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ticed. The genera of peziza and clavaria, are each enriched with two fpecies.
Mr. Dickfon has formed a new genus, or rather a miscellaneous clafs of bodies, not eafily referable to the other genera. He has called it fphæria, a name frequently applied to different fpecies of the fungi. Its fructification is fphærical, and full of powder. It contains nine fpecies, chiefly taken from Wiegel one only, the 1. brafficæ, is in Murray's edition of Linnæus's Syftem of Vegetables, under the title of lycoperdon minimum. Of the lycoperdon, there are five new species; and of the mucor, one.
We have thus given a curfory view of the novelties in this Fafciculus, which are fo many, that we reflect, with pleasure, on the intimation given by the author, that he means to offer us more. The defcriptions are clear, concise, and difcriminated, the references exact; but, as the objects are frequently quite new, and seldom much known, they cannot be numerous. In this retired recefs, a great harvest is yet to be reaped; and we are pleased to see labourers fo diligent and able in the task.
Heron's Letters of Literature. Concluded, from Vol. 1x. p. 413.)
thor, who in various fhapes engages the attention of the public with hopes, perhaps in vain, to fix it. We had just reached the twenty-eighth Letter, and fhall proceed in order.
De Retz, he tells us, is weak and fuperficial; his reputation falfe, and his gravity the appearance of wisdom. This differs from common opinion; but perhaps is not very distant from the truth. Extremes are always fufpicious; and the popular current has carried the name of De Retz down the ftream with a rapidity which he did not deferve.
Mr. Heron next examines the antiquity of farces, and traces them to the first originals of the drama. In this there are some just remarks, mixed with mistakes fo numerous, that we are led to think, that with all the fuperficiality of French criticifm,' our author has taken from copies. Pantomime, in his opinion, is equally ancient; but he fhould have obferved, that it was pantomime made intelligible by the help of an interpreter. If the opinion of the ancients is to be credited, this affiftance was not at that time fo neceffary as it is at prefent, fince we are told of a speech which was acted, and underfood as eafily as when spoken. If we excel in pantomime,
we fail in dramatic compofitions, if our author's dictates are oracular.
• Indeed pantomime is now the best entertainment we find in our theatres. It is quite aftonishing to remark how much our stage hath declined within this half dozen years, fince the retreat of Garrick. It is overwhelmed with floods of Irish nonfenfe, and stuff more ftupid than ftupidity, where not one glim mer of fenfe or wit appears. Had thofe Irishmen, female fcriblers, &c. offered their trash to a Bartholomew-fair audience a few years ago, they would have been hiffed to fcorn. Our poor audiences fit with Dutch phlegm, and take what God fends. English good-nature, or bon homie, if you pleafe, puts us upon a level with the most stupid and barbarous of nations. What the judgement of our audiences condemns, their good-nature with a vengeance! comes in and reprieves at the very gallows. However it is fome confolation to know that our stage cannot poffibly be worse than it is, so it must mend of course.'
The next Letter is on Gravina's work Della Region Poetica. It is intended to leffen the credit of the author, and it does not add to that of the critic. The following, though well expreffed, is not new.
Many of his obfervations upon Homer are fine; fuch as, his being the greatest poet, because his works all bear the very ftamp of nature; none of his characters being perfect; the virtuous being painted as capable of vice, and the vicious as guilty of virtue. Perfect characters form, indeed, a fure mark of a middling writer; who cannot copy nature, but only a feeble idea of perfection in his own breaft. They are always infipid; witnefs Eneas, the most infipid character ever drawn ; for the vices of Eneas, his dereliction of Dido, &c. are not defcribed as imperfections of character; but are indeed mere inconfiftencies.'
In the paffage which follows, we can trace his steps, where we have often found them, and shall take an opportunity of detecting him.
The following Letter is on Hiftorical Truth. We have had occafion to remark how many various forms it puts on, while it cannot be faid to have altered its nature; but our author pofitively afferts, that there is no fuch thing as truth of fact, or historical truth, known to man.' It is fomething to affert with confidence; it is of more confequence to demonstrate. Our author explains his opinion; and then we find him exact in his judgment.
The thirty-fecond Letter contains a comparifon between the form of the ancient stage and the modern one, with fome comparative obfervations on the modern and ancient dramas. A. few remarks may deferve a different character from the reft; C 2
for, in general, it may be truly pronounced a fuperficial compilation; and, wonderful to relate! chiefly from Latin authors. We have much reason to believe, that our author honours the found of Greek only; though, in the following Letter, he again attacks the Latin poets. He compares Virgil, however, not with Homer, but with Taffo.
In the thirty-fourth Letter he endeavours to prove, that the English has vaft defects' in found; but our author's ear, in many inftances, is not very correct. His obfervations, and his plan to improve the found of our language, are trifling and abfurd in the highest degree. A fpecimen of the reformed English, of the one hundred and fifty-ninth Number of the Spectator, will enable the reader to judge for himself.
"When I waz ato Grand Cairo, I picked up feveral orientala manufcripta, whica I havé ftill by me. Among othera, I met with one entitulen, Thea Vifiona of Mirza, whica I havé redd ové with great pleafuré. I intend to givé ito to the publico, when I have no other entertainmento fo them; ando fhall begin with the first vifion, whico I havé tranflaten wordo fo wordo az followeth.'
