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The learned author has here zealously taken up what is commonly called the orthodox side of the question ; which, for a long time past, seems (in the opinion of many) to have been too much given up to the Arians and Socinians. Should the latter be disposed to take the field, on this occasion, they will find Mr.Wilson a formidable opponent. Art. 21. Modern Philosophy and Barbarism : or a Comparison be
tween the Theory of Godwin and the Practice of Lycurgus. An Attempt to prove the Identity of the two Systems, and the injurious Consequences which must result to Mankind from the Principles of Modern Philosophy carried inio Practice. By W. C. Proby. 8vo. pp. 80. is. 6d. Westley.
Prepossessed as we are, and ever hope to be, in favour of thosc writers who take up the pen to refute and expose what they esteem dangerous errors, we think it our duty to check, as far as our power may extend, that excessive zeal and inconsiderateness of expression by which truth itself inadvertently suffers. In giving to certain wild theories the title of Modern Philosophy, writers not only honour these theories too much, but, on the other hand, contribute to bring this respectable term and its legitimate signification into disgrace. Error is not philosophy; nor is every thing so called by the moderns erroneous. Both expressions are incorrect as above applied. Let, there. fore, the term Philosophy be, rescued from reproach ; and let not. modern science be so vilified as to represent all who are devoted to it as a dangerous class of beings. The contemptuous use of the term a modern philosophy' will tend to discourage scientific pursuits, and to make us relapse into that very barbarism' of which Mr. Proby is so much afraid. "
In the use of words, controversialists ought to be uncommonly precise and correct. To convert a word of good meaning into a term of reproach is a common trick of party, but it seldom fails to do mischief. Mr. Proby should have found out some other name for the theory which he combats, and represents as allied to Barbarism, instead of Philosophy; which is the science of truth, and in the prose cution of which the moderns have been eminently successful.
We do not offer these preliminary observations on the head-title of this pamphlet from any disapprobation of Mr. P.'s attempt. His delireation of the Lycurgan system is judicious, and sufficient to excite such a disapprobation of it as must preclude even the wish of its being again adopted by any people; and his account of Mr. Godwin's theory would deserve much attention, if the principles of it could be reduced to practice, which we think impossible : but we cannot perceive that identity between the two systems, for which he so strenuously contends.-All plans to melt down communities, or mankind in general, into one uniform and homogeneous mass, must proceed on the same principle of destroying individual interests and local at. tachinents. So far the author of " Political Justice” may be thought to have followed the Spartan lawgiver: but it is only justice to remark that the object of Mr. Godwin is more commendable than that of Lycurgus, which was to establish a community of hardy soldiers. At Sparta, as Mr. P. observes, the mildness of benevolence and the
amiability of social life were banished from the state, and nothing left behind but a cold unfeeling self-denial.'--" The progression of improvement was diametrically contrary to its institutions,'—" it endeavoured to perpetuate ignorance.' Mr. P. anticipates an objection, that this picture of the Lacedemonian regime cannot be identified with the system of Godwin, which inculcates universal benevolence and enlarged knowlege: but to this he replies that “the modern system, in endeavouring to grasp at all, grasps nothing, unless a middle path: be chosen, through which the benefits proposed by it may be practically carried into effect. He then proceeds to point out the impracticability of the Godwinean hypothesis, and in course manifests its failure of comparison with one which was formerly efficacious at Sparta.
We think that this writer is justified in reprobating a system which, in man, would annihilate love and affection, friendship and gratitude, and divest himn of all sensibility. The author of such a system may well be said to be endeavouring to destroy the beautiful pyramid of society, for the purpose of substituting a rolling stone or a shapeless block :' but why represent a writer or two of this description as the huntsmen of modern philosophy,' when he must know that modern phi. losophy disclaims such wild chimeras?
Mr. P. is certainly not an indifferent writer : but could there be much need of the exertions of his talents, in order to dissuade from the adoption of a theory which he represents as a compound of hea. then philosophy and Paganism? He appears, however, so alarmed, that he is afraid of inculcating the principle of universal benevolence; and he attributes to Mr. Godwin's system the most frightful consequences, but which are not always fairly deduced, and which that author would probably disclaim. There is, however, good sense in the following short passage:
Those institutions that do not grow out of circumstances, never will be consentaneous with the natural reason of mankind. A harsh uniformity disgusts and displeases. Government must be the creature of man, and subject to be altered and changed according to the difference of his opinions at various periods, if he is to retain the exercise of his reason. But let him be the creature of government, educated according to its dogmas, and fitted to it by the rule and square of uniformity, and then away with rationality, away with the characteristics of intellectual vigour and energy; he becomes inevitably enslaved and chained down by prejudice.' Art. 22. Sixteen Sermons, prepared for the Press from the Manu.
script of a Clergyman now deceased, of the County of Salop. 8vo. 55. Boards. Richardson, &c.
To these posthumous discourses, no prefatory account of either them or their author is prefixed. On perusal, we find nothing in the volume that could fairly entitle it to the honours of the press. Mo. tives, no doubt, there were for printing it ; byt whatever the reaa sons were, it is not our business to inquire.—Had there been any degree of merit in the compositions, above the common routine of public discourses, we should, in course, have recommended them to our readers.
