« PrejšnjaNaprej »
And instead of haily putting on, and as hastily pulling off his ar. mour, he quietly alks,
"What, is my beaver cafier than it was?
And all my armour laid into my tent?" directing them to come about midnight to help to arm him. He is attentive to every circumftance preparatory to the battle; and preferves throughout a calmness and prefence of mind which denote his intrepidity. He does not lofe it upon being told, that the foe vaunts in the field; but recollecting the orders he had given over night, now calls for the execution of them, by directing Lord Stanley to be fent for, and his own horfe to be caparifoned. He tells the Duke of Norfolk, who is next in command to himself, the difpofition he had formed; and every thing being in readiness, he then makes a fpeech to encourage his foldiers: but on hearing the enemy's drum, he con
of victory, he rushes on the enemy. It is not a formed fenfe of honour, nor a cold fear of difgrace, which impels him to fight; but a natural high fpirit, and bravery exulting in danger and being fenfible that the competition is only perfonal between him and Richmond, he directs all his efforts to the deftruction of his rival; endeavours himself to fingle him out, and feeking him in the throat of death, be fets his own life upon the caft. Five times foiled in his aim, unhorfed, and furrounded with foes, he ftill perfifts to fland the hazard of the die; and having enacted more wonders than a man, lofes his life in an attempt fo worthy of himself.
Thus, from the beginning of their history to their last moments, are the characters of Macbeth and Richard preferved entire and diftinet: and though probably Shake fpeare, when he was drawing the one, had no attention to the other; yet, as he conceived them to be widely different, expreffed his conceptions exactly, and copied both. from nature, they neceffarily became contrafts to each other; and, by feeing them together, that contraft is more apparent, efpecially where the comparifon is not between oppofite qualities, but arifes from the different degrees, or from a particular difplay, or tot omiffion, of the fame quality. This last must often happen, as the character of Macbeth is much more complicated than that of Richard; and, therefore, when they, are fet in oppofition, the judgment of the poet fhews itself as much in what he has left out of the latter, as in what he has inferted. The pic
ture of Macbeth is alfo, for the fame reafon, much the more highly finifhed of the two; for it required a greater variety, and a greater
delicacy of painting, to exprefs and to blend with confiftency all the fe veral properties which are afcribed to him. That of Richard is marked by more careless strokes, but they are, notwithstanding, perfectly juft. Much bad compofition may indeed be found in the part; it is a fault from which the best of Shakespeare's plays are not exempt, and with which this play particular abounds; and the taste of the age in which he wrote, though it may afford fome excufe, yet cannot entirely vindicate the exceptionable
paffages. Afier every reasonable allowance, they muft ftil remain blemishes ever to be lamented; but happily, for the most part, they only obfcure, they do not disfigure his draughts from nature. Through whole fpeeches and fcenes, character is often wanting; but in the worst instances of this kind, Shakefpeare is but infipid: he is not inconfiftent, and in his peculiar excellence of drawing characters, though he often neglects to exert his talents, he is very rarely guilty of perverting them."
Of LOGIC, or the ART of REASONING. [From SYLVA, or the Woop; being a Collection of Anecdotes, Differtations, &c.]
OGIC, or (as it may truly
"L be called) the art of dif
puting fophiftically, makes a confiderable part of our academical education: yet Gaffendus, who was a very great reafoner, has attempted to prove, that it is, in truth, neither neceffary nor uieful. He thinks, that reafon, or innate force and energy of understanding, is fufficient of itfelf; that its own natural movements, without any difcipline from art, are equal to the invefligation and fettling of truth; that it no more wants the affiftance of Logic to conduct to this, than the eye wants a lanthorn to enable it to fee the fun and, however he might admit as curious, he would doublefs have rejected as ufclefs, all fuch productions, as Quillet's Callipada, Thevenot on the Art of Swimming, or Borelli de Matu Animalium; upon the firme perfuntion that the innate force and energy of nature, when
inftinct honeftly does her beft, is fure to attain those several object, without any didactic rules or precepts.
