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building or implement itself. In the altered manners of society -in the substitution of an easy, disengaged, and natural deportment, for the embarrassing and stately forms of a barbarous etiquette, we appear to see an improvement corresponding to that which has taken place in the liberal and mechanical arts of life. In short, to whatever we direct our attention, we observe one common effort in all, to throw off whatever obstructs, or has no tendency to promote, and to assume whatever is best calculated to produce the end in view, whether that end be one of convenience or ornament, whether it have reference to the mind or the body.
Simplicity, then, which is usually considered as the attribute of a savage or primitive life, is, in fact, the result of excessive refinement; and is to be found only in highest perfection among the most cultivated and polite societies : for what is it but an assimilating our own works to those of nature, who does nothing in vain, but produces the end desired, by the simplest means and the most certain success. It is the last lesson which man learns-the end of all reason and studytrue wisdom; and though called by different names, is the same thing, whether exhibited in the make of a gown, in the structure of a poem, the building of a house, or the framing of a constitution. The degree of wisdom requisite to construct the one may be inconsiderable, compared with that which is necessary to frame the other; yet it is an argument of some force*, that the people who, in building their houses, discover throughout a perfect acquaintance with the great law of nature
, * That this connexion between the progress of art, and the science of legislation, is not merely fanciful, may be seen by comparing with our own, any half barbarous country of the present dayas Russia, for example. There, art, if it can, indeed, be said to be born, is in its earliest infancy-whilst ornament and splendour are at their height. Every thing is for show, nothing for use. The commonest implements, cumbered with decoration, yet vilely constructed, and performing their office in the most bungling manner. Houses, rich with “ barbaric gold” and carving, without a single comfort or convenience, or any thing for which houses are designed. Every thing ill-calculated, even to a degree of perversity, for the end meant to be obtained-every thing, in short, done in vain. As to manners, an etiquette formal, perplexing, complicated, and mancuvring, in the court, and among the nobles and people at large, descending down to the very dregs—and there, even, they quarrel for precedency of title! Their literature, if they have any, we should not be surprised to find full of oriental imagery, and unnatural and tasteless splendour; for the poetry of a rude people, we are apt to believe, is any thing but simple and natural. Look at their moral and political condition
that of doing nothing in vain—will exhibit a proportionable degree of political wisdom in the structure of their government.
Of those arts, then, on which the comfort, the pleasure, and the happiness of man chiefly depend, we find that, in some, a discovery has been made of their true and genuine principles; and that a corresponding improvement has consequently ensued, in the works of their professors. The poet, in whose hands the reader is but an instrument on which to play, now understands how to strike every chord, from the highest even unto the lowest-from the loud trumpet note, that sounds to boot and spur, to that of the flute, which entrances the soul with its liquid melody. There is the high note of passion, the low note of fear, the soft note of love, and the glad note of joy. All these, and many more besides, does the cunning poet of this day touch, and sound, and vary, with such exquisite skill,. as maketh the breast of his reader to discourse most sweet music. This, if we mistake not, however metaphorically it be expressed, is the sole end and object of all poetry; and this the bard now understands how to effect, on certain principles and in the simplest manner. The novelist has learnt his duty too, as well as the poet. To show the reader what man is, and to teach him, by judicious and chosen examples, what it is his interest to be. Every one who takes up his pen can do something towards this, if he will but contribute faithfully, and without reservation, to the general stock, his own knowledge, experience, and observation of life. The mechanic, in his humble art, has probably outstripped them both, and will be the first to reach that goal, which man calls perfection, but which is only the farthest extent of his own limited faculties.
In these, and most other useful and ornamental arts, with which the well-being and delight of men are connected, we can remark a visible improvement of his capacity and expan
musica keth the bred sound, and ides, does the g
what do we see? A naked iron despotism in the government, in which peacefully to their grave
Descendunt reges, et sicca morte tyranni. A nobility covered with gold and vermin, at once slaves and tyrants; a miserable, oppressed, degraded, and brutalized peasantry, for whose wretchedness we can find no parallel, without crossing the Atlantic, to see it in the West India plantations. And, to crown the whole, -the close of all-an immense army, that eats up the provisions of a sterile and impoverished country, and then is thinned from mere starvation !
ose that, W other arts, crary in the chinter
sion of his intellect: it carries, then, no show of reason with it to suppose that, whilst for his comfort or amusement he has pushed forward all other arts, even to a discovery of their true and genuine, he has been stationary in the one, in whose advancement, of all others, he is most deeply interested the science of legislation and government. The strongest evidence, indeed, that can be given of the existence of good principles, is here unfortunately wanting, we mean good practice; but though few or no outward signs have been given of inward grace, we would rather be at the trouble of accounting for their non-appearance, than take up with the belief, that the great work of regeneration is carried unequally or partially forward.
In matters of taste or convenience, conviction is comparatively soon wrought: pride, indeed, or prejudice,--habit, or ignorance, may, for a while, impede the progress of improvement; but man discerns his interest in these minor affairs, too clearly, to remain long under the cloud. He sees his neighbour's plough perform twice the work in half the time that his own does--the tyranny of habit must, indeed, be strong, that shall keep him from adopting, in the end, the new-invented and, at first, odious implement; and, though it be even that with which his fathers tilled their lands, of consigning his old one, like a useless log, to the flames.
In literature, again, there are some wrong-headed persons, of such a bad taste, or no taste at all, who exclaim against what they call the poetical license of the age; and would have the muse resume the chiming fetters, which she so long ago bequeathed, with all the other particulars of her cast-off suit, to prize poems and academic odes. But our modern poets have, in nature, an advocate that will be too hard and cunning for them, who will, sooner or later, constrain these lovers of chimes to sound what stop she and they please. But in all that has to do with the policy of nations, and the government of states -where either the science of man's true interest becomes so difficult, or himself so profoundly dull-where the well-disposed, on the one hand, entertain such a dread of innovation; and the ill-affected, on the other, are so deeply interested in the maintenance of old corruption where the wise and the good, fearful of making a false step, are so backward with their salutary counsels,—and vain theorists, unmindful of the mischief they may make, are so ready with their flimsy speculations; it becomes, indeed, a marvel, how in any society, however enlightened, any great political good is ever achieved. The prejudices by which, in matters of taste or convenience, the exercise of the understanding is cramped, are but as thongs of flax, which give way before the strong and vigorous exertions of the waking giant. But the fetters with which habit, the love of order, veneration for antiquity, fear, ambition, and self-interest, confine the operations of political wisdom, are as chains of iron or adamant, only to be burst asunder by the last ground swell of the great tide of national civilization.
Notwithstanding, therefore, we have retained the manifold errors of the political faith and practice of our fathers, whilst we have put off their cumbrous and embroidered garments, and emancipated ourselves from the restrictions of their literary creed, we are not to suppose that the true principles of legislation have not kept pace, in their advancement, with the dawn of reason and truth in the other arts of life. In the absence, then, of all practical proof of enlarged political wisdom, for which we have attempted to account, in order that we might not be reduced to deny or disbelieve in that wisdom's existence, we are content to take such testimony as the manifest improvement of all the other kindred arts of social life may be considered to afford. That the great principles, indeed, on which the welfare of nations is grounded, are better understood and more widely diffused, at this present time, than in any former age, and that their march will not stop short of a universal establishment, we as firmly believe, as we do in the rapid and evident progress of those on whom depend the happiness and comfort of individuals.
But seeing that for beneficial ends, no doubt, it is permitted to madmen, or fools, to disturb the tranquillity of a world at peace, we are thankful to heaven, that has placed us in the bosom of the broad Atlantic; where wild waves and blustering winds are the only tyrants, whose storm and thunder we hear or feel. Surveying our own beloved and still happy land, its arts, its literature, the manners, spirit, energy of its people, we cannot but vindicate for our countrymen a decided superiority in every thing that is connected with the respectability, ornament, and comfort of social life, How far in philosophical pursuits, and the advancement of science, it may claim an equal precedence, we presume not to say, and leave it to others to decide. From the present condition of society, we think sufficient grounds may be derived for entertaining large and magnificent hopes of glorious improvement, in every liberal and dignified art: and so far from thinking, with some despairing minds, that our sun draweth towards its set, we confidently anticipate years, generations, centuries--not so much of political greatness (for the most powerful nations are not always the wisest and happiest), but of proud moral and intellectual superiority.
The progress of education, which is diffusing itself with such a rich and healing influence through the land, will gradually exalt every individual in it to the dignity of a well-in
formed and well-judging man; and among a nation of thinking and intelligent citizens, it cannot be but that the true principles of government and morals will not only be fully developed in theory, but universally adopted in practice. It is a reflection that should never be absent from the minds of our illustrious writers-calculated, as it is, at once to animate with new spirit, and chasten, with added purity, the productions of their genius; —that not a truth, which they utter, but strikes root downward, and bears fruit upward in every corner of the island—that not a false or erroneous notion but misleads, not an obscene or indecent idea but sullies the purity of countless numbers ;--that not a generous, free, and manly sentiment drops from their pens, but it strikes through a thousand thousand hearts,- not a touching expression of genuine feeling, but it thrills every fibre in the vast body of the sensitive and reading public.
Though our business be solely, or properly, with those from whom death has long since taken pen and occupation, we clearly shew that our we—the common representative of the collective bodies of all reviewers,-is not so habituated to looking backwards, as not sometimes to cast a prospective glance. In good truth, we neither rank ourselves among the laudatores temporis acti, nor rail at the present; but think we should pay our ancestors but an ill compliment, were we to believe that their descendants of the nineteenth century had profited so little by the precepts of their forefathers, as not to have beaten them hollow in practice. One thing, however, we know and are sure of, that whatever other crimés may be laid to the charge of this age, it at least has not to answer for letting the writer of a wellprincipled, pure, and elegant work, tumble headlong into the gulph of oblivion, without a single effort to rescue as much as his name or a desire that it should be pronounced, with kind thoughts of his memory, by generations yet unborn. Certainly this destruction of the immortal fame of the unknown author of Peter Wilkins, is the greatest literary delinquency of the last age.
But, lest the reader should begin to suspect us of being oblivious, and equally regardless of his fair and honest reputation, we shall proceed to lay before him, the best abstract of this illtreated work, which we are able to give : not without a lurking hope that he will be induced to bind up our obscure and humble favourite, with his own chosen closet companion-whether Captain Gulliver, or the Mariner of York.
As some of our readers may possibly belong to that class of men, to whose satisfaction it greatly contributes, to know under what circumstances and by what sort of person a narrative is delivered, we think it proper to state, that the following adventures were orally communicated to R. S. a passenger on board the Hector, by an elderly man, of middle size, having