صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


encouraged me, will, I hope, pardon the delays incident to a work which must be performed by other eyes and other hands: and censure may surely be content to spare the compositions of a wonian, written for amusement, and published for necessity.

threats of criticism. The world will perhaps be | press. The candour of those that have already something softened when it shall be known, that my intention was to have lived by means more suited to my ability, from which being now cut off by a total privation of sight, I have been persuaded to suffer such Essays as I had formerly written, to be collected, and fitted, if they can be fitted, by the kindness of my friends, for the






pleasure, it might well be doubted in what degree of estimation they should be held; but when I KNOW not what apology to make for the they are referred to necessity, the controversy is little dissertation which I have sent, and which I at an end: it soon appears, that though they will not deny that I have sent with design that may sometimes incommode us, yet human life you should print it. I know that admonition is would scarcely rise, without them, above the very seldom grateful, and that authors are emi-common existence of animal nature: we might indeed breathe and eat in universal ignorance, nently choleric; yet, I hope, that you, and every but must want all that gives pleasure or security, impartial reader, will be convinced, that I intend all the embellishments and delights, and most of the benefit of the public, and the advancement of the conveniences and comforts of our present knowledge; and that every reader, into whose hands this shall happen to fall, will rank himself among those who are to be excepted from gene

ral censure.

I am, Sir, your humble servant.

Scire velim quare toties mihi, Nevole, tristis Occurris fronte obductâ, ceu Marsya victus.-Juv. There is no gift of nature, or effect of art, however beneficial to mankind, which either by casual deviations, or foolish perversions, is not sometimes mischievous. Whatever may be the cause of happiness, may be made likewise the cause of misery. The medicine, which, rightly applied, has power to cure, has, when rashness or ignorance prescribes it, the same power to destroy.

I have computed, at some hours of leisure, the loss and gain of literature, and set the pain which it produces against the pleasure. Such calculations are indeed at a great distance from matheinatical exactness, as they arise from the induction of a few particulars, and from observations made rather according to the temper of the computist, than the nature of things. But such a narrow survey as can be taken, will easily show that letters cause many blessings, and inflict many calamities; that there is scarcely an individual who may not consider them as immediately or mediately influencing his life, as they are chief instruments of conveying knowledge, and transmitting sentiments; and almost every man learns, by their means, all that is right or wrong in his sentiments and conduct.

If letters were considered only as means of


Literature is a kind of intellectual light, which, like the light of the sun, may sometimes enable us to see what we do not like; but who would wish to escape unpleasing objects, by condemning himself to perpetual darkness?

Since, therefore, letters are thus indispensably necessary, since we cannot persuade ourselves to lose their benefits for the sake of escaping their mischiefs, it is worth our serious inquiry, how their benefits may be increased and their mischiefs lessened; by what means the harvest of our studies may afford us more corn and less chaff; and how the roses of the gardens of science may gratify us more with their fragrance, and prick us less with their thorns.

I shall not at present mention the more formidable evils which the misapplication of literature produces, nor speak of churches infected with heresy, states inflamed with sedition, or schools infatuated with hypothetical fictions. These are evils which mankind have always lamented, and which, till mankind grow wise and modest, they must, I am afraid, continue to lament, without hope of remedy. I shall now touch only on some lighter and less extensive evils, yet such as are sufficiently heavy to those that feel them, and are of late so widely diffused, as to deserve, though perhaps not the notice of the legislature, yet the consideration of those whose benevolence inclines them to a voluntary care of public happiness.

