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attempting to fritter away a good understanding, by an affectation of uniting qualities, which in themselves are totally discordant. They would unite Athens to Sparta, in every thing they do; and blend the lustre of Gibbon with the gravity of Johnson in every thing they say. Some disregarding the beauties of painting, sculpture, and architecture, reserve their applause for the arts of inlaying and working in mosaic. This had rather be crowned, as a poet, in the capitol of Rome, than be entitled to all the honours of a triumph; and, while some delight to stand upon the summit of the peak of Ossian', others trace the bubbles of a rill, that murmurs at its feet.
One derives a prouder satisfaction from having drawn the segment of a circle, than another in sketching the plan of the noblest amphitheatre: and, as the ancients took all the patterns of their foliage works from the leaves of the palm and the acanthus, so certain philosophers attempt to reduce the most heterogeneous of principles to one root: like the chemist, who attempted to dissolve gold, silver, and iron, copper, bismuth, and zinc, by one process and by one menstruum : while others are less solicitous to explain the various phenomena of Nature, than to reduce them to one principle of their own creating. Some, seeing no beauty in Shakspeare, would willingly consign his Othello, his Macbeth, and his Hamlet,-ah ! the entire works of all the moderns to oblivion, in order to preserve one act of Sophocles, one epigram of Martial, or even the worst ode of Anacreon: and to such an extent do they carry this unfortunate malady, that they would rather be guilty of an exploded error, with Aristotle," Plato, or Plotinus, than reach the highest altitude of science in the society of Locke, Bacon, or Newton! They would quit, however, the varied scenes of Nature, to pause, one solitary hour, before the grace, beauty, and mystery of the Barberini vase.
1 1900 fathoms above the level of the sea. This passage is conceived from Akenside, who derived the hint from Longinus, ch. xxix, or from Traite de Opinion.
Another description of men, mistaking sound for sense, confound us with a volubility of words; while others, anxious to avoid so disgraceful an error, would persuade us, they are so pregnant with thought, that, in the delivery of their stores, they seem, as if they were in danger of dying in mental child-bed.
This takes a sensible satisfaction, in referring the most important events to the smallest of causes; that, tracing the etymology of an adverb, despises all the honours of algebra : and, as a player of billiards esteems it more honourable to effect one pocket than to make two cannons, so some regard the acquisition of one science more honourable than the attainment of an hundred arts. And while some rob care of
many an anxious hour, in the endeavour to prove, that three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles ; or in the cultivation of the six follies of science; others, with all the pride of pedantry, scatter the dust of theology upon all those, who have the scepticism to question the truth of the Three Heavenly Witnesses. This, bearing in mind, that the Doric order is equally adapted to the smallest of rustic temples, as to the largest of amphitheatres, delights in no middle course; but alternately aims at the highest, or sinks to the lowest; exclaiming, in the pride of his heart, “ I can soar with the eagle, or sit with the wren.”
Some are so extensively learned, as to know every thing! Others so extensively ignorant, as to be certain of nothing. As the greatest wisdom of speech is to know when to be silent, so the greatest wisdom of learning is to know when to be sceptical : but the latter having heard of a sage, who declared, that the first year he entered on the study of philosophy, he knew every thing; that, at the expiration of the second, he knew only something; and that at the close of the third, he knew nothing: in all the ambiguity and inanity of scepticism, and utterly ignorant of those fine canons of practical science, which teach us what to know, and when to hesitate, they affect to deny the possibility of a primitive creation, and even to doubt the operation of their own senses !
Such, my Lelius, is the infirmity of our nature; which if we are at any time anxious to correct, we have only to remember the acknowledgment of Socrates ', and the confirmation of Lucretius; to read the second satire of Persius, the tenth of Juvenal, and the last chapter of Ecclesiasticus ; Sanchez's Philosophy of Ignorance; the poem of Ausonius on the Accidents of Life; and Lucian's Dialogue on the Absurdity of Human Wishes: to observe, with attention, Holbein's Dance of Death, and to contrast the whole with Du Bartas' correct and entertaining Map of Man, and Erasmus' Eulogium of Folly.
In some, Nature implants the desire of riches; in others the love of science: some she sends over vast and trackless seas, to observe the transit of a planet; others she leads
i Lucretius and Cicero confirm the melancholy fact. Omnes pene veteres, qui nihil cognosci, nihil percepi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt. - Academ. i. 13.
O’er vales and mountains, to explore
If the country charm us with the beauty of its productions, it pleases us no less, by the variety of amusements, which it affords. To say nothing of hunting, hawking, shooting, and fowling, which, having something cruel in their nature, ought to be foreign to our subject, what can be more worthy the attention of literary leisure, than the cultivation of plants?? Descartes, whose mind was, at all times, in a state of serenity, amused his summer evenings, in the cultivation of a small garden, which was an appendage to his house at Amsterdam. Thus, as his biographer remarks, having settled the place of a planet in the morning, he would amuse himself in the evening by watering a flower ! La Harpe, the Quintilian of France, wrote all his latter works in a small bower: And what gave Van Egmont almost as much pleasure, as any thing he saw in Asia Minor, was a stone, on which Nature had represented a garden, free from the art, which in every instance deformed the gardens of his country, One of the most delightful of European gardens is about one mile and a half from Reggio, in Magna Græcia. It belongs to a gentleman, whose name is Agamemnon.
· That medicinal botany was cultivated by the ladies in the time of Homer is evident from what he says of Agamede.--Odyss. ii. 877,
· Van Egmont's Tray. vol. 2. c. ix.
Little channels for water are cut to the foot of each tree ; and the proprietor assured Sir William Hamilton', that it was a very bad year, in which he did not gather 170,000 lemons; 200,000 oranges; and bergamots enough to produce 200 quarts of essence from their rinds.
The Indians paint Cama, the son of Affection, and the husband of Spring, as passing most of his time, with his mother and wife, in gardens and temples ; riding by moonlight on a lory; decorated with a bow, formed either of flowers or sugar-cane ; its string composed of bees; and his arrows pointed with the blossom of a spice-tree. Cama is the Indian Cupid.
Juvenal represents Lucan reposing in a garden ; Tasso pictures Rinaldo sitting beneath the shade in a fragrant meadow; Virgil describes Anchises, seated beneath sweet-scented bay-trees; and Eneas, as reclining, remote from all society, in a deep and winding valley. Pliny and Nazianzen delighted in gardens and orchards: Sallust formed them on so extensive a scale, that they retained his name for several ages after his death: the conqueror of Mithridates enjoyed the society of his friends, and the wine of Falernium, in the splendid gardens, which were an honour to his name; and Dion gave one to Speucippus, as a mark of peculiar regard. Ahasuerus was accustomed to quit the charms of the banquet to indulge the luxury of his bower; and Tissaphernes had a garden much resembling an English park,
Account of the Earthquakes in Sicily and Calabria, p. 23, 24. . The most ancient garden in Rome was that, founded by Tarquin the Proud. The most celebrated were those of Lucullus, Pompey, Martial, Nero, and Sallust. In those of Fronto the poets were accustomed to read their compositions. Vide Juv. Sat, i. v. 12.