« AnteriorContinuar »
als Schriftsteller zum Ruhme gereichen. Seine Schreibart in, dessen hat wirkliche Schönheiten; sie ist nicht nur fest, und durch einen eignen Grad von gleich gehaltenem Nachdruck ausgezeichnet, sondern auch reich und musikalisch. Kein Bnglischer Schriftsteller hat auf den regelmässigen Bau seiner Sätze, sowohl in Ansehung des Ausdrucks, als in Ansehung des Wohlklanges, so viel Aufmerksamkeit verwandt, als Lord Shaftsbury. Alles dies giebt seiner Schreibart so viel Zierlichkeit und Schmuck, dass man sich nicht wundern darf, wenn sie bei vielen einen hohen Grad von Bewunderung gem funden hat. Aber eben so ausgemacht ist es auch, dass ihre Schönheiten durch ein steifes, gezwungenes Wesen, das sich allenthalben an ihr bemerken lässt, merklich verdunkelt werden. Und hierin liegt in der That der Hauptfehler dieses Schriftstellers. Es ist dem Lord unmöglich, irgend einen Gedanken natürlich und kunstlos auszudrucken. Er scheint es für zu gemein und unter der IVürde eines Mannes von Stande zu halten, gleich andern Menschen zu sprechen. Daher geht sein Ausdruck' allenthalben auf Stelzen und ist voller Umschreibungen und künstlicher Zierlichkeit. Jeder Absatz verräth Arbeit und Kunst ; nirgends jene Leichtigkeit, mit welcher natürliche Gedanken und ungesuchte Empfindungen sich von selbst in Worte ergiessen. Übrigens ist er ein ausserordentlicher Liebhaber von Figuren und Verzierungen jeder Art. Zuweilen gelingt es ihm, sie mit vielem Glück anzubringen; aber immer leuchtet seine Vorliebe für dieselben zu sichtbar hervor; und wenn er einmal eine Metapher oder Anspielung, die nach seinem Geschmack ist, erhascht hat, so weiss er sich gar nicht von ihr wieder loszureissen. Das Sonderbarste bei dem allen ist, dass er ein erklärter Bewunderer der Simplicität war,
sie ohne Unterlass als den schönsten Vorzug der Alten erhebt; und die Neuern wegen des Mangels derselben tadelt; obschon er selbst sich von ihr weiter entfernt, als irgend ein anderer neuer Schriftsteller. shafistury besafe einen Grad von Feinheit und Zärtlichkeit des Geschmacks, den' man beinahe weich und übertrieben nennen möchte; aber es fehlte ihm fast ganz an leidenschaftlicher Wärme, . an starken kraftvollen Gefühlen. Und eben diese Kälte seines Charakters 'war ohne Zweifel die nächste. Ursache jener künstlichen und zierlichen Manier, welche in seinen Schriften herrscht. Nichts ging ihm über Witz und feine Spottsucht; und doch fehlte viel, dass er selbst in beiden glücklich ge
wesen wdre. Zwar lässt er keine Gelegenhott porbai, sicle darin zu versuchen; aber immer erscheint er dabei zu seinen Nachtheil; ' er bleibt steif, selbst wenn er scherzen will, und lacht jederzeit mit der feierlichen Miene eines Autors, nie mit der Unbefangenheit des Menschen."
Ox Love 02 ONE'S COUNTRY), Oca
all human affections, the noblest and most becoming human nature, is that of love to one's country. This, perhaps, will easily be allow'd by all men, who have really a country, and are of the number of those who may be callid a people **), as enjoying the happiness of a real constitution and polity, by which they are free and independent. There are few such country-men or free-men so degenerate, as directly to discountenance or condemn this passion of love to their community and national brotherhood. The indirect manner of opposing this principle, is the most usual. Wa hear it commonly, as a complaint, „that there is little of „this love extant in the world.“ From whence it is bastily concluded, that there is little or nothing of friendly or 50„cial affection inherent in our nature, or proper to our spe„cies. It is however apparent, that there is scarce a creature of human kind, who is not possess'd at least with some inferiour degree or meaner sort of this natural affection to 1 country.
Nescio qua natalo solum dulcedine captos
Ovid. Pont. Lib. I. Eleg. 3. v. 56.
