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it to be our duty, on occasions like the present; where a pompous correctness is affected, but where real inaccuracy is displayed, even to descend to minuteness of criticism; and, by pointing out, from time to time, fuch glaring blemishes in style, usefully to operate on the public taite. Of the talents, and particularly of the industry of the present biographer, we have no mean opinion (although a little more mean, perhaps, than is entertained by that biographer himself); and we therefore think, that he may be inclined to take what we have said in good part. In regard to imitations of the style of Johnson, we willingly hope that the period is now at hand, when they will probably be managed with greater taste and discrimination, than usually have been displayed. What we can always tolerate, and oftentimes admire, in so original a writer, will fit at best but ungracefully on most of his imitators : and something more is requisite, than the mere aflumption of the lion's skin, in order to command that deference and respect, which are rightfully bestowed on the monarch of the forest. In looking up with veneration, as we most sincerely do, to a mar, who has so eminently added to the copiousness, as well as the accuracy of the English tongue, let us imitate his vigour, while we avoid his pedantry; and rejecting the superfinous decorations with which his nervous eloquence is sometimes encumbered, strive to .emulate 'che variety, and catch the music of his periods.
In the third, and last place, we feel it incumbent on us to declare, that pleased, as we are, to see so elegánt, and, in many respects, so useful an edition, as has now appeared, of Ramsay's works, we utterly condemn the injudicious reprinting of several pieces, which, as has been said above, we had hoped were long since configned to merited oblivion. The sentiment held forth by the great satirist of antiquity,
Maxima debetnr puero reverentia ...
Intra quæ puer eft, we must consider as a maxim of high importance as to boys, but, in regard to the young of the other sex, aš still more indispensable. That acute observer clearly faw, and as nobly laboured to stem, the torrent of diffoluteness, which, in his time, was about to overwhelm a great and luxurious people: and we, also, in these days, and in our own sphere, shall ever do what in us lies, to keep pure the sources of moral, as well as political information, or at least to point out, to the young
and unwary of both sexes, where either seem to us to be doubtful or corrupted. The intentions of the present editors, for ought we know, may be pure and upright. We shall not, therefore,
, disgrace them, by claffing their well-meant labours with those of a Cleland or a Lewis, a Godwin or a Volney ; but we shall only ask them, if they have sons, and still more if they have daughters, whether they would be anxious to recommend, to their perusal, this their own edition of a popular poet? What think they, for example No. XXXIII, VOL. VIII.
as a school for delicacy, of the pieces entitled " an Elegy on John Cowper," " Lucky Spence's last Advice;" or“ an Address of Thanks from the Society of Rakes;” not to mention the dull, and fulsome verses to Ramsay, by his friend Josiah Burchet, so needlessly retained in front of the teflimonia? We are aware that these gentlemen will ask us, in their turn, what propriety there would have been, in giving to the world an incomplete edition of their favourite author, because the ear of modesty might perhaps be shocked at a few of his pieces ; but of which the defects or blemishes are so greatly over balanced, by the superior merit of other parts of his writings? We answer, that, on this very account, there is the greater cause to apprehend the mischief: and they themselves must be convinced, that it is by the beauty and reputation alone of the Gentle Shepherd, that such detestable frash could ever have any chance of being buoyed up into rotice. It is true, in editing an antient claslic, the Opera Omnia will by the scholars always be preferred to the Opera purgata ; and for this obvious reason, that after every monument of the classical languages has been carefully preserved, on impartially contemplating them, we have still cause to with for a more ample display of their powers, and a more various illustration of their analogies. But with living languages, and modern authors, the case is widely different. As to Allan Ramsay, in particular, it is notorious, that, unlike too many of our own poets, who have given charms to licentiousness, and united ribaldry with wit, his genius, in such attempts, usually forsakes him; and nearly in proportion as he is coarse or indelicate, he becomes languid, and spiritless, and contemptible. If the editors in question, therefore, by their ill-jud ed industry, have helped to corrupt the morals of their readers, they have certainly not contributed to the fame of the poet.
