We know not whether we shall impair the high estimation in which our Literary Review is held, when we honestly confess, that had it not been for the republication of the present work, we should still have remained in the most profound ignorance of its pre-existence. But such is the naked truth; and indeed this confession the author has himself anticipated, and almost prevented our avowal that we were not among the ‘scanty number’ of its former circulation. We are, however, indebted for the confession, as it will serve as a protecting armour of defence from the ‘arrowy flight’ which would otherwise have been directed against us. But surely this seeming neglect and indifference which attended its former introduction into the world, cannot be attributed to any want of interest in the work itself, as it affords abundant matter for the deep and intelligent reader. Neither was its author an upstart in literature, or one who was about to flesh his sword in the field of letters. On the contrary, rather, his shield was emblazoned with the heraldry of his prowess, and his name associated with the captains of the day, while his former achievements ranked high in public estimation. Or, to speak without metaphor, his poetical, as well as prose, works, had been universally read, and as universally admired; and were destined to form, in after ages, a bold specimen of the literature of the nineteenth century. We are still at a loss, therefore, to assign the real cause for the former limited circulation of The Friend, which no surmises of our own can satisfactorily account for. But, according to the old adage, ‘Better late than never’; and we are confident our readers will join in hearty concurrence with our exclamation, when they shall have perused the work itself. There is much matter dispersed throughout these volumes, which will not bear a transient 426view, or a rapid perusal. A close and accurate attention, joined with calm and dispassionate feelings, wholly divested of prejudice, will rather oftentimes be required in the examination of many propositions advanced by the author. Much abstract reasoning and nice deductions might be produced from some of his data, and furnish prolific subjects for the display of argumentative subtlety. We question, indeed, whether we have always thoroughly comprehended his meaning, or whether, in reducing his theories to anticipated practice, we have not frequently (to ourselves at least) rendered intricacy more intricate. We had not intended making any extracts, but we have been induced from our purpose by the beautiful simplicity of the idea, and striking force conveyed in the following passage:

There never perhaps existed a school-boy who, having, when he retired to rest, carelessly blown out his candle, and having chanced to notice, as he lay upon his bed in the ensuing darkness, the sullen light which had survived the extinguished flame, did not, at some time or other, watch that light as if his mind were bound to it by a spell. It fades and revives—gathers to a point—seems as if it would go out in a moment—again recovers its strength, nay becomes brighter than before: it continues to shine with an endurance, which in its apparent weakness is a mystery—it protracts its existence so long, clinging to the power which supports it, that the observer, who had laid down in his bed so easy-minded, becomes sad and melancholy: his sympathies are touched—it is to him an intimation and an image of departing human life,—the thought comes nearer to him—it is the life of a venerated parent, of a beloved brother or sister, or of an aged domestic; who are gone to the grave, or whose destiny it soon may be thus to linger, thus to hang upon the last point of mortal existence, thus finally to depart and be seen no more. This is nature teaching seriously and sweetly through the affections—melting the heart, and, through that instinct of tenderness, developing the understanding.

Of all the virtues which influence the human breast, friendship is the most pure and exalted. We worship, venerate, and adore, the proud distinctions of so generous a passion. It is, therefore, with no common feelings, that we point out the amiable candour and steady friendship which guides the pen of Mr. Coleridge in the biography of Sir A. Ball, and whose language does as much honour to his mind as his heart. But we think his remonstrances against the silence of that officer’s services are ill-timed, and uncalled-for. Was a baronetcy, we believe gratuitously conferred, nothing? Was the approbation of his sovereign, expressly conveyed in a letter to that gallant officer, from 427the Secretary Dundas (we quote from Mr. Coleridge), of no consideration? Was no value to be attached to the free gift of 1000l? Surely these form altogether a most convincing proof of the high estimation in which Sir A.Ball’s meritorious conduct was held, and how much his many services were appreciated and acknowledged. The indifferent silence of newspaper reporters cannot be viewed as affecting any officer’s services, nor the confined article of an Encyclopædia tend to lower and abase his character. If the ministry neglect to propose the name of such a man to the sovereign, or the sovereign refuse to listen to their proposition, such conduct would well call down reproach and disapprobation. But when, as in Sir A.Ball’s case, the reverse is the indisputable fact, we think such censure unauthorized, wanton, and unprovoked. Abating this single circumstance, The Friend has proved a most sociable companion in our library, and afforded us unfeigned pleasure. We have derived much information from its contents; we have been led to investigate many subjects, and in tracing the rivulet’s course have approached the well-head of useful knowledge; and we even anticipate much entertainment, when we shall return to a second perusal at no very distant period.