Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Cole observes, Mr W. is manifestly distinguishable? How often does it hurt by the threats on his father, and happen that the lumps of earth are so the slights on himself; he sees not imperfect, that it is never clear whewith the same eyes that I do the vile ther they are Roman, Druidic, Danish, design of the book throughout, nor or Saxon fragments--the moment it indeed cares for it-I mean the steady is uncertain, it is plain, they furnish purpose of the editors to defame the no specific idea of art or history, and Church of England, and to propagate then I neither desire to see or read of the doctrine of independence and so- them. einianism, a plan never out of sight; I have been directed, too, to anand the additions to the old articles of other work, in which I am personally any orthodox clergyman of the Church a little concerned. Yesterday was of England are all on this principle. published an octavo, pretending to

contain the correspondence of HackStrawberry Hill, March 13, 1980. man and Miss Wray, that he murderYou compliment me, my good friend, ed. I doubt whether the letters are on a sagacity that is surely very com- genuine, and yet, if fictitious, they are mon. How frequently do we see por- executed well, and enter into his chartraits that have catched the features, acter ;-her's appear less natural, and and missed the countenance or char- yet the editors were certainly more aeter, 'which is far more difficult to hit. likely to be in possession of her's than Nor is it unfrequent to hear that re- of his. It is not probable that Lord mark made.

Sandwich should have sent what he I have confessed to you that I am found in her apartment to the press. fond of local histories. It is the gene- No account is pretended to be given ral execution of them that I condemn, of how they came to light. and that I call the worst kind of read- You will wonder how I should be ing. I cannot comprehend but they concerned in that correspondence, who might be performed with taste. I never saw either of the lovers in my did mention this winter the new e days. In fact, my being dragged in, dition of Atkyn's Gloucestershire, as is a reason for my doubting the auhaving additional descriptions of situa- thenticity ; nor can I believe that the tions, that I thought had merit. I long letter, in which I am frequently have just got another, a view of mentioned, could be written by the Northumberland, in two volumes wretched lunatic. It pretends that quarto, with cuts ; but I do not de- Miss Wray desired him to give her a vour it fast, for the author's predilec- particular account of Chatterton. He tion is to Roman antiquities, which, does give a most ample one ; but is such as are found in this island, are there a glimpse of probability that a very indifferent, and inspire me with being so frantic should have gone to little curiosity. A barbarous country Bristol, and sifted Chatterton's sister so remote from the seat of empire, and and others, with as much cool curiosioccupied by a few legions, that very ty as Mr Lort could do ? and at such rarely decided any great events, is not a moment? Besides, he murdered Miss very interesting, though one's own Wray, I think, in March ; my printa country-nor do I care a straw for a ed defence was not at all dispersed bestone that preserves the name of a fore the preceding January or Febru. standard-bearer of a cohort, or of a ary, nor do I conceive that Hackman Colonel's daughter. Then, I have no could ever see it. There are notes, patience to read the tiresome disputes indeed, of the editor, who has certains of antiquaries, to settle forgotten names ly seen it; but I rather imagine that of vanished towns, and to prove that the editor, whoever he is, composed such a village was called something the whole volume. I am acquitted as else in Antoninus's Itinerary. I do being accessary to the lad's death, not say that the Gothic antiquities which is gracious, but much blamed that I like are of more importance; for speaking of his bad character, and but, at least, they exist. The scite of for being too hard on his forgeries, a Roman camp, of which nothing re- though I took so much pains to specimains but a bank, gives me not the fy the innocence of them; and for his smallest pleasure. One knows they character, I only quoted the very had square camps-has one a clearer words of his own editor and panegyidea from the spot, which is barely rist. I did not repeat what Dr Goldsmith told me at the royal academy, destruction as much as the ministers. where I first heard of his death, that The rails torn from Sir George's house he went by the appellation of the were the chief weapons and instruYoung Villain ; but it is not new to ments of the mob. For the honour me, as you know, to be blamed by two of the nation, I should be glad to have opposite parties. The editor has in it proved that the French were the one place confounded me and my un- engineers. You and I have lived too cle, whe, he says, as is true, checked long for our comfort,-shall we close Lord Chatham for being too forward our eyes in peace ? You and I, that a young man in 1740. In that year can amuse ourselves with our books I was not even come into parliament, and papers, feel as much indignation and must have been absurd indeed, if I at the turbulent as they have scorn had taunted Lord Chatham with youth, for us. It is hard, at least, that they who was at least six or seven years who disturb nobody, can have no ayounger than he was; and how could sylum in which to pursue their innohe reply by reproaching me with old cent indolence. Who is secure against age, who was then not twenty-three? Jack Straw and a whirlwind? How I I shall make no answer to these ab- abominate Mr Banks and Dr Solander, surdities, nor to any part of the work. who routed the poor Otaheitans out of Blunder I see people will, and talk of the centre of the ocean, and carried what they do not understand ; and our abominable passions among them! what care I? There is another trifling Not even that poor little speck could mistake of still less consequence. The escape European restlessness. Och ! editor supposes that it was Macpher- I have seen many tempestuous scenes, son who communicated Ossian to me. and outlived them! The present prosIt was Sir David Dalrymple who sent pect is too thick to see through-it is me the first specimens. Macpherson well hope never forsakes us. Adieu. did once come to me, but my creduli. Yours, most sincerely, H. W. ty was then a little shaken.

