Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

meaning whatever. In his political pamphlets there is more truth of expression than in his other works, for the same reason that his conversation is better than his writings in general. He was more excited and in earnest.

T. T. Nov. 1, 1833.

JOHNSON AND BURKE Dr. Johnson's fame now rests principally upon Boswell. It is impossible not to be amused with such a book. But his bow-wow manner must have had a good deal to do with the effect produced ;for no one, I suppose, will set Johnson before Burke,

-and Burke was a great and universal talker ;-yet now we hear nothing of this except by some chance remarks in Boswell. The fact is, Burke, like all men of genius who love to talk at all, was very discursive and continuous ; hence he is not reported; he seldom said the sharp, short things that Johnson almost always did, which produce a more decided effect at the moment, and which are so much more easy to carry off. Besides, as to Burke's testimony to Johnson's powers, you must remember that Burke was a great courtier; and after all, Burke said and wrote more than once that he thought Johnson greater in talking than writing, and greater in Boswell than in real life.

T. T. July 4, 1833,

BURKE The very greatest writers write best when calm, and exerting themselves upon subjects unconnected with party. Burke rarely shows all his powers, unless where he is in a passion. The French

Revolution was alone a subject fit for him. We are not yet aware of all the consequences of that event. We are too near it.

T. T. Jan. 4, 1823. Burke was, indeed, a great man. No one ever read history so philosophically as he seems to have done. Yet, until he could associate his general principles with some sordid interest, panic of property, Jacobinism, &c., he was a mere dinner-bell. Hence you will find so many half truths in his speeches and writings. Nevertheless, let us heartily acknowledge his transcendent greatness. He would have been more influential if he had less surpassed his contemporaries, as Fox and Pitt, men of much inferior minds in all respects.

T. T. April 8, 1833. Burke possessed and had sedulously sharpened that eye which sees all things, actions, and events, in relation to the laws which determine their existence and circumscribe their possibility. He referred habitually to principles : he was a scientific statesman, and therefore a Seer. For every principle contains in itself the germs of a prophecy; and, as the prophetic power is the essential privilege of science, so the fulfilment of its oracles supplies the outward, and (to men in general) the only test, of its claim to the title. There is not one word I would add or withdraw from this, scarcely one which I would substitute. I can read Burke, and apply everything not merely temporary to the present most fearful condition of our country. I cannot conceive a time or a state of things in which the writings of Burke will not have the highest value.

Add. T. T.

153

FIELDING AND RICHARDSON What a master of composition Fielding was ! Upon my word I think the Oedipus Tyrannus, the Alchemist, and Tom Jones, the three most perfect plots ever planned. And how charming, how wholesome, Fielding is ! To take him up after Richardson, is like emerging from a sick-room heated by stoves, into an open lawn, on a breezy day in May.

T. T. July 5, 1834.

RICHARDSON I confess that it has cost, and still costs, my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire, aye, greatly admire, Richardson. His mind is so very vile a mind, so oozy, hypocritical, praise-mad, canting, envious, concupiscent ! But to understand and draw him would be to produce a work almost equal to his own; and, in order to do this, “down, proud Heart, down' (as we teach little children to say to themselves, bless them !), all hatred down ! and, instead thereof, charity, calmness, a heart fixed on the good part, though the understanding is surveying all. Richardson felt truly the defect of Fielding, or what was not his excellence, and made that his defect-a trick of uncharitableness often played, though not exclusively, by contemporaries. Fielding's talent was observation, not meditation. But Richardson was not philosopher enough to know the difference--say, rather, to understand and develop it.

Anima Poetae, p. 166

STERNE I think highly of Sterne-that is, of the first part of Tristram Shandy: for as to the latter part about the widow Wadman, it is stupid and disgusting ; and the Sentimental Journey is poor sickly stuff. There is a great deal of affectation in Sterne, to be sure; but still the characters of Trim and the two Shandies are most individual and delightful. Sterne's morals are bad, but I don't think they can do much harm to any one whom they would not find bad enough before. Besides, the oddity and erudite grimaces under which much of his dirt is hidden take away the effect for the most part; although, to be sure, the book is scarcely readable by women.

T. T. Aug. 18, 1833.

DRAYTON Drayton is a sweet poet, and Selden's notes to the early part of the Polyolbion are well worth your perusal. Daniel is a superior man; his diction is pre-eminently pure-of that quality which I believe has always existed somewhere in society. It is just such English, without any alteration, as Wordsworth or Sir George Beaumont might have spoken or written in the present day.

Yet there are instances of sublimity in Drayton. When deploring the cutting down of some of our old forests, he says, in language which reminds the reader of Lear, written subsequently, and also of several of Mr. Wordsworth's poems : -- our trees so hack'd above the ground, That where their lofty tops the neighbouring

countries crown'd,

Their trunks (like aged folks) now bare and naked

stand, As for revenge to heaven each held a wither'd

hand.
That is very fine.

T. T. Sept. 12, 1830.

JEREMY TAYLOR

The writings of Bishop Jeremy Taylor are a perpetual feast to me. His hospitable board groans under the weight and multitude of his viands. Yet I seldom rise from the perusal of his works, without repeating or recollecting the excellent observation of Minucius Felix :— Fabulas et errores ab imperitis parentibus discimus ; et quod est gravius, ipsis studiis et disciplinis elaboramus.'

Omniana.

Jeremy Taylor is an excellent author for a young man to study, for the purpose of imbibing noble principles, and at the same time learning to exercise caution and thought in detecting his numerous errors.

T. T. Aug. 29, 1827.

BERKELEY Berkeley can only be confuted, or answered, by one sentence. So it is with Spinoza. His premiss granted, the deduction is a chain of adamant.

T. T. July 23, 1827.

« ПредишнаНапред »