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Smith R A M B L E R.
NUMB. J. TUESDAY, March 20, 1750.
Cur tamen boc libeat fotius decurrere campo,
HE difficulty of the first address on any new
occasion, is felt by every man in his trans
actions with the world, and confefied by the settled and regular forms of falutation which necessity has introduced into all languages. Judge ment was wearied with the perplexity of being forced upon choice, where there was no motive to preference; and it was found convenient that some easy method of introduction should be established, which, if it wanted the allurement of novelty, might enjoy the security of prescription.
Perhaps' few authors have presented themselves before the publick, without wishing that such ceremonial modes of entrance had been anciently established, as might have freed them from those dangers which the desire of pleasing is certain to produce, and precluded the vain expedients of softening censure by apologies, or rousing attention by abruptness.
Mr. ELPHINSTON, to whom the author of these 'Papers is indebted for many elegant translations of the mottos which are inserted from the Edinburgh edition, now keeps an academy for young gentlemen, at Kensington VOL. I, B
The epick writers have found the proemial part of the poem such an addition to their undertaking, that they have almost unanimously adopted the first lines of Homer, and the reader needs only be informed of the subject to know in what manner the poem will begin.
But this folemn repetition is hitherto the peculiar distinction of heroick poetry ; it has never been legally extended to the lower orders of literature, but seems to be considered as an hereditary privilege, to be enjoyed only by those who claim it from their alliance to the genius of Homer.
The rules which the injudicious use of this prerogative suggested to Horace, may indeed be applied to the direction of candidates for inferior fame; it may be proper for all to remember, that they ought not to raise expectation which it is not in their
power to satisfy, and that it is more pleasing to see smoke brightening into flame, than flame finking into smoke.
This precept has been long received both from regard to the authority of Horace and its conformity to the general opinion of the world, yet there have been always some, that thought it no deviation from modesty to recommend their own labours, and imagined themselves entitled by indisputable merit to an exemption from general restraints, and to elevations not allowed in common life. They, perhaps, believed that when, like Thucydides, they bequeathed to mankind xlõua is d'él, an estate for ever, it was an additional favour to inform them of its value.
It may, indeed, be no less dangerous to claim, on certain occasions, too little than too much. There is something captivating in spirit and intrepidity, to which we often yield, as to a resistless power; nor can he reasonably expect the confidence of others, who too apparently distrusts himself.