« AnteriorContinuar »
"Oh still-for Fancy is a child-
Or eager plunge in cool pellucid stream,
Heedless that summer's sultry day is fled,
"Now bear me to the distant wood,
And bear me to the silent stream,
Lost in some rapturous dream.
What shade to me so consecrate as thine?
For all the spring-haunts of the tuneful Nine ?
As spreads the sun's faint orb at twilight's dubious shade !"
The concluding couplet possesses a curiosa felicitas in imagery, sentiment, and expression, which is rarely attainable by our most celebrated poets.
Elements of General Knowledge, introductory to useful Books in the principal Branches of Literature and Science; with Lists of the most approved Authors. Designed chiefly for the junior Students in the Universities, and the higher Classes in Schools. By Henry Kett, B. D. Fellow and Student of Trinity College, Oxford. Oxford and London. 1802,
THE object of the author, in the publication before us, is so ably and so circumstantially detailed in his preface, that we should do the work injustice were we not to permit him to speak for himself.
"The following work contains the substance of a course of lectures, which I have occasionally read to my pupils during the last twelve years. The satisfaction which they expressed on hearing them, has encouraged me to hope that they will not prove unacceptable to those, for whose use they are now made public.
To assert a claim to originality in such a work as this, would perhaps only be equivalent to a confession of its demerit. My pretensions to public regard must depend in no small degree upon the manner in which I have clothed old ideas in a new dress, and upon my skill in compressing within a moderate compass the substance of large and voluminous works. Upon all my subjects I have endeavoured to reflect light from every quarter which my reading would
*The New River,
afford. My references, and the books mentioned in my Appendix, will show the sources from which I have derived my principal information; but it would be almost an endless, and perhaps a very ostentatious task to enumerate all my literary obligations.
"There are a few topics indeed, with respect to which I think I may be allowed to assert some claims to novelty. For many of my remarks on the Greek Language I am indebted principally to my own observations upon its nature and comparative merits; the History of Chivalry, important as the influence of that remarkable institution has been upon manners, is a subject upon which I have been able to collect little information from English authors; and the History of the Revival of Classical Learning, although a topic of the strongest interest to every man of letters, has never been fully treated by any writer, with whose works I am acquainted.
"Many of my Quotations are selected from such books, as, either from the number of the volumes, their scarceness, or expence, do not frequently come within the reach of young men. If some of them are borrowed from more obvious and popular works, their peculiar beauty, strength, and appositeness, it is presumed, will justify their introduction. But elegant as my quotations may be in point of style, conclusive as to reasoning, or striking as to the impression they are calculated to make, they will not completely answer the intended purpose, if, while they raise a high opinion of the merit of their authors, they do not excite an eager curiosity to peruse more of their works.
"If I should be fortunate enough to succeed in procuring for eminent writers any additional degree of regard; if I should excite a more ardent and more active attention to any branches of useful knowledge; and if the variety of my topics should contribute to diffuse more widely the light of general information and useful truth; I shall have the satisfaction to reflect, that my time has not been sacrificed to a frivolous purpose, by thus endeavouring, in conformity with the occupations of the most valuable portion of my life, to instruct the rising generation.
"It has been suggested to me, by some of my Oxford friends, that this work may prove useful to those who are qualifying themselv s to pass the public examinations for their degrees in this university. It certainly comprises a survey of the principal subj. cts, with which the new statute requires them to be acquainted; and if it does not contain notices and lists of most of the books which they must necessarily resort to, I must confess I know not in what catalogue they are to be found. I wish it however to be well understood, that this is an accidental purpose to which my work is applicable; for I repeat my assertion, that the substance of it has been read to my pupils in the form of lectures for a considerable time past, and more than six years have now elapsed since the general table of contents was printed, and distributed among my friends."
In a work of such vast importance, where the various branches of learning and science are discussed at length, it is impossible our little bark could sustain such a weight of ballast as would be re
quired, were the whole system minutely examined, although we have a strong inclination to enter upon the argument. We must therefore content ourselves with a single quotation, and the expression of a wish that the learned author had favoured us with more of his own sentiments, and less of compilation. We, who are acquainted with his learning, and the inexhaustible stores of his mind, feel a sorrow, that, on many of the disputed points and topics, in regard to books and authors, he has not exercised more decision. The following closes the chapter on eloquence.
"The eloquence of the moderns has rarely reached the standard of excellence, which was erected by the ancients. The character of each is widely different. In Greece the public speaker was bold, impetuous, and sublime. In Rome he was more declamatory, verbose, flowery, and pathetic. Fenelon has thus ingeniously discriminated the eloquence of the two great orators of Greece and Rome. "After hearing an oration of Tully, How finely and eloquently has he expressed himself!' said the Romans. After Demosthenes had spoke, 'Let us rise and march against Philip,' said the Athenians." In England the public speaker is temperate and cool, and addresses himself more to the reason of his audience, than to their passions. There is still great scope for the display of genius in the pulpit, at the bar, and in the houses of parliament; and the path of fame is still left open to rising orators. The rules laid down by the ancients, as the principles involved in those rules are of general utility, may be studied to great advantage, although much judgment is necessary for their proper application; and attention must be paid to modern taste and modern manners.
