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them or let them be in the house; “ For I shall never read them,' says one of the five shilling-piece chaps-1 have no time to look in them, says another ;--- "Tis so much money lost, says a grave dean;— My eyes being so bad,' said a bishop; "that I can scarce read at all.'.• What do you want with me !' said another ;-Sir, I presented you the other day with my Athence Britannicae, being the last part published.'
- I don't want books, take them again; I don't understand what they mean. The title is very plain,' said I, and they are writ mostly in English. • I'll give you a crown for both the volumes. “They stand me, Sir, in more than that, and 'tis for a bare subsistence I present or sell them; how shall I live?' I care not a farthing for that, live or die, 'tis all one to me.'_ Damn my master!' said Jack, “ 'twas but last night he was commending your books and your learning to the skies; and now he would not care if you were starving before his eyes; nay he often makes game at your clothes, though he thinks you
the greatest scholar in England.'"'--Pp. 78, 79.
Passing over a sketch of Cowley's character, (in which the veglect and ingratitude which he experienced from the court, are probably enough ascribed to his Ode in honour of Brutus,) a lively account of Horace Walpole, (which in the severity of its censure partakes too much of the vice that it condemns,) and some remarks upon old John Dennis, in which sufficient praise is not awarded to the sound sense of his better critical works,) we come to a very amusing article upon Orator Henley. This name is familiar to every reader of Pope; but the history of the motley adventurer to whom it belongs is almost unknown, even to amotators and bibliographers-so ephemeral is notoriety! Mr. D’Israeli-(we may name the author of these volumes, since he indicates himself in the title-page)-tells us that this clerical buffoon was an indefatigable student, a proficient in all the learned languages, an elegant poet, and a wit of no inferior class. His wit and his industry are not to be doubted; and the man who in his Complete Linguist,' published a grammar of ten languages, must either have possessed considerable erudition, or a very uncommon share of impudence and quackery: but Henley was so abundantly gifted with these requisites for his calling, that the title of this poly-grammar must not be admitted as a proof that he was qualified for the task which he undertook. As for his poetry, Mr. D'Israeli, in his peculiar phraseology, says that it' surmounts mediocrity;' and he adduces a few passages in support of this opinion; but he has failed in this attempt to show cause why the sentence, which time has past upon it, should be reversed.
Henley had been master of a free-school in Leicestershire, and introduced some novelties there which did not answer the purpose for which they were intended; so he left the country, and came to London as a literary adventurer. He wrote for the booksell VOL. VII. NO. XV.
and received pay from the ministry for the Hyp-Doctor, a paper started in opposition to the Craftsman. Weary of such task-work, disappointed of preferment in his profession, and of the fame which he expected in literature, he commenced Quack, and succeeded in becoming one of the first water. He opened, what he called an Oratory, in Newport-market, and undertook to teach universal knowledge, in lectures. Here he proposed' to supply the want of an University, or universal school in tbis great capital, for persons of all ranks, professions and capacities—to lay a foundation for an English academy-to give a standared to our language and a digest to our history-to revive the ancient schools of philosophy and elocution—and to bring all the parts of knowledge into the narrowest compass, placing them in the clearest light, and fixing them to the utmost certainty.' At the same time he professed to teach primitive Christianity in his sermons. “The Church of England," he said, ' was really with him; he appealed to her own principles, and declared that he would not deviate from her unless she would deviate from herself.' Mr. D’Israeli intimates, that he began by professing Arianism, a heresy to which Whiston and Clarke had given at that time some repute: but if he adopted this mode of belief, he would hardly have appealed to the Church of England as his test. In reality, he seems not to have been sincere enough to care about points of faith, and therefore contined his scheme of reformation to such things as lay upon the surface. His pulpit was hung with velvet, and decorated with gold : in his liturgy, the creeds and doxologies were printed with red letters; and he proposed to celebrate the sacrifice of the altar with all the ancient forms--forms, wbich, he said, were so noble, so just, sublime, and perfectly harmonious, that the change has been made to an unspeakable disadvantage. What Laud attempted in sincerity, and