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Plutarch, in his enumeration of the various occafions, on which a man may without juft offence. proclaim his own excellencies, has omitted the cafe of an author entering the world; unless it may be comprehended under his general pofition, that a man may lawfully praife himself for thofe qualities which cannot be known but from his own mouth; as when he is among ftrangers, and can have no opportunity of an actual exertion of his powers. That the cafe of an author is parallel will scarcely be granted, becaufe he neceffarily difcovers the degree of his merit to his judges, when he appears at his trial. But it fhould be remembered, that unless his judges are inclined to favour him, they will hardly be perfuaded to hear the cause.
In love, the ftate which fills the heart with a degree of folicitude next that of an author, it has been held a maxim, that fuccefs is moft eafily obtained by indirect and unperceived approaches; he who too foon profeffes himself a lover, raifes obftacles to his own wishes, and thofe whom difappointments have taught experience, endeavour to conceal their paffion till they believe their mistress wishes for the difcovery. The fame method, if it were practicable to writers, would fave many complaints of the feverity of the age, and the caprices of criticifm. If a man could glide imperceptibly into the favour of the publick, and only proclaim his pretenfions to literary honours when he is fure of not being rejected, he might commence author with better hopes, as his failings might escape contempt, though he fhall never attain much regard.
But fince the world fuppofes every man that writes ambitious of applaufe, as fome ladies have taught themselves to believe that every man intends love, who expreffes civility, the mifcarriage of any endeavour in learning raifes an unbounded contempt, indulged' by most minds without fcruple, as an honest
triumph over unjust claims, and exorbitant expectations. The artifices of those who put themselves in this hazardous ftate, have therefore been multiplied in proportion to their fear as well as their ambition; and are to be looked upon with more indulgence, as they are incited at once by the two great movers of the human mind, the defire of good, and the fear of evil. For who can wonder that, allured on one fide, and frightened on the other, fome should endeavour to gain favour by bribing the judge with an appearance of refpect which they do not feel, to excite compaffion by confeffing weakness of which they are not convinced, and others to attract regard by a fhew of openness and magnanimity, by a daring profeffion of their own deferts, and a publick challenge of honours and rewards.
The oftentatious and haughty difplay of themfelves has been the ufual refuge of diurnal writers, in vindication of whofe practice it may be faid, that what it wants in prudence is fupplied by fincerity, and who at least may plead, that if their boasts deceive any into the perufal of their performances, they defraud them of but little time.
Quid enim? Concurritur-bora
Momento cita mors venit, aut victoria læta.
The battle joins, and, in a moment's flight, Death, or a joyful conquest, ends the fight. The question concerning the merit of the day is foon decided, and we are not condemned to toil through half a folio, to be convinced that the writer has broke his promife.
It is one among many reasons for which I purpose to endeavour the entertainment of my countrymen by a fhort effay on Tuefday and Saturday, that I hope not much to tire those whom I fhall not happen to please; and if I am not commended for the beauty of my works, to be at least pardoned for their
vity. But whether my expectations are most fixed
ed on pardon or praife, I think it not neceffary to discover; for having accurately weighed the realons for arrogance and fubmiffion, I find them fo nearly equiponderant, that my impatience to try the event of my first performance will not fuffer me to attend. any longer the trepidations of the balance.
There are, indeed, many conveniencies almost peculiar to this method of publication, which may naturally flatter the author, whether he be confident or timorous. The man to whom the extent of his knowledge, or the fprightliness of his imagination, has, in his own opinion, already fecured the praises of the world, willingly takes that way of difplaying his abilities which will fooneft give him an opportunity of hearing the voice of fame; it heightens his alacrity to think in how many places he hall hear what he is now writing, read with ecftafies to morrow. He will often please himself with reflecting, that the author of a large treatise muft proceed with anxiety, left, before the completion of his work, the attention of the publick may have changed its object; but that he who is confined to no finge topick, may follow the national tafte through all its variations, and catch the Aura popularis, the gale of favour, from what point foever it fhall blow.
Nor is the profpect lefs likely to ease the doubts of the cautious, and the terrours of the fearful, for to fuch the shortness of every single paper is a powerful encouragement. He that questions his abilities to arrange the diffimilar parts of an extenfive plan, or fears to be loft in a complicated fyftem, may yet hope to adjust a few pages without perplexity; and if, when he turns over the repofitories of his memory, he finds his collection too fmall for a volume, he may yet have enough to furnish out an effay. He that would fear to lay out too much time upon an experiment of which he knows not the B 3
event, perfuades himself that a few days will fhew him what he is to expect from his learning and his genius. If he thinks his own judgment not fufficiently enlightened, he may, by attending the remarks which every paper will produce, rectify his opinions. If he fhould with too little premeditation encumber himself by an unwieldly subject, he can quit it without confeffing his ignorance, and pass to other topicks lefs dangerous, or more tractable. And if he finds, with all his industry, and all his artifices, that he cannot deferve regard, or cannot attain it, he may let the defign fall at once, and, without injury to others or himfelf, retire to amufements of greater pleafure, or to ftudies of better profpect.
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NUMB. 2. SATURDAY, March 24, 1750.
Stare loco nefcit, pereunt veftigia mille
Th' impatient courfer pants in ev'ry vein,
HAT the mind of man is never fatisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the prefent moment, and lofing itself in schemes of future felicity; and that we forget the proper use of the time now in our power, to provide for the enjoyment of that which, perhaps, may never be granted us, has been frequently remarked; and as this practice is a commodious fubject of raillery to the gay, and of declamation to the serious, it has been ridiculed with all the pleafantry of wit, and exaggerated with all the amplifications of rhetorick.
rhetorick. Every inftance, by which its abfurdity might appear moft flagrant, has been ftudioufly collected; it has been marked with every epithet of contempt, and all the tropes and figures have been called forth against it.
Cenfure is willingly indulged, because it always implies fome fuperiority; men please themselves with imagining that they have made a deeper fearch, or wider furvey, than others, and detected faults and follies, which escape vulgar obfervation. And the pleasure of wantoning in common topicks is fo tempting to a writer, that he cannot easily refign it; a train of fentiments generally received enables him to fhine without labour, and to conquer without a conteft. It is fo easy to laugh at the folly of him who lives only in idea, refufes immediate eafe for diftant pleafures, and, instead of enjoying the bleffings of life, lets life glide away in preparations to enjoy them. It affords fuch opportunities of triumphant exultation, to exemplify the uncertainty of the human ftate, to rouse mortals from their dream, and inform them of the filent celerity of time, that we may believe authors willing rather to transmit than examine fo advantageous a principle, and more inclined to purfue a track fo fmooth and fo flowery, than attentively to confider whether it leads to truth.
This quality of looking forward into futurity feems the unavoidable condition of a being, whofe motions are gradual, and whofe life is progreffive: as his powers are limited, he muft ufe means for the attainment of his ends, and intend first what he performs laft; as, by continual advances from his first ftage of existence, he is perpetually varying the horizon of his profpects, he must always discover new motives of action, new excitements of fear, and allurements of defire.
The end therefore which at prefent calls forth our efforts will be found, when it is once gained,