Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

CHA P VIII.

ON GOOD SENSE.

WERE I to explain what I understand by good fenfe,

I fhould call it right reason; but right reason that arifes not from formal and logical deductions, but from a fort of intuitive faculty in the foul, which distinguishes by immediate perception: a kind of innate fagacity, that in many of its properties feems very much to refemble inftinct. It would be improper, therefore, to fay, that Sir Ifaac Newton fhewed his good fenfe, by thofe amazing difcoveries which he made in natural philofophy: the operations of this gift of heaven are rather instantaneous, than the refult of any tedious procefs. Like Diomed, after Minerva had endued him with the power of discerning gods from mortals, the man of good fenfe discovers at once the truth of those objects he is moft concerned to distinguish; and conducts kimfelf with fuitable caution and fecurity.

It is for this reafon, poffibly, that this quality of the mind is not so often found united with learning as one could wifh for good fenfe being accustomed to receive her difcoveries without labour or ftudy, fhe cannot fo eafily wait for thofe truths, which being placed at a distance, and lying concealed under numberless covers, require much pains and application to unfold.

BUT though good fenfe is not in the number, nor always, it must be owned, in the company of the fciences; yet is it (as the moft fenfible of poets has juftly obferved)

fairly worth the feven.

Rectitude of understanding is indeed the moft ufeful, as well as the most noble of human endowments, as it is the fove

H 3

reign

[ocr errors]

1

reign guide and director in every branch of civil and social intercourfe.

UPON whatever occafion this enlightening faculty is exerted, it is always fure to act with diftinguished eminence; but its chief and peculiar province feems to lie in the commerce of the world. Accordingly we may obferve, that those whe have converfed more with men than with books; whofe wifdom is derived rather from experience than contemplation; generally poffefs this happy talent with fuperior perfection. For good fenfe, though it cannot be acquired, may be improved; and the world, I believe, will ever be found to afford the most kindly foil for its cultivation.

MELMOTH:

CHA P. IX.

ON ST. UD Y.

STUDIES ferve for delight, for ornament, and for abi

lity. The chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in difcourfe; and for ability, is in the judgment and difpofition of bufinefs. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars one by one; but the general counfels, and the plots, and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in ftudies is floth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of a fcholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by duty, and ftudies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn ftudies, fimple men admire them, and wife men use them;

for they teach not their own use, but that is a wisdom with out them, and above them, won by obfervation. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and difcourfe, but to weigh and confider. Some books are to be tafted, others to be swallowed, and fome few to be chewed and digefted; that is, fome books are to be read only in parts; others to be read but not curiously; and fome few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that fhould be only in the lefs important arguments, and the meaner fort of books; else distilled books are like common diftilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a prefent wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning to feem to know that he doth not.

С НА Р. X.

ON SATIRICAL WIT.

BACON.

-TRUST me, this unwary pleafantry of thine will fooner or later bring thee into fcrapes and difficulties, which no after wit can extricate thee out of. In thefe fallies, too oft I fee, it happens, that the perfon laughed at, confiders himself in the light of a perfon injured, with all the rights of fuch a fituation belonging to him; and when thou vieweft him in that light too, and reckoneft upon his friends, his family, his kindred and allies, and muftereft up with them the many recruits which will lift under him H 4 from

from a fenfe of common danger; 'tis no extravagant arithmetic to say, that for every ten jokes, thou haft got an hundred enemies; and, till thou haft gone on, and raised a fwarm of wafps about thine ears, and art half ftung to death by them, thou wilt never be convinced it is fo.

I CANNOT fufpect it in the man whom I efteem, that there is the least spur from spleen or malevolence of intent in these fallies. I believe and know them to be truly honeft and sportive; but confider, that fools cannot diftinguish this, and that knaves will not; and thou knowest not what it is, either to provoke the one, or to make merry with the other: whenever they affociate for mutual defence, depend upon it they will carry on the war in such a manner against thee, my dear friend, as to make thee heartily fick of it, and of thy life too.

REVENGE from fome baneful corner fhall level a tale of dishonour at thee, which no innocence of heart or integrity of conduct shall fet right. The fortunes of thy house shall totter-thy character, which led the way to them, shall bleed on every fide of it-thy faith questioned-thy works belied-thy wit forgotten-thy learning trampled on. To wind up the laft scene of thy tragedy, CRUELTY and CowARDICE, twin ruffians, hired and fet on by MALICE in the dark, fhall ftrike together at all thy infirmities and miftakes the best of us, my friend, lie open there, and truft me-when to gratify a private appetite, it is once resolved upon, that an innocent and an helpless creature shall be facrificed, it is an eafy matter to pick up sticks enough from any thicket where it has ftrayed, to make a fire to offer it up with.

:

STERNE.

CHAP.

CHA P. XI.

HAMLET'S INSTRUCTIONS

TO THE PLAYERS.

SPEAK the fpeech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,

trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lieve the town crier had spoke my lines. And do not faw the air too much with your hand thus; but ufe all gently; for in the very torrent, tempeft, and, as I may fay, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it fmoothness. Oh! it offends me to the foul, to hear a robufteous periwig-pated fellow tear a paffion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings; who (for the moft part) are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb fhews and noife: I could have fuch a fellow whipp'd for o'erdoing termagant; it out-herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.

BE not too tame neither; but let your own difcretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this fpecial obfervance, that you o'erstep not the modefty of nature: for any thing fo overdone is from the purpose of playing; whofe end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to fhew virtue her own feature, fcorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and preffure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy of, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve: the cenfure of one of which muft in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. Oh! there be players that I have feen play, and heard others praise, and that highly (not to speak

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »