« PreviousContinue »
on the judgment of a writer who maintains (p. 104.) that Bonaparte believes in fortune telling? or on the knowlege of one who imagines (p. 441.) that Cayenne is still in possession of the French; and who asserts (p. 80.) that the first of Bonaparte's battles took place at Lodi, a town distant above one hundred miles from the scene of the three battles which formed the commencement of that disastrous, campaign? We must assign to the same class such asser, tions as (p. 416.) that Bonaparte intends to reinstate Gustavus on the throne of Sweden; that he attacked, (p. 383) at the battle of Jena, at the head of 300,0cò men; that the French soldiers wounded in his battles are either murdered or left to perish, and that the only wounded men in France are those who received their wounds before the time of his usurpation; that, in the year 1802, he sent over a Colonel for the purpose of assassinating our gracious sovereign,
Though such is our judgment of the present work, we are aware that it has obtained considerable circulation, and that its contents are agrecable to the heated and irritated minds of the English public. No one can deny that the career of Bonaparte has been horridly debased by crime, nor do otherwise than participate in the virtuous in dignation which that crime excites; nor can it be doubted that many of his satellites have been as obscure in their origin and as vicious in their conduct as he himself: but "the devil may be painted blacker than he is ;" and the laudable feelings of abhorrence may impede the dictates of true judgment. Our ideas of the character and actions of Bonaparte are explained more fully in the XIIth article of this number of our Review; and, on the present occasion, we shall only farther observe that the true way of resisting him is not to feed our imaginations by falsely ascribing to him every species of atrocity, but to watch the course of his policy, to take advantage of the odium excited by his real crimes, and above all to study a preservation of union and exertion among ourselves by avoiding, on our own part, that violent and repulsive conduct which our writers profess so much to detest in him.
Art. 26. An Orthoëpical Analysis of the English Language; or an Essay on the Nature of its simple and combined Sounds; the Manner of their Formation by the Voice-Organs the minute Varieties which constitute a depraved or provincial Pronunciation; and the Inadequacy of attempting to explain them by Means of the English Alphabet. The whole illustrated and exemplified by the Use of a new Orthoëpical Alphabet or Universal Character, which (with a few Additions) furnishes an easy Method of explaining each Diversity of Language and Dialect among civilized Nations; to which is added a minute and copious Analysis of the Dialect of Bedfordshire. Designed for the Use of Provincial Boards. DidSchools. By T. Batchelor. 8vo. pp. 164. 7s
dier and Tebbett. 1809.
Many attempts have been made to represent the various sounds used in language by letters or new characters; and the difficulty appears from the circumstance that all orthoëpists have disagreed in
opinion respecting the sounds themselves. Indeed, from the attention which has been paid to this point by several eminent characters, we thought that scarcely any thing new could have been advanced : but the author of the work before us undertakes to prove that they have been all wrong; and he lays down a theory which he says is genuine in its principles, and applicable to the complete elucidation of a subject that has remained in obscurity and confusion for many ages. With respect, however, to this theory, although it is mentioned in so confident a manner, we feel ourselves obliged to say that it does not strike us very forcibly; for, as the author confesses, (page 21.) it is not to be supposed that any two persons, or the same person at different times, pronounce the words with mathematical exactness, but merely with such slight deviations in the position of the tongue as cannot be easily distinguished.'
When Mr. Batchelor mentions that the sounds, which are represented by the English sh, ch, j, and soft g, are no others than s, x, d, and, succeeded by the sound of y, as in you, and asserts that this circumstance is nearly sufficient to induce the belief that h and y were formerly deemed to be the same sound, and that the character which represented them both has been reversed occasionally, or almost by the effect of accident; and when, among other methods, he endeavours to prove his theory by observing that Christian is pronounced by some Christchan, and others Christyon, and the terminations sion and tion pronounced hun; we think that his arguments will carry conviction to few of his readers.
The work certainly contains many valuable remarks for the use of foreigners learning the language, and may be of service to those who have adopted the provincialisms of Bedfordshire: but, with respect to the author's general theory, on which he lays so much stress, we are not disposed to speak very favourably; though the curious reader will find it to contain at least considerable novelty.
