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regret how much might have been learned, , aside from one object but by ; assing to anor how much might have been invented by a other. The gloomy and the resentful are al. rational and vigorous application of time, use- ways found among those who have nothing to lessly or painfully passed in the revocation of do, or who do nothing. We must be busy events which have left neither good por evil about good or evil, and he to whom the present behind them, in grief for misfortunes either re- offers nothing will often be looking backward paired or irreparable, in resentment of injuries on the past. known only to ourselves, of which death has put the authors beyond our power.
Philosophy has accumulated precept upon No. 73.] SATURDAY, SEPT. 8, 1759. precept, to warn us against the anticipation of future calamities. All useless misery is cer- That every man would be rich if a wish could tainly folly, and he that feels evils before they obtain riches, is a position which I believe few come may be deservedly censured ; yet surely will contest, at least in a nation like ours, in to dread the future is more reasonable than to which commerce has kindled a universal emulament the past. The business of life is to go lation of wealth, and in which money receives forwards : he who sees evil in prospect meets all the honours which are the proper right of itin his way; but he who catches it by retrospec- knowledge and of virtue. tion turns back to find it. That which is feared Yet though we are all labouring for gold, as may sometimes be avoided, but that which is for the chief good, and, by the natural effort of regretted to-day, may be regretted again to- unwearied diligence, have found many expedi
tious methods of obtaining it, we have not been Regret is indeed useful and virtuous, and able to improve the art of using it, or to make not only allowable but necessary, when it it produce more happiness than it afforded in tends to the amendment of life, or to admoni- former times, when every declaimer expatiated tion of error which we may be again in danger on its mischiefs, and every philosopher taught of committing. But a very small part of the his followers to despise it. moments spent in meditation on the past, pro Many of the dangers imputed of old to exduce any reasonable caution or salutary sor-orbitant wealth are now at an end. The rich
Most of the mortification that we have are neither way-laid by robbers nor watched suffered, arose from the concurrence of local by informers; there is nothing to be dreaded and temporary circumstances, which can never from proscriptions, or seizures. The necesmeet again ; and most of our disappointments sity of concealing treasure has long ceased ; have succeeded those expectations, which life no man now needs counterfeit mediocrity, and allows not be formed a second time.
condemn his plate and jewels to caverns and It would add much to human happiness, if darkness, or feast his mind with the conscious. an art could be taught of forgetting all of ness of clouded splendour, of finery which is which the remembrance is at once useless and useless till it is shown, and which he dares not afflictive, if that pain which never can end in show. pleasure could be driven totally away, that the In our time the poor are strongly tempted to mind might perform its functions without in- assume the appearance of wealth, but the cumbrance, and the past might no longer en- wealthy very rarely desire to be thought poor; croach upon the present.
for we are at full liberty to display riches by Little can be done well to which the whole every mode of ostentation. We fill our houses mind is not applied; the business of every day with useless ornaments, only to show that we calls for the day to which it is assigned, and can buy them; we cover our coaches with gold, he will have no leisure to regret yesterday's and employ artists in the discovery of new fashvexations who resolves not to have a new sub- ions of expense; and yet it cannot be found that ject of regret to-morrow.
riches produce happiness. But to forget or to remember at pleasure, Of riches, as of every thing else, the hope are equally beyond 'the power of man. Yet is more than the enjoyment; while we consias memory may be assisted by method, and the der them as the means to be used, at some fu. decays of knowledge repaired by stated times ture time, for the attainment of felicity, we of recollection, so the power of forgetting is press on our pursuit ardently and vigorously, capable of improvement. Reason will, by a and that ardour secures us from weariness resolute contest, prevail over imagination, and of ourselves; but no sooner do we sit down the power may be obtained of transferring the to enjoy our acquisitions, than we find than in attention as judgment shall direct.
sufficient to fill up the vacuities of life. The incursions of troublesome thoughts are One cause which is not always observed of the often violent and importunate ; and it is not insufficiency of riches is, that they very seldom easy to a mind accustomed to their inroads to make their owner rich. To be rich is to have expel them immediately by putting better im- more than is desired, and more than is wanted; ages into motion ; but this enemy of quiet is to have something which may be spent without above all others weakened by every defeat; reluctance, and scattered without care, with the reflection which has been once overpowered which the sudden demands of desire may be and ejected, seldom returns with any formi- gratified, the casual freaks of fancy indulged, dable vehemence.
