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TO evince our most scrupulous impartiality, we publish the following Communication, without subscribing to the sentiments which it contains. The Anthology Reviewer perhaps will not think himself entirely subdued, when he is told that the Sketch of Spain, of only seven pages! contains more historical and geographical information, respecting that nation, than twenty-four large octavo pages of Doctor Morse's Univer, sal Geography. We presume that this might readily be conceded, without risking any very great encomium on Mr. Paine.
DEFENCE OF MR. PAINE.
To crush a bard just bursting from the shell! CHURCHILL. MESSRS. EDITORS,
THAT the greatest authors and most exalted geniuses must smart under the lash of criticism, is a remark frequently made and undoubtedly true. D'Israeli informs us, that Sophocles was brought to trial by his children for a lunatick ; that some criticks had condemned the vanity of Pindar, the hard and rough verses of Æschylus, and the manner in which Euripides conducted his plots ; Socrates was treated as an usurer, and Athenæus as an illiterate person. Plato, who has been called the Moses of Athens, the Philosopher of the Christians, and the God of Philosophers, has undergone a variety of criticisms ; Athenæus accuses him of envy, Theopompus of lying, Suidas of avarice, Porphyry of incontinence, and Aristophanes of impiety. Pliny and Seneca say Virgil is destitute of invention, and Caligula deniès him even mediocrity. Horace censures the coarse humour of Plautus, and Horace in his turn is blamed for fiction and obscurity. This catalogue might be stretched out “to the crack of doom.” It is not surprising therefore, that the juftly celebrated author of " Adams and Liberty' should be made to feel the envenomed shafts of envy and malignity, and the castigation of the "puny whipsters" of the times.y
The preceding · remarks I would not apply exclusively to a late publication in the Ordeal, which is considered as a harmless, good-natured attempt to raise a laugh at the silly, absurd practice of emphasising almost every word by a different type ; nor to the observations of “ A Reader” in the last Ordeal, which, though not altogether fair, discover no malice in the author. But the Anthology for March contains a most pitiful ebullition of envy and spleen, purporting to be a review of a pamphlet entitled “ Spain : an account of the publick festival,” &c. These one-sided reviewers have, with wonderful sagacity, selected five sentences from “A brief Sketch of Spain,” by R. T. Paine, jun. to prove that the author's “ prose is bad enough to deserve the commendation of his admirers ;” and they might have told us that this Sketch, which occupies only seven pages, contains more information than twenty-four large octavo pages of Dr. Morse's Universal Geography. Could they find no passage good enough to de. serve the commendation of those who are not his admirers?
It is not pretended that Mr. Paine's writings are free from inaccuracies. He is no “ faultless monster.” It is not supposed that he writes to pamper the squeamishness of fastidious criticism. Every one knows that, from the warmth and exuberance of his imagination, his metaphors are sometimes obscure. Perhaps as many instances of ill-chosen figure and ill-constructed sentences might be selected from almost any page in the Anthology; though that work is conducted by a “ Society of Gentlemen," eminent in Law, Physick, and Divinity.
From the style of this review, and especially from the concluding paragraph, it is evident, that the intention of the reviewers was not merely to expose trifling inaccuracies in this pamphlet, but to destroy the literary reputation of Mr. Paine. Many of his productions have attained to a high degree of celebrity, and the whole are now in the press, shortly to appear in a volume.
This insidious attempt to stop the subscription, by mischievously reproaching the credit of the work, merits the contempt of every friend to genius, and of every enemy to detraction and malignity.
' EPIGRAMS Are easily made ;' but to make things and to make things well, are different things.
At a literature club four witty wights met,
MELANCHOLY OCCURRENCE. A singular and calamitous event which happened in New-England, was long involved in the deepest mystery, and was brought to light a few years since. Mr. D“, when a young man, was married to a young and lovely woman, to whom he was fondly attached. A party of the friends of the family were invited to pass some days with them at his mansion in Charlestown, to celebrate the happy event. In the evening of the marriage they were amusing themselves with playing pawns. During the game every thing was redeemed but the wed. ding ring, and they all were employed in seeking for it, wondering where it was hid. Not being able to find it, nor obtaining any answer to their repeated enquiries, they became alarmed, and every one with all the servants, were employed in the search. The house was ransacked from the chamber to the cellar. The garden, the grounds about, every thing was explored in vain. Thinking it might have been stolen by a servant, notice was left at the jewellers' shops in Boston, to stop it, if it should be offered for sale. Nothing could be heard of it. The husband and wife lamented their misfortune, and were always tortured with this mysterious loss. After a lapse of ten years, a large gold fish, which had long been a favourite of Mrs. Dam, died; she recollected approaching the open glass vessel in which the fish was confined, when she played pawns ten years before. She had dreamed that the fish had swallowed her ring, and she determined to cause it to be opened. · Her directions were obeyed, and on removing a part of the entrails, just in the place where she had dreamed the ring had lodged, what, gentle reader, do you imagine was found there? Why, the ring to be sure, you exclaim. No such thing ; they found nothing, verily nothing.
