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gain appear as though it came, a bark noticing so gravely & work so con
aunched on the calm, wide, azure sea of temptible; but it was not on account
to be conducted with connis bier ! -As it suits thyself, improve siderable ability and taste, entitled, his lesson, reader, shall I say, whilst “Time's TELEScope for 1822;” and wishing for thy welfare and my country's we reproach ourselves for not having "weal, my leave I, for this time take, and left room to notice it more particuizjay, in heart, Farewell !”
larly. We ought, perhaps, to apologise for
THE RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW.
We have long looked with a kindly against. Literature, in short, is so eye on this interesting and excellent mighty an instrument, and so noble a publication, and gladly seize an oppor- weapon, that we cannot endure pa, tunity of saying a few words on its tiently to see it converted into a toy. character and merits. Those of our The present work has higher and readers who before were unacquainted more exalted pretensions than merely with the work, which, we believe, is to the character of a bibliographical 3a0t so well known in this part of the journal. Its design is best explained kingdom as it should be, may thank by the title-page "The Retrospectus for pointing out to them a new ive Review, consisting of Criticisms source of gratification.
upon, Analyses of, and Extracts from, Mere bibliography is perhaps of all curious, useful, and valuable Books, in things, except to bibliographers, the all Languages, which have been pubmost jejune and unattracting. The la- lished since the revival of Literature bour which is employed in transcribing to the commencement of the present "title-pages and investigating Colo- Century.” And the design is certainly phons, in examining books whose sole excellent. To throw into the examinarecommendation is their rarity, with- tion of the treasures of modern literas out looking farther for gratification ture something of that life, spirit, and sthan a date or an imprimatur, is suree acuteness, which have been hitherto ly, of all modes which literature pre- almost exclusively appropriated to crisents of employment, the most idle, ticisms on the productions of the dayinsane, and preposterous. The rearer to familiarize the readers of the present of tulips, or the fancier of china, stands time with the old and venerable moon an equal footing, with respect to the dels of writing in our language-to indignity and utility of his occupation, troduce to us the various gems, hitherto with the mere bibliographer. The little known amongst us, in the litera"pursuit of the latter is indeed innocent, ture of other countries and to enlarge and as such free from serious objec- the theatre of discursive criticism, by tion ; but, in order to give it hearty discarding the limits which the avidity toleration, it seems difficult, if not im- for ephemeral trash has imposed upon possible, to satisfy the scruples of it, are surely objects which must meet taste. There is something utterly re- with universal approval; and these volting in dwelling only on the minu- are the objects of the reviewers. Tbe test parts of the externals of learning, present may perhaps be denominated when all its inner stores are expanded an idle age. Learning is so widely exbefore us, in quitting the noble, spa- tended, that, asitis increased in surface, cious, and open path of science, for its it is lamentably diminished in depth. dark, dusky, and circuitous lanes, and, At present, all are readers, and all are as if insensible to the vastness of its superficial readers. It is sufficient with grandeur and magnificence, to hang the generality to be acquainted with only with pleasure on the mean, low, the glittering novelties of the day; for and little. It is, besides, a sort of the blandishments of which, the hardprofanation which all good feeling and ier and more enduring productions of good sense seem loudly to exclaim other periods are neglected. As books
have multiplied, reading has dimi- gested learning, Re dusty and neglectnished, till at last, we seem, in despair, ed on the shelf, it is difficult to supinclined to do nothing, because we can- press that feeling of indignation which not run through all. It is time, then, rises uppermost in the mind. It is to apply a corrective to the listless, yet well, if, among the number of those Pa arrogant superficiality, which at pre- who thus slightingly regard it, we sent characterizes us, by extracting have not to class the members of that the essence of learning, and culling church which it has protected so manthe various flowers which are spread in fully, and so immoveably secured. rank, but unheeded profusion, over its The various labours of the prose wriwide parterre, by opening to the view ters who flourished in the same age of our contemporaries more worthy with these two great men, are all equals objects of imitation than the “lights ly in the shade, yet all, more or less, which now are hanging in the Hea- participate in the same excellence
. vens,” and strengthening them by con- The enterprizing spirit and far extendverse with the mighty spirits of yore, ed research of Raleigh, the gentle 4: by making that literary diet which minded eloquence of Sidney, the peralone can restore their stomach to its vous sense of Ascham, the glittering proper tone of more frequent use and and imaginative style of Jeremy Taybenefit, and by tempering the rawness lor, the poetical and often glorious and insubstantiality of the writings of prose of Milton, and the elevated and our day, by a full, vigorous, and effi- majestic simplicity of Charles the First
, cacious admixture of the powerful (for we do, and always shall
, consider draughts of our ancestors. Much of the Eixwe Bapıdoxn as his,) ought at this a work on the principle of the least to command attention. It should Retrospective Review seems calculated be the object of a miscellany like the to do; and, therefore, we will enter Retrospective Review to make thein, more closely into a survey of the field as they have been much talked of, which lies open for its criticisms. much studied, and intimately felt and
