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After laying down sundry rules for the proper management of this figure in its different modifications, the author proceeds to cite examples of its use ; presenting us with a great number of similes from Homer, Virgil, Milton, &c. taken from the heavens above and the earth beneath, the four elements, animals, vegetables, and man; and distributed into no fewer than fifteen classes. The critical remarks which accompany these quotations, evince the correctness of our author's taste, and are expressed in that neat and classical style which distinguishes all the productions of his pen. The essay, however, is drawn out to a most fatiguing length; and on the whole, we must say, that we think he has bestowed much superfluous labour upon a trifling subject.
The next essay pleased us rather better. The subject is somewhat more engaging, and the essay itself is more concise. In treating of poetical personifications,' the author divides them into three classes, the natural, the emblematical, and the mixed.
• Either a simply human figure is drawn, strongly impressed with the quality or circumstance intended to be personified ; or a creature of the fancy is exhibited, the character of which is expressed by certain typical emblems or adjuncts. The first of these may be termed a natural, the second an emblematical personification. From the union of these two modes, a third or mixed species is produced. The passions of Le Brun in which human faces are marked with vivid expressions of rage, terror, grief, &c. are merely natural personifications : the common figure of Fortune, with wings and a bandage over her eyes, and a wheel, is purely emblematical ; that of Plenty, represented by a full fed cheerful figure bearing a cornucopia, is of the mixed species. These illustrations are taken from painting, but the images might equally be depicted by words.'
We give the following passage as a more adequate specimen of the author's manner.
In most of the examples of mixed personifications hitherto adduced, the emblematical action has been made sufficiently congruous with the natural, and the fancied being has been employed in a manner suitable to the character of which he is the representative. But in the following picture, occasion is given to remark a defect in this point, which is a frequent attendant on allegory.
· Grief, all in sable sorrowfully clad,
Spenser's Fairy Queen, III. M. The three first lines in this description represent a man overwhelmed with sorrow ; but the two last represent him as a tormentor of others. Now these are incongruous ideas. Grief is a passive affection, It subdues the mind, and peculiarly unfits it for any active exertion; nor,
mistak prove tha;' The
indeed, does it usually inspire any wish of inflicting sufferings on others. In the personification, Grief is himself the man "pinched at the heart;"> and it required the creation of a different being to act as an executioner.'
We are presented, in the next place, with some unimportant remarks On the Humour of Addison.' The object of Dr. Aikin, in this paper, is to prove that a certain eminent writer was 'strangely mistaken in this point.' Addison's i humour (says Dr. Johnson) is so happily diffused as to give .. the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occur. • rences. He never oversteps the modesty of nature, nor • raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His « figures neither divert by distortion, nor amuse by aggra6. vation. He copies life with so much fidelity, that he can
hardly be said to invent; yet his exbibitions have an air so ' much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely
the product of the imagination.' Dr. Aikin, on the other hand, points out many humorous effusions by the author of the Specta. tor, which, he says, please by a kind of agreeable extravagance. He is obliged, however, to confess that Addison's humour often coincides with Johnson's description of it, and that this natural mode of painting' is particularly conspicuous in his Political Upholsterer, his Sir Roger de Coverly, &c. The estimate of Johnson may be considered as imperfect, certainly ; but it is erroneous, only, as professing to give an universal character of Addison's humour.
Dr. Aikip thinks that Addison's object, in drawing the portrait of his Sir Roger, was political satire.
As the freeholder was an avowed political paper, he did not hesitate to appear openly in it as the satirist of the country party; but it required all his skill to effect a similar purpose in the Spectator without appearing to violate the impartiality professed in that work, or offending some of his readers. He has been so happy in his attempt, by allying benignity with weakness, and amusing incident with strokes of sarcasm, that his papers in which Sir Roger appears, have always been among the most popular of the collection, and have doubtless greatly contributed towards stamping upon the public mind that abstract idea of a country gentleman, which has been the ground of the contempt (whether well or ill founded) usually attached to the character.' p. 345.
We are next favoured with some ingenious and spirited remarks on the comparative value of different productions in the fine arts,' suggested by a passage in Gibbon's history. The historian, after describing the deinolition of three palaces in Persia by the emperor Julian, makes the following reAlection. A single naked statue finished by the hand of a • Grecian artist, is of more genuine value than all these rude
and costly monuments of barbaric labour.' This Dr. Aikin considers as mere classical cant. ,
After a very entertaining paper on the equivocal character of insanity,' we came to certain 'verbal remarks, most of them sensible enough, but some frivolous and hypercritical.The discussion on the word abdicate would have been less out of season a century ago.—Dr. Aikin censures those who hold the maxim, that no one can write English correctly who is unacquainted with the learned languages. If we are not fully of opinion that a classical education is indispensably necessary in order 10 attain to an accurate use of our mother tongue, yet we certaivly have often been disposed to think, that a small dose of Latin and Greek is no bad corrective of a nian's phraseology ; especially when in reading or conversation we have encountered such expressions as the shafts of detraction,' ' unbounded peculiarity,' &c. · A popular novel writer of the present day even tells us about obliterating affections that were braced on the soul.'—We see little reason for the Doctor's earnest remonstrance against the practice of calling those who reject Christianity Infidels, instead of Unbelievers. We stand corrected, however, by the following literary remark.'
To speak, as is commonly done, of the “ reformation of abuses," is a gross impropriety of language ; since it is not the abuse which is to be reformed, but the thing in which it existed. Bribery in elections is an abuse; remove the abuse, and you reform the mode of elections that is, you restore it to its state before the abuse took place.' p. 396.
