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A foreigner would be puzzled to conceive how such trash could be published here with any hope of ever being called for. But the truth is, the appetite for information respecting the follies of the great is particularly strong among us, and is one of the unjustifiable irregularities of that spirit which keeps the higher classes in a kind of moral subjection to the opinions of the middling orders of men, and restrains vice within narrow boundaries. We must submit to the evil, in order to preserve that which is a blessing : but we must always endeavour to prevent the increase of the former. And we have noticed the present work because it tends to heighten the disorders of the public mind, and to excite a hurtful curiosity which it has not the power to gratify. The author seems to have some skill in writing; and as it is, perhaps, the same to him whether he abuse or applaud individuals, he had better set about indulging in innocent fictions.
ART. IX. The Universal British Merchant; embracing, in a
systematic manner, the Epistolary Style of Commercial Core respondence between Great Britain and the principal Trading Cities of Europe: the Mode of effecting Insurances, Drawing, Remitting, Importing, and Exporting their respective Commodities; and innumerable Mercantile Occurrences. Adapted to cultivate and familiarize the Student with the general and real transactions of the Counting House. Translated from the French of « Le Négociant Universel.” To which is added an Appendix, giving an Outline of General Mercantile Knowledge. By W. KEEGAN, A.M. 12mo.
pp. 407. Law and Whittaker. The title-page points out the object and the utility of this book, which the author has executed with commendable ability. It is well worthy of the notice and diligent perusal of all such British youth as are intended for business, and wish to acquire a mercantile style with accuracy and facility. Mr. Keegan asserts that these are “ copious and unequalled models of commercial epistles, which he has translated into English, to qualify youth for holding a foreign correspondence :" and he adds, « They are not insignificant models that will lead to this attain ment; they must be real.” This collection of letters (amounting to two hundred and ten) is admirably adapted to its purpose; and, We believe, neither pains nor expense have been spared to render
it worthy the patronage of the public. The work is accompanied with an Appendix, replete with original and useful matter, and contains an Alphabetical Index, and an Explanation of the various Commercial Terms and Phrases used not only in the letters, but in general business. In short, the variety of instruction offered to the public in this volume, must be highly useful to young men, “ whom it will habituate to think and write like experienced merchants.”
Art. X. Religious and Moral Reflections, originally intended
for the Use of his Parishioners. By SAMUEL HOPKINSON, S.T. B., formerly Fellow of Clare Hall, Rector of Etton, and Vicar of Morton cum Hacconby. 12mo. pp. 203. Second
Edition. Harris. This little volume should be the Vade-mecum of every early Christian, as it contains many pious observations and salutary admonitions. It includes Reflections for the aged, as well as for the young; and valuable treatises upon Time, Industry, Contentment, Forgiveness, Charity, Intemperance, the Employment of Time, Cruelty, Swearing, Lying, Extravagance,
Revenge, &c. The duties of Christianity are fully explained, and the study of the Sacred Scriptures strongly recommended. To assist the unlearned, definitions of the most difficult words in the work, alphabetically arranged, are prefixed to it; and, at the end, notes are subjoined, illustrative of several of the more difficult passages.
ART. XI. The Tyro's Guide: a Series of Figures, arranged in
a new and simple Method, as a sure and extensive Groundwork for the Study of the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic, as usually taught: adapted to Schools. By SARAH Cor
BETT. pp. 42. Accurace is the chief merit of a work of this kind, to which the Compiler has so diligently attended, that this Series of Figures will prove a faithful guide to the beginner. The thing is further commendable for its typographical neatness. The arrangement seems to be more simple than now; but so much the better : simplicity leads cheerfully to improvement. “Scholars will study these figures at home, practise them in classes at school, and apply them in working sums with facility and pleasure.
Art. XII. Ina, a Tragedy ; in Five Acts. By Mrs. WILMOT.
Third edition. London; Murray, 1815. pp. 68. Many of our readers will possibly bear in mind the great ex pectations which were excited by this tragedy; and which were reasonably grounded upon the celebrity of the poetical effusions of the authoress, among which the specimens we have seen evince a lively fancy chastened by a pure and correct taste. The performance of Ina, long delayed from various causes, was anticipated as the production of a lady of high consideration by half the nobles and half the wits of England, as the triumph of female genius over the salique prejudice, which, however ungraciously it sounds, is founded on experience, and would forbid the buskin to the female foot, while a Cowley, a Lee, and a Lefanu, have proved that the sock may be worn by ladies with equal decency and grace. Ina was impatiently expected, anxiously talked about, zealously talked for, and invidiously talked at, for more than a twelvemonth after the existence and accepte ance by the managers of this a new tragedy by Mrs. Wilmot,” had been first intimated to the public through the official channels of dramatic information. At last, rehearsal succeeded to rehearsal, and no pains were spared to make what was pronounced perfection, still more perfect. The stage was crowded with savans and élegantes, and the unfortunate actors, unused to have the probationary trials of their talents judged by successive picked audiences in detail, and to be invaded upon their own ground, while preparing for a field day, by an army of accredited spies, had to push their way upon the boards and make their exits and their entrances” through a crowd of “ friends to the author,” who, it is to be feared, by their embarrassing, premature criticisms upon the efforts of the performers, eventually proved themselves to have been no friends to the piece. The important evening, however, at length came, and we cannot conceal, however we deplore, the mortifying fact, that the sun of Ina rose in splendor amid clouds of incense, but it soon sunk to rise no more.
