Графични страници
PDF файл

fact is, Johnson had taste enough to relish Addis n, though he did not copy him. It may be true, that Johnson took an early tincture from the writers of the last century, particularly from Sir Thomas Browne. Hence the peculiarities of his style, new combinations, sentences of an unusual form, and words derived from the learned languages. He did not remember the observation of Dryden: "If too many foreign words art soured in upon us, it looks as if they were designed, not to ajjijl the natives, but to conquer them," It is remarkable that the life of Savage is written with ease. The pomp of diction was assumed in the Rambler, and seems to be discarded by Johnson in his latter productions. Sir John most probably acquired his notions of language at his master's desk: he admired the phraseology of deeds and parchments, whereof, to speak in his own manner, he read so much, that in consequence thereof, he has been chiefly conversant therein; and by the help of the parchments aforesaid, he has not much improved thereby, but has entirely missed the elegance above mentioned, and uses words, that in them we sometimes meet with, and, being bred an attorney, he caught the language of of the said trade, whereof he retains so much, that he Is now rendered an incompetent critic thereby, and in consequence thereof.

We must now consider Sir John in the office of Editor. We (hall pass by the absurdity of placing first, that which was written last. The lives of the poets ought to have closed the volumes. It is more material to observe, that it is the duty of an editor to know, with precision, the works of his author. In this the Knight has failed egregiously. We shall give a few instances. In the 1 ith vol. we are prtscnted with, The apotheosis of Milton. He who reads the piece, will see, in the diction and sentimmt, not one feature of Johnson; the truth is, it was written by Guthrit, and was seen in manuscript by an excellent person now living, and perhaps bv others of that writer's acquaintance. The verse." to Mrs. Montague are well known to be the production of Mr. Jerningham. In the 9th volume we have the Preface to Shjkeipeare, but without the concluding sentence. The author's words were these: ,l Of what has been performed in thisfrevifal, an account is given in the following pages by Mr. Steevens, who might have ipoken both of his owti diligence and sagacity in terms of greater self-approbation, without deviating from modesty or truth." Why is this paragraph omitted by the editor? Since Mr. Steevens deserved this praise at the hands of Dr. 'Johnson, neither the spleen nor the covered malice of the editor should with-hold it from him. Sir John pretends that he printed from the edition of 1765. Why did he so? It was his duty to give every thing in the form it received from the finishing hand of the writer. Unluckily for the

F 3 Knight, Knight, it appears to a demonstration that the minute corrections and alterations, which appear in Johnson's last edition, and wee not in that of 1765, are all reprinted in the volume before us. The last edition was, therefore, followed by Sir John: were he to be tried at Hichs's Hall, he would be found guilty of clipping. If he is sore from wounds given to him by Mr. Steevens, Johnson ought not to be mutilated, to gratify the resentment of the editor.

There remains another blunder worthy of notice. In Jhnfon's Works, vol. 10th, we have a review of a philosophical enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful. This was not written by Johnson. Whoever peruses it will clearly fee that it neither has Johnson's style, nor manner of thinking. It was written by Mr. Murphy, and given, with many other pieces, to the literary magazine, at the time when Johnson was the conductor of that publication, and, through ill health, not always able to compass what was expected of him. We have authority to add, that when Mr. Murphy was lately employed in making a collection of his own works *, the review os the sublime and beautiful was reject-d by him on mature consideration. He did Mr. Burke the justice to read over again that gentleman's elegant tract, and found it to be a work of so much profound thinking, that it ought not to be opposed by the superficial remarks of one, who read with much hurry, and criticised with more. This being the state of the cafe, what the author of the piece thought erroneous, ought not, in justice to so fine a writer as Mr. Burke, to have the sanction of Dr. Johnson's name. .

We have now, not without great drudgery, made our way through the Life of Dr. Johnson, and also through the confused mass of matter, with which it is encumbered. We have often cried out with Dr. Swift, " What shall we say to a book, yuhere the blunders and the malignity call for an answer in every sage, and the duress will not admit of one?" Such is the work of Sir John Hawkins. Like the late Mr. Millar, we have the grace to thank God that we have done with him, and we hope **«ver. JL-zf.

