« FöregåendeFortsätt »
world by auction. If that sprightly author was deiftical, I hope it cannot be truly affirmed that he was atheistical. If his Candide seems to bear hard on the goodness of Providence, it may be attributed to the reverberation of extremes propagated by others, and to his impatience of Pope's fatalism, differing from that of others in imputing the disorders of the world to the Supreme Being; whereas other fatalitts annul his Providence, by substituting nature in its place; but each system alike cuts up morality and virtue by the roots. Whatever is, is right, without qualification, is direélly contradictory to the fact that evil ever entered the world at all, and of which truth nobody was more sensible than Pope himself, who was so fond of dealing out the appellations of knave and villain, words, I apprehend, without meaning, if wrong had never been committed; so that the axiom renders Johnson's culpable representation of Pope's epistolary satires, that he could not hope to mend the world, true indeed, as it could want no mending. Nevertheless, every person of sound piety and religion hopes and believes, that through the controlling providence of God, which said to the sea, · Thus far fhalt thou go and no farther,' all disorders will be at length rectified, and that all will finally be right. Indeed Johnson's morality, interspersed through his biography, is of an indifferent, vulgar, worldly, and warped into a suspicious cast, that seemed to confute Pope's pofition. But indeed, as says Shakespeare's Timon, those who haitily blame persons for being captivated with the blandishments of pleasure, are such as never experienced it. So it may be alledged that Johnson wrote his rigid precepts of morality when a bulk, not a sopha, was his seat of rest; that he had been • a Navę whom Fortune's tender art with favour never clasped.' For as adversity is excellently denominated a school, so is prosperity a snare. However, a man of his understanding should at all times have reserved amo meliora for an apology, and not have left the heathen ftoics, men who, on account of their self-denial, deserve the appellation of natural Christians, the palm of moral philosophy.
• Of paradoxes, the former part of the twenty-second verse of the third chapter of Genesis, . And the Lord God said, behold the man (the woman is not mentioned) is become as one of us, to know good and evil-seems to present one. Yet
may it not be resolved in this manner? That before their fall, Adam and Eve knew not, were unacquainted with the mixed condition ensuing to the world, having experienced nothing but good, unfophisticated with evil. latter part of this verse, and now left he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, it is beyond my resolution ; for to interpret it that mankind, how brutal foever they are, and like the beasts that perish, will not be immortal ; or that the wicked will not be so, theugh a seemingly desirable thing, and that many are called, but few are chosen,' with some few other texts, are to be underitood in such a sense, seems rash and heterodox. And that Mrs. Piozzi, in her expression that our author's excellence was beyond that of perishable beings, alluded to that of Scripture, like the beasts that perifh,' is a presumption ftill less juftifiable, I may here observe that one Francis Olborn has a curious remark on the
words, The feed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head;' -— that the meaning might be, that he who should do it, would be born of a woman only.'
To save our readers the trouble of guessing, we acquaint them the above is extracted from a critique on the life of Waller. After this we have a few more lines, in which the name of Waller appears; these introduce Cromwell-fanaticism-Pope's axiom, that mankind are always fools--the Irish propositionsthe dragon in the Revelations--and the French king. Then Waller again ventures to shew himself, but is soon drove from the field by Cromwell, Cefar, Sylla, Diogenes, Alexander, and Pompey. Then for a moment behold a race of puritans, and catholics, and priests, for whose numerous tricks, which, by Divine Providence, are made to produce their own cure, we refer our reader to the passage itself; where he will find many merry conceits extracted from the writings of that queer dog Francis Olborn. In the life of Dryden is the following pithy little paragraph:
• There is an odd relation that Dryden should think a fit of the gripes necessary to describe a hero in love. Indeed a metaphysician, or a methodist, might benefit the spirit by purging off the gross parts. Soon after we find our author calling his father an old bookseller. He was hardly always old ;--though persons have been said to have been born drunk.'
