« PreviousContinue »
It explains Sir T. More's Zealous Romanism, &c., &c.” On Parliament, 4.—“Excellent! O to have Selden over his glass of wine, making every accident an outlet and a vehicle of wisdom ! ” On Poetry.“No one man can know all things. Even Selden here talks ignorantly. Verse is in itself a music, and the natural symbol of that union of Passion with Thought and Pleasure, which constitutes the Essence of all Poetry, as contradistinguished from Science, and distinguished from History, civil or natural. To Pope's Essay on Man, in short to whatever is mere metrical good sense and wit the remark applies.” Ibid. 6.—“True; they (i. e., verses) are not logic: but they are, or ought to be, the envoys or representatives of that vital passion which is the practical cement of logic, and without which logic must remain inert.” There are several other of his remarks, but these are the best. This book is in the Westminster Library.
To March 1. Continued Herbert's Henry the Eighth; and Hermogenes. The last chapter of the first book very good. In speaking of a Tapiowols, in which three parts of a sentence end alike in elv, he observes that it is the only instance wherein Demosthenes has used this form so exactly. In speaking of the same orator, whom he considers, as Hume did, a model of perfection, he says :—" Aukovoi yàp δι' αλλήλων σχεδόν άπασαι παρά γε τούτω, και καθάπερ εκ συμφθάρσεως έν τι λόγου πεποιήκασιν ειδος, το κάλ
λιστον δε τούτο, και πολιτικόν ως αληθώς και Δημοσθεvikóv.”—Hermogenes, 1. i. c. ult.*
From one of his criticisms, it appears that he was in the habit of controverting the opinions of Dionysius Halicarnassensis; for he adds :-“ (va un trávtn το Διονυσίω, δς δοκεί περί λέξεώς τι πεπραγματεύσθαι, åvtihéywuev."--Id. ibid. +
This is, surely, very slighting.
To March 18. Continued with Jane Sophia to the end of the fourth canto of Ercilla's Araucana. The lamentation of the women at Penco for the death of the Spaniards, near the conclusion of this canto, is one of the finest pieces of imitative harmony I have ever met with.
To March 21. Finished Lord Herbert's History of Henry the Eighth, which I have read aloud. This history is chiefly in the way of annals compiled from different writers, whom the author cites in the text. There are few reflections and few attempts at delineating character. The author seems to relate very fairly and undisguisedly all the atrocious acts of Henry, and yet almost always speaks of him in partial terms. A.D. 1531. He has these observations, “ As the Scriptures began then to be commonly read, so out of the literal sense thereof, the manner of those times was to draw arguments for whatsoever in matters of state, or otherwise, was to be done. Insomuch that the text, which came nearest the point in question, was taken as a decision of the business, to the no little detriment of their affairs; the Scriptures not pretending yet to give regular instructions on these points. Yet this is so much less strange that, the year preceding, the Scriptures, heretofore not permitted to the view of the people, were now translated in divers languages, and into English by Tindal, Joy, and others, though, as not being warranted by the king's authority, they were publicly burnt, and a new and better translation promised to be set forth and allowed to the people. It being not thought fit by our king, that under what pretence or difficulty soever, his subjects should be defrauded of that, wherein was to be found the word of God and means of their salvation. Howbeit not a few inconveniences were observed to follow. For as the people did not sufficiently separate the more clear and necessary parts thereof from the obscure and accessory; and as, again, taking the several authors to be equally inspired, they did equally apply themselves to all; they fell into many dangerous opinions, little caring how they lived, so they understood well, bringing religion thus into much irresolution and uncertainty. While few men agreeing on the same interpretation of the harder places, vexed each other's conscience, appropriating to themselves the gift of the Spirit, &c.” p. 255.
* “ For with him nearly all the forms pervade each other, and as it were by a mutual infusion compose one certain form of speech, and that the noblest and most truly statesman-like and Demosthenic.”
* « That I may not on every occasion speak against Dionysius, who seems to have taken some pains with respect to diction.”
“Controversies in religion, though they produce many pernicious effects, have yet this one good, that they make both sides more careful not to offend; while fear, lest personal faults should redound to the detriment of the religion they profess, becomes a caution for virtue and good example," p. 367.
To April 4. Read to the end of Canto vi. of the Araucana. Within two or three stanzas of the conclusion there is a fine simile of a Spaniard, striving in vain to escape from the Indians, to a man dreaming that he is pursued by a bull.
5. Continued Hermogenes to the end of chapter ix. of Book II. De Formis Orationum. This ninth chapter concerning the Aelvórns is very good. He conceives that it is to be found most perfect in Demosthenes, as indeed every other excellence of an orator. The character here given of Lysias is ingenious. Without appearing to be Aelvós, he is so, as Demosthenes is in most of his speeches or private causes or pleadings. But what is best is that which is said of the sophists, such as Polus, Gorgias and Menon, and most, not to say all, of his own time. Their mock kind of Aewórns, which consists in vehement diction, &c., applied to superficial and empty matter, is exposed, p. 463, &c. His promise of performing all that human power can do in explaining the means of attaining this perfection of Aelvórns in his following treatise Περί Μεθόδου, is rather too boastful. His characters of Æschines the Socratic and Nicostratus make us wish that their writings were preserved.*
To April 13. Continued Hermogenes to the end of IIepi 'Idéwv, or De Formis, &c.
To the 20th. Read the lIepi Melódov AelvÓTntos, or De Eloquentia Methodus of Hermogenes, promised in his Treatise Ilepi 'Idéwv.
June 15. Read the ninth Pythian of Pindar, justly commended by Heyne for its splendour, softness, and ease. From v. 51 to 57 is a passage on the nymph Cyrene, very applicable to the Maid of Zaragoça. There is a fine saying of Nereus, v. 129, “not to deny praise to an enemy who merits it.”
29. Finished the Canace and Macarco of Sperone Speroni, with a severe criticism on this tragedy, printed the same year at the same place, which Crescimbeni (Ist. d. v. Poesia, 1. v.) says is attributed to Bartolommeo Cavalcanti. Venice, 1566. The story is justly said not to be properly chosen, the metre not suited to tragedy, and the language at times not sufficiently simple, though there is perhaps least ground for this last objection. Some merit is allowed to the description of Canace's death. The lyrical measure is not adapted to tragedy.
July 11. Began the Sidro of Lorenzo Magalotti, a
* Και, ώς έoικεν, οι ειωθότες λόγοι λέγεσθαι επί τους δημοσίοις αγωσιν ουκ εισί ψευδείς· αι γαρ ιδιαι έχθραι πολλά πάνυ των κοινών επανορθoύσι. This is quoted by Hermogenes from Æschines, 'Ev TÔ Katà Tijdpxov. -Hermog. de Eloquentia Methodus, c. xxix,