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and prints. He bought largely at Mr. Baker's auction of Sir Clement Dormer's library, 1764, collected by General Dormer; where he got a large-paper copy of Hutchinson's Xenophon's Cyropædia and Anabasis, in 4 vols. of which there were but very few printed, bound in Morocco, and gilt leaves, worth 40l. and upwards, for 127. 12s. He had the second folio of Shakespeare, with notes and alterations of the scenes, by Charles II. in his own hand. He never would sit for his picture, but had no objection to illustrate his own Shakespeare with fifteen hundred portraits of all the persons in the notes and text, of which he could make drawings, or procure engravings. His set of Hogarth also, is supposed to be the most complete of any that ever was collected; and his commentary on the productions of that inimitable painter, which accompanies Mr. Nichols's "Biographical Anecdotes," would alone have stamped a lasting fame on his critical acumen. He had a happy memory, richly stored; was a very pleasant tête-à-tête companion, communicative of his knowledge, but jealous of other men's.

Mr. S. has bequeathed his valuable Shakespeare to Earl Spencer; his Hogarth, (perfect, with the exception of one or two pieces) to Mr. Windham; and his corrected copy of Shakespeare to Mr. Reed, together with a bequest of 200 guineas. To his niece, Miss Steevens, who is his residuary legatee, he has left the bulk of his fortune, including his library of curious and rare books. There are only two or three other small legacies in money.

"If, as Dr. Johnson has observed, the chief glory of every people arises from its authors; from those who have extended the boundaries of learning, and advanced the interests of science; it may be considered as an act of public duty, as well as of private friendship, to attend, with the regret of the patriot, as well as the sensibility of the friend, the closing scene of those men, whose superior genius has improved, extended, or adorned, the literature of their country. Mr. George Steevens may be said to have possessed a pre-eminent claim to this character; and, though he is known rather as a commentator than as an original writer; yet, when we consider the works which he illustrated; the learning, sagacity, taste, and general knowledge, which he brought to the task; and the success which crowned his labours; it would not only be an act of injustice, but a most glaring proof of obstinacy and ignorance, to refuse him a place among the first literary characters of the age in which we live. The early editors of Shakespeare. li


looked to little more than verbal accuracy; and even Warburton consigned the sagacity of his mighty mind to the restoring uncertain readings, and explaining dubious passages. Johnson, who possessed more of the knowledge necessary to an editor of Shakespeare, than those who had preceded him in that character, was found wanting; and his first edition of Shakespeare's plays, which had been expected with much impatience, brought disappointment along with it. In a subsequent edition, he accepted the assistance of Mr. Steevens; and consented that the name of that gentleman should be in editorial conjunction with his own.

"Mr. Steevens possessed that knowledge which qualified him in a superior degree for the illustration of our divine poet, and without which the utmost critical acumen would prove abortive. He had, in short, studied the age of Shakespeare, and had employed his persevering industry in becoming acquainted with the writings, manners, and laws, of that period, as well as the provincial peculiarities, whether of language or custom, which prevailed in different parts of the kingdom, but more particularly in those where Shakespeare passed the early years of his life. This store of knowledge he was continually increasing, by the acquisition of the rare and obsolete publications of a former age, which he spared no expense to obtain; while his critical sagacity and acute observation were employed incessantly in calling forth the hidden meanings of our great dramatic bard from their covert, and, consequently, enlarging the display of his beauties. This advantage is evident from his last edition of Shakespeare, which contains so large a portion of new, interesting, and accumulated illustration.

"It is to his own indefatigable industry, and the exertions of his printer, that we are indebted for the most perfect edition of our immortal bard that ever came from the English press. In the preparation of it for the printer, he gave an instance of editorial activity and perseverance which is without example. To this work he devoted solely and exclusively of all other attentions a period of eighteen months; and, during that time he left his house every morning at one o'clock with the Hampstead patrole, and, proceeding without any consideration of the weather, or the season, called up the compositor, and awoke all his devils.

"Him late from Hampstead journeying to his book
Aurora oft for Cephalus mistook;

What time he brush'd the dews with hasty pace,
To meet the printer's dev'let face to face."

"At the chambers of his friend Mr. Reed, where he was allowed to admit himself, with a sheet of the Shakespeare letter-press, ready for correction, and found a room prepared to receive him, there was every book which he might wish to consult; and on Mr. Reed's pillow he could apply, on any doubt or sudden suggestion, to a knowledge of English literature, perhaps equal to his own. This nocturnal toil greatly accelerated the printing of the work; as, while the printers slept, the editor was awake; and thus, in less than twenty months, he completed his last splendid edition of Shakespeare, in fifteen large 8vo. volumes; an almost incredible labour, which proved the astonishing energy and persevering powers of his mind. That he contented himself with being a commentator, arose probably from the habits of his life, and his devotion to the name with which his own will descend to the latest posterity. It is probable that many of his jeux-d'esprit might be collected; but I am not acquainted with any single production of his pen, but a poem of a few stanzas in Dodsley's Annual Register, under the title of "The Frantic Lover;" which is superior to any similar production in the English language. Mr. Steevens was a classical scholar of the first order. He was equally acquainted with the belles lettres of Europe. He had studied history, ancient and modern, but particularly that of his own country. How far his knowledge of the sciences extended, I cannot tell, whether it was merely elementary or profound; but when any application was made to them in conversation, he always spoke of, and drew his comparisons from them, with the easy familiarity of intimate acquaintance. He possessed a strong original genius, and an abundant wit; his imagination was of every colour, and his sentiments were enlivened with the most brilliant expressions. With these qualities, I need not add that his colloquial powers surpassed those of other men. In argument he was uncommonly eloquent; and his eloquence was equally logical and animated. His descriptions were so true to nature, his figures were so finely sketched, of such curious selection, and so happily grouped, that I have sometimes considered him as a speaking Hogarth. He would frequently, in his sportive, and almost boyish, humours, condescend to a degree of ribaldry but little above O'Keeffe with him, however, it lost all its coarseness, and assumed the air of classical vivacity. He was indeed too apt to catch the ridiculous, both in characters and things, and to indulge rather an indiscreet animation wherever he found it. It must be acknowledged, that he scattered his