"If Logic therefore be not neceffary, it is probably of no great ufe: and indeed it has been deemed not only an impertinent but a pernicious fcience. "Logic," fays Lord Bacon, "is ufually taught too early in life. That minds, raw and unfurnished with matter, fhould begin their cultivation from fuch a fcience, is just like learning to weigh or measure the wind. Hence, what in young men fhould be manly reafoning, often degenerates into ridiculous affectations and childifa fophiftry." Certainly, where materials are wanting, the difpute must turn altogether upon words; and the whole will be conducted with the fleight and legerdemain of sophistry.
ftanding, difciplined with Logic, is not fo competent for the inveftigation of truth, as if left to its natural operations.
"A man of wit," fays Bayle, "who applies himfelf long and clofely to logic, feldom fails of becoming a caviller; and by his fophistical fubtleties perplexes and embroils the very thefes he hath defended. He chufes to deftroy his own works rather than forbear difputing; and he starts fuch objections against his own opinions, that his whole art cannot folve them. Such is the fate of thofe who apply themfelves too much to the fubtleties of dialectics." This is the opinion of Bayle, who probably knew from feeling and experience the truth of what he faid; for he was as very great logician, as well as a very great fceptic.
"Our memorable Chillingworth is another inftance to prove, that logic, instead of affifting, may poffibly obftruct and hurt the understanding. Chillingworth, fays Lord Clarendon, who knew him well, was a man of great fubtlety
of understanding, and had spent all his younger time in difputation; of which he arrived to fo great a mastery, as not to be inferior to any man, in those skirmishes but he had, with his notable perfection in this exercife, contracted fuch an irrefolution and habit of doubting, that by degrees he grew confident in nothing, and a fceptic at least in the greatest mysteries of faith. All his doubts grew out of himflf, when he affifted his fcruples with the ftrength of his own reafon, and was then too hard for himself."
ADVANTAGES attending QUOTATIONS.
[From the fame Work.]
N quotations, as in all other have fcarcely quoted at all, as
extremes. Some writers have quot ed moft abundantly, in order (as fhould feem) to make an oflentation of learning; with one of whom La Mothe le Vayer, though himfelf a great quoter, appears to have been much fatigued: "God grant you," cries he, "to become less learned,”—Dieu vous faffe la grace de devenir moins fçavant. Others 1786.
an inferior kind, who perhaps have hence affected to pats for original writers, that needed no extraneous helps: and indeed, in books of mere reafoning, all quotation to many may feem impertinent.
"La Bruyere has animadverted upon the former extreme: he complains of books, being crowded fo with quotations, as to be hardly F
any thing elfe; of citing Ovid and Tibullus at the bar, Horace and Lucretius in the pulpit: where, fays, he, "Latin and fometimes Greek are the languages chofen to entertain the women and churchwardens with." And doubtlefs, nothing can be more abfurd and ridiculous than this; by this an author's fenfe, if peradventure he had any, is almost fuppreffed and fmothered under his learning; and, as Ovid faid of a girl overloaded with dress and ornament, he is fo garnished out with foreign materials, as to be, in truth, the least part of himfelf. Mean while, as Bayle obferves upon Bruyere, "it is to be feared, that the very oppofite custom of not citing at all, into which we are fallen, will make learning too much defpifed, as a piece of furniture entirely ufelefs." And he has elsewhere mentioned, as one principal caufe of neglect in the study of the Belles Lettres, that a great many wits, real or pretended, have, with an air of disdain, run down the custom of citing Greek authors, and making learned remarks, as fo much pedantry, and fit only for a college.
"It is however certain, that many pleafing as well as ufeful purposes may be ferved by quotations, judiciously made and aptly applied. It is pleafing to know, while contemplating any fubject, what other writers, men of name and abilities, have thought and faid upon it: and then the variety, which the frequent introduction of new perfonages (as I may call them) creates, wil greatly contribute to enliven attention, and thereby keep off weariness and difguft. With the Greek and Latin authors the claffical reader is ways entertained: "Mr. Clarke's book of coins is much above my
my pitch," faid the learned Markland to his friends; "but I read it with pleasure as his, and because of the quotations from the ancients, which are numerous."
