Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

incur the suspicion, of attempting to conceal the true owner, by a pitiful variation.

With respect to the critical animadversions on Mr. Pope's writings, and genius, he is far from being over anxious to make others adopt his sentiments. He will think it sufficient, if his remarks should engage the reader to review his own opinions. Where he hath presumed to differ from the most respectable authorities, he would be rather understood to propose a doubts than to offer a contradiction : he is not so vain, jo make light of the opinions of others; nor yet so modest, to suppress his own. It will give him less concern, however, to expose his want of judgment, than to be conscious of the despicable insincerity of feigning a conviction, which he does not feel.

To some, perhaps, the extracts will appear tog copious, and he once entertained thoughts of Teferring to the paffages, he judged proper to select. But, beside the great trouble and inceffant interruption, which this would have occafioned to the reader, it occurred to him that it would be impossible, more especially in our

9

author's

author's moral and didactic pieces, fully and candidly to exemplify the beauties and blemishes of his compositions, without giving a short connected view of the plan of each piece, and of his chain of reasoning; which contributes, in some instances, to constitute the peculiar excellencies and faults, which are most material to be remarked.

It would, to a few perhaps, have been sufficient to have pointed out particular beauties by inverted commas, or other marks of distinction; and the writer is aware of the oftentation of citing fine passages with general applauses, and empty exclamations, at the ends of them. But he recollected, that flight intimations do not always strike precipitate readers. Besides, it is scarce poflible sometimes, when we are smitten with a fine passage, to suppress those involuntary bursts of applause---Euge! atque belle ! though, in truth, they are but empty exclamations.

Whenever such may have escaped from his pen, he trusts that the candid reader will ascribe them to a solicitude, which made him rather carnest to do justice to the poet's merit, than to raise an admiration of his own judgment.

Should

Should the following sheets, which have been the fruit of a leisure vacation, be deemed by his graver friends, too foreign from the line of his profession; he hath only to answer, that as the nature of the human mind requires diversity to preserve the edge of attention, so, to him, no kind of relaxation could have been more agreeable: and in his choice, he is justified by the authority of the great Lord Coke---After making certain allotments of time, not much perhaps to the taste of a modern student, this great fage of the law thus directs the application of the remainder

Quod fupereft, ultro facris largire camenis.

Middle-Temple,
Jan. 2, 1769.

OWEN RUFFHEAD.

(i)

THE

L I F E

OF

ALEXANDER POPE, Efq.

A

MONG the chief beauties of a famous

Italian poem, is the following allegory, so just and ingenious in the opinion of a great philosopher, that he has borrowed it to illustrate and adorn a general principle in one of his more capital works- Attached to the thread of every man's life, says the noble allegorist, is a little medal, whereon each man's name is infcribed, which TIME, waiting on the shears of FATE, catches up, as they fall from the inexorable steel, and bears to the river LETHE; into which, were it not for certain birds which keep flying about its banks, they would be immediately immerged. But these seize the medals ere they fall, and bear them for a while up and down in their beaks, with much noise and flutter; but careless of their charge, or unable to support it, they most B

of

of them soon drop their shining prey one after another into the oblivious stream. Nevertheless among these heedless carriers of fame, are a few swans, who, when they catch a medal, convey it carefully to the Temple of IMMORTALITY, where it is consecrated.

These swans, of later ages, have indeed been rarae aves: What innumerable names have been dropped into the dark stream of oblivion, for one that has been consecrated in the bright temple of immortality!

When it is considered that the faculties which men receive from Nature, are perhaps nearly equal *, and that fo few distinguish themselves by the display of any superior talents, we are curious to become acquainted with the history of those, who by their merits have transmitted their names to posterity; and are anxious to discover by what means they attained that degree of excellence, which immortalized their memories.

* It would be too much to conclude with some systematical writers, that all men properly organized, are equally capable of the greatest efforts of genius : and that the inequality of talents is owing altogether to the difference of education. This is contradicted by daily experience. Education contributes mostly, but not wholly. Among youth, some are found to receive instruction with uncommon quickness of perception; while cthers, under the same preceptor, betray a flowness of apprehension, which evidently marks a constitutional difference between their mental faculties.

It

« ZurückWeiter »