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interesting portion of sacred history, Dr. Jameson has chosen to exercise his ingenuity in an unphilosophical attempt to explain that which the historian with his characteristic brevity has simply stated as a fact. We alludde to the contracted duration of human life subsequent to the deluge, which our author thus accounts for with true philosophical gravity.
• We are therefore of opinion, that the convulsion which changed the face of nature, gave new properties to the edible producțions of the earth, and to the respirable element itself; and that these operated grag dually upon
the hereditary stamina of the body, until a due balance came to be adjusted, between the powers of the living fibre and external stimu, lants. P.
302. This solemn kind of triling, Cowper has happily ridiculed, by comparing it to
dropping buckets into empty wells, . And growing old in drawing nothing up.'
Art. XV. The Advantages of early Piety unfolded and displayed, in a Sez
ries of plain Discourses, addressed to young People. By J. Thorn.
ton. 18mo. pp. 230. Baynes. Į $11. “ THE
HE mind of a young creature,” says Bishop Berkley,
“ cannot remain empty. If you do not put into it what is good, it will be sure to receive that which is bad."* This reflection seems to have the support of general experience, and leads us to conclude, notwithstanding the eloquent sophistry of Rousseau, that religious and moral principles should be instilled into the mind at a very early age. Ben sides that such principles, preoccupying the mind wbile it is vacant, would serve to obstruct the entrance of noxious and impure opinjons, it is evident that man, at a very early, per riod, is capable of being influenced by religious considerations,---many authentic examples of youthful piety being ou record.
It is to be lamented, however, that the practice of those who are by no means profane or worldly should be but too agreeable to the doctrine of the philosopher. Pious parents, as well as religious teachers, it is to be feared, are too guilty of neglecting the rising generation. While provision is carefully made for the body, and great attention is paid to the comfort and convenience of the present life, little pains are taken to imbue the mind with the principles of the gospel; and it hardly comes into the account that the " young crea. ture" is an heir of immortality. Such practice must be of
* A Discourse addressed to Magistrates, &c.
very pernicious tendency. Although the noblest virtues, as well as the purest pleasures, arise from the prevalence of religious principles in the heart, if parents never attempt to infuse such principles into the minds of their children, they will infer that religion is an affair of vo moment; their parents having never said any thing to them upon it, or taken any trouble to make them sensible of its importance, or train them to the practice of its duties. While young persons are sent into the world something more than indifferent to what is the most important of human concerns, they are exposer), without any counteracting or preserving principles, to an immense multitude of influences, all tending to encourage the wayward propensties of the heart, and promoting dispositions that totally disqualify for the enjoyment of an eternal dura. tion. We are not to be told that it is not in the power of man to inspire the heart with the love of the truth, or mould it into a compliance with the will of God. This we know, and readily confess. But it is in the power of man to employ the means ihat seem adapted to produce such effects, in expectation of a higher and more efficacions influence,--which, though perfectly free, and exerted according to measures of infinite wisdom, he has reason to think will attend his efforts. This is our duty; and both reflection and experience concur to enforce the practice of it.
Views of this kind seem to have induced Mr. Thornton to deliver the discourses before us, and afterwards to make them public. They appear very proper to instruct young persons, and incite them to the pursuit of a religious life. The fol lowing are the titles of them : the fear of the Lord a preserrative from evili a dissuasive from folly: the danger of youthful lusts; the excellency of true wisdom : the profit of piety: the honour which attends piety: the pleasantness of religious ways: the example of Josiah : of Ruth: piety thę thief ornament of the female character.
Upon these subjects, which have not lost their importance by being repeatedly handled, Mr. T. discourses in a simple, judicious, and earnest manner. Much good advice and solid obBervation are here combined with many salutary inaxims and appropriate exhortations : while the whole is enlivened with several striking anecdotes, and enriched with a copious vein of evangelical sentiment.--The volume, we think, may be profits ably read in families where there are children, as well as put Into the hands of youth.
Art. XVI. The Influence of Literature upon Society. Translated from
the French of Madame de Staël-Holstein. To which is prefixed a Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Author. Second Edition. cr. 8vo. 2 vols. pp. 635. Price 14s. Colburn, 1812. IT has been said, and the terms used at the beginning of the
prefixed Memoir seem to confirm, that this performance has drawn the notice and suppressing hostility of the Great Tyrant, Nothing ever reminded us so strongly of the Roman Emperot making war on flies: though the analogy tails in one pointpity was due to the innocence of Domitian's victims. Indeed it fails also in another point ; for we are not told that the Roman tyrant was afraid of the insects he persecuted. And to be sure a mighty potentate cannot well be exhibited before mankind in a more humiliating light, than by letting it be. known that, while at the head of immense and victorious armies, and exercising an iron domination over fifty millions of people, he can be seriously disquieted by such a trivial production as this!