Art. 23. Four Letters to Mr. 7. Mayer, of Stockport, on bis Defence
of the Sunday Schools. By Thomas Whitaker, Minister of Ringway, Cheshire. 12mo. 6d. Chapman.
This controversy was noticed in our last Number. It now appears that the defender of the lawfulness of instructing children in writing and arithmetic, on the Lord's Day, belongs to the society called Methodists. The advocate of Mr. Olerenshaw, in these letters, be. trays intemperance in argument, and personality irrelevant to the subject in dispute: In religious questions, especially those of the more abstruse kind, how essentially necessary are candour and for. bearance, yet how seldom'do we meet with them! The absence of them renders the reasoning of this author inconclusive, and his conduct of the controversy unsuccessful.
POETRY Art. 24. The Golden Mean, a Satire, in Three Dialogues. 8vo.
15. 6d. Faulder. This work is cast in the hacknied mould of dialogues between the author and his Friend ; in which, as is usual, the friend acts a very inconsiderable part, and seems to be introduced only to afford the principal speaker, by a few interruptions, time to breathe. The author, we suspect, is an admirer of Persius; whose manner he might probably be ambitious of copying, but whom he chiefly resembles in his obscurity. The second Dialogue is a sort of political allegory, containing the history of the French Revolution. Though the author appears to entertain a just detestation of those principles which have involved a great part of Europe in misery ; yet it may be questioned whether low humour be a proper vehicle for the indignation of a satirist on such a subject. It might likewise be wished that the writer had paid a little more attention to the harmony of his numbers :--of which the opening of the first Dialogue appears to be a fair specimen ;
The Quiet lot of Middling Life has giv’n !!!
'Thus I've been told, the learned Sages say,
What is the mighty Freedom you propose,
And various Blessings crown the Good in all.
by Bulmer and Co. Sold by Nicol. 1798. The title of this little collection (Last Follies') seems to in yolve a confession and a promise ;-a confession that, even in the author's own opinion, his publication claims rather indulgence than praise; and a promise that this is the last time that he will, in this manner, obtrude on the public. Such humility naturally softens the severity of criticism :-but we cannot help observing that here we seem to have somewhat more of typographical elegance'than of poetical merit. The beauty of the impression will recommend it strongly to the eye, while the mens divinior of the poet is by no means equally obvious to the intellect, of the reader, Much sublimity of genius, however, or many of the higher beauties of poetry, the trifles which compose this collection did not admit : for love is exclusively the subject of them all ; and love too in that playful mood which sports with fancy, not love in that deep and heartfelt tone which delights in the energy of passion. A little meaning is therefore often spred over a wide surface ; until, in some instances, it becomes too thin to be perceptible,--and sound is substituted for sense ;-as in such passages as this: • Stop, hoary Time, for once thy rapid stride,
On this fair morn, a little longer stay;
Break thy keen scythe, and throw thy glass away,
The truth, the value of her poet's love.' Generally, however, there will be found in these verses such a moderate degree of smooth versification, as will procure for then (at least from the juvenile lover,) a patient reading. The following is perhaps a good specimen of the whole.
Extol their tall and graceful loves,
If, too, the calm of Anna's breast
Yes, Love with gentle Anna dwells,
To her his sweetest tales he tells ;
And sometimes too remeniber me.'
Poem in Seyen Books. A-Now Edition with large Additions ; and Odes, with other Poems. By Mr. Polwhele. 8vo. 2 Vols. 8s. Boards. Johnson. 1798.
In our Review for May 1795, we bestowed deserved encomiums on the first poem mentioned in this title-page. The author was then unknown, but Mr. Polwhele now avows himself, and has repub. lished it with considerable improvements. The subject is obviously susceptible of much poetical embellishment, and Mr. P. has rendered justice to it.
The poems which occupy the second volume claim different degrees of approbation : they were written on several occasions ;' and as these were neither elevated nor ludicrous, the poetry seldom partakes of either of these qualities. Art. 27. Tales of the Hor: interspersed with Song, Ode, and Dia
logue. By Peter Pindar, Esq. With an Engraving of the Author. 4to. 35. Richardson, &c. 1798. : Bumpers of salt water, quaff’d in a voyage from Margate to the metropolis, do not seem to agree with the muse of the merry Esquire P. P. quite so well as whilom did the sparkling spring of Helieon; yet we still gain a laugh when her wit is levelled at our risible facul. ties.—After a lapse of time, and a silence of such unusual length, we are glad to find that she has not bidden us a final adieu. -A second part of this imitation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is adver. tised ; and when the whole comes before us, the work will be the subject of more particular observation. The picture of Peter Pindar, Esquire, given as a frontispiece, from Opie's painting, is said to convey a good idea of the countenance of the celebrated Original, when not particularly disposed to jecularity.
The conjectures of the public, respecting the cause of the abovenoticed suspicious silence, are pleasantly noticed in the following lines, which stand as a motto in the title-page of the present pub. lication ; the thought is from ANACREON:
· The Muses love thee dearly, Peter,
And eke the merry God of metre,