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MMIANUS MARCELLINUS informs
us of an observation, which Hormisdas, a prince of Persia, made on Rome; and which is something remarkable, namely, “That one thing only had there pleased him, to find that men died at Rome as well as elsewhere.'
Mr. GIBBON in his History has told us to read displicuisse for placuise, displeased for pleased; a correction to which those of Bentley are in
He says the contrary sense would be that of a misanthrope; whereas his affords a reproof of Roman vanity.
The sense that strikes me is very different from either of these; and is this, that the prince's envy at the pleasures of the inhabitants of Rome could only be moderated by the reflection that their pleasures were transitory.
How would the miserable envy the happy, were not the grave the equal termination of pleasure and of pain!
L ETTER XIII,
OUR character of our deceased friend is
undoubtedly just. The goodness of his heart atoned even for the prejudices and caprice of his head,
FOR what defects will not benevolence atone? Is not that virtue superior to every qualification: Must not genius itself " hide its • diminished head' before the superior splendor of humble and uncelebrated worth?
How contemptible do the brightest pursuits of fame appear when opposed to the modest merit of doing good to mankind! How much sweeter are the soft whispers of gratitude than the loudest plaudits of popular praise !
There is not surely a confideration that can be more productive of contempt of fame in a virtuous mind, than this, that the mad, man who ravages kingdoms, and puts whole nations to the sword, is looked on as a deity ; while he who rewards industry, and relieves distress, lives without renown, and dies without pity.
To real goodness, my friend, even the praise of real and innocent greatness, which is that of the mind, must yield: for there is certainly more genuine merit in doing one good action than in writing an Iliad.
N opinion that is opposite to virtue is
always opposite to truth. This maxim, which, tho expressed in few words, is the fruit of much observation, I have in no case found more applicable than in that most absurd popular error, that extravagance, and inattention to oeconomy, always accompany genius.
We all flatter ourselves, in our youth especially, that we are poflest of that non-descript jewel called genius. Indeed, if the term genius have so extensive a meaning as to imply capacity in general, or capability, as Brown the celebrated layer-out of grounds used the phrase, we cannot deny that every one has genius of one kind or another. A man may, if you will, have a very fine genius for stupidity: a sort of genius, which, tho I have not observed to be mentioned in any treatise on the subject, is yet at this day the most lucrative species of genius one can be posseft of.
GENIUS is in my estimation a word of ineffable reverence. The Gnostic Abraxas itself is not to be weighed with it. Sometimes one man of genius rises in the space of one thousaud years only: sometimes, indeed, when nature is unusually rich, three or four will appear in one country in the course of a century; as
was the cafe when Bacon, Cromwell, Milton, Wan Newton, illuminated England together, or at
, , short succesfions. But now, good heaven! every man, every woman, every child, has genius. I will venture to prophesy that, in the year 1883, from a natural progression of the word, genius will imply folly. The fact is, I have met with no man who in describing genius did not tacitly paint himself.
But, to discuss the opinion mentioned in the beginning of this letter, we shall, for the pre? fent, conưder genius in the popular sense, as
merely, opposed to want of capacity for any art or science; and allow that middling quality which we imply, when we call a person, or a work, ingenious, to fall under the grand class of Genius. Even allowing this, we must still, to form a proper judgment, reason' from the