« PreviousContinue »
spaniels, and several sorts of nets! What oblectation and refreshment it is to behold the green shades, the beauty and majesty of the tall and ancient groves; to be skilled in planting and dressing of orchards, flowers, and pot-herbs ; to temper and allay these harmless employments with some innocent, merry song; to ascend soinetimes to the fresh and healthful hills; to descend into the bosom of the valleys, and the fragrant, dewy meadows; to hear the music of birds, the murmurs of bees, the falling of springs, and the pleasant discourses of the old ploughinen. These are the blessings which only a countryman is ordained to, and are in vain wished for by citizens and courtiers.
The following remarks upon the guilt of writing or publishing books of an immoral tendency, it would be well for a large number of publishers carefully to read, and seriously to ponder. Would that they might be governed by such excellent sentiments, rather than, as they too often seem to be, by the mere consideration of profit or loss.
RESPONSIBILITY OF EDITORS AND PUBLISHERS. If every idle word shall be accounted for, and if one corrupt communication should proceed out of our mouths, how desperate (1 beseech you) is their condition, who all their lifetime, and out of mere design, study lascivious fictions; then carefully record and publish them, that instead of grace and life, they may minister sin and death unto their readers! It was wisely considered, and piously said by one, that he would read no idle books; both in regard of love to his own soul, and pity unto his that made them, for (said he) if I be corrupted by them, their composer is immediately a cause of my ill, and at the day of reckoning (though now dead) must give an account for it, because I am corrupted by his bad example which he left behind him. I will write none, lest I hurt them that come after me; I will read none, lest I augment his punishment that is gone before me. I will neither write nor read, lest I prove a foe to my own soul: while I live, I sin too much ; let me not continue longer in wickedness than I do in life, It is a sentence of sacred authority, that he that is dead, is freed from sin, because he cannot, in that state, which is without the body, sin any more; but he that writes idle books, makes for himself another body, in which he always lives, and sins (after death) as fast and as foul as ever he did in his life ; which very considers ation deserves to be a sufficient antidote against this evil disease.
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE. 1628–1698. WILLIAM TEMPLE, otherwise Sir William Temple, an eminent statesman and writer of his day, was born in London, 1628, and at the age of seventeen entered Emanuel College, Cambridge. After spending about two years at the nniversity, he spent six years in travelling upon the continent, and returning in 1654, he married and lived in privacy under the Protectorate, declining all office: but soon after the Restoration, Charles II. bestowed a baronetcy upon him, and appointed him English resident at the court of Brussels. He paid a visit to the Dutch governor, De Witt, at the Hague, and with great skill brought about, in 1668, the celebrated “triple alliance" between England, Holland, and Sweden, which for a time checked the ambitious career or Louis XIV. Here, too, he formed an intimacy with the young Prince of Orange, afterwards William III. of England.
His subsequent public employments were numerous; but when he discovered that Charles determined to govern without his Parliament, he quitted the court in disgust, and retired to his house at Sheen, near Richmond, in Surrey, whence he sent by his son a message to his majesty, stating that “ he would pass the rest of his life as good a subject as any in his king, doms, but would never more meddle with public affairs." From this period he lived so retired a life, that the transactions which brought about the Revolution of 1688 were unknown to him. After the abdication of James, the Prince of Orange pressed him to become secretary of state, but could not prevail upon him to accept the post. He died in 1898, at the age of sixty nine.
The works of Sir William Temple consist, chiefly, of short miscellaneous pieces. His longest productions are, “Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands," composed during his first retirement at Sheen; and an “ Essay on the Original and Nature of Government.” Besides several political tracts of temporary interest, he wrote “ Essays" on "Ancient and Modern Learning;" the “Gardens of Epicurus ;" · Heroic Virtue;" “ Poetry;" and “Health and Long Life.”