The literature of our own country delighted in. has, of course, the first claims upon The old English Drama and Poetry its attention. The great performances have met of late with more attention; of that race of giants which made it and yet, the admiration which has hiillustrious in the age of Elizabeth, therto been shewn, has savoured more however they may be talked of, are of undistinguishing enthusiasm, than less read and studied, in fact, than good taste or careful selection. Vo Mrs Glass's Cookery. This may ap- lumes of the latter have been reprintpear a broad assertion, but it is, never- ed, in which the worthless has so extheless, a true one. We will venture ceedingly overbalanced the good, as to to assert, that Bacon, whose writings render the task of extracting it altowould almost counterpoise the litera- gether repulsive and disgusting. As if ture of any other country, is in reality it were impossible to give us any of the less known than Thomas Hickathrift'; valuable metal of our forefathers withand that, of the five quarto volumes out a treble proportion of alloy, the which compose his works, not the half republishers of the present day have of one volume is read by full-grown placed before us
such indigested masses students
. And of the weight, the vi- of absurdity and conceit, illumined ocgour, the richness, the full-mouthed casionally by a few poetical sparkles
, eloquence of his compositions, not one
as to induce us almost to consider the in fifty of those who are regularly de- latter as a very poor recompense for dicated to literature have any idea. the trouble of wading through the With respect to Hooker, the judicious former. And we regret this the more, Hooker, incomparably the next to Ba- as it serves with the judicious reader con in grandeur of comprehension and not only to increase his contempt for profound solidity of judgment, he is bibliographers,
which is nothing
, but almost as much talked of, and even also to damp and decrease his fond. less known. When we see his Eccle- ness for the productions of our early siastical Polity, that noble monument poetry.* Mr Campbell's specimens, of intellectual strength and well-di- excellent as they are, take in but o
* We are sorry to observe, that too many of the poetical reprints at the Chiswick Press fall under this class.
very small portion of this department history of the human mind, and the vf our literature, and cannot, in any works and biography of the many phineasure, be considered as a full, fair, lologists, critics, poets, and scholars ind accurate collection of our ancient who flourished in the sixteenth and Poetical Flowers. It is, therefore, to seventeenth centuries, will also present uch a publication as the Retrospective matter in reserve highly interesting, Review, that we must look for assist- and hitherto almost unappreciated. ance in this quarter ; and when we How little, for instance, can we be onsider its success already, in culling said to be acquainted with the lives ind selecting the essences of many of and writings of those industrious but vur neglected poets, as well as in bring- unfortunate men, whose opera now ng before us some hitherto almost load our public libraries-of the Mawholly unknown, we do not think it nutii, the Casaubons, the Scaligers, 300 much to expect, that, in time, the the Douze, and the Vossii !-how litcommon reader will be in possession of tle, with their secret history, their all the materials necessary for forming quarrels, their friendships, their hu1 correct and enlarged judgment of mours, and their studies ! And yet every portion of this delightful field. what is more curious or instructing Of our old drama, it is well known no- than the auto-biographical confessions thing which can be styled a correct of such a man as Cardan? or what history, or, in fact, a history at all, has more entertaining to the inquirer into yet appeared. New editions, indeed, “ Literary Quarrels,” than the Logoof some of these dramatic writers, of machiæ of Erasmus and Jul. Scaliger, more or less value, have been given to of Gruter and Pareus, of Schioppius the public, and others have been an- and Jos. Scaliger, and of James Gronounced, which will render this the novius and Isaac Vossius? We will venless necessary. Still, however, of these ture to assert, that a more interesting Iramatists, all cannot be republished. account of the scholars of the above The various character and merit of the mentioned periods might be written, plays of Heywood, Chapman, Mars- than of any other class or description ton, Middleton, Rowley, Decker, Web- of men whatever. ster, and others, would perhaps render Modern literature, in short, in its such an attempt highly injudicious; vast extent, is the treasury which such and yet, so bespangled are some of the a Review has to draw upon; we need worst and grossest of their dramas with not therefore say, its materials are inexquisite and beautiful touches deve- exhaustible. Like the magnificent loping the peculiar genius of each, that prince in the Arabian Tales, it can a selection of a few plays merely of boast of stores which no expenditure can each author, can convey but a very visibly diminish. In proportion, howfaint idea of the characteristic qualities ever, to the facilities thus afforded, is its of any; It is here, then, that we feel responsibility increased. If we can parthe value of such a work as the Retro- don, in a Review which is limited to the spective Review, which, by sedulously publications of the day, an injudicious extracting from those performances selection of subjects, it becomes totalwhich are bad or execrable as wholes, ly inexcusable in one which may be their beautiful or pleasing parts, at said to have almost all literature at its once diminishes the labour, and en- command. We have a right to expect, hances the enjoyment of the lover of in such a work as the present, espeour ancient drama.
