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COMMERCIAL REPUTATION OF THE UNITED STATES.
more slowly than in the present Should the merchants of America, in year, 1804. In the southern Ame. general, persist in giving the same rican states, the failure of the crops trouble, as of late, to English mer. has left the planters and merchants chants trusting them, the necessary without means to satisfy the demands consequence must be, that, within a of their creditors of this country. very short time, no American wil One or two honest men among them be able to procure one sixpence have written, that, having no pro. worth of goods to be shipped for him duce, they will even sell off their from London, unless he shall have slaves, and remit the prices, rather previously paid the price. America then suffer their correspondents to will thus be, in effective commercial be reduced by their misfortune to wealth, some millions poorer than it bankruptcy. But, it is not in the is at present. For to the honest, character of many American trade sensible, industrious merchant, and ers to act this fair and honourable especially to every great commerpart. The laws of the American cial nation, credit is more than even states are much too favourable to ready money: it is the very lever of debtors willing to defraud their cre. Archimedes, capable to move the ditors. A man who owes more than world from its foundations. To the he chuses to pay, in America, may man of confusion, to the spendthrift, transfer his property, by a secret to the swindler, it is amply the assignment, to some confidential means of fraud and ruin. We ex. friend, suffer himself to be laid in hort the patriots of America to renprison for debt, then after a few der their bankrupt-laws more rigodays imprisonment swear that he rous, that their public and private has nothing in the world with which credit may become more worthy of to satisfy his creditors, come out of a great commercial nation. prison free from any claims of cre. ditors, resume the property of which he had made a trust-trapfer, and renew his business, a richer and For the Literary Magazine. more flourishing man than before. This laxity and facility of the laws SHAKESPEARE'S SIMILES. of insolvency and bankruptcy in America have proved fatal to the DAINTIES are said to be dainreputation of American commercial ties only when eaten rarely and faith. It is certain, that a very sparingly. Sweets cloy, and good large proportion of the bankruptcies things grow stale, by repetition and in London, are occasioned by disap- excess. Some have maintained that pointments of remittances from these maxims hold good with regard America. An English merchant to intellectual, as well as corporeal known to trade largely to America dainties, but, I suspect, the analogy would, at that moment, be judged is fallacious. The more we banquet to be, even for that reason alone, of upon poetry, painting, and music, very suspicious solvency. It is as the more is our appetite enlarged, tonishing that the legislators of the and our relish improved. The United States should not perceive deeper we go into these pursuits, that it is of the greatest importance the harder does it become to extrito make the commercial credit of cate onrselves from their allure. their country as good as possible ; ments, and transfer our thoughts to and that it is utterly impossible for other objects. any country to be very rich in com. Every enthusiast in either of these mercial credit, unless its laws be arts is able to testify the truth of severe against insolvent debtors, and these remarks; and yet I am conafford the utmost facility to credit- demned either to deny the truth of ors, especially to foreign creditors, them entirely, or to regard myself in the recovery of their debts. as an exception to ordinary rules.
I sometimes think myself as capable and prose, which are deemed to of feeling the pure delights of poetry consist in the arrangement of syliaas any one living. And yet I open bles, in the choice of words, and in a poem not once in three months. the use of figures, are as richly and Books of that kind are always with forcibly illustrated by Shakespeare's in my reach, yet, in moments of composition, as that of ans bard that mental languor and weariness, I sel. has ever existed. He affords numdom think of sipping at the refresh- berless examples of the finest verse, ing and delicious fountains of Milton the most elevated &tule, and the or Shakespeare, of Virgil or Ovid. richest fancy. If we resolve the I light upon them more by accident works of different poets into mere than design, but, having once begun, assortments of poetical furniture, I read with extreme delight. Per- Shakespeare's warehouse will conhaps I am searching in my bookcase tain a greater puinber and variety for some metaphysical or historical of articles, exquisite in kind, and dissertation, and open the unsightly in workmanship, than that of any volume of Dryden or Pope, merely of his brethren. It is true, with all because it cfficiously intrudes itself that is perfect, we shall find, plentiupon my eye; but whatever be my fully mingled, all that is rude and haste, however cold the weather, or low, all that is offensive to morality urgent my occasions elsewhere may and taste; and other warehouses be, my attention is riveted the mo. may boast, that though their stock ment it lights upon the page. The is smaller, and their good things not pleasures I thus experience, dwell quite so good as Shakespeare's, yet strongly on my memory, yet I feel they have none of his worthless no desire to renew the banquet. It trash and abominable filth. is, indeed, renewed, but not till af. This plea will, indeed, avail them ter a long interval, and only, as be- little. Customers will always flock fore, by accident.
