« AnteriorContinua »
Theology and General Literature.
Literary Memoir of Dr. Percy,
descended from the antient line of
Who'd starve upon a dog-car'd Penta-
He surely knows enough who knows a
An established church, which enjoins a creed on her clergy, instead of encouraging them to chuse their own, can offer but slender inducements to theological enquiry. A young clergyman, Provided with a liturgy for his desk, and satisfied with a stile of moral suąsion for the pulpit, will rarely yield to, if he should feel, the temptation of becoming wiser than his teachers, the venerable Nor We are as uninformed, concern. councils of former ages ing Mr. Percy's course of educa. will be easily forget that unless he tion, as of the history of his fami- has the effrontery to dare think one ly, till he entered at Christ Church thing and another tell, it might College, Oxford, where he com- cloud his fairest prospects, and menced Master of Arts, in 1753. darken all the colour of remaining On leaving the University, in life, to arrive at the unwelcome 1756, his first promotion was to discovery, that the scriptures, a college living in Northampton. Critically investigated, are at vashire, held with another, the gift riance with the creed, to which of the Earl of Sussex. These he has, ex animo, subscribed his benefices were not, probably, what assent and consent. It is therefore are technically denominated fat no proper subject of surprise, that, livings; and our young divine notwithstanding some splendid ex
might devote himself to literary composition, from motives of prudence, as well as inclination. This inclination would be fostered, in no light degree, by his early connection with Johnson, and his literary associates, of whom he
was the last survivor.
ceptions, so many among the highest dignitaries of the Church of England, have appeared before the public in any character, rather than that of theologians.
are added, The Argument or Story of a Chinese Play; a Collection of Chinese Proverbs: Fragments of Chinese Poetry. With Notes, 12 mo. 4 vol. (M. Rev. xxv. 427.)
The late Bishop of Dromore was, by no means, an exception We are informed that the to this remark. From the series translation was found, in manuof his publications, of which, in script, among the papers of a the want of other materials, the gentleman, who had Farge con present memoir must almost en cerns in the East India Company, tirely consist, it will appear that, and occasionally resided much at excepting one offering to theology, Canton. As the version was the bis pen was devoted to other work of a gentleman whose proobjects, though neither useless vince was trade, and whe probably nor unimportant. To refine the never designed it for the public, classical taste of his contempora- nothing could be expected from ries, and, at the same time, to in him but fidelity to the originalculcate the purest morality, ap- the Editor, therefore, was obliged pear to have been the worthy so far to revise the whole as to objects of his attention. He will render the language somewhat be found, we believe, in his nu- more grammatical and correct, merous selections, to have rigor. retaining the imagery, the allusiously rejected, however veiled in ons, the reflections, the proverobsolete language, every expres- bial sayings, any uncommon sen. sion, which as Watts complains, timent or mode of expression, and even of the Spectator, "might as much of the Chinese idiom in raise a blush in the face of strict general, as was not utterly incon. virtue;" a caution not always re- sistent with the purity of our own.” garded by antiquarian editors, though in their own conduct correctly moral.
It will appear, in the course of this memoir, that it became an early object of Mr. Percy's attention, to trace modern literature from its rude commencements, and especially to investigate the literary antiquities of the northern nations. The first publication, however, ascribed to him, was a translation from the Chinese.
The authenticity of this work as a translation, amidst not a few venial literary impostures, received the following support from the journalist to whom alone we are indebted for our account of it. "These four thin folios of Chinese paper, on which the original rough translation of this novel was written (the fourth in Portuguese,) happened some years ago, to be shewn to some of the gen tlemen concerned in this Review, who had then an opportunity of perusing the work, before it had received the polish and improvements of the learned and ingenious Editor, and so far they can bear testimony to the authentithe Chinese Language. To which city of the book; but to those who
This publication was anonymous, though immediately at tributed to his pen. It appeared in 1761, under the following title. HAU KIOU CHOAAN; or, The Pleasing History: a translation from
have the pleasure of knowing this faults he proceeds to ascribe to an worthy gentleman, all such testi- " abjectness of genius in the Chimony will appear quite superflu.. nese, accounted for from that ous. The credit of his name and servile submission and dread of character being sufficient to secure novelty, which enslaves their minds, the public from imposition, in re- and while it promotes the peace gard to any publication, in which and quiet of their empire, duils he may be concerned."—"The their spirit and cramps their ima scheme and conduct of the Novel," gination."
