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ing to Mr. P. the causes are to be found in the cruelty and ferocity which disgraced the Grecian character. Most abuudant proof (if any indeed were wanted) is adduced of this cruelty of disposition, from their mythology, from the writings of Homer, and from the faithful pages of Thucydides.
Towards the end of his essay, which is replete with just remarks, Mr. P. considers the question why, in the present times of refinement, representations of terrific subjects continue to excite such predilection. Though this idea has been frequently discussed, we had marked some passages for insertion': but, on a second inspection, they seem too long for our limits.
An Essay on the Variations of English Prose, from the Revolu tion to the present Time. By Thomas Wallace, A. B. and M. R. I. A. To which was adjudged the Gold Prize Medal.
In the beginning of this essay, it is observed that the state of the language of a people corresponds with the state of their polity and manners; and, as an example of this observation, the author points out the correspondence which has existed between the improvement in our language and our political and moral amelioration. When England was agitated by civil wars and depressed by a feudal policy, its language was rude, anomalous, and without either precision or grace. From this degraded state, it was raised by the Reformation; then, questions of high concernment were agitated, and men began to think with greater precision, and to reason more methodically; in consequence of which, the language rose from its low state to a considerable degree of excellence. It was, however, abundant in faults, until the time of Addison.
• With Addison and his contemporaries,' says Mr. Wallace, originated the first variation that occurred, subsequent to the Revolu tion, in the composition of English prose. Though the diffuse style still continued to prevail, it was no longer the loose, inaccurate and clumsy style by which the compositions of his predecessors were disgraced. So great, indeed, was the improvement, and so striking the variation introduced by Addison, that he who compares the produc tions of this elegant writer with those of the best writers of 1688, will find it difficult to avoid surprise, how, with such precedents before him, he could have risen at once to a degree of excellence in style which constitutes him a model for imitation. The forced metaphor, the dragging clause, the harsh cadence, and the abrupt close, are all of them strangers to the works of Addison. In the structure of his sentences, though we may sometimes meet marks of negligence, yet we can seldom find the unity of a sentence violated by ideas crowded together, or the sense obscured by an improper connection of clauses. Though, like his predecessors, he frequently uses two words to express one idea, yet, in this instance, he is less faulty than they; and, among the variations introduced by him, we must reckon a more
strict attention to the choice of words, and more precision in the use of them.
• Of figurative language, Addison has always been acknowledged. the most happy model. He was, indeed, the first of the English prose writers who were equally excellent in the choice and in the management of their figures. Of those who preceded him, it has been observed that they were frequently unhappy in both instances; that their metaphors either were such as tended rather to degrade their subject than to give it dignity and elevation; or that when they were well chosen, they were spoiled by the manner in which they were conducted, being detained under the pen until their spirit evaporated, or traced until the likeness vanished. Addison avoided both faults: his metaphors are selected with care and taste, or rather seem to spring spontaneously from his subject; they are exhibited to the mind but for a moment, that the leading traits of similitude may be observed while minute likenesses are disregarded-like those flashes of electric fire which often illumine a summer's night, they shed a vivid, though a transient lustre, over the scene, and please rather by the brightness with which they gild the prospect than the accuracy with which they shew its beauties.
Should it be doubted, whether the improvement of style which took place in the time of Addison-that variation which substituted uniform and correct neatness in composition, for what was loose, inaccurate and capricious,-be justly attributed to him-the doubt will vanish when it is remembered that in no work prior to his time is an equal degree of accuracy or neatness to be found, and even among those periodical papers to which the most eminent of his cotemporary writers contributed, the CLIO of Addison stands eminently conspicuous. It was, indeed, from the productions of that classic and copious mind that the public seems to have caught the taste for fine writing which has operated from that time to the present, and which has given to our language perhaps the greatest degree of elegance and accuracy of which it is susceptible-for if any thing is yet to be added to the improvement of the English style, it must be more nerve and muscle, not a nicer modification of form or feature.
sectantem levia, nervi
While Addison was communicating to English prose a degree of correctness with which it had been, till his time, unacquainted, Swift was exemplifying its precision and giving a standard for its purity. Swift was the first writer who attempted to express his meaning without subsidiary words and corroborating phrases. He nearly laid aside the use of synonimes in which even Addison had a little indulged, and without being very solicitous about the structure or harmony of his periods, seemed to devote all his attention to illustrate the force of individual words. Swift hewed the stones, and fitted the materials for those who built after him; Addison left the neatest and most finished models of ornamental architecture.
Of the character which is here given of these two writers it is unnecessary to give proof by quoting passages from their works, for
two reasons; the one is, that their works are in the hands of every body; the other, that the qualities which we attribute to their style are so obvious that it were superfluous to illustrate them.
