« AnteriorContinuar »
Nor lefs the guilty Parent's ire,
Whofe mad'ning zeal boils in th' unnatural feud: And Savage Bands, untaught like men to feel, High raise the murd'rous ax; the ruthless tort'ring steel!' Art. 23. Ode to the IVarlike Genius of Great Britain, By the Rev. W. Talker, A. B. The fecond Edition, with confiderable Additions. 4to. 2. Dodley, &c. 1778.
In our Review for July lait, p. 72, we inferted a Catalogue-article of this Ode, which then appeared without the Author's name: a circumftance which gives the prefent edition a customary right to fome notice, as a knowledge of the Writer is new matter of information to our leaders.
Mr. Tafker, like Tyrtæus of old, aims, in general, at the great purpose of rousing the martial fpirit of the people; but the more immediate and peculiar occafion of this poem, is the celebration of our last year's encampments, near Maidstone, Salisbury, Winchester, and Brentwood:
On every heath, on every ftrand,
Gallia's pale genius ftands aghaft,
Thefe lines, detached from very diftant parts of the poem (but not, we apprehend, unnaturally connected here), will ferve, in fome meafure, as a fpecimen of this fpirited Ode:-from which no quotation was made in our firft mention of it.
Art. 24. The Hiftory of the Holy Bible, as contained in the facred Scriptures of the Old and New Teftament, Attempted in eafy verfe. With occafional Notes. Including a concife Relation of the facred History from the Birth of Creation to the Times of our Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift and his Apoftles; and comprehending all the memorable Tranfactions during the Space of above 4000 Years. By John Fellows, Author of Grace Triumphant; a Poem. 12mo. 4 vols. 8s. Hogg. 1778. This book may prove agreeable and useful to children, and youth, for whom it is particularly intended, and to fome others who wish to affift the memory, and are not much folicitous about the exactness and beauty of poetry.
Art. 25. Buthred; a Tragedy. As it is acted at the TheatreRoyal in Covent-Garden. 8vo. Is. 6d. Newbury. 1779.
Two ingenious gentlemen have publickly disclaimed this piece; which feems to be the production of fome fond fchoolboy, who had feen and read tragedies, till he had betrayed himself into the idea of being able to write one. Buthred is beneath all criticism.
Art. 26. The Panegyric of Voltaire. Written by the King of Pruffia, and read at an Extraordinary meeting of the Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres of Berlin, November 26, 17,8. 8vo. 1 s. 6 d. Murray, &c.
We have before us a performance which is, at once, a monument to the memory of Voltaire, and to the honour of human friendship. The prince who had warmly patronifed the poet when living, afferts and vindicates his fame when dead.-Farther than this, friendship cannot go.
This piece, however, does not feem to be one of thofe happy eulogiums which have both immortalized themselves, and the subject of their praife. It is, on the whole, a production too fuperficial for the pen of the Royal Pruffian, from whofe literary and philofophic accomplishments, fomething more fubftantial might have been expected. But, indeed, the wonder is, how, with fuch important and hazardous engagements on his hands, at the juncture when this panegyric was composed, the letter'd warriour could fo detach himself from thetented 'field,' as to execute this academical task, fo decently as he has done. But it will be asked, why then did the King, so circumftanced, undertake so nice and difficult a theme? A theme too, on which he was fure to meet with very powerful competitors *!-In reply to this, we hall, perhaps, be told that, at least, we have here a strong proof of the SINCERITY of that regard which his Majefty had fo long profeffed for Monfieur de Voltaire;'-we must admit this.
The tranflator of this piece juftly obferves, in his preface, that Voltaire, who celebrated many kings, is himself celebrated by a king. It is the province of poets to write the panegyric of princes, but Voltaire is perhaps the first poet whofe panegyric is profeffedly written by a fovereign. The following piece was compofed after the king of Pruffia had begun to withdraw his troops from Silefia, and before he returned to take up his winter-quarters in that country. If it is remarkable that the king of Pruffia fhould write the panegyric of Voltaire, it is ftill more remarkable that he should undertake this talk amidst the cares, the fatigues, and the disappointments of the field. But the fingular character of that philofophical hero renders what would appear moft extraordinary in the conduct of other men, natural and familiar with him.'
