« ForrigeFortsett »
dear sir, your most affectionate hum- thor's great modesty will prevent him ble servant,
from offering to you, and to engage David HUME. your acquaintance to purchase them. Welde-Hall, near St Al
But, dear sir, I would fain go bans, April 25th, 1745.
farther. I would fain presume upon To Matthew Sharpe, Esq., of Hod
our friendship (which now begins to dam.
be antient between us) and recom
mend to your civilities a man who Dear Sir, I have enclosed this does honour to his country by his taletter under one to my friend Mr lents, and disgraces it by the little Blacklock,* who has retired to Dum- encouragement he has hitherto met fries, and proposes to reside there with. He is a man of very extenfor some time. His character and sive knowledge and of singular good situation are, no doubt, known to dispositions; and his poetical, though you, and challenge the greatest re- very much to be admired, is the least gard from every one who has either part of his merit. He is very
well good taste or sentiments of humanity. qualified to instruct youth by his acHe has printed a collection of poems, quaintance, both with the languages which his friends are endeavouring to and sciences ; and possesses so many turn to the best account for him. arts of supplying the want of sight, Had he published them in thecommon that that imperfection would be no way, their merit would have recom- hinderance. Perhaps he may entermended them sufficiently to common tain some such project in Dumfries, sale ; but, in that case, the greatest and be assured you could not do your part of the profit, it is well known, friends a more real service than by would have redounded to the book-e recommending them to him. What. sellers. His friends, therefore, take ever scheme he may choose to em. copies from him, and distribute them brace I was desirous you should be among their acquaintances. The prepossest in his favour, and be willpoems, if I have the smallest judge- ing to lend him your countenance ment, are, many of them, extremely and protection, which, I am sensibeautiful, and all of them remarkable ble, would be of great advantage to for correctness and propriety. Every him. man of taste, from the merit of the Since I saw you, I have not been performance, would be inclined to idle. I have endeavoured to make purchase them ; every benevolent some use of the libraryf which was man, from the situation of the author, entrusted to me, and have employed would wish to encourage him ; and myself in a composition of British as for those who have neither taste history, beginning with the union of nor benevolence, they should be for- the two crowns. I have finished the ced, by importunity, to do good a- reigns of James and Charles, and will gainst their will. I must, therefore, soon send them to the press. I have recommend it to you to send for a the impudence to pretend that I am cargo of these poems, which the au. of no party, and have no byass.
* The celebrated blind poet, whose amiable disposition and uncommon vivacity rendered him a general favourite.
+ The Advocates' Library, in which, for a time, Mr Hume held a situation.
Lord Elibank says that I am a mo- primitive simplicity of manners. Inderate whig, and Mr Wallace, that I deed, taking all that his different acam a candid tory.
quaintances have said of him togeI was extremely sorry that I could ther, he seems to be one of the most not recommend your friend to direc- amiable characters that I ever met tor Hume, as Mr Cummin desired with. me. I have never exchanged a word My lord, this uncommonly worthy with that gentleman since I carried and good man, cut off from all the Jemmy Kirkpatrick to him, and usual methods of providing for himour acquaintance has entirely dropt. self by his blindness, (which, by the I am, dear sir, your most affectionate way, was the only thing that hinderfriend and humble servant,
ed him from being made Greek pro
David Hume. fessor in the university of Aberdeen Edinburgh, 25th
a year or two ago) is now in the 34th Feb. 1754.
year of his age, with scarce 101. a year certain to maintain him; and one of his friends tells me, in a letter, that
so moderate an income as 301. a year To Dr Conybeare, Bishop of Bristol, would make him quite easy and
Bifleet, Jan. 11th, Mr Dodsley, to whom a volume 1755.
of his poems was sent from Edin. My Lord,-Your lordship may burgh, (in which university some of possibly have heard of a strange phe- his friends helped to maintain him for nomenon that appeared in the learned upwards of 12 years,) was so struck world last summer; a poet, who, «with the character, wants, and the me. though blind from his infancy, has rits of the man, that he soon fell on got a knack of talking of colours and the thought of proposing a subscripdescribing visible objects, and that tion for his poems, in order to assist sometimes much beiter than many him towards purchasing an annuity others have done who have always en- for his life, at least near that very joyed the use of their eyes. And moderate income which would make yet this is one of the least valuable of him so happy; and on his communihis excellencies : all that know Mr cating his design to me, I was so Blacklock (for that is his name) much moved too, that I promised to speak of his many virtues in the high- write a little account of the man and est strains, of the sweetness of his his poems, to make him somewhat temper, his patience and contented. more known in this part of our island. ness under poverty, and all his other This account was published tomisfortunes; his industry in acqui- ward the beginning of November ring a great mastery in the Greek, last; and Mr Dodsley's proposals Latin, and French languages, and a (for a guinea, large paper, and half-agood share of knowledge in all the guinea the small) toward the close branches of erudition, except the ma- of the same month. thematics ; and his retaining, after all I then went to town, where (after these acquisitions, the greatest mo. a fortnight's solicitation) I had the desty and humility, together with pleasure of paying in above 50 subthe strictest love of virtue, and a mere scriptions the day before I came a
way; and but three half-guinea ones As I found this to be the case, on in that number.