We have no time to add a few notes Strawberry Hill, June 15, 1780. to these letters, to counteract a little You may like to know one is alive, the caustic pleasantry of Walpole on dear sir, after a massacre and the con- some authors. But Cole's character, flagration of a capital. I was in it and that of his collections, have been both on the Friday and on the black given by Mr D’Israeli, from whom we Wednesday, the most horrible night I beg leave to borrow them for the preever beheld, and which, for six hours sent purpose. " Cole was the college together, I expected to end in half the friend of Walpole, Mason, and Gray; town being reduced to ashes.

a striking proof how dissimilar habits, I can give you little account of the and opposite tastes and feelings, can origin of this shocking affair. Negli- associate in literary friendship; for gence was certainly its nurse, and re- Cole, indeed, the public had informed ligion only its god-mother. The os- him that his friends were poets and tensible author is in the tower. Twelve men of wit, and for them Cole's paor fourteen thousand men have quash- tient and curious turn was useful, and ed all tumults; and as no bad account by its extravagant triling must have is come from the country, except for a been very useful. He had a gossip's moment at Bath, and as eight days ear, and a tatler's pen; and, among have passed, nay more, since the come better things, wrote down every grain mencement, -I flatter myself, the of literary scandal his insatiable and whole nation is shocked at the scene, minute curiosity could lick up ;-as and that, if plan there was, it was laid patient and voracious as an ant-eater, only in and for the metropolis

. The he stretched out his tongue till it was lowest and most villanous of the peo- covered by the tiny creatures, and drew ple, and to no great amount, were al- them all in at one digestion. All these most the sole actors.

tales were registered, with the utmost I hope your electioneering rioting simplicity, as the reporter received has not, nor will mix in these tumults. them; yet, still anxious after truth, It would be most absurd ; for Lord and usually telling lies, it is very aRockingham, the Duke of Richmond, musing to observe, that, as he proSir George Saville, and Mr Burke, the ceeds, he very laudably contradicts, patrons of toleration, were devoted to or explains away in subsequent me

moranda, what he had before written. gether free from mystery, and with Walpole, in a correspondence of forty regard to which the human mind years, he was perpetually flattering, should feel no demand either for exthough he must have imperfectly re- planation or amendment. Many of lished his fine taste, while he abhorred his contemporaries satisfied themselves the more liberal feelings to which with a sort of cant that every thing sometimes he addressed a submissive would go right if men would follow remonstrance. He has at times writ- the unperverted dictates of nature. ten a letter coolly, and at the same Voltaire, on the other hand, perceived moment chronicled his suppressed feel- around him every where the seeds of ings in his diary with all the fame discord and wretchedness, and he did and sputter of his strong prejudices. not attempt to disguise the fact. But He was expressively nicknamed Car- the true view of the universe did not dinal Cole. These scandalous chroni- lead him to just conclusions. Having eles were ordered not to be opened till suppressed in his soul what affords twenty years after his decease: he consolation amidst the assaults of miswished to do as little mischief as he fortune, it remained for him to concould, but loved to do some. When sider what other habits of thought and the lid was removed from this Pando- feeling were best calculated to fortify ra's box, it happened that some of his a human being in making his way intimate friends lived to perceive in through the jarring chaos by which what strange figures they were exhi. he is surrounded. Candide is merely bited by their quondam admirer.” an amusing parable, in which he de

velopes his system of tactics for the campaign of human life. Voltaire's

own nature, and the number of intelON THE CANDIDE OF VOLTAIRE. lectual enjoyments which he possessed,

