Page images
PDF
EPUB

him to support a heat, which is insupportable to an inħabitant of a milder climate.

Count Rumford, on his return to England from Bavaria in 1798, was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, which by their president expressed an earnest wish, that he would visit his native country.

Towards the autumn of 1800 he went to Scotland. The magistrates of Edenburg paid him a visit of ceremony, gave a public dinner on his account, and to these marks of distinction added the freedom of the city, conceived in terms the most flattering. They consulted him on the means of improving the existing charitable institutions, and on the measures proper for abolishing mendicity. The work was immediately undertaken, and finished in a few months with complete success. In Edenburg mendicity and idleness no longer exist, and all the poor are become industrious.

The Royal Society in Edenburg and the college of physicians respectively elected him an honorary member, and the university bestowed on him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

He employed himself during his residence in that city in superintending the improvements, which he introduced in the great establishment of Herriot's Hospital, with regard to the use of fuel in the preparation of food. The following letter to the author of those improvements, from one of the chief managers of the hospital, shows the approbation, with which his plans were received.

Edenburg July 21, 1801. “ MY DEAR SIR, . “ IN order to afford you the most exact information “ with regard to the reparations, made in Herriot's Hospital, “ I have thought it better to let a considerable time elapse, « that their utility might be better confirmed. I have now " the satisfaction of informing you, that an experience of « six months proves with certainty, that the same operations « are executed with a sixth part only of the fuel, which was “ employed before. The saving however will be only two « thirds, because the price of charred coal (coak] is nearly

* double that of the fuel, which was used before. I assure so you too with much pleasure, that the victuals are much beta « ter dressed, than before, and with one half less trouble to “ the servants. In a word, I cannot express to you the con« venience; the neatness, and the saving, which distinguish « the improvements, introduced into the hospital under your “ direction. The kitchen, the washing room, and the drying

room, aré só admirably contrived, that, in my humble opin“ jon, it would be impossible to improve them.

“ The lord provost and magistrates join me in acknowla « edgements &c.

« JAMES JACKSON.”

The utility of Rumford's schemes for the relief of the poor, and particularly those for feeding them; has not been confined to those great institutions, of which he has been the author. But the principal cities in Europe have opened public eating houses, or soup shops, agreeably to his recommendations. The French have adopted many of them, and « soup shops are established in every part of Paris, where *s soupe à la Rumford is distributed to thousands daily."

(To be continued.)

REMARKS ON THE PREFACE TO HERON'S

JUNIUS.

In a late edition of the letters of Junius by Robert Heron esq. there is prefixed what the author terms a " dis“ quisition, historical, philosophical, and critical, upon the “ essential and distinctive nature of eloquence.” His inducement to this work arises from the low estimation, many entertain of the character and letters of Junius, which he thinks may be rescued from obloquy by a just apprehension of the principles of eloquence. This object he hopes to effect, especially “ since English literature possesses no good

Vol. II, No. 3 Mm

“ didactic treatise upon eloquence." From the pretensions of the writer's exordium much is expected from his execution. Quintillian with great modesty remarks, in his “ institutiones « pratoriæ," that he should not have ventured on a subject, illustrated by the writings of Cicero, except from the conside eration, that the Roman orator was in his youth, when he composed them, and that there were many refinements of oratory, which he had not embraced. Indeed no subject has occupied more pages of Grecian and Roman literature, than eloquence ; and, if English writers have restrained themselves on that topic, it was from a consciousness, that they could not improve on the illustrious works of the ancients, and an acknowledgment, that they only should teach the principles, who could best practise the art. · Mr. Heron, intending to supersede other treatises has at least secured to himself all the advantage of novelty of sysbem, and, where he would seem most exposed to contradiction, has resorted to a climax of unintelligible expression. He begins by examining the powers of the lowest orders of animals, and asserts, " that so far, as their natural history is « known to us, they appear to be universally capable each " of design in itself, and of apprehending the existence of de« sign in the minds of others. Signs, addressed to the sen“ses, are the media, by which alone the designs of one ani“ mal can be made known to another. Every species of ani“mals possesses a certain set of signs, which begin from the « unpremeditated emotions of nature ; but even with the

most unintelligible of creatures become in repeated use more * or less artificial." We are not apprized of the pertinency of these observations till the author informs us, “ that extraor* dinary clearness and impressiveness in communicating one's « thoughts by means of signs to others are eloquence in its * simplest acceptation. In its complex character eloquence * comprehends at once justness and comprehension of design * and clearness and forcible impressiveness in its communi« cation." If these observations be true, there is no difference, except in degree of perfection, between the powers of the

