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This Johnson supplied in his revival of old truths, by a very splendid and variegated diction.
Advantages of Theatrical Exhibitions. The instruction in our knowledge of the world, and the influence of the passions, by stage representations, if properly conducted, is beyond calculation. In the world, men and women conceal their passions and designs from each other, as inuch as they can; but in a well-written tragedy or comedy, the passions, &c. are discovered by the declaration of the agents themselves; and the author's design is to pluck the mask from the faces of vice and folly, and hold up the conduct of their characters as a warning to the audience. It was said of the famous Mr. Garrick, that he was only an actor off the stage; intimating bis excellency in the performance of his theatrical characters, and blaming the affectation with which he enveloped his personal one in the society of his friends
On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting;
Retaliation, by Dr. Goldsmith,
Translation and Imitation of Authors. In poems, whose merit depends solely on the figures, metapbors, &c., a translator is obliged to exbibit the author in bis original dress. In works of humour, and satire, and wit, the application of an ancient writer's expressions and satire to modern manners and customs shews ability in the imitator, to wbich a mere translator could not pretend. Pope's imitations of Horace have more merit with an English reader than any literal translation could claim. To his translation of Homer it may be objected that he has not so much rendered the author, as he has rivalled or excelled bim.
Visiting an Old School.
The expression of a natural feeling is always interesting, especially when it proceeds from a man of talents. Sir Henry Wootlon describes the pleasure of visiting Winchester school, long after he had left it :-." Seeing the place where I sat when I was a boy, occasioned me to remember my youthful thoughts; sweet thoughts, indeed! that promised my growing years numerous pleasures without mixture of cares, and those to be enjoyed when time (which I thought slow paced) changed my youth to manhood; and now there is a cession of boys using the same recreations, and, questionless, possessed with the same thoughts.
Thus one generation succeeds another, both in their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and deaths." -Lloyd's State Worthies: Observations on the Life of Sir Henry Wootton.
It has been ever a complaint against wits, that they want discretion as well as memory. Dr. South, though a witty and learned orator, did not always consider that propriety of speech so essential to serious discourses, and the places in which they are delivered. In a sermon preached at Court, the orator descanted on the superior enjoyment of intellectual pleasure over sensual gratifcations, and how vastly disproportionate are the pleasures of the eating and thinking man; indeed, as different as the silence of an Archimedes in the study of a problem, and the stillness of a sowat her wash. So true is the observation of our great moral poet, who knew, so early and so well, how to combine the two faculties of wit and judgment:
Some to whom Heaven in wit has been profuse,
Essay on Criticism, line 80,
Poetry and Criticism.
When Dr. Johnson, with his usual penetration, declared of poetry, " that, after all, the claims of excellence must finally be decided by the common sense of mankind," many poets and many critics were alarmed for their trade. The poet is very willing to involve himself in sublime mysteries, and to cry out with the Roman bard,
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo ;
and the critic is unwilling to part with his tones of authority and decision.
Critics, indeed, are valuable men,
Bramston's Epist. on Taste.
Commentators. M. Bayle, speaking of Joseph Scaligor, says, that he doubted if this eminent scholar had not too much sagacity and science to make a steady and accurate commentator; for his wit and his knowledge (he feared) did often attribute more of both to the author be had in hand, than the author himself could claim. Bishop Warburton, a man superior to Pope both in science and general learning, certainly, in his notes on his friend's
essays, &c, ascribed more ingenuity and more profundity of thought, than Pope could pretend lo, who was especially averse to metaphysical studies; and who declared that he could not relish the writings of Locke.
Tutors and their Scholars.
The former too often suppose themselves superior in talents, as well as acquirements, to thoso they are to struct. This often proves a fatal error to the scholar; as many circumstances, exclusive of abilities, may have placed the tutor in a situation which he ill supplies. Such a person, instead of teaching
The young idea how to shoot, acts as a nipping frost on the intellectual bud, and not rarely, by ill culture, destroys the very root, by planting it on a ground not suitable to it, or bestowing an injudicious care on it, when he has chosen the right soil.
Among our ancient nobilily two sorts of fools were entertained in their castles and at their tables. The former were really persons of defective intellects, the latter men of wit and vivacity. The real fools were the barbarous amusements of our