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Let Printer's devils too, “a grisly band,”
feeble trash But, like the Whip club, merely cut a dash !
Few authors write too little, Nine in Ten Are ruined by the fulness of their pen ; Thus, while but few from rigid fasting die, Feasts, with their thousand victims, death supply ; Like wealth, with toil and hazard fame is gained, But easily increased if once obtained ; Though wits, like bankrupts, oft their golden crop Have lost, for want of knowing when to stop. Some start at highest speed, yet faster still Write down themselves, the more they work the
quill; As those who first lead off the mazy dance, Descend each step, and sink as they advance.
printing to its former texture, and whiteness. The old excuse for not writing, perituæ parcere chartæ, is therefore now done away.
* For some excellent remarks on this subject, see the Edin. burgh Review on the different publications of Messrs. Southey and Wordsworth;
But shall these Drawlers dare to form a style, And Pope, and Swift unheeded stand the while ! Shall such be read, and Gray be thrown aside, And dust that Harp, the muse's solace hide? As though its chords the graces had not strung, As if e'en sorrow smiled not while he sung! Asthough, while prejudice and Johnson* frowned, He had not been high Priest of Phoebus crowned. Mourn Conway's heights, if Gray be doomed to die, Mourn the departed dew of Sacred Poesy !
0, when these mighty Masters cease to charm, May life's red tide no more my bosom warm ;
* "Modeste de tanto Viro pronunciandum." But on the Dr's unfortunate criticism of Gray, G.Wakefield thus expresses himself, “If at any time we feel ourselves dazzled by Dr. Johnson's bright and diffusive powers of understanding, we may turn for relief to his criticisms upon Gray, and to his prayers
and meditations.” But he makes up for this in another place, thus, “I esteem his lives of the English Poets to be We noblest specimen of entertaining and solid criticism that modern times have produced, well worthy of ranking on the same shelf with Aristotle, and Quintilian." From this last sentence the hallowed shade of Milton turns with indignation; the salt that will preserve the Lives of the Ports, is to be found in the comparison that work contains of Pope and Dryden, and in the account of the metaphysical Poets. For the respective merits of Jolinson and Wakefield on Gray, vide appendix. By the bye, Gray's two finest odes narrowly escaped the fate to which Virgil had doomed his Æneid; in consequence of some fastidious cavils of Mason, to whose perusal Gray had submitted them. Mason criticising Gray! Anger-Olorem!
My refuge, and my prize, their hallowed page
I cease on ashes scarcely cold to tread,
* Abundat dulcibus vitiis. It will be obvious to any reader of Hudibras, that memory was the most faithful handmaid of the Author's wit. This it was that so readily presented him with the most unexpected and remote resemblances; drawn from things, and circumstances, with which his profound erudition had previously stored his mind. Mere reading without memory never could have effected this. We are told writing makes an exact man, speaking a ready man, and reading a full man--I fear we might often add a dull man. It was well said by some one of himself, “I should have been as stupid as the Commentators, if
O Thou to whom the talents rare belong To explore the source, and rule the tide of song ! 0 Thou, deemed fit the Critic's office high To fill, Preceptor, Guide of Poesy ; Serene that canst, with wisdom's tempering rein The foaming Heliconian Steed restrain ; Or, with ambition's spur his might provoke, To spurn at imitation's servile yoke; O come! I shall at thy tribunal kneel And seek from thy decision, no appeal : From thee, the chilling frown shall not offend, Nor keen reproofs, that what they chide, amend; Spare not the knife, the caustic use, no groan Shall'scape my lips ;-my Muse is all your own.
Th' obscure illumine, and the gross refine, Prune the redundant, lop the faulty line; Teach me the leaves to thin, t' increase the fruit, To make the blossom wit, sound sense the root.
For wit, though Butler own it, hath been shown To be no longer wit, too thickly sown;
I had read as much.” Two men shall read the same Authors, with the same diligence; one shall have a good memory, the other a bad one; the difference between them will be this ; the former keeps a shop well assorted, and well arranged ; and can oblige his friends with any article at a moment's ' notice; the latter also keeps a shop), which is equally full, but in the utmost disorder, and confusion ; in :o much that he is entirely at a loss where to look for any article in demand;
As Diamonds set too close, in solid mass, Appear not diainonds, but a lump of glass. Where all is wit * Men think that none is there, As stars are hid in light, and lost in glare.
which therefore his customers are likely to go without, unless they can find it themselves.
* Pope carried this rule too far when he observed, “Rather than all things wit, let none be there." But of all the rules laid down by him, this is the only one the moderns have religiously observed. It has been remarked that there is not a single joke in all Demosthenes; Cicero's two witticisms, or rather puns, are wretched; Milton's attempts of this kind are, if possible, worse;
Mr. Pitt, on one occasion, only, ventured on wit; and Burke's quotation on seeing Wilkes ehaired by the mob, "Numerisque fertur lege solutis;" is recorded as the only witty thing uttered by him. But on the other hand, the Earl of Chatham and Mr. Sheridan are shining instances that wit is not incompatible with the highest flights of eloquence. If we are to believe the Commentators, an union of the sublime and the witty, is impossible. Two instances however of such an union, I think, may be found in the two following passages, which must conclude this rambling note.
“Superior beings when of late they saw,
“For loyalty is still the same,