« PreviousContinue »
For AUGUST, 1807.
“We shall never envy the honours which wjt and learning obrain in any v her cause, if we can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth."-DR. JOHNSON.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esq. was very young, and the care of his HE dipiculties of contemporary
education devolved on his mother, a THE
biography are so striking, that duty which she di-charged with abithey need scarcely be adverted to. Jity. This maternal tenderness Mr. The historian of the dead, and above Hayley adverted to in the fourth episall of the di-tant dead, may indeed tle of the “ Essay on Epic Poetry :" have bis judgment, his knowledge, the lines begin or his taste impeached, but malignancy “O thou fond spirit, who with pride hast itselt scorns to arraign the purity of smild, bis motives; and, though weak minds And trown'd with f'ar on thv poetic child; may seem to refer every thing that is Pleas'd, yet alarm’d, when in his boyish objectionable to an illaudible impulse, le sigh'd in numbers, or he laugh’u in yet common sense rejects the puerility of the imputation and exonerates
in rhyme," &c. the accused. ' It appears, indeed, so These lines in their spirit are an obvious, that hatred or enmity can evident inuitation of Pope's beautiful tind no place in the breast of him couplets. who sits down to delineate the cha
" Mele: th:tender office long eng ge;" &c. racters of past times, that it may justly excité our wonder to behold but, in their expressions, they seem any so infatuated as to think other. to resemble more strongly another wise. But this is not the case with passage of the same author. Comthe chronicler of living merit; if he paratively speaking, they are inferior presume to censure, be is envious; it to both. The third line seems to he applaud, he is servile. The ap- countenance the idea that he discoprehension of these disingenuous vered very early a propensity for poecharges may deter teeble and tran- try. quil men from follou ing the unbi He was sent, at an early age, to a assed dictates of their mind: with us, school, in or near Kingston-uponhowever, it is no such thing; we Thames; from which he was scon should disdain to utter a falsehood, removed, on account of illness, and but we should equally disdain to put under the instruction of a private swerve from the strict voice of what iutor, who p:epared him for Eton, we deem ihe truth. These observa- whence he wei i !o the University of tions are not made with any particu- Cambridge, and eniered himself at lar reference to ibe object it ihe pre- Trinity Hall there in the year 1702. sent memoir, but as an incidenial re Nothing bas been recorded of the mirk that may well precede the bio-' progress or nature of Mr. Hayley's graphy of a living individual, studies: it is prob, ble that, without
William Hayley was born in Chic devoting his atterien 'o any paticno chester, in the year 1715. He was lar branch, he allowed bisilt to feed the son of Thomas Hayley, Esq. and with indiscriminate voracity upon all the grandson of the dean of Chiches that ottered itself: a mode of reading ter. His mother was Mary, daugh- most agreeable to the mind, perhaps ; ler of Colonel Yates, representative of but not best qualitied for producing that city, from the vear 1731 to valuable results. 1701. He lost his father while he This year, however, beheld him UNIVERSAL MAG. Vol. Vill. N
commence his literary career. An ciously employed. In the struggles “ Ode on the Birth of the Prince of which SERená sustains, and to which Wales," made its appearance in the she rises superior only by the interpoCambridge Collection. We have sition of Sophrosyne, her guardian never seen this production ; but we sprite, we are indeed amused but have been informed that the feelings not instructed; we are neither surof boyish exultation, with which it prised at her fortitude, nor incited to
once contemplated, have long emulation, because we find lier contisince ded. Mr. Hayley is him- pually acting under the power of an selt among the foremost to ridicule invisible being: and because we see its defects.
that, as a mere mortal, she is as weak In 1760, he quitted the University, and intemperate as any other girl. and went to Edinburgh on a visit to Had she been tranquil after her fasome of his acquaintance, students of ther's iimperious command, from the physic there. In 1769, he married filial consideration that it was his wish, the daughter of the Rev. Mr. Ball, and that that was motive enough to dean of Chichester, and froin whom induce her willingly to submit; or, he has since been separated by death. had she triumphed over the scandal Upon his marriage with Miss Ball, vented against her in the newspaper, he resided in the metropolis for a few from a noble consciousness of virtue, years, whence he retired to his native and from the just reflection that cacounty, and settled at Eartham, a si- lumny unnoticed will of itself fade tuation remarkably healthy and ru- away, this might have been producral, and which he improved and em- tive of the most desirable consebellished. He afterwards removed to quences; it might probably have stiFelpham, near Bognor, which is his mulated the reader to a similar equapresent residence.
bility of mind, and have convinced Mr. Hayley's second attempt as an him that, as it was amiable so it author was in 1778, in his thirty- was attainable. But, as we behold third year, when he published bis Serena moved to anger on every try“ Essay on Painting."" The merits ing occasion, and sometimes upon the of this work have been sufficiently point of bursting forth into boisterous canvassed, and the general opinion, passion, our admiration of her is lost, as it has now subsided into a silent when we find her restored to peace, decision, seems not to place it in a not by the ascendancy of reason and very exalted station.
