« FöregåendeFortsätt »
From the stati
Now for the writing of this werke,
So as I can, so as I may,
Albeit I sickness have and pain,
And long have had, yet would I fain
GOWER, Pro. to the Confess. Amantis.
Παρὰ Σέξτου τὴν ἔννοιαν του κατὰ φύσιν ζῆν. καὶ τὸ σέμνον ἀπλάτως, ὥςε κολακείας μὲν πάσης προσενεςέραν εἶναι τὴν ὁμιλίαν αυτῶν, ἀιδεσιμώτατον δὲ παρ ̓ ἀυτὸν ἐκεῖνον τὸν κάιρον εἶναι. καὶ ἅμα μὲν ἀπαθέςατον εἶναι, ἅμα δὲ φιλοςοργότατον· καὶ τό ἰδεῖν ἄνθρωπον σαφῶς ἔλάχιςον τῶν ἑαυτῶν καλῶν ἡγουμενον τὴν ἀντῶν πολυμαθίην.
Μ. ΑΝΤΩΝ· βιβ. α.
Translation.--From Sextus, and from the contemplation of his character, I learnt what it was to live a life in harmony with nature; and that seemliness and dignity of deportment, which ensured the profoundest reverence at the very same time that his company was more winning than all the flattery in the world. To him I owe likewise that I have known a man at once the most dispassionate, VOL. III.
and the most affectionate, and who of all his attractions set the least value on the multiplicity of his literary requisitions. M. Anton. Book I.
I HOPE you will not ascribe to presumption, the liberty I take in addressing you, on the subject of your Work. I feel deeply interested in the cause you have undertaken to support; and my object in writing this letter is to describe to you, in part from my own feelings, what I conceive to be the state of many minds, which may derive important advantage from your instructions.
I speak, Sir, of those who, though bred up under our unfavourable system of education, have yet held at times some intercourse with nature, and with those great minds whose works have been moulded by the spirit of nature who, therefore, when they pass from the seclusion and constraint of early study, bring with them into the new scene of the world, much of the pure sensibility which is the spring of all that is greatly good in thought
To such the season of that entrance into the world is a season of fearful importance; not for the seduction of its passions, but of its opinions. Whatever be their intellectual powers, unless extraordinary circumstances in their lives have been so favourable to the growth of meditative genius, that their speculative opinions must spring out of their early feelings, their minds are still at the mercy of fortune: they have no inward impulse steadily to propel them: and must trust to the chances of the world for a guide. And such is our present moral and intellectual state, that these chances are little else than variety of danger. There will be a thousand causes conspiring to complete the work of a false education, and by enclosing the mind on every side from the influences of natural feeling, to degrade its inborn dignity, and finally bring the heart itself under subjection to a corrupted understanding. I am anxious to describe to you what I have experienced or seen of the dispositions and feelings that will aid every other cause of danger, and tend to lay the mind open to the infection of all those false
hoods in opinion and sentiment, which constitute the degeneracy of the age.
Though it would not be difficult to prove, that the mind of the country is much enervated since the days of her strength, and brought down from its moral dignity, it is not yet so forlorn of all good,-there is nothing in the face of the times so dark and saddening, and repulsive—as to shock the first feelings of a generous spirit, and drive it at once to seek refuge in the elder ages of our greatness. There yet survives so much of the character bred up through long years of liberty, danger, and glory, that even what this age produces bears traces of those that are past, and it still yields enough of beautiful, and splendid, and bold, to captivate an ardent but untutored imagination. And in this real excellence is the beginning of danger: for it is the first spring of that excessive admiration of the age which at last brings down to its own level a mind born above it. If there existed only the general disposition of all who are formed with a high capacity for good, to be rather credulous of excellence than suspiciously and severely just,