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more I am satisfied that no country can prosper without having an abundant circulation, or in other words, money easily attainable, and at a moderate rate of interest;"--and in his present. pamphlet, after having expressed much apprehension for the injury which the trading world might suffer by a limitation of the Bank, the truth comes out in the ensuing memorable paragraph : (page 49.) · Nor would these inconveniences be restricted to commercial men; the landed and farming interests would suffer perhaps in a still greater degree. They are at present enabled to go on, notwithstanding the increased expence of cultivation and the pressure of heavy taxes, in consequence of the additional prices which their commodities fetch, and the facility with which they obtain payment, owing to the abundance of a circulating medium ; but if the taxes remain as they are, and if, in consequence of the diminution of the circulating medium, their commodities should become unsaleable, except at low prices, and with payments either distant or uncertain, the agricultural interest would be undone. To this important sub ject I earnestly request their particular attention before it is too late, Let them recollect that they are fully as much interested as any other class of the community, in keeping up an abundant rather than a diminished medium of circulation.'
To all this, (begging pardon for the personal allusion,) we have to add what Sir John has forgotten to mention, namely, that his own fortune consists in land. In the present case, how ever, he mistakes his own interest, like other ardent men, by being in too great a hurry. Let him be assured that he who has landed security to offer to a capitalist will not long want a loan ; and that to open the Bank, as soon as the state of our foreign trade permits it, will be as great a benefit to the land.. holder as to the merchant. It will conduce, in some measure, .' to retard that rapid depreciation of money which is laying the axe to the root of our commercial pre-eminence; - a pre-eminence in which the owner of land and the mercantile man possess an interest equally strong.
We have now done with Sir John Sinclair, but by no mean; with the Bank-question. Among the topics remaining to be discussed, are, the inquiry how far the Suspension-Act has been instrumental in raising prices, and the nature of the circumstances in the state of our exchanges which would render it safe for the Bank to resume their cash-payments :-- but these, as we have already exceeded our present limits, must be adjourned to a future number.
ART. X. Huonymiana ; or Ten Centuries of Observations on various
Authors and Subjects. Compiled by a late very learned and reverend Divine ; and faithfully published from the original MS. with the Addition of a copious Index. 8vo. pp. 527. 12 bar
Boards. Longman and Co. 1809. This volume may be considered on more accounts than one I as a literary curiosity. It was originally designed to have been published as long since as the year 1766: but the author, growing fond of his work, gradually enlarged it till 1788; and now for the first time it sees the light, after his eyes have been for ever closed. In criticising the work, therefore, we are not only to consider the compiler as a literary antiquary, but the work itself, in some respects, as a piece of antiquity. It stands in great need of indulgence, to obviate many objections which will be made against much of its contents; for a frequent deficiency in style and taste; for its minute trifling; and for that quaintness which still attaches to the patient labourers in those fields of black-letter, in which Caxton, Pynsent, and Wynkyn de Worde, offer such a fine harvest. • The name of the author has been studiously concealed by the editor, Mr.Nichols; a writer to whom English literature is under many obligations, since he has contributed more towards the preservation of our literary history, than any one of his contemporaries. We cannot, however, see any reason for the appearance of secrecy with which the worthy editor announces his author, while the personal and local allusions,' in the volume itself, most evidently designate him to be no other than the late venerable Samuel Pegge; a literary patriarch, who was born at the commencement of the last century, and nearly reached its close.
The Rev. Samuel Pegge, LL.D., was the author of several hundreds of Archæological dissertations in the Gentleman's Magazines, and the volumes of the Antiquarian Society. He was a retired scholar, who indulged in universal reading, with a strong propensity to Antiquarian researches. He has often displayed acuteness in emendatory criticism : but his judgment seems to have been only moderate, while his conjectural expla. nations were marked by great boldness, and frequently by the most whimsical fancy. He was one of those antiquaries of former times who contemned elegance, and were never guided by philosophical inquiry ; one who could see nothing before him but the naked facts which he collected, and could detail, but never' generalize. He could more accurately settle a date than draw an inference; and, collecting rather than combining Sacis, his labours tended little to enlarge the history of the
human mind. Antiquarian studies, since the days of Pegge, have received a nobler impulse, by their alliance with taste and philosophy; and whenever an antiquary shall now be found a trifler, we may be certain that the fault is more in himself than in his studies ; since those studies are not -merely curious or entertaining, but may be directed to important purposes.
