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others of more merit are kept in po- the assembly of the centuries, as well verty and obfcurity, and oppreffed with as in that of the tribes, the disorderly debts.'. He professed his intention, and the profligate began to prevail; when in office, to remove these grie- and as it was impoflible that the collecvances, to cancel the debts of his tive body of the people could meet, friends, to enrich them by plentiful the cornitia, for the most part, was divisions of land, and to place them in but another name for such riotous afthe highest stations.
semblies, as were made up of the per“ These declarations, being made to fons who haunted the streets of Rome. a numerous meeting, were ill concealed. The minds of sober men were full of Curius, one of the faction, boasted to fear and distrust, alarmed with surmises Fulvia, a woman of rank, with whom of plots, and various combinations of he had a criminal correspondence, that desperate persons, who united their ina revolution must foon take place, and fluence, not to carry elections or atfpecified the particular hopes and de- tain to preferments, but to overturn ligns of their party. This woman men- the government, or to share in its tioned the subject to her own confidents, spoils*. but concealed the author of herinforma- “ One of the Tribunes of the pretion. In the mean time, Cataline was fent year, Servilius Rullus, foon after considered as a person of most dangerous his admission into office, under pretence designs, and was opposed in his election of providing settlements for many of by all who had any regard to public the citizens, promulgated the heads of order, or to the safety of the common- an Agrarian law, which he carried to wealth. Cicero, at the same time, be- the fenate and the people. The subing supported by the Senate, was elect- ject of former grants was now in a ed, together with Caius Antonius. The great measure exhausted, and all Italy latter stood candidate upon the fame was inhabited by Roman citizens. This interest with Cataline, and was preferred Tribune proposed a new expedient to to him only by a small majority. open
settlements for the indigent, not “ By this event the designs of Ca- by conqueft, but by purchase. It was taline were supposed to be frustrated; proposed, that all estates, territories, or but the consuls were not likely to enter poflessions of any fort, which belonged on a quiet administration. The Tri- io the republic, ihould be sold; that all bunitian power, from the time of its acquisitions of territory recently made, restoration, was gradually recovering its and the fpoils taken from any enemy, force, and extending its operations. should be disposed of in the same manEvery person that could give any pub- ner; that the money arising from such lic disturbance, that could annoy the sales should be employed in purchasing Senate, or mortify any of its leading arable and cultivable lands, to be af members; every one that had views of signed in lors to the needy citizens: ambition adverse to the laws, or who and that, to carry this law into exe. wished to take part in scenes of cution, ten commiflioners should be confusion and tumult; every person named in the same manner in which oppressed with debt, who wished to the Pontiffs were named, not by the defraud his creditors; every person whole people, but by seventeen of the who, by his profligacy or crimes, was tribes selected by lot: that these comat variance with the tribunals of justice, missioners should be judges, without was comprehended under the general appeal, of what was or was not public denomination of the popular party. property; of what was to be fold, of The Roman people had once been di- what was to be bought, and at what vided into Patrician and Plebeian, next price; that they were to receive and into noblemen and commoners; but judge of the accounts of every Consul, now they took fides, with little regard or other officer, except Pompey, comto former distinctions, against or for manding in any province, where any the preservation of public order. In capture was made, or new territory
acquired: . Cicero de Lege Agraria.
