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ad «gc, Mrs Penelope Watt, relict of Mr D. Campbell, surgeon in Fort William— SI. At the Vice Regal Lodge, Phoenix Park, Dublin, the Honourable Walter Chetwyn Talbot, son of their Excellencies the Lord Lieutenant and Countess of Talbot, in the

6th year of his age At Richmond, Surrey,

Captain Edward Cummins, formerly of the Honourable the East India Company's service, and brother to the late Sir A. P. dimming Gordon of Altyre, Bart.—In Bolton Street, London, Harriet Elizabeth, only child of Charles M'Vicar, Esq At Edinburgh, Mrs Margaret Duncan, wife of Mr Campbell Gcmble, perfumer, George Street. —22. At Muirhall, Mr James Black, farmer—At Southfod, John Stenhouse, Esq. younger of Southfod 23. In the Old Assembly Close, Edinburgh, Mrs Isobel Taylor, aged 105. She was born in the parish of Crieff, county of Perth, on the 4th of March 1713, in the reign of Queen Anne. Her memory remained nearly unimpaired, and she would converse on the events of 100 years since with surprising correctness.— Her hearing and sight were good to the last day of her life, and her recollection continued till within an hour of her death At

Edinburgh, Eliza, daughter of Mr James Burness, writer—In his 8th year, William, son of Dr Beilby, George Street—24. At Westtield, near Cupar Fife, Henry Walker, Esq. of Pittencrieff.—25. At Edinburgh, Mr Andrew Bell, late farmer at HiUhead, county of Edinburgh, aged 78. This gentleman was one of the few survivors who fought under the banners of the 25th, or Edinburgh regiment of foot, at the battle of Minden, where six battalions of British troops, and two of Hanoverians, beat 15,000 French..- At Surinam, Robert, fourth son of the late Mr Robert Ramsay, writer, Dumfries. Having occasion to go on board a merchant ship lying in the river there, he fell from an open boat and unfortunately perished.—26. At Balcarras, Mrs Ann Murray Keith, daughter of the deceased Robert Keith, Esq. sometime his Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary

at the court of Russia 27. At Edinburgh,

Mr Jonathan Pew, late farmer at Drylaw. —29. At Hawthorn Bank, Selkirk, Mrs Wilhelmina Anderson, wife of Mr John Anderson.

lately—At Delnies, near Nairn, in the 104th year of his age, John Reid, supposed to be the oldest soldier in his Majesty's dominions, having entered the service in the 2d battalion of the royal Scots, 85 years ago. His first encounter with the enemy was in 1743, at Dcttingcn, where the British, under the command of that gallant and true Scotsman, the Earl of Stair, defeated the French with immense slaughter. In 1745 he fought at Fontenoy. In 1746 he fought with his regiment at CuUodcn. In 174!) he was one of the storming party at

the murderous encounter at Waal in Holland, where his regiment was nearly annihilated. His last appearance on the field of honour was in 1759, on the heights of Abraham, where the immortal Wolfe breathed his mighty soul in the arms of victory. His strength was such, considering his great age, that he scarcely passed a day without walking three or four miles; and, to the day of his death, was able, without the aid of glasses, to read his Bible, which afforded him exquisite delight through a long course of years.—At London, Lieut-general Sir A. Gladstones.—At Penzance, the Countess of Bellamont, daughter of James, Duke of Lcinster.—At Madeira, the Hon. John Perceval, eldest son of Lord Arden.—At Upper Canada, Captain Sir Robert Hall, K. C. B. commander-in-chief of his Majesty's naval forces on that station..-. At London, Mr Hill Barley, a gentleman well known in the sporting world. He was killed in the Haymarket, by a horse in a break taking fright.—In Charterhouse Square, London, Mrs Tait, wife of Mr William Tait of St Paul's Church Yard, and daughter of Dr John Hunter, Professor of Humanity in the University of St Andrews-. At Ladyfield Place, Edinburgh, aged 19, Margaret, second daughter of Alexander

Fergusson, Esq. of Balodmund At Rhins

dale, Andrew Aitchison, Esq. formerly surveyor of taxes, and late clerk to the commissioners of property tax, Lanarkshire.— At Spanish Town, Jamaica, David, son of the late Robert Milligan, Esq. of Rosslyn. —At New York, Archibald Bruce, M. D. Professor of Mineralogy in the Medical Institution of that city.—At Dumfries, Wm Babington, D. D. in the 70th year of his age.—At Limehouse, John Macgeorge, Esq. captain in the royal navy. His death was occasioned by a fall consequent upon a paralytic affection, brought on by his length of services in the West Indies. He served at the reduction of the West India Islands, and commanded his Majesty's ship Wellington, at the surrender of Guadaloupe.— At Peterhead, the Reverend Dr Geo. Moir,

55 years minister of that parish The Rev.

