Page images


January 16. Read the third volume of Miss Baillie's series of Plays, and Mackenzie's Travels in Ireland in 1810.

May 8. Finished my translation of Dante's Commedia-began the 16th of June, 1797.

19 and 20. Read Plato's Alcibiades I. I have been induced to read it, that I might find a passage referred to in the Latin notes on Grotius' de Veritate, lib. i. 16, n. 6,"concerning the power given to man over other animals.” The passage I have not found, but have been rewarded for my pains by many beautiful things in the Dialogue. Perhaps it is in the Alcibiades II. On looking again at the note, I find that it is rather a passage

on the nature of the soul ” that is referred to, and which I have met with in Alcibiades I. Tiedemann's exposition is, as usual, not very satisfactory.

21. Finished the Prometheus of Æschylus, which I have also read in Potter's translation. Read the Atrée et Thyeste of Crebillon.

22. Read the first Satire of Persius. The Père Tarteron seems to make an absurd blunder in his translation of this Satire, mistaking the epithet Brisei, Bacchii, for the name of a tragedy which he calls Briseis.

30. Finished the Suppliants of Æschylus, which I have also read in Potter's translation. The beauty of the choruses compensates for the want of interest which prevails in the action of this play.

June 2. Read the second Satire of Persius. 10. Finished the Satires of Persius.

11 to 22. Read Norris on Christian Prudence and Bembo della Volgar Lingua.

22 to July 4. Read Bembo's Asolani, a dialogue on Love, in three books: the latter part of the second, and the whole of the third, exceedingly pretty.

10. Read Lysias against Eratosthenes. 11. Read Sydney's Defence of Poesy.

22. Finished the Poesie di Zanotti. There is a fine ode beginning Ed a me par.

Some of the sonnets and poems in blank verse are also pretty. Zanotti was born in 1692, and died in 1797.

29, Finished Bishop Wilkins's Sermons. I am surprised that these sermons, which were edited by Tillotson, have not a higher reputation. Though, like the sermons of Tillotson himself, too full of divisions and subdivisions, yet they are almost always remarkable for acuteness, happiness of illustration by the method of examples drawn from Scripture, and a masculine eloquence. They are fifteen, of which the second and third, and the eleventh have made most impression on me.

August 10. Finished the Rime di Puricelli, a light and pleasing poet. He was born at Thilau, 1661, and died in 1736.

19. Finished Dr. Sprat's History of the Royal Society, of which I have only read the first and third parts through.

September 5. Finished Iamblichus de Vitâ Pythagoræ. He seems desirous of setting up Pythagoras

is a rival to Jesus Christ, though he does not menion the latter by name.

The style is plain, and not without strength, and on the whole better than one would expect from the age in which the writer lived. The text is much corrupted, and there are many repetitions.

September 11. Finished Porphyrius de Vitâ Pythagoræ, and Anonymus de Vitâ Pythagoræ from Photius, both which are added to the edition of Iamblichus.

16. Finished Los Empeños de un Acaso, a comedy, by Pedro Calderon. There are two or three very poetical passages in the way of our dramatists in Elizabeth's time. In other respects this play derives its chief merit from the liveliness with which the plot is carried on,—the quickness with which one event succeeds to another. As to the characters, there is no discrimination attempted except between the two men servants, one of whom is a coward, the other his opposite. The three young men are all alike, so are the two ladies, and the old man is like any other old man.

17. Resumed Andronicus Rhodius.

October 19. Began reading at the British Museum. Examined the contents of the first and second volume of Muratori's Italicarum Rerum Scriptores.

21. Examined the third and fourth volume of Muratori.

22. Began the Cronaca of Dino Compagni, and read book ii, in the ninth volume of Muratori.

23. Read book ii. of Compagni.

Oct. 24. Resumed Andronicus Rhodius. Finished Le Grou's French translation of Plato's Republic. Easy, and yet I am inclined to think, faithful. The few notes are judicious. The French language represents to advantage the conversational ease of Plato.

29. Finished book iii. and last of Compagni. This historian, who relates the events that passed in his own time, writes in a higher tone of style than his cotemporary G. Villani. But he was used to public speaking, and often breaks out with exclamations better suited to a popular assembly than to the desk of the historian. The characters which he draws, though brief, are remarkably forcible; and he appears to have been a man of an amiable mind.

November 2. At the British Museum began the ninth book of Varchi's Ercolano.

3. Continued Varchi. Read Chaucer's Dreame, fol. 334, Speght's edition.

4. Read the Dreame of Chaucer, fol. 227. 5. Continued Andronicus Rhodius.

6. Examined two manuscripts of Dante in the British Museum. Read Troilus and Crescide to the beginning of book ii.

9. Examined two other manuscripts of Dante in the British Museum. 10. Finished Andronicus Rhodius.

“Not only those operations by which the virtues are either produced and improved, or else impaired, bear an exact proportion to their consequences, being good if they produce and improve, and evil if they impair them;

but after the habits of virtues are formed, the like is the case with the operations, of which the habits are the efficient causes, as may be seen in similar things more obvious to perception. For strength is the result of taking much food and undergoing much labour. And, again, strength is the cause of this very operation; for the strong man is most able to take much food and to undergo much labour. In like manner it happens with respect to the virtues ; for by abstaining from pleasures we become temperate, and having become temperate we are more able to abstain from pleasures. In like manner also with respect to courage ; for being accustomed to despise dangers and to endure hardships, we become courageous; and having become so, we are again endued with greater power to despise and endure them.”-Book ii. chap. 2.

The next chapter (the third of the second book,) is very good. The subject is—"that moral virtue is conversant about pleasures and pains." We choose any thing only on these three accounts, that it is honourable, expedient, or pleasant; and we reject any thing for the contrary reasons. But because pleasure follows on the former two, we are apt to conclude that they and pleasure are convertible terms, which is not the case; because many things that are pleasant are dishonourable or inexpedient. So that it is manifest that human actions are conversant about pleasures and pains."

« PreviousContinue »