« PrécédentContinuer »
mind, as being in their nature more open to public notoriety, than those of an opposite quality. Atrocious deviations from moral rectitude rarely pass undiscovered ; whereas
of the noblest and most laudable instances of human merit, are frequently known only to the parties immediately concerned, and not seldom lie concealed in the breast of the worthy agent. Vice obtrudes itself upon the public eye; but virtue must be sought for in less conspicuous scenes. The secretum iter and the fallentis semita vitæ, are the paths in which her votaries are inost frequently to be found. No wonder therefore, if in computing their comparative number, very erroneous calculations are apt to be made.
When all reflections of this kind, together with others which might be mentioned of the same tendency, are duly considered, and their full force admitted; it will not perhaps, be thought an unwarrantable inference, that there is an over-balance of good in the moral as well as in the natural world.
THE celebrated wits of the Miscellanean race, the Essay writers, casual discoverers, reflectioncoiners, meditation-founders, and others of the irregular kind of writers, may plead it as their peculiar advantage that they follow the variety of nature, and in such a climate as ours their plea, no doubt, may be very just. We islanders famed for other mutabilities are particularly noted for the variableness and inconstancy of our weather. And if our taste in letters be found answerable to this temperature of our climate, certainly a writer must, in our account, be more valuable in his kind, as he can agreeably surprize his reader, by sudden changes and transports from one to another.
Were it not for the known prevalency of this relish, and the apparent deference paid to these
geniuses who are said to elevate and surprise, the editor of these Miscellanies might, in all probability, be afraid to entertain bis readers with this multifarious, complex and desultory kind of reading. It is certain that if we consider the beginning and process of our present work, we shall find sufficient variation in it. From a professed levity we lapsed into a sort of gravity unsuitable to our manner of setting out. We have steered an adventurous course; and seem scarcely come out of a strong and rough sea. It is time indeed we should enjoy a calm, and instead of expanding our sails before the swelling gusts, it befits us to retire under the lee-shore, and ply the oars in smooth water.
It is the philosopher, the orator, or the poet whom we compare to some first rate' vessel, which launches out into the wide sea, and with a proud motion insults the encountering surges. We Essay writers are of the small craft or galley kind. We move chiefly by starts and bounds; as our motion is by frequent intervals renewed. We have no great adventure in view ; nor can tell certainly whither we are bound. We undertake no mighty voyage of star or compass; but row from creek to creek, keep up a coasting trade, and are fitted only for fine weather and the summer scason.
With the same view we miscellaneous authors, apprehending the natural lassitude and satiety of eur indolent readers, have prudently betaken ourselves to the way of Essays; that as they proceed by frequent intervals of repose, contrived on purpose for thein, they may from time to time be advertised of what is yet to come, and be tempted thus to renew their application.
ALCANDER AND SEPTIMIUS.
ATHENS, even long after the decline of the Roman empire, still continued the seat of learning, politeness and wisdom. The emperors and generals who in these periods of approaching ignorance still felt a passion for science, from time to time added to its buildings, or increased its professorships. Theodoric the Ostrogoth, was of the number; be repaired those schools which barbarity was suffering to fall into decay, and continued those pensions to men of learning, which avaricious governors had monopolised to themselves.
In this city and about this period, Alcander and Septimius were fellow students together. The one the most subtle reasoner of all the Lycæum; the other the most eloquent speaker in the Academic grove. Mutual admiration soon begot an acquaintance, and a similitude of disposition made them perfect friends. Their fortunes were nearly equal, their studies the same, and they were natives of the two most celebrated cities in the world; for Alcander was of Athens, Septimius came from Rome.
In this mutual harmony they lived for some time together, when Alcauder, after passing the first part of his youth in the indolence of philosoply, thought at length of entering into the busy world, and as a previous step, placed his affections on Hypatia, a lady of exquisite beauty. Hypatia shewed no dislike to his addresses. The day of their intended nuptials was fixed, the previous ceremonies were performied, and nothing now remained but her being conducted in triumph to the apartment of the intended bridegroom.
An exultation in his own happiness, or his