Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

Might it not be worth while, then, to try the obvious and natural remedy, of endeavouring to satisfy the discontented, instead of stifling their complaints, and punishing them for complaining ?- And would not a little Reform of defects and abuses —and a little Retrenchment of expenditure—and a little contidence in the people, be a suitable accompaniment to new punishments for libels on the Government, or new restrictions on the right of petitioning ?

No long-enduring and progressive discontent ever existed without reasonable causes; and it is mere drivelling to talk of a general and increasing disaffection of thirty years standing being produced by the seductions of wicked and designing men.

There never was an instance of such a course of complaining, where the main fault was not in the Government; and, though severe and repressive measures have always been resorted to, they have never failed to aggravate the evil, and to recoil on the heads of those by whom they were employed.Such a period of dissatisfaction existed almost the whole time from the Restoration to the Revolution; and it was then treated very much as Lord Grenville is for treating the fit that is now up

But did the condemnation of Russell and Sydney-the persecutions of the Cabal-the severities of Jeffries, or the still more brutal and unremitting oppressions of the Scottish Government, eradicate the evil, -or aggravate and force it on to a most hazardous, though glorious consummation? We have had one fortunate Revolution; but we want no more. It is an experiment far too full of peril to be steadily contemplated by any one who truly loves his country. But the guilt of bringing on such a crisis always rests on the Government which is overthrown: And that guilt uniformly consists in obstinately resisting those moderate and reasonable reforms which the long continued and progressive discontent of the people have shown to be necessary—and obstinately maintaining those abuses, without which it is absolutely impossible that any such discontent should have existed. *

on us:

[ocr errors]

* Since the publication of our last Number, there has a pamphlet appeared in defence of one of the two unfortunate clergymen who got into so serious a scrape, from their zeal upon the Manchester question. We then felt ourselves compelled to expose the great, but not inexcuseable ignorance of these gentlemen ; and one of them, Dr Phillpotts, not knowing it seems, when he had enough, has, in an evil hour, returned to the charge, and, as might be expected, got still deeper into the mire. We shall certainly not think of following this unhappy man through his new set of blunders, all deliVOL. XXXIII. NO. 65.



ART. XI. Euvres Completes de Demosthene et d'Eschine, e

Grec et en Français. Traduction de L'Abbé Auger, de l'A cademie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres de Paris. Nou velle Edition. Revue et corrigée par J. PLANCHE, Profes seur de Rhetorique au Collége Royal de Bourbon. Pari Année, 1819.

W ITHOUT any ostentation of profoand reflection or philoso

phical remark-with 'few attempts at generalizationwithout the glare and attraction of prominent ornaments-wit extremely few, and those not very successful, instances of th tender and pathetic-with a considerable degree of coarsenes and what we should call vulgarity, particularly in his gre oration-and, absolutely, without any pretension to wit or hi mour, to have acquired the reputation of the Greatest Orato

vered with the presumption which is called pedantry and arroganc when accompanied with learning ; but which is truly laughable whe bottomed in sheer ignorance and conceit. One sample may suffic He persists in saying, that the offence of conspiring to levy w within the realm, is a Misdemeanour ; and cites Judge Foster, wi an air of consummate şelf-satisfaction, to show that it is so. H then proceeds, in a truly edifying manner, to exult over us,—as if must be right, and we wrong, because he has that great author on his side. Never was there a happier illustration of the maxi that a little learning is a dangerous thing: and never did hapl author labour more effectually to illustrate by examples the remar of his critic. We had blamed him for interfering in legal disput where he must needs be ill-informed; he gives us a new and stri ing proof how full of risk such an interference is to the half-lear ed. In Judge Foster's time, the offence in question was only Misdemeanour ; but in 1795 it was made High Treason by a Stati in force at the time in question. So much for this Reverend cont versialist.

As for Mr Davison, he has had the good sense to keep where was: But we truly regret to hear of his ill-advised speculation writing down the Radicals, by editing a Periodical Paper, called Englishman's Adviser. Of this we have seen some Numbers; and more complete failure is not upon record. Mr Coleridge's Frien was only tiresome, like some others who call on us weekly, un the same title. But the Adviser' will never irritate like so ma of his namesakes; for he will never be listened to for a moment. short, it is a truly melancholy failure ; and may stand at the head such impotent attempts to go beyond our own line, and force natı

-Mr Cobbet is far better qualified to read lectures at Oxford, t Mr Davison to write a weekly newspaper,

whom the world has ever produced, is a peculiarity which belongs to the character of Demosthenes. In no other instance, in the whole range and circle of the Fine Arts, is the same ascendency admitted with the same degree of unanimity. “Of the three Poets,' for instance, in three distant ages born,' what critic has ever pretended, with any success at least; to class and place them in their due rank and order of merit? Is it not notorious, that, with one reader, the vigour and freshness of the father of poetry have superior charms; with another, the delicacy of taste and passion preeminent in the Roman poet; and, with a third, the learned copiousness of our own countryman? Not to mention the partisans of Danie, of Tasso, and of Ariosto, who severally contest, for these distinguished Italians, the point of precedence with the three, most usually admitted, Princes of Epic Poetry. To the Tragedians of antiquity, the same observationi applies. The gorgeous declamation of /Eschy! eloquence of Euripides; and the measured stateliness of Sophocles, attract to each their several admirers and advocates, without being able to procure an admitted superiority. The same thing may be said of the Greek and Roman, and (if there be any who do not shrink from the comparison) of the modern Historians also. Nobody affects to say which is the best.-To take one instance more.- - In a case, in which, amongst every description of readers in this kingdom, learned and unlearned, there is a more perfect (and we doubt not, in the main, just) agreement, than upon any other subject of criticism whatever, we mean the almost universally prevalent opinion of the unrivalled excellence of our own Shakespeare-is not this very preference of the Poet of Nature considered, by our refined and fastidious neighbours; whose Capital, our Editor and Translator M. Planche, with no apparent doubt of its being universally acquiesced in, modestly terins the Athens of modern Europe, as a decisive proof of the remains of barbarism, the vestigia ruris' amongst tis? To Demosthenes alone; in that faculty which is common to the whole species, and one of its highest distinctions, and in which all mankind must have been, in some degree, his competitors, is the palm conceded by (nearly) the unanimous consent of ancient and modern times.

It is not our intention to do more than make extracts sparingly from the many things which have been written upon this subject; but we shall notice some of the most remarkable. The opinion delivered by Hume (in which he has been implicitly followed by Dr Blair) in his celebrated Essay upon Eloquence; is, of course, familiar to our readers. By no other writer, nog merely has a more decisive judgment been pronounced in favour of Demosthenes, but by none are the peculiar qualities and distinguishing properties of his style more vigorously and happily, though briefly, portrayed, than by this most acute and ingenious Critic. After remarking that his manner is more chaste and austere than that of Cicero, he proceeds thus— Could it • be copied, its success would be infallible over a modern as• sembly. It is rapid harmony exactly adjusted to the sense : • It is vehement reasoning without any appearance of art: It • is disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, involved in a continued

stream of argument: And, of all human productions, the • Orations of Demosthenes present to us the models which approach the nearest to perfection.' How well this

How well this agrees with the testimonials of antiquity, we shall see hereafter; for the present we shall only remark, that this commendation of Demosthenes is in a style of decision, and even of animation, very different from the balancing and cautious system habitually adopted by our reserved and dispassionate countryman. It is manifest he must have felt very strongly, before he would have expressed himself so warmly.

