« PreviousContinue »
orders of the King. Our Author had, confeffedly, many enemies, and it is natural to fuppofe, that they rejoiced at having him in their power. The chains and mortifications might therefore have originated with them. Let it be remembered too, in extenuation, or juftification of the proceedings of the great Frederic, that Baron Trenck, at the time of his being committed a prifoner to the fortrefs of Magdeburg, was actually a captain in the fervice of the Emprefs Queen. He went over to the enemies of his country, and yet he is continually talking of his honour. Abfurd! The honour of a foldier can only be compared with that of a woman.-It must be free from the fmaleft blemish, the moft inconfiderable fpot or ftain. But he will anfwer, that he was particularly aggrieved. Admitting, for argument, that it were really fo, he fhould then have remained entirely neutral.-But to engage himself to fight against his King and country! Such a crime muft naturally have appeared unpardonable, in the eyes of any prince or potentate on the face of the earth.
We have not leifure to enter into a detail of the various grievances fet forth by Baron T. in the courfe of his narrative, any more than to give an account of his actual miferies when in confinement, and of his very many endeavours to effect his escape. For thefe, as well as for the feveral anecdotes,
political and perfonal, which are fcattered through his pages, we muft refer our Readers to the work. But whatever opinion may be entertained of the Writer as a man, his hiftory will furnish an agreeable and inftructive leffon to the world. The impetuous and the daring will be taught to bridle their inclinations. They will learn too, that the man who offends his Sovereign-the Sovereign, especially, who is showering favours on him -and who, after having offended, pertinaciously refuses to ask that pardon which the Monarch may be ready to grant him, is, whatever wretchedness he shall have entailed on himself, lefs an object of pity than. But we forbear; the Baron has received his punishment, and it is not our defire to add to his pain. With respect to the preceding remarks, we have been influenced by nothing but a strict and inviolable regard to truth, -or what, as fuch, prefents itself to our judgment.
Notwithstanding the remarks we have made on the Baron's conduct, it is but juftice to acknowlege, that in perufing his Memoirs, we found ourselves much interefted, and entertained, by many of his details and anecdotes. He is, certainly, a very extraordinary man, and a most intrepid officer.
ART. XII. Recollection of fome Particulars in the Life of the late
HE man of eminence (fays the celebrated Montaigne) will at all times command our attention: even his domeftic occupations, his petty habits, will be contemplated by us with pleasure." The obfervation is certainly juft; and the prefent ingenious Writer has evidently entertained the fame idea with respect to Mr. Shenftone. In our opinion, however, he comes not fully under fuch defcription.-As a poet, his little peculiarities are feldom interefting to us; yet, as the creator of the Leafowes, we generally follow him with fatisfaction and delight. To the amoenities of the place we must give large and unqualified praise.
The Gentleman who now prefents us with fome particu lars in the life of Mr. S. carried on an occafional correfpondence with him for the space of thirty years. He was confequently well acquainted with his manners, character, &c. and has here delineated them with a fkilful hand. Vellem in amicitiâ fic erraremus is the motto to this performance. Much is undoubtedly allowable on the fcore of friendship: yet ftill we muft repeat with the Philofopher-Plato we love, and Socrates we love, but TRUTH we love in preference to either. We do not mean by this to infinuate that the Recollector has at any time mifreprefented facts, but only that we fear he has frequently exaggerated on the subject of Mr. S.'s poetry +. When, for example, he fpeaks of his favourite as a man, we readily give him credit for every circumftance that he has advanced in his praife; but when he places him, as a writer, on a level with Mr. Gray ‡, we think we perceive a want of knowlege of the poetical character. It may farther be remarked, that there is not a fingle inftance in which the comparison will hold. The former is remarkable for simplicity, the latter for fublimity in his expreffion.
*The Rev. Mr. Graves, Author of the Spiritual Quixote, Euphrofyne, Peter of Pomfret, &c.
Of this, indeed, he appears himself to be fomewhat fenfible, fince, in another place, he has obferved- My friendship for Mr. Shenstone may probably have made me partial to his abilities. I muft fhelter myself under my motto from Horace,
In friendship I would wish to be
But this is an apology which impartiality can never admit; as far as it regards the literary qualities of one's friend.
Mr. Shenftone might difpute the prize of genius with Mr. Gray, though he is far furpaffed by him in learning.'
In a word, the mens divinior, the fire of genius, is frequently to be feen in Gray, but not a fpark of it in Shenftone; and as to our being able to "track him in the fnow of the Ancients," as Dryden has fo elegantly obferved of Ben Jonson, the examples are extremely rare. If, therefore, we rank the late proprietor of the Leafowes a little above the Dorfets and Hallifaxes of former days (the "mob of Gentlemen who wrote with ease,") and next below, in point of merit, to the natural and elegant Prior, his dearest friends, we hope, will be contented.
This publication is principally occafioned by the obfervations of Dr. Johnson on the life and writings of Mr. S. With the extract of a page or two, in reply to thofe obfervations, we fhall close our remarks.
I think (fays Mr. Graves) I have a right to queftion the Doctor's intelligence on fome few occafions, and even the juftnefs of fome of his remarks.' He has faid of Mr. Shenftone, "His mind was not comprehenfive, nor his curiofity active: he had no value for thofe parts of knowledge which he had not himfelf cultivated." Now, in anfwer to this, I can only oppose my own opinion, who knew Mr. Shenftone intimately, to that of Dr. Johnfon, who confeffedly was a ftranger to him. I will venture to fay then, that no one had a quicker comprehenfion of any fubject to which he applied his mind; and no one had a mind more capable of comprehending a variety of fubjects, though, from various circumstances, he might not have cultivated or furnished it with learning and knowledge to the extent of which it was capable. Few people wrote better upon bufinefs when the occafion required it. In politics I am convinced he would have made no inconfiderable figure, it he had had a fufficient motive for applying his mind to political ftudies; as, I think, might appear from the letters written during the rebellion in 1745, and from others which I received about the year 1762, on the flate of public affairs at that critical period.
