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Many have wislied to see a monthly pamphlet on a more useful and entertaining, if not a more extensive plan, than any thing of the kind already extant; but their wishes have been made and forgotten; the want of time has prevented some from undertaking it, and the pains and labour necessary in the execution, have deterred others. How far the authors of the present undertaking may be equal to this arduous task is not for them to fay: the public will judge of their abilities from their works, which are most readily submitted to their decision.
Among other subjects of general entertainment, the authors propose to give, in the course of this Magazine, complete systems of every branch of useful learning, enriched with all the improvements of modern writers. They do not, however, propose to confine their labours entirely to the elucidation of the sciences; they propose to give a large account of the political and other transactions in different parts of the world, especially in our own country; every remarkable event, every uncommon debate, and every interesting turn of affairs will be recorded.
A copious and authentic history of foreign and domestic occurrences will also be given, digested in a chronological series, containing all the material news of the month.
To render this performance agreeable to every class of readers, Care will be taken to furnish it with pieces calculated for general entertainment. The elegant amusements of literature, the flights of poetical fancy, and the brilliant sallies of inoffensive wit, shall find a place in our Magazine. In a word, researches into antiquity; elucidations of ancient writers; criticisms on every branch of literature; essays in prose and verse; visions, fables, moral tales, &c. will make a part of this performance.
The correspondence of the ingenious is therefore requested, which will be kindly acknowledged and received at Mr. Bladon's in Paternoster-row, and the utmost attention paid to any favours they may confer. We have only to add, that nothing in our power shall be wanting to render the Oxford Magazine equally useful and entertaining. We hope for trie encouragement of the Public, and we are sensible it cannot be obtained without the greatest care and assiduity.
The Oxford Magazine;
For J U L Y, 1768.
Os the Power of the Pajpons, an Effay.
PAffions are in the moral, what motion is in the natural world. If motion creates, destroys, preserves, animates the whole, that without it every thing is dead; so the passions animate the moral world. It is avarice which conducts ships over the deserts of the ocean; it is pride which fills up vallies, levels mountains, hews itself a passage through rocks, raises the pyramids of Memphis, digs the lake Mœris, and casts the Colosius of Rhodes. Love, it is said, formed the crayon for the first designer. In a country where revelation had never penetrated, it was love, which, to sooth the grief of a widow, rendered disconsolate by the death of her young spouse, intimated to her the system of the immortality of the soul. It was the enthusiasm of gratitude which classed the benefactors of mankind among the gods; which invented the false religions and superstitions, all of which, however, have not their source in such noble passions as love and gratitude.
It is therefore to strong passions that we owe the invention and wonders of arts; and consequently they are to be considered as the germ productive of genius, and the powerful spring that carries men to great actiens. But before we proceed, it may ?roper to sis the i-i-a I intend to
convey by the word Strong Passion. If men in general speak without understanding eacii other, it is owing, to the obscurity of words; to this cause may be attributed the prolongation of the miracle wrought at the tower of Babel. For instance, if the word Red contains the several gradations from scarlet to carnation, let us suppose two men, one has seen only scarlet, and the other carnation; the; first will very justly say, that red is a vivid colour; the other will be as positive that it is a faint colour. For the like reason, two men may pronounce the word Will without understanding each other ; for this word" extends from the coldest to the most vehement degree of volition, which surmounts all obstacles. It is with the word Passion, as with that of Understanding, its signification depends on the pronounciation. A man, who in a society of shallow persons is considered as weak, may be concluded simple: it is otherwise with him who is looked upon as a person os tolerable parts by geniuses cf the first class; the choice of his company proves his superiority to common men. Here he is a midling orator, but would be the first in any other society.
By the word Strong Passion, I mean a passion, the cbjedt of which is so necessary
necessary to our happiness, that without the possession of it life would be insupportable. This was Omar's idea of the passion, when he said, "Whoever thou art, that lovelt li"berty, desirest to be wealthy with"out riches, powerful without fub"jects, a subject without a mailer; "dare to contemn death: kings "will then tremble before thee, "whilst thou alor?c shalt fear ho *' person.''
It is indeed only passions carried to this degree of force that can execute the greatest action:-, defy dangers, pain, death, and Heaven itself.
