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cal compofition, but to call in PAINTING to the aid of POETRY or to publish it (as it is expreffed at the bottom of the advertisement) with various defigns and engravings, defcriptive and hiftorical, by the moft eminent mafters.'
HUMANITY, however, is fent forth, as a noun fubftantive, to ftand by itself, without having fo much as a Vignette joined to it. It was not necessary: for not only the interesting nature of the subject, but the particular season also of its publication (when the attention of Parliament was directed to the negroe traffic and flavery), would contribute to procure it many readers. Mr. Pratt confeffes, that in the order of his great poem on Society, what relates to the inhuman treatment of negroes would not probably have taken the lead, but that he was induced to depart from his original plan, and to anticipate fome of his obfervations, in order, at a feasonable moment, to enforce the appeals of those who have the strongest claims on humanity. We highly applaud the motive. As the avowed friend of the human race, Mr. Pratt is entitled to the greateft refpect, though, as a poet, not to perfect commendation. His fentiments are those of an expanded and liberal mind; but they are not always expressed in the happieft manner.
Alluding to a former work (we apprehend, to his Landscapes in Verfe), he thus beautifully begins the poem before us :
• From vernal blooms and many a fragrant bow'r,
Mr. Pratt's Mufe having, in this elegant exordium, taken her leave of paftoral objects, fketches the plan of her future adventurous fong on SOCIETY; but, ere fhe wings her bold flight, kneels at COMPASSION's fhrine, and confecrates her opening lay to HUMANITY. We do not doubt the fincerity of the confecration, nor the truth of what follows.
For thou her guardian, patronefs and guide,
But we lament that the is too rapturous to be grammatical. It is better, however, to fall into accidental violations of grammar, than to be guilty of repeating the fame thought, with no kind of
variation, in a fecond line, for the fake of procuring a rhyme to the firft. Of this fault, which we only expect to find in the moft flimfy writers of verse, Mr. Pratt's Mufe ftands convicted on the evidence of the following couplet, which is part of her compliment to the Humane Society:
Drag the pale victim from the whelming wave,
For thefe offences ample reparation is foon made, as fhe proceeds to fing of the exercife of humanity toward the infane. This is the newest part of the poem, and as it will, no doubt, be pleafing to our poetical readers, we here offer it to their perufal :
• When fovereign Reafon from her throne is hurl'd,
To crown thy airy fallies with delight;
She culls thee flowers, and bathes them with her tears;
Then as thy brows the fragrant wreaths adorn,
No Mufe, whofe fenfes are diftraught, could thus write of the infane; but when a Mufe gets warm, fhe is apt to become obfcure, or to fly beyond the ken of common fenfe. What is foon after obferved of female beauty, that it breaks in the blush, and fhoots along the figh,' appears to us (who do not fee with the poet's eye" in a fine phrenzy rolling") a little dark; but this is nothing to what we meet with when the is more heated, and
*In another place, p. 52, our poet makes use of two words of the fame meaning in one line: law is called
The field, the spear, and buckler of the land.' † We do not quite approve of whirl'd in the fecond line.
glows with rage at the unconfcious fugar-cane. Against this plant a very heavy charge is preferred; it is faid to be Of ev'ry foft HUMANITY the bane;'
and defcribed in the fame fentence as having a poison, an art, and a brine. But from this flight into the regions of obfcurity, the Mufe foon defcends, and acts the graver part of the Hiftorian. She traces flavery, or the fale of human flesh, from its origin in Egypt, through Greece and Rome, to the time of its abolition by the Chriftian Emperors; reproaches Portugal and Spain for reviving it; has a ftroke at the Inquifition; defcribes the advances of POWER; gives us an imitation of Pope's Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods; bids us behold the kidnapped Africans taken from their native land, and cruelly conveyed to the Weft Indian iflands; and calls on the Europeans to justify their conduct. And now the affumes the fober province of Reafon; confutes the notion that power, colour, or fuperior fenfe, can give a right to act the tyrant; fhews that the refinement and polished manners of which we boast, produce as many vices as virtues; attacks luxury on the fcore of its various cruelties; points out, by way of contraft, the Bramin's harmless life, and fhews what thould be learnt from it; turns next to the flaveagent (who is faid to buy and fell the image of his God); has a ftroke at France (For all the licences is dance and fong;') then fweetly fings of liberty, Albion, and the Oak; again looks back to ancient times; talks of Caractacus and Boadicea; and concludes the first book with the laud and praife of King Alfred.
