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TO READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS.
MUCH indisposition and the calamities of the times have, with despotic sway, forbidden us the discharge of some of our editorial duties, and the indulgence of some of our privileges. Among the latter we class that of occasionally addressing our friends with a cheerful greeting; rendering thanks for literary service; indicating merit, wherever it may be found; and inviting communications from the virtuous and the wise.
Many, I see, have riches plenty,
Fine coaches, livery servants twenty;
We acknowledge the resources, worship the genius, and applaud the spirit of HILARIO. His truly independent mind soars on eagle pinions beyond the miry realms of carking Care, and, in the very notes of Cheerfulness he exclaims,
I'VE ONLY WHAT MAINTAINS ME.
And while the precious joys I prove
For the biography of General Gates, than which few articles in The Port Folio will be perused with more patriotic pride, we are indebted to the splendid genius and indefatigable industry of a gentleman who, in our rivetted opinion, is in the very first rank of our authors, and whose lucid style, fashioned after the best models, is in the purest taste of composition.
The author of a speculation, not more elaborate than ingenious, entitled Man Constitutionally Moral, is assured that his theory is greatly admired by the best judges. We are not much in the habit of perusing pages where metaphysical distinctions greatly predominate; but our author has arrayed his Abstraction in a garb so agreeable and popular, that we accompany him with sensations of a much more lively character than we felt when studying either John Locke or Bishop Berkley. After thus sincerely praising this performance, which is highly
evincive of the author's acuteness and dexterity of argumentation, we cannot omit to notice, with complacency, his laudable mode of calling up historical testimony, and summoning Fact, Experience, and Anecdote as auxiliaries to moral and metaphysical analysis. This plan was successfully pursued by my lord Kaimes, in his Sketches of the History of Man, and is by no means awkwardly imitated by our author. We feel a pleasure in thanking this gentleman on another account. In the zeal of a controversialist, he has never forgotten the courtesy of a cavalier, but behaves towards our friend and brother Analyticus, not in the spirit of furious polemics, but in that of bland civility, treating the opinions and reasoning of an able opponent with that respect to which his talents have the fullest claim.
The biography of Captain Nicholas Biddle, which so resplendently adorns The Port Folio for October, has, in the repeated perusal, afforded us a satisfaction perfectly unalloyed. Few papers, since, by the partiality of the public, the editor has had the honour of collecting and arranging the materials of a miscellany, have been more strictly scanLed, and more cordially admired. We have acquired the right to assure the amiable author, that this life of his gallant relative, the Sir Sidney Smith of America, will challenge a comparison with the best biographies of foreign birth; and if weighed in the critical balance, either of Oxford scholars, or Edinburgh reviewers, will never be found wanting. A composition of so pure and chaste a character may bid defiance to all the calumny of criticism. The editor is constantly in the habit of perusing the foreign Journals of the most established reputation, in which the lives of the learned, the adventurous, and the brave abound, but, for many years, he has not, after the most diligent research, discovered one, in any respect, superior to the article in question.
To a friend, commencing a course of English literature, and anxious to view the best models for a style, vigorous and masculine, we recommend, very strongly, most of the elder masters of thought and expression. Let the attention be directed to the beauties of the English writers from Queen Elizabeth to the civil war, writers who, as has been pertinently remarked, perhaps surpass those of any other age or country.
The literary ardour of B. is of the most noble and generous kind; but let him remember what he owes to himself, as well as to his muse -pit mor
and to his country. Let him beware, as he values that logo-T
and the brightness of fancy, of moping too intensely among his mid
values the vigour of health
night studies; and shun the dangerous servitude of that generous spirit who, as we read in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, was made slave to a lamp.
The complaint of X is perfectly well defined in the medico-moral philosophy, of the prescribers of medicine, or the analysers of mind. The want of regular employment is followed up by dreary intervals of care, but rarely burnished with joy, and thus life is reduced to a state of blank listlessness, occasionally enlivened by a gleam of forcedenjoyment, like an ignis fatuus playing over the bosom of a swamp.
F. Y. need not run after visionary Speculation, which will always fly away and elude his grasp, like that "amusive arch," the rainbow, chased by the simple boy in Thomson. On the contrary, let him follow the maxims of Michael Montaigne, an author in whose pages the freshness of good sense perpetually springs up under the reader's eye, like the verdure of a dewy June.
