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Here were words and numbers for the humour of an Aristophanes ; for the active elegance of a Philemon or Menander; for the amorous strains of a Mimnermus or Sappho; for the rural lays of a Theocritus or Bion; and for the sublime conceptions of a Sophocles or. Homer. The same in prose. Here Isocrates was enabled to display his art, in all the accuracy of periods, and the nice counterpoise of diction. Here Demosthenes found materials for that nervous composition, that manly force of unaffected eloquence, which rushed like a torrent, too impetuous to be withstood.

Who were more different in exhibiting their philosophy, than Xenophon, Plato, and his disciple Aristotle? Different, I say, in their character of composition ; for as to their philosophy itself, it was, in reality, the same. Aristotle, strict, methodic, and orderly; subtle in thought; sparing in ornament; with little address to the passions or imagination : but exhibiting the whole with such a pregnant brevity, that in every sentence we seem to read a page. How exquisitely is this all performed in Greek! Let those, who imagine it may be done as well in another language, satisfy themselves, either by attempting to translate him, or by perusing his translations already made by men of learning. On the contrary, when we read either Xenophon or Plato, nothing of this method and strict order appears. The formal and didactic is wholly dropped. Whatever they may teach, it is without professing to be teachers; a train of dialogue and truly polite address, in which, as in a mirrour, we behold human life adorned in all its colours of sentiment and manners.

And yet though these differ in this manner from the Stagyrite, how different are they likewise in character from each other;-Plato, copious, figurative, and majestic; intermixing at times the facetious and satiric; enriching his works with tales and fables, and the mystic theology of ancient times. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect simplicity; every where smooth, harmonious, and pure; declining the figurative, the marvellous, and the mystic; ascending but rarely into the sublime; nor then so much trusting to the colours of style, as to the intrinsic dignity of the sentiment itself.

The language, in the meantime in which he and Plato wrote, appears to suit so accurately with the style of both, that when we read either of the two, we cannot help thinking, that it is he alone who has hit its character, and that it could not have appeared so elegant in any other manner.

And thus is the Greek tongue, from its propriety and universality, made for all that is great and all that is beautiful, in every subject, and under every form of writing:

Graiis ingenium, Graiis derlit ore rotundo

Mnsa loqui. It were to be wished, that those amongst us, who either write or read with a view to employ their liberal leisure, (for as to such as do either from views more sordid, we leave them, like slaves, to their destined drudgery) it were to be wished, I say, that the liberal (if they have a relish for letters) would inspect the finished models of Grecian literature; that they would not waste those hours, which they cannot recal, upon the meaner productions of the French and English press'; upon that fungous growth of novels and of pamphlets, where, it is to be feared, they rarely find any rational pleasure, and more rarely still any solid improvement.

To be completely skilled in ancient learning is by no means a work of such insuperable pains. The very progress itself is attended with delight, and resembles a journey through some pleasant country where every mile we advance, new charms arise. It is certainly as easy to be a scholar, as a gamester, or many other characters equally illiberal and low. The same application, the same quantity of hahit, will fit us for one as completely as for the other. And as to those who tell us, with an air of seeming wisdom, that it is men, and not books, we must study to become knowing; this I have always remarked, from repeated experience, to be the common consolation and language of dunces. They shelter their ignorance under a few bright examples, whose transcendent abilities, without the common helps, have been sufficient of themselves to great and important ends. But alas!

Decipit exemplar vitiis imitableIn truth, each man's understanding, when ripened and mature, is a composite of natural capacity, and of superinduced habit. Hence the greatest men will be necessarily those who possess the best capacities, cultivated with the best habits. Hence also moderate capacities, when adorned with valuable science, will far transcend others the most acute by nature, when either neglected, or applied to low and base pur

poses. And thus, for the honour of culture and good learning, they are able to render a man, if he will take the pains, intrinsically more excellent than his natural superiors.



BE READ I SHALL only give you two or three cautions and directions for your reading them, which to some people will look a little odd, but with me they are of great moment, and very necessary to be observed,

The first is, that you would never be persuaded into what they call common-places; which is a way of taking an author to pieces, and ranging him under proper heads, that you may readily find what he has said upon any point, by consulting an alphabet. This practice is of no use but in circumstantials of time and place, custom and antiquity, and in such instances where facts are to be remembered, not where the brain is to be exercised. In these cases it is of great use : it helps the memory, and serves to keep those things in a sort of order and succession. But, commonplacing the sense of an author is such a stupid undertaking, that if I may be indulged in saying it, they want commou sense that practise it. What heaps of this rubbish have I seen! () the pains and labour to record what other people have said, that is taken by those who have nothing to say themselves! You may depend upon it, the writings of these men are never worth the reading; the fancy is cramped, the invention spoiled, their thoughts on every thing are prevented, if they think at all; but it is the peculiar happiness of these collectors of sense, that they can write without thinking

I do most readily agree, that all the bright sparkling thoughts of the ancients, their finest expressions, and noblest sentiments, are to be met with in these transcribers; but how wretchedly are they brought in, how miserably put together! indeed, I can compare such productions to nothing but rich pieces of patch-work, sewed together with packthread.

When I see a beautiful building of exact order and proportion taken down, and the different materials laid together by themselves, it puts me in mind of these common-place men. The materials are certainly very good, but they understand not the rules of architecture so well as to form them into just and masterly proportions any more: and yet how beautiful would they stand in another model upon another plan!

For, we must confess the truth: we can say nothing new, at least we can say nothing better than has been said before ; but we may nevertheless make what we say our own. And this is done when we do not trouble ourselves to remember in what page or what book we have read such a passage: but it falls in naturally with the course of our own thoughts, and takes its place in our writings with as much ease, and looks with as good a grace, as it appeared in two thousand years ago.

This is the best way of remembering the ancient authors, when you relish their way of

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