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ed; but I would ask the reader, who that was, and what was his so auspicious name ; and how that name consecrated the yoyage ? I would ask him, who that Theodosius was, who was educated in the Eunomian heresy ; and how this story was introduced, after the mention of the Thracian paramour ? The reader probably has sagacity much superior to mine, but I own it was not till after I had read these paragraphs more than once, that I discovered, from my acquaintance with Mr. Gibbon's manner, that the first soldier, who embarked, Theodosius, and the Thracian youth, were all one and the same person ; for certainly I should have supposed them three, if these descriptions had issued from the pen of any other writer. I was as much at a loss a short time after to know who Macedonia and Constantia were ; two ladies, introduced with the familiarity of old acquaintance, though to the reader apparently strangers. I rummaged the preceding pages, but in vain, for some previous mention of them. Thus by studied obscurity and allusions, which suppose a previous acquaintance with the facts, is the whole history darkened. Would not nature and ease dictate some such narrative, as this ? Theodosius, her paramour, a Thracian youth, had been lately reclaimed from the Eunomian heresy, and, having been the first soldier, who embarked in the African expedition, that voyage was consecrated by his baptism ; Belisarius and Antonina condescended to be sponsors, and admitted the proselyte to the rights of adoption. In some such manner, with more plainness and infinitely more strength, would Swift, with more simplicity, but incomparably more elegance, would Addison have told the story. Do not trust to my feeble comparison ; place in juxta position any two tales, you please, of the authors, mentioned ; suppose that of Rhynsauld and Sapphira in the Spectator, and that of Alboin and Rosamond in Gibbon ch. 45, and thence let a judgment be formed. I do not pretend ability to translate the Gibbonian into the Addisonian style ; but I think it is not very difficult by the help of the formula, above alluded to, to dress ancient simplicity in modern tinsel. For instance, the well known tale of Inkle and Yarico is thus related. “ Mr. Thomas Inkle of London, « aged twenty years, embarked in the Downs on the good “ ship, called the Achilles, bound for the West Indies, in or“ der to improve his fortune by trade and merchandize. Our “ adventurer was the third son of an eminent citizen, who “ had taken particular care to instil into his mind an early “ love of gain, by making him a perfect master of numbers, « and consequently giving him a quick view of loss and ad“ vantage, and preventing the natural impulses of his passions “ by prepossession towards his interests. With a mind thus “ turned, young Inkle had a person every way agreeable, a “ ruddy vigor in his countenance, strength in his limbs, “ with ringlets of fine hair loosely flowing on his shoulders. “ It happened in the course of the voyage, that the Achilles “ in some distress put into a creek on the main of America in “ search of provisions. The youth, who is the hero of my “ story, went ashore on this occasion. From their first land“ ing they were observed by a party of Indians, who hid “themselves in the wood for that purpose. The English “ unadvisedly marched a great distance from the shore into “the country, and were intercepted by the natives, who slew “ the greatest part of them.”*
Let the reader judge whether there be much difficulty, or much advantage ia clothing this simple narration in a modern fashionable dress, and giving it bombastic consequence. Would it not be something like this?
The object of the merchant is to fill his coffers with the profits of trade, and the thoughts of the embarking Inkle were fraught with the expected wealth of the Indies. The paternal care of a greedy father had imbrued his mind with avarice, and the weak and sordid passions of a citizen easily bowed before the demon of interest. The powers of numbers had been his study, and auspicious Mercury smiled on his speculations. The person of the incipient voyager was agreeable, the ruddy vigor of his countenance and texture of his limbs proclaimed his manly strength, and the flowing ring
See Spectator vol. 1.
lets on his shoulders recalled attention to his youthful beauty. Want of provision impelled the vessel to seek the land, and juvenile curiosity hurried the first adventurer, who grasped the shore. 1. A party of the adorers of the sun had concealed themselves in sylvestrian ambush. 2. Prudence would have dictated to Europeans a cautious departure from the shore ; 3. but impetuosity prompted the troop, and massacre was its fruit.*
Perhaps these observations may have some small influence in guarding youth against modern, fashionable, corrupted style. That, Gibbon's style is really pleasing to them, I do not believe. I am convinced many of them, if urged, would be forced to confess they never perused à moiety of the work. With heavy and tedious splendor, like a garment of glittering brocade, stiffened with gold and silver, it oppresses with its weight, and offends with its violation of taste ; and never was I able to labor through the work, or read more than detached passages, until my present object made it a duty, I am persuaded few, very few have been led by delight through the voluminous page ; and perhaps most of its applauders, like those of many other books, praise from report, and echo the applauses of others...
