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ed a wide extent of this romantic country, gave myself up to contemplation, and the perusal of Milton's Comus.
My reflections were naturally suggested by the singularity of this echo. To hear my own voice speak at a distance would have been formerly regarded as prodigious. To hear too, that voice, not uttered by another, by whom it might easily be mimicked, but by myself! I cannot now recollect the transition which led me to the notion of sounds, similar to these, but produced by other means than reverberation. Could I not so dispose my organs as to make my voice appear at a distance?
From speculation I proceeded to experiment. The idea of a distant voice, like my own, was intimately present to my fancy. I exerted myself with a most ardent desire, and with something like a persuasion that I should succeed. I started with surprise, for it seemed as if success had crowned my attempts. I repeated the effort, but failed. A certain position of the organs took place on the first attempt, altogether new, unexampled and as it were, by accident, for I could not attain it on the second experiment.
You will not wonder that I exert ed myself with indefatigable zeal to regain what had once, though for so short a space, been in my power. Your own ears have witnessed the success of these efforts. By perpetual exertion I gained it a second time, and now was a diligent observer of the circumstances attending it. Gradually I subjected these finer and more subtle motions to the command of my will. What was at first difficult, by exercise and habit, was rendered easy. I learned to accommodate my voice to all the varieties of distance and direction.
It cannot be denied that this faculty is wonderful and rare, but when we consider the possible modifications of muscular motion, how
few of these are usually exerted, how imperfectly they are subjected to the will, and yet that the will is capable of being rendered unlimited and absolute, will not our wonder cease?
We have seen men who could hide their tongues so perfectly that even an Anatomist, after the most accurate inspection that a living subject could admit, has affirmed the organ to be wanting, but this was effected by the exertion of muscles unknown and incredible to the greater part of mankind.
The concurrence of teeth, palate and tongue, in the formation of speech should seem to be indispensable, and yet men have spoken distinctly though wanting a tongue, and to whom, therefore, teeth and palate were superfluous. The tribe of motions requisite to this end, are wholly latent and unknown, to those who possess that organ.
I mean not to be more explicit. I have no reason to suppose a peculiar conformation or activity in my own organs, or that the power which I possess may not, with suitable directions and by steady efforts, be obtained by others, but I will do nothing to facilitate the acquisition. It is by far, too liable to perversion for a good man to desire to possess it, or to teach it to another.
There remained but one thing to render this instrument as powerful in my hands as it was capable of being. From my childhood, I was remarkably skilful at imitation. There were few voices whether of men or birds or beasts which I could not imitate with success. To add my ancient, to my newly acquired skill, to talk from a distance, and at the same time, in the accents of another, was the object of my endeavours, and this object, after a certain number of trials, I finally obtained.
In my present situation every thing that denoted intellectual exertion was a crime, and exposed me to invectives if not to stripes. This
circumstance induced me to be silent to all others, on the subject of my discovery. But, added to this, was a confused belief, that it might be made, in some way instrumental to my relief from the hardships and
restraints of my present condition.
The Ruling Passion: an occasional poem. Written by the appointment of the Society of the B K, and spoken, on their Anniversary, in the Chapel of the University, Cambridge, July 20, 1797. By Thomas Paine, 4. M. Published according to act of Congress. Boston....Manning and Loring. THE interest with which we read this poem, was increased by the recent and melancholy termination of the author's life...Mr. Paine was considered and respected by those who knew hira, as a scholar and a poet. Several circumstances tended to embitter his life; and over his death, those who have most injured him, will have most cause to lament. It is, however, not our province or desire to dwell on his history, nor are we possessed of sufficient information concerning him, to become his just and satisfactory biographers.
The Poem before us was printed in Boston, 1797. As we do mean to confine our attention entirely in our reviews to recent performances, we shall, from time to time, give some account of selected works which we deem above the common level of American poetry....In this class, we have no hesitation in placing the "Ruling Passion."..... It discovers in its author very considerable talents at satire, and a pupil who has studied in the school of Pope. Notwithstanding the merits of this poem, and its just title to the notice of criticisms, we have never seen it mentioned in the American prints.
vours to describe him as he seems
Mr. P. in his Ruling Passion, after representing man as a world of wonders in himself, and in some respects inexplorable, then endeato be, and draws several pictures of persons actuated by a predomi nant passion....Some of these discover strong and vivid touches of a keen and harmonious pencil..... Though some of the characters are of the same nature with those painted by Pope in his first moral epistle, yet they bear not the least impression of imitation....we trust that our readers will acknowledge the propriety of our commendation, when they have read and examined the following extracts......Mr. P. after comparing men to animals, represents life as a Print-shop, where we may trace different outlines in every face...he paints the beau as fashion's gossamer, and before us a character of a very difthen in a rapid transition, presents ferent description: this is a Pedant deep and dull, grave without sense, o'erflowing, yet not full.
In embodying this character, the poet thus proceeds:
See, the lank BOOK-WORM, pil'd with lumbering lore, Wrinkled in Latin, and in Greek
With toil incessant, thumbs the an
cient page, Now blote a hero, now turns down a sage!