His « Essay upon Ancient and Modern Learning' gave rise to one of the most celebrated literary controversies which have occurred in England. In it be maintained the position, that the ancients were far superior to the moderns, not in genius only, but in learning and science. After citing many works of the ancients to sustain his position, he adduced the “ Epistles of Phalaris,”! which he declared genuine, and ventured to pronounce them as one of the greatest works of antiquity. This led to a publication of a new edition of them at Oxford, under the name of Charles Boyle, as editor. In: mediately appeared " A Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris," by that celebrated critic and profound Greek scholar, Richard Bentley ; clearly show. ing them to be a forgery. Then appeared “ Bentley's Dissertation Examined," ostensibly by Boyle, but really by Atterbury, Smalridge, Aldrich, and other Oxford divines; which seemed to give the Boyle party the advantage, till Bentley published his rejoinder, which showed such depth and extent of learning, and such powers of reasoning, as completely prostrated all his antagomists. But what could not be done by argument, was attempted to be done by ridicule, and Pope, Swift, Garth, Middleton, and others came into the field. In the use of this weapon, Swift, of course, proved the ablest champion, and in that work of infinite humor, entitled “The Battle of the Books," he not only ridiculed Bentley, but also his friend, the Rev. William Wotton, who had opposed Temple in a treatise, entitled “ Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning."
1 Phalaris was a tyrant of Agrigentum, in Sicily, who flourished more than five hundred yes natore Christ. The Epistles which bear his name, and which are utterly worthless in a literary pro of view, were probably written by some rhetorician or sophist in the time of the Casars.
“Sir William Temple," says Dr. Blair, “is another remarkable writer in the style of simplicity. In point of omament and correctness, he rises a degree above Tillotson; though for correctness he is not in the highest rank. All is easy and flowing in him; he is exceedingly harmonious; smoothness, and what may be called amenity, are the distinguishing characters of his manner; relaxing sometimes, as such a manner will naturally do, into a prolix and remiss style. No writer whatever has stamped upon his style a more lively impression of his own character."
PLEASURES OF A RURAL LIFE. For my own part, as the country life, and this part of it more particularly, (namely, gardening,) were the inclination of my youth itself, so they are the pleasure of my age; and I can truly say, that among many great employments that have fallen to my share, I have never asked or sought for any one of them, but often endeavored to escape from them, into the ease and freedom of a private scene, where a man may go his own way and his own pace, in the common paths or circles of life.
The measure of choosing well is, whether a man likes what he has chosen, which, I thank God, has befallen me ; and though among the follies of my life, building and planting have not been the least, and have cost me more than I have the confidence to own; yel they have been fully recompensed by the sweetness and satisfaction of this retreat, where, since my resolution taken of never entering again into any public employments, I have passed five years without ever going once to town, though I am almost in sight of it, and have a house there always ready to receive me. Nor has this been any sort of affectation, as some have thought it, but a mere want of desire or humor to make so small a remove.
COMPARISON BETWEEN HOMER AND VIRGIL. Homer was, without dispute, the most universal genius that has been known in the world, and Virgil the most accomplished. To the first, must be allowed the most fertile invention, the richest vein, the most general knowledge, and the most lively expression: to the last, the noblest ideas, the justest institution, the
Pope says that Boyle wrote only the narrative of what passed between him and the booksellers, which, too, was corrected for him; that Atterbury and Freind, the master of Westminster school, wrote the body of the criticisms; and that Dr. King wrote the droll argument to prove that Dr. Bentley was not the author of the Dissertation on the Epistles.
This famous controversy excited the literary world for years. Eustice Budgell, the greatest contributor to the Spectator, next to Addison and Steele, published an account of it.
