Sir William Temple's Essays on Ancient and Modern Learning and on Poetry

By J. E. Spingarn; William Temple | Go to book overview

SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE
(1690)

I. AN ESSAY UPON THE ANCIENT AND MODERN
LEARNING

WHOEVER Converses much among the Old Books
will be something hard to please among the New;
yet these must have their Part too in the leisure of an idle
man, and have, many of them, their Beauties as well as
their Defaults. Those of Story, or Relations of Matter of 5 Fact, have a value from their Substance as much as from
their Form, and the variety of Events is seldom without
Entertainment or Instruction, how indifferently soever the
Tale is told. Other sorts of Writings have little of esteem
but what they receive from the Wit, Learning, or Genius 10 of the Authors, and are seldom met with of any excellency,
because they do but trace over the Paths that have been
beaten by the Ancients, or Comment, Critick, and Flourish
upon them, and are at best but Copies after those Originals,
unless upon Subjects never touched by them, such as are 15 all that relate to the different Constitutions of Religions,
Laws, or Governments in several Countries, with all mat-
ters of Controversie that arise upon them.

Two Pieces that have lately pleased me, abstracted from
any of these Subjects, are, one in English upon the Antedi-20luvian World, and another in French upon the Plurality of
Worlds
; one Writ by a Divine, and the other by a Gentle-
man, but both very finely in their several Kinds and upon
their several Subjects, which would have made very poor

-2-

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Sir William Temple's Essays on Ancient and Modern Learning and on Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Introductory Note iii
  • I. an Essay Upon the Ancient and Modern Learning 2
  • Ii. of Poetry 43
  • Notes 80
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