As to his curiofity, it was fo active in his youth, that, on whatever interefting fubject he was employed, no regard to health or exercife, nor even to the hours of refreshment, could divert his attention. This irregular indulgence of his curiofity, indeed, was one caufe perhaps of that languid ftate of health, under which he afterwards laboured, and which brought on, by degrees, an habitual indolence and inactivity, rather prejudicial to his future progrefs; and which prevented his acquiring that extenfive knowledge, and penetrating fo far into the deeper receffes of learning and fcience, as his mind was naturally ca pable of doing.-Neither did Mr. Shentone undervalue any branch of science, and had fome knowledge of moft. He knew 1omething of mathematics, and all the liberal fciences taught in
the univerfity: he was well read in history and travels; but polite literature was his principal ftudy, and claffical learning his forte.In fhort, I will conclude with Dr. Johnfon's own words, though with a flight, but what I think, a neceffary alteration:"Had Mr. Shenstone's mind been better ftored with knowledge, he certainly would have been great; with his prefent ftore, he is univerfally allowed to be agreeable ".
This alteration fhould not be termed flight. It departs too far from the fentiments of Johnfon, as the Reader will perceive by the following tranfcript:-" Had his mind been better ftored: with knowledge, whether he could have been great, I know not: he could certainly have been agreeable."
For SEPTEMBER, 1788.
Art. 13. Univerfal Hiftory, commencing with the Creation, and ending 536 years before the Chriftian Era. In Letters from a Fa ther to a Son. By Francis Dobbs, Efq. Vol. I. 12mo. 35. fewed. Kearsley. 1787.
HIS writer, fpeaking of his work, obferves, that it can be of little use to men of literature, unless I fhould fortunately throw fome new lights on the order of Providence, and the vaft defign of this terreftrial creation.' But, he adds, to those whofe occupations do not admit of deep refearches, I truft, it will give a general view of the world, that they have not at prefent the means of obtaining and I flatter myself the youth of both fexes will find, in the following fheets, amufement blended with instruction.'
We think that the above is on the whole a juft account of the prefent performance. Thofe who perufe it with attention (and at tention works of this kind particularly require) will no doubt find it beneficial. The author makes ufe of Sir Ifaac Newton's chronology; and perhaps, on a fubject fo intricate, he could not have chofen a better guide; and as he has in no inftance ventured to depart from it, he hopes to escape the cenfure of the learned. Three farther volumes are to carry up the hiftory of the world to the time of the death of Chrift: after which it is intended to purfue it to the prefent day. Mr. Dobbs has taken confiderable pains (as the phrafe is) with this epitome; and we hope he will meet with encouragement in the profecution of his defign.
Art. 14. The Natural History of Birds; containing a Variety of Facts selected from several Writers, and intended for the Amusement and Instruction of Children. With Copper-plates. Part I. 12mo. I s. 6d. Johnson.
It is certainly right to draw the early attention of children to the more confpicuous objects of nature. The prefent performance feems
well calculated for this end. The two first orders of birds are defcribed in a plain and intelligible ftyle; the fubftance is chiefly taken from Buffon, though the Linnéan order is preferred.-Only the first part of this work is yet published.
Art. 15. A Short and Eafy Introduction to the Science of Geography. Defigned for the Ufe of Schools. By Thomas Keith. 1s. 6d. bound. Law. 1787.
This little publication, though not materially different from other introductions to geography, is concife and accurate. It contains, as ufual, the fituation, extent, boundaries, divifions, &c. of the feveral countries in the world; and the description and use of the terreftrial globe.
Art. 16. A Letter to the Patrons, Trustees, &c. of the Charity Schools, recommending a more efficacious Mode of educating the Children of the Poor. 8vo. 6d. Turner. 1788.
The Writer of this well-intended Letter fhews the infufficiency of the Charity Schools, in their prefent ftate, to answer those valuable purposes which the founders of them defigned, viz. to educate the children of the poor fo as to make them useful members of society, by inftructing them in the religious and moral duties, and by teaching them to read and write. He proposes, as a more effectual means of accomplishing thefe laudable defigns, that the children fhould be taken into the houfe, and be employed in fome ufeful eafy work,. during thofe intervals when they are not engaged in mental improvement, &c.
The Author is aware of the objections that may be made to his fcheme. His aim, however, is to promote the reformation of a confiderable branch of our police; and, whether his plan be carried into execution or not, he certainly merits the thanks of the Public.What he fays, in regard to the apprenticing of parish children deferves particular confideration.
Art. 17. A Short Reply to a Pamphlet entitled "Obfervations on a Defign for improving the Navigation of the River SEVERN, in the Counties of Salop, Stafford, Worcester, and Glocefter." Svo. Is. Cadell. 1788.
Of the Obfervations, &c." fome account was given in our Review for May, p. 432. That publication is here fmartly attacked; but it is impoffible for a literary journalist, as fuch, to judge, with decifion, on a fubject fo inveloped in local circumstances. The author of the prefent tract confines his arguments, chiefly, to the confideration of the injury that may accrue to landed property from the ofe of locks and weirs; but he hints, likewife, at other very material inconveniences that, in his apprehenfion, would arife, were the scheme for improving the navigation of the Severn to be carried into effect: for thefe, however, we must refer to the pamphlet: which is well written.