acquired: and, in short, that they with great distinction, and the spirit should, during five years, which was the of the times continued to furnish him intended term of their commission, be with opportunities to display it*. the sole masters of all property within Roscius Amerinus, having been Trithe empire, whether public or private. bune of the people a few years before,
“ On the day that the new Consuls had, by the authority of his office, fet entered on their office, when they re- apart some benches in the theatre for turned in procession from the capitol, the equestrian order. This gave ofand gave the first meeting to the senate, fence to the people, so that Roscius Rullus had the presumption to propose was commonly hissed when he appearthis law, and to move the Confcript ed at any of the public assemblies. On Fathers, that they would be pleased to some one of these occasions the Consul give it the sanction of their approba- interposed; and, in a popular hation and authority in being carried to rangue, secured the attachment of the the people. Upon this occasion, Ci- Knights to himself, and reconciled the cero made his first speech in the cha- people to the distinction which had racter of Consul. The former part of been made in favour of that body. it is loft; the remainder may be rec- “ There happened under the same koned among the highest specimens of consulate a business of greater difficulhis eloquence. In this and the two ty, being a motion to restore the fons speeches he delivered to the people on of the proscribed to the privilege of the same subject, he endeavoured to being chosen into the offices of Itate, demonstrate (if we may venture to imi- of which they had been deprived by an tate his own expressions) that, from ordinance of Sylla. Their fate was the first clause of this law to the laft, undoubtedly calamitous and severe. there was nothing thought of, nothing Many of them, who had been too young proposed, nothing done but the erect- to have incurred the guilt of their para ing in ten persons, under the pretence ty, were now come of age, and found of an Agrarian law, an absolute fo- themselves stripped of their birthright, vereignty over the treasury, the reve- and stigmatized with this mark of difnue, the provinces, the empire, the honour. It was proposed, in their beneighbouring kingdoms and states; half, to take away this cruel exclusion. and, in short, over all the world as far But Cicero, apprehending that this as it was known to the Romans. He proposal tended to arm and to strength. painted in such lively colours the en persons, who, from long use, had abuses which might be committed by contracted an habitual disaffection to Rullus, and by his associates, in judging the established government, powerfully what was private and what public pro- opposed the motion, and succeeded in perty, in making fales, in making having it rejected +.” purchases, in planting the colonies; We shall conclude this account of and so exposed the impudence of the this ingenious work in the next Licheat, by which it was proposed to terary Review, but cannot help saying surprise the people into the granting on the present occasion, that though of such powers, the absurdity and the Dr. Ferguson has increased the numruinous tendency of the whole mea- ber of Roman Histories, every reader fure, that it was inftantly rejected, and who finds pleasure in these pursuits its author hifled from the assembly, and will be highly gratified by the perusal treated as an object of ridicule and of these volumes: in which philosophy fcorn.
and history have united their powers, “ The Splendour of the Consul's and entertainment and instruction are eloquence, on this occasion, appeared most happily blended.
* It is probable that Cicero did not write in order to speak, but wrote after he had spoken, for the use of his friends. Epift. ad Atticum, lib. ii. C. I.
+ Plin. lib. vii. c. 30.
: LOND. Mag. Aug. 1783.
ART. XV. An Inquiry into some l'afages in Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets: Particularly bis Objervations on Lyric Poetry, and the Odes of Gray. By R. Potter. 4to. Dodiley.
THE reputation which Mr. Potter He allows that he cannot defend acquired by his translation of Eschylus Milton's religious or political princiwas not much increased by his version ples, yet he blames the Doctor for reof the tragedies of Euripides; the work cording them. So that in all future before us, likewise, will not raise the biographical works we are to expect no cutkor in our estimation, although it relation of any man's tenets and opi. may lower our idea of the man. nions, if they be not strictly corref
Mr. Potter does not seem to have pondent with those of the writer. recollected, when he wrote these en- At the same time, he does not conquiries, that the author of the Lives of sider that Dr. Johnson's aversion from the Poets did not intend to present the the “ intolerant spirit of that liberty, public with the critical remarks of the which worked its odious purposes, iranslator of Eschylus, but with those through injustice, oppression, and cruof Dr. Johnson; and if we are not elty," for such is the account Mr. very much mistaken, the literary world Potter himself gives of it, is, perhaps, will pay at least as much respect to the stronger, and his zeal for religion, persentiments of the latter, as to the af- haps, greater than J. Philips's; whose fertions of the forner.
character, however, was very respectaTo this pamphlet is prefixed a head ble; and that it well became so moral of Mr. Gray, taken from an original a writer to expofe fuch principles, and drawing in the author's poilellion, to inform mankind that not even the which exhibits a much more pleasing abilities of Milton could render them countenance than that which was drawn defenfibler from menory, and published some Mr. Potter says, he is “ forry to see years ago with his letters and poems. the masculine spirit of Dr. Johnson
Mir. Potter plunges, at once, in me- descending to what he perhaps in anodins res, without preface or dedication. ther might call “anile garrulity." We He opens his book with some well- apprehend that most readers will discodeferved compliments to Mr. Addison; ver this anile garrulity in these remarks. and, as the crocodile is supposed to shed The account of Pope's stockings, and tears before it destroys its prey, he his lilver faucepan, would not have tenderly admits Dr. Johnfon to thare been missed, perhaps, if they had been these commendations.
