« ElőzőTovább »
from that more toilsome labour to which it must sub- always be expected to coexist in an equal degree. mit in the acquisition of necessary erudition or the More powerful correctives than taste can apply are investigation of abstract truth.
necessary for reforming the corrupt propensities which The cultivation of taste is further recommended by too frequently prevail among mankind. Elegant the happy effects which it naturally tends to produce speculations are sometimes found to float on the suron human life. The most busy 'man in the most face of the mind, while bad passions possess the inte. active sphere cannot be always occupied by business. rior of the heart. At the same time this Men of serious professions cannot always be on the cannot but be admitted, that the exercise of taste is, stretch of serious thought. Neither can the most gay in its native tendency, moral and purifying. From and flourishing situations of fortune afford any man the reading the most admired productions of genius, power of filling all his hours with pleasure. Life must whether in poetry or prose, almost every one riser always languish in the hands of the idle. It will with some good impressions left on his mind; and frequently languish even in the hands of the busy, if though these may not always be durable, they are at they have not some employment subsidiary to that least to be ranked among the means of disposing the which forms their main pursuit. How then shall heart to virtue. One thing is certain, that withthese vacant spaces, those unemployed intervals, out possessing the virtuous affections in a strong which more or less occur in the life of every one, be degree, no man can attain eminence in the sublime filled up? How can we contrive to dispose of them parts of eloquence. He must feel what a good man in any way that shall be more agreeable in itself, or feels, if he expects greatly to move or to interest manmore consonant to the dignity of the human mind, kind. They are the ardent sentiments of honour, than in the entertainments of taste, and the study of virtue, magnanimity, and public spirit, that only can polite literature? He who is so happy as to have kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the mind acquired a relish for these, has always at hand an in- | those high ideas, which attract the admiration of ages ; nocent and irreproachable amusement for his leisure and if this spirit be necessary to produce the most hours, to save him from the danger of many a perni- distinguished efforts of eloquence, it must be neces. cious passion. He is not in hazard of being a burden sary also to our relishing them with proper taste and to himself. He is not obliged to fly to low company, feeling. or to court the riot of loose pleasures, in order to cure the tediousness of existence.
[Difference between Taste and Genius.] Providence seems plainly to have pointed out this useful purpose to which the pleasures of taste may
[From the same.] be applied, by interposing them in a middle station Taste and genius are two words frequently joined between the pleasures of sense and those of pure together, and therefore, by inaccurate thinkers, conintellect. We were not designed to grovel always founded. They signify, however, two quite different among objects so low as the former; nor are we cap- things. The difference between them can be clearly able of dwelling constantly in so high a region as the pointed out, and it is of importance to remember it. latter. The pleasures of taste refresh the mind after Taste consists in the power of judging; genius in the the toils of the intellect and the labours of abstract power of executing. One may have a considerable study; and they gradually raise it above the attach- degree of taste in poetry, eloquence, or any of the fine ments of sense, and prepare it for the enjoyments of arts, who has little or hardly any genius for comvirtue.
position or execution in any of these arts; but genius So consonant is this to experience, that, in the edu- cannot be found without including taste also. Genius, cation of youth, no object has in every age appeared therefore, deserves to be considered as a higher power more important to wise men than to tincture them of the mind than taste. Genius always imports someearly with a relish for the entertainments of taste. thing inventive or creative, which does not rest in The transition is commonly made with ease from these mere sensibility to beauty where it is perceived, but to the discharge of the higher and more important which can, moreover, produce new beauties, and ex• duties of life. Good hopes may be entertained of hibit them in such a manner as strongly to impress those whose minds have this liberal and elegant turn. the minds of others. Refined taste forms a good It is favourable to many virtues. Whereas, to be critic; but genius is further necessary to form the entirely devoid of relish for eloquence, poetry, or any of poet or the orator. the fine arts, is justly construed to be an unpromising It is proper also to observe, that genius is a woru symptom of youth; and raises suspicions of their which, in common acceptation, extends much further being prone to low gratifications, or destined to than to the objects of taste. It is used to signify that drudge in the more vulgar and illiberal pursuits of talent or aptitude which we receive from nature for life.
excelling in any one thing whatever. Thus, we speak There are indeed few good dispositions of any kind of a genius for mathematics, as well as a genius for with which the improvement of taste is not more or poetry-of a genius for war, for politics, or for any less connected. A cultivated taste increases sensibi- mechanical employment. lity to all the tender and humane passions, by giving This talent or aptitude for excelling in some one them frequent exercise; while it tends to weaken the particular is, I have said, what we receive from nature. more violent and fierce emotions.