Dicearchus, the general of Philip, in presence of his whole army erects two altars, one to impiety, the other io injustice, sacrifices on them, and marches against the Cyclades,
Some tlays before the assassination of Cæsar, conjugal love, united with a noble pride, prevailed on Portia to uiahc an incision in her thigh, to shew the wound to her husband; and at the same time to say to him, "Brutus, you are meditating some "great design which you conceal "from me. I never before asked "you an indiscreet question: I knew "that cur sex, however weak in it"self, gathers strength by convers"ing with wise and virtuous men; *' and that I was daughter to Cato, "and spouse to Brutus; but love ren"dered me so timorous, that I mis"trusted my weakness. You fee the "essay I have made of my forti"tude : judge from this trial of pain, "whether 1 am worthy of your con"fidence."
It was the passion of honour and philosophic fanatiscism alone that could induce '1 imicha, the Pythagorean, in the midst of torture, to bite oft' her tongue, that the might not expose herself to reveal the secrets of her sect.
Cato, when a child, going witli his tutor to Sylla's palace, at seeing the bloody heads of the prescribed, asked
with impatience, the name of this monster who had caused so man/ Roman citizens to be murdered. He* was answered, it was Sylla: "How,' "fays he, does Sylla murder thus, "and is Sylla still alive1?" Yes, it was replied, tEe very name 6f Sylla disarms our citizen. "O Rome, cri"ed Cato, deplorable is thy fate,' "since within the vast compass of thy "walls, not a rri'an of virtue can be "found, and the arm of a feeble "child is the only one that will op"pose itself against tyranny!" Then turning towards his governor, "Give. "me, said he, your sword; I will "conceal it under my robe, ap"proach Sylla, and kill him. Cato "lives, and Rome is again free'."
It Was the fame Cato who, when retiring to Utica, being urged to consult the oracle of Jupiter Ammon,' answered, "Oracles are for the fear'/ ful and the ignorant. The brave "man is independent of the gods,' "and knows when to live or die: "he with composure ossers himself to' "his fate, whether it be known of "concealed." Cæsar, after havingfallen into the hands of pirates is stilt the fame man, threatens them with' death,^nd at landing makes good his words.
In what climates has not this virtuous love of one's country performed heroic actions? In China, an emperor being pursued by the victorious forces of a private patriot, in order to oblige this victor to disband his troops, had recourse to that superstitious respect, which in that country a son pays to the orders of his mother. He dispatched an officer, who' approaching her with his drawn poniard in his hand, told her, peremptorily, she must comply or perish. "Does thy master, answered she,"with a disdainful smile, flatter him-"self that 1 am ignorant of the tacit "but sacred conventions between the "people and their sovereigns, by Os the Povier cj
fi wjrich the people are to obey, and f the kings to render them happy? "He first broke the conventions. "And thou, base tool of a tyrant, «' learn from a woman what in such ," cases is due to thy country." Then snatching the poniard from the officer's hand, plunged it in her breast; saying, "Slave, if thou hast f still any virtue, carry this bloody f poniard to my son; bid him res' venge the nation, and punisti the "tyrant. He has now nothing to
fear, no cautions to observe for f* me: he is now at liberty to be
The passion of duty also animated Abdajla's mother, when her son, being forsaken by his friends, besieged in a castle, and urged to accept of an honourable capitulation offered him by the Syrians, consulted her how lie should act, and she gave him this answer, " Son, when thou tookest up
arms against the house ofOmmiah, "did'lt thou think it was espousing "the cause of justice, and virtue? f Yes, answered he. O then, re"plied his mother, What cause is "there for deliberation? Dost thou "not know that cowards only are "swayed by fear? Wilt thou be the "contempt of the Ommites? And "shall it be said, that when thou "wast to determine between life and "duty, thou didst prefer the for"mer?"
It is the fame passion for glory, that, when the Roman army, perishing with cold for want of cloatjiing, was on the point of dispersing, brought to the assistance of Septiemus Severus the philosopher Antiochus, who, stripping himself before the army, leaped into a heap of snow, at which the troops chearfully persevered in their duty.
Thrasea being one day counselled to make some submission to Nero, "How, said he, shall I stoop so low i' so prolong my life, a few days?
r the. Pajfions. 7
"No, death is a debt: Fll discharge "it like a free man, and not pay it "like a flave."
