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work in operating on the publications of his own day, it may perhaps be worth while to preserve just one copy of the book before us, in the spacious repository which the state should be recommended to erect, for preserving, till the appearance of this new and greater Gregory Thaumaturgus, single copies, accumulating through years or ages, of the successive books that shall be deemed to labour under an infirmity of meaning at present incurable. There will thus be a grand hospital of invalid books; and glorious will be the day, and vast the flood of light, when our great enchanter shall arrive to help them all into sense and new editions, and set them a-going in infinite
Even this “Midas may then be considered as one of the mosc precious remains of a former literary world ; and many a student, whose taste shall be polished, or whose genius kindled, by perusing it, may be grateful that all the copies were not surrendered to the service of candles, soap, and snuff. And the reviewers of those times, though of tempers probably far less benign, and of justice far more rigid, than we, may congratulate their nation on the re-appearance of a work which they can ascribe to nobody but Apollo himself; for as to Anthony Fisgrave, LL.D., they will believe, as we do, that it is a mere manufactured name.--If, on the other hand, it shall be deemed not at all reasonable seriously to expect, in any length of future time, such a phenomenon as fable has never presumed to feign, we are afraid the whole edition must go to the uses just now mentioned; though it is really a pity to see such a pretty offspring of the paper-mill and the letter-foundry consigned to so ungentle and inelegant a part of the great literary economny.
Perhaps we deserve only to be laughed at, for having taken considerable pains to understand the meaning and object of this production, especially as we must acknowledge the labour has been nearly in vain: we question, indeed, whether the author had any meaning at all beyond a mere literary hoax. A certain degree of art appears to be used in keeping the composition from coming out into sense, when sometimes it seems on the point of doing so. It would be hardly possible, indeed, for pure honest absurdity to get through so many pages without telling what its joke is aiming at. A portion of dexterity, which, applied the same length of time to some honest task, might perhaps have given instruction or got money, is required in making up a thousand or two of sentences, on one leading subject, each of them sufficiently intelli, gible in itself, and all joined together in an orderly manner into a composition so effectually confounded, that the writer cannot be cited as holding any one opinion on any one topic, The dexterity is employed to preserve an absolute confusion and contradiction of ideas, and not in advancing any class of opinions under a regular sham appearance of maintaining the contrary, is in Swift's Argument for abolishing Christianity,' or Burke's Viudication of Natural Society nor 'in contriving a plausible train of mock-serious arguments in support of some merely fantastical proposition, just to shew what ingenuity can do, as in Dr. John Campbell's tract on the salutary effects of inhaling the breath of young wonen.
When any purpose is meant to be answered by a piece of grave ironical reasoning, there must be a consistency and uniform bearing in the series of arguments and illustrations; they must all be, to use a convenient vulgar pbrase, right wrong. In the production before us, observations which are unmeaningly ironical are crossed and blended with such as are soberly and unmeaningly true. Nor is the incongruous farrago disposed into any remote resemblance of a regular alternation of remarks, adapted to maintain the tivo opposite sides of a question, and prolong an amusing argumentative indecision ; the whole is a mere thicket of involved confusion, If any thing more, than the sport of making a number of curious people wind and toil through a literary brake to get at a choice fruit tree which they are told is to be found in the midst of it, and then laugliing at their disappointment, was in the 'writer's view, we should perliaps have conjectured that he might intend to ridicule the pretensions and conceit of connoisseurs in the fine arts, and to rescue professors, and men of genius, from the arrogance of their judges. Something of this kind might seem intended in the mock proposal of a sovereign court of taste, to which every performance in the arts should be required to be submitted, and which should peremptorily and definitively pronounce on its merits, and with such authority as to preclude all further question, and all difference of opivions in the public. But in the various topics which are brought in as having some kind of connexion with the argument for this ludicrous institution, there is no management to bear out the joke, and make it tell to any purpose of either wit or sense. Just as much ridicole, and with just as little point or use, seems to be splashed, in the author's course through this puddle of whini and absurdity, on the men of real genius as on the prétended men of taste.
The latter half of the volume is put in the form of a fragment of very ancient history, relating the fabled musical contest between Pan and Apollo, of which Midas and his court were appointed the judges, which ancient fragment is made to descant on the contemporary reign of his majesty king George III. The Phrygian critical court and mouarch, the
ridiculous literary exhibitions made before them, the performances of the two gods, the decision on their respective merits, and the long speeches of Midas and Apollo, make a sort of exemplification and burlesque of such a court as the first part of the book bad affected to propose, and with the sime absence of any thing like systematic significance. The assembled connoisseurs are als:) mnade to expose themselves to scorn by a preference, which connoisseurs, whether really possessing refined taste, or only affecting it, are never likely to be caught in the mistake of avowing, of rude, rustic, and vulgar strains to the finished performances of combine art and genius. A professed connoisseur will be certain to take care vot to fait too readily into the taste of the vingar.