or the unexpected opportunities of benevolence Employment is the great instrument of intel- improved. lectual dominion. The mind cannot retire Avarice is always poor, but poor by her own from its enemy into total vacancy, or turn fault. There is another poverty to which the
rich are exposed with less guilt by the officious-, can afford nothing higher than pleasing sound, ness of others. Every man, eminent for exu- and fiction is of no other use than to display berance of fortune, is surrounded from morning the treasures of memory. to evening, and from evening to midnight, by The necessity of memory to the acquisition flatterers, whose art of adulation consists in ex- of knowledge is inevitably felt and universal. citing artificial wants, and in forming newly allowed, so that scarcely any other of the schemes of profusion.
mental faculties are commonly considered as Tom Tranquil, when he came to age, found necessary to a student: he that admires the mself in possession of a fortune of which the proficiency of another, always attributes it to wentieth part might, perhaps, have made him the happiness of this memory; and he that rich. His temper is easy, and his affections laments his own defects, concludes with a wish soft; he receives every man with kindness, and that his memory was better. hears him with credulity. His friends took It is evident that when the power of retention care to settle him by giving him a wife, whom, is weak, all the attempts at eminence of knowhaving no particular inclination, he rather ac- ledge must be vain; and as few are willing to cepted than chose, because he was told that she be doomed to perpetual ignorance, I may, perwas proper for him.
haps, afford consolation to some that have fallHe was now to live with dignity proportion- en too easily into despondence, by observing ate to his fortune. What his fortune requires that such weakness, is in my opinion, very or admits Tom does not know, for he has little rare, and that few have reason to complain of skill in computation, and none of his friends nature as unkindly sparing of the gifts of think it their interest to improve it. If he was memory. suffered to live by his own choice, he would In the common business of life, we find the leave every thing as he finds it, and pass memory of one like that of another, and hothrough the world distinguished only by inof- nestly impute omissions not to involuntary fensive gentleness. But the ministers of luxu- forgetfulness, but culpable inattention ; but in ry have marked him out as one at whose ex- literary inquiries, failure is imputed rather to pense they may exercise their arts.
A com want of memory than of diligence. panion, who had just learned the names of the We consider ourselves as defective in meItalian masters, runs from sale to sale, and mory, either because we remember less than buys pictures, for which Mr. Tranquil pays, we desire, or less than we suppose others to without inquiring where they shall be hung. remember. Another fills his garden with statues, which · Memory is like all other human powers, Tranquil wishes away but dares not remove. with which no man can be satisfied who meaOne of his friends is learning architecture, by sures them by what he can conceive, or by building him a house, which he passed by and what he can desire. He whose mind is most inquired to whom it belonged; another has capacious, finds it much too narrow for his been for three years digging canals, and raising wishes; he that remembers most, remembers mounts ; cutting trees down in one place, and little compared with what he forgets. He, planting them in another, on which Tranquil therefore, that, after the perusal of a book, looks a with serene indifference, without asking finds few ideas remaining in his mind, is what will be the cost. Another projector tells not to consider the disappointment as pecuhim that a waterwork, like that of Versailles, liar to himself, or to resign all hopes of will complete the beauties of his seat, and lays improvement, because he does not retain his draughts before him; Tranquil turns his eyes what even the author has, perhaps, forgotten. upon them, and the artist begins his explana He who compares his memory with that of tions ; Tranquil raises no objections but orders others, is often too hasty to lament the inequahim to begin the work, that he may escape from lity. Nature has sometimes, indeed, afforded talk which he does not understand.
examples of enormous, wondersul, and giganThus a thousand hands are busy at his ex- tic memory. Scaliger reports of himseis, that, pense without adding to his pleasures. He in his youth, he could repeat above a hundred pays and receives visits, and has loitered in verses having once read them; and Barthicus public or in solitude, talking in summer of declares that he wrote his “Comment upon the town, and in winter of the country, without Cladian” without consulting the text. But knowing that his fortune is impaired, till his not to have such degrees of memory is no steward told him this morning that he could more to be lamented than not to have the pay the workmen no longer but by mortgag- strength of Hercules, or the swiftness of ing a manor.
