Page images

deed, his device of making all the virtues knights-errant, necessarily renders their contests with the opposite vices, so many battles.

. The form of stanza he adopted (to proceed to the subject of versification) favoured redundancy of style; and that, not merely in words, but in ideas. Dryden observes of himself, that a rhyme often helped him to a thought. Spenser's verse, requiring in each stanza four and three similar rhyming terminations, put him upon a perpetual effort to bring in words of a certain sound, however unconnected in their meaning with the current subject. This gave rise to distant associations, which sometimes produced images that really enriched the diction ; though more frequently it flattened and debased it by impertinent ada ditions. It likewise otten compelled the poet to employ expedients that indicate the cruelty of the yoke to which he had injudiciously subjected himself. Expletives, tautologies, and circumlocutions, occur in almost every stanza, and gross improprieties of speech are but too frequent. Vulgar and obsolete words are often mixed with those of a higher order ; and when all these licences fail in producing the requis site tale of rhyme, the writer does not scruple to mis-spell words, and so satisfy the eye at the expence of the ear. Yet the stanza of Spenser, when well executed, has a fulness of melody, and a sonorous majcsty, scarcely equalled by any other English measure; and some later poets, who have bestowed due pains upou their versification, have copied it with great success. The concluding Alexandrine, which Spenser added to the eight-line stanza of the Italians, produces a fine effect when it accords with the subject; but in a long piece such a coincidence must frequently be wanting. Every elaborate measure, indeed, has the inconvenience of being ill adapted to the variety of epic composi. tion. It with difficulty admits of quick changes and rapid movements, and is apt to produce languor and prolixity. Its frequent recurrence tires the ear; and its marked closes check the Aow of eloquence. It has therefore been with true judgment that the best modern heroic poets have deserted the forms of versification which prevailed at the first revival of letters, and have recurred to the simpler models of Greece and Rome.' P. xxxiv.

The remarks on his smaller works are not equally important; and it may be suspected that we have already copied enough. If, however, what we have said should contribute to raise the character of the editor and his work, we shall be amply satisfied; for such encouragement he truly deserves.


POLITYCS. ART. 14.-Remarks on the late IVar in St. Domingo. With

Observations on the relative Situation of Jamaica, and other interesting Subjects. By Colonel Chalmers, late InspectorGeneral of Colonial Troops in St. Domingo. 800. 25. 6d, Rivingtons. 1803.

THE misfortunes in the English and Brench campaigns in St. Domingo have been generally attributed to the insalubrity of the climate ; and the strength of the blacks has, by some, been considered as too formidable to be subdued by forces from Europe. Against both positions the present author contends, and advances strong arguments to support his own cause. The negro forces he regards aş very inefficient; while the disagreeable effects of the climate are to be overcome by proper attention to dietetics and discipline. The English campaign to this unfortunate island is scarcely known, but from the enormous expenditure, in men and money, which it occasioned ; and, from the short account here given of it, an inquiry into the conduct of those who planned and were entrusted with the expedition seems necessary, to establish properly the causes of its failure.

If this author be right in his conclusions, St. Domingo may become an easy conquest to the British arms; and its inhabitants would be happy under the mild government of this country. Our former ill success was entirely owing to our own misconduct, not to the magnitude of the force with which we had to contend, or a want of attachment on the part of those who solicited the protection of Britain. ART. 15. — An Obstacle to the Ambition of France : or,

Thoughts on the Expediency of Improving the political Con. dition of His Majesty's Irish Roman-Catholic Subjects. By Thomas Newenhan, Esq. Svo, ls, 6d, C, and R. Bald.

