« הקודםהמשך »
excel in one thing to imagine they may excel in every thing; and, not content with that share of merit which every one allows them, are still catching at that which doth not belong to them. Why should a good orator affect to be a poet? Why must a celebrated divine fet up for a politician? or a statesman affect the philosopher ? or a mechanic, the scholar? or a wise man labour to be thought a wit? This is a weakness that flows from selfignorance, and is incident to the greatest
Nature seldom forms an universal genius, but deals out her favours in the prefent state with a parsimonious hand. Many a man by this foible hath weakened a well-established reputation *.
versate dio quid ferre recufant Quid valeant humeri.
Hor. de Art. Poet, • He that takes up a burden that is too heavy for 4: him, is in a fair way to break his back."
Ανθρωπι, πρωτον επισκεψαι, οποιον εσι τα πραγμα" ειδα και την σταυγα φυσιν.καλαμαθε, « δυνασαι βασασαι. Εριθ. Encbir, cap. 36.
“ In every business, confider, first, what it is you
are about; and then, your own ability, whether it • be sufficient to carry you through it.' non omnia possumus omnes.
Virg. Cæcilius, a famous rhetorician of Sicily, who lived in the time of Augustus, and writ a treatise on the
We must be well acquainted with our Ina
bilities, and those Things in which we are naturally deficient, as well as those in which
WE muft, in order to a thorough
self-acquaintance, not only « consider our talents and proper abilities, « but have an eye to our frailties and de
ficiences; that we may know where our « weakness, as well as our firength lies." --Otherwise, like Samfon, we may run ourselves into infinite temptations and troubles.
Every man hath a weak fide. Every wise man knows where it is, and will be sure to keep a double guard there. There is some wisdom in concealing a
Sublime (which is censured by Longinus in the bes ginning of his), was a man of a hasty and enterprising spirit, and very apt to overshoot himself on all occasions; and, particularly, ventured far out of his depth in his Comparison of Demofbenes and Cicero. Whereupon Plutarch makes this fage and candid re. mark: "If (faith he) it was a thing obvious and eas
fy for every man to know himself, possibly that
saying, growts flautor, had not passed for a divina 66 oracle." Plut. Liv. Vol. vü. pag. 347.
weakness. This cannot be done, till it be first known ; nor can it be known with, put a good degree of self-acquaintance.
It is strange to observe what pains some men are at to expose themselves ; to signalize their own folly; and to set out to the most public view those things which they ought to be ashamed to think should ever enter into their character. But so it is ; some men seem to be ashamed of those things which should be their glory, whilst others “ glory in their shame," Phil. iii. 19.
The greatest weakness in a man is to publish his weaknesses, and to appear fond to have them known. But vanity will of ten prompt a man to this, who, unacquainted with the measure of his capacities, attempts things out of his power, and beyond his reach, whereby he makes the world acquainted with two things to his disadvantage, which they were ignorant of before, viz. his deficiency, and his felf-ignorance in appearing so blind to it.
It is ill judged (though very common) to be less ashamed of a want of temper, than understanding. For it is no real difhonour or fault in a man to have but a small ability of mand, provided he hath not the vanity to set up for a genius, (which
would be as ridiculous, as for a man of small strength and stature of body to set up for a champion), because this is what he cannot help. But a man may in a good measure correct the fault of his natural temper, if he be well acquainted with it, and duly watchful over it. And therefore to betray a prevailing weakness of temper, or an ungoverned passion, diminishes a man's reputation much more than to discover a weakness of judgment or understanding.-But what is most difhonourable of all is, for a man at once to discover a great genius and an ungoverned mind; because that strength of reason and understanding he is maiter of, gives him a great advantage for the government of his paffions; and therefore his fuffering himself potwithstanding to be governed by them shows, that he hath too much neglected or misapplied his natural talent, and willingly submited to the tyranny of those lufts and paffions, over which nature had furnished him with abilities to have secured an easy conquest.
A wise man hath his foibles as well as à fool. But the difference between them is, that the foibles of the one are known to himself, and concealed from the world; the foibles of the other are known to the
world, world, and concealed from himself. The wise man fees those frailties in himself, which others cannot; but the fool is blind to those blemishes in his character, which are conspicuous to every body else. Whence it appears that felf-knowledge is that which makes the main difference between a wise man and a fool, in the moral sense of that word.
Concerning the Knowledge of our Conftituen
VI. “SELF-ACQUAINTANCE shows
a man the particular fins he “ is most exposed and addicted to ; and « discovers not only what is ridiculous, but « what is criminal, in his conduct and
The outward actions of a man are generally the plainest index of his inward dispositions; and by the allowed sins of his life you may know the reigning vices of his mind. Is he addicted to luxury and debauch ? fenfuality then appears to be his prevailing taste. Is he given to revenge and cruelty ? choler and malice then reign in his heart. Is he confident, bold,