Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

NARRATIVES, DIALOGUES, &c. 891 $ 80. Retirement of no Use to some.

nor of the method of funding that imme.

diately took place; which, absurd as they To lead the life I propose with satis- are, have continued ever since, till it is befa&tion and prost, renouncing the pleasures . come scarce posible to alter them. Few and bufineis of the world, and breaking people, I say, foresaw how the creation of the habits of both, is not sufficient; the funds, and the multiplication of taxes, supine creature, whose understanding is su- would encrease yearly the power of the perficially employed through life, about a crown, and bring our liberties, by a natufew general notions, and is never bent to ral and necessary progreffion, into more a close and steady pursuit of truth, may re- real, though less apparent danger, than nounce the pleasures and busines of the they were in before the Revolution. The world, for even in the buîiness of the world exceflive ill husbandry practised from the we see such creatures often employed, and very beginning of King William's reign, may break the habits ; nay, he may retire and which laid the foundations of all we and drone away life in solitude like a monk, feel and all we fear, was not the effect of or like him over the door of whose house, ignorance, mistake, or what we call chance, as if his house had been his tomb, some- but of design and scheme in those who had body writ, “ Here lies such an one :" but the sway at that time. I am not so unno such man will be able to make the true charitable, however, as to believe, that use of retirement. The employment of his they intended to bring upon their country mind, that would have been agreeable and all the mischiefs that we, who came after eafy if he had accuitomed himself to it them, experience and apprehend. No; early, will be unpleasant and impracticable they saw the measures they took fingly, Jate: such men lose their intellectual pow- and unrelatively, or relatively alone to ers for want of exerting them, and, having some immediate object. The notion of trifled away youth, are reduced to the ne. attaching men to the new government, by cessity of trifling away age. It fares with tempting them to embark their fortunes the mind just as it does with the body. He on the same bottom, was a reason of fate who was born with a texture of brain as to some : the notion of creating a new, that strong as that of Newton, may become un- is, a monied intereft, in opposition to the able to perform the common rules of arith- landed intereit, or as a balance to it, and metic; juft as he who has the same clafti- of acquiring a superior influence in the city city in his muscles, the same fuppleness in of London, at least, by establishment of his joints, and all his nerves and finews as great corporations, was a reason of party well-braced as Jacob Hall, may become a lo others : and I make no doubt that the fat unwieldy fluggard. Yet farther; the opportunity of anaffing immense estates implicit creature, who has thought it all by the managements of funds, by traffickhis life needless, or unlawful, to examine ing in paper, and by all the arts of jobbing, the principles of facts that he took origi- was a reason of private interest to those nally on trust, will be as little able as the who supported and improved this scheme other to improve his folitude to any good of iniquity, if not to those who devised it. purpose : unless we call it a good purpose, They looked no farther. Nay, we who for that sometimes happens, to confirm and came after them, and have long taited the exalt his prejudices, fo that he may live bitter fruits of the corruption they planted, and die in one continued delirium. The were far from taking such an alarm at our confirmed prejudices of a thoughtful life, are distress, and our danger, as they deserved, as hard to change as the confirmed habits till the most remote and fatal effect of of an indolent life: and as some must trifle causes, laid by the last generation, was very away age because they trified away youth, near becoming an object of experience in others must labour on in a maze of error,


Ibid. becaule they have wandered there too long to find their way out. Bolingbroke. § 82. Defence of Riddles : In a Letter to

a Lady. $81. Consequences of the Revolution of

It is with wonderful satisfaction I find 1688.

