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he has the temerity to wander out of his course, and tell the world that the Excursion "will never do," and that the author of Genevieve and the Ancient Mariner is a foolish mystic. His want of enthusiasm, however, in certain instances, is advantageous to a fair judgment, where works of pure imagination or sentiment are not in question. Thus, having cherished no unreasonable anticipations in regard to Fox's Life of James I., he was not disappointed on its appearance, like the rest of the world, but did the author and his book critical justice; and he exhibited with great candor the brilliant ideas of Madame de Staël, while he repudiated her perfectionist theories. Indeed, one of the greatest merits of Jeffrey is his able synopsis of works of fact and reasoning. He sums up a book as he would a case, and makes a statement to the literary world with the ingenious brevity and emphasis that he would use to a jury. One great reason of the popularity of the Edinburgh Review was that he made it an intelligent and readable epitome of current literature.
Jeffrey claims a high and consistent morality for his long series of articles. It is true he always speaks disapprovingly of the errors of genius; but we fail to perceive in them that enlarged and tender spirit of humanity which softens judgment, and throws the mantle of charity over the shivering form exposed to the pitiless world. He failed in parliament, notwithstanding the shrill melody of his voice; it was too piercing to fascinate; and so we imagine his mind was too acute to embrace cordially the interests and mysteries of his race. Upon the former his attention was too exclusively fixed; for the latter he had not that sentiment of awe which gives a solemn meaning and a sublime pity to the contemplation of genius. Copious in information, vivacious in expression, dogmatical in tone, Jeffrey's talk, like his writing, was animated, witty, and fluent; he was often abstracted in manner, his conversation was interlarded with French epithets, and, in seclusion, he was often depressed. There was more tact and less seriousness of purpose and feeling about him than any of his brilliant contemporaries; and, therefore, his writings have not the same standard value. He sacrificed to the immediate, and was a representative of the times.
There was, with all his apparent readiness and candor, no little prudence in his character. He was a kind of sublimated Yankee, and the ideal of a clever literary Scotchman. The poets he really did appreciate are Campbell and Crabbe the one by his direct rhetoric and high finish, and the other by his detail and Flemish tone, rendered themselves intelligible to Jeffrey; this was partially the case, also, with Byron, Moore, and Keats; but, where they trench upon the highly imaginative, or earnestly sentimental, he is obviously nonplussed. It is on account of the want of completeness in Jeffrey's views and sympathies that one is disposed to regard him as an able reviewer, instead of a great critic. The evidence of this may be found in the very small quantity of his voluminous writings that now possesses any vital interest and permanent beauty. So many of his speculations want originality and a solid basis, and so many of his judgments have been superseded, that only here and there the lightsome aptness of a remark, the grace of a description, or the analytical justice of a comment, detain us; while the sensible tone and pleasing style vividly realize the cause of the sway once enjoyed by this autocrat of literature.
THE TOLERANT COLONIST.
PERHAPS the best definition of true greatness is loyalty to a principle; it is certainly the secret of eminent success, and the pledge of true fame. Fidelity to a grand and worthy aim is the highest inspiration; and it is because the subject of this memoir looked steadily beyond the pale of sect, and the motives of selfinterest, and strove earnestly for an invaluable, progressive, and essential truth, that his memory is hallowed and his influence permanent.
It is somewhat remarkable that so few incidents have been recorded of a man who first introduced a knowledge of the Indian languages into England, who first established a colony in the New World upon the recognized basis of toleration, and who anticipated Locke and Bayle in maintaining the excellence of that principle in its unlimited significance. The absence of the usual details in his biography may, perhaps, be accounted for by the prejudice which his individuality excited among his cotemporaries, and the influence of sectional jealousy. It was at once the glory and the misfortune of Roger Williams to vindicate a great practical truth, and to experience the transitions of opinion to which every independent mind is liable; hence, while he is endeared to all generous thinkers, he is the absolute exponent of no sect; and it is only within a few years that justice has been awarded his name by the historian. Educated at Oxford, he entered the Church of England, but soon left her priesthood for the more
simple faith of the Puritans, came to America, and, by questioning the justice of the king's colonial patents, and the right of legal interference with religious faith and observance, drew upon himself reproach and persecution, before which he fled to the wilderness, and founded a colony in a more liberal spirit, embraced some of the doctrines of the Anabaptists, and, for a while, was a settled preacher of their denomination, but, finally, renounced their main tenet, and went through various phases of religious conviction, often to the detriment of his popularity and worldly success. He was repeatedly chosen to preside over the colony, twice sent on embassies to England in its behalf, and, throughout his life, successfully defended its interests. He was on terms of high confidence with all the New England governors, and exerted a rare influence over the neighboring aboriginal tribes. He was born in Wales, in 1624, and died at Providence, R. I., in April, 1683.
The only memorials of this remarkable man, previous to Elton's Life, except incidental notices, are his life by Professor Knowles, an elaborate poem by Judge Durfee, and a biographical introduction to a modern edition of one of his controversial tracts. Mr. Elton's book has the advantage of being a consecutive narrative, with no more documents than are absolutely requisite to render it authentic. Many new facts, principally the result of inquiries in England, are also now made public for the first time; and thus the volume is a valuable contribution to American biography, as well as a most interesting memorial of colonization and the progress of religious freedom. The subject deserves, and will ultimately attain recognition as one of those rare combinations of the saint and hero which redeem the annals of our race.
Roger Williams implicitly believed in a Providence, and has identified himself with this faith by giving that name to the settlement he founded; and it must be acknowledged that the facts of his career justify the sentiment he cherished. It would be difficult, in the annals of the period, to imagine a combination of events more adapted to educate a pioneer of toleration than those which attended his life. Of inherited endowments it is sufficient to note the remarkable identity of his genealogy with that of Cromwell. Moral courage and independent opinion were thus
native to his blood.
The next individual with whom his name is associated was Sir Edward Coke. From his birthplace, amid the beautiful scenery of Wales, we trace him to the Star Chamber in London, where his remarkable skill as a reporter gained him the favorable notice of this first lawyer of the 'age. Coke sent him to school and college; and, subsequently, for a brief space, instructed him in his own profession. The insight thus obtained, as to the principles of jurisprudence, was of great practical benefit to the future colonial legislator; but a higher advantage resulted from this early contact with a mind seldom equalled for acuteness, and a man who, notwithstanding his pitiless arrogance of temper, clearly understood the grounds of English liberty, and first stated them with precision and legal effect. It was certainly a propitious accident that rendered the author of the Bill of Rights, and the defender of the Commons, a benefactor of the youth destined to become the advocate of free principles in the New World. Williams early chose theology as a vocation; and, when admitted to orders in the Church of England, became the companion of Hooker, and the most eminent divines of the times. If he did not have a parish in Lincolnshire, it was his place of residence; and there, as is well known, the bishop of the diocese tacitly encouraged the Nonconformists, so that Williams had the best opportunity to realize his latent convictions; and, when the persecution of Laud became intolerable, followed the example of his fellow-dissenters, and emigrated.
The manner in which the arrival of the young clergyman at Boston, on the 5th of February, 1631, is mentioned, evinces the reputation he had already gained as a man of vigorous understanding and individuality of character. He was first settled at Salem, and soon rose in the respect and attachment of the inhabitants; but, having openly asserted that the magistrates had no authority to punish a breach of the Sabbath, the civil power interfered, and thus began the series of intolerant acts which finally drove him to the complete assertion and practical development of religious liberty. The question ostensibly at issue, however, between the municipal authorities and the clergymen, was not the real ground of alienation. His offence actually consisted in a refusal to recognize a society that professed allegiance to the