C5> A list of all the pieces contained in Sir John Hawkins's edition of Dr. Johnson's works, with notes and references, &c. will be given in our next Review.

* For an account of which, fee Review, vol. Ixxv. p. 371.


For J U L Y, 1787.

Art. 16. A general Fienu of the Bill presented to Parliament, during
the last SeJJion, for f re-venting the illicit Exportation of Wool and live
Sheep, Sec. &c. Addressed to the Marquis of Lanidown. By the
Chairman of the general Meetings, Mr. John Anstie. 8vo. 2s.
Dilly. 1787.

MR. Anstie writes like a good well meaning-man,—but w« rather doubt how far he is qualified to.enter publicly on the discussion of a question so arduous as the present. We believe that every intelligent person will concur in admitting, that where the temptation to smuggling is great, no laws will prove effectual to prevent it. If this be admitted, would it not (eem that the labour of the general meetings must prove vain, and that the devices they would willingly recommend will be equally futile with those which have been devised by others in the fame walk? If smuggling in this article does prevail (which, from the assertions of this worthy gentleman, we are little inclined to doubt), let the cause of that smuggling be removed, by admitting a well regulated exportation os that article, and it will then stop in course. Of two circumstances this writer seems to be, without reason, afraid, viz. that is exportation were on any terms permitted, the quantity of wool produced in Britain would not be sufficient to employ our own manufacturers, and that if the French could obtain our wool, they would not purchase cloth, &c. of our fabrics.—As to the first, there can be no doubt but the quantity produced would in all cafes, temporary vibrations only excepted, keep pace with the demand. And as to the last, it is equally certain that a manufacture loaded with freight, commission, insurance, and duty on a raw material, can never come into competition, other circumstances being equal, with a home manufacture, where all these are nothing.—The example of Holland with regard to flax proves this to a demonstration.—Though Holland boasts of a linen manufacture, which would cut down that of Britain were it not for the duties on entry, yet she never has been so ill advised as to stop the exportation of flax to Britain, as she finds this constitutes a very valuable branch of trade. The time we hope approaches when things of this nature will be viewed on more liberal principles than heretofore, and when, instead of devising new restraints to cramp industry, and thus necessarily to enhance the price of manufactures, goods of all kinds will be permitted to circulate more freely than hitherto, and trade be allowed lo find out its own natural level.

Though we are not convinced, by the arguments of this writer, of the utility of his labours, or the propriety of the measures he recommends, we heartily concur with him in condemning the very illiberal language of those who have opposed him. Is it not possible for two men, with the best intentions, to fee the fame object under very different points of view ?—Why should they not, therefore, be

F 4 allowed allowed to differ in opinion, without being liable to the imputation ©f bewg knaves, or fraudulent impostors? We are sorry to think that men of such eminent literary characters as some of those who are noticed in this pamphlet, should have so far demeaned themselves as to throw out imputations which only could accord with the character of the turbulent leader of a mob! *ak^ **-

Art. 17. Political Sketches, inscribed to his Excellency John Adams,

Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to the Court of

Great Britain. By a Citizen of the United States, 8vo. zs.

Dil'ly 1787.

The first of these Sketches contains some strictures on the Abbe Mably's Remarks concerning the Government, &c. of the United States*. The Author chiefly confines himself to that part of the Abbe's remarks where the American revolution, her laws, and government, are compared to certain historical events and institutions of the ancients. He maintains, 'that there never was, before the American revolution, an instance of a nation forming its own government, on the original foundations of human rights, revealed by a study of the laws of nature; and creating every civil organ, agreeably to the three acts which constitute just government.' To decide rightly on this matter, the Author ought to have determined what the original foundations of human rights are, and how they might be revealed by a study of the laws of nature. He writes in a lively style, and we wish that his reasoning had been foanded on a firmer base, or, at least, that he had demonstrated his first principles. To fay, that • the governments of America present the Most Finished politicalforms,' page 1. is bold. The assertion ought to have been supported by sufficient proofs and arguments. How many political writers have called the Englijh constitution the most finified?

