Imagens das páginas

disease, the hoary head bending over its staff, the emaciated form tottering on the brink of the grave, are not to be left to perish,-and, in every Christian country wherever there is a dense population, these have been protected and relieved either by national or municipal institutions,-the only equitable and effective provision for them must be of a compulsory character, affecting alike the selfish and the generous, according to their means. The claims of those unfortunates ought to be held not less legitimate and sacred than the right of property itself. Charity will still find a field ample enough in the distress arising out of the great and sudden fluctuations in the demand for labour, which occur so frequently in this manufacturing and commercial country, and in mitigating the numerous ills that flesh is heir to, for which no laws can provide a remedy.

It is honourable to the mercantile profession to have one who thinks so justly, and writes so well, as Mr Ewing, among its members; and upon a subject about which more than one wild speculation has lately issued from the same quarter. The extent of his research, great as it is, is not more conspicuous than the soundness of his reflections; and he combines, in no common degree, a capacity for enlarged views, with a habit of attention to detail. His Report ought to find a place in the library beside the work of Sir F. M. Eden.

Llewellen, or the Vale of Phlinlimmon; a Novel. 3 vols. Edinburgh,

Macredie and Co. 1818.

tinctly are their varieties marked, and so skilfully are the peculiarities of each preserved, that there never occurs the slightest blending or confusion:-each thinks, speaks, and acts, exactly as might have been anticipat ed from such characters placed in such circumstances. The incidents are in general interesting,-sufficiently romantic to gratify our love of the mar vellous, yet never so improbable as to startle our judgment. They are interwoven, too, with so much art, that the reader's curiosity is never allowed to flag; the torture to which his feelings are for a while exposed by the successful machinations of villany, is amply compensated by the happiness, which, according to strict poetical retribution, the author awards to the leading and most virtuous personages, and which is rendered the more exquisite by the remembrance of their past sorrows. To say that the tendency of the work is strictly virtuous, is praise of so ordinary a kind, and so easily attainable, that we advert to it only for the purpose of remarking the uniform good sense and judgment which characterize the moral and religious sentiments of the author, and the address with which the gravest lessons are conveyed, without ever alarining or fatiguing the reader with a formal lecture or exhortation,

Our limits do not permit us to attempt even an outline of the story. Suffice it, therefore, to say, that the leading characters are Llewellen, the hero of the piece ;-Clara, the heroine, between whom and Llewellen an ardent mutual attachment is formed, in consequence of an accidental and ro

mantic interview;-Colonel Llewellen (the father of our hero) who in youth had been violently enamoured of a young lady of high rank in Sicily, but, his suit being rejected, had forcibly carried her off to England and married her, after being accessory to the murder of her favoured lover;Captain Byron, alias Alphonso De Mountford, the only brother of this unfortunate lady, by whose instigation and assistance Colonel Llewellen had forced her from her native shore, and by whose hand her lover had fallen;-Matilda, the sister of young Llewellen, who concealed under a lovely form and the most winning manners, a selfish, intriguing, and unprincipled heart; and, who being de

LLEWELLEN bids fair, we think, to be a general favourite. It is sketched with a rapid, but a powerful hand; and, though in many places it betrays negligence and haste, the general effect of the piece is imposing, and few works have come lately under our cognizance, which combine so many claims to popularity. The group of characters, though not numerous, is abundantly varied, and they are sometimes strongly and happily contrasted. In the conception of these characters, the author has displayed originality and ingenuity; and though they run through the whole range of the moral scale, from nearly the highest excellence to the deepest depravity, so dis

the Colonel, and, soon after her arrival at home, she retired to the sick chamber, where, by the most endearing attentions to alleviate the sufferings of Henry, &c. we shall leave her," &c.

The use of pronouns, and especially of the relative, seems particularly to have perplexed our author. Whereever the relative is disjoined by an intervening phrase from the verb on which it depends, it is almost invariably. put in a wrong case. Thus, "Ah, my Caroline, there is but one in this wide world whom, I believe, loves you more fervently than I do," &c. "She again took her seat at the side of Mrs Macgruther, who she seemed to regard with unfeigned compassion." Similar carelessness occurs in the construction of conjunctions, his..and other parts of speech. One instance shall suffice. "He determined, therefore, that, since happiness was beyond his reach in a quarter to which his heart had so fondly pointed, not to add the pang of guilt to his mind," &c. It may be thought fastidious to indulge in these grammatical animadversions on a work of whose merits we have spoken so highly. But the faults to which we have adverted are too glaring to be overlooked; and it may be regarded as no small proof of the excellence of this novel, in other respects, that, in spite of these repeated violations of the plainest rules of good writing, we are never inclined to throw it aside in disgust, but read it with increasing interest to the end.

pendent on her brother, was determined by every means to prevent his union with Clara, who was supposed to be without fortune,-while these selfish fears were still farther aggravated by an ungovernable passion which she had conceived for Captain Byron, of whose propinquity she was not aware, and whose avowed indifference to the sex was only to be overcome by addressing his avarice ;-Isabella, the cousin of Clara, a sprightly, heedless, but well-principled girl, who was the sharer in many of Clara's sorrows, and at last her companion in joy ;-Caroline, an Argyllshire beauty, and a rich heiress, who, by the intrigues of Matilda, is married to Llewellen; but, dissatisfied by the cold attentions which a sense of duty alone inclines him to pay to her, while heart is fixed on another, and, having learned how the mutual love of her husband and Clara had been thwarted by the arts of Matilda, she forms the wild but generous resolution of voluntarily separating from her husband, to whose happiness she imagined herself the only obstruction, and dies some time after in a convent in Normandy: Nor must we forget Miss Macgruther, the maiden aunt of Isabella, who, dragged at a late period of life into fashionable society, is constantly regretting her former importance and retirement in the island of Muck, and whose insuperable habits of rusticity afford a whimsical foil to the general elegance amidst which she is placed, while her peevishness, induced partly by the violent up-rooting of all her former associations, and partly by her total dependence on a brutish brother, contrasts finely with the native kindliness, and the unsophisticated benevolence of her heart.

Such are the most important of the elements out of which our author has framed this agreeable tale. The narrative is easy and unaffected; but candour obliges us to advert to some defects in the style, which, as they seem to have originated merely in inattention, may, of course, be easily corrected. The structure of the sentences is, in several instances, so slovenly, that the meaning can be guessed only by the tenor of the story, and by no reference to any grammatical rules. Thus, "Clara did not in any way allude to her meeting with

Poems, by William Cowper. To which is prefixed, a Memoir of the Author, and Critical Notes on his Principal Poems, written expressly for this Edition. 24mo. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1818.

So ardent and insatiable is human curiosity, that the writer who does not gratify it by imparting new information, must rest his hopes of popularity on his power of throwing an air of novelty over even familiar subjects, by the glow of his eloquence, the sa gacity of his reflections, or the splendour of his imagery. Yet there are subjects, as there are characters, of which we can never hear too much; on which the heart dwells with a kind of holy reverence and affectionate enthusiasm; and to every tongue that speaks of which we listen with inte

ments of genius, in their happiest combination; seem to raise him so near the standard of human perfection, that we cannot help exclaiming,

rest, though we can expect little more than sympathy with our own feelings, or a sanction to our own partialities. It was in such a disposition that we opened these memoirs of our favourite bard; and it is on our reliance on the universality of such a disposition among the lovers of English poetry, that we recommend them to general perusal. We cannot say that they add much, nor, indeed, was it possible that they should, to what we formerly knew of Cowper's history. But the kindred warmth with which the biographer enters into all the feelings of his author, the animation of his style, kindling not unfrequently into poetical fervour,-and the good sense and acuteness that characterize his observations, cannot fail to render his narrative highly acceptable to the admirers of this amiable and eminent poet."

Who would not gladly exchange situations with Cowper? Who would not even submit to all he suffered, "so were he equalled with him in renown !"-in the exquisite enjoyment which, in his unclouded moments, he had of life, and in the confidence which he might well have entertained with regard to futurity? But, when we look on the dismal reverse of the picture,-when we see this excellent man the victim of a malady which froze all his energies in despair,-which rendered him, in his own eyes, the outcast of heaven,which changed the soothing accents of religion into accents of terror,—and which, making life unsupportable and death horrible, impelled him to repeated attempts at suicide,-our envy is lost in our commiseration, and we feel grateful for the possession of those ordinary qualities, which are less in danger of such frightful disorder, and of that common-place happiness, which is exempted from such overwhelming vicissitudes.

