clearly proves his opinion to be that the good is greatly overbalanced by the evil; and he labours hard to impress the same sentiment on the minds of his readers. Of course, the present is the period at which, according to him, resistance is not only justifiable, but highly expedient! But the principle which he here lays down, however it may be calculated to answer his purpose, and we admit that it is so, in a very great degree, can lay no claim to originality; for it is nothing more nor less than the holy right of insurrection, so pompously asserted, some years ago, by that compound of vanity and ignorance, La Fayette, and since so successfully asserted by the revolutionists of France !

The impudence, ascribed by the Reviewer to the Editor of the Beauties, is displayed in some anecdotes related of some of his Jacobinical brethren, alluded to in the work, and having for eir object, what ever constitutes an unpardonable offence, in the


of the sect, the establishment of TRUTH.

Art. III. The Libertines: A Novel. 2 Vols. Price 175.

Robinsons, London. 1798.

THE 'HE professed object of these volumes is to expose the

vices and enormities committed by Popish religionists, especially those connected with the Inquisition.

The author appears to have devoted a great part of his time and attention to the perusal of the private lives of male and female residents in convents, and to the official proceedings of the Inquisition.

These numerous and various accounts he has joined together in this work ; but whether it be that there is too great a multiplicity of perplexed and confused tales, that the author does not possess íkill to arrange his materials in such a way as to make them easily understood, that we are not competent to the task of unravelling intricacies, and comprehending varieties, or that we have not bestowed sufficient labour on this performance, we confess ourselves unequal to the task of giving an analysis of the fables. The general scope, however, we could very easily perceive to be, that the debaucheries, adultery, rapes, and inceft; the thefts, house-breakings, robberies, and murders ; the frauds, perjuries, and forgeries ; in short, every crime committed in Spain and Portugal, arose from priests, monks, nuns, and inquisitors. From the beginning to the end, as far as we could see, not a single act of wickedness is committed, without, “ as Scrub phrases it,"

a prieft

å priest being at the bottom of it. The author, in his

eagernels to describe these persons as supremely depraved, profligate, and abandoned to every principle of religion and morality, ascribes to them greater efficacy than even their most bigotted votaries conceive them to possess. They are almost omniscient and omnipresent, at least, they move with such velocity as we have not read of since our juvenile days, when we devoured, with the most earnest avidity, the histories of their Ogres and their boots, that carried them seven leagues at one stride, and are as early in all their intelligence as if there were troops of fairies to inform them instantaneously what is going on in the most distant quarters. A celerity of motion and perception we once most implicitly admired, when read in Mother Goose's Tales. We are far from thinking monasteries and convents friendly to religion and morality, or inquisitions just and merciful tribunals, but we think the writer must have exaggerated the enormity even of the intentions or wishes of the persons whom he holds up to reprobation, much more their actual profligacy, because no one could have actually committed such a variety and multiplicity of crimes. This mode of representing men as either angels or devils is a great deal easier than the exhibition of mixed characters. It requires no nice observation of the shades of virtue and vice, no accuracy of discernment, no fagacity of penetration.

Some may, perhaps, think, that the intention of this extravagant description is, through the sides of bad professors, to wound religion herself. We do not conceive this to be the author's object, he appears to write from a fancy that delights in horror on the one hand, and is not averse froin lascivious pictures on the other. The pleasure of the painting seems to be his chief object. For the sake of horror we have all the usual machinery of subterraneous caverns, vaulted recefles, old castles, tremendous towers, dismal forests, frightful visions, coffins, skeletons, racks, screams, &c. &c. &c. For the pleasurable part we have a particularity of detail that supersedes the necessity of much exercise to the fancy.

In speaking of this work, the Critical Reviewers consider it as a laudable design to expose

" Those monstrous alliances of tyranny and superstition, which have nearly reached the close of the eighteenth century, without being formally abolished. From some incidents related in those accounts, a fable has been constructed, which strongly interests the mind, and has a powerful tendency to promote an attachment to the milder system of ecclefiaftic discipline, which has distinguished our church since the Reformation." O 2


We by no means agree with the Reviewers, that a fable has been constructed which interests the mind. We cannot perceive, indeed, that any fable has been constructed; we think the work a jumble of extravagant stories. If the ecclefiastic system of our country have no better argument to support it than those recommended by the Critical Reviewers, its ftate would be much nearer the probable accomplishment of wishes which they and their friends have so long and often manifested.

The author is apprehensive that an analogy may be discovered, in different scenes and passages, to the romance of the Monk : the Critical Reviewers acquit his performance of fuch a likeness; but, say they, in point of entertainment, this novel is equal, while it is far superior, in moral tendency, to that popular work. What the notions of the Critical Reviewers are, respecting moral tendency, we cannot determine. The morality of this work, consisting chiefly of meetings between Inquisitors and fair ladies, Friars and Nuns, we have not been able to discover! Our opinion is, that the moral tendency of both is the same; but that, extravagant as the “ Monk" is, it is beyond the “Libertines" in point of amusement.


ART. IV. Romances. By J. D'Israeli. 8vo. Price 6s.

Cadell and Davies. 1799.
E have, in a former Number, given our opinion con-

cerning the abilities and literature of this writer; and though we censured some particular parts and doctrines of his Vaurien, we approved of it in general as a meritorious work. In his former production, moral and political satire were the most distinguishing features; in the present, the pathetic chiefly predominates.

