H. Biglow.

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power on one side, and the rage of imioea-
fion on the othery** - - ^ very luminous ami
satisfactory explanation, and one which
we take the liberty of recommending, as
a model of brief and oracular exposition,
to the supporters of the true Faith, when-
ever they are so unfortunate as to become
entangled in controversy with Protestant
prejudice and bifotn^. Again, we say, it
is not because IVf r. Eustace looked upon
fbe French Revolntion as the alpha and
omt^ of human crime and misery, or
because he was a staunch adherent of the
liomish Church, that we object to his lu-
cubrations on a country where that Revo-
lution has left some of its deepest scars—
and where that Church is so maternally
attentive to the mritual welfare of her
children, that all ner ingenuity seems to
be directed to the leaving them as little
else to think about, as she well can. All
this we conceive, is very beautiful,— only
i:atherlato in the day, and not altogether
adapted to the darimess of the present
age, which in spite of the benevolent re-
monstrances of Mr. Eustace, and writers
of that jremtf, appears determined to jwr-
sist in its own crude notions, and to reject,
as something partaking of the ridiculous,
all his pathetic dissertations and panegy-
rics upon the divine origin, humbleness
and sanctity of the only saving faith. — ^No,
it is for reasons substantiaJly different
from objections of a relig^us nature, that
we rank Mr. Eustace, as a writer and
observer, in a veiy inferior rank to
that whidi we would assign to the un-
prejudiced and eloquent author of the
** Hemarke,^^ &c. a book which every
person intending to visit Italy, should pre-
viously peruse— -we can assure &em it is
no undeligfatftf task— «nd deposit in their



malle da voyage^ ready to be consulted
among (he scenes it so pictorially de-
scribe. — ^It is the prejudice— the blind
prejudice— that pervades the pages of
Mr. Eustace — his ueiermination to lift up
the Italians — the modem Italians — above
all other nations — ^the unbounded venera-
tion for antiquity that makes him regard
with a complacency truly amusing and
edifying acts, which, had tiiey occuired in
modem times, he would, and veiy proper-
ly, have l^randed with reprobation — his
absurd endeavours to underrate the value,
of French literature, and to place the fee-
ble triflers of Naples above Voltaibe,
Montesquieu, and BurroN — together
with the affectation of archaiological sen-
sibility which frequeutly assumes the ap-
pearance of a desire Ip impose hioiself up-
on you for an ancient Roman, and which
in one instance, he does not hesitate to
say, made him pass by, without visiting, a
spot (among the mountains in the vicinity
of Verona) inhabited by a very sin^lar
race of people, totaUy distinct from the ge-
neral populationof Italy, and supposed to be
descended from the remains of the Cimbri
and Teutones, defeated in this neighbour-
hood by Marius; — these constitute some
of the grounds on which we would take •
our stand against Mr. Eustace as an Ita*
lian traveller : — the general aim and de-
sire evinced in his volumes, and not sel-
dom with considerable ostentation, seems
to be, the holding forth the Romans, and
pretty universally the Italians as the only
people desernng the name of a civilized
nation, or whose history and monuments
ought to excite our curiosity and admira-
tion. Now, we think that there were many
features in the Roman character worthy
only of unequivocal abhorrence :— sprung
from a race of robbers, the Romans appear
always, more or less, to have retained the
undoubted tokens of their descent; — their
arts — their literature — ^were borrowed
tastes— but for war and rapine they were
cursed with an innate and almost savage
predilection ;^-ambition in its simplest^-
grossesi — form, was the true passion of
thb unrefined and crael people—the mere
extension of their dominion furnished the
single impulse by which they were actua-
ted in all their forei^ enterprises ;— 4iot
that they were a marbal,but that they were
only a martial, people is it that we would
point out the Romans as the very worst
model for a nation to mould its manners
and habits alter ; — ^the Greeks were am-
bitious, but their ambition was not con-
fined to the object which formed its ex«
elusive motive with the Romans— havoc,
fraud, and oppression always followed in



