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It should be observed, that the complexion of the newspapers of that day was less political than at present: Europe was at peace, the French revolution had not commenced its frightful and desolating career, and the diurnal prints, the two above mentioned in par* ticalar, were left to the discussion of literary topics. They were rather a repository for the effusions of men of taste and genius, than a mere register of events, or a vehicle for party politics. They of course required persons of considerable intellectual attainments to conduct them with success, and Mr. Boaden possessed, in a singular degree, the qualifications for such a task. The columns of th« Oracle, at the period we speak of, abounded with valuable observations on the arts, with specimens of elegant poetry, and sound criticism. The progress of the drama, ever an interesting object of attention to intelligent men, was accurately marked, and the claims both of poet and actor investigated liberally, but closely.
In the execution of these duties, Mr, Boaden, from an admirer of the stage, became a writer for it. His Fontainville Forest, produced at Covent Garden in 1794, raised him to immediate distinction as a dramatic author. We are not exactly of opinion that The value of a thing Is just as much as it will bring; but Mr. Boaden need not object to have his play tried even by that test, for it brought him pence as well as reputation; and besides the handsome profits of the representation, his copyright produced him a hundred guineas.
This play is founded on Mrs, RadcliftVs Romance of the Forest. Finding that the ordinary avenues to the stage were pre-occupied, Mr.Boaden discovered a new method of approach to it. He struck out his own path, and, with one or two deviations, has trodden in it ever since. He seized, with a dramatic spirit, the substance of some popular modern romance, and transferred it from the closet to the theatre; thus adding to the eclat of the original performance, and acquiring no subordinate fame himself by the dexterous execution of his design. About this time Mr. Boaden entered himself of the Middle Temple, but we believe the law in this instance, as in many others, has been forced to yield to the more engaging attractions of the drama. His next performance was a tragedy called the Secret Tribunal, taken from Professor Kramer's Herman of Vrrna, and acted at Covent-Garden in 1795, so late in the season as June, a circumstance that prevented his deriving from it the advantage which its favourable reception entitled him to expect. H» has since produced, on the Haymarket stage, the Italian Monk, from Mrs. Radcliffe'a Confession of the Black Penitents <* Camuh» BiHTONS,f a play founded on the opposition of Lewellyo, Prince of Wales, to the ambition of Edward the First. The VoiCf SignaTure,! adapted to our stage from the French of M. Craignez; and lastly the Maid Of Bristol. These, with the addition of Aurelio And Miranda,§ from Mr. Lewis's romance of the Monk, performed at Drury-Lane in 1798, are, we believe, the whole of Mr. Boaden's contributions to the stage. The last five having been produced since the establishment of this work, have passed, as they appeared, under our cognizance, and have received the commendation due to their several merits.
When the Shakspere Forgeries were first exhibited to th» world, Mr. Boaden, in common with all the admirers of the illus* trious bard, felt a strong interest with regard to the newly discovered manuscripts. Upon a slight survey of the papers, he had no reason to suspect their authenticity; he wished to find them genuine, and easily concluded that they were so. "They bore the character of the poet's writing—the paper appeared of sufficient age—the water marks were earnestly displayed, and the matter diligently applauded. To a mind filled with the most ardent love and eager leal; disarmed of caution by the character too of the gentleman who displayed them, it will not be a subject of severe reproof that the wished impression was made."|| But upon "examining the facts scrupulously by the light of history; and applying to things the rule of chronology, and to persons the records of biography;"** Mr. Boaden found that his enthusiasm had outrun his judgment. Ha immediately published a pamphlet entitled a Letter to Georgt Steevens, Esq.ff in which he stated explicitly the grounds of his disbelief, and clearly demonstrated the forgery.
This publication, penned with great force and elegance, and exhibiting a very extensive acquaintance with the writings of Shakspere, staggered the most credulous of Mr. Ireland's proselytes, and it was thought necessary, by the fabricators of the MSS. to attempt something by way of reply. Not being able to overthrow a series of arguments established on undoubted facts and data, they hoped to diminish the effect of Mr. Boaden's letter, by opposing the sentiments he entertained of the papers in a moment of unguarded eit* Vol. IV. p. 100. ;..v.'
t Vol. VI, p. 101. . , , .
t Vol. XIV. p. Ml. .. . .. '^ 1^
I) I.«ttcrto Mr. Stesveijj, .pv?f .,„,'.;
ft Vol 1 p. 169.
thusiasm, to those which were the result of mature deliberation in his closet, and the clearest conviction upon his mind. This was a very weak ground of defence for the authors of the forgery to stand upon;—for it only proved Mr. Boaden's anxiety to counteract the aid he had unintentionally given to imposture. Dr. Johnson is said to have been a believer in the Cock Lane Ghost, but the moment he detected the fraud, he wrote the letter in the Gentleman's Magazine, which put a stop to the knocking and scratching that had so long deceived and terrified the neighbourhood.
Mr. Boaden has certainly the credit of having been the first to frustrate this most impudent attempt to ensnare and disgrace the literary character of the nation. Mr. Malone's elaborate Enquiry, which decided the question for ever, did not appear till some time after the publication of the Letter to Mr. Steevens.
