Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

others of more merit are kept in po- the assembly of the centuries, as well verty and obscurity, and oppressed 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 imposible 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 perThese 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 bigns 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 tbe mean time, Cataline was sent year, Servilius Rullus, soon 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 eslates, territories, or but the consuls were not likely to enter pofleflions of any fort, which belonged on a quiet administration. The Tri. io the republic, Thould be sold; that all bunitian power, from the time of its acquisitions of territory recently made, restoration, was gradually recovering its and the spoils taken from any enemy, force, and extending its operations. Thould 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 ara 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 exewilhed to take part in scenes of cution, ten commissioners hould 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 fole masters of all property within Rofcius 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

fome 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 hilled when he appearthis law, and to move the Conscript 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 inade 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 fame 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 sons 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 firlt clause of this law to the last, 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 par . ing in ten persons, under the pretence ty, were now come of age, and found of an Agrarian law, an absolute so- themselves ftripped 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 sales, in making having it rejected t." 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 occation, 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 inttantly rejected, and who finds pleasure in these pursuits its author hissed from the assembly, and will be highly gratified by the perusal treated as an object of ridicule and of these volumes: in which philosophy korn.

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. d. + Plin. lib. vii. c. 30.

Lond. Mag. Aug. 1783.

X

ART.

ART. XV. An Inquiry into fome l'allages in Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets: Particularly bis Objervations on lyric Perry, 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 Eschvlus 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 autkor 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 corres

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 fpirit 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 expose such principles, and drawing in the author's poilcllion, 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 memory, and publithed fome Mr. Potter says, he is " forry to fee years ago with his letters and poems. the masculine spirit of Dr. Johnson

Mr. Potter plunges, at once, in me- descending to what he perhaps in anodias res, without preface or dedication. ther might call“ anile garrulity.” We He opens his book with some well- apprehend that most readers will discodeserved 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 deltroys its prey, he his filver faucepan, would not have tenderly admits Dr. Johnfon to Share been milled, perhaps, if they had been these cominendations.

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 just observations, folid sente, 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 unneceffary to ask whether Scattered through them. As a common it was held up for wit. dark glass can discover the spots in the Our author's reflections on the ac. sun, he sits down to point these blun- count of Dyer 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 ike fione? Well then might remarks are conued to the life of that he recommend Blackmore to us!” Could poet. NoMr. Porter takes a wider any reader suppose it possible that the

a tield. Fier Arifiarchus! He means to Doctor's words could have been so diteach us the art of criticism, and point ftorted? We really are rather furprized out the various functions of the bio. he was not fet down as a profesled adgrap?er.

mirer

[ocr errors]

mier 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 amiable woman.” Novi, 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 interesting his reader, in our “ she was inexorably crucl.” Of this native commodity, rural imagery, and circumitance, no man, whether Goth incidental digrellions, 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, link him under insuperable serves, that " the character which her oppreslion.” Mr. Potter says: “ To lover bequeathed her, was, indeed, not say that Dyer's mind was ner unpoe- likely to attract courtship.” tical is parlimonivus praise; he had a Now, as Mr. Potter is for nothing benevolent heart, a vigorous imagina- but the truth, we were at firft a little tion, and a chattised judgement; his surprized that he should censure these style is compact and nervous, his num- pattages, until we recollected that in bers have harmony, spirit, and force.” Biography, he does not require the - Did our author expect, that any whole iruth. mention of his heart should be inserted Mr. Potter, howerer, is surely right in a criticisin on his poems? Dr. John- in his opinion of Hammond's poetry. son himself tells us that some passages The Doctor's censure 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 paffion and nature.

But expanded panegyric.

of his mistress, when we read the folAs to the anecdotes of Addison's lowing lines: avidity, which Mr. Potter censures with Thou knowit thy strength, and thence insulting an afperity 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 fert 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 cheracter was not “ told on the best authority, that it is likely to attract courtibip. And that an absolute falsehood.”

is all he says. He never asserts that We must confess, that so offensive a she merited such a character. She contradiction, even if it had certainty might undoubtedly have been an amiafor its basis, would sound 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 fets sentation of the lover; and lovers selup for a judge of delicacy.

dom degrade the idol of their affections, 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 should 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 Johnson 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 her, those who himself behind the authority of Dryden,

more,

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 philofopher was half so wise: boldly passing indiscriminate censures, The brightest charms, that beauty shows,

I unconcern'd beheld, in another should be described as re

As we behold the flow'r that glows quiring a skreen when he fires his ar

Upon th'enamel'd field; rows.

And eyes 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 juft. 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 philofoDruids is well imagined, but we are phy. It is strange, however, that so ratherinclined to think that the opinions wife a philofophier, whatever might of Johnson are condemned to this have been 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 ashes of the dead, pamphlet reach a second edition, we left we incur the censure of our critic, recommend repeated perufits 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 that a the Doctor found in Blackmore ease fpirit of detraction is diffufed univer- united with closeness, which he could sally through these volumes.”

not discover in Pope's Moral Essays. He goes on, As the poeins of Pom- It seems the Doctor quaked Yalden's fret, Yalden, and Watts, and the crea- 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 Ponifret, may ap- deserts the tiowery lawn, to mumble prove Yalden; he who finds pleasure thistles!" To what then muft we comin Blackmore, may be enraptured with pare the author of these inquiries, who Watts.” If Mr. l'Otter did not appear aims at displaying the errors of Johnto despise lexicographers, and their la- fon, while he seems 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 Langurge. From therce is an un- poem on Mrs. Killigrew so very highpardonabie barbarism, and no authority ly. We think it merits a better fate can give fanćtion to the use of so evi- than Mr. Potter seems willing to dent an impropriety.

aflign

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »