« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of the Christian religion. "They could sing and pray, and be heartily penitent for their sins, and talk of the lamb of atonement, but none were really the better for all this specious appearance. No attention was paid to giving them proper occupations, and, excepting in the hours of prayer, they might be as indolent as they chose. This convenient mode of getting themselves fed attracted many of the most worthless and idle among these people, and all who applied were indiscriminately received into the establishment, being better pleased with leading an indolent life in Van der Kemp's school, than in gaining their bread by labour.' (p. 236.)
It is scarcely possible, (continues Mr. Lichtenstein,) 'to describe the wretched situation in which this establishment appeared to us, especially after having seen that at Bavian's Kloof. On a wide plain, without a tree, almost without water fit to drink, are scattered forty or fifty little huts, in the form of hemispheres, but so low that a man cannot stand upright in them. In the midst is a small clay hut thatched with straw, which goes by the name of a church, and close by, some smaller huts, of the same materials, for the missionaries. All are so wretchedly built, and are kept with so little care and attention, that they have a perfectly ruinous appearance, For a great way round not a bush is to be seen, for what there might have been originally, have long ago been used for fire-wood; the ground all about is perfectly naked and hard, trodden down, no where the least trace of human industry; wherever the eye is cast nothing is presented but lean, ragged, or naked figures, with indolent sleepy countenances. The support of the missionary institutions in England and Holland, the favor of the government, the chace, and the keeping a few cattle, the produce of which is scarcely worth mentioning, these are the means to which two hundred and fifty men have to look for their support.” (p. 238.)
Indeed the old missionary appeared to be quite as regardless of his own temporary concerns as those of his flock. His hut is described as totally destitute of comfort, and quite consistent with the negligence of earthly cares which he professes to teach. On visiting the party at Algoa Bay, he sat in an open waggon, drawn by four meagre oxen, in the hottest part of the day, without a hat,
his venerable bald head exposed to the burning rays of the sun. He was dressed in a threadbare black coat, waistcoat, and breeches, without shirt, neckcloth, or stockings, and leather sandals bound upon his feet, the same as are worn by the Hottentots. It seems that his companion Read, as a proof of his lowliness and humility, had married a young Hottentot; and shortly after his worthy colleague finished the career of his retrogression from civilized to savage life by following the example, and taking to himself a Hottentot girl of thirteen years of age, which in all probability hastened the termination of his earthly career, for he died soon afterwards. Miss Plumtre appears to have executed her part of the work
with sufficient accuracy; but it must have required nothing short of Germau patience and German drudgery to enable her to get through it. If Mr. Lichtenstein should put his threats in execution, we doubt whether even this lady will be desperate enough to undertake the task of translating all that he may think fit to write.
ART. VII. Er Tentaminibus Metricis Puerorum in Schola Re
gia Edinensi Provectiorum electa, Anno MDCCCXII.
Edinburgh, 1812. 12ino. pp. 116. AMONG the minor excellencies of classical taste, in which our
countrymen are indisputably superior to scholars on the continent, we are inclined to give the pre-eminence to their talent in the composition of Latin verse. To the general smoothness of Vida, Sanazzariùs, and Fracastorius, and to their Virgilian harmony, has been added a virtue, perhaps the only one, in which they were deficient. Experience, and a nicer examination of metre, have long since established, even among boyish aspirants, that exception to a rule should be shunned; and that license, like the deity of the drama, should be resorted to only on unavoidable occasions. The Italian composers in Latin verse abound, however, with these barbarisms, not scrupling to admit the genitives in ii, to shorten the final o, whenever it may suit, to elide one diphthong before another; and having no regard for the quantity of the vowel at the close of the word preceding s, with a consonant.
