« السابقةمتابعة »
Hawkins' account, which states that “his siccess wrought no good effects upon his mind and conduct.” Dr.Johnson made the same remark, and with a keen resentment of his behaviour; and Sir John thinks “ he might use the same language to Hawkesworth himself
, and also reproach him with the acceptance of an academical honour to which he could have no pretensions, and which Johnson, conceiving to be irregular, as many yet do, held in great contempt: thus much is certain, that soon after the attainment of it, the intimacy between them ceased"*. Dr. Johnson, indeed, was scrupulously delicate upon this point. He had a high veneration for an academical degree, and he had earned his own long before he appended its title to his name. He loved praise and even flattery; but would accept neither from those who had not a right to bestow it, or did not know how to bestow it gracefully.
In 1756, at Garrick's desire, Dr. Hawkesworth altered the comedy of Amphitryon, or the Two Sosias, from Dryden, with Moliere's Dialogue, Prologue between Mercury and Night, introduced into the first scene, and the addition of some new musict.
In 1760, he wrote “ Zimri, an Oratorio," which was set to music by Mr. Stanley. It has been justly objected to this piece, that although it is borrowed from the Sacred Writings, and historical fact authorizes the catastrophe, yet the circumstances of a father (Zuran), and he a
Hawkins, p. 312.
† Biog. Dram.
prince, a chief of a powerful people, urging his daughter to prostitution, the daughter glorying in that prostitution, not from affection to her lover, but for the destruction of a nation at variance with her own, together with the conclusion of the whole infamous bargain in the transfixion of them both in the very act of transport, seems to have somewhat too gross to suit a drama intended to serve the purposes of religion, and destined to be represented in a time of mortification, penance, and abstinence from every human, or at least corporeal desire *. Yet, on a reference to the publications of the time, this oratorio appears to have been approved by the critics and by the audiences. About the same time, our author altered for the Drury Lane Theatre, Southern's Tragedy of Oroonoko, by some omissions and some additions, but the latter, in the opinion of the critics, not enough to supply the place of the former.
In 1761, he appeared to more advantage as the author of a dramatic fairy tale, Edgar and Emmeline, acted at Drury-Lane Theatre with great and deserved success. It is the work of a delicate fancy, and was rendered yet more pleasing by the addition of musical interludes. It is still sometimes permitted to relieve the audience from the grossness of modern farce.
Dr. Hawkesworth had gained much popularity from the Eastern stories introduced in the Adventurer, and this year gave to the public, in two volumes, his fine tale of Almoran and Hamet, which, notwithstanding some inconsisten
* Biog. Dram.
cies in principle and improbabilities of fable, is entitled to considerable praise for its moral tendency, and was long a favourite with the public. It must not be compared indeed to Rasselas, which appeared about the same time; yet to young readers it was, perhaps, more acceptable.
In 1765, he published Dean Swift's works, with explanatory notes, and a life written upon a plan long before laid down by Dr. Johnson; and here it is worthy of remark, that whatever coolness may have at one time subsisted between them, all traces of animosity had been effaced from the mind of Dr. Johnson, when he characterized Hawkesworth as a man "capable of dignifying his narration with so much elegance of language, and force of sentiment.” To this edition the critics of the day discovered many objections; which have, however, been since removed by more accurate information respecting Swift, and by the indefatigable researches of his late editor, a man who cannot be praised too highly for having enlarged the resources of literary history.
În 1766. Dr. Hawkesworth was the editor of three additional volumes of Swift's Letters, with notes and illustrations. In this publication he discovers an uncommon warmth against infidel publications, and speaks of Bolingbroke and his editor Mallet with the utmost detestation. That in this he was sincere, will appear from the following proof.
We have already mentioned, that in 1744 he succeeded Dr. Johnson as the writer or compiler of the parliamentary debates in the Gen
tleman's Magazine. In this office, if it mar be so termed, he continued until the year 1760, when the plan of the Magazine was enlarged by a Review of New Publications. Mr. Owen Ruffhead was the first who filled this department, and continued to do so about two years, according to Sir John Hawkins, when he was succeeded by Dr. Hawkesworth; but there must have been an intermediate Reviewer, if Sir John be correct in the time when Mr. Ruffhead ceased to write, as Dr. Hawkesworth's first appearance as a critic is ascertained, upon undoubted authority, to have been April, 1765. In the month of October of this year, there appeared in the Magazine, an abstract of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, by a correspondent. Dr. Hawkesworth's friends, to whom it appears his connexion with the Magazine was no secret, were alarmed to see an elaborate account of so impious a work; and one of them wrote to him on the subject. An extract from his answer, now before me, will perhaps fill up a chasm in his personal as well as literary history.
“I am always sorry when I hear anonymous performances, not expressly owned, imputed to particular persons; that which a man never owned either privately or in public, I think he should not be accountable for. I speak feelingly on this subject; for though Mr. Duncombe assured you that the Magazine was solely under my direction, I must beg leave to assure you that it is not, nor ever was, there being in almost every
number some things that I never see, and some things that I do not approve. There is in
the last number an account of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, a work of which I never would give any account, because I would not draw the attention of the public to it. It is true that the extracts exhibited in this article do not contain any thing contrary to religion or good morals; but it is certain that these extracts will carry the book into many hands that otherwise it would never have reached, and the book abounds with principles which a man ought to be hanged for publishing, though he believed' them to be true, upon the same principle that all states hang rebels and traitors, though the offenders think rebellion and treason their duty to God.
“ I beg, Sir, that you would do me the justice to say this whenever opportunity offers, especially with respect to the political part of the Magazine; for I never wrote a political pamphlet or paper, or ever directly or indirectly assisted in the writing of either in my life”*.
In 1768, he published, by subscription, a translation of Telemachus in 4to, which is still considered as the standard. He was thought to have transfused the spirit and genius of the author with great success.
He continued to review new books in the Magazine, but without any publications from his own pen, that can now be traced, until the
year 1772, when he was invited to write an account of the late Voyages to the South Seas-a fatal
* This letter is dated “ Bromley, Kent, Nov. 8, 1765," and was addressed to the late Mr. Bridgden, Paternoster-Row, son-in law to Richardson, the author of Clarissa, &c.