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the rear of a Roman force, and the hjods
that rabnrittod to their anna became the
victimB of their tyranny ;— 4be expeditioBs
of the Greeks, most frequently justified by
the a|freasions Of their enemiea, gpenerally
amehMUted the condition of the people
against whom they were directed, and by
the intit)diiction of tiie nsefol and elegant
arts, more than ooonterbalanced the tem-
porary erils nnayoidably attendant on war.
In their least civilized state, the Gre^s
hare always appeared to us a more lofty —
generoQs-aottled — and in many points,
a mora refined-*people than the Romans
In the proudest periods of tiie RepnUic.
Ereiy success of the Romans was a curse
—every conquest of the Greeks a blessing
—to mankind. With the praise to whioh
the primitive purity of theu* manners, and
the intensity of their patriotism, unques-
tionably entitle them, we cordially agree,
and unite with Mr. Eustace in his admira-
tion oi their HUraHy and the mighty and
majestic roonumentB of their former power
and magnificence ; — but here we stop ; —
we are not prepared with bins to worship
the purple either of the Csesan or the
Popes— we cannot forget that the gnihy
greatness of Rome was founded in the*sub-
jection and plunder of the world— that
ber eagles were the uniform harbingers of
bkMd and destruction— that fraud and as-
•assinatien were the steps by which she
mounted to glory— and mat the triumphs
of her arras irapiBded, in an incalculable
degree, the improvement and civiliaation
of the human race. The countrymen of
Washington should ever remember that
the bases of true greatneas are laid in the
arts of peace, and that more real gkny is
derived from the noiseless labours of civil
wisdom, than from all the folse and glit-
tering pageantry of military or imperial

Too long has Mr. Eustace detained us
Irom the interesting and, indeed, deligbt-
fbl volume which we are solicitous to in-
tit)diice to the notice of our readers; Ne-
ver perhaps, has Italy been sketched with
so elegant, vigorous, and roasteriy a pen-
cil;— 4iever have the vestiges of anoieat
grandeur, or the labours of modem genius
sttd taste, been so clearly and vividly de-
lineated as in the pages of Mr. Forsyth —
yet it must not be siqpposed that the tal-
ents of the author are simply those of an
archaiok)gist, or that he carried with him
to Italy a mind intent only upon the beau-
tiful, but inanimate, objects of art ;— his
intellect was too extensive in its grasp—
hk powers of obserration were too various
and independent — to be confined to the
. analysis of buildings, and statues, and



pictures ; — these, as we have said, be de-
scribes—and his remarks upon subjects
that had exhausted the eulogistic or de-
preciating talenti of his predecessors,
have an animation and originality that
must excite the surprise of all who reflect
upon die difficulty of saying an^ thing at
once tme and novel upon topics which
have been the themes or discussion for so
many centuries ;— but it would be doing
thb eloquent writer a great injustice to
suppose that he travelled mereiy as a con-
noisseur— that he was so steeped in mrM,
as to pass through a country like Italy
without bestowing a thought upon any
object that did not make an immediate ap-
peal to his taste or imagination,-*-that the
character, the manners, the pursuits, and
pditioal condition of her improving,
though still degraded population, should
not call forth any observations from a
writer so eminently and variously gifted,
would be a just cause of surprise, imd to
be accounted for onljr on the score of in-
dolence, or bv supposing him to have en-
joyed too little leisure or opportunity for
the exercise of other powers than tho^e
possessed by ordinary travellers. But if
Mr. Forsyth wert deficient in afibrding us
information respecting the important and
primaiT objects of enquiry to which we
have aUuded, he could not plead the want
either of time or opportunity as a sufficient
excuse for his sins of omission :— a resi-
dence in Italy of two entire years woulil
enable an acute and active mmd (and tho
mind of Mr. Forsyth was active and acute
in the highest degree) to collect and com-
bine tog^her a mass of usefel and instruc-
tive intelligence on the actual condition
of the people— he had, besides, aooess to
the highest and best informed society of
the country, and 'as fiir as we can gather
from his own unostentatious language, the
esteem in which he was generally held
afibrded him eveiy desirabfe means of ob'
taining, vwa toce, information upon erery
topic which conversation was capable of
elucidating — and now having steted to
our readers what they Itave a right to ex-
pect from Mr. Forsyth, it seems but fair
to inform them he has availed himself to
the utmobt of all his advantages, and giv-
en us a book upon one of the most inter-
esting regions of Europe, superior in near-
ly every respect to the works that have
hitherto fallen in our way. His style is
original in a very eminoit de gree brief,
vigorous, and animated— nothing of the
set air of regular composition about it-
no laborious efibrt at efiect; — but in
every page you meet with those unsought
graces of diction which captivate the at-