It is a wretched aspect of humanity which we figure to our-selves, when we would endeavour to resolve the very, essence and foundation of this generous passion into a relation to mere clay and dust, exclusively of any thing sensible,
*) Miscellaneous reflections, Miscellany III. ch. 1. (im 3ten Bande der Characteristicks. **) A inultitude held together by force, tho' under one and the saine head, is not properly united: nor does such a body inake a people, It is the social ligue, confederacy, and inutuil consent, founded in soine common good or interest, which joins the ineinbers of a community, and inakes a people One. Absolute power an. nuls the publie: and where there is no publie, or constitutions Where is in reality no mother country or nation,
intelligent, or moral. It is, I must owa, on certain relations, or respective proportions, that all natural affection does in some measure depend. And in this view it cannot, I confess, be denied that we have each of us a certain relation to the mere earth itself, the very mould or surface of that planet, in which, with other animals of various sorts, we, poor reptiles! were also bred and nourish’d. But had it happened, to one of us Britishmen to have been born at sea, could we not therefore properly be callid Britishmen? Could we be allowed country-nien of no sort, as having no distinct relation to any certain soil or region; no original neighbourhood but with the walry inhabitants and sea-monsters? Surely, if we were born of lawful parents, lawfully employed, and under the protection of law; wherever they might be then detained, to whatever colonies sent, or whithersoever driven by any accident, or in expeditions or adventures in the public service, or, that of mankind, we should still find we had a home, and country, ready to lay claim to us. We should be obliged still to consider ourselves as fellow-citizens, and might be allowed to love. our country or nation as honestly and heartily as the most inland inhabitant or native of the soil, Our political and social capacity would undoubtedly come in view, and be acknowledged full as natural and essential in our species, as the parental and filial kind, which gives rise to what we peculiarly call natural affection. Or supposing that both our birth and parents had been unknown, and that in this respect we were in a manner younger brothers in society to the rest of mankind: yet, from our nurture and education we should surely espouse some country or other, and joyfully embracing the protection of a magistracy, should of necessity and by force of nature join ourselves to the geperal society of mankind, and those in particular, with whom we had entered into a nearer communication of benefits, and closer sympathy of affections. It may therefore be esteemed ny better than a mean subterfuge of narrow minds, to assign this natural passion for society and a country, to such a relation as that of a mere fungus or common excrescence,
to its parent-mould, or nursing dung-hill.
The relation of country-man, if it he allowed any thing at all, must imply something moral and social. The nation itself presupposes a naturally civil and political state of mankind, and has reference to that particular part of society to
which we owe our chief advadtages as mens and rational creatures, such as are naturally and necessarily united for each other's happiness and support, and for the highest of all happinesses and enjoyments; „The intercourse of minds, „the free use of our reason, and the exercise of mutual love „and friendship.“
An ingenious physician among the moderns, having in view the natural dependency of the vegetable and animal kinds on their common mother Earth, and observing that both the one and the other draw from her their continual sustenance, (some rooted and fixed down to their first abodes, otbers unconfined, and wandering from place to place to suck their nourishment): he accordingly, as I remember, stiles this latter animal-race, her releas'd sons; filios terrào emancipatos. Now if this be our only way of reckoning for mankind, we may call ourselves indeed, the sons of Earth, at large; but not of any particular soil, or district. The division of climates and regions is fantastick and artificial: much more the limits of particular countries, cities or provinces. Our natale solum, or mother-earth, must by this account be the real globe itself which bears us, and in respect of which we must allow the common animals, and even the plants of all degrees, to claim an equal brotherhood with us, under, this common parent.
According to this calculation, we must of necessity carry our relation as far as to the whole material world or universe; where alone it can prove complete. But, for the particular district or tract of earth, which, in a vulgar sense, we call our country, however bounded or geographically divided, we can never, at this rate, frame any accountable relation to it, nor consequently assign any natural or proper affection towards it.
If uphappily a man had been born either at an inn, or in some dirty village: he would hardly, I think, circumscribe. himself so narrowly as to accept a denomination or character from those nearest appendices, or local circumstances of his nativity. So far should one be from making the hamlet or parish to be characteristical in the case, that hardly would the shire itself, or country, however rich, or flourishing, be taken into the honorary term or appellation of one's country.
„What, then, shall we presume to call our country? Is „ England itself? But what Scotland ? -' Is it there
„tore Britain ? But what of the other islands, the northern ,,Orcadrs, and the southern Jersey and Guernsey? What of the Plantations and pour Ireland?" Behold, here, a very dubiis circumscription !
Burl whal, afier all, if there be a conquest or captivity in the case ? a migration ? a national secession, or abandonment of our nalive seats for some other soil or climale? , This has happened, we know, to our fore-fathers. And, as great and powerful a people as we have been of late, and have ever shown ourselves under the influence of free council's, and a tolerable ministry; should we relapse again into slavish principles, or be administered long under sucb heads, as having no thought of liberty for themselves, can have much less for Europe or their neighbours; we may at last feel a war at home, become the seat of it, and in the end, a conquests We might then gladly embrace the hard condition of our predecessors, and exchange our beloved native soil for that of some remote and uninhabited part of the world. Now should this possibly be our fale; should some considerable colony or body be formed afterwards out of our remains, or meet, as it were by miracle, in some distant climatc; would there be, for the future, no Englishman remaining ? no common bund of alliance and friendship, by which we could still call country-men, as before? How came we, I pray, by our antient name of Englishmen? Did it not travel with us over land and sea? Did we not, indeed, bring it with us heretofure from as far as the remoter parts of Germany to this Island ?
I'must confess, I have been apt sometimes to be very angry with our language, for having denied us the use of the *word patria, and afforded us no viher name to express our native community, than that of country; which already bore *) two different significations, abstracted from mankind or society. Reigning words are mariy nimes of such force' as to influence us considerably in our apprehension of things. Whether it be from any such cause as this, I know not: but certain it is, that in the idea of a civil state or nation, we Englishmen are apt to mix somewhat more than ordinary gross and earthy. No people who owed so much to a constitution, and so liule to a soil or climate, were ever known so indifferent towards
Rue et regia In Frencla campagne et pays,