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NUMB. 145. TUESDAY, August 6, 1751.
Non, si priores Mæonius tenet
Stesichorique graves Camænæ.
High above all the immortal quire ;
Nor hides the plaintive Cæan lyre;
It is allowed that vocations and employments of least dignity are of the most apparent use ; that the meanest artisan or manufacturer contributes more to the accommodation of life, than the profound scholar and argumentative theorist; and that the publick would suffer less present inconvenience from the banishment of philosophers than from the extinction of any common trade.
Some have been so forcibly struck with this observation, that they have, in the first warmth of their discovery, thought it reasonable to alter the common distribution of dignity, and ventured to condemn mankind of universal ingratitude. For justice exacts, that those by whom we are most benefited should be most honoured. And what labour. can be more useful than that which procures to families and communities those necessaries which
supply the wants of nature, or those conveniences by which ease, security, and elegance, are conferred ?
This is one of the innumerable theories which the first attempt to reduce them into practice certainly destroys. If we estimate dignity by immediate usefulness, agriculture is undoubtedly the first and noblest science; yet we see the plough driven, the clod broken, the manure spread, the seeds scattered, and the harvest reaped, by men whom those that feed upon their industry will never be persuaded to admit into the same rank with heroes, or with sages; and who, after all the confessions which truth may extort in favour of their occupation, must be content to fill up the lowest class of the commonwealth, to form the base of the pyramid of subordination, and lie buried in obscurity themselves, while they support all that is splendid, conspicuous, or exalted. .
It will be found upon a closer inspection, that this part of the conduct of mankind is by no means contrary to reason or equity. Remuneratory honours are proportioned at once to the usefulness and difficulty of performances, and are properly adjusted by comparison of the mental and corporeal abilities, which they appear to employ. That work, however necessary, which is carried on only by muscular strength and manual dexterity, is not of equal esteem, in the consideration of rational beings, with the tasks that exercise the intellectual powers, and require the active vigour of imagination, or the gradual and laborious investigations of reason.
The merit of all manual occupations seems to terminate in the inventor; and surely the first ages
Quit, quit this barren trade, my father cry'd;
--This plain floor,
Conceits, or thoughts not immediately impressed by sensible objects, or necessarily arising from the coalition or comparison of common sentiments, may be with great justice suspected whenever they are found a second time. Thus Waller probably owed to Grotius an elegant compliment:
Here lies the learned Savil's heir,
Thought her a child, or thought her old. WALLER.. Unica lux sæcli, genitoris gloria, nemo
Quem puerum, nemo credidit esse senem. GROT. The age's miracle, his father's joy! Nor old you wou'd pronounce him, nor a boy. F. Lewis.
And Prior was indebted for a pretty illustration to Alleyne's poetical history of Henry the Seventh.
For nought but light itself, itself can shew,
Your musick's pow'r, your musick must disclose,
And with yet more certainty may the same writer be censured, for endeavouring the clandestine appropriation of a thought which he borrowed, surely without thinking himself disgraced, from an epigram of Plato:
As not every instance of similitude can be considered as a proof of imitation, só not every imitation ought to be stigmatized as plagiarism. The adoption of à noble sentiment, or the insertion of a borrowed ornament, máy sometimes display so much judgment as will almost compensate for invention: and an inferiour genius may, without any imputation of servility, pursue the path of the ancients, provided he declines to tread in their footsteps.
NUMB. 144. SATURDAY, August 3, 1751.
- - Daphnidis arcum.
It is impossible to mingle in conversation with. out observing the difficulty with which a new name makes its way into the world. The first appearance of excellence unites multitudes against it; unexpected opposition rises up on every side ; the celebrated and the obscure join in the confederacy; subtlety furnishes arms to impudence, and invention leads on credulity.
The strength and unanimity of this alliance is not easily conceived. It might be expected that 'no man should suffer his heart to be inflamed with malice, but by injuries ; that none should busy himself in contesting the pretensions of another, but when some right of his own was involved in the question ; that at least hostilities, commenced without cause, should quickly cease; that the armies of malignity should soon disperse, when no common interest could be found to hold them together; and that the attack upon a rising character