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reader. Perhaps we are within bounds when we remark, that one half of either little volume would have held every thing which the most complaisant reader might have thought important.
The Egyptian romance at the end is entitled the History of Charoba Queen of Egypt, and is truly a literary curiosity.
• It is extracted from a book called — The History of Ancient Egypt, according to the Traditions of the Arabians.-Written in Arabic, by the Reverend Doctor Murtadi, the Son of Gapiphus, the son of Chatem, the Son of Molfem the Macdefian. Translated into French by M. Vattier, Arabic Professor to Louis 14th King of France.'
If the author could find more of these early romances, we fhould more readily acknowledge our obligation to her than for her imperfect delineation of the progress of the subject,
Elay on the Life and Character of Petrarch. To which are added, Sever of his Sonnets, translated from the Italian. 8vo.
Cadell. THIS very elegant Effay contains a concise relation of the
events of the poet's life ; of a life not interesting by a display of fplendid actions, or important negociations, but from one circumftance, viz. a violent and lasting paffion. Though Petrarch was an ecclesiastic and a statesman, yet we only look on the lover of Laura, and the poet. Concerning this famous lady we have the following information.
* Although in the innumerable verses which he composed in the ardour of his passion, he has expatiated on every feature of his lovely mistress, it is perhaps impossible thence to describe accurately either her person or her face ; for the rapturous descriptions of a poet seldom convey accurate or distinct ideas. The idea which painting conveys of a beautiful form, is much tronger and more complete. By those pictures of Laura, which are said to be genuine, she is represented as of a fair complexion, her hair of a ligh, colour, her face round, with a small forehead, her cheeks rather full. She is painted with her eyes very mach cast down, so as to appear almost fut. The expresion of the whole countenance is that of a very young girl, of amiable împlicity of manners, of much sweetness of dif. position, and extreme bashfulness. The most excessive modelty and reserve in her demeanour, seems indeed to have been the ftrongest characteristic of the mistress of Petrarch. It was this quality, which, in the eyes of her lover, heightened every charm of her person, and every accomplishment of her mind; and it is not improbable, that to this lingular and striking at wibute were owing, both the ardor and duration of his af, tection
The principal part of this little work contains the arguments of the author to prove, that Laura was in reality never married. Yet it was remarkable that Laura de Sade should have died on the same year with the Laura of Petrarch, and that the tomb of the latter should have been in the same cha. pel with that of the former. We ought, however, to add, that the plague was epidenic in that year, and more than one Laura may be supposed to have died of it; as well as that the chapel seems not to have been' appropriated to the house of Sade only. On the other hand, Petrarch always gloried in his affection as a merit rather than a crime: it was never considered, even in the fupposed conversation with St. Au. gustin, where every argument is employed to wean him from it, as an improper attachment: he seems to have had at times access to his mistress; to have received some little en. couragements, the slender food on which love is sometimes supported, and we never hear of a jealous husband, or of an indiscreet familiarity.
• The last argument advanced by the author in the Mémoires (viz. Memoires pour la vie de Petrarque), which he gives as is a manner conclusive upon this point, is the explanation of the in word pubs. Having candidly enough acknowledged that all the preceding arguments amount only to conjectures, the author might certainly have included the last, with equal propriety, under the fame denomination. His interpretation of the word prbs, partubus, is certainly nothing more than a conjec, iure ; to support which we have only his own opinion, and that of messrs. Caperonnier, Boudot, and Bejot, of the king's library. But, in opposition to their opinion, we have that of all the editors of the works of Petrarch, It will not be denied that the earliest of these editors, who lived at no great distance of time from the age of Petrarch, were much better able to read the manufcripts of that age, and to interpret their abbreviations, than the critics of the eighteenth century. But with regard to this abbreviation, the author of the Mémoires is far from afferting that all the manuscripts of Petrarch contain the words, so written, or that those which he mentions are the most ancient. He mentions only two ; fo that we may reasonably conclude that all the other manuscripts, of which the author's zeal upon this subject would lead him to examine a great number, mutt bear the word written at full length, perturbationibus ; and many of these were, perhaps, prior in date to those which he mentions. Even of those two, it is probable, from their coincidence in so uncommon an abbreviation, that the one muft have been copied from the other. At the best, therefore, the argument comes to this point: among all the ancient manu. scripts of the Dialogues of Petrarch, there are two which write the word pubs, the rest write at full length, perturbationibus. Be.
fore fore any conjectural interpretation of this word, different from the other manuscripts, can be allowed, it' muft, in the firle place, be proved that these two manuscripts are the most an: cient of all; and that the reit have only given interpretations of the contraction : but this is not attempted ; and the chance that these manuscripts are not the moit ancient, is in the proportion of two to all the other manuscripts of the fame work existing ; perhaps two hundred.'
