« PreviousContinue »
we have to fear from our implacable enemy, that our most splendid monuments of art will soon exhibit only heaps of ruins; and our groves and corn-fields one general face of desolation. What constitutes the peculiar value of this sermon, is the salutary and provident advice which it inculcates, in advertising volunteers of the dangers, irregularities, and excesses, to which their new and untried situations are likely to expose them.
Mrs. CRESPIGNY, who was personally acquainted with the late Lord Chesterfield, has adopted the idea of communicating her instructions to her son, through the medium of an epistolary correspondence, from the memorable example set by his lordship. But, though she has descended to many of the minutiæ of life, she has thought less of the gruces, and more of the essence tials of character than her noble friend; and has most properly recommended to her pupil that, which must constitute the basis of every good character, and without which, indeed, a man may be graceful, but never can be estimable, or praise worthy, religion...
Essay writing, though apparently the most easy, is one of the most difficult species of composition. It is the peculiar province of minds of the highest culture; the field in which genius, wit, and humour, are usually seen to adorn the fruits of various reading, and of polished converse. Extensive learning, an intimate knowledge of men and manners, an elegant turn of mind, a command of wit and humour, and of the graces of style, seem to be among the indispensible requisites of an essayist; and, of these requisites, the great BACON, MONTAIGNE, and ADDISON, and the several successful imitators of the latter, all appear to have been possessed in a greater or lesser degree.
Though, in the present day, we cannot boast of the gigantic powers of a JOHNSON, or of the flowing sniothness of an ADDISON, we occasionally meet with
detached papers that would do honour to the pen of either of those eminent authors.
That elegant periodical publication,“ The Pic-Nic,” gave promising indications of becoming a standard work; but the friends to the improvement of public principles, and to the refinement of public taste, have to lament that the unknown conductors of that miscellany have discontinued their laudable efforts.
These dramatic, critical, and moral essayists, were as much superior to many of their contemporaries, who boast of the extensive circulation of their productions, as wit is to dullness, sense to folly, and knowledge to ignorance.
“ The Cabinet” too, the immediate successor of “The Pic-Nic,” which was in part supported by the patriotic and classical effusions of the veteran Cumberland, has been unjustly consigned to “the tomb of the Capulets."
Amongst a variety of political essayists, whose productions have enlivened the columns of our diurnal prints, the unknown author of Alfred's Letterst has displayed much good sense, and has inculcated some correct notions respecting the beneficial effects of our constitution on the welfare and happiness of the people. All his sentiments evince the genuine patriot, and the pious Christian.
A volume of “ Essays, by the Students of the College of Fort William, in Bengali,” has been received from India. These essays, relating to eastern literature, the manners and customs of the natives, &c. possess extraordinary merit.
Mr. BURDON, in his “ Materials for Thinking $," holds forth lofty pretensions of patriotism, candour, and liberality of sentiment; but, of his patriotism, of his candour, of his liberality of sentiment, our readers will judge, when we inform them, that he is the ardent qulogist of Buonaparte, that he approves of the French invasion of Egypt, and that he informs us, that Buona
+ Vide Notices, p. 460.
+ Ditto, 448. $ D tto, 458.
parte“ passed over in silence the low illiberality of such men as Lord Grenville and Mr. Pitt, perhaps in contempt of their talents ; for what talents have they but for making speeches ?"-Even in cases where politics are not concerned, the same liberality of sentiment is constant. ly displayed by Mr. BURDON.
Dr. TURNER'S " Essays on Subjects of Miscellaneous Literature *'' evince the author's possession of an inquisitive and independent turn of mind, with an original cast of thought. His eloquence is not of the first order, but his manner is spirited and forcible.
The writers of “ The Adviser,” a series of periodical essays, in four volumes, like Mr. BURDon, have made great professions; and, like that gentleman, they have greatly failed in their performance. They have ungenerously attacked individuals instead of their follies and vices, and have substituted personal invective for the cool and dispassionate investigation of the morals of the times.
