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We read with particular pleasure the life of Dr. James Gregory: it is written with peculiar spirit, knowledge, and elegance. We shall select a passage from the introduction.
It has been not unaptly remarked, that the appearance of a man, whose pre-eminence in any branch of literature and science not only precludes emulation, but, as it were, far distances his contempora. ties, frequently proves hurtful to the general cultivation of that particular department of human knowledge. The gublimity of Newton's talents was so transcendent, that it required mathematicians of the greatest abilities to explain his writings, and fill up the chasm inter. vening between ordinary conceptions and exalted genius. Newton is without a rival, and, on considering the inmense task of reaching the boundary of his powers, we had almost added, without a successors for no one will venture to assert, that, since his time, the improves ments in the higher parts of mathematics have been so progressive as to admit a coinparison with those in other sciences. It has also been oba served, that the celebrity of a father is injurious to the literary reputation of a son. The successor of Linnæus was à respectable scholar, and a man of an amiable character; but the merit of the great natu: ralist threw a shade over the abilities of his descendent. We forbeat to mention similar instances connected with the present time, because Our doing so night be regarded as invidious. Although by these prei liminary remarks we do not mean, in the faintest degree, to insinuate that the gentleman, who is the subject of this biography, has degenes rated from the worth of his immediate ancestor, yet the great and well merited fame of the latter has not contributed to exalt that of his son.' P. 135.
This is admirably executed; and the artful, though highly-laboured compliment, that Dr. Gregory's character might have been more exalted, had not those of his aticestors been so distinguished, should not pass without a remark: The life displays that minute information, which brings suspicion home, at least to a confidential friend.
The lives of the duke of Bridgewater, of Dr. Mavor, who may be styled the children's friend, of Mr. Kerr Porter, and of Mr. Thelwall, need not detain us. The eccentric irregularity of the latter is scarcely palliated in these friendly pages; and, whatever may be allowed to his motives, his conduct is 80 truly singular, his mind of a mould so uncommon, so little adapted to the arrangements of this æra, that, to car. ry his ideas into execution, would lead to the anarchy which we have so often deplored in other countries. Even in early youth, with respect to his own prospects in life, the same unsteadiness seems to have prevailed ; and, were democracy established, we might expect to see him the advocate of monarchy.
The life of Mr. Jefferson is an able and studied defence of that gentleman's conduct, which will be read with different sentiments by different parties. With some knowledge of the subjects enlarged 'on, we cannot wholly acquit him. Mr. Jefferson possesses an enlightened mind; but he wants the firmness of a great one. In the present arduous trial he has been fortunate, chicfly from adventitious circumstances, and especiallv the dispute between England and France. Mr. B. Washington derives all his claim to distinction, in this place, from the will of his uncle.
The life of Dr. Gillies is well written; and the following passage, worked up with all the ardent abilities of this author, to introduce the History of Greece with advantage. We select it, though we are far from agreeing with all the opi. nions introduced.
