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FOR FEBRUARY, 1811.
FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, and late of St. John's College, Cambridge; with an Account of his Life. By Robert Southey. 4th Edition, corrected.. 2 vols. 12mo. 148. Boards. 1808.
IN the Temple of Fame, as in volent, and pious, that our regret for the Elysium of Virgil, a peculiar the loss of these talents and quali. region ought to be consecrated to ties is enhanced by the persuasion the victims of a premature destiny. that they would have been zealously Perhaps, indeed, our commiseration employed in promoting the happifor the infantum animæ who are ness, the virtue, and all the best insnatched from the world in limine terests of his fellow-creatures. primo, and are deprived of an exist. He was boru in 1785, at Nottingence of which they can scarcely ham. His father, by trade a butcher, be said to have been ever conscious, designed to bring him up to his own
business, but was dissuaded from ." Quos DULCIS VITÆ EXORTES, & ab this intention by his mother, who
ubere raptos Abstulit atra dies, & funere mersit quickly discovered, and carefully acerbo,"
cultivated, the talents of her remark
able ofispring. From his earliest however congenial to the feelings of years, he was a most persevering our nature, is in itself unreasonable: and ambitious student; and, though while it is impossible to conceive not so perfectly regular in his school any thing more melancholy than the exercises as to gain the favour of carly dissolution of him who has !! his instructers, his desultory lei. lived just long enough to feel within it was devoted to the acquisition him the highest intellectual endow. 1 riclier and more diversified stores ments, and a full conviction that a of sing and science, than many prolonged life could alone be want reach uy constant attention during ing to his attainment of a permanent a life devoted to study. At the age and honourable reputation. The in- of seventeen, he was placed, as a teresting subject of the volumes clerk, in the office of Messrs. Cold. before us has bequeathed to us the ham and Enfield, attornies at Notmost unquestionable proofs, not only tingham, and town-clerks to the corof rare powers of mind, but of a poration; the latter, we believe, the disposition so gentle, amiable, bene. son of the late ingenious and amia
VOL. V. .
ble Dr. Enfield. The indulgence of The regular prosecution of severe these humane and judicious masters studies should by all means be prostill allowed him many opportunities moted; and though an ingenious for pursuing his former studies, for youth can perhaps never be persuaincreasing his stock of general in- ded entirely to refrain from verse formation, and for improving his making, it is surely going far enough mind by elegant literature. He had to connive at this as the occasional access also to a good library: but he diversion of his leisure, without rewas unremittingly assiduous in his at- cominending it as a proper occupatention to the duties assigned to him, tion for his serious hours. The lite and (according to a letter from Mr. rary character ought in no degree Entield) particulariy ready in acquir to be staked on the crude composi. ing the knowledge of them, as well tions of an unformed mind, however as very useful in carrying them into promising. On the one hand, the execution. During several years he vanity of successful authorship may had been, and still continued to be, naturally beget a dislike for legi. a favoured correspondent of some timate labour, and a too easy ac. periodical publications, which hold quiescence in the degree of profiout a laudable encouragement to the ciency and celebrity which has been exertion of youthful minds, by offer already attained: while, on the other, ing books, medals, and other prizes, the mortification of publishing a to the writers of the best essays work that failed to obtain praise on particular theses. The success of might produce a still more fatal these smaller productions tempted effect, by plunging the half-expandhim, in conformity to the advice of ed faculties in listless and irrational his friends, to prepare a volume of despair. poems for the press, before he had Where powerful and uncontrollacompleted his eighteenth year; in ble genius directs the youthful mind hopes " that this publication might, to poetry, it will naturally seize-on either by its sale, or the notice which all those animating objects which it might excite, enable him to pro- stir the spirits and fascinate the arsecute his studies at college, and dent imagination, at that happy pefit himself for the church:” for riod: but, when the muse is courted though he was still attached to the rather from a general love of poetry legal profession, and had even indul, and belles lettres, than from the inged the hope of one day rising to spiration of high poetical talent, a the degree of a barrister, an unfor certain round of ideas is extremely tunate and growing deafness de- apt to fill up the whole compass of stroyed all these views of advance the unvaried song. Churchyard ment; “ and his opinions, which at scenes and cypress groves at the one time inclined to deism, had now dreadful noon of night, silence, taken a strong devotional bias.” darkness, solitude, contemplation,
