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The company, at this house, was week. A detention, which, for many numerous, and afforded, as usual, reasons, one of which I have alreaabundant topics of speculation. dy mentioned, would have proved Some were young men, in the hey extremely disagreeable to me. day of spirits, rattling, restless, and My friend, I have grown very noisy. Some were solid and con- tired of my story. I believe I will versible, and some awkward and cut short the rest, and carry you reserved. Three ladies, married back with me next morning, to New women, belonged to the company: York, in a couple of sentences. The one of which said nothing, but was weather on the morrow, was damp as dignified and courteous in demea- and lowering, but it cleared up nor as silence would let her be: early. We were again agreeably another talked much, and a third disappointed in our expectations of hit the true medium pretty well. I a crowded stage,and afterbreakfastdid not fail to make a great many ing at Jamaica, reached town at one reflections on the passing scene, o'clock. On my return, I was just which, together with a volume of as unobservant of the passing scene Cecilia, made the day pass not very as before, and took as little note of tediously.
the geography of the isle. Set me My friends always carry books out on the same journey again, and with them, even when they go I should scarcely recognize a foot of abroad for a few hours. One of the way. I saw trees and shrubs them to day produced the Maxims and grasses, but I could not name of La Bruyere, the other those of them,being as how Iam nobotanist. Rouchefoucauld, and some minutes Perhaps, however, I mistake the were consumed in decypbering and purpose of such journeys, which is commenting on these. But the sub- not to exercise the reasoning faculject which engrossed most attention ties, or to add to knowledge, but to in the morning, was a plan for pro- unbend, to dissipate thought and curing a dozen of claret for the em- care, and to strengthen the frame, bellishment of dinner; and the re- and refresh the spirits, by mere turn of man and chaise, without the motion and variety. This is the lanclaret for which he had been sent to guage which my friends hold; but, I a distant tavern, cast a great damp confess, mere mental vacuity gives upon the spirits of most of us. Wegot me neither health nor pleasure. To rid of the afternoon pretty easily, by give time wings, my attention must giving an hour or two to the bottle, be fixed on something: I must look and the rest to the siesta. As tó about me in pursuit of some expectour talk at dinner, there was per- ed object; I must converse with my fect good humour, and a good deal companion on some rcasonable toof inclination to be witty, but I do pic; I must find some image in my not recollect a single good thing own fancy to examine, or the way that deserves to be recorded; and is painfully tedious. This jaunt to my powers do not enable me to Rockaway has left few agreeable place the common place characters traces behind it. All I remember around me in an interesting or with any pleasure, are the appearamusing point of view. As to my- ance of the wide ocean, and the inself, I am never at home, never incidents of bathing in its surges. Had my element at such a place as this. I been a botanist, and lighted upon A thousand nameless restraints in- some new plant; a mineralogist, cumber my speech and my limbs, and found an agate or a petrifacand I cannot even listen to others tion; a naturalist, and caught such with a gay, unembarrassed mind. a butterfly as I never saw before, Towards evening it began to rain, I should have refected on the jourand not only imprisoned us for the ney with no little satisfaction. As present, but gave us some appre- it was, I set my foot in the city withi hensions of a detention here for a no other sentiment, but that of re..
gret, for not having employed these prisons overflow. On this joyful two days in a very different man occasion, thousands will emerge
from many years' imprisonment, whose original debts did not exceed twenty pounds, now augmented, by
the expenses of the law, to fifty or For the American Register. sixty, and in some instances, to an
hundred pounds. Some Account of the King's Bench If it be for the benefit of trade,
Prison; in a letter from an Ame- the idol of the English nation, that rican in London to the Editor.. such laws exist, it is much to be la
mented that the supposed interests The comparative comforts of of trade, and the real interests of their prisons offer something in humanity and justice, should be so mitigation of the severity of the much at variance; but the welldebtor laws of the English, as they grounded terror of innovation, relate to persons who are not whol- which prevails in this government, ly destitute of the one thing need- will probably prevent for a long ful:” but no apology can be invent- time any change in this monstrous ed for their absurd rigour, as they feature of British policy. respect by far the greater number The King's Bench prison, which of the victims of debt. The law the misfortune of our friend L....... presumes every debtor solvent; has given me an opportunity of exwhich presumption, in innumerable amining, is appropriated to debtors cases, is absolutely false. The bo- alone, and to such of these only as dy of the debtor, therefore, in sup are prosecuted in the court of position of ability and fraud is King's Bench. This delicacy, consigned to imprisonment at the which excludes from this society pleasure of a vindictive creditor. felons, or criminals of any kind, it If the debtor be really insolvent, must be confessed, is honorable to which is surely as probable a sup- the laws, and adheres to a distincposition as the opposite, he is at tion not well drawn in other rethe mercy of an angry and perhaps spects between debt and felony. injured individual, who, by a strange The police of this institution is unperversion of every judicial princi- der the direction of a marshal, deple, becomes a judge, with criminal puty, clerk of the papers, and three jurisdiction, and is invested with the turnkeys; all of which offices are power of dispensing a severer pu- considerably lucrative. There are nishment than the law inflicts on many immunities and privileges pea the deepest offences. If poverty beculiar to the place, and not enjoyed no crime, why punish it with arbi- by provincial and county prisons. trary imprisonment? If criminal, Each resident holds the key of his why is it entrusted to private hands own apartment, and has the unto pardon without discretion, or limited power of locomotion at all punish without measure.