win. 1803. 'It is with great pleasure we peruse such publications as the present from the western part of the United Kingdom, as they show that the Irish in general begin to breathe the spirit of conciliation, and entertain the justest ideas of true policy with respect to our catholic fellow-subiects. The experience of ages has discovered the folly of a different conduct; and, so far from injuring the kingdom, the amelioration of the state of the ca. tholics would not only tend to make us an united and invincible nation, but bring the former, by degrees, to a better mode of faith and worship. The influence of the catholics could send but a few members to parliament; and, if the whole number were of that persuasion, no danger need to be apprehended. They would, by degrees, assimilate themselves with the English catholics; and the higher classes among ourselves are marcely a remove from protestantism. Every thing conspires, at present, to encourage the government in making the trial; and, when all civil distinctions founded on religious sentiments are removed, the variety of opinions in this island, greater than in any other part of the world of the same extent, will only tend to keep the mind in a proper and innocent degree of activity, and promote the discovery of truth. A fatal blow was given to popery, by the establishment of catholic seminaries at home; for the youth educated in England, and who intermix with protestant boys, will inevitably imbibe protestant sentiments; and, when no more inquiry is made, whether a man go to mass, to church, to a synagogue, or to a meeting-house, than to what club he belongs in a country-town, the true spirit of Christian charity will be embraced by all, and the faith of each will be improved. That no danger can result from ameliorating the condition of the catholics, is here demonstratively proyed; and the address, with which the work is concluded, deserves the serious attention of all parties.

I could wish to impress on the minds of both catholics and protestants, that religious dissensions were the primary causes of that national poverty, that comparative barbarism, that political impotence and internal misery, which have long distinguished their country; con: fessedly one of the fairest portions of the habitable globe, and designa. ted by nature to be the centre of wealth and the seat of happiness. I çould wish to recal to their minds the striking contrast, in every particular, exhibited by the year 1787, when religious harmony prevailed, and the year 1798, when religious discord had almost reached its utmost height. I could wish to impress deeply on their minds that neither sect can, in the nature of things, exterminate the other; that they are destined to dwell together in the same island; to have one common national interest; and to exercise amongst each oiher the different relative duties of social life; and that consequently almost every individual must, in a greater or less degree, experieu.ce either the happy effects of religious harmony, or the sad ones of religious discord. That if liberal sentiments be cultivated, mutual intercourse and association will gradually wear down the asperities of each sect, and finally extinguish their respective prejudices, antipathies, and inisconceptions. I could wish to impress on their minds, that as human opinions evidently result from accidental combinations of circum. stances, and accidental associations of ideas, a diversity of opinions, on all subjects of a disputable nature, must necessarily prevail amongst mankind : that truth is produced by the collision of adverse opinionis; and that had it not been for such collision, which may be ascribed di. rectly to the will of the Deity, the human race would have continned strangers to true learning and civilization. That the belief of a man is perfectly involuntary on his part ; and evidently uncontrollable by others. That it is not more unreasonable to hate a man on account of his pursuits, his inclinations, his tastes, or even his complexion, than on account of his belief. That in no case is compulsion so thorough, ly unwarrantable as in the case of religion. " Religionis non est," says Tertullian, “ cogere religionern, quæ sponte suscipi debet, non vi.” That the speculative articles of religion have no connexion what goever with the affairs of social life. That 'they are not calculated to

make a man either a better or worse kinsnian, friend, landlord, tepant, citizen, or subject. That practical maxims of a hostile nature have arisen from the luckless conjunction of religion and politics, and are no part of Christianity, as the actions and precepis of our blessed Redeemer most amply evince. That there is a much greater affinity between the rival sects, than the majority of the individuals of either suppose. That they both adore, and rely on the mediation of the same divine Author of peace and charity. And that they are equally required to follow his glorious example.

These are truths which every genuine Christian and true patriot will sedulously endeavour to inculcate; as on their universal reception, the happiness of private life, and the prosperity of Ireland, do, beyond all contradiction, depend. And I confess I entertain the consolatory persuasion, that many of them have already begun to take deep root in the minds of Irishmen: that the long night of delusion is drawing to a close: that my countrymen are beginning to open their eyes to their true interests : and that Ireland will henceforth, instead of exhausting, infuse resistless vigor into that truly great nation with which it is now indissolubly united.' P. 39. Art. 16.--Essays on the Population of Ireland, and the Cha

racters of the Irish. By a Member of the last Irish Parliamient. 8vo. 28. C. and R. Baldwin. 1803.

