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the Harps of Milton, and always be in tune ; but they were, as the poet says,
Parud. Lost, 6.3, v. 365.
Hints to Extemporary Politicians. 'Tis strange, says an eminent Greek writer, that those who desire to play upon the harp or upon the flute, or to ride the managed horse, should not think themselves worth notice without having practised under the best masters. While there are those, who aspire to the governing of the state, and can suppose themselves completely qualified, though it be without preparation or labour.Xenophon Memorab. 4,1.2, s. 6.
The Subject continued. This Socratic mode of reasoning is very happily adopted by our immortal bard. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern wait upon Hamlet, he offers a pipe, and desires them to play: they reply they cannot. He repeats his request: they answer they have never learnt. Then he tells them with disdain, " there is much music in this
little organ, and yet you cannot make it speak. Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe ?”—Hamlet, Act 3.
Even to the time of, Cardinal Mazarin,* the presumptuous nonsense of astrology was still in a certain degree cultivated. When Mazarin was on his death-bed, and a comet happened to appear at that time, the flatterers who were about his bed, wishing to give the last specimen of their art, began very strongly to insinuate that this planet had a reference to his fate and person : the Cardinal, with the vivacity of a Frenchman, and the good sense of a philosopher, replied, “Gentlemen, the comet does me too much honour.”
Sacred Poetry. Dr. Johnson, in his life of Cowley, and in other places, speaks of the inability of the powers of poetry to add dignity to sacred subjects, in his observation on the Davideis' of that author. From the good sense of Johnson it is not safe to depart. A critic of equal eminence, and of not less erudition, has strongly confirmed the opinion of Johnson. “It is certain that every attempt to clothe the
* He died 1661.
sacred scriptures in verse will have the effect of misrepresenting and debasing the dignity of the original."— T. Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 172.
Painting: a True Anecdote. Nothing happens, say the lawyers, which may not happen again. Dr. Smollet, in one of his novels, relates that a country gentleman hired an itinerant limner to place wigs on the heads of some of his ancestors painted by Vandyke. Now every one knew, save this unfortunate gentleman, that the heads of that painter are the finest specimens of his art. The writer of these lines was led by a farmer's wife to see her improvement in her portraits : she herself had actually put wigs on the heads of some of her ancestors ! painted indeed, it is needless to add, by a very inferior artist to Sir Anthony.
Reformation in Parliament. When this important matter is agitated by both parties, a wise and an honest man is quite embarrassed, not by the difficulty which the question may seem to hold out, but by a doubt founded on some facts, viz. whether either side is in earnest. An Aristocrat, and even a Lord Lieutenant of
the county, shall buy a borough; yet he, and the electors who have sold their votes and liberty to the purchaser, shall be very forward in their cries for a reformation. Methinks that both parties would be great losers, unless they first reform themselves.
Modern Philosophers. This was, in the days of yore, a term of good repute, and signified, in pure Greek, a lover of wisdom. At present it is a term that designates a foe to knowledge and long experience. Any fool or knave, (and they are often combined,) when he can gabble, in senseless declamation, against all the wisdom resulting from old and often repeated experiments, and utter general and wild systems of reformation without any plan of melioration; such a man is called a philosopher, who in better times would have been called a fool, and in more learned times a dunce. Plato would have expelled him from his commonwealth ; Socrates would have quizzed him; and Aristotle hampered him by a syllogism.
Is one of the popular “cants” which prose-men have most rashly imitated from the poets. A man of rhyme can decorate the inside of the cottage
with peace, and love, and innocence, as easily as
weave the honeysuckle round its porch, and the creeper on its roof. But when prose-men, in spite of poverty, talk of love in a cottage ; and in the face of low craft and lurking roguery, prate of rural innocence and tranquillity; we must think that the man of prose is meditating a flight beyond his powers and his province-plain truth. A village beau is as much a man of intrigue, as much of a “perfidious swain," as a town dandy: and for other rural purities, the nearest justice will prove the most faithful and accurate recorder. Many lords of land may truly say, like Iago,
Others there are, Who, trimm'd in torms and visages of duty, Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves ; And, throwing but shews of service on their lords, Do well thrive by them; and when they have lin'd their coats, Do themselves homage, &c. Othello, act l, scene 1.
Whenever I shall perceive that the public interest shall prevail over private views; that is, when electors shall choose honest men in preference to rich candidates, when lords on both sides do not buy boroughs; and when any man of integrity and unbiassed judgment shall write the history of this fortunate æra; I shall attend to the