omitted, but we can never view the The tears, however, are foon dried, insertion of them as an insult to the and the praites are foon forgotten. The reader's understanding. Mr. Potter juft obfervations, foiid fente, and deep should remember, that the anecdote penetration, which Mr. Potter allows about Dyer's being buried in woolen may be found in these lises, could not is only related as a ludicrous story, so atone for the errors which are thinly that it was unnecessary to ask whether scattered through them. As a common it was
held for wit. dark glais can discover the spots in the Our author's reflections on the ac fun, he lits down to point these blun- count of Dver are curious. • Dyer is ders out, and to correct the taste of not a poet of bulk or dignity sufficient mankind, which Dr. Johnson has cor- to require an elaborate criticism."rupted
“ Does Dr. Johnson (says he) estimate "But though Gray's head is prefixed, poetical merit, as Rubens did feminine the reader is not to suppose that these beauty, by the fione? Well then might remarks are contined to the lite of that he recommend Blackmore to us!" Could poet. No
Mr. Porter takes a wider any reader suppose it possible that the field. Fier Aristarchus! He means to Doctor's words could have been so diteach us the art of criticism, and point storted? We really are rather surprized out tie various functions of the bio. he was not fet down as a profefled ad, grapher,
mirer of Viner's Abridgement, and were so happy as to be acquainted with the whole body of Dutch commentators. her, speak of her as a very excellent
Mr. Potter does not seem to have and ainiable woman.” Now, let us hear read the life of Dyer with attention. on what account the fatal consequences The Doctor says, in his account of the of this purity and enlargement are Fleece, that “ When Dyer, whose mind heaped upon the Doctor. was not unpoetical, has done his ut- Johnson tells us, in one place, that moft, by interelting his reader, in our “The was inexorably cruel. Of this native commodity, rural imagery, and circumitance, no man, whether Goth incidental digresions, by clothing small or Vandal, can doubt, who is acquainted images in great words, and by all the with the poet's ill success in love, or writer's arts of delusion, the meanness with his writings. In another passage, naturally adhering, and the irreverence he says, that "the long outlived him, habitually annexed to trade and ma- and in 1779 died unmarried;” and obnufacture, sink hiin uncler insuperable serves, that the character which her oppression." Mr. Potter says: “ To lover bequeathed her, was, indeed, not say that Dyer's mind was not unpoe- likely to attract courtship.” tical is parfimonious praise; he had a
Ncw, as Mr. Potter is for wathing benevolent heart, a vigorous imagina- but the truth, we were at firft a little tion, and a chattised judgement; his surprize that he should censure these style is compact and nervous, his num- patřages, until we recollected that in bers have harmony, spirit, and force.” Biography he does not require the - Did our author expect, that any whole truth. mention of his heart should be inserted Mr. Potter, however, is furely right in a criticisin on his poeins? Dr. John- in his opinion of Hammond's poetry. son himself tells us that some passages The Doctor's cenfure is carried rather of this author are conceived with the too far; and in the elegy, which is mind of a poet. That single word sure- placed at the end of his life, there is ly conveys even more than Mr. Potter's undoubtedly passion and nature. But expanded panegyric.
of his mistress, when we read the fol. As to the anecdotes of Addison's lowing lines: avidity, which Mr. Potter censures with Thou knowit thy strength, and thence insulting an asperity even indecent, we cannot pronounce who was Dr. Johnson's Will make me feel the weight of all thy power : authority, but we dare venture to af- and some other passages in these sert that it was at least as good as Mr. Elegies, we cannot but agree with Potter's; although he says that he is Johnson, that this character was not “ told on the best authority, that it is likely to attract courtship. And that an absolute falsehood.”
is all he says. He never asserts that We must confess, that fo offensive a the merited such a character. contradiction, even if it had certainty might undoubtedly have been an amiafor its basis, would found in our ears
ble and excellent woman. Dr. Johnrather more like the language of an son's account only relates to the
repreold Goth, than of a writer who sets sentation of the lover; and lovers felup for a judge of delicacy.
