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observe, that in the use of no other figure is the old maxim artis est celure artem so constantly maintained ; as ihe generality not only of anthors but readers, are wholly ignorant of its existence, even while they are enjoying the gratification arising from its use; insomuch, that one man will write, and thousands will read page after page, without baving even the most distant idea, the one that he is framing, the others, that they are swallowing one entire mass and volume of NONSENSE.
We do not remember to have seen a happier instance of the continued usage of this exquisite figure than in the work before us, which consists of three octavo volumes, with a portrait of their author (looking exceedingly wise) prefixed to the whole. Monsieur De St. Pierre was a great friend of Rousseau, in whose school he appears to have studied with very great success. These volumes were first edited in French by Louis Aimé Martin, another philosopher of the same brood, and are now presented to the public in an English garb by W. Meeston, A.M. Of this latter gentleman we know nothing, except as the asso. ciate of the two former, and altogether they form a goodly company..
M. De St. Pierre, as it appears from the account of his biographer, contrived to escape into the country during the massacres of the French Revolution, and there to be permitted in solitude and security to write as much nonsense as he chose. The following passage from the introduction of Mr. Martin will prove the biographer worthy of his hero.
It was thus when Athens was making vain attempts to bind nations to her yoke, when the Phocians were violating the temple of Delphi, when Dion fell under the assassin's poignard, and Philip; triumphing over the ruins of Olympus, threatened the liberty of Greece, that the divine Plato continued to hold, along with his disciples, his tranquil station on the summit of Cape Sunium. "There, under the shade of the wood of Minerva; and in the contemplation of those azure waves amidst which the towers of Delos were seen to rise, he forgot the crimes of men, and thought only of their virtues. Nature lay stretched before his eyes, and he called divine inspiration to aid him in the study of her works.
“ Such a spectacle might be deemed the fruit of a poet's imagination, had it not the concurrent testimony of antiquity, and had not the example been repeated, in our days, by a philosopher, who, in point of benevolence, may be called the Plato of France. It was in the midst of the calamities of Europe, in a season when ambition called forth wicked men, and when, unhappily, wicked men held sovereign sway in France, that the amiable author of the Studies of Nature, and of Paul and Virginia, filed from our affrighted cities, and took refuge in the bosom of rural
solitude. He despised the honours earned by the sacrifice of virtue, and was indifferent to that fortune which deprives a man of friends, while it surrounds him with Hatterers. He sought not the applause of a factious crowe, but he received the benedictions of innocent victims at their dying moments, who had found in his pages an assurance of a future and a better life.
Seated on the banks of a rivulet near hiš hermitage at Essonne, under the shade of the willow and the poplar, he was accustomed to say, ? All is not yet lost ; the orb of day continues to spread his bounty over our meadows, and to ripen our corn and our vines, as if mankind continued to be virtuous.' He felt that many of the most conspicuous ornaments of the metropolis of France remind the spectator of little else than successful crimes; that palaces are scenes of meanness'; and that triumphal arches are merely monuments of splendid trespasses.” Introduction. Vol. I. P. iv.
Passing over the blasphemous absurdity of such a driveling sentimentalist calling in the aid of divine inspiration, let us now take a nearer view of this Plato of France. We cannot however sufficiently admire the long sight of his great prototype, in discovering the towers of Delos rising amidst the azure waves which surrounded Attica. In the first place, we did not know before that there were any towers in Delos to rise at all; and secondly, if there had been, Plato must have had a pretty good telescope to discover them, unless Delos itself out of compassion to the philosopher's eyes, had been obliging enough to float a little nearer to the shores of Attica. This no doubt was the case; but to return to the philosopher.
This work is entitled the “ Harmonies of Nature," and is, we suppose, intended to she is the connectiou and correspondence of the several parts of creation. M. De St. Pierre is evidently a deist, a theophilanthropist perhaps of the school of Lepaux and Mr. Belsham ; for although we have perpetually the most disgusting appeals to the Deity, the Gospel is but once mentioned throughout the whole work, and then merely by
chance. It is somewhat strange however for one of these pure and rational religionists (as they choose to call themselves) to invoke the Goddess of Affection to aid him in the performance of his task. This would of itself lead us to suppose, if we had not numberless other proofs to convince us, that Polytheism, Deism, and Atheism, are but one and the same creed under different denominations. We do not know whether our author was one of the worshippers of the Goddess of Reason, when she appeared in a visible shape to greet the eyes of the French philosophers; we should suspect however, that these two Goddesses of Reason and Affection, were of the same breed, and endowed with the same attributes of Universal Philanthropy.
“ I address
« I address myself to thee, Goddess of Affection, who, with a smile, didst create the spring ; who risest from the bosoin of the flood, surrounded by Zephyrs and playful Cupids. Poets and painters represent thee, as preceding, on our horizon, the car of the Sun, whose fiery coursers they have fabled to be led by the winged Hours.' But, when thou appearest on the equator, on the horizon of our pole, thou art the source of day-spring in every direction. The morning comics forth from thy ruddy covering, clothed with the pearls of the east, and decked in many coloured robes; her beauty is conspicuous on the summit of rocks, on the surface of lakes, amid the reeds, beside the stream, and throughout the glades of the forest. May thy gentle influ. ence guide me throughout the task which I have undertaken ; consoling me for the remembrance of the past, the hardships of the present, and the anxiety for the future. My head is now covered with the marks of sixty-three winters; but by thy benignant power my imagination may revert to the happy moments of youth, when the beauty of nature formed to my mind a de lightful contrast with the arbitrary and selfish conduct of man. Afford me thy guidance through the valley of darkness, and through fields which derive their fertility and attraction from thee; niy wish is to call ungrateful men to the path of happiness, from which they have strayed, and to lay it open to their innocent progeny. My endeavour shall be to exhibit the beneficence of the Deity in the works of creation; my lessons will have nothing gloomy or obscure; my school is in the midst of meadows, woods, and orchards; and my hooks consist of fruits and howers. Vol. I. P. 5.
