תמונות בעמוד

ill-will to us, which it may concern us to think of coolly when we are by ourselves; to examine whether the accufation be just, and what there is in our conduct and temper which may make it appear fo. And by this means our enemy may do us more good than he intended, and be an occasion of discovering something of our hearts to us which we did not know before. A man that hath no enemies ought to have very faithful friends; and one who hath no such friends, ought to think it no calamity that he hath enemies to be his effectual monitors.--"Our friends (fays Mr. “ Addison) very often flatter us as much

as our own hearts. They either do not « see our faults, or conceal them from us;

or soften them by their representations, « after such a manner that we think them « too trivial to be taken notice of. An ad“ versary, on the contrary, makes a strict,

er search into us, disoovers every flaw " and imperfection in our tempers; and " though his malice may set them in too “ strong a light, it has generally fome

ground for what it advances. A friend

exaggerates a man's virtues ;, an enemy “ inflames his crimes. A wise man should so give a just attention to both of them, lo far as it may tend to the improvement of the one, and the diminution of « the other. Plutarch has written an ef~ say on the benefits which a man may & receive from his enemies ; and, among " the good fruits of enmity, mentions o this in particular, that by the reproaches w it casts upon us, we see the worst side « of ourselves, and open our eyes to fe“ veral blemishes and defects in our lives « and conversations, which we should not " have observed without the help of such « ill-natured monitors.


« In order likewise to come at a true, « knowledge of ourselves, we should con« Gider, on the other hand, how far we

may deserve the praises and approba66 tions which the world bestow upon us; “ whether the actions they celebrate pro« ceed from laudable and worthy motives, « and how far we are really poffeffed of « the virtues which gain us applause a« mongst those with whom we converse. « Such a reflection is absolutely neces. 6 fary, if we consider how apt we are ei« ther to value or condemn ourselves by “ the opinions of others, and to sacrifice « the report of our own hearts to the “ judgment of the world *.”

In Spefiat. Vel. vi. No. 399.

In that treatise of Plutarch here referred to, there are a great many

excellent things pertinent to this subject ; and therefore I thought it not improper to throw a few extracts out of it into the margin *


The foolish and inconsiderate spoil the very friendships they are engaged in; but the wise and prudent make good use of the hatred and enmity of men against them.

Why should we not take an enemy for our tutor, who will instruct us gratis in those things we knew not before? For an enemy fees and understands more in matters relating to us than our friends &o: ben. cause love is blind; but fpite, malice, ill-will, wrath, and contempt, talk much, are very inquisitive and quick-sighted.

Our enemy, to gratify his ill- will towards us, ac. quaints himself with the infirmities both of our bodies and minds, sticks to our faults, and makes his invidious remarks upon them, and spreads them abroad by his uncharitable and ill-natured reports. Hence we are taught this ufeful lesson for the direction and management of our conversation in the world, viz. That we be circumspect and wary in every thing we speak or do, as if our enemy always food at our elbow, and overlooked our actions.

These persons whom that wisdom hath brought to live soberly, which the fear and awe of enemies hatli infused, are hy degrees drawn into a habit of living fo, and are composed and fixed in their obedience to virtue by custom and use.

When one asked Diogenes how he might be avenged of his enemies, he replied, “ To be yourself a

good and honest man.' Antisthenes spake incomparably well; “ That, if a man would live a safe and unblameable life, it was

“ necessáry


It is the character of a very diffahut: mind, to be entirely insensible to all that



“ necessary that he should have very ingenuous and “ faithful friends, or very bad enemies; because she “ first by their kind admonitions would keep him “ from finning, the latter by their invectives.'

He that hath no friend to give him advice, or reprove him when he does amiss, must bear patirntly the rebukes of his enemies, and thereby learn to mend the crrors of his ways; considering ser:oufly the object which thele severe censures aim at, and not what he is who makes them: For he who de: figned the death of Promotheus the Theffalian, in. stead of giving him a fatal blow, only opened a swel. ling which he had, which did really lave his life. J it so may the harsh reprehensions of enemies cure some distempers of the mind, which were before either not known or neglected; though their angry speeches do originally proceed froin malice or ill-will

. If any man with opprobrious language objects to you crimes you know nothing of, you ought to in. quire into the causes or reasons of such false accufde tions; whereby you may learn to take heed for the future, left you should unwarily commit those of fences which are unjustly isputed to you.

Whenever any thing is spoken against you that is not true, do not pass it by, or despise it because it is false; but forthwith examine yourself, and consider what you have said or done that may administer a juft occasion of reproof.

Nothing can be a greater instance of wisdom and humanity, than for a man to bear filently and quietly the follies and revilings of an enemy, taking as much care not to provoke him as he would to fail fafely by a dangerous rock. :

It is an eminent piece of humanity, and a manifest token of a nature truly generous, to put up the af


the world says of us; and shows such a confidence of self-knowledge as is usually a sure sign of self-ignorance. The most knowing minds are ever least presumptuous. And true self-knowledge is a science of so much depth and difficulty, that a wise man would not choose to be over-confi. dent that all his notions of himself are sight, in oppofition to the judgment of all mankind; some of whom perhaps have better opportunities and advantages of knowing him (at some seasons especially) than he has of knowing himself; because they never look through the same false medium of self-fattery.


Frequent Converse with Superiors, a Help to

Self-Knowledge. ANOTHER proper means of

“ self-knowledge, is to con6 verse as much as you can with those

IV. 56

us who

fronts of an enemy, at a time when you have a fair opportunity to revenge them.

Let us carefully oblerve those good qualities wherein our enemies excel us; and endeavour to excel them, by avoiding what is faulty, and imitating what is excellent in them. Plut. Mor. Vol. i. pag. 265. et feq.

« הקודםהמשך »