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them clearness of apprehension, because they have no materiais for thought; the other supplies them not with Auency of expression, because they have nothing to communicate. It humbles and gives one pain, to see human reason so greatly degraded, and lunk to a level wich animal nature. The famous traveller Della Valle (whom a noble curiosity and love of knowledge conducted through Turkey, Persia, and a great part of India) gives a very natural description of such a sort of assembly or entertainment. It is during his stay at Hamadun in Persia. As it is long, I refer the reader to it. Let it suffice to observe, there was plenty of every thing, the provisions and cookery of the country, wine, coffee, &c. but hardly a word passed, all was dulness and silence. « Non si diceva mai una parola, e stavano tutti in filentio.”

. In reading those two beautiful pi&tures of Grecian manners, the banquets of Plato and Xenophon, I have often wondered that so polite and learned a nation as Greece, nay, that a company of philosophers, should be obliged to have recourse for entertainment to the petulance and extravagance of buffoons, the unnatural postures and attitudes of singing boys and dancing girls. Yet we find this to have been a frequent practice even at Athens. It is alluded to in Plato's banquet, and Xenophon's; three of the principal characters are Philip, a sort of buffoon or merry Andrew, a singing and dancing or posture-girl, and a boy that plays on the flute. If such helps to entertainment and cheerfulness were thought necessary in so polished a nation as Greece, and even admitted to the tables of philosophers, it is the less surprising they should be so much in request where science and letters have made but little progress. Every body knows how necessary a character what they called a fool or dwarf, was during several ages at all the great tables of modern Europe ; and even so lately as the times of our first Charles, all persons of sense, moderation, and good nature, highly censured the morose and unbecoming severity of Bishop Laud to the satirical Archy. in countries where the topics of conversation are still more confined, the company is either ab. solutely filent (as we saw just now in Persia), or have recourse to a variety of games, of chance, or of skill, in order to banish languor, and keep attention awake. La Loubere tells us, that the Šiamese (a civilized people! carry to such excess their passion for play, that they commit to the hazard of the die, not only their whole property, but their personal liberty, and even in spite of natural affection, that of their wives and children. The same has been said of the ancient Germans, and of several savage and barbarous nations, made known to us by the discovery of America. The inhabitants of these less equal governinents and forms of society, are driven to these fatal expedients in order to

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amuse and agitate, from the same principle that a person of condition and education, in France or in England, repairs in an evening to a dramatic repreientation or mutical entertainment, or to easy and social meetings, in which are freely and calmly · discussed domestic, political, or literary subjects.

Though it was long, and some ages elapsed, before science and letters had made any progress in Rome, yet we do not read that that wife and severe people ever found it necessary to submit to the pernicious expedients above alluded to, of barbarous or enslaved society, in order to divert the languor and listlessness of life, and fill up the vacancies of serious occupation and pursuit. They seem to have refted their pleasures and enjoyments, on the proper duties and offices of a man. As was observed in a preceding essay, during the period of their virtue, agriculture, lia berty, conquest engrolled their whole attention. When those happy times had rolled away, though dominion and luxury poured in all their concomitant and attendant vices, excesses, and crimes, and though the spectacles of the Arena, and the Circus, the expreflive pantoinime, and the expiring gladiator, were the entertainment and delight of the populace, yet literary subjects and compositions were introduced at the tables of the polite and liberal; and we are told by the elegant historian of Atticus, that none were admitted to his fuppers, who could not be entertained with hearing read aloud a poem, a moral treatise, or other composition; and even so late as the times of the younger Pliny, he informis us, that during supper with his wife, and a few friends, their constant entertainment was some book, or literary tract. These manners, it is true, were very different from our own, but were they not as eligible? And when all the information and fancy and pleasantry of a select party are exbausted, is not a drama or historical narrative as good a subftia tute, as the card-table with her filence, emptiness and dulness, to call no worse names? Indeed, we never stray so wide of pleasure, as when we pursue it in enjoyments in which neither the understanding, the imagination, or the heart are concerned. .. With regard to the art of conversation, it seems to consist in never exhausting or dwelling too long on any subject; in shewing its best points of view, rather than every thing that can be said upon it; its most striking features rather than its minute peculiarities. The rest of the company should be permitted their share of the conversation, and even enticed into it. People of good sense and good manners meet together, not big with the filly defire of what is called thining, and being witty and clever, or of making tiresome or insulting differtations and harangues, but in order to converse and to talk; of which kind of intercourse fimplicity, modesty, inquiry, information, concise narrative, pertinent reflection, are the peculiar excellencies. Far be . Rev. July, 1779.

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from such unaffected, engaging meetings, all noisy, vociferous mirth and laughter, the empty boast of unimitated birth and merit, of fortune unsignified by expence, the stale and repeated recital of our proper selves, our refined address, our merited success, our unmerited disappointment, the story of our feelings, diseases, recoveries. Nothing but the partiality of friendship can excuse such idle babble; it is the topic of only ignorant and filly characters.

Notwithstanding the opinion of certain severe and extravagant moralifts, perhaps even ridicule, satire, and censure, may be sometimes permitted. Even the Spartan legislator approved this species of restraint on unworthy and indecent actions and conduct; for we are told, the great subject and business of the conversation of his citizens, was to praise some good and virtuous action that had been performed, or to censure some fault that had been committed ; and this was done with wit and good humour, and in such a way as to reprove and correct without offending. Such was the delicacy observed to those present. The absent worthless were treated with less reserve. Indeed, the reprehension of the impertinent, the vicious, the criminal, is an implied approbation and eulogy of those of an opposite character and manners, of the modeft, the temperate, the virtuous : besides, it is a great check on any propensity to vice or unworthy behaviour, to hear such as are addicted to them represented in the true and odious colours-they so justly deserve. Our natural dillike and horror of them are increased by sympathy with their censurers, and we dread being placed in the same disadvantageous and mortifying point of view.

• One of the most pleasing topics of conversation is anecdotes, or remarkable passages of the lives and actions of great and ilJuftrious persons; of those who have served their country, and the cause and interests of human nature, by their private or public virtues, in letters or in arms. As was alluded to above, such was the school, in which at a frugal meal, and over the moderate use of wine, the citizens of Sparta, both of early and advanced age, learned and confirmed themselves in good manners, morality, and public affection. The sayings, the con. duct, the exploits, and achievements of the characters and actors brought into discourse, had a more efficacious and exciting effect on the hearers, than unadorned precept, or the dictatorial style of discipline and instruction

« Our great progress and improvements in arts and letters have enlarged the sphere of modern conversation to a boundless extent. We pass in review not only the virtues and vices of our own times, but of all times, and of all ages, past and present. Besides, the more serious parts of science, the sublime, the pathetic, the comic, the descriptive of poetry, the expression of

music, music, the magnificence of architecture, the scenery of landscape ; in a word, ten thousand interesting or entertaining topics solicit our attention, serve to enliven existence, or to suspend the influence of the unavoidable troubles and anxieties of human life. When we have such rich, such inexhaustible, sources of difcourse, how can we so perversely, so ungratefully precipitate ourselves on the shameful and ruinous agonies of play, the impairer of our health and good humour, the canker of our fortunes, the feducer, by our own example, by our own encouragement, of our wives, our sons, and even of our unmarried daughters ? Certain it is, that this scandalous and destructive passion has been carried to such a degree of excess and exorbitancy, and produced such terrible and alarming effects, that unless it receive some check and opprobrium from parents, or husbands, or the legislature, or may I say Heaven, our own destruction, and that of our country, is justly to be apprehended. Did I say the legislature? Alas! there is its throne, there is its seat of triumph and glory, there it satiates daily on despair and suicide. Nothing but some national calamity, or extraordinary interpofition, can preserve us from perdition, can restore us to the use of reafon, to a taste and relish for natural and rational amusements and satisfactions.

'Though a teller of stories be a tiresome and insipid character, yet a story related with spirit or humour, serves often very agreeably to diversify and enliven conversation. It should not be long, it should not be minute, the narrator should haften to the conclusion. Nothing, indeed, so overwhelming, as a tedious, particular, uninteresting tale.

• A person of this turn and talent Tould also have a very good memory; not so much left he fall through his tale (though that would be a circumstance ridiculous enough), as lest he should not recollect having entertained with it the very fame audience before. It may be doubted whether the novelty and fingularity of the story or narrative, or the manner of expressing and unfolding it, be its chief merit. Even royal majesty itself could not detain an audience (and that of courtiers too, whose profession, they say, is Aattery and want of feeling) to the stale, and often repeated relations of our second Charles, who yet is acknowledged to have surpassed all men in this pleasing talenta So much more intolerable was the fear of satiety and languor, than of giving offence, than incurring, perhaps, difike and dil, grace; a word well understood, and as much dreaded in courts."

The subjects treated of in this work are, Foreign Travel. Refinement and Luxury.-The Manners of a Grecian and English Woman of Fashion compared. -Unrestrained Power, the Corrupter of the best Natures, the Incentive to the worst Actions. - Happiness and Tranquillity of Mind,-Whether the

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Multiplicity of Books and Increase of Knowledge, be favourable to Piety, and the Love of Public Good.-The Love of Glory and of our Country.-Marriage and Polygamy.-Conversation.Rising in Life.--Deity.-The Education of a Prince. The Frugality and Disinterestedness of the Ancients in Office,

FOREIGN LITERATURE,
(By our CORRESPONDENTS.)

FRANCE.

ART. I. ISSAI sur l'Histoire de la Maison d'Autriche, &c. i.e. An

e historical Elay concerning the House of Austria. By Count G*** Dedicated to the Queen. Paris. 12mo. Six VoJumes, each containing between 5 and 600 Pages. 1778. This work contains a sketch of the principal events that have happened in the House of Austria, considered in all its different branches, and more especially an account of its contests and differences with the court of France. The Author begins his narration with the accession of Rodolph of Hapsburg to the imperial throne in 1273, and concludes his work with the year 1733; but he proposes to carry it down, if the circumStances of Europe favour his design, as far as the treaty of alliance concluded between the courts of Versailles and Vienna in 1756. We know not whether by the words here printed in Italics Count GIRECOURT (for that is our Author's name) means the favourable reception of his work-or-the political relations between the courts of Vienna and Versailles, which seem at present to bear a precarious aspect. Be that as it may, his work is not, by any means, unworthy of notice. Though it be not formed on such an extensive plan as to relate all the events, or to unfold all the secret springs and circumstances that raised the House of Austria to its prelent state of grandeur and stability, yet it is highly recommendable in several respects. The events are well arranged and well related; the characters are drawn with, judgment, impartiality, and candour; the notes are numerous and instructive, containing several important discussions, which, had they been placed in the text, would have too much interrupted the thread of the narration. Beside the different authors who had treated the same subject before him, Count de GIRECOURT has received considerable information from the pa. pers of one of his ancestors (Counsellor of State to Charles III. Duke of Lorrain, and his Minister at the court of Vienna), which contain a correspondence carried on in 1577 and the following years. The state of the court of Vienna is accu. rately described in these letters from the Envoy to his Sovereign, and have furnished our Author with facts and details, relative to this part of the Austrian history, not to be found in other

historians,

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