« הקודםהמשך »
much more trouble than all the pains you might be at in performing it. And a wise man will always determine himielf by the end, or by such a retrospective view of things, considered as past.
Again, on the other hand, if you find a strong propension to any particular action, examine that with the like impartiality. Perhaps it is what neither your reason nor conscience can fully approve ; and yet every motive to it is strongly urged, and every objection against it slighted. Sense and appetite grow importunate and clamorous, and want to lead, while reason remonstrates in vain. But turn not afide from that faithful and friendly monitor, whilst with a low still voice the addresses you in this foft, but earnest language : « Hear me, I beseech you, but this one " word more.
The action is indeed out “ of character; what I shall never ap
prove. The pleasure of it is a great “ deal over-rated ; you will certainly be “ disappointed. It is a false appearance " that now deceives you. And what will
you think of yourself when it is paft, “ and you come to reflect seriously on " the matter ?• Believe it, you will then 66 wish
had taken me for “ Lellor, instead of those enemies of mine,
“ your lufts and paflions, which have fo “ often misled you, though you know I ç never did.”
Sach short recollections as these, and a little leisure to take a view of the nature and consequences of things or actions before we reject or approve them, will prevent much falfe judgment and bad conduct, and by degrees wear off the prejudices which fancy has fixed in the mind, either for or against any particular action; teach us to diftinguish between things and their appearances; strip them of those false colours that so often deceive us; correct the fallies of the imagination, and leave the reins in the hand of reason.
Before I dismiss this head, I must observe that some of our strongest prejudices arise from an exceflive fuf-esteem, or a too great value of our own good senfe and understanding. Philautus in every thing shows himself
well satisfied with his own wisdom, which makes him very impatient of contradiction, and gives him a distafte to all who shall presume to oppofe their judgment to his in any thing. He had rather persevere in a mistake than retract it, left his judgment thould suffer, not considering that his ingenuity and good sense suffer much more by such ob
stinacy. The fulness of his felf-sufficiency makes him blind to chose imperfections which
every one can see in him but him. felf. So that however wise, sincere, and friendly, however gentle and seasonable your remonftrance may be, he takes it immediately to proceed from ill-nature or ignorance in you, but from no fault in him.
Seneca, I remember, tells us a remarkable story, which very well illustrates this matter. Writing to his friend Lucilius, “ My wife (says he) keeps Harpastes in
her house ftill, who, you know, is a “ fort of family-fool, and an encumbrance upon us.
For my part, I am far from ” taking any pleasure in such prodigies. “ If I have a mind to divert myself with a sool, I have not far to
one; I can laugh at myself. This ally girl, all “ on a sudden, lost her eyc-fight; and “ (which perhaps may seein incredible, “ but it is very truc) she does not know « she is blind, but is every now and then
defiring her governess to lead her a“ broad, saying the house is dark. Now, « what we laugh at in this poor creature, “ we may observe, happens to us all. No “ man knows that he is covetous or infa« tiable. Yet with this difference, the “ blind ieek somebody to lead them, but
we are content to wander without a “ guide. But why do we thus deceive « ourselves? The disease is not without
but fixed deep within. And there“ fore is the cure so difficult, because we
do not know that we are fick *."
The Necesity and Means of knowing our
" branch of self-knowledge is, " the knowledge of those governing pas“ fions or dispositions of the mind, which “ generally form, what we call, a man's « natural temper."
The difference of natural tempers seems to be chiefly owing to the different degrees of influence the several passions have upon the mind. e. g. If the passions are eager and soon raised, we say the man is of a warm temper; if more sluggish and slowly raised, he is of a cool temper; according as anger, malice, or ambition prerail, he is of a fierce, churlifb, or baughty per; the influence of the fofter paf
fions "1. Epift. 51.
fions of love, pity, and benevolence, forms a sweet, sympathizing, and courteous temper; and where all the passions are duly poised, and the milder and pleasing ones prevail, they make what is commonly called a quite good-natured man.
So that it is the prevalence or predominance of any particular passion, which gives the turn or tincture to a man's temper, by which he is distinguished, and for which he is loved and esteemed, or shunned and despised by others.
Now, what this is, those we converse with are foon sensible of. They prefently see through us, and know the fault of our temper, and order their behaviour to us accordingly. If they are wise and wellmannered, they will avoid touching the string which they know will jar and raise a difcord within us. If they are our enemies, they will do it on purpose to set us on tormenting ourselves. And our friends we must suffer sometimes with a gentle hand to touch it, either by way of pleafant raillery or faithful advice.
But a man must be greatly unacquainted with himself, if he is ignorant of his predominant passion, or distinguishing temper, when every one else observes it. And yet how common is this piece of