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Our Bard-some Methodistical belman-we suppose, seems to have us in his eye, when he exclaims
• Cantt thou not bear the meanness of my style :' &c. -In good truth, we cannot any longer.
Art. IV. Letters from an Oficer in the Guards to his Friend in Eng.
land : Containing some Accounts of France and Italy. 8vo. 55.
Cadetl. 1778. THE HE love of action is the most powerful principle in hu
man nature. It operates with unremitting force on the greater part of mankind; and those who, by the confinement of disease, or by the weight of years, are prevented from gratifying it in its full extent, ftill receive their principal delight from relating their own exploits, or hearing those of others. Even in fuch lethargic minds as are the favourite abode of floth and inactivity, it is impossible for these lazy powers altogether to silence the ruling paffion, the movements of which often disturb the profound security of their repose. The love of employment appears in all our amusements; and to render even the hours of idleness agreeable, they must be spent in some kind of frivolous exertion and indolent activity.
In that doubtful state, in which a man Auctuates between the defire of motion and reft, roused on the one hand by the ardour of action, and allured on the other by the sweets of repose, the mind often takes an intermediate direction, which is equally remote from that of either of the contending passions, Curiosity prompts us to visit the wonders of unknown countries; laziness deters us from undertaking the fatigues of a tedious journey; we obey not implicitly the dictates of either principle, but by taking a middle course, endeavour to accommodate their difference, and to gratify our curiosity, while we indulge our foth, by reading the accounts of former travellers.
It is so agreeable to travel in the parlour or the study, that notwithstanding the innumerable itineraries that have been published of every part of Europe, new itineraries are still wanting to amuse the languor of idleness, and to satisfy that compound pasion of indolence and activity which prevails fo generally in the present age. The work, which we are now to consider, offers a short and agreeable account of the principal places in France and Italy. The Author pretends not to be a virtuoso but he gives his opinion with freedom concerning the most cele. brated pictures that are to be feen in the churches and palaces of Rome and Florence. His observations on this subject may be very entertaining to his particular acquaintance, to whom he writes, but they lose much of their merit when laid before the Public. It is to be wished that an Author would not expose his opinions, except to his most intimate friends, upon matters
338 Letters from an Officer in the Guards to his Friend in Englana, with which he professes himself to be totally unacquainted. The knowledge of pictures and statues, however frivolous and unimportant it may appear to some people, is real knowledge. It is not enough to fee; we must see with the eyes of an artist, understand the language of his art, know what it can express, where it is confined, and where it is copious. If the Author had formed the flightest idea of sculpture, he would not have passed over the groupe of Laocoon and his children, (see p. 172) with fimply mentioning the wondrous twisting of the snakes,' when the ineffable expression of grief, torture, agony, in the human figures, ought to have excited his admiration. It is not in the countenances only, but in every attitude, limb, and muscle of this master-piece of art, that the feelings of the soul are described. The minutest part has its sense, and speaks to the heart The toes of Laocoon are drawn together like those of a dying person, and exhibit, to the learned eye, that accumulation of the evils of life which fpeedily end in death.
The rapidity with which our Author runs over the beauties of Italy, otten prevents him from attending to what is most worthy to be examined. He visits the court of the palace Farnese (page 168), but forgets to walk up stairs, and even to. mention the gallery, which contains the admired works of Annibal Carracci, representing the agreeable mythology of the ancients, and universally held to be the most delightful scene of art that is to be seen in Rome, or in the world.
