« VorigeDoorgaan »
The second theoretical description, which I shall lay before my readers, is so far different from the first, that it renders a very confused and intricate business, as I have been told it is, perfectly clear and obvious to the meanest capacity. This, however, is by no means owing to any want in the theoretical situation of that incident or bustle which occurs in the real; on the contrary, the events are infinitely more numerous and astonishing in the first than in the latter, though the art of the theorist carries the imagination through them all with wonderful distinctness and regularity. The instance to which I allude is the description of a battle, given by the ingenious Mr. A. Boyer, in his French Dictionary, under the word Battaille.
Description of a BATTLE. « The two armies being in sight, the cannon roar s on each side ; and the signal of the fight being
given, they both move, and begin the encounter. • In the height of danger, the generals shew their • intrepidity by preserving their cool temper, and
by giving their orders without emotion and with‘out hurry. In the close. engagement, the officers
perform wonders, and shew extraordinary valour " and judgment; and seconded by their men, who • fight like lions, they cut the enemy in pieces, kill • and overthrow all they meet in their way, break " through battalions, and bear down squadrons. • Upon the point of being overpowered by numbers, • they resolutely sustain the effort of the enemy;
and the generals being informed by their aids-de'camp of what passes on that side, cause succours 'to march thither with all speed, revive the spirits
of the soldiers by their presence, rally the broken battalions, bring them again to the charge, repulse
'the enemy, drive them before them, regain the 'ground they had lost, retrieve the whole affair,
pursue the enemy close, trample them under foot or ride over them, entirely disable them, put all • that resist to the sword ; and, after having sus
tained continual discharges of cannon and small • shot, and gained an entire and complete victory, \ cause a retreat to be sounded, and lie on the field
of battle, while the air resounds with the flourishes * of trumpets.'
The above description is contained in an edition of Mr. Boyer's learned and useful work, now become exceedingly scarce. It is there given in French and English ; but I choose to publish the translation only, as I mean it for the sole use of our British commanders, from whose practice, at the time of its first publication, (about the beginning of this century,) the description was probably taken. Perhaps, in some late campaigns, our ge. nerals had consulted other Dictionaries, containing a much less animated and decisive definition of a battle, than that which I have transcribed from the ingenious Mr. Boyer.
No 108. SATURDAY, MAY 20, 1780.
Ah, vices ! gilded by the rich and gay.
If we examine impartially that estimate of pleasure, which the higher ranks of society are apt to form, we shall probably be surprised to find how little there is in it either of natural feeling or real satisfaction. Many a fashionable voluptuary, who has not totally blunted his taste or his judgment, will own, in the intervals of recollection, how often he has suffered from the insipidity or the pain of his enjoyments ; and that, if it were not for the fear of being laughed at, it were sometimes worth while, even on the score of pleasure, to be virtuous.
Sir Edward , to whom I had the pleasure of being introduced at Florence, was a character much beyond that which distinguishes the generality of English travellers of fortune. His story was known to some of his countrymen who then resided in Italy; from one of whom, who could now and then talk of something beside pictures and. operas, I had a particular recital of it.
He had been first abroad at an early period of life, soon after the death of his father had left him master of a very large estate, which he had the good fortune to inherit, and all the inclination natural to youth to enjoy. Though always sumptuous, however, and sometimes profuse, he was observed never to be ridiculous in his expences; and, though he was now and then talked of as a man of pleasure and dissia . pation, he always left behind more instances of beneficence than of irregularity. For that respect and esteem in which his character, amidst all his little errors, was generally held, he was supposed a good deal indebted to the society of a gentleman, who had been his companion at the university, and now attended him rather as a friend than a tutor. This gentleman was, unfortunately, seized at Marseilles with a lingering disorder, for which he was under the necessity of taking a sea-voyage, leaving Sir Edward to prosecute the remaining part of his intended tour alone.
Descending into one of the valleys of Piedmont, where, notwithstanding the ruggedness of the road, Sir Edward, with a prejudice natural to his country, preferred the conveyance of an English hunter to that of an Italian mule, his horse unluckily made a false step, and fell with his rider to the ground, from which Sir Edward was lifted by his servants with scarce any signs of life. They conveyed him on a litter to the nearest house, which happened to be the dwelling of a peasant rather above the common rank, before whose door some of his neighbours were assembled at a scene of rural merriment, when the train of Sir Edward brought up their master in the condition I have described. The compassion natural to his situation was excited in all ; but the owner of the mansion, whose name was Venoni, was particularly moved with it. He applied himself immediately to the care of the stranger, and, with the assistance of his daughter, who had left the dance she was engaged in, with great marks of agi. tation, soon restored Sir Edward to sense and life. Venoni possessed some little skill in surgery, and his daughter produced a book of receipts in me. dicine. Sir Edward, after being blooded, was put to bed, and tended with every possible care by his host and his family. A considerable degree of fever was the consequence of his accident; but after some days it abated, and in little more than a week he was able to join in the society of Venoni and his daughter.
He could not help expressing some surprise at the appearance of refinement in the conversation of the latter, much beyond what her situation seemed likely to confer. Her father accounted for it. She had received her education in the house of a lady, who happened to pass through the valley, and to take shelter in Venoni's cottage (for his house was but a better sort of cottage) the night of her birth. .When her mother died,' said he, the • Signora, whose name, at her desire, we had given o the child, took her home to her own house; there
she was taught many things, of which there is no need here; yet she is not so proud of her learning • as to wish to leave her father in his old age; and "I hope soon to have her settled near me for life.'
But Sir Edward had now an opportunity of knowing Louisa better than from the description of her father. Music and painting, in both of which arts she was a tolerable proficient, Sir Edward had studied with success. Louisa felt a sort of pleasure from her drawings, which they had never given her before, when they were praised by Sir Edward; and the family-concerts of Venoni were very different from what they had formerly been, when once his guest was so far recovered as to be able to join in them. The flute of Venoni excelled all the other music of the valley ; his daughter's lute was much beyond it ; Sir Edward's violin was finer than either.' But his conversation with Louisa~it was that of a superior order of beings! science, taste, sentiment !-it was long since Louisa had heard these sounds; amidst the ignorance of