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from his head, sets our brains at work and our hearts at
He then makes a transition to Mr. Addison, whose tragedy of Cato is observed to be a fine, but not an affecting performance. But though this poet deserved a superiority over cotemporary claims, even by his writings, he infinitely surpassed his rivals for fame in the integrity of his life, and in a glorious circumstance attending his death. Perceiving his last moments to approach, and no help from his physicians, he sent for a youth nearly related to him, finely accomplished, and who felt the utmost distress at separation. The young man came, “ but life, now glimmering in the socket, the dying friend was silent: after a decent and proper pause, the youth said, “ Dear Sir! you sent for me: I believe, and I hope, that you
have some commands; I shall hold them most sacred.' May distant ages not only hear, but feel the reply! Forcibly grasping the youth's hand, he softly said, “See in what peace a Christian can die.””(1)
As Dr. Young's manner of writing is peculiarly his own, and has already secured him an ample share of fame, we hope to see some succeeding man of genius do justice to the integrity of his life, and the simplicity and piety of his manners; for in this respect, not Addison himself was, perhaps, his superior. We would, in a word, be much better pleased to see the writers of the rising generation more fond of imitating his life than his writings; his moral qualities are transferable ; his peculiarities, as a genius, can scarcely be imitated, except in their faults.
(1) [" Tickell, in his excellent elegy on the death of Addison, alluded, in the following lines, as he told Dr. Young, to this moving interview with Lord Warwick:
" He taught us how to live; and, oh! too high
The price of knowledge! taught us how to dic." Johnson's Life of Addison.]
XX. -BUTLER'S REMAINS, IN PROSE AND VERSE.
[From the Critical Review, 1759. “ The Genuine Remains, in
Prose and Verse, of Mr. Samuel Butler. Published from the Original Manuscripts, formerly in the possession of W. Longueville, Esq. ;1) with Notes by R. Thyer, Keeper of the public Library at Manchester.” In two vols. 8vo.]
When we consider Butler merely as a poet, and a party poet too, and reflect that poets, in our own time, have been known to excel in one species of composition, and yet have been useless in all other purposes of life, and ignorant in all other pursuits of learning, we bewail, but we are not greatly surprised at, the indigence in which we are told he lived and died. But when we view him by the light in which this publication places him, we are struck with somewhat next to horror at the want of discernment, at the more than barbarous ingratitude, of his cotemporaries. When we see him join the humour of Lucian to the philosophy of Plato, and unite the virtue of Socrates with the wit of Aristophanes ; when he displays an equal knowledge of men and books; when he adapts reading to reasoning, and all in the cause of liberty and religion, we are apt to bewail, not only the disgrace, but the loss, of our country, that could suffer such a person to be, in a manner, dead to society.
(1) [" Mr. William Longueville was a conveyancing lawyer, and a bencher of the Inner Temple, and had raised himself from a low beginning to great eminence in that profession. He was the last patron and friend that poor old Butler, the author of Hudibras, had, and in his old age he supported him, otherwise he must have been literally starved. All that the poet could do to recompense him, was to make him bis heir, that is, give him his Remains; but on loose paper, and indigested.”- Life of Lord Keeper Guilford, vol. ii. p. 189, edit. 1826.]
Till the pieces before us were published, Swift could, with some appearance of justice, have disputed with Butler the palm of wit, humour, and observation of life. But we are of opinion, that the question must be now, by the discerning and impartial part of the public, decided in Butler's favour. We cannot, however, say of all the pieces of this collection, as Ovid does of the chariot of the sun, “ Materiam superat opus;" for here many of the materials are rich, but the workmanship is rough ; they look like pieces of the most precious metal, when they first come out of a beautiful mould; but without the finishing and heightenings, that the hand and the tools of the artist can bestow. Many of them bear manifest indications of genius labouring, but not crushed, under indigence; while some of them have received all the polish that art and judgment can bestow.
The editor has performed his duty with great pertinency, yet modesty, of observation ; and this publication is far from being one of those catchpenny subscription-works, which, circulating from one good-natured friend to another, at last picks the pocket of the public. We are tempted to wish, however, that Mr. Thyer's studies had led him a little more than they seem to have done, into those piddling walks of pamphlet and polemical reading, from which alone can be drawn the illustrations of many dark passages of his admirable author ; nor can we think he has been always happy in his conjectures.
Through great part of the two volumes before us, we perceive that Butler was no friend to the Royal Society, (1)
(1) [" The enemies of the Royal Society were for some time very numerous and very acrimonious; for what reason it is hard to conceive, since the philosophers professed not to advance doctrines, but to produce facts; and the most zealous enemy of innovation must admit the gradual progress of experience, however die may oppose hypothetical temerity.”—Joussos.]
and the method of philosophising in fashion in his time; and, indeed, as Mr. Thyer observes with great truth, one must own, that the members of that learned body, at their first setting out, did justly lay themselves open to the lashes of wit and satire.
The first poem in this collection is entitled “ The Ele. phant in the Moon,” and is planned upon a humourous story of a mouse getting into a telescope, with which the virtuosos were viewing the moon, and which they instantly pronounced to be an elephant in the moon. The story, which is full of Butler's humour, is told at first in short, and then in long, verse, but generally in the same terms and terminations of rhyme.
T'he poem which follows is entitled, “ A Satire upon the Weakness and Misery of Man,” and bears the stamp not only of genius but virtue; with such characteristics of the latter as are impossible to be counterfeited: as for the former, they speak for themselves. In short, this is perhaps the finest and justest satire that any language can produce ; and the whole of it has those marks of virtuous indignation, which prove that the poet speaks from the heart. This indignation is levelled equally against the court of Charles the Second as against the fanatics; and the reader is grossly mistaken if he imagines, that because Butler was the author of Hudibras, he favoured either the politics or the manners of the court, to which his writings were so serviceable in its distress. The satire in question, in enumerating the outward circumstances that create the weakness and misery of man, has the following lines :
“ Yet as no barbarousness beside
To vapour sillily, and rant
And live as vainly to that pitch.
Our pleasures but fantastical;
As if w' had gain’d by being lost.” After some other very fine reflections of the same caste, he concludes in the following noble and splendid strain :
“That wealth, that bounteous fortune sends
(2) Though this satire seems fairly transcribed for the press, yet on a vacancy in the sheet opposite to this line, I find the following verses, which probably were intended to be added : but as they are not regularly inserted, I choose rather to give them by way of note :
" For men ne'er digg'd so deep into
The bowels of the earth below,