Achilles. He that, in the distribution of good, has an equal share with common men, may justly be contented. Where there is no strike
ing disparity, it is difficult to know of two No. 74.] SATURDAY, Sept. 15, 1759. which remembers most, and still more difficult
to discover which reads with greater attention, In the mythological pedigree of learning, me- which has renewed the first impression by mory is made the mother of the muses, by which more frequent repetitions, or by what acci. the masters of ancient wisdom, perhaps, meant dental combination of ideas either mind might to show the necessity of storing the mind copi- have united any particular narrative or argu ously with true notions, before the imagination ment to its former stock. should be suffered to form fictions or collect em. But memory, however impartially distributbellishments; for the works of an ignorant poet | ed so often deceives our trust, that almost
I shall see the eyes
every man attempts, by some artifice or other, which, before he considered it, he resolved to to secure its fidelity.
comply; and next morning retired to a garden It is the practice of many readers to note, in planted for the recreation of the students, and the margin of their books, the most important entering a solitary walk began to meditate uppassages, the strongest arguments, or the on his future life. brightest sentiments. Thus they load their “If I am thus eminent,” said he, “in the minds with superfluous attention, repress the regions of literature, I shall be yet more convehemence of curiosity by useless deliberation, spicuous in any other place ; if I should now and by frequent interruption break the current devote myself to study and retirement, I must of narration or the chain of reasoning, and at pass my life in silence, unacquainted with the last close the volume, and forget the passages delights of wealth, the influence of power,
the and marks together.
pomp of greatness and the charms of elegance, Others I have found unalterably persuaded with all that man envies and desires, with all that nothing is certainly remembered but what that keeps the world in motion, by the hope is transcribed; and they have, therefore, passed of gaining or the fear of losing it. I will weeks and months in transferring large quota- therefore, depart to Tauris, where the Pertions to a common-place book. Yet why any sian monarch resides in all the splendour of part of a book, which can be consulted at plea- absolute dominion: niy reputation will fly be sure, should be copied, I was never able to dis- fore me, my arrival will be congratulated by cover. The hand has no closer correspondence my kinsmen and friends ; with the memory than the eye. The act of of those who predicted my greatness, sparkling writing itself distracts the thoughts, and what with exultation, and the faces of those that is read twice, is commonly better remember-once despised me clouded with envy, or couned than what is transcribed. The method, terfeiting kindness by artificial smiles. I will therefore, consumes time without assisting show my wisdom by my discourse, and my memory.
moderation by my silence; I will instruct the The true art of memory is the art of atten- modest with easy gentleness, and repress the tion. No man will read with much advantage ostentatious by seasonable superciliousness. who is not able, at pleasure, to evacuate his My apartments will be crowded by the inquimind, or who brings not to his author, an sitive, and the vain, by those that honour and intellect defecated and pure, neither turbid those that rival me; my name will soon reach with care, nor agitated by pleasure. If the the court ; I shall 'stand before the throne of repositories of thought are already full, what the emperor ; the judges of the law will concan they receive ; if the mind is employed on fess my wisdom, and the nobles will contend the past or future, the book will be held before to heap gifts upon me. If I shall find that my the eyes in vain. What is read with delight is merit, like that of others, excites malignity, commonly retained, because pleasure always or feel myself tottering on the seat of elevaBecures attention; but the books which are con- tion, I may at last retire to academical obscurisulted by occasional necessity, and perused with ty, and become, in my lowest state, a profesimpatience, seldom leave any traces on the sor of Bassora.” mind.
Having thus settled his determination, he declared to his friends his design of visiting
Tauris, and saw with more pleasure than he No. 75.) SATURDAY, SEPT. 22, 1759. ventured to express, the regret with which he
was dismissed. He could not bear to delay In the time when Bassora was considered as the honours to which he was designed, and the school of Asia, and flourished by the repu- therefore hastened away, and in a short time tation of its professors, and the confluence of its entered the capital of Persia. He was immestudents, among the pupils that listened round diately immersed in the crowd, and passed unthe chair of Albamazar was Gelaleddin, a na-observed to his father's house. He entered, tive of Tauris, in Persia, a young man, amia- and was received, though not unkindly, yet ble in his manners and beautiful in his form, without any excess of fondness, or exclamaof boundless curiosity, incessant diligence, and tions of rapture. His father had, in his abirresistible genius, of quick apprehension, and sence, suffered many losses, and Gelaleddin tenacious memory, accurate without narrow was considered as an additional burden to a ness, and eager for novelty without incon- falling family. stancy.