It has been incident to the editor, ever since he commenced the publication of this Journal, to receive a much greater mass of poetical than of prose compositions. Indeed the proportion of the former to the latter is as ten to one. This is at once a curious and mysterious circumstance in a new-born country, continually reviled by foreign Criticism for a total want of poetical power and poetical taste. From the above accurate statement of the editor, it must appear that the frequent attempt is not wanting, however slender may be the success. If we have no epics like Milton's, or tragedies like Shakspeare's, or , or poems lil like Pope's, or satires like those of Young and Swift, yet infant adventurers abound, even on this side of the Atlantic, who struggle with all their might to bend the bow of Ulysses. Now we sincerely think this a good omen, and a pleasing proof of an ardent desire to excel, which most manifestly is a very noble step towards excellence. Though justice towards himself as well as to others, compels the editor to declare that heaps of poetical matter are often ranged before Itim of a character scarcely less offensive than the compost heaps in a farmer's field, yet, amid this trash we sometimes spy a jewel of diamond lustre, at once brilliant, solid, and durable. Every article so precious is preserved with a sort of religious care, and if, perchance, it may not instantly radiate to the public eye, still it will shine in its season, to the satisfaction of the owner, and to the admiration of all.
"The Tonsoriad," with which we have taken a few editorial liberties, for which we hope to receive the author's pardon, is a lucky imi tation of the Darwinian style, and will readily remind the polite rea
der of the Loves of the Triangles, than which a more humorous burlesque cannot be discovered in all the regions, of wit. Our arch American has succeeded very happily in his lucky similitude in the fourth paragraph of his poem, and has been still more fortunate in his allusion to a well known nursery tale in the fifth. We think that the fame of the sovereign of shavers is now perennial; and that Partridge and Hugh Strap, and even the barber of Bagdat himself, are only qualified, in comparison with him, to eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a
Imperial Shaver! on thy laurelled brow
Till Time expire, and beards shall cease to grow!
Tn full communion with our High Church friend, G-r, we re member the duties and delight of this festal season. During the Christmas holidays we cannot refrain from applying to a most accomplishcal classical scholar and delightful companion, the impassioned lines of Walter Scott.
How just that, at this time of glee,
My thoughts, dear G―r, turn to thee,
Sure mortal brain can hold no inore.
He cares not if tender, he cares not if tough;
The Choice of a Choice of a wife," if we understand the reasoning of "A prudent Bachelor," is regulated principally by what my worthy friend Cocker of Cheapside and mathematical memory, calls the main chance. Our bachelor is quite indifferent to the virtue or the beauty of a bride.
In despite of the vulgar notion we cannot help defending the cause of Roman literature.
Those ancients, as Noll Bluff would say,
The character of "A Genuine Sportsman" would be hardly recognised in America. The jovial chase is better known in the parks of England, and among the mountains of Caledonia. There may be found many a bold huntsman
As bugle e'er in brake did sound,
The picture of "The Lass in Love" is pretty and pleasing; but has not the genius of a Scottish poet drawn such a nymph in a style of superior excellence?
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh,
We shall not neglect the lighter departments of poetry, because, in a work like this, they are indispensably necessary to contrast with the more serious character which should predominate in such a miscellany. Our faith and practice concur with a high authority, that It is extremely proper to unbend the mind with poetry; and not always. with that species which turns upon subjects of great length; but those little pieces of the gay and epigrammatical 'kind, which serve as proper reliefs for employments of every sort. They commonly go under the title of poetical amusements; but these amusements have some times gained as much reputation to their authors, as works of a much more serious character. In this manner the greatest t men and the greatest orators have either exercised or amused themselves, or rather, indeed, have done both. It is surprising how much the mind is unburthened and enlivened by those little poetical compositions which turn upon subjects of gallantry, satire, tenderness, politeness, and every thing, in short, that concerns life and the affairs of the world. Besides, the same advantage attends these, as every other sort of poems, that we turn from them to prose with so much the more pleasure, after having experienced the difficulty of being constrained and fettered by numbers.