The word Anonymiana forms an odd title to a work of which it is impossible to mistake the author. It ranks among those amusing miscellanies which are so well known under the barbarous designation of Ana; and in the style of obsolete taste and true Antiquarianism, it is arranged under the whimsical form of · Centuries. Every division must have just one hundred articles ; so that these ten centuries naturally remind us of an old popular book, which is still reprinted for the multitude with all its obsolète nonsense, under the title of “One thousand notable things.” Here, indeed, they lie together, like the miscellany of a broker's shop, with Martial's motto to be inscribed under the sign,
“ Sunt bona, sunt quædam inediocria, sunt mala plura;" and we must think, though the authorbimself deprecates the application of that remark to him, that the"mala” predominate in these kinds of collections, the broker's shop and the Anas. We object to this revival of writing by Centuries, as not only of no use what. ever, but as pernicious. A plan, which compels an author to put together a prescribed number of subjects, necessarily induces him to complete that number by any odds and ends that occur in kis distress; and every century adds to his difficulties. These Ten Centuries of Anonymiana remind us of a project of a friend of ours, and a wit, who resolved to write down every day one good thing ; by which means (omitting Sundays as a day of rest for wit as well as for those who are not witty,) he calculated that he should at the close of the year be in possession of « Three Centuries” of good things: -- but, whether he was too nice and critical, or wanted the genius, the project failed; which certainly it might not, had the present volume served as a model. :
The learned author, in his preface, treats the species of composition which he has himself adopted, as • farragos of a light and superficial nature,' and refers to Wolfius's preface to the Casauboniana for an account of all the Anas to 1710. He adds:
• Many more of the same stamp have since that ära been brought forward, and not been ill received, abroad more especially ; and this he has thought encouragement sufficient for him to adventure the present publication,' - Compilations of this species were originally
supposed to consist of such miscellaneous articles as casually dropped from the mouths of great men, and were noticed by their families : the plan was afterwards adopted by profeseed authors, who chose to write in that mode ; and with some shew of reason, since certainly some good things, and on various subjects, may occur to men of literature, which cannot properly, be introduced in their works; and though highly worthy of being preserved, would be lost, unless perpetuated in some such manner as this.' (Advertisement, p. vi.)
This inelegant account of the Anas, however, points out the useful purpose to which such volumes may hereafter be adapted. We shall not complain of the number of these works, provided that they consist entirely of original observations and interesting facts; such as every man of letters may produce in his Hore Subsecive, and which will always constitute, from their variety, one of the most gratifying recreations for the lovers of literature. . While our learned antiquary was amusing his literary leisure with these ten Centuries,' he must have en other men less profound in their discoveries, but of more elegant taste, anticipating the novelty of his collection. Popular works of this class have been produced within the last twenty years, which have enjoyed a great share of public favour. The present volume contains numerous antiquarian memoranda,—annotations on some of our old chroniclers and our antient poets, which will be useful to future commentators. We must distinguish those on the Mirrour for Magistrates. The miscellaneous articles are of too heterogeneous a nature for us to particularize them ; sometimes they are acute emendations, or curious illustrations; sometimes they are of an historical kind, relating to our manners; others are literary notices of writers and books: but too frequently they are trifling, crude, and obscure.
The ensuing observations on our antient metre relate an inte " resting fact in our poetical annals :
• The singing-psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins are now usually printed in verses of eight syllables and six, with a single alternate rhythm ; this is the case of the first twenty-four psalms, and the music or tunes are adapted to that measure. But this is all deviation from the original state of things, these psalms being all verses of fourteen syllables, and consequently written in entire rhythm. In such manner they were published at first, and are so printed now in some books; and on tuning and giving out but eight syllables first, and then six, according to the present mode, the sense is often mucha broken, as Psalm xxiv.
The earth is all the Lord's, with all
Her store and furniture :
• But write this in two verses, and the sense will be much clearer, and to the illiterate far more intelligible. “ The earth is all the Lord's, with all her store and furniture :
Yea, his is all the world, and all that therein doth endure." p.10. Our metre, indeed, once consisted of a lumbering line of sixteen syllables. The division of these long 'verses produced our ballad-stanza of eight and six syllables alternately; one of the most elegant forms of our versification, adapted equally to the unity of narrative and the variety of passion.
The following is a singularity in our versification, which may be considered as curious; and the aukward'attempts at novelty which were made by our poetical ancestors, if not always beautiful, deserve preservation. It is taken from that very antient poem the «i Mirrour of Magistrates," p. 339, which Warton distinguishes as the origin of our historic dramas:
“ Then shaking and quaking, for dread of a dreame,
Half waked all naked in bed as I lay,
My chamber doors, and boldly in brake,
And had me fast, before I could wake.” • There is something very particular in this stanza, there being a shyme at the beginning of each verse, as here is marked; besides, the two last lines have each but nine syllables, whereas in the other stanzas they have ten : perhaps this singular stanza is copied or bor. rowed from some former author.' p. 89.
The above metrical curiosity is barbarous : but it is intea resting to observe how elegance can attune so rude a metre even to the poetical ear of modern poets. Burns, in his « Halloween," which exhibits some of the legendary superstitions of the west of Scotland, has adopted this very metre, with consie derable effect :
• Upon that night when Fairies light
"Oo Cassilis Downane dance,
On sprightly coursers prance.
Beneath the moon's pale beams,
· Among the rocks and streams.” The Bibliomania, which appears to rage with unusual violence at the present season, has carried the prices for our ear. liest specimens of typography to the most senseless extravao .
Rey, Nov. 1810,
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