Imatges de pÓgina

a night's lodgings for playing his flute at the front of the house of a peasant, as he tramped through the country districts of the Continent.

In 1756, he returned to England, and being very poor, took the position of an usher in a small private school at Peckham, London. Next he lived by writing for periodical publications. He was of a roving disposition, and had no settled purpose. His name has become famous principally through his poems, "The Traveller," and "The Deserted Village," and even more so perhaps through his story of "The Vicar of Wakefield." He died in debt and distress; and is buried in the Temple Churchyard. A monument was erected on which is recorded a

to his memory in Westminster Abbey, Latin epitaph by his friend Dr. Johnson.


Born, 1793; Died 1835.

MRS. HEMANS excels in clearness of diction, aptness of thought, and delicacy of sentiment. Even when a child, she wrote some very expressive poems. Her father (Mr. Browne) was an Irish merchant, at Liverpool, where the poetess was born; and her mother was of mixed German and Italian descent. The "poet of the affections" is the distinction awarded by common consent to Mrs. Hemans, whose choicest pieces are "The Graves of a Household," "The Better Land," "The Treasures of the Deep," and "The Homes of England."

HUME.—DAVID HUME. Born, in Edinburgh, 1711; Died, in the same city, 1776.

HUME, a celebrated historian and philosophical writer, was destined for the law, but had no taste for it. He tried mercantile life at Bristol, but disliked it; his strong propensity was for literature.

He travelled in France and Italy, for some time as secretary to General Sinclair. In 1754, he published the first volume of the "History of England, from the Accession of James I. to the Revolution." He wrote several other works of a political and philosophical character, "Political Discourses," "Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals," "Natural History of Religion," &c. In 1769, he retired to his native country on a small independent income, which to him was ample, as his habits were very frugal.

IRVING.-WASHINGTON IRVING. Born, at New York, 1783; Died


THIS Popular American author was born of British parents in New York. He wrote the "History of New York," and the "Sketch

Book," both of which became very popular. When asking Sir Walter Scott for advice about publishing his works in England, he was offered the editorship of a new periodical, which he declined for the reason that his whole life had been desultory, and that he had no fitness for work requiring regular attention. He said, "I have my command of talents, such as they are; and have to watch the varyings of my mind as I should those of a weathercock."

Besides the books already named, he wrote "Bracebridge Hall,” "Tales of a Traveller," "The History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus," "The Conquest of Granada," "Tales of the Alhambra," "The Life of George Washington," &c.


T. B. (afterwards Lord) MACAULAY was distinguished as a statesman, an essayist, a brilliant orator, and, above all, as an historian. From his birth he exhibited signs of talent, and more especially of that power of memory which startled every one by its quickness, flexibility, and range. While a boy he would recite one of Scott's novels and a story from the "Arabian Nights Entertainments" almost as correctly as though the book were in his hands. His household books, however, were the Bible and the "Pilgrim's Progress." He was, in his earlier days, member of Parliament for Calne, and later in life for Edinburgh. During his last twelve years his time was almost solely occupied in writing his famous History of England. In this work he gives only a slight sketch of the history down to Charles I. He then treats the civil war and its causes a little more fully. But his detailed study of our country's history deals only with the revolution and its consequences. He wrote "Memoirs of Oliver Goldsmith," several articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, some very brilliant "Essays," and the collection of beautiful ballads well known as the "Lays of Ancient Rome."


Born 1608; Died 1674.

MILTON was born in Bread Street, London, and was designed for the Bar or the Church; but having no inclination for either, he returned to his father, who had retired from business with a good fortune, and settled at Horton, Bucks. Here the poet wrote his "Comus," "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," and "Lycidas," poems of such merit as would alone have immortalised his name.

After he had travelled in France and Italy, he returned to London, and became a tutor. On the outbreak of the difference between the King and his Parliament, Milton became a political writer on the popular side. He was for a time Latin Secretary to Oliver Cromwell. During the Plague he removed with his family to Buckinghamshire, where he completed his "Paradise Lost," which was first printed in 1667. This immortal work he sold to a bookseller for £5. Unfortunately during the latter part of his life he was quite blind, and had to depend on his daughters to read to him.

RUSKIN.-JOHN RUSKIN. Born, in London, 1819.

This distinguished art critic is the son of a London merchant, in whose office he was accustomed, he says, to no other prospect than that of brick walls over the way; and had no brothers, nor sisters, nor companions. In 1843 he produced the first volume of his great work on "Modern Painters," in which he upheld their superiority in the art of landscape painting to all the ancient masters. The "Seven Lamps of Architecture" is remarkable for the moral interest with which he invests the art of building, and for a glorification of Gothic architecture at the expense of all other styles. The "Stones of Venice" tells of the architecture and historic associations and picturesque beauty of the Italian city. Ruskin is considered one of the greatest masters of the English language.

