Графични страници
PDF файл

“ encouraged me to undertake the weekly essay, “ of which you will consider this letter as the “prospectus.

“ Not only did the plan seem to accord better " than any other with the nature of my own “mind, both in its strength and in its weakness ; “ but conscious that, in upholding some prin“ciples both of taste and philosophy, adopted “ by the great men of Europe, from the middle “ of the fifteenth till toward the close of the “ seventeenth century. I must run counter to “many prejudices of many of my readers (for “ old faith is often modern heresy). I perceived “ too in a periodical essay, the most likely means “ of winning instead of forcing my way. Sup“ posing truth on my side, the shock of the first “ day might be so far lessened by reflections of “the succeeding days, as to procure for my next “ week's essay a less hostile reception, than it “ would have met with, had it been only the “next chapter of a present volume. I hoped to “ disarm the mind of those feelings, which pre“ clude conviction by contempt, and as it were, “fling the door in the face of reasoning, by a presumption of its absurdity. A motion too for “honourable ambition was supplied by the fact, “ that every periodical paper of the kind now at“ tempted, which had been conducted with zeal “and ability, was not only well received at the “ time, but has become permanently, and in the “best sense of the word, popular. By honour“able ambition, I mean the strong desire to be “ useful, aided by the wish to be generally ac“ knowledged to have been so. As I feel myself “ actuated in no ordinary degree by this desire, “ so the hope of realizing it appears less and “ less presumptuous to me, since I have received " from men of highest rank and established “ character in the republic of letters, not only “ strong encouragements as to my own fitness “ for the undertaking, but likewise promises of “ support from their own stores.

“ The object of. The Friend' briefly and ge“ nerally expressed is—to uphold those truths and “ those merits against the caprices of fashion, “ and such pleasures, as either depend on tran“sitory and accidental causes, or are pursued “ from less worthy impulses. The chief subjects “ of my own essays will be:

“ The true and sole ground of morality, or “ virtue, as distinguished from prudence.

“ The origin and growth of moral impulses, “ as distinguished from external and immediate “ motives.

“ The necessary dependence of taste on moral “impulses and habits; and the nature of taste “ (relatively to judgment in general and to “ genius) defined, illustrated and applied. Under “ this head I comprise the substance of the “ Lectures given, and intended to have been

“ given, at the Royal Institution, on the distin“guished English Poets, in illustration of the “ general principles of Poetry, together with “ suggestions concerning the affinity of the Fine “ Arts to each other, and the principles common “ to them all: Architecture; Gardening ; Dress; “ Music ; Painting ; Poetry

“ The opening out of new objects of just ad“ miration in our own language, and information “ of the present state and past history of Swedish, “ Danish, German and Italian literature, (to “ which, but as supplied by a friend, I may add “ the Spanish, Portuguese and French,) as far as “ the same has not been already given to Eng“ lish readers, or is not to be found in common “ French authors.

“ Characters met with in real life; anecdotes “ and results of my life and travels, &c. &c. as “ far as they are illustrative of general moral “ laws, and have no immediate learning on per“sonal or immediate politics.

“ Education in its widest sense, private and "national sources of consolation to the afflicted “in misfortune or disease, or dejection of mind “ from the exertion and right application of the “ reason, the imagination, and the moral sense ; “ and new sources of enjoyment opened out, or “ an attempt (as an illustrious friend once ex“ pressed the thought to me) to add sunshine to “ daylight, by making the happy more happy. “In the words • dejection of mind,' I refer “particularly to doubt or disbelief of the moral “ government of the world, and the grounds and “ arguments for the religious hopes of human “ nature."

The first number, printed on stamped paper, was dated June 8th, 1809. He commences this work with the following motto :.“ Whenever we improve, it is right to leave “ room for a further improvement. It is right “ to consider, to look about us, to examine the “ effect of what we have done. Then we can “ proceed with confidence, because we can pro“ ceed with intelligence. Whereas, in hot re“ formations, in what men more zealous than “ considerate, call making clear work, the whole " is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested ; “ mixed with so much imprudence and so much “ injustice ; so contrary to the whole course of “ human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it, are “ among the first to grow disgusted at what they “ have done. Then some part of the abdicated “ grievance is recalled from its exile in order to “ become a corrective of the correction.

“ Then the abuse assumes all the credit and “ popularity of a reform. The very idea of pu“ rity and disinterestedness in politics falls into “ disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot " and inexperienced men; and thus.disorders be

“come incurable, not by the virulence of their “ own quality, but by the unapt and violent na“ ture of the remedies.”(Burke's speech on the 11th of February, 1780.)


“ Conscious that I am about to deliver my “ sentiments on a subject of the utmost delicacy, “ I have selected the general motto to all my po“litical lucubrations, from an authority equally “ respected by both parties. I have taken it “ from an orator, whose eloquence enables Eng“ lishmen to repeat the name of Demosthenes “ and Cicero, without humiliation ; from a states“ man, who has left to our language a bequest “ of glory unrivalled and all our own, in the “ keen-eyed, yet far-sighted genius, with which “ he has made the profoundest general principles of political wisdom, and even the recondite “ laws of human passions, bear upon particular “ measures and passing events. While of the “ harangues of Pitt, Fox, and their compeers on “ the most important occurrences, we retain a

few unsatisfactory fragments alone, the very “ flies and weeds of Burke shine to us through “ the purest amber, imperishably enshrined, and 6 valuable from the precious material of their “ embalment. I have extracted the passage not

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »