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a captain of pikemen in Oliver Cromwell's army in the year 1649; more than one hundred and thirteen years before! This wonderful man, who preserved his reason, and most of his senses, to the last, is commemorated in the table of longevity published by Granger, and stated to have died in 1766, in his one hundred and forty-seventh year ; being born in the time of King James I., and thus, including the Protectorate, having lived in ten reigns.
THE LIFE OF CELLINI.
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, written by himself, and translated from the original Tuscan into English, by Dr. Nugent, is a very singular production. Cellini was a madman, endowed with superlative genius; he had great personal courage, but was egregiously vain, and superstitious.
Such of his performances as remain, are considered by the best judges as being matchless for tasteful design, and delicacy of execution. But in his autobiography, he applauds his own works in terms which a modest and judicious writer would be almost ashamed to employ in praise of another; and yet Benvenuto has not said too much; his talents were as splendid as his arrogance was excessive. Nothing can be conceived more harassing to Cellini's reader than his prolixity, except his declarations against being prolix! He, moreover, is incessantly proclaiming his love of truth ; but, from the derangement of his mind, he tells innumerable lies, without, however, knowing them to be such. His volumes are not for a lady's library.
SYLVESTER'S DU BARTAS.
My copy of the translation of the “ Divine Weeks” of Du Bartas, was published in 1611, printed by Humfrey Lowne, London ; it has the engraved titlepage, is in the best condition, and would be perfect, but unfortunately wants what, indeed, is very rarely found in any of the copies extant
t—a folding plate of the Trinity. Hawkins, in his third edition of Walton's Complete Angler,” says of Du Bartas :
“Guillaume de Saluste, Sieur du Bartas, was a poet of great reputation in Walton's time. He wrote in French a poem called “Divine Weeks and Works, from whence the passage in the text, and many others cited in this work (Walton's Angler), are extracted. This, with his other delightful works, was translated into English by Joshua Sylvester. It is hard to say which is worst—the poem, or the translation ; for they are both execrable bombast.”
This is the opinion of Sir John Hawkins, Knt. But in the teeth of his censure, I have no scruple in asserting that there are many fine parts, and various proofs of profound learning, in the pages of Du Bartas; and that the work is one to which Milton is deeply indebted for several portions of his “Paradise Lost.”
To give only a very minute sample of Sylvester, or rather of Du Bartas: the attentive reader will easily discover, in the following passages, the source of two of Milton's sublime openings;
“ Hail, holy light, offspring of Heaven, first born,” &c.
Book iii. Par. Lost.
"Now Morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clime,
Book v. Par. Lost.
"Father of light-fountain of learned Art,
Now, now, or never-purge my purest part;
The Columns, Divine Weeks.
“Arise betimes, while th’ opal-coloured Morn
Babylon, Divine Weeks.
In each instance, Milton has, no doubt, magnified and improved the thought of his predecessor, in a manner worthy of his genius; but still the thought belongs of right to Du Bartas.
No eminent man's life, unless we except that of Doctor Johnson, has been more laid open to public curiosity, than Swift's. All his biographers have expatiated on his foibles, his peculiarities, and his infirmities, with at least as much research and as keen a relish, as they have displayed in enlarging on his talents and moral worth.
His kinsman, Deane Swift, and Doctor Delany, and Mrs. Pilkington, Hawkesworth, and even George Faulkner, while they have been, to an extravagant degree indeed, his encomiasts, have not forgotten his faults; and Lord Orrery has scarcely remembered any other elements in his character. Thomas Sheridan has done him most justice, but has been careful to preserve enough of the dark traits in his hero's picture. Johnson has used his utmost exertions to depreciate him as a man and an author ; Beddoes, on conjecture, has foully maligned him ; and Walter Scott has only to boast of having accumulated all that others had already said of him.
Notwithstanding the pressure thus heaped upon him, Swift still maintains his upright and manly bearing, and justly takes rank among the great. And it should not be forgotten that we have an attestation in his favour from one of the foremost himself on the list of fame: no less a man than Alexander Pope. He knew Swift intimately; and in a letter, intended for the public and for after-times, and written on learning that Swift was dangerously ill, says of him—“The world has in it nothing I so much admire; nothing the loss of which I should so much regret, as his genius and his virtues.”
To this I will add, that in one of the most brilliant pamphlets that ever issued from the press, and the
work of one of the ablest men of these days, we have a portrait of Swift, which never has been,'and never will be, excelled in force of colouring and beauty of outline.
with one great exception. On this gloom, one luminary rose; and Ireland worshipped it with Persian idolatry: her true patriot-her first, almost her last. Sagacious and intrepid, he saw, he dared; above suspicion, he was trusted; above envy, beloved ; above rivalry, he was obeyed. His wisdom was practical and prophetic; remedial for the present, warning for the future: he first taught Ireland that she might become a nation, and England that she might cease to be a despot. But he was a churchman. His gown impeded his course, and entangled his efforts ; guiding a senate, or heading an army, he had been more than Cromwell, and Ireland not less than England : as it was, he saved her by his courage, improved her by his authority, adorned her by his talents, and exalted her by his fame. His mission was but of ten years; and for ten years only did his personal power mitigate the government; but though no longer feared by the great, he was not forgotten by the wise; his influence, like his writings, has survived a century; and the foundations of whatever prosperity we have since erected, are laid in the disinterested and magnanimous patriotism of Swift."*
Perhaps I should evince less discernment and
* A Sketch of the State of Ireland, Past and Present. London, 1808, third edition.