Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ble tempest arose, and all the elements seemed united to embarrass him. Nevertheless, he ventured forwards into the cave, where he discerned by the light of his torches certain figures or statues of men, whose habiliments and arms were strange and uncouth. One of them had a sword of shining brass, on which was written in Arabic characters, that the time approached when the Spanish nation should be destroyed; and that it would not be long before the warriors, whose images were placed there, should arrive in Spain *."

However erroneous or vicious we may esteem the conduct of Budgell, it is with pleasure that we can mention his contributions to the Spectator and Guardian, as displaying both the cheerfulness and gaiety of an innocent mind, and the best and soundest precepts of morality and religion. At the time of their composition, indeed, he was more directly under the influence and direction of his accomplished relation than at any subsequent period of his life, and he then possessed the laudable ambition of doing all that might render him worthy of his affection and support. His four Letters on Education †, descriptive of the advantages and disadvantages of

* Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. i. Dissert. 1. + Spectator, Nos, 307, 313, 337, and 355,

private and public tuition, exhibit many very shrewd and sensible remarks on the propriety of adapting instruction to the abilities and destined occupation of the pupil. His essays, likewise, on Modesty and Assurance*; on Friendship+; on the best mode of Attaining and Securing Happiness, and on Infidelity and Atheism §, are compositions alike elegant and useful; and we have only to lament that he should, in the latter part of his life, have deviated so widely from the maxims that he had himself endeavoured to inculcate, and which he had the invaluable opportunity of seeing exemplified in the person and conduct of his justly-admired friend and counsellor, Mr. Addison ||.

* Spectator, No 373.

Guardian, No 31.

+ Ibid. N° 385.
§ Spectator, No 389.

N° 570 of the Spectator has been ascribed to Budgell by Dr. Bisset. It contains the description of an ingenious but very eccentric man, named Daintry or Dentry, and who, for several years, kept the Queen's-arms, near the end of the Little Piazza in Covent-garden. He was celebrated for whistling on the edge of a knife, or with a pair of tobacco-pipes, and could convert a frying-pan or a gridiron into a very respectable musical instrument. The death of this singular performer was thus announced in the London Magazine, for April, 1738.

"DEATH.

"Near Fishmongers' Hall, the celebrated Mr. John Dentry, better known by the appellation of Signior Dente

2. JOHN HUGHES was born in the town of Marlborough, on January 29, 1677, the offspring of a citizen of London, and of Ann Burgess, daughter of Isaac Burgess, Esq. of Wiltshire.

As he possessed a very weak and tender constitution, his education at a private academy was probably better calculated to bring forward his abilities than a public school. He was fortunate, likewise, in being placed under the tuition of Mr. Thomas Rowe, a dissenting minister; a man of considerable taste and learning, and who had at this time under his care the celebrated Dr. Watts, and Mr. Samuel Say, both men of singular piety and great talents.

At this seminary Hughes made a rapid progress in the acquisition of classical learning, and early shewed a decided partiality for the sister arts of poetry and music; an inclination which,

rino, which, by way of honour, he assumed, and put upon his sign. He kept a public-house, not only at the time of his death, but when the Spectators were writing; and from the odd talents he was possessed of, and his whimsical ways of entertaining his customers, furnished a subject for one of those excellent papers. Among many other surprising endowments, the Signior had that of whistling by the help of a knife to so great a perfection, that he became as famous for that, as most of the Italian Signiors have been for singing, who excel likewise in that way by the help of a knife."

as he pursued no profession, he had perfect leisure to indulge.

He was not, however, altogether without other employment, as he early accepted of a place in the office of ordnance, and acted also as secretary to several commissions for the purchase of land, deemed requisite for the security of the royal docks at Chatham and Portsmouth. During these official transactions, he had time to acquire an intimate acquaintance with the languages of France and Italy, and to cultivate the Muses with a view to publication.

Whilst yet but nineteen, he had already formed the plan of a tragedy, and had paraphrased one of the most sublime odes of Horace; and, in the year 1697, he first appeared before the bar of the public as a poet on the Peace of Ryswic.

From this period to the last year of his life, he continued to amuse the public by various productions in the capacity of poet, prose-writer, editor, and translator.

To his poetry, though praised at the time in which it was produced, and since lavishly extolled by Dr. Campbell, in his Biographia Britannica, little value can now be attached. It is chiefly of the lyric and dramatic kind, provinces

[ocr errors]

in the regions of Parnassus, which require great strength of imagination, great brilliancy and harmony of language and versification; and, above all, the power of exciting at will the emotions of pathos and of terror. The Odes of Hughes, entitled, The House of Nassau; In Praise of Music, and To the Creator of the World, though occasionally elegant and harmonious, are, on the whole, chill, lifeless, and monotonous; and his address to the Deity, a subject requiring the utmost efforts of sublimity, has little besides its piety to recommend it.

His poems on the Peace, and on the return of King William, which last he published under the title of The Court of Neptune, are very puerile performances, and abound with all the stale and trite machinery of pagan mythology.

What greatly contributed to render the poetry of Hughes more popular than its intrinsic merits deserved, was the accompaniment of very superior music. Our author was himself a very competent judge of this fascinating art; and the strains of Purcell, Pepusch, and Handel, had they been combined with verses even far below mediocrity, were calculated to secure them no small portion of general favour. His Ode on Music, therefore, his Six Cantatas, written shortly

« ZurückWeiter »