ePub 版

these how much are we indebted! to such as these, who have been heads of families, how much good may be traced, to Individuals, to Families, and to our Country! Whether I was noticed as a stranger seated in an antient stall, I cannot say; but I felt the Anthem from the 121st Psalm, and verses 7 and 8, as exceedingly appropriate to my present case; and the consequent aspirations of gratitude were made. Farewell to the momentary acrimony arising from the insult in the street; and welcome gratitude; from a sense of duty, and thanks to these good Choristers, for occasioning the proper selection of it. Returning homeward, after an extended ramble of 1100 miles in 35 days, not having had for so many years an absence from business, I will beg leave to conclude with the following neat little Epitaph, taken from the Cathedral-yard.

On R. and M. BARLY, aged 3 years. "Ere Sin could blight, or Sorrows fade, Death came with friendly care, The opening buds to Heav'n convey'd, And bade them blossom there." Yours, &c.

A. Z.

Comparative Remarks upon the Genius and Writings of Ancient and

Modern Times.


(Concluded from p. 206.) 7ITH the decay and final destruction of Roman genius, and of Roman power, their Mythology was at length extinct, and the powerful impulse and ascendancy which, in the hands of a skilful artist, it was calculated to exercise over the mind for a series of ages, vanished and was forgotten.

The Middle Ages introduced, as is well known, a species of fabling equally heroic, but widely different in its essential incidents, and the character and complexion of its agents, -less regularly beautiful, but more wild, monstrous, and terrific, legendary parratives teeming with prodigics, fairies, giants, and enchanters.

Originating with the Crusades, and the offspring of magnificent equipments, pompous pageants, and all the imposing associations which would powerfully strike untutored minds, warmed to enthusiasm but incapable of relishing intellectual enjoyments more refined, these eventful and por

tentous tales of chivalry which the genius of their bards soon elicited from the sanguinary combats and deeds of heroism which took place on the theatre of Palestine, occupied a large portion of the works of imagination, and for a long period maintained a very extensive influence over the human passions. The alleged virtues or endowments, and more than mortal prowess of the Saracen chieftain and the Christain knight, served, in a dark age, to fill and expand the imbecile energies and confused sphere of thoughts, of intellect, which had neither known nor could appreciate higher sources of contemplation. The human mind, which, as far as regarded intellectual converse, and a perception of beauty, was, in those periods, again in its early infancy, was however gradually and slowly recovering from a great moral convulsion, which had shattered and distorted the general features of the mind, and, during a series of ages, had buried its noble faculties in primeval chaos. The wild tissue of prodigies and enchantments therefore, and the mystic rites and incantations, which formed, in their poetry, so powerful an engine for fixing the attentions and administering to the superstitions of a race of men whose passions were easily moved, and whose highest mental pleasures centered in pomp, and show, and mystery, were admirably calculated for their day.

But we have been told that the machinery in use in these days, was more adapted to the great ends of epic poetry, than the system of antiquity; that the Gothic fabling has more in it of beauty than the classic. "The current popular tales," says a writer," of elves and fairies, were fitter to charm the credulous mind, than those of the old traditionary rabble of Pagan divinities; the mummeries of the Pagan priests were childish, but the Gothic enchanters shook and alarmed all nature."

Whether these figments of a strong and vivid fancy were in the nature of things, and in the effect which they are calculated to produce on a wellinformed and well-cultivated taste, so intrinsically beautiful, may be matter of question; but it is certain, that they were then best adapted to publie taste and opinion, and these rude but magnificent

magnificent and imposing effusions continued alone to amuse, to fill, and to animate all classes of readers, until the light of Science and of Letters had dawned upon Europe, and introduced a perception of excellence more congenial with the state and exigencies of the mind in its vigour. The views of the Poet were then weaned from incidents of an accideutal or local kind, in the course of human affairs, and directed to things which are constantly operating aud universal in their sphere of action; the condition of man in every age, his pursuits, his associated pleasures, his prejudices, the bias and peculiar colour of his moral sentiments, presented a higher field, and superseded tales of chivalry and the Crusades, which, with one or two splendid and more classical exceptions, soon dwindled into their comparative insignificance.

