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Serait-ce sans effort les Persans subjugués,
These verses have all the vigour and dignity that belong to this species of poetry. I remember to have seen four others cited, which are perhaps more brilliant, but which do not appear to be in so pure a style.
Oui, je consens qu'au ciel ou éleve Alexandre;
I do not doubt that these verses were applauded by the generality; but they must have received less praise from con
noisseurs. They possess emphasis and affection, but want true grandeur. To elevate Alexander to the skies in order to make him descend, has an air of boasting which shows a juvenile pen. In the tragic style there should be nothing that bears the least appearance of labour. Such are the verses which are made at twenty, but destroyed at thirty; and after Andromache, Racine never made any in this way. At present when we have wandered so far, in general, from the true principles of style, many may be surprised at this opinion of verses, of which a crowd of writers would be proud; but it is by reading the models which Racine has left us that we learn to be so severe in our judgment.
The first of these was Andromache. Racine, not contented with what he had done—for genius always estimates what it has accomplished by what it may acquire,—and not finding in these productions those feelings which animated his mind, abandoned himself to reflection. He saw that political conversations did not compose tragedy. Taught by his own sensations, he saw that it was necessary to dive into the human heart; and in this he beheld the true nature of tragedy. He conceived that the great desire which attracted spectators to the theatre, the greatest pleasure which they experienced, consisted in viewing themselves as it were in a mirror: that if we wish to be elevated, we are still more desirous of being courted, perhaps because we are more certain of our weakness than our virtue: that admiration alone is too transient and volatile to support an entire piece: that the soft tears which it sometimes draws are soon dried, whereas pity penetrates to the heart with an emotion which is continually increasing and which the heart loves to cherish; and she produces delicious tears, which the tragic poet can elicit at will when he has once discovered the source. These ideas were rays of light, to a genius so apt and fertile, which, in examining itself discovered all the movements of our passions, the secrets of all our thoughts. With what rapidity does a single luminous principle, embraced hy genius, carry us on to perfection!
(To be continned.
CRITICISM.-Diary of a Tour in North Wales, in the year 1774. To which
is added an Essay on the Corn Laws, by Samuel Johnson, L. L. D. Philadelphia, H. Hall, 1817. pp. 148. 62 1-2 cents.
The Philadelphia edition is embellished, like the London copy, with an elegant fac simile of Dr. Johnson's writing, which, from comparison with an original letter, we believe to be faithfully executed. Whatever may be said of the practice of exposing private papers by the publication of MSS. will not apply to this second edition of a book in which though there is little to praise, there is nothing to condemn. Some over-nice critics, who have thumbed every page of Bozzy and Piozzy, where the “ obscurity of a learned language" has not been employed, complain that certain passages in which the infirmities of the Doctor are noted, have not been rejected; but we can find similar occasion for this and every other objection that we have heard to the contents of this book, in others that were published with the implied permission of Johnson himself. On one occasion he said he should “ like to see all that Ogden had written;" and the American publisher has adopted the expression as a motto to this compilation. There are many who will apply this language, with enthusiasın to Johnson, in our country; and they will therefore be gratified with this edition. But mere curiosity should not be exposed to a heavy tax, to the injury of the permanent interests of literature; and therefore the itinerary and the garrulous index, and the widely-spreading margin of the English work, have been rejected in the American copy.
This is not all: if the Tour contribute no more to the stock of our literature, than the means of satisfying an innocent curiosity, the appendix has claims of a higher order. This is a paper, as Johnson once observed, containing salt which will make the book keep. It is entitled, “ Considerations on the Corn-Laws." The Edinburgh Reviewers say that it is in the very best style of that great master of reason. It was written,” they continue, “ so early as 1766; and at a period when subjects of this kind were but imperfectly understood, even by those who devoted themselves to their study. It is truly admirable to sce with what vigorous alacrity his powerful mind could apply itself to an investigation so foreign from his habitual ocupations.
We do not know that a more sound and enlightened argument, in favour of the bounty on exportation, could be collected from all that has been since published on the subject; and convinced, as we ourselves are, of the radical insufficiency of that argument, it is impossible not to be delighted with the clearness and force of the statement. There are few of his smaller productions that show the great range of Johnson's capacity in a more striking light than this short essay."