We think these, added to the other arguments, entirely decisive ; and we shall agree with the author that
The arguments produced by the author of the Mémoires, are totally insufficient to support his hypothesis ; which is itili further discredited, if not directly confuted, by the internal evidence arising from the works of the poet himfelf.'
The Sonnets are translated with considerable elegance. The author has only selected the forty-eighth, one hundred and thirty-second, two hundred and twelfth, two hundred and fifty-first, two hundred and fixtieth, two hundred and fixtyfirit, and the two hundred and seventieth. We shall transcribe the one hundred and thirty second.
• Hor, che'l ciel, e la terra, e'l vento taco, &c.
O’er earth and lea, and whisp'ring zephyr dies
Whom night a while relieves from toil and pain :
To me the circling sun descends in vain!
Too near allied, from one fad fountain flow;
Can hope and fell despair, and life and death beltow!
Isaiah versified. By George Butt, Cler. A. M. 8v0. gs. in Boards.
a , on the prophetic writings of Isaiah, extracted from Dr. Lowoh's Prelections: warm, however, and animated as it is, we presume not to arraign its justice, though we venture to condemin the high-flown 'panegyric on poetry which immediately Suliows ii.
"Such, many years palied, was the character given of Isaiah in one of the most confummate works of criticism : an importa ant work indeed, whether we consider its subserviency to religion, the supremeft object of human concern, or its reference to poetry, that highest energy of human intellect, that noblest and loveliest-exprefion of human sentiment and paffion, that last perfection of human language, that furett embalmer of wisdom for all ages, that art for ever dig wified by the practice of the holy prophets, and by the folemn sancion of the divine spirit itself; in a few words, that art which can (if any cań) alone give us the most perfect and attractive image of virtue, and with a sort of God-like faculty spread before us a fairer order of things, and create (as it were) a new heaven and a new earth to raise our drooping spirits.
We believe the author would find some difficulty in proving that the prophets always expressed themfelves poetically, and in explaining to our satisfaction how the art itself has obtained the sanction of the divine Spirit. The latter affertion is an absurdity: the former, if we understand him right, a niistake. If he means, that because the prophets used in general a poetic style, that therefore something facred is annexed to the nature of poetry, the idea is puerile. It might be proved that there is something noble and divine in prose, and equally subservient to religion, by the same argument; for Christ spoke, and his apoftles wrote, without any artificial arrangement of words, or modulation of numbers. In regard to what follows, in the Preface, we heartily concur with the author in the praises beltowed on Dr. Lowth, but do not equally agree with him in other matters ; not fo much that we controvert his positions, as that we really do not comprehend them. What connection, for infance, can we find, or what meaning collect, from the following ill. forted fentences : The whole chain of argumentation, if we may call it fo, seems composed of broken links of heterogeneous materials.
• The literary taste of a people must in part be imputed to literary principles, and in this respect we are right or wrong not only from what we commonly do, but from what we commonly read, from the habit of our fpeculations as well as actions.-To be prejudiced, is a difpofition to which one is subje& more than is usually suspected, and therefore we too much admire as well as despise the works of antiquity, overlooking the gains as well as loffes of time. It is God-like in many inItances to be pleased with variety, for variety characterises the works as well as word of God. We tou often condemn as wrong what we should rather fay we dislike, and we thence form theories to juftify prejudice, and to rivet infrmity on the mind, instead of such as would increase its strength, enlarge its sympathy with whatever excellency, and dispose it to en courage the advancement of laudable things. The works of men, that are now no more, and which are come down to us 5
precious from the hery searching of many ages, assuredly des mand the stamp of praise from the present times.'
We are sorry to observe that, in too many other places where the author aims at being argumentative, he becomes abtrufe; and where he attempts an elevation of Atyle, he degenerates into bombait. As a specimen of his poetical abilities we Thall give his version of the seven firtt verses of the fifty-third chapter, which contains the remarkable prediction of our Saviour's humble appearance on earth, and is probably as interesting and pathetic a paffage as any in the prophecies of Isaiah.
Who (shall he fay) hath our report receiv'd ?
Deigns on his head our mortal doom to draw.' The fenfe is here fufficiently dilated; but, we apprehend, the spirt and pathos of the original proportionably diminished. In