1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hawkesworth

William Forbes, in Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:376-77.



Dr. Hawkesworth was first known as a literary character by the publication of the Adventurer, a periodical paper begun in the year 1752, and continued to 1754; than which none since the days of the "Spectator" is better entitled to high commendation. With less of stiffness and formality than the Rambler, and Idler of Johnson, and more of real instruction than the World, or Connoisseur, the chief periodical papers of our own times of ascertained merit, the Adventurer seems to combine the peculiar merits of them all; so that I do not know, if, since the days of Addison and Steele, who had the merit of introducing into the circle of English literature that popular and excellent form of composition, a work of higher value of that nature has appeared than the Adventurer.

Dr. Hawkesworth's next publication was Almoran and Hamet, a very beautiful Oriental tale. He then published a translation of the Archbishop of Cambray's celebrated epic poem, the Adventures of Telemachus, in elegant prose. His last work was, An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his present Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere: a publication, which, though it produced to Dr. Hawkesworth a large sum of money, added little to his fame as an author, or to his reputation as a moralist. In the preface to that publication, are some very vague and ill-digested ideas respecting the doctrine of a particular Providence; and some parts of his narrative respecting the manners and customs of the natives of Otaheite, if too strongly verified to admit of any doubt as to the truth of the story, had better, for the credit of human nature, and the good of society, have remained unpublished to the world.

Dr. Hawkesworth lived at Bromley, in Kent, where I had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and died 16th November 1783, aged fifty-eight. The following beautiful quotation from the concluding paper of the Adventurer closes the inscription on his monument in Bromley church: "The hour is hasting, in which whatever praise or censure I have acquired will be remembered with equal indifference. Time, who is impatient to date my last paper, will shortly moulder the hand which is now writing it in the dust, and still the breast that now throbs at the reflection. But let not this be read as something that relates only to another; for a few years only can divide the eye that is now reading, from the hand that has written."