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digressions, and his rules and observations self must be civilized, or she will look samay be thought sometimes too vague and vage, as she appears in the Indian princes, general. Useful things, however, may be who are vested with a native majesty, a surlearned from it; and it is no small benefit prising greatness and generosity of soul, to be made acquainted with Cicero's own and discover what we always regret, fine idea of eloquence. The “Orator ad M. parts, and excellent natural endowments, “ Brutum,” is also a considerable treatise; without improvement. In those countries, and, in general, throughout all Cicero's which we call barbarous, where art and rhetorical works there run those high and politeness are not understood, nature hath sublime ideas of eloquence which are fitted the greater advantage in this, that simboth for forming a just taste, and for cre- plicity of manners often secures the innoating that enthusiasm for the art, which is cence of the mind; and as virtue is not, of the greatest consequence for excelling so neither is vice, civilized and refined: but in it.
in these politer parts of the world, where But, of all the ancient writers on the virtue excels by rules and discipline, vice subject of oratory, the mostinstructive, and also is more instructed, and with us good most useful, is Quinctilian. I know few qualities will not spring up alone: many books which abound more with good sense, hurtful weeds will rise with them, and and discover a greater degree of just and choak them in their growth, unless reaccurate taste, than Quinctilian's Institu- moved by some skilful hand: nor will the tions. Almost all the principles of good mind be brought to a just perfection withcriticism are to be found in them. He out cherishing every hopeful seed, and rehas digested into excellent order all the pressing every superfluous humour: the ancient ideas concerning rhetoric, and is, mind is like the body in this regard, which at the same time, himself an eloquent wri- cannot fall into a decent and easy carriage, ter. Though some parts of his work con- unless it be fashioned in time: an untain too much of the technical and artifi- taught behaviour is like the people that cial system then in vogue, and for that use it, truly rustic, forced and uncouth, reason may be thought dry and tedious, and art must be applied to make it natural. yet I would not advise the omitting to read
Felton. any part of his Institutions. To pleaders $85. On the Entrance to Knowledge. at the bar, even these technical parts may Knowledge will not be won without prove of some use. Seldom has any per- pains and application: some parts of it are son, of more sound and distinct judgment easier, some more difficult of access : we than Quinctilian, applied himself to the must proceed at once by sap and battery: study of the art of oratory.
Blair. and when the breach is practicable, you
have nothing to do, but to press boldlyon, $84. On the Necessity of a Classical
and enter: it is troublesome and deep digEducation.
ging for pure waters, but when once you The fairest diamonds are rough till they come to the spring, they rise and meet you: are polished, and the purest gold must be the entrance into knowledge is oftentimes run and washed, and sifted in the ore. We very narrow, dark and tiresome, but the are untaught by nature, and the finest rooms are spacious, and gloriously furnishqualities will grow wild and degenerate ed: the country is admirable, and every if the mind is not formed by discipline, and prospect entertaining. You need not woncultivated with an early care.
der that fine countries have strait avenues, persons, who have run up to men without when the regions of happiness, like those a liberal education, we may observe many of knowledge, are impervious and shut to great qualities darkened and eclipsed; their lazy travellers; and the way to heaven minds are crusted over like diamonds in itself is narrow. the rock; they flash out sometimes into an Common things are easily attained, and irregular greatness of thought, and betray nobody values what lies in every body's in their actions an unguided force, and way: what is excellent is placed out of unmanaged virtue; something very great ordinary reach, and you will easily be perand very noble
may be discerned, but it suaded to put forth your hand to the utlooks cumbersome and awkward, and' is ' most stretch, and reach whatever you alone of all things the worse for being aspire at.
Ibid. natural. Nature is undoubtedly the best § 86. Classics recommended. mistress and aptest scholar; but pature her- Many are the subjects which will invite
and deserve the steadiest application from out a new course of thought than to equal those who would excel, and be distinguish- old originals: and therefore it is more ho ed in them. Human learning in general; nour to surpass, than to invent anew. Vernatural philosophy, mathematics, and the rio is a great man from his own designs ; whole circle of science. But there is no but if he had attempted upon the Cartoons, necessity of leading you through these ge- and outdone Raphael Urbin in life and coveral fields of knowledge: it will be most lours, he had been acknowledged greater commendable for you to gather some of than that celebrated master, but now we the fairest fruit from them all, and to lay must think him less.