you are grown such an adept in the occult Few men at that time looked forward arts, and that you take a laudable pleasure enough, to foresee the necessary conse. in the ancient and ingenious study of makquences of the new constitution of the re. ing and solving riddles. It is a science, unvenue that was soon afterwards formed, doubtedly, of most neceliary acquirement,


and deserves to make a part in the medi- will receive by perusing this curious pere tation of both sexes. Those of vours may formance. In the mean while let it be by this means very innocently indulge their remembered, to the immortal glory of this usual curiosity of discovering and discloîng art, that the wiselt man, as well as the a secret; whilit such amongst ours who have greatelt prince that ever lived, is laid 10 a turn for deep speculations, and are fond have amused himself and a neighbouring of puzzling themselves and others, may monarch in trying the strength of each exercise their faculties this way with much other's talents in this way; several riddles, p ivate satisfaction, and without the leart it feems, having pailed between Solomon dillurbance to the public. It is an art in- and Hiram, opon condition that he wio deed which I would recommend to the en failed in the folution should incur a certain couragement of both the universities, as it penalty. It is recorded likewise of the affords the easiest and shortest method of great father of poetry, even the divine Ho conveying some of the most useful princi. mer himself, that he had a tatie of this ples of logic, and might therefore be in- fort; and we are told by a Greek writer of troduced as a very proper fubflitute in the his life, that he died with vexation for not room of those dry systems which are at pre- being able to discover a riddle which was fent in vogue in thote places of education. proposed to him by some fishermen at a For as it confills in discovering truth under certain island called Jo. borrowed appearances, it might prove of

Firzosborne's Letters. wonderful advantage in every branch of learning, by habituating the mind to sepa: $ 83. The true Up of the Senses perverted rate all foreign ideas, and consequently

by Fashion. preserving it from that grand source of Nothing has been so often explained, error, the being deceived by false connec- and yet so little understood, as simplicity tions. In short, Timoclea, this your favour. in writing; and the reason of its remaining ite science contains the sum of all human so much a myitery, is our own want of fimpolicy; and as there is no passing through plicity in manners. By our present mode the world without sometimes mixing with of education, we are forcibly warped from fuols and knaves ; who would not choose the bias of nature, in mind as well as in to be master of the enigmatical art, in or. body; we are taught to disguise, distort, dir, on proper occasions, to be able to lead and alter our sentiments until our thinking aside craft and impertinenee from their faculty is diverted into an unnatural chanaim, by the convenient artifice of a pru- nel; and we not only relinquish and fordent disguise ? It was the maxim of a very get, but also become incapable of our oriwile prince, that" he who knows not how ginal dispositions. We are totally changed to diffemble, knows not how to reign :" into çreatures of art and affectation ; our and I desire you would receive it as mine, perception is abused, and our senses are that “ he who knows not how to riddle, perverted; our minds lose their nature, knows not how to live.

force, and Aavour; the imaginaticn, sweatBut besides the general usefulness of this ed by artificial fire, produces nought but art, it will have a further recommendation vapid and fickly bloom; the genius, instead to all true admirers of antiquity, as being of growing like a vigorous tree, that expractised by the most considerable perfon- tends its branches on every side, buds, ages of early times. It is almost three blossoms, and bears delicious fruit, relem. thousand years ago lince Samson propofed bles a lopped and flunted yew, tortured his famous riddle so well known ; though inio fome wretched form, projeling nu the advocates for ancient learning must hade or shelter, displaying no Hower, dilforgive me, it in this article I attribute the fuling no fragrance, and producing no superiority to the moderns; for if we may fruit, and exhibiting nothing but a barjudge of the skill of the former in this pro ren conceit for the amusement of the idle found art by that remarkable specimen of spectator. it, the geniuies of those early ages were by Thus debauched from nature, how can no means equal to those which our times we relish her genuine productions? As well have produced. But as a friend of mine might a man distinguish objects through has lately finished, and intends very shortly the medium of a prism, that presents noto publish, a most learned work in folio, thing but a variety of colours to the eye; wherein he has fully proved that important or a maid pining in the green-sickness prepoint, I will not anticipate the pleasure you fer a biscuit to a cinder,