A short Treatise on the Passions, illustrative of the Human Mind. By a Lady. 12mo. 2 Vols. 128. Boards. Crosby and Co.
In our twenty-second volume, p. 582. we took some notice of the French work whence this is an abridged and interpolated translation. The original author, Madame de Stael, with habits of the best society, with a Parisian vivacity of expression, with the command of several living languages, and with much fashionable reading, cannot write without interesting the polished classes. In appretiating hu man manners and passions, she rather relies on a basty glance than on patient observation; on the opinion of the drawing-room, rather than on the instruction of the closet; on the worldling with whom she rattles, rather than on thy philosopher whom she might consult; but her remarks have the freshness of conversation, the colouring of the age, the perfume of society, and little of the dry though ever-green insipidity of book-morality. They are frequently inconsistent with cach other; as if they were a collection of echoes caught from and repeated after different mouths. Thus at p. 27. we are told that men possess as much loquacity as women, but at p. 42. that men
keep secrets better than women, because they are less inclined to talk. The remarks are also frequently erroneous, as at p. 209. where it is said that the English are eminently irascible.
Some thoughts derived from local circumspection may deserve attention in preference to others:
Revolutions seldom begin amongst the middling classes. The interest of every government is to study the high and the low, because the middling rank already like order and rule; whilst the rich and the poor walk through life without shackles, and are always ready to adopt any change.'
More such observations occur in the chapter on Ferocity.
The attack on reserve and modesty, as deficiencies, displays more of French than of English prejudice. The chapter on Meanness is short, and may serve as a specimen :
• Women are more addicted to meanness than men ; we do not say from inclination, but from the extreme minutia of their routine. It is a very deformed vice, aud prevents the view of every thing noble and generous; it shuts up the heart, aud reduces existence to a monad.
The mean never enter the world. In the midst of mankind, they are for ever cut off, and existence is confined to the narrow track of self. Perpetually lingering over atoms, they never behold the universe. They can see nothing but the weed that is beneath their feet, and the slime that is upon that weed, and the vermin that dwell in that slime.
• Sometimes it will be the mate of shrewdness, and sometimes of good temper. It is sensual.
Meanness, with rags and filth defil'd,
Is doom'd to follow other's track;
The badge of slavery on her back ; .
No native independent thought
Her starving soul with richness feeds;
From others' words and others' deeds.'
These poetical terminations of the chapters are, it seems, the contributions of a reverend friend of the translator: but we do not think that they are always remarkably appropriate.
In the second volume, a chapter is allotted to Vanity. This word is not easily defined, nor understood. Sometimes, it is used for emptiness of mind, especially by religious moralists; and in that case it is a defect. Sometimes it is applied to the pursuit of applause in little things, as when a diess, a song, or a supper, is too solicitously studied for the occasion; and it is in this case an excess, but of a good principle. By this writer, (vol. ii. p. 130) it is used for the love of flattery, for the anxiety to obtain rather than to deserve praise; and, in this sense of the word, the observation is just that people are envious in proportion as they are vain. Soon afterward, the very beautiful sentiment occurs, that superiority is never so superior as when justly and warmly allowing the excellence of others.
At p. 139. the true remark is made that, of all nations, the English are most afraid of and most addicted to satire. P. 179, it is
gaid; Excentricity centres in self.' This is nearly a contradic tion in terms.
A ridiculous blunder (the more surprizing because the general execution is neat) struck us at p. 148. The French word personne, though grammatically feminine, may have a male antecedent, and here the translator has invented one, where the allusion was obviously to a lady. Suppose he wished to know whether his lover admired
Mr. D***,' &c.
On the whole, these volumes may be read without tedium, yet may be forgotten without regret; they contain sentences which would grace the lip, or decorate a letter, but which are of too equivocal a solidity for a formal Treatise on the Passions. Many things please in the saying, which the judgment ultimately rejects; such things should only be said, not recorded. We see in this work much attempt to preserve what owed its merit to its transiency; yet gloss and flavor are given to truisms; and a morality rather liberal than austere dulcifies the whole. This treatise may be compared to the sweet-meat called orange-sponge, which teaches the bubble to endure, and gives the appearance of solidity to froth, but which is less adapted to satisfy the vigorous appetite than to tickle and amuse the fastidious palate.