is this described by the same The Chinese Play is said to have Journalist. A young Chinese been " acted at Canton, in 1719, man of quality, of great virtue found among the papers of the gen and uncommon bravery, has an tleman who first translated the Chiattachment to a lady every way nese Novel, and the second speciworthy of so accomplished a hero. men, in any European language, Circumstances, however, are ad- of the talents of the Chiese for A powerful rival, with dramatic composition; the Orother great obstacles, intervene, phan of the House of Chao, puband interesting adventures and lished by Du Halde, being the vicissitudes follow. But love and first." It might have been added, virtue at length triumph over all that the latter piece was criticalopposition." ly analized by the late Bishop Hurd, in his Discourse on Poetical Composition, annexed to his Horace, 1753; [vol. 2d. p. 180.] though, for what reason, does not appear, omitted in the later editions of that Discourse. A translation from Du Halde, was, however, in the following year, published in a publication attributed
From the Collection of Chinese
"There is not a greater differ. ence between the man who is sitting for his portrait, stiffened to Mr. Percy. "into a studied composure, with every feature and limb under Proverbs, the following will shew, constraint, and the same person as the reviewer expresses it," that unreserved, acting in his common good sense is the same in all counsphere of life, with every passion in play, and every part of him in motion, than there is between a people methodically described in a formal account, and painted out in the lively narrative of some domestic history." Avoiding unqualified praise of his adopted work, he acknowledges, that, "examined by the laws of Euro. "In company, set a guard upon pean criticism, he believes it your tongue; in solitude, upon liable to many objections." The your heart.
Describing the value of this publication, as presenting "a faithful picture of Chinese manners, wherein the domestic and political economy of that vast people is displayed," the editor adds the following happy illustration.
"Do not entertain a man who has just received a disappointment with an account of your own suc cess.
"If one doth not pluck off the branches of a tree, while they are yet tender, they cannot afterwards be cut off, without the axe.
to unravel a skain of thread, the more he entangles it.
on that drama.
"The more haste a man makes The publication of this Chinese Novel, was followed, in 1762, by "Miscellaneous Pieces, relating to the Chinese." Of these, the only one original was a Disser tation on the language and writ ings of the Chinese." Among On the Fragments of Chinese the Pieces, is a translation, as we Poetry, the Editor remarks, much have mentioned from Du Halde, in the manner of Dr. Hurd, in of The Orphan of the House of the Discourse before mentioned, Chao, with Dr. Hurd's criticism that the only kinds of Poetry, that are cultivated much among In 1763 appeared the first the Chinese, are either shorter fruits of Mr. Percy's researches pieccs, resembling the epigrams, in another quarter. "This little rondeaus and madrigals of the last tract was drawn up for the press age, or else collections of moral in the year 1761." It is entitled apothegms, which are their only "Five Pieces of Runic Poetry: essays of any length." Translated [in prose] from the The account of this publica- Islandic Language," the originals ion has been extended, perhaps, being annexed, 66 as vouchers for excusably, from the translation the authenticity of his version." and the review of it having now "This attempt" is described as the antiquity and rareness produced by the lapse of half a century. We shall conclude this part of our Memoir, with the following specimen of Mr. Percy's versification, in a translation of verses, extracted from a Chinese Romance, and entitled an Eulogium on the Willow Tree, which it seems, has among the Chinese a prime place in their gardens," where it is culti vated" with as much care as the most delicate flower."
owing to the success of the Erse fragments." the authenticity of which Mr. Percy is inclined to dispute, till the translator of Ossian's poems thinks proper to produce his originals."
"The most ignorant have knowledge enough to discern the faults of others: the most clear-sighted are blind to their own"
Scarce dawns the genial year: its yellow sprays
The sprightly willow cloaths in robes
No silkworm decks thy shade, nor
In his preface, our translator has the following ingenious re marks on the contrarieties in the character of "the ancient inhabitants of the northern parts of Europe." "If we sometimes revere them for that generous plan of government, which they every where established, we cannot help lamenting that they raised the fabric upon the ruins of literature and the fine arts. Yet they had an amazing fondness for poetry, and it will be thought a paradox, that the same people, whose furious ravages destroyed the last poor remains of expiring genius among the Romans, should cherish it with all possible care, among their own countrymen." These trans