But although we cannot conimend this Author as a connoisfeur, justice obliges us to observe that his descriptions are in general plain, simple, and perspicuous; and that his work may convey, in few words, a general, and, for the most part, a just idea of France and Italy, to such as have never visited those countries. We thall select, as a specimen, the description of St. Peter's at Rome :
This edifice, taking it all in all,? our Author considers as the most. Splendid temple that ever was raised in any age to any deity., The façade is elegant beyond description, and was erected by Paolus V. On the top of it are ftatues of Christ and the twelve apostles; and beneath is the gallery or colonade from whence the Pope gives his benediction. The famous cupola of this church is fix hundred and seven Roman palmi high, and one hundred and ninety-fix broad; and the church itself eight hundred and forty-four palmi in length. Its double colonade, the vast Egyptian obelis, and the fountains, are also beautiful and striking performances; but it is a pity the colonade was not carried further, as the view from the church is now terminated by one of the ugliest and beggarly streets now in Rome. On entering into it, one is greatly itruck with its perfect symmetry and beauty; and I assure you, that although there have been such vast sums laid out in adorning it, there does not appear to me to be a picture, a statue, or even a foot too much of carving or gilding:
Letters from an Officer in the Guards to his Friend in England. 339 On the right hand as you enter, at an altar of a chapel, is a famous dead Christ in the lap of Mary, by Michael Angelo Buonoroti. His figure is extremely fine, but her countenance, I think, has more the appearance of sullen, or even stupid sorrow, than of amiable grief for the death of the Saviour of mankind. A little farther on is a magnificent chapel of the Holy Sacrament, with a fine altar of lapis lazuli, beautifully carved, and the whole chapel enriched with bronze and gilding; before it are seven filver lamps, continually burning; and over the alcar a picture, in mosaic, of the Trinity; done after the original of Pietro di Cortona.
' Before I proceed farther, I must explain to you the nature of the mosaic. It is a very curious work, and was originally derived from the ancients, who used to cut marble of different colours into very small pieces, and by sticking them into cement, formed flowers, figures, &c. but at present the modern artists make use of a composition, which is by fire made as hard as marble; and of this they have literally near ten thousand shades or colours, which being chilo felled into small splinters, are thrust close together into a cement spread on a stone surface, and thereby they are able to copy any picture, so that neither time nor damp has any effect on its colours. This work, indeed, takes up a long time, but it is admirably adapted for churches, and believe me, it is not in nature to conceive at what an excellence they are arrived in it. All the pictures in St. Peter's are of these materials ; and they have thereby collected from different parts the finest productions of the greatest masters, and thereby rendered their designs almost immortal.
• But to return to my description of St. Peter's :Many of its other chapels are very superb, and the entire cathedral is encrusted with marble of various colours, with carvings by the most famous fculptors, baffo relievo's wrought to the highest degree of perfection,
• In every chapel, and over every altar, are large and capital co. pies in mosaic. Those that delighted me the most were the Fall of Simon, after Domenichino, and the famous Transfiguration, after Raphael: of all these I have seen the originals, and shall speak of them hereafter.
• Over the high altar is a canopy supported by four twisted pillars of bronze gilt, adorned with sculpture foliage, cherubims, flowers, &c. wrought in a masterly manner; but they look rather black and dirty, as do the hundred and fifty filver lamps continually burning before it, and even the masly candlesticks on it are in this condition : but I am told these are changed when the Pope says mass there, and solid gold ones placed in their stead; but as this is only once a year, those that remain there on other occasions make but'a bad appearance : and indeed I have seen other altars that have been more magnificent, and pleased me much more, although the gilding of these columns is reported to have cost 40,000 crowns. The bronze they are composed of was brought from the Pantheon. Behind the altar is St. Peter's chair, supported by four figures in bronze gilt, representing four doctors of the church. In the cathedral are several fine monuments of Popes and Princes; and there is one now erecting to a late unfortunate personage, who once attempted to place him
self on the throne of a nation, which never will be brought to sup. port the yoke of tyranny, or to gloan under the oppreslive weight of Popih fuperftition.'
ART. V. Discourses on several Subjects and Occasions. By George
Horne, D. D. President of Magdalen.college, Oxford, and Chafa lain in Ordinary to his Majesty. 2 Vols. Evo.
12 s. bound, Rivington, &c. 1779 R. HORNE having been prevented, by the discharge of
a laborious but highly honourable office, from performing the more immediate duties of his profeffion, is yet desirous, we are told, not to lose the clergyman in the magistrate, and therefore, as he could not form new discourses, he has di. gested and published some which had been already composed. * This form of publication,' he observes, is generally supposed less advantageous, at present, than any other. But it may be questioned,” he adds, whether the supposition does justice to the age; when we confider only the respect which has so recently been paid to the sermons of the learned and elegant Dr. Blair: and greater respect cannot be paid them than they deserve.'
The Doctor farther remarks, that the multitude of old sermons affords no arguments against the publication of new ones. • There is a taste,' he says, 'in moral and religious as well as other compositions, which varies in different ages, and may very lawfully and innocently be indulged. Thoufands received instruction and consolation formerly from sermons, which would not now be endured. The preachers of them served their generation, and are blessed for evermore. But because provision was made for the wants of the last century in one way, there is no reason why it should not be inade for the wants of this in another. The next will behoid a set of writers of a fashion suited to it, when our discourses snall in their turn be antiquated and forgotten among men; though if any good be wrought by them in this their day, our hope is, with that of faithful Nehemiah, that our God will remember us concerning them.'
But as it may be expected that the productions of every author will contain something new, either in matter or manner, it may be naturally asked, says this writer, What are my pretensions? To this question he chuses to reply in the words of the excellent and amiable Fenelon, extracted from the last of his Dialogues on the Eloquence of the Pulpit. "The pafrage is too long for us to insert, the substance of it is, that preachers should pay an attentive and principal regard to the Scriptures, and endeavour to impress and influence their hearers by the several confiderations which are to be drawn from thence, This Dr. Horne has done. And although, in his view of some
parts of the sacred writings, he may differ from several worthy and learned men, yet it will be pleaded, in his behalf, that his discourses are scriptural, and evangelical: while, on the other hand, some readers may be tempted to ask, whether he does not seem to pay nearly an equal respect to the authority of the church.
Many of these fermons were preached on the festivals and fafts of the English established church; and he does not fail to extoł the wisdom of those obfervances ; yet it is certain that we have no scriptural authority for considering these days and times as holy, or a regard to them as binding on the conscience; it is also farther certain, that there is great danger, lest such attention and regard should degenerate into dull, unmeaning formality, or ignorant superstition, which, indeed, fact too often verifies. Nevertheless, when it is thought proper to observe them, we are glad to find that preachers will take any pains to explain their nature and design to the people, and direct them to such improvement of these institutions as may tend to subserve the great purposes of morality and piety.
Each of thefe volumes consists of twelve discourses: the subjects of the first are, The Creation of Man; the Garden of Eden; the Tree of Life; the Tree of Knowledge; the Prince of Peace; the King of Glory; the Word incarnate; the Case of the Jews; the beloved Disciple; Rachel comforted; the Circumcision; the Epiphany. In the second volume the titles of the discourses are as follow : The Righteous delivered; the Sinner called; the noble Convert; Jcfus rilen; the Refurrection of the Body; the unspeakable Gift; the prevailing Intercessor; Daniel in Babylon ; the Redemption of Time; Patience portrayed; the great Alize; the Origin of civil Government; the prodigal Son; Knowledge and Charity.
We have read many sermons which might be considered as agreeable and elegant essays, having little relation to their texts, or to the scriptures; yet it should seem highly proper, and indeed effential to a Chriftian minister, to make the lacred writings his authority and his guide : thus it is with Dr. Horne, who follows the directions delivered by the good archbishop of Cambray in the passage already mentioned. If he gives a little into conjecture when treating on the Garden of Éden, the Tree of Life, &c. his fermons are, nevertheless, sensible, practical, and often animated. He addresses himself more to the heart than is commonly done, in the prefent day, by our argumentative preachers; and, consequently, his difcourses are more calculated to answer the end of preaching, than others, which might, perhaps, be considered as fuperior in style and composition; though there is little room to censure Dr. Horne's compofitions in this respect. Some of the fermons