We shall now proceed to place before the reader an abridgment of what appears on the subjeet of the Tour in the Critical Review.
This posthumous work of Dr. Johnson brings to our recollection the sentiment of Shenstone.
Though weeping virgins haunt his favoured urn,
Renew their chaplets and repeat their sighs,
Elegy on Posthumous Reputation. Whatever may be the care with which an author may preserve his own repute by seasonable publication, if a scrap or a fragment be left unedited after his death, to which his name can give currency, there will ever be an attentive friend at hand, who, from some motive or other, will disappoint his solicitude, and expose him, in all his nakedness and infirmity, to the compassion or contempt of mankind.
It is not our disposition to adopt the sickly cant of "De more tuis nil nisi bonum;' we would rather resort to the ancient Egyptian policy of submitting the actions of the dead to the tribunal of the living; but we would not have every recess of learned privacy emptied of its contents to render a man the medium of his own degradation, when he is no longer able to defend himself from the venom of the shafts of those who have long yielded to the vigour of his bow. We have however no anxiety on this occasion for the reputation of the venerable tourist; it is neither to be injured by malicious criticism or officious friendship, and, to employ his own metaphor, its blaze will neither be blown out nor die in the socket, and he will be among the very few perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed.'
We do not wish hastily to attribute to Mr. Duppa, the editor of this little volume, any intention to defame Dr. Johnson; we know that different opinions are entertained on the subject to which we are adverting; and if he think it decent or proper to give this alternation of fatigue and repose, sickness and health, exhaustion and repletion, to the world, we have little objection,
but we have some dislike that it should be called a journey into North Wales, and converted into a sort of counterpart to the • Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland,' so much and so justly admired for the vivacity of the descriptions and the philosophical views of society it presents.
We are the more ready to excuse Mr. Duppa, because he really appears to be sensible of the merits of Dr. Johnson, and so much so, that he anticipates the circulation of " more last words,” from such high authority, without any intrinsic worth to recommend this literary codicil to public notice. He would have us except, however, the comparison of Hawkestone and Ilam, in which, for the first time, he supposes the doctor to have shown the interest he felt in the beauties of nature. Whether the editor seriously imagined, that from these few sentences preserved, he had discovered a new trait in the expressive mind of his author, or whether the bare pretence to this new feature is to apologize for the feeble portrait he has now unexpectedly produced, thirty years after the decease of the original, we do not pretend to determine; but of this we are assured that no other man who reads the account will be at all inclined to differ from his former opinion of Johnson, that acute and active as his sensibility was to moral beauty, to natural beauty as displayed in the magnificent scenery of this gay and resplendent globe, he was as obtuse and tardy in his feelings as it was possible for any one to be under the subsisting harmony between moral and natural objects.
Those who follow us in our extracts, and recollect the ardour and enthusiasm which were awakened by the same scenes in other travellers, will have no doubt of the incorrectness of the conclusion of Mr. Duppa; but the author himself has disposed of it in a line, · We then went to see a cascade,' says the doctor; • I trudged unwillingly, and was not sorry to find it dry.' (p. 77.) The state of this cascade was that of the author; he was arid to such scenes, although he could overflow in the contemplation of the sublime operations of Providence in the intellectual world.
The tour is not calculated to display the magnificent scenery he visited, but the operations of a great and powerful mind in its meanest attire-in its night-gown and slippers, if we may so express ourselves,—when it was consulting only its own ease and indulgence, without an observing eye, or a listening ear, like the editor's, to expose its eccentricities and abberrations.
Until we come to the description of Dovedale, in the 18th page, we have nothing but remarks in the shortest form of an itinerary journal, including names of places and persons with distances and accommodations. He then proceeds:
“ At Dovedale, with Mr. Langley and Mr. Flint. It is a place that deserves a visit; but did not answer my expectation. The river is small; the rocks are grand. Reynard's Hall is a cave very high in the rock; it goes backward several yards, perhaps eight. To the left is a small opening, through which I crept, and found another cavern, perhaps four yards