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For the flattery lavished upon a first successful work, an author often pays dearly by the abuse poured upon its successors; for we all measure ourselves by our best production, and others by their worst. Writers are too often treated by the public as crimps serve recruits-made drunk first, only that they may be safely rattaned all the rest of their lives.
An author is more annoyed by abuse than gratified by praise ; because, he looks upon the latter as a right and the former as a wrong. And this opens a wider question as to the constitution of our nature, both moral and physical, which is suscepti. ble of pain in a much greater and more intense degree than of pleasure. We have no bodily enjoyment to counterbalance the agony of an acute tooth-ache ; nor any mental one that can form a set-off against despair. No where is this more glaringly illustrated than in the descriptions of our future rewards and punishments, the miseries and the anguish of hell being abundantly definite and intelligible, while the heavenly beatitudes are dimly shadowed forth, as being beyond the imagination of man to conceive.
An author's living purgatory, is his liability to be consulted as to the productions of literary amateurs, both male and female. The annoyance of reading them can only be equalled by that of pronouncing upon their merits. Oh, that every scribbler would recollect the dictum of Dr. Johnson upon this subject. “ You must consider beforehand, that such effusions may be bad as well as good ; and nobody has a right to put another under such a difficulty, that he must either hurt the person by telling the truth, or hurt himself by telling what is not true."
Between authors and artists there should be no jealousy, for their pursuits are congenial ; one paints with the pen, the other writes with a brush; and yet it is difficult for either to be quite impartial, in weighing the merits of their different avocations. The author of the Pleasures of Hope, being at a dinner party with Mr. Turner, R. A., whose enthusiasm for his art led him to speak of it and of its professors as superior to all others, the bard arose, and after alluding with a mock gravity, to his friend's skill in varnishing painters as well as paintings, proposed the health of Mr. Turner, and the worshipful company of Painters and Glaziers. This, (to use the newspaper phrase) called up Mr. Turner, who with a similar solemnity, expressed his sense of the honour he had received, made some good humoured allusions to blotters of foolscap, whose works were appropriately bound in calf; and concluded by proposing in return, the health of Mr. Campbell, and the worshipful company of Paper-stainers-a rejoinder that excited a general laugh, in which none joined more heartily than the poet himself.
AUTHORITY-Submission to, in matters of opinion.—Making names the measure of facts,-deciding upon truth by extrinsic testimony, not intrinsic evidence-surrendering our reason, which is the revelation of God, to the reasons of men, not necessarily more competent to judge than ourselves. Better to be a slave with an unfettered mind, than a pseudo freeman whose opinions, his most precious birthright, are bondslaves to a name. Had authority always been our guide, we should still have been savages. “ The woods,” says Locke, "are fitter to give rules than cities, where those who call themselves civil and rational, go out of their way by the authority of example.” Are we to follow every Will-o'-the-whisp because it is literally a precedent?
Although it condemns the same assumption in the Pope, our Church in its twentieth article, claims power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith.” It has been affirmed that this article has neither the sanction of parliament nor convocation; but if it possessed both, it would still want the authority of reason and justice, and the possibility of enforcing that which is quite beyond the reach of mortal jurisdiction. Christianity, its own best and surest authority, is only weakened by arbitrary enactments. To a calm inquirer, il must seem marvellous that any fallible man, or council of
men, should set themselves up as directors of the consciences of others.
Surely the time will come when even the stoutest sticklers for compulsory act of parliament faith, becoming convinced of their error, will join in the following prayer of the learned and pious Dr. Chandler"
'is my hearty prayer to the Father of Lights and the God of Truth, that all human authority in matters of faith, may come to a full end; and that every one, who hath reason to direct him, and a soul to save, may be his own judge in everything that concerns his eternal welfare, without any prevailing regard to the dictates of fallible men, or fear of their peevish and impotent censures.'
At present it is to be feared, there are many churchmen, reformed as well as Roman, who hold with Cardinal Perron, when he says, “ We must not pretend to convince an Arian of his errors by scripture evidence--we must have recourse to the authority of the Church.” That this is not the opinion of our English Bishop Hoadly, will appear from the following extract:
“ Authority is the greatest and most irreconcilable enemy to truth and argument that this world ever furnished out. All the sophistry, all the colour of plausibility, all the argument and cunning of the subtlest disputer in the world, may be laid open and turned to the advantage of that very truth which they designed to hide or to depress : but against authority there is no defence. It was authority which would have prevented all reformation where it is; and which has put a barrier against it wherever it is not.”
AUTO-BIOGRAPHY-Drawing a portrait of yourself with a pen and ink, carefully omitting all the bad features that you have, and putting in all the good ones that you have not, so as to ensure an accurate and faithful likeness! Publishing your own authentic life is telling flattering lies of yourself, in order, if possible, to prevent others from telling disparaging truths. No inan's life is complete till he is dead, an
auto-biography is therefore a mis-nomer. As such works, however, generally fall still-born from the press, an author may fairly be said to have lost his life, as soon as he is delivered of it, so that this objection is, in fact, removed.
AUTO DE FE—or act of faith.-Roasting our fellow creatures alive, for the honour and glory of a God of mercy. The horrors of this diabolical spectacle, which was invariably beheld by both sexes and all ages with transports of triumph and delight, should eternally be borne in mind, that we may see to what brutal extremities intolerance will push us, if it be not checked in the very outset. Thanks to the progress of opinion, the inquisition and its tortures are abolished; but fanatics, whether Romish or Reformed, still reserve the right of punishing Heretics, (that is all those who differ from themselves on religious points,) with fire, pillory, imprisonment, and odium in this world; while they carefully retain the parting curse of the inquisition, “ Jam animam tuam tradimus Diabolo," and consign them to eternal fire in the next. This moral inquisition remains yet to be suppressed. It is only a postponed auto de fé. And all this hateful irreligion for the sake of religion! How truly may Christianity exclaim—" I fear not mine enemies, but save, oh! save me from my pretended friends."
BACHELOR-one who is so fearful of marrying, lest his wife should become his mistress, that he not unfrequently finishes his career by converting his mistress into a wife. “ A married man,” said Dr. Johnson," has many cares; but a bachelor has no pleasures.” Cutting himself off from a great blessing, for fear of some trifling annoyance, he has rivalled the wiseacre who secured himself against corns, by amputating his leg. In his selfish anxiety to live unencumbered, he has only subjected himself to a heavier burthen; for the passions, who apportion to every individual the load that he
is to bear through life, generally say to the calculating bache-
with you, for it is quite a luxury!"
BAIT-One animal impaled upon a hook, in order to torture a second, for the amusement of a third. Were the latter to change places, for a single day, with either of the two former, which might generally be done with very little loss to society, it would enable him to form a better notion of the pastime he is in the habit of pursuing.–N. B. To make some approximation towards strict retributive justice, he should gorge the bait, and his tormentor should have all the humanity of an experienced angler !
BALLADS—Vocal portraits of the national mind. The people that are without them, may literally be said not to be worth an old song.
The old government of France was well defined as an 'absolute monarchy, moderated by songs; and the acute Fletcher of Saltoun was so sensible of their importance, as to express a deliberate opinion, that if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who made the laws of a nation. They who deem this an exaggerated notion, will do well to recollect the silly ballad of Lilliburlero, the noble author of which publicly boasted, and without much extravagance in the vaunt, that he had rhymed King James out of his dominions.
BALLOT-An equal security against aristocratical corruption, and democratical intimidation : the only security for the free and impartial exercise of the elective franchise, to extend which to the poor and dependent, without the protection of secrecy, is only to throw the representation more completely into the hands of the rich and powerful. Sad