It has often been alledged, that the paf- displeased and distracted by the first violence frons can never be wholly deposed, and offered to the native machine; it may have that by appealing to these, a good writer lost its tone through long disuse; or be so will always be able to force himself into twilled and overstrained as to produce an the hearts of his readers; but even the effect very different from that which was ftrongest paffions are weakened, nay fome- primarily intended. If so little regard is times totally extinguished and destroyed, paid to nature when she knocks so powerby mutual opposition, dissipation, and ac- fully at the bacalt, the must be altogether quired insensibility. How often at our thea- neglected and defpiled in her calmer mood tre, has the tear of sympathy and burit of serene tranquillity, when nothing apof laughter been repressed by a malignant pears to recommend her but simplicity, species of pride, reluling approbation to propriety, and innocence. A clear, blue the author and actor, and renouncing fo- sky, Ipangled with Itars, will prove a homeciety with the audience! I have seen a ly and intipid object to eyes accustomed to young creature, poflefied of the most deli- the glare of torches, tapers, gilding, and cate complexion, and exhibiting features glitter; they will be turned with loathing that indicate sensibility, fit without the and disgust from the green mantle of the least emocion, and behold the moit tender spring, to gorgeously adorned with buds and pathetic scenes of Otway reprelented and foliage, flowers, and bloffoms, to conwith all the energy of adion ; so happy had template a giudy negligee, triped and in. the been in her efforts to conquer the pre- teriecte.I with abrupt unfriendly tints that judices of nature. She had been trained fetter the maslis of light, and dictract the up in the belief that nothing was more vision; and cut and pinked into the most aukward, than to betray a sense of shame fantaftic forms; and flounced and furbeor sympathy; she seemed to think that a lowed, patched and fringed with all the consent of paflion with the vulgar, would littleness of art, unknown to elegance. impair the dignity of her character; and Those ears that are offended by the tweetly that she herself ought to be the only object wild notes of the thrush, the black-bird, of approbation. But she did not consider and the nightingale, the diftant cawing of that such approbation is feldom acquired the rook, the tender cooing of the turtle, by disdain; and that want of feeling is a the soft fighing of reeds and ofiers, the very bad recommendation to the human magic murmur of lapsing ítreams; will be heart. For my own share, I never fail to regaled and ravished by the extravagant take a survey of the female part of an au and alarming notes of a squeaking fid ide, dience, at every interesting incident of the extracted by a mulcian who has no other drama. When I perceive the tear stealing genius than that which lies in his fingers; down a lady's cheek, and the sudden figh they will even be entertained with the ratescape from her breast, I am attracted to- tling of coaches, the rumbling of carts, and wards her by an irresistible emotion of ten the delicate cry of ced and mackarel. derness and estcem ; her eyes shine with The sense of finelling that delights in enchanting lufire, through the pearly mois. the scent of excrementitious animal juices, ture that surrounds them; my heart warms such as mulk, civer, and urinous falis, will at the glow which humanity kindles on her loath the fragrancy of new mown hay, the cheek, and keeps time with the accelerated hawthorn's bloom, the sweet briar, the hoheavings of her snowy borom; I at once love ney-fuckle, and the role; and the organs her benevolence, and revere her discern- that are gratified with the taste of lickly ment. On the coutrary, when I see a fine veal which has been bled into the pally, woman's face unaltered by the distress of rotten pullets crammed into fevers, brawn che scene, with which I myself am affected, made up of droplical pig, the abortion of I resent her indifference as an insult on pigeons and of poultry, 'sparagus gorged my own understanding; I suppose her heart with the crude unwhəlsome juice of dung, to be savage, her disposition unsocial, her peale without fubstance, peaches without Organs indelicaie, and exc!ain with the fox talte, ani pine-apples without favour, will in the fable, O pulbrum caput, jiid cerebrum certainly nauseate the native, genuine, and non babet!

falutary taste of Welsh beef, Banstead mutYet this insensibility is not perhaps ton, Hampshire pork, and barn-door fowls; owing to any original defect. Nature may whose juices are concocted by a natural have stretched the Atring, though it has digestion, and whose felh is consolidated long ceased to vibrate. It may have been by free air and exercise.