Felton. up a store of good sense, and sound reason, of great probity, and solid virtue. This § 87. A Comparison of the Greek and is the true use of knowledge, to make it
Roman Writers. subservient to the great duties of our most
with a short comholy religion, that as you are daily ground- parison of the Greek and Roman authors, ed in the true and saving knowledge of a I must own the last have the preference in Christian, you may use the helps of human my thoughts; and I am not singular in learning, and direct them to their proper my opinion. It must be confessed, the
, end. You will meet with great and won- Romans have left po tragedies behind them, derful examples of an irregular and mista- that may compare with the majesty of the ken virtue in the Greeks and Romans, with Grecian stage; the best comedies of Rome many instances of greatness of mind, of were written on the Grecian plan, but unshaken fidelity, contemptof human gran- Menander is too far lost to be compared deur, a most passionate love of their coun. with Terence; only if we may judge by try, prodigality of life, disdain of servitude, the method Terence used in forming two inviolable truth, and the most public disin- Greek plays into one, we shall naturally terested souls, that ever threw off all re- conclude, since his are perfect upon that gards in comparison with their country's model, that they are more perfect than good: you will discern the flaws and ble. Menander's were.
I shall make no great mishes of their fairest actions, see the difficulty in preferring Plautus to Aristowrong apprehensions they had of virtue, phanes, for wit and humour, variety of and be able to point them right, and keep characters, plot, and contrivance in his them within their proper bounds. Under plays, though Horace has censured him this correction you may extract a gene. for low wit. rous and noble spirit from the writings and Virgil has been so often compared with histories of the ancients. And I would in Homer, and the merits of those poets so a particular manner recommend the classic often canvassed, that I shall only say, that authors to your favour, and they will re- if the Roman shines not in the Grecian's commend themselves to your approbation. flame and fire, it is the coolness of his
If you would resolve to master the Greek judgment, rather than the want of heat. as well as the Latin tongue, you will find You will generally find the force of a poet's that the one is the source and original of genius, and the strength of his fancy, disall that is most excellent in the other : I play themselves in the descriptions they do not mean so much for expression, as give of battles, storms, prodigies, &c. and thought, though some of the most beauti- Homer's fire breaks out on these occasions ful strokes of the Latin tongue are drawn in more dread and terror; but Virgil mixes from the lines of the Grecian orators and compassion with his terror, and, by throwpoets; but for thought and fancy, for the ing water on the flame, makes it burn the very foundation and embellishment of brighter; so in the storm; so in his battheir works, you will see, the Latins have tles on the fall of Pallas and Camilla; and ransacked the Grecian store, and, as Ho- that scene of horror, which his hero opens race advises all who would succeed in in the second book; the burning of Troy; writing well, had their authors night and the ghost of Hector; the murder of the morning in their hands.
king; the massacre of the people; the sudAnd they have been such happy imita- den surprise, and the dead of night, are so tors, that the copies have proved more ex- relieved by the piety and pity that is every act than the originals; and Rome has tri- where intermixed, that we forget our fears, umphed over Athens, as well in wit as and join in the lamentation. All the world arms; for though G
ece may have the
acknowledges the Æneid to be most perhonour of invention, yet itis easier to strike fect in its kind; and considering the dis
advantage of the language, and the seve- Homer's poems; that Horace should follow rity of the Roman muse, the poem is still his example, and propose Homer for the more wonderful, since, without the liberty standard of epic writing, with this bright of the Grecian poets, the diction is so great testimony, that he “never undertook any and noble, so clear, so forcible and expres- thing inconsiderately, nor ever made any sive, so chaste and pure, that even all the “ foolish attempts;" if indeed this celebrastrength and compass of the Greek tongue, ted poet did not intend to form his poems joined to Homer's fire, cannot give us in the order and design we see them in. stronger and clearer ideas, than the great If we look upon the fabric and construcVirgil has set before our eyes; some few tion of those great works, we shall find an instances excepted, in which Homer, admirable proportion in all the parts, a through the force of genius, has excelled. perpetual coincidence, and independence
I have argued hitherto for Virgil; and it of one upon another ; I will venture an will be no wonder that his poem should be appeal to any learned critic in this cause; more correct in the rules of writing, if that and if it be a sufficient reason to alter the strange opinion prevails, that Homer writ common readings in a letter, a word, or a without any view or design at all; that his phrase, from the consideration of the conpoems are loose independent pieces tacked text, or propriety of the language, and together, and were originally only so many call it the restoring of the text, is it not a songs or ballads upon the gods and heroes, demonstration that these poenis were made and the siege of Troy. If this be true, they in the same course of lines, and upon the are the completest string of ballads I ever same plan we read them in at present, met with, and whoever collected them, and from all the arguments that connexion, put them in the method we now read them dependence, and regularity can give us : in, whether it were Pisistratus, or any If those critics, who maintain this odd other, has placed them in such order, that fancy of Homer's writings, had found the Iliad and the Odysseys seem to have them loose and undigested, and restored been composed with one view and de- them to the order they stand in pow, I sign, one scheme and intention, which believe they would have gloried in their are carried on from the beginning to the art, and maintained it with more unconend, all along uniform and consistent tested reasons, than they are able to bring with themselves. Some have argued, the for the discovery of a word or a syllaworld was made by a wise Being, and ble hitherto falsely printed in the text of not jumbled together by chance, from the any author. But, if any learned men of