The tranflator farther remarks, that In order to estimate the merit of the panegyric, it is necessary to take into confideration not only the dignity of the author, and the peculiar circumstances in which he wrote, but the nature, object, and aim of this fpecies of compofition
· Without bidding open defiance to the evidence of historic truth, he panegyrift is entitled to borrow all the colours of painting, and
* Among other eminent literati, engaged in the fame task, we have been particularly informed of Meffrs. Linguet and Paliffot; the latter of whom has actually published his panegyric on M. Voltaire; and we have given an account of it in our Appendix so Rev. vol. lix. just published.
to employ the whole power of eloquence, to magnify the character of the hero who is the object of his praife. To thofe actions which principally tend to elevate and to adorn it, he is to give prominence and relief; while he throws whatever is blameable or defective into the fhade of obfcurity. This is the great rule of panegyric, as practifed by its inventors, the Greeks; and fuch is the nature of the encomium which their imitator Pliny beftows on his admired Trajan. Whatever is great, elevated, and noble; whatever is proper to excite a mixed paffion of furprize and approbation, by rifing fuperior to the ordinary conduct and character of men, may with propriety be introduced into a panegyric. Yet the mob of mankind, dazzled with the fplendor of external circumftances, and prone to admire what is elevated in rank and ftation, rather than what is eminent in abilities and virtue, feem to think that princes, warriors, and ftatefmen, are alone worthy to become the fubject of popular applaufe. With this prejudice his Pruffian Majefty is obliged to contend; and it is beautiful to hear a prince, born in a country where the phantom of nobility, and the vain decoration of empty titles, are regarded with more respectful ftupidity than in any other kingdom of Europe, raife his voice against the prevailing errors of his nation, and reinftate perfonal merit and abilities in that rank, which they are justly entitled to maintain. He proves that the fertility of M. Voltaire's genius, and his unexampled fuccefs in all the various kinds of literary compofition, render him truly deferving of universal admiration; while his fuccefsful stand against that worlt fpecies of tyranny, which would enflave the heart, the affections, the minds of men, entitle him to the gratitude of the whole human race. To establish these points, his Majefly gives an analyfis of the principal works of his favourite author, and defcribes thofe tranfactions of his life, by which he added luftre to his fpeculative principles, and defended the injured caufe of fuffering humanity. The history of the family of Calas and of Sirvens, makes a diftinguished figure; and the amiable beneficence of indulgent philofophy, is contrafted with the destructive rigour of gloomy fuperftition. With fingular propriety the royal author throws a veil over the more doubtful or licentious writings of the philofopher of Ferney. He affirms that Voltaire was convinced of the great truths of natural religion; and too intimately perfuaded of the authenticity of revealed, to imagine that the vain doubts and reafonings of a few fpeculative men, could counteract the effect of divine inspirations. The aim of his majesty throughout, is to deftroy the opinion generally entertained of the impiety of Voltaire, and to fhew that he explained the philofophy of Epicurus, Hobbes, and Bolingbroke, without adopting their tenets. He goes. ftill farther; and undertakes to prove, that the life and conduct of this celebrated writer was generally governed by the amiable maxims, the humanity, candour, and divine charity of the Gospel. The attempt is worthy of our ferious attention; and proves that, even in the opinion of the King of Pruffia, a disrespect for Christianity can never be employed as a topic of panegyric.'
These observations are just;-as to the panegyric itself, all that we 'fhall add, in the prefent article, will be the following fhort extra&; from which the reader will infer, how highly the royal encomiast
deems of the abilities and learning of the fingular genius whom he celebrates:
Such a diverfity of talents, and fuch a variety of knowledge, united in the fame man, affect the readers with furprize, mixed with admiration. Call to remembrance, Gentlemen, the lives of the great men of antiquity, whofe names are handed down to later ages. You will find that each of them confined his talents to one particular art. Ariftotle and Plato were philofophers; Æfchines and Demofthenes, orators; Homer, an epic poet; Sophocles wrote tragedies; Anacreon, fongs; Thucydides and Xenophon, hiftories. In the fame manner, among the Romans, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Lucretius, were poets; Livy and Varro, hiftorians; Craffus, and the elder Antony, attended only to their pleadings. Cicero, that eloquent conful, the guardian and father of his country, is the only Roman who poffeffed the whole compafs of literary attainments. He joined to that commanding eloquence, which rendered him fuperior to all his contemporaries, a deep knowledge of the philofophy ftudied in ancient times; as is evident from his Tufculan Questions, his admirable Treatife on the Nature of the Gods, and Books of Offices, which contain, perhaps, the best system of morality which we have seen to this day. Cicero was likewife a poet: he tranflated, into Latin, the Verfes of Aratus; and it is believed that his corrections much improved the philofophical Poem of Lucretius.
