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promoter of learning and a protector of learned men: but let not the similar claims of others be kept out of sight, in order to magnify those of Leo: nor, in fulfilling the rigid duties of an historian, let it be forgotten that if the literati of the age participated of his bounty, they shared it in common with jesters and buffoons. The greatest genius of the time, though he had lived in the closest intimacy with this pontiff before his elevation, and though he became his suitor, never tasted of his liberality; and it was reserved for a Prince of Ferrara, at a subsequent period, to have the exclusive privilege of remuperating the first poet of his age. It does not appear, moreover, that the laudable exertions of this Pope, had any very extensive or permanent influence on the fate of literature, and on this subject, we think, nothing can be more just than the following reflections of Andres, which Mr. Roscoe quotes, but which he has found it more easy to contradict than to refute:
“ I observe,” says another eminent literary historian, " that these Limes are generally distinguished as THE AGE OF LEO THE TENTH; but I cannot perceive why the Italians have agreed to restrict to the court of this pontiff, that literary glory which was common to all Italy.” “ It is not my intention," adds he, “to detract a single particle from the praises due to Leo X. for the services rendered by him to the cause of literature. I shall only remark, that the greater part of the Italian princes of this period might with equal right pretend to the same honour; so that there is no particular reason for conferring on Leo the superiority over all the rest.'
With respect to certain charges of a very grave nature imputed by his contemporaries to the Pontiff, we own that we are less complaisant than the present courteous historian. On this head, Mr. Roscoe must surely have forgotten the rules of evidence with which his early profession might have rendered him familiar. He ought to know that there are some matters, of which the whispers of the day are the only testimonies, and of which the universal belief of the period is the sole corroborative evidence, Where would Mr. R. look for the proofs of the criminal propensities of Leo, or of the early irregularities of Lucretia ? Would he search for them in the archives of the state, among the records of courts of justice, or in the
pages of contemporáry historians ; or rather are they not matters which rest in rumour and general belief ?--Could the voluptuous, self-indulgent, and accomplished Pontiff revisit these earthly scenes, hold commerce with the tenants of them, and shew himself the same as when he was a living inhabitant of them, we believe that no one would be slower in recognizing him, or be finally more disappointed in him, than his present zealous and admiring biographer.' Mr. Roscoe has delighted
us much, and we own ourselves indebted to him for infot mation on some points : but we must beg to be excused from borrowing of him our opinion of the Medici family; of whom, if he be in many instances the faithful historian, we con• ceive him to be more frequently the advocate and panegyrist.
Regarding with gratitude and admiration the vast mass of matter, much of it choice, and some of it exquisite, which we have now been examining, we cannot help wishing that it possessed more of the attractions which may be derived from form and arrangement. We feel reluctant in applying a harsh term : but we must own that, in surveying the agglomera tions before us, the idea of chaos has more than once forced itself on our minds. Whether the plastic hands which have explored so widely, dug so deeply, and collected together so much of what is precious, will be employed in giving form, symmetry, and proportion to the structure which at present equally requires and deserves that care, we cannot conjecture*: but we know what is our wish, as well from a regard to the lite rature of the country, as to the fame of the accomplished author.
It is not without surprize that we find a person of Mr. Roscoe's taste, who is intimately conversant with the most classical of modern productions, disfiguring the page of history by the frequent introduction of scraps of poetry. The longestablished rules of historical composition are not to be violated, because Italy abounds with exquisite fugitive pieces, not because Mr. R. is usually a spirited and elegant translator.
To the innovation attempted by this writer, namely that of applying the vernacular spelling to all proper names, we are by no means enemies : but the contrary practice is too in. veterate, to allow us to expect that the authority of any onc individual will be sufficient to overturn it.
art. II. Essays in a Series of Letters to a Friend, on the follow
ing Subjects : I. On a Man's writing Memoirs of himself. II. On Decision of Character. III. On the Application of the epithet Romantic. IV. On some of the Causes by which evangelical Religion has been rendered less acceptable to Persons of cukivated Taste. By John Foster, 2d Edition,
12mo. 8s. Boards. Longman and Co. 1806. W
E have frequently had occasion to pass judgment on com
positions of the desultory nature of those which are usually denominated Essays; we have stated the reasons for
Since the above was written, we learn that a new edition of this work, in octavo, and corrected by the author, has been published: but We have not seen it.
which, in a species of writing apparently so easy, success is in fact so difficult; and we have descanted on its tendency to improve the taste of the public, and to advance the interests of virtue. The chief distinction of the present compositions, from others which have preceded them, is the peculiar cast of the author's religious sentiments, on which he much dilates in the course of his lucubrations.
Whether we consider individual or social man, we hold religion to be invaluable; and its influence ought to appear in all the actions of a rational being: but we are not of opinion that the subject itself should be blended with every literary exerrion, any more than it should be introduced on every occasion of human intercourse. It is too sublime a contemplation, it puts the mind too much on the stretch, and it exercises the feelings too powerfully, to allow of its incessantly occupying our thoughts and meditations. Care should be taken early to imbue the tender mind with the truths of religion : on solemn occasions, the lively exercise of it ought to be observed ; and its influence over the temper and conduct should be rendered as complete as possible. Its cause is not in reality served, nor do its principles become more ellicacious, by constantly talking of it, and by blending it with all our ordinary concerns; though such is the practice of religionists, and is the object for which this writer contends. That proportion of the essays in which he fairly pursues his subject, and which is considerable, will be found well to deserve the attention of the reader, and to be at once interesting and instructive.
