« AnteriorContinuar »
boar together for liiin, and was so angry with Alcediana, that for her life she could never love her after. She writes to know about the new London phrases, "wellness and un wellness," and asks why to some extreme, is better than to some extremity. But we must part from the bowers of fiction; we must bid farewell to Doralezi and Alcadate and Panthec; we must leave Telesile and poor Amestris; we must quit l'Amant absent, l'Amant jaloux, and l'Amant non aime; but, lest our readers should suppose Mrs. Dorothy's brain was made of peacork's feathers and sarcenet, we mutt indulge them with the following communication, which might have been acknowledged without alteration by Congreve or Cibber, in the mouth of one of their heroines:
"There are a great many ingredients nothing but the stories he has heard of most go to the making one happy in a the revels that were kept there before hia husband. My cousin Fr. says, our hu- time. He must not be a town gallant mour must agree, and to do that, he must neither, that lives in a tavern and an orhave that kind of breeding that I have dinary, that cannot imagine how one hour had, and used that kind of company; should be spent without company, unless that is, he must not be so much a coun ■ it be in sleeping; that makes court to try gentleman as to understand nothing all the women he sees, thinks they bebut hawks and dogs,* and be fonder of lieve him and laughs, and is laughed either than of his wife; nor of the next at equally. Not a travelled Mounsier, sort of men, whose time reaches no fur- whose head is feathered inside and outther than to be justice of the peace, and side, that can talk of nothing but dances once in his life high sheriff, who reads and duels, and has courage enough to no book but statutes, and studies nothing wear slashes, when every body else dies but how to make a speech interlarded with cold to see him. He must not be with Latin, that mayamaze his disagreeing a fool of any sort, nor peevish, nor ill-napoor neighbours, and fright them rather tured, nor proud, nor courteous,■ and to than persuade them into quietness. He all this must be added that he must love must not be a thing that began the world me, and I him, as much as we are capain a free-school, was sent from thence to ble of loving. Without all this, his forthe University, and is at his farthest, tune being ever so great, would not sawhen he reaches the Inns of Court; has tisfy me; and with it, a very moderate no acquaintance but those of his forms one would keep me from ever repenting in those places; speaks the French he my disposal." has picked out of old laws, and admires
But lest our fair readers, if such we have, should think this strain a little too philosophical for an amoureuse, we can tell them, that such pretty little sentences as the following, occasionally are seen sparkling and glittering amid the severer strain in which they are set: "Dear! shall we ever be so happy, think you !—Ah! I dare not hope it.—'Tis not want of love gives me those fears, as in earnest—I think, nay, I am sure, I love you more than ever."
Having now completed our portrait of Mrs. Dorothy, who made as good a wife as her sense and affection as a mistress promised; and, when Lady Temple, was in high favour with Queen Mary, who had sense enough to delight in her letters as to share her friendship; we must turn to the literary character of her husband.
The first work that comes under our notice are his Memoirs. Temple's concern in public affairs extended from lti61 to 1680. These Memoirs, as Mr. Courtenay justly observes, are valuable, as explaining the impressions that Temple had, not long after the several events, of transactions in which he had a share, or which passed under his observation: and any historian
* Mrs. Dorothy showed her masculine understanding in preferring large mastiffs— the larger the better,—and Irish greyhounds, before all the mott exact little dog» that ever lady played withal.
of his time would write imperfectly, who should not carefully examine the Memoirs, and still more the letters of Sir W. Temple; but he will not obtain much of secret history, or much elucidation of the motives of statesmen.* The knowledge which Temple's contemporary ministers had of his openness did not induce them to be open with him; nor did their opinion of his honesty cause them to confide acts or motives to him, which they knew he could not approve.
Temple's work is very valuable, but has not all the value which he attaches to it. Dalrymple observes: "A very superficial critic in history may see from both parts of Sir W. Temple's Memoirs.f that he was not let into any of the secrets of his master: in the course of the Dutch negociation, Lord Arlington, Sir Gabriel Sylvius, and De Cros, were sent over at different times with powers concealed from him."
