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There are, indeed, many conveniences almoft peculiar to this method of publication, which may naturally flatter the author, whether he be confident or timorous. The man to whom the extent of his knowledge, or the sprightlinefs of his imagination, has in his own opinion already fecured the praifes of the world, willingly takes that way of difplaying his abilities which will fooneft give him an opportunity of hearing the voice of fame; it heightens his alacrity to think in how many places he fhall hear what he is now writing, read with extafies tomorrow. He will often pleafe himself with reflecting, that the author of a large treatife muft proceed with anxiety, left, before the completion of his work, the attention of the publick may have changed it's object; but that he who is confined to no fingle topick may follow the national tafte through all it's variations, and catch the aura popularis-the gale of favour, from what point foever it shall blow.
Nor is the profpect less likely to eafe the doubts of the cautious, and the terrors of the fearful; for to fuch the fhortness of every fingle paper is a powerful encouragement. He that questions
his abilities to arrange the diffimilar parts of an extenfive plan, or fears to be loft in a complicated fyftem, may yet hope to adjuft a few pages without perplexity; and if, when he turns over the repofitories of his memory, he finds his collection too fmall for a volume, he may yet have enough to furnish out an effay. He that would fear to lay out too much time upon an experiment of which he knows not the event, perfuades hirafelf that a few days will fhew him what he is to expect from his learning and his genius. If he thinks his own judgment not fufficiently enlightened, he may, by attending the remarks which every paper will produce, rectify his opinions. If he fhould with too little premeditation encumber himself by an unwieldy fubject, he can quit it without confefling his ignorance, and pafs to other topicks lefs dangerous, or more tractable. And if he finds, with all his induftry, and all his artifices, that he cannot deferve regard, or cannot attain it, he may let the defign fall at once; and, without injury to others or himself, retire to amufements of greater pleafure, or to ftudies of better profpect.
No II. SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 1750.
STARE LOCO NESCIT, PEREUNT VESTIGIA MILLE
ANTE FUGAM, ABSENTEMQUE FERIT GRAVIS UNGULA CAMPUM.
TH' IMPATIENT COURSER PANTS IN EVERY WEIN;
HAT the mind of man is never
ately before it, but is always breaking away from the prefent moment, and loting itself in fchemes of future felicity; and that we forget the proper ufe of the time now in our power, to provide for the enjoyment of that which, perhaps, may never be granted us; has been frequently remarked: and as this practice is a commodious fubject of raillery to the gay, and of declamation to the feriaus, it has been ridiculed with all the pleafantry of wit, and exaggerated with all the amplifications of rhetorick. Every inftance, by which it's abfurdity might appear moft flagrant, has been ftudioully collected, it has been marked with every epithet of contempt, and all the tropes and gures have been called forth against it.
Cenfure is willingly indulged, becaufe
please themfelves with imagining that they have made a deeper fearch, or wider furvey, than others, and detected faults and follies which efcape vulgar obfervation. And the pleature of wantoning in common topicks is fo tempting to a writer, that he cannot eafily refign it; a train of fentiments generally received enables him to fhine without labour, and to conquer without a conteft. It is fo eafy to laugh at the folly of him who lives only in idea, refufes immediate cafe for diftant pleafures, and, inftead of enjoying the bleffings of life, lets life glide away in preparations to enjoy them; it affords fuch opportunities of triumphant exultation, to exemplify the uncertainty of the human ftate, to roufe mortals from
their dream, and inform them of the filent celerity of time; that we may believe authors willing rather to tranfmit than examine fo advantageous a principle, and more inclined to pursue a track so smooth and fo flowery, than attentively to confider whether it leads to truth.
This quality of looking forward into futurity feems the unavoidable condition of a being whofe motions are gradual, and whofe life is progreffive: as his powers are limited, he muft ufe means for the attainment of his ends, and intend first what he performs laft; as by continual advances from his firft ftage of exitence, he is perpetually varying the horizon of his profpects, he must always discover new motives of action, new excitements of fear, and allurements of defire.
