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and significancy of his words. You will style, if we were to decide, is certainly the observe, for I speak upon my own ob- standard of Roman history. For Sallust, servation, that Livy is not so easy and I must own, is too impetuous in his course; obvious to be understood as Sallust; the he hurries his reader on too fast, and hardexperiment is made every where in read. ly ever allows him the pleasure of expectaing five or six pages of each author toge- tion, which in reading history, where it is ther. The shortness of Sallust's sentences, justly raised on important events, is the as long as they are clear, shews his sense greatest of all others.
Felton, and meaning all the way in an instant : the progress is quick and plain, and every
$ 110. Their Use in Style. . three lines gives us a new and complete Reading these celebrated authors will idea; we are carried from one thing to give you a true taste of good writing, and another with so swift a pace, that we run form you to a just and correct style upon as we read, and yet cannot, if we read every occasion that shall demand your pen. distinctly, run faster than we understand I would not recommend any of them to a him. This is the brightest testimony that strict imitation; that is servile and mean; can be given of a clear and obvious style. and you cannot propose an exact copy of a In Livy we cannot pass on so readily; we pattern without falling short of the origiare forced to wait for his meaning till we nal: but if you once read them with a true come to the end of the sentence, and have relish and discernment of their beauties, 80 many clauses to sort and refer to their you may lay them aside, and be secure of proper places in the way, that I must own writing with all the graces of them all,
cannot read him so readily at sight as I without owing your perfection to any. can Sallust; though with attention and Your style and manner will be your own, consideration I understand him as well. and even your letters upon the most orHe is not so easy, nor so well adapted to dinary subjects, will have a native beauty young proficients, as the other: and is and elegance in the composition, which ever plainest, when his sentences are short will equal them with the best originals, and est; which I think is a demonstration,' set them far above the common standard. Some, perhaps, will be apt to conclude, Upon this occasion, I cannot pass by that in this I differ from Quinctilian; but your favourite author, the grave and faceI do not conceive so myself; for Quincti. tious Tatler, who has drawn mankind in lian recommends Livy before Sallust ra- every dress, and every disguise of nature, ther for his candour, and the larger compass in a style ever varying with the humours, of his history; for he owns a good profici- fancies, and follies he describes. He has ency is required to understand him; and I shewn himself a master in every turn of can only refer to the experience of young his pen, whether his subject be light or seproficients, which of them is more open to rious, and has laid down the rules of comtheir apprehension. Distinction of sen- mon life with so much judgment, in such tences, in few words, provided the words agreeable, such lively and elegant language, be plain and expressive, ever gives light to that from him you at once may form your the author, and carries his meaning upper- manners and your style. Ibid. most; but long periods, and a multiplicity
§ 111. On Spenser and SHAKSPEARE. of clauses, however they abound with the most obvious and significant words, do I may add some poets of more ancient necessarily make the meaning more retired, date; and though their style is out of the less forward and obvious to the view:
and standard now, there are in them still some in this Livy may seem as crowded as Thu- lines so extremely beautiful, that our mocydides, if not in the number of periods, dern language cannot reach them. Chaucertainly in the multitude of clauses, which, cer is too old, I fear; but Spenser, though so disposed, do rather obscure than illumi- he be antiquated too, hath still charms nate his writings. But in so rich, so ma- remaining to make you enamoured of him. jestic, so flowing a writer, we may wait His antique verse has music in it to ravish with patience to the end of the sentence, any ears, that can be sensible of the softest, for the pleasure still increases as we read. sweetest numbers, that ever flowed from a The elegance and purity, the greatness, poet's pen. the nobleness of his diction, his happiness Shakspeare is a wonderful genius, a sinin narration, and his wonderful eloquence, gle instance of the force of nature and the are above all commendation; and his strength of wit. Nothing can be greater
and more lively than his thoughts; no- Abbè du Bos, in his Reflections on Poetry thing nobler and more forcible than his and Painting, has collected a great many expression. The fire of his fancy breaks observations on the influence which the out into his words, and sets his reader on air, the climate, and other such natural a flame: he makes the blood run cold or causes, may be supposed to have upon gewarm; and is so admirable a master of the nius. But whatever the causes be, the fact passions, that he raises your courage, your is certain, that there have been certain pepity, and
your fear at his pleasure; but he'riods or ages of the world much more disdelights most in terror. Felton. tinguished than others, for the extraordi
nary productions of genius. Blair. 112. On Milton and Philips. Milton is the assertor of poetic liberty,
§ 114. Four of these Ages marked out by and would have freed us from the bondage
the Learned. of rhyme, but, like sinners, and like lov- Learned men have marked out four of ers, we hug our chain, and are pleased in these happy ages. The first is the Grecian being slaves. Some indeed have made age, which commenced near the time of some faint attempts to break it, but their the Peloponnesian war, and extended till verse had all the softness and effeminacy the time of Alexander the Great; within of rhyme without the music; and Dryden which period, we have Herodotus, Thuhimself, who sometimes struggled to get cydides, Xenophon, Socrates, Plato, Arisloose, always relapsed, and
was faster totle, Demosthenes, Æschines, Lysias, bound than ever : but rhyme was his pro- Isocrates, Pindar, Æschylus, Euripides,
, vince, and he could make the tinkling of Sophocles, Aristophanes, Menander, Anahis chains harmonious, Mr. Philips has creon, Theocritus, Lysippus, Apelles, trod the nearest in his great master's steps, Phidias, Praxiteles. The second is the Roand has equalled him in his verse more man age, included nearly within the days than he falls below him in the compass and of Julius Cæsar and Augustus; affording dignity of his subject. The Shilling is us, Catullus, Lucretius, Terence, Virgil, truly splendid in his lines, and his poems Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Phæwill live longer than the unfinished castle, drus, Cæsar, Cicero, Livy, Sallust, Varro, as long as Blenheim is remembered, or
and Vitruvius. The third age is that of Cyder drank in England. But I have the restoration of learning, under the Popes digressed from Milton; and that I may re- Julius II. and Leo X.; when flourished turo, and say all in a word; his style, his Ariosto, Tasso, Sannazarius, Vida, Machithoughts, his verse, are as superior to the avel, Guicciardini, Davila, Erasmus, Paul generality of other poets, as his subject. Jovius, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Titian.
Ibido The fourth, comprehends the age of Louis
XIV. and Queen Apne; when flourished 113. Great Men have usually appeared in France, Corneille, Racine, De Retz, at the same time.
Moliere, Boileau, Fontaine, Baptiste, It is a remarkable phænomenon, and Rousseau, Bossuet, Fenelon, Bourdaloue, one which has often employed the specu- Pascal, Malebranche, Massillon, Bruyere, lations of curious men, that writers and Bayle, Fontenelle, Vertot; and in Engartists, most distinguished for their parts land, Dryden, Pope, Addison, Prior, and genius, have generally appeared in Swift, Parnell, Congreve, Otway, Young, considerable numbers at a time. Some Rowe, Atterbury, Shaftsbury, Bolingages have been remarkably barren in them; broke, Tillotson, Temple, Boyle, Locke, while, at other periods, Nature seems to Newton, Clarke.
Ibid. have exerted herself with a more than ordinary effort, and to have poured them $ 115. The reputation of the Ancients forth with a profuse fertility. Various rea
established too firmly to be shaken. sons have been assigned for this. Some of If any one, at this day, in the eighteenth the moral causes lie obvious; such as fa- century, takes upon him to decry the anvourable circumstances of government and cient Classics; if he pretends to have disof manners ; encouragement from great covered that Homer and Virgil are poets men; emulation excited
the of inconsiderable merit, and that Demosof genius. But as these have been thought thenes and Cicero are not great orators, we inadequate to the whole effect, physical may boldly venture to tell such a man, causes have been also assigned ; and the that he is come too late with his discovery.
The reputation of such writers is estab- with respect to errors committed here, as lished upon a foundation too solid to be in Philosophy. For the universal feeling Dow shaken by any arguments whatever; of mankind is the natural feeling; and for it is established upon the almost uni- because it is the natural, it is, for that reaversal taste of mankind, proved and tried son, the right feeling. The reputation of throughout the succession of so many ages. the Iliad and the Æneid must therefore Imperfections in their works he may in- stand upon sure ground, because it has deed point out; passages that are faulty, stood so long; though that of the Aristohe may shew; for where is the human telian or Platonic philosophy, every one work that is perfect? But if he attempts is at liberty to call in question. Blair. to discredit their works in general, or to prove that the reputation which they have $ 116. The Reputation of the Ancients not gained is on the whole unjust, there is an
owing to Pedantry. argument against him, which is equal to It is in vain also to allege, that the tefull demonstration. He must be in the putation of the ancient poets and orators, wrong: for human nature is against him. is owing to authority, to pedantry, and to In matters of taste, such as poetry and ora- the prejudices of education, transmitted tory, to whom does the appeal lie? where from age to age. These, it is true, are the is the standard ? and where the authority authors put into our hands at schools and of the last decision ? where is it to be look- colleges, and by that means we have now ed for, but, as I formerly shewed, in those an early prepossession in their favour; but feelings and sentiments that are found, on how came they to gain the possession of the most extensive examination, to be the colleges and schools? Plainly, by the high common sentiments and feelings of men} fame which these authors had among their These have been fully consulted on this own contemporaries. For the Greek and head. The Public, the unprejudiced Pub- Latin were not always dead languages. lic, has been tried and appealed to for There was a time, when Homer, and Virmany centuries, and throughout almost gil, and Horace, were viewed in the same all civilized nations. It has pronounced light as we now view Dryden, Pope, and its verdict; it has given its sanction to Addison. It is not to commentators and these writers; and from this tribunal there universities, that the classics are indebted lies no farther appeal.
