor, display considerable subtlety in point of argument, and much energy and perspicuity of style.

With a few deductions for prejudices which he had early imbibed, his merits as a Tourist will appear great and unclouded. His object was to analyze and compare men, manners, and modes of life; and his volume is at once elegant, philosophic, and ingenious.

That he is entitled, in the most honorable sense of the term, to the appellation of a Critic, those who shall merely peruse his Preface to Shakspeare, and his Lives of Cowley, Dryden, and Pope, will not probably deny. Since the days of Quintilian, indeed, no better specimens of criticism than these have been given to the world. How highly is it to be lamented then, that, prosecuting the study of his "Lives," we find the residue for the most part tinetured and deformed by relentless prejudices; by party-zeal and unfeeling dogmatism; by a spirit systematically hostile to received opinion, and unfriendly to contemporary merit. With all these de

fects, however, and they are strikingly prominent, great has been the benefit derived to elegant literature from the publication of his "Critical Biography." It has established an era in the Republie of Letters; it has set an example in this country, which has been assiduously followed, of recording the events attendant on the lives,

the studies, and publications of literary men; and it has given birth to a widely-extending taste for critical disquisitions.

From the usual tenor of his style, it was not to be expected that our great moralist would excel as an Epistolary Writer. The letters of Johnson, however, though sometimes not entirely free from his customary elaboration, are, in general, graceful, easy, and perspicuous. They fully develop the character of the man; some are gloomy, some pathetic and beautifully moral; others lively, domestic, and interesting. If they cannot be said to rival the letters of Cowper, yet will they still take their station among the best epistolary collections in our language.

The opinions and principles of the doctor as a Theologian are chiefly to be gathered from his conversation, as preserved by Mr. Boswell, and from his prayers. He appears from these to have been a zealous High-churchman, with a strong bias toward some of the Roman Catholic tenets. His piety and devotion were warm and sincere; and his prayers, the language of which is altogether plain, simple, and unadorned, teach us that his faith, his humility, and gratitude were great. From an ardent desire of further evidence with regard to the state of the departed, he was solicitous to ascertain the possibility of the reappearance of the dead. His anxiety on this subject rendered him superstitious, though not credulous; for he was, in a very extraordinary degree, minute and cautious in examining the supposed proofs, and was, more than once, instrumental in detecting their fallacy, and exposing the arts of imposture. To many of his Sermons much praise is due for their perspicuity of style, their felicity of illustration, and their sound practical morality.

We may, indeed, close this summary with the affirmation that, if Addison be excepted, no writer of the eighteenth century can be said to have contributed so highly, so copiously, and so permanently, to the improvement of our literature and language as Johnson. Whether considered as a Biographer, an Essayist, a Lexicographer, or a Critic, he is alike entitled to the gratitude of his country and of mankind.


SAMUEL EGERTON BRYDGES, the distinguished antiquary in English Literature, was the son of Edward Brydges, Esq., of Wootton Court, in Kent, and was born at that place on the 30th of November, 1762. After the usual preparatory studies, he entered Queen's College, Cambridge, in October, 1780, with the character of a good classical scholar, who excelled in the composition of Latin as well as Eng


lish poetry. But he attended very little to the regular studies of the university, abandoning himself to the luxurious enjoyment of English poetry and belleslettres. He therefore left Cambridge without a degree, and in the summer of 1782 entered the Middle Temple. In November, 1787, he was called to the bar; but, according to his own acknowledgment, he never had sufficient perseverance to apply himself to the study of the law.

Soon after his marriage, in 1786, he took a house in London, where he resided four years, when he purchased Denton, an estate near his native place in Kent, and removed thither. This was the beginning of great and protracted pecuniary embarrassments, which attended him through life. He had no knowledge whatever of business or of managing an estate; expended many thousand pounds in repairs and improvements which brought him no return; and was cheated by those to whom he intrusted the management of his affairs. So early did those embarrassments commence which imbittered his latter days.