The end, therefore, which at prefent calls forth our efforts, will be found, when it is once gained, to be only one of the means to fome remoter end. The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
He that directs his steps to a certain point, must frequently turn his eyes to that place which he strives to reach; he that undergoes the fatigue of labour, muft folace his weariness with the contemplation of it's reward. In agriculture, one of the most simple and necessary employments, no man turns up the ground but because he thinks of the harveft; that harvest which blights may intercept, which inundations may fweep away, or which death or calamity may hinder him from reaping.
Yet as few maxims are widely received, or long retained, but for fome conformity with truth and nature, it must be confeffed, that this caution against keeping our view too intent upon remote advantages is not without it's propriety or ufefulness, though it may have been recited with too much levity, or enforced with too little diftinction: for, not to fpeak of that vehemence of defire which prefles through right and wrong to it's gratification, or that anxious inquietude which is justly chargeable with diftruft of Heaven, fubjects too folemn for my prefent purpose; it frequently happens that, by indulging early the raptures of fuccefs, we forget the meafures neceflary to fecure it, and fuffer the imagination to riot in the fruition of fome poffible good, till the time of obtaining it has flipped away.
There would, however, be few enter→ prifes of great labour or hazard undertaken, if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages which we perfuade ourfelves to expect from them. When the Knight of La Mancha gravely recounts to his companion the adventures by which he is to fignalize himself in fuch a manner that he shall be fummoned to the fupport of empires, folicited to accept the heiress of the crown which he has preferved, have honours and riches to scatter about him, and an island to bestow on his worthy fquire; very few readers, amidst their mirth or pity, can deny that they have admitted vifions of the fame kind; though they have not, perhaps, expected events equally strange, or by means equally inadequate. When we pity him, we reflect on our own difappointments; and when we laugh, our hearts inform us that he is not more ridiculous than ourselves, except that he tells what we have only thought.
The understanding of a man naturally fanguine, may, indeed, be easily vitiated by the luxurious indulgence of hope, however neceffary to the production of every thing great or excellent; as fome plants are destroyed by too open expofure to that fun which gives life and beauty to the vegetable world.
Perhaps no clafs of the human species requires more to be cautioned against this anticipation of happinefs, than thofe that afpire to the name of authors. A man of lively fancy no fooner finds a hint moving in his mind, than he makes momentaneous excurfions to the prefs, and to the world; and, with a little encouragement from flattery, pushes forward into future ages, and prognofticates the honours to be paid him, when envy is extinct and faction forgotten, and thofe whom partiality now fuffers to obscure him fhall have given way to the triflers of as thort duration as themselves.
Those who have proceeded fo far as to appeal to the tribunal of fucceeding times, are not likely to be cured of their infatuation; but all endeavours ought to be used for the prevention of a difeafe, for which, when it has attained it's height, perhaps no remedy will be found in the gardens of Philofophy, however she may boaft her phyfick of the mind, her catharticks of vice, or lenitives of paffion.
I fhall, therefore, while I am yet but lightly touched with the fymptoms of the writer's malady, endeavour to fortify
It is the fage advice of Epictetus, that a man should accuftom himself often to think of what is most fhocking and terrible, that by fuch reflections he may be preferved from too ardent wifhes for feeming good, and from too much dejection in real evil.
There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect; compared with which, reproach, hatred, and oppofition, are names of happiness: yet this worst, this meaneft fate, every one who dares to write has reafon to fear.
I nunc, et verfus tecum meditare canoros.
It may not be unfit for him who makes a new entrance into the lettered world, fo far to fufpect his own powers, as to believe that he poffibly may deferve neglect; that nature may not have qualified him much to enlarge or embellish knowledge, nor fent him forth entitled by indifputable fuperiority to regulate the conduct of the rest of mankind; that, though the world must be granted to be yet in ignorance, he is not deftined to difpel the cloud, nor to fhine cut as
one of the luminaries of life. For this fufpicion, every catalogue of a library will furnish fufficient reafon; as he will find it crouded with names of men who, though now forgotten, were once himfelf, equally pleafed with their own no lefs enterprizing or confident than productions, equally careffed by their patrons, and flattered by their friends.