"But quotation is useful, as well as pleating, to confirm and illuftrate the fentiments of a writer; and efpecially in works like this of ours: where the great object is, not fo much to teach men things of which they are ignorant, by def canting in detail and at large, as to remind them of what they know ; not fo much to make men read, to borrow Montefquieu's expreffion, as to make them think. For this, the citing of authorities, and dealing in perfonal anecdotes and apophthegms, feem perfectly well caculated: for, however it be, men frequently paufe and dwell upon names, who would haftily and inadvertently fkim over things. Nay, let the reafoning be ever fo clofe and found, it fhall often pafs for little more than declamation; while the name of fome admired author, efpecially if he be dead, fhall arreft the imagination, and make all the impreffion which is neceffary to produce conviction.
"Again, the practice of quoting from other writers, and efpecially from the Greek and Roman authors of antiquity, is ufeful, in as much (as above hinted) it must give fome countenance and fanction even to letters themselves: letters! neglected, declining letters! and with them declining all that is wife, and excellent, and beautiful, and po
hed. How would an aftonifhed macaroni ftare, to be affured, that the civilization of kingdoms is founded upon letters; and that, in proportion as thefe are cultivated, fo is nearly the progrefs of mankind from their mot rude and favage fate, up to that perfection of ele
gance and refinement, which beameth forth from his all-finished and refulgent perfon! I fpeak according to the gentleman's own idea of himself.
"Laftly, were the practice of quoting once received and established, this great advantage would farther accrue to letters, viz. That it would reduce the bulk of fcribblers, with which they are difgraced. Nothing is more common in these days, than for men to begin to write, and affect to be authors, not only before they understand Greek and Latin, but before they have any real or accurate knowledge of English. it is enough for them, if they can fpell with tolerable exactnefs for this accomplishment joined with fuch materials as Magazines, Reviews and other public prints fupply, is ufually the flock in trade with which authors now, as well as critics, fet up. In fhort, writing is become a mere manual operation; and books are made every day by men without genius, without letters, who are but barely fufficient to tranfcribe, at the most to compile. Upon which account it might well be wifhed, that every one who prefumes to write, efpecially upon matters of religion and government (for in romance and moral painting it is not neceffary), fhould be obliged to fupport his
meaning, once at least with fome Greek, and once with fome Latin, citation; and fhould produce at the fame time a true and well authenticated teftimonial, that these citations were not furnished by another, but bona fide his own act and deed. A teft of this fort would give a mighty check to fcribbling; and fave reams of paper, which are every moment going to perishperituræ parcere charta.
"Upon the whole, therefore, let us not condemn, and affectedly avoid, the citation of authors; falfely delicate, falfely faftidious. Let us recollect, that the greatest and most refpectable writers have done this: that Cicero, Plutarch, Seneca, Bacon, Montaigne, and Montefquieu, left nothing unborrowed from others, which might ferve to embellish their own writings; and that the things thus borrowed may, if fkilfully applied, have not only all the energy of their old fituation, but all the graces of invention in their new one. And why fhould they not? there being no lefs avit in juftly applying the thought of another, than in being the first author of that thought. At least, fo fays Mr. Bayle; who:n I have quoted the more freely upon this topic, becaufe he was a very great wit, as well as a very great fcholar."
Of the ECCENTRICITIES of IMAGINATION. [From the fame Work.]
Certain writer, apologizing for the irregularities of great genii, delivers himfelf thus: The gifts of imagination bring the heaviest tafk upon the vigilance of reafon; and to bear thofe faculties with unerring rectitude or
invariable propriety, requires a degree of firmnefs and of cool attention, which doth not always attend the higher gifts of the mind. Yet, difficult as nature herfelf feems to have reduced the talk of regularity to genius, it is the fupreme