It is neceffary, therefore, to run over feventeen centuries before we can find, in that immenfe multitude which compofes the human fpecies, a fingle man fit to be compared with our Author. It may be faid, ifI may be allowed fo to express myself, that Voltaire alone was equal to a whole academy. In fome of his writings we recognise Bayle, armed with all the arguments of logic; in others we feem to read Thucydides: here he is a philofopher, prying into the fecrets of nature; there a metaphyfician, fupported by analogy and expe-, rience, following, with measured fteps, the wary track of Locke. In other performances you find the rival of Sophocles: there he affumes the comic mafk; but the elevation of his genius can hardly defcend to an equality with Terence and Moliere. Soon you fee him mount on fiery Pegasus, who, extending his wings, carries him to the top of Helicon, where the god of the Mufes adjudges him his place between Homer and Virgil.'
Having already difcuffed the celebrity of M. de Voltaire, in our account of M. Pallifot's Eulogium, in our Appendix (jutt published), we have thought it the lefs requifite to enlarge on the prefent panegyric;-notwithstanding that fo illuftrious a man is the subject, and 10 great a Prince the author.
Art. 27. A Year's Journey through France, and part of Spain..
By Philip Thickneffe, Efq; the Second Edition, with Additions. 8vo. 2 vols. 10s. 6 d. fewed. Brown. 1778.
We are not furprized to fee, that a fecond edition of these entertaining travels hath been fo fpeedily called for. The Author's original manner, his fhrewd fenfible turn of observation, and the many amufing and inftructive particulars comprehended in his narrative, could not fail to recommend his work to the generality of readers: who love nothing more than to fit at their eafe, and travel at home.
Among the additions made to this re-publication, we are pleased to find a letter to the Author, from the holy fathers of the monaftery at the mountain of Montferat, in acknowledgment of the prefent which he had fent them of his perspective view of that mountain, &c. which he justly ftyles (in the preface to this edition) one of the moft fingular and beautiful productions of nature *. The fubftance † of the letter is as follows:
The letter and print which came enclofed to me, demand our warmest thanks, and it is with pleasure we hear of your health, and that of your worthy family; this whole community highly value the print, on two accounts; first, for the excellent and delicate manner in which the work is executed, and fecondly, for its ftrong resemblance to the place; but as none of our fraternity understand English, the books would have been to us quite ufelefs. We fhould be happy to fee you and your good family once more on our mountain. Pere Tendre, is at this time very much indifpofed, but defires his refpects. May all manner of felicity attend you and yours, for which I offer up my prayers, being, with great esteem
Your obliged fervant,
PERE PASQUAL RODRIEGUO.' A letter from the Hermits of Montferrat, is like news from the other world with what peculiar pleasure muft it have been received by Mr. Thickneffe: we envy him his feeling on this occafion. Art. 28. Candid and impartial Narrative of the Tranfactions of
the Fleet under the Command of Lord Howe, from the Arrival of the Toulon Squadron on the Coaft of America, to the Time of his Lordship's departure for England. With Obfervations, by an Officer then ferving in the Fleet. 8vo. I S. Almon. 1779. From the circumflances detailed in this narrative, we are led to conclude, that the pamphlet is really the production of a perfon actually prefent in the fervice which he defcribes.
The Author highly extols the conduct-the skill, the bravery, of Lord Howe, but he violently exclaims against the ignorance,' the daftardly councils, or treacherous defigns,' of our miniftry; and he, particularly, makes very free with the name of Lord Sa-h.
He may have fpoken the honest truth, in the warm praises which he has bestowed on his favourite hero; and we are inclined to believe that he has done fo; but we cannot commend the fplenetic, the virulent, we may add, the outrageous manner, in which this candid and impartial' Narrator inveighs against the fteerfmen placed at the helm of the British itate. He produces, however, fome facts in fupport of his invectives; and we must do him the juftice to acknowledge, that he can argue as well as rail.
Our extract from the Author's very ample description of this erial habitation of monks and hermits, may be feen in the Review for Sept. 1777.
+ The original is given at length, in our Author's Appendix.
One of the good fathers of the monastery, particularly mentioned in our Author's defcription of Montferrat.