But though it fhould happen that an author is capable of excelling, yet his merit may pafs without notice, huddled in the variety of things, and thrown into the general mifcellany of life. He that endeavours after fame by writing, folicits the regard of a multitude fluctuating in meafures, or immersed in bufinefs, without time for intellectual amufements; he appeals to judges prepoffeffed by paffions, or corrupted by prejudices, which preclude their approbation of any new performance. Soine are too indolent to read any thing, till it's reputation is established; others too envious to promote that fame which gives them pain by it's increafe. What is new is oppofed, because most are unwilling to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not fufficiently confidered, that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed. The learned are afraid to declare their opinion early, left they fhould put their reputation in hazard; the ignorant always imagine themfelves giving fome proof of delicacy, when they refuse to be pleafed; and he that finds his way to reputation through all thefe obftructions, must acknowledge that he is indebted to other caufes besides his industry, his learning, or his wit.
No III. TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 1750.
tractions; to fpread fuch flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made it's progrefs, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things haftily pafled over or negligently regarded.
Either of thefe labours is very difficult; because, that they may not be fruitless, men must not only be perfuaded of their errors, but reconciled to their guide; they must not only confefs their ignorance, but, what is ftill lefs pleasing, must allow that he from whom they are to learn is more knowing than themfelves.
It might be imagined that fuch an employment was in itself fufficiently irkfome and hazardous; that none would be found fo malevolent as wantonly to add weight to the stone of Sifyphus; and that few endeavours would be used to obftruct thofe advances to reputation, which must be made at fuch an expence of time and thought, with fo great hazard in the mifearriage, and with fo little advantage from the fuccefs.
Yet there is a certain race of men, that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius, who ftand as centinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving Ignorance and Envy the first notice of a prey.
To thefe men, who diftinguish themfelves by the appellation of Criticks, it is necefiary for a new author to find fome means of recommendation. It is probable, that the moft malignant of thefe perfecutors might be somewhat softcnel, and prevailed on, for a fhort time, to remit their fury. Having for this purpose confidered many expedients, I find in the records of ancient times, that Argus was lulled by mufick, and Cerberus quieted with a fop; and am, therefore, inclined to believe that modern criticks, who, if they have not the eyes, have the watchfulness of Argus, and can bark as loud as Cerberus, though perhaps they cannot bite with equal force, might be fubdued by methods of the fame kind. I have heard how fome have been pacified with claret and a fupper, and others laid afleep with the foft notes of flattery.
Though the nature of my undertaking gives me fufficient reafon to dread the united attacks of this virulent generation, yet I have not hitherto perfuaded myself to take any measures for flight or treaty. For I am in doubt whether they can act against me by lawful authority, and fu
fpect that they have prefumed upon a forged commiffion, ftiled themfelves the minifters of Criticism, without any authentick evidence of delegation, and uttered their own determinations as the decrees of a higher judicature.
Criticifm, from whom they derive their claim to decide the fate of writers, was the eldest daughter of Labour and of Truth: fhe was, at her birth, committed to the care of Juftice, and brought up by her in the palace of Wifdom. Being foon diftinguished by the celestials for her uncommon qualities, he was appointed the governefs of Fancy, and empowered to beat time to the chorus of the Mufes, when they fung before the throne of Jupiter.
When the Mufes condefcended to visit this lower world, they came accompanied by Criticifm, to whom, upon her descent from her native regions, Justice gave a fceptre, to be carried aloft in her righthand; one end of which was tinctured with ambrofia, and enwreathed with a golden foliage of amaranths and bays; the other end was encircled with cypress and poppies, and dipped in the waters of Oblivion. In her left-hand the bore an unextinguishable torch, manufactured by Labour, and lighted by Truth, of which it was the particular quality immediately to thew every thing in it's true form, however it might be disguised to common eves. Whatever Art could complicate, or Folly could confound, was, upon the first gleam of the torch of Truth, exhibited in it's diftinct parts and original fimplicity; it darted through the labyrinths of fophiftry, and fhewed at once all the abfurdities to which they served for refuge; it pierced through the robes, which Rhetorick often fold to Falfhood, and detected the disproportion of parts, which artificial veils had been contrived
Thus furnished for the execution of her office, Criticifm came down to furvey the performances of those who profelled themfelves the votaries of the Mufes. Whatever was brought before her, The beheld by the fteady light of the torch of Truth; and when her examination had convinced her that the laws of just writing had been obferved, fhe touched it with the amaranthine end of the fceptre, and configned it over to immortality.