It was long ago observed by Virgil, and I suppose by many before him, that "Bees do not


If I were to form an adage of misery, or fix the lowest point to which humanity could fall, I should be tempted to name the life of an author. Many universal comparisons there are by which misery is expressed. We talk of a man teased like a bear at the stake, tormented like a toad under a harrow, or hunted like a dog with a stick

make honey for their own use;" the sweets | their minds to form inconsiderate hopes, they which they collect in their laborious excursions, are harassed and dejected with frequent disap and store up in their hives with so much skill, are seized by those who have contributed neither toil nor art to the collection; and the poor animal is either destroyed by the invader, or left to shift without a supply. The condition is nearly the same of the gatherer of honey, and the gatherer of knowledge. The bee and the author work alike for others, and often lose the profit of their labour. The case, therefore, of authors, how-at his tail; all these are indeed states of uneasiever hitherto neglected, may claim regard. Every body of men is important according to the joint proportion of their usefulness and their number. Individuals, however they may excel, cannot hope to be considered singly as of great weight in the political balance; and multitudes, though they may, merely by their bulk, demand some notice, are yet not of much value, unless they contribute to ease the burden of society, by cooperating to its prosperity.


ness, but what are they to the life of an author!
of an author worried by critics, tormented by his
bookseller, and hunted by his creditors.
such must be the case of many among the re-
tailers of knowledge, while they continue thus to
swarm over the land; and, whether it be by pro-
pagation or contagion, produce new writers to
heighten the general distress, to increase confu-
sion, and hasten famine.

Having long studied the varieties of life, I can Of the men, whose condition we are now ex- guess by every man's walk, of air, to what state amining, the usefulness never was disputed; of the community he belongs. Every man has they are known to be the great disseminators of noted the legs of a tailor, and the gait of a seaknowledge, and guardians of the commonwealth; man, and a little extension of his physiognomical and of late their number has been so much in- acquisitions will teach him to distinguish the creased, that they are become a very conspi- countenance of an author. It is my practice, cuous part of the nation. It is not now, as in when I am in want of amusement, to place myformer times, when men studied long, and passed self for an hour at Temple Bar, or any other through the severities of discipline, and the pro-narrow pass much frequented, and examine one bation of public trials, before they presumed to by one the looks of the passengers; and I have think themselves qualified for instructors of their commonly found, that, between the hours of countrymen; there is found a nearer way to eleven and four, every sixth man is an author. fame and erudition, and the inclosures of litera-They are seldom to be seen very early in the ture are thrown open to every man whom idle-morning, or late in the evening, but about dinner ness disposes to loiter, or whom pride inclines to time they are all in motion, and have one uniform set himself to view. The sailor publishes his eagerness in their faces, which gives little opporjournal, the farmer writes the process of his an-tunity of discerning their hopes or fears, their nual labour; he that succeeds in his trade, pleasures or their pains. thinks his wealth a proof of his understanding, But in the afternoon, when they have all dined, and boldly tutors the public; he that fails, con- or composed themselves to pass the day without siders his miscarriage as the consequence of a a dinner, their passions have full play, and I can capacity too great for the business of a shop, perceive one man wondering at the stupidity of and amuses himself in the Fleet with writing or the public, by which his new book has been totranslating. The last century imagined, that a tally neglected; another cursing the French, man, composing in his chariot, was a new ob- who fright away literary curiosity by their threats ject of curiosity; but how much would the won-of an invasion; another swearing at his bookder have been increased by a footman studying behind it? There is now no class of men without its authors, from the peer to the thresher; nor can the sons of literature be confined any longer to Grub-street or Moorfields; they are spread over all the town and all the country, and fill every stage of habitation from the cellar to the garret.

seller, who will advance no money without copy; another perusing as he walks, his publisher's bill; another murmuring at an unanswerable criticism; another determining to write no more to a generation of barbarians; and another resolving to try once again, whether he cannot awaken the drowsy world to a sense of his merit.

It sometimes happens, that there may be remarked among them a smile of complacence, or a strut of elevation; but if these favourites of fortune are carefully watched for a few days, they seldom fail to show the transitoriness of human felicity; the crest falls, the gayety is ended, and there appear evident tokens of a successful rival, or a fickle patron.

