Page images

the peculiar method of conducting its expenditure, on the other, are necessarily involved in the inquiry which he has undertaken to conduct. In his former works, he seemed to be aware of this conöderation ; for he there attempted to show, that the loans might have been negotiated on terms more advantageous to the public. In the prefent essay, he never once points at any such comparison ; and, without a proof of this nature, or a demonftration that the war ought not to have been waged, or, if waged, that it could have been carried on with smaller military and narał establishments, or a statement of the savings which might have been made in the disposal of the revenue, all his calculations of the absolute amount of loans, expenditure and taxes, present

us only with a view of one side of the account-one part of the I data, from which no conclufion whatever can be drawn as to the profufion or economy of the Government.

Such being our general objection to the political logic of Mr Morgan in this pamphlet, we are the less anxious about the para scular arguments which he has taken occafion to intermix with bis calculations. The melancholy prospect which he holds out of he diminution that the revenue appropriated to defray the expences of the debt must experience after a peace, has been conradicted by the immense increase of that revenue during the last **0 years. The idea of the unlimited iffue of bank paper allowing every needy fpeculator to bid for loans in safety, is too obrøully inconfiftent with the facts respecting the bank business, to sequire any detailed refutation. The notion, that the unfavour. ble course of exchange which led to the fufpenfion of cash pay. ments at the bank was produced by the exportation of bullion to isb6dize foreign princes, can scarcely be deemed any thing less aan thoughtlefs and violent party declamation, in one who is so

i acquainted with the vast commercial resources of this ifland, who ftates the whole amount of the foreign subsidies at little more in the comparatively paltry sum of five millions, and who ought

be acquainted with the plaineft principles of this branch of po

zical economy. In fact, notwithstanding our author's apparent ! podilection for arguments strictly arithmetical, and his careful

larowal of any desire to enter upon political topics, we cannot

y suspecting that he has adopted this mode of reasoning from aqures, as the most plausible and fpecious plan of attacking the anuncial operations of the late ministry, and has avoided the difabon of more general fubjects, only because the result of such

curhion must have essentially affected the application of his podetical arithmetic to the question at iffue. In spite of the purely

denetical guise in which he attempts to veil his speculations, cá the unquestionable skill with which he conducts all his numer.

F 2


ical operations, we have no hesitation in pronouncing the perforrance to be completely factious in its whole design and execution, and eminently inconclusive in its principles of reasoning.

Art. VI. Travels from Hamburg, through Wolphalia, Holland, and the Nethırlands, io Paris. By Thomas Holcroft. Two vol. 4to.

with folio plates. Pp. 950. London, Philips, 1804.

TROM the pen of Mr Holcroft we expected at least something

amusing ; but the greater part of this work does not rise above the denomination of light reading; and light reading, when it is dilated into two capacious quartos, is apt to become as burdensome to the intellect as matter more fubftantial.

These travels are evidently composed in imitation of the Sentimental Journey of Sterne; and the model has been copied with such scrupulous exactness of imitation, that none of its faults are omitted. The offensive familiarity, the affected oddity and abruptness, the frequent interjections, the apostrophes to imaginary persons, the egotism and levity that distinguish the style of Sterne, are at least as remarkable in his imitator, as his wit, pathos, or originality. Such a manner of writing could only please, we should imagine, in the hands of the original inventor; and though it might help to set off a feries of appropriate fictions, was evidently unsuitable for a distinct and continued narrative of real occurrences. Such is the style, however, which Mr Holcroft has thought proper to adopt as the vehicle of all that profound observation, authentic anecdote, and philosophical description, by which he flatters himself that he has paved the way to the formation of an univerfal and permanent code of ethics.' Of the common offences of such imitators, vulgarity, pertness, and trifling or abfolute fillinefs, Mr Holcroft has certainly his full share to answer for : It would be unjust, however, not to add, that he is occasionally lively, ingenious and amusing ; that he is generally good-natured and tolerant ; and that there is an air of authenticity in most of his narratives, that recommends them to the belief of the reader, in spite of the affectation of the language in which they are delivered.