cially in its early days, that no articles There is yet a very wide and ex- of questionable or inconsiderable value tended territory which these Reviewers shall occupy the place which might may claim
as their own. The literature have been filled by others of real merit of Spain, and especially its poetry and or curiosity. We have therefore viewdrama-of Germany, and of the north- ed, with some degree of jealousy, the ern countries of Europe,-the history introduction of matter merely biblioand productions of the middle ages, till graphical, and hope to find, in future, the revival of learning, and the com- such subjects very sparingly made use positions of Oriental poets, sages, and of. If bibliography predominate in philosophers, afford much room for the work, it will lose not only its getheir Retrospective Criticisms and In- neral interest, but also its high claim vestigations. The scholastic authors, to be considered as a journal approwell deserving notice, as illustrating the priated to the literary excellence of
the past. But it is now time to pro much of the merit of an accurate comceed from the design of the work, to pilation, have also much of its dulgive some account of its execution. ness. We except the part relating more
In a publication like the Retrospec- particularly to the Moors, which is tive Review, it is evident there is little treated with some enthusiasm. Inroom for flashy or witty writing. The deed, this work is generally happy common artifices of other periodical when history is the subject of review. publications, which seize hold of some The articles on Tovey's Anglia Indireigning chimera «f the day-some cata, and Wynne's History of the GwyCynthia of the minute, to draw down dir Family, are both highly interestinterest upon themselves, the pungent ing. That in the last Number on the seasoning of personality, and the vehe- Knights Templars we read with conment outrages of political invective, siderable eagerness, but were by no cannot contribute to the notoriety of a means convinced by it. The reluctance work like this. Its path is too even and it displays to admit any thing to the straight forward-its progress too stea- prejudice of that noble Order, seems dy and sure, ever to excite that breath- as far removed from sound judgment, less impatience, and keen interest, as the extreme hastiness with which which dwell upon what is associated other writers have used the language with the occurrences moving before of condemnation. We were grievously us. Its pages, to use the words of the disappointed by the review of Bacon's Reviewers, can only derive assistance Novum Organum ;-it is little more from the innate truth and beauty of than a mere abstract of that work, literature.” And yet it has many at- without any of that enlarged criticism, tractions which no other periodical or comprehensive philosophical sur. work can lay claim to ;-we love occa- vey, which such a production seemed sionally to steal from the “ busy hum calculated to call forth. Much remains of men,” the restlessness and inquie- to be said on that greatest work of the tude of active life, to the calm and se- greatest man of his age, even after questered shade ; and not unsimilar is Dugald Stuart, or his able successor, the gratification which the Retrospec- the Philosophical Conveyancer ;-and tive Review presents, after the glitter- surely, in a review of the Novum 0r. ing novelties which rise up and
vanish ganum, we have a right to expect more around us. It will afford, too, many than such an analysis as every student of the “ pleasures of memory." In can produce. We hope this will be ranging through its pages, we have re- the only instance where the Retrocognized many an old acquaintance, spective fails most where most is exwhose appearance has raised up an pected. We must notice, however, a host of recollections, of that sort which long article on the Writers on Mystiperhaps most contribute to sweeten cal Devotion, which, besides that it is the bitterness of human life.
