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of explaining pon the wholes in this "lite
too great a regard to custom. This mode of education might be necessary in those times, when the Language of our country was little cultivated or used, and when the works of the learned among us were written in Latin; but now that the English Tongue is not only become the vehicle of fciences. but is also the Language of the Orator, it is certainly absurd that our youth should waste that time in learning to write or speak a dead Language, which they might more usefully employ in (tudying their own. They should be able to read and understand the Classics, but their compofitions fhould be English.
The Rudiments of English Grammar are exhibited with great accuracy and clearness in this little treatifę, by Mr. Priestley. Upon the whole, we commend his brief manner of explaining and laying down his Precepts; but we could with that he had been a little more diffuse in the Syntactical part. '
His Observations on Style, annexed to his Grammar, are, in general, judicious and ingenious; but he is certainly in the wrong to make it a doubt whether the antient Poets intended the Srtucture or the Sound of their Verses at any time to be expressive of the Sense. It is impossible to read Vida’s Art of Poetry, and at the same time to entertain the lealt Poubt on that head..
.... For a specimen of our Author's abilities, as a Philologist, we fhall quote the following passages from his Observations on Style. i. ..
1 den 1 « From the correspondence between inens thoughts and language, explained in the former part of these obfervations, we may infer, that in Style, as in every other produ&iori, there is room for an infinite diversity, where the degrees of excellence may be the Tame." For as every man hath some peculiarity in his manner, whether of speaking, or behaviour, which, as much as the peculiar form of his features, or size of his limbs, distinguishes him from other men ; and which, if he have no affectation, is more becoming him, and better luits his whole character, than any other manner whatever : fo likewise hath every man a peculiar manner of conceiving things, and expresling his thoughts, which, were 'he fo fortunate as to hit upon subjects adapted to his genius, would not want propriety or beauty !
* It is not nature that requires a perfe& fimilarity of Style in all that write upon the fame subject. : The dresses of many
fuch a moules, can en heen co
perfons, of the same age, the same nation, the fame climate, and even upon the same occasion, may have equal propriety, and yet be considerably different. In some things a person may innocently consult his own person and taste.. ::
6. This natural foundation for diversity of Style, critics feem not sufficiently to have attended to, and have, hence, been too hasty in establishing general laws of writing froma particular instances of successful compofition; and have defined and circumscribed the paths to literary excellence, in such a manner, that no writer, who pays a scrupulous regard to their rules, can ever arrive at it.
" It ought to have been considered, that the infinite din versity of the subjects of human enquiry and speculation, might suggest an infinite diversity in the very kinds of composition, and that the diversity of lights in which the same subject may be viewed by different human intelle&ts, mighe occasion as great differences in the manner of treating thein.
“ Hence hath arisen the modern method of evading the force of established criticism, upon compofitions of very common denominations, by inventing new titles to works. Thus the writer of Memoirs or Travels, is not confined by the strict laws of History; at the same time that he gives us all the instruction, and perhaps (if only from the variety of his method) more entertainment, than we could receive from the most regular historical performance. And all the rules of Epic writing are dispensed with, and all the uses of such works preserved, in the loofer dress of a Novel or Romance; from each of which, being executed with all imaginable diversity of manner, (owing to the human genius being left to its native freedom, in a province as yet uninvaded, at least unoccupied, by the critics) the spirit of antient commentators, might have establifhed quite different sets of rules for this fpecies of compofition.
“ Language partakes much of the nature of art, and but little of the nature of science; both because improvements in language have their ne plus ultra, and because it is a thing not exempt from the influence of fashion and caprice'; whereas true science is the same in all places, and in all times, and admits of unbounded improvements.
“ Both languages and arts, in their infancy, are composed of rough unpolished materials, that barely answer the purposes for which they were intended ; in process of time, and in consequence of more persons being employed in improving
and using them, they acquire an elegance of construction, and beauty of finishing, while they still retain their strength and capacity for service :: but, at last, strength and fervice are sacrificed to useless and superfluous ornaments, following the universal changes of taste, which are, from the rough and unpolished, to the cultivated and manly; and from the cultivated and manly, to the effeminate and vitiated.
" The time when a language comes to its perfection may be nearly ascertained, from considering the causes that contribute to it. To resume our former comparison ; any art may be judged to be arrived at its perfection, when it hath been a considerable time practised, and in reputation; for, in those circumstances, there could have been no want of motives, either from interest or honour, to excite the ingenious to try every expedient for its improvement.
