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|Ь.ч:г stnical precepts interdicted them from disclosing. The German poets, and some succeeding English authors, have produced a prodigious effect by the use of this powerful instrument; but nothing can exceed the original sketches of it exhibited in Lear, in Hamlet, in Timón of Athens, and in some parts of Richard and of Othello. He has likewise drawn, with the hand of a master, the struggles of nature under the immediate contemplation of approaching death; and that without those supports of conscious dignity or exertion with which all other writers have thought it necessary to blend or to contrast their pictures of this emotion. But it is in the excitement of the two proper tragic passions of pity and terror, that the force and originality of his genius are most conspicuous ; pity not only for youth and innocence, and nobleness and virtue, as in Imogen and Desdemona, Brutus and Cariolanus—but for insignificant persons like the Duke of Clarence, or profligate and worthless ones like Cardinal Wolsey; —terror, in all its forms, from the madness of Lear, and the ghost of Hamlet, up to the dreams of Richard and Lady Macbeth. In comparing tho effects of such delineations with the superstitious horror excited by the mythological persons of the Greek drama, the vast superiority of the English author cannot fail to be apparent. Instead of supernatural beings interfering with their cold and impassive natures, in the agitations and sufferings of men, Shakespeare employs only the magic of powerful passion, and of the illusions to which it ¡lives birth. The phantoms and apparitions which he occasionally conjures up to add to the terror of the scene, are in truth but a bolder personification of those troubled dreams, and thick coming fancies, which harrow up the souls of guilt and agony, and even his sorcery and incantation are but traits of the credulity and superstition which so frequently accompany the exaltation of the greater passions. But perhaps the most miraculous of all his representations, are those in which he has pourtrayed the wanderings of a disordered intellect, and especially of that species of distraction which arises from excess of sorrow. Instead of being purelyterrible, those scenes are, in his hands, in the highest degree touching and pathetic; and the wildness of fancy, and richness of imagery which they display, are even less admirable than the constant, though incoherent expression of that one sentiment of agonizing grief which had overborne all the faculties of the


Such are the chief beauties which Madame le Staël disenvers in Shakespeare: and though they are not perhaps exactly what an English reader would think of bringing most into notice, it is interesting to know what strikes an intelligent foreigner, in pieces with which we ourselves have always been familiar. The chief fault she imputes to him, besides the mixture of low buffoonery with tragic passion, are occasional tediousness and repetition—too much visible horror and bloodshed—and the personal deformity of Caliban and Richard

III.; for all which we shall leave it to our readers to make the best apology they can.

Madame de Staél thinks very poorly of our talent for pleasantry; and is not very successful in her delineation of what we call humour. The greater part of the nation, she says, lives either in the serious occupations of business and politics, or in the tranquil circle of family affection. What is called society, therefore, has scarcely any existence among them; and yet it is in that sphere of idleness and frivolity, that taste is matured, and gaiety made elegant. They are not at all trained, therefore, to observe the finer shades of character and of ridicule in real life; and consequently neither think of delineating them in their compositions, nor are aware of their merit when delineated by others. We are unwilling to think this perfectly just; and «re encouraged to suspect, that the judgment of the ingenious author may not be altogether without appeal on such a subject, by observing, that she represents the paltry flippancy and disgusting affectation of Sterne, as the purest specimen of true English humour; and classes the character of Falstaff along with that of Piftot. аз parallel instances of that vulgar caricature from which the English still condescend to receive amusement. It is more just, however, to observe, that the humour, and in general the pleasantry, of our nation, has very frequently a sarcastic and even misanthropic character, which distinguishes it from the mere playfulness and constitutional gaiety of our French neighbours; and that we have not, for the most part, succeeded in our attempts to imitate the graceful pleasantry and agreeable trifling of that ingenious people. We develope every thing, she maintains, a great deal too laboriously,' and give a harsh and painful colouring to those parts which the very nature of their style requires to be but lightly touched and delicately shaded. We never think we are heard, unless we cry out; —nor understood, if we leave any thing untold :—an excess of diffuseness and labour which could never be endured out of our own island. It is curious enough, indeed, to observe, that men who have nothing to do with their time but to get rid of it in amusement, are always much more impatient of any kind of tediousness in their entertainers, than those who have but little leisure for entertainment. The reason is, we suppose, that familiarity with business makes the latter habitually tolerant of tediousness; while the les.» engrossing pursuits of the former, in order to retain any degree of interest, require a very rapid succession and constant variety. On the whole, we do not think Madame de Staël very correct in her notions of English gaiety; and cannot help suspecting, that she must have been in some respects unfortunate in her society, during her visit to this country.

Her estimate of our poetry, and of our works of fiction, is more unexceptionable. ?he does not allow us much invention, in the strictest sense of that word; and still less grace anil spriahtliness in works of a light and playful character: But, for glowing descriptions of nature—for the pure language of the affection?—for profound thought and lofty sentiment, she admits, that the greater poets of England are superior to any thing else that thv world has yet exhibited. Milton, Young, Thomson, Goldsmith, and Gray, seem to be Ьт chief favourites. We do not fold that Cowper. or any later author, had come to her knowledge. The best of them, however, ehe -л vs. are chargeable with the national faults oi exaggeration, and ldes longueurs.' She nv.-rrates the merit, we think, of our novels, \vh-n sh° says, that with the exception of La Nouvelle Heloise,which belongs exclusively to tht> acnius of the singular individual who produced it. and lias no relation to the character of his nation, all the novels that have succeeded in France have been undisguised imitations of the English, to whom she ascribes, without qualification, the honour of that meritorious invention.

The last chanter upon English literature relates to thc'ir philosophy and eloquence; and here, though the learned author seems aware of the transcendent merit of Bacon, we rather think she proves herself to be unacquainted with that of his illustrious contemporaries or immediate succesesors, Hooker, Taylor, and Barrow—for she places Bacon as the only luminary of our sphere in the period preceding the Usurpation, and considers the true era of British philosophy as commencing with the reign of Kins William. We cannot admit the accuracy of this intellectual chronology. The character of the English philosophy is to be patient, profound, and always guided by a view to utility. They have done wonders in the metaphysic of the understanding; but have not equalled De Retz, La Bruyère, or even Montaigne, in their analysis of the passions and dispositions. The following short passage is full of sagacity and talent.

"Les Anglais ont avancé dans Ips sciences philosophiques comme dans l'industrie commerciale, à l'aide de la patience et du temps. Le penchant de ¡eure philosophes pour les abstractions scmhloit devoir les entraîner dans des systèmes qui pouvoient être contraires ñ la raison; mais l'esprit de calcul, oui régularise, dans leur application, les combinaisons abstraites, la moralité, qui est la plus expérimentale de toutes les idées humaines, l'intérêt du commerce, l'amour de la liberté, ont toujours ramené les philosophes Anglais à des résultats pratiques. Que d'ouvrnaes enuepris pour servir utilement les hommes, pour l'éducation des enfans, pour le soutapement Нез malheureux, pour l'économie politique, la législation criminelle, les sciences, la morale, la métaphysique! Quelle philosophie dans les conceptions! quel respect pour l'expérience dans le choix des moyens!

"C'est à la liberté qu'il faut attribuer cette émulation et cette sagesse. On pouvoit si rarement •e flatter en France d'influer par ses écrits sur les institutions de son pays, qu'on ne songeoit qu'à montrer de l'esprit dans les discussions mßme les plus «érieuseg. On poussait jusqu'au paradoxe un »yetcme vrai dans une certaine mesure; la raison ne pouvant avoir une effet utile, on vouloit au moins lot le paradoxe fût brillant. D'ailleurs sous une monarchie absolue, on pouvoir sans danger vanter, comme dan» le Contrat Social, la démocratie pure; mais on n'auroit point osé approcher des idées possible«. Tout ptoit jeu d'esprit en France, hors lea arrêts du du roi: tandis qu'en Angle