At the conclusion of the life we are told, that Ramsay, though without learning himself, cultivated the acquaintance of the learned,
and, among others, that of Ruddiman, without doubt one of the I most accomplished scholars of his time. Ruddiman, he says, was
always willing “ to spare, to the needy and helpless, a part of his own stores of classic lore," and usually furnished his friend with Greek and Latin mottos, which the latter prefixed to his different pieces; but these, in the biographer's judgment, being unsuitable to such poems, from such a bard, have bcen excluded from these volumes. “ Scholars," he adds,“ did not want them, and the unlearned wish such obstruc-. tions out of their way.” As we have already differed so widely, in our moral, as well as literary taste, from this Johnsonian writer, it will not seem strange, in regard to our opinions on this point, that there should also be found some dissimilitude. With fubmiflion to him, we confess our partiality to mottos, when well selected : and since he has been otherwise fo fcrupulous in keeping, as he found it, every relique of his author, we must think, that he would have gratified the public, although at the expence of his prejudices, had he as scrupulously preserved the poetry of Ramsay, adorned and recommended by the erudition of Ruddiinan,
Our remarks on this publication have now extended to an unusual length. Should it seem more considerable to any, than was either demanded or deserved by the mere re-appearance of the works of a wellknown writer, we trust that our apology will be found in the inportance of the doctrines we have taken occasion to inculcate. In our next Number, we shall with fincere pleasure, drop the lash of reprehenfion, and introduce, to the notice of our readers, the very masterly effay on the writings of Ramsay, than which, it must be confeffed, we have, of late years, feen nothing more replete with ingenious ctiticism, or more conspicuous for purity of style.
(To be concluded in our next.)
Political Esays on popular Subjects. 8vo.
25. 6d. Chapple. London. 1800. T is not suspected by mankind how much of their infelicity pro
That they are dreadfully deficient in the practice of their duty, is a truth universally acknowledged. But those who, without scruple, affent to this truth, feldom take into the account that an ignorance of duty is one great cause of its violation. then, it will be said, are men in this civilized age 10 uninstructed as not to be acquainted with the obligations, which religion and morality impose upon them, and which are essential to their virtue and their happiness? To this it may be answered that in one branch of those obligations, that which respects their private relations as individuals, education must be unusually deficient, if it do not convey an adequate degree of information, to direct their conduct; though even here it is to be lamented, that little care is taken to render their habits and dispositions conformable with the knowledge, which they are taught to imbibe. But there is another branch of obligations, in which a general ignorance prevails ; we mean that which relates to the civil, or, as they may be termed, the political duties of men; duties which arise out of their characters as members of a state, and as subjects to government. The importance of these duties is not inferior to that of the preceding ones ; their observance is no less positively enjoined by divine as well as by human laws; and their violation is fraught with ftill greater danger and mischief. For as they involve the connection which unites all the members of a state, in proportion as they are disregarded, that connection must be insecure; and the general contempt of them must be subversive of all law and government.
It is alike lamentable and aftonishing that duties fo important, and the violation of which leads to such dreadful consequences, should be so little known. But strange as it may seem, the bulk of mankind are brought up in an almost total ignorance of these duties. To account
fully for fo gross a neglect, would require a more copious discusion than our limits allow us to enter upon ; suffice it to say that the ordinary habits of subordination, co-operating with the authority of government and laws, are sufficient in ordinary times to preserve the general tranquillity; and, therefore, the necessity of inculcating the obligation of duties, the violation of which, however mischievous, can but seldom occur in any alarming extent, is not sufficiently obvious to render such instruction a regular part of education. The consequence is that when those extraordinary periods arrive, in which a wild spirit of licentiousness and turbulence threatens to subvert the very foundations of social order, mankind are totally unprepared for them; and, for want of understanding their true interests, they are easily excited to fanatieisin and violence, and rendered the instruments of their own destruction.
