Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

The nohappy man who once has trail'd a pén,
Lives not to please himself, but other men.
Is always drudging, wastes his life and blood,
Yet only drinks and eats what you think good.
What praise soe'er the poetry deserve,
Yet every tool can bid the poet starve.

Dryden's Prologue to N. Lee's Cæsar Borgia.

Mending Old Stories. It often happens that we hear some excellent stories told in conversation, where the actors are the historians. Smart repartees, severe replies, and animated objurgations form these amusing narratives. Experience in time, and knowledge of the personal characters of the narrators, teach us to suspect that these were not the original facts, speeches, &c. but were, on the recollection of these entertaining persons, enlarged, improved, and enlivened by posterior meditation, and by the aid of second thoughts, and which were not likely to have sprung up suddenly on the first occasion of them.

Taste for Rural Objects Is often influenced by personal feelings, and circumstances not connected with literature. Dr. Johnson declaimed against the generally attractive species of poetry called Pastorals. His love of a city life, and that throne of human happiness, to use his own words,-an armed chair in a tavern, accounts for his dislike to rural scenes, rural

ideas, and rural personages.

His entertaining biographer has related that, once walking in Greenwich Park with his learned friend, he observed, to indulge his companion's taste, “ This is fine, Sir, but not so fine as Fleet-street.” No! Sir,' he replied warmly and vociferously.

[ocr errors]

Encomiastic Critics. Some readers, more nice, perhaps, than wise, shew great dislike to critics who point out the beauties of authors, and express themselves delighted with those passages. Yet surely to have a sensible and an agreeable companion with us, when we are travelling a country of much diversity of good and bad prospect, it is a happiness, arising from social sympathy, to see our guide and fellowtraveller joining us in our applause, and participating in our enjoyments. This is “ smoothing the brow of criticism."

Boasting, and real Bravery. The man who

that he does not fear death, is a vain boaster, most probably a coward, and most certainly a fool. To fear death, is natural; to overcome this apprehension, the result of honour and sense. An officer may be a timid man, naturally; yet perform the most intrepid actions, from principle and reflection on his duties. Charles the Second wittily ridiculed this boasting in a fool. “ That man,” said Charles, to never snuffed a candle with his finger.” And the Poet said wisely,

says

Let valiant fools
Brag of their souls, no matter what they say ;
A coward dares in ill do more than they.

Shirley's Example.

Electioneering.

After reading the solemn and trivial praises of the privileges of honest Englishmen in voting for their representatives, we are not a little amused to find the real state of things as narrated in the followingsatiric lines

When the Duke's grandson for the country stood,
His beef was fat, and his October good.
His Lordship took each ploughman by his fist,
Drank to their sons, their wives and daughters kiss'd.
But when strong beer their freebora hearts inflames,
They sell him bargains, and they call him names, &c.
The man that has both land and money too
May wonders in a trading borough do.
They'll praise his venison, and conimend his port,
And turn their former Members into sport;
And, if he likes it, satirize the Court.
But at a feast 'tis difficult to know
From real friends an undiscover'd foe.
The man that swears he will the poll secure,
And pawns his soul that your election 's sure
Suspect that man; beware all is not right;

He's ten to one a corporation bite, &c.
The Art of Politics, in Imitation of Horace's Art of Poetry.

[ocr errors]

Rural Pleasures.

Since pastorals have been the fashion from the time of Theocritus to Johnny Gay, the innocent pleasures, and the honest inhabitants, and the peaceful hours of a rural life, have been the favourite themes ; but poels, like doctors, can disagree.

Virtue no more in rural plains,
Or innocence or peace maintains.
Fierce party rage each village fires
With wars of justices and squires.
Attornies for a barley straw
Whole ages hamper folks in law :
And every neighbour's in a flame,
About their rates, their tithes, and game.
Some quarrel for their hares and pigeons,
And some for difference in religions.
Some hold their parson the best preacher,

The tinker some a better teacher, &c.
Epist. from Soame Jennyns, esq; to Lord Littleton :

see Epistles, Familiar and Humorous.

Ancients and Moderns. In works of fancy, and in the art and practice of poetry and rhetoric, perhaps, the ancients were equal, if not superior, to us. In the art of close reasoning the moderns certainly excel them. This superiority arises from the gradual increase of the reasoning powers produced by experience and observation. No one can doubt that Joha

Locke was a better reasoner, though not so elegant a writer, as Plato.

Ancient and Modern Customs. Canonization in the Romish Church is very analogous in its principles and practices to the apotheosis of the Grecians and Romans. The persons, indeed, were different, and the virtues also for which they received their honours. In modern Rome the pious cardinal was canonized, and in ancient Rome the military hero.

Public Libraries. In these large and crowded depôts of human knowledge and human imagination, I cannot help reflecting that a great diminution of volumes would have taken place, if their authors had previously studied Locke on the Human Understanding, and gravely used their thoughts on the abuse of words, and on the boundaries and real powers of the human intellect.

Faith. When this means a belief in religious opinions, merely speculative, and altogether removed from practice, it produces the most fatal consequence to all religion, viz. an absolute divorce of piety and morality. Violent arguments in favour of any opiņion may be the product solely of an

« AnteriorContinuar »