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Hypocrisy is indeed a subject 'which can only fail with the generation of men ; and this enables me to say
“Quicquid agunt homines, nostri farrago.libelli." Of the two books that are forth coming, I shall premise one thing. It is my fixed and settled determination neither personally, nor allusively, by remote inference, or direct application, to attack the character, or wound the feelings of any one living being whatever. Motives very different from fear, have operated with me, in forming this resolution. The pere Braggadocio may succeed in bullying half the world ; but the ather half will as certainly bully:him. Even in my first book, where I have not been quite so scrupulous, it is known to one or two, that I have rejected what some might think the best passages of the Satire. If I have made this sacrifice to fear, then I exhibit a contradictory union of what, perhaps, never was united-Cowardice and Temerity; since enough is already inserted to insure me the anathemas of booksellers, critics, poetasters, and politicians. But every reader of taste and candour, (and such alone am I ambitious to please) will listen more attentively to the still small voice within his own breast, than to the hue and cry from without.
“ Hæc nouimus esse nihil.” It may be that I have not sprinkled my pages sufficiently with Cayenpe, to keep the worm out of them. I care not for that. Sugar will preserve, as well as salt; and I shall ever deem it a more grateful task to praise an honest Man, than to lash a knave.
In my bi storical allusions I hope I sha!l not be compared to those who had rather say a witty thing, than a true one. “Qui modo aliquid argute vel acute dicere videantur, plerumque ver rumne sit, an falsum, propemodum non curant.” To the wit I do not pretend, and I would wish not to incur the falshood. Whenever I have dissected the dead, I have done it, as the Anatomist, for the benefit of the living. My library indeed is not copious, and my books of reference far from numerous; neither
are the streets of the town where I reside thronged with walking Lexicons. Not that we are always to expect the greatest learning from those who possess the greatest libraries. It was well said of Hobbes, “Ingentem librorum supellectilem qua superbiunt Bibliothecæ non magni fecit; auctores versabat paacos, sed tamen optimos.” It is not unusual in conversation, to say. “I should never have suspected Mr. Such-a-one of wri. ting that Book ; he appears never to study.” Such persons forget that reflection, thought, and contemplation form the very essence of study; and that these may be exercised in the fields, better than in libraries. Some authors are praised by every body, and read by nobody; and it is with books, as with companions, the best knowledge is that which teaches us which to avoid ; and in both cases much valuable time is lost, before we discover that it has been thrown away upon those who are worse than useless.
I would give the devourers of books, the Helluones libros rum, some such advice as this:-cease to read, begin to think ; shut your eyes, open your understandings ; quit your libraries, retire into yourselves ; let repletion end, that die gestion may begin.
“ Claudite jam rivos, sat prata biberunt." Perhaps no one thing so completely hebetates the powers of the understanding, as constant reading without reflection. Such bare been well described by Milton, to be
“ Deep read in books, but shallow in themselves." A great Scholar who prided himself on his ignorance of Men, and vast knowledge of books, once received, from a plain une lettered man, this humiliating rebuke: “ The Lord double your learning, and then you will be twice the fool you are at
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND ANECDOTES
TO THE PRECEDING PARTS OF THE POEM
ILLUSTRATIVE and EXPLANATORY.
Page 7.-' Words are the fickle daughters of the Earth.”
NOTHING is more common than fine words, and nothing more scarce than fine conceptions. Great capitalists in words, but mere bankrupts in ideas, modern Poetasters do not seem to understand that all eloquence resides far less in the expression, than in the thought. Many of Shakspeare's finest passages are monosyllabic. While no poet better understood the superiority of the moral sublime to the natural, or knew better how to increase the effect of each by joining them together; yet, when he most astonishes us by the awful sublimity of the thought, then it is that he often charms us most by the ariless simplicity of the expression. Let him who would fully understand the difficulty of writing like Shakspeare, attempt to imitate him,
“ Speret idem, sudet multum, frustraque laboret,
Ausus idem." Io confirmation of what has been advanced above, it this mo.
ment strikes me, that the confessedly sublimest passage in the whole Bible, is composed of monosyllables throughout,
“ God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” The style of Milton is usually much more laboured than that of Shakspeare, but no reader of taste will think that sesquipedalian verbiage, or phraseological pomp, could add to the grandeur of such conceptions as these,
.“ Which God by curse
Where all life dies, death lives." Passages as little indebted as these to splendor of diction, for their sublicity, occur frequently in Milton.
Page 8.—“ Brings Constable's piled quartos in her hold.”
Miss Seward's Letters are far more interesting, and do her in uch more credit than her Poetry. It was her good fortune to move in a very exalted sphere, and, (if measured by the only proper standard, mind) to enjoy the noblest society. Fron a correspondent so circumstanced, the merest diary could not be dull; the matter must impart some animation to the style. Nor could the task be difficult, as it seems to require little more than to see, hear, and remember. But Miss Seward may aspire to much higher praise; she was evidently gifted with talent to profit by the enviable advantages she enjoyed, no less than
taste duly to appreciate them. She is not so much a recorder, as an actor in the scene; the equal, and the friend of wits, not the dependent retailer of their witticisms ; a Gem, that could reflect the flashes by which she was illuminated.
Page 10. With the free spirit of a youthful Knight.”
I have heard that the Jailor of the Temple in Paris had formed so high an opinion of English honor and courage, as he saw them embodied in the person of his prisoner, that he has declared that if Sir Sidney knew that he was to be executed at one, and had requested permission to walk unattended through the streets of Paris at twelve, he should have granted the request, on receiving Sir Sidney's bare word that he would return. One chief merit of the stratagem by which Sir Sydney escaped was, that while it liberated his body, it secured his honour. Poor Phillippeaux, the heroic friend and deliverer of Sir Sidney, died from fatigue, in the campaign of Egypt. Amidst the cold and calculating selfishness of modern times, an instance of such chivalrous and disinterested attachment, refreshes us like an Oasis in the desert.
An attempt of a similar nature was lately made by two young Americans, equal to the one to which I have alluded in its heroism, but not in its success. Having a very slight and remote acquaintance with Fayette, but deeply impressed with an esteem for his character, they determined to undertake his liberation from his horrid imprisonment at Olmutz. Their fortunes and their lives became a secondary considera. tion. They took lodgings near his prison, and gradually insinuated themselves ir to the good graces of the Keeper. A few cursory questions concerning the prisoners naturally introduced the name of Fayette. They commisserated his hard fate, and found that the Keeper syınpathized with them. In the course of conversation, they discovered that Monsieur F.
permitted to walk at stated hours on the ramparts, guarded by a