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distance of twenty miles; and since that time the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, the Leeds canal, and the Ellesmere canal, have all contributed very greatly to enlarge and expedite the intercourse betwixt this town and the interior of the country. And if we may be allowed to judge of the future from the past, it may not appear altogether visionary to suppose that the Railways, with their locomotive engines, from the decided advantages they offer for travelling and the conveyance of goods, may form an era in the improvements of the country, that may far transcend any thing that has hitherto appeared in the annals of nations. Some idea may be formed of the very
limited intercourse that existed in this part of the country anterior to, and during the greater portion of the eighteenth century, if we recollect that so late as 1750 no stage coach came nearer to Liverpool than Warrington; and that ten years after this time the first coach was established betwixt this place and the metropolis, which went once a week, and was four days in completing the journey. If this fact be compared with the immense travelling carried on at this time betwixt Liverpool and every part of the kingdom, it will demonstrate perhaps as strongly as any circumstance can the vast increase that has taken place in the trade and population of this town since the above-mentioned period. The roads, which at that day were few and nearly impassable, are now numerous, wide, and in good repair, studded on each side with elegant mansions and well cultivated farms, and almost constantly crowded with public and private carriages; affording a most vivid idea of the busy bustling scenes and never ceasing hum of a large city.
The periodical literature of this town is of comparatively modern date.
The first newspaper was published by Mr. Robert Williamson, on Friday, the 28th May, 1756. The succeeding publisher of this paper was Mr Thomas Billinge, who entitled it Billinge's Liverpool Advertiser, and latterly it has been designated The Liverpool Times. The next weekly journal was commenced by Mr. John Gore on the 27th Dec. 1765, and it continues to be published by Messrs. Mawdsley, under the title of Gore's Advertiser. The increase in news-papers since that period bears a ratio commensurate with the growth of the town; for at the present time there are no fewer than nine weekly journals, and many of them can boast of an extensive circulation.
Of all the characteristics of modern society as compared with those of ancient nations, nothing is more strikingly effective in its operations than the press, which affords a rapidity and facility for communication, of which the ancients could have formed not the faintest idea, and which must act not only as the great bulwark of freedom, but must also contribute mightily to the still further diffusion of knowledge and its concomitant improvement. Shortly after the establishment of the first newspaper, a taste for literary pursuits began to display itself here, for in the year 1770 the Liverpool Library was established. After this the Athenæum Library was formed, being now the most valuable collection of books in this vicinity. A particular description of these institutions will be given in the proper place.
Amongst the natives of Liverpool, none holds a higher claim to notice than William Roscoe, Esq., whose genius and attainments, at an early period of his life, attracted the attention and encomiums of the literati, not only of our own but of other nations. His Lives of Leo the Tenth, and of Lorenzo de Medici, have obtained more celebrity than any other works that have emanated from the press of this town. In his private and public life he ever enjoyed the highest esteem, being uniformly the steady and warm advocate of the rights and liberties of his fellow man, of whatever clime or complexion ; he died on the 30th of June, 1831, aged 79.
The Life of Poggio Bracciolini, and several other works from the pen of the Rev. William Shepherd, show him to be an author of fine taste and erudite acquirements; for many years he has also been one of the most distinguished public speakers that his native town has possessed, having been unceasingly the firm opponent of despotism and corruption, the fearless defender of the rights of the people, and from his earliest appearance in public the unfaltering and able advocate of parliamentary reform.
The late Dr. Currie, who was an enlightened and sincere friend of freedom, is likewise known as the biographer of the poet Burns. His Memoirs have been recently published by his respectable son, William Wallace Currie, Esq.
In the year 1769 the fine arts seem to have had some warm admirers here, as there was an Academy for Painting instituted during this year, under the title of the “ Society of Artists of Liverpool.”
John Deare, the sculptor, who was born in this town on the 18th Oct. 1760, is stated to have been a genius of high order; when only in his twentieth year he obtained the prize of a gold medal from the Royal Academy: the early specimen which procured for him this mark of distinction, is preserved in the Liverpool Royal Institution, where there are also two other productions executed by him at a latter period of his life. Deare, with some other young artists, were sent by the Royal Academy to Rome, for the purpose pursuing their studies in that vast repository of ancient and modern art.
George Stubbs, an associate of the Royal Academy, was born in Liverpool in the year
1724, and was distinguished in the early part of his life for his anatomical pursuits.
When thirty years of age he visited Rome, and on his return, fixed his residence in London. In 1766 he published the Anatomy of the Horse, having drawn and engraved the plates himself. Few of his contemporaries equalled and none excelled him in painting animals especially the racehorse. At the time of his death, which happened in 1806, he was engaged in a work entitled “A Comparative Anatomical Exposition of the Structure of the Human Body, with that of a Tiger and common fowl.” He is said to have been endowed with extraordinary muscular strength.
The Drama seems at all times to have been a favourite amusement with the inhabitants of Liverpool; for so early as the year 1640, we find there was a Playhouse opened in a court at the bottom of James's-street, and afterwards there was another situate in Drury-lane, which was opened in 1759, and continued to be used for dramatic exhibitions until the present Theatre, in Williamson-square, was opened in the year 1772. This establishment is said to have been better supported than any other provincial theatre in the British dominions, and it is stated that several of its managers have realized large fortunes.
The first Oratorio in this town was performed in St. Peter's church, in the year 1766; the piece