There is here and there a passage which we should be 113clined to call well written, especially a controversy among a company of painters, each asserting the superlative merits of the particular painter that he has selected among the great masters for his model, and depreciating the idols and models of all the rest of the party.
Perhaps the following passage may be worth transcribing.
From many circumstances it would appear that, however they might affect to deny it, the arists themselves are convinced of their own littleness when compared with their predecessors ; for though they continually depreciate the supposed unjust preference given to ancient works, they are ever the most forward to support it. Place one of these genilernen in a professor's chair, to discourse on art, (a situation with which they sometimes compliment each other) and see what he uniformly resorts to.
He scarcely deigns to touch on the firse principles of his particular profession, cautiously avoids describing what is its nature and intention, with its means of operation, and thence deducing a regular system of practice.-N.), he immediately launches back into its antiquity, and astonishes his auditors with his knowledge of high-sounding names, and with gorgeous panegyrics on the genius of past times; expatiates on the merits of Greeka and Italians ; illustrating his opinions, and supporting his criticisms, by the mere description of celebrated examples, many of which are perhaps only known to himself by description) and by rhapsodies that consequently convey no information, and excite no sympathy, and in conclușion, that the excessive inconsistency of these profound teachers may more apparent, their eulogiums on ancient genius are uniformly accompanied by reproaches, hurled with great vehemence against their contemporaries, for refusing to acknowledge the indubitable excellence of modern art.'. pp. 72, 73.
As the reader, who is in qnest of entertainment merely, will not be at all gratified by the labour of getting through the puzzle about the meaning and object of the book, and as he will not meet with enough smart insnlated pieces of ingenuity or humour to amuse frim on after he finds that no assignable object is to be pursued, he will never read to the
end; and if any one's hope and patience can be beguiled over so much ground in search of something graver than ainusement, he will probably, at the end, find this the single instance in his life, in which he has read a whole volume without gaining three useful ideas. But indeed nobody but a reviewer will ever read through the production; and therefore we have a peculiar right to reprobate the perverse whim which has occasioned the waste of so much of our time; the writer might have been satisfied with the folly of wasting so much of his own,--we might say the guilt, for we still think it within possibility that his faculties might have succeeded in something better than this piece of laborious absurdity.
Though he appears not unaccustomed to the pen, there are many gross faults in the construction of sentences, and even in common grammar. We must however acknowledge 9% one service to literature; our language confessedly labours under a most miserable scarcity of terms; it will be thankful therefore to the inventor of the words illucidation,' and stimulæ ;' even the old Romans are involved in the obligation. This brilliant coinage is, we think, the chief merit of the book. Art. IX. Observations on various Passages of Scripture, placing them
in a new Light, and ascertaining the Meaning of several, not determinable by the Methods commonly made use of by the learned. Originally compiled by the Rev. Thomas Harmer, from Relations in cidentally mentioned in Books of Voyages and Travels into the East. Fourth Edition, with a new Arrangement, many important Addition, and innumerable Corrections, by Adam Clarke, LL. D. 4 vols. Svo.
pp. cxxii. 2100. Price 1l. 16s. bds. Johnson, Baynes, &c. 1808. AMONG the various descriptions of evidence for the authen
ticity of Divine Revelation, which have successively expelled infidelity from its most considerable positions, and have at length confined its once active and audacious hostility within a narrow circle, we are far from thinking lightly of that which was primarily brought into action by the venerable author of this work. His idea of employing the accounts of modern travellers in the East to illustrate the incidents and allusions that occur in Scripture, was
one of those happy conceptions which are often the unexpected reward of diligent thought. The evidence of recent authors, in one department at least, is unexceptionable ; so far, we mean, as it relates to physical phenomena. The products of the earth and their times of germination and matu. rity, the face of the country, the vicissitude of seasons, the distinctions of climate, and the appearances of the atmosphere and the sky, are with few exceptions the same in all
ages. When we learn, for example, from a modern report-
The benefits derived from this kind of evidence, to the cause of religion, are confessedly of secondary value. The proofs in favour of Divine Revelation were quite conclusive, and