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tended critique on the poems. Although the admiration of Latin poetry has considérably abated, since the living languages have been cultivated with so much success, we are persuaded, from the specimens of criticism which Mr. I. has introduced, that, by extending this part of his performance, he would have provided a rich fund of elegant entertainment for many of his readers. And such is the varied excellence of Buchanan's compositions, that they afford a very wide scope for the exercise of critical taste and acuteness. We cannot indeed go to the same length with him, and many other admirers of the Scotish poet, in exalting him above the best writers of antiquity. Truly sensible as we are of the beauties to be found in the Latin compositions of Buchanan, and some other modern writers, and great as the delight has been, which a perusal of their works has afforded us; we must confess that it appears a kind of solecism to place them higher than the ancient writers in the scale of excellence. A modern Latin poem can only be pronounced beautiful, in proportion as it resembles the compositions of the Roman writers, which, in this case, are the only standard of judgement. To say that a modern Latin Poem is more excellent than any ancient one, implies a departure, in some degree, of the former from the latter; and departure, according to this common rule of decision, is defect. Besides, it must be obvious to all who consider the nature of poetical excellence, and the general principles of language, that many fine and delicate touches in the compositions of the ancient writers, must be concealed from us. We see perhaps only half their beauty. It must be granted that the discovered excellencies will admit of imitation, and we are of opinion that the masterly copies of Buchanan are equally delightful to modern readers with the great originals. He has carried the imitation of the ancient poets to as high a point of excellence as it will go. But as it must be presumed that there are beauties in their productions which cannot now be perceived, much less imitated, we should be careful how we draw comparisons to their disparagement.
Mr. Irving, in his zeal to rescue the name of Buchanan from the reproaches with which a spirit of party has aspersed it, goes into the opposite extreme, and attempts to excuse what is wholly unjustifiable. Among Buchanan's poems are some which are å standing disgrace to his character. Their indecency is shocking, and highly dangerous to the imaginations of youth. After having been delighted with strains, which for their sublimity, purity, and devotion, might have been struck from the harp of a celestial spirit, we may open upon lines which the combined influence of Priapus and the Bona Dea could not have outstripped in lascivious and disgusting description. Buchanan confessed, in the latter part of his life, when he was called upon to publish his former compositions, that he felt shame and sorrow for this abuse of his poetical genius: but with a facility which renders his contrition very ambiguous, he yielded to the solicitations of his friends and sent them into the world. His biographer, instead of defending this part of his character, ought to have stigmatized it with the severest reprobation ; and we will hope, from the closing scenes of his life, that the Poet truly lamented what his panegyrist has not scrupled to defend.
A share of the praise which is due to the reformers, is also awarded to Buchanan, in consequence of the biting satires which he composed on the religious houses. There can be no doubt that this powerful weapon, directed by the hand of the Scotish poet against so vulnerable a part of the Papal Hierarchy, must have inflicted a deep wound; but his satires are interlarded with so many indecent passages, that the good which he effected in one way was counterbalanced by the ill which he produced in another. We feel no delight in violating the sanctuary of the revered dead, but we must say, that the “ Franciscanus," and the “ Fratres Fraterrimi," appear to have been composed chiefly for the purpose of gratifying private resentment, or establishing his reputation as a satirist.
We also think, notwithstanding the palliation which these Memoirs adduce, that the memory of Buchanan suffers from the extravagant praises · which he bestowed on characters, , whose conduct has rendered them deservedly execrable in the eyes of posterity. What will our readers think of the following panegyric addressed to Henry VIII. during the poet's short stay in England ?
. Scilicet in tanto sortis splendore secundæ
Sponte tua, salya quoad majestate liceret.' It would be unjust perhaps to deny Mr. Irving a better opportunity of displaying the quality of his mind and his style, than we have yet given him ; we shall therefore insert the following paragraphs. *
, Buchanan maintains that all power is derived from the people ; that it is more safe to entrust our liberties to the definite protection of the laws, than to the precarious discretion of the king ; that the king is bound by those conditions under which the supreme power was originally committed to his hands ; that it is lawful to resist, and even to punish tyrants. Those who maintain the contrary, must have recourse to the absurd and exploded doctrine of divine and indeteasible right. When lie speaks of the people as opposed to the king, he evidently includes every individual of the nation except one. And is a noble race of intelligent beings to be assimilated to a tract of land, or to a litter of pigs ? to be considered, absolutely and unconditionally, as the lawful patrimony of a family which either merit, accident, or crime, may originally have elevated to the summit of power? What is termed loyalty, may, according to the circumstances of the case, be either a virtue or a vice. The doctrine of punishing tyrants in their persons, either by a private arm, or by the public forms of law, is indeed of a delicate and dangerous nature ; and it may be considered as amply sufficient, to ascertain the previous right of forcible. resistance. But that tyrants ought to be punished, is an abstract proposition which cannot easily be controverted: for under the word tyranny,. is generally included all that is most odious and intolerable in human delinquency. If mankind be at length roused to the redress of enormous wrongs, the prince who has either committed or sanctioned a habitual violation of the best rights of the people, will seldom fail to meet with his adequate reward ; and in spite of all the slavish theories of his priests and lawyers, mankind will not long be reasoned out of the strongest and most characteristic feelings of their nature. Divine right and passive obedience were never more strenuously inculcated, than in the reign of Charles the first. That Buchanan endeavoured to undermine the very foundations of monarchical government, is an assertion utterly false : he has indeed affirmed, what every man of common sense must admit, that it is of little importance whether the supreme magistrate be denominated king, duke, emperor, or consul; but with regard to the distinguishing qualities of a good king, no writer has expressed himself with higher enthusiasm. His general principles seem to be incontrovertible; though it may certainly be admitted that some of his illustrations are not introduced with sufficient caution. That his chief scope was to prepare the nation for receiving Murray as their lawful sovereign, is another calumny which party zeal has frequently propagated; it is a calumny totally un. supported by any degree of probable evidence that could satisfy an unprejudiced mind. Buchanan, like other men who have attained to superlative distinction, had his personal and political enemies; and for every action of his life the worst motives have too often been assiyned. He was animated with an ardent and disinterested love of mankind; and it was upon the most enlarged principles that he undertook to instruct them in their dearest rights. The best commentary on his immortal work is the memorable revolution of 1688
• An ardent love of freedom was long a characteristic of the Scotish nation. Mair and Boyce had, in their historical productions, vindicated with becoming zeal the unalienable rights of the people ; but to Buchanan must unquestionably be awarded the high praise of having been the earliest writer who established political science on its genuine basis. The
southern part of this island bad likewise produced political speculators; Sir Jolin Fortescue had endeavoured to trace the line of distinction be. tween an absolute and a limited monarchy; and Sir Thomas More had en. grafted his novel theories on the description of an imaginary commonwealth. More afterwards forgot the liberal speculations of his youth: in his Utopia, he inculcates the doctrine of religious toleration, and yet he lived to assume the odious character of a persecutor. That he was himself a victim of divine retribution, it would be indecent to affirm: but it is a historical fact, that he was wantonly sacrificed by the execrable tyrant whom he had served with too much zeal. On the solid foundation which had been laid by Buchanan, a spacious edifice was afterwards reared by Milton, Sidney, and Locke; names which every enlightened Briton will always recollect with peculiar veneration. That two of them were re. pablicans, need not alarm the most zealous friends of a legitimate monarchy: if the same individuals had flourished at a more recent period, they would undoubtedly have entertained different sentiments. The principles which prompted stern resistance to the wide encroachments of the house of Stewart, are perfectly compatible with those which recommend a cordial attachment to the house of Hanover.' pp. 259-263.
We were sorry to find that Mr. Irving, notwithstanding the general merit of his style, has in some instances entirely mistaken the meaning of as plain words as any which our language supplies. In one place, he speaks of the Friars of the Portuguese monastery, in which Buchanan was confined, under the respectful appellation of the “ good monks ;" where the context seems to require a very different epithet, In another part of his work, he terms the Franciscan Friars against whom Buchanan's satires were directed, 6 pious Father's," and at the same time he allows that they deserved the reproaches which were poured upon them. This is a flat contradiction. So that he must probably mean to convey the idea of " impious fathers.” In a note where he wishes, as in fifty other places, to expose the stupidity of Mr. George Chalmers, he speaks of him as an “ acute writer,” by whrch expression he acknowledges him to be what he endeavours to prove he is not. Mr. 1. may certainly shelter himself under the authority of Mr. Gibbon, who, with all his elaborateness of style, is frequently guilty of the same misapplication of words ; but no consecrated name shall induce us to approve so daring a violation of language, and we point it out as an offensive blemish in the work.
Art. II. Sermon's on Various Subjects. By William Craig, D.D. late Minister of St. Andrew's Church, Glasgow. A New Edition, with Additional Sermons and a Life of the Author. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. xxxii. 391, 447. Price 15s. bds. · Constable and Co, Edinburgh; Murray,
1808. FROM a thirty years exile iņ Cimmerian obscurity, the sere
mons of Dr. Craig are at length recalled into public no
lised since the could be prohilosophy as from
tice. Whether they are dragged ont as bats from their state of torpor, to wink and scream at the light which they cannot bear, or evoked as sufferers by literary ostracism, to receive from the justice of one age that applause which the jealousy of another had denied them, will be evident in the progress of our reriew. The departure of the author to appear before a higher tribunal, affords us an opportunity of delivering an impartial verdict, without fear of injuring liis peace while blowing on his reputation. As this new edition of his sermons contains several that had not before been published, amounting to about a third of the whole, and is prefaced with a newly written life of the author we may trat it as a maiden work. · Dr. William Craig, we are informed, was the son of a re. spectable merchant in Glasgow, where he was born in the year 1709. At College he early distinguished himself by his profi. ciency in classical learning, in which he received great assistance from his kinsman the Rev. Mr. Clerke, who was the first clergyman in the west of Scotland, who began to study and preach and write in a manner different froin that usually practised since the reformation, and who thought the interests of true religion could be promoted by such elegance of coinposition and knowledge of philosophy as might be derived from ancient authors ;” pursuing the object from which Mr. Clerke was called by a premature death, Dr. C, applied himself to moral philosophy, assisted by the celebrated professor Hutcheson. When he was presented to the living of Cambusnethan, in 1737, " as bis sermons inculcated active virtue more frequently and earnestly than his audience, who would have been better pleased with obscure and mystical theology, thought necessary; he encountered considerable opposition." After the building of St. Andrew's Church, Glasgow, one of the most elegant places of worship in Scotland, he was removed thither. It is confessed that his audience was at no time so numerous, as those who valued good composition and liberality of sentiment apprehended he deserved. As his church was not much frequented by the multitude, so neither was it very generally resorted to by the higher ranks. Dr. C. joined with another of his own complexion in an ecclesiastical electioneering trick, to exclude from the divinity chair, at Glas. gow, Mr. M Laurin, brother of the celebrated mathematician, who in every respect outweighed them both. At the close of life, declining in health, “his mind was overwhelmed with me. lancholy. He seemed to have lost the power of enjoying happiness; no amusement could relieve his depression: he la mented that he was become useless, and that he felt not only his body, but the faculties of his mind impaired." He died in the 57th year of his age.