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From pain, from anguish freed, to rove
Who points the pang, who balms the woe!'
Planets and Zodiacal Signs. By Marianne Curties. 8vo. 58. Boards.. Richardson.
This Classical Pastime requires some introductory explanation, and, when it is explained, we discover that very unnecessary pains are here taken to burden the memory for the sake of enabling it to recollect the names of the planets of our solar system, and of the signs of the zodiac. Antient and modern personages and objects are described and combined in a very confused and unintelligible manner; gods and men, mountains, cities, and rivers, being jumbled together without any ostensible reason: the names of these personages and objects must then be recollected by the pupil, and, finally, by joining their initials, he works out the name of the planet or sign required. The utility of such queer enigmas we cannot perceive. Why, we may ask, (to take the first instance,) must Saturn, Olympus, and Latona, be described, to help a young person to recollect the word Sol? What conneca tion have the classical accounts of Saturn, Olympus, and Latona, with the great luminary in the center of our system? The first enigma is marked with the astronomical sign of the sun, (O) and the opening stanzas are as follow: • When first this Orb bowld from th' Almighty hand,
While yet the stamp of innocence it bore,
And halcyons swept the sea from shore to shore :
(Earth’s virgin bosom yet unstain'd with blood,) The father of the Gods benignly reign'd;
And all were happy then, for all were good.
« This father name.'Thus, when it may be supposed that some description is about to be given of the great source of light and heat, mention is made of an
orb bowl'd from the Almighty's hand, as if the Deity had been playing at nine-pins; which orb, however, is meant for our earth, and then is subjoined an account of the old god Saturn and his golden days. This father of the gods the pupil must recollect for the sake of the first letter of his name, with the initials of Olympus, and Latona, subsequently depicted in verse ; and then comes what is called the explanation, which still requires the key at the end :
• The initials join’d will instantaneous tell
The world's great eye, exhaustless source of day!
Who glads e'en distant Herschel with his ray.' This lady has probably compiled her series of acrostic enigmas for the use of some pupils : but in our opinion she has laboured much to little purpose. The names introduced have no connection with the object to be developed. The volume is also very incorrectly printed, even to a greater extent than the list of errata indicates. Art. 19. Disappointment; or, the Hunt after Royalty. A Poem.
By John Williams. Crown 8vo. Darton and Co. 1814.
During the visit of the foreign sovereigns to the British capital, the populace amused themselves by going, as they termed it, A King and Emperor-hunting ;” and it appears, by this poem, that Mr. Williams was one of this large hunting party.
Could I a loit'rer here remain,
the festive train ?
And see the gaudy, glittring show.' Away then dashes Mr. W. with his dulcinea to Greenwich, to see the royal strangers : but they go and return without accomplishing their object. This is the Disappointment ; and it is told in such lamentable verse that we hope he has prepared for himself a second disappointment.
POLITICS. Political Portraits, in this new Æra ; with Explanatory Notes-Historical and Biographical. By William Playfair, Author of the “ Political Atlas,' the “ Decline and Fall of Nations," and other Works. 8vo.
PP. 952. l. 45. Boards. Chapple. 1813-14.
This is, on the whole, a most singular performance ; containing a very unconnected and miscellaneous assemblage of personages, together with a series of observations, which are scarcely less remarkable on some occasions for their excentricity than on others for their insipid and common-place character. In arranging the succession of his portraits, Mr. Playfair has chosen to adopt the alphabetical order, a method which, however proper in a work of great extent, seems wholly unnecessary in the present case ;
and the consequence of which has been the juxta-position of personages the least likely
to possess any common characteristics or principles of association. We have thus the Emperor Alexander preceded by our unambitious countryman Mr. Adam; the Emperor Francis II. following close on the heels of Mr. Foster; the Duke del Infantado coupled with our East-India-acquaintance, Sir Hugh Inglis; and the warlike Platoff delineated side by side with the legal Sir Thomas Plumer.
In his prefatory remarks, the author makes a rather unusual kind of complaint ; viz. of the difficulty of conveying pleasant information to the ear of the Prince Regent. By neglecting a proposition which Mr. P. made, (p. 53.) an opportunity was lost, he says, of rendering the Prince the idol of the people. That a minister should not wish kings or regents to be admired is, in this gentleman's opinion, nothing extraordinary: but he can by no means conceive how such a feeling should actuate their private friends. The proposition in question was to send a message to parliament, desiring an inquiry into the high price of flour compared with that of wheat ; and no doubt of the possibilty of a great change taking place, in consequence, seems ever to have entered into the mind of the projector. He is equally confident that the misunderstanding with the Princess of Wales might have been easily adjusted : but the guardians of CarltonHouse appear to have been as insensible to the charms of Mr. P.'s oratory on this as on the equally delicate subject (P:54.) of a pecu. niary claim on the Prince.
The list of portraits begins in due form with his Majesty, and goes round the whole royal circle, who are treated throughout with the most respectful condescension : while the indignation and declamatory powers of the author are reserved for the Opposition in this country, and for the more conspicuous adherents of Bonaparte on the Continent. For example, after having launched out into high-flown encomiums on the Princess Charlotte and her once destined spouse, Mr. P. heightens the colouring by a vehement effusion against that arch-renegado, Marshal Davoust. Panegyric, however, may be called the general character of the book ; and on some occasions it is rather unluckily applied, as in commending (Vol. i. p. 250.) the disinterestedness of Lord Cochrane. When he has finished the delineation of the royal family, the writer introduces Mr. Abbott and a variety of alphabetical successors, whose names we should enumerate, were we not deterred by a desire of avoiding to raise curiosity, when it cannot be gratified: because the reader who, attracted by the interest of the title, expects to find either amusing or useful observations, will bestow his labour in vain, and will travel through a work abounding with such truisms as that (p. 487.) • Lord Wellington is penetrating and clear sighted,' or (p. 498.) the Irish are generous and good hearted, but hasty and inconsiderate.' We must add also, that, when this uninviting style becomes occasionally elevated, the opinions or rather allegations of the author are crude and erroneous to an extraordinary degree.--In this, as in his former publications, Mr. P. keeps up, with all imaginable consistency, the character of a writer who disdains to seek for truth by the old fashioned path of progressive inquiry; and his talents, as Dr. Johnson said of Junius, certainly do not shine in demonstration.