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tention, wfaeo tiie studied beauties of fine
writing would fail altogether of produciiig
the slightest impression. It is not art^
but its real or apparent absence, that
lends to Mr. Forsyth's style its chief and
prominent attractions— it has all the life
and Firacity of high-toned conversation—
eveiy object is presented to yon through
a clear and transparent medium that per-
mits you to form an idea of its outline and
essential qualities as correct, nearly, as if
you actually beheld it; — were we dis-
posed to raise any objection, we should,
perhaps, be tempted to say that the com-
position is too uniformly ambitious and
brilliant, and maintains an elevation to
which the minds of readers in general, are
not alwavs disposed to soar— it maybe,
that Mr. Forsyth is too constantly splen-
did—it is possible that he sacrifices a lit-
tle too much to the desire of dazzling the
imagination— and that the web of his
diction would be improved were its rich
and sparkling materials interwoven with
threads of a less gorgeous tint ; — we can-
not be always roving on the mountain-
tops— we love occasionally to descend into
the valleys— to repose our wearied limbp,
and refresh our exhausted faculties, in
the calm and humble shades of their soli-
tary retreats ;— Mr. Forsyth was a man of
unusually comprehensive and origrinal in-
tellect— iiabitnated to depend upon the
dictates of his own jud^ent — and rarely
drawn aside by prejudice or fidse enthu-
siasm — and this temperament of his mind
is evinced in almost every subject upon
which he touches. Seldom is it that he
leans upon the crutches of another's opi-
nion,— where he has nothing valuable to
offer of his own, be is usually silent— and
the treasures of others are rarely render-
ed subsidiaiy to a mind wealthy even to
overflowing in its own resources. — ^This
intellectual independence, it is admitted,
makes occasional inroads upon the grace,
and suavity of the general style—and
here and there the self-love of the reader
is a httle revolted by bursts of disdainful
observation, and the splenetic eruptions
of a conscious superiority : — but really,
when we consider how frequently we are
offended by the unbounded and baseless
arrogance of modern writers, — with all
the pride, but none of the pretensions of
genius— and turn in disheartening retros-
pect to the quantity of inane and imper-
tinent trash which is almost diumally dis-
gorged from the press in every Protean
shape of instinctive vanity— we do feel
disposed to exercise a more than common
patience and lenity towards a writer
whose extraoAboary clai^ to (mf attei^?



tioQ may well be pled in apologr for an
occasional and involuntary acerbity or
even haughtiness of manner.

A short biography of the author is pre-
fixed, from which we shall extract sudi
passages as we think necessary to let our
readers into a knowledge of the habits
and dispositions of Mr. Forsyth.

Joseph Forsyth was a native of Elgin*
in the county of Moray, in Scotland. His
parents were respectable— his father was
a merehant of kmg and reputable stand-
ing. Joseph was eariy sent to the gram-
mar school of Elgin, where his progr^
was so rapid that his master pronounced
him, when only twelve years of age, fit
for the university. He was aooordingly
entered at King^s College, Aberdeen, and
here the superiority of his exercises, and
the gentleness of his disposition soon won
the attention of his tutor, Professor Ogilvy.
*' As he successively passed under the
care of the professors, he found himself
the object of their approbation and solicu-
tude. Betuming every summer to the
bosom of his family, he devoted his whole
time to study, and thus laid the foundation
of that eminent knowledge of the Greek
and Roman classics, which it was the
business and chief pleasure of his life af-
terwards to complete. On concluding
the four years usually employed in the
Scotch universities, his parents left to
himself the choice of a profession, but
with a secret hope that he would prefer the
chureh; his natural diffidence, and the
little prospect he then saw of obtaining
a patron, determined him on trying to turn
his classical acquirements to some ac-
count in that universal mart— London."
There he entered into an engagement with
the roaster of a respectable academy in the
neighbourhood of the metropolis — where
for some time he officiated as assistant — but
subsequently purehased the establishment
— ^and for thirteen years conducted it
'^on his own account with the highest re-
putation and success. The drudgery and
irksomeness of this business were too much
for his strength and spirits. Having a
tendency to pulmonary complaints, he
was, during this period, twice reduced by
them to the brink of .the grave. Seeing
the impossibility of strug^ing longer with
such incongruous duties as the care ef his
health, and the conscienticus superin-
tendance of the education of nearly an [a]
hundred boarders, he resigned the chai^
and retired to Devonshire in the spring
of 1801, to recruit his constitution.