• His next work was his History of Greece. From this, he probably expected high returns of emolument and fame; and, if such were his hopes, they have not been disappointed. The suggestions of Bo. lingbroke, the rival attempts of Voltaire, with the still unequalled examples of the Greek and Roman historians, as well as of those of modern Italy, excited Hume, before the middle of this century, to produce the first model of classical and philosophic history, with which En. glish literature was enriched. Robertson, with more of epic and dramatic power, with an equal, or even a more expansive comprehension of mind, in a style, if more monotonous and rhetorical, yet more nervous and correct, but with penetration less acute and inventive, and with a taste in composition less delicately chaste and refined,--next tried his talents in history, in friendly competition with Hume. Gibbon, ambitious to efface by the fame of classical erudition, and of genius and eloquence, the ignominy of an expulsion from the university of Oxford, thought no province of literary exertion, so likely to afford success to his wishes, as that in which Hume and Robertson had so signally excelled. He chose a period of history which philosophical historians and elegant classical scholars had alike neglected, as un. worthy to be illustrated, and incapable to become the subject of any splendid and interesting work. His first volumes had already asto. nished and charmed the world, by evincing that this very neglected period was, of the whole history of social life, the part the most pregnant with useful information, the richest in the stores of philosophy, the most abundant in those characters and vicissitudes of fortune, by which curiosity is chiefly interested, the most susceptible, in historica) narrative, of those ornaments which genius and eloquence alone know to confer. These were the masters whom Dr. Gillies thought not unworthy of his imitation--the rivals whom, in imitating, he aspired to excel. No modern language possessed a history at once classical and philosophical, of the origin, the progress, the splendours, and the decline of the people of the Grecian name, though so illustrious, as the authors of all the civilization of the western world. In undertaking a History of Greece, therefore, Dr. Gillies consulted public utility no less than the character of his own genius and favourite studies.' P. 230. 2. As we have styled these somewhat varnished pages, we shall transcribe the little of a contrary tendency, in the cri. ticism on the translation of Aristotle. • Matter of dissension,' it is reinarked in the following page, 'is immaterial in this history.'
' It is, however, the opinion of some who are well skilled in the peripatetic philosophy, that Dr Gillies in his translation has not in the least preserved the manner of Aristotle; that he frequently mistakes his meaning; and that he has acted indiscreetly in so often uniting entire sentences of his own with the text of his author. The same critics have likewise wished that the doctor had availed himself of the assis. tance of Aristotle's Greek interpreters, as many of their commentaries are replete with uncommon erudition, and are inestimably valuabla (particularly those of Simplicius) for the numerous and large extracts which they contain from the writings of philosophers prior to, or contemporary with, the Stagirite himself. Hence they are of opinion that the doctor was neither sufficiently aware of the difficulty, nor well prepared for the execution, of such an undertaking; and that in consequence of this, he has procured for himself a reputation more extended than durable, and more shining than solid.' P. 234.
The life of lord Hobart contains some just information, and is, on the whole, a very favourable representation: that of Mr. Bidlake is not very interesting. The life of lord Loughborough is warmly. panegyrical; indeed, unaccount ably so, if we consider the complexion of the work, which, we must acknowledge, is, in the present volume, somewhat altered: the editors cannot adopt our new motto, Qualis ab incepto.'
The life of Dugald Stewart is coloured somewhat highly; approaching, perhaps, to a French éloge; but is, on the whole, an admirable specimen of philosophical biography. The author is no common writer, and no mean metaphysician. Is it can it be-Dr. Stewart himself? From the life of Dr. Blair, which is truly excellent, we shall select the conclusion.
• In conversation Blair has never affected the praise of a wit, or a disputant. He has never been engaged in any literary quarrels. Scarcely ever had any man of such distinguished eminence fewer enemies. It has been his care never to shew his mind otherwise than in full dress, or in a handsome deshabille, adjusted with all the care and decorum of full dress. Propriety and delicate correctness preside over his social and convivial manners just as much as over his writings. Now in the eighty-second year of his age, he still enjoys all the primary vigour of his faculties unimpaired; and enjoys a state of health still equal to the duties of life and the pleasures of social converse. His fortune has long been, comparatively speaking, very ample: he is enabled to keep his carriage, and to live, in every other respect, in a similar style of expence. An only daughter, of great accomplishments, was taken away from him by a fever, in the very flower of her youth and beauty. Mrs. Blair, a very excellent and amiable woman, who was nearly about the same age with her husband, died a few years since. Moderation, discretion, assiduity, chearfulness, benige nity, uprightness, fervent and rational piety, a sensibility to honoura. ble and deserved applause, that makes him enjoy, yet without vanity or undue exaltation, that fame which has so justly crowned his merits, are the most remarkable qualities of his character. He is reverenced as the ornament, the pride of the city in which he dwells, of his country on which he has reflected so much literary glory. When Providence shall remove him to a better world, as his life has long proved itself a national blessing, so his death will be lamented as a public ealamity.' P. 302.