ART. 28. Illustrations of Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel : consisting of Twelve Views on the Rivers Bothwick, Ettrick, Yarrow, Tiviot, and Tweed. Engraved by James Heath, R. A. from Drawings taken on the Spot by John C. Schetky, of Oxford. With Anecdotes and Descriptions. 4to. 11. 118. 6d. Boards. Longman and Co.
This volume not only supplies very interesting illustrations of Mr. Scott's poem, but the engravings, being in themselves elegant representations of picturesque and romantic scenery, are acceptable as explanatory of Scotch history and topography, without reference to that popolar production. The letter-press also is very handsome : but the descriptions are taken merely from Mr. Scott's own productions, with some additional anecdotes which he has himself furnished, having moreover revised the whole publication.
Journal of a Regimental Officer during the recent Campaign in Portugal and Spain, under Lord Viscount Wellington. With a correct Plan of the Battle of Talavera. 8vo. 4s. 6d. Boards. Johnson and Co 1810.
The agreeable varieties of a march on service through a foreign country, relieved by a few skirmishes with an enemy in the neigh bourhood, and heightened by the inclemencies of weather, are forcibly though briefly presented to us in this journal; which, we understand, is the production of Captain Hawker of the 14th Light Dragoons, who was most severely wounded in the battle of Talavera. Little opportunity was afforded, in the period which this narrative embraces, for descriptions of the country, and observations on the inhabitants: but the writer appears ready to take such occasions as arose, and a few traits consequently intervene. They are not generally of a favourable complexion with respect to the people; and the
author's treatment by the Spaniards after he received his wound was truly inhospitable. The plan of the action of Talavera is large, handsomely executed, and will be interesting, especially to military men. The loss of the British army is here stated to have been, killed 801, wounded 3913, and missing 653. Total, 5367.
ART. 30. A Picture of Verdun, or the English detained in France: their Arrestation, Confinement at Verdun, Incarceration at Bitsche, Amusements, Sufferings; Lists of those who have been permitted to leave, or who have escaped out of France; occafional Poetry, and Anecdotes of the principal Detenus. From the Portfolio of a Detenu. 2 Vols. 12mo. 12s. Boards. Hookham. 1810.
The long captivity of the English prisoners in France, and especially of those who, being kidnapped at the commencement of hostilities, have been termed detenus, has been much and justly lamented; and the recent failure of all attempts to effect a regular exchange of prisoners, between the two countries, must greatly enhance this regret. A perusal of the volumes before us will also sensibly heighten such feelings; and while their details cannot fail to excite the deepest indignation against the French government and its agents, for the treatment which our countrymen are made to suffer, we are sorry to say that the conduct of the latter, on the score of folly and debauchery at least, affords in too many instances an additional source of disgust. We see no reason for doubting the authenticity of the present work, of which the contents will be interesting to most readers, and especially to those who have any connections among the unfortunate captives. Even at this cold and benumbing season, it must make every Englishman's blood boil in bis veins to think of the indignities and impositions which his brethren endure from these French gaolers. The infamy of General Wirion, commandant of Verdun, can scarcely be paralleled in the records of Our Old Bailey.
Art. 31. The Spirit of the Public Journals. Being an impartial selection of the most ingenious Essays and Jeux d'Esprit, that appear in the Newspapers and other Publications. With explanatory Notes, and Anecdotes of many of the Persons alluded to. To be continued annually. Vols. VII.-XIII. 1803-1809. 12mo. 6s. and 7s. each. Ridgway.
We recommended some former volumes of this compilation to those of our readers who wish to be enabled to kill time, and drive away the Blue Devils in M.R. Vols. 31. 36. and 42; and we think it is worth while occasionally to repeat our notice of the work as it proceeds, since it continues to collect and preserve a variety of trifles which dis❤ play talents in the writers and will afford entertainment to the reader, and which would otherwise perish with the productions of the day which them birth.. gave We copy one or two poetical jeux d'esprit : Of Foreign Affairs, our Minister Canning Is said by his friends at all times to be planning; And his ignorance of them completely declares That to him they must ever be Foreign Affairs.