« PreviousContinue »
We conceive that few literary undertakings would contribute more tuniversally to general amusement, than a complete translation, from the Arabic, of the whole series of adventures. The curiosity and interest which they so powerfully excite; the luxuriant descriptions. with which they abound; and the accurate delineations of eastern manners, or (to speak mote correctly) of the manners of the Mos. Jems, which they exhibit ; will always attract more attention than is usually allotted to the extravagant incidents of fabulous narrative. Colonel Capper (who considers the whole series as the production cf one author) frequently remarked the attention and pleasure with which the Arabs, in the desert, sat round a fire listening to these stories ; and forgetting, in imaginary scenes of delight, the fatigues and hardships with which, an instant before, they were entirely overcome. Such, indisputably, is the force of imagination; and such is the ardour with which the natives of the East enter into fabulous recitals. We are by no means so clear that the tales, to which the Colonel saw them listen, were the identical tales contained in the One Thousand and One Nights. There is an infinite variety of similar productions current in the East; and we know from une doubted authority that this work is scarce, and procured with much difficulty, even at Mecca. We are still more doubtful of his supposition that all these tales are the productions of one author ; their great number, and unequal merit, afford at least a presumption of the contrary. We think it not improbable that, towards the end of the Califat, a collection of national stories was made by some Arabian ; certainly, not a learned one ; who connected and disfigured them by a gross anachronism. The adventures are mostly placed in the reign of Harun, surnamed al Reshid, or the Just; some of them much later: but our collector has caused them to be related to a prince of the Sassanian dynasty of Persian monarchs. Is it possible that the author of these tales, some of which possess very superior merit, should be ignorant that, long before the time of al Reshid, the race of Sassan was extinct ? Is it not much more probable that the introductory tale, in which this anachronism is found, and which is manifestly meant to connect the rest, is the work of some illiterate person, of a later period? We do not advance this opinion as a dogma, but the Oriental scholar will decide to which supposition the scale of probability preponderates.
It only remains that we point out an error which occurs in a note to the preface, where the Genii or Jin of Arabian mythology is said to be the same with the Div of Persian romance, and with the Devatas of the Hindu Puranas. Whether the editor owes this mistake to M. D’Herbelot, or to Mr. Hole, we have 1:ot leisure to examine ; and we must content ourselves with remarking that the actions and attributes ascribed to each bear no similarity to justify the assertion. The Persian Div is an evil spirit ; the Devata, so far from being malignant, are superior emanations of the creative power, destined to preside over the operations of nature, and to performi the same functions which were allotted to the subordinate dcities of Greece and of Rome. There is room for an interesting discussion Kk 2
on these aerial forms of Oriental creation : but the result would not, in our opinion, establish the hypothesis to which we object. Art. 69. The Good Schoolmaster, exemplified in the Charactcy of the
Rev.John Clarke, M.A. formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Canbridge, and successively Master of the Schools of Shipton, Leverley, and Wakefield, in the County of York. By Thomas Zouch, M. A. & F. L. S. 4to. Robson, &c. 1798.
An effort to bring obscure merit of whatever kind into light, by eonferring on it just and appropriate praise, however the executiva may succeed, is highly laudable in its design. To the respectab.e writer before us we were, not long ago *, indebted for a valuable re. publicationof this kind; and the present biographical tract exhibits the same disposition to embalm the memory' of a very useful member of society: We cannot think, however, that Mr. Zouch has been pe:. fectly faithful to his intention of a plain and artless delication of character.' For the justice of this remark, we refer our readers to the paragraph relating to Mr. Clarke's literary attainments :
· With respect to his literary attainments he was equal to most of his contemporaries. His knowledge was not merely contied to those books which are usually introduced into our schools. Hie thoroughly understood the Poets, the Orators, the Historia the Philosophers, the Critics of Greece and Rome. He had ds. plored their writings with accuracy and precision. His philological and grammatical acquirements were the result of painful and rig researches. The appellation of “ Little Aristophanes,” for he was small of stature, was given to him from the encomium with whah Dr. Bentley honoured hin, after a close and severe examination of his proficiency in the works of that poet. The writer of this Mo. moir recollecis with pleasure that facility of language, that happs dow of expression with which he interpreted the select Comedics vé the Athenian Dramatist. When the divine Odes of Pindar were before him, he seemed to be full of that enthusiastic fervor, which cao famed the Theban Bard. With Demosthenes he was all energy and vehemence. He sweetly moralized witia Plato, as if walking the flowery banks of Ilissus. Tvith Isocrates he conversed mild and gentle as the dew on the tender grass. With Longinus he assumed the dignity of an enlightened master of criticisin, breathung the spirit of sublimity and grandeur.'