These Memoirs extended from the year 1605 to the peace of Aix-IaChapelle; but the first part of them was designedly burnt by the author. Swift ascribes their destruction to the change of policy in Lord Arlington, and to Temple's consequent estrangement. Mr. Courtenay does not appear satisfied with this reason, but assigns no other. We confess that we think it not unsatisfactory; for if Arlington was the hero of the former part of the history, and certainly he was Temple's first patron and friend, how could he be carried with untarnished honour through the inglorious policy of the latter? These Memoirs are written as became a statesman like Temple, in sincerity; and he withheld, as would appear, no information which he could usefully impart. The style is plain, agreeable, and good; there are a few passages in them of more striking interest—as the death of Madame the sister of Charles, and of De Witt; the comparison of Turenne and Conde; the character of the Duke of Loraine, and of Charles the Second; his conversation with the Prince of Orange on the choice of his wife, and the account of his friend Hoeft, the accomplished burgomaster of Amsterdam. The other volume, on the United Provinces, is a work that also much pleased us for its practical knowledge, its sound and sensible reasoning, its agreeable reflections, and its pleasing style. His Treatise on Gardening, though its historical chronicle extends from the King of Assyria to the importer of the last variety of the peach, only shows how little that delightful art at that time was understood— at least beyond the wtll-traiucd halls of the Jardin J Potager.
Sir W. Temple mentions Moor Park, in Hertfordshire, in terms of the highest praise, which was repeated half a century after by Mr. Walpole, when we believe Brown had been called to arrange and improve its natural beauties. What it may have been we cannot say, but it is situated in an inferior country, and possesses, at this time, nothing worthy of admiration; but the first specimens of a truly fine taste which we had, in the disposition of ground and the variety of scenery, were those dis
* Luden, Professor of History at Jena, is an isolator of Sir W. Temple, of whom he has written a Life. 'If I know anything (said he one day in his lecture) of the spirit of his day, or if I have been learned to judge of political institutions and political conduct, it is to Sir W. Temple that I owe all.'—See Russell's Tour in Germany, i. 211.
t Vide du Gronville's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 40.
J There is an observation of Temple's, on a trifling matter, which we should have thought him too well-informed to make. He says " What Virgil's 'Vescum Papaver' was, I cannot guess, since poppiet with us are of no use in eating.' Did he not know that poppies were used by the ancients, and even in Italy in modern times, to sprinkle over cakes, like carraways, almonds,&c. : thus Petronius,' sesamo et papavere sparsa.' played so successfully by Mr. Southcote at Woburn Farm, in Surrey, and on a larger scale by the Honourable Mr. Hamilton at Cobham. Some of the scenes at Payne's Hill were formed from landscapes of G. Poussin. Whcatley and Gilpin wrote with fine taste and knowledge on the subject. The poet Gray, as Sir James Macintosh has observed, was the first perhaps who entered on the picturesque in landscape, and drew attention to its principles: other writers of later times, and eminent Sir Uvedale Price, have come to the subject with enlarged views and greater experience. Theory has recognised the justice and taste of what, previously, Mr. Hamilton had put into practice; and the word picturesque at once showed the permanent alliance formed between the sister arts. Of Pope's Garden, nothing now remains but the site; but Mr. Walpole says, that three sweet little lawns opening into each other, proved the taste of the designer. We rather believe, that to our favourite poet we are entitled for the earliest specimen of the picturesque pleasure-ground: near to him, his friend, the Duke of Argyle, was plauting. The modern taste has been more distinctly shown in a choice of ground possessing natural beauties of a higher order; and perhaps all that a judicious and elegant arrangement can effect, has been produced in the gardens at Bromley, at St. Anne's Hill, and at Redleaf.* With regard to the passage on which Mr. Courtenay comments, and in which Temple mentions Spenser, Ariosto, and Tasso, "as the only moderns who have made any achievements in heroic poetry," omitting the not less illustrious name of Milton; we have always considered that the undoubted sale of numerous copies of the Paradise Lost, might consist with the partial neglect of it; inasmuch as its earliest admirers, we think, would be found among those who partook of Milton's political aud religious principles: his Poem was read at Geneva and Zurich, and it was in such demand abroad, while neglected at home; that a German Translation in verse was published a few years after the original appeared, and which we fortunately possess: this showed that Europe was not deaf to those immortal strains which were echoed as soon as heard, from her most sequestered and solitary abodes. We consider that the Presbyterian scholars and divines, who left England at the Restoration for the Helvetian Hills, or the valleys of Moravia, carried this noble monument of their country's genius with them, and spread its fame" over land and sea."
Of the famous controversy on the Epistles of Phalaris, Mr. Courtenay has given a particular account, as he was called on by Temple's name being mixed up in its commencement; Temple, to speak the truth, of Greek literature knew nothing: his was not an age of scholarship; though it abounded in men of genius and of wit. A scholar, like Bentley, had no one who could judge his merits; while the Poet and the Satirist ridiculed an erudition they could not estimate. In his own language,—
"Instead of learn'd, he's called pedant,
* Dropmore, Clifden, and the sweet views of Danesfield, must not be forgotten. Over Paine's Hill, the planter and painter must breathe congenial sighs; its dryads have been scared from their shady retreat, and literally, to use the poet's words with slight alteration:—
And Cobham, once proud Hamilton's delight, Slides to a Scrivener, or a city knight.
When Garth wrote his well-known couplet,—
"As diamonds take a lustre from their foil,
— he knew nothing of the real merits of either party; but there was one scholar in their club of wits, who could have set them right;—that was Arbuthuot.
Bentley's treatise is a work of immense learning, most luminously arranged,* and most happily and convincingly applied; it is still without an equal in the whole range of classical literature: nor can it be read without the highest admiration of his powers, and the most perfect contempt of the petty detractors from his fame. As for the subject of the dispute, we confess that we wouder how any scholar could have read the epistles without detecting their spuriousness ; they have, to our taste, all the laboured exactness and littleness of the sophist in them. As for the fables of ^isop, they have been gradually formed from short metrical stories, like those of Babrias, written perhaps in the age of Socrates, or before; and very little of their original beauty remains in the present prosaic paraphrases.
Temple's History of England is such as might have been expected from one who had not devoted his time to antiquarian pursuits, and who had neither leisure nor perhaps inclination for the dry and toilsome studies which can alone lay a firm basis for the historical records of our early constitution under the Saxon monarchs; but when Mr. Courtenay calls Milton's introduction more learned, we must call it, on our part, far less judicious, and we must refer him to some observations on that subject in a late article on Milton.f As a specimen of Temple's style and manner of writing, we will here make an extract from another of his treatises, on the character of our country and the inhabitants.
"I think none will dispute the native "But with all this, our country must courage of our men and the beauty of our be confessed to be, what a great foreign women, which may be elsewhere as great physician called it, the Regions of Spleen;in particular, but nowhere so general, which may arise a good deal from the great They may be (what is said of diseases) as uncertainty and many sudden changes of acute in other places, but with us they are our weather in all seasons of the year, epidemical. For my own part, who have And how much these affect the heads and conversed much with men of other nations, hearts, especially of the finest tempers, is and such as have been both in great em- hard to be believed by men whose thoughts ployments and esteem, I can say very are not inured to such speculations. This impartially, that I have not observed makes us unequal in our humours, inamong any, so much true genius as among constant in our passions, uncertain in our the English: nowhere more sharpness of ends, and even in our desires. Besides wit, more pleasantness of humour, more our different opinions in religion, and the range of fancy, more penetration of factions they have raised or animated for thought, or depth of reflection among the fifty years past, have had an ill effect upon better sort; nowhere more goodness of our manners and customs, inducing more nature and of meaning, nor more plain- avarice, ambition, disguise, with the usual ness of sense and of life, among the com- consequences of them, than were before mon sort of country people; nor more in our constitution." blunt courage and honesty among our seamen.
* For the first time, this noble treasure of learning and argument has found an editor worthy of it. The Rev. Mr. Dyce has, by this work, not only justified the high fame he has long acquired as a scholar and a critic, but has done tardy justice to the merits of Bentley. To this accomplished person—' whom every Muse and every Grace adorns'—we are to look for a complete edition of Bentley's works, which has been commenced entirely at his own risk by a bookseller of high reputation for integrity and intelligence. It will form a lasting monument to Bentley's fame.
t Gent. Mag. Nov. 1836, p. 465.
In bidding farewell to Mr. Courtenay's Life of this accomplished* and once eminent person, we must say that we think it is executed with the knowledge that was required; with a temperate, impartial, and manly judgment; and with a diligence that has discovered and employed all the materials which could be of use to the subject. That his work will not be popular, we think far from its dispraise: the writer of the present day who would bequeath a valuable legacy to posterity, must forget the reading public of the present. His style is unaffected and simple, and his reflections generally just. He is more conversant with politics than with literature, and seems to have no pretensions to ancient learning. But there is a rectitude of judgment, and a sobriety of feeling, which are of far more value in our eyes than any other qualities, and which are conspicuously seen in the very fair summary he has drawn of Temple's character.-J- To us, we confess, the pleasure we derive from his writings is for the most part confined to certain passages which arc sprinkled about them, and which please us by a kind of quaint simplicity, and a nice and careful elegance of thought and expression. He has borrowed from the old English writers of the age preceding him, just sufficient of their language to give a relief and foreign charm to his own ; while he has much refined on their encumbered and ponderous construction of sentences. His writings assuredly have something of an old-fashionedness about them, but this arises much more from the manner of writing, than from the style and expression. He is apt to dwell, as the old writers did, much on commonplaces, and expands truths into long moral reflections, and illustrates them by historical applications. He had somewhat in temper of what the Spaniards call the melancholido, a vapoury and splenetic habit of mind, which he compares to the climate in which he lived. Although the greater portion of his life was passed in official duties, and in employments during which the honour and interest of the nation was in his hands; yet we much question whether he would ever have left the shade of private life, and undergone the drudgery of business, had he not thought that his fortune, originally slender, and never more than would satisfy the most moderate wishes, required some advancement. Whether in London or at Brussels, his heart and his happiness seem always to be in the gardens of Sheen. See his Letter from Brussels, Aug. 1666: — 'I assure your Lordship, in the midst of a town, and employment entertaining enough, and a life not uneasy, my imaginations were very often over the pleasures of the air, and of the earth and the water, but much more of the conversation at Sheen, and make me believe, that if my life wears not out too soon, I may end it
• We use the word accomplished, as applying to the higher qualities of the mind. In the politer manners Temple does not seem in advance of the beastly age in which he lived. He speaks, in his Memoirs, of his spitting, while at dinner, about the room of the Burgomaster, and his astonishment at seeing the maid watching him with a napkin! f * Yet oft before his infant eyes would run, Such forms as glittered in the Muse's ray, With orient hues unborrowed of the sun,' &c. Is not the germ of this beautiful image in the following passage :—" There must be a sprightly imagination or fancy ranging over infinite ground, piercing into every corner, and by the light of that true poetical fire, discovering a thousand little bodies or images in the mind, and similitudes among them, unseen to common eyes, and which could not be discovered without the rays of that sun."—Temple of Poetry.—In the heads on Conversation, we see the original of an epigram of Pope's— 'I am his Highness's dog at Kew, Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?' 'Mr. Grantam's fool's reply to a great man who asked whose fool he was.—' I am Mr. Grantam's fool, pray whose fool are you?'