In such a total perversion of the fenfes, rence, Tully, are at once the fimpleft and the ideas muit be iniírepresented, the pow- best Roman writers ? unless we add the ers of the imagination disordered, and the noble Annalist, who appeared in after-times; judgment of consequence unfound. The who, notwithstanding the political turn of disease is attended with a faise appetite, his genius, which sometimes interferes, is which the natural food of the mind will admirable in this great quality; and by it, not satisfy. It must have sauces com far superior to his contemporaries. It is pounded of the most heterogeneous traih. this one circumstance that hath raised the The foul seems to sink into a kind of sleepy venerable Dante, the father of modern idiotism, or childish vacancy of thought. poetry, above the fucceeding poets of his It is diverted by toys and baubles, which country, who could never long maintain can only be pleasing to the most fuperficial the local and tempory honours bestowed curiosity. It is enlivened by a quick fuc- upon them; but have fallen under that cesion of trivial objects. that glisten, and just neglect, which time will ever decree to glance, and dance before the eye ; and, those who desert a juft fimplicity for the like an infant kept awake and inspirited by florid colourings of liyle, contrafted phrases, the sound of a raltle, it must not only be affected conceits, the mere trappings of dazzled and aroused, but also cheated, hur- compofition, and Gothic minutiæ. It is sied, and perplexed by the artifice of de- this hath given to Boileau the most laking ception, business, intricacy, and intrigue, wreath iu France, and to Shakespeare and which is a kind of low juggle that may be Milton in England; especially to the last, termed the legerdemain of genius. This whose writings are more unmixed in this being the case, it cannot enjoy, nor indeed respect, and who had formed himself en. distinguish, the charms of natural and mo tirely on the simple model of the best ral beauty or decorum. The ingenuolis Greek writers and the facred scriptures. blush of native innocence, the plain lan- As it appears from these initances, that guage of ancient faith and sincerity, the simplicity is the only universal characterifchearful refignation to the will of heaven, tic or just writing; fothe superior eminence the mutual affection of the charities, the of the facred scriptures in this prime quavoluntary respect paid to superior dignity lity hath been generally acknowledged. or station, the virtue of beneficence ex. One of the greatef critics in antiquity, tended even to the brute creation, nay, the himself conspicuous in the sublime and simvery crimson glow of health and swelling ple manner, hath borne this testimony to lines of beauty, are despised, detetted, the writings of Moles and St. Paul; and fcorned, and ridiculed as ignorance, rude- by parity of reason we must conclude, that nels, rufticity, and superstition.

had he been conversant with the other faSmollen. cred writers, his taste and candour would

have allowed them the same encomium. $ 84. Simplicity a principal Beauty in

Brown's Elays. Writing. If we examine the writers whose compo: $ 85. Simplicity conspicuous in the Scriptures. fitions have liood the test of ages, and ob It hath been often observed, even by tained that highest honour, the concurrent writers of no mean rank, that the “ (cripapprobation of distant times and nations, tures fuffer in their credit by the disadvanwe shall find that the character of simpli. tage of a literal version, while other ancient city is the unvarying circumstance, which writings enjoy the advantage of a free and alone hath been able to gain this univer. embellished translation." But in reality fal homage froin mankind. Among the these gentlemen's concern is ill placed Greeks, u hose writers in general are of and groundless. For the truth is, “ That the simple kind, the divineft poet, the most most other writings are indeed impaired by commanding orator, the finest historian, a literal translation ? whereas, giving only and deepest philosopher, are, above the a due regard to the idioms of different reit, conspicuously eminent in this great languages, the sacred writings, when li. quality. The Roman writers rise towards terally translated, are then in their full perfection, according to that measure of perfection.” true fimplicity which they mingle in their Now this is an internal proof, that in all works. Indeed, they are all inferior to other writings there is a mixture of local, the Greak models. But who will deny, relative, exterior ornament; which is often that Lucretius, Horace, Virgil, Livy, Te lost in the translation from one language


to another. But the internal beauties, lively image to the mind. The absurd which depend not on the particular con

naiveté of Sancho Pança is represented Itruction of tongues, no change of tongue

in such inimitable colours by Cervantes, can deltroy. Hence the Bible composition that it entertains as much as the picture preserves its native beauty and itrength of the most magnanimous hero or foftelt alike in every language, by the sole ener

lover. gy of unadorned phrase, natural images,

The case is the same with orators, phi. weight of sentiment, and great fimplicity. losophers, critics, or any author, who speaks

