Page images
PDF
EPUB

descriptive poet, he must accordingly be classed among the bards whom Crabbe has so happily described, as those who

The flattering dream prolong
Mechanic echoes of the Mantuan song,
From truth and nature, still content to stray,

Where Virgil not, where fancy leads the way. Yet his taste is correct, his versification pleasing, his command of language extensive, and his expression select and choice. His preface is written with ease and sprightliness, and the whole collection denotes a mind capable of much higher things, in a different application of its powers. These poems, after enjoying their little day of popularity, while they circulated in manuscript,' or were praised on their first appearance, by the author's friends, now rest undisturbed and almost forgotten.

His reputation as a scholar, stood so high in the university, that in 1762, when Dr. Johnson, the first president of the college of New York, applied to his friend archbishop Secker, to select from one of the English universities, a person qualified to assist him in the course of instruction, and shortly to succeed him as president, that excellent and learned prelate, after much inquiry, was induced to recommend Mr. Cooper, as in every point fully qualified for that important station.

Mr. Cooper, after receiving priest's orders in the church of England, came over to this country about the close of the year 1762. He was welcomed with great affection by Dr. Johnson, and the trustees of his college, and was immediately appointed professor of moral philosophy. The duties of this office he discharged with so much ability, that the president, who had for some time wished to retire from active life, and had only been restrained from it by his zeal for the interests of the college, now considered him. self at liberty to follow the bent of his inclination, and resigned his office with the fullest confidence to Mr. Cooper, who was elected president in May, 1763, being then only in the twenty-eighth year of his age. The faculty of arts then consisted of the president, Dr. Samuel Člossy,* an Irish physician of very respectable attainments, who was appointed professor of natural philosophy, Mr. Harper, the professor of mathematics, and Mr. Cushing, the classical instructor. These gentlemen were looked upon as forming the ablest body of instructors at that time in the colonies, and it was under their care that Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Gouverneur Morris, received their collegiate education.

President Cooper soon after received from England, the degree of LL.D. and the college continued to prosper under his direc

* Dr. Clossy had, previous to bis emigration to America, attained a high degree of eminence in his profession, by the publication of a valuable volume on morbid anatomy, entitled, 'Observations on some of the Diseases of the Human Body, chiefly taken from the Dissections of Morbid Bodies.' London, 1763. Upon the organization of the first medical school in New York, in 1768, he was chosen professor of anatomy; and in conjunction with Drs. Bard, Middleton, Jones, and Tennent, taught with much reputation in that institution.

tion, until the commencement of those provincial contests which preceded the revolution. In 1772, and the succeeding years, till 1776, Dr. Cooper took the side of the British government, and distinguished himself as a writer in the political controversies of the day, against Smith, Livingston, and the other literary champions of the whig party. In one of these skirmishes, he is said to have been met and worsted by an anonymous antagonist, whom he soon after discovered in the person of one of his own pupils, Alexander Hamilton, then a student in one of the younger classes. It would be injustice to the memory of Dr. Cooper, not to add, that far from betraying any thing like mortification or resentment, he uniformly treated his youthful antagonist with good humour, and even respect.

His writings, and bold language in conversation, soon attracted popular indignation, and he was obliged to fly from the college to escape the fury of a mob. It is another honourable testimony his private worth, that, although most of his students were in political hostility towards him, they unanimously volunteered to protect him from insult or danger, and to favour his escape.

In 1776 he returned to England, and resided for some time at Oxford, where, in 1777, he preached a sermon before the university, ‘On the Origin of Civil Government,' which was, of course, in strict unison with the high toned doctrines of that ancient seat of learning and toryism. Its publication gave rise to much controversy on some of the theoretical points in dispute between the whig and tory parties of that day. On a candid review of the opinions held by the two great parties in England, on the question of the origin and obligation of civil government, I am inclined to think that it will appear that the truth is on both sides, or rather on neither,-that the tory writers were right in their foundations, and altogether erroneous in the application and consequences of their principles, while the followers of Locke, from arbitrarily assumed principles, were led by their zeal for rational liberty to sounder conclusions, or rather, that they perceived what was right in civil government, and then adopted an incorrect, or at least an imperfect theory to support correct practical doctrines.

Dr. Cooper afterwards became minister of the first episcopal chapel in Edinburgh (the same, we believe, which is now under the charge of Messrs. Alison and Morehead), where he continued to officiate to a very respectable congregation, until his death, which took place in 1785. He died suddenly, and is interred in the episcopal or English burying ground. His epitaph, written by himself, is characteristic of the man, though it is too liable to Dr. Johnson's just censure of all endeavours at liveliness and humour in this kind of composition, as being attempts to be jocular upon one of the few things which make wise men serious.'

• Here lies a priest of English blood,
Who living, liked whate'er was good;

Good company, good wine, good name,
Yet never hunted after fame;
But as the first, he still preferid,
So here he chose to be interd;
And, unobserved from crowds withdrew
To rest among a chosen few,
In humble hopes, that sovereign love

Will raise him to be bless'd above.'
Dr. Cooper was, as has already been remarked, a true Oxford
man, and in all probability fully agreed in his opinions, prejudices,
and tastes, with Dr. Samuel Johnson. His political pieces are dis-
tinguished for great strength and elegance of style, as well as for
a boldness of satire and severity of sarcasm, which have seldom
been surpassed. His moral character was without any serious re-
proach, although grave men were occasionally offended by the
freedom and conviviality of his social habits. The memory of one
of the peculiarities of his conversation, has been preserved by a
sarcasm of a rival wit of the opposite party.

And lo! a cardipal's hat is spread
O’er punsler Cooper's reverend head.'

Trumbull's Mac Fingal.
There is a good portrait of him in one of the rooms of the New
York Historical Society, which has often been remarked for its
striking resemblance to the common engravings of the poet Dryden.