When he recovered from his surprise, he beNo sooner did Gelaleddin appear at Bassora, gan to display his acquisitions and practised all than his virtues and abilities raised him to dis- the arts of narration and disposition : but the tinction. He passed from class to class rather poor have no leisure to be pleased with eloadmired than envied by those whom the rapidi- quence; they heard his arguments without rety of his progress left behind : he was consult- fection, and his pleasantries without a smile. ed by his fellow-students as an oraculous guide, He then applied himself singly to his brothers and admitted as a competent auditor to the con- and sisters, but found them all chained down ferences of the sages.
by invariable attention to their own fortunes, After a few years, having passed through all and insensible of any other excellence than the exercises of probation, Gelaleddin was in that which could bring some remedy for indivited to a professor's seat, and intreated to in- gence. crease the splendour of Bassora. Gelaleddin It was now known in the neighbourhood that affected to deliberate on the proposal, with Gelaleddin was returned, and he sat for some
days i:a expectation that the learned would | tion for the study of criticism is, that critics,
spite of nature and at the same time have no
course, and of course his mouth full of nothing, He now returned to Bassora, wearied and but the grace of Raffaelle, the purity of Domidisgusted, but confident of resuming his former nichino, the learning of Poussin, and the air of rank, and revelling again in satiety of praise. Guido, the greatness of taste of the Carrachis, But he who had been neglected at Tauris, was and the sublimity and grand contorno of Minot much regarded at Bassora ; he was con-chael Angelo ; with all the rest of the cant of sidered as a fugitive, who returned only be- criticism, which he emitted with that volubilicause he could live in no other place; his com- ty which generally those orators have who anpanions found that they had formerly over-rat nex no ideas to their words. ed his abilities, and he lived long without no As we were passing through the rooms, in tice or esteem.
our way to the gallery, I made him observe a whole length of Charles the First, by Vandyke, as a perfect representation of the character as
well as the figure of the man. He agreed it No. 76.] SATURDAY, Sept. 29, 1759. was very fine, but it wanted spirit and contrast,
and had not the flowing line, without which a TO THE IDLER.
figure could not possibly be graceful. When
we entered the gallery, I thought I could perSir,
ceive him recollecting his rules by which he I was much pleased with your ridicule of was to criticise Raffaelle. I shall pass over his those shallow critics, whose judgment, though observation of the boots being too little, and often right as far as it goes, yet reaches only other criticisms of that kind, till we arrived at to inferior beauties, and who unable to compre- St. Paul preaching. “This,” says he, “iso hend the whole, judge only by parts, and from esteemed the most excellent of all the cartoons; thence determine the merit of extensive works. what nobleness, what dignity there is in that But there is another kind of critic still worse, figure of St. Paul ! and yet what an addition who judges by narrow rules, and those too to that nobleness could Raffaelle have given, often false, and which, though they should be had the art of contrast been known in his time! true, and founded on nature, will lead but a but, above all, the flowing line, which constivery little way toward the just estimation of tutes grace and beauty! You would not have the sublime beauties in works of genius; for then seen an upright figure standing equally on whatever part of an art can be executed or both legs, and both hands stretched forward in criticised by rules, that part is no longer the the same direction, and his drapery, to all apwork of genius, which implies excellence out pearance, without the least art of disposition.” of the reach of rules. For my own part I pro- The following picture is the Charge to Peter. fess myself an Idler, and love to give my judg- “Here,” says he, “are twelve upright figures; ment, such as it is, from my immediate per- what a pity it is that Raffaelle was not acceptions without much fatigue of thinking : quainted with the pyramidal principle! He and I am of opinion, that if a man has not would then have contrived the figures in the those perceptions right, it will be in vain for middle to have been on higher ground, or the him to endeavour to supply their place by figures at the extremities stooping or lying, rules, which may enable him to talk more which would not only have formed the group learnedly but not to distinguish more acutely. into the shape of a pyramid, but likewise conAnother reason which has lessened my affec- trasted the standing figures. Indeed,” added
he, “I have often lamented that so great a The first lines of Pope's Iliad afford exam. genius as Raffaelle had not lived in this enlight- ples of many licenses which an easy writer ened age, since the art has been reduced to prin- mast decline :ciples, and had had his education in one of the modern academies; what glorious works might Achilles' wrath to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber'd heavenly goddess sing, we then leave expected from his divine pencil!"
The wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign I shall trouble you no longer with my The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain. friend's observation, which, I suppose, you are now able to continue by yourself. It is cu In the first couplet the language is distorted rious to observe, that, at the same time that by inversions, clogged with superfluities, and great admiration is pretended for a name of clouded by a harsh metaphor; and in the fixed reputation, objections are raised against second there are two words used in an unthose very qualities by which that great name common sense, two epithets inserted only to was acquired.
lengthen the line ; all these practises may in Those critics are continually lamenting that a long work easily be pardoned, but they alRaffaelle had not the colouring and harmony ways produce some degree of obscurity and of Rubens, or the light and shadow of Rem- ruggedness. brant, without considering how much the gay Easy poetry has been so long excluded by harmony of the former, and affectation of the lat- ambition of ornament, and luxuriance of imageter, would take from the dignity of Raffaelle; ry, that its nature seems now to be forgotten. and yet Rubens had great harmony, and Rem- Affectation, however opposite to ease, is somebrant understood light and shadow ; but what times mistaken for it : and those who aspire to may be an excellence in a lower class of paint- gentle elegance, collect female phrases and ing, becomes a blemish in a higher ; as the fashionable barbarisms, and imagine that style quick, sprightly turn, which is the life and to be easy which custom has made familiar. beauty of epigrammatic compositions, would Such was the idea of the poet who wrote the but ill suit with the majesty of heroic poetry. following verses to a countess cutting pa
To conclude ; I would not be thought to in- per :fer from any thing that has been said, that rules are absolutely unnecessary; but to censure Pallas grew vap'rish once and odd,
She would not do the least right thing scrupulosity, a servile attention to minute ex
Either for goddess or for god, actness, which is sometimes inconsistent with
Nor work, nor play, nor paint, nor sing higher excellency, and is lost in the blaze of expanded genius.
Jove frowned, and “Use,” he cried, “ those eyes
So skilful, and those hands so taper ; I do not know whether you will think paint
Do something exquisite and wise."ing a general subject. By inserting this letter, She bow'd, obey'd him, and cut paper perhaps, you will incur the censure a man would deserve, whose business being to enter This vexing him who gave her birth, tain a whole room, should turn his back to the
Thought by all heaven a burning shame,
What does she next, but bids of earth company, and talk to a particular person.
Her Burlington do just the same;
Pallas, you give yourself strange airs
But sure you'll find it hard to spoi!
The sense and taste of one that bears No 77.] Saturday, Oct. 6, 1759.
The name of Saville and of Boyle Easy poetry is universally admired; but I Alas ! one bad example shown, know not whether any rule has yet been fixed,
How quickly all the sex pursue !
See, Madam ! see the arts o'erthrown by which it may be decided when poetry can Between John Overton and you. be properly called casy. Horace has told us, that it is such as every reader hopes to equal, It is the prerogative of easy poetry to be un. but after long labour finds unattainable.” This derstood as long as the language lasts ; but is a very loose description, in which only the modes of speech, which owe their prevalence effect is noted ; the qualities which produce only to modish folly, or to the eminence of those this effect remain to be investigated.
that use them, die away with their inventors, Easy poetry is that in which natural thoughts and their meaning, in a few years, is no longer are expressed without violence to the lan- known. guage. The discriminating character of ease
Easy poetry is commonly sought in petty consists principally in the diction ; for all true compositions upon minute subjects; but ease, poetry requires that the sentiments be natural. though it excludes pomp, will admit greatness. Language suffers violence by harsh or by dar- Many lines in Cato’s soliloquy are at once easy ing figures, by transposition, by unusualaccep- and sublime:tations of words, and by any license which would be avoided by a writer of prose. Where The divinity that stirs within us ; any artifice appears in the construction of the Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man. verse, that verse is no longer easy. Any epi -If there is a power above us, thet which can be ejected without diminution And that there is all nature cries aloud of the sense, any curious iteration of the same
Thro' all her works, he must deiight in virtue, word, and all unusual, though not ungram
And that which he delights in must be happy. matical structure of speech, destroy the grace Noris ease more coutrary to wit than to subof easy poetry.
limity: the celebrated stanza of Cowley, on a