Nearly the whole of the compositions we have mentioned have been the production of such leisure as could be spared from more necessary and important avocations. In fact Mr. Boaden's time is divided between business and literature, and it is fortunate when a man can make two such opposite weights in the scale of human life preserve their just equilibrium.
We had almost forgotten to mention another performance of which Mr. Boaden is the author, and which places him as a writer of Blank Verse in the highest class of modern poets. The title of the production is a Rainy Day at Brighton* and the poem, the hasty effusion of a few hours, affords some animated descriptions of the picturesque objects on the coast, and a sketch of the fashionable manners and amusements which prevail in that watering place.
Mr. Boaden is acquainted with most of the eminent writers and public characters of the day, and if his inclination did not keep him so much within the circle of his own family, there are few men, who, from gentlemanly manners, a well cultivated mind, a remarkable readiness and brilliancy in conversation, have it in their power to render themselves more entertaining in society. The transition is easy from talking well to reading well, and we shall here make it to remark that Mr. Boaden was an ardent admirer of Henderson, with whom, when but a lad, he was admitted to converse, and from whose admirable style of recitation, he profited so much, that, while reading his plays in the Green Room, he has received nearly the same compliment which Major Mohun paid to Nat. Lee, when he threw down a part, in despair of acting it so well as it had been read by the poet.
• Vol. XII. p. 109.
LORD ASHBURTON'S DIRECTIONS TO A STUDENT AT LAW.
In a Letter to a Gentleman of the Inner Temple.
'Dear Sir, Lincoln's Inn, March 3rd, 1779.
The habits of intercourse in which I have lived with your family, joined to the regard which I entertain for yourself, make me solicitous, in compliance with your request, to give you some hints concerning the study of the law.
Our profession is generally ridiculed as being dry and uninteresting; but a mind anxious for the discovery of truth and information, will be amply gratified for the toil, in investigating the origin and progress of a jurisprudence, which has the good of the people for its basis, and accumulated wisdom and experience of ages for it» improvement. Nor is the study itself so intricate as has been imagined; more especially since the labours of some modern writers have given it a more regular and scientific form. Without industry, however, it is impossible to arrive at any eminence in practice; and the man who shall be bold enough to attempt excellence by abilities alone, will soon find himself foiled by many who have inferior understandings, but better attainments. On the other hand, the most painful plodder can never arrive at celebrity by mere reading; a man calculated for success, must add to native genius an instinctive faculty in the discovery and retention of that knowledge only, which can be at once useful and productive.
I imagine that a eonsiderable degree of learning is absolutely necessary. The elder authors frequently wrote in Latin, and tha foreign jurists continue the practice to this day. Besides this, claseical attainments contribute much to the refinement of understanding, and the embellishment of style. The utility of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, are known and felt by every one; geometry will afford the most apposite examples of close and pointed reasoning; and geography is so very necessary in common life, that there is less credit in knowing, than dishonour in being unacquainted with it. But it is history, and more particularly that of his own country, which will occupy the attention, and attract the regard, of the great lawyer. A minute knowledge of the political revolutions and judicial decisions of our predecessors, whether in the more ancient or modern aeras of our government, is equally useful and interesting. This will include a narrative of all the material alterations in the common law, and the reasons; and I would always recommend a diligent attendance on the courts of justice; as by that means the practice of them (a circumstance of great moment) will be easily and naturally acquired. Besides this, a much stronger impression will be made on the mind hy the statement of the case, and the pleadings of the counsel, than from a cold uninteresting detail of it in a report. But above all, a trial at bar, or a special argument, •hould never be neglected.
As it is usual on. these occasions to take notes, a knowledge of short hand will give such facility to your labours, as to enable you to follow the most rapid speaker with certainty and precision. Common place books are convenient and useful; and as they are generally lettered, a reference may be had to them in a moment. It is usual to acquire some insight into real business under an eminent special pleader, previous to actual practice at the bar: this idea I beg leave strongly to second, and indeed I have known but a few great men who have not possessed this advantage. I here subjoin a list of books necessary for your perusal and instruction, to which I have added some remarks; and wishing that you may add to a successful practice, that integrity which can alone make you worthy of it, I remain, &c. &c.
Read Hume's History of England, particularly observing the rise, progress, and declension of the feudal system. Minutely attend to the Saxon government that preceded it, and dwell on the reigns of Edward I. Henry VI. Henry VII. Henry VTH. James I. Charles J. Charles II. and James II.
Blackstone. On the second reading turn to the references.
Mr. Justice Wright's learned Treatise on Tenures.
Coke Littleton, especially every word of fee-simple, fee-toil, and tenant in toil.
Coke's Institutes; more particularly the first and second: and Serjeant Hawkins's Compendium.
Coke's Report—Plowden's Commentary—Bacon's Abridgment; and first Principles of Equity—Pigott on Fines—Reports of Croke, Burrow, Raymond, Saunders, Strange, and Peere Williams—Paley's Waiims—Lord Bacon's Elements of the Common Law.
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