But it more frequently happened, that in the works which required her infpection, there was fome impofture attempt
ed; that falfe colours were laboriously laid; that fome fecret inequality was found between the words and fentiments, or fome diffimilitude of the ideas and the original objects; that incongruities were linked together, or that some parts were of no ufe but to enlarge the appearance of the whole, without contributing to it's beauty, folidity, or usefulness.
Wherever fuch difcoveries were made, and they were made whenever these faults were committed, Criticifm refufed the touch which conferred the fanction of immortality; and, when the errors were frequent and grofs, reverfed the fceptre, and let drops of Lethe diftil from the poppies and cyprefs, a fatal mildew, which inmediately began to waste the work away, till it was at last totally destroyed. There were fome compofitions brought to the teft, in which, when the ftrongest light was thrown upon them, their beauties and faults appeared fo equally mingled, that Criticifm flood with her fceptre poifed in her hand, in doubt whether to fhed Lethe or ambrofia upon them. These at laft increased to fo great a number, that he was weary of attending fuch doubtful claims; and, for fear of ufing improperly the fceptre of Justice, referred the caufe to be confidered by Time.
The proceedings of Time, though very dilatory, were, fome few caprices excepted, conformable to juftice: and many who thought themselves fecure by a fhort forbearance, have funk under his scythe, as they were pofting down with their volumes in triumph to futurity. It was obferv
able that fome were destroyed by little and little, and others crushed for ever by a fingle blow.
Criticifm, having long kept her eye fixed fteadily upon Time, was at laft fo well fatisfied with his conduct, that she withdrew from the earth with her patronefs Aftrea, and left Prejudice and Falfe Tafte to ravage at large as the aflociates of Fraud and Mifchief; contexting herfelf thenceforth to fhed her influence from afar upon fome fèlect minds, fitted for it's reception by learning and by virtue.
Before her departure the broke her fceptre; of which the fhivers that formed the ambrofial end were caught up by Flattery, and those that had been infected with the waters of Lethe were, with equal hafte, feized by Malevolence. The followers of Flattery, to whom she distribut ed her part of the fceptre, neither had nor defired light, but touched indifcriminately whatever Power or Intereft happened to exhibit. The companions of Malevolence were fupplied by the Furies with a torch, which had this quality peculiar to infernal luftre, that it's light fell only upon faults. No light, but rather darkness vifible, Serv'd only to difcover fights of woe.
With thefe fragments of authority, the flaves of Flattery and Malevolence marched out, at the command of their mistresses, to confer immortality, or condemn to oblivion. But the fceptre had now lost it's power; and Time paffes his fentence at leifure, without any regard to their de terminations.
N° IV. SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 1750.
SIMUL ET JUCUNDA ET IDONEA DICERE VITA.
AND JOIN BOTH PROFIT AND DELIGHT IN ONE.
HE works of fiction, with which the prefent generation feems more particularly delighted, are fuch as exhibit life in it's true ftate, diverfified only by accidents that daily happen in the world, and influenced by paffions and qualities which are really to be found in converfing with mankind.
This kind of writing may be termed not improperly the comedy of romance, and is to be conducted nearly by the rules of comick poetry. It's province is to bring about natural events by eafy means, and to keep up curiofity with
out the help of wonder: it is therefore precluded from the machines and expedients of the heroick romance, and can neither employ giants to fnatch away a lady from the nuptial rites, nor knights to bring her back from captivity; it can neither bewilder it's perfonages in defarts, nor lodge them in imaginary caftles.
I remember a remark made by Scaliger upon Pontanus-that all his writings are filled with the fame images; and that if you take from him his lilies and his rofes, his Satyrs and his Dryads, he will have nothing left that can be called