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cold regard of idle curiosity. But he that writes upon general principles, or delivers universal truths, may hope to be often read, because his work will be equally useful at all times, and in every country; but he cannot expect it to be received with eagerness, or to spread with rapidity, because desire can have no particular stimulation. That which is to be loved long, is to be loved with reason, rather than with passion. Ibid. vol. 2, p. 36 & 37.
REASON AND FANCY.
Reason is like the sun, of which the light is constant, uniform, and lasting. Fancy a meteor of bright but transitory lustre, irregular in its motion, and delusive in its direction.
Prince of Abyssinia, p. 116.
Rhyme, says Milton, and says truly, is no necessary adjunct to true poetry. But, perhaps, of poetry, as a mental operation, metre or music is no necessary adjunct; it is, however, by the music of metre that poetry has been discriminated in all languages; and in languages melodiously constructed, by a due proportion of long and short syllables, metre is sufficient. But one language cannot communicate its rules to another. Where metre is scanty and imperfect, some help is necessary. The music of the English heroic line strikes the ear so faintly, that it is easily lost, unless all the syllables of every line co-operate together. This co-operation can be only obtained by the preservation of every verse, unmingled with another, as a distinct system of
sounds; and this distinctness is obtained, and preserved, by the artifice of rhyme.
Life of Milton.
To attempt any farther improvement or versification, beyond what Pope has given us in his translation of Homer's Iliad, will be dangerous. Art and diligence have now done their best; and what shall be added, will be the effort of tedious toil, and needless curiosity.
Life of Pope.
There is no credit due to a rhetorician's ac-, count either of good or evil..
Life of Roger Ascham, p. 247.
Reproof should not exhaust its power upon petty failings; let it watch diligently against the incursion of vice, and leave foppery and futility to die of themselves..
CHARACTER OF THE ANCIENT ROMANS.
While they were poor, they robbed mankind ; and as soon as they became rich, they robbed one. another.
Review of the Memoirs of the Court of Auguftus, p. 6.
The utmost exertion of right is always invidi-ous; and where claims are not easily determin-‘ able, is always dangerous.
Falkland Islands, p. 59.
PERSONAL resentment, though no laudable motive to satire, can add great force to general principle. Self-love is a busy prompter.
Life of Dryden.
All truth is valuable, and satirical criticism may be considered as useful, when it rectifies error, and improves judgment. He that refines the public taste, is a public benefactor.
Life of Pope.
In defence of him who has satirized the man he has once praised, it may be alleged, that the object of his satire has changed his principles, and that he who was once deservedly commended, may be afterwards satirized with equal justice, or that the poet was dazzled with the appearance of virtue, and found the man whom he had celebrated, when he had an opportunity of examining him more nearly, unworthy of the panegyric which he had too hastily bestowed; and that, as false satire ought to be recanted, for the sake of him whose reputation may be injured, false praise ought likewise to be obviated, lest the distinction between vice and virtue should be lost, lest a bad man should be trusted upon the credit of his encomiast, or lest others should endeavour to obtain the like praises by the same means.--But though these excuses may be often plausible,. and sometimes just, they are seldom satisfactory to mankind; and the writer who is not constant to his subject,, quickly sinks into contempt; his satire loses its force,
and his panegyric its value; and he is only considered at one time as a flatterer, and as a camniator at another. To avoid these imputations, it is only necessary to follow the rules of virtue, and to preserve an unvaried regard to truth. For though it is undoubtedly possible, that a man, however cautious, may be sometimes deceived by an artful appearance of virtue, or a false appearance of guilt, such errors will not be frequent; and it will be allowed, that the name of an author would never have been made contemptible, had no man ever said what he did not think, or misled others but when he was himself deceived. Life of Savage.
Secrets are so seldom kept, that it may be with some reason doubted, whether a secret has not some subtile volatility by which it escapes, imperceptibly, at the smallest vent; or some power of fermentation, by which it expands itself, so as. to burst the heart that will not give it way.
Rambler, vol. I, p. 75.
To tell our own secrets is generally folly, but that folly is without guilt. To communicate those with which we are intrusted, is always treachery, and treachery for the most part combined with folly.
Ibid. p. 76.
The vanity of being known to be trusted with a secret, is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it; for, however absurd it may be thought to boast an honour by an act which shows that it was conferred without merit, yet most men seem rather inclined to confess the want of virtue than
of importance, and more willingly show their influence, though at the expence of their probity, than glide through life with no other pleasure than the private consciousness of fidelity, which, while it is preserved, must be without praise, except from the single person who tries and knows it. Ibid. p. 75.
The whole doctrine, as well as the practice, of secresy, is so perplexing and dangerous, that, next to him who is compelled to trust, that man is unhappy who is chosen to be trusted; for he is often involved in scruples, without the liberty of calling in the help of any other understanding; he is frequently drawn into guilt, under the appearance of friendship and honesty; and sometimes subjected to suspicion by the treachery of others, who are engaged without his knowledge in the same schemes: for he that has one confident, has generally more; and when he is at last. betrayed, is in doubt on whom he shall fix the crime.
Ibid. p. 79.
The rules that may be proposed concerning secrecy, and which it is not safe to deviate from, without long and exact deliberation, are,
First, Never to solicit the knowledge of a secret; nor willingly, nor without many limitations, accept such confidence, when it is offered.
Second, When a secret is once admitted, to consider the trust as of a very high nature, important as society and sacred as truth-and therefore not to be violated for any incidental convenience, or slight appearance of contrary fitness.
Ibid. p. 80.