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work chiefly fails, as we shall presently have occasion to shew.
With these exceptions, however, the poem has a very considerable portion of merit, and is highly intitled to our applause. The scientific descriptions, so far as they reach, are not often erroneous, and are usually conducted with the skill of a master. The same happy turns, the same point and antithesis, wlrich so peculiarly characterize the Abbé's preceding productions, here meet us as numerously and with as much spirit as ever: we have the same exquisite facility of versification, and the same unrivalled variety of pause and construction. In this last respect Racine alone is superior to him ; if, indeed, he be surpassed by any one. Considered simply as a poetical composition, the whole is admirable; there are passages of finished beauty, of impressive vigour, to which no reader can be insensible; and age, which so often chills and inanimates, has hitherto had no such effect upon Delille.' It has certainly in several descriptions given him some degree of prolixity, but we dare not say that it has made him garrulous. . Of his episodes, many are original, and do honour to his invention; the greater number, however, are copied ; and con pied, as we have already hinted, from poets of our own coun. iry. Thomson is a favourite author with M. Delille; and he has freely borrowed from him the well-known tales of Musi. dora bathing, and the peasant buried in the snow, both inserted in his third book; while, from Darvin, he has intro
duced as freely the admirable description of a whole army : overwhelmed in the desarts of Asia by a hurricane of sand. · In his description of the genius or god of nature (dieu de la nature), who appears to our poet on his falling conveniently to sleep, and commands him to write the ensuing poem, the following verses are forcibly written, and will convey some. idea of that artificial contrast and antithesis, which is so frequently (perhaps too frequently) running through the poem.
Autour de lui, le temps, sur milles aspects nouveaux,
Les débris s'animaient, la mort était féconde, ** Et la destruction renouvelait le monde.
Chant. I. p. 40. , Pascal was a fellow-townsman of Delille : they were both born at Clermont in Auvergne; and it is impossible for the latter, in discussing the properties of air in book Il, to avoid paying the former a compliment to which he is most justly in. titled, as having first discovered a method of ascertaining the weight of the atmosphere. The compliment takes place
upon an imaginary distant view of the province that gave them birth.
« Salut, champs paternels, salut, fière montagne
. Chant. II. pp. 119, 20. The English reader must not pass without some effort on our part to make him acquainted with the meaning, if not with the beauties, of this address :
· Hail, native fields! aspiring mountain, hail !
Limagne ! dim-skirting round yon shadowy vale ;
He came, look'd round, admir'd, and was no more. We are not quite certain whether the last line be not a parody of the following couplet of Young; if so, however, beautiful as it is, Delille certainly has not improved upon it,
• Early, light, transient, chaste as morning dew,
(To be concluded in the next Number.).
Art. VI. Letters on various Subjects, literary, political, and ecclesiastical, to
and from William Nicolson, D. D. successively Bishop of Carlisle, and of Derry, and Archbishop of Cashell, including the Correspondence of several eminent Prelates from 1683-1726-7 inclusive. Faithfully printed from the Originals ; and illustrated with literary and historical Anecdotes, by John Nichols, F. S. A. E. & P. 2 vols. 8vo. price 168.
pp. 656. Nichols. Longman and Co. 1809. NOTHING can be more variable than critical opinion,
when employed upon subjects which are nowise remarkable in themselves, and can pretend only to a derivative importance. This collection of letters, the editor rather unceremoniously informs us, was preserved by the learned primate with peculiar attention, though for what peculiar purpose, we are left to conjecture. After the R. R. prelate's decease, they becaine the property of the Rev. Edward Marshall, M. A. formerly of Clare-ball, Cambridge. This gentleman seems to have been of a singularly phlegmatic and deliberate turn of mind. He sjntended to have published them ;' but so evenly was the balance poised, that he died at the advanced age of 86 * before he could make up his mind on the subject. The present possessor, who purchased the correspondence in 1808, is not quite so indecisive. For our own part, we cannot severely censure Mr. Marshall for his procrastination; being clearly of opinion that the public would have been no great loser, bad these letters mouldered in manuscript for another century. Not that by any means we intend to decry them indiscriminately. By a certain class of readers, and particularly by ecclesiastical antiquaries, they will be perused, no doubt, with vast edification and delight. But taken collectively, and as to any general use, we must candidly declare they are, in our humble opinion, " stale, flat, and unprofitable.”
The subjects of these letters, as the editor very properly suggests, are chiefly literary, political, and ecclesiastical but they are also susceptible of a more minute.classification into groups; and this arrangement we prefer, upon the whole, as more nearly coinciding with chronological order, and as being, for a cursory notice at least, more easy and distinct.