In 1790, after the death of the last Duke of Chandos, he preferred a claim to the barony of Chandos, alleging his descent from a younger son of the first Brydges, who bore that title. The consideration of this claim was long procrastinated, but at length, in June, 1803, the House of Peers pronounced its decision, "that the petitioner had not made out his claim to the title and dignity of Barou Chandos." This decision had a very unhappy influence upon him through life, and his disappointment, chagrin, and querulousness appeared, in some form or other, in most of his subsequent publications. In 1810, he removed from Denton to his son's house at Lee Priory, near Canterbury, and in 1812 obtained a seat in Parliament, where he distinguished himself by procuring some important improvement in the law of copyright. Upon the dissolution of that Parliament in 1818, he withdrew to the continent, in consequence of his pecuniary embarrassments, and resided in Paris and Italy, but mostly at or near Geneva. Here he was constantly engaged in writing and editing books, until the time of his death, which took place at Campagne Gross Jean, on the 8th of September, 1837, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.2 Sir Egerton was twice married; by his first wife he had two sons and three daughters; by the second, five sons and five daughters.

To no author of the present century is English literature more deeply indebted


In his "Autobiography," he says, "My thoughts were always on my books, and among visions. I have an aversion to accounts, and nothing but the most pressing necessity could induce me to examine them. An agent soon finds out this, and step by step goes on from robbing to robbing, till nothing will satisfy his rapacity or his appetite. The difficulty of the task accumulates from day to day, and who that shrinks from examining a month's accounts will undertake to examine those of a year? I could not sift bills, cast up accounts, examine prices, and make bargains. There was, therefore, every kind of mismanagement, and I soon became involved. I lived at a vast expense, without the smallest management; my house was numerous, though not for show; my butcher's weekly bill amounted to a sum that would appear incredible; and my horses ate up the produce of all my meadows and out-fields. I know not what my income was, but no doubt my expenditure exceeded it by many thousands. I kept very imperfect accounts, and every one cheated me."

Of the latter period of his life he thus writes in his "Autobiography:" "Solitude is no terror to me, and so far therefore I am independent of the world's injuries. I keep my own hours; the little sleep I take is by day; and I toil through the long nights at the lamp. Thus I work without interruption in the repose of profound silence. Imagination supplies the want of those material objects which are vested in the mantle of darkness. Thus existence a utalical to me in feeble old age, and in the midst of sorrows, privations, indignities, Jess in sleen are not lost to me;

than to Sir Egerton Brydges, and in no one can be found finer passages of just thought, genial and tasteful criticism, pure and ennobling sentiment, and beautiful and eloquent writing. The branches of literature to which he chiefly devoted himself were poetry, romance, the republication of old English poetry, and genealogy. It would be hardly possible to enumerate all his works; but the following are the principal.

His first publication was a volume of Sonnets, in 1785: some of these possess great merit, particularly one on Echo and Silence, which has been warmly praised by Wordsworth. In 1792, appeared "Mary de Clifford," a novel; in 1798, another, entitled "Arthur Fitz Albini ;" and in 1800,"Theatrum Poetarum Anglicanorum," being a new edition, with additions, of a work under the same title by Edward Philips, nephew of Milton. In 1805, he commenced that curious and most valuable bibliographical and critical work, the "Censura Literaria,” which was continued to the year 1809, and forms ten volumes octavo. In 1814, he published "Occasional Poems;" in 1818, "Excerpta Tudoriana, or Extracts from Elizabethan Literature;" in 1821, "Letters from the Continent;" in 1832, "Lake of Geneva," in two volumes; and in 1834, "Imaginary Biography," a work in which the literary characters of many English scholars are drawn with great fidelity, taste, and discrimination. In the same year appeared "The Autobiography, Times, Opinions, and Contemporaries of Sir Egerton Brydges.": "2 He was also a large contributor to periodical publications, particularly to "The Gentleman's Magazine," on genealogy and antiquity. Besides these works he edited an edition of "Milton's Poetical Works," enriched with his own tasteful and discriminating remarks, and with a selection of notes from the best commentators, prefixed with a life of the great poet. This I consider, on the whole, the best edition of Milton.

