Imágenes de páginas


Now commences the ruin of judgment or reason. We begin to find little pleasure but in comparing arguments, stating propositions, disentangling perplexities, clearing ambiguities, and deducing consequences. The painted vales of imagination are deserted, and our intellectual activity is exercised in winding through the labyrinths of fallacy, and toiling with firm and cautious steps up the narrow tracks of demonstration. Whatever may lull vigilance or mislead attention, is contemptuously rejected, and every disguise in which error may be concealed, is carefully observed, till, by degrees, a certain number of incontestible or unsuspected propositions are established, and at last concatenated into arguments, or compacted into systems.

At length, weariness succeeds to labour, and the mind lies at ease in the contemplation of her own attainments, without any desire of new conquests or excursions. This is the age of recol lection and narrative. The opinions are settled, and the avenues of apprehension shut against any new intelligence; the days that are to follow must pass in the inculcation of precepts already colfected, and assertions of tenets already received; nothing is henceforward so odious as opposition, so insolent as doubt, or so dangerous as novelty. Rambler, vol. 3, p. 271, 272, & 273.


The parts of the of the greatest things are little; what is little can be but pretty, and by claiming dignity, becomes ridiculous.

Life of Cowley.



If misery be the effect of virtue, it ought to be reverenced; if of ill fortune, it ought to be pitied; and if of vice, not to be insulted; because it is, perhaps, itself a punishment adequate to the crime by which it was produced; and the humanity of that man can deserve no panegyric, who is capable of reproaching a 'criminal in the hands of the executioner.

Life of Savage.

The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.

[ocr errors]

Life of Pope.

That misery does not make all virtuous, experience too certainly informs us; but it is no less certain, that of what virtue there is, misery produces far the greater part. Physical evil may be therefore endured with patience, since it is the cause of moral good; and patience itself is one virtue by which we are prepared for that state in which evil shall be no more.

Idler, vol. 2, p. 211.


Merriment is always the effect of a sudden impression; the jest which is expected is already destroyed.

Idler, vol. 2, p. 32.

Any passion, too strongly agitated, puts an end to that tranquillity which is necessary to mirth. Whatever we ardently wish to gain, we must in


the same degree be afraid to lose; and fear and pleasure cannot dwell together.

Rambler, vol. 4, p. 244.

Real mirth must be always natural; and nature is uniform-Men have been wise in different modes, but they have always laughed the same


Life of Cowley.

The perverseness of mankind makes it often mischievous in men of eminence to give way to merriment. The idle and the illiterate will often shelter themselves under what they say in those


Life of Blackmore,


To mend the world by banishing money is an old contrivance of those who did not consider that the quarrels and mischiefs which arise from money, as the sign, or ticket, of riches, must, if money were to cease, arise immediately from riches themselves; and could never be at an end till every man was contented with his own share of the goods of life.

Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 6, p. 388.


Nothing is more vain than at a distant time to examine the motives of discrimination and partiality; for the enquirer, having considered interest and policy, is obliged, at last, to omit more frequent and more active motives of human conduct; such as caprice, accident, and private affections,

Life of Roger Ascham, p. 248,



As the end of method is perspicuity, that series is sufficiently regular that avoids obscurity; and where there is no obscurity, it will not be difficult to discover method.

Life of Pope.


There are maxims treasured up in the mind rather for show than use, and operate very little upon a man's conduct, however elegantly he might sometimes explain, or however forcibly he might inculcate them.

Life of Savage.


Old maids seldom give those that frequent their conversation any exalted notions of the blessings of liberty; for, whether it be that they are angry to see with what inconsiderate eagerniess other heedless femalés rush into slavery, or with what absurd vanity the married ladies boast the change of their condition, and condemn the heroines who endeavour to assert the natural dignity of their sex; whether they are conscious that, like barren countries, they are free only because they were never thought to deserve the trouble of a conquest, or imagine that their sincerity is not always unsuspected, when they declare their contempt of men; it is certain, that they generally appear to have some great and incessant cause of uneasiness, and that many of them have been at last persuaded, by powerful rhetoricians, to try the life which they had so long condemned, and put on the bridal ornaments at a time when they least became them.

Rambler, vol. 1, p. 236.



Moderation is commonly firm; and firmness is commonly successful.

Falkland Islands, p. 32.

It was one of the maxims of the Spartans, not to press upon a flying army; and therefore their enemies were always ready to quit the field, because they knew the danger was only in opposing. Letter to Douglas, p. 3.

[ocr errors][merged small]


NOTHING can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature. Preface to Shakspeare, p. 8.

The power of nature is only the power of using to any certain purpose the materials which dili gence procures or opportunity supplies.

Ibid. p. 39.


Those who make an illegal use of power in foreign countries, to enrich themselves and dependents, live with hearts full of that malignity which fear of detection always generates in them who are to defend unjust acquisitions against lawful authority; and when they come home with riches thus acquired, they bring minds hardened in evil, too proud for reproof, and too stupid for reflec



« AnteriorContinuar »