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writer may appeal, namely that power over the heart and feelings with which no arguments can hope to contend. It is vain for him to urge that our sympathies ought not to be excited, or our tears to flow, by defective poetry; for these bid defiance to all critical rules. The characters, the plot, or the poetical merit of the play in question, may be occasionally not the highest, but the pathos is unquestionable; and it will be difficult to prove that this quality alone can exist and act powerfully upon audiences for a century and half, and during various revolutions of taste, if unsupported by forty good lines of poetry. There must be fitness and appropriateness in one to the other, or the piece will not preserve its hold on public favour. If this tragedy be not wholly domestic, its most affecting scenes are certainly of that description, and keeping this in remembrance, even the lines censured by the critic, addressed by Pierre to Jaffier in raillery of his delay and the influence over him of Belvidera, are natural and not beneath the dignity of tragedy. Such touches of familiar life and manners occur continually in Shakspeare, and no doubt, from their verisimilitude, give him strong hold upon the imagination. Goldsmith therefore seems to have been right; but had he taken an opposite view of the matter, there is perhaps little doubt that from the argumentative propensities of his opponent he would have been no less vigorously opposed.
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In a conversation at General Oglethorpe's, Boswell started the question, whether duelling was consistent with moral duty. Goldsmith turning to him said, “I ask you first Sir, what you would do if you were affronted ?" The reply was that he would deem it necessary to fight. Why then," observed the Poet, “ that solves the question.” Johnson denied that this reasoning was conclusive, but admitted that as the refinements of society require a man who receives an affront to resent it, so duelling under such circumstances becomes a species of self-defence.
Whether this conclusion which differs little from that of Goldsmith, forms a sufficient apology for a practice that most men even when they have recourse to it, condemn, may be doubted. Affronts or injuries are no doubt difficult to bear patiently; neither the religion nor the philosophy of him who submits to them quietly, receives much credit for forbearance ; and yet we can have no stronger evidence of the unjustifiable nature of the deed than that persons who have been engaged in one fatal duel will often sooner submit to an affront than be tempted to embark in a second. Their feelings and convictions condemn it even without higher motives. But while offences are thus compelled to be resented, the evils of duelling may be in practice materially mitigated nay extinguished, by a little discretion in those who are called upon to act in the character of friends or seconds ; for these have the power, if possessed of sufficient good feeling and good sense to use it, to prevent such encounters.
Few duels are fought in consequence of serious injuries ; nor among those who resort to this method of vindicating a punctilio, are there many influenced by so malignant a spirit as really to wish to slay the person with whom they contend. An apology can expiate the great majority of offences for which duels are fought; but as heat, ill temper, or mistaken pride, may prevent an aggressor from doing this voluntarily, the only real use of a second is, in the character of his friend, to point out the propriety and the necessity of concession. It is the business of a person so called upon, to judge the quarrel dispassionately as an umpire, not as a partisan ; to do that for his principal, which the latter from irritation is unable or unwilling to do for himself; and to make him who is in the wrong, which is seldom difficult to discover, render the necessary reparation. If this be declined by an angry or pertinacious man, it is the obvious duty of the second immediately to surrender his office; for there can be no obligation of friendship to compel him to abet and uphold another in an unjust or vindictive proceeding. Were this done invariably by the friends of both parties, there would be few duels. . Men will rarely fight alone. Fatal results therefore may be almost always traced to the improper conduct of one or both of the seconds, who should be held by the law and by society, sternly responsible for their conduct. For the principals on such an occasion, acting frequently under the influence of passion, there may be some commiseration; but for the seconds who have no such apology to plead and who come to the consideration of the matter in cool blood, there ought to be no excuse, and seldom forgiveness.
The Abridgement of the Roman History, contracted for two years before for fifty guineas, appeared early in December. The volume was small, intended merely for schools, and therefore executed only as a matter of trade, not of inclination.
A letter addressed to him about the same period will be read with some degree of attention on account of the notoriety of the name of the writer, the well-known Thomas Paine. This period seems to have been nearly the dawning of that spirit of mischief by which he was afterwards influenced, for though now serving in the humble capacity of officer of excise, he sought an opportunity to take the lead in producing among his brethren, whether with sufficient cause or not, the same feeling of discontent with their situation which he afterwards fostered upon a larger scale against the institutions of his country. His claim to be considered “singularly modest,” a quality which appears to have been of short continuance, will amuse the reader. The reputation of Goldsmith induced a variety of similar applications for advice upon, or the revision of, literary works; but in this instance as the pamphlet
had been circulated and produced all its intended effect, the cause of intrusion seems to have been more an excuse to make his acquaintance than a reference to his opinion.
From Thomas Paine.
“ HONOURED SIR, “Herewith I present you with the case of the officers of excise. A compliment of this kind from an entire stranger may appear somewhat singular; but the following reasons and information will I presume sufficiently apologise.
“ I act myself in the humble station of an officer of excise, though somewhat differently circumstanced to what many of them are, and have been the principal promoter of a plan for applying to parliament this session for an increase of salary. A petition for this purpose has been circulated through every part of the kingdom and signed by all the officers therein. A subscription of three shillings per officer is raised, amounting to upwards of five hundred pounds, for supporting the expenses.
“ The excise officers in all cities and corporate towns have obtained letters of recommendation from the electors to the members in their behalf, many or most of whom have promised their support. The enclosed case we have presented to most of the members, and shall to all, before the petition appear in the House. “ The memorial before you met with so much
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