The friends of Mrs. Wilmot (and we are informed that all who are honored by the acquaintance of this amiable and ac complished lady are her friends,) have been too just to impute the blame of this failure to the actors. It must all therefore be charged to the blind, the tasteless, the cruel, the ungenerous public. Such ever have been, and ever will be, the expressions with which pitying friendship soothes the wounded ear of un
successful talent; but common sense and truth must, in steady defiance of gallantry and sentiment, allow that the public must be the best judge of what pleases the public. Whoever can, although but for a few hours, interest and amuse the public innocently, renders to mankind an essential service; but whoever does not first interest or amuse, cannot ultimately effect any other purpose, since he cannot turn or elevate the fancy or the feelings, till he has previously acquired a firm hold upon them. The great Frederic was accustomed to say,
« Je ne vous pardonne rien, si vous n'etes grand homme," and we fear that box, pit, and gallery would all join in this parody, “ Je vous pardonne tout, pourvû que vous m'amusiez.”
All that we have to do, after the catastrophe of the failure of Ina, is carefully to examine whether it be true, as we are confidently assured by many well-drest and well-bred people, that “ although Mrs. Wilmot's play did not do upon the stage, it reads extremely well.” We wish it may prove so; far be it from us to circumscribe the range of possibilities, or wedge the female mind into narrower bounds than nature has assigned to it. Although we cannot bring to our recollections the name of any woman in this, or any other age or country, who has written a first-rate acting tragedy which has held possession of the stage, we will not say that such things cannot be.
Miss Baillie's works, sublime and magnificent as they are, we are inclined rather to term dramatic delineations of passion, than tragedies ; more metaphysical than theatrical, they rather display with a masterly hand the passions of the hero, than excite those of the spectator. Such indeed has been her aim, What she professed to do, she has done with equal credit to herself, and delight to her readers; but the splendid diction and fine poetry of de Montford, aided by all the talent of all the Kembles, could not maintain it upon the stage, from the want of dramatic situation ; while the Gamester, written in very ordinary prose, “ commands our tears to flow through every age."
Many ingenious and plausible arguments might be adduced to prove that women can, and ought to write good tragedies, some of the pleas resting upon the tenderness and refinement of their characters, &c., but Time, that cruel enemy to female fame as well as female beauty, holds in his withered hand the long chronicle of the triumphs of Melpomene, and sullenly observes“ This record bears no woman's name.”
The principal personages of this piece are, Cenulph the king of Wessex, a grave, talkative old gentleman, very jealous of his
son's popularity, but not without love for his people, or natural affection ; and always preferring virtue to vice, when no very strong impulse of policy or self-interest draws him into the paths of the latter. Egbert, the heir-apparent, is a fine dashing young fellow, full of the heroic ingredients of bravery, impetuosity, and imprudence, but a most excellent family man, and very happy in the friendship of Alwyn, who, like a true friend, shews his sentiments by his actions, rather than by his words. Baldred, the villain of the piece, is designated in the Dramatis Personæ, as « a crafty monk arid nephew to the king.” We could not help thinking of the Tragedy of the Rovers, where the prior is characterized as “very corpulent and cruel.” Baldred is not, however, so crafty, but that the reader sees through him from the beginning, and a very sad scoundrel he is. The other male characters need not be distinguished: one of them is a counterpart to the honest humane sentry in Sheridan's Pizarro, and most of the rest are lords who, like their living prototypes, fill up the splendor of the court without always adding much to its dignity or wisdom. Ina, the heroine, secretly married to Egbert, is the Fanny of the Clandestine Marriage, on stilts; but her character is pourtrayed with great tenderness and spirit, and, to use a phrase applied by the Edinburgh Reviewers to Mrs. Opie's heroines," she is just such a woman as a gentleman would wish to fall in love with.” Edelfleda, betrothed to Egbert, and daughter to the king of Mercia, a circumstance upon which no princess-royal ever valued herself more, is a lady of very tempestuous passions, and appears formed upon the school of Zara, Hermione, and Alicia. In point of manners, she approaches most nearly to the latter. As to confidantes and attendants, nobody expects to find any characters in them; we leave them in the mob of Erixenes, Cephisas, Annas, and Cleones. The time chosen for the story is the eighth century, a period when courtesy and learning beamed over some European states, but when the catalogue of British virtues and accomplishments was deplorably meagre; and the scene is laid in “ the capital of the kingdom of Mercia,” which the fair author has prudently forborne to name, so that the antiquary will have some trouble to fix the topography of the bower of Ind. The prologue, by the Honorable William Lamb, is an elegant composition, and if it displays no original thought, contains many musical lines, and just, if not novel sentiments. Of the epilogue we need only say, that it is the performance of Thomas Moore Esq., to ensure for it the favor of all our female readers. We will now subjoin the analysis of the tragedy. NO. V. Aug. Řev. VOL. I.