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subject of Politics. When I find that people in power attend to the general good, instead of their places, I might "affect the studies of the state:” till then I must join the poet in his plaint
“ Half a patriot, half a coward grown,
A Literary Shylock. Francis Philelphus, a learned Italian, was born in 1398 at Tolentino. His great reputation and success in literature did not satisfy the pride of scholarship: he wished to reign alone in the republic of letters. He would dispute on the most trivial subjects, and once wagered 160 crowns on some minute question in grammar against the beard of a Greek philosopher, named Timotheus. Having won, no solicitation could prevail on him to remit the fine, and he most unmercifully shaved bis antagonist, in spite of very ample offers to redeem the beard, but nothing else could soothe his irritation against any contradiction.-Chalmers's Dict,
Many of the natural scenes in our Shakespeare would be a “ caviar" to the French writers and critics. Their notions of dramatic representation are not according to simple nature, but to arti
ficial manners. A character in a French play must be very decorous and sensible, or he is not dressed comme il faut to appear before a French audience. To these sentiments of our Gallic neighbours it may be said, in the language of the shrewd poet of Twickenham,
It may be reason, but it is not man.
The 'Superb,' a French Phrase. This expression of manner, both in the work and composition, the ornaments of nature or art, is pleasing to the French, and means what we express by shewy; though we do not signify by it any thing connected with real taste. Lord Monboddo mentions an opinion of a Frenchman on the Commentaries of Julius Cæsar: "The subject matter,” says the lively Gaul, “ I highly approve, but had I written them, my style would have been very
different.” No doubt more superb, more shewy, more bombast, and more in the style of their friend, the author of the “ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire;” and met with the same applause and-incredulity
The Force of Style. It is shrewdly observed by Lord Monboddo, that Swift, in his romance of the Travels of Gulliver, bas, by assuming the simplicity of ancient historians in their parratives, given an air of probability and truth to his extravagant fictions ; whilst, on the contrary, Gibbon, the historian, has adopted so fantastical a style, that the reader is inclined to suppose that he wrote to amuse and please his fancy, and to shew the wit of the writer, rather than to give any information of facts, or to elucidate
Whilst this passion to shine is anxious in fixing an entail of fame and eminence on her sons, how many are endeavouring to cut it off, or vitiate the title, and stigmatize the owner! The ambitious patriot has for an escutcheon of pretence the love of the public good, yet his private wish is a “ Cap of Maintenance;" and the fee-simple of all he aims at is as much power, wealth, and rank, as he can attain.
Extra Love of Antiquity.
It may with truth be observed, that those who have lost themselves in the studies of antiquities seem to have dropt their connections with the world around them, and like ghosts to hover round
the tombs of their deceased friends, which they honour in proportion to the remoteness of their decease. Lord Monboddo, a great admirer of the ancients, kas professed this taste of time-henoured' connections in the most ample and singular manner. Speaking of Greek and Latin Dictionaries, his Lordship says, “I reckon such dictionary makers, by whose industry we are enabled to live in the ancient world, one of the greatest blessings which we enjoy in this.”
Certain Advantages of Reading.
Besides the more obvious recommendation of the use of books, one should be mentioned, which, though often omitted, is not the least important. Every man who is fond of reading has an escape from the follies and dulness of the world. If he be a man of business, his leisure hours must be improved by this habit; if he be what the French call “ un descuvré,” his vacuities of time may bo most agreeably filled up. The opulent dispose of their time by dint of opulence; others must do it by the force of their talents. An idle and a poor man must suffer evils, of which nothing bat experience can convince him.
These utterers of other persons' “ good things," .and knowing them to be stolen, are surely, in the Court of Apollo at least, amenable to justice. To shew the hardened villany of such persons, it should be mentioned, that they even repeat their stolen jokes before the persons from whom they borrowed them. Now if these gentlemen had any means or intention of repaying these loans, something might be said in their favour, as all wits and authors are in some degree plagiarists; but a blockhead who steals must be a swindler, and builds a reputation upon false pretences.
Don Quixote. This very ingenious romance is read by many persons as a tissue of strange stories represented in the character of the hero -a madman. Much of the merit of the work, and much entertainment to the reader, are lost by this method of perusing this very instructive fiction. At the time (A. D. 1547) Cervantes wrote, the spirit raised by the old Spanish romances of going in search of adventures, of storming castles to rescue distressed virgins, &c. was not laid by the improvements in society. To do this effectually, Cervantes exhi