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The continued and increasing demand for the works of STURM has occasioned the present edition of his Reflections to be presented to the public; before whose tribunal they have so long been, that to descant now upon their nature, merits, and design, would be superfluous. It may, however, be briefly stated, that these reflections are calculated to enlarge the mind, and to purify the heart: they lead the attentive observer through the whole creacion, inform him of its stupendous works, and conduct him within the temple of the great God; whilst they inculcate resignation to the divine will, humanity, benevolence, and the most amiable virtues which dignify and adorn human natore.
Several translations of this work have already ap. peared; but they are all either grossly inaccurate, and deficient in grammatical purity, or they are written in a tame insipid style, devoid of elegance and destitute of interest, Let it be remembered, that something more than merely expressing the thought is required; the harmony of the cadence, the rounding oi the period, and the poising of the sentences, all are necessary to excite and to arrest the attention; and unless the attention be stimulated and stabilitated, it will be to very little purpose that the moralist disclaims, or the philosopher writes. For purposes merely didactic, when something is to be told that was not known before, a style the most naked and beggarly might, perhaps, be endured; because the novelty of the matter may induce uś to overlook the poverty of the manner : not but, even in this case, the thought will receive additional strength and lustre from elegance and splendour of diction; as a beautiful woman appears more lovely when arrayed with neatness and simplicity, than when cloaked to the heels in very rags and tatters.
But against that inattention by which known truths are suffered to be neglected, insipid language or sterility of imagery makes no provision; is may, perchance, instruct, but can never persuade. Now al. though what Sturm says is very good, and very just; yet, as he wishes to lead us from the error of our ways to the wisdom of the just, it is necessary that he use every effort to impress upon our minds an earnest desire to follow him in his strains of piety and heavenly contemplations. He has many powerful obstacles to struggle against; such as, the obstinate resistance of our own perverted and corrupt hearts, and the allure. ments and example of an ignorant and imbrutified world, which will not listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.
We well know that the same truth, told in two dif. ferent ways, shall have a very different effect upon our minds : let it be doled out to us in a droning, drowsy tone, and in homely, vulgar language, and we either sleep, or turn our backs upon the speaker; but let a man deliver this truth in appropriate diction, with im. pressive seriousness and awful solemnity, and it will penetrate to the inmost recesses of our heart. The
same reasoning applies to writing ; which may, indeed, be called speaking to the eye.
We slumber over the page which is polluted by colloquial barbarisms, and deformed by continual outrages against accuracy and elegance. In such a situation is the invaluable Sturm placed by his translators; his thoughts are clouded by unseemly language, and buried by a tiresome abun. dance of repetitions. I do not mean to blame them for not having been sufficiently literal in their versions ; because the idioms of the two languages are so dif. ferent, that all the spirit of the original must vanish if the copy be made too close. The attempting to render word for word any work from one language into another, is a foolish and useless undertaking; because it precludes the possibility of expressing the sense of the author. It will be readily seen, therefore, that I do not mean to give a literal, but a liberal translation of Sturm : his repetitions of the same things, and many such there are, I have avoided ; some of his inaccura. cies ventured to correct, and have omitted some trifling passages, which lessened the weight and dignity of the subject; and every-where, by an attention to style, have endeavoured to give it the spirit of an original work. In doing this I have been anxious to preserve the same fervent strain of piety which animated the worthy author; and in presenting this work to the public, in a more elegant dress and convenient form, I am not conscious of having at all perverted the spirit of the original, or derogated from the dignity of the subject. This edition, though translated by the same hand as that erroneously said to be by the Author of the Adviser, differs in some respects from that transla. tion, which was composed very hastily, and came from the press with some inaccuracies. Some of the con. cluding sentences, which were omitted before, are now restored, as tending to promote the cause of religion and the practice of humanity; and many corrections have been made.
I cannot conclude, without sincerely congratulating the public upon the increase of piety, and the more general diffusion of knowledge, in this country. Our children are leaving the worse than foolish tales of Tom Thumb, Goody Two-shoes, Little Red Ridinghoud, Jack the Giant-Killer, and many more productions of a like nature, all tending to vitiate their young minds, fill them with absurd notions, and en. courage a love of the marvellous, and a dislike to plain truth; for work's savouring more of probability, and tending to conduct them through the paths of virtue to the temple of fame. The present work I venture to recommend to young people, with a firm confidence in its improving the mind and ameliorating the heart. It will be particularly useful to those whose reading is not very extensive, as containing much information in natural history and natural philosophy, conveyed in language intelligible to young childred ; and every. where aboundiog with devotion warm from the heart.