wit and his humour, his gibes and his jeers, too freely around him; and they were not lost for want of gathering. This disposition made him many enemies, and attached an opinion of malignity to his character, which it did not in reality possess. But there are many who would rather receive a serious injury than be the object of a joke, or at least of such jokes as were uttered by Steevens, which were remembered by all who heard them, and repeated by all who remembered them. A characteristic bon mot is a kind of oral caricature, copies of which are multiplied by every tongue which utters it; and it is much less injurious or mortifying to be the object of a satirical work, which is seldom read but once, and is often thought of no more, than to be hitched into a sarcastic couplet, or condensed into a sting. ing epithet, which will be equally treasured up by goodhumour or ill-nature, for the different purposes of mirth or


"Mr. Steevens loved what is called fun; a disposition which has, I fear, a tendency to mischief. It is a hobbyhorse, which, while it curvets and prances merely to frighten a timorous rider, will sometimes unintentionally throw him in the dirt. Some open charges of a malignant disposition have been made against him; and, in the preface to the works of a distinguished literary character, he is accused, while in the habits of intimate friendship, and daily intercourse with that gentleman, of writing calumniating paragraphs in the newspapers against him. But these paragraphs Mr. Steevens did not write; and the late Mr. Seward assured me, that Mr. Bicknell, the author of a poem, called "The Dying Negro,' acknowledged to him that he was the author of them.

"Mr. Steevens possessed a very handsome fortune, which he managed with discretion, and was enabled by it to gratify his wishes, which he did without any regard to expense in forming his distinguished collections of Classical Learning, Literary Antiquity, and the Arts connected with it. His generosity also was equal to his fortune; and, though he was not seen to give eleemosynary sixpences to sturdy beggars, or sweepers of the crossings, few persons distributed Bank-notes with more liberality; and some of his acts of pecuniary kindness might be named, and probably among many others that are not known, which could only proceed from a mind adorned with the noblest sentiments of humanity.Mr. Steevens received the first part of his edu cation at Kingston-upon-Thames; he went thence to Eton, and was afterwards a fellow-commoner of King's college,

Cambridge. He also accepted a commission in the Essex militia on its first establishment. The latter years of his life he chiefly passed at Hampstead, in unvisitable retirement, and seldom mixed with society but in booksellers' shops, or the Shakespeare Gallery, or the morning converzatione of Sir Joseph Banks. I have heard of his caprices, of the fickleness of his friendships, and the sudden transition of his regards. These, however, I cannot censure; for I know not his motives, nor shall I attempt to analyse his sensibilities. But, whatever may have been his failings, I do not fear contradiction when I assert, that George Steevens was a man of extraordinary talents, erudition, and attainments; and that he was an honour to the literature of his country. When Death, by one stroke, and in one moment, makes such a dispersion of knowledge and intellect-when such a man is carried to his grave-the mind can feel but one emotion: we consider the vanity of every thing beneath the sun-we perceive what shadows we are-and what shadows we pursue.


Feb. 23. At Wickham, Hants, of which he was rector, and prebendary of Winchester, aged seventy-eight, the Rev. Joseph Warton, D.D. F.R.S. elder brother of Thomas Warton, who died May 21, 1790; and of whom and his family, see our vol. LX. p. 480*. Joseph Warton was born about 1722; admitted of Oriel college; proceeded M.A. by diploma, 1759; B. and D.D. 1768; head-master of Winchester college, where he had received his education, 1766†, which he resigned, 1793; and rector of Upham, Hants, 1792, in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester. His earliest publication was "An Ode on reading West's Pindar, 1749," followed by other short poems, among which is "The Enthusiast; or, Lover of Nature."

In 1746, when B.A. "Odes on several Subjects," 8vo.

In 1756, without his name, the "Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope, vol. I.;" and, in 1782, the second volume, of which the first two hundred pages were printed twenty years before publication.

In 1753, "The Works of Virgil, in English verse; the Eneid translated by the Rev. Mr. Christopher Pitt, the Eclogues and Georgics, by Mr. Joseph Warton; with several new Observations, by Mr. Holdsworth, Mr. Spence, and

[* See p. 355, of this volume. E.]

[ He had been appointed second-master in 1755. E.]

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