« 上一頁繼續 »
He continued to the end of his life the teacher of a congregation, and no reader of his works can doubt his fidelity or diligence. In the pulpit, though his low stature, which very little exceeded five feet, graced him with no advantages of appearance, yet, the gravity and propriety of his utterance . made his discourses very efficacious. I once mentioned the reputation which Mr. Foster had gained by his proper delivery to my friend Dr. Hawkesworth, who told me, that in the art of pronunciation he was far inferior to Dr. Watts. - - Such was his flow of thoughts, and such his promptitude of language that in the latter part of his life he did not precompose his cursory sermons, but having adjusted the heads, and sketched out some particulars, trusted for success to his extemporary powers. He did not endeavour to assist his eloquence by any gesticulations; for, as no corporeal actions have any correspondence with theological truth, he did not see how they could enforce it. At the conclusion of weighty sentences he gave time, by a short pause for the proper impression. To stated and publick instruction he added familiar visits and personal application, and was careful to improve the opportunities which conversation offered of diffusing and increasing the influence of religion. By his natural temper he was quick of resentment; but, by his established and habitual practice, he was gentle, modest, and inoffensive. His tenderness appeared in his attention to children, and to the poor. To the poor while he lived in the family of his friend, he allowed the third part of his annual revenue, though the whole was not a hundred a year; and for chidren, he condescended to lay aside the scholar, the philosopher, and the wit, to write little poems of devotion, and systems of instruction, adapted to their wants and capacities, from the dawn of reason through its gradations of advance in the morning of life. Every man acquainted with the common principles of human action, will look with veneration on the writer, who is at one time combating Locke, and at another making a catechism for children in their fourth year. A voluntary descent from the dignity of sci-,
ence is perhaps the hardest lesson that humility can teach. As his mind was capacious, his curiosity excursive, and his industry con
tinual, his writings are very numerous, and his subjects various. With his theological works I am only enough acquainted to admire his meekness of opposition, and his mildness of censure. It was not only in his book, but in his mind that orthodoxy was united with charity. Of his philosophical pieces, his Logick has been received into the universities, and therefore wants no private recommendation: if he owes part of it to Le Clerc, it must be considered that no man, who undertakes merel to methodise or illustrate its system, pretends to be its author.
Vo L. I. - 4 H In
In his metaphysical disquisitions, it was observed by the late learned Mr. Dyer, that he confounded the idea of space with that of empty space, and did not consider that though space might be without matter, yet matter being extended could not be without space. Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his “Im“ provement of the Mind," of which the radical principles may indeed be found in Locke’s “Conduct of the Understanding,” but they are so expanded and ramified by Watts, as to confer upon him the merit of a work in the highest degree useful and pleasing. Whe-ver has the care of instructing others, may be charged with deficience in his duty if this book is not recommended. I have mentioned his treatises of Theology as distinct from his other productions, but the truth is, that whatever he took in hand was, by his incessant solicitude for souls, converted to Theology. As piety predominated in his mind, it is diffused over his works: under his direction it may be truly said, Theologie Philosophia ancillazur, philosophy is subservient to evangelical instruction; it is difficult to read a page without learning, or at least wishing to be better. The attention is caught by indirect instruction, and he that sat down only to reason, is on a sudden compelled to pray. It was, therefore, with great propriety that, in 1728, he received from Edinburgh and Aberdeen an unsolicited diploma, by which he became a Doctor of Divinity. Academical honours would have more valuc, if they were always bestowed with equal judgment. He continued many years to study and to preach, and to do good by his instruction and example; till at last the infirmities of age disabled him from the more laborious part of his ministerial functions, and being no longer capable of public duty, he offered to remit the salary appendant to it; but his congregation would not accept the resignation. By degrees his weakness increased, and at last confined him to his chamber and his bed; where he was worn gradually away without pain, till he expired Nov. 25, 1748, in the 75th year of his age. Few men have left behind such purity of character, or such monuments of laborious piety. He has provided instruction for all ages, from those who are lisping their first lessons, to the enlightened readers of Malbranche and Locke; he has left neither corporeal nor spiritual nature unexamined; he has taught the Art of Reasoning, and the Science of the Stars. His character, therefore, must be formed from the multiplicity and di*versity of his attainments, rather than from any single performance; for it would not be safe to claim for him the highest rank in any single denomination of literary dignity; yet perhaps there was nothing in which he would not have excelled, if he had not divided his powers to different pursuits. As a poet, had he been only a poet, he would probably have stood high among the authors with whom he is now associated. For his judgment was exact, and he noted beauties and faults with very nice discernment; his imagination gination, as the “Dacian Battle” proves, was vigorous and active, and the stores of knowledge were large by which his fancy was to be supplied. His ear was well-tuned, and his diction was elegant and copious. But his devotional poetry is, like that of others, unsatisfactory. The paucity of its topicks enforces perpetual repetition, and the sanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction. It is sufficient for Watts to have done better than others what no man has done well.