We know not, indeed, a subject in biography so interesting in every point of view as the life of Cowper. Alike distinguished by his genius, his virtues, and his sufferings, it seemed as if nature intended to ex-, emplify in him the most exquisite and delicate mechanism of the human mind, with all its advantages and all its evils, the excess of that fine sensibility which constitutes the poetic temperament, capable of the noblest efforts, susceptible of almost heavenly delight, yet ever exposed from the shock of ruder spirits, or the overstraining of its own powers, to a derangement which deprives it of all its

Never, perhaps, was there a poet whose writings so completely harmonize with his character and history. In reading his poetry, we seem to be admitted at once to his intimate converse, -we see the man himself in all his various moods, habits, feelings, and occupations, without reserve or disguise,

energy, and of all its sensibility, ex-gay without frivolity,-melancholy cept to misery alone. without austerity,-great without effort,-tender without the affectation of sentimentality,-simple without rudeness,-in short, thinking and speaking on whatever happens to occupy his attention, with the ease, grace and dignity of a superior and polished mind.

Never did any life afford a more striking comment on the wisdom of the poet's advice to limit our wishes to the enjoyment of a sound mind in a sound body; or on the solemn question dictated by still higher wisdom, "Who knows what is good for man in this life?" In contemplating the life of Cowper, his genuine simplicity, his unaffected modesty, his refined relish for all that was beautiful and sublime in nature, his unenvying admiration of all that was good and great in human character, the cordial warmth of his social affections, and the unsullied purity of his heart, eminently fitted for, and as eminently blessed with, friendship of the most exalted and endearing kind; and, with all these qualities, sensibility, fancy, judgment, learning, taste, in short, all the ele

But we are transgressing our bounds; and have all this time, we find, been speaking of Cowper, while we intended to speak only of the memoirs and critical remarks which accompany a new edition of his poems. When we said that these memoirs add little to what we formerly knew of the poet's history, we by no means intended to insinuate that they are destitute of originality. On the contrary, they possess all the originality, which, without access to new sources of information, a biographer

can be expected to display. The e vents of the poet's life, his present editor relates as he found them; but his reflections on those events, and his manner of narrating them, are his own, and evince no common share of talent and observation.

We can spare no room for quotations; but we were particularly pleased with the passage in which he adverts to the jealousy entertained by Mrs Unwin, of the accomplished and fascinating Lady Austen,-a jealousy which obliged the unhappy poet to renounce the friendship of one, to whom he was indebted for some of the brightest moments of his existence, whom he regarded with a brother's tenderness, who had so successfully directed his talents to noble pursuits, and whose sprightliness and good nature had so often dissipated the vapours of despondency that obscured his better judgment." The narrative, which is spirited and well written throughout, concludes with a sketch of the poet's character, very faithfully and ably delineated.


But it is in his Critical Remarks, that the abilities and taste of the editor are chiefly displayed. this part of his task he enters with all the ardour of a kindred spirit; and, while he estimates the characteristic qualities of Cowper's various works with great acuteness and accuracy of

discrimination, he appreciates the efforts, the feelings, the inspirations of the poet, with a truth and fulness of sympathy which a poet only could feel. The whole of his remarks on the Task well deserve the perusal of every lover of poetry, and particularly of every young candidate for poetic fame. These remarks are not merely critical. The annotator often catches, as he proceeds, a portion of his author's inspiration, and glows with equal ardour of benevolence, or expands into equal amplitude of thought. There is one passage, in particular, on the demoralizing effects of state-lotteries, conceived so completely in the spirit of Cowper, and expressed with so much of his virtuous sensibility to the best interests of mankind, and with so much animation and cogency of reasoning, that it must carry conviction to every unprejudiced understanding, and pleasure to every patriotic heart.

Another, and no trifling recommendation of this edition, is, that it contains some beautiful poems which have never appeared before, except in Hayley's Life of Cowper; that it is printed very neatly, and embellished with beautiful engravings; and that its cheapness, which, considering all its advantages, is certainly surprising, places within the reach of every reader these exquisite poems, which cannot be too generally known.


March 1818.

Dictionnaire Critique et Raisonne, &c. A Critical and Descriptive Dictionary of the Etiquette of the Court, the Customs, Amusements, Fashions, and Manners of the French, from the death of Louis XIII. to the present Time, containing a Picture of the Court, Society, and Litera ture, during the eighteenth Century; or, the Spirit of the ancient Etiquette and Customs compared to the modern. By Madame le Countesse de Gentis; 2 vols. 8vo.