The profeffed object of Mr Holcroft's book is to delineate the manners of the people among whom he travels; and, by fixing the facts and the philosophy of national character in the most important part of Europe, to enlarge the sphere, and increase the accuracy of our moral observations. He contrives, however, not to be very much constrained by the exclusive nature of his object; for whenever he finds himself disposed to describe a building, a


phere, and increa moftoim

for whene much contrainferrations.

he wholeme, or a ppointed. as

picture, or a dinner, he immediately discovers that the manners and character of a people cannot possibly be better elucidated than by an inquiry into their taste in architecture and the other arts of refined life. In devoting himself to the delineation of national manners, Mr Holcroft was probably determined, not merely by the great interest and attraction of the subject, but, in fome degree, by a consciousness of the limits of his own qualifications. To the naturalift- the man of science the agriculturistthe merchant, or even the admirer of the picturesque, he does not pretend to be capable of affording either information or delight.

This book is entitled, Travels through Holland, Westphalia, &c. to Paris : but the reader will be grievously disappointed, if he expects to be amused with a moving picture, or a succession of new scenes and adventures through the whole of the performance. About one third of the first volume conducts Mr Holcroft and his family from Hamburg to Paris; and the remaining 800 quarto pages are entirely occupied with the description of that city, and with a full and particular account of every thing the author law, heard, did, read, felt, thought or imagined, during the eighteen months that he remained among its inhabitants.

Mr Holcroft begins his work with some good plain observations upon the pain of parting with friends, and gives us a sober, dull narrative of the manner in which he was cheated by his landlady at Hamburg ;-but he does not grovel long in this vulgar track; in the third page he flies off in this dramatic exclamation.

· How forgetful I am! Or rather how much I have to remember! Do, my good and dear Doctor, accompany these ladies, to whom you have always been so friendly, as far as the boat. I must run to the banker, and the bookseller, and above all to the man who has so difin. terestedly and essentially served me, the friend whom I shall not easily forget, Mr Schuchmacher ; with whom I have still some business to arfaoge.

When did M******* refuse a kind office ?' p. 3. He gets over all his engagements, however, and arrives at the boat-house foon enough, as he elegantly expresses it, to take a parting glass' with his friends.

The next chapter fets off with this splendid specimen of the chomatopoeia-which is meant, it seems, to represent the action of smoking a pipe.

Pf! pff! Hu, hu, hu! I am Atifed !--Will you be kind enough, Sir, to let this lady fit on the other side of you ? ja wohl, mein Herr : aber " Willingly, Sir : but-"

• This but was very fignificant. Every man had his pipe ; and it was in vain to change places. We had lived two years among these fernal smokers.' p. so

In the end of the fame chapter we have a very fair specimen of the self-complacency with which Mr Holcroft pursues his lucubrations, of the ease of his style, and the fineness of his feel. ings.

• These marsh lands are uncommonly prolific ; and their inhabitants are a very good kind of people. So be it. I bless my stars, I am but a passenger.

s I had supposed Harburg to be a village : and the imagination had some relief, as I approached, to discover it was a fortified town.

It had just been taken poffeffion of by the Prussiaos; and this was another subje&t for meditation. It affected me. It brought to remembrance the contests of power, the sufferings of the unoffending, and the whole train of melancholy reflexions by which the mind, dispirited, fatigued, and worn, had been sunk to apathy or despair. What do these men do here ? said I. Why do they not stay at home ; and build bridges, repair roads, drain bogs, and fructify the barren lands of Brandenburg ? Would not this be to gain territory? Cannot ambition occupy itself more profitably and more nobly than in rapine ? Ambition a noble quality ? Oh, no! It is blind, selfish, itupid, and almost as ignorant as it is hateful.' p. 6. 7.

