Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

nently indebted; and works the most splendid in form, and which are constructed for the admiration of posterity, rise out of ordinary documents and researches, which may appear unpromising and trifling. Who can calculate on the consequence of a single date, sometimes to an individual, sometimes to a family, and sometimes even to the public?

χάρις σμικροισιν οσηδε.

Monuments and their inscriptions considered in another point of view, as efforts of expiring mortality, which sighs for a little remembrance beyond the grave;—or as tributes of surviving relatives and friends, who labour to preserve a name, which they wish not to be quite obliterated;—do but favour a wish natural to the human heart, a desire incident to the best and purest part of our species. Under the greatest debility of his frame, and amidst even a wearisomeness of existence, man still feels the tender and endearing tie of life, and is solicitous not to be forgotten : and he who preserves a monument from mouldering into ruin, who records a name, or who rescues an inscription, that is nearly effaced, humours a useful propensity, the universal passion, and he is entitled in his turn not to be overlooked as a trifler, or as a labourer about nothing, operose nihil agendo.

For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing, anxious being e'er resign’d,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing lingering look behind ?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries;

Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires,

And with regard to our poets—I hope I shall be forgiven some old propensities. Had I not feared, that my partialities would have produced encroachments on these volumes, I should probably have been tempted to enlarge upon poesy and poets: and this I could have easily done, being at the time I engaged to write this History, in the midst of a work, both critical and poetical, of some * extent. As it is, I hope the occasional quotations, principally from Cambridge-poets, though such matters have not usually been introduced into Cambridge histories, will not be foreign to the nature of them, which (resembling, in this respect, poetry itself) ought to be, to please as well as instruct. It is hoped, these little artifices of poetry may sometimes relieve the reader, where the narrative begins to grow tedious: and if so, they will

* Two volumes of the Poetics were printed; four were intended to be published,

5

correspond with the genuine intent of poetry, and its great fundamental rule, which, according to Plutarch, is to please, so as to operate amidst more solemn studies, like an amulet, or charm*.

Ενθ' ενι μεν φιλοτης, εν

go

ιμερος, εν δοαρισης.

There dwells desire, and love, and many a charm.

As to the other embellishments, I mean the plates, I have to lament, that while describing the colleges and public buildings, I did not hold intercourse with the artist, so that my descriptions might have corresponded with his designs more invariably than they will be found to 'do here. The character of the artist is well known, and his plates are executed with equal faithfulness and taste; they will unquestionably be ornaments, as well as illustrations, of these dolumes ; and often supply their defects, But with respect to the descriptions themselves, the reader must, in smaller things, receive them relatively, not always to the plates, but to places and buildings, which, as if being on the spot with my traveller, I am pointing out to him as a sort of Ciceroni..But, I must repeat, after examination, that the plates themselves are very faithful representations of what they are intended to be.

+ Plutarch's Treatise, Ilwç del Twy ITOINTwy amouhy.

One word more, which, whether of apology or explanation, I beg leave to subjoin. Since I have been engaged on this Essay towards a History of Cambridge (for such, indeed, it must be considered, and no more), I published (or rather republished) “ Four LETTERS on the English Constitution," and I was gratified to find they were approved by some well qualified to form a judgment. Among the reasons assigned for republishing them, one was, that I wished readers to consider them as a pledge, that however I was then employed, I was not likely to take a course inconsistent with the fundamental principles of our Constitution: the other was, that from the picture painted in my own mind, I was desirous of forming an exemplar to my own condụct, And now, as I hope with respect to my

read. ers, I have redeemed the pledge, and as I feel I have satisfied my own mind, (at least on that point) I leave for their reflection and my own, the words formerly quoted : “ Hoc illud est præcipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta, in illustri posita monumento, intueri; inde tibi tuæq. reipublicæ, quod imitere, capias: inde fædum inceptu fædum exitu, quod vites*.”

* Livii Hist, sub initio.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »