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objectionable in its moral; the music, by Kelly, afforded it great assistance. Perhaps the best piece of this description, is the “ Counterfeit," by Mr. FRANKLIN, the characters being grounded with much dis- . crimination, and the eclaircissement managed in a simple and natural manner.
The interval between the period at which our vo. lume closes (September, 1804,) and that at which this Introduction is written, (April, 1805,) has been unusually fertile in dramatic productions; to which we shall pay due attention in our next: we even hope to encroach upon the period above-mentioned, and by seizing literature by the forelock, to be enabled to bring our account of new productions down to a few weeks before the time of our publication.
BIOGRAPHERS AND WRITERS OF MEMOIRS.
AMONGST the foremost in the list of authors whose exertions are employed in immortalising the posthumous talents of eminent characters, we have again to notice MR. HAYLEY, who, since our last, has favoured the world with the third volume of his “ Life of Cowper ;" and, though the preceding parts appeared of themselves complete, yet the present edition more fully delineates the mildness of disposition and domestic virtues of the deceased bard. His correspondence must have afforded a fund of entertainment to those who had the hap. piness of his acquaintance; and, as his forte was letterwriting, he has, perhaps, more than any other man of letters, provided his biographer with interesting materials. Mr. H. has arranged these materials in regular order, and interspersed them with many judicious remarks, from which, we understand, he thought it his duty to suppress several letters and papers which related only to certain feminine discords in his party at Olney, We think so too; and, as we consider Cowper as a poet to be little inferior to SHAKESPEARE or Milton, we are happy that, in a friend, he has found a biographer to do justice to his talents, without that disgust
ing partiality, so often to be perceived in similar at. tempts.
An extraordinary kind of biography has lately attracted the notice of the public:-we allude to Mr. Godwin's “ Life and Age of Chaucer, the early Enylish Poet:" this work is particularly interesting, inasmuch as it includes the history of all the principal characters who Hourished in the fourteenth century.
Such a work required no ordinary talents; and a person accustomed only to superficial research, either could not have undertaken it, or he must have failed in the attempt. But though Mr. G. modestly says, that he can pretend to have written but a superficial work; yet he has produced not only a work of a new species, but one which will tend more to perpetuate his name than all the philosophical ravings which his mistaken zeal could have produced in a century. His pictures of the manners of the middle ages are highly interesting; and, lest our readers should suspect us of partiality, we will beg them to peruse the unqualified opinions which certain publications have given of this work, whose principles have hitherto been as opposite to those of MR. GODWIN as fire is to water: let them peruse even the “ Anti-Jacobin Review," whose editors surely cannot be suspected of purtiality to the author in question; and observe with what joy they hail his return to good sense and reuson! We have also read this book from beginning to end, and been charmed with it, as a whole, without considering it as unobjectionable ; for we could not fail to observe certain traits of the author's former principles, occasionally flashing like expiring embers!
The character of that celebrated luminary of science, Sir William Jones, is ably portrayed by LORD TeigNMOUTH; and, after its perusal, no one can regret that the revered subject of the memoir was not placed during his early years in a more enviable situation than that of a private tutor; because, to the ultimate consequences of such patronage as he thereby enjoyed, the world must consider itself indebted for the
valuable investigations to which he afterwards applied - himself. His noble biographer has shown that his pe.
digree has been traced to the ancient princes and chiefs of Wales; and, though the execution of the niemoir display considerable merit, it is not altogether blameless, on account of the reserve respecting the political principles of the revered subject.
Far different from the jacobinical biographers, who, in the early part of the French revolution, published, in two volumes, a tissue of falsehoods, and the result of the grossest ignorance; professing to contain the lives of the founders of the republic; who were lavished with the most fulsome adulation :- the late biographer * of the French Imperial Court, directed by a sacred respect for truth, and furnished with copious and authentic sources of information, has contributed to strip off the mask, which interest and fellow-feeling had combined to give to the heroes of the French usurpation; and to exhibit their profligate characters, their conduct and their crimes, which human nature shudders to contemplate, in a narrative undisguised by the varnish of adulation. Thus he has rendered an important service to the cause of virtue and of truth.
