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polished steel, as firm and as bright, it would have availed me nothing, for I am not a government-tool! I had endeavoured to guide the taste of the English people to the best English writers; but I had said that English kings did not reign by right divine, and that his present majesty was descended from an elector of Hanover in a right line; and no loyal subject would after this look into Webster or Deckar, because I had pointed them out. I had done something (more than any one except Schlegel) to vindicate the charucter of Shakspeare's Plays from the stigma of French criticism ; but our Antijacobin and Anti-Gallican writers soon found out that I had said and written that Frenchmen, Englishmen, men, were not slaves by birthright. This was enough to damn the work. Such has been the head and front of my offending.”
“ I have let this passage stand, however critical,” adds the author, “ because it may serve as a practical illustration of what writers think of themselves when put upon the defensive.” His friend Leigh Hunt, who talks to the public as if the whole world were at his fire-side, does not speak quite so decidedly of his own talents, but he never loses an opportunity of opening out his heart. But with all his egotism, Hunt is one of the most gener. ous and sympathizing of human beings. He affords a strong illustration of the distinction between a certain kind of egotism and mere selfishness. Poor Goldsmith was the most amusing of egotists. He could never suppress his self-conceit.
He was jealous of every thing and every body that divided the attention which he expected to be lavished on himself. When some beautiful young ladies attracted the attention of the company in his presence, he sullenly hinted that there were times and places in which he too was admired. This species of egotism was truly unworthy of such a man. Richardson, the Novelist, was guilty of a weakness equally degrading to a mind like his. He would never let any visitor escape the hearing of some of his productions; and once in a large company, when a gentleman just arrived from Paris, told him that he had seen one of his novels on the French King's table, he pretended not to hear, because the rest of the company were at the moment busily engaged on other
subjects. He waited sometime for a pause, and then inquired with affected carelessness, What, Sir, was that which you were just saying about the French King." “Oh ! nothing of any consequence," replied his informant, disgusted with the trick, and resolved to punish him. No literary man exceeds Boswell in contemptible self-conceit. His failing is too well known to need an illustration. Sir Godfrey Kneller was an awful egotist. I have an indistinct recollection of some outrageous and profane boast of his, connected with his merit as a painter.
The Critical Review (I know not in what number nor in what year, for I take the passage from a quotation in Boswell's life of Johnson), makes the following classification of egotists:
“ We may reduce the egotists to four classes. In the first we have Julius Cæsar: he relates his own transactions; but he relates them with peculiar grace and dignity, and his narrative is supported by the greatness of his character and achievements. In the second class we have Marcus Antoninus : this writer has given us a series of reflections on his own life; but his sentiments are so noble, his morality so sublime, that his meditations are universally admired. In the third class we have some others of tolerable credit, who have given importance to their own private history by an intermixture of literary anecdotes, and the occurrences of their own times;
the celebrated Huetius has published an entertaining volume upon this plan, ' De Rebus ad eum pertinentibus.' In the fourth class we have the journalists, temporal and spiritual : Elias Ashmole, William Silly, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and a thousand other old women and fanatic writers of memoirs and meditations.”
This is a very imperfect classification, notwithstanding Dr. Johnson's approbation of it. In which class should those egotists be placed who, like Lord Byron and William Wordsworth, mould all the creations of their fancy into images of themselves ? I repeat, that all men and women are egotists in their way,
and that self-praise and self-love are offensive and contemptible only when they exceed the bounds of justice, and are linked to envy, hatred and all uncharitableness. When we take vast credit to ourselves for unworthy trifles, or make ourselves ridiculous by
pretending to more virtue or genius than we possess, or allow a spirit of exclusiveness or jealousy to blind us to the merits of others, there are few qualities which are more odious than egotism*. But these offensive peculiarities are not necessarily connected with a fair and proper pride. Without a certain degree of self-confidence and self-esteem, no man can ever become eminently great or good; and it would be difficult to say why any one should be compelled, out of a deference to the mean and envious part of mankind, to assume an unconsciousness of that merit which raises him above them.
How fair and gay the scene appears !
The lark that floats serene on high,
Oh! who could rove at such an hour
* The more decorous manners of the present age have attached a disproportionate opprobrium to this foible, and many therefore abstain with cautious prudence from all displays of what they feel. Nay, some do actually flatter themselves that they abhor all egotism, and never tray it in their writings or discourse. But watch these men narrowly; and in the greater number of cases you will find their thoughts and feelings and mode of expression saturated with the passion of contempt, which is the concentrated vinegar of egotism.--Coleridge.
Alas! what mystic changes mark
Our pilgrimage below!
The gleams of pleasure glow,
Beneath the night of woe !
We learn not why the lustre dies,
Nor why the darkness spreads ; For oft on Penury's wintry skies
The soul its sun-light sheds ; While wreaths that Fortune's votaries prize
Are placed on aching heads.
And e'en fair Virtue's holy spell
Not always here avails ! Full many
noble heart may tell How oft her magic fails, When throngs of restless thoughts rebel,
And hideous gloom prevails.
And what we hear, or what we see,
And what we think, or feel ; As dream-like as the clouds
be That through the twilight steal ! Oh, God! each mortal mystery,
Thou only canst reveal !
AN INDIAN DAY.
Lo! Morning wakes upon
And wave his verdant wreath,-a lustre pale
The silver rays, insufferably bright,
The dead repose, the Moslem's hands illume