Fashion is too often the bane of truth ; but, if youth must be led by fashion and common fame, it may be the best antidote to remind them, that in this decline of an Augustan age, when, as in the time of Tacitus, the supposed model of Gibbon, language and composition are surely not improving, there are men, high in fashion, and high in fame, who oppose this frothy tide ; apparent rari nantes, I need but mention Mr. Fox. The enemies of that great man will not refuse to · him the praise of simplicity of diction, correctness of expression, and energy of language, like that of Demosthenes, seemingly without ornamentet because none artificially labored,
* This passage affords another example of the triplet, or, as the reviewers call it, ternary arrangement of Gibbon's sentences..
* Lallude here not so much to the speeches of Mr. Fox, however admiredo as to his mode of writing.
Vol. II. No. 4.
or extraneously sought ; really fraught with the greatest springing from nature and the subject..
Newington Green, Oct. 7, 178.45
I AM ashamed, when I reflect on the trouble, which I am likely to give you by this letter. One of the parcels, which you will receive with it, contains copies of a pamphlet; which I have just printed, and which I take the liberty to request you to convey to the persons, to whom they are directed. * I am afraid I am too presumptuous in directing part of this parcel to Congress. Will you be so good, as to consult Dr. Chauncey and Mr. Gorham on this subject, or any persons, whom you think to be proper judges ? Should you and they see no impropriety in presenting these copies to Congress, I shall be much obliged to you for doing it at whatever time and in whatever manner, you may think best. Not meaning to publish this pamphlet in this country, I have printed only such a small number of copies, as may be sufficient for the purpose of making it known in America ; leava ing my friends there to reprint it, if they please. The offer, which I now make of it to the attention of the United States,
I find to be necessary to satisfy my own judgment; and, hav-ing done this, I shall be perfectly easy, whatever its fate may prove. My mind is deeply impressed with a conviction of . the importance of the sentiments, it contains ; but I am afraid some of them will not be approved. Should this be the case, I hope that I shall at least have credit given me with respect to the uprightness of my intentions. It is certainly impossible, that in the advice, I have given, I should have any indirect views; and this, I hope, will dispose those, who may not like it, to treat it with candor. One part however of this pamphlet cannot but be acceptable ; I mean the letter at the end from Mr. Turgot, the prime minister of France at the beginning of the American war.* I am glad I have it in my power to convey such a letter to the United States; and the reflexion on the service, I may do by this, has a tendency to relieve me under the apprehensions of the defects and faults, that will be found in the other parts of the pamphlet. .
* The pamphlet, here mentioned, is entitled “ Observations on the impot. tance of the American Revolution, and the means of making it a benefit * to the world.” The doctor was a strong believer in progressive improve ment, and had more confidence, than men of his sense usually have, in the sability of republican virtue. He was certainly very kind in tendering his advice to the United States; but his enthusiasm sometimes carried him to far; and his remarks discover strong symptoms of that same revolutionary spirit, which on a subsequent occasion exposed him to the severe chastisement of Burke.
I have a grateful sense of that kind partiality, which has led you and the college, of which you are president, to wisła to be possessed of a collection of my works. I now send it you; and hope it will be accepted, as a testimony of my respect and good wishes. I have written the articles on annuities, assurances, life annuities, funds, and survivorships in the new edition of Chambers' Universal Dictionary, with the modern improvements by Dr. Rees. . I have also made some communications to the Royal Society, particularly those ir volumes lxiv, lxix, lix, liv, and liï, of the philosophical transactions. The three first of these communications have been republished, and the second much corrected and enlarged, in the fourth edition of my treatise on reversiopary payments.
Mr. Herschel is going on with his observations on the
* This letter, written to Dr. Price, was kept private, until after the death of Turgot. It certainly breathes a spirit of liberty, which was not to be ex. pected in the prime minister of Louis; and a spirit, which proves him to have been, even at that time, a friend to revolution in his own government. He was aware, that the immunities of secrecy were necessary to his safe
ty. His own words are “ je vous prie même de ne point me répondre en dé' " tail par la poste, car votre réponse seroit infailliblement ouverte dans nos * bureaux de poste, et l'on me trouveroit beaucoup trop ami de la liberté pour
No ministre, même pour un ministre disgració."