dom degrade the idol of thciraffections, Mr. Potter says, that he is led, how in their
defcriptions. generously led! by the purity and en- With respect to the propriety of largement which' Addison's writings writing elegies in the quatrain of ten have introduced into conrersation, fyllables, we cannot help it, if Mr. “ To resent the cruel manner, in which Potter ihould mark us down as utterly Dr. Johnson speaks of the lady who is void of taite, when we declare that the the subject of Hammond's elegies: an opinions of Dryden and Jolinson weigh old Goth would not have been guilty more with us than all that the translaof such an indelicacy: but whatever tor of Eschylus can advance. character her lover, or his biographer, He then says that the critic shelters may have bequeathed hers those who himself bchind the authority of Dryden,
to enable him to aim his shaft at Gray, And are we to form our ideas of while he seems to direct his censure Johnson's taste by such a criterion? against Hammond. This, however, is Oh! Mr. Potter, for shame! Shall the an assertion too improbable, and an author of “ London,” and “ The Vaidea too futile to merit an answer from nity of Human Wishes,” be accused of those who are acquainted with Dr. John- want of taste, and be ridiculed by the son's character. But we cannot help author of the Ode to Philoclea : expressing some little surprise, that an " Oh! Philoclea! e'er I saw those eyes author, who in one place is accused of No calm philosopher was half so wife: boldly palling indiscriminate censures, The brightest charms, that beauty shows, in another should be described as re
I unconcern'd beheld,
As we behold the flow'r that glows quiring a skreen when he fires his ar
Upon th’enamel'd field;
leyes might thine; to me they shone in vain, Whatever Mr. Potter may urge, we
They never touch'd my heart, or gave me pain.” do not believe that the charge of de- Surely Mr. Potter would denominate facing and mutilating an example of him a Gothic philosopher, indeed, who virtue, in the account of Lord Little- could view with indifference ton is just. Many points of his character " The brightest charms that beauty shows,” were truly praise-worthy, and eminentiy when he styles the man an old Goth, amiable. But we must have “allurance who only assents to the character which from the most honourable authority,” a lover has given of his mistress. We indeed, ere we can discredit the fiory are rather apprehensive, likewise, that with respect to Hagley and the Lea- the unconcern expressed at beholding sowes.
the variegated productions of nature Mr. Potter's Wicker Colossus of the can only refer to the Gothic philosoDruids is well imagined, but we are phy. It is strange, however, that so ratherinclined to think that the opinions wife a philofopher, whatever might of Johnson are condemned to this have icen his féct, could not discover
chamber of tribulation,” than that that e'er and ere were words of which the Doctor has passed such a sentence the meaning is totally different. But on the English poets. Should this let us not dillurb the alhes of the dead, pamphlet reach a second edition, we left we incur the censure of our critic, recommend repeated perufals of these and be lampooned in an epigram in lives to its author. For his memory some future inquiries.
" But why?” must be, like that of many a wit, short For in a note, we find Dr. Johnson indeed, if, after reading them with care lampooned in an epigram. “It seems, and attention," he could declare trat a the Doctor found in Blackmore ease fpirit of detraction is diffufed univer- united with closeness, which he could fally through thefe volumes."
not discover in Pope's Moral Eflays. He goes on," As the poems of Pom- It seems the Doctor quaked Yalden's fret, Yalden, and Watts, and the cea- embers, and perused Pomfret, with tion of Blackmore, were inserted in pleasure. It seems the Doctor pointed this collection, by the recommendation out errors and obscurities in Gray!" of the biographer, we may from thence “ Well-what then?”-“What then? form fome judgement of his taste. He Why to be sure he is like the ass who who does not dislike Pomfret, may ap- deserts the fowery lawn, to mumble prove Yalden; he who finds pleasure thistles!" To what then must we comin Blackmore, may be enraptured with pare the author of these inquiries, who Watts.” If Mr. l'attor did not appear aims at displaying the errors of Johnto despise lexicographers, and their la- fon, while he feems almost wholly inbours, we would recommend to his at- sensible to his beauties. tentive perufal the article thence, in We are ourselves surprised that Dr. Dr. Johnson's Dictionary of the Eng- Johnson should commend Dryden's lish Language: From kerce is an un- poem on Mrs. Killigrew so very highpardonabic barbarism, and no authority ly. We think it merits a better fate can give fanction to the use of so evi- than Mr. Potter seems willing to dent an impropriety,