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Nor is that sprightly wildness in their notes,
Which, clear and vig'rous warbles from the beech.' The last canto exhibits a short view of the manners of diffe rent animals. The fidelity of the dog
66 Un riche marchandoit le chien d'un malheureux,
" Qui m'aimara, dit-il, si mon chien ne me reste? is contrasted with that of the cat, which is
par l'habitude et non par l'amitié.” In the description of the horse, Mr. De Lille has enfeebled the never yet excelled picture drawn by Job.
The whole concludes with the assertion of man's superiority over the brute creation:
" L'homme lit dans les cieux il navigue dans l'air,
“ Et roi par la naissance, il l'est par la conquête." which superiority is particularly asserted at the moment of death, when
du tombeau qui s'ouvre á sa fragilité, “ Part le premier rayon de l'immortalité." The notes, which form at least one-third of the two volumes, explain the meaning of some verses that would be unintelligible without them, and elucidate some modern discoveries. We doubt, however, their being perfectly satisfactory to the philosophical enquirer.
We certainly allow great merit to Mr. De Lille's new poem on the three Kingdoms of Nature. It betrays no symptom of the author's advanced age, and if it does not add any thing to his well-earned fame, it is sure not to detract from it. The few incidental blemishes, which we have ventured to notice, are far from obscuring the numerous beauties of the work : but independent of the objections which we have stated in general against all attempts to combine the embellishments of poetry with the tenets of philosophy, we cannot help thinking that the domain which Mr. De Lille has chosen for the range of his poetical talent, is by far too extensive. The consequence has been, that whilst he is evidently labouring to circumscribe his subject within due limits, he is guilty of unpardonable omissions, or hasty and superficial accounts of important topics, such as the thermometer, aërial navigation, earthquakes, tropical plants, cataracts, and others. We could wish that Mr. De Lille, in imitation of Du Morestier's Epitres à Emilie sur la Mythologie, and Dr. J. Aikin's Calendar of Nature, had thrown the notes into the work, and given those didactic details which require accuracy and clearness of expression, in prose, and that these scientific details had been occasionally enlivened by poetical description. His style has often all the ease and familiarity of epistolary correspondence, and he is never greater than when he is describing domestic scenes and occurrences, which in letters might have been more frequently introduced.
DE MOTU PER BRITANNIAM CIVICO, ANNIS MDCCXLV. ET
MDCCXLVI. LIBER UNICUS. AUCTORE T.D, WHITAKERO, LL.D. S.S... Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme. Londini, &c. 8vo. 1809.
In the annals of painting, it is related of a certain practitioner, that he had acquired a singular method of executing his pictures, which was by laying on the colours with his fingers: when this was mentioned to Michael Angelo as a curious circumstance, that great artist replied, “ The simpleton! why does not he use pencils 2” ”Tis perverse to go round about, when the direct way to your end is known, and open: and to contrive difficulties for the sake of surmounting them, is a preposterous abuse of the faculty of invention. The absurdity is greater, when you choose a circuitous path which will not conduct you to the end proposed, and when you create to yourself difficulties which cannot be surmounted. Such more especially is the case of those writers, who, having undertaken to exhibit a modern subject to the public, are ambitions of dressing it up in an antient garb of Greek or Latin. In certain circumstances indeed this practice may be approved of; as when something of general concern to mankind is to be published to the world; for instance, some discovery in medicine; upon which account, treatises of that science have been usually composed in Latin. But that a piece of British history, in which few beside the inhabitants of the Island can be interested, (and such is the book before us,) should be written in Latin by an Englishman, shews a wrong judgment in the very frame and conception of the work. It shews that information, which is the chief end of history, is not the chief object of the author : for undoubtedly he could have explainad himself better, and more clearly to the understanding of his readers, in his native language: but this was a propriety which he neglected, while in pursuit of something else.
Among the objections to composing in a dead language, it is unnecessary to mention the impossibility of expressing modern inventions with propriety. A battle fought with cannon, musquetry, and bayonets, is particularly unfit for Latin description. Here Dr. W. is unfortunate: his subject inyolved him in the relation of fights, and skirmishes, and the various operations of modern warfare. But there are other objections, though perhaps not so obvious, or strong. He who writes in a dead, and therefore unknown tongue, is ignorant of the propriety (and even the import) of every phrase that is not established by antient authority: but as such authorized phrases are by no means numerous enough for every purpose, he is sometimes obliged, for want of a phrase that will accurately express his idea, to content himself with one that comes near to it.
Sometimes, for the same reason, he is forced to adopt a general term, when, if he had been writing in his native language, he would be particular and distinct. Hence will arise a frequent repetition, or a sameness of phraseology. The pamphlet under review, contains but 145 small octavo pages; yet how often recurs the phrase “sub pellibus esse, haberi,&c.” to signify being encamped : sce p. 70, 89. Nor less often do we meet with incerta fluminis, or somewhat like it; as, paludum incerta, p. 17; incerta palus, p. 47; fluvii incerti rada, p. 30; the same word to express the various dangers and difficulties of fording a river, and marching over a bog. So again, common ideas are repeatedly exhibited under metaphors, uncouth and strange to modern readers: for example, danger by res alec plena, p. 24, 115; the central place of an island, or country, by umbilicus, p. 60, 111; an advanced season, by adulta * cestas, p. 10, 127; ver adultum, p. 130.
* Primo mense veris, dicitur novum ver; secundo, ver adultum; tertio, præceps: sicut etiam Sallustius dicit ubique nova æstas, adulta, These are some few of the objections which lie against modern writers of Latin in general: what is peculiar to this author shall be noticed hereafter.
His work contains an account of the Rebellion, in the years 1745, 1746. The plan of it is regular, and well arranged. It comprises an exordium, a short introduction to the subject, taken from the extraordinary calamities of the royal house of Stuart; a preliminary digression upon the geography, natural productions, and inhabitants of Scotland : then comes the proper business of the history, from the first landing of the Pretender in North Britain, to his final escape into France; afterwards are related, the punishments inflicted on the Rebels, the confiscations, the laws passed in consequence of the rebellion, and the effects produced by them; and in conclusion of the whole, we are carried on to the death of the Pretender, and even to the extinction of his family, by the subsequent decease of Cardinal York, the last male heir of that house. This is a comprehensive design, and complete ; it leaves nothing behind: but now, to see more particularly how it is executed.
The first paragraph of the book runs thus :
“Si cui eorum, qui hunc libellum manibus contrectaverint, mi. “ rari fortasse subeat, quam potissimùm ob caussam, non tam bel. "lum, quàm belli accessionem & quasi particulam conscripserim, “in initio opusculi, quo, perlecto fortasse eo, haud opus fuerit, “ hoc habeat-responsum, Exili ingenio parem convenire materiam · " modò ea res omnino exilis dici possit, in quâ, licèt ab exiguis “profectâ initiis, & maximi, & nostri imperii religiones, jura, & libertates, omnia denique divina humanaque haud ita pridem
This is setting out unluckily. He suspects that some of his readers may think it strange that he should choose for his
præceps. So says Servius; but he is not correct; for in Saltust. Bell. Jugurth, this phrase occurs : Eâ tempestate (nam æstatis extremum erat;) p. 108. Ed. Lon. 1714. VOL. II.