We heartily wish that our philosopher's book had consisted of any thing half so good as the veriest refuse of the lowest stall in Covent Garden Market, for then it might have been applied to the useful purposes of the dunghill; at present his “ fruiis and flowers" but encumber the ground which they cannot fertilize;
and like noxious weeds, must be committed to the flames, before they can ever prove innocuous to the land, Now for a little Natural Philosophy.
« On analizing the human constitution, we find it composed of various substances and humours, requiring incessant supplies; such as nerves, bones, veins, blood, and other fluids; to the constitution of which we are in general apt to pay very little attention. Nature has provided, as a daily supply, nourishment of a kindred character, such as corn, wine, sugar, oil; and has added a variety of other plants for the accommodation of man in regard to clothing and lodging." Vol. I. P. 9.
Notwithstanding this wonderful discovery of the kindred character of nerves, bones, veins, and blood, with coru, wine, sugar, and oil, we are yet doubtful whether these substances are
respectively or generally similar. According to our author's arrangement, corn may be of a kindred character with the nerves, wine with the bones, sugar with the veins, and oil with the blood; or perhaps he may consider them all of one species and kindred to each other. This will be a question for the anatomist to solve, and to trace these kindred characters which M. De St. Pierre has so ingeniously discovered.
In a few pages further, we find in this Plato of France a rival even to Newton himself. It would appear indeed, that the world has long laboured under the grossest ignorance with respect to the Theory of Colours. It was for the genius of M. De St. Pierre to penetrate the mists of error.
We ought, in his opinion, to take advantage of the female propensity of gathering flowers in the fields and afterwards of assorting them 80 as to suit their complexions, to impress upon their minds the riglit ideas of colours.
“ This affords a very good opportunity of giving then an idea of our Theory of Colours, and particularly of what are called the five primitive colours; viz. white, yellow, red, blue, and black.”
We must wish that our worthy author had bequeathed his prism to the Royal Society, to set the minds of that learned body right upon this important point in natural philosophy.
Thus much for the scientific researches of M. De St. Pierre. We have now an exquisite morsel for the dainty reader, being a meditation--not upon the groves or the tombs--but upon a SUGAR-PLUM.
“ This sugar, of which you are so fond, is made of the juice of a cane in the West India Islands, at the distance of nearly four thousand miles from France, and is cultivated by African negroes, in the degraded situation of slaves. Honey is almost equally agreeable, and is, without doubt, more salubrious. It does not expose mankind to a thousand dangers in efforts to fetch it from beyond seas; and it has never cost tears to those industrious ine sects which gather it, huinming in the bosom of flowers. Mankind, on the other hand, extract sugar from the ground by the compulsory labour of their fellow-creatures ; and they convert into a source of affliction that which Providence intended for a blessing.
5.56 It is thus practicable to give to children, by means of a mere sugar-plum, both ideas of geography, and sentiments of justice, piety, and gratitude.” Vol. I. P. 328.
We alınost wonder that he did not invoke the goddess whe presides over confectionary to aid him in this sublime meditation, which is equalled only by that of Swift " upon a broom. stick.". How happily might this idea be extended to the whole
shop, till every one of its contents became a sugar-pluni to the mind. The cordial of carraway-comtits, the pathos of Bar, bary drops, the pungency of peppermint lozenges might fill a volume, which might equal the Meditations of Hervey among the Tombs, or those of his more picquante namesake and rival among the maintenon cutlets. Let us now follow our author, from his sentimental sugar-plums to the shade of more sylvan scenes,
# How often have I at a distance from towns, in the bottom of a solitary valley surrounded by a forest, seated on the border of a meadow, taken delight in observing the gilded melilot, the purple trefoil, and the verdant grass, forming undulations similar to the surface of the water, and presenting to the eyes a waving sea of flowers and verdure! While thus immersed in contemplation, the winds waved over my head thě tops of majestic trees, and the altering position of their foliage gave a variety to the aspect of the verdure which they displayed. Each tree has its peculiar motion. The sturdy oak bends only in its branches; the elastic fir shakes its lofty top, the stout poplar moves its light foliage, while the birch lets its leaves shake in the air like locks of hair. The spectator is inclined to imagine that the motion of the trees bespeaks the influence of sensation ;, one bending to its neighbour as to a superior; another extending a friendly embrace; while a third is convulsed as if in the presence of an enemy. We sometimes see a venerable oak rise, in the midst of other trees, its long branches immoveable and stripped of leaves; we are led to contemplate it as a sage, the son of an age that is past, and a stranger to the feelings which agitate the existing generation. Now and then a grave and melancholy sound is heard to proceed from those venerable bodies, like the confused murmur of a people assembled at a distance, At other times, the murmurs of the forest are accompanied by the accents of the nightingale, who from his nest puts up prayers of gratitude to the goddess of love. The rustling of the trees serves to display the shrill sounds of other birds, as a gentle verdure sets off to advantage its brilliant covering of fruits and flowers." Vol. I. p. 391.
We imagine that we see the scrubby Scotch or Weymouth pine bowing uncovered before the oak the monarch of the wood; the beech and birch arm in arm in a friendly tete-a-tete; and the aspen taking to its heels before the charge of the warlike elm. M. De St. Pierre is peculiarly happy in these “ vegetable haxs monies," as he calls them. In another part de informs us,
“ A vegetable has been called an animal turned upside down; and, in fact, if we observe minutely a tree with its branches, its flowers, and its fruits pointed towards heaven, it is by no means ridiculous to say that it has its legs aloft and its head below. It has,