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mirably well calculated to serve as a magazine, from whence they might have been dispersed over all the north of Europe. Venice, whose situation was much lefs favourable, and who had raised herself to importance by this trade, was sensible that her power depended upon its preservation; and soon after the voyage of Vasco de Gama, proposed to the sultan of Egypt to cut the isthmus of Suez, or to join the Red Sea to the Nile, at her own expence; but the great difficulties of the undertaking prevented it from being attempted. The great Sesostris, about 1650, and Nechos, about 610 years before Christ, failed in the enterprise. Voltaire, who never quotes authorities in his admirable general history, says, it was accomplished by one of the ancient kings of Egypt; that it was repeated by Trajan, and by the caliph Omar too.
The Mediterranean offe ́s here a very extensive market for the produce and manufactures of both India and America; and in return, furnishes many articles fit for the American trade, either produced by the countries upon its coasts, or conveyed thither by the many large rivers that run into it from the middle of Europe. The flour that always fetches the highest price in the West India market, and the choicest wines of France, might be brought by the canal of Languedoc, the Soane, and the Rhone; the produce of the rich provinces of Germany, of Hungary, Sclavonia, Transylvania, and the northern parts of the Turkish European dominions, by the Danube; and that of the most fertile pro vinces of Poland and Rufsia, by the Dneister, the Bog, the Nieper, and the Don.
When Spain comes again to enjoy the blessing of a wise administration, under an enlightened govern ment, the industry of the people will be directed into a channel the most proper for reaping the full benefit of her fortunate natural situation. W E.
CRITICAL REMARKS ON SOME CELEBRATED ENGLISH AUTHORS.
LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN OF LITERARY EMINENCE LATELY DECEASED, TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO HAD REQUESTED HIS ADVICE IN REGARD TO THE PROPER MODE OF CONDUCTING HIS STUDIES.
Continued from vol. xiii. p. 313.
To the Editor of the Bee.
SIR, AGREEABLE to your request, I transmit to you another letter on the same subject with the last. I have three more by the same hand which shall be at your service if you require it. I am, Sir, your constant reader. A. J. GIBBON is by no means a favourite author with me. His stile, which you seem to admire, appears to me the very reverse of what I fhould most esteem in an historian. The first requisite in historic stile is perspicuity; and in this particular no historian I ever read, not even Tacitus himself, is so defective as Gibbon. His exprefsions are quaint, and studiously inverted; and he is at so much pains to avoid colloquial phrases, that we find a perpetual strain to produce something new and more elevated than any
one else, that renders it often difficult to understand what he would say, even when narrating the most common Occurrences. The same train of ideas seems to have influenced his mind in the choice of incidents, and in the manner of introducing them to the notice of his reader. Every thing is unnatural and inverted. Digrefsions are introduced within digrefsions, which perpetually distract the mind of the young inquirer. He feels himself introduced as it were into an inchanted palace, involved in a blaze of torch light, which, reflected in various ways from concealed mirrors, present before him all at once a multiplicity of objects with which he is entirely unacquainted; gorgeous in extreme, indeed, but moving past with such velocity that his senses are confounded. He contemplates the whole as a most brilliant magical exhibition, which is inchanting for the present; but which when gone, leaves nothing but an indistinct remembrance of gaudy objects, which he can never again recognise in the scenes of nature. No writer in any language seems to me so improper to be put into the hands of youth as Gibbon; were it merely because this manner of writing tends to corrupt the taste, by encouraging a propensity, which is but too natural to youth to admire,-a superfluity of ornament. But when we likewise consider that he has a perpetual tendency to make indirect attacks upon religion, which ought not to be introduced in this light manner into historical compositions, as well as to introduce philosophical disquisitions, which can neither be in this manner explained nor understood; his history, therefore, appears to me to be a work highly exceptionable; and for young and
uninformed minds, exceedingly improper. It gives them a slight smattering of many things that they cannot thoroughly understand; makes them petulant and assuming, and ever upon the catch to display the brilliancy of their talents, than which nothing can be more disgusting.
STUART. Gilbert, like most of those who have gone before, pofsefsed talents of no ordinary sort; but, like them also, his writings have great defects which detract much from their merit. As an historian no reliance can be had upon him. The violence of his prejudices against living authors led him perpetually astray. The object with him seems. rather to have been to prove that those he disliked had gone wrong, than to be right himself; and the quickness of his talents enabled him to do this with a wondrous degree of facility. As his knowledge of mankind too, was chiefly confined to those of the most difsolute class, his ideas were grofs, and often exprefsed with little delicacy. His stile is therefore characterised, when he wrote, without affectation, as being nervous rather than elegant; but in the last pieces he wrote, it was affected, and unnatural in the extreme, and so full of Gallicisms, that it may be called Frenchified English. It was a wretched model to copy; but having seen Johnson and Gibbon, each attain a high degree of celebrity, by adopting a stile equally unnatural and barbarous, he seems to have aimed at obtaining fame in the same way. As far as his influence goes, I therefore consider him as one of the corruptors of good taste in English composition, and of course unfit to be put into the hands of youth, fhould there be no other ob
jection to his writings; of which in truth there are but too many. How often have we occasion to regret in the course of this survey, that great talents fhould be prostituted to such unworthy uses!
Perhaps it is more difficult to acquire an easy unaffected natural stile in writing, than any other; and when it is acquired, though it affords more pleasure to the attentive reader than any other, it excites lefs enthusiastic admiration than that turgid, unnatural, and affected mode of writing I have so often had occasion to reprehend in these letters. I have dwelt the more upon this head at present; because you are yet young, and may be supposed to be affected by the things that naturally catch youthful minds,-glitter and fhow. I remember when I was young, I used to read with extacy Rafselas, prince of Abyssinia, and other jargon of the same sort; which I now nauseate as the filth of literature. Of all the writers already named, Franklin is, in this respect, the purest; Hume and Robertson follow after. The others I wish not more to name, because I could not do it without exprefsions of high disgust.
But if you wish to see the natural stile in the highest perfection, read the works of the late Dr JOHN GREGORY, all of which pofsefs that charm which Horace would have called the simplex munditiis in a high degree. But in particular, his Comparative View, which in respect to natural ease, and unaffected elegant simplicity of stile is not to be exceeded in any language; and in as far as my reading has extended, has not been equalled by any other