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to observe, said I, the course of our inquiries. A new hypothesis has been advanced: appearing somewhat strange, it is desired to be explained. You comply with the request, and in pursuit of the explanation make it ten times more obscure and unintelligible than before. It is but too often the fate, said he, of us commentators. But you know in such cases what is usually done. When the comment will not explain the text, we try whether the text will not explain itself. This method, it is possible, may assist us here. The hypothesis, which we would have illustrated, was no more than this: That the Sovereign Good lay in Rectitude of Conduct; and that this good corresponded to all our preconceptions. Let us examine, then, whether upon trial this correspondence will appear to hold; and for all that we have advanced since, suffer it to pass, and not perplex us. Agreed, said I, willingly, for now I hope to comprehend you.
Recollect then, said he. Do you not remember, that one preconception of the Sovereign Good was, to be accommodated to all times and places? I remember it. And is there any time, or any place, whence Rectitude of Conduct may be excluded? Is there not a right action in prosperity, a right action in adversity? May there not be a decent, generous, and laudable behaviour, not only in peace, in power, and in health; but in war, in oppression, in sickness, and in death? There may.
And what shall we say to those other preconceptions; to being durable, self-derived, and indeprivable? Can there be any Good so durable, as the power of always doing right? Is there any good conceivable, so entirely beyond the power of others? Or, if you hesitate and are doubtful, I would be willingly informed, into what circumstances may Fortune throw a brave and honest man, where it shall not be in his power to act bravely and honestly? If there be no such, then Rectitude of Conduct, if a Good, is a Good indeprivable. I confess, said I, it appears so.
But farther, said he Another preconception of the Sovereign Good was, to be agreeable to nature. It was. And can any thing be more agreeable to a rational and social conduct? Nothing. But Rectitude of Conduct is with us Rational and Social Conduct. It is.
Once more, continued he: Another preconception of this Good was, to be conducive not to mere heing, but to wellbeing. Admitted. And, can any thing, believe you, conduce so probably to the wellbeing of a rational, social animal, as the right exercise of that reason, and of those social affections? Nothing. And what is this same exercise, but the highest Rectitude of Conduct? Certainly.
AND how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night? O, against all rule, my lord, most ungrammatically! betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made a breach thus, -stopping as if the point wanted settling;-and betwixt the nominative case, which your lordship knows should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times, three seconds, and three fifths by a stopwatch, my lord, each time.-Admirable grammarian!-But in suspending his voice-was the sense suspended likewise? did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm ?
Was the eye silent? Did you narrowly look?—I look'd only at the stopwatch, my lord.-Excellent observer!
And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about?-O! 'tis out of all plumb, my lord,-quite an irregular thing! not one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle. I had my rule and compasses, &c., my lord, in my pocket.-Excellent critic!
-And for the epic poem your lordship bid me look at; -upon taking the length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu's'tis out, my lord, in every one of it's dimensions.-Admirable connoisseur !
-And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture in your way back?-Tis a melancholy daub! my lord ; not one principle of the pyramid in any one group!-and what a price!-for there is nothing of the colouring of
Titian-the expression of Rubens-the grace of Raphael -the purity of Dominichino-the corregiescity of Corregio -the learning of Poussin-the air of Guido-the taste of the Caraccis-or the grand contour of Angelo.
Grant me patience, just Heaven!-Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world-though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
I would go fifty miles on foot, to kiss the hand of that man, whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his author's hands-be pleased he knows not why, and cares not wherefore. STERNE.
WHEN Tom, an' please your honour, got to the shop there was nobody in it but a poor negro girl, with a bunch of white feathers slightly tied to the end of a long cane, flapping away flies-not killing them.-Tis a pretty picture! said my uncle Toby-she had suffered persecution, Trim, and had learnt mercy—
-She was good, an' please your honour, from nature as well as from hardships; and there are circumstances in the story of that poor friendless slut, that would melt a heart of stone, said Trim; and some dismal winter's evening, when your honour is in the humour, they shall be told you with the rest of Tom's story, for it makes a part of it—
Then do not forget, Trim, said my uncle Toby.
A negro has a soul, an' please your honour, said the corporal (doubtingly).
I am not much versed, corporal, quoth my uncle Toby, in things of that kind; but I suppose, God would not leave him without one, any more than thee or me.
-It would be putting one sadly over the head of another, quoth the corporal.
It would so, said my uncle Toby. Why, then, an' please I
your honour, is a black wench to be used worse than a white one?
I can give no reason, said my uncle Toby
-Only, cried the corporal, shaking his head, because she has no one to stand up for her
Tis that very thing, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, which recommends her to protection, and her brethren with her; 'tis the fortune of war which has put the whip into our hands now-w -where it may be hereafter, Heaven knows!—but be it where it will, the brave, Trim, will not use it unkindly.
-God forbid, said the corporal.
Amen, responded my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon his heart. STERNE.
RIVERS AND SIR HARRY.
Sir Har. COLONEL, your most obedient; I am come upon the old business; for unless I am allowed to entertain hopes of Miss Rivers, I shall be the most miserable of all human beings.
Riv. Sir Harry, I have already told you by letter, and I now tell you personally, I cannot listen to your proposals.
Sir Har. No, Sir?
Riv. No, Sir; I have promised my daughter to Mr. Sidney; do you know that, Sir? »
Sir Har. I do; but what then? engagements of this kind, you know——
Riv. So then, you do know I have promised her to Mr. Sidney?
Sir Har. I do; but I also know, that matters are not finally settled between Mr. Sidney and you; and I moreover know, that his fortune is by no means equal to mine, therefore
Riv, Sir Harry, let me ask you one question, before you make your consequence.
Si Har. A thousand, if you please, Sir.
observed in me or my conduct, that you desire me so familiarly to break my word? I thought, Sir, you considered me as a man of honour.
Sir Har. And so I do, Sir, a man of the nicest honour. Riv. And yet, Sir, you ask me to violate the sanctity of my word; and tell me directly, that it is my interest to be a rascal.
Sir Har. I really don't understand you, Colonel: I thought, when I was talking to you, I was talking to a man who knew the world; and as you have not yet signed
Rio. Why, this is mending matters with a witness! And so you think, because I am not legally bound, I am under no necessity of keeping my word! Sir Harry, laws were never made for men of honour: they want no bond but the rectitude of their own sentiments, and laws are of no use but to bind the villains of society.
Sir Har. Well! but my dear Colonel, if you have no regard for me, show some little regard for your daughter.
Riv. I show the greatest regard for my daughter by giving her to a man of honour: and I must not be insulted with any farther repetition of your proposals
Sir Har. Insult you, Colonel! Is the offer of iny alliance an insult? Is my readiness to make what settlements you think proper
Rio. Sir Harry, I should consider the offer of a kingdom an insult, if it was to be purchased by the violation of my word: Besides, though my daughter shall never go a beggar to the arms of her husband, I would rather see her happy than rich; and if she has enough to provide handsomely for a young family, and something to spare for the exigencies of a worthy friend, I shall think her as affluent as if she was mistress of Mexico.
Sir Har. Well, Colonel, I have done: but I believe
Riv. Well, Sir Harry, and as our conference is done, we will, if you please, retire to the ladies: I shall be always glad of your acquaintance, though I cannot receive you as a son-in-law; for a union of interests I look upon as a union of dishonour; and consider a marriage for money, at best, but a legal prostitution. FALSE DELICACY.