Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Truth is best supported by virtue.

[ocr errors]

Introduction to the Proceedings of the Committee for Clothing French Prifonets, p. 160.

TEMPTATION.

It is a common plea of wickedness to call temptation destiny.

Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. I, p. 51.

THOUGHTS..

It is the odd fate of some thoughts, to be the worse for being true.

Life of Cowley.

Levity of thought naturally produces familiarity of language, and the familiar part of language continues long the same; the dialogue of comedy, when it is transcribed from popular manners, and real life, is read from age to age with equal pleasure. The artifices of inversion, by which the established order of words is 'changed, or of innovation, by which new words or new meanings of words, are introduced, is practised, not by those who talk to be understood, but by those who write to be admired.

Ibid.

Though we have many examples of people existing without thought, it is certainly a state not much to be desired. He that lives in torpid insensibility, wants nothing of a carcase but putrefaction. It is the part of every inhabitant of the earth, to partake the pains and pleasures. of his fellow beings; and, as in a road through. a country desert and uniform, the traveller languishes for want of amusement, so the passage of R. 6.

life

life will be tedious and irksome to him who does not beguile it by diversified ideas.

idler, vol. 1, p. 136.

TREATIES.

In forming stipulations, the commissaries are often ignorant, and often negligent. They are sometimes weary with debate, and contract a tedions discussion into general terms, or refer it to a former treaty which was never understood. The weaker part is always afraid of requiring explanations, and the stronger always has an interest in leaving the question undecided. Thus will it happen, without great caution on either side, that after long treaties, solemnly ratified, the rights that had been disputed, are still equal ly open to controversy.

Obfervations on the State of Affairs, 1756, p. 21.

THEORY.

It is truc,,that of far the greater part of things, we must content ourselves with such knowledge as description may exhibit, or analogy supply; but it is true, likewise, that those ideas are always incomplete, and that, at least till we have compared them with realities, we do not know them to be just. As we see more, we become possessed of more certainties, and consequently gain more principles of reasoning, and found a wider basis of analogy.

Western Islands, p. 85.

THINGS.

Things may be not only too little, but too much known, to be happily illustated. To explain, requires, the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explained, and such terms

cannot

[ocr errors]

cannot always be found; for as nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit a definition.

Preface to Johnson's Dictionary, p. 67.

TIMIDITY.

Timidity is a disease of the mind, more obstinate and fatal than presumption; as every experiment will teach presumption caution, and miscarriages will hourly show that attempts are not always rewarded with success. But the timid man persuades himself that every impediment is insuperable; and, in consequence of thinking so, has given it, in respect to himself, that strength and weight which it had not before.

Rambler, vol. 1, p. 152.

TRANSLATION.

Of every other kind of writing, the ancients have left us models, which all succeeding ages have laboured to imitate; but translation may justly be claimed by the moderns, as their own. Idler, vol. 2, p. 86.

The Arabs were the first nation who felt the ardour of translation. When they had subdued the Eastern provinces of the Greek empire, they found their captives wiser than themselves, and made haste to relieve their wants by imported knowledge.

Ibid. p. 89.

The first book printed in English (about the year 1490) was a translation; Caxton was both

the

the translator and printer of it; it was the Destrucción of Troye, a book which, in that infancy of learning, was considered as the best account of the fabulous ages; and which, though now driven out of notice by authors of no greater use or valuc, still continued to be read, in Caxton's English, to the beginning of the present century.

Ibid. p. 92.

Literal translation, which some carried to that exactness, "that the lines should neither be more nor fewer than those of the original," prevailed in this country, with very few examples to the contrary, till the age of Charles II. when the wits of that time no longer confined themselves to such servile closeness, but translated with 'freedom, sometimes with licentiousness. There is, undoubtedly, a mean to be observed, between å rigid closeness and paraphrastic liberties. Dryden saw, very early, that closeness best preserved an author's sense, and that freedom best exhibited his spirit: he, therefore, will deserve the highest praise, who can give a representation at once faithful and pleasing, who can convey the same thoughts with the same graces, and who, when he translates, changes nothing but the language. Ibid. p. 94 & 99.

The greatest pest of speech, is frequency of translation. No book was ever turned from one language into another, without imparting something of its native idiom. This is the most mischievous and comprehensive innovation: single words may enter by thousands, and the fabric of the tongue continue the same; but new phraselogy changes much at once; it alters not the

[ocr errors]

single stones of the building, but the order of the columns.

Preface to Johnson's Dictionary, p. 83.

TRAGEDY.

The reflection that strikes the heart at a tragedy, is not that the evils before us are real evils, but that they are evils to which we ourselves may be exposed. If there be any fallacy, it is not that we fancy the players, but that we fancy ourselves, unhappy for a moment; but we rather lament the possibility than suppose the presence of misery; as a mother weeps over her babe, when she remembers that death may take it from her. In short, the delight of tragedy proceeds from our consciousness of fiction; if we thought murders and treasons real, they would please no more.

Preface to Shakspeare, p. 114.

V.

VANITY.

THOSE whom their virtue restrains from deceiving others, are often disposed, by their vanity, to deceive themselves.

Life of Blackmore.

The vanity of men, in advanced life, is generally strongly excited by the amorous attention of young women.

Life of Swift.

When any one complains of the want of what he is known to possess in an uncommon degree,,

he

« AnteriorContinuar »