Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

roism, or all the establishments of this world's wisdom, secure to empire the permanency of its possessions? Alas, Troy thought so once; yet the land of Priam lives only in song! Thebes thought so once; yet her hundred gates have crumbled, and her very tombs are but as the dust they were vainly intended to commemorate! So thought Palmyra-where is she? So thought Persepolis, and now

• Yon waste, where roaming lions howl,

Yon aisle, where moans the gray-eyed owl,
Shows the proud Persian's great abode,

Where sceptred once, an earthly god,
His power-clad arm controlled each happier clime,

Where sports the warbling muse, and fancy soars sublime." So thought the countries of Demosthenes and the Spartan ;-yet Leonidas is trampled by the timid slave, and Athens insulted by the servile, mindless, and enervate Ottoman ! In his hurried march, Time has but looked at their imagined immortality; and all its vanities, from the palace to the tomb, have, with their ruins, erased the very impression of his footsteps!' p. 40, 41.

But the mismanagement appears far greater upon occasions where a particular point was to be steadily kept in view; and we should select, as a specimen of this, the manner in which he handles his topics, in a Speech which, from internal evidence, we have no doubt he prefers to all the restthat for O'Mullan. It is not very easy to collect the circumstances of the case, from the laboured, vague, figurative declamation in which it is opened; but, as far as we can get a glimpse of it, the action was brought for a libel in a newspaper against a Catholic priest, accusing him of an assault upon his bishop and the recorder, in his own chapel; whereas, at the time when it was alleged to have been committed, he was absent in Dublin, obtaining subscriptions for a charity school. Now, to state the cause of his absence was highly proper; and there would have been nothing extravagant in adding a single sentence in commendation of the object of his journey. But this would not satisfy the insatiable love of display which rules in this advocate. He straightway enters into the subject of Education, as if he had been delivering a lecture upon it.

• I need not descant upon the great general advantage, or to this country the peculiarly patriotic consequences, which the success of such a plan must have produced. No doubt, you have all personally considered-no doubt, you have all personally experienced, that of all the blessings which it has pleased Providence to allow us to cultivate, there is not one which breathes a purer fragrance, or bears an heavenlier aspect than education. It is a companion which no misfortunes can depress, no clime destroy, no enemy alienate, no despotism enslave; at home a friend, abroad an introduction; in solitude a

solace, in society an ornament;-it chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once a grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave! a reasoning savage, vacillating between the dignity of an intelligence derived from God, and the degradation of passions participated with brutes; and, in the accident of their alternate ascendancy, shuddering at the terrors of an hereafter, or embracing the horrid hope of annihilation. What is this wondrous world of his residence?

A mighty maze, and all without a plana dark and desolate and dreary cavern, without wealth, or ornament or order. But light up within it the torch of knowledge, and how wondrous the transition! The seasons change, the atmosphere breathes, the landscape lives, earth unfolds its fruits, ocean rolls in its magnificence, the heavens display their constellated canopy, and the grand animated spectacle of nature rises revealed before him, its varieties regulated, and its mysteries resolved.' p. 131, 132.

We cannot now make room for any more ; but the orator proceeds a great deal further in much the same strain; comparing education to the cross which appeared to the hesi• tating Constantine;'-asserting, that if man will follow its precepts purely,' (the precepts of education), he shall have victory in this world, and the portals of omnipotence will open • for his admission; '-and ascribing, at some length, the rise of Athens, Rome, and Sparta, to its influence. He then goes on to state, that the blessings of education are peculiarly appli• cable to the Irish ; '-and this brings in one of his choice morsels upon the character of that people, which, when we begin to cite, our readers will recognise pretty much as those of the Vicar of Wakefield do the man who talked about Sanconiathan, Manetho, and Berosus, --' lively, ardent, intelli• gent and sensitive; nearly all their acts spring from im

pulse,' and so forth ;--exactly to the tune of a passage already quoted from another speech, until we arrive at a strange consequence, which, it seems, this principle' (of being subject to impulse) produces;- it leads victory captive at her • (Ireland's) car, and holds echo mute at her eloquence; mak

ing a national monopoly of fame, and, as it were, attempt• ing to naturalize the achievements of the universe.' He then passes to another topic, quite foreign to the course of his argument and declamation, but which he says is connected with • the subject of the trial, '--the Liberty of the Press; and he gives nearly two pages of rant upon this;-part of them we have already extracted. The general sermon upon Reputation and

† All we are anxious about is to see the monopoly strictly enforced, and that there never may arise any competition for such fama in this country.

Calumny, of which we have also given a specimen, comes next;--' and is as applicable to the case of O'Mullan, as to that of any o-' ther plaintiff in an action for slander and libel

, and not one degree more so.

We have, both now and in the former article upon Mr Phillips, expressed our reluctance at performing the harsh task which our duty imposed upon us. We not only approve generally of his conduct, (excepting always the intolerable flippancy of his sneers at Mr Grattan, and the absurd attempts to make the Catholics believe that all parties are alike hostile to their cause), but we consider him to be a young man whose errors are those of bad taste, and who might have excelled, had he not listened to friends and mobs. He shows no defect of talents ; on the contrary, there are many passages in the volumes before us which display a natural genius for oratory. The following we give as an example of his powers, with much more pleasure than we have felt in citing the instances of their great abuse and perversion.

- Your friendship has been to him (the Irish Catholic) worse than hostility; he feels its embrace but by the pressure of his fetters! I am only amazed he is not more violent. He fills your exchequer, he fights your battles, he feeds your clergy from whom he derives no benefit; he shares your burdens, he shares your perils, he shares every thing except your privileges—can you wonder he is violent? No matter what his merit, no matter what his claims, no matter what his services; he sees himself a nominal subject, and a real slave ; and bis children, the heirs perhaps of his toils, perhaps of his talents, certainly of his disqualifications can you wonder he is violent? He sees every pretended obstacle to his emancipation vanished; Catholic Europe your ally, the Bourbon on the throne, the Emperor a captive, the Pope a friend, the aspersions on his faith disproved by his allegiance to you, against, alternately, every Catholic potentate in Christendom; and he feels himself branded with hereditary degradation-can you wonder, then, that he is violent? He petitioned humbly; his tameness was construed into a proof of apathy. He petitioned boldly; his remonstrance was considered as an impudent audacity, He petitioned in peace; he was told it was not the time. He petitioned in war; he was told it was not the time. A strange interval, a prodigy in politics, a pause between peace and war, which appeared to be just made for him, arose ; I allude to the period between the retreat of Louis and the restoration of Buonaparte; he petitioned then, and he was told it was not the time.' p. 80, 81.

Is it even now too late to reform ? The criticism which ought to make him pause, and question the soundness of the taste he has hitherto been guided by, may possibly have no other effect than to irritate him, and make him pursue his present errors more pertinaciously.' That it should have the effect of disheart

ening bim, we take to be highly improbable; for surely the confidence which has dictated this publication is a plant of no sickly growth. If he takes as he ought what has been said, not merely by us, but by all those whose judgment any man of sense would value, and applies himself to the correction of his innumerable defects: If he learns to think of his subject; to regard the sense always, even in ornamental passages ; to speak plainly and rationally; to use figures only where they come naturally in, and then to use them as not abusing them—we will venture to promise him very considerable success in the arduous pursuit of oratorical renown.

Art. IV. Transactions of the Geological Society, established

Verember 1807. Vol. III. 410. pp. 4+4. W. Phillips, London, 1816.

T has been remarked by critics, that the want of education is

sometimes of advantage to a man of genius, who is thus left free to the suggestions of invention, and is neither biassed in favour of erroneous maxims, nor deterred from the trial of his own powers by names of high authority. On this principle, it is evident that the members of the Geological Society have derived great benefit from their want of systematical instruction. At the time of its formation, there was in fact no English school of Mineralogy where ther could imbibe either information or prejudice. They were neither l'uicanists nor Neptunists, nor Wernerians nor Huttonians, but pisin men, who felt the importance of a subject about which they knew very little in deial ; snd, guided only by a sincere desire to learn, ther hare produced, with a rapidity that is uoly surprising, publications, of the greatest interest and imporance, upon the subjects to which they have devoted their attection,

The rolume now before us cannot fail, tre think, to odd considerably to the reputation of this distinguished Bodr. But, before we enter upon the examination of it, redhe siste briefly what appear to us to be the prescht bearings of geol, gical irquiry; Arsthough the principes up ahich gengists proceru in their investigations, marbecue, bi aa kielet reader, fr.wa rara us deiached musicians, we do nui kauw of anr one bax's where ter are driver in a manner af Oude poru'r ani curmet.

We have already taken ovan * to state our opinion re

[ocr errors]

specting that part of the system of the celebrated Werner, which includes his hypothesis of the deposition of rocks; and, we think, have proved, that it is, to say the least, as destitute of support in some of its leading positions as any of those fantastic productions which have been denominated Theories of the Earth. The true geological merit of that distinguished naturalist, appears in fact to consist, neither in his theory, however eulogized, nor yet in that more useful part of his productions, his enumeration of rocks ;-but in his having been the first to draw the attention of geologists, explicitly, to the order of succession which the various natural families of rocks are found in general to present, and in having himself developed that order to a certain extent, and with a degree of accuracy which, before his time, was unattainable, from the want of sufficient methods of discriminating minerals and their compounds.

It has been proved, (and Werner was the first to make the observation), that the masses or strata that constitute the surface of the globe, present themselves in groups or assemblages, the members of which are generally associated, wherever they occur, and are so connected as to exhibit a certain unity of character. To such assemblages Werner gave the name of Formations; and his doctrine (or hypothesis, if this latter term be preferred) is that the exterior of the earth consists of a series of these formations, laid over each other in a certain determinate order. Not that the whole series is anywhere complete ; but that the relative place of its several members is never departed from. Thus, in the series A, B, C, D, it may happen that B or C, or both, may be occasionally wanting, and consequently D be found immediately above A ; but the succession is never violated, nor the order inverted, by the discovery of A above the formations B, or C, or D, nor of B above those that follow it, &c.

The only rival claimant to this doctrine, that we know of, is Mr William Smith, the publisher of the Geological Map of England that has recently made its appearance,-a work which it would be unjust to mention, without adding, that it is of great and original value ; indeed, regarding it as the production of an unassisted individual, of most extraordinary merit. For, although the publication of this map was delayed till the year 1815, we have no doubt that Mr Smith's acute and laborious researches originated entirely from the facts which came before him in examining the stratification of England many years ago; and that he was then, and long afterwards, wholly unacquainted with what had previously been done by Werner. The opinions of Mr Smith, however, so nearly coincide with the doctrine of Formations which we have just stated, that it would be difficult to express them in any other terms; and this complete

« ForrigeFortsæt »