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the sure harbinger of greatness; but mind. The effects of all this were it formed, from the very beginning of first, and most distinctly, made manithe Mahometan sway, the lurking ele- fest in the department of philosophy. ment of its destruction. Satisfied with Early in the 12th century, scarcely a the possession of that high and more hundred years after the first Crusades, than Stoical disdain of others, the dis- the first of modern attempts to destroy ciples of the Prophet have remained the system of Christianity, and all the stationary as he found them; nay, constitutions of Church and State to some which were once among the no- which it has given rise, was made by blest of nations, have sunk gradually Arnold of Brescia. The fate of this into the condition of dull and sluggish man has been such as that which has Barbarians.
fallen to the share of all ill-timed and The temptation to which, according unfortunate revolutionizers. Yet purity to the Gospel, our Saviour was expos- of intention should not be denied to ed by the fallen angel, was too much him; nor should it be forgotten that, of for Mahomet. He was willing to pur- all the enemies of the Church, few have chase the kingdoms of the earth at the grounded their hostility on views of expense of his integrity. Had he philosophy so deep, and at the same withstood this temptation, and had time so noble, as his. He was sucthe noble-minded Arabs become Chris- ceeded by a host of others, who, withtians with the same zeal which attend- out so openly declaring their purpose, ed their reception of Mahometanism, Occupied themselves in disseminating the most beautiful lands of the earth dangerous and destructive doctrines in would then long ago, in all probabili- regard to matters of religion. The ty, have been also the most refined first who opposed himself to the stream and the most happy-Asia and Eu- of infidelity, with the vigour of a rope, instead of regarding each other Christian philosopher, was a German. with the fury of combatants, or the Albertus Magnus was one of those precoldness of strangers, instead of filling eminent spirits which the world so the world with blood and rancour, rarely produces one of those who imhal long ago been united in the bonds body the power, the learning, and the of brotherhood. The proud spirit of wisdom of ages. He was the Aristotle the False Prophet, and the union of of his time.- We should err very spiritual and temporal power in his widely, in refusing to philosophy a empire, paved the way for the most place in the history of the world. cruel of all despotisms; one under Even among the Greeks and Romans, which every vestige not only of exter- where philosophy and common life nal freedom, but even of the last re- were so much at variance, its influence source of men--the liberty of the mind was great. Nay, it is in that very -has been utterly eradicated and eras- feud and opposition between speculaed.
tive intellect, on the one hand, and An acquaintance with the nature the state and the popular belief on the and consequences of a faith so differ- other, that we must seek for the true ent from their own, was calculated to ground of the destruction of all the produce, upon the thinking men of Ancient States. In modern history, Europe, a much more striking effect from the time of the middle ages downthan a few inaccurate translations wards, philosophy-extended so widefrom Aristotle. That infidelity and ly as to become almost the synonym of contempt of religion of which the em- common opinion-has even more mani. peror Frederick II. has been accused, fested her power. Separated although may easily be accounted for by the she be, from the world, the world circumstances of the times. With must always regard her either as its those scraps of chemical, medical, and best friend, or as its worst enemy. astronomical science, which the Eu. Like every other great revolution, ropeans received from the Arabs, they that introduced by the Crusades had received also much that was fitted to the effect of destroying many of the encourage them in all the superstitions old bands of society. It opened the of astrology, alchemy, and magic. The the way for freedom ; but, wherever arcana, the hidden doctrines of the occasion was offered, it opened the
nights Templars, furnish another way for anarchy also. The tremendproof that a great fermentation had ous conflict between the Church and begun to operate in the European the Empire which devastated Italy and
Germany during the thirteenth cen- poet, whose very existence has been tury, particularly towards the close, detected only by keen research, may arose naturally from the relation indeed have evinced but a slender which these powers held to each o- portion of that spirit which has buoyther ; but though it was not caused, ed up the writings of distinguished its operations were much facilitated contemporaries during the course of and accelerated by means of the Cru- centuries ; yet still his verses shall, in sades. The long absence of the last the lapse of time, acquire an interest of the great and powerful emperors, which they did not possess in the eyes Frederick II., from Germany, laid the of his own generation.' foundation for confusion and anarchy
This remark (which, though not in that country. This anarchy was at new in itself, has derived great addiits summit of violence, when, after tional value from the beautiful illusthe house of Hohenstaufen, for a trations which Mr Scott has brought hundred years the most powerful in together in the preface alluded to) has Europe, had expired on the scaffold of by no means been verified or supportits last representative-amidst a suc- ed by the conduct of modern bibliocession of doubtful, powerless, and graphers towards the thirteen folio absurd elections, Germany and Eu- volumes of the Duchess of Newcastle. rope could scarcely be aware whether Pope, in the “ Dunciad," by giving they had or had not an emperor. It a conspicuous place in the library of was now that the verse of an older his hero to her productions, poet, on occasion of the death of an
" Where stamp'd with arms, Newcastle emperor, could be employed almost
shone complete,” without hyperbole. “ Tristis et Europa, Decapitata gemit.” was among the first to set the example If we may compare the great powers But this was excusable on his part,
of turning her Grace into ridicule. of the earth with the great luminaries for neither Pope, nor any one else in of nature, we may say, that at this those days, was a bibliographer, in the time the heaven was for ever dark, modern acceptation of the term. Even and that neither emperor nor pope, « Caxtons and “ Wynkyn de neither the sun nor the moon, emitted Wordes,” were perhaps then sold for any of these rays which used to guide, and cheer, and animate, the world. productions, at that time, have their
snuff-paper. Nor could her Grace's The only power which remained entire, was that of chivalry. A simple commendation, though there were se
present attractions of rarity as a reknight drew to himself the eyes of the veral of them that her biographer, world. Great in fortune and in val- George Ballard, about the same period, our, great in the possession of every had never seen. noble and every warlike virtue,-but blessed with an understanding at once manner, for the sake of exciting a
Lord Orford afterwards, in his usual strong and comprehensive, Rudolph of smile on the vacant countenances of Habsburg derived his truest greatness some of his own noble readers, epic from his rectitude.