In the character of a schoolmaster, we were surprised at seeing the following stricture on Mr. Clarke's scrupulous attention to his papas in their elementary studies :
• If any part of his professional character did not so justly entitle him to applause, it was the scrupulous exaciness which he obserse] in the reviving and correcting the exercises of his pupils. A period judge of tine writing, I had almost said an hypercritic, he assigeed to ihat employment a much larger allotment of time than seemed to be consistent with his oiler engagements. He scrutinised every wid; he weighed every syllabk, with a diligence which was not, perhein always necessary,' Walton's Lives, see Rev, vol, xxiv. p. 136.
Surely a minute attention to young scholars, especially, cannot be considered as a fault in a tutor, when we reflect how much assiduity is requisite in learning the rudiments of any science.--In general, the character of a good schoolmaster is accurately drawn by Mr. Zouch; and we read with regret that so much merit as Mr. Clarke possessed in his professional pursuits was not better remunerated.
In this tribute to his friend's memory, Mr. Zouch has strewn an affectionate heart, and a cultivated understanding.
In the 1st page, ' Exhibition to the University' seems an improper phrase. Art. 70. A concise Epitome of the History of England, on Thirty-six
Copper-plates, being a Representation of Dacier's Medals of the Sovereigns of England, with the Addition of their present Maje. sties. To which is annexed, a succinct Account of the principal Occurrences that took place during cach Reign. Designed for the Amusement and Information of Youth. Small Pocket Size. 75. 6d. bound. Knott.
A folio edition of Dacier's medals was published about two years ago by Mr. Pye.
They were then offered to the public merely as ornamental engravings, on sis plates, each containing six medals ; and we understand that only 100 impressions were worked off, on imperial 4to. at the price of one guinea. An idea has since presented it. self, that these engravings might be rendered useful and agreeable to the rising generation : which idea is here realized by the present elegant little publication. As the delicacy of the plates will not admit of numerous impressions, the experiment, we are informed, is here made on a small scale. Many have been the abridgments of the History of England, but none similar to this; which is now submitted to the approbation of those who have the care or instruction of youth.'— The editor assures us, in his prefatory advertisement, that
the best authorities have been consulted,' in sketching the leading features of each reign.
We think that most juvenile readers will be pleased with the perusal of this pretty Lilliputian History of England, and may derive from it some information of the principal events of each reign. Art. 71. Letter to the }Voinen of England, on the Injustice of Mental Subordination. With Anecdotes. By Anne Frances dall. 8vo. pp. 104.
25. 6d. Longman and Rees. 1799. This advocate for the ladies, in the old cause of the equality of the sexes, declares for carrying the question by force and arms. She is persuaded that women are not only as wise, but as strong as the other sex; and we must suppose her confidence in her own arm to be well. founded, though we have not the honour of her personal acquaintance. Writers who boast of so much muscular power may, indeed, reckon on the deference of us toothless critics; for we feel no desire that the lady should " set her ten commandments in our face :" but we would humbly beg this literary Thalestris to remember, that there is no restraint laid on female authors, either by the laws or manners of the country; of which her list of distinguished female writers, and
the publieation of her pamphlet, are sufficient proofs. Our own ops. nion is indeed rather different from hers. Far from considering women as oppressed, we think that their influence is almost unlimited; and we feel grateful, if they relinquish to men the empty advantage of cultivating the harsh ungenial soil of abstract science, 'instead of taking to themselves all grounds of praise, as well as all admiration, and making us mere hewers of wood, and drawers of water.
Miss or Mrs. Randall's indignation against male tyranny has really led her into some hasty assertions. In speaking of the cruelties eset. cised on women accused of witchcraft, she says, “We do not read in history of any act of cruelty practised towards a male bewitc ber; though we have authentic records to prove, that many a weak and. defenceless woman has been tortured, and even murdered by a people professing Christianity, merely because a pampered priest, or a superstitious idiot, sanctioned such oppression. This is a mistake. Of many instances which might be produced, we shall mention only iwo, which immediately occur to us; Anne * Dubourg, a Counsellor of Paris, and Urban Grandier, a priest, who were both burnt on charges of witchcraft Possibly Mrs. R. might take the former for a woman, from his Christian name.
