Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ployed after the conjunction ; in others, it would be con. Izdered rather as imparting grace and elegance to compofition, than as efTential to grammatical accuracy.

The ufe of a substantive, adjectively, or as an adjective, which Mr. C. reprobates, is warranted by the practice of many of our best poets; “ In schoolboy contest"_" with Tieteor glare" would, certainly, not be allowable in profe ; hur poets may, we conceive, take fuch liberties with the langriage, without transgressing the bounds of that poetica licentia to which prefcription has given the ftamp of legitimacy.

One pallage, which is censured for its inaccuracy, our author has evidently mifunderstood :

66. What accents, murmur'd o'er this Irallow't tomb, • Break my repose, deep founding through the gloom?" « In the fort line of your first couplet, we see a wonderful specimen of your ignorarce of the art of writing : you interpose a comina betiveen the nominative, [.cents,] and the verb, (murmur'd.} And, from that blunder the transition was caly to the impropriety of unfitly cluanging the tense of your verb, from the past to the present: you might indeed have chosen either the past, or the present form of your verb: but, as you meant to fay, and sing, what accents murmur'd, and what accents broke my repose, you were bound by grammatical propriety', and your own election, to adhere to that form, which px. rical vivacity required; although poerical vivacity required rather the prefent forn. Pp. 595--506.

The satirist certainly does not mean to ask what accents murmured ;---murmured is not the past tense of the verb, but the participle; this part of the sentence “murmur'd o'er this hallow'd tomb," is parenthetical ; it might be omitted without injuring the sense, though it be necessary for the verse and rhyme; the punctuation, therefore, is strictly correct. The objection to the word sympofiack is unjust; and we know not on what authoriry Mr. C. recommends /ympafiarıb as a substitute, that being a word which we have never met with, We must observe, though, that sympofiack is an adjective ; and that we have no substantive that bears the same signification.

In the instances which we have adduced, the remarks of Mr. Chalmers appear to us hyper-critical ; but, as we before observed, he has, on other points, displayed much critical acumen, in the detection of errors. His own style is, gene. rally, correct and classical; fome few exceptions, however, occur, which it is our duty to notice, “ Your office, then, confifts in your affumning (assumption of the right.” (p. 583.) « This very rare book, which neither Mr. Capel, por Mr.

Malone,

[ocr errors]

Malone, nor Mr. Steevens, nor Mr. Herbert, nor Mr. Johan Egerton; appear [appears to have seen." (P. 293.) cannot be expected that I should inspect one hundred mote, with the same elaboratien that (with which) I have tried to explain those encomiaftic effufions, &c.” (p. 81.) “Neither Kilcolman; mor Spenfer wert (was) fpared.”. (P. 34.) But these are trifling errors ; evidently the effect of halte.

We were very much surprized to find the Atyle of Junius treated, by Mr. Chalmers, with sovereign contempt. That instances of inaccuracy may be adduced from the Letters of Junius, we are not so weak'as to doubt z but while we reproba ted their seđitious tendency, we ever considered them as compolitions of a superior class; and the few errors indicated by Mr. C. have not fufficed to produce any change in our opinion. Nor were we less surprized at the declaration of Mr. C. that he is completely satisfied that “ Hugh Mac Aulay, who assumed the name ot' Boyd, was the real author" of Junius's Letters. We have conversed with a gentleman who knew Boyd intimately, and who has no scruple to declare, that he was utterly incapable of writing those letters. His opinion, indeed, on the subject, may be found in our last number, p. 346. But we shall sufpend our judgement, until we have seen the documents on which the conviction of Mr.C. is founded. We kriow few writers so competent to the investigation of abstruse points, political, commercial, or literary, as Mr. C.; and theinforination and amufement which we have derived from his past publications justify the expe&ations which we have formed of his future productions.

Art. IV. Critical Disquisitions on the Eighteenth Chapter of

ljainh, in a Letter 19 Edrvard King, Esq. F.R.S. A.S. By Samuel, Lord Bishop of Rocheiter, F.R.S. A.S.

4to. Pp. 109. Price 5s. Robson, London. 1799. EY 'VERY lover of genius and learning, and every friend to

our valuable establishment in church and state, must rejoice when Bishop Horsley takes up his pen. So much acuteness, so much candour, so much fine writing, in this fmall tract, make us with that this excellent prelate would bestow more of his thoughts on works of literature. Nothing can give a better impression of a writer's good sense and goud breeding than the manner in which the Bishop opens this controversy with Mr. King. He addreises him in the follow. ing words:

DEAZ

DEAR SIR, “ Considerable portions of my time, for some years past, have been emploved in the studv, of all studies the most interesting, of the prophetic pirts of the Holy S:riptures; and, among the reft, the propheries of Isaiah have deeply engaged my attention. But it was a conversion with you, in the early part of laft spring, that put me, at that time, upon a more minute examination than I had ever made before, of the 18th chapter of that prophet. The conclufions, to which I found myself inevitably brought, differ, in some very im. portant points, though concerning the general scope of the prophecy they agree, with the interpretation which you communicated to me. I felt, however, no inclination to agicate the question, (even with yourself I inean, for there was nothing at that time to bring into discussion before the public,) and, after much deliberations with my. felf, I thought ii better avoided ; knowing that your opinions are not rally taken up; conceiving that you might re-confider the subject; and persuaded that a man of your learning and upright inten. tention is more likely to see himself right, by his own meditation of an abstruse question, than to be sei right by another. But now that you have given that same interpretation of this prophecy to the public, in your Supplement to your Remarks on the Signs of the Times, I hould think myself wanting to the duties of the station to which God has been pleased to call me, if I were any longer to fuppress the result of a diligent meditation of so impor:ant a portion of the prophetic word. I canno, however, enter upon the subject, without profefling, not to yourself but to the world, how highly I value and esteem your writings, for the variety and depth of erudi. tion, the fagacity and piety which appear in every part of them; but appear not more in them, than in your converfation and the habits of your life, to those who have the happiness, as I have had the happiness, to enjoy your intimacy and friendship. I must publicly declare, that I think you are rendering the beit service to the church of God, by turning the attention of believers to the true sense of the prophecies. For you are perfectly right in the opinion you maintain, that a far greater portion of the prophecies, even of the Old Testament, than is generally inagined, relate to the Second Advent of our Lord. Few, comparatively, relate to the First Advent by itself, without reference to the second. And of those that have been supposed to be accomplished in the first, many had in that only an inchoate accomplishment, and have yet to receive their full completion. While we agree in these great and leading principles, I hope that a difference of opinion upon subordinate points, upon the particulars of interpretation, (so far as either of us may venture upon particular interpretation, which is to be ventured upon with the greatett caution, with fear, indeed, and tremblirg) will be received, on both sides, with that candour and charity which is due from one to another, among all those who, in these eventful times, are anxiously waiting for the redemption of Israel, and marking the aweful ligne of its gradual approach." Pp. I---4.

After

After this address, the Bishop goes on to open the plan of his disquisition :

“ This 18th chapter of Isaiah is, as you have, with great truth, remarked, one of the most obscure passages of the ancient prophets. It has been considered as such by the whole succession of interpreters, from St. Jerome to Bishop Lowth. The object of it,' says the Bishop, the end and design of it, the people to whom it is ad. dressed, the history to which it belongs, the person who fends the messengers, and the nation to whom the messengers are sent, are all obscure and doubtful. Much of this obscurity lies in the diction, (propter inusitata verba, says Munster, propter figuratas fententias, ) in the highly figured cast of the language, and in the ambiguity of some of the principal words, arising from the great variety of senses often comprehended under the primary meaning of a single root. Few, I fear, will have the patience to follow me; but you, I flatter myself, will be one of the few that will, in the flow and laborious method of investigation, by which I endeavour to dispel this obscurity ; which, bowever, is the only method by which obscurity of this fort is ever to be dispelled. Discarding all previous affumprions concerning the design of the prophecy, the people to whom it is addressed, the history, or the times to which it belongs ; I enter into a critical examination of every word of which the meaning is at all doubtful ; and I consider the meaning of every word as, in some degree, doubtful, which has been taken in different senses by different interpreters of note. I consider the etymology of the word; I enquire in what fenfes it is actually used, by the facred writers, in other passages ; and I compare with the original, and with one another, the translations of interpreters, in different languag's, and of diffc. rent ages.” Pp. 4, 5.

