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the critic, unless at the same time it instructs the learner. It is to little purpose that an engine amuses the philosopher by the subtlety of its mechanism, if it requires so much knowledge in its application, as to be of no advantage to the common workman.
Plan of an English Dictionary, p. 33.
UNITIES OF TIME AND PLACE.
The time required by a dramatic fable elapses, for the most part, between the acts; fór of so much of the action as is represented, the real and poetical duration is the same. If, therefore, in the first act, preparations for war against Mithridates, are represented to be made at Rome, the event of the war may, without absurdity, be represented in the catastrophe as happening in Pontus. We know that we are neither in Rome, nor Pontus; that neither Mithridates, nor Lucullus, are before us. The drama exhibits successive imitations of successive actions; and why may not the second imitation represent an action that happened years after the first, if it be so connected with it, that nothing but time can be supposed to intervene?
The lines, likewise, of a play, relate to some action, and an action must be in some place; but the different actions that complete a story may be in places very remote from each other: and where is the absurdity of allowing that space to represent first Athens, and then Sicily, which was always known to be neither Sicily nor Athens, but a modern theatre?
Yet he that, without diminution of any other excellence, shall preserve all the unities unbroken, deserves the like applause with the architect who shall display all the orders of an architect in a citadel,
citadel, without any deduction from its strength. But the principal beauty of a citadel is to exclude the enemy; and the greatest graces of a play are to copy nature, and instruct life.
Preface to Shakspeare, p. 113 & 116.
AS war is the extremity of evil, it is surely the duty of those whose station entrusts them with the care of nations, to avert it from their charge. There are diseases of an animal nature which nothing but amputation can remove; so there may, by the depravation of human passions, be sometimes a gangrene in collected li.e, for which fire and the sword are the necessary remedies; but in what can skill or caution be better shown, than in preventing such dreadful operations, while there is room for gentler methods?
Falkland Islands, p.41.
The wars of civilized nations make very slow changes in the system of empire. The public perceives scarcely any alteration, but an increase of debt; and the few individuals who are benefited, are not supposed to have the clearest right to their advantages. If he that shared the danger, enjoyed the profit; if he that bled in the battle, grew rich by victory; he might show his gains without envy. But, at the conclusion of a long war, how are we recompensed for the death of multitudes, and the expence of millions; but by contemplating the sudden glories of pay-masters and agents; contrac
tors and commissioners, whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations?
Ibid. p. 43.
Princes have yet this remnant of humanity, that they think themselves obliged not to make war without reason; though their reasons are not always very satisfactory.
Memoirs of the King of Prussia, p. 127.
He must certainly meet with obstinate opposition, who makes it equally dangerous to yield as to resist, and who leaves his enemies no hopes, but from victory.
Life of Drake, p. 191.
Among the calamities of war, may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates, and credulity encourages.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 169.
The lawfulness and justice of the holy wars have been much disputed; but perhaps there is a principle on which the question may be casily determined. If it be part of the religion of the Mahometans to extirpate by the sword all other religions, it is by the laws of self-defence, lawful for men of every other religion, and for Christians. among others, to make war upon Mahometans, simply as Mahometans, as men obliged by their own principles to make war upon Christians, and only lying in wait till opportunity shall promise them success.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 5, p. 254.
That conduct which betrays designs of future hostility, if it does not excite violence, will always generate malignity; it must for ever exclude con
*fidence and friendship, and continue a cold and sluggish rivalry, by a sly reciprocation of indirect injuries, without the bravery of war, or the security of peace.
Falkland Islands, p. 9.
War has means of destruction more formidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands, and ten thousands that perished in our late contests with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an enemy; the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst danips and putrefactions, pale, torpid, spiritless, and helpless; gasping and groaning, unpitied, among men made obdurate by long continuance of hopeless misery; or whelmed in pits, or heayed into the ocean, without notice, and without remembrance. By incommodious encampments, and unwholesome stations, where courage is useless, and enterprise impracticable, fleets are silently dispeopled, and armies sluggishly melted away.
Ibid. p. 43.
The revolutions of war are such as will not suffer human presumption to remain long unchecked. Memoirs of the King of Pruffia, p. 138.
There are no two nations confining on each other, between whom a war may not always be kindled with plausible pretences on either part; as there is always passing between them a reciprocation of injuries, and fluctuation of encroachments. Obfervations on the State of Affairs, 1756, p. 23.
Wit is that which is at once natural and new, and which, though not obvious, is, upon its first production, acknowledged to be just.
Life of Cowley.
Wit will never make a man rich, but there are places where riches will always make a 'wit.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 268.
Wit, like every other power, has its boundaries. Its success depends on the aptitude of others to receive impressions; and that as some bodies, indissoluble by heat, can set the furnace and crucible at defiance, there are minds upon which the rays of fancy may be pointed without effect, and which no fire of sentiment can agitate or exalt. Rambler, vol. 4, p. 78.
It is a calamity incident to grey-headed wit, that his merriment is unfashionable. His allusions are forgotten facts, his illustrations are drawn from notions obscured by time, his wit therefore may be called single, such as none has any part in but himself.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 5, p. 462.
Wit, like all other things subject by their nature to the choice of man, has its changes and fashions, and at different times takes different forms.
Life of Cowley.
The pride of wit and knowledge is often mortified, by finding that they confer no security against the common errors which mislead the weakest and meanest of mankind.
Rambler, vol. I, p. 32.
It is common to find men break out into a rage at any insinuations to the disadvantage of their wit, who have borne with great patience reflections on their morals.
Ibid. p. 241.