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XXIV.

XXXI.
And then, at night, to see the balls are given- Our female friends will hear, without regret,
Was ever such a glorious motley scene !

The OLD INDIAN's bunch of letters is reclaim'd; To see how the slim candidate is driven

Like other Bachelors, he used to fret, In furious circles by some strapping quean ; And female follies lustily he blamed. Or, how some sighing Jenny is in heaven,

But old Mysogynist Quizzes (never yet With compliments and squeezes soft between ; Did we observe it fail) at last are tamed : To see the jigging, jolting, touzling, tumbling; Old Tough's been fairly hooked by a shrewd aunt; Silks, flannels, chapeau-bras, blue bonnets jumbling. We wish him comfort in his marriage jaunt.

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XXXV.
We're going out of town to-morrow week,

To London (to see Baldwin) by the smack,
And scarcely hope that to the Nest of Reek,

Before the first of August, we'll be back.
Sharp-set Contributors, the truth to speak,

Had better Blackwood instantly attack ;
We wish to go with comfort on our trip,
And see each article e'er we take ship.

XXVIII.
We owe our grateful thanks to Mr B.

Grace, in whate'er he writeth, must appear.
We like his “ premiere fois” wondrously.

“The Highlanders” lie snug 'mong our best gear. “ The Jury T'rial,” would, in Devilry

Tenfold, set Satan loose, we greatly fear.
The Author of “ The Dentist” is most rash;
If printed, 'twould secure him a squabash.

XXIX.
The Letters to the Reverend Sidney Smith,

Professor Playfair, Hazlitt, and Tom Moore,
Have all Idoloclastes' nerve and pith

We never read more bitter things before. But wherefore hack so cruelly each lith

And limb of the Review-thou Matador! The Horn is blunt_he's in a deep decline, Reserve for nobler Beasts that mace of thine!

XXXVI.
The fact is, our good friends have been so steady

This spring, that we've a huge enormous box
Full to the brim, completely cut and ready,

Of papers fit for every sort of folks :
For young and old, malé, female, grave, and giddy,

Abundant food our reservoir unlocks;
Bate only the correcting in the slip,
Never was easier CondUCTORSHIP.

XXX.
We have received Philemon's sharp epistle

To Mr Wilson, author of “ The Isle
Of Palms,” which calls that poet's lyre a whistle,

And cuts him up throughout in monstrous style.
Philemon makes a great display of bristle,

And seems to breathe the very soul of bile : A manly Wit would scorn to take such views Of the productions of so meek a Muse.

XXXVII.
“ Farewell ! a word which hath been and must be!"

If any Wit, before in idlesse sitting,
Now write and send his papers postage free;

If any that before hath dully written
Now learn to write with vigour and with glee ;

If any that before we had not smitten,
For this, our Monthly Treasure, thirst and hunger,
Then not in vain hath rhymed your

2otice felonger BLACKWOOD'S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No XV.

JUNE 1818.

VOL. III.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE WRITINGS OF

GEORGE BUCHANAN.

