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Literary Memoir of Dr. Percy, late Bishop of Dromore. THOMAS PERCY, the late Bish. op of Dromore, was born at Bridg. north, in the county of Salop, in 1729. Of his family we have no account, except that he descended from the antient line of Percy, of the house of North. umberland. This circumstance might have acquired for him that powerful patronage, which afterwards contributed more, proba. bly, than even his real merits, to his high advancement in the
Who'd starve upon a dog-ear'd Pentateuch :
He surely knows enough who knows a
might devote himself to literary composition, from motives of pru dence, as well as inclination. This inclination would be fostered, in no slight degree, by his early connection with Johnson, and his literary associates, of whom he was the last survivor.
An established church, which enjoins a creed on her clergy, instead of encouraging them to chuse their own, can offer but slender inducements to theological enquiry. A young clergyman, provided with a liturgy for his
We are as uninformed, concern. ing Mr. Percy's course of education, as of the history of his fami. Jy, till he entered at Christ Church
desk, and satisfied with a stile of moral suasion for the pulpit, will rarely yield to, if he should feel, the temptation of becoming wiser than his teachers, the venerable councils of former ages Nor will be easily forget that unless he has the effrontery to dare think one thing and another tell, it might College, Oxford, where he com- cloud his fairest prospects, and menced Master of Arts, in 1753. darken all the colour of remaining On leaving the University, in life, to arrive at the unwelcome 1756, his first promotion was to discovery, that the scriptures, a college living in Northampton. critically investigated, are at vashire, held with another, the gift riance with the creed, to which of the Earl of Sussex, These he has, ex animo, subscribed his benefices were not, probably, what assent and consent. It is therefore are technically denominated fat no proper subject of surprise, that, livings; and our young divine notwithstanding some splendid ex
ceptions, so many among the highest dignitaries of the Church of England, have appeared before the public in any character, rather than that of theologians.
are added, The Argument or Story of a Chinese Play; a Collection of Chinese Proverbs: Fragments of Chinese Poetry. With Notes, 12 mo. 4 vol. (M. Rev. xxv. 427.)
We are informed that the translation was found, in manu script, among the papers of a gentleman, who had large concerns in the East India Company, and occasionally resided much at Canton. As the version was the work of a gentleman whose province was trade, and who probably never designed it for the public, nothing could be expected from him but fidelity to the original— the Editor, therefore, was obliged pear to have been the worthy so far to revise the whole as to objects of his attention. He will render the language somewhat be found, we believe, in his nu- more grammatical and correct, merous selections, to have rigor retaining the imagery, the allusiously rejected, however veiled in ons, the reflections, the proverobsolete language, every expres. bial sayings, any uncommon sen. sion, which as Watts complains, timent or mode of expression, and even of the Spectator, "might as much of the Chinese idiom in raise a blush in the face of strict general, as was not utterly incon virtue;" a caution not always rc- sistent with the purity of our own." garded by antiquarian editors, though in their own conduct correctly moral.
The late Bishop of Dromore was, by no means, an exception to this remark. From the series of his publications, of which, in the want of other materials, the present memoir must almost entirely consist, it will appear that, excepting one offering to theology, his pen was devoted to other objects, though neither useless nor unimportant. To refine the classical taste of his contemporaries, and, at the same time, to in. culcate the purest morality, ap
It will appear, in the course of this memoir, that it became an early object of Mr. Percy's attention, to trace modern literature from its rude commencements, and especially to investigate the literary antiquities of the northern nations. The first publication, however, ascribed to him, was a translation from the Chinese.
This publication was anonymous, though immediately at tributed to his pen. It appeared in 1761, under the following title. HAU KIOU CHOA AN; or, The Pleasing History: a translation from the Chinese Language. To which
The authenticity of this work as a translation, amidst not a few venial literary impostures, received the following support from the journalist to whom alone we are indebted for our account of it. "These four thin folios of Chinese paper, on which the origi nal rough translation of this novel was written (the fourth in Portuguese,) happened some years ago, to be shewn to some of the gen tlemen concerned in this Review, who had then an opportunity of perusing the work, before it had received the polish and improvements of the learned and ingenious Editor, and far they can bear testimony to the authenticity of the book; but to those who
have the pleasure of knowing this faults he proceeds to ascribe to an
The Chinese Play is said to have Chinese been "acted at Canton, in 1719, found among the papers of the gentleman who first translated the Chinese Novel, and the second specimen, in any European language, of the talents of the Chinese for A powerful rival, with dramatic composition; the Orother great obstacles, intervene, phan of the House of Chao, puband interesting adventures and lished by Du Halde, being the vicissitudes follow. But love and first." It might have been added, virtue at length triumph over all that the latter piece was critical. opposition." ly analized by the late Bishop Describing the value of this Hurd, in his Discourse on Poetical publication, as presenting "a Composition, annexed to his Horfaithful picture of Chinese man- ace, 1753; [vol. 2d. p. 180.] ners, wherein the domestic and though, for what reason, does political economy of that vast peo- not appear, omitted in the later ple is displayed," the editor adds editions of that Discourse. A transthe following happy illustration. lation from Du Halde, was, how--"There is not a greater differ. ever, in the following year, pub ence between the man who is lished in a publication attributed sitting for his portrait, stiffened to Mr. Percy. into a studied composure, with every feature and limb under Proverbs, the following will shew, constraint, and the same person as the reviewer expresses it, unreserved, acting in his common good sense is the same in all coun sphere of life, with every passion tries." in play, and every part of him in motion, than there is between a people methodically described in a formal account, and painted out in the lively narrative of some domestic history." Avoiding unqualified praise of his adopted work, he acknowledges, that, "examined by the laws of Euro. "In company, set a guard upon pean criticism, he believes it your tongue; in solitude, upon liable to many objections." The your heart.
From the Collection of Chinese
"Do not entertain a man who has just received a disappointment with an account of your own suc cess.
"If one doth not pluck off the branches of a tree, while they are yet tender, they cannot afterwards be cut off, without the axe.
The publication of this Chinese Novel, was followed, in 1762, by "Miscellaneous Pieces, relating to the Chinese." Of these, the only one original was a Dissertation on the language and writ ings of the Chinese." Among the Pieces, is a translation, as we have mentioned from Du Halde, of The Orphan of the House of
On the Fragments of Chinese Poetry, the Editor remarks, much in the manner of Dr. Hurd, in the Discourse before mentioned, Chao, with Dr. Hurd's criticism that the only kinds of Poetry, on that drama.
that are cultivated much among In 1763 appeared the first the Chinese, are either shorter fruits of Mr. Percy's researches pieces, resembling the epigrams, in another quarter. "This little rondeaus and madrigals of the last tract was drawn up for the press age, or else collections of moral in the year 1761." It is entitled apothegms, which are their only "Five Pieces of Runic Poetry: essays of any length." Translated [in prose] from the The account of this publica. Islandic Language," the originals tion has been extended, perhaps, being annexed, 66 as vouchers for excusably, from the translation the authenticity of his version." and the review of it having now "This attempt" is described as the antiquity and rareness produced by the lapse of half a century. We shall conclude this part of our Memoir, with the following specimen of Mr. Percy's versification, in a translation of verses, extracted from a Chinese Romance, and ontitled an Eulogium on the Willow Tree, which it seems, has among the Chinese a prime place in their gardens," where it is culti vated with as much care as the most delicate flower,"
owing to the success of the Erse fragments," the authenticity of which Mr. Percy, is inclined to dispute, till the translator of Os. sian's poems thinks proper to produce his originals.”
In his preface, our translator has the following ingenious re marks on the contrarieties in the character of the ancient inhabitants of the northern parts of Europe." "If we sometimes revere them for that generous plan of government, which they every where established, we cannot help lamenting that they raised the fabric upon the ruins of literature and the fine arts. Yet they had an amazing fondness for poetry, and it will be thought a paradox, that the same people, whose furious ravages destroyed the last poor remains of expiring genius among the Romans, should cherish it with all possible care, among their own countrymen." These trans
Scarce dawns the genial year: its yel
The sprightly willow cloaths in robes
Soft harbinger of spring! what glow
No silkworm decks thy shade; nor