This advice to publish, though and egotism, with overpowering undoubtedly conceived in the spirit melancholy, and fast approaching of kindness, does not appear to us death--such is the funereal train that to display judgment equal to its walks in sad procession round the good intention, Few are the cir. sleepless pillow of the sentimental cumstances under which we can bard. Without insisting on the per. deem it beneficial for a boy of se, fect exhaustion which this kind of venteen to exhibit himself as a poet poetry has undergone, particularly to the publick eye. At that age of in our own language, let us consider, sensibility, the powers of imagina- for a moment, what probable benefit tion should rather be repressed than can be expected from its supplying encouraged, in one who is destined familiar employment to a boy first for a grave and laborious profession. starting into active life. If such feel ings are not habitual to his mind, we might truly claim at the time of but are merely assumed to give effect writing the review, it really appears to his sonnets, can there be a more that the expectations of this young unpleasing verbiage ?--if they are man must have been somewhat ungenuine, can we conceive a more reasonably excited by the injudiciouis deplorable calamity ? On the latter encomiums of his friends, since he consideration, much of melancholy was severely mortified and disapillustration might be thrown from pointed by our remarks. He adthe memoir now before us: but we dressed to us at the time an affectdecline to do more than suggest a ing remonstrance; to which, in our hint to those, who, from the most following number, we replied with benevolent motives, extend their evident anxiety to heal his wounded patronage to youthful, self-instruct- feelings, but without deviating from ed, and necessitous men of talents. Our opinion. With sincere regret,
As soon as the little volume of and, we must add, with astonish: poems was ready for publication, ment, we find that our effort to calm the writer's friends; anxious to pro: his mind was unsuccessful; and that cure for it the protection of some a critique, which we continue to reexalted female character, succes. gard as extremely mild, but by sively thought of the late dutchess which he thought that his talents of Devonshire, the countess of Ders were much undervalued, still gave by, and the margravine of Anspach. him pain, and was actually considerIt was ultimately dedicated, by her ed by him as “ an instrument in the grace's permission, to the lady first hands of Satan to drive him to dismentioned; to whom the book, when traction!” This feeling, no doubt, we published, was sent, but from whom share in common with all his readno answer was ever returned. Let. ers, though it is heightened in our ters were also despatched to periodi- minds by the circumstance of having cal criticks, stating the age, the dis- been the instruments, yet the innoadvantages, the prospects, and the cent and well-intentioned instruhopes of the author, and requesting ments, of inflicting pain on a mind an indulgent notice. Our opinion of thus profoundly and thus lamentably the poems was given in our number sensible: but we desire Mr. Southey, for February, 1804; to which, or to who has condescended to direct this biographical memoir, where it against us some coarse and comis reprinted at p. 17, we refer our mon-place language, to be most poreaders. We commended the talents sitively assured, that we maintain and application of the young lite- our former judgment, and that our rary advocate, his exertions, and his regret is wholly unmixed with a sin. laudable endeavours to excel; and, gle feeling of self-accusation, or any thinking that the case privately laid consciousness of injustice. before us would plead strongly in This unfortunate youth persuaded the author's favour with a liberal himself that his strong displeasure publick, we suggested the propriety against us was not awakened by our of a subscription with a similar literary strictures, but that our re. statement, and expressed our wish commendation to him to make his that he might obtain some respecta- case publick « affected his respecble patron: while we did not disguise tability," and that it represented our doubts, from the specimen then him as a “ beggar." Yet the avowed before us, whether the poems were object of his work was, by obtaining calculated to win their way by their notoriety and credit for its author, own intrinsick merit. Tous, although to ensure such a circulation and such we certainly cannot now boast so a sale as should enable him to raise much impartiality on this subject as a sufficient suin of money for a particular purpose ! Moreover, in order him “extreme acrimony,” Really, . to obtain such credit and notoriety, at this distance of time, and with applications for patronage and pro. much increased sympathy and retection were made to ladies of rank, spect for the deceased author, on who were perfect strangers to the reconsidering what we then wrote, author: and reviewers, who were and the tenour attributed to it by equally unknown to him, were re- Mr. White, and his biographer, we quested to speak with indulgence of must declare that we understand not a work which it was their duty im- our native language if the terms partially to examine. All these ap- which we used are, in any degree, plications, too, are sanctioned and susceptible of the character which fortified by a statement of his case, is applied to them. The verse which It is preposterous, then, to contend, we quoted was an incontrovertible that our advice to make that case at evidence of the justice of our critionce publick would have trenched cism; and we suspect that Mr. on Mr. White's respectability, or White himself was hence led to ought to have affected his feelings. perceive the defects of his composiAs soon would a fair and accurate tion, and to attempt the correction reasoner adopt Mr. Southey's doc- of them afterwards, since he says in trine [p. 187 that however bad these a letter to Mr. Southey: “I have poems might have been, “a good materials for another volume, but man would not have said so." they do not now at all satisfy me."