hours of the day and night, within An insolvent law is now under an area of about six thousand parliamentary discussion, for the squareyards (an acreanda quarter) relief of about ten thousand misera- enclosed by a brick wall forty feet ble wretches, now imprisoned in high, over which, from the tops of all the different gaols of the United a stately edifice, you have a pleaKingdom, who will probably be sant view of the hills of Kent and soon let loose upon the public, cor- the city of London. The principal rupteci by the habits, and soiled by building is three hundred feet in the ignomiry of a prison. This ex. length, fifty feet wide, and four stopedient is adopted once in six or ries higlı; and contains one hunseven ye:rs, not as a remedy for dred and eighty apartments, the the defective laws, but because the greater part of which are in good
repair, painted, and some of them the moths, feed upon their clothes, papered. Two persons are allot- as long as they last. Absolute started to each of these rooms, which vation, though not frequent, does are fifteen feet by twelve, length yet sometimes occur in the annals and breadth; but one may enjoy of the King's Bench. The numexclusive possession by paying five ber of prisoners now amounts to shillings a week, which the poorer five hundred, and the original debts class of prisoners accept as a con- of threefourths of the number do sideration for relinquishing their not, on an average, exceed forty right, and, with it, eke out a mi- pounds, from which we are obliged serable existence in a common re to infer that the laws give imceptacle. Within these walls are punity to opulent knaves, while inexhaustible springs of hard and it bears with undistinguishing sesoft water, one of which has mi- verity on the innocent and culpable neral qualities that are salutary. poor. Shambles every day exhibit every variety in kind and quality of Leadenhall and Billingsgate markets; a public kitchen for cooking, besides For the American Register. half a dozen cook-shops; a coffeehouse and two public taps, from
CRITICAL NOTICES. which beer and even wine flow without measure; a bake-house, I have now in my hands an old and in fine every handicraft is car copy of Milton, which at first beried on here, in the different apart. longed to my father. It is an old ments, making the place a good book, and few volumes have been epitome of London. An unre- oftener in my hands. I would not strained ingress and egress is al. exchange it for an edition of the lowed from eight in the morning, same work embellished by all the till ten at night; and the hum of arts of the printer, the engraver, innumerable visitors of every garb and the binder....Inanimate objects and deportment, with the motley have an influence on the affections; music and appearance of every else why do I prefer this homely class of pedlars that walks the volume, shattered by the hands of streets of London, display a scene time and of use, to Paradise Lost extremely lively and grotesque. newly printed and decorated? MilThere is every shade of character, ton is only inferior to the voice of every grade of wealth and (except- inspiration....He is first among the ing privileged persons) of rank and poets who were not the prophets of title. Some of the prisoners ex- the Lord. His erudition was vast, ceed a thousand guineas a year in but his genius was vaster. His their expences, and are visited by learning did not restrain, but retheir families, who, if we may gulated his flight. Amidst the glojudge from their equipages, abate ries of heaven he looked undazzled, nothing of their wonted luxury. and rays from his penetrating mind There is another class of debtors illuminated the depths of despair. who place their families in the Did not their antiquity increase the neighbourhood, and rather than veneration bestowed on the names surrender an annuity or jointure, of Homer and Virgil, criticism take up their rest, for life: an in- would always place them below solvent act, or act of grace, com- Milton on the scale of poetical me. pels him not to give his property to rit. I have read, I have studied the creditor, but leaves him the the Iliad and the Æneid....I have option of freedom or captivity, and read and examined with critical many prefer the datter.
scrutiny, in the original language The third class are driven to the or in the translation inost of the po most deplorable shifts, and, like ems which bear the name of epic er
heroic, and the more I read the pect to excite the same pleasure; more I am convinced, the longer I but if the greater part produces not live the more I am convinced that a delight, then there is no delight in greater magnitude of mind is disco- elevated poetry....I consider Dr. vered in the Paradise Lost, than in Johnson's criticism however, on this any other uninspired poem in exist- performance, with some excepence. Paradise Lost is the greatest tions, to be in the highest degree effort of its author. His other excellent. Addison's Saturday's works rank as follows in the scale Papers on the same subject, though of merit:
not equally acute, are eminently 2 Comus.....3 Paradise Regained pleasing. Cowper has said in one ....4 Sampson Agonistes.....5 Lycic of his most agreeable letters, that das....6 L'Alegro and Il Penseroso Milton has employed the only ma....7 Hymn on the Nativity. chinery which was justifiable in a
I consider the relish for the po- Christian poet. I have however etry of Milton as a criterion of the admired the conception of Dryden, taste and mental elevation of the who, when he thought of writing an reader. None can fully admire him, epic poem in honour of King Ar-, but those who are raised in mind thur, determined to introduce anabove the profanum vulgus. Mi- gels as the guardians of nations. It serable was the judgment of Vol. was the lot of Arthur and the guartaire, which could wonder at an dian angels to fall into very differEnglishman's passionate admiration ent hands. Perhaps some have of Milton and Shakespeare. An heard that Sir Richard Blackmore object of contemptuous pity was that has written an epic poem called fashionable Lord* who declared his Arthur, and used the intervention preference of the Henriade of Vol- of angels, though they may not have taire, before the works of his immor. read the poem. The exordium tal countryman. Such a man might and invocation of Paradise Lost, harrangue to the astonishment of as- are eminently happy. They emsembled peers, he might offer his brace completely the subject which sacrifices on the altar of the graces, is to be sung; they are simple and but he should never attempt to join strong. How poor is the invocathe councils of correct and digni- tion of any muse to Milton's invofied criticism. I could fill a volume cation of the Spirit? His strain in speaking of Milton, so keen is was heavenly, and to heaven he my sensibility to his excellencies, looks for aid. As the fall of angels so great is the instruction and plea- was the fall of man, Milton first sure which I have received from discloses to our view the apostate him. I have marked many of his spirits in their regions of sorrow, passages in my almost worn-out forming new schemes of rebellion copy, and offered upon them some and malice. remarks: To these I sometimes Many of the most striking pasrecur with satisfaction; they are sages of Milton have been noticed mementos of former periods which by the critic, and suggested to the have been passed in converse with admiration of the reader. I have the mighty bard, and of some hours however the hope of pointing out, of dejection which were lightened in the course of my Critical Notices, by his voice.
some portions of Milton, and ofother Dr. Johnson has said, that we poets, which are deserviug of the must read Milton's Paradise Lost Inighest commendation,and on which as a task. This is one among the criticism has not yet been lavish of many premature sentences pro- its praises. nounced by that great man. The I am deceived if, from all the vowhole of his work we coud not ex- lumes of uninspired poetry, there
can be produced a sublimer descrip• Chesterfield.
tion than that which is contained in
the following lines of the VIth Book commonly original description, must of Paradise Lost:
have been agitated by the tumults
of poetical rage; and the hand Yet half his strength he pat not forth, which wrote it, must have trembut check'd
bled. Though all the lines are adHis thunder in mid volley; for he meant mirable, yet I have ventured to Not to destroy, but root them out of mark in italics, those which I heaven;
thought were supereminent among The overthrown herais'd, and as a herd the eminent. Of goats or timorous flocks together As a contrast to the passage al. throng'd,
ready quoted, I shall offer the fol. Drove them before him thunderstruck, lowing tender and sweetly modu. pursued
lated lines: With terrors and with furies to the
bounds And chrystal wall of heaven; which
“O unexpected stroke, O worse than
death! opening wide Rall'd inward, and a spacious gap dis. Must I thus leave thee, Paradise ? thus
leave close Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous
Thee, native still these happy walks
and shades, sigbt Struck them with borror backward, but Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope far worse
to spend, Urg’d them behind : Headlong them. Quiet tho’ sad, the respite of that day
That must be mortal to us both. 0* selves they threw
Howers, Down from the verge of heaven; eter
That never will in other climate grow, nal wrath Burnt after them to the bottomless pit, Ai even, which I bred up with tender
My early visitation, and my last Hell beard the insufferable noise, bell
From the first opening bud, and gave Heaven ruining from beaven, and would bave fled
Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or Afrigbted; but strict fate had cast too
Your tribes, and water from the am Her dark foundations, and too fast
brosial fount? had bound. Nine days they fell : confounded chaos
Thee lastly, nuptial bower! by me
With what to sight or smell was And felt tenfold confusion in their fall
sweet! from thee Through bis wild anarchy, so huge a rout Incumber'd bim with ruin: Hell at last
How shall I part, and whither wan
der down Yawning received them whole, and on
Into a lower world ; to this obscure them closed.
And wild ? how shall we breathe in
other air I cannot conceive how it is pos- Less pure, accustom'd to immortal sible for words or conception to
fruits ? exceed the preceding passage in
Whom thus the Angel interrupted strength. It represents a termina
mild. tion of a battle purely original.... Lament not, Eve, but patiently resign Here Milton could not tread either What justly thou hast lost, nor set thy in the footsteps of the Grecian or
heart, the Roman bard. The scene of the Thus over-fond, on that which is not :
thine : action was on the borders of hea. ven, and the place in which the Thy going is not lonely ; with thee goes
Thy husband; him to follow thou art routed army was plunged, was the bound; bottomless abyss....chaos, the em- Where he abides, think there thy na-. pire of universal confusion, was, by tive soul. the rout, encumbered with ruin.
Adam, by this from the cold sudden The soul which conceived this un