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carries his diffidence and condescension to an extraordinary length ! He proceeds, ' I may have advanced a little way from the shore, upon • the sea of knowledge,' &c. From what shore? The shore of igno. rance ? Whenever the gentleman ventures on a trip,' he should take his partner to steer his skiff, and never go out of the reach of assist. ance alone.
Page 24. His former fancy for repetition now returns, and in a little more than two lines, he repeats the word, 'new,' five times. This inclination must be irresistible, for he is here under the influence of pe
culiar solemnity.' He speaks just below of an eye fixed in heaven.' He means on heaven. This, however, with many other inaccuracies of minor importance, may be the fault of the typographer. There appears in the sermon a supercilious disposition, and dogmatical manner, not very becoming in an ambassadonr-of a meek and lowly master.' It is to be hoped that time will correct this gentleman's egotising inclination, and that a careful perusal of Lindley Murray's grammar will improve his mode of writing. It would be fortunate, if he, as well as some others, would recollect an observation ascribed to a clergyman of Boston, that it is dangerous for any man to print a sermon before he * is forty years of age. Sincere good wishes for the welfare and usefulness of the author, accompany these observations, which it is hoped will not appear more severe than the various occasions of them justify. It only remains to say, that in the admirable charge, which, unfortunate. ly for this sermon, is annexed to it, there appears only one oversight, if such it may be called. At page 12, the fifth line from the bottom, the word for might perhaps be advantageously substituted, for the word, • but.' It is almost impossible to say too much in praise of this charge.
Cambridge, April 5, 1809.
N. B. It is to be hoped, that the sagacious reader will perceive, that these observations are imbued with the spirit of the sermon which produced them. Its character appears to be somewhat similar to Graciano's reason,' two grains of wheat in a bushel, of chaff.'
LETTERS FROM BOSTON.
Boston, September 19, 1808. Toy
THE natural prospects around this city are highly delightful. If you ride into the country and enjoy the reality of what in the town only delights you at a distance, you are never disappointed ; the scenery constantly varies its appearance as you proceed, and always adds the charm of vivacity and beauty to that of perpetual novelty. Whether
you view the city from the country or the country from the city, the magick of the scene enchains your imagination with irresistible power. The Bostonians are remarkably fond of conducting strangers through their city; as they often imagine it adds to their consequence among their fellow citizens, who are the most curious people in the universe; and in their investigation of a man's respectability, the place at which he lodges, and the persons to whom he may accidentally bring letters of introduction, are of infinitely more amount than his learning, abilities, or general manners. This peculiarity, however, from whatever cause it arises, is eminently agreeable to a visitor ; I owe to it many a pleasant hour, which but for it, would have been spent in solitary retirement. Mr. Gadfly who seems wonderfully fond of shewing himself in publick, can derive no greater pleasure than in accompanying me to all places eminent either for publick resort, beauty of appearance, or any other distinction. He knows every body, and every thing which transpires, and in our rambles, he entertains me with the characters, of almost all the passengers we meet. I will give you some of his characteristick delin. eations occasionally, as my recollection may furnish me with materials ; for I assure you they are often given with liveliness, and expressed by much finer touches than could be expected from so superficial an observer of men and manners. There is no depth, no elegance, no refinement of observation about him, but his sketches are given with grimaces so ridiculously absurd, and language so singularly constructed, that it is almost impossible to resist laughing at his folly, whilst you condemn your judgment that can suffer you to be pleased with any thing he utters.
Irregularity is a peculiarity of Boston, which distinguishes it from all the cities I ever saw ; it is situated on a peninsula, in itself very uneven, and is intersected by streets, lanes, and alleys, in all directions, of all widths, and hardly one of them straight. The streets are some of them with and some without pavement ; the side walks are part of them covered with flag-stones and brick, part of them only with gravel, and part of them with round paving stones. The same irregularity is to be observed in their buildings ; every one builds to please his fancy, so that at every corner you turn you discover a new whim. Of consequence there is a most agreeable disregard of all rules of proportion and architecture, in some edifices, whilst others are eminently elegant and built in the finest possible taste. The general effect of this freak. ishness is pleasing enough. One man builds his house upon the top of a very high hill, in order, like the spirit Asmodeo, to oversee the rest of the town, whilst the hill, daily deserting him, makes the building tremble at the foundation ; another erects his dwelling so high, that not having sufficient base to sustain the elevation, a whole side of his house has fallen through his neighbour's roof. Some choose their parlours in the air, others on the ground floor ; the entrances of some houses are so concealed that you cannot find them with. out difficulty; others are directly upon the street; some buildings present one end only to view, some are placed at a great distance from the street, with gardens in front ; in short it is impossible, I believe, to imagine a design for a dwelling house, which has not some precedent in Boston. The publick edifices in general do not evince the elegance and taste, which are displayed in many of the dwelling houses. I shall take occasion to describe the most remarkable, when I have sufficient leisure to examine them with attention.
