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Fineness is generally applied to delicate things and lightness of manufacture. Although we say a fine horse, we seldom say, “ the fineness of a horse.” We speak of the fineness of hair, lace, or a stuff. When by this word we should express the fault or wrong use of anything, we add the adverb too; as,—This thread is broken, it was too fine; this stuff is too fine for the season.

Fineness or finesse, in a figurative sense, applies to conduct, speech, and works of mind. In conduct, finesse always expresses, as in the arts, something delicate or subtle: it may sometimes exist without ability, but it is very rarely unaccompanied by a little deception; politics admit it, and society reproves it.

Finesse is not exactly subtlety; we draw a person into a snare with finesse; we escape from it with subtlety. We act with finesse, and we play a subtle trick. Distrust is inspired by an unsparing use of finesse; yet we almost always deceive ourselves if we too generally suspect it.

Finesse, in works of wit, as in conversation, consists in the art of not expressing a thought clearly, but leaving it so as to be easily perceived. It is an enigma to which people of sense readily find the solution.

A chancellor one day offering his protection to parliament, the first president turning towards the assembly said: “ Gentlemen, thank the chancellor; he has given us more than we demanded of him;"-a very witty reproof.

Finesse, in conversation and writing, differs from delicacy; the first applies equally to piquant and agreeable things, even to blame and praise; and still more to indecencies, over which a veil is drawn, through which we cannot penetrate without a blush. Bold things may be said with finesse.

Delicacy expresses soft and agreeable sentiments and ingenious praise; thus finesse belongs more to epigram, and delicacy to madrigal. It is delicacy wh enters into a lover's jealousies, and not finesse.

The praises given to Louis XIV. by Despreaux are not always equally delicate; satires are not always sufficiently ingenious in the way of finesse.

When Iphigenia, in Racine, has received from her father the order never to see Achilles more, she cries,

Dieux plus doux, vous n'aviez demandé que ma vie !
More gentle gods, you only ask my

life! The true character of this line partakes rather of delicacy than of finesse.



Is fire anything more than an element which lights, warms, and burns us? Is not light always fire, though fire is not always light? And is not Boerhaave in the right?

not the purest fire extracted from our combustibles, always gross, and partaking of the bodies consumed, and very different from elementary fire ?

How is fire distributed throughout nature, of which it is the soul?

Ignis ubique latet, naturam amplectitur omnem,

Cuncta parit, renovat, dividit, unit, alit. Why did Newton, in speaking of rays of light, always say,

.-De natura radiorum lucis, utrum corpora sint nec ne non disputans;" without examining whether they were bodies or not?

Did he only speak geometrically? In that case, this doubt was useless. It is evident that he doubted of the nature of elementary fire, and doubted with reason.

Is elementary fire a body like others, as earth and water? If it was a body of this kind, would it not gravitate like all other matter? Would it escape

from the luminous body in a right line? Would it have an uniform progression ? And why does light never move out of a right line when it is unimpeded in its rapid course?

May not elementary fire have properties of matter little known to us, and properties of substance entirely so ? May it not be a medium between matter and substances of another kind? And who can say that there are not a million of these substances? I do not say that there are, but I say it is not proved that there may not be.

It was very difficult to believe, about a hundred years ago, that bodies acted upon one another, not only without touching, and without emission, but at great distances; it is however found to be true, and is no longer doubted. At present, it is difficult to believe that the rays of the sun are penetrable by each other, but who knows what may happen to prove it?

However that may be, I wish, for the novelty of the thing, that this incomprehensible penetrability could be admitted. Light has something so divine, that we should endeavour to make it a step to the discovery of substances still more pure.

Come to my aid, Empedocles and Democritus; come and admire the wonders of electricity; see if the sparks which traverse a thousand bodies in the twinkling of an eye, are of ordinary matter; judge if elementary fire does not contract the heart, and communicate that warmth which gives life! Judge if this element is not the source of all sensation, and if sensation is not the origin of thought; though ignorant and insolent pedants have condemned the proposition, as one which should be persecuted.

Tell me, if the Supreme Being, who presides over all nature, cannot for ever preserve these elementary atoms which he has so rarely endowed ? Igneus est ollis vigor et cælestis origo.

The celebrated Le Cat* calls this vivifying fluid, “ An amphibious being, endowed by its author with a superior refinement which links it to immaterial beings, and thereby ennobles and elevates it into that medium nature which we recognise, and which is the source of all its properties.”

You are of the opinion of Le Cat? I would be so too if I could; but there are so many fools and villains, that I dare not : I can only think quietly in my own way at Mount Krapak. Let others think as well as

* Dissertation of Le Cat on the “Fluid of the Nerves," p. 36.

they are allowed to think, whether at Salamanca or Bergamo.


Of what is understood by Fire used figuratively. Fire, particularly in poetry, often signifies love, and is employed more elegantly in the plural than in the singular. Corneille often says un beau feu for a virtuous and noble love. A man las fire in his conversation: that does not mean that he has brilliant and enlightened ideas, but lively expressions animated by action.

Fire in writing does not necessarily imply lightness and beauty, but vivacity, multiplied figures, and spontaneous ideas.

Fire is a merit in speech and writing only when it is well managed.

It is said that poets are animated with a divine fire when they are sublime ; genius cannot exist without fire, but fire may be possessed without genius.


FIRMNESS comes from firm, and has a different signification from solidity and hardness; a squeezed cloth, a beaten negro, have firmness without being hard or solid.

It must always be remembered that modifications of the soul can only be expressed by physical images : we say firmness of soul, and of mind, which does not sigpify that they are harder or more solid than usual.

Firmness is the exercise of mental courage; it means a decided resolution; while obstinacy, on the contrary, signifies blindness.

Those who praise the firmness of Tacitus are not so much in the wrong as P. Bouhours pretends; it is an accidental ill-chosen term, which expresses energy and strength of thought and of style. It may be said that La Bruyere has a firm style, and that many other writers have only a hard one.


FLATTERY. I FIND not one monument of flattery in remote antiquity: there is no flattery in Hesiod-none in Homer. Their stories are not addressed to à Greek, elevated to some dignity, nor to his lady; as each canto of Thomson's Seasons is dedicated to some person of rank, or as so many forgotten epistles in verse have been dedicated, in England, to gentlemen or ladies of quality, with a brief * eulogy, and the arms of the patron or patroness placed at the head of the work.

Nor is there any flattery in Demosthenes. This way of asking alms harmoniously began, if I mistake not, with Pindar. No hand can be stretched out more emphatically.

It appears to me that, among the Romans, great flattery is to be dated from the time of Augustus. Julius Cæsar had scarcely time to be flattered. There is not, extant, any dedicatory epistle to Sylla, Marius, or Carbo, nor to their wives, or their mistresses. I can well believe that

very bad verses were presented to Lucullus and to Pompey; but, thank God, we have them not.

It is a great spectacle to behold Cicero equal in dignity to Cæsar, speaking before him as advocate for a king of Bithynia and Lesser Armenia named Deiotarus, accused of laying ambuscades for him, and even designing to assassinate him. Cicero begins with acknowledging that he is disconcerted in his presence. He calls him the vanquisher of the world—“ victorem orbis terrarum.” He flatters him: but this adulation does not yet amount to baseness; some

sense of shame still remains.

But with Augustus there are no longer any bounds: the senate decrees his apotheosis during his lifetime. Under the succeeding emperors, this flattery becomes the ordinary tribute, and is no longer anything more than a style. It is impossible to flatter any one, when the most extravagant adulation has become the ordinary currency.

Not always brief we fear.-T.

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