Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

to the learned Buchanan, who was tutor to James VI. of Scotland, that he had made his Majesty a pedant, the shrewd Scotchman answered very sarcastically, and perhaps with equal truth, “ It was the best I could make of him.”

Butler has excellently ridiculed the pedantry of such borrowed knowledge, which is “ like manure burdening the soil which it cannot fructify." And the Poet calls such learning a cheat that scholars put upon other men's reason and their own; á sort of error to epsconce absurdity and ignorance;"

That renders all the avenues
To truth impervious and abstruse ;
By making plain things in debate,
By art perplext and intricate.
For nothing goes for sense or light,
That will not with old rules jump right;
As if rules were not in the schools
Deriv'd from truth, but truth from rules. Hudibras.

Courtship and Marriage. A young man of a dissolute course of life asked a Philosopher, what kind of life he would wish him to adopt; “ I would wish, young man, (replied the sage,) that you would live in the days of your health and spirits, according to the resolutions which


have made in the hours of sickness." Should many a husband ask his wife, in what manner you would have me conduct myself towards

you, my dear? The sage wife might reply, “ Ir the same manner, or at least as far as you can now, with which you treated me during our courtship, my dear.” Surely, there is too much servility in courtship, and too much pettishness in the marriage state; perhaps the consequence of former humble and excessive submissions, which too often

O'erflow in flattery, fear no excess.
Let it be sense or nonsense, she will swallow it,
You cannot give a woman such a dose
That she'll not easily swallow and digest:
"They are us’d to it, as Turks to opium;
They hourly give themselves a lusty dose,
And what would stupify and kill another,
Only refreshes them, and makes them lively.

Crown's Married Beau.'

Difficult and Abstruse Subjects. "The uncertain and disputable parts of knowledge (however we may in reason wonder at it) produce the greatest number of confident writers. Bold and wicked men will, in spite of ignorance, come forth as authors. Ignorance," says an acute writer, “is intrepid.” Surrounding darkness is equally favourable to rogues, either as authors or highway robbers.

Ut jugulent homines surgunt de nocte latrones,' says the Roman satirist; and bold and profligate adventurers in the field of metaphysics* are eage, to step forth to waylay the understandings of the unwary, and to destroy the happiness of the innocent and simple.

* Voltaire, Hume, Gibbon, &c.

Dialogue Writing. There seems an egregious fallacy in alỊ dialogues, which pretend to search after truth in the different characters introduced to carry on the argument. The various reasonings, being conducted by one writer, and he, of course, inclining to some opinion which he calls truth, he makes his opponents, like "men of straw," hold out such kinds of arguments, as suit best with his own ability to overturn, and make ridiculous to the reader. Socrates, in Plato and Xenophon, fights with infe rior adversaries; and the true opinion is supposed to be maintained, because the arguments of Socrates overcome those of his opponents, when, perhaps, trutli lies between or beyond them. It is a common error to suppose, that when two men argue, that he who argues the better has truth on his side, because the bad logic of his adversary is disco. vered. Pope says, very shrewdly,

Who argues wisely is not therefore wise;
His pride in reasoning, uot in acting, lies.

Ancient Mansions. Custom and usages remain long after the cause which originally gave rise to them. The old



houses of our ancestors consisted of very many. and some roomy mansions, not only to receive the tenants occasionally, but because they lodged the dowagers, old aunts, and all other unendowed parts of the family then resident, and who required separate apartments. In modern times, large edifices are only built by pride and ostentation, and remain as useless as the pyramids of Egypt, and bring profit alone to the builders; whilst the owners of these huge incumbrances are glad to find smaller, but more convenient, houses in another distant county

“ And leave state-rooms to strangers and to duns."

Labours of Hercules exceeded. These, if my memory fails me not, were chiefly, if not all, bodily; but in more refined ages, the labours of the mind are more remarked! What a modern Hercules is a Tutor in a private family; the lion father of his pupil must be overcome, and the dragon mother kept in subjection. Another modern Hercules is á Schoolmaster. Hydra with innumerable heads has he to subdue ! What a constitution should he possess to be adequate to his daily toils of mind! What patience to persevere in his irksome employment! At the end of all these labours, he may also meet with the usual gratitude of mankind, for benefits so painfully

What a conferred on them; and he has a just cause to utter the complaints of all benefactors of mankind :

" All human virtue, to its latest breath,
" Finds envy never conquer'd but by death:
" The great Alcides, every labour past,
" Had still his monster to subdue at last.”

Conversational Poets. Horace and Martial in Latin, and Butler in his Hudibras, perhaps, of all poets, ancient and modern, supply more lines applicable to the common purposes and occurrences of life, than


others. Much excellent observation on moral subjects may, indeed, be quoted from Boileau and Pope; but not in such quantities, or so obvious, as in Martial and in Hudibras. King Charles II. and his whole court could quote passages from Butler, and their reading was not, perhaps, very extensive ; though Martial might also be a favourite among them, on account of passages not very honourable either to the author, or his admirers in that licentious court. However, in Martial there are some very moral and philosophical specimens of the writer's genius : the verses on what constitutes happiness are very excellent, the initial lines will bring the whole to the recollection of every scholar.

Vi quæ faciant beatiorem,
Jucundissime Martialis, hæc sunt
Res non parta labore sed relicta,
Non ingratus ager, &c.

Lib. 10, Epig. 47.

« AnteriorContinuar »