tomized the lives of the Duke and Duchess in such manner as to render
them utterly ridiculous. The only POEMS AND PLAYS BY THE Duchess modern authors after Ballard, that OF NEWCASTLE.
have said a few words in favour of her
Grace (at least we do not at this mo“ Writing is very prompt
ment recollect any others), are Sir With (or withoui) matter in the head and Egerton Brydges, Mr Parke (in his heart." SHAKSPEARE. new edition of Lord Orford), and Mr
D'Israeli. It has been well observed by Walter It is odd enough, however, that, Scott, in a preface to some specimens with the exception of Sir E. Brydges, of old poetry in the Edinburgh An- all her commentators seem to have nual Register for 1810, that the paid much more attention to her mere attribute of antiquity is of itself Grace's prose than to her poetical writsufficient to interest the fancy, by the ings; whereas her volumes, entitled, lively and powerful train of associa- “ Nature's pictures, drawn by Phantions which it awakens. The obscurecies pencil to the life," printed 1656,
and “ Poems and Phancies,” 1662, “ For my part,” she observes, “ I love are not only among the most rare, but
to sit at home and write, or walk in my in all probability the most curious of chamber and contemplate. But I hold it her published compositions; and it necessary, sometimes to come abroad, be
cause I find that several objects do bring may therefore be wondered at, that a
new materials for my thoughts and fancies reprint of some of these volumes has
to build upon. Yet I must say this in benot yet appeared. Of her earliest half of my thoughts, that I never found work, the World's Olio,” we are them idle; for if the senses bring no work not told by Mr Parke or Lord Orford in, they will work of themselves, like the any thing whatever but the name, silkworms that spin out of their own bowels." not even whether it is in verse or in In another place she observes, prose. In Longman and Company's “ I am lazy and inactive to any other Catalogue for 1817, occurs a fine copy employments, and had rather sit still and of the “ Poems and Phancies,” with do nothing, than have my thoughts obstructa collection of rare prints of the au
ed or disturbed, from their usual contemthoress and her husband. This would plations, with noise or company, or any probably have supplied a good article for writing is as pencilling thoughts ; and I
other action or employment but writing ; for the “ Censura" or Bibliogra- take as much delight as painters who draw pher;" but it is to be feared that such
men and other creatures.”—Plays, 1662, volumes do not excite so much inter
p. 681. est now, as in the “ year of the Rox- It is well known to literary men, burghe auction.”
that such a fondness for scribbling is It should be observed, however, an acquired rather than a natural that in addition to a reprint of “ Se- taste. 'It is an accomplishment, howlected Poems” by the Duchess (twen- ever, that in some cases proves of inty-five copies only), from the press of finite importance, and which Rousseau Lee Priory, the same editor (Sir E. found it almost impossible to obtain. Brydges) has also reprinted “ Auto- After all, he has affirmed that his biography of Margaret Cavendish,” thoughts and his pen never could be probably the most interesting of all brought to flow well together. Had her Grace's prose compositions, but of Rousseau possessed the Duchess's rawhich we believe no copies have ever pidity of fingers, and the latter his reached our Northern capital.
aversion to a writing desk, the philoOf the thirteen obscure folios of our sopher might have learned his reputaauthoress, a few are of comparatively tion more easily, and the lady would frequent occurrence.
have escaped that ridicule which has 1. The Life of the Duke, 1667. hitherto attended her. 2. Philosophical Opinions, 1663. The Duke of Newcastle seems to 3. Sociable Letters, 1664.
have been one of those who applauded 4. Miscellaneous Plays, 1662. his noble consort's prose works more Of these four, beyond a doubt, the than her poetry, and thus perhaps misplays are the most valuable; and, by led her from the paths for which her a little sacrifice of time and attention, genius was most adapted. might be made to afford some curious
“ This lady's philosophy," he observes, selected extracts. The “ Philosophy" “ is excellent, and will be thought so herehas no other merit, but that, like all after. As to the book of her philosophical her other books, it arose from the un- opinions, if you will lay bye a little passion assisted operations of her own brain; against writers, you will like it, and the best having the attribute of dulness and of any thing she hath writ; therefore read inconclusiveness in common with many little fault, but with judgment to like what
once or twice, not with malice to find a other metaphysical works, without their learning or authority.
is good."-Vide Parke's Roy. and Noble
Authors, III. 188. Our neglected heroine, however destitute of taste and judgment, certainly
Indeed, one half at least of the nocannot be denied the praise of indus- ble authoress's faults and follies may try and application, and was by no perhaps be ascribed to the injudicious means deficient in the creative faculty criticisms of her husband, who, notof imagination.
withstanding all that has been said in
his favour by some historians, certainOf the “ Poems” we judge by short ly was no conjurer. But the most specimens merely, having only five of her favourable point of view in which her Grace's folios on our table at present.
Grace's literary labours have hitherto
been placed, is that which has been ty, even in accoutrements of dress," taken by Sir Egerton Brydges. says the Duchess. And accordingly,
“ She was,” he observes, " the faithful when she became a poetess and philoand endearing companion of all that virtuous sopher, she resolved to proceed with nobleman's (the Duke's) subsequent trouble and exiles ; which she contributed to soothe had preceded her on the same ground.
an utter disregard of every one who by joining in his literary pursuits, and to To learn other languages, or even her gild by the numerous productions of her own fertile fancy. It is clear, from her pre- own grammatically—to brood over the faces, that the major part of her multiplied pages of Shakspeare and Spenser, of works was composed during this gloomy pe- Bacon and Hooker-were the very riod of sorrow, privation, and danger.” last duties that, in her literary capa
This is a remark which had appa- city, she deemed it requisite to fulfil. rently escaped Ballard, who seems to She seems almost to have closed her think that her Grace composed most eyes on the beauties of the visible of her works after the restoration of universe ; and it scarcely appears even King Charles, and the return of the that she studied her Bible; and yet loyal exiles to England. The contrary, continued indefatigably to contemplate however, is proved by the commence and to write ! ment of her postscript to the “ Plays,"
“ If we had but that command over our. 1662, page 181.
selves," she has said (speaking of the female But, above all, we are disposed to
sex, and doubtless judging of them all by think that the voluminous works of her own experience) if we had but that our authoress will now be looked upon might perhaps be thought wits, though we
command over ourselves to keep silence, we with most satisfaction (or patience) by were fools ; but to keep silence it is impossi. that reader who regards them in the ble for us to do. So long as we have speech words of Mr Coleridge) as a “psyco- we shall talk, although to no purpose ; for logical curiosity.” Her Grace has of nothing but death can force us to silence, herself somewhere made this remark- for we often talk in our sleep." able declaration, “I ALWAYS TOOK
And in another place DELIGHT IN SINGULARITY!” On this “ I imagine all those who have redd my principle, therefore, we find in all former books will say that I have writ her productions reiterated assurances enough, unless they were better. But, say
what you will, it pleaseth me; and since (which indeed some might consider superfluous) that she was utterly and my delights are harmless, I will satisfy my voluntarily destitute of book-learning; For, had my braine as many fancies in't and that her Whig principles, in mat- To fill the world, I'd put them all in print. ters of literature at least, were so vio- No matter whether they be well expresst ; lent, that she absolutely renounced My will is done that pleases woman best.” and contemned all rules, laws, and au- In the strange collection of prefatory thorities, whatever. We repeat, there, addresses to the miscellaneous plays fore, that works, composed on such already referred to, are many remarkfoundation, should be looked upon as able evidences of this turn of mind. a psycological curiosity; for let any “ As for the niceties of rules, forms, and authoress, however highly endowed terms, I renounce, and protest that if I did by nature, set out and proceed with a understand and know them strictly, as I do passion for singularity-a renunciation not, I would not follow them: and if any of common sense and all established dislike my writings for the want of these rulega detestation and voluntary ig- them; for 1 had rather that my writings
rules, forms, and terms, let bim not read norance of books,-let an authoress, should be unread, than be read by such we say, be thus guided and actuated, pedantical scholastic persons.” and, moreover, resolve at the same And in the dedication to the life of time to write perpetually, and to print her husband occurs the following all that she writes, it surely may at passage : least be expected that her compositions “ As for my being the true and only will be metaphysically curious and authoress of them (her various publications), novel at least; while that there should your Lordship knows best ; and my attend be a plentiful harvest of absurdity and ing servants are witnesses that I have had extravagance, must be owing as much none but my own thoughts, fancies, and to this peculiar system as to natural speculations, to assist me; and as soon as I
set them down, I send them to those that imbecilities of character in the said
are to transcribe them and fit them for the authoress.
