Billeder på siden

the number of his soldiers; and, being wholly inspired with glory, inspires all besides with love, admiration, or terror. Even the externals of war, the sound of trumpets, the glitter of arms, the order of the troops, the silence of the soldiers, their ardor in fight; the beginning, progress, and end of the victory; the different cries of the conquered and the conquerors; all these assail the soul on different sides, which, deprived of all wisdom and moderation, knows neither God, nor itself. It is then the impious Salmoneus presumes to imitate the thunder of God, and to answer the thunderbolts of Heaven with those of the earth. It was then the sacrilegious Antiochus worshipped nothing but his own strength and courage; and the insolent Pharaoh, swoln with the pride of his power, cried out, I am my own maker. But do religion and humility ever appear more majestic, than when they keep the heart of man, though in so exalted a point of glory, in that submission and dependence which the creature ought to observe with regard to his God?

"M. Turenne was never more sensible that there was a God, than on those extraordinary occasions, when others generally forget their Creator. It was then his prayers were most fervent. We have seen him retiring into woods, where, in the midst of rain, with his knees in the dirt, he adored that God in this humble posture, before whom legions of angels tremble, and prostrate themselves. The Israelites, to secure themselves of victory, ordered the ark of the covenant to be brought into their camp: and M. Turenne did not believe his could be safe, if not fortified daily by the oblation of the divine victim, who triumphed over all the powers of hell. He assisted at it with a devotion and modesty capable of inspiring awe in those obdurate souls, on whom the sight of the most tremendous mysteries makes no impression.

"Even in the progress of victory itself, and in those moments of self-love, when a general sees fortune declare in his favour, his piety was watchful to prevent his giving the jealous God the least offence, by too hasty an assurance of conquering. Though the cries of

victory echoed round him; though the officers flattered themselves and him also with assurance of success; he still checked all the extreme emotions of joy, in which human pride has so great a share, by these words, highly worthy of his piety: If God does not support us, and accomplish his work, we may still be defeated."....ROLLIN.

The modesty of M. Turenne.....His private life.

"No person ever spoke more modestly of himself than M. Turenne. He related his most surprising victories, as if he had no share in them. At his return from the most glorious campaigns, he avoided praise, and was afraid of appearing in the king's presence, for fear of applause. It was then, in a private state, among a few friends, he exercised himself in the virtues of civil life. He conceals himself, and walks without attendance or equipage: but every one observes and admires him."

This theme extended by Flechier.

"Who ever performed such great exploits, and who more reserved in speaking of them? When he gained an advantage, he himself ascribed it to the enemy's oversight, and not to his own abilities. When he gave an account of a battle, he forgot nothing, but its being gained by his own conduct. If he related any of those actions which had rendered him so famous, one would have concluded he had only been a spectator, and might doubt whether he himself or fame was mistaken. When he returned from those glorious campaigns, which immortalize him, he avoided all acclamations of the people; he blushed at his victories; he received applauses with the same air that others make apologies, and was almost afraid of waiting upon the king, being obliged, through respect, to hear patiently the encomiums with which his Majesty never failed to honour him.

"It was then, in the calm repose of a private state, that this prince, divesting himself of all the glory he had acquired in the field, and shutting himself up with a

small company of chosen friends, practised in silence the virtues of civil life: sincere in his words, plain in his actions, faithful in friendship, exact in duties, regular in his wishes, and great even in the minutest things. He concealed himself; but his fame discovers him. He walks without attendance; but every one images him riding in a triumphal chariot. When people see him, they count the number of the enemies he has conquered, and not the attendants that follow him. Though alone, they conceive him surrounded with his attendant virtues and victories. There is something inexpressibly great and noble in this virtuous simplicity; and the less haughty he is, the more venerable he appears.". ROLLIN.

The Queen of England's escape by sea.

"The queen was obliged to leave her kingdom. She sailed out of the English ports in sight of the rebel fleet, which pursued her close. This voyage was far different from that she had made on the same sea, when she went to take possession of the sceptre of Great Britain. At that time every thing was propitious; now all the reverse."

"The queen was obliged to leave her kingdom. And indeed she sailed out of the English ports in sight of the rebellious navy, which chased her so close, that she almost heard their cries and insolent threats. Alas! how different was this voyage from that she made on the same sea, when, coming to take possession of the sceptre of Great Britain, she saw the billows smooth themselves, as it were, under her, to pay homage to the queen of the seas! Now chased, pursued, by her implacable enemies; who had been so audacious as to draw up an accusation against her: sometimes just escaped, sometimes just taken; her fortune shifting every quarter of an hour, having no other assistance but

* The Queen of England's funeral oration, by M. Bossuet.

God, and her own invincible fortitude, she had neither winds nor sails enough to favour her precipitate flight.” .....ROLLIN.

Perhaps the following instance from Mr. Burke will be still more pleasing, and I am sure it is more eloquent than those I have just quoted. You will observe that he might have said the whole in few words....that Mr. Howard evinced his philanthropy in foregoing every comfort, and despising every danger, for the sake of relieving the distresses of his fellow creatures.....'

"I cannot name this gentleman without remarking, that his labours and writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has visited all Europe.....not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur; nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; nor to collect medals, or collate manuscripts: but to dive into the depth of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original; and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt more or less in every country: I hope he anticipates his final reward, by seeing all its effects fully realized in his own. He will receive, not by retail but in gross, the reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter."....ADDRESS TO THE ELECTORS OF BRISTOL.

The beauty of this last quotation depends not entirely on the lively detail of circumstances connected with the subject, but on allusions to matters really foreign to it; and of these I shall treat in my succeeding letter.





A VIVID imagination is not satisfied with bringing before the reader's mind all the circumstances immediately connected with the principal subject, and placing them in a striking point of view; it borrows colours and forms from other objects to diversify and adorn the picture it draws....

"The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling,

"Doth glance from heav'n to earth, from earth to heav'n;
"And, as imagination bodies forth

"The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
"Turns them to shape," &c.

You will easily perceive that I am now going to speak of figurative language. It is called figurative, because the author's meaning is expressed, not by the strict and proper phrases, but under the image or appearance of something else. Thus figurative language, if taken according to the literal sense of the words, would usually mislead..

It is extraordinary, however, that what appears a deviation from nature or reason should be so extremely common, that scarcely a sentence occurs without some word in it used in a figurative sense. Indeed if you will read with attention Mr. Tooke's "Epea Pteroenta," (a work which every one ought to read) you will find that our most common particles are words distorted from their natural and primitve meaning. Dr. Blair used to remark on this subject, that at the moment he was


« ForrigeFortsæt »