It is well known, that the price of commodities must always fall as the quantity is increased, and that no trade can allow its professors to be multiplied beyond a certain number. The great misery of writers proceeds from their multitude. We easily perceive that in a nation of clothiers, no man could have any cloth to make but for his own back; that in a community of bakers every But of all authors, those are the most wretched, man must use his own bread; and what can be who exhibit their productions on the theatre, and the case of a nation of authors, but that every who are to propitiate first the manager, and then man must be content to read his book to himself? the public. Many an humble visitant have I for surely it is vain to hope, that of men labour-followed to the doors of these lords of the drama, ing at the same occupation, any will prefer the seen him touch the knocker with a shaking hand, work of his neighbour to his own; yet this ex-and, after long deliberation, adventure to solicit pectation, wild as it is, seems to be indulged by many of the writing race, and therefore it can be no wonder, that like all other men who suffer

entrance, by a single knock; but I never stayed to see them come out from their audience, because my heart is tender, and being subject to frights


in bed, I would not willingly dream of an author.

their strength and flesh with good quarters and present pay.

There are some reasons for which they may

That the number of authors is disproportionate to the maintenance which the public seems will-seem particularly qualified for a military life. ing to assign them; that there is neither praise nor meat for all who write, is apparent from this, that, like wolves in long winters, they are forced to prey on one another. The Reviewers and Critical Reviewers, the Remarkers and Examiners can satisfy their hunger only by devouring their brethren. I am far from imagining that ravenous or bloodthey are naturally more thirsty than those on whom they fall with so much violence and fury; but they are hungry, and hunger must be satisfied; and these savages, when their bellies are full, will fawn on those whom they now bite.

They are used to suffer want of every kind; they are accustomed to obey the word of com mand from their patrons and their booksellers; they have always passed a life of hazard and adventure, uncertain what may be their state on the next day; and, what is of yet more impor tance, they have long made their minds familiar to danger, by descriptions of bloody battles, daring undertakings, and wonderful escapes. They have their memories stored with all the stratagems of war, and have over and over practised in their closets the expedients of distress, the exultation of triumph, and the resignation of heroes sentenced to destruction.

The result of all these considerations amounts Some indeed there are, who, by often changing only to this, that the number of writers must at last be lessened, but by what method this great sides in controversy, may give just suspicion of design can be accomplished, is not easily disco- their fidelity, and whom I should think likely to vered. It was lately proposed, that every man desert for the pleasure of desertion, or for a farwho kept a dog should pay a certain tax, which, thing a month advanced in their pay. Of these as the contriver of ways and means very judi- men I know not what use can be made, for they ciously observed, would either destroy the dogs, can never be trusted, but with shackles on their or bring in money. Perhaps it might be proper legs. There are others whom long depression, to lay some such tax upon authors, only the pay-under supercilious patrons, has so humbled and ment must be lessened in proportion as the animal, upon which it is raised, is less necessary; for many a man that would pay for his dog, Perhaps if every will dismiss his dedicator. one who employed or harboured an author, was assessed a groat a year, it would sufficiently lessen the nuisance without destroying the species.

crushed, that they will never have steadiness to keep their ranks. But for these men there may be found fifes and drums, and they will be well enough pleased to inflame others to battle, if they are not obliged to fight themselves.

It is more difficult to know what can be done with the ladies of the pen, of whom this age has produced greater numbers than any former time. It is indeed common for women to follow the camp, but no prudent general will allow thers a such numbers as the breed of authoresses would Authoresses are seldom famous for

make bad sutlers, being not much accustomed to eat. I must therefore propose, that they shall form a regiment of themselves, and garrison the town which is supposed to be in most danger of a French invasion. They will probably have no enemies to encounter; but, if they are once shut up together, they will soon disencumber the pub lic by tearing out the eyes of one another.

But no great alteration is to be attempted rashly. We must consider how the authors, which this tax shall exclude from their trade are to be employed. The nets used in the herring-furnish. fishery can furnish work but for few, and not clean linen, therefore they cannot make launmany can be employed as labourers at the foun-dresses; they are rarely skilful at their needle, dation of the new bridge. There must, therefore, and cannot mend a soldier's shirt; they wil be some other scheme formed for their accommodation, which the present state of affairs may easily supply. It is well known, that great efforts have been lately made to man the fleet, and augment the army, and loud complaints are made of useful hands forced away from their This families into the service of the crown. offensive exertion of power may be easily avoided, by opening a few houses for the entertainment of discarded authors, who would enter into the service with great alacrity, as most of them are zealous friends of every present government; many of them are men of able bodies and strong limbs, qualified at least as well for the musket as the pen; they are, perhaps, at present a little cmaciated and enfeebled, but would soon recover

