« PreviousContinue »
the agency of divine providence on the affairs of men, in opposition to what may be deemed the orthodox notions upon that most incomprehensible subject. His reasoning was not worth attention, and left the matter as all previous reasoning had done, and as all subsequent reasoning will do, just as obscure and unintelligible as it found it. Neither was it sufficiently acute or elaborate to do harm to any description of readers, and would probably have been passed by as unworthy of notice, had it not been expressly pointed out for the purpose of observation : but it militated against received opinion; and, as all reasoning upon such subjects inevitably must, led to conclusions which the reasoner, in all probability, would have gladly avoided.* On these grounds was this virtuous and accomplished man branded with the character of a deist, and accused of impiety.
Another, and certainly a more serious charge, was the having indulged in voluptuous descriptions; but this
• Dr. Hawkesworth's opinions seem to be:—that there is no such thing as a peculiar or special interference on the part of providence in liuman affairs :—that God is acting at all times, and through all space :-that no event takes place without his direct agency::--that the whole concatenation of events, whether the preservation or destruction of parts, tends to the gooil of the whole :--that all physical or natural evil is judicial ;-and that God is the author of it in his judicial capacity. To attempt to reason upon these opinions would be to commit the only fanlt of which the Doctor was guilty. We may safelyventure to affirm that no stretch of human reasoning is adequate to the comprehension of this much agitated question ;-that it is one of those myteries which God, for wise and good purposes doubtless, las placed out of the reach of our limited faculties; and that it is impossible to reconcile any view of it which we can take, with the undisputed attribntes of the Deity, and the confidence every Christian is bound to place in the assurance given him of a future state of reward and punishment.
may be justified in part, by the peculiar and well known character of the natives of the South Sea Islands, of which sensuality and volaptuousness was a striking feature. It was certainly impossible to avoid some allusion to this when describing their peculiarities, but it should have been done with much caution ; more perhaps than Hawkesworth observed.
No allowance, however, was made for the limited time in which he was employed upon the work, and the eager desire displayed for its appearance, which left no opportunity for mature correction, or cautious composition; and thus he became unjustly stigmatised as a libertine, and his labours made subservient to purposes of the basest vice.
A third, but by far the most venial charge, was that of certain imperfections in the scientific and nautical parts of the work. t
The general opinion is that these repeated attacks and violent accusations, preyed upon the exquisitely sensitive frame of Hawkesworth, and brought him to an untimely grave. He died in London, November the 16th, 1773, being little more than six months after the appearance of this ill-fated work. We have obtained permission to print the following interesting letter relating to that lamented event.
The editor of an infamous publication of that day, after giving repeated notice that “all the amorous passages and descriptions in Dr. Hawk----th's Collection of Voyages, shonld be selected, and illustrated with a suitable plate, actually carried his vile purpose into effect.
+ These were principally pointed out by Mr. Dalrymple, a disappointed and angry man, in a quarto pamphlet, to which Dr. Hawkesworth published a reply in bis preface to the second edition of the voyages.
Mrs. Hawkesworth to Mrs. Duncombe.
BROMLEY, 14th. Dec, 1773.
I am infinitely obliged to you for your kind letter, particularly so for the truly pathetic manner in which you mention my dear departed friend. Though I have no claim to philosophy on other occasions, I hope that on the late melancholy visitation I have availed myself of all the power that an humble sense of the superintendence of a wise, powerful, and good being, who does not wantonly afflict its creatures, can give: and being perfectly persuaded that our separation can be but short, I am not without hope, but look forward to that happy period, when we shall meet to part no more, in those regions of bliss where I trust he now contemplates that wonderful goodness which he so often and so eloquently, though doubtless so inadequately, endeavoured to describe. Nothing but a persuasion of these truths could have enabled me to think of my irreparable loss without despair; but I thank God my mind is comparatively calm, and my situation is attended with so many temporal blessings, that I should detest myself if I could for one moment repine for my loss, when that dear spirit, for whose happiness I could while on earth have sacrificed my own, is now superlatively happy, freed from all those pains and anxieties which were the natural consequences of a constant exertion of his mental faculties, and a want of that exercise so necessary to health. The labours of the last two years were more than human nature could support, and had so much exhausted his powers both of mind and body, that a premature old age destroyed him. I do
not mean that his mental faculties were in the least impaired, for he gave to the last moment proofs of a superior understanding, quick and clear perception, and solid judgment; but his nerves were so shattered as to render every little accident almost intolerable ; his sensations were too keen to let him enjoy life, and though he frequently lamented that he had been unreasonably moved by trifles, yet he owned that he had not power to resist a sudden im pulse either of joy or dissatisfaction, but yielded to both even to agony. These things considered, could I wish that to gratify me, he should have been still detained in this vale of tears. God forbid!—though the stroke was sudden and severe, and though in the first transport of my grief I was ready to say--"What good will my life give me ?"-yet I now humbly kiss the rod and say—“Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?"~"Not my will but thy will be done O Lord !” _" It is good for me that I have been afflicted;" —I do indeed now know that God is not less kind when he takes away than when he gives; such comfortable reflections will make me cheerfully acquiesce, and though the effusions of tenderness will dow in tears, those tears are my great relief, and I do not suffer them to excite sadness in those who by every friendly and affectionate effort, try to please and
my dear Doctor was ill, I received a billet which you sent, in which you proposed a difficulty concerning the effect of prayer, in consequence of your having inferred that the Divine Being was in the preface to the voyages, supposed to have guided the world by immutable laws; nothing was further from the opinion
which urged Dr. Hawkesworth to take so fit an opportunity of giving his sentiments on such an important subject. Upon a supposition that God was perpetually operating, and that he acted through all endurance, could it also be supposed that the world was guided by immutable laws ? I wish you to reconsider the subject as contained in parts of page 19 and 20 in the first preface; and what he says upon the subject in consequence of the general mistake, which will be found in the preface to the second edition. As to the arguments; they are not to be imputed to him as his sentiments, but are supposed, that every objection or difficulty might be obviated to those who might be inclined to raise difficulties or objections. Had my dear Doctor been well when your billet came to hand, I know the receiving it would have given him pain, as he had flattered himself, that but few of his friends, particularly his thinking friends, would have mistaken the sublime tendency of doing justice to the Supreme Being, by considering erery evil as judicial, not accidental; and only alleviated by his intervention; which I am sorry to say is among the lower people too generally believed to give that honour which is due to omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, connected with divine goodness.
“ As to the use and effect of prayer, as I could not verbally consult my dear Doctor, I refer you to the Adventurer, No. XXVIII, which contains his sentiments upon that important subject, and which strictly, coincide with every principle which he has endeavoured to impress upon those readers who read for information, and are open to conviction. That all good may attend