The first series of letters, to and from Mr. Thoresby, Mr. Lhywd, Mr. Wotton, Dr. Woodward, and others, extends from 1691 to 1699 ; and relates, chiefly, to Saxon antiquities, to some detache portions of natural history, and particularly to Woodward's 'fanciful theory of the deluge, to which in the end Mr, Archdeacon Nicolson seems more than half inclined to become a convert. (p. 97.) His zeal for the antique is fervent in the extreme.' He professes to be quite ravished' with something in the shape of a Runic monument; and is prodigiously affected' with an 'inscription, although unable
to unriddle' its meaning, (p. 63.) As a natural historian his knowledge does not appear to be very profound, his employ. ment in this particular being chiefly restricted to the diversion of picking up natural rarities by the bye.' (p. 27.)
The next set of letters in this collection (written chiefly in the year 1700) is occupied with a discussion respecting certain societies at that time forming for the reformation of manners; conducted apparently on very liberal and disinterested principles; in their intention highly laudable; and sanctioned by
a considerable number of Lords spiritnal and temporal, and by the honourable Judges of both kingdoms.' (p. 191.) They are not sanctioned, however, by Mr. Archdeacon Nicolson. Far from it. He is quite implacable against them, and vents his hostility in a flood of appropriate epithets. He presages from these institutions the downfal and ruin of the established church. (p. 153.) He utterly disapproves of such "a medley of churchmen and dissenters;' he has no notion of such bye-paths' 'of doing good; he detests such unsatural confederacies' with a new fanatical brotherbood ;' he denounces them as anabaptistical errors; and is alarmed beyond measure at these mongrel combinations,' because they 'fly in the face of the twelfth canon', and run directly against the mouth'* of the seventy third. His letter to Mr. Chancellor Gregory, whom, with cruel severity he somewhere terms the little man of law,' is written in one of his. mildest and most temperate moods. Sir,
• Feb. 16, 1699. You may probably have heard (he had already lodged a complaint against the pauvre petit with his own metropolitan'] of a Society, League, or Coyenant,at Carlisle ; wherein the Churchmen and Dissenters are mutually en. gaged for the Reformation of Manners. We certainly are all obliged to prosecute the good ends of his Majesty's late proclamation, in our several stations: but give me leave to tell you, that our zeal for the service of Religion ought to be regulated by the Laws of the Land, and Canons of the Church. We must be aware of making ourselves parties in Conven. ticles and unlawful assemblies, by meeting in numbers (above five, besides our own families) on a religious account, unless we can assure ourselves of the benefit of the Act of Toleration; and (then) we are Dissenters, and not members of the Established Church. If we desire to continue in our present Communion, we ought well to consider the words and meaning of the Twelfth Canon.
Finding that new projects are on foot, I thought fit to give you (as well as others this short hint of my sentiments; to be communicated, if you like them, as you have occasion, either from yourself, or, sir, yours, &c.
* This curiosa felicitas, we ought in justice to observe, is employed upon another occasion by Mr. Joseph Langhorne, curate and church warden, (p. 309.)
We are happy to observe that the Abp. of York, to whom our zealous archdeacon appeals on account of his own . good bishop's want of briskness,' (p. 152) completely scouts his intolerant construction of the canons; and the Bishop of Chester, in a letter to Mr. Gilpin, after expressing his sorrow that the society has met with opposition from the archdeacon of Carlisle, and his conviction that the objections made by some persons are mere pretences,'concludes with a
hearty prayer that God would give success to such sincere endeavours for the suppressing of vice and wickedness, and the promoting of piety and virtue.' (p. 172.)
To this dispute succeeds the celebrated convocation quar. rel, which excited such universal attention in the beginning of the last century. The principal champions were, on the one side Dr. Wake,* and on the other Dr. Atterbury.f The former, in his Authority of Christian Princes over their ecclesiastical Synods, published in 1697, contended, that the power of convening the clergy in convocation, as well as of dissolving them, is vested solely in the prince; that the synod can neither debate nor resolve without his permission; and that his power is competent to control the execution of their decrees. The latter, in answer to Dr. Wake's book, very needlessly undertook to prove, that the King has not only a right of calling the clergy to attend in convocation, but the clergy also have a right of attending, and the lords and cominons a right of being attended by them; and also that the convocation has a right to enter into debates and resolutions, without qualifying by a royal licence.' I Obsolete usages might perhaps he adduced to justify these assertions ; but the clergy long before this: period had been released from stated parliamentary duty; and their withdrawment, certainly, could not with reason be de.. precated, inasmuch as it greatly tended to identify their in. . terests with those of the people at large. The dispute, however, as then managed, was more a question of precedent than of expediency; and it may be time to remark, that a great namber of letters, in the present collection, were written in consequence of some ' sly glances' aimed by the • Rights and Powers' at our author's 'English historical library, The Archdeacon's irascibility, on this occasion, is unbounded: Hé informs Mr. Wotton that his adversary is an insolent, illogical, and bungling compiler, -and (of all things in the world) a ' jackpudding !' (p. 176.) He tells Dr. Chartlett,
* Afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury... + Afterwards Bishop of Rochester.
| Rights, Powers and Privileges ofan English Convocation. Edit. 1700, p. 459.
lords..that the, without rhaps beng be
usages to the cherliansent
: bustaien not