Many distinguished examples of eloquence may be held up to the observation of the young orator; but he must avoid too close an imitation, even of the most eminent. Let him study the most esteemed works of his predecessors; let him frequently revolve, and even commit to memory, their productions, and repeat them with suitable voice and action*: and let him rather in his own compositions endeavour to catch a portion of their spirit, than tread servilely in their steps. Demosthenes was vehement, abrupt, energetic, and sublime. Cicero was dignified, luminous, and copious. Chatham
I have heard that the Marquis of Wharton formed his son, the Duke, to be one of the great st, and at the same time one of the readiest speakers that ever was in England, by making him get by heart whole orations of Demosthencs, and repeat them with all the graces of action and pronunciation. Morboddo, vol. iv. p. 244. In drawing up this chapter, I acknowledge my obligations to the Encyclopædia Britannica, artic'e Oratory.
united the energy of the one to the elegance of the other.* Mansfield was persuasive, delightful, and instructive. Buike was flowery, vivid, and fluent. Let the orator study to combine in his compositions their united excellence. Let him not, to use the apposite and beautiful illustration of Quintilian, resemble the stream, that is carried through a channel formed by art for its course; but rather let him be like those bold rivers, which overflow a whole valley; and where they do not find, can force a passage by their own natural impetuosity and strength."
Upon the whole this will be found a work of general utility to the student, and of entertainment to the experienced scholar.
The publication of Sir William Scott's Lectures on History, delivered while he was at Cambridge, would be an invaluable treasure to the age in which we live.
The Life of Hannah More, with a Critical Review of her Writings.
WE have hitherto kept aloof from delivering any decisive opinion on the subject of this "tweedle dum and tweedle dee" controversy, which, it is apparent, has given rise to the uncharitable and rancorous work before us. The author has neither modesty nor good sense in his argument; he spares neither age nor sex, even at the expence of truth; however, he plainly tells us what he is, and what his intentions are, at the commencement of his preface.
* Demosthenes was his great model in speaking: and we are told that he translated some of his orations by way of exercise several times over.
Many descriptions are given of the eloquence of Lord Chatham: but of them all, whether written by Mr. Burke, Wilkes, the author of Junius, Frederic of Prussia, the Abbé Raynal, or Lord Chesterfield, that written by the last strikes me as the clearest, and perhaps the most accurate. "His eloquence was of every kind, and he exc lled in the argumentative as well as the declamatory way. But his invectives were terrible, and uttered with such energy of diction, and such dignity of action and countenance, that he intimidated those who were the most willing and the least able to encounter him. Their arms fell out of their hands, and they shrunk under the ascendant, which his genius gained over theirs." Life of Chatham, vol. iii. p. 378, &c.
"It is a traditionary tale of his country, that almost in infancy the great Lord Mansfield was accustomed to declaim upon his native mountains the most celebrated speeches of Cicero and Demosthenes, and his own inimitable transla tions." Lives of eminen! Lawyers, p. 32.
"Impelled by the curiosity natural to the mind of man, I have diverted myself in reading the pamphlets, that rose like mushrooms, on the theatre of the Blagdon war, during the last two years. This amusement has been strongly recommended to me by the faculty, having received benefit from the waters; for my constitution has sustained much injury in the wars of all sorts, and with all weapons, the pen, words, and the sword, in all climates, among all nations, people, kindreds, and languages, in which I myself, as well as my ancestors, for at least five thousand years, have, with various success, been engaged.
"In this atrabilarious contest, the blood that has been shed is of the blackest kind, and indicates great rancour, melancholy, spleen, malice, hatred, and revenge, with a total absence of the milk of human kindness, love, forgiveness, charity, and a mutual desire of peace. The powers at war all profess to contend for order and an established religion, yet I have never heard that they have at any time publicly in the churches put up a prayer, or set apart a day for humiliation and fasting, for a restoration of tranquillity. It is not to be supposed but that from the particular attention I have paid, in my perusal of the rescripts and manifestos of the parties at war, and which employment, I own, has expedited my recovery in some degree, so far as to be able to walk abroad again, and, like the Swiss, shew myself ready for the service of the poorest as well as the richest exchequer, I must have discovered the true cause of, and which was the aggressor in, this already too long protracted warfare.”
The Female Volunteer, or the Dawning of Peace, a Drama in three Acts, by Philonauticus. London. 1802.
PHILONAUTICUS offers an apology to his readers for any apparent defects in The Female Volunteer, on the score that it was writ-· ten under circumstances of embarrassment, and in one week. public are never particularly anxious in regard to the appearance of productions of this kind, and therefore the author should not have sent his manuscript to press until his matured judgment had corrected and approved his first efforts. This drama is scarcely entitled to the appellation; it is written upon no principle whatever, and entirely violates every rule. The songs are pretty enough.
The Sixty-third Letter, a Musical Farce in two Acts, as performed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. By Whalley Chamberlain Oulton. London. 1802.
THIS farce, which has been very successful on the stage, is not barren of literary merit; and in the closet will be found to furnish a hearty laugh, by exhibiting a fund of humour and merriment perfectly consistent with modesty and decorum.