But our business is at present with the moderns; and the analogy we wish to preserve abroad and at home, is between versifiers now living, or but lately deceased. We do not then hesitate to affirm, that there is in the Latin poetry, written and published among us, an easiness of thought and expression, and a cadence and metrical exactness, which has been in vain attempted on the continent, and even in the northern division of these realms. In this assertion we disclaim, as we despise, all nationality; with cheerful forgiveness for all the jeers which have heretofore been thrown out against our craft and mystery of . longs and shorts.' This point is to be argued, not by declamation, but by proof. A few words shall be dedicated to the support of our assumption, as far as regards all modern transmarine efforts in this department; and we shall then devote our animadversions to the examination of this attainment north of the Tweed.
The cause of a difference, which is we conceive evident to every scholar in the least acquainted with the productions of the continent, does not lie very deep. The mode of education must in all instances influence the taste; and where metre is made a branch of metaphysics, where the feelings are not carried along by the rhythm,
the Promethean spark has surely not been duly kindled. But, lest we should seem to beg the question, and to advance what may yet be disputed, let us summon two great names to the judgment. Heyne and Schweighaeuser have employed the greatest portion of iheir valuable lives in the instruction of youth. We have selected them from the crowd, as men of more power and classical attainment than the generality of their contemporaries. Yet these grave professors, one of whom has edited Homer, Pindar, Virgil, and Tibullus, have proved themselves wholly ignorant, if not of the rules, yet of the application of metre. Schweighaeuser has failed indeed in the former point; but he has modestly declared his inability in his preface to Athenæus: while the editor of Ancient Poetry has more than once exposed his want of taste and harmony. To say nothing of his laboured copy of verses, in which he sings,
- nobile epos surgeret unde mihi.' be reprints with a ludicrous degree of vanity, the following trash,
Hic mihi sit Varius ; juvet huic me jungere amicum ;
Inque tui Jahni delituisse sinu.
Redditus ah! priscis sic mihi visus ero. We wave the advantage of bringing forward the poetry of Drs. Goodall and Warton, or any other instructors or professors, in comparison with the omoioteleuta, and other beauties above cited. For, among us, the meed of Latin versification is not alone to be presented to the high-priests of classical literature; nor do they perhaps stand more prominent than the physician or the lawyer. Sir G. Baker, Hardinge, Tweddell, with a host of names, which it were tedious to insert, have wooed the Latin muse probably as successfully as their instructors. In our senate, some of the most skilful debaters, and sound politicians have drank deep from this spring : among whom we might enumerate Charles Fox, Mr. Canning, Mr. R. Smith, Mr. Robinson, the present Judge Advocate, and the two members for the university of Cambridge; and might probably extend our list to at least one fourth of the house of commons, without discovering in the pains formerly employed on this, a deterioration of the other mental faculties.
The utility of these studies may be matter for future discussion: suffice it now to rejoice that they never perhaps flourished more vigorously than in the present season; and that our • longs and shorts" have hitherto withstood all the ungenial blasts from the North. They have alike repelled the battering of foul language, and the ambuscade of hypothesis. The article under review is a proof how inefficient argument, ridicule, and advice have hitherto been; and it may by some be regarded as an honourable concession to our
metrical prejudices. But let us not be deceived, and slumberfor the book of Tentamina is evidently a formidable engine of annoyance, which assumes a friendly appearance for unholy purposes. It was doubtless launched into the world to shew the silly admirers of metre, how vain and frail their idol is; and by an accumulation of sins against syntax, prosody, and sense, to hold up to us the impotency of verse, and imagination.
There may be a patent method of instruction in philosophy, criricism, and some branches of the belles lettres, but it is absurd to hold the rule and line in the track of fancy. If the object is to stimulate, taste must be directed, and not controlled, and for the direction of the youthful mind, if we judge by its progress, we should hold, that those plans are best which are adopted in our places of public instruction. Among the auxiliary institutious which have aided boyish ambition in the developement of its imagination, exelusively of oral doctrine, pecuniary encouragement, and prize-books, the periodical publication of a selection of the best school exercises in verse, has been adopted at Eton aud elsewhere. We have every reason to believe that this stimulus has not been misapplied, and that the printed deeds of the father have not unfrequently urged the son to similar efforts. The two collections of the Musce Elonenses would indeed prove this point, inasmuch as the latter is far superior to its predecessor, notwithstanding the first work received the corrections of some of the contributors after they had entered into life. To the same cause we may refer llardinge's Later compositions, and the elegant selections from the classical portfolio of the Hon. W. Herbert.