, very absurdity of such a supposition; and singular fancies and opinions will not they have illustrated their argument, from allow those buildings to have been orithe impossibility that such a poem as ginally designed after the present model, Homer's and Virgil's should rise in such let theni at least allow us one poetical supbeautiful order out of millions of letters position on our side, That Homer's harp eternally shaken together; but this argu- was as powerful to command his scattered ment is hall spoiled, if we allow, that incoherent pieces into the beautiful structhe poems of Homer, in each of which ture of a poem, as Amphion's was to sum. appears one continued formed design from mon the stones into a wall, or Orpheus's one end to the other, were written in to lead the trees a dance. For certainly, loose scraps on no settled premeditated however it happens, the parts are so justly scheme. Horace, we are sure,was of another disposed, that you cannot change any book opinion, and so was Virgil too, who built into the place of another, without spoiling his Æneid upon the model of the Iliad and the proportion, and confounding the order the Odysseys. After all, Tully, whose rela- of the whole. tion of this
passage has given some colour The Georgics are above all controto this suggestion, says no more, than that versy with Hesiod; but the Idylliums of Pisistratus (whom he commends for his Theocritus have something so inimitably learning, and condemps for his tyranny)ob- sweet in the verse and thoughts, such a serving the books of Homer to lie confused native simplioity, and are so genuine, so and out of order, placed them in the method natural a result of the rural life, that I must, the great author, no doubt, had first formed in my poor judgment, allow him the honour them in: but all this Tully gives us only of the pastoral. as report. And it would be very strange, In Lyrics the Grecians may seem to that Aristotle should form his rules on have excelled, as undoubtedly they are su
perior in the number of their
§ 88. A short Commendation of the
Latin Language. cæus, Sappho, Simonides, and Stesichorus are almost entirely lost. Here and there And now, having possibly given you a fragment of some of them is remaining, some prejudice in favour of the Romans, which, like some broken parts of ancient I must beg leave to assure you, that if you statues, preserve an imperfect monument have not leisure to master both, you will of the delicacy, strength, and skill of the find your pains well rewarded in the Latin great master's hand.
tongue, when once you enter into the elePindar is sublime, but obscure, impetu- gancies and beauties of it. It is the
peous in his course, and unfathomable in the culiar felicity of that language to speak depth and loftiness of his thoughts. Ana- good sense in suitable expressions; to give creon flows soft and easy, every where the finest thoughts in the happiest words, diffusing the joy and indolence of his mind and in an easy majesty of style, to write up through his verse, and tuning his harp to to the subject. “ And in this lies the great the smooth and pleasant temper of his soul. “ secret of writing well. It is that elegant Horace alone may be compared to both; simplicity, that ornamental plainness of in whom are reconciled the loftiness and speech, which every common genius majesty of Pindar, and the gay, careless, “ thinks so plain, that any body may reach jovial temper of Anacreon: and, I sup- “ it, and findeth so very elegant, that all pose, however Pindar may be admired for “ his sweat, and pains, and study, fail greatness, and Anacreon for delicateness
“ him in the attempt." of thought; Horace, who rivals one in his In reading the excellent authors of the triumphs, and the other in his mirth and Roman tongue, whether you converse with love, surpasses them both in justness, ele- poets, orators, or historians, you will meet gance, and happiness of expression. Ana- with all that is admirable in human comcreon has another follower among the posure. And though life and spirit, prochoicest wits of Rome, and that is Catul- priety and force of style, be common to lus, whom, though his lines be rough, and them all, you will see that nevertheless his numbers inharmonious, I could re- every writer shines in his peculiar excelcommend for the softness and delicacy, lencies; and that wit, like beauty, is dibut must decline for the looseness of his versified into a thousand graces of feature thoughts, too immodest for chaste ears to and complexion. bear.
I need not trouble you with a particuI will go no farther in the poets; only, lar character of these celebrated writers. for the honour of our country, let me ob- What I have said already, and what I shall serve to you, that while Rome has been say farther of them as I go along, renders contented to produce some single rivals to it less necessary at present, and I would not the Grecian poetry, England hath brought pre-engage your opinion implicitly to my forth the wonderful Cowley's wit, who was side. It will be a pleasant exercise of your beloved by every muse he courted, and has judgment to distinguish them yourself
, and rivalled the Greek and Latin poets in every when you and I shall be able to depart kind but tragedy.
from the common received opinions of the I will not trouble you with the histori- critics and commentators, I may ans any farther, than to inform you, that other occasion of laying them before you, the contest lies chiefly between Thucydides and submitting what I shall then say of and Sallust, Herodotus and Livy: though them to your approbation.
