Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Three days the Bard's complaining numbers flow*;
The rocks, the caverns, breathe responsive woe.
The foiirth, their friends with solemn action bless’d,

They part; and leave the mouldering duft to reit. Among other passages of this clegant performance, none seem to lay better claim to extract, or the reader's attention, than the little moral cpisode of a hermit, who finds, and conduets the fugitive Cloora, to his cell; and in this manner, beguiles ber forrows, by a recapitulation of his own : bat we are forry, we cannot find room, for further quotation.

Letters on Materialism and Hartley's Theory of the Human Mind,

addressed to Dr. Priesley, F. R. S. 8vo. 2s. 64. Robinsori.

We imagined the insertion of our correspondent's letter, concerning this production, in our Review for last month t, miglio have excused our passing over it without sarther animadverfion; but fome writers, or their friends, are not easily to be fatisfied. We shall not tire our readers, however, by going over the ground, which our ingenious correspondent hath mcafüred witli as much good sense as apparent good-nature. Let it luffice to say, that our opinion generally coincides with his, in opposition to the writer of the letters before us. The tenth and last letter, indeed, treats on a subject that iinmediately concerns us as Reviewers, and cannot be to calily palled over. Addrefling Dr. Priestley, the letter-writer proceeds thus:

« Reverend Sir, “ Opportuncly enough, though you perhaps may think far other. wise, before ny lait letter was completely printed, accidentally telutio my hands your latt volume of Experiments on diferent kinds of air. I had purposely put off the perutal of that voiune in a more convenient opportunity, my head being a good deal engaged in pertuits widely ditferent from the subject-matter of those enquiries. Yet I was delirous to fee one part of your preface, in which, I had been informed, you had taken

very ferious notice of the reflections that had been inade, relative to your notions on the materiality of souls. Perhaps, thought I, the Doctor hath candidly acknowledged the opinion, he hazarded on that fubje&t, to be ill-tounded, and hash therefore publicly apologized for the alarm, he unthinkingly gave to the lincere admirers of real vir. tue and religion; if so, what I have written on the subject inuli prove in a great measure useless, and I will fairly suppress my letters on inatorialijin, or,' at least, make a handsome excuse for the warmth of some exprettions, and the perfonal tendency of others. With thete thoughts

* The circumstance here alluded to is a well-known ceremony in the HIGHLANDS and WESTERN Isles of SCOTLAND; and is not yet wholly abolilhod in these remote countriese † Page 52; et feq.

I turned

I turned to your preface; but how great was my furprise, when inAtead of an apology, I beheld the fame sentiment as ttrongly exprefled as ever, and perceived that your mind was obstinately resolved tv abide by the first affertion !

" To make fome new reflexions on that part of your preface is the design of this letter, which shall politively be my lait. Do not fear, I . fall copy the stale trick of rope dancers and other perforiners of wonders, who announce one night more, and pojitively no longer, when they mean no such thing. Politively then, Doctor, I again assure you, this shall be my parting discourse.

“ You seem not a little mortified by the report, which has gone forth to the public, fo injurious to your facerdotal character, representing you, after all your manoeuvres in defence of religion, as not believing in a future itare. To effect this bafe purpole, say you, a mutilated sentence was quoted from your clays; and thus was your inno. cent and Christian meaning mot wilfully and wickedly perverted. Fie upon you, Mr. Seton; how could you thus maliciously and wantonly alperle the immaculate reputation of a man, whose coat of orthodoxy was ever esteemed of one uniform and seamless tiffue !

“ The pallage, Sir, which gave rise to the report, you deem fo injurious, hath been quoted entire in more than a hundred different places, fince its first appearance from Mr. Johnson's shop; and what will be ever a very untoward circumstance is, that Mr. Secon's interence hath constantly been drawn against you, to wit, that in your opinion the human soul is naturally mortal. But this is the very doctrine, you meant in your essay to establish, this you again repeat in your preface, and this was the only affertion, with which you was charged by Mr. Seton, or by any other writer on the fubject. Wherein then was your meaning so wilfully and cvickedly perrerted : You fay indeed, that you have been “reprelented in an aritul advertisement as not believing in a future state;" and of this you complain bitterly; bine ille lacryma. It hereby you mean to infinuate that Mr. Se on accured

