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London Literary and Critical Journal.
LONDON, TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 1828.
PERIODICAL LITERATURE. to the possession of the higher and purer qualities sities, filled by men of distinguished abilities.
belonging to his art. Passion, pathos, the power Another science, which has also had its origin in UNPUBLISHED LECTURES ON PERIODICAL LITERATURE. of sweet and beautiful combinations : a facility in our times, is Phrenology, which, without entering By the Rev. Henry Stebbing, M.A.
all the elegancies of style, and, in some few cele into an examination of its merits, is another evibrated instances, a clear and spiritual apprehension dence of the scientific disposition of the age;
of the mysteries of our human nature, and the for a large Society already exists, which is Division of General Literature Nature and Design of secret unmanifested glories of universal being devoted to its diffusion and advancement, and a Periodical Literature-Its Application and
these powers and qualities are possessed by some regular Journal is published to promote the same different Styles.
of our most popular writers ; but imagination, in purposes. Of the Mathematical sciences I need In my last Lecture, I took occasion to remark, its strength and mighty energy, is unknown among but remark, that, in one of our Universities, that, active and vigorous as is the public mind at them, and, consequently, no poetry, with one or they are pursued nearly to the exclusion of all this period, and determined as it is in the pursuit | two exceptions, has lately appeared, deserving others, and that they are made the foundation of knowledge, there are certain drawbacks to the the highest rank in this department of literature. of even the popular knowledge, which the advosatisfaction we feel at this, and other character. Of works of fiction, it may almost be said that cates of general education are endeavouring to istics to be observed, which, in some measure, they form the staple of English literature at pre- diffuse. l'he same is true also of the Mechaprevent society's receiving all the good it might sent. Novels and romances are the bookseller's nical sciences; every, thing, is endeavoured to from its state of excitement and activity. One of most valuable copy-right, and the author's surest be explained on principle; the invention of the these traits in the intellectual character of the stepping-stone to fortune and reputation : they mechanic is set at work by the study of general times, I observed to be a tendency to materialism; are read by all classes ; composed by intellects of theorems, and his ingenuity is employed in solva disposition to make physical science of too
every different degree of power, and sent forth ing the problem, on the better principles of which paramount importance, and to resolve all prin into the world in all forms, and taking every tone he has been working all his life. If, now, we turn ciples and inquiries into the philosophy of expe- of sentiment.
to consider the causes which have contributed to diency. Another I mentioned was, an unsettled- Of the next branch, or that of moral literature, raise and quicken some of these branches of liteness and impatience, which indispose tlie great ma- it may be safely asserted, that, as a distinct branch rature and depress the others, we shall find them jority of what is termed the reading public, or of national literature, it never was at a lower ebb. in the state of the public mind, which, while it is those who address them, to cultivate any of the Of metaphysical writers, we cannot mention one full of activity, is too much employed on notions
higher branches of literature, or those, by the single distinguished name, or, at least, one that is of utility to be imaginative; too strong in its cultivation of which, any great benefits would attached to a work of importance; and it would tendencies to doctrines of materialism, to be lofty result to society; and I observed, lastly, that there appear as if the study of inental philosophy were in its moral aspirations; but yet, from both these is a want of literary and intellectual independence, to be banished from England, which, we believe, circumstances, the more likely to be allured by which, by over-rating the obedience due to great it would be, were it not for the labours of our works of light fiction, and in the best of all posnames, and the authority of opinion, however Scottish friends, or the occasional importation of sible states for the general diffusion and popustated, exposes the public to attempts upon the some German treatise. Of ethical writers, or larity of the sciences. We now come to the more right of private judgment, and hinders the free those on practical morals, we possess almost as immediate consideration of periodical literature, and uncontrolled examination of literary preten- few; and even most of these are distinguished, which we propose to examine first in itself, that sions. I have now to remark, that, in considering rather by their attachment to some particular is, in its particular characteristics as distinguished the present state of letters in this country, and dogmas, than by their pure, elevated, and devout from what may here be termed book literature ; particularly that of the periodical press, we find love of all that can enoble our nature, from what-and, secondly, in its relation to those several divithese circumstances exercising a very important ever sources it can be drawn, for whatever sacri- sions of general literature which we have already influence, and giving that modified character offices of selfishness it may call, or on whatever mentioned. bold activity and shallow philosophy, of eager basis it may rest, besides the pillars we are able to Periodical literature, then, has primarily for its curiosity and narrow views, of readiness to seek, hew out from, or set up in memorial of, our own purpose the gratifying of the interest men take in and credulity in receiving, which strongly colours triumphs. In respect to the theological branch of observing the manners of their contemporaries or the whole great mass of the public mind, and moral literature, I have already observed, I think, associates; in hearing speculations on the mogives the tone to the current opinions and tastes that we have nonc at present which deserves to tives which have led to this or that mode of of the day.