Three romances are presented to us in this volume. The most interesting is the first, entitled “ Mejnoun and Leila.”. Mejnoun and Leila are in love with each other to distraction. Leila is, by her father, compelled to marry a man of the highest merit, but whom she cannot regard with any affection. Her distress is increased by her conviction of the excellence of her husband's character.* Mr. D'l. very happily imitates the

* This is by no means a new situation. Altamont, the husband of Califta, in The Fair Penitent--the husband of Julia de Roubigné and Manzethus, are of the fame kind,


flowery redundant style, and the figurative language, of Eastern nations.

As a specimen of the work we shall select a part of a letter from Leila to Mejnoun, after her marriage to Ebuselan :

" And thou livest ! thou livest, Mejnoun ! and thy Leila can never be thine! But think not she is another's ! Behold me married, yet a widowed virgin! Respect this mysterious avowal. Should the rival be parched with the thirst that consumes him, he shall not taste of the fountain whose pure waters never ran but for thee. The bril. liant pearl is still in its shell, and it is guarded by my life. But thy rival is gentle : ah! it is this which amfiets me. Oh! that he were but a tyrant, that I might complain! Oh that I could hate! Yes, Ebuselan is worthy of thy affection. With him I should be grateful ; but my heart, lacerated from thine, has lost one of its virtues, and it can scarcely feel gratitude for him to whom I owe every thing in life ; every thing but thyself.

“ How often I dismiss my maidens to fit alone ; and, as the eve. ning steals over the dulky air, picture thee in the forms that play among the clouds. Then, loft in thought, I seem to view the desert thou creadest, the grey sands, the brown rocks; and as a fhadow runs along, variable and quick, that shadow to mine eyes is thy reft. less form. I gaze on some vast mountain ; I see thee on its point; then the mountain melts into a vapour, and thou art for ever snatched from mine eyes! Oh, then I weep and weep! Then I feel every thorn that rankles in thy hermit feet. I shrink in every blast that parches thy solitary form. Often as thy tears fall on thy face, be assured mine too is covered with tears. How often do I change the neckerchief, wet with weeping ! How often do I refuse my meat when I think thou art without aliment !

“ It will not avail to tell thee how I became the wife of another ! An unjust father reproached me ; a heart-broken , mother fat beside me; an amiable youth prayed to me. I had no friend! A recital, Mejnoun! Ebuselan became my husband !—My father and my mo. ther live! Doft thou curse an affectionate daughter? Believe me, I sought to die ; but nature was more powerful than I ; and thou knoweft how my heart is tender. Canst thou blame a tenderness that makes me adore thee? I feel for thee, I felt for them! Moft miserable of my sex ! --alike the victim of obedience or disobedience !”

The Critical Reviewers, in their remarks upon these Romances, exhibit a very striking proof of the brilliancy of their wit, and the delicacy of their taste and sentiments. Lycidas, a shepherd, being in love with Amaryllis, describes the power of passion and virtuous sentiment in heightening the pleasures of inere sense. “ Souls of chastity!” says he, “when ye meet ye know yourselves worthy of each other; your first embrace is the prelude of eternal confidence, and your voluptuousness is in proportion to your virtue !"" It is rather ex

O 3


traordinary,says the Reviewer, that Lycidas did not learn this leffon from one of his OLD GOATS!” This is the first time we have heard that goats are teachers of the energy of virtue; or the best formers of souls of chastity. We agree, however, with the Reviewer in thinking, that the adventure of the two fwans might have been as well omitted.

We are sorry to observe that Mr. D’Israeli has charged the writer of the article Romance, in the Scotch Encyclopædia, with having borrowed his account of that kind of writing. On comparing the accounts we find that there is no foundation for the accusation. Mr. D'Ifraeli's observations are lively and ingenious; those of the other writer judicious and profound. The fact evidently is, the Scotch writer is not indebted to Mr. D’Israeli. Allowing the latter gentleman full credit for his abilities, perfectly comprehending their nature and extent, we must say, he greatly over-rates them, if he think that the critic in question, a gentleman of most respectable literary talents, could be under the smallest neceflity of borrowing from his article.

We here cannot refrain from remarking, that we have frequently heard charges of this kind made by lively foreigners, with great volubility, against our countrymen; charges prima facie improbable, it being by no means likely that profound learning and reasoning should have to copy from superficial ingenuity

In cases in which such allegations have been made with a certain degree of truth, the works said to be copied, when minutely investigated, tend merely to shew the superiority of British genius over the asserted models of its imitation.*

HE terms in which the Monthly Reviewers, in their publication

for June laft, have expressed themselves, on certain parts of the conduct of Mr. Burke, in their critique of Dr. M'Cormick's Meinoirs of his Life, have drawn me into a series of reflections, which I will lay before you. The man and his book will not occupy me a moment. Two leading falsehoods, formerly advanced

* The reader will readily conjecture we allude to the play of Pizarro, in which we will not hesitate to say, that, whatever confti. tutes its excellence is to be found in no German play, as we shall evince to our readers, by a detailed criticism in our next Number. The body may be German, but the soul is British.


« ForrigeFortsett »