The population of Ireland is shown to have been and to be increasing in a much greater ratio than is supposed in this part of the united kingdom ; and, if our fellow.subjects in the western island have been conspicuous for some vices and propensities, they are proved to be ca. pable of great virtues, and to possess great excellence of character. Their evil qualities have originated from an evil government, and may therefore fairly be presumed to die away with the present generation; while the next, educated in the enjoyment of all the rights of Englishmen, will learn to appreciate better their place in civil society, and quit the slavish character with which their fathers had been stigma. tised. The lower class

are certainly, for the most part, thievish, lawless, dishonest and destitute of a sense of equity. They are almost uniformly quarrelsome when drunk : but neither irritable nor phlegmatic when sober. They are very bigotted; but, I think, not more superstitious than other people of the same rank. They are restless and licentious; but destitute of a true spirit of liberty, except in some of the northern counties : rebellious; but, with the same exception, regardless about the nature of their government.' P. 48.

Already the middle class has corrected many of its vices.

• Unbecoming pride, consummate effrontery, captiousness, ferocity, tyranny, sensuality, vulgar boisterous mirth, and inconsiderate prodi. gality pregnant with dishonesty, though not yet perfectly obliterated, can, however, be no longer deemed the predominant qualities of its character.' P. 51.

The middle and lower classes must be benefited by the union : with

respect to the higher, in some points, less indeed is to be expected; for

the chief faults of this class, which, however, are certainly very far from being so universal as the amiable qualities I have just mentioned, seem to be, an almost total want of public spirit and disinterestedness; a high degree of venality ; supineness and partiality in the exercise of all public functions, especially those of the magistracy ; and an unbecoming and imprudent propensity to intolerance on the score of religion, unaccompanied by a due veneration for the religion they pro'ess : faults to which many are disposed to ascribe several of the bad qualities discoverable in the characters of the lowest class of the Irish.' p. 55.

England seems to be but an indifferent place to correct the class here referred to, as to a spirit of venality ; yet it may learn, from the respect paid to our country-gentlemen in the exercise of the office of magistrates, to exert the same powers with cheerfulness in its own country, and thus increase its own happiness and that of its neighbours. Bad as the picture is in several places, the hopes held out of future improvement are encouraging; and we recommend the perusal of the work to the Irish part of our legislators. . Art. 17.-The Possession of Louisiana by the French, consi

dered, as it affects the Interests of those Nations more ima mediately considered, riz. Great Britain, America, Spain, and Portugal. By George Orr, Esg. 8vo. Is. Ginger. 1803. Most dreadful effects were apprehended, by our author, during the prospect that the French were about to take possession of Louisianano less, indeed, than the total subjugation of America. It is fortunate that the author's fears are now set at rest, as the French have ceded this territory to the American states; but, blinded by his apprehensions, he is as little able to look into futurity as to judge of the past, when he asserts that the situation of a people is worse, instead of being better,' because ihe articles of life have become dearer, Strange, that he could not look around him, and mark the improvement of his own country, notwithstanding the advance in the price of every article of consumption. Art. 18. Considerations on the Necessity and Expediency of

.supporting the Dignity of the Crown and Royal Family in the same Degree of Splendour as heretofore; on the due Proportion of Income between the Possessor and Heir Apparent of the Crown; on the Claim of Right in the Heir Apparent to such Rents and Proceeds of the Estates vested in him at his Birth, as were collected during the Minority of his Royal Highness, and stand yet unaccounted for. 8vo. 25. Debrett. 1802.

The supposed right of the prince of Wales to certain arrears from the duchy of Cornwall is maintained with great vehemence and much asperity against the wicked ministers,' who advised the king to retain them for one-and-twenty years together, and to refuse ac

« PreviousContinue »