for their fame. They became classics and In matters of mere reasoning, the world school-books in consequence of the high may be long in an error; and may be admiration which was paid them by the convinced of the error by stronger reason. best judges in their own country and naings, when produced. Positions that de- tion. As early as the days of Juvenal, pend upon science, upon knowledge, and who wrote under the reign of Domitian, matters of fact, may be overturned accord- we find Virgil and Horace become the ing as science and knowledge are enlarged, standard books in the education of youth. and new matters of fact are brought to light. For this reason, a system of phi
Quod stabant pueri, cum totus decolor esset losophy receives no sufficient sanction
Flaccus, & hæreret nigro fuligo Maroni.
SAT. 7.+ from its antiquity, or long currency. The world, as it grows older, may be justly From this general principle, then, of expected to become, if not wiser, at least the reputation of great ancient Classics more knowing; and supposing it doubtful being so early, so lasting, so extensive, whether Aristotle, or Newton, were the among all the most polished nations, we greater genius, yet Newton's philosophy may justly and boldly infer, that their remay prevail over Aristotle's by means of putation cannot be wholly unjust, but later discoveries, to which Aristotle was a must have a solid foundation in the merit stranger. But nothing of this kind holds of their writings.
Ibid. as to matters of Taste; which depend not on the progress of knowledge and science,
$ 117. In what Respects the Moderns but upon sentiment and feeling. It is in
excel the Ancients. vain to think of undeceiving mankind, Let us guard, however, against a blind
* « Then thou art bound to smell, on either hand,
“ As many stinking lamps as school-boys stand,
and implicit veneration for the Ancients in the more complex kinds of poetry, likeevery thing. I have opened the general wise, we may have gained soinewhat, perprinciple which must go far in instituting haps, in point of regularity and accuracy. a fair comparison between them and the In dramatic performances, having the adModerns. Whatever superiority the An- vantage of the ancient models, we may be cients may have had in point of genius, allowed to have made some improvements yet in all arts, where the natural progress in the variety of the characters, the conof knowledge has had room to produce duct of the plot, attentions to probability, , any considerable effects, the Moderns can- and to decorums.
Blair. not but have some advantage. The world may, in certain respects, be considered as
§ 118. We must look to the Ancients for person, who must needs gain somewhat
elegant Composition, and to the Moderns by advancing in years. Its improvements
for accurate Philosophy. have not, I confess, been always in pro
From whatever cause it happens, so it portion to the centuries that have passed is, that among some of the ancient writers, over it; for, during the course of some we must look for the highest models in ages, it has sunk as into a total lethargy. most of the kinds of elegant composition. Yet when roused from that lethargy, it For accurate thinking and enlarged ideas, has generally been able to avail itself, in several parts of philosophy, to the momore or less, of former discoveries. Ai derns we ought chiefly to have recourse. intervals, there arose some happy genius, Of correct and finished writing in some who could both improve on what had works of taste, they may afford useful patgone before, and invent something new. terns; but for all that belongs to original With the advantage of a proper stock of genius, to spirited, masterly, and high materials, an inferior genius can make execution, our best and most happy ideas greater progress than a much superior one, are, generally spe king, drawn from the. to whom these materials are wanting. ancients. In epic poetry, for instance,
Hence, in Natural Philosophy, Astro- Homer and Virgil, to this day, stand not nomy, Chemistry, and other sciences that within many degrees of any rival. Orators, depend on an extensive knowledge and ob- such as Cicero and Demosthenes, we have servation of facts, modern philosophers none.
