1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hawkesworth

Sir John Hawkins, in Life of Johnson (1787) 252.



Hawkesworth was a man of fine parts, but no learning: his reading had been irregular and desultory: the knowledge he had acquired, he, by the help of a good memory retained, so that it was ready at every call, but on no subject had he ever formed any system. All of ethics that he knew, he had got from Pope's Essay on Man, and Epistles; he had read the modern French writers, and more particularly the poets, and with the aid of Keill's Introduction, Chambers Dictionary, and other such common books, had attained such an insight into physics, as enabled him to talk on the subject. In the more valuable branches of learning, he was deficient. His office of curator of the Magazine gave him great opportunities of improvement, by an extensive correspondence with men of all professions; it increased his little stock of literature, and furnished him with more than a competent share of that intelligence which is necessary to qualify a man for conversation. He had a good share of wit, and a vein of humour. With all these talents, Hawkesworth could be no more than an instructive and entertaining companion.