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HISTORY OF LITERATURE;
· VOL. VII.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME,
CONSIDERABLE inconvenience and delay having been experienced in the printing of this work, from the original plan, of prefixing to each Chapter the Introduction immediately connected with its subject, it has been determined to give the whole of the prefatory observations in a collective form, and in a General Introduction to present the reader with a comprehensive Retrospect of the literature of the year.
VOYAGES AND TRAVELS. The Continent of Europe continuing inaccessible to English travellers, through the operation of the same cause as we had before to lament, we have not in our present volume to record any new information respecting its several states and kingdoms from recent observation. Spain bas, indeed, for a short time been open to us, and has exhibited an aspect which could not fail to excite the liveliest interest: this, however, has not produced an original work of any traveller through that country; the few publications which have appeared on the subject being republications, or catchpenny compilations from the manufactory of the bookmaker.
Something has been added to our knowledge of Asia. Mr. Wilkinson, although an unskilful editor, has performed an acceptable service, by giving to the British Public the information which Dr. Reinegs some years ago collected respecting the district of Mount Caucasus. Mr. Parsons's Tra. vels are not sufficiently recent to afford information as to the present state of the different countries through which he travelled; but his work, as being the production of a man of observation, will nevertheless be read with considerable interest Mr. Macgill, like Mr. Parsons, was a com. mercial traveller; upon subjects connected with mercantile affairs, his travels in Turkey may be advantageously consulted, but in other re. spects they will not afford the reader much amusement or information.
An important addition has been made to our geographical knowledge of. North America, by the successful termination of an expedition fitted out by the government of the United States to explore the river Missouri, and seek for a passage across the Stony Mountains to the shores of the Pacific. The official narrative by Captains Lewis and Clarke has not yet appeared; but Mr. Patrick Gass, one of the party, has published a Journal of the Expedition, which, until the other work shall appear, will be read with interest, Mr. Ashe's exploratory Travels in North America, will hold but a low rank in this class of publications; notwithstanding, how
ever, the literary foppery of the author, his absurd and ludicrous attempts at philosophical disquisitions, and the pompous pretensions of his title page, the attentive reader may collect from the work a few not uninteresting facts, relative to the present state of some parts of the districts, bordering on the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers. The last work in this class we have to notice is Mr. Bolingbroke's Voyage to Denerary; which, upon the whole, displays considerable observation and intelligence.
GEOGRAPHY, TOPOGRAPHY, AND ANTIQUITIES. The most important work on general Geography which the last year produced, is a new and considerably enlarged edition of the Rev. Mr. Cruttwell's valuable Gazetteer. We lament to learn, that the respected author only lived to see the work through the press. Some useful elementary publications on Geography have also been published ;, among these we regard with much approbation Mr. Williams's judicions Introduction to Pinkerton's excellent work. In the department of FOREIGN TOPOGRAPHY and ANTIQUITIES, Mr. Gell has established new claims to the applause of the lovers of Homeric song, by his description of Ithaca, immortalised by the bard of Troy ; and Mr. Wilkins has illustrated with much taste and ability the splendid classical remains of Magna Græcia.
Mr. Carlisle, the Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, has published a Topographical Dictionary of England; a most useful work of reference, executed with great labour and care. It has been compiled from the most accurate sources of information; partly from the parochial returns made by order of parliament, and partly from original documents, procured at considerable expence from persons in alınost every part of the kingdom, whose local knowledge gave to their communications great value and authority. A third volume is promised, which will include Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and complete the undertaking. Mr. Capper's Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom, is a work of a similar plan npon a smaller scale, and not embracing a great number of interesting subjects included in the larger publication. Messrs. Lysons, with their Magna Britannia, and Mr. Nichols with his History of Leicestershire, are proceeding with their respective undertakings with undiminished ardour and ability. The former have published the first part of their second volume, comprising Cambridgeshire, and the latter las produced the first part of his fourth volume. Mr. King's elaborate Munimenta has been brought to a close. Messrs. Britton and Brayley's pleasing and elegant work on the Beauties of England proceeds with its former excellence of execution; the 7th, 8th and 9th volumes will be found noticed in our present Review. We are pleased to record also the taste and fidelity which continue to be displayed in the progress of Mr. Britton's Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain.
HISTORY AND POLITICS. This department of English literature received in the course of the last year several accessions of great value. . Mr. Mitford, like his contemporary and fellow-labourer in the field of Greek History, Dr. Gillies, has added another volume to his useful work. The three former volumes, which are now republished, brought the history down to the battle of Mantinea; the present continues it as far as the death of Philip of Macedon. Mr. Mitford has executed his task with great labour of research, and with much judgment and taste in the selection and use of his materials.
The Chronicle of the Cid, Don Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, which cannot, in the present critical state of the Spanish nation, but be read with deep interest, has been given to the English public by an editor who of all men was perhaps the most competent to the undertaking Mr. Southey's version is spirited and faithful: it is made from a text improved by valuable contemporary documents; and is preceded by an Introduction from the pen of the editor, comprising an admirable sketch of Spanish history, down to the period at which the Cid began to be distinguished by his exploits.
The posthumous historical fragment of Mr. Fox forms a prominent and mportant work in the literature of the year. When it was known that this eminent statesman was engaged on a history of that interesting period in our annals, which led to the revolution of 1688, public curiosity was naturally excited to an unusual degree; and when the hand of death finally suspended his labours, those who had calculated so highly upon the gratification his work was likely to afford, became anxious to possess even the portion which he had written. With this general wish Lord Hol. land, in a manner very honourable to his character, has complied. Every man whose acquaintance with the difficulties of this species of composition entitles him to be esteemed a competent judge, will know with what allowance a production in such a state, which has not received the final revision, the last polish of the author, ought, in justice, to be perused and criticised. The public have no right to complain of disappointment, if the literary execution of this work should not fully reach the standard of their expectation. This fragment is, however, a most valuable relic of a great mind, and patriotic spirit, unshackled by narrow views and vulgar prejudices; ardent in the love of truth and liberty, and uniformly fired with the noble ambition of promoting to the widest extent of his power and influence the freedom and the happiness of mankind.
In the course of our literary labours, the subject of the Slave-trade has, in various ways, come under our notice; and we have invariably availed ourselves of every occasion to express our abhorrence of that infamous traffic in human blood. Thanks to the administration, in which the illustrious patriot of whom we have just spoken formed a distinguished ornament, that disgrace upon our country has ceased to pollute us with its guilt. While the friends of injured humanity were rejoicing in the final