Изображения страниц

as our multiform language may fufficiently shew. Our terms in polite ' literature prove, that these came from Greece; our terms in music and painting, that these came from Italy; our phrases in cookery and war, that we learnt these from the French ; and our phrases of navigation, that we were taught by the Flemings and Low Dutch. These many and very different sources of our language may be the cause, why it is fo deficient in regularity and analoa gy. Yet we have this advantage to compensate the defect, that what we want in elegance, we gain in copiousness ; in which laft respect few languages will be found superior to

our own.

· Let us pass from ourselves to the Regions of the East. The Eaftern world, from the earliest days, has been at all times the seat of enormous monarchy. On them fair liberty never shed its genial influence. If at any time civil discords arose among them, (and arise there did innumerable) the contest was never about the form of their govern. ment, (for this was an object, of which the combatants had no conception ;) 'twas all from the poor motive of, Who jould be their Master, whether a Cyrus or an Artaxerxes, a Mahomet or a Mustapha ?

Such was their condition, and what was the consequence?

- Their Ideas became consonant to their servile state, and their words became consonant to their servile ideas. The great diftinction, for ever in their fight, was that of a tyrant and flave; the most unnatural one conceivable, and the most susceptible of pomp, and empty exaggeration. Hence they talk'd of kings as gods, and of themselves as the meaneit and most abject reptiles. Nothing was either greator little in moderation, but every fentiment was heightened by incredible hyperbole. Thus, tho' they sometimes ascended into the great and magnificent, they as frequently degenesated into the tumid and bombaft. The Greeks too of Asia : became infected by their neighbours, who were often at times not only their neighbours, but their mafters; and hence that luxuriance of the Asiatic style, unknown to the chaste eloquence and purity of Athens. But of the Greeks we forbear to speak now, as we shall speak of them more fully, when we have first considered the nature or genius of the Romans.

“And what sort of people may we pronounce the Romans? ---A nation engaged in wars and commotions, fome foreign, fome domestic, which for seven hundred years wholly engrossed their thoughts. Hence therefore their Language



became, like their Ideas, copious in all terms expreffive of things political, and well adapted to the purposes both of history and popular eloquence. --- But what was their Philolophy? --- As a nation, 'twas none, if we may credit their ableft writers. And hence the unfitness of their language to this subject ; a defect, which even Cicero is compelled to confefs, and more fully makes appear, when he writes philofophy himself, from the number of terms he is obliged to invent. Virgil feems to have judged the most truly of his countrymen, when admitting their inferiority in the more elegant arts, he concludes at last with his usual majesty,

Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, (tibi erunt artes) pacisque imponere morem, Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.

From considering the Romans, let us pass to the Greeks. The Grecian commonwealths, while they maintained their liberty, were the most heroic confederacy that ever exifted. They were the polited, the bravest, and the wiseft of men. In the short space of little more than a century, they became such statesmen, warriors, orators, historians, physicians, poets, critics, painters, sculptors, architects, and (last of all) philosophers, that one can hardly help considering that Golden period, as a providential event in honour of human nature, to shew to what perfection the species might ascend.

Now the language of these Greeks was truly like themselves ; 'twas conformable to their tranfcendent and univerfal genius. Where matter fo abounded, words followed of course, and those exquisite of every kind, as the Ideas for which they stood. And hence it followed, there was not a subject to be found, which could not with propriety be exprest in Greek.

Here were words and numbers for the humour of an Ariftophanes, for the native elegance of a Philemon or Mea nander ; for the amorous strains of a Mimnermus or Sapho ; for the rural lays of a Theocritus or Bion; and for the sublime conceptions of a Sophocles or Homer. The same ini prose. Here Ifocrates was enabled to display his art, in all the accuracy of periods, and the nice counterpoise of diction. Here Demosthenes found materials for that nervous composition, that manly force of unaffected eloquence; which rushed like a torrent, too impetuous to be with stood,

[ocr errors]

Who were more different in exhibiting their philosophy, than Xenophon, Plato, and his difciple Aristotle? different, I say, in their character of composition ; for as to their phi- , losophy, it self, 'twas in reality the same. Aristotle, ftrict, methodic, and orderly ; fubtle in thought ; sparing in ornament; with little address to the paflions or imagination ; but exhibiting the whole with such a pregnant brevity, that in every sentence we seem to read a page. How exquisitely is this all performed in Greek? Let those, who imagine it may be done as well in another language, fatisfy themselves either by attempting to translate him, or by perusing his translations already made by men of learning. On the contrary, when we read either Xenophon or Plato, nothing of this method and strict order appears. The formal and didactic is wholly dropt. Whatever they may teach, 'tis without profefling to be teachers ; a train of dialogue and truly polite address, in which, as in a mirror, we behold human life, adorned in all its colours of sentiment and


<And yet tho' thefe differ in this manner from the Stagirite, how different are they likewise in character from each other? - Plato, copious, figurative, and majestic; intermixing at times the facetious and satiric; enriching his works with tales and fables, and the mystic theology of antient times. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect simplicity ; every where smooth, harmonious, and pure ; declining the figurative, the marvellous, and the mystic ; ascending but rarely into the fublime; nor then so much trusting to the colours of ftile, as to the intrinsic dignity of the sentiment itself.

