Imágenes de página

with regard to the pronunciation of the Latin tongue, different nations utter it in their own vernacular tones and accents. J. Scaliger, being engaged in conversation with a learned Scot, which was carried on in the Latin tongue, at the conclusion made an apology to the gentleman for not answering him. “ I hope, sir, you will excuse my not replying; as I really do not understand the Scotch language.”

Lovers of Arguments. These are the greatest pests in society ;-ever ready to enter on an argument, and unwilling always, and often unable, to conclude one. The author of Hudibras has most aptly described these abusers of the art logical

This pagan heathenish invention
Is good for nothing but contention:
For as in sword and buckler fight,
All blows do on the target light,
So when meni argue, the greatest part
O'the contest falls on terms of art,
Until the fustian stuff be spent,
And then they fall to th' argument. Cunto 3d.

Bon Mot of Casaubon. When in his youth, this eminent scholar first visited the college of the Sorbonne, his friend led him into the great hall, and observed, with much gravity of countenance, that disputes had been - Pray,

carried on in this place for 400 years.
what have they decided upon,” said Causabon very
drily. It may perhaps be a solution of this difficult
question, when we are told that the Sorbonnists
were great polemical theologians, and much
addicted in early time to scholastic divinity. This
circumstance did not escape the wit of S. Butler,

He could raise scruples dark and nice,
And after solve 'em in a tricc,
As it divinity had catch'd
The itch, on purpose to be scratch'd, &c.'

Hudibras, canto 1.



“ Poeta nascitur non fit," seems rather an encouragement to unlearned poets, than a practical truth. The idea that a man is born a poet, and does not become so by study, &c. is burtful to literature, as it sets folks on writing poetry, that cannot write even prose. Another great error is generated by the assertion, that obscurity is part of poetry, and necessary to its sublimity. If this were the case, writers of riddles and ænigmas would soar above epic poets, and tragic authors. If to write obscurely be a merit, to pursue the observation further, we must acknowledge that he who does not write at all, is an improvement upon that author who endeavours to make himself : unintelligible.

“My wound is great, because it is so small :
" Theu it were greater, were there none at all.”

A Noble Excuse.

It was a magnanimous reply of M. Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigné to Henry III. of France, who expressed a wish that he would write the history of his reign, “I am too much the humble servant of your Majesty to be your historian.” The converse of this sentiment would be equally true. A man may be too much the enemy of his sovereign to write bis history with honest impartiality.

How difficult, impartiality is in a writer of history, is strongly set forth by the great Tacitus. " When kings are alive, the fear of giving offence to them, and when they are dead, the halred attached to their memories, are both equally fatal to tbe veracity of history."


The same acute observer and eloquent writer on politics remarks, " that the friends of kings seldom continue in their stations to the ends of their lives ; they are either by their masters dismissed, long tired of bestowing endless benefactions on them; or the favourites, having no longer any hopes of receiving them, desert their royal masters.,

Liberty and Bribery. The theory of liberty is most clamorous, when bribery is most lucrative. It is in corrupt boroughs that we hear persons most loud in their boast of their love of liberty. What is their noise else, but the declaration," that I hold my liberty of voting very high, and expect to be paid accordingly for giving it up, and so I must part with it for a valuable consideration ; and not be, at the same time by accepting a small bribe, both a fool and a rogue."

The facetious bard has well described the value of liberty in voting,

For what's the value of a thing
But so much money as 't will bring?


Good-Kind of People. This is a description of people, vulgarly so called, whom every body knows, and yet few can commend. They are in general persons of very moderate abilities, very feeble passions, and very disputable integrity; for where there are no very marked features in a countenance, no decisive character can be ascertained. In natural history, they might be described of the snail kind : the evil that they do is not quickly discerned, whilst the good which they may perform is always a matter of doubt. But Poets describe these persons with

greater force than prose men can pretend to. Such persons are described by Dr. Young as those

Who want, while through blank life they dream along, Sense to be right, and passion to be wrong.

Lore of Fame, sat. iv. I. 89.

Some Modern Comedies. Kotzebue, Schiller, and other German writers, seem to have infected the English stage with their lugubrious style. Pathos has rendered our comedy quite tragical. When some writers preserve a little regard for the nature of the comic genius, and are unwilling that their audience should cry all through their sad comedies, they endeavour by frequent puns to prevent this evil to themselves and others. Pope seems, by anticipation, to have described our modern comedians, and their sole motives for writing

But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
Alike to them by pathos or by pun. Epist.i. v. 294.

Modern Greeks.* An Anecdote.'

As the present times convince us that the spirit of liberty in ancient Greece is not extinct in their posterity, the following authentic anecdote may be read with pleasure and interest. When the late Mr. Anson (Lord Anson's brother) was upon bis

* This story, says Mr. Harris, was told me by Mr. Anson himself.

« AnteriorContinuar »