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norance, and the coldness of verbal criticism. Yet he is not a bigotted admirer of this great author. He observes,
* The character of Tacitus as an historian, though, upon the whole, defervedly high; yet cannot, in every respect, escape our censure. He possessed powers perfectly adequate to the talk of speculating upon the affairs of men, as becomes a philosopher. His sensibility catched those delicate thades in the human character, of which ordinary observers lose sight amidst its great outlines. His fancy suggested the precise emotions moft likely to arise in a trying situation ; led him to adopt that language by which such emotions seek vent; and to seize the circumstances, in every object described, .which strike the observer first, and bring the reft along with them. His judgment discriminated the genuine from the spurious, however arifully embellished; and, in the action even of complicaied causes, could assign the exact influence of each in the production of their common ffiets. But the our of his feeling, and the quickness of his fancy, sometimes betrayed him into errors. Strong as his judgment was, it did not always watch and control their excesses. The elegance of his style and sentiments, accordingly, degenerates, at times, into affectation, and their animation into extravagance. From the general vigour of his powers, he has thrown beauties into many passages which few writers, in any age, have rivaled, and which none have surpassed; but, from an undue balance, occasionally existing among these powers, certain passages are overwrought, and deformed by those attentions ehat were meant to improve them.
Shakespeare and Tacitus are, perhaps, the ino writers who leave upon the minds of their readers the strongest impresion of the force of their genius. Splendid beauties in each are but eclipsed by faulis which would have cancelled the merit of ordinary performers. We should, indeed, have no standard for measuring their excellence, did not the poet sometimes shock us with his extravagancies, and the historian with his conceits.
• The opinions of the best modern critics confirm the favourable judgnient given upon the writings of Tacitus. They were rated beneath their value by those who pretended to judge of them in the last century. Mere philologifts might, indeed, detect impurities in our author's style, and falsely ascribe that obscurity 10 a fault in his diction, which, in fact, had its seat in the depth of his thought. Being void, however, of that science which alone makes literature ze spectable, no words could unsold to them those beauties upon which he meant that his reputation should rest. Monsieur D'Alembero*, and other French critics, whose merit entitled them to direct literary opinions, saw the value of his works, and removed, in some degree, the prejudices that had subfifted against them. The elegant Mr. Gibbon teils us, “ That, if we can prefer personal merit to accidental greatness, we shall esteem the birth of the Emperor Tacitus more truly noble than that of kings: That he claimed his descent from the philosophic historian, whose writings will instruct the lat generations of mankind +.” That the Emperor did not feel
* Ie'arges de Literature, tom. 3. Morceaux de Tacite.
himself dishonoured by the connection, appears from his giving orders, that ten copies of Tacitus Mould be annually transcribed, and placed in the public libraries. From the works of his immortal ancestor, he expected, that his subjects would learn the history, not of the Roman constitution alone, but of human nature itself. By rescuing even a part of these from destr ion, he acquired a right to the gratitude of posterity; because he thereby preserved a mine, in which, the longer and the deeper we dig, we thall find the richer ore.
. However feeble this attempt to trace the principles of historical composition may have been, it may perhaps thew, that Tacitus, and all successful historians, have pleased, not by accident, but by rigidly adhering to a standard which they must have previously discerned. In spite of those diversities in point of manner, and gradations in point of merit, which necessarily take place among a number of writers, the leading characters of this standard must be the same to them all. A new proof may be thus had, that there is as certainly, in the nature of things, an immutable difference between beauty and, deformity, as between truth and falsehood; that the principle of talte is more consistent in its decisions than is generally supposed; and that, in all the fine arts, this principle is gratified when we ob-' serve, and offended when we neglect, certain laws which are the basis of just execution, and of found criticism in each.'
From this quotation, it appears that Mr. Hill is abundantly qualified for the task which he has undertaken, and that his own tafte in composition renders him worthy of criticising Tacitus.