led him rather to shun external causes A WORK evolved from the mind, like of pain, than to search after external Candide, as it were spontaneously, causes of pleasure. He perceived, in and not modelled in conformity to any general, that the less purchase outward established rules of art, is of the kind circumstances obtained over him, the that is best adapted to express habits less he would suffer; and the scope of thought and sentiment. The com- of Candide, accordingly, is to palsy binations of ideas that are dictated by within the mind, by means of derilogic, or by rules of composition, have sion, every movement of pride, or comparatively little interest or mean- vanity, or shame, or the feeling of ing. They sink into oblivion because responsibility, which are all of them there is no soul or character embalmed sentiments tending to entangle us with in them, and because they merely ex. others, and subject us to the course of hibit the human mind working me- events. Pride he pays off, not by conchanically according to certain princi- gratulating himself on the possession ples.

of merit, but by saying, " The whole Although Candide professes to be world is only a subject for mockery a refutation of optimism, it is by no and contempt. As nothing in it claims means confined to considerations ap- my respect, or mortifies me with the plicable to that subject. Whatever is appearance of cnviable superiority, I signified in it, is signified rather by can well afford to deride even myself, means of incidents than of arguments. and dispense with ambition." The The incidents which the cynic intro- same scorn of mankind teaches him to duces, are all of them extreme cases; extinguish vanity, by representing but they are well chosen to ridicule men's suffrages as not worth obtainthe idea that the moral world is a ing, and by considering the cultivation scene fit to be contemplated with com- of the good opinion of others as a piece placency. Voltaire had probably no of ridiculous drudgery. Shame he very distinct conception of what he gets quit of by saying to himself, “ It was attacking, at least he follows no is impudence in others to expect me close train of reasoning against it; but to be ashamed before them of any he had too much sagacity to concur thing I can do." Although he shakes with those low-minded sophists who off all regard for mankind, he is not endeavour to represent the condition in the least a misanthrope, but rather of the moral world as a thing alto- cultivates good nature as more conve

[graphic]

nient and agreeable for him who feels into so many separate individuals, who it; and he would consider misanthro- acknowledge no mutual obligations, pical indignation as foolish and use- but who are willing to transact coolly less. He prizes the pleasures of health with each other upon the principles of and sense, and wishes, in many res- self-interest. The habits of feeling pects, to resemble the inferior animals, which it engenders are now generally in order to be altogether free from the condemned in theory throughout Eu. stirrings of what he considers as un- rope, but at the same time there can profitable sentiments, although he still be little doubt that they are too exrelishes and enjoys the pleasures of tensively acted upon. In France their the understanding. But having sup- bitter consequences have been practipressed the sources of so many in- cally felt in politics; and it is to be quietudes, he finds that he has sup- hoped that the rest of the nations, in pressed also the sources of those plea- struggling to obtain rights that have sures and interests which serve to fill been too long denied them, will beup the span of existence; and, accord- ware of supposing that the torch of ingly, Candide and Martin, in culti- self-interest is all that is necessary to vating their garden, find themselves conduct them safely to freedom ; and beset by the weariness of life, after that the severest virtues are not requirthey had endeavoured, by apathy, to ed from individuals, as ballast for the emancipate themselves from almost all vessel of the state, when it makes a other evils. The freedom which phi- voyage into unk

own seas. losophers of this school attain by ex- This novel, remarkable as a compotinguishing sentiment, is like the e- sition for the uncommon distinctness scape of a prisoner into a barren and of the ideas, and the liveliness of their rocky island, where he finds nothing appositions, is also a model for comto subsist upon; and they are obliged, pression and vivacity of language.by the want of enjoyment, to submit Every common-place succession of themselves again to the impulses of thought is industriously broken by human feeling

