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If we consider merely the subtlety of disqui- | perhaps, travellers from distant regions shall in sition, the force of imagination, the perfect vain labour to decipher on some mouldering energy and elegance of expression, which charpedestal the name of our proudest chief; shall acterize the great works of Athenian history, hear savage hymns chaunted to some misshapen we must pronounce them intrinsically most val- idol over the ruined dome of our proudest temuable; but what shall we say when we reflect ple; and shall see a single naked fisherman that from hence have sprung directly or indiwash his nets in the river of ten thousand rectly all the noblest creations of the human masts ;-her influence and her glory will still intellect; that from hence were the vast accom- survive,-fresh in eternal youth, exempt from plishments and the brilliant fancy of Cicero; mutability and decay, immortal as the intellect. ihe withering fire of Juvenal; the plastic im- ual principle from which they derived their agination of Dante; the humour of Cervantes; origin, and over which they exercise their con the comprehension of Bacon ; the wit of Butler; trol.
LORD MACAULAY : the supreme and universal excellence of Shak
On the Athenian Orators, Aug. 1824. speare? All the triumphs of truth and genius over prejudice and power, in every country and
Books, however, were the least part of the in every age, have been the triumphs of Athens.
education of an Athenian citizen. Let us, for a Wherever a few great minds have made a stand
moment, transport ourselves in thought to that against violence and fraud, in the cause of lib
glorious city. Let us imagine that we are en. erty and reason, there has been her spirit in the
tering its gates in the time of its power and midst of them; inspiring, encouraging, con
glory. A crowd is assembled round a portico. soling ;-by the lonely lamp of Erasmus; by
All are gazing with delight at the entablature; the restless bed of Pascal; in the tribune of Mi.
for Phidias is putting up the frieze. We turn rabeau; in the cell of Galileo; on the scaffold
into another street; a rhapsodist is reciting of Sidney. But who shall estimate her influence
there: men, women, children are thronging
round him : the tears are running down their on private happiness? Who shall say how many
cheeks: their eyes are fixed: their very breath thousands have been made wiser, happier, and
| is still ; for he is telling how Priam fell at the better, by those pursuits in which she has taught
feet of Achilles, and kissed those hands—the mankind to engage: to how many the studies
terrible,-the murderous--which had slain so which took their rise from her have been wealth
many of his sons. We enter the public place; in poverty, - liberty in bondage, - health in sickness,-society in solitude ? Her power is
there is a ring of youths, all leaning forward, indeed manifested at the bar, in the senate, in
with sparkling eyes, and gestures of expectation. the field of battle, in the schools of philosophy.
Socrates is pitted against the famous atheist from
Ionia, and has just brought him to a contradicBut these are not her glory. Wherever litera
tion in terms. But we are interrupted. The ture consoles sorrow, or assuages pain,-wherever it brings gladness to eyes which fail with
The general assembly is to meet. The people wakefulness and tears, and ache for the dark house and the long sleep, there is exhibited, in
are swarming in on every side. Proclamation
is made-" Who wishes to speak ?" There is its noble form, the immortal influence of Athens.
a shout, and a clapping of hands: Pericles is LORD MACAULAY:
mounting the stand. Then for a play of SophOn Mitford's History of Greece, Nov. 1824.
ocles; and away to sup with Aspasia. I know The dervise in the Arabian tale did not hesi- / of no modern university which has so excellent tate to abandon to his comrade the camels with a system of education. their load of jewels and gold, while he retained
LORD MACAULAY : the casket of that mysterious juice which en
On the Athenian Orators. abled him to behold at one glance all the hidden riches of the universe. Surely it is no exaggeration to say that no external advantage is to be
ATTENTION. compared with that purification of the intellectual eye which gives us to contemplate the infi. Our minds are so constructed that we can nite wealth of the mental world, all the hoarded keep the attention fixed on a particular object treasures of its primeval dynasties, all the shape- until we have, as it were, looked all around it; less ore of its yet unexplored mines. This is the and the mind that possesses this faculty in the gift of Athens to man. Her freedom and her highest degree of perfection will take cognipower have for more than twenty centuries been zance of relations of which another mind has annihilated; her people have degenerated into no perception. It is this, much more than any timid slaves; her language into a barbarous jar- difference in the abstract power of reasoning, gon; her temples have been given up to the which constitutes the vast difference between the successive depredations of Romans, Turks, and minds of different individuals. This is the hisScotchmen; but her intellectual empire is in- tory alike of the poetic genius and of the genius perishable. And when those who have rivalled of discovery in science. “I keep the subject," her greatness shall have shared her fate; when said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, civilization and knowledge shall have fixed their and wait until the dawnings open by little and abode in distant continents; when the sceptre little into a full light." It was thus that after shall have passed away from England; when, I long meditation he was led to the invention of
fuxions, and to the anticipation of the modern
AUTHORITY. discovery of the combustibility of the diamond.