If we might presume to mention another observation which has oc. curred to us, we would confess that we were startled on finding, in the writer's catalogue of literary ladies of the eighteenth century, some distinguished as • Greek and Latin' or · Hebrew Classics,' who are not known to have written any thing in those languages.-On wiping our spectacles, we began to perceive that the author only meant to inform us that those ladies were classical scholars. We ob. serve, however, only four thus recorded; which we consider as a proof of the imperfection of the list, not as evincing a deficiency of knowlege in the sex.
We forbear any farther remarks on this vigorous and impatient writer ; lest we should have occasion to exclaim, with the gentleman who was knocked down by an uncomplying mistress;
“ Those frowns are cruel, but that fist is death!" Art. 72. Thoughts on Means of alleviating the Miseries attendant upon common Prostitution. 8vo. is. 60. Cadell jun. and Davies. 1799.
The common prostitute may reply with the Countess, in the Tra. gedy of the Mysterious Miother by the late Lord Orford, on being asked, “ Is not virtue Happiness ?”. " I know not that.-I know that vice is torture."
This torture the author of the pamphlet before us very pathetically describes; and it is impossible to glance a thought towards this wretched class of females, without wishing that the wise and the virtuous would take their case into serious consideration. The motive which dictated these pages, as well as the genius which shines in them, deserves praise : yet we question whether the remedy for alleviating
* Our readers will recollect that the female name of Anne has frequently been borne by men in France; and sometimes in this country.
the mizery here deplored would be very effectual. Poor-houses have done little towards annihilating poverty; and we fear that Penitcatiary-houses would be as little efficacious in banishing prostitution. Moral maladies require moral remedies. So extensive and pervading an evil is not to be cured by private exertion, and by the
limited efforts of benevolent subscribing societies. When prostitution, and an unsanctioned intercourse between the sexes, prevail to any extent, it is fair to look for the cause to difficulties thrown in the
of marriage, either by improvident laws, or by the unavoidable expences of life; to the existence of a wrong mode of education ; to the want of affording the sex proper protection; and to the cherishing of certain rigid principles, which prevent the return to virtue. Men in society are the creatures of their civil and religious institutions and principles, and of the habits and circumstances which these generate. A multitude of common prostitutes indicates a defect in the practical code of ethies; it shews that there are certain principles of conduct. tolerated, which, though they may not sanction vice, do at least take from the idea of its deformity ;-it indicatey also, that the natural io. clination of the sexes towards each other is not so properly contemplated by the law as it ought to be; and moreover, that the progress of refinement and luxury has in some cases prevented the possibility of, and in others the inclination to, an union for life,
While man is allowed to roam shameless “ through the wiles of love," the evils of prostitution may with justice in a general view be laid at his door: but it not unfrequently springs from the corruption of the female mind, when man is the dupe and woman the seducer.
SINGLE SERMONS. On the Excellence of British Jurisprudence, preached 10th March 1799, in the Cathedral Church of Salisbury, before the judges of Assize. By William Coxe, A.M F.R.S. F.A.S. Rector of Bemerton. 8vo. Is. Cadell jun. and Davies.
This sermon is admirably suited to the occasion on which it was delivered. Mr. Coxe compresses into a narrow compass an account of the British Legislature, and particularly that part of it which respects criminal jurisprudence. To this object it is impossible to direct our view without the highest satisfaction. Our criminal courts, indeed, exhibit a beautiful feature of the British Constitution. If it be not perfect, there is none on earth more so. Mr. C. justly observes, « This Constitution unites the wisdom of the most complicated, with the facility of most simple forms, and is, as nearly as the works of frail and feeble man can approach perfection, perfect in all its parts. All classes of society are blended without confusion, and yet distinguished without opposition or separation. There is no person so exalted, who can offend with impunity, there is no person so humble, to whom in favour of industry, perseverance, or genius, the road to honour and wealth is not open. This Constitution is so well adapted to all conditions of life, that every man is at once the guar. dian, the censor, and the surety of his neighbour.'
The profits of the sale of this sermon, we are told, will be appropriated to the use of the Salisbury Infirmary.
. Art. 73