The great art of life is to play for much, and to stake little; which rule I have kept in view through this whole project; for, if our authors and authoresscs defeat our enemies, we shall obtain all the usual advantages of victory; and if they should be destroyed in war, we shall lose only those who had wearied the public, and whom, whatever be their fate, nobody will iniss




[blocks in formation]

We are about to exhibit to our countrymen a new Monthly Collection, to which the well deserved popularity of the first undertaking of this kind, has now made it almost necessary to prefix the name of Magazine. There are already many such periodical compilations, of which we do not envy the reception, nor shall dispute the excellence. If the nature of things would allow us to indulge our wishes, we should desire to advance our own interest without lessening that of any other, and to excite the curiosity of the vacant, rather than withdraw that which other writers have already engaged.

Our design is to give the history, political and literary, of every month, and our pamphlets must consist, like other collections, of many articles unconnected and independent on each other. The chief political object of an Englishman's attention must be the great council of the nation, and we shall therefore register all public proceedings with particular care. We shall not attempt to give any regular series of debate, or to amuse our readers with senatorial rhetoric. The speeches inserted in other papers have been long known to be fictitious, and produced sometimes by men who never heard the debate, nor had any authentic information. We have no design to impose thus grossly on our readers, and shall therefore give the naked arguments used in the discussion of every question, and add, when they can be obtained, the names of the speakers.

As the proceedings in parliament are unintelligible without a knowledge of the facts to which they relate, and of the state of the nations to which they extend their influence, we shall exhibit monthly a view, though contracted yet distinct, of foreign affairs, and lay open the designs and interests of those nations which are considered by English either as friends or enemies.

Of transactions in our own country curiosity will demand a more particular account, and we shall record every remarkable event, extraordinary casualty, uncommon performance, or striking novelty, and shall apply our care to the discovery of truth, with very little reliance on the daily historians.

The lists of births, marriages, deaths, and burials will be so drawn up, that we hope very few omissions or mistakes will be found, though some must be expected to happen in so great a

variety, where there is neither leisure nor oppor tunity for minute information.

It is intended that lists shall be given of all the officers and persons in public employment; and that all the alterations shall be noted as they happen, by which our list will be a kind of Court Register always complete.

The literary history necessarily contains an account of the labours of the learned, in which whether we shall show much judgment or sagacity, must be left to our readers to determine; we can promise only justness and candour. It is not to be expected that we can insert extensive extracts or critical examinations of all the writings which this age of writers may offer to our notice. A few only will deserve the distinction of criticism, and a few only will obtain it. We shall try to select the best and most important pieces, and are not without hope, that we may sometimes influence the public voice, and hasten the popularity of a valuable work.

Our regard will not be confined to books; it will extend to all the productions of science. Any new calculation, a commodious instrument, the discovery of any property in nature, or any new method of bringing known properties into use or view, shall be diligently treasured up wherever found.

In a paper designed for general perusal, it will be necessary to dwell most upon things of general entertainment. The elegant trifles of literature, the wild strains of fancy, the pleasing amusements of harmless wit, shall therefore be considered as necessary to our collection. Nor shall we omit researches into antiquity, expla nations of coins or inscriptions, disquisitions on controverted history, conjectures on doubtful geography, or any other of those petty works upon which learned ingenuity is sometimes employed.

To these accounts of temporary transactions and fugitive performances, we shall add some dissertations on things more permanent and stable; some inquiries into the history of nature, which has hitherto been treated as if mankind were afraid of exhausting it. There are in our own country many things and places worthy of note that are yet little known, and every day gives opportunities of new observations which are made and forgotten. We hope to find means of extending and perpetuating physiological discoveries, and with regard to this article, and all others, entreat the assistance of curious and candid correspondents.

