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sensations where we expected pleasure, gives us new occasion of admiring the wisdom and goodness of our Maker, who, designing the preservation of our being, has annexed pain to the application of many things to our bodies, to warn us of the harm that they will do, and as advices to withdraw from them. But he, not designing our preservation barely, but the preservation of every part and organ in its perfection, hath in many cases annexed pain to those very ideas which delight us. Thus heat, that is very agreeable to us in one degree, by a little greater increase of it proves no ordinary torment; and the most pleasant of all sensible objects, light itself, if there be too much of it, if increased beyond a due proportion to our eyes, causes a very painful sensation, which is wisely and favorably so ordered by nature, that when any object does, by the vehemency of its operation, disorder the instruments of sensation, whose structures cannot but be very nice and delicate, we might, by the pain, be warned to withdraw before the organ be quite put out of order, and so be unfitted for its proper function for the future. The consideration of those objects that produce it may well persuade us that this is the end or use of pain; for though great light be insufferable to our eyes, yet the highest degree of darkness does not at all disease them, because that, causing no disorderly motion in it, leaves that curious organ unharmed in its natural state. But yet excess of cold as well as heat pains us, because it is equally destructive to that temper which is necessary to the preservation of life, and the exercise of the several functions of the body, and which consists in a moderate degree of warmth, or, if you please, a motion of the insensible parts of our bodies, confined within certain bounds.?
1 It is worthy of remark that, in this passage, Locke clearly anticipates the recent doctrine that“ heat is a mode of motion."
162. Isaac BARROW. 1630–1677. (Manual, pp. 254–256.)
The first excellency peculiar to the Christian doctrine I observe to be this; that it assigneth a true, proper, and complete character or notion of God; complete, I mean, not absolutely, but in respect to our condition and capacity; such a notion as agreeth thoroughly with what the best reason dictateth, the works of nature declare, ancient tradition doth attest, and common experience doth intimate, concerning God; such a character as is apt to breed highest love and reverence in men's hearts towards him, to engage them in the strictest practice of duty and obedience to him. It ascribeth unto him all conceivable perfections of nature in the highest degree; it asserteth unto him all his due rights and prerogatives; it commendeth and justifieth to us all his actions and proceedings. For in his essence it representeth him one, eternal, perfectly simple, and pure, omnipresent, om
niscient, omnipotent, independent, impassible, and immutable; as also, according to his essential disposition of will and natural manner of acting, most absolute and free, most good and benign, most holy and just, most veracious and constant; it acknowledgeth him the maker and upholder of all beings, of what nature and what degree soever, both material and immaterial, visible and invisible; it attributeth to him supreme majesty and authority over all. It informeth' us that he framed this visible world with especial regard to our use and benefit; that he preserveth it with the same gracious respect; that he governeth us with a particular care and providence, viewing all the thoughts, and ordering all the actions, of men to good ends, general or particular. It declareth him in his dealings with rational creatures very tender and careful of their good, exceeding beneficent and merciful towards them, compassionate of their evils, placable for their offences, accessible and inclinable to help them at their entreaty, or in their need, yet nowise fond or indulgent to them, not enduring them to proceed in perverse or wanton courses, but impartially just, and inflexibly severe towards all iniquity obstinately pursued; it, in short, describeth him most amiable in his goodness, most terrible in his justice, most glorious and venerable in all his ways of providence.
WHAT IS WIT?
To the question what the thing we speak of is, or what this facetiousness doth import? I might reply, as Democritus did to him that asked the definition of a man, 'Tis that which we all see and know: any one better apprehends what it is by acquaintance than I can inform him by description. It is indeed a thing so versatile and multiform, appearing in so many shapes, so many postures, so many garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and judgments, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the figure of a fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in forging an apposite tale: sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound: sometimes it is wrapped in a dress of humorous expression: sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude: sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in a shrewd imitation, in cunningly diverting, or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense : sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture passeth for it: sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness, giveth it being: sometimes it riseth from a lucky hitting upon what is strange, sometimes from a crafty wresting obvious matter to the purpose: often it consisteth in one knows not
poets, but only indulged himself in the luxury of writing; and perhaps knew it was a fault, but hoped the reader would not find it. For this reason, though he must always be thought a great poet, he is no longer esteemed a good writer; and for ten impressions, which his works have had in so many successive years, yet at present a hundred books are scarcely purchased once a twelve-month; for, as my last Lord Rochester said, though somewhat profanely, Not being of God, he could not stand.
Chaucer followed nature everywhere; but was never so bold to go beyond her. It is true, I cannot go so far as he who published the last edition of him; for he would make us believe the fault is in our ears, and that there were really ten syllables in a verse, where we find but nine. But this opinion is not worth confuting; it is so gross and obvious an error, that common sense (which is a rule in everything but matters of faith and revelation) must convince the reader, that equality of numbers in every verse which we call heroic, was either not known, or not always practised in Chaucer's age. It were an easy matter to produce some thousands of his verses, which are lame for want of half a foot, and sometimes a whole one, and which no pronunciation can make otherwise. We can only say, that he lived in the infancy of our poetry, and that nothing is brought to perfection at the first. We must be children, before we grow men.
There was an Ennius, and in process of time a Lucilius and a Lucretius, before Virgil and Horace. Even after Chaucer there was a Spenser, a Harrington, a Fairfax, before Waller and Denham were in being; and our numbers were in their nonage till these last appeared.
