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had not my character been repeatedly attacked, by an unjusti. fiable intrusion on private life, as of a man incorrigibly idle, and who intrusted not only with ample talents, but favored with unusual opportunities of improving them, had nevertheless suffered them to rust away without any efficient exertion, either for his own good or that of his fellow creatures. Even if the compositions, which I have made public, and that too in a form the most certain of an extensive circulation, though the least flattering to an author's self-love, had been published in books, they would have filled a respectable number of volumes, though every passage of merely temporary interest were omitted.
My, prose writings have been charged with a disproportionate demand on the attention ; with an excess of refinement in the mode of ar. riving at truths; with beating the ground for that which might have been run down by the eye ; with the length and laborious construction of my periods ; in short with obscurity and the love of paradox. But my severest critics have not pretended to have found in my compositions triviality, or traces of a mind that shrunk from the toil of thinking. No one has charged me with tricking out in other words the thoughts of others; or with hashing up anew the cramben jam decies coctam of English literature or philosophy. Seldom have I written that in a day, the acquisition or investigation of which had not cost me the previous labor of a month.
But are books the only channel through which the stream of intellectual usefulness can flow ? Is the diffusion of truth to be estimated by publications; or publications by the truth which they diffuse, or at least contain? I speak it in the excusable warmth of a mind stung by an accusation, which has not only been advanced in reviews of the widest circulation, not only registered in the bulkiest works of periodical literature, but by frequency of repetition has become an admitted fact in private literary circles, and thoughtlessly repeated by too many who call themselves my friends, and whose own recollections ought to have suggested a contrary testimony. Would that the criterion of a scholar's utility were the number and moral value of the truths, which he has been the means of throwing into the general circulation ; or the number and value of the minds, whom by
his conversation or letters be has excited into activity, and supplied with the germs of their after-growth! A distinguished rank might not indeed, even then, be awarded to my exertions ; but I should dare look forward with confidence to an honorable acquittal. I should dare appeal to the numerous and respectable audiences, which at different times and in different places hon. ored my lecture rooms with their attendance, whether the points of view from which the subjects treated of were surveyed, whether the grounds of my reasoning were such, as they had heard or read elsewhere, or have since found in previous publi. cations. I can conscientiouoly declare, that the complete success of the Remorse on the first night of its representation did not give me as great or as heart-felt a pleasure, as the observation that the pit and boxes were crowded with faces familiar to me, though of individuals whose names I did not know, and of whom I knew nothing, but that they had attended one or other of my courses of lectures. It is an excellent though perhaps somewhat vulgar proverb, that there are cases where a man may be as well “in for a pound as for a penny.” To those, who from ignorance of the serious injury I have received from this rumor of having dreamed away my life to no purpose, injuries which I unwillingly i member at all, much less am disposed to record in a sketch of my iterary life ; or to those, who from their own feelings, or the gratification they derive from thinking contemptuously of others, would like Job's comforters attribute these complaints, extorted from me by the sense of wrong, to self-conceit or presumptuous vanity, I have already furnished such ample materials, that I shall gain nothing by withholding the remainder. I will not therefore hesitate to ask the consciences of those, who from their long acquaintance with me and with the circumstances are best qualified to decide or be my judges, whether the restitution of the suum cuique would increase or de. tract from my literary reputation. In this exculpation I hope to be understood as speaking of myself comparatively, and in proportion to the claims which others are entitled to make on my time or my talents. By what I have effected, am I to be judged by my fellow men; what I could have done, is a question for my own conscience. On my own account I may perhaps have had sufficient reason to lament my deficiency in self-control, and the neglect of concentring my powers to the realization of some permanent work. But to verse rather than to prose, if to either, belongs the voice of mourning for
Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe
These will exist, for the future, I trust, only in the poetio strains which the feelings at the time called forth. In those only, gentle reader,
Affectus animi varios, bellumque sequacis
- [Poet. Works, i., p. 209. Ed.]
56 (Epist. Fr Petrarchæ, Lib. i., Barbato Salmonensi, Opp. Basil, 155 vol ii., p. 76. S. C.)
An affectionate exhortation to those who in early life feel themselves
disposed to become authors.
It was a favorite remark of the late Mr. Whitbread's, that no man does anything from a single motive. The separate motives, or rather moods of mind, which produced the preceding reflections and anecdotes have been laid open to the reader in each separate instance. But an interest in the welfare of those, who at the present time
be in circumstances not dissimilar to my own at my first entrance into life, has been the constant accompaniment, and (as it were) the under-song of all my feelings. Whitehead' exerting the prerogative of his laureatship addressed to youthful poets a poetic Charge, which is perhaps the best, and certainly the most interesting, of his works. With no other privilege than that of sympathy and sincere good wishes, I would address an affectionate exhortation to the youthful literati, grounded on my own experience. It will be but short; for the beginning, middle, and end converge to one charge: never pursue literature as a trade. With the exception of one extraordinary man, I have never known an individual, least of all an individual of genius, healthy or happy without a profession, that is, some regular employment, which does not depend on the will of the moment, and which can be carried on so får mechanically that an average quantum only of health, spirits, and intellectual exertion are requisite to its faithful discharge. Three nours of leisure, unannoyed by any alien anxiety, and looked forward to with delight as a change and recreation, will mffice to realize in literature a larger product of what is truly genial, than weeks of compulsion. Money, and immediate repusation form only an arbitrary and accidental end of literary labor
[See Appendix, note J. S. C] : [See Appendix, note K. S. C.]
The hope of increasing them by any given exertion will often prove a stimulant to industry; but the necessity of acquiring them will in all works of genius convert the stimulant into a narcotic. Motives by excess reverse their very nature, and instead of exciting, stun and stupify the mind. For it is one contradistinction of genius from talent, that its predominant end is always comprised in the means; and this is one of the many points which establish an analogy between genius and virtue. Now, though talents may exist without genius, yet as genius cannot exist, certainly not manifest itself, without talents, I would advise every scholar, who feels the genial power working within him, so far to make a division between the two, as that he should devote his talents to the acquirement of competence in some known trade or profession, and his genius to objects of his tranquil and unbiassed choice; while the consciousness of being actuated in both alike by the sincere desire to perform his duty, will alike ennoble both. “ My dear young friend” (I would say), “suppose yourself established in any honorable occupation. From the manufactory or counting house, from the law.court, or from having visited your last patient, you return at evening,
Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home
to your family, prepared for its social enjoyments, with the very countenances of your wife and children brightened, and their voice of welcome made doubly welcome, by the knowledge that, as far as they are concerned, you have satisfied the demands of the day by the labor of the day. Then, when you retire into your study, in the books on your shelves you revisit so many. venerable friends with whom you can converse.
Your own spirit scarcely less free from personal anxieties than the great minds, that in those books are still living for you! Even your writing desk with its blank paper and all its other implements will appear as a chain of flowers, capable of linking your feelings as well as thoughts to events and characters past or to come; not a
3 [From the poem To William Wordsworth. Poet. Works, i., p. 210. S C.)