In history, notwithstanding some have an unquestionable superiority over the defects, which I am afterwards to mention ancient. I am inclined also to think, that in the ancient historical plans, it may be in matters of pure reasoning, there is more safely asserted, that we have no such hisprecision among the moderns, than in some torical narration, so elegant, so picturesque, instances there was among the ancients; so animated, and interesting as that of owing perhaps to a more extensive lite- Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Livy, rary intercourse, which has improved and Tacitus, and Sallust. Although the consharpened the faculties of men. In some duct of the draina may be admitted to studies too, that relate to taste and fine have received some improvements, yet for writing, which is our object, the progress poetry and sentiment, we have nothing to of society must, in equity, be admitted to equal Sophocles and Euripides: nor any have given us some advantages. For in- dialogue in comedy, that comes up to the stance, in history: there is certainly more correct, graceful, and elegant simplicity of political knowledge in several European Terence. We have no such love-elegies nations at present, ihan there was in ancient as those of Tibullus: no such pastorals as Greece and Rome. We are better acquaint- some of Theocritus's: and for lyric poeed with the nature of government, because try, Horace stands quite unrivalled. The we have seen it under a greater variety of name of Horace cannot be inentioned forms and revolutions. The world is more without a particular encomium. That laid open than it was in former times; “ curiosa felicitas,” which Petronius bas commerce is greatly enlarged; more coun- remarked in his expression; the sweetness, tries are civilized; posts are every where elegance, and spirit of many of his odes, established; intercourse is become more the thorough knowledge of the world, the easy; and the knowledge of facts, by con- excellent sentiments, and natural easy sequence, more attainable. All these are manner which distinguish bis Satires and great advantages to historians; of which, Epistles, all contribute to render him one in some measure, as I shall afterwards of those very few authors whom one never shew, they liave 'availed themselves. In tires of reading; and from whom alone,
were every other monument destroyed, gaging; but his Hellenics, or continuation we should be led to form a very high of the history of Thucydides, is a much idea of the taste and genius of the Au- inferior work. Sallust's art of historical gustan age.
Blair. painting in his Catilinarian, but, more es$ 119. The assiduous Sluly of the Greek pecially, in his Jugurthine war, is well and Roman Classics recommended.
known, though his style is liable to cen
sure, as too studied and affected. To all such then, as wish to form their
Ibid. taste, and nourish their genius, let me warmly recommend the assiduous study $ 121. Livy remarkable for Historical of the ancient classics, both Greek and
Livy is more unexceptionable in his Nocturnâ versate manu, versate diurnâ *.
manner; and is excelled by no historian
whatever in the art of narration : several Without a considerable acquaintance with remarkable examples might be given from them, no man can be reckoned a polite him. His account, for instance, of the fascholar; and he will want many assistances mous defeat of the Roman army by the for writing and speaking well, which the Samnites, at the Furcæ Caudinæ, in the knowledge of such authors would afford beginning of the ninth book, affords one him. Any one has great reason to suspect of the most beautiful exemplifications of his own taste, who receives little or no
historical painting, that is any where to be pleasure from the pernsal of writings, which met with. We have first, an exact deso many ages and nations have consented scription of the narrow pass between two in holding up as subjects of admiration. mountains, into which the enemy had deAnd I am persuaded, it will be found, coyed the Romans. When they find themthat in proportion as the ancients are ge- selves caught, and no hope of escape left, nerally studied and admired, or are un- we are made to see, first, their astonishknown and disregarded in any country, ment, next, their indignation, and then, good taste and good composition will their dejection, painted in the most lively flourish, or decline. They are commonly manner, by such circumstances and actions none but the igaorant or superficial, who
as were natural to persons in their situaundervalue them,
Ibid. tion. The restless and unquiet manner in § 120. The ancient Historians excel in tions of the Samnites ; the various mea
which they pass the night; the consultapicturesque Nurrulion.
sures proposed to be taken; the messages In all the virtues of narration, particu- between the two armies, all heighten the larly in that of picturesqne descriptive nar
At length, in the morning, the ration, several of the ancient historians consuls return to the camp, and inform eminently excel. Hence, the pleasure that them that they could receive no other is found in reading Herodotus, Thucydi- terms but that of surrendering their arms, des, Xenophon, Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus. and passing under the yoke, which was They are all conspicuous for the art of considered as the last mark of ignominy narration. Herodotus is, at all times, an for a conquered army.
Ibid. agreeable writer, and relates every thing with that náiveté and simplicity of man- § 122. Tacitus remarkable for Historical ner, which never fails to interest the reader.
Painting. Though the manner of Thucydides be Tacitus is another author eminent for more dry and harsh, yet, on great occa- historical painting, though in a manner sions, as when he is giving an account of altogether different from that of Livy. the plague of Athens, the siege of Platæa, Livy's descriptions are more full, more
, the sedition in Corcyra, the defeat of the plain, and natural ; those of Tacitus conAthenians in Sicily, he displays a very sist in a few bold strokes. He selects one strong and masterly power of description. or two remarkable circumstances, and sets Xenophon's Cyropædia, and his Anabasis, them before us in a strong, and, generally,
, or retreat of the ten thousand, are extreme- in a new and uncommon light. Such is ly beautiful. The circumstances are finely the following picture of the situation of selected, and the narration is easy and en- Rome, and of the Emperor Galba, when
* " Read them by day and study them by night.”