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the most languid virtue has sufficient force to prevent; because by detraction that is not gained which is taken away." He who filches from me my good name," says Shakspeare, "enriches not himself, but makes me poor indeed." As nothing therefore degrades human nature more than detraction, nothing more disgraces conversation. The detractor, as he is the lowest moral character, reflects greater dishonour upon his company, than the hangman; and he whose disposition is a scandal to his species, should be more diligently avoided, than he who is scandalous only by his office.

But for this practice, however vile, some have dared to apologize, by contending the report by which they injured an absent character, was true: this, however, amounts to no more than that they have not complicated malice with falsehood, and that there is some difference between detraction and slander. To relate all the ill that is true of the best man in the world, would probably render him the object of suspicion and distrust; and was this practice universal, mutual confidence and esteem, the comforts of society, and the endearments of friendship, would be at an end.

deed be excluded from our conversation: as companions, not only that which we owe to ourselves, but to others, is required of us; and they who can indulge any vice in the presence of each other, are become obdurate in guilt, and insensible to infamy. Rambler.

§48. Learning should be sometimes applied

to cultivate our Morals.

Envy, curiosity, and our sense of the imperfection of our present state, incline us always to estimate the advantages which are in the possession of others above their real value. Every one must have remarked what powers and prerogatives the vulgar imagine to be conferred by learning. A man of science is expected to excel the unlettered and unenlightened, even on occasions where literature is of no use, and among weak minds loses part of his reverence by discovering no superiority in those parts of life, in which all are unavoidably equal; as when a monarch makes a progress to the remoter provinces, the rustics are said sometimes to wonder that they find him of the same size with themselves.

These demands of prejudice and folly can never be satisfied, and therefore many of the imputations which learning suffers from disappointed ignorance, are without reproach. Yet it cannot be denied, that there are some failures to which men of study are peculiarly exposed. Every condition has its disadvantages. The cir cle of knowledge is too wide for the most active and diligent intellect, and while science is pursued with ardour, other accomplishments of equal use are necessarily neglected; as a small garrison must leave one part of an extensive fortress naked, when an alarm calls them to another.

There is something unspeakably more hateful in those species of villany by which the law is evaded, than those by which it is violated and defiled. Courage has sometimes preserved rapacity from abhorrence, as beauty has been thought to apologize for prostitution; but the injustice of cowardice is universally abhorred, and, like the lewdness of deformity, has no advocate. Thus hateful are the wretches who detract with caution, and while they perpetrate the wrong, are solicitous to avoid the reproach: they do not say, that Chloe forfeited her honour to Lysander; but they say, that such a report has been spread, they know The learned, however, might generally not how true. Those who propagate these support their dignity with more success, reports frequently invent them; and it is if they suffered not themselves to be misno breach of charity to suppose this to be led by superfluous attainments of quali always the case because no man who fication which few can understand or vaspreads detraction would have scrupled to lue, and by skill which they may sink produce it; and he who should diffuse into the grave without any conspicuous poison in a brook, would scarce be ac- opportunities of exerting. Raphael, in quitted of a malicious design, though he return to Adam's inquiries into the courses should allege that he received it of ano- of the stars and the revolutions of heaven, ther who is doing the same elsewhere. counsels him to withdraw his mind from idle speculations, and instead of watching motions which he had no power to

Whatever is incompatible with the highest dignity of our nature, should in

regulate, to employ his faculties upon nearer and more interesting objects, the survey of his own life, the subjection of his passions, the knowledge of duties which must daily be performed, and the detection of dangers which must daily be incurred.

This angelic counsel every man of letters should always have before him. He that devotes himself wholly to retired study, naturally sinks from omission to forgetfulness of social duties, and from which he must be sometimes awakened and recalled to the general condition of mankind. Rambler.

Its Progress.