Most of our fellow-subjects are guided either It was thus that Harvey discovered the circula.
by the prejudice of education, or by a deference tion of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of
to the judgment of those who, perhaps, in their
own hearts, disapprove the opinions which they that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the
industriously spread among the multitude.
ADDISON. Earths and alkalies. Sir B. BRODIE.
The practice of all ages and all countries In the power of fixing the attention, the most
hath been to do honour to those who are inprecious of the intellectual habits, mankind differ greatly; but every man possesses some, and
| vested with public authority. ATTERBURY. it will increase the more it is exerted. He who Three means to fortify belief are experience, exercises no discipline over himself in this re- reason, and authority: of these the more potent spect acquires such a volatility of mind, such a is authority; for belief upon reason, or experiragrancy of imagination, as dooms him to be ence, will stagger.
LORD BACON. the sport of every mental vanity: it is impossi- with regard to awthority it is the grea ble such a man should attain to true wisdom.
weakness to attribute infinite credit to particuIf we cultivate, on the contrary, a habit of at
lar authors, and to refuse his own judgment to tention, it will become natural; thought will
Time, the author of all authors, and therefore strike its roots deep, and we shall, by degrees, of all authority.
LORD BACON. experience no difficulty in following the track of the longest connected discourse.
The vices of authority are chiefly four: deROBERT HALL: On Hearing the Word.
| lays, corruption, roughness, and facility. For
delays give easy access; keep times appointed; To view attention as a special state of intelli
go through with that which is in hand, and ingence, and to distinguish it from consciousness, terlace not business but of necessity. For coris utterly inept.
Sir W. HAMILTON. ruption doth not only bind thine own hands or It is a way of calling a man a fool when no
thy servants from taking, but bind the hands of heed is given to what he says.
suitors also from offering : for integrity used L'ESTRANGE.
doth the one; but integrity professed, and with
a manifest detestation of bribery, doth the other; By attention ideas are registered in the mem
and avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. ory.
Whosoever is found variable, and changeth Some ideas which have more than once of manifestly without manisest cause, giveth susfered themselves to the senses have yet been little picion of corruption : therefore, always, when taken notice of; the mind being either heedless, thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it as in children, or otherwise employed, as in plainly, and declare it, together with the reamen.
LOCKE. sons that move thee to change, and do not think He will have no more clear ideas of all the
to steal it. A servant or a favourite, if he be
Clinward, and no other apparent cause of esteem. operations of his mind, than he will have all the particular ideas of any landscape or clock, who |
is commonly thought but a by-way to close corwill not turn his eyes to it and with attention
ruption. For roughness, it is a needless cause
of discontent: severity breedeth fear, but roughheed all the parts of it.
ness breedeth hate. Even reproofs from author. This difference of intention and remission of ity ought to be grave, and not taunting. As for the mind in thinking every one has experienced facility, it is worse than bribery; for bribes come in himself.
LOCKE. but now and then ; but is importunity or idle If we would weigh and keep in our minds
| respects lead a man, he shall never be without; what we are considering, that would instruct us
as Solomon saith, " To respect persons it is not when we should, or should not, branch into
good, for such a man will transgress for a piece distinctions.
LORD BACON: LOCKE.
Essay XI., Of Great Place. When the mind has brought itself to attention it will be able to cope with difficulties and mas
An argument from authority is but a weaker ter them, and then it may go on roundly.
kind of proof; it being but a topical probation, LOCKE.
and an inartificial argument, depending on naked asseveration.
Sir T. BROWNE. I have discovered no other way to keep our thoughts close to their business, but by frequent
Reasons of things are rather to be taken by attention and application getting the habit of
weight than tale.
JEREMY COLLIER. attention and application.
LOCKE. With respect to the authority of great names, it I never knew any man cured of inattention.
should be remembered that he alone deserves to
| have any weight or influence with posterity, who SWIFT.
has shown himself superior to the particular and There is not much difficulty in confining the predominant error of his own times; who, like mind to contemplate what we have a great de. the peak of Teneriffe, has hailed the intellectual sire to know.
