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The Cigisbee is the subject of the eighth letter; and we have so often had occafion to exhibit this contemptible animal, that we shall not expose him here again to view. The ninth Letter is of the ranting kind-new exclamations on the beauties of Italy-but also (which pleased us much more) several panegyrical effufions, well felt, and well exprefled, on the unparalleled merit of the Grecian authors and artists, and particularly of the Grecian statues. Mr. Sherlock's mind dilates itself, when he contemplates these immortal models of taste and genius; and he considers the universal decline of true taste in the fine arts, as principally owing to a neglect of the study of the Greeks. Here he seems to be much in the right ;and he does not embrace this truth coldly, as appears by the following passage: “ I am so full of this idea, that having “ formed the design of composing a considerable work in Eng“ lish, I am resolved, at my return into my own country “ (Ireland), to read over again the Grecian authors, and to “ follow them as my only models." - What he says of the influence of the Grecian models in forming the great artists in Italy, and the most celebrated authors in all nations, we think perfectly true. The Grecian ftatues and edifices formed Raphael, Michael Angelo, and Palladio.—The Grecian bards formed Virgil-the Grecian orators Cicero-Menander was the model of. Terence, Herodotus of Livy, Thucydides of Sallust, and Pindar, Anacreon, and Alceus, infused the spirit of Attic genius and grace into the odes of Horace. Mr. Sherlock confiders Racine and Boileau, as the French authors that owe their superiority to the study of the Greek writers. Tasso and Metastasio surpassed all the Italians by the same means; and to these models alfo Addison and Pope owed their pre-eminence among the English. We are not quite clear about Pope's intimate acquaintance with Grecian literature; we think, at leaft, that Milton would have been a more Striking example of the sublime influence of Grecian lore on British genius. But however that may be, we cannot help being both surprised and offended at the following note, in which Mr. SHERLOCK has estimated the respective merit of four nations.
“ I allign, “ (Jays he) the first place in every respect to Greece, the fe• cond to Italy, the third to France, and the fourth to Enge “ land.”—We appeal to the manes of Bacon, Boyle, Shakespear, Milton, Newton, Halley, Dryden, Addison, Pope, Thomson, Hume; we may appeal likewise to Robertson, Welt, Reynolds, and even to the minor poets and orators of the present time, against this decree of Mr. SHERLOCK.
The eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth Letters contain good advice to a young poet bleft with genius, and eager for fame. But sometimes the counsels of our Author are such as ought
not to be followed without certain precautions; as when he re: commends history as the true source from whence a profound knowledge of the human heart is to be derived, and advises his young man to follow Rochefoucault, Tacitus, Machiavel, La Brugere, and Richardson, as the best guides in this research.To us it appears, that history is a fallacious picture of human nature ; it never presents the mild and peaceful scenes of domestic life; it exhibits to our view but a small number of actors from the collective body of mankind, and these actors, for the most part, come masked upon the stage: and then, as to the authors above mentioned, they all, excepting the two laft, turn up generally the corrupt side of human nature, and, from a spirit of melancholy and misanthropy, tinge even its faireit qualities with the same dismal hue. —Again,-When Mr. SHERLOCK recommends the study of the mathematics, or, at least, of the first fix books of Euclid, as adapted to produce rectitude of judgment, and a habit of reasoning with accuracy, he may, perhaps, be in the right; though we are rather inclined to think, that mathematical precision rarely extends its influence beyond the bounds of mathematical science. Buc were this piece of advice well founded, we still wonder to find him apprehensive that it may be looked on as a paradox; since it is known to be a trite and generally-received maxim, from the days of Pythagoras down to our times, and has been inculcated almost in every book that has been written upon the subject of education. It may be (as our Author expresses bimfeli) one of his favourite thoughts; but it is a common place one of the first rate; and the ravings of honest Will Whision, the commentary of Newton on the Revelations, and the irregular plans and innumerable tautologies of Barrow's sermons, tempt us strongly to doubt of its solidity.
In mentioning the poets whom the young bard ought to confider as models, it was natural indeed to place Homer at their head: the harmonious numbers, the towering imagination, the animated descriptions, the pathos, the energy, the fimplicity of that immortal bard, render him, in these respects, a model to all ages. But to tell us, as Mr. SHERLOCK does, that Homer was acquainted with all the sciences, and all the arts, this, indeed, is a paradox of the first magnitude. Why, Sir, Homer could neither write nor read ; and, if we are not much mistaken, reading and writing were unknown among the Greeks for many centuries after his time; since it seems highly probable, that alphabetical writing was borrowed, by them, from the Phenicians about 554 years before the Christian æra, when compofition in profe was introduced into Greece by Pherecydes of Syros. It is true, you are not the only one who has advanced this paradox: A cloud of witnesses have gone before you, testifying in favour of Homer's erudition, and maintaining that all the philosophy of the Greeks issued forth from his brain, as Minerva did from that of Jupiter. But how do these men confirm their testimonies ? By arbitrary explications, forced allegories, and by reasonings that are inconclusive in the highest degree; not to mention that the pretended science they attribute to Homer is, for the most part, a motley mass of errors, contradictions, and absurdities. The truth is, Homer was a great poet, but he was neither a philosopher nor a philologist. be composed with precision, and must be more especially of use to those who trade with the French islands in America.