It hath been observed by the ancients, That all the arts and sciences arose among free nations; and that the Persians and Egyptians, notwithstanding all their ease, opulence, and luxury, made but faint efforts towards those finer pleasures, which were carried to such perfection by the Greeks, amidst continual wars, attended with poverty, and the greatest simplicity of life and manners. It had also been observed, that as soon as the Greeks lost their liberty, though they increased mightily in riches, by the means of the conquests of Alexander; yet the arts from that moment declined among them, and have never since been able to raise their head in that climate. Learning was transplanted to Rome, the only free nation at that time in the universe, and having met with so favourable a soil, it made prodigious shoots for above a century, till the decay of liberty produced also a decay of letters, and spread a total barbarism over the world. From these two experiments, of which each was double in its kind, and shewed the fall of learning in despotic governments, as well as its rise in popular ones, Longinus thought himself sufficiently justified in asserting, that the arts and sciences could never flourish but in a free government; and in this opinion he had been followed by several eminent writers in our country, who either confined their view merely to ancient facts, or entertained too great a partiality in favour of that form of government which is established amongst us.

But what would these writers have said to the instances of modern Rome and Florence? Of which the former carried to perfection all the finer arts of sculpture, painting, music, as well as poetry,

though they groaned under slavery, and under the slavery of priests: while the latter made the greatest progress in the arts and sciences after they began to lose their liberty by the usurpation of the family of Medicis. Ariosto, Tasso, Galilæo, no more than Raphael and Michael Angelo, were not born in republics. And though the Lombard school was famous as well as the Roman, yet the Venetians have had the smallest share in its honour, and seem rather inferior to the Italians in their genius for the arts and sciences. Rubens established his school at Antwerp, not at Amsterdam; Dresden, not Hamburgh, is the centre of politeness in Germany.

But the most eminent instance of the flourishing state of learning in despotic governments, is that of France, which scarce ever enjoyed an established liberty, and yet has carried the arts and sciences as near perfection as any other nation. The English are, perhaps, better philosophers; and Italians better painters and musicians; the Romans were better orators; but the French are the only people, except the Greeks, who have been at once philosophers, poets, orators, historians, architects, sculptors, and musicians. With regard to the stage, they have excelled even the Greeks, who have far excelled the English: and in common life they have in a great measure perfected that art, the most useful and agreeable of any, l'art de vivre, the art of society and conversation.

If we consider the state of sciences and polite arts in our country, Horace's observation with regard to the Romans, may, in a great measure, be applied to the British,


Sed in longum tamen ærum Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia ruris. The elegance and propriety of style have been very much neglected among us. We have no dictionary of our language, and scarce a tolerable grammar. first polite prose we have, was wrote by a man who is still alive. As to Sprat, Locke, and even Temple, they knew too little of the rules of art to be esteemed very elegant writers. The prose of Bacon, Harrington, and Milton, is altogether stiff and pedantic; though their sense be excellent. Men in this country have been so much occupied in the great disputes of religion, politics, and philoso

phy, that they had no relish for the minute observations of grammar and criticism. And though this turn of thinking must have considerably improved our sense and our talent of reasoning beyond those of other nations, it must be confessed, that even in those sciences above-mentioned, we have not any standard book which we can transmit to posterity; and the utmost we have to boast of, are a few essays towards a more just philosophy: which, indeed, promise very much, but have not, as yet, reached any degree of perfection.

Useless without Taste.

A man may know exactly all the circles and ellipses of the Copernican system, and all the irregular spirals of the Ptolemaic, without perceiving that the former is more beautiful than the latter. Euclid has very fully explained every quality of the circle, but has not, in any proposition, said a word of its beauty. The reason is evident. Beauty is not a quality of the circle. It lies not in any part of the line, whose parts are all equally distant from a common centre. It is only the effect which that figure operates upon the mind, whose particular fabric or structure renders it susceptible of such sentiments. In vain would you look for it in the circle, or seek it, either by your senses, or by mathematical reasonings, in all the properties of that figure.

The mathematician, who took no other pleasure in reading Virgil but that of examining Eneas's voyage by the map, might understand perfectly the meaning of every Latin word employed by that divine author, and consequently might have a distinct idea of the whole narration; he would even have a more distinct idea of it, than they could have who had not studied so exactly the geography of the poem. He knew, therefore, every thing in the poem. But he was ignorant of its beauty; because the beauty, properly speaking, lies not in the poem, but the sentiment or taste of the reader. And where a man has no such delicacy of temper as to make him feel this sentiment, he must be ignorant of the beauty, though possessed of the science and understanding of an angel.