Considering the Tentamina' seriously in this view, the reader will only regret the improvident zeal, which, mistaking the infancy of an art for its perfection, has forwarded an abortive production. When satire has been keen, there is double claim to energy in a Palinodia, and we are surprised that Mr. Pillans's haste (for to him, as rector of the High School, we owe this collection) should have so far outstripped his judgment, as to throw in our way such a provocative to retaliation. · The Musa Edinenses, as we have seen them quaintly stiled, have been compared with the Musa Etonenses, and they certainly have one resemblance-that of alliteration. We can discover no other point of analogy.-At first we bethought ourselves of instituting a comparison between it, and the Selecta è Profanis, being a sober selection of approved Latin prose; but a few lines of the Tentamina disappointed our endeavours, for while we compared such a verse as
Hic tabulatis, et domibus pars magna videtur. [T'ent. p. 1.] with, Atinter homines, gens nulla est tam fera, quæ non [Sel.è Prof.p.1.] in other instances we discovered, that, although we could balance
the prosodia of the two books very fairly, Selecta had the start of syntax over Electa. We shall therefore compare Scotch Latin poetry in the sequel, with itself, and citing some earlier compositions with those of the Tentamina, draw, as far as we are able, a fair inference of the progress made in this line, and the superiority of the last publication.
Mr. Pillans is, it seems, the John Knox of poetical discipline in the High School at Edinburgh. We are informed that he has put in practice hypotheses, which to our weakness had appeared impossible; and the results of which are very fairly ascertained by the Tentamina. Were this a mere publication of boys themselves, or the foolish partiality of ignorant and over fond parents, we should not have considered it our province to appreciate its merits or defects. We should have abandoned it to the fate of similar productions. But when a grave gentleman informs us of the youth of his practitioners, (which might claim our cheerful acquiescence in a few errors,) and yet tells us in the same breath, that their compositions were corrected by their tutors, the case is altered, and the poetical qualifications of these seventh-form boys' is fairly and naturally brought before our tribunal. Mr. Pillans modestly says in his preface,
Non igitur ob hoc in publicum prodeunt, ut cum exquisitioribus in scholis Anglicis versibus confectis comparentur, ubi pueri a teneris unguibus usque ad decimum septimum annum in his studiis versantur; sed partim, ut experimenti in disciplinâ publicâ exitus cum civibus communicetur; partim ut, quantum in me est, deleatur ista macula, quæ penitus jam insedit atque inveteravit in Scotorum nomine : quod ii, qui de scientiâ et philosophiâ optimè meruerunt, literis humanio-. ribus minus imbuti sunt, præsertim in prosodia quotidie titubant.
“Nec mihi injucundum erit, hoc extremo et inusitato honoris præmio afficere, atque ita ad majora accendere, pueros ingenuos, qui honestis tantum stimulis exciti, et præter laudem, nullius avari,' se huic studio dediderunt, et nulla parte disciplina tralaticiæ neglectà, hæc insuper, subsecivi temporis opera, elaborârunt.
• Mihi quoque persuasum est, non sine oblectatione quâdam hocce opusculum lecturos esse illos, quos vim et naturam animi eo tempore intueri juvat, quo dotes ejus incrementa sumere inceperint; et simul observare, quam sensim in eodem exercitationis genere proficiant.
Agreeing, as we do, with Mr. Pillans, on the point of Latin verses, that'macula jam insedit atque inveteravit in Scotorum nomine-qui literis humanioribus minus imbuti sunt, et quotidie in prosodiâ titubant,' we regret that his present endearour has been more calculated to perpetuate false quantities among his countrymen than to expel them. To those who are accustomed to trip daily, the present of a rotten staff is not very acceptable. But we are satisfied in some measure, that the use of Latio versification is ac