Ibid. I think Thucydides and Livy may on many accounts more justly be compared: $ 89. Directions in reading the Classics. the critics have been very free in their censures, but I shall be glad to suspend In the mean time, I shall only give you any farther judgment, till you shall be able two or three cautions and directions for to read them, and give me your opinion. your reading them, which to some people
Oratory and philosophy are the next will look a little odd, but with me they disputed prizes; and whatever praises may are of great moment, and very necessary be justly given 10 Aristotle, Plato, Xeno- to be observed. phon and Demosthenes, I will venture to The first is, that you would never be say, that the divine Tully is all the Gre- persuaded into what they call Commoncian orators and philosophers in one. places; which is a way of taking an au
Fellon. thor to pieces, and ranging him under pro
per heads, that you may readily find what and imbibe their sense. There is no need he has said upon any point, by consulting of tying ourselves up to an imitation of any an alphabet. This practice is of no use of them: much less to copy or transcribe but in circumstantials of time and place, them. For there is room for vast variety custom and antiquity, and in such in- of thought and style; as nature is various stances where facts are to be remembered, in her works, and is nature still, Good not where the brain is to be exercised. In authors, like the celebrated masters in the these cases it is of great use: it helps the several schools of painting, are originals in memory, and serves to keep those things their way, and different in their manner. in a sort of order and succession. But, And when we can make the same use of common-placing the sense of an author is the Romans as they did of the Grecians, such a stupid undertaking, that if I may and habituate ourselves to their way of be indulged in saying it, they want com- thinking and writing, we may be equal in mon sense that practise it. What heaps of rank, though different from them all, and this rubbish have I seen! O the pains and be esteemed as originals as well as they. labour to record what other people have And this is what I would have you do. said, that is taken by those who have no- Mix and incorporate with those ancient thing to say themselves! You may depend streams; and though your own wit will be upon it, the writings of these men are improved and heightened by such a strong never worth the reading; the fancy is infusion, yet the spirit, the thought, - the cramped, the invention spoiled, their fancy, the expression, which shall flow thoughts on every thing are prevented, if from your pen, will be entirely your own. they think at all; but it is the peculiar
Fellon. happiness of these collectors of sense, that they can write without thinking.
f 90. Commendation of Schools. I do most readily agree, that all the I am very far from having any mean bright sparkling thoughts of the ancients, thoughts of those great men who preside their finest expressions, and noblest senti. in our chiefest and most celebrated schools; ments, are to be met with in these tran- it is my happiness to be known to the most scribers; but how wretchedly are they eminent of them in a particular manner, brought in, how miserably put together and they will acquit me of any disrespect, indeed, I can compare such productions where they know I have the greatest ve. to nothing but rich pieces of patch-work, neration; for with them the genius of sewed together with packthread.
classic learning dwells, and from them it is When I see a beautiful building of exact derived. And I think myself honoured in order and proportion taken down, and the the acquaintance of some masters in the different materials laid together by them- country, who are not less polite than they 'selves, it puts me in mind of these common- are learned, and to the exact knowledge place men. The materials are certainly ve
of the Greek and Roman tongues, have ry good, but they understand not the rules joined a true taste, and delicate relish of of architecture so well as to form them in the classic authors. But should you ever to just and masterly proportions any more: light into some formal hands, though your and yet how beautiful would they stand in sense is too fine to relish those pedantries another model upon another plan!
I have been remonstrating against, when For, we must confess the truth: We can you come to understand them, yet for the say nothing new, at least we can say no- present they may impose upon you with a thing better than has been said before; but grave appearance; and, as learning is comwe may nevertheless make what we say monly managed by such persons, you may our own. And this is done when we do think them very learned, because they are not trouble ourselves to remember in what very dull : and if you should receive the page or what book we have read such a tincture while you are young,
sink passage: but it falls in naturally with the too deep for all the waters of Helicon to course of our own thoughts, and takes its take out. You may be sensible of it, as we place in our writings with as much ease, are of ill habits, which we regret, but canand looks with as good a grace as it ap- not break, and so it may mix with your peared in two thousand years ago.
studies for ever, and give bad colours to This is the best way of remembering every thing you design, whether in speech the ancient authors, when you relish their or writing. way of writing, enter into their thoughts, For these meaner critics dress up their