Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Sir F. Sincerely, then,-you do like the piece ?
Sneer. Wonderfully!

Sir F. But come now, there must be something that you think might be mended, hey ?–Mr. Dangle, has nothing struck you?

Dan. Why, faith, it is but an ungracious thing, for the most

part, to

Sir F. With most authors it is just so indeed ; they are in general strangely tenācious! But, for my part, I am never so well pleased as when a judicious critic points out any defect in me ; for what is the purpose of showing a work to a friend, if you don't mean to profit by his opinion ?

Sneer. Věry true. Why, then, though I seriously admire the piece upon the whole, yet there is one small objection ; which, if you'll give me leave, I'll mention.

Sir F. Sir, you can't oblige me more.
Sneer. I think it wants incident.
Sir F. You surprise me!-wants incident?
Sncer. Yěs ; I own, I think the incidents are too few.

Sir F. Believe me, Mr. Sneer, there is no person for whose judgment I have a more implicit deference. But I protest to you, Mr. Sneer, I am only apprehensive that the incidents are too crowded.--My dear Dangle, how does it strike you?

Dan. Really, I can't agree with my friend Sneer. I think the plot quite sufficient; and the first four acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest anything, it is that the in'terèst rather falls off in the fifth. Sir F. Rises, I believe, you mean,

sir Dan. No; I don't, upon my word.

Sir F. Yes, yes, you do, upon my word, it certainly don't fall off, I assure you. No, no, it don't fall off.

Dan. Well, Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to get rid as easily of the newspaper criticisms as you do of ours.

Sir F. The newspapers !-Sir, they are the most villainouslicentious—abominable_infernal-Not that I ever read them! No! I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.

Dan. You are quite right,-for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the liberties they take.

Sir F. No!-quite the contrary; their abuse is, in fact, the best pănegyric ---I like it of all things. An author's reputation is only in danger from their support.

Sneer. Why, that's true,—and that attack now on you the other day

Sir F. What? where?

Dan. Ay, you mean in a paper of Thursday ; it was completely ill-natured, to be sure.

Sir F. O, so much the better-Ha! ha! ha!—I wouldn't have it otherwise.

Dan. Certainly, it's only to be laughed at ; for

Sir F. You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?

Sneer. Pray, Dangle-Sir Fretful seems a little anxious

Sir F. O no !-anxious,—not 1,110t the least. I– But ono may as well hear, you know.

Dan. Sneer, do you recollect?-[Aside to SNEER.] Mako out something.

Sneer. [Aside to DANGLE] I will. [Aloud.] Yěs, yes, I rcmember perfectly.

Sir F. Well, and pray now—not that it signifies—what might the gentleman say?

Sheer. Why, he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention or original genius whatever ; though you are the greatest traducer of all other authors living.

Sir F. Ha! ha! ha! Věry good!

Sneer. That, as to comedy, you have not one ideä of your own, he believes, even in your commonplace-book, where stray jokes and pilfered witticisms are kept with as much method as the ledger of the Lost and Stolen Office.

Sir F. Ha! ha! ha! Very pleasant !

Sneer. Nay, that you are so unlucky as not to have the skill even to steal with taste : but that you glean from the ref'use of obscure volumes, where more judicious plagiärists have been before you; so that the body of your work is a composition of dregs and sediments,-- like a bad tavern's worst wine.

Sir F. Ha! ha!

Sneer. In your more serious efforts, he says, your bombast (bům'bast) would be less intolerable, if the thoughts were ever suited to the expression ; but the homeliness of the sentiment stares through the fantastic encumbrance of its fine language, like a clown in one of the new uniforms!

Sir F. Ha! ha!

Sneer. That your occasional tropes and flowers suit the general coarseness of your style, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey-wolsey ; while your imitations of Shakspeare resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's Page, and are about as near the standard of the original.

Sir F. Ha!

Sneer. In short, that even the finest passages you steal are of no service to you ; for the poverty of your own language prevents their assimilating ; so that they lie on the surface like lumps of marl on a barren moor, encumbering what it is not in their power to fertilize!

Sir F. [After great agitation.] Now, another person would be vexed at this.

Sneer. Oh! but I wouldn't have told you, only to divert' you.

Sir F. I know it-I am dīverted—Ha! ha! ha!—not the least invention !-Ha! ha! ha! věry good! very good!

Sneer. Yěs—no genius! Ha! ha! ha!

Dan. A severe rogue! ha! ha! But you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such nonsense. You are quite right.

Sir F. To be sure—for, if there is anything to one's praise, it is a foolish vanity to be gratified at it; and if it is ăbūse, why, one is always sure to hear of it from one good-natured friend or another!

R. B. SHERIDAN.

SECTION XII.