We shall labour to attain as much exactness as can be expected in such variety, and shall give as much variety as can consist with reasonable exactness; for this purpose a selection has been made of men qualified for the different parts of the work, and each has the employment assigned him, which he is supposed most able to discharge.






licentiousness of Aristophanes, their author, is exorbitant, and it is very difficult to draw from I CONCLUDE this work according to my promise, the performances of a single poet, a just idea of with an account of the Comic Theatre, and en- Greek comedy. Besides, it seemed that tragedy treat the reader, whether a favourer or an enemy was sufficient to employ all my attention, that I of the ancient drama, not to pass his censure upon the authors or upon me, without a regular might give a complete representation of that kind perusal of this whole work. For, though it of writing, which was most esteemed by the seems to be composed of pieces of which each Athenians and the wiser Greeks,* particularly by Socrates, who set no value upon comedy or may precede or follow without dependence upon comic actors. But the very name of that drama, the other, yet all the parts taken together, form which in polite ages, and above all others in our a system which would be destroyed by their disjunction. Which way shall we come at the own, has been so much advanced, that it has become equal to tragedy, if not preferable, inknowledge of the ancients' shows, but by com-clines me to think that I may be partly reproachparing together all that is left of them? The ed with an imperfect work, if, after having gone value and necessity of this comparison deteras deep as I could into the nature of Greek tramined me to publish all, or to publish nothing. gedy, I did not at least sketch a draught of the Besides, the reflections on each piece, and on comedy. the general taste of antiquity, which, in my I then considered, that it was not wholly imopinion, are not without importance, have a possible to surmount, at least in part, the diffikind of obscure gradation, which I have care-culties which had stopped me, and to go somefully endeavoured to preserve, and of which the what farther than the learned writers, who have thread would be lost by him who should slightly published in French some pieces of Aristoglance sometimes upon one piece, and sometimes upon another. It is a structure which I have phanes; not that I pretend to make large translations. The same reasons which have hindered endeavoured to make as near to regularity as I with respect to the more noble parts of the Greek could, and which must be seen in its full extent drama, operate with double force upon my preand in proper succession. The reader who skips sent subject. Though ridicule, which is the here and there over the book, might make a business of comedy, be not less uniform in all hundred objections which are either anticipated times, than the passions which are moved by or answered in those pieces which he might have overlooked. I have laid such stress upon the tragic compositions; yet, if diversity of manners may sometimes disguise the passions themselves, connexion of the parts of this work, that I have how much greater change will be made in jocudeclined to exhaust the subject, and have sup- larities! The truth is, that they are so much pressed many of my notions, that I might leave changed by the course of time, that pleasantry the judicious reader to please himself by forming and ridicule become dull and flat much more such conclusions as I supposed him like to dis-easily than the pathetic becomes ridiculous. cover as well as myself. I am not here attempting to prejudice the reader by an apology either for the ancients, or my own manner. I have not claimed a right of obliging others to determine, by my opinion, the degrees of esteem which I think due to the authors of the Athenian Stage; nor do I think that their reputation in the present time, ought to depend upon my mode of thinking or expressing my thoughts, which I leave entirely to the judgment of the public.



That which is commonly known by the term jocular and comic, is nothing but a turn of expression, an airy phantom, that must be caught at a particular point. As we lose this point, we lose the jocularity, and find nothing but dulness in its place. A lucky sally, which has filled a company with laughter, will have no effect in print, because it is shown single and separate from the circumstances which gave it force. Many satirical jests, found in ancient books, have had the same fate; their spirit has evaporated by time, and has left nothing to us but insipidity. None but the most biting passages have preserved their points unblunted.

But, besides this objection, which extends uniREASONS WHY ARISTOPHANES MAY BE REVIEW-versally to all translations of Aristophanes, and


I was in doubt a long time, whether I should meddle at all with the Greek comedy, both because the pieces which remain are very few, the

many allusions of which time has deprived us,

There was a law which forbade any judge of the Areopagus to write comedy. † Madame Dacier, M. Boivin,

« السابقةمتابعة »