you

or rejecting all belief in a future itate, take care, Sir, you be not yourself guilty of, at least, a wilful pervertion of that gentleman's meaning. He never aimed to go beyond the limits of your own atfertion (for that was quite far enough) which is, that relying on the realɔns, deduced froin philosophy alone, it is more probable that man will not survive the grave. For the truth of this I reter you to Mr. Seron's own letter, adulreiled to you in the London Review of June, 1775. Your theological or divine faith or future existence was never called in question, because you declared that you had hopes of surviving the grave, derived to you from the scheme of revelation, or from a pohtive constitution, communicated by express revelation to man. As therefore his only design was to controvert and to point out the evil tendency of the firit infinuation, where was the necessity of quoting more of your eflay than the lines, wherein that infinuation or rather affertion was contained. Nor certainly was he blameable for laying to your charge an opision, which you then openly promulgated, and are now determined to mainlain. This is a fair representation of the matter. Rerieiv i he entire eflay, or only take the curtailed passage, as quoted by Mr. Seton, the inference against you, as far as any one has hitherto infinuated, must

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be exactly the fame.-But perhaps, Sir, the cafe is, that Dr. Priestley
hath a right to afiert, what no other man may repeat, or lay to his
charge, without incurring the guilt of a malicious and wicked flan-
derer.

u This affair, you say, has been the occasion of much exultation
among bigots, as a proof that freedom of thinking in matters of religion
leads to infidelity; and unbelievers, who have never read any but my
philofophical writings, coplider ine as one of their fraternity To the
former I fall say nothing, because it would avail nothing."

“ It would please me much to hear your orun definition of the word bigotry; because I think it would be curious, and probably be infinitely more extenlive in its application, than was ever before imagined. Should you confine it to those, who declare againit freedom of thinking, or rather free enquiry in matters of religion, you would not, ! fancy, be opposed by the rational part of believers. The rationale of religion not only admits of, but even requires a free and candid discussion of the subject; which must always tend to the discovery and confirmation of truth, and to the detection and deftruction of error and falsehood. But a degree of deference to the sentiments and even prejudices of others should be ever preserved; nor cau a man be lov diffident of the workings of his own reason, or too moderate and circumspect in what he delivers out to the multitude. " Quiconque (lays a virtuous foreigner, who is no bigot) s'intéreffe plus au bonheur des home mes qu'à sa propre gloire, ne fe hakardera pas à dire fon avis fur des préjugés, qui contribuent a faire éclorre le germe de la virtue, et a répandre le repos et la felicité parmi les femblables.

“ Your religious address to unbelievers, particularly foreigners, who have kindly, as you observe, admitted you into their fraternity, deferves ioune notice. Of there you entertain berrer hopes than of bigots. “ As they will agree with oic in the opinion of the natural mortality of the foul, which is agreeable to every appearance in nature, fay you, it greatly concerns us to consider, &c." i.e. whether the Deity has not by fone positive revelation pointed out an bercafier to man.- Mott undoubtedly, if they have adopted your opinion, it nearly concerns them to look out for fome fecurity, some other proof of existence in a world to come, Bat should they reinain obstinate in their infidel scheme, and moreover pay such deference to your sentiments, as to declare for materialism; then, Doctor, what will be their fate?-you are, however, much deceived if you imagine that all foreign intidels have adopted your opinion. I could name fome, whose religious faith is much less than a grain of mattard seed, who are itill warm maintainers of the foul's natural immortality: fuch as that wild Orang outang 3. J. Rousseau, of Geneva, and the famous Berlin Jew Moles MandelsSohn, who have both exprelly written in defence of that doctrine. Indeed, I know not of any, who are eminent in the literary world, that have publicly, at least, espoused your sentiment. You are, therefore, I suspect, plus ijsle in your opinion, than you please to flatter yourlelt.""

After profeffing ourselves obliged to the letter-writer, for fo fairly ttating the case between our colleague Mr. Seton and

Dr.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Dr. Priestley, we shall only beg leave to repeat, that our opinion on the subject is, in a great measure, consistent with Dr. Priestley's; viz. that the foul's surviving the body is not a doctrine deducible either from natural philofophy or the scripture; notwithstanding that of a resurrection to life, and a fu-, ture state of rewards and punishments, is undoubtedly true, and refts on the firmest of all foundations, the Word of God, as revealed in the sacred text. For, with all deference to this letter-writer, Dr. Priestley is not so isolé as he may imagine in', the opinion that, as life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel, they were brought to light by the gospel only!

