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The passages we are next to quote occur in another of Mr. Sharp's Essays, undated, but entitled - On Political Agitations.' We conceive there can be little doubt that this is a very recent production : how it may be received at Brookes's is another question.
A French gentleman said to Monsieur Colbert, You found the state-carriage overturned on one side, and you have overturned it on the other.” This was probably untrue, but it must be confessed that there is always some danger of destroying institutions by unskilful or violent changes. A conflagration may be extinguished without a deluge. It is not only hard to distinguish between too little and too much, but between the good and evil intentions of the different reformers. One man calls out “ Fire !" that he may save the house ; another, that he may run away with the furniture. I am inclined to believe, that in revolutions more harm is done by hurry and selfconceit than by mischievous purposes. Very few indeed should presume to lay their hands on the Ark, but—" Fools rush in where angels fear to tread;" and unluckily, “ A down-hill reformation rolls apace.” When honest men infer from their desire to do good, that they have the knowledge and talents requisite to govern wisely, it is incalculable what evil-doers they may innocently become! What an eternal shock of purposes where each man pursues his own crude schemes, with all the obstinacy of self-satisfied integrity!"
• Gradual improvements are not only safer but better than sudden ones, and more, much more, may be learnt from their example, when well recorded; but history is addicted to dwell on the latter, and rarely investigates the former. Their effects, also, are more permanent and more extensive; dnarchy being only the stakeholder for tyranny. There is, besides, something more terrible to the imagination in the disorderly violences of the multitude, than in the organized oppressions of a despot; something more hideous in myriads of reptiles, than in a gigantic beast of prey. If there were no alternative but either the absolute government of St. Giles's or of St. James's, who, in his senses, could hesitate a moment which to prefer?'
If the author had affixed a date to his Essay, we should have been enabled to guess whether what follows was or was not meant as a per contra to the foregoing :
• Besides its other innumerable benefits, a really representative government has the advantage of exempting individual persons from the necessity of becoming political agitators; and, by increasing the competition while it diminishes the rewards, it lessens the numbers of those and condition in England than in any other country in Europe;- will be lost. Each individual will consider that his advice and medicine is his stock in trade against such competition as will not allow him to dispose of any of it in charity, lest he lose his daily bread. The probable result of such a state of things, or of any change approach ing to it, would be that the lowest orders of society would be worse off than at present, the middle and upper ranks imposed upon, and obtain assistance in their calamities at an exorbitant pri:e
who can be advanced in reputation or in fortune by office. The young people of this country, in every rank, from a peer's son to a streetsweeper's, are drawn aside from a praiseworthy exertion in honest callings, by having their eyes directed to the public treasure. The rewards of persevering industry are too slow for them, too small, and too insipid. They fondly trust to the great lottery, although the wheel contains so many blanks and so few prizes ; hoping that their ticket may be drawn a place, a pension, or a contract -a living, or a stall- a ship, or a regiment-a seat on the bench, or the great seal. It is, indeed, most humiliating to witness the indecent scramble that is always going on for these prizes, the highest born and best educated rolling in the dirt, to pick them up, just as the lowest of the mob do for the shillings or the pence thrown among them by a successful candidate at a contested election.'—pp. 90-93.
Are we to understand, by a really representative government,' the government of this country as likely to be carried on under the operation of the Durham and Russell Reform Bill? The cutting insinuations of a preceding extract about the mischief' done by “ hurry and self-conceit, and fools that rush in where angels fear to tread,' make us slow to think so; but, if such is the meaning, we must say, Mr. Sharp had not looked far about him, when he hailed in the new system a diminution in the muster of political adventurers. On the contrary, we think it must already be obvious to every impartial observer, that the existing government, having done away with a system which had for one of its instruments the influence of ministerial patronage, are busily employed in the endeavour to replace it, by one in which there shall be no other element of influence whatever except that of patronage. We should be only too happy to anticipate their success in this plan, if we thought that by so succeeding they might secure the eventual quiet of the country which they have disorganized; but we fear their new courts, and central boards, and endless commissions, will be seen through, just as those of the Long Parliament wereand that, unless they also make theirs a long parliament, we shall presently hear of other things, even from Whig chroniclers, than the obstinacy of their integrity!
As a considerable part of this volume is occupied with · Letters and Essays in Verse,' we must give at least one specimen of our author's rhymes. It will be seen that his lines flow, in general, easily and gracefully—and that every now and then there comes a couplet of true terseness and energy; but that in verse, on the whole, Mr. Sharp cannot claim the title of a master. He has not always condensed and polished to the extent demanded in the style and measure he attempts. His second hemistichs and second lines are sometimes merely expletive. Nevertheless, he is of a good old school ; and we prefer him, with all his de
ficiencies, ficiencies, to a whole squadron of the mouthing sentimentalists now in vogue. We take the following from an Essay on Marriage, in which he is very severe upon a set of gentlemen with whose modes of life and conversation he must be tolerably familiar—the comfortable bachelors of May-Fair.
Haply he seeks in mercenary arms
Chief blessing of the rich, sole comfort of the poor.' After a gloomy picture of the solitary death-bed of an old bachelor, he thus proceeds :
Start from thy trance, thou fool! awake in time !
But youth is on the wing, and will not stay;
• Haste, then, as nature dictates dare to live;
• There still an angel hovers o'er the fence,
• Hail, holy marriage! hail, indulgent law!
And sees and shares his triumph and his joy.'---pp. 184-9. We have reserved to the last what may be called the critical department of this volume. The letter which we are about to quote was addressed in 1784 to Mr. John Fell, then engaged with his English Grammar, and who, like Mr. Sharp, regarded
VOL. LI. NO. CII.
with alarm and regret the pompous stiffness and grandiloquent affectations by which, in those days, so many inferior writers were caricaturing the early style of Johnson.
In the lighter kinds of writing this affectation is particularly disagreeable ; and I am convinced that in the gravest-aye-and in the sublimest passages, the simple terms and the idioms of our language often add a grace beyond the reach of scholarship, increasing, rather than diminishing, the elegance as well as the spirit of the diction. “ Utinam et verba in usu quotidiano posita minùs timeremus.” “He that would write well,” says Roger Ascham, “ must follow the advice of Aristotle, to speak as the common people speak, and to think as the wise think.” In support of this opinion, many of the examples cited by you are amusing, as well as convincing. The following from a great author may be added :—“Is there a God to swear by, and is there none to believe in, none to trust to ?” What becomes of the force and simplicity of this short sentence, when turned into the clumsy English which schoolmasters indite, and which little boys can construe? Is there a God by whom to swear, and is there none in whom to believe, none to whom to pray ?” The Doctor is a great writer, and is deservedly admired, but he should not be imitated. His gigantic strength may perhaps require a vocabulary that would encumber feebler thoughts: but it is very comical to see Mr. B. and Dr. P. strutting about in Johnson's bulky clothes; as if a couple of Lilliputians had bought their great coats at a rag-fair in Brobdignag. Cowley, Dryden, Congreve, and Addison, are our best examples ; for Middleton is not free from Gallicisms. Mr. Burke's speeches and pamphlets (although the style is too undisciplined for a model) abound with phrases in which homeliness sets off elegance, and ease adds grace to strength. How your neighbour, the “ dilectus Iapis,” will smile to hear Milton's practice appealed to! Yet what can he say to the following specimens, taken at random while I am nowy writing ?
“ Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool
In every street ? Do they not say how well
Are come upon him his deserts ?".
“I was all ear,
Farewell remorse : all good to me is lost :
Evil be thou my good.” • Shakspeare I need not quote, for he never writes ill, excepting