Dr. I. WATTS. | sun before its beams have reached the horizon
of common minds; who, standing, like Socrates, Authority is by nothing so much strengthened on the apex of wisdom, has removed from his and confirmed as by custom; for no man easily eyes all film of earthly dross, and has foreseen distrusts the things which he and all men have a purer law, a nobler system, a brighter order been always bred up to. Sir W. TEMPLE. of things; in short, a promised land! which, |
Ten thousand things there are which we belike Moses on the top of Pisgah, he is permitted
| lieve merely upon the authority or credit of those to survey, and anticipate for others, without being himself allowed either to enter or to
who have spoken or written of them.
Dr. I. WATTS. enjoy.
The will of our Maker, whether discovered Mankind are apt to be strongly prejudiced in favour of whatever is countenanced by antiquity,
by reason or revelation, carries the highest enforced by authority, and recommended by
authority with it; a conformity or non-conformcustom. The pleasure of acquiescing in the
ily to it determine their actions to be morally decision of others is by most men so much pre
good or evil.
Dr. I. WATTS: Logic. ferred to the toil and hazard of inquiry, and so few are either able or disposed to examine for themselves, that the voice of law will generally
AUTHORS. be taken for the dictates of justice. ROBERT HALL:
Among the mutilated poets of antiquity there Fragment, On Village Preaching. is none whose fragments are so beautiful as those By a man's authority we are to understand the
of Sappho. They give us a taste of her way of force which his word hath for the assurance of
writing, which is perfectly conformable with another's mind that buildeth on it.
that extraordinary character we find of her in HOOKER.
the remarks of those great critics who were
conversant with her works when they were For men to be tied, and led by authority, as entire. One may see by what is left of them it were with a kind of captivity of judgment; that she followed nature in all her thoughts, and though there be reason to the contrary, not without descending to those little points, conto listen unto it.
HOOKER. I ceits, and turns of wit with which many of our Number may serve your purpose with the
modern lyrics are so miserably infected. Her ignorant, who measure by tale, and not by
soul seems to have been made up of love and HOOKER.
poetry. She felt the passion in all its warmth,
and described it in all its symptoms. She is The reason why the simpler sort are moved called by ancient authors the tenth muse; and with authority, is the conscience of their own by Plutarch is compared to Cacus, the son of ignorance.
HOOKER. | Vulcan, who breathed out nothing but flame. Whoever backs his tenets with authorities | I do not know by the character that is given of thinks he ought to carry the cause, and is ready her works, whether it is not for the benefit of to style it impudence in any one who shall stand
mankind that they are lost. They are filled out.
with such bewitching tenderness and rapture,
that it might have been dangerous to have given The constraint of receiving and holding opin
them a reading, ions by authority was rightly called imposition.
ADDISON: Spectator, No. 223. LOCKE.
Among the English, Shakspeare has incomWe cannot expect that any one should readily | quit his own opinion and embrace ours, with a
| parably excelled all others. That noble extravablind resignation to an authority which the
gance of fancy, which he had in so great per
section, thoroughly qualified him to touch this understanding acknowledges not. LOCKE.
weak superstitious part of his reader's imaginaIt is conceit rather than understanding if it tion; and made him capable of succecding must be under the restraint of receiving and where he had nothing to support him besides holding opinions by the authority of anything the strength of his own genius. There is somebut their own perceived evidence. LOCKE. | thing so wild, and yet so solemn, in the speeches
of his ghosts, fairies, witches, and the like imIf the opinions of others whom we think
aginary persons, that we cannot forbear thinking well of be a ground of assent, men have
them natural, though we have no rule by which reason to be Heathens in Japan, Mahometans
to judge of them, and must confess, if there are in Turkey, Papists in Spain, and Protestants in
such beings in the world, it looks highly probEngland.
able they should talk and act as he has repreThere is nothing sooner overthrows a weak sented them. head than opinion of authority; like too strong
ADDISON: Spectator, No. 419. a liquor for a frail glass. Sir P. SIDNEY. It is a fine simile in one of Mr. Congreve's Towards those who communicate their I would recommend Sallust, rather than thoughts in print I cannot but look with a Tully's epistles; which I think are not so exfriendly regard, provided there is no tendency tremely valuable. Besides, Sallust is indisin their writings to vice.
