Obrazy na stronie

punish the authors; for it is yet allowed, that every society may punish, though, not prevent, the publication of opinions which that society shall think pernicious. But this punishment, though it may crush the author, promotes the book; and it seems not inore reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained because writers may be afterwards censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.

Life of. Milton.

OCCASSIONAL PUBLICATIONS. . There is, perhaps, no nation in which it is so necessary as in our own, to assemble, from time to time, the small tracts, and fugitive pieces, which are occasionally published; for, beside the general subjects of enquiry which are cultivated by us in common with every other learned nation, our constitution in church and state, naturally gives birth to a multitude of performances, which would either not have been written, or could not have been made public, in any other place.

Origin and Importance of Fugitive Pieces, p. I.


A public performer is so much in the power of spectators, that all unnecessary severity is re. strained by that general law of humanity which forbids us to be cruel where there is nothing to be feared.

Idler, vol. 1, p. 138. In every new performer, something must be pardoned. No man can, by any force of resolution, secure to himself the full possession of his powers, under the eye of a large assembly. Vas



riation of gesture, and flexion of voice, are to be obtained only by experience.



An historical painter must have an action not successive, but instantaneous; for the time of a picture is a single moment.

Ibid. p. 252.

Though genius is chiefly exerted in historical pictures, and the art of the painter of portraits is often lost in the obscurity of his subject; yet it is in painting as in life, what is greatest is not always best. l should grieve to see Reynolds transfer to heroes and to goddesses, to, empty splendour and to airy fiction, that art which is now employed in diffusing friendship, in reviving tenderness, in quickening the affections 'of the absent, and continuing the presence of the dead.

Ibid p. 251.


! If the extent of the human view could comprehènd the whole frame of the universe, perhaps it would be found invariably true, that Providence has given that in greatest plenty which the condition of life makes of the greatest use; and that nothing is penuriously imparted, or placed far from the reach of men, of which a more liberal distribution, or more easy acquisition, would in. crease real and rational felicity.

. - Ibid. p. 207. :

PUBLIC.. Whatever is found to gratify the public, will be multiplied by the emulation of venders beyond


necessity or use. This plenty, indeed, produces cheapness; but cheapness always ends in negli gence and depravation.

Idler, vol. 1, p. 36.

Every man is taught to consider his own happiness as combined with the public prosperity, and to think himself great and powerful in proportion to the greatness and power of his country.

Taxation no Tyranny, p. 19.

POLITENESS. Politeness is one of those advantages which we never estimate rightly, but by the inconvenience of its loss. Its influence upon the manners is constant and uniform, so that, like an equal motion, it escapes perception. The circumstances of every action are so adjusted to each other, that we do not see where any error could have been committed, and rather acquiesce in its propriety, than adınire its exactness.

.. . Rambler, vol. 2, p. 261.

The true effect of genuine politeness' seems to be rather ease than pleasure. The power of de. lighting must be conferred by nature, and cannot be delivered by precept, nor obtained by imi tation; but though it be the privilege of a very small number to ravish and to charm, every man may hope by rules and caution not to give pain, and may, therefore, by the help of good breeding, enjoy the kindness of mankind, though he should have no claim to higher distinctions. In



When the pale of ceremony is once broken, rudeness and insult soon enter the breach.

Ibid, vol. 4, p. 23.

PRECIPITANCY. . . He that too early aspires to honours must resolve to encounter not only the opposition of interest, but the malignity of envy. He that is too eager to be rich, generally endangers his fortune in wild adventures and uncertain projects; and he that hastens too speedily to reputation, often raises his character by artífices and fallacies, decks himself in colours which quickly fade, or in plumes which accident may shake off, or competition pluck away.

Rambler, vol. 3, p. 33.

PLAGIARISM. When the excellence of a new composition can no longer be contested, and inalice is compelled to give way to the unanimity of applause, there is yet this one expedient to be tried-the charge of plagiarism. By this, the author may be degraded, though his work be reverenced'; and the excellence which we cannot obscure, may be set at such a distance aś not to overpower our fainter lustre.

Ibid. p. 224. The author who imitates his predecessors, only by furnishing himself with thoughts and elegancies out of the same general magazine of literature, can with little more propriety be re-' proached as a plagiary, than the architect can' be censured as a mean copier of Angelo, or Wran, because he digs his marble from the same


[ocr errors]

quarry, squares his stones by the same art, and unites them in columns of the same orders. .

Ibid. p. 225. ' POWER. Power and superiority are so flattering and delightful, that, fraught with temptation, and exposed to danger as they are, scarcely any virtue is so cautious, or any prudence so timorous, as to decline them. Even those that have most reverence for the laws of right, are pleased with showing, that not fear, but choice, regulates their behaviour; and would be thought to comply, rather than obey. We love to overlook the boundaries which we do not wish to pass; and as the Roman satyrist remarks," he that has no design to take the life of another, is yet glad to have it in his hands."

Ibid. p. 43.


Every scholar knows the opinion of Horace concerning those that open their undertakings with magnificent promises; but every man should know the dictates of common sense and common honesty, names of greater antiquity than that of Horace, who directs, that no man should promise what he cannot perform.

Review of the Memoirs of the Court of Augustus, p. 2.

[ocr errors]



HÈ who is in the exercise of raillery should prepare himself to receive it in turn. When


« PoprzedniaDalej »