By art and study, no doubt, it may be greatly imIngenuas didicisse fideliter artes
proved, but by them alone it cannot be acquired. As Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.*
genius is a higher faculty than taste, it is ever, ac
cording to the usual frugality of nature, more limited The elevated sentiments and high examples which in the sphere of its operations. It is not uncommon poetry, eloquence, and history are often bringing under to meet with persons who have an excellent taste in our view, naturally tend to nourish in our minds several of the polite arts, such as music, poetry, paintpublic spirit
, the love of glory, contempt of external ing, and eloquence, all together; but to find one who fortune, and the admiration of what is truly illus- is an excellent performer in all these arts, is much trious and great.
more rare, or rather, indeed, such a one is not to be I will not go so far as to say that the improvement looked for. A sort of universal genius, or one who is of taste and of virtue is the same, or that they may equally and indifferently turned towards several diffe
rent professions and arts, is not likely to excel in any; * These polished arts have humanised mankind,
although there may be some few exceptions, yet in Softened the rude, and calmed the boisterous mind. general it holds, that when the bent of the mind is
Circles his throne.
wholly directed towards some one object, exclusive in For the further illustration of this subject, it is a manner of others, there is the fairest prospect of proper to remark, that all ideas of the solemn and eminence in that, whatever it be. The rays must awful kind, and even bordering on the terrible, tend converge to a point, in order to glow intensely. greatly to assist the sublime; such as darkness, soli
tude, and silence. What are the scenes of nature that [On Sublimity.]
elevate the mind in the highest degree, and produce
the sublime sensation ? Not the gay landscape, the [From the same.)
flowery field, or the flourishing city; but the hoary It is not easy to describe in words the precise im- mountains, and the solitary lake, the aged forest, and pression which great and sublime objects make upon the torrent falling over the rock. Hence, too, night us when we behold them; but every one has a con- scenes are commonly the most sublime. The firmaception of it. It produces a sort of internal elevation ment, when filled with stars, scattered in such vast and expansion; it raises the mind much above its numbers, and with such magnificent profusion, strikes ordinary state, and fills it with a degree of wonder the imagination with a more awful grandeur than and astonishment which it cannot well express. The when we view it enlightened with all the splendour emotion is certainly delightful, but it is altogether of of the sun. The deep sound of a great bell, or the the serious kind; a degree of awfulness and solemnity, striking of a great clock, are at any time grand, but, even approaching to severity, commonly attends it when heard amid the silence and stillness of the night, when at its height, very distinguishable from the more they become doubly so. Darkness is very commonly gay and brisk emotion raised by beautiful objects. applied for adding sublimity to all our ideas of the
The simplest form of external grandeur appears in Deity: 'He maketh darkness his pavilion, he dwelleth the vast and boundless prospects presented to us by in the thick cloud.' So Milton :nature; such as wide extended plains, to which the eye can see no limits, the firmament of heaven, or
How oft, amidst the boundless expanse of the ocean. All vastness
Thick clouds and dark, does heaven's all ruling Sire
Choose to reside, his glory unobscured, produces the impression of sublimity. It is to be
And with the majesty of darkness, round remarked, however, that space, extended in length, makes not so strong an impression as height or depth. Though a boundless plain be a grand object, yet a Observe with how much art Virgil has introduced high mountain, to which we look up, or wn awful pre- all those ideas of silence, vacuity, and darkness, when cipice or tower, whence we look down on the objects he is going to introduce his hero to the infernal rewhich lie below, is still more so. The excessive gran- gions, and to disclose the secrets of the great deep :deur of the firmament arises from its height, joined to its boundless extent; and that of the ocean not from
Ye subterranean gods, whose awful sway
The gliding ghosts and silent shades obey ; its extent alone, but from the perpetual motion and
Oh, Chaos, hear! and Phlegethon profound ! irresistible force of that mass of waters. Wherever
Whose solemn empire stretches wide around ! space is concerned, it is clear that amplitude or great
Give me, ye great tremendous powers, to tell niess of extent in one dimension or other is necessary
Of scenes and wonders in the depth of hell; to grandeur. Remove all bounds from any object, Give me, your mighty secrets to display and you presently render it sublime. Hence infinité
From those black realms of darkness to the day.-Pith space, endless numbers, and eternal duration, fill the mind with great ideas.
Obscure they went; through dreary shades, that led
Along the waste dominions of the dead; From this some have imagined that vastness or
As wander travellers in woods by night, amplitude of extent is the foundation of all sub
By the moon's doubtful and malignant light-Dryden. limity. But I cannot be of this opinion, because many objects appear sublime which have no relation These passages I quote at present, not so much as to space at all. Such, for instance, is great loudness instances of sublime writing, though in themselves of sound. The burst of thunder or of cannon, the they truly are so, as to show, by the effect of them, roaring of winds, the shouting of multitudes, the that the objects which they present to us belong to sound of vast cataracts of water, are all incontestably the class of sublime ones. grand objects. “I heard the voice of a great multi- Obscurity, we are further to remark, is not unfavourtude, as the sound of many waters, and of mighty able to the sublime. Though it render the object inthunderings, saying, Hallelujah.' In general, we distinct, the impression, however, may be great; for, may observe that great power and force exerted as an ingenious author has well observed, it is one always raise sublime ideas; and perhaps the most thing to make an idea clear, and another to make it copious source of these is derived from this quarter. affecting to the imagination; and the imagination Hence the grandeur of earthquakes and burning moun- may be strongly affected, and, in fact, often is so, by tains; of great conflagrations; of the stormy ocean objects of which we have no clear conception. Thus and overflowing waters ; of tempests of wind; of thun- we see that almost all the descriptions given us of the der and lightning; and of all the uncommon violence appearances of supernatural beings, carry some subof the elements : nothing is more sublime than mighty limity, though the conceptions which they afford us power and strength. A stream that runs within its be confused and indistinct. Their sublimity arises banks is a beautiful object, but when it rushes down from the ideas, which they always convey, of superior with the impetuosity and noise of a torrent, it pre- power and might, joined with an awful obscurity. sently becomes a sublime one. From lions, and other We may see this fully exemplified in the following animals of strength, are drawn sublime comparisons noble passage of the book of Job :- In thoughts from in poets. A race-horse is looked upon with pleasure; the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon but it is the war-horse, whose neck is clothed with men, fear came upon me and trembling, which made thunder,' that carries grandeur in its idea. The en- all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before gagement of two great armies, as it is the highest my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: it stood still; exertion of human might, combines a variety of but I could not discern the form thereof; an image sources of the sublime, and has accordingly been was before mine eyes ; there was silence; and I heard always considered as one of the most striking and a voice-Shall mortal man be more just than God ! Inagnificent spectacles that can be either presented to (Job iv. 15.) No ideas, it is plain, are so sublime as the eye, or exhibited to the imagination in descrip- those taken from the Supreme Being, the most un
known, but the greatest of all objects; the infinity
of whose nature, and the eternity of whose duration, works are, a Translation of the Four Gospels, worthy joined with the omnipotence of his power, though they of his talents, some sermons preached on public surpass our conceptions, yet exalt them to the highest. occasions, and a series of Lectures on Ecclesiastical In general, all objects that are greatly raised above us, History, which were not published till after his death. or far removed from us, either in space or in time, It is worthy of remark that Hume himself admitted are apt to strike us as great. Our viewing them as the 'ingenuity' of Campbell's reply to his sceptical through the mist of distance or antiquity is favour- opinions, and the great learning' of the author. The able to the impressions of their sublimity.
well-known hypothesis of Hume is, that no testiAs obscurity, so disorder too is very compatible mony for any kind of miracle can ever amount to a with grandeur; nay, frequently heightens it. Few probability, much less to a proof. To this Dr Campthings that are strictly regular and methodical appear bell opposed the argument that testimony has 3 sublime. We see the limits on every side ; we feel natural and original influence on belief, antecedent ourselves confined ; there is no room for the mind's to experience, in illustration of which he remarked, exerting any great effort. Exact proportion of parts, that the earliest assent which is given to testimony though it enters often into the beautiful, is much by children, and which is previous to all experience, disregarded in the sublime. A great mass of rocks, is in fact the most unlimited. His answer is divided thrown together by the hand of nature with wildness into two parts; first, that miracles are capable of and confusion, strike the mind with more grandeur proof from testimony, and religious miracles not less than if they had been adjusted to one another with than others; and, secondly, that the miracles on the most accurate symmetry. In the feeble attempts which human art can make ciently attested. Campbell had no fear for the re
which the belief of Christianity is founded, are suffitowards producing grand objects (feeble, I mean, in sult of such discussions :—I do not hesitate to comparison with the powers of nature), greatness of affirm," he says, 'that our religion has been indebted dimensions always constitutes a principal part. No to the attempts, though not to the intentions, of its pile of buildings can convey any idea of sublimity, bitterest enemies. They have tried its strength, unless it be ample and lofty. There is, too, in archi- indeed, and, by trying, they have displayed its tecture, what is called greatness of manner, which
strength ; and that in so clear a light, as we could seems chiefly to arise from presenting the object to us in one full point of view, so that it shall make its viewed it in. Let them, therefore, write ; let them
never have hoped, without such a trial, to have impression whole, entire, and undivided upon the mind. A Gothic cathedral raises ideas of grandeur argue, and, when arguments fail
, even let them in our minds by its size, its height, its awful obscu- cavil against religion as much as they please ; I
should be heartily sorry that ever in this island, the rity, its strength, its antiquity, and its durability.
There still remains to be mentioned one class of asylum of liberty, where the spirit of Christianity sublime objects, which may be called the moral or
is better understood (however defective the inhabisentimental sublime, arising from certain exertions of tants are in the observance of its precepts) than in the human mind, from certain affections and actions any other part of the Christian world; I should, I of our fellow-creatures. These will be found to be all, say, be sorry that in this island so great a disservice or chiefly of that class, which comes under the name
were done to religion as to check its adversaries in of magnanimity or heroism; and they produce an
any other way than by returning a candid answer effect extremely similar to what is produced by the to their objections. I must at the same time acview of grand objects in nature ; filling the mind with knowledge, that I am both ashamed and grieved admiration, and elevating it above itself. Wherever, when I observe any friends of religion betray so in some critical and high situation, we behold a man
great a diffidence in the goodness of their cause (for uncommonly intrepid, and resting upon himself, supe- to this diffidence alone can it be imputed), as to show rior to passion and to fear; animated by some great an inclination for recurring to more forcible methods.
Th principle to the contempt of popular opinion, of selfish
assaults of infidels, I may venture to prophecy, interest, of dangers, or of death, there we are struck will never overturn our religion. They will prove with a sense of the sublime.
not more hurtful to the Christian system, if it be High virtue is the most natural and fertile source allowed to compare small things with the greatest, of this moral sublimity. However, on some occasions, than the boisterous winds are said to prove to the where virtue either has no place, or is but imperfectly sturdy oak. They shake it impetuously for a time, displayed, yet if extraordinary vigour and force of and loudly threaten its subversion ; whilst, in effect, mind be discovered, we are not insensible to a degree they only serve to make it strike its roots the deeper, of grandeur in the character; and from the splendid and stand the firmer ever after.' conqueror, or the daring conspirator, whom we are far In the same manly spirit, and reliance on the from approving, we cannot withhold our admiration. ultimate triumph of truth, Dr Campbell was opposed
to the penal laws against the Catholics ; and in 1779, when the country was agitated with that intolerant zeal against Popery, which in the following year
burst out in riots in London, he issued an Address DR GEORGE CAMPBELL, Professor of divinity and to the People of Scotland, remarkable for its cogency afterwards principal of Marischal college, Aberdeen, of argument and its just and enlightened sentiments. was a theologian and critic of more vigorous intel- For this service to true religion and toleration the lect and various learning than Dr Blair. His Dis- mob of Aberdeen broke the author's windows, and sertation on Miracles, written in reply to Hume, is a nicknamed him 'Pope Campbell.' In 1795, when conclusive and masterly piece of reasoning; and his far advanced in life, Dr Campbell received a penPhilosophy of Rhetoric (published in 1776) is perhaps sion of £300 from the Crown, on which he resigned the best book of the kind since Aristotle. Most of his professorship, and his situation as principal of the other works on this subject are little else but Marischal college. He enjoyed this well-earned recompilations, but Campbell brought to it a high ward only one year, dying in 1796, in his seventydegree of philosophical acumen and learned research. seventh year. With the single exception of Dr Its utility is also equal to its depth and originality: Robertson the historian (who shone in a totally the philosopher finds in it exercise for his ingenuity, different walk), the name of Dr Campbell is the and the student may safely consult it for its practical greatest which the Scottish church can number suggestions and illustrations. Dr Campbell's other among its clergy.
DR GEORGE CAMPBELL.