She returns again, however, to her former imputation of "longueurs," and repetitions, and excessive development; and maintain-., that the greater part of English books are obscure, in consequence of their prolixity, and of the author's extreme anxiety to be perfectly understood. We suspect a part of the confusion is owing to her want of familiarity with the language. In point of fact, we know of no French writer on similar subjects so concise as Hume or Smith; and believe we might retort the charge of longueurs, in the name of the whole English nation, upon one half of the French classic authors—upon their Rollin and their Masillen—their D'Alembert—their Buffon—their Helvetius—and the whole tribe of their dramatic writers:—while as to repetitions, we are quite certain that there is no one English author who has repeated the same ideas half so often as Voltaire himself—certainly not the most tedious of the fraternity. She complains also of a want of warmth and animation in our prose writers. And it is true that Addison and Shaftesbury are cold; but the imputation only convinces us the more, that sne is unacquainted with the writings of Jeremy Taylor, and that illustrious train of successors which has terminated, we fear, in the person of Burke. Our debates in parliament, she says, are more remarkable for their logic than their rhetoric ; and have more in them of satcasm, than of poetical figure and ornament. And no doubt it is so—and must be so—in all the discussions of permanent assemblies, occupied from day to day, and from month to month, with great questions of internal legislation or foreign policy. If she had heard Fox or Pitt, however, or Burke or Windham, or Grattan, we cannot conceive tliat she should complain of otir want of animation; and. warm as she is in her encomiums on the eloquence of Mirabeau, and some of the orators of the first revolution, she is forced to confess, that our system of eloquence is better calculated for the detection of sophistry, and the effectual enforcement of all salutary truth. We really are not aware of any other purposes which eloquence can serve in a great national assembly.

Here end her remarks on our English literature—and here we must contrive also to close this desultory account of her lucubrations— though we have accompanied her through little more than one halt of the work before ue. It is impossible, however, that we can now find room to say any thing of her exposition of German or of French literature—and still less of her anticipations of the change which the establishment of a Republican government in the last of those countries is likely to produce,—or of the hints and cautions with which, in contemplation of that event, she thinks it necessary to provide her countn men. These are perhaps the most curious parts of the work :—but we cannot enter upon them at present :— and indeed, in what we have already said, we have so far exceeded the limits to which we always wish to confine ourselves, tliat we do no! very well know what apology to make to our readers—except merely, that sve are not without hope, that the miscellaneous nature of the subject, by which we have been insensibly drawn into this great prolixity, may have carried them also along, with as moderate a share of fatigue as we have ourselves experienced. If it be otherwise—we must have the candour and the gallantry to say, that we are persuaded the fault is to be imputed to us, and not to

the ingenious author upon whose work wi» have been employed; and that, if we hail confined ourselves to a mere abstract of her lucubrations, or interspersed fewer of our o\\ n remarks with the account we have attempted to give of their substance, we might have extended this article to a still greater length, without provoking the impatience even of the 1 more fastidious of our readers. As it is, we i feel that we have done but scanty justice, either to our author or her subject—though we can now make no other amends, than bv earnestly entreating our readers to study both of them for themselves.

(Juia, 1806.)

The Complete Works, in Philosophy, Politics, and Morals, of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin. Now first collected and arranged. With Memoirs of his Early Life, written by himself.— 3 vols. 8vo. pp. 1450. Johnson, London: 1806.

