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earth, may easily give delight to an unlearned spectator. It is not neceffary that he who looks with pleasure on the colours of a flower should study the principles of vegetation, or that the Ptolemaick and Copernican fyftem fhould be compared before the light of the fun can gladden, or its warmth invigorate. Novelty is itself a fource of gratification; and Milton justly obferves, that to him who has been long pent up in cities, no rural object can be presented which will not delight or refresh fome of his fenses.
Yet even these easy pleasures are miffed by the greater part of those who waste their fummer in the country. Should any man pursue his acquaintances to their retreats, he would find few of them listening to Philomel, loitering in woods, or plucking daisies, catching the healthy gale of the morning, or watching the gentle corufcations of declining day. Some will be discovered at a window by the road fide, rejoicing when a new cloud of duft gathers towards them, as at the approach of a momentary supply of converfation, and a fhort relief from the tediousness of unideal vacancy. Others are placed in the adjacent villages, where they look only upon houfes as in the rest of the year, with no change of objects but what a remove to any new ftreet in London might have given them. The fame fet of acquaintances ftill fettle together, and the form of life is not otherwise diverfified than by doing the fame things in a different place. They pay and receive vifits in the usual form, they frequent the walks in the morning, they deal cards at night, they attend to the fame tattle, and dance with the fame partners; nor can they, at their return to their former habitation, congratulate themselves
themselves on any other advantage, than that they have paffed their time like others of the fame rank; and have the fame right to talk of the happiness and beauty of the country, of happinefs which they never felt, and beauty which they never regarded.
To be able to procure its own entertainments, and to fubfift upon its own ftock, is not the prerogative of every mind. There are indeed understandings fo fertile and comprehenfive, that they can always feed reflection with new fupplies, and fuffer nothing from the preclufion of adventitious amusements; as fome cities have within their own walls enclosed ground enough to feed their inhabitants in a fiege. But others live only from day to day, and must be constantly enabled, by foreign fupplies, to keep out the encroachments of languor and stupidity. Such could not indeed be blamed for hovering within reach of their ufual pleafure, more than any other animal for not quitting its native clement, were not their faculties contracted by their own fault. But let not those who go into the country, merely because they dare not be left alone at home, boaft their love of nature, or their qualifications for folitude; nor pretend that they receive inftantaneous infufions of wisdom from the Dryads, and are able, when they leave smoke and noise behind, to act, or think, or reafon for themselves.
NUMB. 136. SATURDAY, July 6, 1751.
Ἐχθρὸς γὰρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς ὤνδαο πύλησιν,
Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
THE regard which they whofe abilities are employed in the works of imagination claim from the rest of mankind, arises in a great measure from their influence on futurity. Rank may be conferred by princes, and wealth bequeathed by mifers or by robbers; but the honours of a lafting name, and the veneration of diftant ages, only the fons of learning have the power of bestowing. While, therefore, it continues one of the characteristicks of rational nature to decline oblivion, authors never can be wholly overlooked in the search after happiness, nor become contemptible but by their own fault.
The man who confiders himself as conftituted the ultimate judge of difputable characters, and entrusted with the diftribution of the last terreftrial rewards of merit, ought to fummon all his fortitude to the support of his integrity, and refolve to discharge an office of fuch dignity with the most vigilant caution and scrupulous juftice. To deliver examples to pofterity, and to regulate the opinion of future times, is no flight or trivial undertaking; nor is it easy to commit more atrocious treafon against the great republick of humanity, than by falfifying its records and mifguiding its decrees.
To scatter praise or blame without regard to juftice, is to deftroy the diftinction of good and evil. Many have no other test of actions than general opinion; and all are fo far influenced by a fenfe of reputation, that they are often reftrained by fear of reproach, and excited by hope of honour, when other principles have loft their power; nor can any fpecies of prostitution promote general depravity more than that which destroys the force of praise, by fhewing that it may be acquired without deferving it, and which, by fetting free the active and ambitious from the dread of infamy, lets loofe the rapacity of power, and weakens the only authority by which greatness is controlled.
Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity. It becomes cheap as it becomes vulgar, and will no longer raife expectation, or animate enterprize. It is therefore not only neceffary, that wickedness, even when it is not fafe to cenfure it, be denied applause, but that goodness be commended only in proportion to its degree; and that the garlands due to the great benefactors of mankind, be not fuffered to fade upon the brow of him who can boast only petty services and easy virtues.
Had these maxims been univerfally received, how much would have been added to the task of dedication, the work on which all the power of modern wit has been exhaufted. How few of thefe initial panegyricks had appeared, if the author had been obliged first to find a man of virtue, then to distinguifh the fpecies and degree of his defert, and at laft to pay him only the honours which he might juftly claim. It is much easier to learn the
name of the laft man whom chance has exalted to wealth and power, to obtain by the intervention of fome of his domesticks the privilege of addreffing him, or, in confidence of the general acceptance of flattery, to venture on an address without any previous folicitation; and, after having heaped upon him all the virtues to which philofophy has affigned a name, inform him how much more might be truly faid, did not the fear of giving pain to his modesty reprefs the raptures of wonder and the zeal of veneration.
Nothing has fo much degraded literature from its natural rank, as the practice of indecent and promifcuous dedication; for what credit can he expect who profeffes himself the hireling of vanity, however profligate, and, without fhame or fcruple, celebrates the worthlefs, dignifies the mean, and gives to the corrupt, licentious, and oppreffive, the ornaments which ought only to add grace to truth, and loveliness to innocence? Every other kind of adulation, however fhameful, however mischievous, is lefs deteftable than the crime of counterfeiting characters, and fixing the stamp of literary fanction upon the drofs and refuse of the world.
Yet I would not overwhelm the authors with the whole load of infamy, of which part, perhaps the greater part, ought to fall upon their patrons. If he that hires a bravo, partakes the guilt of murder, why should he who bribes a flatterer, hope to be exempted from the fhame of falsehood? The unhappy dedicator is feldom without fome motives which obftruct, though not deftroy, the liberty of choice; he is oppreffed by miferies which he hopes to relieve,