But although these topics, or things somewhat similar to them, have since occasionally found a partial revival under the pen of an original or a successful writer, there scarcely (as before remarked), in modern times, occurs a single instance of a poem (for such Telemachus has with propriety been termed), which has in its chief characters and incidents been formed upon the basis of the Greek Mythology, and resorted to these preternatural sources for materials which should at once elevate the conduct of its epopée, and diversify the course of human adventures with the imposing machinery of the antient Epic. For the purpose, however, which it is to be presumed the author had in view, the personages and the mythology of antient story offered a proper and a happy medium. If Fenelon was actuated with higher motives for writing than a wish merely to amuse and perpetuate his name, if his more immediate object was the instruction of those whose minds were entrusted to his care, to form the morals, improve the heart, humanize and correct the passions, and elevate and strengthen the patriotic views of the young princes his pupils, the means which he used were on various accounts, well calculated to attain it.

If, as is pretty obvious was not the case, these considerations, on the other hand, formed no share in his motives for writing, the intelligent

reader will find himself somewhat at these agreeable delineations in their a loss on all occasions to reconcile utmost latitude, with the sound ta lents and learning of a prelate of good sense and pious principles, living in a literary and philosophical age, if in a Christian country, whose views they did not prohibit a licence, which the wildest and most allegorical of the heathen poets had taken, certainly would have imparted to his lating, a just, manly, and noble stanthoughts, whilst employed in specu dard or complexion, which would tion to delineate sober narratives of feel unwilling even in matters of fic things which truth and reasonable analogy must utterly oppose. The fascinating charm of novelty, which his adoption of these elegant and classical, but in the eye of judgment utterly absurd theories, would not ends, sufficiently have apologized for alone, without contemplating ulterior such narratives, exhibiting all the puerilities of Paganism, and incongruities which must_immediately tion. strike a mind of the slightest reflec

before intimated, that the author of
To say, therefore, what we have
Telemachus has fine imagination, that
he often abounds with beautiful
images, which are framed with much
richness of similitude, to express the
copiousness and abundance of his
fancy, to expatiate upon the self-
modest humility, which are invariably
controul, filial piety, firmness, and
inculcated in the work under review,
would be only to repeat what pro-
perly belonged to the Criticks of his
own days to discover, and what in-
deed every reader since that time
But it must also have struck the
must have appreciated and admired.
reader that the necessity, which, from
posed upon himself, of scrupulously
his general plan he seems to have im-
conforming his narration to the rules
of mythological story, has caused him
of solemnity, of incidents which, to
to treat with considerable appearance
modern understandings, savourstrong-
ly of the ridiculous. Oue or two in-
stances of this may, in closing this
Essay, without impropriety be here

Hades, the hell of the antients, or at
The descent of Telemachus iuto
least that which their poets, with so

marvellous a fecundity of invention, have described in search of his father Ulysses, whom by the fates, or some other monitor, he is apprised no longer holds a place amidst the abodes of mortals, although borrowed from his great archetype, and embellished and amplied by his own fancy, may be thought of this description. The classical reader may perchance contend that the author has only dressed forth the glooms, which are described as eternally shedding their baleful influence over these sub-terrene receptacles of departed shades, from the poets, and that therefore they strictly harmonize with his subject. The more reflective reader, however, though amused with these descriptions, or rather perhaps impressed with the exuberant invention of our ancestors, pauses at length, and reviews the picture which is held forth to him: the conceit of sinking in smoke through a cavern of the earth, the grim ferryman of Styx, the horrible insignia of royalty which marks the sullen pomp of Pluto and Proserpine, the Tartarean abyss, with the apparently gross, though unreal forms of disembodied spirits (though Milton with better success, and a more legitimate title, has attempted scenes somewhat similar, and Dante in a Christian country has preceded him in the same track), presents marvellous admixture of the idle chimeras of Paganism, and of things connected indeed with the Christian dispensation of future destiny, but over which the most awful mystery must ever hang in relation to mortals.

