English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
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.
The man who will live above his present circumstances is in great danger of living in a little time much beneath them, or, as the Italian proverb says: The man who lives by hope will die by despair.
The ordinary writers of morality prescribe to their readers after the Galenic way; their medicines are made up in large quantities. An essay-writer must practice in the chemical method, and give the virtue of a full draught in a few drops. Were all books reduced thus to their quintessence, many a bulky author would make his appearance in a penny paper. There would be scarce such a thing in nature as a folio; the works of an age would be contained on a few shelves; not to mention millions of volumes that would be utterly annihilated.
The promiscuous and undistinguishing distribution of good and evil which was necessary for carrying on the designs of Providence in this life, will be rectified in another.
The spacious firmament on high, with all the blue ethereal sky, and spangled heavens, a shining frame, their great original proclaim. Forever singing, as they shine, the hand that made us is divine.
The truth of it is, I look upon a sound imagination as the greatest blessing in life, next to a clear judgment, and a good conscience. In the meantime, since there are very few whose minds are not more or less subject to these dreadful thoughts and apprehensions, we ought to arm ourselves against them by the dictates of reason and religion, ?to pull the old woman out of our hearts? (as Persius expresses it in the motto of my paper) and extinguish those impertinent notions which we imbibed at a time that we are not able to judge of their absurdity. Or if we believe, as many wise and good men have done, that there are such phantoms and apparitions as those I have been speaking of, let us endeavor to establish to ourselves an interest in Him who holds the reins of the whole creation in his hands, and moderates them after such a manner that it is impossible for one being to break loose upon another without his knowledge and permission.
The want of vowels in our language has been the general complaint of our politest authors, who nevertheless have made these retrenchments, and consequently increased our former scarcity.
There are many shining qualities on the mind of man; but none so useful as discretion. It is this which gives a value to all the rest, and sets them at work in their proper places, and turns them to the advantage of their possessor. Without it, learning is pedantry; wit, impertinence; virtue itself looks like weakness; and the best parts only qualify a man to be more sprightly in errors, and active to his own prejudice. Though a man has all other perfections and wants discretion, he will be of no great consequence in the world; but if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his station of life.
There is another kind of vicious modesty which makes a man ashamed of his person, his birth, his profession, his poverty, or the like misfortunes, which it was not in his choice to prevent, and is not in his power to rectify. If a man appears ridiculous by any of the afore-mentioned circumstances, he becomes much more so by being out of countenance for them. They should rather give him occasion to exert a noble spirit, and to palliate those imperfections which are not in his power, by those perfections which are; or to use a very witty allusion of an eminent author, he should imitate C‘sar, who, because his head was bald, cover?d that defect with laurels.
There is nobody so weak of invention that cannot make some little stories to vilify his enemy.
There is nothing we receive with so much reluctance as advice.
They consume a considerable quantity of our paper manufacture, employ our artisans in printing, and find business for great numbers of indigent persons.
This national fault of being so very talkative looks natural and graceful in one that has gray hairs to countenance it.
Providence delegates to the supreme magistrate the same power for the good of men which that supreme magistrate transfers to those several substitutes who act under him.
Ridicule is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attacking everything praiseworthy in human life.
Sir Francis Bacon observed that a well-written book, compared with its rivals and antagonists, is like Moses' serpent, that immediately swallowed up and devoured those of the Egyptians.
Such considerations, which everyone should perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that secret heaviness of heart which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction; all that anguish which we may feel from any evil that actually oppresses us, to which I may likewise add those little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than to support it; and establish in us such an even and cheerful temper as makes us pleasing to ourselves, to those with whom we converse, and to Him whom we were made to please.
That heav?n would want spectators. God want praise.
The chief ingredients in the composition of those qualities that gain esteem and praise, are good nature, truth, good sense, and good breeding
The Fashionable World is grown free and easie; our Manners sit more loose upon us: Nothing is so modish as an agreeable Negligence. In a word, Good Breeding shows it self most, where to an ordinary Eye it appears the least.
The great art of a writer shows itself in the choice of pleasing allusions, which are generally to be taken from the great or beautiful works of art or nature; for, though whatever is new or uncommon is apt to delight the imagination, the chief design of an allusion being to illustrate and explain the passages of an author, it should be always borrowed from what is more known and common than the passages which are to be explained.
The important question is not what will yield to man a few scattered pleasures, but what will render his life happy on the whole amount.