English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
When I read an author of genius who writes without method, I fancy myself in a wood that abounds with a great many noble objects, rising among one another in the greatest confusion and disorder. When I read a methodical discourse, I am in a regular plantation, and can place myself in its several centres, so as to take a view of all the lines and walks that are struck from them. You may ramble in the one a whole day together, and every moment discover something or other that is new to you; but when you have done, you will have but a confused, imperfect notion of the place: in the other your eye commands the whole prospect, and gives you such an idea of it as is not easily worn out of the memory.
When our universities found there was no end of wrangling this way, they invented a kind of argument, which is not reducible to any mood or figure in Aristotle. It was called the Argumentum Basilinum (others write it Bacilinum or Baculinum), which is pretty well expressed in our English word club-law. When they were not able to refute their antagonist, they knocked him down. It was their method, in these polemical debates, first to discharge their syllogisms, and afterwards betake themselves to their clubs, until such time as they had one way or other confounded their gainsayers.
While good men are employed in extirpating mortal sins, I should rally the world out of indecencies and venial transgression.
Women in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men; whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animal spirits more light and volatile; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men.
Though I have here only chosen this single link of martyrs, I might find out others among those names which are still extant, that delivered down this account of our Savior in a successive tradition.
Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter, and intimates eternity to man.
To my confusion, and eternal grief, I must approve the sentence that destroys me.
True religion and virtue give a cheerful and happy turn to the mind, admit of all true pleasures, and even procure for us the highest.
We are pleased ? to see him humbled in his reputation who had so far raised himself above us.
We see the pernicious effects of luxury in the ancient Romans, who immediately found themselves poor as soon as this vice got footing among them.
What are these wondrous civilizing arts, this Roman polish, and this smooth behavior that render man thus tractable and tame?
When a man sees the prodigious pains our forefathers have been at in these barbarous buildings, one cannot but fancy what miracles of architecture they would have left us had they been instructed in the right way.
When I read rules of criticism I inquire after the works of the author, and by that means discover what he likes in a composition.
When religion was woven into the civil government, and flourished under the protection of the emperors, men?s thoughts and discourses were full of secular affairs; but in the three first centuries of Christianity men who embraced this religion had given up all their interests in this world, and lived in a perpetual preparation for the next.
Whilst I yet live, let me not live in vain.
Women were formed to temper Mankind, and sooth them into Tenderness and Compassion; not to set an Edge upon their Minds, and blow up in them those Passions which are too apt to rise of their own Accord.
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
Since the inculcating precept upon precept will prove tiresome, the poet must not encumber his poem with too much business, but sometimes relieve the subject with a moral reflection.
Such as are treated ill, and upbraided falsely, find out an intimate friend that will hear their complaints, and endeavor to soothe their secret resentments.
That he delights in the misery of others no man will confess, and yet what other motive can make a father cruel?
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man makes him look forward into futurity, and consider what will he his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness which are reserved for him in another world lose nothing of their reality by being at so great distance from him. The objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He considers that those pleasures and pains which lie hid in eternity approach nearer to him every moment, and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very instant. For this reason he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper happiness of his nature and the ultimate design of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action, and considers the most distant as well as the most immediate effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage which offers itself here, if he does not find it consistent with his views of an hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality, his schemes are large and glorious, and his conduct suitable to one who knows his true interest, and how to pursue it by proper methods.
The fable of every poem is, according to Aristotle?s division, either simple or implex. It is called simple when there is no change of fortune in it; implex, when the fortune of the chief actor changes from bad to good, or from good to bad. The implex fable is thought the most perfect: I suppose, because it is more proper to stir up the passions of the reader, and to surprise him with a greater variety of accidents.
The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out a proper method to catch the reader's eye; without which a good thing may pass over unobserved, or be lost among commissions of bankrupt.
The ill-natured man gives himself a large field to expatiate in: he exposes those failings in human nature which the other would cast a veil over.