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The nuptial knot was scarcely tied,
When Henry's eye strange lustre fired;
She's mine! she's, mine!" he faltering cried,
The four copies of verses called "Secret Love" are reprinted, without acknowledgement, from Mrs. Opie's own tale of The Orphan.' They are exquisitely delicate and touching and possess an inexpressible charm of tenderness, which all who read must feel. The concluding couplet of the third of these beautiful bagatelles resembles, (probably without plagiarism) a couplet in one of Dr. Young's Satires. My look the type of Etna's snows,
My heart of Etna's secret fires.' p. 156.
Zara's like Etna, crown'd with lasting snows;
Young's Universal Passion.
In the following ingenious simile, Mrs. Opie seems to have imitated a very exquisite one of her own.
Mrs. Opie is frequently careless and prosaic both in her diction and in her verse; as for instance in the following lines.
Till cold Reality her hand applies.' p. 90.
A shield to guard thee against Fancy's power.' p. 91. Sometimes she admits inadmissible rhymes, as
How blest were I to watch each charm,
That decks thy vale in storms or calm." p. 61. Occasionally she is obscure and incongruous in metaphor. And thee, Sublimity! I hail,
Throned' on the gloom of Borrowdale.' p. 60.
We have freely found fault with this favourite of the public; because she is a favourite of ours also,-because she has more occasion for one friend to tell her of the blemishes, than for a thousand to tell her of the beauties of her poetry, and because we are persuaded that she seldom writes as well as she can, though her undistinguishing admirers may think that she writes well enough.
Art. XI. The Trial of Lieutenant-Colonel Mackelean, of the Royal Corps of Engineers, by a General Court-Martial, &c. on Five Charges, preferred against him by Sir Thomas Trigge, K. B. Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance. With a Preface, and explanatory Notes. By Adam Oldham, Solicitor. 8vo. pp. 176. Price 38. 6d. Butterworth, Hatchard, Burditt. 1808.
THE proceedings of courts-martial are certainly not amen
able to literary tribunals, as subjects of criticism; but, on inspecting the pamphlet now before us, it appears to have an undeniable claim upon our attention, as avowed friends of virtue and of our country. The topic of military inquiry, also, at the present crisis, becomes a matter of no small interest and importance, to the public at large. While our national independence so powerfully rests on the fidelity and zeal of our brave countrymen in arms, we cannot but feel much satisfaction in observing the complete justification, and the distinguished honour, which have accrued to the character of Colonel Mackelcan, from the ordeal to which he has been subjected.
The essence of military merit is not dependent on circumstances that make it publicly known; especially in those departments of our army, wherein every officer rises by seniority. Col. M. must, by his present rark in the corps of Engineers, have spent many years in the service of his country; but his lot does not appear to have been cast in spheres of conspicuous exertion and brilliant exploit. Had it not been for a string of unfounded charges, which he has been compelled to refute, the public might scarcely have heard of one, whom General Morse, the commander of his corps, testifies to be an officer of the best ability in his profession, an honourable and upright man, and one of the most zealous officers he ever knew;' and whom Major-General Twiss has always considered, in point of integrity and ability, as a very meritorious officer; having been a witness to some instances of his zeal, which he scarcely ever saw exceeded.' (pp. 127, 128.) Sir Thomas Trigge, on whom devolved the ungracious task of prosecuting such an officer, acknowledges, from his acquaintance with these gentlemen, that a character could not come from a better source; yet he seems to have been desirous of invalidating their testimony, by adding, that these officers do not appear to have had much opportunity of observing Col. M's. conduct.' (p. 165.) Strange, that they should not be adequate judges of one who must have served in the same corps with them, probably for thirty years!-and stranger still, that persons of so high responsibility should commit their own character, by a testimony, for which they had not indisput
able ground!! If any thing can render the prosecutor's remark yet more wonderful, it is, that every officer who had served under Col. M. and who had opportunity to bear witness on this occasion, concurred in giving to his whole conduct the most ample and zealous applause!!!
From the contents of this pamphlet, as printed from the Judge Advocate's minutes of proceedings, it appears that Col. Mackelcan had, for ten years, been commanding engineer of the Norman islands; that improprieties, in some branch or other of the ordnance department in that station, excited the attention of the Board; that some clerks of the ordnance were sent over, as commissioners, to investigate the fact; that these persons, (who were probably very little versed in military transactions) were so grossly imposed upon by people of mean stations and very questionable characters, as to bring various criminal charges against Col. Mackelcan, because he had, in certain instances, when the exigencies of the service and the public imperiously demanded it, fulfilled the spirit of his duty incompatibly with the letter of those general instructions which are given by the Board to their officers. In consequence of this, without having been faced by a single witness, he was superseded in his command, and kept in suspense for many months, respecting the nature of the charges to be advanced against him; as well as in ignorance of the witnesses that were to be brought forward, till called upon to make his defence. This he has performed, notwithstanding, in a clear and impressive inan
The members of the court-martial, including four general, and eleven field officers, (mostly of the Royal Artillery) close their sentence in this remarkable manner:—
• And upon full consideration of the whole matter, are of opinion, that Lieutenant-colonel Mackelcan has been guilty, in some instances, of disobedience of orders and irregularity of conduct; but it appearing that he has not on any occasion been actuated by motives of personal interest, but on the contrary by an ardent zeal for the public good, they only adjudge Lieutenant-colonel Mackelcan to be reprimanded.'
An officer, who has been actuated on every occasion, not by motives of personal interest, but, on the contrary, by an ardent zeal for the public good,' in trifling departures from regulations which obviously cannot be adapted to every exigency of the service, would probably appear to most persons of such humble intellects and retired habits as ourselves, (instead of deserving even a simple reprimand, which was itself the slightest censure that could be given,) to have merited the approbation, and the thanks, both of his sovereign and his country. It is not easy to account for the apparent incongruity of the court-martial's decision, unless it be re
garded as a compromise, (such as is well known to be sometimes made by juries in civil courts) without which it might have been impossible to arrive at any conclusion.
The last, but not the least, matter of surprise, which has occurred to us in perusing this pamphlet, arises from a letter which is stated to have been addressed on the occasion to the commanding officer of the troops in Guernsey, by his royal highness the Commander in chief. It closes in the following terms, the severity of which can only have arisen, we presume, from his ardent zeal for the public good.'
"I have it further in command to desire you will convey to Lieutenant Colonel Mackelcan his majesty's great regret, that an officer of such long service and high character, should have exposed himself to this deserved censure; and also to communicate to him, that nothing but a consideration of his services and character could have induced his majesty to confirm the lenient sentence of the court, upon the various charges of which Lieutenant Colonel Mackelcan has been found guilty.' p. 168.
We cannot wish better to the Board of Ordnance, in the approaching public investigation of their proceedings; or to any individual, from the highest to the lowest, whose conduct may, at any time, be subjected to military inquiry, than, that they may appear to have been actuated, on every occasion, not by motives of personal interest, but (on the contrary) by an ardent zeal for the public good. It is not for us to judge what reparation the Board of Ordnance will make Col. M. for the serious injury that he has received from false accusation. His character, indeed, is not only secured, but emblazoned; and his brevet promotion, we perceive, is accorded from the date the date of its suspension; but we doubt not that he and the public must have been subjected to expences, a hundred-fold greater than the damage which the latter was even pretended to have suffered from the irregularities laid to his charge. It becomes us to remark, that they were actually savings of the public money, and were evidently designed for no other purpose.
The motives for publishing this trial, are clearly and forcibly state, in a sensible preface. That it should excite much interest in the corps of Engineers, and much anxiety for the safety and honour of the party accused,' may be easily conceived, after, the statement which we have given, At this juncture, however, when every Englishman must feel concerned in the security of upright, zealous, and able officers from obloquy and privation, and when the public attention is strongly bent to the military administration of our affairs, the pamphlet may very properly awaken a strong interest, far beyond the limits of those departments which are under the controul of the Board of Ordnance, or even those of the army in general..
Art. XII. The Family Picture, or Domestic Education; a Poetic Epistle from a Country Gentleman to his College Friend the Bishop of *******. 12mo. pp. 70, price 2s. Cradock and Joy. Walker. 1808. AMONG the few writers of poetry whom we could wish to write
more, is the anonymous author of The Family Picture.' Both his principles and his talents have very respectable claims to our esteem. His opinions on Education in general, on the moral inefficacy or danger of all systems from which religious instruction is excluded, on the evils of public seminaries, on the desirableness of private tuition, especially for females, on the dissipations of the age, and on domestic duties, appear to us substantially correct; and it is not of importance to specify the few instances in which we think his remarks exceptionable. The poem exhibits several pleasing scenes, spirited sketches of character, and striking sentiments, generally in simple forcible language, but occasionally with considerable elegance: there is much point and humour in some of the satirical reflections, not unmingled with strokes of genuine pathos; and the versification is distinguished by a remarkable energy, freedom, and variety. On the other hand, we have to complain, that the performance, taken altogether, is very imperfect and superficial, that the verse is often rendered intolerably rugged and intricate by harsh ellipses and awkward inversions: and it is no unreasonable fastidiousness to observe still more resentfully, that phrases, and whole passages, are introduced, with whatever good design, so much in the manner of the classical satirists, that no lady would choose to give them utterance.
In a passage which strongly reprobates the representation of licentious Latin plays by the youths of our public schools, and exposes the bañeful influence of uncorrected classical studies, we observe the following just remark:
• Dipt thus in Aganippe's dye all o'er
PP. 11. 12
The author's references to his family have all the distinctness and tenderness of truth; the following is an interesting specimen.
But yester morn, eccentric as I rov'd,