some amusing interruptions, so that As the philosophy developed in Can- the attention never flags. Neither is dide does not foster any of the pas- any thing introduced for the sake of sions, it does not lead to acts of posi- the imagination. We are never altive immorality, but only prompts lowed to dwell upon a detached object, men to a scornful neglect of all they but are hurried from one to another, owe to their fellow-creatures, and to a that every feeling may be shocked by deliberate isolation of self-interest. It the atrocity of their relations, and the inspires no arrogance, but extinguishes mind filled with amazement and deriall respect. It teaches us to consider sion, by the naked absurdities which mankind as mischievous animals, with are displayed. So long as Voltaire conwhom it would be folly to contend in tinues to paint the worst side of life, earnest, but whose malice must be he is supplied with a diabolical copiguarded against by whatever means ousness of examples ; but when, in are found most convenient, and whose describing El Dorado, he attempts to good offices should be considered as so show what human nature ought to be, much good luck. It bids us contem- the poverty of his soul becomes woplate them, not under the relations of fully apparent, and he sinks into abmorality or personal feeling, but as solute childishness. His imaginary machines by which we must take care people are well fed, well clothed, good not to be hurt in passing. Although natured, and live under a just goit stifles enthusiasm, it is no enemy vernment, but we see nothing of their to the pleasures of taste, or elegant aims or enjoyments. Whatever may perception, because they are so many have been the errors of Rousseau, his detached enjoyments, which may be views of human nature were, for the taken up and abandoned at will, with most part, profound and just. He did out subjecting us either to our own not seek, like Voltaire, to deaden the passions, or entangling us with the sensibility of his nature, but chose ramovements of events. The general ther to suffer to the last, and strove to tendency of this philosophy would evi- neutralize the pains to which his gedently be to disorganize society (so far nius subjected him, by a double enas its organization hinges upon the joyment of all those sweet and genefeeling of duty), and to resolve men rous sentiments with which he was so amply endowed. The internal fer- (whereof more anon) and likewise to mentations of his mind revealed every indite this epistle, -—both of which thing to him, and he was almost never are of course to be devoted to the inmistaken, except in deducing practical teresting subject which has so long consequences. He was called a sophist, occupied my mind. In short, the because the purity of the sentiments theory of the union of light and heat which he uttered' was unadapted to became perfectly familiar to me. I the grovelling passions of society; but have taken it for granted, that you in no person ever had a more disinterest- the north are well aware that his Maed love of truth. Voltaire, in his youth, jesty's liege subjects, in this part of had been well drilled amidst the ca- the empire, did, for a long space of bals of Paris, and therefore understood time now past, grievously complain better how to gain credit among his that the atmosphere was warm, sultry, contemporaries.

hot, close, oppressive, intolerable, and killing; and that although the same could not but be well known to cer

tain persons holding certain high siTHE LATE HOT WEATHER. tuations, yet that no remedy whatever

was in this case provided. Carrying MR EDITOR,

the charge no farther, we may at least Being very desirous of becoming ac- aver, that most culpable negligence is quainted with you, for reasons which chargeable somewhere. How far, inthe fear of being suspected of flattery, deed, those whom we are entitled, or, reluctance to offend your modesty, which is the same thing, accustomed, &c. &c. prevent me from offering,- 1 to charge with all the evils which beshall take the opportunity of a sober fal the nation, may have even contriovercast day to make my overtures. buted, (as some, who shall be nameless, Allow me to begin after the orthodox have ventured to surmise,) to our sufmanner of my countrymen,—this is ferings, is a matter of much graver fine cool weather, Mr Editor ;-this and weightier import. For the preis pleasanter than the great heat of sent, I will only hint, that the confilast summer. You will cease to smile dence with which the temperature of at the salutation, when you learn in the late season was predicted by one what hazard the interests of this Ma- gentleman in office; the visit of the gazine have been put by the state of Esquimaux to this island, where he the late season. Know then, it is met with the greatest attention from wholly owing to this cause that I have individuals of distinction; the appearnot hitherto attempted to approach ance in London of an American chief that coifed wizard with the thistle and suite, in the suspicious character wreath encircled, whose effigy oft hath of players; the fitting out, at an imfixed and low abashed mine eye, and mense expense, of ships of war, desto tender him the produce of my pen, tined to the north for the ostensible though I have felt a wondrous longing purpose of discovery, and the partiso to do any time these three months. cular communications which appear to Leaden languor sat upon the wings of have been kept up between the Admy imagination. It was with me, miralty and the Greenland whalers, during the whole summer, an every- (not to mention the unusual number day history of suction and evaporation of ice-poles which those vessels have -nothing else. The heat of the been known to carry of late)—are facts weather, in fact, I felt, I thought of, which cannot have escaped the sagaand, when I could slumber, dreamt city of your readers. The politicians, of. It entered into all my percep- to whom I allude, scruple not to astions, and regulated, in a great mea- sert, mistakenly I hope, that his Masure, all my functions, corporal and jesty's government has formed an almental; disposing me to light diet, liance with the Esquimaux and Coplight reading, light clothing, light per Indians on the one side, and with sleep, and, I had almost said, light the Samoieds and Tchukotskoi on the thoughts. No sublime flights-no Asiatic margin of the polar basin; profound reflections—the deuce a bit. that these nations, in furtherance of A fortunate succession of showers has the objects of the treaty, have, by a gradually restored me so far, as to en- powerful contemporaneous direction able me to set about a whole book! of their physical force,' (as a gr

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »