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our literature, extolled as it has been by Addison, though the name of poor Sir Richard Blackmore has something ominously prosy
in its The Pastorals of Gesner and Pope may be matched with those of Theocritus and Virgil ; and we have at least one Anacreon in Herrick, if not a second in Moore. In elegiac verse our Milton and Buchanan, with many others both of our own countrymen and of the Italians, have rivalled the Ancients in their own style and their own language, and attained the spirit and elegance of the Augustan age itself. In Didactic poetry, what antagonists can be advanced against such men (to select a few from many) as Beattie, Thomson, Goldsmith, Byron and Campbell ? or where shall we look for one whose inborn genius, and unadorned simplicity, and vigorous conception, may render him a rival to Robert Burns ? *
But it is in the consideration of the comparative merits of the Ancients and Moderns in the powers with which they have worked that mighty engine on the minds and manners of men, the Drama, that I look for one of our most brilliant triumphs. Remembering how many of the ancient plays have been lost, and regretting the want of the Merope and its companions most sincerely, I feel,
* Looking back, as I do, with veneration on my great predecessor, Peregrine Courtenay, whose throne I fill, however unworthily, and whose sceptre I wield, however weakly, I feel bound to apologise to his Majesty's shade for an insult offered to one of his Cabinet, or Club, in more appropriate phrase. His Majesty will perceive that I have not brought forward Messrs. Wordsworth or Coleridge to cope with the mighty men of old. It is, I can assure his Majesty, from a tender regard for their welfare, as they would be grievously bruised and maltreated in the contest.
at the same time, bound to remember, that many of the productions of our own dramatists have shared a like fate.* But we can make allowance for all these. We can give them Alfieri and Metastasio ; the
Goethe and his German brethren; the Chinese plays, and the Indian nataks; we can allow to them the fabulous twenty-three hundred, and the actual five hundred, dramas of Lope de Vega, with those of his numerous Spanish followers ; Voltaire, Racine, Corneille, Molière, will we yield; still fully and proudly confident, that Massinger and Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Shirley - and Otway, and Marlowe and Ford, and Congreve, with the inimitable Sheridan, may sustain the charge of the formidable phalanx formed by Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, with their lightarmed allies Aristophanes and Menander, Plautus and Terence. But if neither kick the beam, the name of Shakespeare shall descend into the scale with a weight and a power like the sword of Brennus-a name which alone might meet their combined force, and rival their united excellency.
The seeds of eloquence do not usually spring into existence, unless sown in the soil of Freedom, and reared by the hand of Industry. But it is liberty, and not licentiousness, which strengthens the machine of government, and invigorates the powers of a mighty nation. Among ourselves, Lord Strafford was one of the earliest orators. Lord Halifax, in the next reign, and Lord
See Mr. Gifford's anecdote (in his edition of Massinger) of the fortynine plays used for covering pies by Mr. Warburton's cook-maid, &c.
Shaftesbury, were able speakers. After the Revolution, however, commenced a brilliant series. Some among Sir Robert Walpole's speeches—that on the Peerage Bill, and that in his own defence, towards the close of his administration, in particular, are very eloquent. After him came Charles Townshend. Then there arose the British Demosthenes, to utter in a British senate, the sentiments of a British statesman ; to protect the oppressed, and to thunder on the oppressor ; to rival as an orator, and far, far to excel as a statesman, his great prototype. Soon after came worthy and numerous successors ; and great as were Cicero, and Hortensius, and Æschines, they yield to Fox, Sheridan, Erskine, Grattan -to Burke, to Pitt, and to Canning.
The critics I had almost forgotten. Here I shall certainly give the preference to the Moderns, thereby hoping to disarm the wrath and to secure the approbation of any animal of the tribe who may deign to notice me. If it have not this effect, in my very next edition I will prove Aristotle, Longinus, and Quintilian superior to Boileau, Addison, Johnson, and Gifford.
But it is not on superiority in those points, where there is an actual and direct comparison alone, that the Moderns
may, I think, ground their claims to a favourable verdict. We have new stores yet untouched. We have humourists, and essayists, and novelists; we have the Spectator, the Tatler, the Guardian, and the whole tribe-we have Cervantes, and Fielding, and Smollett and Sterne—and greater than any, we have WALTER Scott-whose splendid efforts and magnificent creations afford the surest and most triumphant proof that the spread of civilization does not forbid, or impede, the legitimate exercise of the inventive faculties. But yet further—we have the venerable array of our pulpit orators. Scanty and cold, or unmeaning and ridiculous maye, even too often execrable—was the devotion of the Ancients-far, far removed from that fervent and animated spirit of worship, which the Christian religion is so eminently and so admirably calculated to inspire.* Hence we derive our highest and our proudest claim : hence it is, that wisdom, and power, and ability, and virtue, and piety have been marching onward hand in hand : hence it is that we are able to look back with joyful admiration of the past, and to look onward with triumphant anticipation of the future: to look back on the great, dauntless, and invincible, supporters of that faith for which Cranmer, and Latimer, and Ridley, endured with joy the flames of persecution, and entered in triumph the gates of death ; and to look onward to those who will never be wanting to adorn and to defend it. Hence it is, that we venture to declare that Newton, Shakspeare, and Milton, stand unrivalled in the history of the world —and to express our humble satisfaction at feeling able to award to our country the prize of arts as well as of arms, and to claim for her the pre-eminence in genius, which she has so long enjoyed in virtue.
It would be both undutiful and unjust in me to conclude, without some reference to the part which Eton has performed in fostering within her walls men who have afterwards become the delight and the glory of England. I need only select from a host the names of Wotton nd Sherlock, of Boyle and Porson, of Gray and the Walpoles, of Fox and Windham, of Chatham and Canning! Canning, over whom even now not Eton alone, but all England, and the whole civilized world are shedding the tear of heartfelt sorrow and merited veneration. But, alas! he is beyond the reach of calumny on the one hand, and eulogium on the other
*“Every thing like creative Poetry can only be derived from the inward life of a people, and from religion, the root of that life.”-Schlegel.
in the cold and silent grave.
It is for those who revered him in the plenitude of his meridian glory, to mourn over him in the darkness of his premature extinction : to mourn over the hopes that are buried in his grave, and the evils that arise from his withdrawal from the scene of life. Surely if eloquence never excelled and seldom equalled—if an expanded mind, and a judgment whose vigour was paralleled only by its soundness--if brilliant wit-if a glowing imagination-ifa warm heart-and an unbending firmness-could have strengthened the frail tenure, and prolonged the momentary duration of human existence, that man had been immortal! But nature could endure no longer. Thus has Providence ordained that, inasmuch as the intellect of man is more brilliant, it shall be more shortlived ; as its sphere is more expanded, more swiftly is it summoned away. The ardent soul spurs on the harassed body to activity ; for its unearthly and unseen substance neither demands nor admits of
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. And lest we should give to man the honour due to God-lest we should exalt the object of our admiration into a divinity for our worship-He, who calls the weary and the mourner to eternal rest, hath been pleased to remove him from our eyes. He hears not the splendid panegyrics of the great, nor the humble