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1

SELECT REVIEWS.

FOR NOVEMBER, 1809.

FROM THE EDINBURGH REVIEW.

Travelling Sketches in Russia and Sweden during the years 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808.

By Robert Ker Porter. 2 vols. 4to. pp. 611. London.-- Philadelphia, republishing by Hopkins & Earle.

WHEN a person of moderate defects; and this is pretty sure to be abilities and limited information is one of the most erroneous of all his betrayed, in an unlucky hour, into positions. Mr. Ker Porter points an act of ordinary authorship, we do out “ continual egotism, an appearnot conceive ourselves bound to take ance of ostentation, and perhaps a any notice of it.

The book most too unreserved disclosure of his own probably contains nothing which calls situation and feelings," as his most for publick censure ; and it is still “prominent imperfections." Wecerless likely to reward us with matter tainly cannot altogether acquit him fit for extract or abridgment. But it of these faults; but, that they bear is otherwise, when a person of this any proportion to the whole defects description travels, and tells his stony. of his work, or that, in a book of He can scarcely avoid setting down travels, they deserve to be seriously something worthy of our attention; considered, unless where other and and we have accordingly made it a greater failings are not discoverable, rule, to examine, with some pains, we must take the liberty of denying. almost every work of this class, noting We wish Mr. Ker Porter had looked the defects, and separating and pre. somewhat sharper after such failings. serving the useful parts, even though If he had corrected them, his book they should be as two grains of wheat would have been improved; but if he in a bushel of chaff. In pursuance had only noticed them in his preface, of this plan, we are now to make our a good deal of trouble might have readers acquainted with Mr. Ker been spared to us. Porter. He has been long known, Our author sailed from England we presume, to most of them, as a in August 1805, and had a favourable very ingenious artist. In this book, passage to the Sound. As he aphe does not increase, nor indeed sus- proached Elsineur, he was occupied tain, that reputation ; nor does he add with the most mild and interesting to it any considerable portion of li- meditations upon "a city immortal. terary fame, although he entitles ized by the pen of our matchless himself to the much higher praise Shakspeare.” He had been following of amiable feelings.

Hamlet every where; he had proThe preface to a book generally ceeded to “ measure the deep shạ. sontains the author's opinion of its dows on the platform ;" he had then

VOL. II.

a

оо

encountered the gray ghost of the ing;" and somewhat prejudiced, no royal Dane;" and killed Polonius doubt, by his general indignation at in the queen's closet;" besides Elsineur. As soon as he leaves that “ drowning poor Ophelia in the wil. ill fated spot, his good humour re lowed stream." Upon landing, how. turns; and during the rest of his ever, he gets angry at Elsineur for tour, we find him a perfectly civil falling so far short of his imagina- and well natured companion. tions; and abuses that respectable He only saw Copenhagen through town, at great length, and with con- a glass from the sea ; but he could siderable variety and force of invec- plainly distinguish its ramparts and tive. Sotwithstanding the existing batteries ; which leads him to relate hostilities, we scarcely think it would an anecdote of lord Nelson. This, be fair to extract the whole of this we have reason to believe, is well highly wrought passage. We may founded, and therefore we shall exjust, by way of specimen, mention, tract it, although not very well told ; that it seems“ Wapping possesses for it is exceedingly delightful to the splendour of ancient Rome, when dwell on any memorial of so illustricompared with the modern aspect of ous a man, now that we have unhapElsineur ;” and if Hercules, or, as pily lost him. our author calls him, “the immortal “ The circumstance took place during scavenger of Elis, had began [begun] the battie of the Sound. It at least proves there, he would be at his labour now.”

that no situation, however dangerous, can Disgusted with Elsineur, and, as it

disconcert the truly brave man, or render

him inattentive to those minutiæ, which should seem, with life itself, he

being watched by the enemy, betray our rushes out of the town about a mile, weakness, or proclaim our power Yog and finds a place called “ Hamlet's must well remember, from the gazettes garden." He straightway expects of that period, and private accounts, how

, « venerable and magnificent ruins ;"

tremendous was the engagement, and and, being disappointed, severely re

how dreadful the slaughter. In the midst

of these horrours, surrounded by the primands this villa. During his re

dying and the dead, the British admiral buke, he happens to see Elsineur ordered an officer, bearing a flag of truce, again, at some distance, whereupon to go on shore with a note to the crown a little more abuse is bestowed upon prince. It contained a proposal to his it ; nor can he, by any means. be royal highness to acquiesce, without furappeased, until he perceives the cas

ther delay, in the propositions of the

British government; not only to put a tle of Cronberg, that “fine and bold

stop to the present effusion of blood on feature," and four hundred sail of both sides, but to save from total destrucmerchant ships lying at anchor. Thus tion Copenhagen and its arsenals, which disappointed in all his hopes of finding he would otherwise level with the water. royal cities and ruins, and seeing, the calmness of a man in his study, he

Whilst his lordship was writing with all indeed, no remains of Hamlet what.

desired colonel Stewart to send some one ever, he is forced to console himself below for a light, that he might seal his with Saxo-Grammaticus, from whom despatch. Colonel Stewart obeyed ; but he translates some passages, to which none appearing with a candle ; when lord Shakspeare seems to have been in- Nelson had nearly completed his letter,

he inquired the reason of such neglect, debted. They are curious, though not

and found that the boy who had been sent for very delicate. But one does not quite it was killed in his way by a cannon shot. see why that author, as well as Shak- The order was repeated : upon which cospeare, could not have been perused lonel Stewart observed : Why should in England. Mr. Ker Porter saw also your lordship be so particular to use wax? some Danish soldiers, of whom he why not a wafer?' The hurry of battle expresses an unfavourable opinion ;

will be a sufficient apology for the viola

tion of etiquette.' It is to prove, my being moved thereto, it rather seems, friend,' replied lord Nelson, that we by “ their coarse and ill made cloth- are ir no hurry; that this request is not

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