The remainder of the memoir we should
injure by abbreviation — it embodies tbar
n^t9 of a relation— a&d fte sacred



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sofabroth^ forbids its cmtailment
We give it entire.

** After restoring his heahh by ^ resi-
dlenoe of some months in Devonshire, he
eame, in July, 1801, to Elgin, to visit his
aged and betored mother, and remained
«ntil atttumh. Dnnng this mtervalof
* learned leisnf^,' his mind was anxious-
ly bent on enjoying the grand object of
3dl the wishes and hopes of his life—*
tXnir through Italy. His intimate ao-
quaintance with the pDets %md historians
of that classic country, both in its ancient
and modem state, had already familiariz-
ed him with every scene, and almost with
every building it ccmtained. But at this
period '.an insuperable barrier was inter-
posed bv Buonaparte : — ^no Briton might
tread with safety the soil over which he
bore sway. Thus, in the midst of leisure,
Tenovated health, and easy circumstances,
was his aitient imagination left, almost in
despair, to languish over his &vourite ob-
ject. It may be easily conceived with
what rapture he hailed the unexpected
happiness which the peace of Amiens
brought to every' heart That event took
^ace on the 1st October, was known at
Elgin on the 7th, and Mr. Forsyth was
already on his journey to London for Italy
cm the 12th. He was in France at the
celebratioii of the extraiagant and tu-
multuous festival that took place in ho-
nour of that hollow tfeaty. After spend-
ing a few weeks in Pans, where he bad
been twice before, he pushed on to the
land of promise, and arrived at Nice on
Christmas day, 1801. Here his « Re-
marks' will best enable those who may
feel an interest in his progress through life
to trace it for the two sucoeeding years.

*^ln consequenceofthc rupture between
Engkind and France in 1802, and that
onMl and unjust order of Buonaparte to
arrest all British subjects travelling in his
dominions, Mr. Forsyth was seized by
the police^ at Turin, on the 25th of May,
1803, while on his return home through
Switzerland, and with no intention what-
ever of ei^tedng Fraacei He was car-
ried to Nftmes, and found his situation
there as pleasaiit as under restraint it
could be. There were soon collected
Irom Italy and the southern provinces of
France a great many English at this de-
p6t : and, in this early stage of their con-
finement, a connderable degree of relaxa-
tion and indulgence was granted. Feel-
ing themselves unjustly detained, many
of the more adventurous made their es-
cape in di&rent directions; and Mr.
Fonyth, encouraged by the general prac-
tice, withdrew to Mar^illes with the in-

\m^ ur. — No. n 4



tention of passing, in an American ^p,
to Malta wad thence to England. Here,
however, tibe broker who negotiated tot
his passage, sold him to the police ; b^
whom he was arrested when stepping oii
board, and cpnveved, under guard, back
to Nismes. For this venial transgression
he was visited with a dreadful punish-
ment. In the depth of a most severe win-
ter be was marched from one extremity
of France to the other, (a distance of 60O
miles,) to that most execrable dungeon,
Fort de Bitche. His confoiement at first
was intolerably strict, but, by degrees,
was softened into something more bear-
able. His mild and gentle demeanor, th^
extent and varitty of his information, and
his facility in the French language, at
length procured him the notice and es'>
teem of the commandant, who afterward^
p«Lid him particular attention. He con>
tinued there two years; but in conse-
quence of earnest applications to I'le
French government by some of bis friends
who had been removed from Bitche t0
Verdun, he was at last permitted to join
them,; where he remained five years.
The dissipati<m and riot, in which tbd
English prisoners in funeral indulged,
were so repugnant to his habits and feel-
ings, that he lived almost in solitude. H6
was well known by the more regular part
of his countrymen there, who esteemed
him for that ftind of intelligepoe he pos-
sessed, atid for his benevolence to hun-
dreds of our poor prisoners whose allow^
ances scarcely afforded the means of ex-
istence. At this time his most anxious
desire, next to the recovery of freedotd,
was to be permitted to reside in Paris.
The easy access to the society of leame<t
Frenchmen, the public institutions, the
museums, the National Library, and,
above all, the glorious collection in the
Louvre, were his exoitementB. After
many fruitless endeavours, he at last ac-
complished his wish in the spring of 1811^
through the influence of a lady in the
suite of the king of Holland, then a kind
of state prisoner at Paris. His permis-
sion was no sooner g^nted, than he set
off for the capital, wad found himself es-
tablished in every respect, except his dar-
ling object Uberfyf to his heart's content.
Four months had scarcely elapsed, when
an order from government was secretly
issued to send off instantly every English-
man from Paris to his respective dep6t

