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Dan. Really, I can't agree with my friend Sneer. I think the plot quite sufficient; and the four first acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest anything, it is that the interest rather falls off in the fifth.
Sir F. Rises, I believe you mean, sir
Dan. No; I don't, upon my word.
Sir F. Yes, yes, you do, upon my soul; it certainly don't fall off, I assure you; no, no, it don't fall off.
Dan. Well, Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to get rid as easily of the newspaper criticisms as you do of ours.
Sir F. The newspapers! sir, they are the most villainous, licentious, abominable, infernal—not that I ever read them; no, I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
Dan. You are quite right; for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the liberties they take.
Sir F. No; quite the contrary; their abuse is, in fact, the best panegyric; I like it of all things. An author's reputation is only in danger from their support.
Sneer. Why, that's true; and that attack, now, on you the other day
Sir F. What? where?
Dan. Ay! you mean in a paper of Thursday; it was completely ill-natured, to be sure.
Sir F. Oh! so much the better; ha, ha, ha! I wouldn't have it otherwise.
Dan. Certainly, it is only to be laughed at, for
Sir F. You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?
Sneer. Pray, Dangle, Sir Fretful seems a little anxious
Sir F. O no! Anxious, not I, not the least-I-but one may as well hear, you know.
Dan. Sneer, do you recollect? [Aside to SNEER.] Make out something.
Sneer. [Aside to DANGLE.] I will. [Aloud.] Yes, yes, I remember perfectly.
Sir F. Well, and pray now-not that it signifies-what might the gentleman say?
Sneer. Why, he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention or original genius whatever, though you are the greatest traducer of all other authors living.
Sir F. Ha, ha, ha! Very good!
Sneer. That as to comedy, you have not one idea of your own, he believes, even in your commonplace-book, where stray jokes and pilfered witticisms are kept with as much method as the ledger of the Lost and Stolen Office.
Sir F. Ha, ha, ha! Very pleasant.
Sneer. Nay, that you are so unlucky as not to have the skill even to steal with taste; but that you glean from the refuse of obscure volumes, where more judicious plagiarists have been before you; so that the body of your work is a composition of dregs and sediments, like a bad tavern's worst wine.
Sir F. Ha, ha!
Sneer. In your more serious efforts, he says, your bombast would be less intolerable if the thoughts were ever suited to the expressions; but the homeliness of the sentiment stares through the fantastic incumbrance of its fine language, like a clown in one of the new uniforms.
Sir F. Ha, ha!
Sneer. That your occasional tropes and flowers suit the general coarseness of your style, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey-woolsey; while your imitations of Shakspeare resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's page, and are about as near the standard of the original.
Sir F. Ha!
Sneer. In short, that even the finest passages you steal are of no service to you; for the poverty of your own language prevents their assimilating, so that they lie on the surface like lumps of marl on a barren moor, incumbering what it is not in their power to fertilise.
Sir F. [After great agitation.] Now, another person would be vexed at this.
Sneer. Oh! but I wouldn't have told you, only to divert you. Sir F. I know it. I am diverted-ha, ha, ha! not the least invention! ha, ha, ha!-very good, very good!
Sneer. Yes; no genius! ha, ha, ha!
Dan. A severe rogue, ha, ha, ha!—but you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such nonsense.
Sir F. To be sure; for if there is anything to one's praise, it is a foolish vanity to be gratified at it; and if it is abuse, why one is always sure to hear of it from some good-natured friend or other!
DUGALD STEWART: 1753-1828..
Dugald Stewart, one of the most attractive of all philosophical writers, was Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. His chief works are Philosophy of the Human Mind, Outlines of Moral Philosophy, and Philosophical Essays.
ON THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION.
From Philosophical Essays.