Hume's Essays.

Its Obstructions. So many hinderances may obstruct the acquisition of knowledge, that there is little

reason for wondering that it is in a few hands. To the greater part of mankind the duties of life are inconsistent with much study, and the hours which they would spend upon letters must be stolen from their occupations and their families. Many suffer themselves to be lured by more sprightly and luxurious pleasures from the shades of contemplation, where they find seldom more than a calm delight, such as, though greater than all others, if its certainty and its duration be reckoned with its power of gratification, is yet easily quitted for some extemporary joy, which the present moment offers, and another perhaps will put out of reach.

It is the great excellence of learning, that it borrows very little from time or place; it is not confined to season or to climates, to cities or to the country, but may be cultivated and enjoyed when no other pleasure can be obtained. But this quality, which constitutes much of its value, is one occasion of neglect; what may be done at all times with equal propriety, is deferred from day to day, till the mind is gradually reconciled to the omission, and the attention is turned to other objects. Thus habitual idleness gains too much power to be conquered, and the soul shrinks from the idea of intellectual labour and intenseness of meditation.

That those who profess to advance learning sometimes obstruct it, cannot be denied; the continual multiplication of books not only distracts choice, but disappoints inquiry. To him that has moderately stored his mind with images, few writers afford any novelty; or what little they have to add to the common stock of learning is so buried in the mass of general notions, that, like silver mingled with the ore of lead, it is too little to pay for the labour of separation; and he that has often been deceived by the promise of a title, at last grows weary of examining, and is tempted to consider all as equally fallacious. Idler.

§ 49. Mankind, a Portrait of.

Vanity bids all her sons to be generous and brave, and her daughters to be chaste and courteous.—But why do we want her instructions?-Ask the comedian, who is taught a part he feels


Is it that the principles of religion want strength, or that the real passion for what

is good and worthy will not carry us high enough?God! thou knowest they carry us too high we want not to bebut to seem.

Look out of your door,-take notice of that man; see what disquieting, intriguing, and shifting, he is content to go through, merely to be thought a man of plaindealing;-three grains of honesty would save him all this trouble:alas! he has them not.

Behold, a second, under a shew of piety hiding the impurities of a debauched life, he is just entering the house of God: would he was more pure-or less pious!--but then he could not gain his point.

Observe a third going almost in the same track, with what an inflexible sanctity of deportment he sustains himself as he advances !-every line in his face writes abstinence ;every stride looks like a check upon his desires: see, I beseech you, how he is cloak'd up with sermons, prayers, and sacraments; and so bemuffled with the externals of religion, that he has not a hand to spare for a worldly purpose; he has armour at least-Why does he put it on? Is there no serving God without all this? Must the garb of religion be extended so wide to the danger of its rending? Yes, truly, or it will not hide the secret—and, What is that? -That the saint has no religion

at all.

-But here comes GENEROSITY; giving not to a decayed artist-but to the arts and sciences themselves.-See,he builds not a chamber in the wall apart for the prophets, but whole schools and colleges for those who come after. LORD! how they will magnify his name!-'tis in capitals already; the first-the highest in the gilded rent-roll of every hospital and asylum

One honest tear shed in private over the unfortunate, is worth it all.

What a problematic set of creatures does simulation make us! Who would divine that all the anxiety and concern so visible in the airs of one half of that great assembly should arise from nothing else, but that the other half of it may think them to be men of consequence, penetration, parts, and conduct?What a noise amongst the claimants about it! Behold humility, out of mere pride-and honesty, almost out of knavery :-Chastity never once in harm's way; and courage,

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$ 50. Hard words defended, Few faults of style, whether real or imaginary, excite the malignity of a more numerous class of readers, than the use of hard words.

If an author be supposed to involve his thoughts in voluntary obscurity, and to obstruct, by unnecessary difficulties, a mind eager in pursuit of truth: if he writes not to make others learned, but to boast the learning which he possesses himself, and wishes to be admired rather than understood, he counteracts the first end of writing, and justly suffers the utmost severity of censure, or the more afflictive severity of neglect.

But words are only hard to those who do not understand them; and the critic ought always to inquire, whether he is incommoded by the fault of the writer, or by his own.

