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formation is fiction. All the merit of the work and all the gratification of taste consist in the style and exhibition of those fictions. These can be viewed with advantage only in the original language. But, if antiquity boasted none but books of science, it must be confessed the learned languages would not have so strong a claim to our attention. Science is independent of style, and truth may be communicated in one language as well, as another. Euclid has created many commentators ; and he has most merit, who has most perspicuity. Would it not be ridiculous to pretend, that it would afford no pleasure or advantage to view the original pictures of Raphael, because the most celebrated of them have been copied by subordinate painters? These indeed have been able to display some of the most prominent feas tures ; but they could not imitate those masterly touches of the pencil, which strike so forcibly in the original pictures. If then we so highly prize the originals of the inferior art of painting, that no copies would satisfy our curiosity, have not the originals of poetry an equal value ? Are there not those delicate strokes of the pen, those happy turns of fancy and expression, which form the character of genius, and defy translation no less, than the masterly coloring of Raphael defies imitation ?
But a knowledge of the language of the classics is not advocated merely for the pleasure, which it affords to the schol. ar; it is indeed requisite to all, who would write with ele gance in our own language. So considerable and so apparent is the influence of critical learning upon the style of English authors, that their merit seems proportional to their knowledge of the ancients. Milton has given us an admirable model of blank verse ; but it is known, that he previ. ously excelled in writing Latin verse.
If Addison surpass. ed not only his cotemporaries but successors in that beautiful simplicity and ease, by which his works will ever contin, ue to charm, it is well known, that he previously excelled his countrymen in his imitations of Virgil and Horace. We pass over the the names of Swift, Parnell, and Pope, te whom the foregoing observations almost equally apply, and advance to the great Dr. Johnson. This man seemed equal. ly formed to terrify vice, when he chose to assume the character of the moralist; or to delight the fancy, when he inclined to sport with the fictions of poetry. With the same pen he could give “confidence to virtue and energy to “ truth;” or he could unnerve the soul in the luxury of anacreontic numbers. But Dr. Johnson was perhaps the best Latin scholar of the age.
When therefore we find, that a familiarity with the classics has generally accompanied distinguished excellence in literary composition, ought we not to adopt the same means to gain the same eminence ?
These remarks become the more obvious, when we consider, that the philosophy of grammar cannot be acquired by a survey only of one language. In order to establish general principles it is necessary, that they be proved by an application to different objects. Those, who have been esteemed the most learned grammarians, are those, who have with the most care investigated the foundations of ancient languages ; and Horne Tooke in particular has thought it expedient to penetrate into the recesses of the Norman and Celtic dialects in order to discover the rudiments of our own. Few and slow indeed would have been the improvements of English style, had not our first authors governed themselves by ancient examples. The efforts of ingenuity in the progress even of mechanic labor are comparatively ineffectual, unless a model first be presented for imitation. It is easy to imitate, but difficult to discover. When the Romans first invaded Greece, their arts were rude, and their language was equally uncultivated. But Athens and Corinth furnished models of sculpture and architecture; and the temples and statues of Rome soon rivalled those of Greece. They were also presented with exquisite speciinens of poetry, and Virgil and Horace soon learned to echo the strains of Homer and Pin
But to view with advantage the beneficial influence, which the study of the classics has upon our own style, let us ad
vert to the first English authors of eminence. The earliest of them published their elaborate works in Latin. In the style of Hooker and Milton we discover by their arrangement of sentences and selection of phrases the strictest imitation of the ancients. And, although the idiom of our language would not permit that imitation to the extent, to which they strove to carry it ; yet, whatever excellence their style possessed, it is evident from what source it was borrowed. We are left at this late period of literary refinement to admire the solidity and energy, which they displayed in the infancy of English composition.
NOTICE OF OBSERVATIONS ON THE LIT
« ERARY MISCELLANY."
A WRITER in the « Monthly Anthology»* has condescended to make a few observations on the Miscellany. The publication, which he has chosen for the repository of his lucubrations, being rather limited in its circulation, we were unfortunately denied an earlier opportunity of acknowledging our obligations to the author for his very ingenious and aiute observacions. He assures us, that they were “ written not with any design to injure the reputation of the * Miscellany, but with the most sincere desire to promote its “ future respectability.” The design of the writer being so benevolent, we should justly incur the charge of ingratitude, were we to treat his performance with any degree of severity. Although we may be “ doubtful, whether most to admire “ the qualities of his understanding, or the feelings of his “ heart ;"+ yet we must have been a very dull to read soberly,
and somewhat illnatured to read with a sneer rather, * Vol. II, page 170. + See page 184, which probably alludes to the same writer, Vol. II. No. I.
" It is,” says
“than a smile,” some of the profound, judicious, and learned criticisms, which his piece contains.
the writer, a bad omen to stumble at the “ threshold.” We were therefore induced by motives of friendship to step very cautiously through the porch, which he had erected before his edifice, and ornamented with the labors of Johnson and other literary artists. Unfortunately however we had not advanced far into the main part of his work, before we were forcibly detained by this sentence.
“The following conjectures are perhaps as curious, as any ever spied out by the sharpened eye of an artiquarian.”
This is the first time we ever heard of a man's spying out a conjecture, and it would be highly gratifying to us, if the author would “ explain more fully, where he made his nov. " el discoveries, what Terra Australis Incognita of inven“tion he may have been exploring, or, to speak seriously," how he first ascertained, that the human eye could be so wonderfully sharpened, as to spy out conjectures.
We are certainly disposed to treat the writer and his performance with more, than decency; but we were really unable to read the following sentence without hissing immoderately. “ We proceed to the Retrospect of the eighteenth
century,' written in a style, which has some resemblance to that, which the ancients called the Asiatic, but which” &c.
The conclusion of the paragraph, from which this passage was extracted, is so similar to a note in the “ Pursuits of “ Literature,"* that we are induced to believe they both originated from the same source. The author of the obser"vations,” we presume, has too high a sense of honor to be guilty of plagiarism, and the coincidence of the passages is too striking to be an effect of chance; we must therefore conclude he has taken no other liberty, than that of applying his own ideas to different purposes.
Without doubt the writer can reconcile his introductory and concluding observations on the “ Memoir respecting " the union of the Swiss Cantons.". Candor however inexcept truth.
* See page 64 toward the bottom.
duces us to acknowledge, that we found it very difficult to conceive how a piece, which “could not instruct the learn
ed, nor amuse the ignorant," would, “ if it were sufficient*ly relieved by others of a lighter and more amusing kind, « be a valuable part of the compilation.” If the paragraph contain any inconsistency, it is expiated by the following beautiful sentence. " It is too common for those, who form
abridgements of history, instead of delineating the motives " and consequences of actions, to give only a dry detail of " facts, instead of producing a miniature, to pack up a skeleton."
The writer proceeds to notice" a series of letters to a “ student of Harvard University.” With these he is highly displeased ; and certainly he has cause of displeasure. The letters, according to his own statement, contain little,
As it is so rare at the present day for writers to pay any regard to truth, or decency, and they both appearing to be peculiarly obnoxious to the writer of the “ obsery“ ations," we think him justified in applying the lash of criticism to all, whom he shall find offending in these particulars.
Although our regard for the young gentleman borders on enthusiasm, yet it is greatly heightened, when we behold him divested of the sternness of a critic, and condescending to instruct in the humble form of a didactic writer. How extremely solicitous does he appear to communicate knowledge even to the most illiterate, He has placed his idea in so many points of view, that the intellectual eye needs not to be sharpened to spy out its meaning. His words are, as follow.
“ A quotation is seldom elegant, without it be at the same “ time an allusion, or metaphor, without the ideas, which it “ contains, be placed in a new light, parcé detorta'; and its “ meaning somewhat altered by a new connexion,"
The idea of the writer is sufficiently obvious ; but, to prevent the possibility of mistake, he has introduced a
very “ fine example of the metaphorical use of quotation.” this we think him deserving commendation, although some illnatured people would say, that it savored a little of pedant