Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

were to be communicated to it, to render it interesting to the spectator by some amiable qualities, to make it exemplify the dangers of ambition, and the terrors of remorse, was all that could be required of the tragedian and the moralist.

Mrs. Montague's Esscy on Shakspeare, p. 198. The descriptive part of this allegory is likewise very strong, and full of sublime ideas. The figure of Death, the regal crown upon his head, his menace of Satan, his advancing to the combat, the outcry at his birth, are circumstances too nohle to be passed over in silence, and extremely suitable to this king of terrors.

Spectator, No 310.

Aristotle observes, that the fable of an epic poem should abound in circumstances that are both credible and astonishing. Milton's fable is a master-piece of this nature; as the war in heaven, the condition of the fallen àngels, the state of innocence, the temptation of the serpent, and the fall of man, though they are very astonishing in themselves, are not only credible, but actual points of faith.

Ibid. N° 315.

The inconveniences of attendance on great men are more lamented than fell. To the greater number, solicitation is its own reward. To be seen in good company, to talk of familiarities with men in power, to be able to tell the freshest news, to gratify an inferior circle with predictions of increase or decline of favour, and to be regarded as a candidate for high offices, are compensations more than equivalent to the delay of favours, which, perhaps, he that asks them, has hardly the confidence to expect.

Johnson. Let a man's innocence be what it will; let his virtues arise to the highest pitch of perfection attainable in this life, there will still be in hiin so many secret sìns, so many human frailties, so many offences of ignorance, passion, and prejudice, so many unguarded words and thoughts, and, in short, so many defects in his best actions, that, without the advantages of such an expiation and atonement as Christianity has revealed to us, it is impossible that he should be cleared before his sove. reign Judge, or that he should be able to stand in his sight.

Spectator, No 513. I would fain ask one of those bigoted infidels, supposing all the great points of atheism, as the casual or eternal formation of the wòrld, the materiality of a thinking substance, the mortality of the saul, the fortuitous organisation of the body, the motion and gravitation of matter, with the like particulars, were laid together, and formed into a kind of creed according to the opinions of the most celebrated atheists; I say, supposing such a creed as this were formed and imposed upon any one people in the world, whether it would not require an infinitely greater measure of faith than any set of articles which they so violently oppose ? Spectator, No 168.

Concluding Series. Our lives, says Seneca, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do.

Ibid. N° 93. It was necessary for the world that arts should be invented and improved, books written, and transmitted to postérity, nations conquered and civilised.

Ibid. N° 255. All other acts of perpetuating our ideas, except writing or printing, continue but a short time: statues can last but a few thousands of years, edifices féwer, and colours still fewer than edifices.

Ibid. N° 166. This persuasion of the truth of the Gospel, without the evidence which accompanies it, would not have been so firm and so durable; it would not have acquired new force with age, it would not have resisted the torrent of time, and have passed from age to age to our own days.

Life consists, not of a series of illustrious actions, or ele : gant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in com , pliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, -in the removal of small inconvéniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures.

Johnson. A man has frequent opportunities of mitigating the fierceness of a party, of doing justice to the character of a deserving màn, of softening the envious, quieting the angry, and rectifying the prejudiced; which are all of them employments suited to a reasonable nature, and bring great satisfaction to the person who can busy himself in them with discretion.

Spectator. Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of businesss, then to make up all estate, then to arrive at honours, then to retire,

Ibid. N° 93.

There is no blessing of life comparable to the enjoyment of & discreet and virtuous friend. It eases and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thoughts and knowledge, animates virtue and good resolutions, and finds employment for the most vacant hours of life. Spectator, No 93.

The deveut man does not only believe, but feels there is a Deity; he has actual sensations of him; his experience concurs with his reason; he sees him more and more in all his intercourses with him; and even in this life almost loses his faith in conviction..

Ibid. N° 465. The ill-natured man, though but of equal parts with the good-natured man, gives himself a larger field to ex patiate in; he exposes those failings in human nature which the other would cast a veil over, laughs at vices which the other either excuses or conceals, falls indifferently upon friends or enemies, exposes the person who has obliged him, and, in short, sticks at nothing that may establish his character of a wit..

Ibid. N° 169. For what can interrupt the content of the fair sex, upon whom one age has laboured after another to confer honours and accumulate immunities? those, to whom rudeness is infamy, and insult is cowardice? whose eye commands the brave, and whose smile softens the severe? whom the sailor travels to adòru, the soldier bleeds to defénd, and the poet wears out life to celebrate; who claim tribute from every art and science, and for whom all who approach them endeavour to multiply. delights, without requiring from them any return but willingness to be pleased.

Jolmson. Nature has laid out all her art in beautifying the face; she has touched it with verinilion, planted in it a double row of ivory, made it the seat of smiles and blushes, lighted it up and enlivened it with the brightness of the eyes, hung it on each side with curious organs of sense, given it airs and graces that cannot be described, and surrounded it with such a flowing shade of hair, as sets all its beauties in the most agreeable light.

Spectator, No 98. Nothing is more pleasant to the fancy, than to enlarge itself by degrees, in its contemplation of the various proportions which its several objects bear to each other, when it compares the body of man to the bulk of the whole earth, the earth to the circle it describes round the sun, that circle to the sphere of the fixed stars, the sphere of the fixed stars to the circuit of the whole creation, the whole creation itself to

« PreviousContinue »