It has been most truthfully remarked, that the student of English literature is deeply indebted to Sir Egerton Brydges "for valuable accessions to our know

Of this work, there were but one hundred copies printed. I have the good fortune to have one of them, and consider it one of the most interesting and valuable books in my library, replete with sound criticisms and curious information, especially in old English lite


2 Of this remarkable book, a writer in the number of the "Gentleman's Magazine" for March, 1835, thus speaks: In this singular work there are lofty conceptions enough to form a poet, and moral wisdom enough to make a sage. It is a book that to be estimated must be read with an honest and true heart; much must be forgiven, and much overlooked: but after all that is offensive and all that is eccentric is removed from the service, there will remain a knowledge, a power, a feeling, and a perseverance that must inspire respect and admiration. We hesitate not to say that in these volumes are some of the most beautiful passages that are to be found in English prose.

Were we (which Heaven forbid!) to educate a poet; were we to feed him with the choicest honey-bread. which is royal food; to inspire him with the noblest sentiments, expressed in the most masterly and harmonious language, we should send him into the woods, and by the sounding waters, with those very books which Sir Egerton so wisely edited." Again, the same charming critic remarks upon the studious habits of our best poets-"Look at all our great poets, and see the means which they took to obtain immortality. How laborious their studies, how large their materials, how extensive their erudition, how vigorous their efforts, and how deep and majestic their repose! The example of Milton is in every one's mouth; he wrote grammars, and compiled dictionaries, and taught obstinate little urchins, and constructed treatises of faith, and worried Hall, and abused Usher, and pelted Salmasius into Sweden, and pelted him out again; and then took wing, and soared away into Paradise. Pope. Butler, Akenside, Gray, were all men of great reading and study, independent of their poetry. So it is down to Scott and Southey, and so must ever be. Beautiful as is the poetry of Goldsmith, it would be still more gratifying to the reader, if his knowledge had been more perfect, and his reasoning more orderly and accurate."

ledge of our earliest writers-for fine and just trains of poetical criticismfor some touching and elegant poetry, and for a few ingenious tales of fiction." Indeed, I know of no one who has written so much himself, and who, at the same time, has done so much to bring forward the writings of others to bring out the hidden-to revive the forgotten-and to honor the neglected but true genius. We are most deeply indebted to him, too, for his labors of love upon our great Epic; for no critic, not excepting Addison himself, has had a more just appreciation of the genius of Milton, or has criticised him with truer taste or sounder judgment.1


It was now resolved that Sir Walter should be brought to the bar of the King's Bench by habeas corpus, and execution awarded upon his former sentence. He was accordingly brought up, on October 28, 1618, though taken from his bed under the affliction of an ague fit. Execution was accordingly granted; and he was delivered to the sheriffs of Middlesex, and conveyed to the Gate House, near the Palace-yard. His heroism did not forsake him. To some, who deplored his misfortunes, he observed, with calmness, that "the world itself is but a larger prison, out of which some are daily selected for execution."

On Thursday, October 29th, he was conducted to the scaffold, in Old Palace-yard. His countenance was cheerful; and he said, "I desire to be borne withal, for this is the third day of my fever; and if I shall show any weakness, I beseech you to attribute it to my malady, for this is the hour in which it was wont to come." He then addressed the spectators in a long speech, which ended thus:— "And now I entreat you to join with me in prayer to the great God of Heaven, whom I have grievously offended, being a man full of all vanity, and have lived a sinful life, in all sinful callings-for I have been a soldier, a captain, a sea captain, and a courtier, which are courses of wickedness and vice-that God would forgive me, and cast away my sins from me, and that he would receive me into everlasting life. So I take my leave of you all, making my peace with God."

When he bade farewell to his friends, he said, "I have a long journey to go, and therefore I will take my leave." Having asked the executioner to show him the axe, which the executioner hesitated to do, he said, "I prithee let me see it! Dost thou think I am afraid of it?" He then took hold of it, felt the edge, and, smiling, said to the sheriff, "This is a sharp medicine; but it is a physician for all evils." He forgave the executioner; and being asked which way he would lay himself on the block, he answered, "So

1 Read Edinburgh Review, lix. 439, and American Quarterly, xvi. 457.

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