Every author does not write for every reader; many questions are such as the illiterate part of mankind can have neither interest nor pleasure in discussing, and which therefore it would be an useless endeavour to level with common minds, by tiresome circumlocutions or laborious explanations; and many subjects of general use may be treated in a different manner, as the book is intended for the learned or the ignorant. Diffusion and explication are necessary to the instruction of those who, being neither able nor accustomed to think for themselves, can learn only what is expressly taught; but they who can form parallels, discover consequences, and multiply conclusions, are best pleased with involution of argument and compression of thought; they desire only to receive the seeds of knowledge which they may branch out by their own power, to have the way to truth pointed out which they can then follow without a guide..

The Guardian directs one of his pupils "to think with the wise, but speak with the vulgar." This is a precept specious enough but not always practicable, Difference of thoughts will produce difference

of language. He that thinks with more extent than another, will want words of larger meaning; he that thinks with more subtilty, will seek for terms of more nice discrimination; and where is the wonder, since words are but the images of things, that he who never knew the originals should not know the copies?

Yet vanity inclines us to find faults any where rather than in ourselves. He that reads and grows wiser, seldom suspects his own deficiency; but complains of hard words and obscure sentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood.

Among the hard words which are no longer to be used, it has been long the custom to number terms of art. "Every man (says Swift) is more able to explain the subject of an art than its professors; a farmer will tell you in two words, that he has broken his leg; but a surgeon, after a long discourse, shall leave you as ignorant as you were before." This could only have been said but by such an exact observer of life, in gratification of malignity, or in ostentation of acuteness. Every hour produces instances of the necessity of terms of art. Mankind could never conspire in uniform affectation; it is not but by necessity that every science and every trade has its peculiar language. They that content themselves with general ideas may rest in general terms: but those whose studies or employments force them upon closer inspection, must have names for particular parts, and words by which they may express various modes of combination, such as none but themselves have occasion to consider.

Artists are indeed sometimes ready to suppose, that none can be strangers to words to which themselves are familiar, to talk to an incidental inquirer as they talk to one another, and make their knowledge ridiculous by injudicious obtrusion. An art cannot be taught but by its proper terms, but it is not always necessary to teach the art.

That the vulgar express their thoughts clearly is far from true; and what perspicuity can be found among them proceeds not from the easiness of their language, but the shallowness of their thoughts. He that sees a building as a common spectator, contents himself with relating that it is great or little, mean or splendid, lofty or low all these words are intelligible and common, but they convey no distinct

or limited ideas; if he attempts, without the terms of architecture, to delineate the parts, or enumerate the ornaments, his narration at once becomes unintelligible. The terms, indeed, generally displease, because they are understood by few; but they are little understood only, because few that look upon an edifice examine its parts, or analyze its columns into their members.

The state of every other art is the same; as it is cursorily surveyed or accurately examined, different forms of expression become proper. In morality it is one thing to discuss the niceties of the casuist, and another to direct the practice of common life. In agriculture, he that instructs the farmer to plough and sow, may convey his notions without the words which he would find necessary in explaining to philosophers the process of vegetation; and if he, who has nothing to do but to be honest by the shortest way, will perplex his mind with subtle speculations; or if he whose task is to reap and thresh, will not be contented without examining the evolution of the seed and circulation of the sap, the writers whom either shall consult are very little to be blamed, though it should sometimes happen that they are read in vain. Idler.

§ 51. Discontent, the common Lot of all Mankind.

Such is the emptiness of human enjoyments, that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust; and the malicious remark of the Greek epigrammatist on marriage, may be applied to every course of life, that its two days of happiness are the first and the last.

Few moments are more pleasing than those in which the mind is concerting measures for a new undertaking. From the first hint that wakens the fancy to the hour of actual execution, all is improvement and progress, triumph and felicity. Every hour brings additions to the original scheme, suggests some new expedient to secure success, or discovers consequential advantages not hitherto foreseen. While preparations are made and materials accumulated, day glides after day through elysian prospects, and the heart dances to the song of hope.

Such is the pleasure of projecting, that many content themselves with a succession of visionary schemes, and wear out their

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