In the second Sketch, the Author refutes the opinion of Montesquieu, that virtue is the peculiar principle on which the structure of democracy rests. Much strength of reasoning is here displayed, and the result is, ' that liberty, and the completest complication of ia-ws, and the fullest dispersion of luxury through every mein of the body politic, are in all degrees and refpecls compatible with each other.' As facts are always preferred to speculative reasoning, we cannot entirely assent to the foregoing conclusion. What destroyed the Grecian republics? Luxury. What was the overthrow of the Roman commonwealth? Luxury. Examples are numerous; and if luxury was not the immediate or proximate cause of the decline of re- , publics, it must surely be allowed to have been the primary and efficient cause; for if a republic be overturned by the ambition of tyrants, that ambition will be sound to arise originally from luxury, or a desire to gratify the predominant appetites.

. The Author's aim, in the third Sketch, is to shew, that the democracies of America cannot degenerate into aristocracies. Here we have almost a repetition of the arguments used in the foregoing sketch.

* For an account of this work, fee Review, vpl. lxxi. p. 371. and vol. lxxii. p. 146.


[ocr errors]

To vindicate the American democracies from all objection, the tfceory of Montesquieu, wherein a small territory is made an essential property of their forms, is combated and refuted.

In the fifth Sketch, the Author advances several thoughts concerning the balance of power. In America, he fays, the balance of Europe will not apply. What may in future be the cafe we know not; but it is evident that America would not so easily have thrown ess the English yoke, had France been neutral.

Religion forms the subject of the sixth and last of these pieces. The Author here justly censures the American constitutions for tolerating only Christian sects; but he appears, in some degree, to contradict himself, for, in a subsequent page, he acknowledges that the State of Maryland gives liberty to every man to worship God in the manner which he thinks most acceptable to him. Religion, he seems to think, makes no part of the government of a state, and that universal toleration should therefore be allowed.

Though we coincide with this ingenious Writer in most of his Opinions, we must nevertheless observe, that his Sketches seem to be the hasty production of a precipitate pen, 'guided by a hand not yet sufficiently under thecontroul of calm and deep reflection.

Trade and Commerce, &c. Gq— ***'

Arf. 18. A Letter to the Court of Directors of the Society for improving the British Fisheries. With a Han for the Erection of Villages. Humbly submitted to their Consideration. 8vo. Is. Cadeil.


This writer seems well acquainted with the subject, and we hope

his judicious remarks will be duly attended to by the Director?. He condemns the plan for erecting buildings at the expence of the Society, and proposes to let out land on building leases of twentyone years; he chuses this method in preference to that of feuittg (a particular mode of granting leases in perpetuity), because he thinks this would less thwart the prejudices of the inhabitants. We fear, however, that by endeavouring, in this respect, to avoid one inconvenience, he would fall into another. The granting of scut might not perhaps accord entirely with the aristocratic ideas of an Highland laird: but would not the idea of building on the precarious tenure of a short lease be disliked by the people who must form the settlements? We think the Directors of this benevolent Society will find more difficulty in properly applying their funds to the purposes intended than they seem to have been originally aware of; but it is to be hoped, that by a cautious attention to circumstances, and firmness in the execution of the plans they may at last adopt, they will prove more successful than those who have engaged in similar

undertakings, in former times. tjfst - /*»*


Art. iq. Suggestions for rendering the Inclosure of Common Fields and Waste Lands a Source of Population and Riches. By Thomas Stone, Land and Tythe Surveyor, Bedford. 8vo. is. 6d. Robinsons.


A well-meant performance, intended to open the eyes of people

who, incapable of reasoning themselves, are apt to be affected by

« ПредишнаНапред »