word entirely in its primary sense); its professors seek and obtain popu

larity by sacrificing, after the example It is

very far from being our intention of some other privileged orders, not a to enter upon any thing like a formal few of the most imposing, and therelamentation over the decay of classical fore most obnoxious, of their distinclearning in Scotland. And yet we are tions. We doubt, however, whether persuaded that, to an enlightened Ger- this method of proceeding be, upon man, Italian, or Englishman, it must the whole, either a wise or a just one: appear an almost inexplicable anomalé It may throw a deal of ready money in the constitution and appearance of into the hands of the present incumsuch a country as ours, that those au bents; but does it not very manifestly thors whose works, in every other part tend to maim and enfeeble the reof civilized Europe, are venerated and sources of their successors ? Nay, a studied as the best fountains of philo- democratic government is the most sophy, and the only perfect models of thankless of all masters; and may pertaste, should be almost entirely over- haps repay only with contempt or exlooked among a people whose habits ile, those who have sacrificed the most, and conversation are tinged, to an in order to purchase its capricious and elsewhere unequalled degree, with the transitory favour. spirit of literature. The truth is, that The first race of authors who adopt we believe the unparalleled diffusion this mode of courting popular applause, of education among all classes of our although they may, bona fide, wish countrymen, however it may be en- and endeavour to follow it to its full titled to our gratitude for having ele- extent, are seldom able to do so. The vated and ennobled the spirits of our habits and prejudices of their earlier peasants and artizans, has, neverthe- views and opinions cling to them, and less, been the means, in no inconsider, fetter them, in spite of all their efforts able degree, of degrading the literary to discard them. habits of those among us, whose busi- Quo semel estimbuta recens, servabit odorem, ness and ambition it is to be not only Testa diu. the subjects, but the instruments, of A certain tinge and flavour adheres, cultivation. When all men read, au- and betrays the old liquor in the midst thors soon find it to be their best polie of all the drugs and adulterations to cy to write for all men. Those ele, which its receptacle has been exposgancies of allusion and of expression, ed. Besides, those who set the danand those labours of patient research, gerous example are sometimes not unwhose merits can be estimated by a willing that their followers should go very few only among any people, are farther than themselves ; or, it may gradually dropt; and modes of excite- be, do not scruple privately to take the ment, whose stimulus is of a more advantage of old guides and steppinguniversal application, come very na- stones, which they affect to consider turally to be adopted in their stead. as useless, and advise their pupils utThe tone of literature becomes every terly to despise. We strongly suspect, day more vulgar (we do not use the that somewhat of this kind has occur

*

red in Scotland. No man has done like manner, bestowed more time on more by the tone of his writings to the study of the classics than is condiscourage classical learning, and eru- fessed by himself, or suspected by the dition as it is called, than David greater part of his admirers. A comHume; and yet we think it would be plete disguise is a matter of very great difficult to point out any English au- difficulty. We discover the classical thor, whose works, above all in respect touch of Mr Jeffrey amidst the rude to language, bear stronger marks of a daubings of his disciples, as we should mind imbued and penetrated with the a gentleman clothed in a waggoner's very spirit of antiquity.* The authors frock, among a whole barn of genuine of the next age have had no occasion rustics. A single look, or gesture, or for so much duplicity. Their contempt tone, is sufficient in the one case, and of Greek and Latin rests not upon po- a single parenthesis, nay, a single licy, but on the more stable foundation word, may furnish evidence equally of ignorance.--It is fair, however, to convincing in the other. say one word in regard to the Edin- The violent national partiality of the burgh Review. The greater part of Scots, unlike most of their alleged pethese ingenious Journalists, in addi- culiarities, is confessed by themselves, tion to being the perpetual enemies of almost as much as it is derided by their the government and religion of their neighbours. The Scots authors have, country, have waged a warfare, equal in general, been under no inconsiderly inveterate and equally insidious, a- able obligations to this propensity of gainst the old supremacy and worship their countrymen. Their fame has of the classics. A few excellent papers generally begun, as it ought to have on classical criticism have been furdone, at home; and their works have nished to them by some of the best gone forth among strangers, backed by English scholars; but these are tech- the zealous commendations of a multinical, so to speak, in appearance, and tude of admirers at home. If, in matheir influence, whatever it might ny instances, the voice of domestic otherwise have been, has been neutral praise has died into a faint expiring ized or annihilated by the gross and echo abroad, the misfortune of the aublundering ignorance of other articles, thor has been caused by himself, not but most of all, by the general tone by his countrymen; nor are these eaand character of the work in which sily to be shaken from the favourable they were inserted. But we introduc- opinion they have once formed, even ed the subject in order to pay a com- although they see that the critics of pliment;-we shall do so, without; most other countries are obstinate in we hope, incurring any suspicion either refusing to second their applauses. of partiality or of flattery: Mr Jeffrey, We know of one great Scots author we venture to assert, belongs, in this only, whose writings are neglected by matter, to the class of his predecessors his countrymen, while they are studia rather than to that of his contempora- ed and admired by the literati of every ries. His papers have, even when he other district of Europe. There needs affects to deride scholarship, a scholar- no other proof to a foreign scholar of like air about them, which it is im- the shameful extent to which our averpossible to mistake. He is in many sion for classical learning is carried, respects a wiser man than he wishes than the simple fact, that we, a people to seem. After all his abuse of the devoted to literature, and filled with Lake Poets, it turns out that his fa- prejudices eminently and vehemently, vourite pocket-companion is the “ Ly- national, neglect one of the greatest, rical Ballads ;" and we are satisfied, and withal, one of the most national from internal evidence, that he has, in authors our country has ever produced,

for no other reason than because his

works are written in Latin. * We have heard, we cannot recollect

If any time shall ever again appear, where, or upon what sort of authority, that when poets and historians shall be in among Hume's books there was found, after danger of falling into a fashion of his death, a copy of Thomas Aquinas, completely covered with the marks of patient composing in a dead or foreign lanstudy: How much greater must have been guage, the most effectual of all warnthe labour he bestowed on those great masa ings will be that which is addressed to ters of ancient wisdom, whose works he their vanity. By those who have any commonly affected to talk of as if they were of the noblest ambition with which scarcely worthy of being read.

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tion of building for themselves a last- that in so doing, they run no risk of ing place in the bosoms and affections lessening his reputation. For if it be of their countrymen,--that voice shall very true in the general, that " intinot be listened to in vain, which shall macy diminisheth reverence,” that hubid them remember the fate of GEORGE miliating maxim has no application, BUCHANAN. In genius, as in lan- either to the person, or the writings, guage, he is beyond all comparison the of such men as Buchanan. first of the modern writers of Latin. For ourselves, we are well aware, Scotland has never produced any man that to many of our well-educated who is worthy of being classed with readers beyond the Tweed, there may him ; so exquisite are his talents, appear to be something almost lusingly, so matchless in their union. dicrous in writing, at this time of Yet what influence does he exert over day, either a critique, or an the minds of his countrymen? A few logium upon such a writer as this. of his translations of the Psalms are We would it were so. But if our read by our school-boys, before they friends recollect the one solitary fact, are capable of comprehending their that no tolerable edition of Buchanan's beauties; in the belief of our vulgar, Works has ever been published in this he, the grave and dignified patriot, the island, except a huge unmanageable counsellor, and instructor, and terror one in folio, * more than a century ago, of kings, is degraded to a mimic and a

our opinion, as to the neglect in which court-buffoon, his works are read and these writings are held, can scarcely, praised by a few secluded scholars, we imagine, appear to be destitute of chiefly, we verily believe, because they foundation; and if it be correct, we are read and praised by no one else. are sure none of them will disapprove But in regard to all active influence of the motives which have induced us over the souls and tastes of his coun- to call the attention of our readers to trymen, George Buchanan has, in Buchanan, even although they should truth, scarcely any existence at all, or wish, as they may well do, that the is at least, beyond all calculation, the business had fallen into better hands. inferior even of an Allan Ramsay or a Buchanan's first and greatest chaBurns. His name, indeed, is a great racter is that of a Poet. His prose name among us. Such genius has not works were the occupation of his debreathed in our land, without leaving clining years, and are the monubehind a faint majestic shadow to ments of his practical wisdom. But haunt the spot where it hath been. the fire of his youthful genius exWe know that we have reason to be panded itself entirely in verse ; it was proud that Buchanan was our coun. the fault of the age, and it has been tryman. We talk of him, we extol the misfortune of our country, that him ; we are delighted to hear an Ita- his verse was Latin. There is no oclian or a German scholar confess his casion for repeating the common-place superiority to Vida, Sannazar, Casi- and unanswerable arguments against mir, or Baldé. His glory resembles writing poetry in any other language that of some gigantic hero of the elder than that which has been taught in time, some Bruce, or Keith, or Doug- childhood. Every one must admit, las, at whose name our hearts leap up that had the language of Scotland been within us, although we have scarcely in a state fit for the higher sorts of any record or precise knowledge of poetry, Buchanan would have done very those deeds which have linked this ill to make use of any other than mysterious grandeur to an empty his mother-tongue. We must take sound. There is something very noble things as they are ;-we must examine in this privilege of genius, in whose his productions, and judge of them virtue even the ignorant are made to by the eternal rules of beauty ;-we pay homage to its possessors. But must compare him with those who those who are really acquainted with the works of Buchanan, will not easily

* This is the edition of Ruddiman, Edinrest satisfied with such homage as this. They will wish others to partake in burgh, 1715. It forms the ground-work of the same enjoyments which have been in quarto. These are the only two editions

the greatly superior one, by Peter Burmann, imparted to themselves; they will of the Opera of Buchanan. The one is strive to make their favourite better clumsy and inconvenient; the other seldom known; and they will be confident, to be met with, and very dear.

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have used similar instruments in si- only one among their number who has milar situations ;-we must reflect overcome the necessary difficulties of what were his difficulties, in order his situation. But he has excelled all that we may estimate the merits of his his brethren in the splendour as well success.

as in the variety of his triumphs. The world has seen several examples Not satisfied with mastering the diffiof foreign languages being acquired, culties of any one mode of composieven in such perfection as is requisite tion, he has grappled with those of all, for the purposes of poetical composi- and in all has he been successful. In tion,-mastered and swayed to all ap- ode, epigram, elegy, satire, and didacpearance as thoroughly as if the tic, he has rivalled the first favourites thoughts and the words had grown up of the Roman Muse.* He assumes, together in the familiarity of the same with equal ease, the careless grace of bosom. With a dead language the diffi- Catullus,-the lyric ardours of Hoculty is infinitely greater, and the acqui- race,-the soothing tenderness of Tisition infinitely more rare. It is indeed bullus,-the sublime indignation of the high prerogative of the language Juvenal,—and the philosophic majesof cultivated men, to survive even the ty of Lucretius. To those who are ruin of those that fashioned it, and strangers to Buchanan, these praises bear down to posterity the image and of a modern Latinist cannot fail to glory of refinement and wisdom that appear hyperbolical and absurd. How have passed away: It is thus that the thing was done, it is indeed scarcemind asserts its immortality ; it re- ly possible to imagine ; it is sufficient fuses to be embodied in materials that for us to know and feel that it is so. are less than imperishable. But how Buchanan is distinguished from alshall the vigour which moves in the most all his rivals by the boldness with nerves and veins of the living speech, which he infused into the shape of be found to animate even the most Roman verse, the richest of those eleskilful of after imitations ? The coun- ments which are furnished to a moterfeit may be exquisite, the features dern poet by religious feelings and namay be beautiful, but does not even tional recollections. His best poems their beauty betray the coldness and are those which he has written either in stiffness of death ? Every living lan- the spirit of a Scotsman or of a Chrisguage is in so far free-it may receive tian. He stands at an immeasurable new combinations-it may even sanc- distance above those scores of German tion the privilege of creation. With- and Italian poets, who scorned all moout this, how shall genius have that dern affairs, and even the sanctities of liberty which is its birthright? Shall the true religion, as unworthy of being that which is by nature free as air, adorned by their elegant muse, and be straitened and cooped up within sickened the world with their endless the walls even of a magnificent prison ? repetitions of the metamorphoses and How shall the rod of the magician personifications of the classical mythowork its wonders in a fettered hand ? logy. He knew wherein true poetry Can any man breathe the spirit of life and true feeling consist, and he drew and energy into a cold and artificial largely upon the treasures which he mass ? Of all the modern poets who had discovered. But for the existence have written in Latin, is there one who of the Paraphrase of the Psalms, and has stamped upon his verses the im- the lines on the death of Calvin, we press of genius rioting in its strength, doubt whether any one would have be--the symbol of uncontrolled might, lieved it possible to clothe, in a form -the full majesty of freedom ? If of the most perfect classical purity, such an one there be, who shall de- ideas so utterly unknown to the formserve, so well, the name of a Prome- ers, and masters of the ancient lantheus,-the rival of creators,—the guage, as those which Buchanan had conqueror of bondage ?—To those who gathered from the study and the feeldoubt the power of genius to overcome ing of Christianity. even these difficulties, and atchieve even these triumphs, we must address only one word-READ BUCHANAN.

* Eorum nemo est cui idem quod BuchHe is by no means the only man of

anano contigerit ut in quovis carminum ge

nere summum obtineret : Cujus quidem high and powerful genius among the rei laude omnem etiam antiquitatem promodern Latin poets; neither is he the vocat,” &c. SCIOPPIUS.

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