to that counter, where the best It was in this manner that I just things are to be had; and as long now opened a volume of Shakeas they have taste and knowledge to speare. I fell into a controversy discriminate between the good and with a friend about the exact cir- bad, the valuable and worthless, it cumstances of Agricola's circumna. is of little consequence to them in vigation of Britain. An appeal what degree the latter may abound, was made to Tacitus, and with dif- provided they are not obliged to ficulty I prevailed upon my friend purchase it, and provided there is to stay, notwithstanding a pressing an equal abundance of the former. engagement elsewhere, till I went up One of the most formal exhibistairs and brought down the book. tions of poetical fancy is the figure I opened the bookcase, and my eye called comparison or simile. Aclighting upon Shakespeare's volume, curately speaking, the reasoner and I just opened it to glance at its con- the poet are chiefly distinguished by dition since my careless cousin L- the aptitude of one to discover dif. had returned it. I lighted on a ferences in objects and ideas, and of scene in Troilus and Cressida, and the other to discover their reseme never shut the book again till I had blances. This circumstance affords finished that play.
foundation to a great many poetical While I hastiiy read, I yet had figures, the most obvious and regu. time for many reflections on the lar of which the critics denominate scene before me. Shakespeare, simile. The ancient poets abound thought I, is certainly a poet. A in this figure. Homer and Virgil dramatic poet is one that faithfully are for ever comparing the exploits pourtrays characters and senti- of their heroes to the exploits of ments, but Shakespeare is likewise bulls and tygers, or to some natural a poet in another sense. The ordi. appearance, thunder or a whirl. nary distinctions between poetry wind, and, after their example, mo.
dern poets think it indispensably The energy of these similes is incumbent on them now and then equalled by the elegance of the to rouse the flagging attention by numbers and expression, a formal As when, &c.
Again, in describing his efforts to In this, as in all other depart. disguise his sighs under a smile, ments of poetry, Shakespeare is unrivalled. No particular excites I have, as when the sun doth light a storm, the reader's admiration in a higher Buried this sigh in wrinkle of a smile. degree than the number, variety, and marvellous felicity of his simi. This passage, however beautiful, les. No where is his creative pow. affords a striking instance of the er more conspicuous; for he fre. kind of error into which the poet so quently invents the object or action frequently falls. The wrinkle is a with which to compare, and by furrow on the cheek, produced by which to enforce, the object or ac- age, though somewhat resembling tion he has previously invented. those furrows which smiles produce, The circle of his knowledge, the and hence introduces confusion and stores by which he is supplied with deformity into this passage. the materials of his similes, has no Speaking of the hand of his misbounds. The mythological system tress, he says, of the ancients appears to have been more familiar to Shakespeare than
To its soft seizure to any of the ancients themselves. The cygnet's down is harsh. and he has drawp from that system more materials of comparison and
Ulysses in speaking of the chain simile than any of them. But the of attention, with which the eloworld of modern arts, sciences, and quence of Nestor bound to his lips manners was likewise open to him, the ears of his auditors, describes it and his imagination was stored with as every thing that could minister to his use in this respect.
Strong as the axle-tree Such, indeed, is his store, that he On which Heaven rides. wantons in his abundance. Seldom or never does he repeat the same
A blush often calls up, among thought; and though the same occasion may occur a thousand times. poets, the idea of the morning ; but his inexhaustible fancy is always
mark the way in which Shakeready with unhackneyed images,
speare has amplified this image, so and of these he is as prodigal as if
as to give it all the grace of novelty, he were called upon to exhaust him
and all the richness of a picture. self at once. This play has, doubtless, much
Modest as morning, when she coldly eyes absurdity and ribaldry in it, but in vain shall we elsewhere look for the
The youthful Phabis.
Thes same abundance of true poetry. Let us take a cursory survey of its simi Nestor, speaking of the ability of les alone, and see how far they Achilles to understand a certain justify the good opinion I have form
message from Hector, says that he ed of them.
would rightly conceive it Troilus, in a fit of despairing love, exclaims,
Were his brain as barren
As banks of Lybia.'
Troilus, charging Helenus with rance;
reasoning himself into cowardice, Less valiant than the virgin in the night; says, that, at the sight of Greciaa And skilless as unpractised infancy. swords, he would set
VOL. III. NO. XIX.
The very wings of Reason to his heels, This catalogue, if confined within And fly like chidden Mercury from yove, the limits of a single play, would be Or like a star disorbed.
too large for my paper; I shall
therefore close with one, than which What more exquisite simile could the whole circle of poetry cannot be employed than that of Pandarus, furnish a more splendid, a more exwho is leading the timid virgin to quisite example. her lover!
Patroclus is persuading his friend
to forget his mistress, and go to war. She fetches her breath as short as a new-ta'en sparrow.
Rouse yourself: and the weak wanton
Cupid Troilus pours out similes, on be. Shall from your neck unloose his amo. ing called upon to pledge his faith:
And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane, As true as steel; as planets to their Be shook to air.
For the Literary Magazine. is thus illustrated :
ON MATHEMATICAL STUDIES.
MATHEMATICIANS, in gene. As air; as water; as wind; as quick- ral, regard every other tract of huening sand;
man pursuit as absolutely, or, at As fox to lamb; as wolf to heifer's least, comparatively, futile and nu
gatory. If it were possible to light Paid to the hind; or step-dame to her son.
upon an impartial person, with un
questionable skill in the objects of Ulysses, in conference with Ach
his animadversion, I would submit illes, speaks in this strain :
the justice of this conclusion to him.
I should even appeal to him whether To have done is to hang quite out of the me
of the zeal of mathematicians arises fashion,
from any other cause than the pleaLike rusty mail in monumental mockery, For honour travels in a starit so nar
sure which the understanding finds
in the exercise of its own powers. row, Where one but goes abreast. Keep
Should he point out the various apthen the path,
plications of which mathematical For emulation hath a thousand sons truths are capable, to the ordinary That one by one pursue: if you give comforts of society, to facilitating way,
the measurement of land, the pasLike to an entered tide, they all rush by, sage of the ocean, the building of And leave you hindermost; and there houses, and the like, I should not you be,
think my question satisfactorily anLike to a gallant horse fallen in first rank, swered: for, admitting the useful. For pavement to the abject near, o'er ness of mathematics to this purpose,
I am far from thinking that mathe. And trampled on.
matical students owe their zeal to Time is like a fashionable host,
the contemplation of this purpose. That faintly shakes by th’ hand the On the contrary, I suspect that the parting guest,
ideas of abstract utility form no part But with his arms outstretched, as he
of their motives, and that their dia. would fly,
grams and symbols would be speediGrasps in the comer: Welcome ever ly abandoned, if they had no other smiles,
recommendation than their usefulAnd Farewell goes out sighing.
The mind is so formed as to crefluence on the fancy, the senses, or ate, if I may so speak, its own rid- the appetites, than any other. Pleadles, and to find the greatest ima- sures of the latter kind are more ginable entertainment in solving intelligible to the bulk of mankind, them. In meditating upon two because all have fancy, senses, and lines, some question occurs as to appetites to be pleased. But those their relative proportions. The of the mathematical student are means of settling these proportions resolvable into those which are conare not obvious: at first sight it nected with the mere exercise of
At length, after much thought, the and deduction. true expedient occurs, and the labo. This view of things has often ocrious enquirer feels the utmost de- curred to me in conversing with light at the discovery.
mathematical enquirers. In conseIf this discovery has been made quence of dealing in things which by some other, his labours are di. exist only in abstraction, the lan. rected to the finding out a different guage of this science is more uninmethod of attaining the same point; telligible than that of any other to and if his endeavours succeed, he is the unlearned apprehension. The rendered happy. If he should dis- terms, indeed, of a geometric de, cover a shorter or more simple me- monstration are less likely to be thod than that of his predecessor, understood by one who is no adept, his exultation is proportionably than a sentence of Greek and Latin greater, and yet the importance is to one not instructed in these lan. which his mind annexes to the pur- guages. In the latter case there suit seems entirely the offspring of are sounds somewhat allied to those his own fancy.
of his own tongue, and the sentence, I have often been surprised at the if a moral or historical one, relates folly and inconsistency of studious to objects with which he is previ, people. With regard to those ob- ously acquainted; but when our jects to which their taste is indif- friend talks about the logarithms of ferent, they are irresistibly prone to negative quantities, the sums of inquestion or deny their utility. If finite series, the calculation of imtheir own pursuit be called into possible quantities, the arithmetic question, they think it necessary to of infinities, and the like, he is sure show some common domestic or of being utterly impenetrable to all economic purpose to which it may but those versed in the same science. be made subservient. They, mean I often burst upon the retirements while, entirely forget that this pure of a friend who is a votary of D’A. pose formed no part of their motive lembert and Euler. I find him ge. in chusing this pursuit, and that nerally wrapt in deepest meditation their adversary labours at his tools over a paper, with cycle and cpicy. by virtue of exactly the same stimu- cle scribbled o'er, of which I can lus, and in pursuit of exactly the equally make nothing, whether I same end as themselves. Mere ac- examine the paper for myself, or cident has fixed their curiosity on listen to the explanations which he different objects, and the grand se- always gives me with alacrity. I cret of our pleasure is in finding found him, the other day, wiping what we are seeking, without any his brows, and drinking a glass of reasoning as to further consequen- water, as after some fatiguing pil. ces.
grimage. Enquiring from what This is true of all pursuits, but journey he had just returned, he seems particularly evident with told me how many days he had been respect to mathematics. The plea- employed, with no intervals but sure which this science affords those of a few minutes at meals, seems more purely rational, more and a few hours in bed, in demonintellectual, more divested of all in- strating a certain theorem in spheric