Vespasian, in a gust of passion, threatening Helyidius with death, received this answer: "Did I ever "tell you I was immortal I By puts' ting me to death, you will act in "character like a tyrant; I like a "citizen in receiving it without ." fear."
]f the generous pride, the passion of patriotism and glory, determine citizens to such heroic actions, with what resolution and intrepidity do not the passions inspire those who aim at distinction in the arts and sciences, and whom Cicero calls, the peaceable heroes? It is from a desire of glory, that the astronomer is seen, on the icy summits of the Cordeleras, placing his instruments in the midst of snows and frost; which conducts the botanist to the brinks of precipices in quest of plants; which anciently carried the juvenile lovers of the sciences into Egypt, Ethiopia, and even into the Indies, for visiting the molt celebrated philosophers, and acquiring from their conversation the principles of their doctrine.
How strongly did this passion exert itself in Demosthenes, who, for perfecting his pronounciation, used every day to stand on the sea-shore, and with his mouth full of pebbles harangue the agitated waves! It was from the fame desire of glory, that the young Pythagoreans submitted to a silence of thres years in order to habituate themselves to recollection and meditation; it induced Democritus to shun the distractions of the world, and retire among the tombs, to meditate on those valuable truths, the discovery of which, as it is always very difficult, is also very little esteemed: in sine, it was this, that prompted Hcraclitus to cede to his yqunger brother the throne of E'phesus, to which he had the right
Qf of primogeniture, that he might give himself up entirely to philosophy; which made the Athletic improve his strength, by denying himself the pleasures of love; it was also from a desire of popular applause that certain ancient priests renounced the fame pleasures, and often, as Boindin pleasantly observes of them, without any other recompence for their continence than the perpetual temptation it occasions.
I have shewn that it is to the passions we owe most of the objects of our admiration; under their powerful influence we sustain dangers, pain, and death; and that they animate us to take the boldest resolutions.
I am now going to prove that, in critical occasions, it is by their assistance only that great men are inspired to say, and act, and do the best.
Let us here call to remembrance the memorable and celebrated speech of Hannibal to his soldiers on the cay of the battle of Ticinus; and we shuiiown that ircnuld be inspired only by his hatred ot the Romans and his passion for glory. "Fellow soldiers, said he, Heaven assures me of the victory. Let the Romans, riot you, tremble. View this field of battle: it offers no retreat for cowards: we alj perish, if any retire. What can be a more certain pledge of triumph? What plainer indication of the protection of the Gods ? They have placed us between yictory and death." .
Can it be doubted that Sylla was not animated with these same passions? When Crassus asked an escort to go and raise new levies in the country of the Marsians, Sylla answered, " If you are afraid of the enemy, the escort I give you are your fathers, brothers, relations, and friends, who, massacred by the ty
rants, cry for vengeance, and expect it from you."
When the Macedonians, wearied with the toils of war, desired Alexander to discharge them, it was pride, and the love of glory, that dictated to him this spirited answer, "Away, ingrates, lazy cowards; I'll subdue the world without you; Alexander will never want subjects and soldiers, where there are men."
It is only from men of strong passions that such speeches can be expected. Genius itself, in such cases, can never supply the want of sentiment. We are ignorant of the language of passions we never felt.
Besides, it is not only in a single act, as eloquence in the passions, every kind are to be esteemed as the germ productive of superior understanding: it is they, which, keeping a perpetual fermentation in our ideas, fertilize in us the fame ideas, which, in frigid fouls, are barren, and would be no more than feed scattered on a rock.
It is the passions which, having strongly fixed our attention on the object of our desire, causes us to view it under appearances unknown to other men; and whicli consequently prompt heroes to plan and execute those hardy enterprizes which, till success has proved the propriety of them, appear ridiculous, and indeed must appear so to the multitude.
The cause, says the cardinal de Richlieu, why a timorous mind perceives an impossibility in the molt simple projects, when to an elevated mind, the most arduous seems easy, is, because, before the latter the mountains fink, and before the former mole-hills are metamorphosed into mountains.
It is, in effect, only a strong pafT fion, which, being more perspicuous than good fense, can teach us to distinguish the extraordinary from