Among the variety of articles, which could not be introduced under either of the heads already noticed, we shall first notice Miss WILLIAMS'S “ Political and Con. fidential Correspondence of Louis the Sirteentht." This lady, in a stiff, affected preface, informs the public, that this epistolary collection is selected from a work, the authenticity of which she declares to be undoubted, that was published in France by some friends of loyalty who were eager to justify their late king.
The most ardent admirers of French liberty, cannot, we conceive, peruse the correspondence of the ill-fated Louis without yielding a nobler tribute than that of pity to his memory: it demands reverence and sorrow. Miss WILLIAMS, however, impertinently obtrudes her own remarks on each letter, apparently with the view of confounding or misleading the reader's judge
► Vide Notices, p. 451,
† Ditto 2450.
ment. The language of the original letters is classical and energetic; but the sentences, alternately slip-slop! and turgid, into which Miss W. has translated it, cannot fail of disgusting the reader.
BERTRAND DE MOLEVILLE, the gallant adherent to his unfortunate sovereign, has published what he terms “ A Refutation of the Libel on the Memory of the late King of France *." Out of the seventy-two letters, of which Miss WILLIAMS's book consists, seven only are admitted by this author to be the production of his royal master. He admits, however, that the others, though fabrications, contain the opinions and real sentiments of Louis ihe Sixteenth.
The letters of the late Earl of Chatham, to his nephew, the deceased Lord Camelford t, are of considerable value, as they disclose the temper, with the sea cret and domestic feelings, of the celebrated writer. They are estimable, too, as they abound in salutary advice for youth, and as they contain his lordship's serious judgment of those perfections and talents which it principally imports a young man to acquire.
The first complete edition of “ The Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu," including her correspondence, poems, and essays, has recently appeared. As the earlier collections of her letters, &c. were incorrect and imperfect, these volumes will be highly acceptable to the admirers of Lady Mary, particularly as they contain a great portion of original matter.
M. BARRE, a native of France, has published a “ History of the French Consulate under Napolean Buonupurte. From this gentleman was expected a close, distinct, explicit, and regular view of those topics, which lie loosely scattered among the pages of various writers, together with an account of many interesting facts, which had before escaped observation; but, in these expectations, the public have been considerably disappointed. He has neither presented us with new
* Vide Notices, p. 461.
+ Ditto, 456.
facts, nor placed those already known in a more lumi nous point of view. M. BARRE is a warm adherent to the ancient regime; but, though we consider that no severity of epithet, as applied to Monsieur Buonaparte, can be too great; we could, in this performance, which affects the dignity of history, have excused the unceasing repetition of such phrases as, insolent foreigner, Corsican scoundrel, notorious impostor, execrable villain, sanguinary wretch, atrocious murderer, ferocious jacobin, infamous assassin, &c. &c.
“ The Revolutionary Plutarch *" is one of those publieations which can scarcely receive praise too high. It professes to exhibit the most distinguished characters, literary, moral, and political, which have figured in the recent annals of the French republic. The author, who is understood to be an old French officer, appears to bave had authentic sources of information ; and, as his principles are correct, a love of truth appearing to predominate throughout the work, we have perused it with more than common attention.
The first edition of “The Revolutionary Plutarch" consisted of only two volumes, which contained “ the particulars of no person, who was not either a relative, a courtier, a favourite, a tool, an accomplice, or a rival, of the too-fortunate Corsican upstart.” The great sale of the work speedily demanded a second edition, the value of which was enhanced by the addition of a third volume, containing biographical sketches of the late unfortunate Duke d'Enghein, (Louis VIII.); the royalist general, Georges; generals Berthier, Menou, Murat, Rocharbeau, and Boyer; the consul, Cambaceres ; the judges, Regnier and Thuriot; the police-director, Real; the spy, Mehée de la Touche; Garat, Fontaines, and Chenier.
In addition to the various publications which we have already noticed, relative to modern Paris, we must mention « Mr. Eyre's Observations,” made in that city during the late ephemeral peace. This gentleman; who descends into minutiæ more than any of his pre
* Vide Notices, p. 46.