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demned all future flights of genius, to pursue the path of the Meonian eagle.
Ibid vol. 3, p. 310.
For this reason the laws of every species of writing have been settled by the ideas of him who first raised it to reputation, without inquiry whether his performances were not yet susceptible of improvement.
Ibid. p. 311.
The care of the theatrical critic should be, to distinguish error from inability, faults of inexperience from defects of nature. Action irregular and turbulent may be reclaimed; vociferation vehement and confused may be restrained and modulated; the stalk of the tyrant may become the gait of a man; the yell of inarticulate distress may be reduced to human lamentation. All these faults should be, for a time, overlooked, and afterwards censured with gentleness and candour. But if in an actor there appears an utter vacancy of meaning, a frigid equality, a stupid languor, a torpid apathy, the greatest kindness that can be shewn him, is a speedy sentence of expulsion.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 139.
That a proper respect should be paid to the rules of criticism, will be very readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to
Preface to Shakspeare, p. 102.
This moral precept may be well applied to criticism, quod dubitas, ne feceris.
Ibid. p. 145.
Imprisonment is afflictive, and ignominious death is fearful, but let the convict compare his condition with that which his actions might reasonably have incurred. The robber might have died in the act of violence by lawful resistance. The man of fraud might have sunk into the grave, whilst he was enjoying the gain of his artifice, and where then had been their hope? By imprisonment, even with the certainty of death before their eyes, they have leisure for thought, opportunities for instruction; and whatever they suffer from offended laws, they may yet reconcile themselves to God, who, if he is sincerely sought for, will most assuredly be found.
Convicts Address, p. 12.
-Generally attributed to the late Dr. Dodd, but written for him, whilft under Sentence of Death, by Dr. Johnson.
It cannot be hoped that out of any progeny more than one shall deserve to be mentioned.
Life of Roger Afcham, p. 235.
We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they never have deceived us. Idler, vol. 2, p. 157
Of all kinds of credulity, the most obstinate and wonderful is that of political zealots; of men who being numbered they know not how, or why, in any of the parties that divide a state, resign the use of their own eyes and ears, and resolve to be
lieve nothing that does not favour those whom they profess to follow.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 53
Credulity on one part is a strong temptation to deceit on the other.
Western Islands, p. 276.
Particles of science are often very widely scattered. Writers of extensive comprehension have incidental remarks upon topics very remote from the principal subject, which are often more valuable than formal treatises, and which yet, are not known because they are not promised in the title. He that collects those under proper heads, is very laudably employed; for, though he exerts no great abilities in the work, he facilitates the progress of others, and by making that easy of attainment which is already written, may give some mind, more vigorous, or more adventurous than his own, leisure for new thoughts and original designs.
Ibid. p. 185.
It has been always observed of those that frequent a court, that they soon, by a kind of contagion, catch the regal spirit of neglecting futu rity. The minister forms an expedient to suspend or perplex, an inquiry into his measures for a few months, and applauds and triumphs in his own dexterity. The peer puts off his creditor for the present day, and forgets that he is ever to see him more.
Marmor Norfelcienfe, p. 20.
Cunning differs from wisdom as twilight from open day. He that walks in the sun-shine, goes boldly forward the nearest way; he sees that when the path is strait and even, he may proceed in security, and when it is rough and crooked, he easily complies with the turns, and avoids the obstructions. But the traveller in the dusk, fears more as he sees less; he knows there may be danger, and therefore suspects that he is never safe, tries every step before he fixes his foot, and shrinks at every noise, lest violence should approach him. Cunning discovers little at a time, and has no other means of certainty than multiplication of stratagems, and superfluity of suspicion. Yet men thus narrow by nature and mean by art, are sometimes able to rise by the miscarriages of bravery and the openness of integrity; and by watching failures and snatching opportunities, obtain advantages which belong properly to higher characters.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 223 & 227.
The courage of the English vulgar proceeds from that dissolution of dependence, which obliges every man to regard his own character. While every man is fed by his own hand, he has no need of any servile arts; he may always have wages for his labour, and is no less necessary for his employer, than his employer is to him; while he looks for no protection from others, he is naturally roused to be his own protector; and having nothing to abate his esteem of himself, he consequently aspires to the esteem of others. Thus every man that crowds our streets is a man of honour,
honour, disdainful of obligation, impatient of reproach, and desirous of extending his reputation among those of his own rank; and as courage is in most frequent use, the fame of courage is most eagerly pursued. From this neglect of subordination, it is not to be denied that some inconveniences may, from time to time, proceed. The power of the law does not always sufficiently. supply the want of reverence, or maintain the proper distinction between different ranks; but good and evil will grow up in this world together; and they who complain in peace, of the insolence of the populace, must remember, that their insolence in peace is bravery in war.
Bravery of English Common Soldiers, p. 329.
Personal courage is the quality of highest esteem among a warlike and uncivilized people; and with the ostentatious display of courage, are closely connected promptitude of offence, and quickness of resentment.
Weftern Islands, p. 99.
We may as easily make wrong estimates of our own courage as our own humility, by mistaking a sudden effervescence of imagination for settled resolution.
Life of Sir T. Browne, p. 280.
There is no man more dangerous than he that, with a will to corrupt, hath the power to please; for neither wit nor honesty ought to think themselves safe with such a companion, when they frequently see the best minds corrupted by them. Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 5, p. 612.