« НазадПродовжити »
been collected from his Works, (by Miss Porter) and separately publisht, of that ornament of his Country, in Arts and Arms, in Intellect and in Heart, Sir Philip Sydney*. And I cannot pass in silence the Contemplations t of Arthur Ld. Capel; where there is much of this nature, See too the Table Talk of the great Selden: And the Icon Basilike. Beaumont and Fletcher have many strong and important Aphorisms. In Ben Jonson they are stampt with the energetic dignity of his Mind. In several of the Authors which compose this Constellation of pre-eminently splendid and benign Genius, they illustrate, as in Shakespeare, almost every principal point of personal and political Prudence; of moral Wisdom; of pious contemplation on the divine Wisdom and Goodness; of Benevolence, and Virtue. And I am persuaded that Ben Jonson, who proved himself the discerning, liberal, and zealous Admirer of Shakespeare, when his Glory was in the
Aphorisms on Education," and an elegant Volume of Aphorisms for Youth,” have recently been publisht; the latter by Lackington and Allen, 1801. Dødsley's." Economy of Human Life," and The Rule of Life, in sentences, are botha valuable exanıples.
dawn*, meant only to observe the comparative want in that deeply learned Age, of classic Learn, ing in Shakespeare ; and the effect which this might have on the construction of his Drama. An ef. fect on which Miss Baillie has excellently observed in her most judicious Critical Introduction to her Series of Plays (Plays which peculiarly merit to be inentioned when we speak of Shakespeare; and of which the idea is philosophic as the execution is admirable) that we can more readily estimate what has been lost by his want of this Learning, than we can what has been
* It will be seen here, and in other passages, that I disbe. lieve the supposition of the jealousy of Jonson against Shakes speare. There are too many literary anecdotes of such a kind : I trust rarely well founded. Excellence is not envious. To ayagov ov Q.Goveri And Rowe, who was só much nearer to the times, appears to have given little credit to the rumour. He proves the friendly attention of Shakespeare to Jonson. And-Pope concurs in rejecting the imputation, and quotes a noble testimony of Jonson to the Man and the Poet in his “ Discoveries." But the subject is too long for a Note. I am glad to find that Mr. Octave Gilchrist has laid an interesting examination of it before the Public. ! have read it with pleasure: and think it
gained by writing without a Model. I have said the want of this Learning : for in various Knowledge he was very amply stor'd; and in the amazing scope and diversity of bis subjects, hardly ever seems to want any kind of knowledge suitable to the occasion. But in a Life, the early part of which appears to have been hurried and full of trouble, (and the whole of it was short, compared to his numerous and amazing Works,) Shakespeare had little leisure for the acquirement of what is commonly regarded as Learning in an exclusive sense; and he has evidently drawn chiefly from his own Mind and Observation.
And now to consider generally once more the Authors who have been most frequent in Aphorisms : when we reflect on the taste, the skill, the energy, and feeling, of these admirable Writers, if any be dispos'd to regard Aphorisms as trite, and cold, and heavy, they may see reason to doubt their judgement on them; and, on farther consideration, to correct. They may, by unskilful Writers, be so introduc'd as to be liable to all these objections : but the fault is in the individual; and is far from their nature. Their merit, and their characteristic efficacy, result
from their form, their substance, and their object. By their form they are most pointedly impresst, most early apprehended, most generally diffus'd, and most permanently retain’d. From the cradle to the crutch they are capable of becoming the guides and the monitors of our lives: Their substance compréhends every best and most important Principle: Their object is, not only to fix the judgement, in vigorate and enlarge the intellect; but to awaken and support the noblest and most generous sympathies of our Nature, and the best affections of our Heart. When Homer reminds us
“ The Stranger and the Poor are all of Jove *." And elsewhere
“ Short his career who wars against the Gods t." When Virgil says“ Sufferers I learn to aid from sorrows known t."
Εκ γαρ Διος εισιν άπαντες
* Οττι μαλ' ου δηναιος ος αθανατοισι нахогто
Haud ignarà Mali miseris succurrere disco.
And when Shakespeare
“ E'en the poor Beetle that we tread upon, « In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great “ As when a Giant falls." And in another passage
« Take physic, Pomp,
“ That what is good or ill, what serves or harms,
And indeed such in general is the advantage of aphoristic Poetry, that it might assuredly store the Mind with Precepts that would make invincible the Heart that should treasure them as they deserve, and should early and habitually apply them. Well might such a Master of Eloquence, of Wisdom, and of Morals as Quintilian
Quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non, Plinjús et melus Chrysippo et Crantore dicit. HOR.