wisest conduct, and the choicest elocution. To speak in the painter's terms, we find in the works of Homer, the most spirit, force, and life ; in those of Virgil, the best design, the truest proportions, and the greatest grace; the coloring in both seems equal, and, indeed, is in both admirable. Homer had more fire and rapture, Virgil more light and swiftness ; or, at least, the poetical fire was more raging in one, but clearer in the other, which makes the first more amazing, and the latter more agreeable. The ore was heavier in one, but in the other more refined, and better alloyed to make up excellent work. Upon the whole, I think it must be confessed, that Homer was of the two, and perhaps of all others, the vastest, the sublimest, and the most wonderful genius; and that he has been generally so esteemed, there cannot be a greater testimony given, than what has been by some observed, that not only the greatest masters have found in his works the best and truest principles of all their sciences or arts, but that the noblest nations have derived from them the original of their several races, though it be hardly yet agreed, whether his story be true or fiction. In short, these two immortal poets must be allowed to have so much excelled in their kinds, as to have exceeded all comparison, to have even extinguished emulation, and in a manner confined true poetry, not only to their two languages, but to their very persons. And I am apt to believe so much of the true genius of poetry in general, and of its elevation in these two particulars, that I know not, whether of all the numbers of mankind, that live within the compass of a thousand years, for one man that is born capable of making such a poet as Homer or Virgil, there may not be a thousand born capable of making as great generals of armies, or ministers of state, as any the most renowned in story.
AGAINST EXCESSIVE GRIEF.1 I know no duty in religion more generally agreed on, nor more justly required by God Almighty, than a perfect submission to his will in all things; nor do I think any disposition of mind can either please him more, or becomes us better, than that of being satisfied with all he gives, and contented with all he takes away. None, I am sure, can be of more honor to God, nor of more ease to ourselves. For, if we consider him as our Maker, we cannot contend with him; if as our Father, we ought not to distrust him : so that we may be confident, whatever he does is intended for good ; and whatever happens that we interpret otherwise, yet we can get nothing by repining, nor save any thing by resisting.
It is true you have lost a child, and all that could be lost in a child of that age ; but you have kept one child, and you are likely to do so long; you have the assurance of another, and the hopes of many more. You have kept a husband, great in employment, in fortune, and in the esteem of good men. You have kept your beauty and your health, unless you have destroyed them yourself, or discouraged them to stay with you by using them ill. You have friends who are as kind to you as you can wish, or as you can give them leave to be. You have honor and esteem from all who know you; or if ever it fails in any degree, it is only upon that point of your seeming to be fallen out with God and the whole world, and neither to care for yourself, nor any thing else, after what you have lost.
i From a letter addressed to the Countess of Resex, in 1674, after the death of her only daughter.
You will say, perhaps, that one thing was all to you, and your fondness of it made you indifferent to every thing else. But this, I doubt, will be so far from justifying you, that it will prove to be vour fault, as well as your misfortune. God Almighty gave you all the blessings of life, and you set your heart wholly upon one, and despise or undervalue all the rest: is this his fault or yours? Nay, is it not to be very unthankful to Heaven, as well as very scornful to the rest of the world ? is it not to say, because you have lost one thing God has given, you thank him for nothing he has lest, and care not what he takes away ? is it not to say, since that one thing is gone out of the world, there is nothing left in it which you think can deserve your kindness or esteem? A friend makes me a feast, and places before me all that his care or kindness could provide : but I set my heart upon one dish alone, and, if that happens to be thrown down, I scorn all the rest ; and though he sends for another of the same kind, yet I rise from the table in a rage, and say, “My friend is become my enemy, and he has done me the greatest wrong in the world.” Have I reason, madam, or good grace in what I do? or would it become me better to eat of the rest that is before me, and think no more of what had happened, and could not be remedied ?
Christianity teaches and commands us to moderate our passions ; to temper our affections towards all things below; to be thankful for the possession, and patient under the loss, whenever He who gave shall see fit to take away. Your extreme fondness
was perhaps as displeasing to God before, as now your extreme - affliction is; and your loss may have been a punishment for your * faults in the manner of enjoying what you had. It is at least pious to ascribe all the ill that befalls us to our own demerits, rather than to injustice in God. And it becomes us better to adore the issues of his providence in the effects, than to inquire into the causes; for submission is the only way of reasoning between a creature and its Maker; and contentment in his will is the greatest duty we can pretend to, and the best remedy we can apply to all our misfortunes.