James M'Auley, minister of the seceding congregation of Castleblaney, aged 80. He had been minister of that congregation 53 years—At his house in Katharine Street, Edinburgh, Mr John Grant, aged 83.—At Dublin, Sir R. Musgrnvc, Bart, collector of excise in the port of Dublin, author of the

History of the Irish Rebellion, &c At

Aberdeen, the Rev. Adam Annand, Episcopal clergyman, St John's Chapel--- At Seaforth House, near Arbroath, James V- rott, Esq. of Edinburgh, surgeon, R. N. aged 76.1—At Keith, Miss Grant, eldest daughter of the late John Grant of Gallovie, Esq. At Mapperton House, Miss Grant, daughter of John Francis Grant, Esq. bite of the island of St Vincent.

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BLACKWOOD'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No XV.

JUNE 1818.

Vol. III.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE BUCHANAN.

It is very far from being our intention to enter upon any thing like a formal lamentation over the decay of classical learning in Scotland. And yet we are persuaded that, to an enlightened German, Italian, or Englishman, it must appear an almost inexplicable anomaly in the constitution and appearance of such a country as ours, that those authors whose works, in every other part of civilized Europe, are venerated and studied as the best fountains of philosophy, and the only perfect models of taste, should be almost entirely overlooked among a people whose habits and conversation are tinged, to an elsewhere unequalled degree, with the spirit of literature. The truth is, that we believe the unparalleled diffusion of education among all classes of our countrymen, however it may be entitled to our gratitude for having elevated and ennobled the spirits of our peasants and artizans, has, nevertheless, been the means, in no inconsiderable degree, of degrading the literary habits of those among us, whose business and ambition it is to be not only the subjects, but the instruments, of cultivation. When all men read, authors soon find it to be their best policy to write for all men. Those elegancies of allusion and of expression, and those labours of patient research, whose merits can be estimated by a very few only among any people, are gradually dropt; and modes of excitement, whose stimulus is of a more universal application, come very naturally to be adopted in their stead. The tone of literature becomes every day more vulgar (we do not use the

word entirely in its primary sense); its professors seek and obtain popularity by sacrificing, after the example of some other privileged orders, not a few of the most imposing, and therefore most obnoxious, of their distinctions. We doubt, however, whether this method of proceeding be, upon the whole, either a wise or a just one. It may throw a deal of ready money into the hands of the present incumbents; but does it not very manifestly tend to maim and enfeeble the resources of their successors? Nay, a democratic government is the most thankless of all masters ; and may perhaps repay only with contempt or exile, those who have sacrificed the most, in order to purchase its capricious and transitory favour.

The first race of authors who adopt this mode of courting popular applause, although they may, bona fide, wish and endeavour to follow it to its full extent, are seldom able to do so. The habits and prejudices of their earlier views and opinions cling to them, and fetter them, in spite of all their efforts to discard them.

Quo semclestimbuta reccns.scrvabit odorem, Testa diu.

A certain tinge and flavour adheres, and betrays the old liquor in the midst of all the drugs and adulterations to which its receptacle h»» been exposed. Besides, those who set the dangerous example a*e sometimes not unwilling that their followers should go farther tlw1 themselves; or, it may be, do cot scruple privately to take the advantage of old guides and steppingstones, which they affect to consider as useless, and advise their pupils utterly to despise. We strongly suspect that somewhat of this kind has occurred in Scotland. No man has done more by the tone of his writings to discourage classical learning, and eru<dition as it is called, than David Hume; and yet we think it would be difficult to point out any English author, whose works, above all in respect to language, bear stronger marks of a mind imbued and penetrated with the very spirit of antiquity." The authors of the next age have had no occasion for so much duplicity. Their contempt of Greek and Latin rests not upon policy, but on the more stable foundation of ignorance.—It is fair, however, to say one word in regard to the Edinburgh Review. The greater part of these ingenious Journalists, in addition to being the perpetual enemies of the government and religion of their country, have waged a warfare, equally inveterate and equally insidious, against the old supremacy and worship of the classics. A few excellent papers on classical criticism have been furnished to them by some of the best English scholars; but these are technical, so to speak, in appearance, and their influence, whatever it might otherwise have been, has been neutralized or annihilated by the gross and blundering ignorance of other articles, but most of all, by the general tone and character of the work in which they were inserted.—But we introduced the subject in order to pay a compliment;—we shall do so, without, we hope, incurring any suspicion either of partiali ty or of flattery. Mr Jeffrey, we venture to assert, belongs, in this matter, to the class of his predecessors rather than to that of his contemporaries. His papers have, even when he affects to deride scholarship, a scholarlike air about them, which it is impossible to mistake. He is in many respects a wiser man than he wishes to seem. After all his abuse of the Lake Poets, it turns out that his favourite pocket-companion is the "Lyrical Ballads;" and we are satisfied, from internal evidence, that he has, in

q We have heard, w» cannot recollect where, or upon what sort of authority, that ameng Hume'i books there was found, after his death, a copy of Thomas AqunW. completely covered with the marks of patient study. How much greater must have been the labour he bestowed on those great masters of ancient wisdom, whose works he commonly affected to talk of as if they were scarcely worthy of being read.

