« ForrigeFortsett »
frequently become knäves; and from this time, he was reproached for the dishonesty of his pecuniary transactions.
His own friends and relations were those on whom he preyed beyond all others. He now wrote many libellous, pamphlets; and scattered abuse with an unsparing hand. Acquainted with the deistical writers of the age, he was himself reckoned a disbeliever of revela. tion *. By the will of Tindal the bulk of his property was left to him; but as his integrity was not unimpeached, the will was generally considered as a fabrication of his own: for Tindal had a nephew, a great favourite with him, and by no means rich. BUDGELL, however, afterwards became so involved in law-suits, that he was reduced to a very distressed situation. He got himself called to the bar; but he found he could procure no employment as a counsellor. At length he was overwhelmed with poverty, and his miserable condition preyed so much on his mind that he became visibly distracted. He took a boat at Somersetstairs, ordered the waterman to shoot the bridge; and while the boat was passing under the arch, he threw himself into the river, and perished immediately t. .Upon his bus reau was found a slip of paper, on which were
* He was thought to have had a hand in publishing Tindal's “ Christianity as old as the Creation." He often talked of publishing another volume on the same subject, but never brought it to light.
+ In 1736. His natural daughter (for Budgell was never married) refused to accompany him, though he endeavoured to persuade her. She did not suspect his intentions, but was sensible of his disordered state. She took his name, and was for some time an actress in Drury-lane Theatre.
written these words: “ What Cato did, and ADDISON approved, cannot be wrong *.”
BUDGELL was a man of lively talents, a good taste, and a well-informed mind. His best writings were in the early part of his life; for from the commencement of his distresses his literary merit declined t.
His talents cannot insure him that respectability, which integrity of conduct only de
The insolence of his pride, and the violence of his rage, deprived him of his lucrative employments. He became a gambler, and lost his property. Fraud often put off the evil day begun 'by gambling, but even fraud could not always avail:- Despair therefore ensued, and ended in suicide. There is often but one step between gaming and self-murder.
What an awful warning to profligacy is afforded in BUDGELL's lamentable fate! We shall notice a powerful incentive to moderation and virtue in the tranquil tenour of the life of one of his literary associates, who, after having conducted himself with rectitude and piety, and thus obtained high worldly advantages, died in peace, with a firm and christian resignation. We speak of
• The bard makes his stoic philosopher die, as he really died, but does not justify his suicide. Even Cato himself, after it is too late, seems to doubt its propriety. The tragedy, then, is no evidence that Addison approved of self-murder.
+ He was in the end of his life engaged in a paper called The Bee, which is replete with cavils and futile objections against Christianity.
“ Who taught us how to live, and how to die."
Educated in London, at the academy of Mr. Thomas Rowe, a dissenting minister, he made great proficiency in his studies : his constitution being very delicate, he did not devote himself to science, but directed his attention to painting, music, and poetry. In his odes, we do not meet with that vigour of thought, and sublimity of imagery and sentiment, which we expect in lyric poetryt: but his translations of Anacreon and Ovid are accurate, elegant, and harmonious I. Our author was more happy in these, than in some of his original compositions. He had a sufficient degree of understanding to comprehend the productions of others, while his knowledge of the English language and of numbers, enabled him to express them with clearness, elegance, and humour: yet he had not genius to execute any thing very masterly of his own. He composed six cantatas, whose intention seems to have been to exclude the Italian opera g; and they are allowed to be well adapted to their objects. Our poet was accounted admirably skilled in
* He was the son of a citizen of London; and born in Marlborough in 1677. + He published a poem on the Peace of Ryswick The Court of Neptune- The House of Nassau, &c. &c.
| He translated Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe-The Tenth Book of the Pharsalia-Moliere's Misan. thrope, and Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead.
Among them, the most celebrated is bis Ode to Music.
the powers of music; and the sounds best fitted for expressing certain ideas. He began then to be considered as one of the wits of the age, and of those very much attached to liberty. He became acquainted with Addison, Steele, and other men of genius, He occasionally contributed to the Tatler, but much more liberally to the Spectator, In his essays, he has ably explained the presumption of the immortality of the soul, from the horror we experience at the idea of annihilation; and thus adduced the best arguments for the existence of a Divine Providence. These various papers, together with his Ode on the Creator of the World, exbibit him as a man endued with rational piety. They discover good sense, observation, and taste; and are very well written.
HUGHES had, during the greater part of his life, been in narrow circumstances; his literary fame, however, at length procured him independence. Lord Cowper appointed him Secretary to the Commissions of the Peace. He was now in a state of affluence; but the badness of his health did not suffer him to enjoy his good fortune. He did not long survive the first appearance of his tragedy, entitled the Siege of Damascus, nor enjoyed the applause it produced*. His death, as he was sensible, was fast approaching; and when the intelligence arrived of its success, he was deaf and insensible to worldly advantages, being wholly employed on the great change he was about to undergo.
* It was acted with great applause in 1720. It places in a clear and striking light" the mild tendency of Christianity.
Hughes was a man of good sense, and well versed in some branches of learning. He had studied, with diligence and success, the Greek and Roman classics; and felt the beauties with which they abound. It must be acknowledged, however, with Swift,“ that he was too grave a poet, and among the mediocrists in prose as well as in verse :" but, what he wanted in genius, he made up as an honest man. He was upright, benevolent, and religious, which principles deserve higher praise than literary fame, however eminent.
A high degree of literary celebrity likewise did not fall to the share of the following writer of the Spectator; but to all the versifiers who then thought themselves poets, to all the inferior candidates for poetical laurels,
LAWRENCE EUSDEN Was certainly equal, if not superior.
“ Eusden, a laureld bard, by fortune rais'd, By few been read, by fewer still been prais'd.” Thus Cooke, in his Battle of the Poets, speaks of our author. These lines, our read. ers will observe, are merely abusive assertions, neither embellished by wit, nor supported by argument. EUSDEN, having been censured by a man of uncommon genius, little attention has been bestowed in preserving his life and writings*. The facts which are recorded, and the specimens which re
* Pope, in his Dunciad, has the name of Eusden inserted as one of the goddess's train.
As to his writings, a letter about Idols, and most of the letters from Cambridge, inserted in the Spectator, are his. He translated also Lord Halifax's poems on