Nothing, we think, can show more clearly thu singular want of literary enterprise or activity, in the United States of America, than tliat no one has yet been found in that flourishing republic, to collect and publish the works of their only philosopher. It is not even very creditable to the liberal curiosity of the English public, that there should have been no complete edition of the writings of Dr. Franklin, till the year 1806: and we should have been altogether unable to account for the imperfect and unsatisfactory manner in which the task has now been performed, if it had not been for a statement in the prefatory advertisement, which removes all blame from the editor, to attach it to a higher quarter. It is there stated, that rece'itly after the death of the author, his pranasoii, to whom the whole of his papers had been bequeathed, made a voyage to London, for the purpose of preparing and disposing of a complete collection of all his published and unpublished writings, with memoirs of his life, brought down bv himself to the year 1757, and continued to his death by his descendant. It was settled, that the work should be published in three quarto volumes, in England, Germany, and France; and a negotiation was commenced with the booksellers, as to the terms of the purchase and publication. At this stage of the business, however, the proposals were suddenly withdrawn; and nothing more has been heard of the work, in this its fair and natural market. l:The proprietor, it seems, had found a bidder of a different description, in some émissunt of Government, whose object was to withhold the manuscripts from the world,— not to benefit it by tneir publication; and they thus either passed into other hands, or the person to whom they were bequeathed, received a remuneration {or suppressing them."

If this statement be correct, we have no hesitation in saying, that no emissary of Govcrumeiit was ever employed on a more miser

able and unworthy sen-ice. It is ludicrous to talk of the danger of disclosing in 1795, any secrets of state, with regard to the war of American independence: and as to any anecdoies or observations that might give offence to individuals, we think it should always be remembered, that public functionaries are the property of the public; that their character belongs to history and to posterity; and that it is equally absurd and discreditable to think of siippressing any part of the evidence by which their merits must be ultimately determined. But the whole of the works that have been suppressed, certainly did not relate to republican politics. The history of the author's life, down to 1757. could not well contain any matter of offence; and a variety of general remarks and speculations which he is understood to have It ft behind him, might have been permitted to see the light, though his diplomatic revelations had been forbidden. The emissary of Government, however, probably took no care ot those things. He was resolved, we suppose, "to leave no rubs nor botches in his work:" and, to stifle the dreaded revelation, bethought the best way was to strangle all the innocents in the vicinage.

Imperfect as the work now before us necessarily is, we think the public is very niiic-li ! indebted to its editor. It is presented in a 'cheap and unostentatious form; and though it contains little that has not been already printed as the composition of the author, and does not often settle any point of disputed authenticity in a satisfactory manlier, it sct'iiif. on the whole, to have been compiled with sufficient diligence, and arranged with considerable judgment. Few writings, indeed, require the aid of a commentator less than those of Dr. Franklin; and though this editor is rather too sparing of his presence, we aiv infinitely better satisfied to be left now and I then to our conjectures, than to be incumberI ed with the explanations, and overpowered with the loquacity, of a more officious attendant.

\Ye Jo not propose to give any thing like a repilar account of the papers contained in these volumes. The best of them have long been tamiliar to the public; and there are many which it was proper to preserve, that cannot now be made interesting to the general reader. Dr. Franklin, however, is too great a man to be allowed to walk past, without some observation: and our readers, we are persuaded, will easily forgive us, if we yield to the temptation of making a few remarks on hi* character.

This self-taught American is the most rational, perhaps, of all philosophers. He never loses sight of common sense in any of his speculations; and when his philosophy does not consist entirely in its fair and vigorous application, it is always regulated and controlled by it in its application and result. No individual, perhaps, ever possessed a juster understanding; or was so seldom obstructed in the use of it, by indolence, enthusiasm, or authority.

Dr. Franklin received no regular education; and he spent the greater part of his life in a society where there was no relish and no encouraaement for literature. On an ordinary mind, these circumstances would have produced their usual effects, of repressing all eorts of intellectual ambition or activity, and perpetuating a generation of incurious mechanics: but to an understanding like Franklin's, we cannot help considering them as peculiarly propitious; and imagine that we can trace back to them, distinctly, almost all the peculiarities of his intellectual character.