like manner, bestowed more time on the study of the classics than is confessed by himself, or suspected by the greater part of his admirers. A complete disguise is a matter of very great difficulty. We discover the classical touch of Mr Jeffrey amidst the rude daubings of his disciples, as we should a gentleman clothed in a waggoner's frock, among a whole barn of genuine rustics. A single look, or gesture, or tone, is sufficient in the one case, and a single parenthesis, nay, a single word, may furnish evidence equally convincing in the other.

The violent national partiality of the Scots, unlike most of their alleged peculiarities, is confessed by themselves, almost as much as it is derided by their neighbours. The Scots authors have, in general, been under no inconsiderable obligations to this propensity of their countrymen. Their fame has generally begun, as it ought to have done, at home; and their works have gone forth among strangers, backed by the zealous commendations of a multitude of admirers at home. If, in many instances, the voice of domestic praise has died into a faint expiring echo abroad, the misfortune of the author has been caused by himself, not by his countrvmen; nor are these easily to be shaken from the favourable opinion they have once formed, even although they see that the critics of most other countries are obstinate in refusing to second their applauses. We know of one great Scots author only, whose writings are neglected by his countrymen, while they are studied and admired by the literati of every other district of Europe. There needs no other proof to a foreign scholar of the shameful extent to which our aversion for classical learning is carried, than the simple fact, that we, a people devoted to literature, and filled with prejudices eminently and vehemently national, neglect one of the greatest, and withal, one of the most national authors our country has ever produced, for no other reason than because his works are written in Latin.

If any time shall ever again appear, when poets and historians shall be in danger of falling into a fashion of composing in a dead or foreign language, the most effectual of all warnings will be that which is addressed to their vanity. By those who have any of the noblest ambition with which great authors are animated—the ambition of building for themselves a lasting place in the bosoms and affections of their countrymen,—that voice shall not be listened to in vain, which shall bid them remember the fate of George Buchanan. In genius, as in language, he is beyond all comparison the first of the modern writers of Latin. Scotland has never produced any man who is worthy of being classed with him; so exquisite are his talents, singly, so matchless in their union. Yet what influence does he exert over the minds of his countrymen? A few of his translations of the Psalms are read by our school-boys, before they are capable of comprehending their beauties; in the belief of our vulgar, he, the grave and dignified patriot, the counsellor, and instructor, and terror of kings, is degraded to a mimic and a court-buffoon; his works are read and praised by a few secluded scholars, chiefly, we verily believe, because they are read and praised by no one else. But in regard to all active influence over the souls and tastes of his countrymen, George Buchanan has, in truth, scarcely any existence at all, or is at least, beyond all calculation, the inferior even of an Allan Ramsay or a Bunts. His name, indeed, is a great name among us. Such genius has not breathed in our land; without leaving behind a faint majestic shadow to haunt the spot where it hath been. We know that we have reason to be proud that Buchanan was our countryman. We talk of him, we extol him; we are delighted to hear an Italian or a German scholar confess his superiority to Vida, Sannazar, Casitnir, or Balde. His glory resembles that of some gigantic hero of the elder time, some Bruce, or Keith, or Douglas, at whose name our hearts leap up within us, although we have scarcely any record or precise knowledge of those deeds which have linked this mysterious grandeur to an empty sound. There is something very noble in this privilege of genius, in whose virtue even the ignorant are made to pay homage to its possessors. But those who are really acquainted with the works of Buchanan, will not easily rest satisfied with such homage as this. They will wish others to partake in the same enjoyments which have been imparted to themselves; they will strive to make their favourite better known; and they will be confident,

that in so doing, they run no risk of lessening his reputation. For if it be very true in the general, that "intimacy diminisheth reverence," that humiliating maxim has no application, either to the person, or the writings, of such men as Buchanan.

For ourselves, we are well aware, that to many of our well-educated readers beyond the Tweed, there may appear to be something almost ludicrous in writing, at this time of day, either a critique, or an culogiuin upon such a writer as this. We would it were so. But if our friends recollect the one solitary fact, that no tolerable edition of Buchanan's Works has ever been published in this island, except a huge unmanageable one in folio,* more than a century ago, our opinion, as to the neglect in which these writings are held, can scarcely, we imagine, appear to be destitute of foundation; and if it be correct, we are sure none of them will disapprove of the motives which have induced us to call the attention of our readers to Buchanan, even although they should wish, as they may well do, that the business had fallen into better hands.