The rest of the book is occupied with three essays, viz. "On reasoning from analogy,' On duelling,' and on the freedom of the press in England ! From the last, we extract the following passage, which concludes the work..
While so many legal dangers surround the liberty of the press, what are its bulwarks ? It has but one-A JURY. This sacred institution, the only safe defence, perhaps, that human wisdom can devise against tyrrany and oppression, is expressly calculated to limit that summum jus which is often summa injuria. It is impossible to doubt, especially since a late determination of the highest legislative authority, that a jury has à right, in matter of libel, to take upon itself the consideration of the whole case, and make intention the interpreter of fact. The Attorney-General shall bring a man before his country, charging him in as gross terms as he pleases with being a wicked and seditious person, because he has sold a copy of a work deemed to be a libel. · He shall prove his facts; and, with all the clor quence of real or affected zeal for the public welfare, demand his vicini. « No! the jury may say the man you have chosen to bring to the bar is not the real culprit- he has no culpable intention about him to render him a proper subject for the severity of the law. What he did was through mere inadvertence-indeed it was a necessary consequence of the exercise of his profession. We find him Not Guilty! shall only add, that if ihere be any public body in this country which exercises the privilege of deciding, without any intervention of trial, upon every sup
posed attack upon their own proceedings, and awarding punishments at their pleasure, it is obvious that the protection here, suggested can have no place; and no other controul over their vindictive emotions can exist, than their own sense of propriety, quickened, perhaps, by the echo of the public voice, which even such arbitrary powers cannot entirely repress.'
With most of the pieces composing this volume, we were previously acquainted. Dr. Aikin appears to be actuated by a truly parental affection towards his literary offspring. He could not bear to think that these fugitive productions should be condemned to bloom in obscurity, forgotten and unnoticed, and waste their sweetness in the wide wilderness of a periodical work ; and determined, therefore, to transplant them into a fairer spot. Though it is impossible to peruse any performance of Dr, Aikin's without more or less pleasure, we think he has not added much to his literary fame by the present publication. Art. VII. Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Correspondence of William
Smellie, F. R. S. and F. A. S. late Printer in Edinburgh, Secretary and Superintendant of Natural History to the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, &c. By Robert Kerr, F. R. S. and F. A. S. Ed. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 992. price ll. 75. Anderson, Edinburgh, Longman and Co. 1810. ALTHOUGH the subject of these memoirs followed the
occupation of a prioter, and was engaged in that business from a very early period of his life, yet he contrived to raise himself to considerable distinction, in a city remarkable above most others for the number and eininence of its literary men. He was probably as erudite a printer as any of his day; and his occupation and attainments having brought him acquainted with the most celebrated of his countrymen, he lived with many of them in habits of close in imacy and occasional correspondence. Of this circuinstance Mr. Kerr has not failed to take the usual advantage, by enlarging nis narrative with biographical notices of several well-known names with whom Mr. Smellie was, so luckily for the two octavos, connected; and Dr. Hunter of London Wall, Dr. Hope the Professor of Borany in the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Buchan, Mr. Strahan, Dr. Gilbert Stuart, and Dr. Blacklock, all of whom have paid the debt of nature, are successively introduced on the biographer's canvas. He is not, however, remarkably successful in uniting these characters together in the same groupe. His manner is stiff; and there is a great want of that harmony which, in composition, as well as in painting, is necessary to give a pleasing effect to the whole. Some of his auxiliaries, indeed, appear to be introduced VOL. VII.
rather by a mere side wind' (if we may be permitted to borrow an expression from his own apology for omitting the life of Dr. Rotherham), than by any natural claim to the situation which they occupy. · He has been still less fastidious in his selection from the correspondence of Mr. Smellie and his friends, especially in early life; and the bulk of his performance is thus swelled, very unnecessarily, by letters possessing but little value even as private memorials, and having no claim whatever to occupy the pages of a respectable work. Indeed Mr. Kerr has by no means exercised so much severity of judgement as the nature of his undertaking demanded. He has permitted himself, either from the partiality, we may almost say the weakness, of friendship, or from other motives, to consider the most trivial events of Mr. Smellie's life, and the most unimportant productions of his peu, as objects requiring circumstantial developement; and the prospectus of a newspaper, for instance, which was never published, or the jokes which passed at the convivial meetings of the Crochallan club, are narrated with as inuch gravity and minuteness, as the intellectual efforts by which he raised himself to an eminent station in the republic of letters. The work, however, contains a good deal of interesting matter, and will be read with interest by those who are fond of literary history and anecdote.
Mr. Smellie was born in the year 1740, in the Pleasance, one of the suburbs of Edinburgh. He was the youngest son of Alexander Smellie, a master builder of some repute; who, though bred to a mechanical employment, was a good classical scholar, and wrote some Latin poems, which his son, at a future period, used often to exhibit with good humoured exultation as the production of a stone mason, and challenge the competition of his more accomplished literary companions. Young Smellie received the first rudiments of education at Duddistone near Edinburgh, and had afterwards the advantage of some classical instruction; but this must have been very limited, as he was apprenticed at 12 years of age in a printing office. In this situation his diligence and talents raised him so high in the esteem of his employers, that two years before the expiration of his apprenticeship, he was appointed corrector of their press, with a weekly allowance of twelve shillings,--a circumstance the more honourable to the parties, as his stipulated allowance was only three shillings a week ; he was also permitted to attend some of the classes in the University. That he was worthy of these distinctions, may be inferred from his having become, when in his sevenseenth year, a successful candidate for the silver medal,