An evil mind in authority doth not follow the prologues which compares a writer to a buttering sway of the desires already within it, but frames | gamester that stakes all his winning upon one
cast; so that if he loses the last throw he is sure Sir P. SIDNEY. I to be undone.
ADDISON. putably one of the best historians among the
Romans, both for the purity of his language To consider an author as the subject of ob.
and elegance of his style. He has, I think, a loquy and detraction, we may observe with what
fine, easy, and diversified narrative, mixed with pleasure a work is received by the invidious part
reflections, moral and political, neither very trite of mankind in which a writer falls short of
and obvious, nor out of the way and abstract; himsell.
which is, I think, the true beauty of historical
observation. Neither should I pass by his Authors who have thus drawn off the spirits
beautiful painting of characters. In short, he of their thoughts should lie still for some time,
is an author that, on all accounts, I would retill their minds have gathered fresh strength, and,
commend to you. As for Terence and Plautus, by reading, reflecting, and conversation, laid in
what I fancy you will chiefly get by them, as to a new stock of elegancies, sentiments, and im
the language, is some insight into the common ages of nature.
manner of speech used by the Romans. One It would be well for all authors if they knew
excels in the justness of his pieces, the other in when to give over, and to desist from any further
the humour. I think a play in each will be pursuits alter fame.
sufficient. I would recommend to you Tully's
orations,-excellent indeed. I consider time as an immense ocean, into
Burke, atat. 18, to R. Shackleton. which many noble authors are entirely swallowed up, many very much shattered and damaged,
On the whole, though this father of the Eng. some quite disjointed and broken into pieces.
lish learning [Beda seems to have been but a ADDISON.
genius of the middle class, neither elevated nor
subtile, and one who wrote in a low style, simAristotle's rules for epic poetry which he had ple, but not elegant, yet, when we reflect upon drawn from his reflections upon Homer cannot the time in which he lived, the place in which be supposed to quadrate exactly with the heroic | he spent his whole life, within the walls of a poems which have been made since his time; as monastery, in so remote and wild a country, it it is plain his rules would have been still more is impossible to refuse him the praise of an inperfect could he have perused the Æneid. credible industry and a generous thirst of ADDISON. I knowledge.
Abridgment of English History. I mention Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero, the greatest philosopher, the most impartial his. | Ovid, not content wiih catching the leading torian, and the most consummate stalesman, of features of any scene or character, indulged all antiquity.
ADDISON, himself in a thousand minutiæ of description, a
thousand puerile' prettinesses, which were in Who does not more admire Cicero as an | themselves uninteresting, and took off greatly author than as a consul of Rome, and does not
from the effect of the whole; as the numberless oftener talk of the celebrated writers of our own
suckers and straggling branches of a fruit tree, country in former ages, than of any among their lif permitted to shoot out unrestrained, while contemporaries?
they are themselves barren and useless, diminThe books of Varro concerning navigation ish considerably the vigour of the parent stock. have been lost, which would have given us | Ovid had more genius, but less judgment, than great light in these matters.
Virgil; Dryden more imagination, but less corARBUTHNOT. rectness, than Pope: had they not been deficient
in these points, the former would certainly have That immortal work of Niebuhr which has
equalled, the latter infinitely outshone, the lest other writers nothing else to do except merits of his countryman. either to copy or abridge it. T. ARNOLD.
Rr. Hon. GEORGE CANNING : For all this good propriety of words and
Microcosm, No. 11. pureness of phrases in Terence, you must not
The same populace sits for hours listening to follow him always in placing of them.
rhapsodists who recite Ariosto. CARLYLE.
ASCHAM. They who, by speech or writing, present to
It is absolutely necessary to recollect that the
age in which Shakspeare lived was one of great the ear or eye of modesty any of the indecencies I allude to, are pests of society.
abilities applied to individual and prudential BEATTIE.
purposes, and not an age of high moral feeling
and lofty principle, which gives a man of genius Aristotle's moral, rhetorical, and political | the power of thinking of all things in reference writings, in which his excellent judgment is to all. If, then, we should find that Shakspeare very little warped by logical subtleties, are far took these materials as they were presented to the most useful part of his philosophy. | him, and yet to all effectual purposes produced
BEATTIE." | the same grand result as others attempted to produce in an age so much more favourable, Boileau's numbers are excellent, his expresshall we not feel and acknowledge the purity sions noble, his thoughts just, his language pure, and holiness of genius-a light which, however and his sense close.