- The cwelfth and thirteenth Letters are judicious, animated, full of excellent thoughts happily expressed.--Utinam fic omnia dixisset.
The fourteenth Letter contains a warm panegyric on the Earl of Briftol (Lord Bilhop of Derry) and on Homer; and it is not ealy to say which of them he praises most. There is no doubt but that they have both great merit, each in his line and way, and that the line and way of both is elevated and extensive. Lord Bristol seems to be our Author's declared Mecænas; at least, this is the third publication which Mr. Sherlock has dedicated to this Noble Prelate. For our part, we think the offerings not fufficiently proportioned to the taste, genius, and dignity of the patron ; for, after all, these Letters are rather the light and hafty effusions of familiar correspondence, than instructive relations of the state of literature, arts, manners, and society. They are indeed the effufions of a mind that is very far from being deftitute of taste and knowledge, nay, of a mind that poflefles the former in a very high degree; but they are only light and rapid hints on some few of the many objects that must have presented themselves to the observation of Our traveller; and as they were addressed in familiar letters to his friends, they do not seem to have been of consequence enough to be offered, with a serious dedication, to his Noble Patron. The great work which our Author has in contemplation, will, no doubt, be more worthy the protection of that noble, learned, and ingenious Prelate; the present publication would have been dedicated, with less impropriety, to his daughter Lady Charlotte, whose graceful and amiable portrait is drawn beautifully, and in vivid colours, by Mr. Sherlock in one of these Letters.
ART. XI. Reflexions Hiftoriques et Politiques fur le Commerce de la France avec ses
Colonies de l'Amerique.- Hiftorical and Critical Reflections on the Commerce of France with her American Colonies. By M. WEUVES. 8vo. Geneva and Paris. 1780.
HIS Work is highly esteemed by the knowing ones in the
Fronde — The Political Intrigues or Negociations of the Cabiner.
HIS interesting Work comes from the same hand to
which the public is indebted for the justly-applauded piece of modern history, intitled, The Spirit of the Leagui, which unfolds with such accuracy and candour the scenes of blood and horror that were exhibited by the ambition and bigotry of the faction of the Guises. The present Work, though less striking, is not however less instructive; for if it does not exhibit a series of warlike exploits, which aftonih, it opens uletul views of the workings of ambition, and the other human paflions, that nestle in the cabinets of princes, and from thence spread their pernicious influence through human society,
The Work is divided into nine Books. In the first, we see the painful efforts of Henry IV. to restore order and subordination in his kingdom--the spirit of faction and the remains of the League forcing this prince to acts of severity, against his natural propensity to clemency and indulgence - the progress of navigation and agriculture, and the fourishing ftate of the kingdom.-In the second, we see this monarch, victorious over his enemies, enjoying peace at home and abroad, but imbittering his felicity by an inconsiderate paflion, which cafts a cloud over the remainder of his days, and furnishes a pretext for the Queen-Consort to persevere in a line of conduct that is pernicious to the kingdom.- In the third, Mary de Medicis, devoted and abandoned to insolent favourites, adopts all their prejudices against the princes, who arm, and the parliaments, who murmur. Here we meet with a variety of objects, presented in a very interesting manner ; such as, the character of Mary de Medicis, the triumph of Condé, the remarkable history of the Mareschal D'Ancre, the disgrace of the QueenMother, the contest between her and Condé, &c. In the fourth, Mary de Medicis regains her credit, opposes her son, who, incapable of governing without a leader, falls into the hands of Richlieu, whose influence and ascendency, after having suffered several checks, is confirmed by the disgrace of his principal enemies. - In the fifth, the genius of this minifter displays all its powers, and renders him master of the King. His accumulated successes excite envy-powerful cabals are
formed, into which the Queen-Mother, the King's brother
The events related in these Volumes, when joined with the Spirit of the League, form a regular and connected history of the cabals and factions that agitated the court and kingdom of France during the course of a century. Our Author observes, in his Preface, that these events exhibit to us important truths and useful lessons, relative to the true ends and methods of government. Some of these lessons are relative to the French nation ; but the following seem to be of much more general application and utility: ift, That the monarch must be unhappy who is implicitly governed by his ministers, and becomes, in their hands, a crowned slave, forced to maintain, against his discontented subjects, principles and measures that have not his own approbation; 2dly, That as autharity has its limits, fo has resistance its limits also ; and that it is therefore the indispensable duty of the supreme councils of a nation, whose proceedings are the objects of public examination and attention, to follow measures and rules of conduct, equally remote from a servile condescension and an inflexible and factious obstipacy:
At the head of this instructive and entertaining Work we find a catalogue of the principal political writings that have been