Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

too high rents; when, in many instances, want of sobriety and industry, and, in the first place, a deficiency of property for the undertaking, have been progressively the causes of their insolvency and final ruin.

Laconism.

Though loquacity and the use of superfluous words are certainly irksome, yet it may be doubtful whether the short mode of expression adopted by proud and reserved persons be not more disgusting. Tacitus, speaking of Galba, styles his mode of speaking “brevitas imperatoria." This haughty brevity distinguished the Spartan answers to foreign ambassadors. Epaminondas, after the battle of Leuctra, spoke gaily and wittily of his defeat of the Spartans: “I have taught them," says that admirable hero,“ to lengthen their monosyllables.'

[ocr errors]

Pretended Piety. It is a grievous consideration to a reflecting mind how easily the pretence to piety is made a mask for a villain to act under, and that every moral principle is trampled upon in this masquerade of rogues. The greatest tyrant and the most profligate man that ever sat on the throne of this kingdom assumed the title of Defender of the Faith, and so forth.' Milton says finely of

hypocrisy, and its baneful influence in life by the darkness of its councils,

So spake the false dissembler unperceived,
for neitner man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone.

Coxcombs in Morals. Fops abuse the purport of plain and useful clothing by fantastical forms and superfluous ornaments, that raise the finger of scorn and contempt. In the same degree coxcombs in morals, or sentimentalists as they are called, overload and impede the practical and straight-forward duties and offices of life by refinements in their modes of thinking ; so that a plain man is scared by their apparent difficulties. Nor indeed is his apprehension of these impediments without foundation, as he finds a sentimentalist himself is the last to put them into practice.

A Leveller in the Church.

The late Bishop of Llandaff, Dr. Watson, had the smallest episcopal revenue of any of his brother prelates, and wrote with much zeal on a scheme of equalizing the revenues of Bishops. Had he been the Archbishop of Canterbury, and had made the same proposition, we should have been more

amazed at his extraordinary specimen of self-biography, in which folly, vanity, and some other qualities of mind, which the candid reader is willing to suppress, appear in the full effulgence of unrestrained and unqualified ostentation. See Boswell's Life of Johnson.

Advantages of the Press. When we read of the extreme ignorance of ormer ages, reaching even to the 14th century, attended with horrid crimes and enormous vices, we cannot belp exclaiming, in the language of the philosophical poet,

Qua procul a nobis fectat fortuna gubernans.-Lucretius. An acute writer and sagacious observer of his times holds out comfort to us on very good grounds. We may again, perhaps, see ages of bad taste in literature, but we shall never relapse into barbarism: the sole invention of printing will prevent this."- Mes Pensées,' par M. Beaumelle.

Satirists.

A man by misfortune, or an acid disposition, must have collected a good deal of spleen to deal, without personal provocation, taunts and revilings among his fellow creatures. Swift's disappointments in politics, Pope's “long disease---his life," gave full-scope to their satirical propensities and talents; and we are all acquainted with the intemperate habits of Churchill, which destroyed the balsam of his blood, and curdled the milk of human kindness which might have flowed in his youthful days. A feverish pulse was the occasion of his abuse of persons much superior to himself. Personal satire the law must keep in check; of general reflections the fool wisely says,

Let me see wherein
I have wronged him? If it do him right
Then he hath wronged himself; if he be free,
Why then my taxing, like a wild goose, lies
Unclaim'd of any man."

As you like it.

Cathedrals.

Few persons

have entered a cathedral without being strongly impressed with the grandeur of the building, and feeling their minds actuated by a lively sense of awe and veneration. This sepsa. tion is well described in the Mourning Bride of Congreve; and the structure of a noble cathedral is delineated in a masterly manner.

How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads
To bear aloft its arch'd and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made stedfast and immovable,
Looking tranquillity. It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight, &c.

Congreve's Mourning Bride, act 1, scene 3

Bluntness of Manner and Speech. This, no doubt, is a practice “ more honoured in the breach than the observance ;" yet there are some (and honourable) men, whom virtuous indignation at the success of rogues, or even at the foppery of fools, transforms into the state “ of the fretful porcupine." When bluntness is seen in superficial men, and of mean talents, they have no excuse,

but are subject to the satire of the most acute observer of the vices and follies of mankind, who has stript off the clown's mask from the face of the surly hypocrite,

This is some fellow
Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness; and constrains the garb
Quite from its nature. He cannot fiatier, he-
An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
Harbour more craft, and more corrupter ends,
Than twenty silly ducking observants,
That streich their duties nicely.

King Lear.

Pedantry. This folly often prevails from a weakness of understanding proud of its acquirements, and like the daw in the fable exulting wantonly in his borrowed feathers. A man of genius is seldom guilty of this false pride ; but a learned ass is seldom without it. When some persons objected

« AnteriorContinuar »