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sages in his “
due limits. After all, there are many favourite pas
Fairy-queen,” which will be instances of a great and cultivated genius misapplied. 60. A poet, that fails in writing, becomes often a morose critic. The weak and insipid white wine makes at length excellent vinegar. 61. People of fortune, perhaps, covet the acquaintance of established writers, not so much on account of the social pleasure, as the credit of it: the former would induce them to chuse persons of less capacities, and tempers more conformable. 62. Language is to the understanding what a genteel motion is to the body; a very great advantage. But a person may be superior to another in understanding, that has not an equal dignity of expression; and a man may boast a handsomer figure, that is inferior to another in regard to motion.
63. The words “ no more" have a singular pathos; reminding us at once of past pleasure and the future exclusion of it.
54. Every single observation that is published by a man, of genius be it ever so trivial, should be esteemed of importance; because he speaks from his owọ impressions; whereas common men publish common things, which they have, perhaps, gleaned from frivolous writers. 65. It is providential that our affection diminishes in proportion as our friends power
Affection is of less importance whenever a person can support himself. It is on this account that younger brothers are often beloved more than their elders; and that Benjamin is the favourite. We may trace the same law throughout the animal creation.
66. The time of life when fancy predominates, is youth; the season when judgment decides best, is age. Poets, therefore, are always, in
respect of their disposition, younger than other persons: a circumstance that gives the latter part of their lives some inconsistency. The cool phlegmatic tribe discover it in the former. 67. One sometimes meets with instances of genteel abruption in writers; but I wonder it is not used more frequently, as it has a prodigious effect on the reader. For instance (after Falstaff's disappointment in serving Shallow at court)
“ Master Shallow, I owe you a thousand pounds.”—Shakes. When Pandulph commanded Philip of France to proceed no farther against England, but to sheath the sword he had drawn at the Pope's own instiga
“ Now it had already cost Philip eighty thousand pounds in preparations. After the detail of king John's abject submission to the Pope's legate: “ Now John was hated and despised before.”
But, perhaps, the strongest of all may be taken from the scripture (conclusion of a chapter in St. John). “ Now Barabbas was a robber.” 68. A poet hurts himself by writing prose! as a racehorse hurts his notions by condescending to draw in a team.
69. The superior politeness of the French is in nothing more discernible than in the phrases used by them and us to express an affair being in agitation. The former say, “ sur la tapis;" the latter, “ upon the anvil.” Does it not shew also the sincerity and serious face with which we enter on business, and the negligent and jaunty air with which they perform even the most important?
70. There are two qualities adherent to the most ingenious authors: I do not mean without exception. А decent pride that will admit of no servility, and a sheepish bashfulness that keeps their worth conceal
ed: the “ superbia quæsita meritis" and the “ malus pudor” of Horace. The one will not suffer them to make advances to the great; the other disguises that merit for which the great would seek them out. Add to these the frequent indolence of speculative tempers.
71. A poetical genius seems the most elegant of youthful accomplishments; but it is entirely a youthful one. Flights of fancy, gaiety of behaviour, sprightliness of dress, and a blooming aspect, conspire very amicably to their mutual embellishment; but the poetic talent has no more to do with age, than it would avail bis Grace of Canterbury to have a knack at country dances, or a genius for a catch.
72. The most obsequious muses, like the fondest and most willing courtezans, seldom leave us any reason to boast much of their favours.
73. If you write an original piece, you wonder no one ever thought of the best of subjects before if a translation, of the best authors. 74. The ancient poets seem to value themselves greatly on their power
of perpetuating the fame of their coteniporaries. Indeed the circumstance that has fixed their language, has been the only means of verifying some of their vain-glorious prophecies. Otherwise, the historians appear more equal to the task of conferring immortality. A history will live, tho' written ever so indifferently; and is generally less suspected, than the rhetoric of the muses.
75. I wonder authors do not discover how much more elegant it is to fix their name to the end of their preface, or any introductory address, than to the title-page. It is, perhaps, for the sake of a F. R. S. or a LL. D. at the end of it, It should seem, the many lies, discernible in books of travels, may be owing to ac:
counts collected from improper people.
Were one to give a character of the English, from what the vulgar act and believe, it would convey* a strange idea of the English understanding. 77. Might not the poem on the “ Seasons” have been rendered more “uni,” by giving out the design of nature in the beginning of winter, and afterwards considering all the varieties of seasons as means aiming at one end?
78. Critics must excuse me, if I compare them to certain animals called asses; who, by gnawing vines, originally taught the great advantage of pruning them. 79. Every good poet includes a critic; the reverse will not hold.
80. We want a word to express the “ hospes” or hospita” of the ancients; among them, perhaps, the most respectable of all characters; yet with us translated " host,” which we apply also to an innkeeper. Neither have we any word to express
“ amica,” as if we thought a woman always was somewhat more or less than a friend.
81. I know not where any latin author uses “ignotos” otherwise than as “obscure persons," as the modern phrase implies, “ whom nobody knows." Yet it is used differently on Mrs. L 's monument.
82. The philosopher, who considered the world as one vast animal, could esteem himself no other than a louse upon the back of it.
83. Orators and stagecoachmen, when the one wants arguments and the other a coat of arms, adorn their cause and their coaches with rhetoric and flower-pots.
84. It is idle to be much assiduous in the perusal of inferior poetry. Homer, Virgil, and Horace, give the true taste in composition; and a person's own im
• Missionaries clap a tail to every Indian nation that dislikes them.
agination should be able to supply the rest. In the same manner it is superfluous to pursue inferior degrees of fame. One truly splendid action, or one well-finished composition, includes more than all the results from more trivial performances. I mean this for persons who make fame their only motive. Very few sentiments are proper to be put into a person's mouth, during the first attack of grief. Every thing disgusts, but mere simplicity; the scriptural writers describe their heroes using only some such phrase as this: “ Alas! my brother!”
“Oh Absalom, my son! my son!” &c. The lamentation of Saul over Jonathan is more diffuse, but at the same time entirely simple.
Ang ling is literally described by Martial:
"- tremula piscem deducere seta." From “ ictum fædus” seems to come the English phrase and custom of striking a bargain. I like Ovid's “ Amours" better than his “ Epistles.” There seems a greater variety of natural thoughts: whereas, when one has read the subject of one of his epistles, one foresees what it will produce in a writer of his imagination. The plan of his “ Epistles,” for the most part, well designed.—The answers of Sabinus, nothing. Necessity may be the mother of lucrative invention; but is the death of poetical. If a person suspect his phrase to be somewhat too familiar and abject, it were proper he should accustom himself to compose in blank verse: but let him be much on bis guard against ancient Pistol's phraseology.
Providence seems altogether impartial in the dispensation which bestows riches on one and a contempt of them on another. Respect is the general end for which riches, power,