Of Mr. Barry, Mrs. Robinson, and Mr. John Ireland, we find little that is new or peculiarly interesting. Of the earlv youth of the first, we have some pleasing anecdotes; and the life of the last is amusing, Mrs. Robinson has been already the subject of our remarks, in the Memoirs written by herself, to which little is added of importance. The account of sir W, Beechey is apparently authentic, and contains judicious criticisms, somewhat panegyrical, on his works,
The life of the duke of Portland follows, and is rather in. complete. The latter part, apparently not suited to the politics of the author, is hastily passed oyer; much should have been added.
In the life of sir Joseph Banks, we have a short history of the Royal Society, and a well-compacted account of its institution, its objects, and the disturbances which agitated it some years since. The whole is favourable to the president, and is apparently correct and authentic. Trụth has, however, put on her fairest and most flowery garb; but she is still Truth. The lives of sir Peter Parker and Mr, Edmund Cartwright, the poet, offer nothing peculiarly interests ing:
An account of lord Grenville was an arduous undertaking; and, while the latter part is hastily passed over, the author enlarges particularly on that nobleman's conduct in the rupture with France. He gives a clear and satisfactory view of the subject, offering no particular opinion, and appearing candid as well as unbiassed. The objects of lord Grenville's acts are also explained, without the breath of censure or a hint of disapprobation, Indeed, where a difference in political opinions is opposed to the necessity of censure, in a work in which the latter is studiously avoided, a neutral mixture must be the result.
A decent but much too extensive biographical sketch is given of Dr. Hawes; and it is followed by a life of Mr. Edmund Randolf. This gentleman was secretary of state to the Anerican republic, and involved in some difficulties in con
sequence of his supposed partiality to France, which ended in bis resignation of that office. These difficulties are explained with seeming clearness; but, with how much impartiality, requires a knowledge that we do not possess.
Mr. Paul Sandby and Mr. John Clerk, the author of an Essay on naval Tactics, which we highly commended, and whose principles we have often brought forward to the notice of the reader, next share the biographer's attention. A very warm eulogy on Dr. Lettsom, with so minute a detail of facts, as renders the source at least suspicious, follows. But, were there a doubt, it is dispelled, by the introduction of the famous thermometer. This, however, is to us a tender ground:-we must hasten on.
The few lives that follow deserve little of praise or cen. sure; and the accounts are plain, candid, and sufficiently satisfactory. The life of Mr. Colman is amusing : that of Dr. Anderson perhaps not sufficiently full and discriminated: that of the prince de Bouillon is interspersed with some interesting anecdotes of the isle of Jersey. The prince-in reality, captain Auvergne-has lately become a personage of importance; and, had not Malta been in the way, might have been alone the source of a war between France and England, as the insult offered to him in France was taken up warmly by some of the members of the British parliament, since M. Auvergne was an English subject.
One other volume of these characters is published, which we shall consider very soon.
ART. XIV.-A rough Sketch of modern Paris; or, Letters on Society, Manners, public Curiosities, and Amusements, in that Capital. Written during the last two Months of 1801 and the first five of 1802. 8vo. 6s. 6d. Boards. John
son, 1803. · THE intention of the present work is, avowedly, to describe the internal situation of the French capital, excluding all religious and political discussions; to point out to strangers the objects niost interesting in Paris; to convey some previous information to those who intend going thither; and to lay before such as are prevented, by other occupations, from undertaking the journey, an account of the pleasures, festivals, buildings, and mode of living, in that metropolis: and, if we may judge by a comparison with his fellow tourists, this author has certainly executed his task in a manner which entitles him to very superior credit. His stay in Paris was very considerable; and his time appears to have been laudably employed in acquiring a vast mass of informat