152. SHAKSPEARE AND BEN JONSON.
To begin, then, with Shakspeare. He was the man, who, of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still present to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily: when he describes anything, you more than see it — you feel it too. Those who accuse him to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation : he was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; he looked inwards, and found her there. I cannot say he is everywhere alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of mankind. He is many times flat, insipid; his comic wit degenerating into clenches,' his serious swelling into bombast. But he is always great when some great occasion is presented to him.
The consideration of this made Mr. Hales of Eton say, that there was no subject of which any poet ever writ, but he would produce it much better done in Shakspeare; and however others are now gener
1 An old word for puns.
ally preferred before him, yet the age wherein he lived, which had contemporaries with him, Fletcher and Jonson, never equalled them to him in their esteem; and in the last king's court, when Ben's reputation was at highest, Sir John Suckling, and with him the greater part of the courtiers, set our Shakspeare far above him.
As for Jonson, to whose character I am now arrived, if we look upon him while he was himself (for his last plays were but his dotages), I think him the most learned and judicious writer which any theatre ever had. He was a most severe judge of himself, as well as others. One cannot say he wanted wit, but rather that he was frugal of it. In his works you find little to retrench or alter. Wit, and language, and humor, also in some measure, we had before him; but something of art was wanting to the drama, till he came.
He managed his strength to more advantage than any who preceded him. You seldom find him making love in any of his scenes, or endeavoring to move the passions; his genius was too sullen and saturnine to do it gracefully, especially when he knew he came after those who had performed both to such a height. Humor was his proper sphere; and in that he delighted most to represent mechanic people. He was deeply conversant in the ancients, both Greek and Latin, and he borrowed boldly from them; there is scarce a poet or historian among the Roman authors of those times, whom he has not translated in Sejanus and Catiline. But he has done his robberies so openly, that one may see he fears not to be taxed by any law. He invades authors like a monarch; and what would be theft in other poets, is only victory in him.
With the spoils of these writers he so represents old Rome to us, in his rites, ceremonies, and customs, that if one of their poets had written either of his tragedies, we had seen less of it than in him. If there was any fault in his language, 'twas that he weaved it too closely and laboriously, in his comedies especially: perhaps, too, he did a little too much Romanize our tongue, leaving the words which he translated almost as much Latin as he found them; wherein, though he learnedly followed their language, he did not enough comply with the idiom of ours. If I would compare him with Shakspeare, I must acknowledge him the more correct poet, but Shakspeare the greater wit. Shakspeare was the Homer, or father of our dramatic poets : Jonson was the Virgil, the pattern of elaborate writing: I admire him, but I love Shakspeare.
ALGERNON SIDNEY. 1621–1684. (Manual, p. 206.)
FROM THE “DISCOURSES ON GOVERNMENT.” 153. INFLUENCE OF GOVERNMENT ON THE CHARACTER OF A PEOPLE.
Men are valiant and industrious when they fight for themselves and their country. They prove excellent in all the arts of war and peace, when they are bred up in virtuous exercises, and taught by their fathers and masters to rejoice in the honors gained by them. They love their country when the good of every particular man is comprehended in the public prosperity, and the success of their achievements is improved to the general advantage. They undertake haze ards and labor for the government, when it is justly administereu; when innocence is safe, and virtue honored; when no man is distinguished from the vulgar, but such as have distinguished themselves by the bravery of their actions; when no honor is thought too great for those who do it eminently, unless it be such as cannot be communicated to others of equal merit. They do not spare their persons, purses, or friends, when the public powers are employed for the public benefit, and imprint the like affections in their children from their infancy. The discipline of obedience, in which the Romans were bred, taught them to command: and few were admitted to the magistracies of inferior rank, till they had given such proofs of their virtue as might deserve the supreme. Cincinnatus, Camillus, Papirius, Fabius Maximus, were not made dictators that they might - learn the duties of the office, but because they were judged to be of such wisdom, valor, integrity, and experience, that they might be safely trusted with the highest powers; and, whilst the law reigned, not one was advanced to that honor who did not fully answer what was expected from him. By these means the city was so replenished with men fit for the greatest employments, that even in its infancy, when three hundred and six of the Fabii were killed in one day, the city did lament the loss, but was not so weakened to give any advantage to their enemies : and when every one of those who had been eminent before the second Punic war, Fabius Maximus only excepted, had perished in it, others arose in their places, who surpassed them in number, and were equal to them in virtue. The city was a perpetual spring of such men, as long as liberty lasted; but that was no sooner overthrown, than virtue was torn up by the roots: the people became base and sordid; the small remains of the nobility slothful and effeminate; and, their Italian associates becoming like to them, the empire, whilst it stood, was only sustained by the strength of foreigners. The Grecian virtue had the same fate, and expired with liberty. It is absurd to impute this to the change of times; for time changes nothing; and nothing was changed in those times, but the government, and that changed all things. This is not accidental, but according to the rules given to nature by God, imposing upon all things a necessity of perpetually following their causes. Fruits are always of the same nature with the seeds and roots from which they come, and trees are known by the fruits they bear. As a man begets a man, and a beast a beast, that society of men which constitutes a government upon the foundation of justice, virtue, and the common good, will always have men to promote those ends, and that which intends the advancement of one man's desires and vanity will abound in those that will foment them.