O'er learning's field, with leaden eye
'Mid busts of fame, and menuments
This narrative is drawn up by an officer, whose education and pursuits appear to have been chiefly confined to military affairs. His professed object indeed is the British expedition to Egypt, and though a soldier has abundant opportunities of indulging a liberal curiosity in the scene of his exploits, and has sometimes more advantages for literary and scientific researches than other men, Colonel Wilson appears to see little beside the movements of the army and records little beside their movemements. He is actuated likewise by the national and professional spirit, and is not slow to assert and vindicate the reputation of the troops to which he bclongs.
It is to be expected that our knowledge of Egypt will be greatly enlarged by the reports of British travellers, whom the temporary dominion of their nation in that country, will have enabled to inquire and examine for themselves. Colonel Wilson gives us reason to form expectations of this kind. He mentions several persons who penetrated much farther than any of the French, into Nubia and into the western deserts. By these the world will probably be furnished with the means of corroborating or correcting the accounts of the French, and thus, whatever evils have befallen humanity in the Egyptian war, European curiosity will be greatly indebted to it.
This military narrative is plain and distinct. It is adorned with no flowers of rhetoric, and enlivened by few of those minute circumstances, which give interest and colouring to a picture. On this account, though, perhaps, less amusing to the general reader, it is more in'structive to the military one.
Among the articles of general interest, the following account of Rosetta and the Nile, is one of the most striking, as it shews the different lights in which the same object will present itself to different spectators:
"The officers of the English army who went to Rosetta, expected to find Savary's glowing description of its beauties realized, as they had found some justice in his remarks on that Desert, which separates Aboukir and Alexandria. Their mortification was extreme, to discover that the boasted delights of this city only consisted in comparison. The sight of verdure after that barren waste is a gratifying novelty,which pleases and fascinates the eye, in proportion to the previous suffering of the traveller, reheving his despondency, and charming the senses. For two or three miles immediately on the bank of the Nile, towards St. Julien, is certainly a luxuriant vegetation, but
beyond that, and over in the Delta, the scenery is bleak. To the south, hills of sand are only to be seen. "Rosetta is built of a dingy red brick; a great part of the town is in ruins, many of the houses having been pulled down by the French for fuel: the streets are not more than two yards wide, and full of wretches, which the pride of civilized man revolts at, to acknowledge human. The number of blind is prodigious; nearly every fifth inhabitant has Jost, or has some humour in his eyes; the erysipelas, the dropsy, the leprosy, the elephantiasis, all kinds of extraordinary contortions, and lusus naturæ, constantly offend the sight.
"Filth, musquitos of the most dreadful sort, vermin of every kind, women so ugly, that, fortunately for Europeans, their faces are concealed by a black cloth veil, in which two eye holes are cut, stench intolerable,houses almost uninhabitable, form the charms of Rosetta and Savary's garden of Eden. The quay is alone a handsome object, and this certainly might be made noble. On it General D'Estaign had fitted up a house in the Italian style, in which were the only clean apartments in the city, excepting a house belonging to Mrs. D'Arcy.
"The Nile, the celebrated Nile, afforded, uncombined with its bounties and wonderful properties, no pleasure to the sight; the muddy stream, rotten banks, putrifying with the fatness of the slime, left from the waters; its narrow breadth, not being more than a hundred yards across, impressed with no idea of majesty; but a reflection on the miraculous qualities of this river, an anticipation of the luxuries which the very kennelly waters would afford, rendered it an object of considerable gratification.
"The baths at Rosetta were esteemed very fine, and Savary describes them as such; therefore they must be mentioned. The curious stranger enters first into a large saloon, where many people are laying naked in bed, or getting
up, having performed their ablu tions; he then passes through nar row passages, smelling offensively from the abuses allowed in them, whilst each becomes gradually warmer, till the steam heat is almost intolerable; when he arrives in the room where the baths are, he sees a number of naked people, in vari ous attitudes, some in the water, others rubbing down by the atten dants, with gloves filled with cotton. Their horrid squalled figures, with their bald heads, excepting a little tuft of hair on the crown, and bristly black beards, made the place resemble a den of satyrs. No scene could be more disgusting; and it is astonishing how any person could remain five minutes, since the air is so tainted and oppressive. Hundreds of English, attracted by the description, attempted to get as far as the baths, but were obliged to turn back when they had advanced a little way. The Mosaic pavement, with which, however, the floors are paved, is really beautiful, and repays some inconvenience.”
Among the many accounts we have received of the Egyptian peasants, the following deserves a conspicuous place:
"All language is insufficient to give a just idea of the misery of an Egyptian village; but those who have been in Ireland may best suppose the degree, when an Irish hut is described as a palace, in comparison to an Arab's stye, for it can be called by no other name.
"Each habitation is built of mud, even the roof, and resembles in shape an oven: within is only one apartment, generally of about ten feet square. The door does not admit of a man's entering upright; but as the bottom is dug out about two feet, when in the room, an erect posture is possible. A mat, some large vessels to hold water, which it is the constant occupation of the women to fetch, a pitcher made of fine porous clay, found best in Upper Egypt, near Cunie, and in which the water is kept very cool, a rice pan, and coffee-pot, are all the