I. 61. ANCIENT AND MODERN WRITERS. M H E classics possess a peculiar charm, from the circumstance

I that they have been the models, I might almost say the masters, of composition and thought in all ages. In the contemplation of these august teachers of mankind, we are filled with conflicting emotions.

2. They are the early voice of the world, better remembered and more cherished still than all the intermediate words that have been uttered ; as the lessons of childhood still haunt us when the impressions of later years have been effaced from the

7

mind. But they show with most unwelcome frequency the tokens of the world's childhood, before passion had yielded to the swāy of reason and the affections. They want the highest charm of purity, of righteousness, of elevated sentiments, of love to God and man.

3. It is not in the frigid philosophy of the Porch and the Academy that we are to seek these; not in the marvelous teachings of Socratès, as they come mended by the mellifluous? words of Plato; not in the resounding line of Homer, on whose inspiring tale of blood Alexander pillowed his head ; not in the animated strain of Pindar," where virtue is pictured in the successful strife of an ath'lēte at the Isthmian games ; not in the torrent of Demosthenès, dark with self-love and the spirit of vengeance ; not in the fitful philosophy and intemperate eloquence of Tully,' not in the geniäl libertinism of Hõrace,' or the stately atheïsm of Lucretius. No: these must not be oiu masters; in none of these are we to seek the way of life.

4. For eighteen hundred years the spirit of these writers has been engaged in weaponlèss contest with the Sermon on the Mount, and those two sublime commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. The strife is still pending. Heathenism, which has possessed itself of such siren forms, is not yet exorcised. It still tempts the young, controls the affairs of active life, and haunts the meditations of age.

5. Our own productions, though they may yield to those of the ancients in the arrangement of ideas, in method, in beauty

Soc' ra tes, an illustrious Grecian in May or June, B. C. 323. philosopher and teacher of youth, + Pindar, the greatest of the Greek was born at Athens, in the year 468 lyric poets, born B. C. 518, and died B. C. Though the best of all the B. C. 439. men of his time, and one of the wisest Ath' lete, a contender for victory and most just of all men, he unjustly in wrestling or other games. suffered the punishment of death * Tully, Marcus Tullius Cicero. for impiety, at the age of seventy. 'Horace, the Roman poet, born

* Mel líflu ous, flowing with hon on the 8th of December, B. C. 65, ey; sweetly flowing; smooth. and died on the 19th of November,

Alexander the Great, son of B. C. 8. Philip, king of Macedonia, one of Lucretius, (lu krē'shỉŭs), an em. the States of Greece, was born in the inent philosopher and poet; born at autumn, B. C. 356. He made so many Rome about 96 B. C., and said to have conquests that he was styled the died by his own hands in the fortyConqueror of the World. Ho died fourth year of his age, about 52.

[ocr errors]

3

of form, and in freshness of illustration, are immeasurably superior in the truth, delicacy, and elevation of their sentiments; above all, in the benign recognition of that great Christian revelation, the brotherhood of man. How vain are eloquence and poëtry, compared with this heaven-descended truth! Put in one scale that simple utterance, and in the other the lore of antiquity, with its accumulating glosses and commentaries, and the last will be light and trivial in the balance. Greek poetry has been likened to the song of the nightingale, as she sits in the rich, symmetrical crown of the palm-tree, trilling her thickwarbled notes ; but even this is less sweet and tender than tho music of the human heart.

SUMNER. CHARLES SUMNER, son of Charles Pinckney Sumner, sheriff of Suffolk, Massachusetts, was born in Boston, 1811. He is widely known for the extent of his legal knowledge and general attainments. As an orator and writer, he stands deservedly high. His style is rapid and energetic, with much fullness of thought and illustration. He has a great deal of enthusiasm and courage, as is shown by his discourse on the “True Grandeur of Nations." On the death of Judge Story, in 1845, he was offered the vacant seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, which honor le persisted in decliving. He was elected to the Senate of the United States in 1851, to fill the vacancy created by the resig. nation of Daniel Webster, and still retains that position (1866).

II.

62. LANGUAGE.

OME words on Language may be well applied ;

And take them kindly, though they touch your pride :
Words lead to things; a scale is more precise, -
Coarse speech, bad grammar, swearing, drinking, vice.
Our cold Northeaster's icy fetter clips
The native freedom of the Saxon lips :
See the brown peasant of the plastic South,
How all his passions play about his mouth!
With us, the feature that transmits the soul,

A frozen, passive, palsied breathing-hole.
2. The crampy shackles of the ploughboy's walk

Tie the small muscles, when he strives to talk ;
Not all the pumice of the polished town
Can smooth this roughness of the barnyard down
Rich, honored, titled, he betrays his race
By this one mark-he's awkward in the face ;-

« AnteriorContinuar »