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Art. XIII. Gleanings from Zimmerman's Solitude; to which are added, Occa.
ional Observations, and an Ode on Retirement. By Mrs. Bayfield, Arthor of Fugitive Poems. foolscap 8vo. pp. 214. Price 5s. bds. Lindsel).
1806. AMONG those who fail the most in their endeavours to me.
liorate the condition of man, we may reckon the writer, who represents the depraved heart, in its natural state, as the seat of virtuous principle, who proposes inadequate remedies to cure its diseases, and leaves his reader a stranger to the doctrines and consolations of unadulterated Christianity. Zim. merman on Solitude is, in this view, a book of dangerous tendency. Who, that reads the production now under review, which is compiled from his first volume, would imagine that there was any authorized guide in the way of life ; that there existed in the world such a book as the New Testament, and that Zimmerman and his fair admirer were acquainted with it? A work which professes to lead man to a knowledge of himself, which aims at the perfection of his character, which would Jay the foundation for his present and future felicity, can only be excellent as it proceeds upon the principles, and enforces the instructions of the Gospel. The misery of the present state should be traced to its only source--the depravity of our fallen nature. Its genuine features, forbidding as they are, should be faithfully delineated. We should be taught, that all the sorrows which embitter the cup of life originate in ourselves. The holy and happy tendency of the Christian re. ligion, its suitableness to our condition, the change which it effects upon the character, and the peace and joy which it produces in the heart, should be affectingly represented, where human happiness is the subject of investigation. To omit these particulars, is to betray palpable ignorance, or something worse. Yet Zimmerman, while he has recommended employment for the solitary hour, while he has suggested themes of meditation, has completely thrown Christianity into the shade; the Redeemer is forgotten ; his name occurs but once, and then accidentally.
The volume before us is as destitute of sound philosophy as of religion; its principles are superficial, and the virtue which it inculcates, is wild and romantic. Those who read it with approbation, and adopt it as a favourite, will soon imbibe a şickly delicacy of miud, equally unfriendly to intellectual pursuits, and to active virtues. Solitude is only desirable, as it is employed in fitting us to discharge the important obligations of social life, and as it tends to the formation of our religious character: and this beneficial solitude may be enjoyed not only in the “ wide waste,” but in the “ city full.” He, however, who follows Zimmerman, will soon become a visionary and a
Bayfield's Gleanings from Zimmerman's Solitude. 1039 recluse. Au extravagant imagination will usurp over his debilie tated understanding, and impose upon it a whining sensibility as a substitute for piety and virtue. Our readers will certainly melt into tears, or burst into a laugi, in whining out the following most pathetically nonsensical sentence:
Hoy good, how affectionate does the heart become, on the border of a clear spring, or under the shade of a branching pine ! - Page 134.
The Gleanings of Mrs. Bayfield from “ her favourite Zim: merman’ was not a difficult undertaking; the execution there! fore merits little praise. A story of the most useful tendency in the whole volume, she has indeed omitted; while many paragraphs are injudiciously retained. In one instance, she has altered a sentence for the worse, which, in its original form, conveyed a sentiment of dangerous import; this was certainly very proper, if she saw any strong objection against suppressing it entirely.
The Ode on Retirement contains some good remarks ; it is very like a large quantity of poetry that we have had the ill luck to peruse, both in manuscript and print : we could suggest some improvements in point of grammar. The Dedication is fulsome; the Preface fashionably pretty. The Notes at the end are of a piece with the book : the 'reader will enjoy the following specimen. Zimmerman, having men tioned, in praise of solitude, that it renews the fire of love, thus expatiates :
“ The whole course of youthful feeling again beams forth ; and the mind--precious recollection !--fondly retracing the first affection of the heart, fills the bosom with an indelible sense of those high ecstacies, which a connoisseur has said, proclaim for the first time, that happy discovery, that fortunate moment, when two lovers first perceive their niutual fondness (9),' p. 157.
One fool, says the proverb, makes many.--Here follows Mrs. E. G. Bayfield with her note :
(9) 'Ah happy, thrice happy moments! why fleet ye so fast? Why not continue that dear illusive charm, which delights, exalts, and harmonizes the soul ! &c. &c.' P. 193.
This we take to be a public advertisement, that Mrs. E. G. Bayfield has been in love, and would like to be again. Indeed Mrs. E. G. Bayfield is the most prominent object in this book. The Notes, the Preface, the Dedication, the Poem, the Titlepage, and the Cover, are all decorated with that delightful name, in capital letters. It stares pertinaciously in our faces, throw the book away how we will.
Art. XIV. Memorabilia of the City of Perth : with the Rev. Alexander
Duff's (late of Tibbermuir) traditional Account, in the town of Perth, of the death of John Earl of Gowrie, and his Brother, Mr. Alexander Ruthven, in 1600. 8vo. pp. 386. Price 10s. * Morrison, Perth ; Manners and Miller, Edinburgh ; Ostell, London, 1806.
was formerly the capital of the Scottish kingdom, , and still asserts its dignity as the second city in North Britain, notwithstanding the claims of Glasgow to that distinction in the convention of Burghs. It also boasts of considerable antiquity, of a favourable situation, of the polished manners of its inhabitants; and, if in commerce it does not equal its rival, the interesting events of which it has been the scene, entitle it to attention, and justify the curiosity of the inquisitive concerning it.
We are rather surprized that a topographical account of a city so respectable, should not have appeared before. The notes added by Mr. Cant, to The Muse's Threnodie of Adamson, the last edition of which was published in 1770, could not, with propriety, be considered as a History of Perth; nevertheless, they were distinguished by that appellation, because no other work could more justly claim it. Those notes, in fact, bave furnished the most interesting part of the volume before us.
