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unimportant parts of literature, should not, however, be carried too far; and a sensible writer observes, that there is not, indeed, any part of knowledge which can be called entirely useless. “ The most abstracted parts of mathematics, and the knowledge of mythological history, or ancient allegories, have their own pleasures not in• ferior to the more gay entertainments of painting, music, or architecture ; and it is for the ad. vantage of mankind, that some are found who have a taste for these studies. The only fault lies in letting any of those inferior tastes engross the whole man, to the exclusion of the nobler pursuits of virtue and humanity."* We may here' apply an elegant observation of Tully, who says, in his Brutus, “Credo, sed Atheniensium quoque plus interfuit firma tecta in domiciliis habere, quam Minervæ signum ex ebore pulcherri. mum : tamen ego me Phidiam esse mallem quam vel optimum fabrum lignarium ; quare non quan. tum quisque prosit, sed quanti quisque sit, ponderandum est: præsertim cum pauci pingere egre
* Hutcheson's Nature and Conduct of the Passions, page.
giè possint aut fingere, operarii autem aut bajuli deesse non possint."
24. Passions, tho' selfish, if their means be fair,
List under Reason, and deserve her care ;
We find an f obscurity in these lines, arising from the use of the participle imparted ; a mode of speaking of which Pope was fond, studious as he was of brevity, and which often betrayed him into the same fault : Passions that court an aim, is surely a strange expression.
* Ver. 97.
+ When I am writing, (says Fontenelle,) I often stop, and ask, Do I myself understand this sentence?” And yet Fontenelle, whom the French accuse of introducing the abrupt, affected style, is frequently obscure. « Non minus autem ca. venda erit, (says Quintilian,) quæ nimium corripientes omnia sequitur, obscuritas : satiusque est aliquid narrationi superesse, quam deesse. Nam cum supervacua cum tædio dicuntur, necessaria cum periculo subtrahuntur.”
Institut. Orat. Lib. iv. C. 2.
Happy is he who can unite brevity with perspicuity. It is but of one writer that Quintilian says, Idem lætus ac pressus, tum copià, tum brevitate mirabilis. Lib. x, C..1.
25. In lazy apathy let Stoics boast
Their virtue fix'd! 'tis fix'd as in a frost;
Perhaps a stronger example cannot be found, of taking notions upon trust without any examination, than the universal censure that has been passed upon the Stoics, as if they strenuously inculcated a total insensibility with respect to passion. He that would be convinced that this trite accusation is ill-grounded, may consult the notes Mr. Harris has added to his third treatise.t There he will find the genuine doctrines of the Stoics examined with accuracy and sagacity, in a learned deduction of passages from all the best writers of that school; the sum of which quotations, in the nervous language of that critic, appears to be this; “That the Stoics, in their character of their virtuous man, included rational desire, aversion, and exultation ; included love, and parental affection ; friendship,
* Ver. 101.
+ From note pag. 325 to pag. 331..
and a general charity or benevolence to all mankind; that they considered it as a duty, arising from our very nature, not to neglect the welfare of public society, but to be ever ready, according to our rank, to act either the magistrate or the private citizen; that their apathy was no more than a freedom from perturbation, from irrational and excessive agitations of the soul; and consequently, that the strange apathy commonly laid to their charge, and in the demolishing of which there have been so many triumphs, was an imaginary apathy, for which they were no way accountable.”
26. Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train;
HATE, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain.
This beautiful group of allegorical personages, so strongly contrasted, how do they act? The prosopopeia is unfortunately dropped, and the metaphor changed immediately in the succeeding lines :
These mix'd with art, and to due bounds confin'd,
* Ver. 117.
27. On different senses different objects strike.*
A didactic poet, who has happily indulged himself in bolder flights of enthusiasm, supported by a more figurative style than our author used, has thus nobly illustrated this very doc trine:
We have here a striking example of that poetic spirit, that harmonious and varied versification,
op Ver. 128.