The author of the life of BOCCACIO t, and who is likewise the learned translator of pieces from Bion and Moschus, published a few years since under the title of the “ Wreath,” has drawn many of his materials from VILLANI TIRABOSCHI, BAYLE, WHARTON, &c.; the best sources of correct information and cri. tical knowledge, and displayed, in this biography, considerable diligence in research and skill in application,
Mr. Mason Good, in his “ Life of Geddes,” has given a just character of his friend, in a way that reHects much credit on his taste and judgment; he has displayed a great share of biblical knowledge, and the narrative parts add much to the interest of the publication. It is, however, to be regretted, that there is too much extract, which, by enhancing the price, must check the circulation of any literary undertaking.
On reverting to general biography, and considering it in the light of detached history, there is no person
* The author of the “ Revolutionary Plutarch,” Vide No. tices, p. 462.
+ Prefixed to the “ Decameron,” Vide Notices, p. 451.
he meme per blatis
who will not perceive its importance. Nothing is bet. ter calculated for the instruction of youth; and it is to be regretted how little has yet been performed in so useful a branch of literature. How praiseworthy, then, is the attempt of Miss Betham, the fair compiler of the “ Dictionary of celebrated Women *,” who has skilfully collected a ponderous volume of interesting anecdotes, from sources generally unattainable; as is evident by her quotations of the books from which she has procured her materials, none of which are liable to any important objection.
hed with phiegiai i respec uthenti D off the ombina
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HISTORIANS. The number of candidates for public favour, as writers of history, have, during the last two years, been so numerous, as to excite a momentary astonishment, till we reflect on the perseverance of British literati, and the magnitude of the events that they have had to record. At the time of our last publication, the histories of Dr. Bisset and Mr. ADOLPHUS t, had not long issued from the press : since that period, however, we have had the works of STEPHENS, Coote, CARD, PLOWDEN, &c, all of which bear evident marks of the urgency of the occasion which caused them to be written; and the result is, that they are all more or less loaded with bombastic words and inflated phrases, without a sufficiency of detail to illustrate such occurrences as form the main substance of history in general; so that the reader rises from his table dissatisfied and perplexed. · MR. Stevens has chiefly confined himself to the military transactions of the late war, so that it includes all the operations of the continental powers; yet, though complete in itself, it is deficient as a history ; because it does not satisfactorily trace events to their
* Vide Notices, p. 451. + Vide " Flowers of Literature," for 1863, pp. lxvii. and 448. causes; but more particularly, because it does not pay sufficient attention to the naval actions, in which the heroism of our countrymen has always been predo. minant.
Mr. W. STEWART Rose, a young author of great promise, seems, however, to have taken up the pen expressly to supply this deficiency; for he has published the first volume of a work, entitled “ The Natal History of the late War;" but still we have no complete or combined account of the events of that momentous interval between the French revolution and the truce of Amiens.
The volume by Mr. CÁRD should be considered as an industrious compilation, rather than a proper history, since he acknowledges that he found his materials in the works of Tooke, Levesque, and other writers. We do not perceive how such a way of composing à book differs from taking a large work, and reducing it (by abridgment) into a small compass, except that the trouble in the former case may be greater than in the latter. This plan, however, when properly executed, possesses great advantages; and we have more than once shown that “a great book is a great evil,” while we have had the satisfaction of knowing that our readers are of the same opinion.
Hence Mr. Card has performed an essential service to the majority of readers, by combining, in comparatively a small compass, the leading facts of Russian history, through eight different revolutions; besides which, the narrative is judiciously relieved by sketches of the manners and customs of the country. From this statement it is evident, that 'nothing can be farther from our intention, than to censure such a production : we only say, that it would be a misnomer to call it a legitimate or regular history.
With MR. PLowden we shall be less courteous; and state in a few words, the nature of his history. He undertook, at the request of the late ministry, to write a correct and impartial account of the present state of Ireland, for which he was not only to receive a certain stipend, but was to be furnished with various official documents. But Mr. P. was a prejudiced ruhig, and