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Sir William Jones.
Genius with Science and with Judgment meet
are fine satires; and bis Irene, if not calculated for the stage, will please in the closet. His Prefaces, to his Dictionary and to his Shakespeare, exceed all performances of the kind in the English language. Biography has been copious in the praise of this great man, but it can never do him more than justice. His life, and essays on his genius and works, have been written by Boswell, Anderson, and Murphy: The last of these authors has given the best critical view of his writings.
* Sir William Jones was a prodigy of genius, and of erudition. He was a favourite of what is commonly called Fortune, and was distinguished for his personal elegance and attractiveness of manners. He wrote, and spoke fluently many languages, and merely considered as a Linguist
Grandeur necessary to Invention.
The eastern worlds to him their lore unfold
Subjects of grandeur, beautiful or new
his attainments were astonishing. He had already become eminent as a lawyer when he accepted his honourable appointment in the East, from which he derived a yearly income of forty or fifty thousand pounds sterling. His Asiatic Researches have enlightened the world, and furnished additional evidences to the Christian religion. His Dissertations on the Poetry of the East, and on the Arts called Imitative, discover nice and accurate critical discernment. His translation of the Speeches of Isæus, tbrows light upon the practice of the ancient law. As a poet his merit is unquestionably great. His diction is nervous, and his imagery splendid. His versification has the sweetness and correctness of Pope. His Solima,---Palace of Fortune --Seven Fountains ----Arcadia and Laura ----are enchanting performances.
* The Moallakat, or the seven Arabian poems of Muriolkais, of Tarafa, of Zohair, of Libeid, of Antara, of Amru, of Hareth, preserved by Sir William Jones, were suspended on the temple at Mecca, with a translation and arguments.
If she descends to chaunt in sportive lays,
Tho' Genius mostly loves some daring theme,
* Though nothing can be farther from the truth than the assertion of Shaftesbury, that ridicule is the test of Truth; though Virtue needs no such advocate as Ridicule to plead her cause; yet there are many vices and follies which are the proper subjects of its severity and scourging : There are productions of false perverted taste, which more deserve the lash, than the attention of serious and dignified criticism. It is a mistaken opinion, too much indulged, that the excellency of satire consists rather in its severity and exaggeration than in its truth. Satire, like the knife of the surgeon, in most cases should cut, not to destroy, but to save.
+ The Eclogues of Virgil have been the models of the most finished pastorals that have since been written. Pope's
His voice of music lulls the stilly scene,
Thou murmuring breeze! O bear upon thy wing That strain, which flows from Petrarch's* mournful
pastorals have little more to recommend them than their smoothness of versification. The writer who approaches nearest to the great master of this species of poetry, is Gessner. His Idyls observe a style peculiar to themselves, He is happy in his selection of simple and affecting incidents; of such as have great force upon the heart. Dr. Johnson, in his criticism upon Virgil's Eclogues, after noticing the beauties and defects of each one, gives the preference to the first. In this decision he has been generally followed.
* This singular character was born at Arezzo, in the be ginning of the fourteenth century, when Europe began to shake off the long slumbers of Gothic night, and to hail the morning of Literature. Early in life he received the patronage of the noble family of Colonna, under whose shelter he was enabled to prosecute his studies, and to obtain stores of information unequalled in that day. His romantic at.
O speak those charms which Petrarch's Laura wears! O breathe that passion which he mourn'd in tears!
tachment for Laura, who was the wife of the young Hughes de Sades, is well known. He first saw this lady, at the time of matins, in the monastery of St. Claire. He was instantly struck with her face, her air, her person, her dark and tender eyes, “ her ringlets interwoven with the hands of love,” her gentle and modest carriage, and the melting sound of her voice. Unhappy in his passion, and unable to banish it from him, he mourned over it in his sonnets with the most inimitable tenderness, and sought for its alleviation in the solitary shades of Vaucluse; but all his efforts to forget the object of his affection were in vain. Though he concealed bimself in solitude from the observation of men; yet the image of Laura followed him there. During his abode in this retreat, and while engaged in writing an epic poem, in honour of Scipio, which he called Africa, he received a letter from the Roman senate, urging him, with many intreaties, to come to Rome, and receive the crown of laurel. On the same day in which this letter came to his hands, a courier arrived, bearing a similar invitation from the chancellor of the university at Paris : Petrarch decided in favour of Rome; and in the year 1341, amid the joy and shouts of a vast assembly, was crowned, with pomp and solemnity, at that capital.--. Amid these intoxicating honours, " I blushed,” says he, "'at the applause of the people, and the unmerited commendations with which I was overwhelmed.” Soon after, writing to a friend, he says, “ These laurels which encircled my head were too green; had I been of riper age and understanding I would