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and made haste to dispatch him; perhaps, for the same reason for which Addison killed Sir Roger de Coverly, that no other hand might attempt to exhibit him,
Let meaner authors learn from this example, that it is dangerous to sell the bear which is not yet hunted to promise to the public what they have not written.
It is in vain for the most skilful author to cultivate barrenness, or to paint on vacuity. Even Shakspeare could not write well without a proper subject.
Ibid. p. 161.
Neither genius nor practice will always supply a hasty writer with the most proper diction.
Ibid. vol. 10, p. 338.
It is the nature of personal invective to be soon unintelligible, and the author that gratifies private malice animam vulnere ponit, destroys the efficacy of his own writings, and sacrifices the esteem of succeeding times to the laughter of a day.
Ibid. vol. 2, p. 434o
As for affection, those that know how to operate upon the passions of men, rule it by making it operate in obedience to the notes which please or disgust it.
Ibid. vol. 3, p. 215.
Affectation naturally counterfeits those excellencies which are placed at the greatest distance
from possibility of attainment, because, knowing our own defects, we eagerly endeavour to supply them with artificial excellence.
Rambler, vol. 4, p. 104.
Affectation is to be always distinguished from hypocrisy, as being the art of counterfeiting those qualities which we might, with innocence and safety, be known to want. Hypocrisy is the necessary burthen of villany-Affectation part of the chosen trappings of folly.
Ibid. vol. I, p. 124 and 125.
Every man speaks and writes with an intent to be understood; and it can seldom happen, but he that understands himself might convey his notions to another, if, content to be understood, he did not seek to be admired; but when once he begins to contrive how his sentiments may be received, not with most ease to his reader, but with most advantage to himself, he then transfers his consideration from words to sounds, from sentences to periods, and as he grows more elegant, becomes less intelligible.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 202.
Nothing can more fully prove the ingratitude of mankind (a crime often charged upon them, and often denied) than the little regard which the disposers of honorary rewards have paid to Agriculture; which is treated as a subject so remote from common life by all those who do not immediately hold the plough, or give fodder to the ox, that there is room to question, whether a great
great part of mankind has yet been informed that life is sustained by the fruits of the earth.
Universal Visitor, p.111
Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches we can call our own, and of which we need not fear either deprivation or diminution.
Ibid. p. 112.
Of nations, as of individuals, the first blessing is independence. Neither the man nor the people can be happy to whom any human power can deny the necessaries or conveniences of life. There is no way of living without foreign assistance but by the product of our own land improved by our own labour. Every other source of plenty is perishable or casual.
AGRICULTURE OF ENGLAND.
Our country is, perhaps, beyond all others, productive of things necessary to life. The pineapple thrives better between the tropics, and better furs are found in the Northern regions. But let us not envy those unnecessary privileges; mankind cannot subsist upon the indulgencies of nature, but must be supported by her common gifts; they must feed upon bread and be clothed with wool, and the nation that can furnish these universal commodities, may have her ships welcomed at a thousand ports, or sit at home, and receive the tribute of foreign countries, enjoy their arts, or treasure up their gold.
Ibid. p. 114.
In this country an academy for reforming and establishing the English Language could be expected to do but little. If an academician's place were profitable, it would be given by interest; if attendance were gratuitous, it would be rarely paid; and no man would endure the least disgust. Unanimity is impossible, and debate would separate the assembly.
But suppose the philological decree made and promulgated; what would be its authority? In absolute governments, there is sometimes a general reverence paid to all that has the sanction of power and the countenance of greatness. How little this is the state of our country, needs not be told. We live in an age in which it is a kind of public sport to refuse all respect that cannot be enforced. The edicts of an English academy would probably be read by many, only that they might be sure to disobey them.
That our language is in perpetual danger of corruption cannot be denied; but what prevention can be found? The present manners of the nation would deride authority, and therefore nothing is left but that every writer should criticise himself.
Life of Roscommon.
It has been found by the experience of mankind, that not even the best seasons of life are able to supply sufficient gratifications without anticipa ting uncertain felicities: it cannot, surely, be supposed that old age,worn with labors, harrassed with anxieties, and tortured with diseases, should have any gladness of its own, or feel any satisfaction
from the contemplation of the present-All the comfort that now can be expected must be recalled from the past, or borrowed from the future: the past is very soon exhausted; all the events or actions of which the memory can afford pleasure, are quickly recollected; and the future lies beyond the grave, where it can be reached only by virtue and devotion.
Piety is the only proper and adequate relief of decaying man. He that grows old without religious hope, as he declines into imbecility, and feels pains and sorrows incessantly crowding upon him, falls into a gulf of bottomless misery, in which every reflection must plunge him deeper, and where he finds only new gradations of anguish and precipices of horror.
Rambler, vol. 2, p. 91.
Custom so far regulates the sentiments, at least of common minds, that I believe men may be generally observed to grow less tender as they advance in age.
Ibid. p. 140.
To the long catalogue of the inconveniences of old age, which moral and satirical writers have so copiously displayed, may be often added the loss of fame.
Ibid. vol. 3, p. 130.
Length of life is distributed impartially to very different modes of life in very different climates. A cottager grows old over his oaten cakes, like a citizen at a turtle feast. He is indeed seldom incommoded by corpulence: Poverty preserves him from sinking under the burthen of himself, but he escapes no other injury of time.
Western Islands, p. 193.