Besides those first reformers of the style of 1688, there were others, contemporary with them, who contributed to promote the work which they did not begin. Bolingbroke and Shaftsbury, like Addison, were elegant and correct, and seem from him to have derived their correctness and elegance. Of this, so far as it concerns Shaftsbury, there is a most remarkable proof*. His tract, entitled "An Enquiry concerning Virtue," was in the hands of the public in 1699, in a state very different indeed from that in which his lordship published, in the year 1726. It partook of all the faults which were prevalent in the style of that day, but particularly in the length of its periods, and the inartificial connection of them. In the edition
of 1726 those errors were in a great measure corrected; the sentences are broken down, and molded with much elegance into others less prolix; and sharing in some degree all the beauties of Addison's style, except those which perhaps his lordship could not copy, its case and simplicity. Indeed Shaftsbury, in the form in which we now have him, appears to be more attentive than Addison to the harmony of his cadence, and the regular construction of his sentences; and certainly if he has less simplicity has more strength. Bolingbroke, too, participating in correctness with Addison, has some topics of peculiar praise; he has more force than Addison-andwhat may appear strauge, when we consider how much more vehe ment and copious he is, has more precision. The nature of the subjects on which Bolingbroke and Shaftsbury wrote naturally tended to make them more attentive to precision than Addison. These subjects were principally abstract morality and metaphysics-subjects of which no knowledge can be attained but by close and steady thinking, or communicated but by words of definite and constant meaning. The language of Addison, however elegant in itself, or however admirably adapted by its easy flow to those familiar topics which are generally the subjects of diurnal essays, was too weak for the weight of abstract moral disquisition, and too vague for the niceties of metaphysical distinction. It was fitted for him whose object was to catch what floated on the surface of life; but it could not serve him who was to enter into the depths of the human mind, to watch the progress of intellectual operation, and embody to the vulgar eye those ever fleeting forms under which the passions vary.'
This essay reflects much credit on the author, and seems well worthy of that mark of distinction which the Society has conferred on it. We could wish, however, that Mr. Wallace had not followed the philosophical grammar of the old school. We are so far admirers of the doctrine taught in the Diversions. of Purley, that we feel rather intolerant in reading the following passage: those few but important words which are used, not to designate things, but to exhibit the various positions of + See p. 42. Diversions of Purley, &c,
See Blair's Lectures.'
the mind in thinking, to shew the relation which it means to establish between two propositions, or the different parts of the same proposition, must have been aukwardly and often improperly used.' (p. 43-)
On the Poetical Character of Dr. Goldsmith. By the Rev. Archdeacon Burrowes, M. R. I. A.
This memoir is valuable and interesting; valuable for much good criticism contained in it, and interesting because it places before us the sweet poetry of Goldsmith. What was said of Dennis's remarks on Cato, that we soon forgot the criticism and returned to read the work, with unabated ardour, may be applied with more justice to any criticism on Goldsmith. Still, however, no poet is above criticism, and Mr. Burrowes has commented with much judgment and taste.
[To be continued.]
ART. III. A Voyage to the South Atlantic and round Cape Horn, into
ROM the introduction to this volume, we learn that, previously to the voyage here related, Capt. Colnett had been engaged in various commercial undertakings on the west coast of North America, and was one of the greatest sufferers by the unwarrantable conduct of the Spaniards on that coast. He had also, when a youth, sailed with Captain Cook in his second voyage to the South-Sea. On these accounts, he was named by the Board of Admiralty as a proper person to be employed in the present voyage; which was planned in consequence of an application to the Board of Trade, from merchants concerned in the South-Sea fisheries. In a memorial, they stated
The calamitous situation of the ships' crews employed in this trade, from the scurvy and other diseases, incident to those who are obliged to keep the seas, from the want of that relief and refreshment, which is afforded by intermediate harbours.
The Spaniards, it is true, had, of late, admitted ships into their ports for the purpose of refitting; but, from the latest accounts received, this permission was so restricted as to amount almost to a prohibition, in which it was continually expected to end. It became therefore an object of great importance to obtain such a situation as our commerce required, independant of the Spaniards.'
The merchants therefore proposed to government, that an officer should be sent in one of their ships, in order to discover such a situation." The Rattler sloop of war being deemed a convenient vessel for the intended service, an offer was made to purchase her from government, with which the Admiralty acquiesced; and she was fitted accordingly for the undertaking.
Captain Colnett left England on the 4th of January 1793, and was absent during twenty-two months. He sailed round Cape Horn, and thence to the northward in the neighbourhood of the American coast, as far as California. He called at, and examined, most of the known islands in this track; and he has given descriptions of them, with directions for navigators who shall visit those parts. He also searched for lands to which situations have been assigned, but of which the existence is not well ascertained; and particularly, both in the passage out and on the return, but without success, for Isle Grande, supposed to lie to the eastward of the South American coast, in the latitude of 45°S.-Whatever information he has been able to obtain, that can be useful to those who are employed in the southern whale-fishery, he has not neglected to give in this account.
We shall mention a few of the most remarkable circumstances which occur in the narrative of the voyage.-In the passage from England towards Cape Horn, Captain Colnett relates that
The autumnal equinoctial gale,' (the month of March, being in south latitude,) came on, and held upwards of four days, with fre quent claps of thunder, accompanied by lightening, hail and rain. It blew as hard as I ever remember, and, for several hours, we could not venture to shew any sail. At the same time a whirlwind or typhoon arose to windward, from whence in one of the squalls, two balls of fire, about the size of cricket balls, fell on board. One of them struck the anchor which was housed on the fore-castle, and bursting into particles, struck the chief mate and one of the seamen, who fell down in excruciating tortures. On examining them, several holes appeared to have been burned in their cloaths, which were of flannel: and in various parts of their bodies there were small wounds, as if made with an hot iron of the size of a sixpenny piece. I immediately ordered some of the crew to perform the operation of the Otaheiteans, called Roro mee*, which caused a considerable abatement of their pains, but several days elapsed before they were perfectly recovered. The other ball struck the funnel of the caboose, made an explosion equal to that of a swivel gun, and burned several holes in the mizen-stay-sail and main-sail, which were handed. the height of the storm, the barometer was at 28.'
* Roro mee. It consists in grasping the fleshy parts of the body, legs, and arms, and working it with the fingers.'