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a taste for elegance and refinement of sentiment in writing, a fear of being deficient in these requisites, may induce him to endeavour, in cvery case where such a thing is possible, to commit whatever he intends saying to paper, and, by retaining it in his memory, increase his fluency by artificial means. If ever such an inclination shoulel predommate in a young man's breast, the duties of whose profession, require frequent speaking, as those of a lawyer, it certainly my in time, become injurious, but the very few instances tirit occur, v here young men have ever had such inclinations, tenus, more than any other argunent, to prove the fallacy of this objection. If a habit of composition tends to improve and increase fluency, although some, through diffidence, may, at first, write down the first and final parts of their speech or argument, yet, as mere bashfulness is the sole cause of this, the custom will soon be relinquished, and, when confidence is acquired, that fluency, which was before remarkable in the conversation of the speaker, beco:ne's also a characteristic of his public oratorv.
The prejudicial effects that may result from too unlimited an indulgence of an inclinatio:: for writing are not however to be slighted. Although the salutary consequences that will invariably follow a taste for cleani composition are nany and important, yet the extreme predilection for continual scribbling sometimes evinced by young men, is not without its bad cffects.
If we indulge too much a desire for writing, we in time lose all attachment to any thing else. The Belles Lettres have generally more attractions than the labyrinths and perplexities of the law; and, as young men are usually sonder of the beauties of elegant and prolite literature, than scientific, or abstruse legal essays, the inclination to pursue the one, may possibly end in the total neglect of the other. To avoid this is cridently necessary:--but the possibility of an inclination carrying us, in its gratification, to injurious extremes, is no evidence of its pursuit bring improper when judiciously regulated by salutary restrictions: a resolution, not to transgress certain bounds, to choose certain subjects, connected, in some measure with the siudy or profession we are engaged in, to write only so much during one month, three months, or a year, and various other things of this kind, might be easily adhered to, and would produce the most l;eneficial results. Upon the whole I
am of opinion that if we confine our inclination for composition, within such limits, as the good sense of our superiors in abilities may assist us in establishing, frequent writing will, invariably prove of the greatest service, as well in rendering us fluent in conversation, and public speaking, as in learning us habits of investigation and research.
Having drawn out my remarks on this subject to a greater length than I at first designed, I am afraid, my dear sir, you will find my letter of an uninteresting length; however, as the subject of this communication is capable of a much more extensive consideration, I propose in some future essay to reexamine it with greater perspicuity, and according to a more regular and consistent plan. I have sir the honor to be your most obedient humble servant,
I have transiently thought of the passage in Gray's Elegy which you pronounced unintelligible, and am confirmed in the interpretation I then gave it
E’en from the tomb, the voice of Nature cries,
By taking the whole verse together it is evident the poet considers the dying man as already dead; as gone from the world and lost to it. There may be some violence in this anticipation; but, this admitted, Gray means to say that even at that time, our wonted fires, that is, our usual and natural affections, passions and desires will still exist and display themselves. We take consolation from the attentions of those we love, we look for their sympathy, even when they can avail us nothing; we cherish our natural affections and propensities, and have pleasure in them, eyen at the moment of their dissolution. The abstract philosopher; the mere reasoning metaphysician might say, that a man can die as well on a dunghill as in his chamber: alone,
or in the midst of strangers, as in the bosom of his family; but the “ voice of Nature” holds a different language, and calls for and receives tranquillity and comfort from natural kindness, affections and sympathies.
Pope's illustrations of the “ Ruling Passion” are very analogous to Gray's sentiment; and St. Evremond means pretty much the same thing, when he says “ the last siglis of a handsome wo-' man are more for the loss of her beuty than her life:”
Vlerey! cries Ilelluo, mercy on my soul!
“ Is there no hope? Alas, then bring the jowl." So Narcissa is shocked at the idea of being buried in woolen, and her last words were:
“ One would not sure be frightful when one's dead,
“ And-Betty give this cheek a little red”Thus do our wonted fires live in our ashes, when the body is dead to every thing else
Looking over the first volume of your excellent and interesting miscellany I perceived the Inquirer No. I. p. 510-mentions his possessing a work entitled “Reflections on Ridicule, and the means of avoiding it”--&c. by Jeremy Collier, A. M. From various idiomatic peculiarities in the style Inquirer is disposed to believe it was translated from the French, although the title-page announces it as an original work-As I am one of those who ardently desire the welfare of the republic of letters, and believing also that the detection of plagiarism has at least an indirect tendency to promote that welfare, I have taken the liberty to inform your correspondent through the medium of the Port Folio, that there is a French work entitled, “Reflexions sur le Ridicule, et sur les moyens de l'avoiter, par m. l'Abbé de Bellegarde.” A copy of this work printed at Amst. anno 1707, may be seen in the Philadelphia Library, No. 1108. 12mo. whether the English work can be identified with this I cannot say, as I have not seen the former. Very respectfully yours.