as dull as need be, seems hardly adaptWe are inclined, upon the whole, ed for the work. It had appeared bow to believe, that the Review has in fore, either in part or whole, and was creased in interest since its commence- destitute of any other recommendation m We have, however, no inten- than helping to fill the requisite numtion to enter into a discussion on the ber of pages. merits of the various articles which The series on the Old English Drahave appeared in it. There is, besides, ma has hardly done justice to the suba general even respectability in most of ject. There is a want of accuracy, both them, which would render such an at- in the details and the criticisms. It tempt highly unnecessary. Perhaps, bas too much the marks of being hasas a class, the biographical, and auto- tily huddled up. The writer does not biographical articles, are the best. The seem in possession of sources sufficientreviews of the Lives of Cardan and ly ample for his researches. Thus in Lilly we think excellent. Rousseau's the review of Marlowe's Plays, we have Confessions would be ably handled by long extracts from, and diffuse obserthe Reviewer of Cardan. The articles vations upon the dramas which are in on Oriental Literature, and on the every body's hands, while “ Dido," Poetry of Spain, display some research which he wrote in conjunction with and acuteness; the former, however, Nash, is hastily passed over-the Reare too much devoted to lengthy dis- viewer evidently had not seen it. We cussion, and the latter, if they have · are, notwithstanding, inelined to think
this the most agreeable series which ability. We have yet never met with has yet appeared in the work. The a more faithful critical description subject, indeed, is so interesting, that than the character of Defoe's manner the writer must have ill performed his of writing, in the review of his Metask, had it been otherwise. There moirs of a Cavalier. It is drawn to a are parts, however, of these sketches hair, and the nicety does not detract which we think ably and spiritedly from the spirit of the pourtraiture. written. The character of Chapman The View of the Imitations of Butler is correct and judicious; and that of is valuable for its information. Some Lilly the Euphuist has high merit. of the shortest articles, and even those The review of Ben Jonson's two plays, of a bibliographical kind, are very 2 besides the “ Jew,” with which it ap- amusing, and agreeably diversify those
pears to be entered upon, and the par- of more elaborate descriptions. ticularity of its criticisms, has little to Upon the whole, there seems to be e recommend it. Lee's plays are review- much industrious--some clever, but ed in better taste. The article on perhaps hitherto no very masterly or Dryden's dramatic productions has splendid writing in the Retrospective - the merit of bringing together the Review. If this, however, be want most valuable parts of those ill digeste ing, no work can better afford to spare ed compositions.
it than this. And, speaking for ourThe Reviews of English poetry are, selves, we should hardly like to see - where the fondness for the author does the writers themselves too much in
not interfere with sound judgment, the foreground. They are foragers generally just and correct. The re- for the Body-Literary, and the chief viewers are too much given, we must requisites of their office are, patience observe, to the vice of quoting pas- and industrious investigation. It is sages which but possess the quiet to the sterling value of the treasures charm of mediocrity. In the article they bring before us, and not to their on Glover's Atheniad, about 20 pages own skill in polishing or setting them, are occupied with extracts, none of that their best welcome will be due. which has any great merit. Some of Nothing can surely be a more gratithese reviews are likewise rather hea- fying spectacle than to see the great vy, and we need not say that the union nds of our own period doing homage of middling poetry with heavy criti- to the great ones of yore; and yet we cisms, is a conjunction which does not must not forget, in our zeal for the bode much good to any book. Ne- past, that the present has still a higher vertheless, there is much in this de- claim on their exertions. partment highly valuable, and the Before we conclude, we must notice, reader will find much to interest him, that the Review does not always keep who is yet unacquainted with the exactly to the point proposed. In the fanciful beauties of Chamberlayné, preface it was stated, that their strica the pastoral pictures of Browne, the tures should be confined exclusively rich conceit of Heath, the vigorous to bygone literature, without deviasentiments of Davenant, the voluptu- ting to the topics of the day. This Ous richness of Fletcher, the gay rule has been broken in two instances, sprightliness of Lovelace, the kindly and in neither with success. We algentleness of Chalkhill, and the devo- lude to the reviews of Dennis's Works, tional warmth of Crashaw, Herbert, and Wallace’s Prospects of Mankind. and Southwell. The review of South- The first is a flighty and enthusiastical well's works in the last Number iš protest against the present system of one of the best.
criticism, apparently well meant and Many of the miscellaneous reviews' amiably intended, but characterized will well reward a perusal. The ar- by a spirit of raw inexperience which ticle on Sir John Mandeville's Travels is not very likely to do credit to the is extremely curious. Few subjects Work. In the second, the writer ramare more interesting than the History, bles, without any reason that we can of the early European Travellers, and see, from the theory of Mr Malthus, this is here handled with considerable and the Population of Mankind, tó
* We must except the Review of Sir Walter Raleigh's Remains, which is written in a strain worthy of its great subject.