Regular education, we think, is unfavourable to vigour or originality of understanding. Lie civilization, it makes society more intelligent and agreeable; but it levels the distinctions of nature. It strengthens and assists the feeble; but it deprives the strong of his triumph, and casts down the hopes of the aspiring. It accomplishes this, not only by training up the mind in an habitual veneration f<>r authorities, but, by leading us to bestow a disproportionate degree of attention upon studies that are only valuable as keys or instrument* for the understanding, they come at la*t to be regarded as ultimate objects of pursuit: and the means of education are absurdly mistaken for its end. How many powerful understandings have been lost in the Dialectics of Aristotle! And of how ranch good philosophy are we daily defrauded, by the preposterous error of taking a knowledge of prosody for useful learning! The mind of a man, who has escaped this tniininrr. will at least have fair play. Whatever other errors he may fall into, he will be safe at least from these infatuations: And if hu thinks proper, after he grows up, to study Greek, it will probably be for some better parpóse than to become critically acquainted iritù ils dialects. His prejudices will be those of a man, and not of a schoolboy; and ais spéculations and conclusions will be inde

pendent of the maxims of tutors, and the oracles of literary patrons.

The consequences of living in a refined and literary community, are nearly of the same kind with those of a regular education. There are so many critics to be satisfied—so many qualifications to be established—so many rivals to encounter, and so much derision to be hazarded, that a young man is apt to be deterred from so perilous an enterprise, and led to seek for distinction in some safer line of exertion. He is discouraged by the fame and the perfection of certain models and favourites, who are always in the mouths of his judges, and, "under them, his genius is rebuked/' and his originality repressed, till he sinks into a paltry copyist, or aims at distinction, by extravagance and affectation. In such a state of society, he feels that mediocrity has no chance of distinction: and what beginner can expect to rise at once into excellence * He imagines that mere pood sense will attract no attention; and that the manner is of much more importance than the matter, in a candidate for public admiration. In his attention to the manner, the matter is apt to be neglected; and, in his solicitude to please those, who require elegance of diction, brilliancy of wit, or harmony of periods, he is in some danger of forgetting that strength of reason, and accuracy of observation, by which he first proposed to recommend himself. His attention, when extended to so many collateral objects, is no longer vigorous or collected ;—the stream, divided into so many channels, ceases to How either deep or strong;—he becomes an unsuccessful pretender to fine writing, or is satisfied with the frivolous praise of elegance or vivacity.

We are disposed to ascribe so much power to these obstructions to intellectual originality, that we cannot help fancying, that if Franklin had been bred in a college, he would have contented himself with expounding the metres of Pindar, and mixing argument with his port in the common room; and that if Boston had abounded with men of letters, he would never have ventured to come forth from his printing-house; or been driven back to it, at any rate, by the sneers of the critics, after the first publication of his Essays in the Busy Body.

This will probably be thought exaggerated; but it cannot be denied, we think, that the contrary circumstances in his historv had a powerful effect in determining the character of his understanding, and in producing those peculiar habits of reasoning and investigation by which his writings are distinguished. He was encouraged to publish, because there was scarcely any one around him v horn he could not easily excel. He wrote with great brevity, because he had not leisure for more voluminious compositions, and because he knew that the readers to whom he addressed himself were, for the most part, as busy as himself. For the same reason, he studied great perspicuity and simplicity of statement. Hie countrymen had then no relish for fine writing, and could not easily be made to underF

«land a deduction depending on a long or ¿laboiate process of reasoning. He was forced, therefore, to concentrate what he had to say; and since he had no chance of being admired for the beauty of his composition, it was natural for him to aim at making an impression by the force and the clearness of his statements.