BIOGRAPHY. Art. 21. The Advantages of early Piety displayed in a Memoir of
Mr. John Clement, Surgeon, late of Weymouth; who died in the Twer.tieth Year of his Age. Compiled from his Letters and Dirry; and interspersed with occasional Reflections. By John Hooper, M.A. 8vo. 45. 6d. Boards. Hatchard. 1814.
Biographies of ordinary characters, written under the strong impulse of private friendship, are liable to swell into unnecessary magnitude, and to become tiresome from an attempt to give them an undue importance. Little things cannot be made great by pompous description ; nor can common incidents obtain importance by being minutely detailed. To undertake the delineation of the professional character of a young man who was apprenticed to a country-surgeon at seventeen years
age, and died at twenty, is ludicrous; while, by copying letters and a diary, the writer has extended his account to 190 octavo pages. Mr. Clement seems to have been a good young man : but his friend has told us more of him than it was necessary for us to know; and to speak of a youth of twenty as • exhibiting a bright constellation of excellences' is to outrage common sense. At his time of life, his character could scarcely be said to have been formed: the blossom had opened well, but the fruit was not formed. Was it requisite to tell the public that the first thing which this
young man did as an apothecary.'s apprentice was pounding a little ginger,' or, to use Mr. Hooper's pompous expression, that he thus commenced his career? This trivial circumstance is mentioned in the chapter which treats of young Clement's professional character, and is placed on a par with the first rude draught of a Raphael, and the first mathematical figure drawn by a Newton !' Mr. Hooper is very ill calculated to discriminate characters, if he cannot distinguish between the promising displays of true genius, and operations which the lowest journeyman can and always does perform.
RELIGIOUS. Art. 22. Discourses on Universal Restitution, delivered to the Society
of Protestant Dissenters in Lewin's Mead, Bristol. By John Prior Estlin, LL.D. 8vo. Pp. 211. 78. Boards. Longman and Co. 1813
The text prefixed to these six discourses is taken from 1 John, iv. 8. God is Love; and the object of the venerable, amiable, and intelligent preacher is to exhibit the whole of the Divine Administration in perfect accordance with the Infinite Benevolence of the Deity. His fundamental principle is that, under the government of perfect love, punishment cannot be chosen as an end, but as a means ; or, in other words, that the punishments denounced against the wicked must be considered as remedial, and will terminato in reform. This subject is discussed with great calmness and ability ; while the age and solemnity of the preacher give force to his arguments. He endeavours to prove, both from reason and from Scripture, that the doctrine of the eternity of hell torments, and that of the annihilation of the wicked, are unfounded, and revolting to every idea which we can properly entertain of the Supreme Being as a God of Love. After having
laboured to refute these tenets, which he reckons among the corruptions of Christianity, he proceeds to establish the more pleasing faith that the perfections of God, and the declarations of Scripture, assure us that the end of punishment, in the Divine government, is to reform, from which final virtue and final happiness will be the glorious result.
The whole of this discussion is highly creditable to Dr. Estlin; and, though we cannot admit much extract, we must copy two short passages as specimens :
• A resurrection to punishment is allowed by all. Now it certainly argues a greater degree of benevolence in the Governor of the world, after the punishment of his creatures, to restore them to his favour, than either to preserve them for ever in misery, or to blot them out of existence.
• Permit me to suggest another argument which appears to me conclusive. If there be any of you who have not yet been able to divest your minds of all doubts upon, to you this awful, to me this glorious, subject, I know you will say you wish the doctrine of Universal Restitution to be true. Why do you wish it ! Certainly not from weakness, or from any partial affection, but from the purest, the sublimest benevolence. Are you more benevolent than your heavenly Father?'
• The kingdom which Christ was commissioned by God to oppose, and by opposing to destroy, was the kingdom of error or of darkness, of sin, of misery, and of death : and that the kingdom which he was commissioned by God to establish in the room of the other, and over which he is appointed by God to preside, is the kingdom of truth, of righteousness, of happiness, and of life; and that the characters of this kingdom are, it will be victorious, it will be universal, and it will be eternal ; or, it will finally lead to, and then be absorbed in, the kingdom of boundless love.'
We invite the strenuous advocates for the doctrine of the eternity of hell-torments to a serious consideration of Dr. Estlin's reasoning, and particularly to his explanation of those passages of Scripture which they adduce in its support:
* To a belief in the doctrine of the eternity of hell-torments, I impute more absurdity, more misery, and more unchristian conduct, than to all other false opinions put together. It is impossible that a mind of
any benevolence should be able to look round on a race of beings, to whom it is connected by the nearest ties, the greater part of whom are doomed to eternal misery, without feeling existence itself insupportable. The effects of this doctrine, when a person applies it to himself, are gloom and despair, often terminating in mental derangement : when he applies it to others, pride, cruelty, hatred, and all the worst passions of human nature.' Art. 23. Does Faith ensure Good Works? An Answer in the
Negative. By the Rev. James Beresford, Rector of Kibworth, Leicestershire ; late Fellow of Merton-College, Oxford. 8vo. pp. 43. Hatchard. 1814.
We have rarely perused a pamphlet on a controverted point of theology that was written with more temper and firmness, with more