Amongst various incongruities like wise, which followed an attempt to delineate and render palpable to the eye of sense things immaterial and unknown, as well as many puerilities connected both with Olympus, and Pluto's dreary domain, that, in the instance of Arcesius the grandfather of Ulysses, strikes the reader with the fallacy and the folly of minutely detailing things which lay altogether without the pale of human experience or possibility of knowledge. This personage is represented in the Elysian fields as bearing about him all the marks of venerable age, and at the same time glowing in all the freshness, vigour, and grace of youth, GENT. MAG. May, 1820.

qualities which, to our present perceptions and capacities of discernment, are utterly incompatible, and involve a direct contradiction. But Fenelon, it may be added, whilst painting the delights of the Elysian fields, and of the perpetuated existence, aspect, and occupations, of the ghosts which inhabit them, found the same difficulties as opposed themselves to our Milton; and must ever accompany all who attempt to describe at once invisible etherial substances, together with the delights which will constitute our solace and our happiness in the invisible world, by images drawn from the impulses and affections of gross matter. Melsham.


E. P.

May 4.

S the attention of the Publick

A been a good deal directed

"The state of Europe during the Middle Ages," I am induced to offer you a few observations, which I made in reading this work. I by no means pretend to have directed my attention particularly to the points in question; but I think you will agree with me that no very profound learning is required to expose the error. I shall proceed, without further preface, to state a few of the passages which have appeared to me as objectionable, and at the same time to prepose the evidence and remarks which suggest themselves at the first hearing.

The first of these passages occurs in p. 229 of vol. II.; it relates to the character of Gregory I. "This celebrated person," we are told, “ was not distinguished by Learning, which he affected to depreciate, nor by his literary performances, which the best critics consider as below mediocrity." I confess I am rather mortified to bear the great Gregory, who took such an interest in the conversion of our forefathers, spoken of in this style. I had been of opinion that he was not deficient in Learning. Such at least is the inference to be drawn from reading Gibbon. Boyle says expressly that he was "savant," and that "tout bien compté, il merite le sur-nom de grand." He quotes Platina as an authority to prove that the accounts of his enmity to Learning and the Arts were without foundation. As for the opinion which


"the best critics" have passed upon his literary performances, I was also ignorant of that fact. I have seen somewhere papers quoted from his work which bespoke excellent sense and judgment. His "Pastoral Care" is a book much admired. However, I suppose it will be said that those who admire it are not the best criticks, and this will finish the dispute at once. The book is despised by the best criticks, and they only are the best criticks who despise it. But let us pass from this to something more important. "There are two descriptions of controversialists," says Mr. Hallam," whom the authority of the Fathers must terribly perplex. An Italian Jesuit, maintaining the Pope's infallibility; and an English High Churchman defending the matrimony of the Clergy: not a single lawful precedent, I believe, has ever been produced for the latter, from St. Paul to Luther, except under modification permitted in the Greek Church." Vol. II. p. 249. But, in the first place, in the name of won der, why an English High Churchman? would not a French Calvinist have served the turn? As for the authority of the Fathers, I am much mistaken if it will so terribly perplex either the one or the other. To be sure, St. Chrysostom is very desirous of explaining St. Paul's charge to Timothy (1 Epist. iii.) as stating the marriage of a priest to be a negative act; he is to be blameless, and the husband of one wife, not requiring an example of eminent qualities and a single life. But the least that we can infer from this is, that in the opinion of St. Chrysostom, the marriage of the Clergy was to be tolerated. However, I have a more direct testimony to bring forward, and, I must repeat it, I am not come prepared with information. I would beg the reader of Mr. Hallam's book to look at the 21st chapter of St. Augustin's treatise "De Bono Conjugali," where the Bishop having one wife is represented as a type of Christ and the Church.

