On Party Zeal

In the midst of the Heats and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Facts, sufficient for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally from interested Men, at best, quite partial and disguised, often utterly false and forged. But the Truth is, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say they who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John nor Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or perhaps both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard.

——T. Gordon, Discourse of Faction and Parties, Works of Sallust, 1744.

ON FINISHING A TRANSLATION

Monsieur Balzac, who deserved so well of the first person singular, when he spoke of himself and his letters, used to take off his beaver; but a Translator, the ninth part of an author, when he is contented with his proportionate share of vanity, and in possession of a hat, will be more chary of it. I pull off mine, this cold day, not to myself, but my Reader, with whom I wish to exchange forgiveness, and part in peace, while he looks so pleased to see the end of the book.

——John Carr at the end of the last volume of his Lucian.

Drinking to the Health of Attila

Possibly the classical custom of drinking healths had gone out of fashion at Byzantium. The Teutonic nations had it, and it may have been adopted from them by the Huns. It was indeed one well worthy of acceptance among an uncivilized people, but, as here described by Priscus, it lacked its most barbarous element. The Speech, that instrument of torture for speaker and hearers, was absent; not even the cruel ingenuity of the Hun inflicted that misery on his guests.

——Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, Book II, Chapter 2.