DR SAMUEL JOHNSON.
the whole is the injustice done to some of our greatest masters of song, in consequence of the political or
personal prejudices of the author. To Milton he is This department of our literature was unusually strikingly unjust, though his criticism on Paradise rich at the present period, as it included nearly all Lost is able and profound. Gray is treated with a the great names that shone in poetry, fiction, politics, coarseness and insensibility derogatory only to the philosophy, and criticism. First, as exercising a critic; and in general, as we have before had occamore commanding influence than any other of his sion to remark, the higher order of imaginative contemporaries, may be mentioned DR JOHNSON, poetry suffers under the ponderous hand of Johnalready distinguished as a moral poet and essayist. son. Its beauties were too airy and ethereal for his In 1755 Johnson published his Dictionary of the Eng- grasp—too subtle for his feeling or understanding. lish Language, which had occupied the greater part A few extracts are subjoined, to illustrate his pecuof his time for seven years. In 1765° appeared his liar but impressive and animated style. edition of Shakspeare, containing little that is valuable in the way of annotation, but introduced by a [From the Preface to the Dictionary.] powerful and masterly preface. In 1770 and 1771 he wrote two political pamphlets in support of the
It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employmeasures of government, The False Alarm, and ments of life to be rather driven by the fear of evil, Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting the Falk- than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed land Islands. Though often harsh, contemptuous, to censure without hope of praise; to be disgraced and intolerant, these pamphlets are admirable pieces by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success of composition-full of nerve and controversial zeal. would have been without applause, and diligence In 1775 appeared his Journey to the Western Isles of without reward. Scotland; and in 1781 his Lives of the Poets. It was Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dicthe felicity of Johnson, as of Dryden, to improve as tionaries; whom mankind have considered, not as the an author as he advanced in years, and to write best pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, after he had passed that period of life when many from the paths through which learning and genius
doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions men are almost incapable of intellectual exertion. In reviewing the above works, little other language press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowDeed be employed than that of eulogy. The Dicing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates tionary is a valuable practical work, not remarkable their progress. Every other author may aspire to praise; for philological research, but for its happy and the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, luminous definitions, the result of great sagacity, pre- and even this negative recompense has been yet eision of understanding, and clearness of expression. granted to very few. A few of the definitions betray the personal feelings
I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, atand peculiarities of the author, and have been much tempted a dictionary of the English language, which, ridiculed. For example, "Excise,'
which (as a Tory while it was employed in the cultivation of every hating Walpole and the Whig excise act) he defines, species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected"; A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and ado suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into judged, not by the common judges of property, but wild exuberance; resigned to the tyranny of time and wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.' fashion ; and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, A pension is defined to be an allowance made to
and caprices of innovation. any one without an equivalent. In England it is another without imparting something of its native
No book was ever turned from one language into generally understood to mean pay given to a state- idiom; this is the most mischievous and comprehenhireling for treason to his country. After such a sive innovation ; single words may enter by thousands, definition, it is scarcely to be wondered that Johnson and the fabric of the tongue continue the same ; but paused, and felt some compunctious visitings' before new phraseology changes
much at once; it alters not he accepted a pension himself! Oats he defines, ' A the single stones of the building, but the order of the grain which in England is generally given to horses, columns. If an academy should be established for but in Scotland supports the people. This gave the cultivation of our stylewhich I, who can never mortal offence to the natives of Scotland, and is wish to see dependence multiplied, hope the spirit of hardly yet forgiven; but the best reply was the English liberty will hinder or destroy-let them, inhappy observation of Lord Elibank, “Yes, and where stead of compiling grammars and dictionaries, enwill you find such horses and such men ?' The deavour, with all their influence, to stop the license
Journey to the Western Isles' makes no pretension of translators, whose idleness and ignorance, if it be to scientific discovery, but it is an entertaining and suffered to proceed, will reduce us to babble a dialect finely written work. In the Highlands, the poetical of France. imagination of Johnson expanded with the new If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, scenery and forms of life presented to his contempla- what remains but to acquiesce with lence as in the tion. His love of feudalism, of clanship, and of other insurmountable distresses of humanity. It reancient Jacobite families, found full scope; and as he mains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we was always a close observer, his descriptions convey palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened much pleasing and original information. His com- by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated; plaints of the want of woods in Scotland, though tongues, like governments, have a natural tendency to dwelt upon with a ludicrcus perseverance and degeneration; we have long preserved our constituquerulousness, had the effect of setting the landlords tion, let us make some struggles for our language. to plant their bleak moors and mountains, and im- In hope of giving longevity to that which its own prove the aspect of the country. The 'Lives of the nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this Poets' have a freedom of style, a vigour of thought, book, the labour of years, to the honour of my and happiness of illustration, rarely attained even by country, that we may no longer yield the palm of their author. The plan of the work was defective, philology, without a contest, to the nations of the as the lives begin only with Cowley, excluding all continent. The chief glory of every people arises the previous poets from Chaucer downwards. Some from its authors: whether I shall add anything by fee ble and worthless rhymesters also obtained niches my own writings to the reputation of English literain Johnson's gallery; but the most serious defect of ture, must be left to time ; much of my life has been
lost under the pressures of disease ; much has been whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived trifled away; and much has always been spent in the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. provision for the day that was passing over me; but I To abstract the mind from all local emotion would shall not think my employment useless or ignoble, be impossible if it were endeavoured, and would be if, by my assistance, foreign nations and distant ages foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and un- from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, derstand the teachers of truth; if my labours afford the distant, or the future, predominate over the prelight to the repositories of science, and add celebrity sent, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. to Bacon, to Hooker, to Milton, and to Boyle. Far from me and my friends be such frigid philosophy
When I am animated by this wish, I look with as may conduct us indifferent and unmored over any pleasure on my book, however defective, and deliver ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, it to the world with the spirit of a man that has en- or virtue. The man is little to be envied whose padeavoured well. That it will immediately become triotism would not gain force on the plains of Marapopular, I have not promised to myself; a few wild thon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among blunders and risible absurdities, from which no work the ruins of lona. of such multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly with laughter, and harden ignorance [Parallel between Pope and Dryden.] into contempt; but useful diligence will at last prevail, and there never can be wanting some who dis
(From the ‘Lives of the Poets. ] tinguish desert, who will consider that no dictionary Pope professed to have learned his poetry from of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since, while it Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was preis hastening to publication, some words are budding sented, he praised through his whole life with unand some falling away; that a whole life cannot be varied liberality; and perhaps his character may spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a receive some illustration, if he be compared with his whole life would not be sufficient ; that he whose de- master. sign includos whatever language can express, must Integrity of understanding and nicety of discernoften speak of what he does not understand; that a ment were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden's mind was end, and sometimes faint with weariness under a task sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical which Scaliger compares to the labours of the anvil prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and the mine; that what is obvious is not always and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to known, and what is known is not always present; apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprise vigi- professed to write, merely for the people ; and when lance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and he pleased others he contented himself. He spent no casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; time in struggles to rouse latent powers ; he never and that the writer shall often in vain trace his attempted to make that better which was already memory at the moment of need for that which yester- good, nor often to mend what he must have known to day he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us,
little come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.
consideration ; when occasion or necessity called upon In this work, when it shall be found that much is him, he poured out what the present moment hapomitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is pened to supply, and, when once it had passed the performed; and though no book was ever spared out press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no of tenderness to the author, and the world is little pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude. solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of Pope was not content to satisfy: he desired to that which it condemns, yet it may gratify curiosity excel, and therefore always endeavoured to do his to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written best: he did not court the candour, but dared the with little assistance of the learned, and without any judgment of his reader, and expecting no indul. patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of gence from others, he showed none to himself
. Ho retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, examined lines and words with minute and punetibut amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness lious observation, and retouched every part with in. and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of defatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is forgiven. not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an at- For this reason he kept his pieces very long in his tempt which no human powers have hitherto com- hands, while he considered and reconsidered them. pleted. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now The only poems which can be supposed to have been immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be written with such regard to the times as might hasten yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and their publication, were the two satires of “Thirty. delusive; if the aggregated knowledge and co-ope- eight, of which Dodsley told me that they were rating diligence of the Italian academicians did not brought to him by the author that they might be secure them from the censure of Beni; if the embodied fairly copied. 'Almost every line,' he said, was critics of France, when fifty years had been spent upon then written twice over ; I gave him a clean transcript, their work, were obliged to change its economy, and which he sent sometime afterwards to me for the press give their second edition another form, I may surely with almost every line written twice over a second be contented without the praise of perfection, which, if time.' I could obtain in this gloom of solitude, what would His declaration, that his care for his works ceased it avail me! I have protracted my work till most of at their publication, was not strictly true. His pas those whom I wished to please have sunk into the rental attention never abandoned them; what he grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds. found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having in those that followed. He appears to have revised little to fear or hope from censure or from praise. the 'Iliad,' and freed it from some of its imper
fections; and the 'Essay on Criticism' received many [Reflections on Landing at Iona.]
improvements after its first appearance. It will sel
dom be found that he altered without adding clear[From the Journey to the Western Isles. ]
ness, elegance, or vigour. We were now treading that illustrious island which
Pope had perhaps the judgment of Dryden, but was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.