* The language in the mean time, in which He and Plato wrote, appears to suit fo accurately with the stile of both, that when we read either of the two, we cannot help thinking, that 'tis he alone who has hit its character, and that it could not have appeared so elegant in any other manner.

* And thus is the Greek Tongue, from its propriety and uni. verfality, made for all that is great, and all that is beautiful, in every subject, and under every form of writing,

Graiis ingenium, Graiis dedit ore rotunda
Mufa loqui.

«Twere to be with'd, that those amongst us, who either write or read, with a view to employ their liberal leisure, (for as to such as do either from views more fordid, we

leave them, like llaves, to their destined drudgery ;) 'twere to be with’d, I say, that the liberal (if they have a relish for letters) would inspect the finish'd models of Grecian literature ; that they would not waste those hours, which they cannot recal, upon the meaner productions of the French and Englis press ; upon that fungous growth of novels and of pamphlets, where, 'tis to be feared, they rarely find any rational pleasure, and more rarely still, any solid improvement.

• To be competently skilled in antient learning, is by no means a work of such infuperable pains. The very progress itself is attended with delight, and resembles a journey thro' some pleasant country, where every mile we advance, new charms arise. 'Tis certainly as easy to be a scholar as a gamester, or many other characters equally illiberal and low. The same application, the fame quantity of habit will fit us for one, as compleatly as for the other. And as to those who tell us, with an air of seeming wisdom, that 'tis men, and not books we must study to become knowing; this I have always remark'd from repeated experience to be the common consolation and language of dunces. They shelter their ignorance under a few bright examples, whole transcendent abilities, without the common helps, have been sufficient of themselves to great and important ends. But alas!

Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile --

• In truth, each man's understanding, when ripened and mature, is a composite of natural capacity, and of super-induced habit. Hence the greatest men will be necessarily those, who possess the best capacities, cultivated with the best habits. Hence also moderate capacities, when adorn'd with valuable science, will far transcend others the most acute by nature, when either neglected, or applied to low and base purposes.

And thus, for the honour of Culture and good Learning, they are able to render a man, if he will take the pains, intrinsically more excellent than his natural superiors.

“And so much at present as to general Ideas ; how we'acquire them; whence they are derived; what is their nature; and what their connection with Language. So much likewise as to the subject of Language, and Universal Grammar.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


1. HE remonftrance of the clergy of France; pre

penny. Translated from the French. 8vo. 6d. Cooper.

This remonftrance was presented in August, 1749.

II. Four volumes of the RAMBLER, 12mo. 125. Payne and Bouquet.

These four volumes contain 136 numbers of this excellent paper, out of 200 now published ; and still continued on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

III. The court of queen Mab; containing a select collection of only the most instructive and entertaining tales of the Fairies. Written by the countess d' Aulnoy. To which are added, a fairy-tale in the ancient English stile, by Dr. Parnel, and queen Mab's song. 2mo. 35. Cooper.

IV. Genuine memoirs of the life and transactions of William Stroud, who was, at the quarter-sessions for the city and liberty of Westminster, sentenced to fix months imprifonment in Bridewell, and to be fix times publickly whipt. Written by himself. 8vo. Is. Fuller.

Other accounts of this notorious sharper have been published, but none deserve an equal degree of credit with this now published by himself; in which, however, it is not to be doubted, but that he hath availed himself of that art and deceit by which he hath for many years imposed upon the credulity of mankind. Nevertheless it must be allowed, that he hath given us his history in an entertaining manner, without prolixity, or improbable embellishment.

V. Letters from the Inspector to a lady, with the genuine answers. 8vo. 15. Cooper.

These letters contain the particulars of the rte, progress, and breaking-off of an intrigue betwixt Dr. H. and Mrs. D. They are written with uncommon fpirit: but whethey are genuine or not, is as yet a secret to the public, and to us, further than that an advertisement has appeared in the papers, disavowing them on the part of the lady. Vol. VI.


VI. The

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »