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minister to such a passion, every new publication is in a degree guilty, as well as reviews
Cicero and Pliny have taught us to consider literature as an elegant amusement. Now amusement is in its own nature light and airy. The thing is, not to have books that are too grave to amuse the mind, but of such a quality as that, along with amusement, they shall convey instruction, insinuate the principles of true wisdom, and awaken the better feelings of the heart. Men in geveral read for the mere purpose of re. laxation; and as reviews, for the most part, contain more sound principles and salutary instruction than any other works that are equally entertaining ; instead of perverting the design of reading, or giving a light and fantastic air to science and literature, they most effectually promote the grand design of learning.
The factions and parties which it is said reviews engender, are equally fomented by periodical essays and dictionaries of science; as neither of them can be advantageously carried on by individuals, and every combination will applaud its own productions and labour to bring them into circulation. Nor have reviews, any greater tendency than other publications, such as essays, biography, letters, or literary history, to wound the sensibility of genius, or fortify it in its perversities, to suppress the aspirations of talent, or encourage a dull mediocrity. That very serious abuses do occasionally disgrace some even of our most popular journals of criticism, no friend to truth or virtue will deny; but injustice, impiety, and malignity, may be unfortunately conveyed in any vehicle,--as the ass may be found in the lion's skin.
Although we have such a high opinion of Mr. O'Reid's honesty and simplicity as to be unable to question whether he be. lieves in the reality of his own doctrines or in the existence of the mischiefs on which he animadverts, we find it impossible to reconcile his doctrines with his practice. Cri. ticism, he lays it down, degenerates while exposing the blemishes of literary works ;-and yet after the example of those insects who make their repasts on the larger animals, he has taken care to fasten only upon sores. The occupation of a critic, he inaintains, is very injurious both to the critic and the public. He has not scrupled, however, to set himself down to pass sentence on at least several hundred closely, printed volumes. Perhaps he has great confidence in the vigour of his constitution, or imagines he has done his business in a style so superior to other critics, that the public, in taking vengeance on them, will spare their assailant. Simple man !
Art. XII. A Selection from Bishop Horne's Commentary on the Psalms ;
by Lindley Murray, Author of an English Grammar, &c. 12mo. pp.
341. Price 58. Longman and Co. 1812. THERE are not many books of a devotional nature that we are accus+ tomed to read with so much pleasure, as Bishop Horne's Commentary on the Psalms. It gives, in general, the true scope and meaning of each of those divine poenis; and though sometimes our judgement does not acquiesce in the applications that are made of particular parts to evangelical subjects, yet they discover so much sweetness of spirit, so much ingenuity and beauty, that we cannot but be pleased. There is no display of learna ing in the Commentary, not because Dr. Horne was himseif unlearned, but because he chose to impart to his readers the fruit of learning, without noise or ostentation. Here likewise we have the spirit, as well as the meaning, of the Psalms. During the composition, the author seems to have been entirely under the dominion of devout and benevolent feeling; and his commentary, while it affords us the justest and most affecting views of God, of providence, the condition of man, and the nature and means of securing true happiness, cannot fail to awaken devout and bene. volent sentiments in the reader, to make him grateful and submissive to God, moderate in the use of present things, desirous of better in the hea. venly country, and alive to the interests of his neighbours, as well as to his own. This cominentary, we may add, is remarkable for its language, al. ways beautiful, often touching, and sometimes highly eloquent.
Mr. Murray, to whom the youth of Great Britain are already so largely indebted, was induced, from the pleasure and profit he derived himself from the Commentary, to think that a selection of such psalms, with the comment, as contained the greatest variety of interesting and instructive matter, might be acceptable to those who have neither money to procure, nor patience to read, two large octavo volumes. In determining which of the psalms are of this description, there will no doubt be great diversity of judgment. The present selection, however, merits the warmest approbation; and it cannot be too earnestly recommended to parents, to put it into the hands of such of their children as begin to distinguish between good and evil. A better present can scarcely be made to a youth.
Art. XIII. Poems, by Lieut. Charles Gray, of the Royal Marines,
12mo. pp. 155. Cupar, Tullis.- London, Vernon and Co. THESE l'oems are of a desultory, and frequently of a very uninteresting
cast; and with a very moderate portion of the higher qualities of poetry, display considerable facility with occasional felicity, of versificaa tion : authors too often confound these attributes together, and reviewers are too often called upon to discriminate between them. Most of these compositions have a mixture of the Scottish dialect, and there is something so simply yet captivatingly sweet and expressive in the poetic language of our northern countrymen, that it often gives interest to what is intrinsically indifferent; it casts the glamour over us, and we are compelled to call up more than usual self-possession before we can reverse the charm. We quote one stanza as a fair speciment of Mr. Gray's powere..
A toom pouch an' a ragget coat, fiue
Wi' a' his yellow ore;
Owre Nature's broad expanse ;
Wi' mony a raptured glance;
Flowers springio', birds singin',
His roamin' fancy please.'
Constitution ; a Sermon, occasioned by the Death of Mr. J. S. Charrier.
By John Griffin, 8vo. pp. 62. Williams. 1811. M R. Charrier, whose death gave occasion to this sermon, was a French
protestant. The fate of war had, more than once, brought him to this country. In 1764 he migrated from France, to avoid the persecution to which the protestants at that time were exposed. After his settlement in England, the preaching of Mr. Romaine was instrumental to his conversion. In process of time he took up his residence at Portsmouth, and bę. came a member of the religious community now under the care of Mr. Griffin. His death nearly coinciding with the rejection of Lord Sid. mouth's famous bill, Mr. G. embraced the opportunity to expatiate on the cruelty, absurdity, injustice, and impolicy, of persecution,--and the tendency of religious liberty, to promote individual happiness and the progress of religion, to make our country the asylum of the persecuted, an example to other nations, and secure from conquest and slavery. On these points Mr. Griffin discovers good sense and ardent piety.. The sermon is ani. mated ; and many persons may peruse it with advantage. Art. XV. A Letter to a General Officer, on the Recruiting Serviee; to which
is added, another on the establishment of Rifle Corps in the British
Army. By Col. F. P. Robinson, inspecting field officer of the London * recruiting district. 4to. pp. 24. Price 23. Egerton, 1811. THIS pamphlet is the production of a sensible and well informed man,
and contains a variety of not merely useful but highly important suggestions for the benefit of the service. The necessity of inmediate reform in the recruiting department--a reform to be carried much farther than Col. R. has proposed — will be evident from the fact, that desertion has become so much a system, from the temptation of high bounties, that when he observes, apparently very much as a matter of course, and cer. tainly without any expression of disapprobation, that though drunkenness is said to be inseparable from the recruiting service, yet experience proves that the sober men get all the recruits ; the art lies in the serjcant making others drunk, and only preending to be so himself.'
at least one half of the recruits passed in the London district are deserters.' Of the injury done to public morals by standing armies, and by the neces. sity of supplying the enormous expenditure of men occasioned by our foreign campaigos, the Colonel furnishes us with a terrible illustration,
Art. XVI. Conferences bel ween the Danish Christian Missionaries resident at
Tranquebar, and the Heathen Natives of Hindoostan. Now first rendered into English from the original Manuscript, by an Officer in the
Service of the East India Company, 12mo. J. Johnson and Co. 1812. JT is our duty to take the earliest opportunity of guarding the public
against this insidious contrivance for the diffusion of infidelity and irreligion. That an infidel should have devised and executed this work of malignity and falsehood, is nothing strange. How it happens that the name of " J. Johnson and Co.” appears on the title page of such a work, we leave to the gentlemen who bear it to explain. · In a mock dedication to the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Bible Society, the · Editor' says that he found these pretended conferences in MS. in the Danish language, at a house in Tranquebar, where one of the English officers who took possession of that place was quartered, but which had previously been inhabited by a Danish missionary. The utter falsehood of this story, and the detestable purpose for which it was framed, are perfectly evident in the sequel. The reader will casily guess the nature of conferences, fabricated with the palpable object of burlesquing and betraying Christianity, under the pretence of defending it. The missionaries are of course to announce their doctrines in the most revolting shape, and support them with the most inconclusive and prepos. terous arguments. The natives are to suggest all the worn-out sophistries and cavils of infidelity, to which the missionaries are to find no answer, but an avowal of their own implicit faith, and a denunciation of endless punishment on their antagonists. The missionaries are to appear the most absurd, narrow-minded, and angry bigots, that could be imagined: the natives, on the contrary, sensible and well-behaved. Nothing is to be said about the burning of women, or the murder of infants; about castes, or tortures, or bloody and lascivious rites: while the dissensions and abuses that prevail in countries professedly Christian, are to be confessed, in the largest terms, without attempting to repel the inference which they are designed to suggest. The language of Scripture, and the terms of theology, are to be used by these imaginary polemics, so as to appear ridiculous. In short, every method is to be taken which the author's faculties could employ, of representing Christianity as an imposture, unsuported by evidence, and contradictory to reason; and to impress this grand practical lesson, that all religions are alike, and that the greatest of all faults is to be zealous in favour of any. The author's main object, undoubtedly, is to prevent the propagation of Christianity in the East: and therefore he artfully admits that it would be attended with danger to the British establishments, and asks, . What are the kingdoms of this world, when compared to Christ's everlasting one and what the authority of human laws and regulations, if opposed by a single word of his blessed revelation.'
On the effect of such an unprincipled work, -destitute as it is of all those literary merits which are sometimes degraded by an association with impiety,--we can speculate without much uneasiness. Every person who is at all acquainted with the subjects to which it refers, will instantly detect the cheat; and if he possesses but an ordinary share of honesty and ingenuousness, must be shocked with its audacious misrepresentations. It is only for the sake of the ignorant, the prejudiced, and those whose vices render Christianity their enemy, that we feel any concern in beholding false. hoods and absurdities, which have so often been exploded in the shape of argument, revived in that of irony and sneer. We have the consolation, however, to reflect, that no man who had the smallest hope of injuring the Christian religion by fact and reasoning, would venture upon the ignomini. ous attempt to discredit it by forgery. Art. XVII. A Concise Manual of the Principles, and Duty of a Christian,
collected from the Scriptures, and arranged under proper heads ; after the manner of Gastrell's Institutes, with an Appendix, consisting of select, moral, and devotional Psalms, to be committed to memory, with suitable Prayers annexed; by the Rev. John Maule, A. M. Rector of Norse Heath, in Cambridgeshire, and Chaplain of Greenwich Hospital,
24mo. pp. 192. Rivingtons. 1811. THE title of this little volume is nearly a correct description of its na
ture and contents. Though we have not so high a' notion of the mode of religious instruction adopted in it, as Mr. Maule, we think it very likely, in many cases, to be of great service. We are likewise of opinion, that the passages are judiciously selected and arranged; the connecting particles that our author has added, tending to render the whole more plain and impressive. The psalms and prayers appended are much to the purpose. This Manual, however, would have been improved, had several Other heads of Christian doctrine been added,such as the way of acceptance with God, the influence of the holy spirit, the general judgement, and the future state of the righteous and the wicked. Art. XVIII. Avon, a poem, in three parts, by the Rev. John Huckell,
A. B. 8vo. pp. 60. Longman and Co. 1811. THIS is a republication of a poem, originally published in 1758. It is
stàted to have been printed in quarto, at Birmingham, in an elegant manner, by the celebrated Baskerville,' and to have afterwards become • exceedingly scarce.' We presume that the scarcity must have been occasioned either by local demand, or by the elegance of the typography: for the poem itself is of a very inferior order. It has some good lines, and a few respectable passages; but as a whole it is feeble, and monotonous, tolerably musical in point of versification, but with very little substratum of thought. Art. XIX. Papers relating to the action between his Majesty's sloop Little
Belt of eighteen guns, and the United States frigate President, of forty
four guns, 8vo. pp. 21. Murray, 1811. ' THIS is a seasonable republication, in a handsome and convenient form,
of an article which first appeared in the Times Newspaper. It contains the instructions under which Captain Bingham sailed ; his account of the