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Population, would not have erred so much, had he reasoned as well as cyphered.
Disappointed Men. The niseries of which this sort of men are very apt to complain frequently and londly, arise from excessive vanity, and a wrong estimate of their own talents, and a mismanagement of them. Dean Swift, with a disposition strongly tending to pride, arrogance, and conceit, complained of the little assistance his great friends in the state afforded lo his abilities and exertions. The Dean, however, did not recollect, but his friends did, that his demeanour was proud, his pretensions arrogant, and his advice given often unasked, and in tones very different from those which great men expect from the persons who look up to them for favour or preferment. His mighty patrons had no wish to place a man in the House of Lords whom they could not controul as a private man; in whom they discovered an insatiable ambition, a pride not easily gratified, and an arrogance it was always their wish, but seldom in their
power, to controul; and who was endowed with talents of which they all stood in awe.
Poetry of Elder Times. Dean Swift, in his allegorical “ Tale of the Tub,” says the Reformers tore off too much of
the lace and finery from the church's ceremonies and ornaments. There have been also, in raodern times, Luthers and Calvips among the critics on poetry, who would reduce the vagaries of fancy to the rules of reason. Yet an eminent critic and poet, in the eighteenth century, delights to say of days of yore,
a few dim characters were yet legible in the mouldering creed of tradition, and every goblin had not vanished at the first glimmering of the morning of science."
Many students, it is said, who have made some progress in this very abstract, though useful, study, do yet feel the doctrine of “negative quantities” as obstructing their clearness of comprehension. This obstruction seems to arise, as M. D'Alembert conceives, from inaccurate enunciation, with which it is generally attended. It would be of great advantage to the student, therefore, to have recourse to the “ Elements of Philosophy explained” (under the article Algebra), by this very eminent mathematician. For further instruction on this point, see M. D'Alembert's Elements of Phil. vol. v. p. 229.
* Warton's History of English Poetry, v. iii. p. 496.
Calendar of Nature, or Natural History of the
Year. Second edition, 1799.
Dr. Aikin, in the publication of this elegant and amusive volume, has been of infinite service to . many
readers and writers of poetry, particularly that part descriptive of rural scenes and rural objects. Every month is described by the variety of seasons it produces, and birds, shrubs, &c. are placed in their proper times of appearing. With such a manual in his possession, the city poet will no longer talk of roses in December, or the song of the nightingale be introduced in January, or the plants of the East arranged in a poem illustrative of an English climate.
The Sciences and Belles Lettres.
The difficult, and perhaps idle, question, whether the polite scholar or the profound mathematician is the superior character, has often been started, and also as often decided, 'by persons little qualified to adjust its merits. Let us hear, then, a writer who combined both characters. M. D'Alembert says, " whether from timidity, or my idea of justice, I ascribe equal merit to the man of letters and the man of science. Moreover, if the former has more partizans on his side, and more who decide on his merit; on the other hand, he who extends the limits of science, can boast of more well-informed and more accurate judges of his acquirements. Should a man have the choice whether he would be a Corneille or a Newton, he would feel himself very much embarrassed in his preference, or he would be very unworthy of the privilege of having such a choice."-D'Alembert's Melanges de Literature, Histoire, 8c. vol. iv. p. 181.
How many writers in this department, without any knowledge of the world, and, of course, of that variety of character to be found in it, attempt scenes of comic humour. The consequence of these rash trials by unqualified persons, what trash, under the name of comedies, has been brought before the public by some modern writers, whose writings have even dared to meet the cool decision of the closet! Voltaire heard, with a smile of approbation, the excuse of his young friend, M. Marmontel, whom he advised to write a comedy: “Ah, Sir, how should I draw portraits, who have never seen faces.” The modesty of Marmontel is out of fashion.—Marmontel's Life by himself, vol. i.
To deprecate generally the love of being eminent, is more worthy of stoical philosophy than of com
Woollaston, in his “Religion of Nature," talks too abstractedly, if not absurdly, on this subject. “ The man is not known ever the more to posterity, because his name is transmitted to them: he doth not live because his name does. Since Pompey is as little known as Cæsar, all that is said of their conquests amounts to this, somebody conquered somebody.” Milton, in his “ Paradise Regained,” has spoken with great discrimination, on what subjects, and from whom derived, fame is indeed no worthy object.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
Book iii. l. 47.
A Diplomatic Anecdote. When the ambassador from Constantinople required an audience of the Caliph of Bagdad, he was told to make an humble obeisance to the Greek Emperor. This the Ambassador refusing, it was contrived that he should be introduced to the Emperor through a door, so very low as might