LLANY.
LITERARY MISCELLANY.,

288

lowest animal and the highest attribute of man. They are both endued with the fundamental principles of oratory. The animal, addressing Balaam in scripture, has, evinced nothing miraculous, but has only delivered himself in a more artifin cial set of signs, than could others of his species. If we rer sort to the author to explain our difficulty, I am apprehensive he will not be intelligible. “ For man alone it is reserved “ to use systems of communicative signs, in which native e« motion is lost in artifice; in which the senses have each a “ various series of artificial signs ; in which the signs become «. in an eminent degree the auxiliaries of complex thought ; « in which refinement, abstraction, varied combination, are « carried to the utmost pitch, at which human ingenuity can «. conceive them to arrive ;, in the use of which the native "powers of the individual and of the species are multiplied « more than a hundred fold.” One cannot sufficiently and mire the affectation of an author, who is willing to extend a theory into extravagance rather, than confine it within the limits of common sense. All men have nearly the same con ception of eloquence, although few have analyzed its principles ; in like manner all know what is intended by music, although few can practise it, or describe its rules, How absurd then is it literally to ascribe eloquence to an animal, in. capable either of motion of sound! The writer, wishing to ascend very learnedly to the elements of the art, and discovering, that there could be no gratory, unless there were dea sign and apprehension, resolved to define it, as being constituted of those two principles. He is therefore proud of hailing the whole animal creation with the title of eloquence, and of presenting them a character never before recognized. Elated with his new system, he carries: it into the " region of " the ridiculous”. “The barkings of the shepherd's dog," says he, “ acquire both in the artifice of their composition " and in their design a resemblance to the artificial speech, 9. and to the premeditated eloquence of man, . The eloquence « of brutes in general, if in compass of design it be extreme

ly narrow and imperfect, is in impresgiveness and clearnese « of communication more than equal to that, which is ordi“ narily exercised by man in a refined state of social life.”! Why the ingenious author did not philosophize on the poetic style of Mr. Harvey, and attribute the power of moral persuasion to shrubs and flowers, it is difficult to determine. He seems however sufficiently to admire his invention, and with some complacency adds, “ that rhetoricians, philosophers, “ and whoever else commonly speak of eloquence, rarely de“scend to this subtilty of generalization respecting its ele ~ mentary nature.”

The author proceeds to divide the progress of eloquence from its original state to its highest advancement into four æras. The first gave merely an inartificial expression of the strong emotions of nature. The second delighted in the exercise of art. It produced gestures, having no reference to the emotions of native feeling, fantastic modulations of voice, alliterations, rhymes, and awkward formalities of barbarous expression. The third, presenting a contrast to the two former periods, sought merely to instruct without the aid of metaphor. The fourth was the period of Roman and Grecian eloquence. This seems at least not a very natural progress of any species of art.' That eloquence in its several stages of improvement should present a series of contrasts, that, naked at its birth, it should be presently overburdened with barbarous ornaments, then appear in quaker, ish simplicity, and last of all combine the attractions of beauty, and grace, is a theory of the imagination, unsupported by history. The power of persuasion, which we mean by eloquence, must have gradually increased with the improvement of knowledge and of language. Before complex terms became in use communication of thought was restricted; and before the science of human nature was cultivated the topics and refinements of eloquence were few. Social inter

tercourse had not unveiled the secret emotions of the heart ; ' and, as its prominent passions only were exercised, they only were addressed by the orator. The state of nations, rising from barbarism to refinement, has been aptly compared to.

« PreviousContinue »