« AnteriorContinuar »
order, as willed by the Almighty, bestow upon the vast and multiform system of the universe.' P. 232.'
With this view of the consistency of prophesy is properly connected the superior morality of the prophets theinselves, and the enlarged ideas they give us, both of the creation and the Creator. And thus the prophetic compofitions, like the divine productions, exhibit that unity of design and harmony of parts which it is equally impious and absurd to represent as the fortunate result of contingencies, or a successful effort of ingenious impofture.'
The seventh discourse inquires into the motives by which the Hebrew prophets could be actuated, and proves clearly that these could be neither interested nor political. They could not aim at popularity, nor the favour of the fovereign; riches were cvidently not their object; and it is equally obvious they were not actuated by enthusiasm or fanaticism, The honour of God, and the advancement of his religion, were the sole ends which they had in view ; and · never did the prophets of Israel betray any private or teme poral aim, or deviare, even in a single instance, from the pure and fublime object which they avowedly laboured to attain. In wealth and in poverty, in triumph and in defeat, when feated like David upon a throne, or like Amos tending the herds, they invariably declared themselves to be employed as the ministers of Jehovah in re vealing his will to mankind.' P. 282.
In the eighth discourse is drawn an admirable comparison between the fates of the two species of prophery, the sacred and the profane. The first proceeded from
• the one God, pure, fpiritual, and invisible, the maker and the preserver of worlds, the high and mighty One, who is from everlasting. It began in the infancy of nature, with the first inhabitants of the earth, from whom have been derived all the nations of the globe. It was occasioned by circumstances the most interesting and awful which a reasonable being can contemplate; the fall of a new race of creatures by sin, and the benevolent intention of the Creator to restore them to life and imn.ortality.' P.288.
It has been the object of attention from that time to this, and will not cease to be fo till the religion of Christ,
o pore and spiritual, founded on perfe&t morality and rational piety, promoting peace on earth, and conducting man to heaven, should triumph over worldly superstitions, and unite all the inhabitants of the globe in one bond of sacred brotherhood and love, . obedient to their common Redeemer, and protected by the uni. versal God.' P. 316.,
The ninth and last discourse takes a bird's-eye view of the present state of the earth, and brings to a point the judicious observations made in the preceding discourses. It proves clearly that we have fure and certain and never-failing evidences of the truth of our religion. It points out how inuch infidelity is baffled in its endeavour to account for the present appearances of the moral world, and that the approaching and final fall of the papal power will increase its difficulties still more. On the whole, we recommend this work ftrenuously to the younger clergy and to students in divinity. On the topics here brought forward they may dilate with great advantage to their congregations and themselves ; and both from the subject selected and the manner of treating it, the folidity of the arguments, the energy and perspicuity of the style, and the vein of piety which pervades the whole, this writer deferves well of the Bamptonian lecture.
A concise History of Greece, from the earliest Times to its becoming a Roman Province. In Three Volumes. By John Payne, Author of the Epitome of Modern History. İllustraied with Maps, and several Copper-Plates. Vol. I. 8vo. 9s. Boards. Johnson. '1800.
As literary merit depends on the excellence, not the multiplicity of compositions, we are not influenced, in forming an opinion of this history, by the copious lift of Mr. Payne's works, from which it appears that he has exercised his pen as a lawyer, a politician, a financier, an historian, and a geographer. It cannot be supposed that he excels equally in all these departments; and perhaps it may be affirmed, with truth, that he does not, in any one of them, rise above mediocrity. The case, however, is not the same in the walks of literature as in those of poetry, where mediocrity is necessarily considered as disgraceful. In politics, history, or geography, a writer who neither soars high nor finks low niay yet be respectable.
Mr. Payne dedicates his work to the eart of Moira, whom he compares with Thucydides and Xenophon. In his preface, he gives his opinion of former publications relative to the history of Greece; but he does not very accurately discriminate their merits.
After a sketch of the early Grecian history, oui author exhibits a short view of the oracles, and makes just obfervations upon those vehicles of imposture. He proceeds to treat of the Olympic games and other festivals, which he properly de. fcribes. In the history of Sparta, he rather leans to the opi. nions of other writers respecting the propriety or utility of the
institutions of Lycurgus, then ventures to promulgate his own sentimenis, 'though he had ample scope for remark.
Speaking of Pilistratus the Athenian usurper, he with reafon controverts the opinion of Mr. Mitford, that a real attack was made on the life of that demagogue. He says,
• As no ancient author has thrown out a surmise to support such an opinion, it muft rest alone on the reasons which that gentleman aligns for holding it; which are, i hat the account given came from his enemies; that the belief of a real atten pt t., aflatinate him prevailed at Athen; for a considerable time; and because, if it had been a fraud, it was never delected.' P.100.
To this paffage Mr. Payne has subjoined a note, which we think is not injudicious. :
That Piaftratus did not fcruple to impose on the people of Athens, appears from a subsequent event, which the above author gives from Fierodotus, without expressing any doubt of the fact. It relates to the means which were taken to reinstate Pisistratus in power when he was afterward driven into exile, which were by dreffing a gigantic woman in complete armour, and adorning her with the characteristic ensigns of Minerva, seating her in a magni. ficent car, and causing her to be conduicted through Athens in great Itate ; whilft nie, in the authoritative tone of a goddess, commanded the Athenians to receive Pififtratus. Surely this is a much less cre. dible story than the first, and, if admitted, tends very much to strengthen the opinion that the first was a mere trick; for no one would have dared to play off to palpable an impofition, except upon a people whole gross credulity had been before experimented upon).' P. 100. · He maintains, in opposition tɔ Mr. Mitford, that Xerxes really cidered lathes to be inflicted, by way of punishment, on the Hellcipont; and we do not see 1: Ficient reason to dispute the authorily of Herodotus on this occasion. A weak tyrant, in a paroxyiin of arrogance and tolly, may have given such an order, however alsurd it may appear to a reflecting mind.