His poems on other subjects seldom rise higher than might be expected from the amusements of a man of Letters, and have different degrees of value as they are more or less laboured, or as the occasion was more or less favourable to invention. .
He writes too often without regular measures, and too often in blank verse: the rhymes are not always sufficiently correspondent. He is particularly unhappy in coining names expressive of characters. His lines are commonly smooth and easy, and his thoughts always religiously; pure but who is there that, to so much piety and innocence, does not wish for a greater measure of sprightliness and vigour 2 He is at least one of the few poets with whom youth and ignorance may be safely pleased ; and happy will be that reader whose mind is disposed by his verses, or his prose, to imitate him in all but his nonconformity, to copy his benevolence to man, and his reverence to God.
F the birth or early part of the life of AME rose Phi L.1 p.s. I have not been able to find any account. His academical education he received at
St. John's College in Cambridge, where he first solicited the notice of the would by some English verses, in the collection published by the University on the death of queen Mary. From this time how he was employed, or in what station he passed his life, is not yet discoveres. He must have published his pastorals before the year 1708, because they are evidently prior to those of Pope. He afterwards (1709) addressed to the universal patron, the Duke of Dorset, a “poetical Letter from Copenhagen,” which was published in the “ Tatier,” and is by Pope in one of his first letters mentioned with high praise, as the production of a man “who could write very nobly.” Philips was a zealous Whig, and therefore easily found hccess to Addison and Steele; but his ardour seems not to have procured him any thing more than kind words; since he was reduced to translate the “Persian Tales" fe: Tonson, for which he was afterwards reproached, with this addition of contempt, that he worked for half-a-crown. The book is divided into many sections, for each of which is he received half-a-crown, his reward, as writers then were paid, was very liberal ; but half-a-crown had a mean sound. He was employed in promoting the principles of his party, by epitomising Hacket’s “Life of Archbishop Williams.” The original book is written with such depravity of genius, such mixture of the fop and pedant, as his not often appeared. The Epitome is free enough from affectation, but is little spirit or vigour. - * In 1712 he brought upon the stage “ The Distrest Mother,” almost atronslation of Racine’s “Andromaque.” Such a work requires no uncommoa powers, but the friends of Philips exerted every art to promote his interest. Before the appearance of the play, a whole “Spectator,” none indeed of the best, was devoted to its praise ; while it yet contiuued to be acted, another - “Spectato."
“Spectator" was written, to tell what impression it made upon Sir Roger; and on the first night a select audience, says Pope", was called together to applaud it. It was concluded with the most successful Epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play, but whenever it is recalled to the stage, where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the Freuch, it yet keeps its place, the Epilogue is still expected, and is still spoken. * The propriety of Epilogues in general, and consequently of this was questioned by a correspondent of the “Spectator,” whose Letter was undoubtedly admitted for the sake of the answer, which soon followed, written with much zeal and acrimony. The attack and the defence equally contributed to stimulate curiosity and continue attention. It may be discovered in the defence, that Prior's Epilogue to “Phaedra” had a little excited jealousy; and something of Prior's plan may be discovered in the performance of his rival. . Of this distinguished Epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate” “the man who calls me cousin;” and when he was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, “The Epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first.” It was known in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place. ** Philips was now high in the ranks of literature. His play was applauded; his translations from Sappho had been published in the “Spectator;” he was an important and distinguished associate of clubs witty and political; and nothing was wanting to his happiness, but that he should be sure of its continuance. - The work which had procured him the first notice from the publick was his Six Pastorals, which, flattering the imagination with Arcadian scenes, probably found many readers, and might have long passed as a pleasing amusement, had they not been unhappily too much commended. The rustic poems of Theocritus were so highly valued by the Greeks and Romans, that they attracted the imitation of Virgil, whose Eclogues seem to have been considered as precluding all attempts of the same kind; for no shepherds were taught to sing by any succeeding poet, till Nemesian and Calphurnius ventured their feeble efforts in the lower age of Latin literature. - At the revival of learning in Italy, it was soon discovered that a dialogue of imaginary swains might be composed with little difficulty; because the conversation of shepherds excludes profound or refined sentiment; and,
for * Spence.