In vol. III. p. 464, Mr. Hallam goes out of his way to pass a very severe and sarcastic censure upon a writer of Ecclesiastical History, to whom I must still persist in thinking the literary world, as well as the great body of Christians in this country, are un

der much obligation. The very ho nest statement by this writer, in the note to his third vol. p. 202, which seems to have first suggested the idea of this piece of satire, ought, I conceive, to have repressed it. Mr. Hallam is desirous of proving that the Albigenses were Manicheans. Has he produced a single particle of evidence which has not been known and answered before? Is it philosophical, is it fair or honest to bring forward a string of sentences from writers on one side of the most bigoted description, and to boast of them as conclusive evidence? Petrus Monachus, who wrote a History of the Crusade against the Albigenses; Alanus, who wrote a Treatise against Heretics are these writers of a character to justify a verdict according to their evidence? This Alanus, who, we are told, is a more dispassionate writer than the Monk, "seems" (I use Mr. Hallam's words)" to have taken up several vulgar prejudices against the Catheri :" and is this the writer, who has left " conclusive evidence of the Manicheism of the Albigenses ?" " It n'est pas vrai," says Bayle (Dict. art. Manich.), " que les Albigeois aient été Manichéens." I do not think that any thing which Mr. Hallam bas brought forward would have induced Boyle to retract this assertion. But the Paulicians are also to be consigned over to the rank of mad enthusiasts and heretics. "Their tenets," says our author," are not to be collected with absolute certainty from the mouths of their adversaries ;”very true and just, this remark: "and no apology of their own," he proceeds to state, "survives." Who could expect, after this, to find such a passage as the following immediately subjoined: "There seems, however, to be sufficient evidence that the Paulicians, &c. &c. &c. denied the Old Testament, and held out a thousand other errors." My good friend, what you say is very true, and no answer can be given to it; but I must recur to my first position. Let it be a question whether Dr. Milner was or was not learned enough for the task which he undertook; of one thing I am sure, that, upon this particular subject, he has decidedly the advantage of his opponent, in point of fairness and judgment.

There are other passages in this

very interesting Work which seem to me of an objectionable nature; but I have neither time nor inclination to trouble you with my opinion respecting them: I shall only add, that in making these observations I am a disinterested party, having no more connexion with the gentleman whom I have last defended, than with Pope Gregory; but the remarks and insinuations of Mr. Hallam seemed to call for some notice, and I have thought that, in addressing myself to you, Sir, I might be of service to many readers of the day, by putting them on their guard. CANTAB.





QUATED WORDS. (Concluded from p. 204.) NPRINGALDES. As much as to say 66 a young springiog shoot of a plant," says Bayleyyoung man, a stripling. Adolescens, says Skinner, a verb, to spring, germinate, &c. It was of frequent occurrence in old Authors-Ash mentions only Spenser. Take the following from the Bishops' Bible. "Springaldes without any blemish, but well-favoured." Daniel i. 4. "Wherefore should he see your faces worse lyking than the Springaldes of your age." Daniel i. 10.

"But in the hour of his death he called unto him his son Tobias, and seven young Springaldes, his sonne's children. Tobit 5. 14.

43. SCRALL. I have not found this word used for a collected number, or swarm, any where but in Cranmer's, The Bishops', Tyndall's, and Taverner's Bibles.

"And the River shall scral with frogs." Exodus viii.

"The River scrauled with the multitude

of frogs, instead of fishes." Wisdom xix. 44. SURQUEDRY. Skinner, Johnson, and Bailey, all say that this word is derived from two words of old French. I do not like it the better for that; but as Johnson quotes Spenser and Donne; and I find it in Chaucer and in Bochas (as below) it may as well keep its place.

"Here speketh Bochas againste the surquedous pride of them that trust in rychesse." Head of the 17th Chapter. "Lo here the end of surquedy and pride." Example of Saul.

[blocks in formation]

"Frute and apples take their Tarrage." "Where they first grew-of the same tre." Lydgate's Bochas.

I am not aware of the derivation of this word. The words taste and flavour are well substituted.

46. Toor. Skinner doubts whether from the Latin tutus, intuitus, obtuitus, but Johnson conjectures that toot is of Saxon origin, and quotes Spenser for the use of it in the sense of to pry, to peep, to search narrowly, &c. I beg leave to add the quotations following as an additional reason for retaining it if


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The meaning of this word in the two first quotations is evidently "weakness, "cowardice," &c. Ash gives "truantdise," as the act of playing truant. Johnson says the verb to truant is from the French word truander, to beg about a country, which is supported by the two latter quotations. It need not now be used in either sense.

*The tradesmen who watch the arrival of visitors at Worthing, to solicit custom, are called Tooters; and their importunity tooting. EDIT.


« 上一頁繼續 »