His conclusions were often rash and inaccurate, from the same circumstances which rendered his productions concise. Philosophy and speculation did not form the business of his lite; nor did he dedicate himself to any particular study, with a view to exhaust and complete the investigation of it in all its parts, and under all its relations. He engaged in every interesting inquiry that eugeested itself to him, rather as the necessary exercise of a powerful and active mind, than as a task which he had bound himself to perform. He cast a quick and penetrating glance over the facts and the data that were presented to him; and drew his conclusions with a rapidity and precision that have not often been equalled. But he did not generally stop to examine the completeness of the dala upon which he proceeded, nor to consider the ultimate effect or application of the principles to which he had been conducted. In all questions, therefore, where the facts upon which he was to determine, and the materials from which his judgment was to be formed, were either few in number, or of such a nature as not to be overlooked, his reasonings are, for the most part, perfectly just and conclusive, and his decisions unexceptionably sound; but where the elements of the calculation were more numerous and widely scattered, it appears to us that he has often been precipitate, and that he has either b»en misled by a partial apprehension of the conditions of the problem, or hasdiscovered only a portion of the truth which lay before him. In all physical inquiries; in almost all questions of particular and immediate policy; and in much of what relates to the practical wisdom and happiness of private life, his views will be found to be admirable, and the reasoning by which they are supported most masterly and convincing. But upon subjects of general politics, of abstract morality, and political economy, his notions appear to be moro unsatisfactory and incomplete. He seems to have wanted leisure, and perhaps inclination also, to spread out before him the whole vast premises of those extensive sciences, and scarcely to have had patience to hunt for his coni-Iusions through so wide and intricate a region ¡is that upon which they invited him to enter. He has been satisfied, therefore, on many occasions, with reasoning from a very limited view of the facts, and often from a particular instance; and he has done all that sagacity and sound sense could do with such materials: but it cannot excite wonder, if he has sometimes overlooked an essential part of the argument, and often advanced a particular truth into the place of a general principle. He seldom reasoned upon those subjects at all, we believe, without having some practical application of them immediately in view; and as

he began the investigation rather to determine a particular case, than to establish a general maxim, so he probably desisted as soon as hehad relieved himself of the present difficulty.

There are not many among the thoroughbred scholars and philosophers of Europe, w ho can lay claim to distinction in more than one or two departments of science or literature. The uneducated tradesman of America h?.~ left writings that call for our respectful attPi,tion, in natural philosophy.—in politics.— ri political economy.—and in general literature and morality.

Of his labours in the department of PAi/s/r.*. we do not propose to say much. They \v<-re almost all suggested by views of utility in the beginning, and were, without exception, npplied, we believe, to promote such view s ш the end. His letters upon Elietrieity have been more extensively circulated than any of his other writings of this kind; and are entitled to more praise and popularity than they seem ever to have met with in this country. Nothing can be more admirable than the luminous and graphical precision with which the experiments are narrated: the ingenuity with which thev are projected: and the sajmcity with which the conclusion is infemd. limited, and confirmed.

The most remarkable thin<r, however, in these, and indeed in the whole of his physical speculations, is the unparalleled simplicity and facility with which the reader is conducted from one stage of the inquiry to ar,other. The author never appears for a moment to labour or to be at a loss. The most ingenious and profound explanations an> м:^gested. as if they were the most natural and obvious way of accounting for the phenomena: and the author seems to value himself so little on his most important difscoverie«, that it is necessary to compare him with others, before we can form a just notion of his merits. As he seems to be conscious of j.u exertion, he feels no partiality for any part of his speculations, and never seeks to raise the reader's idea of their importance, by any arts of declamation or eloquence. Indeed, the habitual precision of his conceptions, and 1rs invariable practice of referring to specific fads and observations, secured him, in a great measure, both from those extravagant conjectures in which so many naturalists have indulged, and from the zeal and enthusiasm which seems so naturally to be engendered in their defence. He was by no means averse to give scope to his imagination, in suggesting a variety of explanations of obscure and unmanageable phenomena; but he never allowed himself to confound these vairue and coi.ji <•tural theories with the solid results of experience and observation. In his Meteorologie: I papers, and in his Observations upon Heat and Light, there is a great deal of snch bold ami original suggestions: but he evidently sets but little value upon them; and has no somier disburdened his mind of the impressions from which they proceeded, than he seems to dis miss them entirely from his consideration, and turns to the legitimate philosophy of ei

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