my return home, I resolved to trouble But, at the same time, I had the each of my best friends with a letter, mortification to find that my notable to beg their good word to any very treatise had had very little effectworthy and charitable persons whom Like the honest Mr Abraham Adams, they might meet with, either in their I had concluded that all good people visits or at their tables, for their help only wanted to have a man of so toward relieving so great and so unmuch worth pointed out to them in common a subject for charity. Will such necessitous circumstances, and your lordship give me leave not to that they would all run to help him omit you in the number of those immediately ; but I found myself as friends ? and can you pardon me for much mistaken as that gentleman ge. this tedious narrative ? I know your nerally was in his humane conclusions. love of doing good, and hope that For all the subscriptions that came will plead for my execuse. in whilst I was in town seem to have leave to be ever, with the eatest rebeen got by the mere dint of perso. gard, my lord, your lordship’s most nal application : there is scarce the obedient and obliged humble servant, name of a single volunteer among
JOSEPH SPENCE, them.
It is not without some apprehensions the very devil himself, can hardly that, in prosecution of the plan laid brook his presence : down in our first volume, we ap
-Medio cum Phæbus in arce est, proach the province of Periodical Cri. Aut Cælum nox atra tenet, pavet ipse Saticism, impeded as our road must be cerdos with jungles, thorns, and thickets, Accessus, dominumque timet deprendere and rendered dismal by the gibbetted
luci. reliques of unfortunate authors. The Yet have we not entered rashly or dark and mysterious forest of Massi- unadvisedly upon ourdread adventure, lia, in whose gloomy recesses human but have availed ourselves, like the sacrifices were offered to invisible and knight errants of old, of such arms malignant dæmons, impressed hardly as might best secure us in an encoun. more horror upon the veterans of ter with the magicians of the maze of Cæsar :
Criticism, and in some respects bring
the contest nearer to equality. Are -barbara ritu
these wizzards periodical in their exSacra deûm, structæ diris altaribus aræ ;
ertions? We are annual.- Are they Omnis et humanis lustrata cruoribus arbor,
numerous and confederated ? We also Our field of research, like the sa- are plural. ---Can they shroud themcred grove of Lucan, is also subject selves in obscurity by virtue of the to its fated periodical revolutions, its helmet of the sable Orcus? We have monthly or quarterly almutens, when the invisible cap of Jack the Giantthe master of the sign, as astrologers killer. Nor shall we lack the praysaid of old, sits in full power upon the ers of the oppressed to forward our cusp or entrance of the planetary chivalrous undertaking. Wherever, house, as Lord of the Ascendant, through the wide realms of literature, and the bookseller, the printer, nay, there is one who has writhed under
the scourge of this invisible tribunal; now appear, had but too much efwherever there is a gentle minstrel tect upon the poet's irritability. It who bewails his broken harp, a fair is hard to guess what would have maiden who weeps over her mangled been the feelings of the Wasp of novel, a politic knight who bemoans Twickenham, had he lived in the his travestied lucubrations, or a weary present day, when ten or twelve peri. pilgrim who mourns his anathemati. odical works, devoted to criticism zed travels, we find a friend and a alone, claim as their proper subject, beadsman in the sufferer. Then with or rather their natural prey, every good courage, and St Georgeto speed, new publication which issues from ve boldly press forward upon our
But the grave authors purposed achievement.
of the “ Works of the Learned,” and The early state of periodical cri- other early publications approaching ticism is of little consequence to to the nature of reviews, could not our present purpose. At first the art long preserve the neutrality to which pretended to afford little more than at first they confined themselves. It a list of the works of the learned in was scarcely to be expected, that a the order of publication, with some critic of competent judgement should, brief and dry account of the contents in giving an account of a new work, of each, a sort of catalogue raisonnée resist the temptation to express the in short, where the books published information or pleasure he had receiwithin a certain period, were arran- ved from particular passages, still ged according to order, with such a less that he could refrain from maniview of each as might inform the festing his own superiority, by pointbook-buyer whether it fell within ing out occasional omissions or erthe line of his reading or collecting; rors of his author. And thus reThese earlier journalists contented views gradually acquired the form themselves with intimating what the and character which they now exhiwork under consideration actually bit, and which is too well known to contained, without pretending to require definition. But within the point out its errors, far less to sup- last ten years, a very important ply its omissions by their own dis- change has taken place in the mode quisitions. As for satire and rail. of conducting them, a change which, lery, the laborious compilers of these as it has inexpressibly increased their dry catalogues, many of whom actu. importance and influence upon literaally expired under the task they had ture, claims for its causes a candid undertaken, had neither leisure nor and critical attention, spirits for such Alights of imagina- The discerning reader will easily tion. These were abandoned to the perceive that we allude to the estaeditors of newspapers and journals, blishment of the Edinburgh Review; whence flying shafts of satirical critia journal which in its nature matericism were often discharged amid the ally differs from its predecessors, and thunder of political artillery. It was has given in many respects an entirenot from reviews, but from Mist's ly new turn to public taste and to Journal, the Daily Journal, the Ga- critical discussion. It becomes our zetteers, &c., that those vollies of duty to state in what particulars the abuse against Pope were hurled ancient system was innovated upon, torth, which, contemptible as they and where the charm lies which has