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fugeret, quam quod sequeretur. They determine rather what to condemn 'than what to approve.
Life of Milton.
• In trusting to the sentence of a critic, we are
in danger not only from that vanity which exalts writers too often to the dignity of teaching what they are yet to learn, but from that negligence which sometimes steals upon the most vigilant caution, and that fallibility to which the condition of nature has subjected every human understanding, but from a thousand extrinsic and accidental causes, from every thing which can excite kindness or malevolence, veneration or con- . tempt.
Rambler, vol. 2, p. 228. Critics, like all the rest of mankind, are very frequently misled by interest. The bigotry with which editors regard the authors whom they illustrate or correct, has been generally remarked. Dryden was known to have written most of his critical dissertations only to recommend the work upon which he then happened to be employed: and Addison is suspected to have denied the expediency of poetical justice, because his own Cato was condemned to perish in a good
- Ibid. p. 2290 There are prejudices which authors, not otherwise weak or corrupt, have indulged without scruple; and perhaps some of them are so complicated with our natural affections, that they cannot easily be disentangled from the heart. Scarce any can: hear with impartiality, a comparison between the writers of his own and another country; and though it cannot, I think, be charged equally on all na
tions, that they are blinded with this literary patriotism, yet there are none that do not look upon their authors with the fondness of affinity, and esteem them as well for the place of their birth, as for their knowledge or their wit.
The works of a writer, whose genius can embellish impropriety, and whose authority can make error venerable, are proper objects of critical inquisition. To expunge faults where there are no excellencies, is a task equally useless with that of the chemist, who employs the arts of separation and 'refinement upon ore in which no precious metal is contained, to reward his operations.
Ibid. vol. 4, p. 198.
' Criticism, though dignified from the earliest ages by the labours of men eminent for knowledge and sagacity, and, since the revival of polite literature, the favourite study of European scholars, has not attained the certainty and stability of science. The rules hitherto received, are seldom drawn from any settled principle, or self evident postulate, or adapted to the natural and invariable constitution of things, but will be found, upon examination, the arbitrary edicts of legislators authorised only by themselves, who, out of various means by which the same end may be attained, selected such as happened to occur to their own reflection, and then by a law, which idleness and timidity were too willing to obey, prohibited new experiments of wit, restrained fancy froin the indulgence of her innate inclination to hazard and adventure, and con
demned all future. Aights of genius, to pursue the path of the Meonian eagle.
. Ibid vol. 3, p. 3106
For this reason the laws of every species of writing have been settled by the ideas of him who first raised it to reputation, without inquiry whether his performances, were not yet susceptible of improvement.
Ibid. p. 351 The-care of the theatrical critic should be, to distinguish error from inability, faults of inexperience from defects of nature. Action irregular and turbulent may be reclaimed; vociferation vehement and confused may be restrained and moduJated; the stalk of the tyrant may become the guit of a man; the yell of inarticulate distress may be reduced to human lamentation. All these faults should be, for a time, overlooked, and afterwards censured with gentleness and candour. But if in an actor there appears an utter vacancy of meaning, a frigid equality, a stupid languor, a torpid apathy, the greatest kindness that can be shewn him, is a speedy sentence of expulsion.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 139. That a proper respect should be paid to the rules of criticism, will be very readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature.
Preface to Shakspeare, p. 102. This moral precept may be well applied to cřiticism, quod dubitas, ne feceris.
Ibid. p. 145.
Dr. Dodd, but written for him, whilft under Sentence of
CHILDREN It cannot be hoped that out of any progeny more than one shall deserve to be mentioned.
Life of Roger Ascham, p. 235.
.. CREDULITY. . We are inclined to believe those whom we do nat know, because they never have deceived us..
Idler, vol. 2, p. 157. Of all kinds of credulity, the most obstinate and wonderful is that of political zealots; of men who being numbered they know not how, or why, in any of the parties that divide a state, resign the use of their own eyes and ears, and resolve to be
Jieve nothing that does not favour those whom they profess to follow.
Idler, vol. I, p. 53. Credulity on one part is a strong templation to deceit on the other.
Western Islands, p. 276.
COMPILATION. Particles of science are often very widely scattered. Writers of extensive comprehension have incidental remarks upon topics very remote from the principal subject, which are often more valuable than formal treatises, and which yet, are not known because they are not promised in the title. He that collects those under proper heads, is very laudably employed; for, though he exerts no great abilities in the work, he facilitates the progress of others, and by making that easy of attainment which is already written, may give some mind, more vigorous, or more adventurous than his own, leisure for new thoughts and original designs.
Ibid. p. 185.
COURT. It has been always observed of those that frequent a court, that they soon, by a kind of contagion, catch the regal spirit of neglecting futurity. The minister forms an expedient to suspend or perplex an inquiry into his ineasures for a few months, and applauds and triumphs in his own dexterity. The peer puts off his creditor for the present day, and forgets that he is ever to see him more.
I Marmor Norfelciense, p. 20.