be called so; and whoever examines, or knows acting in well-known characters; or in laughing Literature in general, for the sake of giving any thing about, those great and magnificent at the witty exposure of their follies and affectasome degree of clearness to our speculatious upon works which the Taylors, and Hookers, and Bar- tions. The painting of manners, or delineation the subject, may be divided into three great rows, of a former age, bequeathed to us, cannot of human character in its slight perversions and branches, to each of which belongs a class of com- but look with astonishment, as well as regret, at eccentricities, was, in fact, the original object positions peculiar to some of the ruling faculties the state of theological literature in a country which periodical publications had in view, and to of the mind, or appealing to certain principles in which has been almost consecrated as the pecu- which the first, and, perhaps, the most reaily pothe mental constitution. According to this, we liar sanctuary for its study. But leaving these pular, of them were devoted. “The Tatler,' which hare the works which belong more particularly branches in the state of which we see so little was started by the witty and accomplished Steele, to the imagination, those which are employed in the cause for fcelings of gratification, we approach and whose eye was keen enough to catch the most investigation of our moral nature, or in seeking the last part of our division,-namely, the scien- trifling peculiarity in the manners of society, was for its amelioration; and, lastly, those which are tific and philosophical branch of our litera- read and admired for its pointed and vivacious composed from the results of philosophical in- ture. And, in respect to this, we certainlylive in sketches, and its satires on the lighter circum. quiry into natural causes, and from the invention an era of which we have reason to be proud; stances of public morals. The Spectator,' which or arrangment of new principles of science. I made for nerer was there a day in which every depart followed it, had merits of a higher order, and Ada few curscry observations on the present state of ment of natural philosophy was pursued with dison, by the grace and elegance of his style, these three great divisions of literature, at the such vigour, or cultivated with such success. the unlaboured beauty of his preceptive essays, close of my last Lecture; and I shall now do little Chemistry we have seen undergoing an almost the new and popular manner of his criticisms, and, more than add to them such reflections, as may il. complete revolution in all her principles, her modes above all, by the inimitable vein of Shakspearian lustrate the opinions I have started as to the actual of operation, her designs, and her application. humour for which the characters he delineated were state of the public mind. With regard, then, to Geology has had her birth in our times, and the distinguished,—by these excellencies that cele, the first of the three branches into wbich I have
same may be said, with nearly equal truth, of Mi- brated writer gave a superiority to ‘The Spectator,' divided our literature, it may be observed, that neralogy. As sciences depending on principles not only over its predecessor, but over the greater works of imagination are of two kinds, the one and reasoning, they can scarcely be said to have part of those which succeeded it. The serious tone, consisting of the loftier species of poetry, the existed in England half a century ago; and now also, of Addison's papers bestowed importance on other of poetry of a lower class, and the lighter they are pursued with a most persevering patience the work, and, it is probable, in a good measure, €ssays of fiction. Of the former, we have at of investigation and research ; are endowed with influenced the style of the other writers in it. present in England mt a single true specimen, a carefully arranged nomenclature, and have The elegance of his manner and the purity of his here being no living yoet who can lay any claim professorships belonging to them in the Univer- | idiom, which was such, that, as his humour was