When we see a work with a long title, containing several subdivisions and explanations, we may almost be sure that the author, before he began his book, did not maturely enough consider his plan. We may also be certain to find many chapters

which have no kind of reference to any part of the title, notwithstanding the care the author seems to have taken to foresee

and prevent all objections. Never was our remark more true than in respect to this new publication of Madame de Genlis's, which has just occupied our thoughts. It is a hotch-potch of articles on all sorts of subjects, amongst which those mentioned in the title-page hold the least place of all. The greater part are intended to refute the philosophy of the eighteenth century, and, in particular, Voltaire's works; and we cannot but say, that she has perfectly well succeeded. She gives the clearest proofs of the modern philosophers' bad morals, revolutionary principles, sophistical arguments, and perpetual contradictions. These proofs she draws from their own works, quoting every time the volume and page

from whence she has taken them. This part of the work is highly interesting, and well executed. The rest contains very few, if any, new remarks, and is, in general, too flippant. The language and style are both excellent, and make the book, even in its weakest parts, read agreeably. Altogether, however, we do not think that this publication will add much to Madame de Genlis's reputation. Like so many other authors, she seems to forget that there is a time to leave off writing, which time, if not already come for her, is at least very near at hand. Several anecdotes are re

peated five or six times in the same words; and we have also remarked three or four mistakes on points of literature, which the author might have avoided, with a little

care and reflection.

Fragmens, &c.-Fragments of a Course of Lectures on Literature, held at the Athenæum of Paris in the years 1806 and 1807. By M. T. de Chenier.

work on the temporal power of the see of Rome. It is difficult to give, in a few pages, a more perfect idea of a voluminous publication. If the rest of M. Chenier's critical productions had equalled this, we would have felt as much pleasure as we now have found disgust in their perusal.



The Athenæum of Paris is not a public school, as, from its name, one might be led to conclude. It is a society kept up by private subscription, containing political and literary reading rooms, and where, during the winter evenings, some of the most eminent professional men hold regular lectures on different branches of science and literature. None of these lectures were ever more justly celebrated than those of La Harpe. The whole collection has been since printed in 19 volumes, in 8vo, and procured to the author the flattering title of the French Quintilian. fact, no critic in France had ever before shown more strength of judgment, more courage, and more attachment to the genuine rules of taste, which the revolution had entirely overthrown. It was a difficult task to succeed to La Harpe as professor of literature at the Athenæum of Paris. Messrs Chenier, Lemercier, Aimé Martin, took the charge, perhaps rashly, upon them. The work we have just procured contains me fragments of M. Chenier's labours. Those fragments treat of the French poets, and romancers before Louis XII. The subject itself is rather dry and uninteresting, if not kept within due bounds; and M. Chenier is, in our eyes, too minute, besides which, he seems to forget that he has only been called upon to explain their literary worth or demerits. He quotes carefully, and with apparent delight, every irreligious or antisocial passage he can discover, and seizes eagerly every good or bad opportunity of proclaiming his revolutionary principles. His work has afforded us no pleasure, and very little instruction. We except, however, one part, to which we cannot help giving due praise. The volume concludes with a summary of a VOL. 11.

Appel à tous les proprietaires, &c.—An Appeal to all Landholders in Europe, or a manifesto of Society against the parties by which it is distracted; by a Friend of Order and Liberty.

A short preface is prefixed to this pamphlet, and the supposed editor gives therein the most unlimited praise to the new ideas, enlightened patriotism, energetic style, and numberless other qualities of the author, who has had the kindness, he adds, to permit the publication of this work. This is a sort of puff direct much used at present in France. For our part, we cannot rightly understand why a living writer, who composes a small pamphlet on some political questions, should not be his own editor, or else what necessity there can be of forcing a man to print a few reflections he may have thrown upon paper, and offering up his undigested plans to the admiBut we had ration of his fellow-citizens. better ask, how any man can suppose his countrymen stupid enough to be duped by so gross an artifice. Whatever be the case in the present instance, let us see in what consist the new ideas and enlightened pa triotism of the unknown author of this publication.

The work is divided into twelve chapters. In the first, the author shews that true In the liberty cannot exist without order. second, he examines the origin of civilized societies. In the third, he proves, that, in all societies, there exists a natural ineIn the quality among their members. fourth chapter, he shews the consequence of that inequality. Thus far we have not In the found any thing in the least new. fifth chapter, he considers the different anThe aucient and modern constitutions. thor observes, that the existence of slavery amongst the nations of antiquity, gave a great simplicity to their constitutions. This observation is true, but has been ofIn the following two ten made before. chapters, we find the causes and effects of the French Revolution, (at least in the auThe eighth is entitled thor's opinion.) Equality, and the ninth, Of the parties which at present divide France. the first in which we begin to discover the author's true meaning. We shall explain it in a few words.

This is

A strong aristocracy is necessary in all well organized societies. Such an aristocracy does not at present exist in France, and must therefore be created. Titles and nobility are grown obsolete. They can be of no other use than to create jealousy and


« AnteriorContinuar »