Mr. Forsyth's astonishment and disap*
pointment were extreme when two gen-
d'armes drew aside his curtain at four
o'clock in the morning of the 22d July,
presented their order, and desired hfo^ lo



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dress immediately and follow them. He
waited on two fiiends, members of the Na-
tioDal Institute, who accompanied him to
the Minister of Police, an4 who, by way
of special indulgence, g^ve him two days
to prepare for his departure, with th6
choice of Verdun or Valenciennes as
hi^ future residence- He fixed on the
latter, and after three years' abode was
well pleased with tl»e preference which
he had given it. Here he enjoyed the ad-
vanta^ of riding into the country, and
even of living, during the summer months,
in a cottage several miles from the town.
These favours seem to have been con-
ceded from the estimation in which he
wa^ held by the comman * nt, by whom
he was appointed one of the five commis-
sioners who superintended the appropria-
tion of the allowances given to the mass
of prisoners by the French govemmeitt,
and the patriotic fund at Lloyd's.

"^Mr. Forsyth's fistvourite pursuits dur-
ing iiifl detention seem to have been the
classics, Italian poetry, and architecture :
but the anxiety which he incessantly felt
to be delivered from restraint, absorbed
€vcrj other consideration, and prevented
the application of his mind to any fixed
subject, or to composition of any kind.
Htis correspondence at this time shows un-
wearied applications to his friends at Paris,
to the goyemment, and even personally to
the emperor, but without any efiect Nor
were his friebds in Britain less anxious or
less zealous in the same good cause ; yet, al-
tliougfa persons of high rank and inouence
lent their earnest assistance, no beneficial
effect resulted from it. Having seen some
of the ditentu obtain their release in con-
seq ucnce 4>f appearing before tlie public
in the character of authors — (Buonaparte
afiTecting to be considered the patron and
protector of literature) — Mr. Forsyth was
induced to prepare tlie notes he had made
while on his tour in Italj, and puhHsh
them in Epgland, copies of which were
forwarded to the leading members of the
National Institute at Paris, with solicita-
tions in his favour by some of the most
sharacters in London.
t for freedom failed, and
ing day, ceased to re-
nmade. He considered
>t sufficiently worthy of
er at thery were on the
t« to aUam a particular
him than fame itself,
is whole mind, with his
ample store of materials, in a period of
personal satisfaction and self-possession,
nis work would have displayed his erudi-
tion and talents ioi a &r more favourable



" At length the long wished for moment
of deliverance approached. Tbe^ppear-'
ance of the allies on the northeastern fron-
tier of France, in the end of 1813, made-
it necessary that the f^ghsh dep6ts should
be removed farther into the interior.
They were ordered first to Mons, then
to Orleans, and lastly to Blois. At Or-
leans, on the 6th April, 1814, Mr. For-
syth first heard the welcome news of the
allies having entered Paris oa the 31st
March. His chains were now broken,
freedom and home burst upon him with
all their endearing force, and for two days
he seems to have been ahnost wild with
joy. The first ^ndments of recollectioii
were devoted to his jovmey to Paris;
there he had the satisfaction of finding
himself in the midst of the deliverers of.
Europe, and surroi^nded by the most ex-
traordinary assemblage of princes, states*
men, and soldiers, Uiat had ev^ before
met on one spot. In May he arrived in
England ; and after an absence of thirteen
yeare, came to Elgin, in July, to visit his
only surviving brother, and the friends of
his earliest days. Fearing to encounter*
the severity of a northern winter, he re-^
turned to London in October, and spent
that season in a family of a friend in
Queen square, Bloomsbury, where every
attention that kij^dness or affection could
dictate was paid to his comfort His time
was employed chiefly in the reading-room
of the British Museum, and in intercourse
with men of letters. In April, 1815, be
came down again to Elgin, to establish
himself with his brother, and take posses-
sion of his extensive collection of books,,
from which he had been divorced for the
last fourteen years. After so long a pri- *
vation, he seented almost to devour then*
by the eagerness of Iks enjoyment, and-



Online LibraryH. BiglowThe American monthly magazine and critical review → online text (page 5 of 99)