Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end.And perhaps that is why the peroration-- To sit still and contemplate--to remember the faces of women without desire, to be pleased by the great deeds of men without envy, to be everything and everywhere in sympathy and yet content to remain where and what you are-- has the sort of insubstantiality which suggests that by the time he got to the end he had left himself nothing solid to work with. Think your own thoughts, he seems to say, and speak them as plainly as you can.These turtles in the shop window which appear to leak out of their shells through heads and feet suggest a fatal faithfulness to a fixed idea.Macaulay in one way, Froude in another, did this superbly over and over again. But the process is fatiguing; it requires more time and perhaps more temper than Pattison had at his command. Grün up raw, and he remains a crude berry among the cooked meats, upon which our teeth must grate forever.They have blown more knowledge into us in the course of one essay than the innumerable chapters of a hundred textbooks. Something of the sort applies to Matthew Arnold and a certain translator of Spinoza.Yet, if the essay admits more properly than biography or fiction of sudden boldness and metaphor, and can be polished till every atom of its surface shines, there are dangers in that too. Soon the current, which is the life-blood of literature, runs slow; and instead of sparkling and flashing or moving with a quieter impulse which has a deeper excitement, words coagulate together in frozen sprays which, like the grapes on a Christmas-tree, glitter for a single night, but are dusty and garnish the day after.The temptation to decorate is great where the theme may be of the slightest.In her brief preface to the collection, Woolf distinguished the "common reader" (a phrase borrowed from Samuel Johnson) from "the critic and scholar": "He is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously.He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. ideas and opinions" about the nature of the English essay.And so, striding unconcernedly from one idea to the next, we traverse a large stretch of ground; observe that a wound in the solicitor is a very serious thing; that Mary Queen of Scots wears surgical boots and is subject to fits near the Horse Shoe in Tottenham Court Road; take it for granted that no one really cares about Aeschylus; and so, with many amusing anecdotes and some profound reflections, reach the peroration, which is that, as he had been told not to see more in Cheapside than he could get into twelve pages of the , he had better stop.And yet obviously Butler is at least as careful of our pleasure as Stevenson, and to write like oneself and call it not writing is a much harder exercise in style than to write like Addison and call it writing well. It might even be said that there was a reversion to the classic type and that the essay by losing its size and something of its sonority was approaching more nearly the essay of Addison and Lamb. Birrell on Carlyle and the essay which one may suppose that Carlyle would have written upon Mr. There is little similarity between , by Leslie Stephen.