press ; whereof there have been several, and “ I always took delight in singulari- among them such as could only write a Vol. IV.
good hand, but understood neither ortho- Only their rags of wit remain as toyes graphy nor had any learning ; I being then For pedants to admire, to teach schoolboyes;” in banishment with your Lordship, and not And concluding, able to maintain learned secretaries, which hath been a great disadvantage to my poor Unwilling, willingly still to obey;
“ So we are all your subjects in each play, works, and the cause that they have been printed so false and full of errors : for, be- Nor have a thought but what you make or sides that I wanted also skill and scholar. Us by the powër of your wit's great law; ship in true writing, I did many times not peruse the copies that were transcribed, lest Over the wise, and tames poetic wits.
Thus Empèress in soveraign pow'r yours sits, they should disturb my following concep
W. N.” tions ; by which neglect, as I said, many
Then follows a long poetical introerrors are slipped into my works, which yet I hope learned and impartial readers will duction, of her Grace's own composisoon rectify, and look more upon the sense tion, of which the concluding lines are than the words."
strongly characteristic. But to return to the volume of “ All the materials in my head did grow, plays, from which we believe that no All is my own, and nothing do I owe; extracts have till now been reprinted. But all that I desire, when as I dye, It would appear that the numerous
My memory in my own works may lye: prefatory notices have been written And when as others build them marble tombs chiefly for the sake of declaring her (To inurn their dust) and fretted vaulted contempt for all the rules and prac- I care not where my dust or bones remain, tices of preceding or contemporary So my works live, the labour of my braine. dramatists. More especially, her Grace I covet not a stately cut carv'd tomb, has objected to the commonly received But that my works in Fame's house may opinion, that every character intro- have room : duced should, less or more, assist in Thus I my poor built cottage am content, bringing about the final denouement of When that I dye may be my monument." the plot. This, no doubt, required
We are then made acquainted (by some degree of submissive precaution degrees, in the course of a large folio, and contrivance, and therefore it is an containing no less than nineteen plays) excellence utterly renounced by the with a numberless multitude of worDuchess.
shipful personages, some of whom, if “ I do not,” she exclaims, “ perceive it were only (as Falstaff says) for the any reason why that the several persons pre- sake of a “ commodity of good names," sented should be all of an acquaintance, or may deserve an introduction to our that there is a necessity to have them all of readers. one fraternity, or to have a relation to each The Lord Singularity and Lady Perfection other, or linked in alliance as one family ;
Sir Humphry Bolde Lady Bashful when as playes are to present the general Sir Timothy Compliment Mrs Acquaintance follies, viccs, vanities, humours, disposi- Sir Roger Exception Mrs Reformer tions, passions, affections, fashions, cus- Sir Serious Dumbe Lady Ignorance toms, manners, and practices, of the whole Lord De L'Amour Lady Innocence world of mankind, as in several persons ; Sir Effeminate Lovely Lady Amorous also particular follies, vanities, vices, hu- Roger Trusty Doll Subtility mours, passions, affections, fashions, for- Captain Whiffell Nan Lightheel tunes, customs, and the like, in particular Doctor Comfort Joan Cry-out persons; also the sympathy and antipathy Captain Ruffell Doll Pacify of dispositions, humours, passions, customs, and fashions, of several persons ; also the such personages would act and speak
It was of course to be expected that particular virtues and graces in several per according to their several characters ticular persons; and all these varieties to be and attributes; and accordingly we drawn at the latter end into one piece, as find, that although the Duchess proved into one company, which, in my opinion, irreproachably chaste and correct in shews neither usual, probable, nor natural.” her own deportment, yet the Muses
Whatever were the strange fancies have led her into society whose manthat our heroine conceived or adopted, ners and conversation certainly, in my Lord Duke seems always ready to modern times, appear not a little welcome and encourage them all. Ac- alarming and repulsive. Yet, after cordingly, we have a complimentary all, her Grace must be allowed, in this copy of verses, by this nobleman, pre- respect, to keep at an infinite distance fixed to the plays, and beginning,
from our old friend Aphra Behn; who “ Terence and Plautus' wit we now do absolutely dwells upon and luxuriates scorn,
in such passages of her very lively and Their comic socks worn out, in pieces torn; ingenious plays, as, if read in a mo