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the Atlantic. Scarcely had he been allowed to indulge in a meeting with his relations and friends, before he was summoned, at the call of friendship, to a task " such as few of his age, 'says Dr. McVickar, had talents to fulfil. It was to complete 'a course of Academic Lectures on the History of Literature, 'for one who little expected to be his biographer. It was a du• ty both urgent and laborious—for which he had made no de• finite preparation. These lectures continued through the ' months of May and June, and were prepared, written out, • and delivered, almost at the same moment. They extend to more than three hundred pages, octavo; a degree of manual,
as well as intellectual labour, not often paralleled. When . coupled with the recollection that this service was wholly vol
untary and unbought, and taken up without premeditation, al• most at the very moment of his return home, it may be said, ' without exaggeration, that they remain a noble monument of
promptitude, diligence, and knowledge, and afford a rich sam•ple of what might have been effected by him, had life been 6.spared. In justice to their author, the reader must not for* get the circumstances of haste under which they were writ'ten.”
Of these lectures, a small portion is included in the volumes before us, which, considering the short time employed in them, abundantly confirms the tribute of merit so naturally awarded to them by Dr. McVickar, whose mind had been professionally directed to the subject, and who, therefore, was peculiarly qualified to appreciate the efforts of his young, and amiable, and talented friend.
In this hasty, and unavoidably superficial account of these volumes, we trust that enough has been said to recommend the perusal of them to all our readers, but more especially to those of our young aspirants for fame who laudably desire
“ To read their history in a nation's eyes,"
and, what is surely of equal importance, to gratify the fondest wishes of their parents, their friends, their acquaintances. Should these pages ever meet the attention of those, of either class, to whom this young victim of death was so justly dear, we would willingly offer to them the sympathy of one, at least, who has been taught, by sad experience
• What it is to admire and to love,
• It is now time for us to conclude our imperfect observations, by a few well intended renarks on Mr. Griffin's Latin poetical exercises. In doing this, we shall hardly be accused of any wish or intention to depreciate one whom we have hitherto so warmly and willingly held up to the admiration and imitation of his young countrymen. We are, indeed, persuaded that if this selection of his works had been made by Mr. Griffin himself, he would have omitted these specimens of an 'obviously imperfect classical education. Dr. McVickar seems to have been, to a certain extent, aware of this imperfection, for, in speaking of Mr. Griffin's qualifications to discharge the Professorial duties devolved upon him by the Doctor's necessary absence and indisposition, he says, “his classical education had • been thorough, so far as that term may be applied to Ameri
can scholarship.” And certain it is, that, in this respect, far more than in any other, must the able men of the United States yield the palm to their European rivals—particularly of England and Germany. Mr. Griffin at any rate, will give no preponderance to the cis-atlantic scale. Even his English poetry has little, we think, above mediocrity : bis Latin verses should have been altogether omitted. Yet, if his brother, the compiler of these extracts, were required to assign a reason for inserting both, he might well be excused by the facts related in Dr. McVickar's Memoir.
“ In the department of composition, his exercises attracted more than common attention. Several of his Latin and English poems were printed and circulated at the request of the President, and at the expense of the College."
“ The merit of his school-boy exercises seems to have been warmly acknowledged. They all bear the endorsement, in the master's band, of optimé-præclaré-Honos.”
Thus sanctioned, how could the brother and justifiably partial admirer, upon whom the compilation devolved, be aware that the Latin exercises, at least were full of those faults, which, under better instruction, Mr. Griffin's talents and zeal would so easily have avoided? In every instance, literary and moral, (but in none more than what relates to the luxuries and, if we may be allowed the expression, the “Corinthian Capital," of education,) the maxim is applicable:
"Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile.”
There is no absolute necessity for publishing these compositions; but, if they be published, and sent abroad with praise so calculated to mislead, the false stamp should be effaced, and the things left to their unvarnished merit. Our readers cannot have overlooked or forgotten the admirable criticism of the Quarterly Review on the “ Tentamina" of the High School at Edinburgh. The injudicious praise bestowed upon that wretched specimen of school latinity was accompanied by a sort of challenge to produce any thing better from the English schools. The result is known: and the English reader of Mr. Griffin's Hexameters will be reminded of it when he reads, if he ever read, these exercises, so unnecessarily exposed to a criticism that they cannot escape. They are, in fact, like the Boston Prize Poems, upon a footing with the Tentamina alluded to, and not at at all superior to them. We doubt, indeed, whether Mr. Griffin would have excelled, however instructed, in this branch of elegant accomplishment. His verses might, at Eton or Westminster, have escaped censure, because they would have been correct, if not poetical; but they would hardly have been “sent up as good,” at one of those schools, or been honoured by the silver penny, at the other. In prose composition, he would, probably, have been distinguished: at all events we earnestly wish he could have been tried. Native talent and literary ambition abound in this country; but we want schools as much as Lord Nelson wanted frigates in his Mediterranean pursuit of Bonaparte. His heavy vessels were almost useless, for want of that lighter class by which alone the first could be led to triumph and fame. Even in the serninaries of NewYork, we think that some of Mr. Griffin's rivals would have borne away the palm in the species of merit now under cousideration. It appears that in the autumn of 1819, when just. fifteen years old, Mr. Griffin was among the candidates for admission into Columbia College. “ The examination was, at *that time (Dr. McVickar's words) long and rigid, continued for • several days, and terminated in an arrangement of the names • of the aspirants, in the order of merit.” Mr. Griffin stood first on the list; but the justice of the decision was questioned by one, at least, of the candidates, and if the distichs to which the occasion gave rise, be made the test of superiority, we think wiih great reason. A son of Lorenzo da Ponte, the Italian Professor in Columbia College, was, apparently, the most prominent rival of the conqueror. This boy, (another victim of early death, and instance of blasted hopes,) considered bimself as injured by the preference given to Griffin, and, as “ Facit
indignatio versus," wrote with a pencil the two following lines, which he passed along to the victor :
“ Vicisti, Griffin; parva at tua gloria, nam quod
Anni quinque tibi, menses inihi quinque dederunt.”
“ Æmule! cur, senior, fallaces ad fugis artes ? .
It is manifest that the first of these distichs is by far the best, though neither is without claim to merit. The collocation of the preposition in the phrase “ ad fugis artes,” is wholly inadmissible: the “ fugis ad salices” of Virgil should have been present to the young scholar's mind. Upon the whole, we have no doubt that Da Ponte would have been pronounced the best versifer-at an Eton examination. If, indeed, he had been only @ve months employed in prosody and verse-making, his advancement was singularly great: but he probably received some assistance from his father. We know not of any better standard for a reviewer's duty than Pope's celebrated line, varied as we think he would, himself, have varied it, if he had not been compelled to sacrifice a litile of his reason to his rhyme. Our sense of propriety and duty would lead us to say:
“Praise, where you can; be candid, where you must." And, having, we trust, been no niggards of the first, we shall not hesitate to obey the call of the second, in our estimate of the Latin exercises (pleasantly called “Poems,” by the biographer of Mr. Griffin) that have been inserted among the early productions of the author. “Save me from my friends," said some wise man; an exclamation that would, we are sure, be echoed by Mr. Griffin if he were alive. Yet, we repeat, who shall blame the mistaken partiality of his brother, the compiler of the materials now before us, sanctioned as he was in this instance, by the president and other collegiate authorities of New-York? We have read over with at least as much attention as they deserved, the five copies of verses here submitted to the public eye; and we assert without hesitation that nothing but the Edinburgh Tentamina and the Boston Prize-Book can equal them on the score of mediocrity. Not only are they wanting in the mechanical requisites of Latin poetry, but we have searched in yain for any“ membra disjecta Poetæ”—any thing like poetical ideas. The first in order of the series is a servile and school-boyish imitation of the first of Horace's Odes, written at the age of fourteen. Like the rest, it exhibits a frequent use of the fingers, (in scanning,) and a copious reference to the Gradus for hemistichs, synonymes, and epithets. The writer's ear had never been “ formed to harmony," and all his ideas, such as they are, presented themselves in a vernacu- . lar dress before they were commuted into Latin. So long as this is the case, it is absolutely impossible that any thing like Latin poetry should be the result. Rhythm, the indispensable ingredient of this sort of composition, seems to have been unknown to our versifier; and we venture to assert that he could not read even Latin prose with that correctness which is one of the principal advantages derived from a familiarity with Latin verse. For our own part, indeed, we would desire, generally, no better proof of a knowledge of prosody than we should discover in hearing a reader or speaker of one of Cicero's orations. A well-tuned ear, and that confidence of correct pronunciation which (notwithstanding Mr. Locke's unfounded sarcasm) is one great end of all the verse-exercises at Westminster and Eton, are as manifest in the recital of Cicero, Livy, and Sallust, as in the heroic or elegiac metres, or in any of the various species adopted or invented by Horace. What would Mr. Fox, Mr. Canning, Mr. Wrangham, Sir William Jones, &c. have said if they had been called upon to sanction and to print at their own expense, as specimens of extraordinary merit, such lines as the following:
“ Io! tempus adest palmaque nobilis ;
Terrorem stolidis, gaudia sedulis."
" Queis nec palma placet, nec sibi commodum,
Whiere the construction seems to be: “nec sibi commodum," (meaning their own good,') excitat (ut) fugiant otium infandum.” The omission of the conjunction, however allowable in some cases, is here insufferable; the latinity itself is questionable; and then infandum as an epithet for otium !
“ Quos si non radiant lumine splendido,
Optatis patriă cingit honoribus.” As regards the sense of this passage, the president of the college should have suggested, previously to publication (under VOL. VIII.-NO. 16