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“ Quot homines tot sententiæ,” many men, many minds. “Parva leves capiunt animos,” “ Light minds are pleased with trifles," and “Suus cuique mos est.” Each man has his peculiarities or manners, by which, in fact, they are not less distinguished from others, than by their faces and figures. Of a higher kind are those containing some moral precept, or rule, for our conduct in life, as, "Feras non culpes quod vitari non potest,” what can't be cured must be endured.” “ Homini ne fidas, nisi cum quo modium salis absumpseris,” trust no man until you have eaten a peck of salt with him ; that is, until you have known him so long, that you might have eaten a peck of salt with him. “Mus non fidit uni antro,” the mouse does not trust to a single passage by which it may escape, if attacked. No man should engage all his property, or so much as might materially injure him, if it should be lost in one vessel, or on a single project; "he should take care to have two strings to his bow.” These specimens may
be sufficient to shew the nature of proverbial phrases, and in some degree, the kind of elucidation here attempted.
As the source whence the adages are taken is shewn to be ample, it may be thought that a much larger collection might liave been given than is here produced ; “ At boni venatoris est plures feras capere, non omnes,” a good sportsman is not expected to take all the game he may start.
start. It might not have been difficult, perhaps, had that been thought expedient, to have considerably increased the number; but short as this collection may appear, there will be found in it, under various heads, observations applying to all the ordinary occurrences and situations in life; which will be the more readily listened to, it may be expected, as they contain the sentiments transmitted down to us from the earliest ages of the most celebrated sages and philosophers. Should it be urged, that many of the observations are such as would occur to every well educated and sensible man, let those to whom they are superfluous pass them over, they were not written for them ; “those who are well need not a physician, but those who are sick:”yet even to them it may not be a matter of total indifference to learn that so many of
the adages and forms of speech in daily use among us are derived from the Grecians, and that the origin of them may be traced back for two thousand and more years. But should they reject them altogether, the work may still have its utility: the young and inexperienced may find in it that information, which those more advanced in life cannot, or ought not, to want; it may lead them to consult the books from which the quotations are taken, many of them not commonly put into their hands, and to pay more attention than is usually done to the languages of modern Europe, which will be equally pleasant and beneficial; and from the present posture of affairs, it may be expected that the countries where they are spoken will be soon opened to us : and though the mass of the people in one of those countries have shewn themselves, in the course of the dreadful revolution that has taken place there, to be so frivolous, insignificant, and mischievous as to promise little advantage from mixing too intimately with them, yet there are not wanting a sufficient number of intelligent persons among
them to make a communication with them desirable. It may be hoped also that the misery they have for so many years suffered, may have the effect of producing an alteration in their character. No symptom however of such a change, it should be observed, has yet appeared, notwithstanding the losses their country has sustained and the degradation of their ruler: a circumstance which should be well noted here, and prove a caution to our people from flocking over to that country, should the door be again, for a short time, opened, as they did on a former occasion, to their own destruction and to the disgrace of our national character. It should also, and will, it may be expected, lead our people of all ranks to have so much respect for themselves and regard for the honour of their country, as to shew no slavish servility to their envoys and ambassadors, that we may not again be insulted with the humiliating spectacle of British subjects harnessed to the chariot of aliens, and I doubt, I must say, of enemies to the country. Had such a scene been acted at Greece or Rome, the parties.
would never again have been acknowledged as citizens; they would have been banished, perhaps sold as slaves, or even forfeited their lives.
Thus far I have endeavoured to shew the reader what he is to expect in these volumes; it may not be so easy, perhaps, satisfactorily to explain, why I have undertaken what seems so alien to my profession;
“ Tantumne ab re tua est otii tibi, Aliena ut cures, ea quæ nihil ad te attinent ?" Have I so much leisure, it may be asked, from my own employment, that I should engage in a business which might so much more properly be handled by those whose peculiar duty it is to give lessons in morality ? and yet this may not, on consideration, be deemed totally averse to the business of the physician ; for as many diseases, almost all of the chronic kind, are brought on and perpetuated by irregularity of living and over indulgence of our passions, should any persons on reading what is here said on those subjects, containing the opinions of the earliest and best writers, be led to correct their vicious habits,