DRYDEN. it might shine on a dunghill, was as pure as the divine influence which created all the beauty
Chaucer in many things resenibled Ovid, and of nature ?
that with no disadvantage on the side of the modern author.
DRYDEN. The society of dead authors has this advantage over that of the living: they never fatter Shakspeare rather writ happily than knowus to our saces, nor slander us behind our backs, ingly and justly; and Jonson, who by studying nor intrude upon our privacy, nor quit their | Horace had been acquainted with the rules, yet shelves until we take them down. Besides, it seemed to envy to posterity that knowledge, and is always easy to shut a book, but not quite so to make a monopoly of his learning. easy to get rid of a lettered coxcomb. Living
DRYDEN. authors, therefore, are usually bad companions: if they have not gained a character, they seek
Shakspeare was naturally learned: he needed to do so by methods often ridiculous, always
not the spectacles of books to read nature; he disgusting; and if they have established a
looked inwards and found her there.
DRYDEN. character, they are silent, for fear of losing by their tongue what they have acquired by their Spenser endeavoured it [imitation in the pen: for many authors converse much more Shepherd's Kalendar; but neither will it suc. foolishly than Goldsmith who have never writ. ceed in English.
DRYDEN. ten half so well.
Spenser has followed both Virgil and The. Subtract from many modern poets all that I ocriius in the charms which he employs for may be found in Shakespeare, and trash will | curing Britomartis of her love: but he had also remain.
our poet's Ceiris in his eye. DRYDEN. Shakespeare, Butler, and Bacon have ren
I shall take care that they have the advantage dered it extremely difficult for all who come
of doing, in the regular progression of youthful after them to be sublime, witty, or profound.
study, what I have done even in the short interCOLTON: Lacon.
vals of laborious life ;-that they shall transcribe It is a doubt whether mankind are most in with their own hands, from all the works of debted to those who, like Bacon and Butler, dig this most extraordinary person [Burke), the the gold from the mine of literature, or to those soundest truths of religion-the justest prinwho, like Paley, purify it, stamp it, fix its real | ciples of morals, inculcated and rendered de. value, and give it currency and utility. For all | lightful by the most sublime eloquence, the the practical purposes of life, truth might as well highest reach of philosophy brought down to be in a prison as in the folio of a schoolman; the level of common minds—the most enlightand those who release her from her cobwebbed ened observations on history, and the most shell, and teach her to live with men, have the copious collection of useful maxims from the merit of liberating, if not of discovering her. experience of life. COLTON : Lacon.
LORD CHANCELLOR ERSKINE : Ariosto observed not moderation in the vast
Speech in Defence of John Horne Tooke, 1794. ness of his draught.
DRYDEN. I Dennis ... declares with great patriotic Episodical ornaments, such as descriptions
vehemence, that he who allows Shakspeare and narratives, were delivered to us from the
| learning, and a learning with the ancients, ought
to be looked upon as a detractor from the glory observations of Aristotle,
R. FARMER. He surnished me with all the passages in
Of all rewards, I grant, the most pleasing to Aristotle and Horace used to explain the art of poetry by painting; which, if ever I retouch
a man of real merit is same; but a polite age of
all times is that in which scarcely any share of This essay, shall be inserted. DrYDEN.
merit can acquire it. What numbers of fine For the Italians, Dante had begun to file their writers in the latter empire of Rome, when relanguage in verse before Boccace, who likewise finement was carried to the highest pitch, have received no little help from his master Petrarch; missed that fame and immortality which they but the reformation of their prose was wholly | had fondly arrogated to themselves! How owing to Boccace.
• DRYDEN. many Greek authors, who wrote at the period
when Constantinople was the refined mistress Boccace lived in the same age with Chaucer,
of the empire, now rest, either not printed, or had the same genius, and followed the same
not read, in the libraries of Europe! Those studies : both writ novels, and each of them
who came first, while either state as yet was cultivated his mother tongue. DRYDEN.
| barbarous, carried all the reputation away. AuWhen I took up Boccace unawares, I fell on thors, as the age refined, became more numer. the same argument of preferring virtue to no- | ous, and their numbers destroyed their fame. bility of blood and titles, in the story of Sigis- / It is but natural, therefore, for the writer, when munda.
DRYDEN. I conscious that his works will not procure him