A general History of the Science and Practice of Music, by Sir

John Hawkins. In five Volumes, 4to. 61. 6s Payne.

In the preface to this elaborate and scientific history, we are told it is the produce of fixteen years labour, and nas been compiled from inaterials, which were not collected in double the time.

“ The end proposed (says this judicious and respectable historian) is the investigation of the principles, and a de:luction of the progress ot a science, which, though intimately connected with civil lite, has scarce ever been so well underfloor by the generality, as to be thought a fic subject, not to say of criticism, but of fiber discussion : Intiead of exercising the powers of reason, it has in general engaged only that faculty of the mind, which, for waat of a better word to express it by, we call Tafle; and which alone, and withour forne principle to direct and controut it, must ever be deemed a capricious arbiter. Another end of this work is the lettling music upon somewhat like a footing of equality with those, which, for other reasons than that, like music, they contribute to the delight of mankind, are terined the filter arts; to reprobate the vulgar notion that its ultimate end is merely to excite mirth; and, above all, to demonitrate that its principles are founded in certain general and universal laws, into which all that we dit over in the material world, of harmony, symmetry, proportion and order, seems ro be resolvable.

“ The method pursued for these purposes will be found to consist is an explanation of fundamental doctrinei, and a narration of important events and historical facts, in a chronological ferie , with such occafional reinarks and evidences, as might serve to illustrate the one and authenricate the other. With these are internixed a var ety of mulical compɔstions, tending as well to exemplity that divertiry of styles which is common both to music and Speech or written language, as to manifett the gradual improvements in ihe art of combining mutical founds. The materials which have furnished this intelligence mult neceliarily be supposed to be very miscellanous in their nature, and abundant in quanii. iy: To fpeak alone of the treatises for the purpose, the author may with no less propriety than truth aflert, that ihe selection of them w.is

an

an exercile of deep fkill, the result of much erudition, and the effect of great labour, as having been for a great part of his life the employ. ment of that excellent theorist in the science, Dr. Pepulch. These have ben accumulating and encreasing for a series of rears patt: For others of a different kind recourse has been had to the Bodlean library and the college libraries in both universities ; to that in the mulic-school at Oxford ; to the British Museu.n, and to the public libraries and repofitories of records and public papers in London and Westminster; and for the purpose of ascertaining tacts by dates, to cemeteries and other places of fepulture ; and to him that shall object that these fources are inadequate to the end of such an undertaking as this, it may be answesed; that he knows not the riches of this country.

“ A correspondence with learned foreigners, and fuch communications from abroad as suit with the liberal sentiments and disposition of the present age, together with a great variety of oral intelligence re!pecting perfons and tacts yet remembered, have contributed in some degree to the melioration of the work, and to justify the title it bears of A General History; which yet it may be thought would liave been mors properly its due, had the plan of the work been itill more extensive, and cur prehended the ftare of inufic in countries where the approaches to refinement have as yet been but finall."

To those, however, who adopt the Greek maxim, that “ A great book is a great evil,” an history in five volumes, quarto, will probabiy appear to have been both defigned and executed on a plan fufficiently extensive; and, indeed, we are ourselves perfectly of our author's opinion, that it is of little importance iv enquire into a practice that has not its foundation in science or fystem, viz. to know what are the sounds that most delight an Hottentot, a wild American, or even a more refined Chince.

In a preliminary discourse, Sir John Hawkins hath given a general iketch of the matter and conduct of his work, with a concise account of what has been advanced on the subject by ancient and mdern writers. - Setting out with the usual com parisons between music, painting, and poetry, he proceeds as follow's.

* Seeing therefore that music has its foundation in nature, and that re: con recognizes what the lente apgroves, what wonder is it, that in all ages, and even in the leitt enlightened of mankind, its efficacy hould be a knowledged ; or that, as well by those who are capable of realon and reflection, as thole who seek for no other gratifications than wha: are obvious to the lentes, it should be conlidered as a genuine and natural fource of delight? The wonder is, thar less of that curioliry, which leads men to enquire into the history and progress of arts, and their gradual dvances towards perfection, has been exercised in the instance now before us, than in any other of equal importance.

• If we take a vicw of those authors who have written on mufic, we snali find their comprehended under three claties, confisting of those

who

« ZurückWeiter »