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never do any thing at all, either to please himself or others. The question is not what we ought to do, but what we can do for the best. An excess of modesty is in fact an excess of pride, and more hurtful to the individual, and less advantageous to society, than the grossest and most unblushing vanity

Aspiring to be Gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel.

If a celebrated artist in our own day had staid to do justice to his principal figure in a generally admired painting, before he had exhibited it, it would never have seen the light. He has passed on to other things more within his power to accomplish, and more within the competence of the spectators to understand. They see what he has done, which is a great deal—they could not have judged of, or given him credit for the ineffable idea in his own mind, which he might vainly have devoted his whole life in endeavouring to embody. The picture, as it is, is good enough for the age and for the public. If it had been ten times better, its merits would have been thrown away: if it had been ten times better in the more refined and lofty conception of character and sentiment, and had failed in the more palpable appeal to the senses and pre

judices of the vulgar, in the usual “appliances and means to boot," it would never have done. The work might have been praised by a few, a very few, and the artist himself have pined in penury and neglect.—Mr. Wordsworth has given us the essence of poetry in his works, without the machinery, the apparatus of poetical diction, the theatrical pomp, the conventional ornaments; and we see what he has made of it. The way to fame, through merit alone, is the narrowest, the steepest, the longest, the hardest of all others—(that it is the most certain and lasting, is even a doubt)--the most sterling reputation is, after all, but a species of imposture. As for ordinary cases of success and failure, they depend on the slightest shades of character or turn of accident—" some trick not worth an egg's

There's but the twinkling of a star
Betwixt a man of peace
A thief and justice, fool and knave,
A huffing officer and a slave ;
A crafty lawyer and pick-pocket,
A great philosopher and a blockhead;
A formal preacher and a player,

A learn'd physician and manslayer. Men are in numberless instances qualified for certain things, for no other reason than because they are qualified for nothing else. Negative

and war;

merit is the passport to negative success. In common life, the narrowness of our ideas and appetites is more favourable to the accomplishment of our designs, by confining our attention and ambition to one single object, than a greater enlargement of comprehension or susceptibility of taste, which (as far as the trammels of custom and routine of business are concerned) only operate as diversions to our ensuring the mainchance; and, even in the pursuit of arts and science, a dull plodding fellow will often do better than one of a more mercurial and fiery cast-the mere unconsciousness of his own deficiencies, or of any thing beyond what he himself can do, reconciles him to his mechanical progress, and enables him to perform all that lies

, in his power with labour and patience. By being content with mediocrity, he advances beyond it; whereas the man of greater taste or genius may be supposed to fling down his pen or pencil in despair, haunted with the idea of unattainable excellence, and ends in being nothing, because he cannot be everything at once. Those even who have done the greatest things, were not always perhaps the greatest men. To do any given work, a man should not be greater in himself than the work he has to do; the faculties which he has beyond this, will be facul


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ties to let, either not used, or used idly and unprofitably, to hinder, not to help. To do any one thing best, there should be an exclusiveness, a concentration, a bigotry, a blindness of attachment to that one object; so that the widest range of knowledge and most diffusive subtlety of intellect will not uniformly produce the most beneficial results ;--and the performance is very frequently in the inverse ratio, not only of the pretensions, as we might superficially conclude, but of the real capacity. A part is greater than the whole : and this old saying seems to hold true in moral and intellectual questions also -in nearly all that relates to the mind of man, which cannot embrace the whole, but only a part.

I do not think (to give an instance or two of what I mean) that Milton's mind was (so to speak) greater than the Paradise Lost; it was just big enough to fill that mighty mould ;

l the shrine contained the Godhead. Shakespear's genius was, I should say, greater than any thing he has done, because it still soared free and unconfined beyond whatever he undertook-ran over, and could not be “constrained by mastery" of his subject. Goldsmith, in his Retaliation, celebrates Burke as one who was

kept back in his dazzling, wayward career, by the supererogation of his talents

Though equal to all things, for all things unfit,
Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit.


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Dr. Johnson, in Boswell's Life, tells us that the only person whose conversation he ever sought for improvement was George Psalmanazar: yet who knows any thing of this extraordinary man now, but that he wrote about twenty volumes of the Universal History-invented a Formosan alphabet and vocabularybeing a really learned man, contrived to pass for an impostor, and died no one knows how or where! The well known author of the “Enquiry concerning Political Justice,” in conversation has not a word to throw at a dog; all the stores of his understanding or genius he reserves for his books, and he has need of them, otherwise there would be hiatus in manuscriptis. He says little, and that little were better left alone, being both dull and nonsensical ; his talk is as flat as a pancake, there is no leaven in it, he has not dough enough to make a loaf and a cake ; he has no idea of any thing till he is wound up, like a clock, not to speak, but to write, and then he seems like a person risen from sleep or from the dead. The author of the Diversions


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