A temporary reputation for extraordinary talents has doubts less been now and then obtained on slight grounds in this country; but really we think it must be something quite peculiar to the French taste and notions that could erer have allowed the author of this work to become celebrated as genius, a wit, a politician, and, we suppose, a philosopher. it is very likely that, in the Parisian circles, during the periods when people durst make circles there, and durst talk in them, a forced prematurity of faculties in a young lady,-a vivacious volubility of talk,-a bold dashing style of remark, luckily sometimes striking out a novelty of notion,-impassioned declamation about sentiment, and Rousseau, and the developement of reason,ếand all this accompanied by extravagant personal adulation of the literati and philosophers, would go far towards raising a brilliant reputation, especially when the young lady's father was beginning to make a great figure on the political stage, could regale Marmontel and all the choice wits and writers with the richest wines and flattery, and could have it every where told that his daughter was the fit and frequent associate of Buffon and Diderot. And never was more ardent activity exerted even to keep afloat a sinking ship, than this lady has ever since maintained to preserve her notoriety. Novels and critical essays were the seasonable produce of her teens. Philosophical and political rhapsodies, in a succession interrupted only by sometimes a large novel, to indicate, as she would say, the genial seasons of the heart, and prove that the developement of reason' does not extinguish the noble passions, have done wonders towards a practical illustration of
that invariable progress, and that perfectibility, of the human mind, of which we are told more than we can even yet understand in the present volumes. She was, besides, always bustling among the factions and orators of the Revolution. For energy and influence she was to throw Madame Roland far enough into the back ground. She must contrive a plan for secreting, till the fury of the revolutionary tempest should be expended, the unfortunate LewisXVI.-- who could, to be sure, have come, by acquiescing in it, to no worse fate than he did. She attempted keeping on in the same style of incessant interference, when the factions, and all the tumultuary popular excitement in which they had arisen, were sinking to the stillness of death under the Consulate. But the Grim Spirit of this new domination was not to be wheedled by her rhetoric of flattery. He coinmanded her to a great distance from Paris; and insupportable was the distress, and dolorous were the lamentations of the mother of three children condemned to live quietly in Switzerland with her father, the celebrated Necker. Suicide was indeed always within her reach ; but luckily she thought of a visit to Berlin, where she was caressed and delighted. Another expedient for supporting a protracted existence was a journey through Italy; and a stiil later was shewing her talents for acting on the stage at Geneva. Whether her wealth and fame, and the stock of philosophy so pompously displayed in this book will long be able to sustain her, in the confirmed despond. ency of ever again shining in the metropolis of the Continent,' must be left to time to shew.
The present work, on which we should say a very few words, was written after its author had witnessed, with intimate inspection, a series of very great events, had associated many years with persons of distinguished and very various talents, and after slie was old enough to have learnt to think clearly and write well. Contrary to the law which we impose on ourselves with most extremely rare exceptions, we have satisfied ourselves without reading the whole of the performance; nor have we looked into the original, (which by means of a London editiou is of easy access,) to see how far this careless translation is accountable for its character. No translator in England could render a sensible book into such a book as this,-as flimsy a production, we should think, as ever aped philosophy and eloquence. It has, for one thing, no defined subject. Under the denomination of Literature, she says she comprehends poetry, eloquence, history, and philosophy, or the study of man as a moral agent ;'--and by the advancement of Litera. ture,' she says she means, 'the ulterior perfection of the art of thinking and of expressing one's thoughts.' In her way of treating it, Literature comprises almost all talent, all thought, all fancying, all feeling, all writing, and all speaking, that is not employed on the common concerns of life, on war, or on abstract science. Would any body but a vain Frenchwoman have taken up such a subject as a specific theme? She goes back to the literature of Greece and Rome, with which she appears but very superficially acquainted, (when, or how, indeed, should she have gained any accurate knowledge of it?) and pronounces, with all imaginable confidence opioions, which are ħere and there, at lucid intervals, almost intelligible, on their intellectual rank, and on their influence on the character and fortunes of mankind. The only thing that we can understand with any certainty is, 'that the Greeks gave the first impulse to literature and the fine arts, but the Romans did vastly more,--for “they gave the world valuable testimonies of their genius. Such expressions as this, which we transcribe accurately, may give a tolerable notion what hands Literature is got into when the Baroness de Staël is appointed its historian, There is a great deal done, too, for modern literature, especially the French and English. This part of the work is still more splendid with discoveries. Ainong many other things it is proved that the English, though fine in poetry, are most unaccountably and lamentably destitute of imagination in their prose writings. This, hoivever, we will confess, might have been found out by any one of ourselves that should bave read Taylor, the prose writings of Milton and Drydea, and the works of Addison and Burke. But the most astonishing of all the disclosures is that the prevailing character of Euge lish poetry (she speaks of it coinprehensively) had its origin from Ossian!! one of the early poets in our language, we suppose, that kindled and directed the genius of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakspeare. She gives it out that the English works of genius are not greatly distinguished by originality and invention, a truth of which it is probable she received her strongest conviction in reading the “ Fairy Queen,”-than which, she protests to us, nothing in the world can be more tedions. The conviction must have been confirmed in reading Shakespeare; and the evidence would be fully completed by the Paradise Lost; of which, indeed, she expressly says, it is not the poetic invention which is the merit of this piece; the subject is almost entirely taken from the book of Genesis, s-an assertion, however, we think, rather upadvisedly bazarded beyond the extent of her ladyship's learning; for though there is no doubt that Milton, who was an eminent scholar, had read this ancient rare book of Genesis,' we suspect it has never been seen by the Baroness.- Neverthe. less, she takes upon her to discriminate and extol the merits