Yet this life contains much serious and just reasoning, a display of true taste, and more candour than we geuerally meet with. The life of Addison has similar claims; it is besides well-connected and interesting. We might say the same of many others; and perhaps impartiality may expect an extract of a different kind from those we have produced; but the use of extracts is to give a specimen of the character of a work; and we conceive what we have offered fufficient for that purpose, as far as relates to the critique on the lives. A conclusion is added, in which Johnson and his works are alternately censured and praised, and this in the true style of antithesis, our author's favourite figure. After accusing posthumous editors of mak.. • ing the world the confeffor of Johnson's weaknesses, of his (methodism, commixed as they were with literary butchery and ' lavageness,' he closes with the following eulogium or apology, or whatever name the reader chooses :
• Of his works; though they have little of originality, and his style has a certain atrabiliousness, and his tissue of paragraphs an unplcasing quaintness, it must be confessed that his Dictionary, Rambler, and the two imitative translations of Juvenal, &c. are very excellent ; and that these Lives of the English Poets contain a fund of very valuable general criticism, and that his remarks on Pope's Epitaphs are H3
fingularly acute, and for the most part just. But the coarseness of his constitution, his vigorous mind being perhaps vitiated or degraded by the grossness of his body, vibrated not to the delicate touches of a Shenstone and a Hammond, nor even to the stronger hand of a Gray, but gravitated by the weight of that in which it was inclosed to carth. Johnson's feelings were more ordinary than fine, which indeed accounts for his popularity; more nervous than elevated ; and I take Hawkesworth to have been at leait his equal in fublimity; and that the author of the Adventurer deserves one history of his life.'
• Johnson feldom writes to supply the fancy; nor vifibly ironically so as to discover such a purpose to the reader ; but in a continua! jog trot of didactic, allowing no holiday He conftanily addresses himself to the understanding, makes no excursions into the regions of spirits, beyond this visible diurnal sphere,' nor essays knowledge denied to ears of Aesh and blood;' nor even wishes to stray beyond the walks of mere modern life, back to the regions of Gothic fancy. His timid, impalpable, dreary religion permitted him not to expatiate in the field of hypothesis and conjecture; reveries, vain perhaps, yet amusing; the food of the foul, and a refuge from the miseries and calamities of life. Terribly afraid of free-thinking, though not hostile to free-eating, he immersed in dogma and superstition, fearing to make use of reason as a mediator between extremes. He had the anxiety and yearning of the Psalmist without the joy and exultation: such as repel from a pleasant contemplation of the Deity, and instead of imparting delight, make men thrink back from eternity, and exhibit the idea of death terrible ; such as pluck away the rose þuds of ideal hope from the hour of the sepafation of soul and body, and point it only with thorns. But these maladies, and his other defects and faults, candour will partially fet down to his frame of body, ill adapted to a perfect mind, and acknowledge him, with whose anecdotes the press teemed, to have been no inconsiderable perfon, but a great author, notwithstanding his Dictionary is imperfect, his Rambler pompous, his Idler inane, his lives unjust, his poetry inconsiderable, his learning common, his ideas vulgar, his Irene a child of mediocrity, his .genius and wit moderate, his precepts worldly, his politics narrow, and his religion bigotted.'
After the conclusion the author, perhaps suspecting some of his readers might be asleep, treats them with a dream. In this, laying afide all regard to unities and times, and assuming the privilege of a situation in which inconsistencies and inaccuracies
become natural,' he appears perfectly at home. Johnson and Warton converse together, the one alive the other dead, with much pleasantry, some Itrong traits of character, plenty of farcasm, and some genuine wit. On the whole, though we have used great liberties with this performance, partly we apprehend from having caught the author's manner by reading him, yet it is þut justice to admit we have perused the greater part of
the work with pleasure ; and would recommend it to all such who have leisure to peruse an unconnected performance as an useful appendage to Dr. Johnson's Lives.
Art. X. Twelve Sermons, preached on particular Occasions. By
the Rev. Edward Barry, A. M. and M. D. Chaplain to the Right Rev. Lord Bibop of Kildare. 8vo. 6s. boards. Bew. London, 1789.