The present volumes have inspi. As to Mr. Southey, we have only red us with unfeigned, though not farther to inform him, that his fancied excessive nor indiscriminate admi. discernment has wholly misled him, ration for the talents, and within the supposition that the article on esteem for the amiable virtues of Clifton Grove, and the reply to the Mr. White; and we could not silent. author's letter, were written by difly submit to the imputation of ha. ferent persons; and to whisper in his ving, in his instance, indulged in ear that his own boast of indifference that propensity to wanton, illiberal, to criticism, because he has been and insulting censure, which may, reviewed " above seventy times," is perhaps, have been sometimes justly not very felicitous. If he has, “ sevenascribed to criticks by profession, ty times," received commendation, but to which we trust that we could his indifference is ingratitude; and produce satisfactory evidence of our if he has, “ seventy times," suffered own determined hostility, not only inefficacious castigation, he can only from the uniform tenour of the be likened to the idle school boy, Monthly Review for above sixty who, having been almost daily Duyears, but from almost every single nished for his negligence, at length number of it. To the principles by becomes insensible to either pain or which it is our pride to regulate our shame, and systematically prefers à conduct in this particular, we are flogging to amendment. confident that neither our observa- Soon after the hopes of our young tions on the author's poems, nor our poet had been thus inflamed, they answer to his complaint, will appear encountered serious disappointment, to any unprejudiced mind to form in the failure of an attempt to place an exception. On the contrary, we him at the university; and from this must repeat, on closing this subject, cause, as well as from his own preour astonishment at the complexion judicial habits of study, his health of the article in question having became very seriously affected, and been so darkly represented to Mr. he was visited by the apprehension White's “mind's eye,” and at our of a consumptive disorder. A letter remarks having been termed by of introduction, however, to the
tev. Mr. Simeon, of King's College, failure here would have ruined his prosCambridge, induced him to visit that pects for ever. He had only about a fortgentleman, who received him with night to read what other men had been tbe
whole term reading. Once more he exerted Kindness, formed a just opinion of himself beyond what his shattered health his attainments, procured him a si could bear; the disorder returned, and zarship at St. John's College, and he went to his tutor, Mr. Catton, with promised, with the aid of a friend, tears in his eyes, and told him that he to supply him with an annuity of could not go into the hall to be examined.
Mr. Catton, however, thought his success 301. To this provision, his brother
here of so much importance, that he ex. Neville generously agreed to add
horted him, with all possible earnestness, 201, and his mother was expected to to hold out the six days of the examina. be able to allow fifteen or twenty tion. Strong medicines were given him to more, for his maintenance at college. enable him to support it, and he was proIn the mean time, he became a can- nounced the first man of his year. But life
was the price which he was to pay for such didate for the bounty of the Elland
honours as this, and Henry is not the first Society, which, after a long and strict
young man to whom such honours have examination, pronounced him to be proved fatal. He said to his most intimate qualified to receive that bounty, and friend, almost the last time he saw him, admitted him on their list of young that were he to paint a picture of Fame, men to be educated for the ministry. crowning a distinguished under-graduate,
after the senate house examination, he · On obtaining this success, he disin.
would represent her as concealing a terestedly communicated it to Mr.
death's head under a mask of beauty. Simeon, and declined the intended « When this was over he went to Lonbeneficence of his unknown friends, don. London was a new scene of excite. as no longer necessary: but that ment, and what his mind required was gentleman, with feelings that did tranquillity and rest. Before he left col
lege, he had become anxious concerning him equal honour, obliged him to
his expenses, fearing that they exceeded give up the assistance of the so
his means. Mr. Catton perceived this, and ciety.
twice called him to his rooms, to assure He spent a year of preparation for him of every necessary support, and every his academical studies, in the same encouragement, and to give him every course of unwearied industry, under
hope. This kindness relieved his spirits
of a heavy weight, and on bis return, he the tuition of the rev. Mr. Grain
relaxed a little from his studies, but it ger, of Winteringham, in Lincoln
was only a little. I found among bis pa. shire; and in October, 1805, he com pers the day thus planned out:-Rise at menced his residence at college. half past five. Devotions, and walk till We shall pursue his affecting and seven Chapel and breakfast till eight. instructive history in the words of Study and lectures till one. Four and a
half clear reading. Walk, &c. and dinner, his biographer:
and Woollaston, and chapel to six. Six to * During his first term, one of the unin nine, reading-three hours. Nine to ten, versity scholarships became vacant, and devotions. Bed at ten.” Henry, young as he was in college, and “ Among his latest writings are these almost self-taught, was advised, by those resolutions :-'I will never be in bed after who were best able to estimate his chance six. of success, to offer himself as a competitor
I will not drink tea out above once a for it. He passed the whole term in pre
week, excepting on Sundays, unless paring himself for this, reading for college
there appear some good reasons for so subjects in bed, in his walks, or, as be says, where, when, and how he could, never
I will never pass a day without reading having a moment to spare, and often going
some portion of the Scriptures. to his tutor without having read at all.
I will labour diligently in my mathemati. His strength sunk under this, and though
cal studies, because I half suspect my. he had declared himself a candidate, he
self of a dislike to them. was compelled to decline; but this was not
I will walk two hours a day, upon the tbe only misfortune. The general college
average of every week. examination came on; he was utterly un. prepared to meet it, and believed that a Sit mihi gratia addita ad hæc facienda."