In the first essay, we meet with numerous original and important observations. Mr. Foster recommends it to persons to draw a sketch of their past lives for the purpose of ascertaining their character, by recalling to their recollection the causes and circumstances which entered into its formation, and which determined its bias and its hue. He sensibly remarks that
• If we had practised liabitual self-observation, we could not have failed to make important discoveries. There have been thousands of feelings, each of which, if strongly seized upon, and made the sub"ject of reflection, would have shewn us what our character was, and what it was likely to become. There have been numerous inicidents, which operated on us as teets, and so fully brought out the whole quality of the mind, that another person, who should have been discriminatively observing us, would instantly have formed a decided estimate. But unfortunately the mind is generally too much occupied by the feeling or the incident itself, to bave the slightest care or consciousness that any thing could be learnt, or is disclosed. In very carly youth it is almost inevitable for it to be thus lost to it. self even amidst its own feelings, and the external objects of atten. tion; but it seems a contemptible thing, and it certainly is a criminal Rur. Nov. 1806.
and dangerous thing, for a man in mature life to allow himself this thoughtless escape from self examination.'
He farther tells us;
• As to my own mind, I perceive that it is becoming uncertain of the exact nature of many feelings of considerable interest, even of later years ; of course, the remembrance of what was felt in early life is exceedingly faint. I have just been observing several children of eight or ten years old, in ali the active vivacity which enjoys the plenitude of the moment without “looking before or after ;" and while observing, I attempted, but without success, to recollect what I was at that age. I call indeed remember, the principal events of the period, and the actions ard projects to which my feelings impelled me ; but the feelings themsel:es, in their own pure juvenility, can. not be revived, so as to be described and placed in comparison with those of maturity. What is become of all those vernal fancies which had so much power to touch the heart? What a number of senti. ments have lived and revelled in the soul that are now irrevocably gone. They died, like the singing birds of that time, which now sing no more.
i The life that we then had, now seems almost as if it could not have been our own. When we go back to it in thought, and en. deavour to recall the interests which animated it, they will not come. We are like a man returning, after the absence of many years, to visit the embowered cottage where he passed the morning of his life, and finding only a relic of its ruins.
• But many of the propensities which still continue, probably originated then; and our not being able to explore them up to those remote sources renders a complete investigation of our moral and intellectual characters for ever impossible. How little, in those years, we were aware, when we met with the incident, or heard the con. versation, or saw the spectacle, or felt the emotion, which were the first causes of some of the chief permanent tendencies of future life, how much we might, long afterward, wish to ascertain the origin of those tendencies, and how much in vain. But if we cannot ab. solutely reach their origin, it will however be interesting to trace them back through all the circumstances which have increased their strength.'
Treating this self history as a mode of bringing us better acquainted with the state of our minds, we think it is with great propriety that the author, at the close of the essay, introduces the subject of religion ; when we meet with this striking passage:
* It is a cause for wonder and sorrow, to see millions of rational creatures growing into their permanent habits, under the conforming efficacy of every thing which they ought to resist, and receiving no part of those habits from impressions of the Supreme Object. They are content that a narrow scene of a diminutive world, with its atoms and evils, should usurp, and deprave and finish their education for immortality, while the Infinite Spirit is here, whose transforming
companionship companionship.would exalt them into his sons, and, in defiance of a thousand malignant forces attempting to stamp on them an opposite image, lead them into eternity in his likeness. Oh, why is it so possible that this greatest inhabitant of every place where men are living, should be the last whose society they seek, or of whose being constantly near them they feel the importance? Why is it possible to be surrounded with the intelligent. Reality which exists wherever we are, with attributes that are infinite, and not feel respecting all other things which may be attempting to press on our minds and affect their character, as if they recained with difficulty their shadows of existence, and were continually on the point of vanishing into nothing? Why is this stupendous Intelligence so retired and silent, while present, over all the scenes of the earth, and in all the paths and abodes of men ? Why does he keep his glory invisible behind the shades and visions of the material world ? Why does not this latent glory sometimes beam forth with such a manifestation as could never be forgotten, nor ever be remembered without an emotion of religious fear? And why, in contempt of all that he has displayed to excite either fear or love, is it still possible for a rational creature so to live, that it must finally come to an interview with him in a character completed by the full assemblage of those acquisitions which have separately been disapproved by him through every stage of the accumulation ? Why is it possible for feeble creatures to maintain their little dependent beings, fortified and invincible in sin, amidst the presence of divine purity? Why does not the thought of such a Being strike through the mind with such intense antipathy to evil, as to blast with death every active principle that is beginning to pervert it, and render gradual additions of depravity, growing into ihe solidity of habit, a, impossible as for perishable materials to be raised into structures amidsi the fires of the last day? How is it pos. sible to forget the soliciiude which should accompany the conscious. ness that such a Being is continually darting upon us the beams of observant thought, (if we may apply such a term to omniscience,) that we are exposed to the piercing inspection, compared to which the concentrated attention of all the beings in the universe besides, would be but as the powerless gaze of an infant ? Why is faith, that faculty of spiritual apprehension, so absent, or so incomparably more slow and reluctant to receive a just perception of the grandest of its objects, than the senses are adapted to receive the impressions of theirs? While there is a Spirit pervading the universe with an infinite energy of being, wliy have the few particles of dust which enclose our spirits the power in intercept all sensible communication with it, and to place them as in a vacuity where the sacred Essence had been precluded or extinguished?
The aim and design of this essay may be collected from the following extract:
* I am supposing a man to retrace himself through his past life, in order to acquire a complete knowledge of himself, and to record the investigation for his own instruction. Through such a retro. spect, the exterior life will hold the second place in attention, as being R 2