Buchanan's first and greatest character is that of a Poet. His prose works were the occupation of his declining years, and are the monuments of his practical wisdom. But the fire of his youthful genius expanded itself entirely in verse; it was the fault of the age, and it has been the misfortune of our country, that his verse was Latin. There is no occasion for repeating the common-place and unanswerable arguments against writing poetry in any other language than that which has been taught in childhood. Every one must admit, that had the language of Scotland been in a state fit for the higher sorts of poetry, Buchanan would have done very ill to make use of any other than his mother-tongue. We must take things as they are;—we must examine his productions, and judge of them by the eternal rules of beauty;—we must compare him with those who

■ This is the edition of Ruddiman, Edinburgh, 1715. It forms the ground-work of the greatly superior one, by Peter Burmann, in quarto. These are the only two editions of the Opera of Buchanan. The one is clumsy and inconvenient; the other seldom to be met with, and very dear.

have used similar instruments in similar situations;—we must reflect what were his difficulties, in order that we may estimate the merits of his success.

The world has seen several examples of foreign languages being acquired, even in such perfection as is requisite for the purposes of poetical composition,—mastered and swayed to all appearance as thoroughly as if the thoughts and the words had grown up together in the familiarity of the same bosom. With a dead language the difficulty is infinitely greater, and the acquisition infinitely more rare. It is indeed the high prerogative of the language of cultivated men, to survive even the ruin of those that fashioned it, and bear down to posterity the image and

flory of refinement and wisdom that are passed away. It is thus that mind asserts its immortality; it refuses to be embodied in materials that are less than imperishable. But how shall the vigour which moves in the nerves and veins of the living speech, be found to animate even the most skilful of after imitations? The counterfeit may be exquisite, the features may be beautiful, but does not even their beauty betray the coldness and stiffness of death? Every living language is in so far free—it may receive new combinations—it may even sanction the privilege of creation. Without this, how shall genius have that liberty which is its birthright? Shall that which is by nature free as air, be straitened and cooped up within the walls even of a magnificent prison? How shall the rod of the magician work its wonders in a fettered hand? Can any man breathe the spirit of life and energy into a cold and artificial mass? Of all the modern poets who have written in Latin, is there one who has stamped upon his verses the impress of genius rioting in its strength, —the symbol of uncontrolled might, —the full majesty of freedom? If such an one there be, who shall deserve, so well, the name of a Prometheus,—the rival of creators,—the conqueror of bondage ?—To those who doubt the power of genius to overcome even these difficulties, and atchieve even these triumphs, we must address only one word—read Buchanan.

He is by no means the only man of high and powerful genius among the modern Latin poets; neither is he the

only one among their number who has overcome the necessary difficulties of his situation. But he has excelled all his brethren in the splendour as well as in the variety or his triumphs. Not satisfied with mastering the difficulties of any one mode of composition, he has grappled with those of all, and in all has he been successful. In ode, epigram, elegy, satire, and didactic, he has rivalled the first favourites of the Roman Muse.' He assumes, with equal ease, the careless grace of Catullus,—the lyric ardours of Horace,—the soothing tenderness of Tibullus,—the sublime indignation of Juvenal,—and the philosophic majesty of Lucretius. To those who are strangers to Buchanan, these praises of a modern Latinist cannot fail to appear hyperbolical and absurd. How the thing was done, it is indeed scarcely possible to imagine; it is sufficient for us to know and feel that it is so.

Buchanan is distinguished from almost all his rivals by the boldness with which he infused into the shape of Roman verse, the richest of those elements which are furnished to a modern poet by religious feelings and national recollections. His best poems are those which he has written either in the spirit of a Scotsman or of a Christian. He stands at an immeasurable distance above those scores of German and Italian poets, who scorned all modern affairs, and even the sanctities of the true religion, as unworthy of being adorned by their elegant muse, and sickened the world with their endless repetitions of the metamorphoses and personifications of the classical mythology. He knew wherein true poetry and true feeling consist, and he drew largely upon the treasures which he had discovered. But for the existence of the Paraphrase of the Psalms, and the lines on the death of Calvin, we doubt whether any one would have believed it possible to clothe, in a form of the most perfect classical purity, ideas so utterly unknown to the formers, and masters of the ancient language, as those which Buchanan had gathered from the study and the feeling of Christianity.

* Forum nemo est cui idem quad Buchanano continent ut in quovis carminum genere summum obtineret: Cujus quidem rei laude omnem etiam anuquitateni provocat," &c—Scioppius.

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