Beacon Hill is an eminence, which commands a delightful prospect of the harbour of Boston and the surrounding country. There is a miserable column of brick placed upon the summit of this hill which the inhabitants ridiculously dignify with the name of monument. It contains four inscriptions round its base, intended I presume to revive the patriotism of those Americans who happen to read them, by allusions to the surrounding scenery: but which, from the contemptible structure on which they are engraven, and as they speak very little in favour of the patriotism or munificence of those who caused it to be erected, do not seem well calculated to produce the contemplated ef. fect. If it be a monument of any thing, it is of disgrace to the city, in suffering so miserable a memorial to stand, of the glorious achievements of their councils and their arms. The economy of the government seems to pervade all classes of the people, in regard to national objects; but in great dinners and feasts of every description, I am told, they are eminently distinguished. They eat into a great man's favour, and drink their political enemies into destruction. The money they pro. fusely and lavishly expend for such temporary objects might be col. lected and applied to the institution of some permanent national establishment, which, whilst it would leave honourable testimony of the true patriotism which originated it, would effect the necessary purposes of party, in a manner much more dignified and equally successful. Yours,
THALABA. WE have often had occasion to notice the pretensions of Mr. Southey, as a foet. In endeavouring to establish a new system of versification and sentiment, derived partly from German and French models, and partly from his own imagination, he has been the ridicule of many writers, who, if he had contented himself with a more unostentatious display of his acknowledged talents, would have been ready to have a. warded to him the panegyricks which many of his writings deserve, The poem of Thalaba, which seems to have many admirers in this country, was the first systematick attempt to innovate upon the estabs lished institution of English verse, and among all men of taste has entirely failed. It certainly has had very little effect in producing imitators. It may be somewhat entertaining to our readers to peruse the following remarks upon the versification of Thalaba.
• The first thing that strikes the reader of Thalaba, is the singular structure of the versification, which is a jumble of all the measures that are known in English poetry, (and a few more) without rhyme, and without any sort of regularity in their arrangement. Blank odes have been known in this country about as long as English sapphicks and dactylicks; and both have been considered, we believe, as a species of monsters, or exoticks, that were not very likely to propagate, or thrive, in so unpropitious a climate. Mr. Southey, however, has made a vig. orous effort for their naturalization, and generously endangered his own reputation in their behalf. The melancholy fate of his English sapphicks we believe is but too generally known ; and we can scarcely predict a nore favourable issue to the present experiment. Every combination of different measures is apt to perplex and disturb the reader who is not familiar with it; and we are never reconciled to a stanza of a new structure, till we have accustomed our ear to it by two or three repetitions. This is the case even where we have the assistance of rhyme to direct us in our search after regularity, and where the def. inite form and appearance of a stanza assures us that regularity is to be found. Where both of these are wanting, it may be imagined that our condition will be still more deplorable; and a compassionate author might even excuse us, if we were unable to distinguish this kind of verse from prose. In reading verse in general, we are guided to the discovery of its melody, by a sort of preconception of its cadence and compass ; without which, it might often fail to be suggested by the mere articulation of the syllables.
• The author, however, entertains a different opinion of it. So far from apprehending that it may cost his readers some trouble to convince themselves that the greater part of the book is not mere prose written out into the form of verse, he is persuaded that its melody is more obvious and perceptible than that of our vulgar measures. One advantage,' says Mr. Southey, 'this metre assuredly possesses; the dullest reader cannot distort it into discord : he may read it with a prose mouth, but its flow and fall will still be perceptible.' We are afraid there are duller readers in the world than Mr. Southey is aware of. We recommend the following passages for experiment.'
• The Day of the Trial will come,
" It is to suffer now.'
• Hodeirah groaned and closed his eyes, • As if in the night and the blindness of death
• He would have hid himself.?.
• Blessed art thou, young man,
• In the day of visitation,
• God will remember thee !"
• It is the hour of prayer *My children, let us purify ourselves,
* And praise the Lord our God!'
The boy the water brought ;
' Azure and yellow, like the beautiful fields
Of England, when amid the growing grass “The blue-bell bends, the golden king.cup shines,
• In the merry month of May!'
But Thalaba took not the draught, For rightly he knew had the Prophet forbidden
That beverage the mother of sins.'