After some short observations on the credit due to the Syriac, and Septuagint versions, the Bishop proceeds as follows:

“ When by this process, by fcrutinizing etymologies, exploring ufage, and consulting translations, I think I have ascertained the plain literal meaning of a word, and have selected, from a variety of senses, that which seems the best suited to the context; my next step, is to consider what the thing denoted by the word, in the literal meaning, may figuratively represent, according to the principles of the prophetic imagery; for these two things, the literal meaning, as the foundation of the figurative, and the figurative meaning, according to the principles and usage of the prophetic style, are the only fure basis of interpretation ; which will ever be precarious and delu. five, if it be founded only on some general refeinblance, hatily caught up by the imagination, between particular detached events, and the expressions of the prophet loosely and fancifully expounded. And fuch, 'I believe, all interpretations will be found to be, which sfer texts of prophecy to events merely fecular ; riot connected, or

.but

but very reinotely connected, with the state of religion and the for. tunes of the church. These fanciful interpretations, in one way or another, always are mischievous. Either they take, and then they spread a general error ; or, if they find few admirers, they raise a prejudice againit the interpreter, who, in other respects, may deserve attention, or, what is worse, against the word of prophecy itself. And for this reason, I confess, I have often wished, that the forma. tion of the Goodwin Sands, the invention of the telescope, the difcoveries with regard to fixed air, and the invention of the air. balloon, had not been brought forward, as things at all connected with the effusion of the tremendous vials of wraih, on the sea, the fun, and the air. Great as these things seem to the narrow mind of man, I cannot think that even greater things than these, not even the discoveries of Copernicus and Newton, were worthy of the no. tice of that fpirit, which was in the holy prophets.

“ The method of investigation I have described, if men had the patience to pursue it, in most cases, I am persuaded, would discover the general subject of a prophecy, and even develope the particulars of the accomplishment, when the general subject lies in any part of the history of paft times, if the detail of that part of hiftory is accurately known. But when the accomplishment of a prophecy is still future ; when once the general subject is ascertained, at that point interpretation ought to stop for the present, reverently expecting the farther comments of time, the authorised and infallible expositor, You have well remarked, that, with respect to the detail of things future, ' facred truth Mould be very much left to speak for itself, by Now degrees.' And for itself it will speak, in God's good time; and it is only to a certain extent, that man should attempt to speak for it ; juft so far, as to lay hold of the general subject, that we know whereabouts, if we may fo speak, in what particular quarter of the world Politico-Ecclefiaftic, we may watch for the completion, If we go beyond this, and attempt to descend into particulars, it is difficult, I am persuaded, even for a man of the most sober mind to keep his imagination in order. And, though among the fanciful gueiles of a man of learning and judgement, one, perhaps, in twenty, which I think is a large allowance, may turn out true; it is far better to leave this truth to be brought to light by, time, than to hazard the credit, both of the exposition and the text, by the other nineteen, which time will confute. No mischief is done in the one cafe ; much in the other.

« This 18th chapter of Isaiah is one instance among many, in which expositors have perplexed themselves by gratuitous affumptions, concerning the general scope of the prophecy, before they attempt to settle the signification of the terms in which it is delivered ; and then they have sought for such interpretations of the language, as might suit the applications they had assumed. But it is a preposterous way of dealing with any writer, to interpret his words by his fupposed meaning, instead of deducing his meaning from his words. It has been aliumed by most interpreters, firit, that the principal

matte

« ForrigeFortsett »