good sense, but by the dextrous interIn 1780, appeared his “ Essay on position of her aerial monitor. The History," a work more fascinating moral is effectually destroyed. and more extensively interesting than In 1782, Mr. Hayley published his the former. It furnished a new spe Essay on Epic Poetry," a work, of cimen of composition to the country, which, as we have not read it, we and many of the characters were feli- cannot speak. Soon after this apcitously executed. The versification peared his dramatic productions. The was flowing and musical, and some failure of Dryden might have shewn passages spirited and eloquent. that riming plays are not suited to
Soon afterwards followed the the genius of our language. In every
Triumphs of Temper,” the most case, indeed, they are so unnatural, popular of all Mr. Hayley's writings. so obviously hostile to the supposed It displays more fancy, more execu- reality of the drama, that it may be tion, and greater judgment, than his wondered any nation can be found to other productions Yet it always ap- cherish them by their applause. peared to us as possessing one very What, for example, can be more eininent defect : 'its moral is weak- preposterous and absurd, thau to see ered, if not totally destroyed, by the one character quit the stage with a machinery of the poem. Mr. Hay- line, to which the next who enters Jey has súper-induced the agency of finds a rime, though he is supposed spirits, a thing which can incur' no to be ignorant that the former one censure as the accompaniment of a has been uttered. This frequently ocmock heroic poem ; but as a means curs in French plays, and particularly to enforce a moral, it was injudi- in the comedies of Moliere.
The life of Mr. Hayley has been try is indebted to him for the check one that affords but few materials for he gave to the cruel and malignant biography. Passed in elegant retire- designs of the Pitt and Melville face ment and in the placid pursuits of li- tions. But how has he been treated terature, its events have been too uni- for this manly conduct! He had been ferm, too simple, and too unambi- stigmatised by the Duke of Portland tious to merit to be recorded. As a all over the kingdom. The stigma Dan, praise seenis to have been una- returns to the Duke: the Baronet nimous in his favour; he has been is honoured by the disgraceful at. uniformly represented as a liberal, tempt to prevent bim from bringing polite, and benevolent character. Thé to light the hidden works of darka mildness of his disposition has been ness. Well, however, might he comshewn with great advantage to him- plain of such treatment; and he self, in the peaceful replication which expostulated with the house with he has made to the attack of Mr. proper indignation, addressing the Cumberland. Here we must indeed speaker in the following manner :say, that be is eminently superior to “ Members of this House, I believe, his accuser.
Sir, have not often been used to treat In 1802, and subsequently, Mr. each other as I have been treated; but, Hayley appeared as the biographer of if I am mistaken, and if the conduct Cowper. In wbat manner he has held towards me is a handsome one, discharged the task is well known. the minister, and those who have asThe amiable poet, but gloomy religion- sisted hiin in it, are welcome to the ist, has received bright honours at the whole merit of it. But, Sir, why all hand of his friend; their names are this anxiety to take out of my hands, jointly consecrated to posterity. and to stille any real enquiry in the
As a poet Mr. Hayley appears to practices of this prison, of so novel an be guided less by inspiration than dis- establishment in the land ? How hapcipline. In his writings we seldom pens it, that, as soon as I gave notice find those bursts of genius, those of a motion upon the subject, I am splendid irradiations of intellect instantly held up to the world as an which adorn and dignify the pages of object of odium, stigmatized by one the true poet. All his verses are secretary of state, my conduct consmooth, elegant, and harmonious; demned unheard, and without any exhis thoughts are just and sensible; amination, even of those members of but both the one and the other seem this House who accompanied me in deticient in vigour, force, and variety. my visit to the prison, and, by what We close the book, nor wish to open legal authority I am still to learn, exit again; we have been amused in cluded from visiting any prison in our progress, but neither charmed England ? How comes it to pass, that por enraptured: it is well observed three honourable members, who never by his illustrious friend (Cowper) before appear tu have thought of an that writers of this class “are gene- inquiry, become all at once so very sorally as phlegmatic as they are cor- licitous and hasty to move for a comreci.” The genius of Hayley is like mittee of enquiry? Theinselves, perhis character -mild, elegant, and in- haps, can explain it. But I can exteresting.
plain the motive of the minister and
secretary of state for wishing to preSir Francis BURDETT, Bart. vent any real inquiry.
fouler premeditated system of iniquity (Continued from page 8.]
never existed in any nation upon THE HE nature of the prison in Cold earth; and such, I trust, with the as
Bath Fields has excited much at- sistance of this House, I shall make it tention; and we see from the report appear, to the confusion even of those of the House of Commons, that Sir faces which are not accustomed to Francis Burdett was completely justi- blush. The base and impotent atfied in his call on the House to take tempt to criminate me, I shall for the it into consideration. Without him present pass over, contenting myself still more flagrant abuses would have with barely stating, that I visited the prevailed in this prison, and the counc prison three times, and should have