It is not, however, ignorance alone which is the cause of such milfortunes. The mind of man is not calculated to be an entire blank with regard to any matter of universal interest and concern. In the absence of true knowledge, error will certainly usurp her place. And on all subjects of a political nature mankind are, in an extraordinary degree, exposed to error. For such subjects are apt most violently to excite the passions, to produce party contentions and animosities, and to render reafon the flave of prejudice. But a ftill more copious source of error arises from wilful and corrupt perversion. At all times there exiit, in society, a number of factious men, who, to gratify their ambition, are ready to employ any means, however desperate and destructive; means which, if they were to have their full effect, would render that power which they are directed to attain, altogether precarious and insecure. Such men are engaged in a constant struggle with those who hold the reins of government; and, in order to lucceed in the conteft, they neglect nothing to weakeil and overwhelm their antagonists. For this purpose they are rash enough to attack the very foundations of society; they propagate notions which are subverversive of all government; they toast at their clubs, and they proclaim by their harangues, the sovereignty of the people; and they endeavour to obtain the aflistance of the multitude, by teaching them that they are supreme; that they are under no obligation to obey their rulers; that they have a natural and imprescriptible right to cashier their governors, and to change their government at pleasure ; and that their freedom consists in the occasional exercise of such a right. Thus do the inost mischievous errors, by being incessantly repeated, obtain a general currency; and meeting with no resistance from found fundamental principles, they become the established system of a very large portion of mankind.
To counteract the pernicious influence of such errors, which are always dangerous, and which, may be destructive-which are the constant tools of faction, and the most potent instruments of anarchy“. is one of the noblest tasks which can be suggested by the warmth of benevolence, or which can excite the ardour of patriotism. Towards
the accomplishment of that task, we have feldom witnessed so able and judicious an effort as in the work now before us. We feel that we are rendering an important service to society in promoting the general perufal of this tract; and it is the strong sense we entertain of the utility for which it is calculated, that has induced us to be so copious in the remarks, by which we have introduced it to the attention of our readers.
The author has taken the moft effectual mode of combating error, by resorting to first principles. It is useful, and, indeed, neceffary, in order to reclaim mankind, to point out the mischiefs which they have brought upon themselves, by their alienations from the paths of rectitude and wisdom. It is, however, attended with conliderable difficulty to make them discern the connection between cause and effect, particularly when, for that purpose, it is necessary to employ a long chain of deduction. But by a reference to first principles, the evil is attacked at its source; the mind is enabled, with very little exertion, to judge for itself upon matters, which before might seem beyond its comprehension; and it is furnished with a preservative, in future, against fraud and fallacy. It is wonderful, indeed, what advantages may be derived from this mode of ratiocination. For the fundamental principles, which involves the welfare of inankind, are fo fimple as to be intelligible to the most ordinary understanding; each of them is applicable to, and explanatory of, an indefinite, and it might almost be said an infinite number of cases; and they are so obvious as to appear incontrovertible to every mind, which is not under the absolute dominion of prejudice; indeed, the moral sense, which is implanted in the human heart, at once recognizes their authority. The great Author of our being has thus taken care that whatever is essential to our happiness, shall be within our reach. But neglect, presumption, and perverseness often defeat his designs in our favour, and, by facrificing our most valuable privileges, expose us to wretchedness and ruin. The season for cultivating good principles is neglected, and most men arrive at maturity without any knowledge of their political duties ; nay without being aware that they have any such duties to perform. They are thereby exposed to become the dupes of artifice and fophiftry; and false principles, calculated to fatter their vanity, and appearing to consult their happiness, gain ready admission into their minds. Thus the soil which, with proper care, would have produced a rich barvest of nutritious grain, is o errun with rank and noxious weeds. A
little consideration must convince every one that this is the process, by which the social world has been brought to its present state of unexampled calamity and danger, Happily such a state, dreadful and portentous as it is, poffefle one advantage which does not attend a season of tranquillity-it is peculiarly favourable for reflection. The mind, softened by adversity, acquires a more serious cast-it becomes disposed to listen to admonition--it is even open to conviction. At such a time, therefore, the labours of the judicious may be exerted with peculiar advantage, by