After describing the city and suburbs of Perth in a distinct and satisfactory manner, the author directs the visitor to some remarkable scenes in the vicinity : such as the Lin of Campsie, where the river Tay rushes through an aperture only ten feet jn width; and Birnam hill, where Birnam wood was.
The second division of this work comprizes the historical Memorabilia ; and traces the origin of the town, and of its name, furnishes a list of Councils held here, of the Provosts, Bailies, and Deans of Guild, since 1465, and notices of various local events. The extract from an old register, record. ing the reception Charles I. at Perth, is curious and amusing. Much to the credit of bis politeness, we are assured, that be ing welcomed, “ be delivery of an speache mounting to his praize, &c. liis Majestie stayit upon horsebacke and heard the saineyn patientlie.” p. 162.
In p. 171, is recorded a narrow' escape of Cromwell, who after the capitulation of Perth, accepted an invitation to dine in the house of John Davidson, a bold and enterprising gentle. man, who by an imposing appearance, had induced the English general to offer honourable terms to the town.
66 Immediately after Cromwell's departure from this house, the sids wall fell down, where he had sat during dinner."
The events of later times are treated with a tender hand; and as we wish that all feuds and animosities, whether national or personal, civil or religious, should be “ buried deep under the roots of the great tree of peace,”
we shall not censure this conciliatory disposition, when it does not severely affect historical veracity.
As to the traditional account of the death of Earl Gowrie, Which occupies twenty eight pages, we incline to think, that great obscurity continues to envelope that affair. That King James was capable of such a murder, we are perfectly satisfied; and that he might, in this instance, have plotted against a noblemany, whose power and wealth he beheld with a jealous eye, we can easily believe: but, the evidence certainly is not so clear and complete as to justify an unqualified verdict; and happily we are not a jury, bound to deliver it before we dine. We are gratified, however, with the preserva tion of this curious piece of history; and wish that even tra. dition should not be neglected, in cases of extreme obscurity, on which information of every kind may be aseful.
The work concludes with the charters which secure che privileges of Perth, a list of the subscribers to the erection of the seminaries, another of the rectors of the grammar schools, and an account of the academy, &c.
It will appear from our report, that this volume may afford both information and amusement to those whom it concerus ; nevertheless a pocket size would have suited it much better, as well from the amount of its real importance, as from its design to accompany the traveller.
A neat plan of the town is prefixed; but the compass which should denote the cardinal points is omitted. A view of the bridge, and another of St. John's church, are well enough. The vignette of Gowrie house is injudiciously broken.
Art. XV. The continual superintending Agency of God, a Source of Conso
lation in Times of public and private Calamity. A Discourse delivered to the united Congregations of Protestant Dissenters in Exeter, Nov. 2. 1806. By Lant Carpenter. pp. 21. Price 1s. Longman and Co. 1806.
THE character of this discoure is singularly placid and gen
tle; it is evidently the production of an elegant and cultivated mind, and it manifests a sweetness and tranquillity of disposition in the author, which are highly amiable. It would be unreasonable to expect, in the same person, an extraordinary, reach of thought, a brilliancy of imagination, or a vigorous and energetic style of composition. But the diction is selectand grace. ful, and the periods smooth, though too often smart and elaborate. Some incorrect or inelegant expressions, it is probable the author would have altered, if he had possessed the requisite leisure. The following phrase is certainly among the number; “ the prospect, if not gloomy, is at least obscured by the thickest darkness." This oversight, we imagine, arose from using the first of these similar expressions in a metaphorical, and the second in a literal sense; as the author's meaning is evidently, that the future, if not discouraging, is at least uncertain. We consider the practice of omitting conjunctiye particles, and other inconsiderable words, in favour of a sententious neatness, as a failing against which Mt. C. should be vigilant ;“ where (is) the proof” p. 11, is a specimen of this nature.
It would be well if Mr. C.'s discourses were chargeable with no other than literary faults. But the very principle which it aims to establish must appear questionable to most readers, and to many utterly groundless. The sovereign superintendance of God may well be a source of consolation to those for whose benefit it is exerted, but certainly to none besides. That happiness, with regard to the universal system of animated being, will eventually preponderate, to an inconceivable de. gree, neither scripture nor reason warrant us to doubt. That happiness, also, with regard to a class of individuals, will eventually preponderate, we have every reason to admit; the Scriptures expressly define this class to be those “ who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and are the called according to luis purpose.' Now if an individual has any reason to believe that he is the universe at large, or that he is included among those individuals, who will enjoy ultimate blessedness, the continual superintending agency of God may indeed be a source of the most sublime and unfailing consolation. But that every individual will be ultimately happy, is a notion entirely at variance with the tenor and declarations of Divine Revelation, subversive of moral distinctions and motives, and among the most feeble, as well as the most false, foundations of hope and tranquillity. Yet this is what Mr. C. must mean, if any thing is nieant, in his vague and superficial reflections.
It must now be needless to inform the reader that Mr. Carpenter's discourse is a lecture on philosophical optimism; he never could intend it as a sermon to Christians on the revealed trnths of the Gospel. The name of the Lord of Glury, the Prince of Peace, the First and the Last, by whom, and for whom are all things,' occurs but once within these pages; and then in a manner the most negligent and incidental; while any reference to his mission,' even as a teacher sent from God,' is studiously avoided. We perceive scarcely one sentiment, which miglit not have been uttered, and which, in substance, has not been uttered, by philosophers and moralists, without any assistance