« PreviousContinue »
will look in vain for the beauties of sentiment and expression, which distinguish the productions of the illustrious orator and philosopher of Rome.
The following specimen will confirm the truth of thefe obe servations, and show that the volume which we are now examining, possesses neither the correctness of a literal, nor the elegance of a free-tranflation.
My fon Marcus, though, after a year devoted to study under Cratippus, a master of unrivalled eminence, and at Athens, where fcience may be improved by elegance of manners, you ought to be well acquainted with philosophy in its speculative and practical departments; yet, as I have uniformly found it useful to myself to unite the Roman with the Greek literature, not only in philosophy but in exercises of elocution, you ought, I apprehend, to pursue the same course, that you may acquire equal skill in both kinds of composition. In one of them I seem to have given fo much aid to my couutrymen, that not only they who are unacquainted with Greek learning, but the learned themselves, may think they have gained something for the improvement of their eloquence and their judgment.
Improve therefore under the greatest philosopher of the present age. Improve as long as you find it defirable; and it should continue defirable, till your proficiency is such, that you may not hereafter regret the neglect of your advantages. In perusing my writings, which differ but little from those of the Peripatetics, who, as well as myself, profess themselves followers of Socrates and Plato, 'think for yourself on every subject : I mean not to restrain you; but your Latin ftyle, be assured, will be enriched by the perusal. Nor let me be understood to have expresied myself so, with a view to the indulgence of my vanity, for to many, I yield the honours of science; but when I aflume to myfelf the province of teaching you the aptnefs, perfpicuity, and elegance of speech, which belong to an orator, it is a privilege, which, after spending my life in the study, I claim in fome measure with justice to my. self. I therefore recommend to you warmly, my dear Cicero, not only the perusal of truy orations; but of those books on philosophy also, which have already grown to an equal magnitude. Though, in the former, the language is more fpirited and more apt to attract your attention; yet the smooth and fimple compolition of the latter deferves to be studied.' P. I.
The notes are such as many school-boys could have produced, without any other aflittance than one of the popular editions, an abridgment of Roman history, and a claffical dictionary. We do not find any index, table of contents, or even a translation of the Argumenta Librorum furnished by Erasmus.
Obfervations on the Manners and Customs of Italy, with Re
marks on the vast Importance of British Commerce on that Continent; also, Particulars of the wonderful Explosion of Mount Vesuvius, taken on the Spot at Midnight, in June, 1794, when the beautiful and extenfiue City of Torre del Greco was buried under the blazing River of Lava from the Mountain ; likewise, an Account of many very extraordinary Cures produced by a Preparation of Opium, in a Variety of obftinate Cafes, according to the Practice in Afia ; with
many Physical Remarks colleEted in Italy, well deserv. ing the Attention of most Families. By a Gentleman authorised to investigate the Commerce of that Country with GreatBritain. 8vo. 6s. Boards. Cadell and Davies. 1798.
THIS work has engaged more of our attention than its real or apparent importance would seem to have required. The mysterious connection of the traveller, the authorised investigator of the commerce between Great-Britain and Italy, and the quack, was not easily reconcileable; and, had it not been for some intrinsic evidence, that the author had really been in Italy, we might have fuppofed this volume to have been a hand-bill of a superior kind. We pretend not, after all our care, to unravel these mysteries, but thalt give a general account of the work; and some happier Edipus may explain the riddle:
The observations are of the most familiar kind that travellers offer, and are, in general, trite and trifling. Stories are introduced, sometimes humorous, occasionally indelicate, which, if our recollection does not fail us, we have seen in the works of Boccacio, or fome similar novelist.
The great object of the author is to recommend opium, not the common drug of the shops, as that would be too obvious and easily obtained; but the genuine preparation of Alia, which he procures from a friend. The virtues of this medicine are explained at some length; and they are so numerous andiin portant, that every perfon is highly blameable, if he should for a moment be ill, or thould ever die. On the whole, the travels are calculated to please, when the mind wants amusement without much ftudy, or employment with little exertion. The marvellous is, however, too conspicu
We thall select a specimen of the writer's manner; and, as the practice of the courts of law in Italy is a subject the least hackneyed, we shall tranfcribe his observations
it. • Don Filippo conducted me first to the civil law court. The ascent to it was dirty beyond description, and the stairs being crowd. ed with lawyers, liackney writers, and advocates, passing and re
paffiog, made it difficult to ascend. In this court there were five, judges on the bench, to whom very little respect was paid ; the advocates indecently talking and laughing while the written process was reading, for all causes are carried on in that way. We far down at the board before the judges, and my friend desired me to pay attention to an advocate then reading the case of his client. He was one of the most distinguished; bis expressions were so energetic, and the frets so clearly stated in fublime language, that I could not but imagine the cause would soon be decided in favour of his client. My friend told me that this cause had been before the court seven years, and it was not unlikely that it would continue as many more. After staying three hours, and hearing the opposite advocate, we quitted the court, and returning home, he faid, “ You seem surprised that causes are so long determining; but you muft know that we have in this city lawyers of all denominations furpalling the number of eleven thousand, and all will live; and when it might be thought by strangers that a verdict was near at hand, new suborned witnesses are procured to controvert what had been before produced in evidence." I told him that I had heard it was not uncustomary for the judges to be bribed ; “ I am forry, (faid he) to be of the fame opinion, for their pay is so small, and being obliged to keep up a certain rank equal to their dignity, they are liable to such temptations.”
