Page images
PDF
EPUB

patronage and friendship of Lord Burlington, not only by his true politeness, and the peculiar charms of his conversation, which was exquisite, but by his profound and perfect skill in architecture; an art which he had very particularly and accurately studied in Italy, when he went and continued abroad four years* with Mr. Ashe, son of the Bishop of Clogher. With an insati

02

able

the Earl ;) does he answer your Lordship's expectations ?" The Bishop, lifting up his hands in astonishment, replied, “So much understanding, so much knowledge, so much innocence, and so much humility, I did not think had been the portion of any but angels, till I saw this gentleman.” Dupcombe's Letters.

* In this journey he paid a visit to Father Malebranche, The conversation turned on our author's celebrated system of the non-existence of matter. Malebranche, who had an inflam. mation in his lungs, and whom he found preparing a medicine in his cell, and cooking it in a small pipkin, for his disorder, exerted his voice and lungs so violently in the heat of their dispute, that he increased his disorder, which carried him off a few days after. See Biogr. Britannica, vol. ii. p. 251, as it is highly improved by the candid and learned Dr. Kippis. Many a vulgar critic hath sneered at the Siris of Berkeley, for begin. ning with Tar, and ending with the Trinity; incapable of observing the great art with which the transitions in that boak are finely made, where each paragraph depends on, and arises out of, the preceding, and gradually and imperceptibly leads on the reader from common objects to more remote, from matter to spirit, from earth to heaven.

able and philosophic attention, Berkeley surveyed and examined every object of curiosity. He not only made the usual tour, but went over Apulia and Calabria, and even travelled on foot through Sicily, and drew up an account of that very classical ground, which was lost in a voyage to Naples, and cannot be sufficiently regretted. His generous project for erecting an University at Bermudas, the effort of a mind truly active, benevolent, and patriotic, is sufficiently known.

35. Bid harbours open, public ways extend,

Bid temples worthier of the God ascend;
Bid the broad arch the dangerous flood contain,
The mole projected break the roaring main;
Back to his bounds their subject sea command,
And roll obedient rivers through the land.*

No country has been enriched and adorned, within a period of thirty or forty years, with so many works of public spirit as Great Britain has been; witness our many extensive roads; our inland navigations, (some of which excel the boasted canal of Languedoc ;) the lighting, and the paving, and beautifying our cities; and our va

rious

* Ver. 197.

rious and magnificent edifices. A general good taste has been diffused in planting, gardening, and building. The ruins of Palmyra, the antiquities of Athens and Spalatro, and the Ionian antiquities, by WooD, STUART, Adam, and CHANDLER, are such magnificent monuments of learned curiosity as no country in Europe can equal. Let it be remembered, that these fine lines of POPE were written when we had no WYATT or Brown, BRINDLEY or REYNOLDS; no Westminster Bridge, no Pantheon, no Royal Academy, no King that is at once a judge and a patron of all those fine arts, which ought to be employed in raising and beautifying a palace equal to his dignity and his taste.

36. See the wild waste of all-devouring years,

How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears,

This is the opening of the epistle to Mr. Addison,* upon his treatise on medals, written in that O 3

pleasing

* FICORINI, the celebrated virtuoso, said to Mr. Spence, at Florence, “ Addison did not go any great depth in the study of medals: all the knowledge he had of that kind, I believe he received of me; and I did not give him above twenty lessons on that subject.”

pleasing form of composition so unsuccessfully attempted by many modern authors, DIALOGUE. In no one species of writing have the ancients so indisputable a superiority over us. The dialogues of Plato and Cicero, especially the former, are perfect dramas; where the characters are supported with consistency and nature, and the reasoning suited to the characters.

“ There are in English three dialogues, and but three," (says a learned and ingenious author, * who has himself practised this way of writing with success,) that deserve commendation; name ly, the Moralists of Lord SHAFTESBURY ;

Mr. ADDISON's Treatise on Medals; and the Minute Philosopher of Bishop BERKELEY.” Alciphron did, indeed, well deserve to be mentioned on this occasion; notwithstanding it has been treated with contempt by writers much inferior to BERKELEY in genius, learning, and taste.t Omitting

those

* Dr. Hurd, in Moral and Political Dialogues, Preface,

p. 14,

+ But Sherlock thought highly of ALCIPHRON, and presented it to Queen Caroline with many encomiums; who used to

be

those passages in the fourth dialogue, where he has introduced his fanciful and whimsical opinions about vision, an attentive reader will find that there is scarce a single argument that can be urged in defence of Revelation, but what is here placed in the clearest light, and in the most beautiful diction: in this work there is a happy union of reasoning and imagination. The two different characters of the two different sorts of freethinkers, the sensual and the refined, are strongly contrasted with each other, and with the plainness and simplicity of Euphranor.

These Dialogues of Addison* are written with that sweetness and purity of style, which con

0.4

stitute

be delighted with the conversation of Berkeley. Lord Bathurst told me, that the members of the Scriblerus Club, being met at his house at dinuer, they agreed to rally Berkeley, who was also his guest, on his scheme at Bermudas. Berkeley having listened to the many lively things they had to say, begged to be heard in his turn; and displayed his plan with such an astonishing and animating force of eloquence and enthusiasm, that they were struck dumb, and, after some pause, rose up all together with earnestness, exclaiming, “Let us set out with him immediately.”

* It is observable how much he improved after he wrote his Travels. In Swift's Preface to Sir W. Temple's Works, and

in

« PreviousContinue »