WE have heard a worthy bishop fay, with much regret, that
popular preachers are very seldom good preachers; and, in the course of our experience, we have found fufficient reason to induce us to subscribe to this opinion. Nor is this to be wondered at; on the flightest examination the cause and effect will be found equally obvious. The few who are blessed with judga ment and taste, are pleased only with what is excellent, while the multitude are caught with what is merely extraordinary. With the latter, the whine of tragedy is the true pathetic, and indecent rant the genuine fublime; the extravagant tones and geftures of the theatre the quintessence of pulpit oratory. Few materials are therefore necessary, and those too not of the most precious kind, to compose this idol of the many; a plentiful lack of modesty, a tolerable figure, and a voice strong and flexible, are all that is requisite to form a popular preacher. No wonder then that the adventurers in this line are so numerous, when so little stock is required, when a thriving trade can be carried on at so easy a rate. To the younger clergy the temptation is irresistible; they pant after crowded churches, and are intoxicated with bastard fame. They are in due time called upon to preach charity fermons, &c. where the object is to collect a numerous audience, are hence led to consider their own merits as of the highest order, and with confidence to submit their productions to the ordeal of the press. Here the delusion ends the verdict of the hearers is reversed the popular preacher dwindles before the reader to his natural littleness and insignificancy.
The perufal of the Sermons now before us has given rise to these reflections. The author must have been considered as a popular preacher by his being employed on the several public occafions when thefe fermons were delivered. Let us see then how far they justify our remarks on this species of preachers. A clergyman, as the teacher of his brethren, should be a theologian, should be a tolerable reasoner; and if he frequently attempts metaphor, and all the embellishments of rhetoric, he must have taste and judgment to guide him in that dangerous path, otherwise what he conceives to be grand and pathetic, H4
· will be absurd and ridiculous. The following extracts will enable the public to form an opinion of Dr. Barry as a divine, as a reasoner, and as an orator.
As a divine he thus speaks of our Saviour's crucifixion :
· Thus was the dear Immanuel fixed. See the tender Saviour pierced with nails in those parts of his body which are so very nesvous, and so susceptible of torture, and yet delaying death! Bitter cup indeed he drank before ; well might he pray his father, if it were poslible, to pass it from him. Here he is left racking and weltering in his blood-none to pity, none to condole him; but all reviling-even a thief who suffered with him. Alas! how keen must have been his torture! how acute his pangs! Picture to yourselves the affecting exhibition-What will you think of sweating great drops cf blood with pain? See the mangled Deity worried thus to death, till human nature funk down beyond description! Gored thus barbarously, he groans in the severest moment, · Eli, Eli, lama sa« bachthani ?'
In the above extract, the expression see the mangled Deity worried thus to death,' must trike every reader with astonishment, and they will be ready to ask the preacher where he had discovered that God died upon the cross, or how it is poslible to mangle a deity? It is true he does not long adhere to this extraordinary heresy, but soon recants, and tells us, · Thus ended
the human nature of this divine and glorious character,' But we are afraid that, in renouncing one theological error, Dr. Barry has fallen into another; for the human nature of Christ did not end with his death on the cross, but was for ever united with the divine nature.
At least fo faith the New Testament, and fo likewise faith the Church of England in the following words: · The godhead and manhood were joined together in
one person, never to be divided.? Against such opponents we fufpect the doctor will hardly be able to keep the field.
We shall next lay before the public a specimen of the doctor's reasoning. In a sermon preached to the convicts in Newgate, he thus addresses them :
• See the loving Saviour longing to embrace his long-lost children! Behold his flowing tears! hearken to his expiring groans! it was all for you!
• Fly to his expanded arms; he longs, he waits to be gracious! Go, contrite beggars, to the riches of his grace, and take every supply for glory! Stand off, thou proud-strutting pharisee, and make room for that poor dejected publican ; thar Mary Magdalen, that wicked Manasseh, that persecuting Saul, that poor convicted criminal, and even that thief, shall this day be with me in paradise ! What a noble defence is this to put up at the bar of heaven! what a glorious subject is this to speak on, " That the blood of Christ