Obrazy na stronie

FASHION. There are few enterprises so hopeless as contests with the fashion, in which the opponents are not only made confident by their numbers, and strong by their union, but are hardened by contempt of their antagonist, whom they always look upon as a wretch of low notions, contracted views, mean conversation, and narrow fortune; who envies the elevations which he cannot reach; who would gladly einbitter the happiness which his inelegance or indigence deny him to partake, and who has no other end in his advice than to revenge his own. mortification, by hindering those whom their birth and taste have set above him, from the enjoyment of their superiority, and bringing them down to a level with himself.

Rambler, vol. 1, p. 88.

FALSEHOOD. Though many artifices may be used to maintain falsehood by fraud, they generally lose their force by counteracting one another. ii ;

Taxation no Tyranny, p. 4o

FORTITUDE. Nil mortalibus arduum est. There is nothing which human courage will not undertake, and little that human patience will not endure.

Falkland Islands, p. 17.

FACTION.; . . In the general censure thrown upon faction, it perhaps never happens that every single man should be included. In all lead, says the chemist, there is silver, and in all copper there is gold, But mingled masses are justly denominated by the


greater quantity; and when the precious particles are not worth extraction, a faction and a pig must be melted down together, to the forms and offices that chance allots them.

False Alarm, p. 52. .


[ocr errors]

GENIU5. TRUE genius is a mind of large general powers accidentally determined to some particular direction.

Life of Cowley. Genius is powerful when invested with the glitter of affluence. Men willingly pay to fortune that regard which they owe to merit, and are pleased when they have an opportunity at once of gratifying their vanity, and practising their duty.

Life of Savage.

Whoever is apt to hope good from others, is diligent to please them; but he that believes his powers strong enough to force their own way, commonly tries only to please himself.

Life of Gay. Men have sometimes appeared of such transcendant abilities, that their slightest and most cursory performances excel all that labour and study can enable meaner intellects to compose ; as there are regions of which the spontaneous products cannot be equalled in other soils by care and culture. But it is no less dangerous for


any man to place himself in this rank of understanding, and fancy that he is born to be illustrious without labour, than to omit the care of husbandry, and expect from his ground the blossoms of Arabia.

Rambler, vol. 4, p. 50. Misapplied genius most commonly proves ridiculous.

Idler, vol. 2, p.231. There are men who seem to think nothing so much characteristic of genius, as to do common things in an uncommon way; like Hudibras, to tell the clock by Algebra, or like the lady in Dr. Young's Satire, “ to drink tea. by stratagem."

Ibid, vol. 1, p. 202.Great powers cannot be exerted but when great exigencies make them necessary. Great exigen cies can happen but seldom, and therefore those qualities which have a claim to the veneration of mankind, lie hid, for the most part, like subterranean treasures, over which the foot passes as on common ground, till necessity breaks open the golden cavern.

Ibid, p. 287. It seems to have been, in all ages, the pride of wit to show how it could' exalt the low, and amplify the little. To speak not inadequately of things really and naturally great, is a task not only difficult but disagreeable, because the writer is degraded in his own eyes by standing in comparison with his subject, to which he can hope to: add nothing from his imagination. But it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obcsure proa


perties, and to produce to the world an object of wonder, to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the Frogs of Homer, the Gnat and the Bees of Virgil, the Butterfly of Spencer, the Shadow of Woverus, and the Quincunx of Brown.

Life of Sir T. Brown, p. 2660 Genius now and then produces a lucky trifle. We still read the Dove of Anacreon, and Sparrow of Catullus; and a writer naturally pleases himself with a performance which owes nothing to the subject. .

Life of Waller. By the general consent of critics, the first praise of GENIUS is due to the writer of an epic poem, as it requires an assemblage of all the powers which are singly sufficient for other compositions. Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination to the help of reason. Epic poetry undertakes to teach the most important truths by the most pleasing precept, and therefore relates some great event in the most affecting manner. History must supply the writer with the rudiments of narration, which he must improve and exalt hy a nobler art, animate by dramatic energy, and diversify by retrospection and anticipation; morality must teach him the exact bounds, and different shades, of vice and virtue; from policy and the practice of life, he has to learn the discriminations of character, and the tendency of the passions, either single or combined ; and physiology must supply him with illustrations, and images. To put these materials to poetical use, is required an imagination capable of painting nature, and realising. fiction; nor is he yet a

· poet

poet till he has attained the whole extension of his language, distinguished all the delicacies of phrase, and all the colours of words, and learned to adjust the different sounds to all the varieties of metrical modulation.

Life of Milton It is certain that no estimate is more in danger of erroneous calculations, than those by which a man computes the force of his genius.

Rambler, vol, 3, p. 288. It is not safe to judge of the works of genius merely by the event.

Ibid. p. 303. The genius of the English nation is said to appear rather in improvement than invention.

Idler, vol. 1, p. 218. Those who are willing to attribute every thing to genius, or natural sagacity, independent of a previous education, are encouraged to this opinion by laziness or pride, being willing to forego the labour of accurate reading and tedious enquiry, and to satisfy themselves and others with illustrious examples.

Life of Dr. Sydenham There are many forcible expressions which would never have been found, but by venturing to the utmost verge of propriety, and fights which would never have been reached, but by those who have had very little fear of the shame of falling.

Life of Sir T. Brown, p. 283. As among the works of nature no man can properly call a river deep, or a mountain high,


« PoprzedniaDalej »