Next follows an Effay by Mr. William Richardson, Profesfor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow, on the dramatic or ancient form of historical composition. Mr. R. endeavours to explain the reasons, which are surely obvious enough, why the ancients adopted a method ' so peculiar to themselves;' buc the fact is, that the contrary method of only telling what a man said, instead of making him speak for himself, is rather peculiar to English and French historians of the present century. Mr. Richardson then juftifies the ancient dramatic mode of writing history, by observing that probability is not more shocked by an historian's speaking in the character of another, than by his thinking for that other. Of this he gives an example from Dr. Robertson, who says, in his history of America, that " Pizarro, intoxicated with the success which had bicherio accompanied his arms, and elated with having again near a thoutand men under his command, refused to liten to any terms." Yet, as Mr. Richardson observes, the only fact, of which we have fufficient evidence, is, that Pizarro refused to listen to any terms.
The last article, of which we are to take notice (for Collins's Ode on the popular Superftitions of the Highlands of Scotland, has already been reviewed, -see vol. 79. p. 532. 555.), is a very ingenious Grammatical Ellay, on the nature, import, and effect
M m 3
of certain conjunctions, particularly the Greek de. This effay will be read with pleasure by philologists. The author, Mr. John Hunter, Profeffor of Humanity in the University of St. Andrews, proves that the words to and teo in English, ad and at in Latin, and is in Greek, as an adverbial termination, and a feparate particle, all of them denote the same thing, viz. addition; and that in each of these languages respectively, the two words were originally the same. The style of this essay is correct and classical, and the matter affords a happy specimen of the application of philosophy to grammar.
Art. IX. Aphorisms on Man: translated from the original Manuscript
of the Rev. John Caspar Lavater, Citizen of Zuric. 8vo. Pp. 224.
35. sewed. Johnson. 1788. “THE proper frudy of mankind is Man.”. Nothing dignified
with the name of Science is so entitled to our attention as that which analyzes the mind, developes the principles of human conduct, inftructs us in the knowlege of ourselves, promotes the practice of virtue, and contributes to the trueft enjoyment of life. But this is a branch of wisdom not of the most easy attainmeni. Man is a creature so wonderfully made ; so like, and yet fo unlike, himself, that it requires long and nice observation, associated with the foundeft judgment, to lay down with any tolerable precision, the philosophy of human nature; or to ftate what M. Lavarer calls the doctrine of unisons and discords between ourselves and others *.'
How far he is capable of executing this task, is a matter on which all are not likely to be agreed ; though no one, it must be confessed, has looked at man with a more minute and steady attention than this phyfiognomonical philosopher. He has surveyed him from top to toe, and so noted each variety of form and features, that he pretends to see the soul through every part; and to be able, from merely reading the exterior or title-page of man, to tell all that is within. Physiognomony is this gentleman's hobby-horse, which he sometimes rides sacher hobbyhor fically, or puhes to a ridiculous extreme; as when he undertakes, from inspecting even the feet t, to tell what kind of soul they belong to, or with what pasions Alma is usually agitated, as the fits squat on the pineal gland I. We will not, however, quarrel with him for having cantered his bobby-horse faster than we poor Hyper borean Reviewers fhould have done, as he has made us ample amends for the strangeness of some of his physiognomonical positions by the little book of Aphorisms now before us. They are the maxims of one who has looked at man through # Aph. 18.
+ See our Appendix, vol. lxxviii. Art 1. | Prior's Alma.
the medium of a fingular genius. In them, is much originality of sentiment and expresion; common thoughts sometimes assume an air of novelty, and the whole eyinces in the author a confiderable insight into human nature, together with a peculiarity of reflection. These sketches of M. Lavater on the philofophic Canvas might be compared to the paintings of his friend FUSELI. Perhaps the drawing is, in general, too bold, and the colouring too strong; but he knew that he painted for beings on whose minds the boldest strokes of the moral pencil are apt to produce the flighteft effects.
What we moft obje& to, in these Aphorisms, is the air of affe&tation which discovers itself in fome, and the obscurity which invelopes others. In several places, the thoughts and sentiments are expressed with a censurable brevity; for without notes, which are wanting, many readers will not be able to understand him; but, in spite of these defels, we forcibly feel his genius, and discover, in these Aphorisms, the warm friend of mankind.
The following will enable our readers to form an idea of the merit of this collection of maxims.
• Who in the same given time can produce more than many others, has vigour ; who can produce more and betrer, has talents ; who can produce what none else can, has genius. —
• Who is open without levity; generous without waste; secret without craft; humble without meanness; bold without insolence; cautious without anxiety; regular, yet not formal; mild, yet not timid; firm, yet not tyrannical-is made to pass the ordeal of honour, friendship, virtue.
• Who, without presling temptation, tells a lie, will, without presling temptation, act ignobly and meanly.-
• Who, under pressing temptations to lie, adheres to truth, nor to the profane betrays aught of a sacred truft, is near the summit of wifdom and virtue.
* All affe&ation is the vain and ridiculous attempt of poverty to
* True genius repeats itself for ever, and never repeats itself-one ever varied sense beams novelty on all, and speaks the same.
· Who has no friend, and no enemy, is one of the vulgar; and without talents, powers, or energy.
• The more honesty a man has, the less he affects the air of a saintthe affectation of sanctity is a blocch on the face of piety.-
" Be not the fourth friend of him who had three before and loft them.-
• A merchant who always tells truth, and a genius who never lies, are synonymous to a saint.-
. The purest religion is the most refined Epicurism. He, who in the smallest given time can enjoy most of what he never shall repent, and what furnishes enjoyments, still more unexhauited, kill less changeable is the most religious and the most voluptuous of men,
" A woman
• A woman whose ruling passion is not vanity, is superior to any mar of equal faculties.
He, who reforms himself, has done more toward reforming the public than a crowd of noily, impotent patriots.-
• Love as if you could hace and might be hated ;-a maxim of detefted prudence in real friendthip, the bane of all tenderness, the death of all familiarity. Consider the fool who follows it as nothing inferior to him who at every bit of bread trembles at the thought of its being poisoned.---'
Some are phyfiognomonical, as 118 and 328 * ; the conclufion, in the firtt instance, is disputable; and in the second, why a person's having bread should induce us to fhun him, is incomprehensible. The truth likewise of No. 315 + might be called in question.
Here and there, a little misanthropy seems to discover itself; and the following will be deemed a fit companion for the wellknown maxim of ROCHEFOUCAULT, il y a quelque chose dans les malheurs de nos meilleurs amis qui ne nous deplait pas,
• You are not very good if you are not betier than your best friends imagine you to be.--'
There are many, like the following, diftinguished by a great fingulurity and energy of expreffion.
· There are more heroes than faints (heroes I call rulers over the minds and deilioies of men); more saints than humane characters. Him, who humanises all that is within and around himself, adore: I know bus of one such by tradition.
• He who laughed at you till he got to your door, hattered you as you opened it -- felt the force of your arguinent whillt he was with you - applauded when he rose, and, after he went away, blasts youhas the most indisputable title to an archdukedom in hell.--
• Let the four-and-twenty elders in heaven rise before him who, from motives of humanity, can totally fupprefs an arch, full-pointed, but offensive bon mot. -
• I will take upon me to create a world 10-morrow, if to day I can give recticude of heart to one petty.fogging attorney.
The creditor, whose appearance gladcens the heart of a debtor, may hold his head in sunbeams, and his foot on storms. -
A great woman not imperious, a fair woman not vain, a woman of common talen is not j-alous, an accomplished woman, who scorns to shine-are four wonders, just great enough to be divided among the four quarters of the globe.
From these specimens, many, no doubt, will be tempted to buy the book; and we venture to affirm, that whoever, after atientively ftudying there Aphoritms, is not excited to virtuous sentim-nes, muit have a ftupid mind, or a bad heart. M00-).
* 'Who writes an illegible hand, is commonly rapid, often impetuous, in his judgments.
• Keep him at least three paces distant who hates bread, music, and the laugh of a child -
+ Him, who inc ffantly laughs in the street, you may commonly hear grumbling in his closet.