As soon as the pleadings on a cause are over, strangers retire, and the judges proceed to a verdiêt without much deliberation, because the sentence will undergo perhaps ten revisions. This is the cruel scourge of the Neapolitans; and the civil law may be said to be nothing more thau a disorder, for there is no real constitution in the state, and sovereiga decision is also very uncertain.
In Sicily it is worfe; the haughty barons imprison their vasals by a written order, alligning no other reason than “ It is our pleafure ;” and they also punish with death their vassals with impunity.
• Criminal causes in Naples are also carried on by a written process; but such prisoners as have no means to employ an advocate, have one appointed by the crown, called the defender of the poor. When the sentence of death is passed, no execution can take place till the criminal confeffes the guilt, which if not done immediately, he is put into a fhocking dungeon, and only a small quantity of bread and water is allowed him, so that he either expires in that confinement, or, confefling, he is carried to execution.
“ During my practice, (faid my friend) I was witness to many final decisions, both civil and criminal, which would shock the ears of humanity.” He was going to recount them, but notice was given that dinner was on the table, and we joined his lady and ainiable children.
• At leven o'clock the husband took leave of us to go to his female friend, and soon after I accompanied his wife to her father's house, where was a finall, bnt agreeable society.' P. 134.
Having been several times in Rome and Naples, I frequently visited the civil and criminal courts. One case I related to you my letter of the 21st of April, of a man who was executed at Naples, but who ought rather to have been confined as a madman, for such he really was. I will now mention another case, which also happened at Naples, of a young man of a noble family who murdered the husband of a woman he had debauched. On his trial one of the evidences against him set forth that he killed the husband with a pistol in a lane leading to his house, on each side of which were hedges full of shrubs. The prisoner's advocate, said, that it had not been proved before the court that there ever was such a lane, and therefore petitioned that inspectors should be sent to examine the spot, and the sentence deferred five days. The judges (who were supposed to have been bribed) sent two persons to examine the spot. The young man's family having in the mean time bought the house, caused the hedges to be dug up
and carried away, and the lane was ploughed up in common with the other ground. The infpe&ors returned an answer to court that no such lane could be discovered, on which the judges acquitted the prifoner.
• I am here on a cause now trying for the recovery of a sum of money which has been some years due to me; and although legally proved by bonds, the court seems inclined to help the debtor to. evade payment, as he is protected by one of the cardinals. I hope, soon to see the day when such church abuses will be done away.'
The accounts of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, of the king of Naples, of friars, nuns, &c. differ little from the common stories of travellers, displaying no great extent of: information or depth of research. The virtues of opium must be learned from the work itself; and the author's private disputes, which fill too large a space in the volume, cannot entertain or intereft our readers.
P O L I T. I C. S..
1 Arguments for and against an Union between Great Britain and
Ireland, considered. To which is prefixed a Proposal on the same Subject, by Fofiak Tucker, D. D. Dean of Gloucester. 8vo. 6d. Stockdale. 1798.
FEW of our readers can be ignorant of this point, that an union between Great Britain and Ireland has been for foine time in
contemplation. The measure has not, indeed, been proposed in the legislature of either kingdom; nor have the ministers of either realm avowed their intentions. The pamphlet before us, however, if we are not misinformed, is to be considered as the avant-propos of their intentions, and has been circulated by persons connected with thofe who are in authority, as a mean of founding the opinions of the people. The arguments on each side are drawn up with the appearance of candour; but, in many respects, they are rather specious than convincing; and, while the author censures certain arguments against the union as being petitiones principii, he not infrequently falls into the same mode of reasoning. He asks, for instance, what ground is there to assume that the catholics will oppose an union, though founded on protestant principles ? To this it
may be easily answered, that there is the ground of strong proba bility ; for he had before informed us, that one effect of the union would be to outnumber the catholics of Ireland, who are at present the majority.
But, without entering the lists with this champion, we shall lay be fore our readers his sketch of the points which, it is supposed, will con. stitute the union and its benefits. These are, 1. The preservation of the protestant establishment, as a fundamental article ; 2. a propër number of peers and commoners to fit in the parliament of the empire ; 3. an equality of rights and privileges, and a fair adjustment of commerce; 4. an equitable arrangement of revenues, debts, and future táxes, suitable to our situation and powers; 5. the continuance of the civil administration in Ireland, accommodated to the new situation of the kingdom; 6, an arrangement for the catholic clergy; 7. some further provision to the dissenting clergy; 8. an arrangement with respect to tithes.
In all these points Our author perceives no difficulties or disadyantages. Taking Scotland for an example, and referring to the federal government of North America, as well as to the instances in which France has incorporated conquered countries with her indi. vifible republic, he decides, that Ireland cannot be truly happy unless the be entirely united with Great Britain.' Thoughts on an Union. By Joshua Spencer, Esq. Barrister at Law.
8vo. 15. Stockdale. - 1798.' Thefe thoughts are directed against the proposed union. First Mr. Spencer maintains, that the opinions of dean Tucker, which are reprinted in the preceding tract, are of little consequence now, as they were formed before Ireland had obtained a free trade; and, fecondly, 'he contends, that all the benefits proposed by an union may be procured without it, as Ireland has been progressively riling fince the year 1782, the epoch of her commercial and constitutional emancipation. If it should be allowed, however, that the advantages of an union may preponderate, he doubts the competene ey of parliament to decide on tuch a measure without the dire&t ap