with the impracticable hope of reconciling the two churches, Henley set about in the mere spirit of unprincipled adventure. He struck medals with the device of a sun approaching the meridian, and the motto Inveniam viun aut faciam; but he deceived himself-for he lost his way instead of finding it, and did not even delude the multitude, who are ever eager for delusion. Muggleton, Swedenborg, and Joanna Southcott, the craziest of the crazy, the vulgarest of the vulgar, and the dullest of the dull, have found followers in England; but Henley, with all his wit, all his talent, and all his oratory, could not succeed in forming a sect. He called himself a Rationalist, and on his death-bed repeatedly exclaimed, let my enemies know I die a Rational! What he meant by the term is not explained, and were we to offer a guess at the meaning, it would do little honour to his sincerity. His want of success is to be attributed not to his buffoonery, not to his extravagance, not to his follies—he failed be
cause he neither was, nor appeared to be in earnest-because he sported with his auditors, and thought it sufficient if he could amuse and astonish them, without rousing their feelings, inflaming their imaginations, or impressing their hearts. He might have indulged in jests and buffooneries without danger of shocking or offending his believers, if he had given them any thing to believe. But he appeared to the people in his true light, a sort of pulpit merry-andrew, or show-man, and Mr. D’Israeli confers upon him a most undeserved honour, when he exhibits him as an example of disappointed genius.
The chapter upon the maladies of authors shows, that inordinate study, like any otlier immoderate indulgence, is prejudicial, and oftentimes fatal to health : it is, however, less so than any other. True it is, that no violence can be offered to nature, nor any irregular modes of life be made habitual, with impunity; but in opposition to Mr. D'Israeli, we must contend, that of all offenders, the man of letters in this respect suffers least. Sailors and nightcoachmen are short lived for want of due sleep: he who lives, night as well as day, in his study among the dead, converses usually longer with the living also, than those men of hardy lives and iron temperament. The groom who is wasted to a standard of weight, not much more rational than the standard of measure which has rendered Procrustes famous, is spent in a few years. The drunkard lays up for himself an inheritance of liver-complaints and dropsy:-a man may drink of Helicon all his life, and contract no other tympany than what some of his verses may exhibit; and if he be subject to any disease of the spleen, the fault will be in his moral disposition, not in his literary pursuits. Sedentary habits engender dyspepsy--it is the disease of the taylor and the shoemaker, as well as of the scholar: nervous afflictions are more frequently his lot; yet they spring, at least, as often from want of employment, as from excess of it. А century ago the stone was said to be the scourge of men of letters. Certainly they are not peculiarly afflicted with it now. To what is this owing? Is it to the use of tea, in which studious men usually indulge so plentifully, and which was unknown to their predeces
If indeed an author suffers in his health from his profession, it is because of the foolish habits which he connects with it, or the ill passions which he indulges in it. If he chuses the night for employment and the morning for sleep, he has not even the same excuse that the gambler or the fool of fashion might plead for the same folly. If he feels a feverish anxiety for the success of his works, and disappointment vexes and irritates and grieves him, this also is a folly, and one which would have found occasion to display itself in any other way of life to which he might have taken.
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sir,' said Cumberland to a younger author, 'whatever you do, never write a play! The torments of the damned are nothing to it, sir.' But would the man who is irritable as an author, be less so in any other vocation. The discipline of the army and wavy (which, among the private men, is said to prevent madness) might, perhaps, curb him, but he would carry his temper to the bar or to the senate. The disposition which literature cannot mollify, would baffle all emollients; the man is in fault, not the profession, and irritability belonging to individuals ought not to have been predicated of the genus.
The maladies of authors then may be dismissed from the catalogue of their calamities. The next essay professes to treat of literary Scotchmen and Irishmen; but the first name which occurs is that of a Cambrian, Isaac Ritson. His is a melancholy history, and would appear more so if Mr. D’Israeli had known it all, and probably if he had thought proper to tell all of it that he did know. The next instance may best be related in his own words.