SCOTT.-SIR WALTER SCOTT. Born, in Edinburgh, 1771; Died at Abbotsford, 1832.

SCOTT is usually considered one of the greatest if not, on the whole, the greatest writer of English fiction. In his earlier years he was afflicted with more than the ordinary ailments of childhood. In early manhood he devoted himself chiefly to poetry, and published his famous "Lay of the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," the "Lady of the Lake," &c. The second great epoch of his literary life may be said to have commenced with the anonymous publication of " Waverley" in 1814. He was secretly in partnership with his printer, and had many transactions with a firm of publishers. Both the printer and the publisher failed, and Scott was called upon to pay no less than £147,000. Yet he was undaunted by this load of debt. He struggled on to meet the payments, and wore himself out in the effort; but, when he died, there was sufficient to meet all demands.



1564; Died, at the same place, 1616.

Born, at Stratford,

SHAKSPEARE has left a name greater than that of any writer in England, and there are few indeed in all history which stand so high. It is to be regretted that the materials for his life should be so lamentably deficient. It has been said of him by Steevens, although he is not strictly correct, that "all that is known with any degree of certainty is, that he was born at Stratford-on-Avon, married Anne Hathaway, went to London, where he commenced actor, and wrote poems and plays; returned to Stratford; made his will; died, and was buried." The only foundations we possess whereon to build a biography of the poet, are a few parish registers, wills, and titledeeds, together with slight notices by his contemporaries, and some obscure allusions in his own writings. His plays are so powerful in imagination, so noble in expression, so profound in thought, so rich in knowledge of mankind, that they stand alone in literature. "He was not for an age, but for all time."

SHELLEY.-PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY. Born 1792; Drowned 1822. SHELLEY was the son of Sir Timothy Shelley. He was a shy and diffident boy, whose appearance and manners were almost feminine; he was, nevertheless, of an unconquerable spirit.

He spent the latter part of his short life on the Continent, and there made the acquaintance of Lord Byron, with whom he passed much of his time. While sailing in his own boat on the Gulf of Spezzia, a squall overtook the light craft, and the whole of his party were drowned. His body was afterwards washed ashore; and, in accordance with the laws of Tuscany, that everything so cast up from the sea should be burnt, all that was mortal of the poet was consumed; his ashes were collected, and were buried in a Protestant cemetery at Rome, Lord Byron and Mr. Leigh Hunt attending the funeral. His best known poem is the "Skylark."

STERNE.—LAURENCE STERNE. Born, at Clonmel, Ireland, 1713. Died, in London, 1768.

STERNE was a distinguished English humourist. Having taken his degrees, he entered into holy orders, and, after occupying the living of Sutton, he became a Prebend in York Cathedral.

He published the first two volumes of "Tristram Shandy” at York,

in 1759. On this book being republished in London he became very popular. He was the author of "A Sentimental Journey in France," of Sermons under the name of "Yorick," and of "Letters."

SWIFT.-JONATHAN SWIFT. Born, in Dublin, 1667; Died, in Dublin, 1745.

SWIFT was a clergyman, and Dean of St. Patrick's; but he is best known as a writer of political satire.

He was Private Secretary to Sir William Temple, and in this employment thought he saw his way to promotion by entering the Church. He found himself, however, disappointed.

At the accession of Queen Anne, Swift embarked in politics, in the hopes of preferment in England, which he missed; but in 1713 he was promoted to the Deanery of St. Patrick's, Dublin. The death of Queen Anne closed all his prospects, and completely embittered his temper. The poetical pieces of Swift are mostly of a humorous order. His prose style is remarkably clear and forcible. His principal works are a satirical romance called "Gulliver's Travels," the allegory of "A Tale of a Tub," and "Political Tracts."


His earliest efforts in literature were poetical, in imitation of the chaste style of Wordsworth. In 1856 he was appointed Dean of Westminster. In 1864 he succeeded Dr. Whately as Archbishop of Dublin. His most important works are, “Notes on the Miracles,” "Proverbs and their Lessons," "Synonyms of the New Testament," and the "Study of Words."

WILSON.-PROFESSOR JOHN WILSON (Christopher North). Born 1785; Died 1854.

He was an eminent Scotch essayist; and was distinguished for literary attainments as well as for skill in every athletic exercise. In 1816 he produced "The City of the Plague"; in 1820 he was nominated to the chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. He published "Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life," and "The Trials of Margaret Lyndsay."

In 1825 he began his celebrated "Noctes Ambrosianæ," a series of humorous conversations, under the name of Christopher North.

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