The chief incidents of the war between Xerxes and the Greeks are related fruin the best authorities; and the unprincipled character of that despot is ftigmatised with merited ceníure.
The illustrious administration of Pericles is thus introduced :
By the death of Cimon, Pericles enjoyed the full confidence of the Athenix0 people without a rival, when a new æra in the history of Atheus commenced, which may be defcribed as the age of luxury and the arts.
• Pericles was descended from one of the most illustrious families in Athens. His natural endowments were of a very fupcrior kind, and his education had been superintended with the utmost care. His philosophical instructor was Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ, from whole lessons he acquired a much more enlarged and just knowledge of nature than had before been taught; the doctrines of that philosopher tending to overthrow the superstitious practices and opinions which prevailed among the Athenians; fo that Anaxagoras, and all his disciples, were generally charged with atheisin. Pericles engaged early in public affairs, gained the ascendency over all his competitors, became at length, and continued to be till his death, maIter of the affections, and no less of the liberties, of the Athenian people; and though master, yet guardian and promo:er of the latter. His abilities as a statelinan were eminently great'; he was likewise an able general, and a most powerful crator. . He rendered Athens the most eminently distinguished stare that ever exister; boe whilf so productive of every thing great and glorious, it was the fame time deeply insected with faction, licenciousness, and wrid 14multuary caprice.
• Although from his birth and fortune Pericles might have been expected to devote his great abilities to the interefts of the aristocras tic party in the Athenian commonwealth, yet, when he turied in life, he appeared only in a military capaciry, in which he acquired great reputation, and declined taking a decided part in politics, until the death of Aristides, the banillment of Themistocles, and the absence of Cimon on distant expeditions; when Pericles appeared conspicuously in the administration, yet choosing rather to court the favour of the multitude than of the great and few : in private lise he was neither convivial nor jocose; fecluding himself from company, and at all times supporting a dignity of deportment, which, according to Plutarch, was never laid aside even in his unbended hours.' P. 235.
Of the celebrated funeral oration delivered by Pericles in honour of those who had fallen in the war between the Athe. nians and the Lacedæmonians, the substance is given by Mr. Payne with fome spirit. To exclude it entirely, would have been a cenfurable onniffion ; yet Mr. Mitford has contented himself with referring his readers to the original, on the idle pretence that it denies abridgeinent.'
In this volume, the history is brought down to the thirteenth year of the Peloponnesian war. The concluding chapter treats of the character and manners of the Athenians,' includes a comparative view of the manners of the Greeks with those of other nations their contemporaries,' and describes the state of the arts and Sciences among them. Referring to the time of Draco, the writer says,
"That their degree of civilisation and fimplicity of manners greatly excelled the mass of mankind coeval, is apparent; for even
meroments were de neceffary, for juftificat
the laws of Draco prove a virtuous age in Greece, when crimes were held to be so heinous, that every degree of criminality was punishable by death.'. Vol. i. P. 436.
In opposition to this inference, it may be contended, that such laws may prove a vicious age, when crimes were so numerous and atrocious, that the most rigorous and cruel punishments were deenied, by a legislator who enjoyed the reputation of wisdoin, necessary for the coercion of the people. We do not offer this remark in justification of the inhumanity of Draco (for no state of society can justify such laws), but merely in the way of argument, to show that the conclusion drawn by Mr. Payne is by no means indisputable.
There is little originality in this or any other part of the work; but, upon the whole, it is a judicious compilation, and may be recommended to those who wish to become so far converiant in the Grecian history as to avoid the reproach of gross ignorance, and at the same time are too idle to devote any large portion of time to their studies.
The Political Economy of Inland Navigation, Irrigation and
Drainage; with Thoughts on the Multiplication of Commercial Resources; and on Means of bettering the Condition of Mankind, by the Construction of Canals, by the Improvement of their various Capacities for Commerce, Transfer, Agriculture, Household Supplies, and Mechanical Power; and by the unlimited Extension thereof into the remotest Interior of Great Britain and of Foreign Parts. By W. Tatham. 4to. Boards. Faulder.
THE advantages of inland navigation to a country are every day more fenfibly felt; and if at times unnecessary works liave been undertaken, and wild speculations have been introcuced by those who consider the profit of cutting the canal, instead of the profit to he derived from the canal when cut, these partial abuses of an institution do not greatly diminish the general good which may accrue from it. A canal facilitates the communication between countries, and may be rendered serviceable to navigation to a much greater extent than has been hitherto attempted, or is probably conceived. The height of a mountain, or the depth of a valley, and other difa ficulties in the way of the engineer, are seldom insurinountable; and if nations, barbarous in comparison of the English, such as the Russian's and Chinese, can execute works of this kind more than thrice the length of our illand, it must be a reflection on the talents of our engineers, and the spirit of the managers of our commerce, if nature have interposed any obitacle in this country which is regarded as irrcluediable by the exercise of skill and perseverance."