• About twenty years ago, the town was amused almost every morning by a series of humorous or burlesque poems, by a writer under the assumed name of Matthew Bramble-he was at that very moment one of the most moving spectacles of human melancholy I have ever witnessed.
• It was one evening I saw a tall, famished, melancholy man enter a bookseller's shop, his bat frapped over his eyes, and his whole frame evidently feeble from exhaustion and utter misery.—The bookseller inquired bow he proceeded in his new tragedy? 'Do not talk to me about my tragedy! Do not talk to me about my tragedy! I have indeed more tragedy than I can bear at home!' was the reply, as the voice faltered as he spoke. This man was Mathew. Bramble, or rather -- M'Do. nald, the author of the tragedy of Vimonda, at that moment the writer of comic poetry-his tragedy was indeed a domestic one, in which he himself was the greatest actor among a wife and seven cbildren-he shortly afterwards perished. I heard at the time, that M‘Donald had walked from Scotland with no other fortune than the novel of “ The Independent' in one pocket, and the tragedy of · Vimonda' in the other. Yet he lived some time in all the bloom and Aush of poetical confidence. Vimonda was eren performed several nights, but not with the success the romantic poet, among his native rocks, bad conceived was to crown his anxious labours--the theatre disappointed him—and af. terwards, to his feelings, all the world!-p. 208.
Mr. D'Israeli particularises those unhappy men, Ritson, Logan, Robert Heron, and others equally unfortunate, as men who might, perhaps, have ranked in the first classes of our literature. Logan's death is here attributed to melancholy, and that melancholy to repeated disappointments. He wished to be made professor of history at Edinburgh, but was unsuccessful. He wrote
a tragedy which was accepted at Covent Garden, but interdicted by the lord chamberlain; and the sin of having written this play drew upon him the displeasure of the kirk: he thought proper to resent this, by expressing his contempt for the church to which he belonged. Folly and pride of a poet,' exclaims Mr. D'Israeli,' to beard presbyters in a land of presbyterians!' But if this dispute, as is here asserted, hurt his temper, irritated a nervous system, already sufficiently irritable, and embittered, and eventually shortened, his life, surely these consequences are directly imputable to the imprudence of the individual, and ought not to be catalogued among the Calamities of Authors. Mr. D'Israeli is singularly unfortunate in the specimen which he has chosen of this writer's poetry: he has selected two stanzas which have neither connection, syntax nor sense. Robert Heron was a poor miserable laborious man, who has the strongest claim upon compassion for the wretchedness of his fate, but who has no claim for any thing farther.
Writing on the calamities attached to literature, I must notice one of a more recondite nature, yet of which, perhaps, few literary agonies are more keenly felt. I would not excite an undue sympathy for a class of writers who are usually considered as drudges ; but the present case claims our sympathy.
• There are men of leiters, who, early in life, have formed some faa vourite plan of literary labour, which they have unremittingly pursued, till, sometimes near the close of life, they either discover their inability to terminate it, or begin to depreciate their own constant labour. The literary architect has grown gray over his edifice; and, if the black wand of enchantment had waved over it, the colonades become interminable, the pillars seem to want a foundation, and all the rich materials he had collected together, lie before him in all the disorder of ruins. It may be urged that the reward of literary labour, like the consolations of virtue, must be drawn with all their sweetness from itself: or that, if the author be incompetent, he must pay the price of his incapacity. This may be stoicism, but it is not humanity. The truth is, there is always a latent love of fame, that prompts to this strong devotion of labour; and he who has given a long lite to that which he has so much desired, and can never enjoy, might well be excused receiving our insults, if he cannot extort our pity:'-pp. 235, 236.
A case of this calamity is exemplified in Cole, the Cambridge collector. In good truth,' said this laborious man, whoever undertakes this drudgery of an Athena Cantabrigienses, must be contented with no prospect of credit and reputation to himself. However, as I have begun, and made so large a progress in this undertaking, it is death to think of leaving it off, though so little credit is to be expected from it.' •Such,' Mr. D’Israeli concludes,' were he fruits, and such the agony of nearly half a century of assiduous nd zealous literary labour. If this were indeed a legitimate de