Longinus is, obviously, a writer for effect. The different authors, who are the subjects of his criticism, are, in truth, little more than instruments for forwarding his principal purpose, which is to let his readers see what he himself can do in the sublime. In his often quoted, and, we suppose we must add, celebrated description of the Greek and Roman orators, for instance, in which he is pleased to compare the one to a thunderbolt, and the other to a conflagration,_what precise idea of their particular qualities can be collected-what distinct or individual picture of the leading features and characteristics of those great masters is presented to the mind? Apart from the principal purpose of showing off, we believe he might as usefully have compared them to Frost and Snow. This writer, however, in his general criticism upon Demosthenes, after having contrasted him with Hyperides, and, apparently, intimated a pretty strong opinion in favour of the latter, (as to the correctness of which opinion we have no direct means of judging, but as Cicero is against him, we doubt not he is wrong), concludes with the following laboured and remarkable passage.

Αλλ' επειδήσερ, οιιάι, Τα μεν θαέρα καλά, και οι πελλα. Ομως αμεγάδη και xxedin výborlos, (Anglicè, sober at heart') dégran, redo Tor ergoclin neguav sõld, šdess gšu rūsgidny avæyváoxar Poßerlar-'o de Tsv zrávy 7s μεγαλοφυεσάτε και επ' άκρον άρειάς συνελελεσμένας,-υψηγορίας Πόνον, έμψυχοι πάθη, περισσίαν, αγχίνοιαν, τάχος, - ενθινδ', (ο κύριον) την απασιν απρόσιlov deivórrild xj dúrepisy, iwadi zãöld, ompel, wo Sio wizia love dwgupala syang

[ocr errors]

εισαν θεμίον ανθρωπινα) αθρόα ες εαυτόν έσπασε, δια τέτο, οϊς έχει καλοις, awalces det vixã, xàs inèe õv õx sxet, worigào zaloßgolã xài ralceménye lås απ' αιώνος μήλοραςκαι θάττον άν τις κεραυνόις φερομένοις ανανοίζαι τα οριμαία δύναιθο, ή ανθοφθολμήσαι τοις έπαλλήλοις εκάνα παθεσιν.

• Forasmuch, however, as the beauties of the one (Hyperides) although numerous, are not great in their kind,-are the productions of a person of no excitement,—are inefficient, and such as permit the hearer to remain unmoved, no one, for this reason, who reads Hyperides, is impassioned. But the other (D.) having acquired qualities of the highest order, and improved them to the highest pitch of perfection,-a tone of sublimity,--heart-felt passion,-a richness and copiousness of style,-justness of conception,-rapidity, and, in addition to these,—that which is his peculiar characteristic, a force and power which none have ever approached ;-having, I say, appropriated to himself in abundance these, which ought rather to be deemed gifts vouchsafed to him from the Gods, than human qualities and excellencies, he thereby always surpasses all competition ; and, as a compensation for his defects, he strikes down before him, as if with a thunderbolt, all orators of all times, and consumes them in his blaze. For it would be easier for a man to behold, with undazzled eyes, the lightning flashing upon him, than to contemplate without emotion his successive and various passions,

Our readers will not fail to remark, (and therefore chiefly the quotation is made)—we do not say what efforts the rhetorician makes,—but into what agonies and convulsions he throws himself to give, if possible, an adequate idea of—what he seems to think, the more than human excellence of this Orator.

Cicero, to whose admirable proficiency and transcendent powers we have done no more than justice upon former occasions, and whose testimony, upon a subject of this nature, is almost conclusive, never speaks of his great predecessor and prototype, except in terms of the most unbounded and unaffected admiration. It is perfectly astonishing,' says he, how much Demosthenes is superior to all the Grecian orators. '- In Græcis verò oratoribus quidem admirabile est, quantum inter omnes unus excellat.' Orat.-Upon another occasion, he thus expresses himself. • Demosthenes you may, without difficulty, pronounce to be absolutely perfect, and deficient in no particular.'-* · Planè quidem perfectum, et cui nihil admodùm desit, Demosthenem facilè dixeris. '-Not Plato more copious, not Lysias more simple, not Isocrates more finished, not Hyperides more acute, not Athens itself more Attic.-+Ne Athenas quidem ipsas magis credo fuisse Atticas.' Practically, and judging by experience, and with reference to any thing which

* De C), Orat.

+ Orat.

« PředchozíPokračovat »