In the fecond book, the Mufe of Humanity darts her all-pervading eye at the Baftile; abhors the loathfome dungeon; flies to Afia (where' flavery is faid to bloom beneath the fairest sky'); (quere, what can be meant by the blooming of flavery?); laments the horrid effects of defpotifm there; and, unable to reft on thefe plains, fteers her flight to Africa. Here the relates fome pretty tales, much to the credit of the jetty race ;-then-but unable to follow Mr. Pratt's Mufe, who travels as faft as any of Ariofto's knights, we muft content ourselves with the following extract, which contains a fentiment truly liberal and juft, and is a fair fpecimen of the poetry:
O pride enormous! impudence of man!
Masks a mind darker than the darkest race;
His prayer to holy KANNO more prevail
As a poet, Mr. Pratt is a very unequal writer. Frequently there is ftrength and pathos in his verfe; at other times it is tame and languid. He is, moreover, not fufficiently nice and attentive in his choice of words. Sailors would object to the phrafe loudly roars the gale, and would inform the landfman poet that the moment when the gale begins loudly to roar, it becomes a form. Sometimes he is abrupt in his tranfitions; an instance of this appears in p. 44.
We have noticed other little defects, but we shall not particularly enumerate them, nor have we mentioned the above from any defire of injuring Mr. Pratt's reputation +. Our wish is to increase it. We have blamed him now, that we might, confiftently with our engagements to the public, more entirely commend his future work; and we muft take the liberty of giving it as our opinion, that if, inftead of priding himself in a vast extent of lines, he would learn to be more correct in the ufe of metaphors, and to blor, lop, and condense, he would foon be in confiderable eftimation as a poet.
We have been informed that Mr. Pratt's extreme illness, while the poem on Humanity was at prefs, obliged him to leave the MS. to be given out at different times, by a perfon who had mixed the revised copy with feveral loofe fheets of the rough original draft; confequently many errors (befide those in the errata) will
*Shouts and notes make a very bad rhyme.
+ Our remarks prove that we have not deemed his present work unworthy of criticifm. Such diftinction is more than we can afford to every poem that iffues from the prefs.
REV. Nov. 1788.
ART. IX. The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero against Caius Cornelius Verres, tranflated from the Original, by James White, Efq; with Annotations. 4to. 18s. Boards. Cadell. 1787.
Fall literary tafks, that of translating from the ancients is the most ungrateful, fince the labour is arduous, and the reward inconfiderable. According to an ingenious French. writer *, it is an unalterable law to refer all that is excellent to the original, and all that is bad to the copy; and the unhappy condition of a tranflator refembles that of a dancer on the flack rope, whofe dexterity is little regarded, while the leaft inadvertence cofts him his life."
Confidering this circumftance, we have always been inclined to view with much indulgence every attempt of this kind, when undertaken, as the late learned Mr. Harris ufed to fay, by qualified perfons; in which rank, Mr. White may very properly be placed. He has been ftudious to understand his author; and the copiousness of his English ftyle is well fuited to exprefs the exuberant fertility of Cicero.
In the preface he defcribes the fubject of the original, explains his defign in the tranflation, and intermixes feveral obfervations which are not common, and which appear to us to be folid; we fhall therefore infert it entire as a fpecimen of his ftyle, and as an earneft of the fatisfaction which the English reader may derive from the perufal of his work.
The deplorable abufes of provincial government have never been depicted in more glowing colours than in the celebrated orations againft Caius Verres. Such readers as are accustomed to compaffionate human mifery, will doubtlefs receive a fatisfaction from being told, that the abilities and zeal of Cicero were not exerted in vain. In this triumphant profecution, the delinquent, who had returned to Rome loaded with the fpoils and curfes of Sicily and Afia, was blafted by the lightning of irrefiftible eloquence.
Profligate men, intrufted with domination over opulent regions, defpifed the common career of villany, and were tempted to become monsters. Entire nations were impoverished irretrievably: there was no motive of intereft to reftrain the oppreffor: impunity at Rome was fecured by excess of wickedness abroad: there was nothing to deaden the ftroke of defpotifm. The tyrant haftened to his province, as to a devoted prey; proceeded to plunder it with a dreadful regularity; kept a journal of defolation; and, embittering the peace of millions, directed from his tribunal the fyftem of their calamities.
This is one of the moft applauded periods in the life of Cicero. Throughout the impeachment and trial of Verres, he appears to have been wholly unmolefted by that timidity which afterwards enfeebled and difgraced his operations. Here we behold him fearless and firm; an example of patient investigation, of perfevering vigour, of im
*Tourreil, in his hiftorical preface to the tranflation of Demofthenes.