« Languages have hardly ever received any real improvement, after an entire century favourable to the polite arts; and, from causes that have generally coincided, the period of literary renown in any nation, hath feldom been long after the time in which it made the greatest figure in arms and politics. Also the language of those times which produced the most and the best writers, hath always been deemed classical, and the standard of Style to those that have succeeded them.
“ We need make no doubt, therefore, but that the conjectures and apprehensions we find in the writings of Addison, Pope, Swift, and others, their cotemporaries, that the language of their time would, at length, become obsolete in this nation, are absolutely groundless. And it may be taken for granted, that the schemes of some still more modern writers, to add something considerable to the perfection of the English language, in order to contribute to the permanency of it, cannot, according to the 'course of nature, produce any effect. If the English language hath not already attained to its maturity, we may safely pronounce that it never will; and if it be not now in a condition to perpetuate itself, and stand the attacks of time, no method that we can at this day take, will rescue it from oblivion.
“ More than a century is already elapsed since Dryden began to be admired as a writer, and where is the probability of the prophecy of Mr. Pope ever coming to pass ? And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.
“ It is writing that fixes and gives ftability to a language; for hardly any of the causes that contribute to the revolutions of vocal language do at all affect that which is written. . And when a language is so much read, written, and diffused in books through the bulk of the nation that speaks it as the English, in its present state, it would be absolutely miraculous were it to receive any considerable alteration.”
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Vsls. V.
VI. 12mo. ss." Becket and De Hondt.
THE Authors of the Monthly Review being determined
I never to lose fight of truth and candour, are neither to be misled by favour, nor irritated by reproach ; neither perverted by prejudice, nor borne down with the current of popular opinion. The books that come under their cogni- zance will be considered with the same impartiality, whether the Authors be their friends or fpes, in plain cloaths or prunella, in power or in prison. They would willingly, indeed, have their censure fall upon books only, without any regard to their Authors; but it is certain that a man may be inmoral in his Writings as well as in his A&tions, and in that respect he will always be liable to the cenfure of those, i who consider themselves not only as judges in the Republic of Letters, but as members of society, and the servants of their country. · Upon these considerations, in reviewing the works of the learned, we are not only to observe their literary excellencies or defects, not merely to point out their faults or beauties, .but to consider their moral tendency; and this more parti
cularly, as it is of greater consequence to society that the heart be mended, than that the mind be entertained.
Decency is the hand-maid of Virtue, and the votaries of the mistress never insult the servant. Purity of heart always produces purity of manners; and not only the Chriftian system has enjoined the latter, as being the visible effect of the fora mer, but it has been pleaded for by the wise of every age, and of every sect.
Had we not then a right to complain, - if a person, by profefsion obliged to discountenance indecency, and exprefly commanded by those pure and divine doctrines he teaches, to avoid it; ought we not to have censured such a one, if he
introduced obscenity as wit, and encouraged the depravity of young and unfledged vice, by libidinous ideas and indecent allufions?
In reviewing the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, we have hitherto had occasion to lament, that, while the Author was. exerting his talents to maintain the humour and consistency of his characters, he himself was so much out of character; and we could wish sincerely that we had now no farther reason for complaints of that kind. .
The fifth and fixth volumes of this work, indeed, are not so much interlarded with obscenity as the former ; yet they are not without their stars and dalhes, their hints and whiskcrs : but, in point of true humour, they are much superior to the third and fourth, if not to the first and second. Some of the characters too are placed in a new light, and the rest are humorously supported. Uncle Toby is a considerable gainer by this continuation of his Nephew's Life and Opinions. In the story of Le Fever the old Captain appears in a most amiable light; and as this little episode does greater honour to the abilities and disposition of the Author, than any other part of his work, we hhall quote it at large, as well for his fake, as for the entertainment of such of our Readers as may not have seen the original.
“ It was fome time in the summer of that year in which Dendermond was taken by the allies, which was about seven years before my father came into the country, and about as many, after the time, that my uncle Toby and Trim had privately decamped from my father's house in town, in order to lay some of the finest sieges to some of the finest fortified cities in Europe when my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Trim fitting behind him at a small sideboard,-I fay, fitting-for in consideration of the corporal's lame knee (which sometimes gave him exquisite pain)—when my uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he would never suffer the corporal to stand ; and the poor fellow's veneration for his master was such, that, with a proper artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken Dendermond itself, with less trouble than he was able to gain this point over him ; for many a time when my uncle Toby supposed the corporal's leg was at rest, he would look back, and detect him ftanding behind him with the most dutiful respect. This bred more little squabbles betwixt them, than all other causes for five and twenty years together B ut this is neither here nor there why do I
abiele Poby suppoleted him ftar more lithe twenty year hy do