V.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Art. XI.-On the Notes of the Bank of England.

[From La Minerve Francaise.] BAVARIA already enjoys the meeting of her first constitutional

assembly. The liberty of that people will be the elder sister of the liberty of France. The king appears to unite himself intimately with his people; but there, as elsewhere, the oligarchy seeks to place itself between the people and the king, not as a link in the chain, but as an obstacle. If the aristocracy strives to augment its privileges, the nation will unite itseli in opposition; she will, like France, pass through an apprenticeship of liberty, and her political renovation will not be the fruit of a convention, but of a victory. For, between rights on one side, and privileges on the other, treaties can have no sincerity, peace no duration.

The session of the English parliament, offers so far, little of interest. We observed in the opening speech, two singular assertions; the lords commissioners have discovered a great augmentation of the revenue, although the bank is not able to renew

its cash payments. They invite the deliberation of parliament on the means of drawing profit to England, from the European peace, which Divine Providence has given to the world, though Providence has not, probably, worked solely for the profit of England.

In another discourse, lord Castlereagh has considered it a public duty to declare, that in the claims upon the French government,

[ocr errors]

held by British subjects, the ministry would not in future interfere, and that the lenders would have no other guaranty than the public credit, the solvency and honesty of the state to which they lend their capital. This declaration caused some alarm. Some thought the ministers expected a new rupture, others said that France was going to have in her cabinet, the men who, in 1814 and 1815, had proposed a bankruptcy as to all national creditors, and thought they ought not to keep their promises to the foreign creditors, except when the justice of their claims was supported by 150,000 bayonets.

The two houses are occupied with these two important propositions. The city of London has demanded a reform of the penal code. Lord Holland has given a gloomy picture of the crimes committed in England, in spite of the frightful severity of the punishments. Cruel laws are never executed, precisely because they are cruel; the excessive severity of the punishment produces impunity, and the law falls short of its aim by attempting to exceed it.

In the house of commons, the public credit and bank paper, produce the most animated debates. Britain has hoped to find her credit a source of everlasting prosperity, forgetting that every present loan is a future tax. They have multiplied fictitious signs of cap. ital, the bank has its bills, and the exchequer has its own also. The use of means has been succeeded by their abuse, an alarming debt has been contracted, the payment of its interest is sufficient to overwhelm the state. What will become of England if ever she is obliged to reimburse the principal?

For a long time the counterfeiters have been alarming to the capitalists. The number of forged notes is now enormous. When a man receives a payment in bank notes, it is usual to go before a magistrate, who verifies and stamps them. From 1798, to the first of January, 1819, 30,466 persons have been brought before the courts of justice, for the crimes of forging or passing counterfeit notes. An officer of the bank declared, before a jury of Middlesex, that he had seen them so perfectly well counterfeited, that even the inspectors could not distinguish them. One of these inspectors having prosecuted an individual before the court of king's bench, for passing a false note, the most experienced declared they could perceive no sign of its being forged, and the inspector was condemned to pay 100l. sterling damages.

The ministers, not finding a remedy, have sought a palliative; they are procuring new engravings from the artists of the United States. Cobbet, who resides in America, has redoubled their apprehensions; poor creatures,' he says, who suppose I could not procure imitations of every plate which they can have engraved; who think I could not obtain their admission into England as easily as a pair of contraband gloves; who think I could not disturb the security of all their bargains, if I were not restrained by the interest I feel for the widows and orphans!

We do not believe that Cobbet could ever execute such a project, but we are astonished that he could conceive the idea of it.

In England, it is believed possible to stop all foreign emission of forged notes, by invoking the law of nations. But some people, whose memory is sometimes too retentive, recollect that the sol diers of the duke of York's army, spread about, during the siege of Dunkirk, an immense quantity of false assignats; that lord Kenyon declared he did not know any rule which pronounced such an act contrary to the law of nations; and that lord Erskine said, that a minister or a general was clearly justifiable in adopting such a plan. It may be feared that the enemies of England will avail themselves, at some day, against her of these great political principles, which she herself invented to use against her enemies.

What ought the bank to do? Will it give up the restriction act? Will it return to specie payments? Can it returni or would not such a measure produce a fall in the price of all merchandize, and drive the silver into the strong boxes of individuals? Will not the revenues diminish? Will not bankruptcies be more numerous, although already following each other with terrible rapidity?

It must be acknowledged that the financial situation of England is by no means prosperous. She cannot pay the capital of her debt, and the payment of the interest devours her. The bank cannot return to payments in money, and cannot continue to pay in notes.

What will be the end of it who knows, or who dares to predict?

Art, XII.— The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. No. I.

New York. 8vo. 1819. WE

'E believe that the public law of literature has entirely exempted

periodical publications from the jurisdiction of the ordinary critical tribunals; and we therefore notice the first number of this work, without any intention of formal criticism, but simply for the purpose of announcing its appearance, and of congratulating the American public that one of their choicest favourites has, after a long interval, again resumed the pen. It will be needless to inform any who have read the book, that it is from the pen of Mr. Irving His rich, and sometimes extravagant humour, his gay and graceful fancy, his peculiar choice and felicity of original expression, as well as the pure and fine moral feelings which impeceptibly pervades every thought and image, without being any where ostentatious or dogmatic, betray the author in every page; even without the aid of those minor peculiarities of style, taste,

and local allusions, which at once identify the travelled Geoffrey Crayon with the venerable Knickerbocker.

The plan of the work is that of a series of extracts from the common-place book of an American, residing or travelling in Europe, sometimes describing the scenes and manners around him, and the various emotions and reflections which they call forth, and sometimes wandering back to the recollections of his native country and filling up the vivid pictures of its grand and beautiful scene

« PreviousContinue »