Of the country, Mr Holcroft affures us that nothing could be seen except cold and green nakedness; '--the inns, too, were very bad, and the stuhl-wagen jolted abominably. At Bremen he meets with a German petit-maître, who is not ill defcribed ; and at Delo manhorst the fight of fome Prussian foldiers renrinds him that the great Frederic was great for dealing in human flaughter.' At Groningen, where some of the natives were rude enough to laugh at the outlandish appearance of his party, Mr Holcroft takes occafion to make the following profound and interesting observations.

These are trifles; and in fact we laughed in turn. I suppose it was virtue in us, that we concealed orir laughter from the objects of it: though I leave it to better cafuifts to decide how far this kind of laughter, or, if they are in the humour to dispute, any kind of laughter, is a mark of sound sense. I own, I wish I could laugh oftener: yet I am very wrong, if I wish for folly ; and I do not very well know how pure wisdom Mould excite laughter. Bless us ! we have many doubts to solve ; and, as I fear, much rubbish to remove.

. Are we in the land of metaphyfics; or of moral philafophy; or where? We ought to be at Groningen; fober Groningen : where the people appear to have a deal of common sense. Be it remarked, how. cver, that here, in sober Groningen, we met with the firit tree of li. berty.

«What warring sensations did the fight of it infpire ! What is a re. volution? And what has this revolution effected? The mass of evil, and the mass of good, put in oppolire scales : which shall preponderatç? I solemnly declare, in the face of mankind, my heart aches, op.


preffed with a sense of past miseries, though I ardently hope, nay am seriouly convinced, ' &c. p. 42.

Mr Holcroft however does not always trifle or raye fo abfurdly. His description of a Dutchman, though not original, is correct and amusing.

• The Dutchman, living in continual danger of inundation, and of lofing, not only the fruits of his industry, but his life, becomes habis tually provident. His foresight is admirable, his perseverance not to be conquered, and his labours, unless feen, not to be believed. .

• They aftonish the more, when the phlegm of his temper and the flowness of his habits are confidered. View the minuteness of his eco. nomy, the solicitude of his precaution, and the inflexibility of his me. thodical prudence! Who would not pronounce him incapable of great enterprize ? He builds himself a dwelling : it is a hut in fize; it is a palace in deatness. It is necessarily situated among damps, upon a fat, and perhaps behind the bank of a Nuggish canal : yet he writez upon it, My Goenage, « My Delight ;”- .andlus, Country pleasures; "-Landkgt, « Country prospect ;”-or fome inscription that might characterize the vale of Tempe, or the garden of Eden. He cuts his trees into fantastical forms, hangs his awning round with small bells, and decorates his Sunday jacket with dozens of little buttons. Too provident to walte his sweets, he cunningly pasts: a bit of sugar. candy in his mouth, and drinks his tea as it melts: one morfel serves, let him drink as long as he pleafes Around him is every roken of care, caution, and cleanliness; but none, in his domestic habits, of magnificense, or grandeur of design

Having well confidered him in these his private propenfities, the ofc turns with amazement on his public works. The country, whicla nature appears to have doomed to ftagnant waters and everlasting agues, his daring and laborious arm has undertaken to drain, has overspread with verdure, and has covered with habitations. The very element, which seemed to bid him utter defiance, he has fubdued aird rendered his most useful fave,' &c. Vol. I. p. 37. 38.

To this may be added, the following account of the general appearance of the lower orders at a Dutch fair :

• The chief thing which affects the cye of a foreigner, as something muual, is the general coftume; the dresses, physiognomies, and pecu. liar appearance of the lower clafies, decked in their holiday finery. Broad pewter and filver buckles ; large and small buttons, both in ex. cels, and both of ancient usage ; fome with short vefts, and others with coais down to their heels, each of thein fitting close, and showing the wait ; projecting hips, the men wearing eight or ten pair of breeches, the women at least as many petticoats; stockings of various colours, not excepting purple, red, and yellow ; peasant girls in Mort jackets, with their gold ornaments and rich Brussels lace; tobacco pipes, various in their form and fize ; and countenances with a frequent tinge of the



« PreviousContinue »