AN INSTANCE OF EXCUSABLE FRIGHT. A lady of my acquaintance, related to me a story which happened to herself. The circumstance took place in Cornhill; she was at that time a young girl, and her chamber was on the first floor. It was a municipal regulation of the town of Boston, at that time, for the watch men to call out aloud the hours of the night. “Past 12 o'clock, and a cloudy morning,' had just awakened her, when she heard a clattering noise above her, which seemed to whirl about with inconceivable rapidity. Presently she heard a door creek slowly on its hinges, and something descended the stairs with a noise as terrifying as it was unaccountable. She became more and more alarmed as the sound ap. proached ; and when the something jumped upon her bed, the young lady shrieked with apprehension and agony. Mew, mew,' whined the cat, whose feet her wicked brother Robert had shod with empty walnut shells ; and who frightened at the noise they made, had been frisking about the house, and created general alarm.
" ARISTIDES, MILTIADES, PHOCION, AND SCIPIO.” THE democrats, in order to throw an odium on Mr. Adams, have published a pretended letter, in which Count Deodati is made to predict, that Mr. Adams would be treated like other great men in republicks, Aristides, Miltiades, Phocion, and Scipio; and Mr. Adams is made to add, that he expected it, and that history had verified it as to himself.
Now, in order to prove that Mr. Adams, who is well acquainted with ancient history, could not have compared his character and fate with those of the great men above mentioned, I shall give a very short sketch of each of those illuftrious men.
ARISTIDEs was a distinguished citizen of Athens, who rendered great and unexampled services to his country in the field, and so remarkable was his modesty and affability, that he consented to serve under his rival and enemy Themistocles. He was banished by his ungrateful countrymen, and died so poor, that he was buried at the pub. lick expense,
for want of estate sufficient for that purpose. We can see no point of resemblance in this character to the history of Mr. Adams.
MILTIADES was another eminent Athenian Commander. In his first exploit against the Chersonesus he was guilty of the basest treach. ery against the inhabitants of that country. On his return to Athens he was employed in honourable commands in their army, and display. ed great talents. He was at last accused of treason, perhaps unjustly, and was sentenced to death, but the punishment was commuted for imprisonment. He died in prison, but so poor, that his son Cimon was obliged to borrow money to redeem his dead body.
Surely it will not be pretended that Mr. Adams has experienced so cruel a fate.
Procion was both a celebrated orator and general of Athens. It is said he was too modest to solicit office. He was a man of a mild temper and persuasive manners. He was extremely poor. He was sacrificed by a faction in the state, and executed. At his exit he
di. rections “ that his son should forget the injuries he had suffered.”But it seems son disobeyed his instructions, and revenged himself by the blood of his father's persecutors. Historians say this was the only good action of his son's life, that he had but a small share of his fa. ther's abilities, and none of his virtues.
No part of this character or of this unmerited fate can be applied to the happy and illustrious life of Mr. Adams.
As to the last character (Scipio) we are not told whether the Scipio referred to by Deodati was the Asiaticus, or the Africanus junior ; both of them experienced ingratitude. The former having been fined, his estate would not pay the amount of the fine. The latter was strangled in his bed by order of the Decemviri.
We hope when the democrats invent another letter for Mr. Adams they will select examples a little more apposite.
Surely these instances of base ingratitude in former republicks ought not to be applied to a man, who, with his family, has received a series of honours and profitable employments, of which the history of no republick on earth can exhibit the parallel.
We are not disposed to depreciate the merit of these gentlemen ; and we are convinced that their names will descend to posterity with all the reputation they deserve, unless pretended friends, or some unguarded act of their own, should tarnish the honour, which a liberal country has most munificently bestowed.
BIOGRAPHY. I KNOW of no kind of composition better calculated to fix the reader's attention, than the history of great and good men; and of all specimens of biographical writing, I know of none, that in simplicity of style, importance of subject, and minuteness of relation, can vie with those in the PANOPLIST. Lest I should be thought singular in my opinion, I beg leave to present the reader with a few extracts.
In a Memoir of the Rev. John Newton, in the Panoplist for July, 1808, after an important relation of Mr. Newton's repeated voyages to Guinea, for slaves, we are told that through the kind procurement of a friend, he received an appointment to the office of tide surveyor
of the port of Liverpool. This place afforded him much leisure, and the liberty of living in his own way. His circumstances now became smooth and uniform for some years, as before they had been stormy and various. At that time religion was at a low ebb, in Liverpool.'* The biographer then introduces a letter written by Mr. N. in which he says, 'I find my duty is to attend the tides one week, and the other week to inspe&t the vessels that are in the docks. I have a good office with fire and candle ; fifty or sixty people under my direction, with a handsome six oared boat, and a cockswain to row me about.'. Happy man! What, though religion is at a low ebb, yet thou enjoyest thy six-oared boat, and a cockswain to row thee about ! Pattern of piety! thy sublime employment shall be the admiration of remotest posterity.
* In this extract I have taken the liberty to italicise a few technical words, not noticed by the Panoplist,