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Art. 45. An attempt to explain a Punic Inscription, lately discovered
in the island of Malta. By John Swinton, B. D. This inscription is the same with that mentioned by the Abbe Barthelemy, in the supplement to the Journal des Sçavans for December 1761 ; and from which he deduced new Phænician alphabet. Mr. Swinton differs in his conjectures from the Abbe Barthelemy and M. de Guignes; who conceived the Phoenician alphabet to be almost entirely Syriac. But as what is advanced on both fides on so obscure a subject, is, probably, after all, but mere conjecture, we must refer it entirely to the antiquarians.
The Astronomical and Mathematical Papers, will be considered in our next, and conclude the Article.
INDEPENDENCE, a Poem. Addressed to the Minority. By C.
Churchill. 4to. 25. 6d. Almon, &c.
NDEPENDENCE is, indeed, a glorious theme! But what is
is not to be discovered from the poem before us. It is not our duty on this occasion, to define what it is; but we will venture to say what it is not. Independence, then, is not the privilege of abusing a Lord, or of libelling a nation. It is not the privilege of satirizing the vices of others, without blushing to expose
In few words, Independence is not the licence of saying and doing what we will, but rather, the power of faying and doing what we ought. The Stoics will tell us, and perhaps in this they are not wrong, that he only is truly independent, who is wife and virtuous. It matters not that we are free from the dominion of others; if we are not masters of ourselves, we are still dependent.
But, our animated Bard laughs at these musty precepts. His guide is uncontrouled Fancy. On he presses towards the summit of Parnassus, (which, alas! he will never reach) and cares not whom or what he overturns in his way. He writes as if he was independent of the rules of decency, the dictates of truth, the principles of justice, the laws of his country-and what, in a fon of Apollo, may be deemed still greater presumption, he writes as if he was independent of the rules of poetry. A favage kind of Independence this! And yet this is the Independence he claims. "Hear him speak, we beg pardon! we mean, hear him sing, good Reader:
Happy the Bard (tho' few such Bards we findi
As to the first line, it is evidently borrowed from an old head of a copy by which children are taught to write, and in the original stands thus
Happy the boy (tho’ few such boys we find)
Who well his writing, and his book, doth mind. But the second line of this couplet is much superior to that of our Author; for 'bove controulment, is certainly a most aukward phrase, and such a one as the Compleat Penman would never have fuffered to escape him. The sentiment in the third quoted verse, is truly admirable, and perfectly in character.
Dares unabash'd in every place appear ! It must, undoubtedly, be a peculiar happiness to discard all sense of shame, and to appear with unblushing impudence in every place, and in every character, alike. Such a Bard, we are told, is no less happy in disregarding all distinctions of political fub.. ordination, than he is in discarding the blushes of modesty; and, consequently,
When, sweeping forward with her peacock's tail,
He views her with a fix'd contemptuous eye. The image of the peacock's tail, has a good effect in this place ; but the passage would have been infinitely heightened, had the Author, by way of contrast, given the Bard the reddening honours of the turkey. But who are those who, we are told,
Have basely turn'd Apoftates, have debas'd
And caus'd their name to stink thro' all the land. An heavy charge this! and if there be such a man, who has bafely turned Apoftate! who has debas’d the dignity of his office! who, like the Priests the sons of Eli, has disgraced the altar before which he stood if there be such a man, and fuch a Bard, it is, indeed, with the greatest propriety that he is said to have caused his name to stink thro' all the land.
The elegance, the harmony, and ease of the following verses, page 3, are not, perhaps, to be equalled by any thing called verfe in the English language :
The inftruments of stirring, and they stirr d. Page 5, Can any thing in verse be more elegant and harmo nious than the following couplet; when the Author speaks of the casual honours of birth ?
Had Fortune on our getting chanc'd to shine,
Their birthright honours had been your's or mine. This is, indeed, to debase the language of those Maids who pour the genuine frain.
In the same page we meet with the following marvellous comparison between a Bard and a Lord :
« Observe which word the people can digeft most readily,
which goes to market best, which gets molt credit, whether « men will trust a Bard, because they think he may be juft, Or • on a Lord will chuse to risk their gains. But what is this, Reader, you cry? Is it poetry? Cut it into lines of ten fyllables and try. Who goes to market best? O beauty of elegance ! O sweetness of harmony! Who goes ta market beji? O glowing exertion ! not of poetical, but of culinary fire!
Yet, amidst this vernacular inelegance, this vulgarity of sentiment and diction, the following scene of weighing a Lord against a Bard, must be allowed to poffefs an odd species of whimsical humour, which will make the Reader laugh from very different motives :
A BARD-A LORD_let REASON take her scales,
'Tis done, and Hermes, by command of Jove,
The Firit was meager, flimsy, void of trength,
Some cwenty fathom length of chin appear'd;
With legs, which we might well conceive that Fate
In his right hand a paper did he hold,
Such was the First--the Second was a man,
Broad were his shoulders, and from blade to blade
might at full length have laid ;
O'er a brown Caffock, which bad once been black,
With such accoutrements, with such a form,
Then (for she did as Judges ought to do,
Nor think that here, in hatred to a Lord,
You'll find it regiiter'd in Reason's court. Envy itself must smile at the very jocular manner in which the Bard has here drawn his own picture. The pleasantry with which he laughs at himself, might half incline one to pardon the liberties he takes with others, did we not perceive Vanity and Arrogance peeping through the mask of partial ridicule.
Go on illustrious Bard! thou art in the right road to Independence. Indulge the reigning depravity of taste: get deeper still in dirt; the Half-crowns will wash thee clean. Leave elegance and harmony to others : in these firring Times, they will not procure thee Six-pence-To use thy own phraseology, They will nct go to Market.'