Obrázky na stránke

Not to be influenced by, or give ear to, knavish tattling servants, or others.

Not to be too free of advice, or trouble any but those who desire it.

To desire some good friend to inform me which of these resolutions I break or neglect, and wherein, and reform accordingly.

Not to talk much, nor of myself.

Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favour with ladies, &c.

Not to hearken to flatteries, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman; et eos qui hæreditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.

Not to be positive or opinionative.

Not to set for observing all these rules, for fear I should observe none.



(OCTOBER, 1706.)

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Reflect on things past, as wars, negotiations, factions, &c. we enter so little into those interests, that we wonder how men could possibly be so busy and concerned for things so transitory; look on the present times, we find the same humour, yet wonder not at all.

A wise man endeavours, by considering all circumstances, to make conjectures, and form conclusions; but the smallest accident intervening, (and in the course of affairs it is impossible to foresee all,) does often produce such turns and changes, that at last he is just as much in doubt of events, as the most ignorant and unexperienced person.

* These maxims were jotted down in consequence of a resolution adopted by Swift and Pope, in conjunction, to mark down the loose thoughts which occurred to them through the day, without attending to any order or formality of expression. In those of Swift, we trace his acute and penetrating knowledge of mankind, mixed with his misanthropical contempt of the world.

Positiveness is a good quality for preachers and orators, because he that would obtrude his thoughts and reasons upon a multitude, will convince others the more, as he appears convinced himself.

How is it possible to expect that mankind will take advice, when they will not so much as take warning?

I forget whether advice be among the lost things, which Ariosto says may be found in the moon; that, and time, ought to have been there.

No preacher is listened to but Time, which gives us the same train and turn of thought that elder people have in vain tried to put into our heads before.*

When we desire or solicit anything, our minds run wholly on the good side or circumstances of it; when it is obtained, our minds run wholly on the bad ones.

In a glasshouse, the workmen often fling in a small quantity of fresh coals, which seems to disturb the fire, but very much enlivens it. This seems to allude to a gentle stirring of the passions, that the mind may not languish.

Religion seems to have grown an infant with age, and requires miracles to nurse it, as it had in its infancy.

All fits of pleasure are balanced by an equal degree of pain or languor ; it is like spending this year part of the next year's revenue.

* Were this otherwise, that is, were it possible that each passing generation of mankind could profit to the uttermost by the experience of their parents, the state of the world would be in a few generations more materially altered, than would be perhaps consistent with our finite state of being.

The latter part of a wise man's life is taken up in curing the follies, prejudices, and false opinions he had contracted in the former.

Would a writer know how to behave himself with relation to posterity, let him consider in old books what he finds that he is glad to know, and what omissions he most laments.

Whatever the poets pretend, it is plain they give immortality to none but themselves : it is Homer and Virgil we reverence and admire, not Achilles or Æneas. With historians it is quite the contrary; our thoughts are taken up with the actions, persons, and events we read, and we little regard the authors.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

Men who possess all the advantages of life, are in a state where there are many accidents to disorder and discompose, but few to please them.

It is unwise to punish cowards with ignominy; for if they had regarded that, they would not have been cowards : death is their proper punishment, because they fear it most.*

The greatest inventions were produced in the times of ignorance; as the use of the compass, gunpowder,

* This maxim seems doubtful. The effect of punishment is example, not vengeance. And there are many men of weak nerves yet high feelings, who struggle with and overcome constitutional timidity, from the sense of the disgrace attendant on cowardice. If the dread of capital punishment were alone in the balance, the fear of remote danger would give way to apprehensions more pressing and immediate.

[blocks in formation]

and printing ; and by the dullest nation, as the Ger


One argument to prove that the common relations of ghosts and spectres are generally false, may be drawn from the opinion held, that spirits are never seen by more than one person at a time; that is to say, it seldom happens to above one person in a company to be possessed with any high degree of spleen or melancholy.

I am apt to think, that, in the day of judgment, there will be small allowance given to the wise for their want of morals, and to the ignorant for their want of faith, because both are without excuse. This renders the advantages equal of ignorance and knowledge. But some scruples in the wise, and some vices in the ignorant, will perhaps be forgiven, upon the strength of temptation to each.

The value of several circumstances in story, lessens very much by distance of time, though some minute circumstances are very valuable; and it requires great judgment in a writer to distinguish.

It is grown a word of course for writers to say, This critical age, as divines say,

It is pleasant to observe how free the present age is in laying taxes on the next: future ages shall talk of this; this shall be famous to all posterity: whereas their time and thoughts will be taken up


present things, as ours are now.

The chameleon, who is said to feed upon nothing but air, has of all animals the nimblest tongue.

When a man is made a spiritual peer, he loses his surname; when a temporal, his Christian name.

It is in disputes, as in armies ; where the weaker side sets up false lights, and makes a great noise, to make

This sinful age.

« PredošláPokračovať »