The obfervations on the Greek characters, and the remarks of reference, are of little confequence; and we may exclaim with Mr. Heron, 'common sense! common fenfe! what an uncommon thing art thou! Let us for once tell this gentleman, that to differ, is not always to be right; and to appear decifive, will not always convince.
The next Letter is on the Grave, a poem by Mr. Blair, of confiderable merit; but not unknown, though not generally admired. It is indeed unequal, and the fubject is too gloomy to become familiar.
In the following Letter, our author thinks a poet may be too good an antiquarian; for cuftoms may have exifted that will add to the force of the description, though they have`never been mentioned. This is the very effence of trifling.
The thirty-feventh Letter contains fome modern Latin poetry, which the author felects as deferving praise. We are not more fond of the modern attempts than Mr. Heron; thefe are not of the best kind; but he is the worst of tranflators. Let the reader judge from his attempt to tranflate an ode of Cafimir's fyllable for fyllable. We fhall felect only the first ftanzas.
Ad fuam Teftudinem.
• Sonori buxi filia futilis,
• To his Harp.'
'Sonorous daughter of the pliant boxen ftem,
The reft contains fome mistakes, not excufable in a schoolboy. The tranflation of Mr. Gray's famous Alcaic Ode, is neither more correct nor more elegant.
Letter thirty-eighth is on Shakspeare again. We shall foon have enough of this subject, but shall felect our author's concluding remark.
Let us not difmifs the book without due thanks to Mr. Steevens; to whom the readers of Shakfpere are as much obliged as thofe of Hudibras to Dr. Grey. Both of them are completely verfed in
"All fuch reading as was never read."
Both are fellow-labourers in the congenial mines of dulnefs; where no man of taste or fcience ever dirtied himself. Both have explained their author, without being capable of underftanding him.'
Letter thirty-ninth endeavours to fhew, with little fuccefs, that luxury is neither a sign of a decaying state, nor the cause of its decay. Yet there are fome acute obfervations in it, which might be better employed than in fupporting paradoxes. Our author then ftarts from his fubject, to fpeak of the uncertainty of determining the age of an author from style, and thinks that it is easy to command an hundred different styles.? If this be the talent which he affects, we do not wonder at the various names with which he has appeared in the world of letters; but it is not the talent which he poffeffes.
Mr. Heron next enquires into the improvements of science fince the time of Bacon; and details, at fome length, the extenfive analysis of knowledge delivered by this penetrating author. In examining the improvements, we find much illiberality in the language, and many defects in our author's information. Indeed we are too much difgufted with this letter to enlarge on it. He praifes and cenfures Gibbon with fome juftice; and at laft obferves,
'Let him revife his Hiftory, and it will ftand among the very first in the world. Above all things let him be lefs a geographer, and more a chronologer. Geography and chronology, have well been called the two eyes of history; but he has extinguished the latter, as hoping the other would fhine more brightly.'
In his Remarks on the Epiftolary Style, his enumeration of the diftinguished authors is not correct. There are other fets C 3
of letters, and to fome of these he is more obliged than he chufes to acknowlege.
The forty-first Letter is on Imitation. Mr. Heron speaks boldly, and we cannot avoid refpecting a man who does fo, when he is not illiberal; he openly declares, that to encourage imitation is to check genius. We believe it, and agree with him in many of his remarks in this Letter; but he debases the fubject and himself, by language which difgraces a gentleman. He has injured the effects of the following Letter alfo, by an improper difplay of political opinions, and the virulence of his cenfure; yet, on the whole, we think it the most able and animated one in the prefent volume. It begins with vindicating Hume from the cenfures of Gray.
grant you that Mr. Gray's cenfure of David Hume is the moft exceptionable part of his letters; but it is very vindicable, being written in confidence to a friend; and with no intention that the public fhould fee it. His trite application of the remark, that muddy rivers feem deep, fhews that it was written in an unlucky moment, when thought is abfent; and perhaps in the flufter of evening wine: which laft is indeed the only apology that can be made for the remainder of the ftricture. No writer can be more clear and manly than Hume; I mean as to his fenfe; nay, what is wonderful, his ftyle is always eafily intelligible, though full of folecifms and every fpecies of barbarity his gaiety is always that of an innocent and truly wife man. His Hiftory of England, nay his Effays, difplay talents very far fuperior to any that Gray hath ever fhewn. Mr. Hume might have ruled a ftate: Gray's utmost views would only have ruled a college. Hume's reputation in France was only the echo of his fame in England. Mr. Gray fhewed himself lefs than a child when he called Hume one. Such mad calumnies recoil upon their author's judgment, and crush it to nothing. Yet all this cenfure lights upon the editor; for Gray would have called upon mountains to cover his fhame, if he had feen his name publicly branded with throwing dirt from Billingsgate upon a cotemporary lord of fame, because his envy faw that he was richer dreft, and of far higher rank than himself.'
The remarks on Hume's Hiftory, and the tendency of his other works, are in general juft; and the conclufion is finished with admirable force and energy.
Befides, my friend, the confolations of human life are by no means too numerous, Religion is one of the chief of these confolations to thousands of people; and among these to many poffeft of qualities fuperior to genius, knowledge, or philofophy; qualities that conftitute the good, the first order of fociety. Shall 1, with rash and facrilegious hand, burst open the temple of their happiness, and fteal away the palladium of their peace? Forbid it humanity! forbid it even philofophy! The