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BIOGRAPHICAL, CRITICAL, AND HISTORICAL.
THE LITERARY LIFE OF DR. HAWKESWORTH.
JOHN HAWKESWORTH was born in the year
1719; his parents were dissenters, and, in the early part of his life, he frequented the meeting of Mr. Bradbury, a celebrated preacher of his sect. He was intended for the profession of the Law, and placed as a hired clerk with Mr. Harwood, an attorney in the Poultry. Soon disgusted, however, with his employment, he deserted it for the more precarious, though more pleasing, occupation of literature.
In what mode, or at what school, he was qualified for the pursuit which he had now adopted, is not known. Sir John Hawkins has
affirmed, that he was a man of fine parts, but no learning: his reading," he declares, " had been irregular and desultory: the knowledge he had acquired, he by the help of a good memory retained, so that it was ready at every call; but on no subject had he ever formed any system. All of ethics that he knew, he had got from Pope's Essay on Man and Epistles; he had read the modern French writers, and more particularly the poets; and with the aid of Keill's Introduction, Chambers's Dictionary, and other such common books, had attained such an insight into physics, as enabled him to talk on the subject. In the more valuable branches of learning he was deficient."
There is reason to think that this account does not do justice to the acquirements of Hawkesworth, and that even at the age of twenty-five he had obtained no small reputation as a literary character; for at this period, namely, in the year 1744, he was engaged, by the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, to succeed Johnson in the compilement of the Parliamentary Debates; then deemed a very important part of that interesting miscellany.
To Mr. Urban's pages he was for four years, also, a poetical contributor under the signature of * Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 252.