In what manner Imagination may be encouraged and cherished in a mind where it had previously made little appearance, may be easily conceived from what was stated in a former Essay, with respect to the peculiar charm which sometimes accompanies the pleasures produced by its ideal combinations, when compared with the corresponding realities in nature and in human life. The eager curiosity of childhood, and the boundless gratification which it is so easy to afford it by well-selected works of fiction, give, in fact, to education a stronger purchase, if I may use the expression, over this faculty, than what it possesses over any other. The attention may be thus insensibly seduced from the present objects of the senses, and the thoughts accustomed to dwell on the past, the distant, or the future; and in the same proportion in which this effect is in any instance accomplished, the man,' as Dr Johnson has justly remarked, 'is exalted in the scale of intellectual being.' The tale of fiction will probably be soon laid aside with the toys and rattles of infancy; but the habits which it has contributed to fix, and the powers which it has brought into a state of activity, will remain with the possessor, permanent and inestimable treasures, to his latest hour. To myself, this appears the most solid advantage to be gained from fictitious composition, considered as an engine of early instruction; I mean, the attractions which it holds out for encouraging an intercourse with the authors best fitted to invigorate and enrich the imagination, and to quicken whatever is dormant in the sensibility to beauty; or, to express myself still more plainly, the value of the incidents seems to me to arise chiefly from their tendency to entice the young readers into that fairyland of poetry, where the scenes of romance are laid.-Nor is it to the young alone
that I would confine these observations exclusively. Instances
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The effects of foreign travel have been often remarked, not only in rousing the curiosity of the traveller while abroad, but in correcting, after his return, whatever habits of inattention he had contracted to the institutions and manners among which he was bred. It is in a way somewhat analogous, that our occasional excursions into the regions of imagination increase our interest in those familiar realities from which the stores of imagination are borrowed. We learn insensibly to view nature with the eye of the painter and of the poet, and to seize those 'happy attitudes of things' which their taste at first selected; while, enriched with the accumulations of ages, and with 'the spoils of time,' we unconsciously combine with what we see, all that we know, and all that we feel; and sublime the organical beauties of the material world, by blending with them the inexhaustible delights of the heart and of the fancy.
ROBERT HALL: 1764-1831.
The Rev. Robert Hall, one of the greatest of English orators, and perhaps the most famous preacher of his time in England, was a Baptist minister at Cambridge, and afterwards at Leicester and at Bristol. The most celebrated of his writings are, An Apology for the Freedom of the Press, and his Sermons, entitled Modern Infidelity considered with respect to its Influence on Society, Reflections on War, The Sentiments proper to the Present Crisis (1803), and Sermon on the Death of the Princess Charlotte.
THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON.
From a Sermon preached before some Volunteers on The Sentiments proper to the Present Crisis.
In other wars we have been a divided people: the effect of our external operations has been in some measure weakened by intestine dissension. When peace has returned, the breach has widened, while parties have been formed on the merits of particular men, or of particular measures. These have all disappeared: we have buried our mutual animosities in a regard to the common safety. The sentiment of self-preservation, the first law which nature has impressed, has absorbed every other feeling; and the fire of liberty has melted down the discordant sentiments and minds of the British Empire into one mass, and propelled them in one direction. Partial interests and feelings are suspended, the spirits of the body are collected at the heart, and we are awaiting with anxiety, but without dismay, the discharge of that mighty tempest which hangs upon the skirts of the horizon, and to which the eyes of Europe and of the world are turned in silent and awful expectation. While we feel solicitude, let us not betray dejection, nor be alarmed at the past successes of our enemy, which are more dangerous to himself than to us, since they have raised him from obscurity to an elevation which has made him giddy, and tempted him to suppose everything within his power. The intoxication of his success is the omen of his fall. What though he has carried the flames of war throughout Europe, and gathered as a nest the riches of the nations, while none peeped, nor muttered, nor moved the wing; he has yet to try his fortune in another field; he has yet to contend on a soil filled with the monuments of freedom, enriched with the blood of its defenders; with a people who, animated with one soul, and inflamed with zeal for their laws and for their prince, are armed in