It is in this respect like a rich vein of in his own person, without introducing gold, which, under the severelt trials of other speakers or actors. If his language heat, cold, and moisture, retains its origi- be not elegant, his obfervations uncomnal weight and splendor, without either lors mon, his sense strong and masculine, he will or alloy; while baser metals are corrupted in vain boast his nature and simplicity. He by earth, air, water, fire, and aflimilated to may be correct; but he never will be the various elements through which they agreeable, 'Tis the unhappiness of such pass.

authors, that they are never blamed nor This circumstance then may be justly re

censured. The good fortune of a book, garded as sufficient to vindicate the com and that of a man, are not the same. The position of the sacred Scriptures; as it is secret deceiving path of life, which Horace at once their chief excellence, and greatest talks of, fallentis semita vitæ, may be the security. It is their excellence, as it ren- happiest lot of the one ; but is the greatest ders them intelligible and useful to all; it misfortune that the other can possibly fall is their security, as it prevents their being into.

. disguised by the false and capricious orna

On the other hand, productions which ments of vain and weak translators. are merely surprising, without being natu

We may safely appeal to experience and ral, can never give any lasting entertainfad for the confirmation of these remarks ment to the mind. To draw chimeras is on the superior simplicity, utility, and ex not, properly speaking, to copy or imitate, cellence of the style of the holy Scripture. The juttners of the representation is lost, Is there any book in the world so perfeetly and the mind is displeased to find a picadapted to all capacities that contains ture, which bears no resemblance to any fuch sublime and exalted precepts, con. original.

Nor are such exceflive refine. veyed in such an artless and intelligiblements more agreeable in the epiftolary or ftrain? that can be read with such plea- philofophie style than in the epic or tragic, fure and advantage by the lettered "fage Too much ornament is a fault in every and the unlettered peasant ?

kind of production. Uncommon expreiBrowa's Ebays.

sions, strong flashes of wit, pointed similies,

and epigrammatic turns, especially when ŷ 86. Simplicity should be preferred to Re- laid too thick, are a disfigurement rather finement in Writing

than any embellishment of discourse. As Fine writing, according to Mr. Addison, the eye, in surveying a Gothic building, confists of sentiments which are natural, is distracted by the multiplicity of ornawithout being obvious. There cannot be ments, and loies the whole by its minute a juster, and more concise definition of fine attention to the parts; so the mind, in writing.

perusing a work overstocked with wir, is Sentiments which are merely natural, fatigued and disgusted with the constant affect not the mind with any pleasure, and endeavour to shine and surprize. This is seem not worthy to engage our attention. the case where a writer overa bounds in wit, The pleasantries of a waterman, the ob even though that wit should be just and servations of a peasant, the ribaldry of a agreeable. But it commonly happens to porter or hackney coachman; all these are such writers, that they seek for their fanatural and disagreeable. What an infi- vourite ornaments, even where the subject pid comedy should we make of the chit- affords them not; and by that means have chat of the tea-table, copied faithfully and twenty insipid conceits for one thought at full length ? Nothing can please per- that is really beautiful. sons of taste, but nature drawn with all her There is no subject in critical learning, graces and ornaments, la belle nature; or more copious than this of the just mixture if we copy low life, the strokes must be of simplicity and refinement in writing; trong and remarkable, and mult convey a and, therefore, not to wander in too large

a field,

« PreviousContinue »