« הקודםהמשך »
experience in a short time points out many comforts, where they were least expected;-in most cases, as soon as we cease to fear, we begin to hope; for there are few situations so completely dark and gloomy, as to exclude every ray of consolitary hope.
True politeness is modest, unpretending and generous. It appears as little as may be; and, when it does, a courtesy would conceal it. It chooses silently to forego its own claims, not officiously to withdraw them. It engages a man to prefer his neighbour to himself, because he really esteems him; because he is tender of his reputation; because he thinks it more manly, more Christian, to descend a little himself, than to degrade another. It respects, in a word, the credit and estimation of his neighbour.-The mimic of this amiable virtue, false politeness, is, on the other hand, ambitious, servile, timorous. It affects popu Parity, is solicitous to please, and to be taken notice of. The man of this character does not offer but obtrude his civilities; because he would merit by his assiduity; because, in despair of winning regard by any worthier qualities, he would be sure to make the most of this; and, lastly, because, of all things, he would dread, by the omission of any punctilious observance, to give offence. In a word, this sort of politeness expects, for its immediate object, the favour and consideration of our neighbour.
True honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the same effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, terminate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue, as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour, as it is graceful and ornamental to human nature. The religious man fears, the man of honour scorns to do an ill action. The latter considers vice as something that is beneath him; the former as something that is offensive to the Divine Being. The one as what is unbecoming, the other as what is forbidden.
Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man of honour, when he declares, that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a nature.
Of all the follies which men are apt to fall into, to the disturbance of others, and lessening of themselves, there is none more intolerable than continual egotisms, and a perpetual inclination to self panegyric. The mention of this weakness is sufficient to expose it, since I think no man was ever possessed of so warm an affection for his own person, as deliberately to assert, that it and its concerns, are proper topics to entertain company. Yet there are many, who, through want of attention, fall into this vein, as soon as the conversation begins to acquire life: they lay hold of every opportunity of introducing themselves, of describing themselves, and if people are so dull as not to take the hint, of commending themselves: nay, what is more surprising than all this, they are amazed at the coldness of their auditors; forgetting, that the same passion inspires almost every body; and that there is scarce a man in the room who has not a better opinion of himself, than of any body else.
No other disposition or turn of mind, so totally unfits a man for all the social offices of life as Indolence. An idle man is a mere blank in the creation; he seems made to no end, and lives to no purpose. He cannot engage himself in any employment, or profession, because he will never have diligence enough to follow it he can succeed in no undertaking, for he will never pursue it; he must be a bad husband, father, and relation, for he will not take the least
pains to preserve his wife, children, and family from starving; and he must be a worthless friend, for he would not draw his hand from his bosom, though to prevent the destruction of the universe. If he is born poor, he will remain so all his life, which he will probably end in a ditch or at the gallows: if he embark in trade, he will be a bankrupt: and if he is a person of fortune, his stewards will acquire immense estates, and he himself perhaps will die in the Fleet.
Of all our passions and affections, Hope is the most universal and the most permanent. It incorporates with every other passion and affection, and always produces beneficial effects. By intermixing with our fears and sorrows, it excites to exertions, and prevents the horrid inactivity of despair. It animates desire; it is encouraged by success, and it is a secret source of pleasure in the transports of joy ; for joy triumphs in success, which hope presages will be permanent. As it administers consolation in distress; as it quickens all our pursuits; as it communicates to the mind the pleasures of anticipation; as, by its mild and yet exhilerating influence, it is the most salutary of all our affectionate sensations, it cannot be of too long a duration: and when sanctioned by probabilities, I had almost said possibilities, it cannot be too much indulged, as long as prudence permits the requisite exertions.
While the vain and the licentious are revelling in the midst of extravagance and riot, how little do they think of those scenes of sore distress which are passing at that moment throughout the world; multitudes struggling for a poor subsistence, to support the wife and the children whom they love, and who look up to them with eager eyes for that bread which they can hardly procure; multitudes groaning under sickness in desolate cottages, unattended and unmourned; many apparently in a better situation of life, pining
away in secret, with concealed griefs; families weeping over the beloved friends whom they have lost, or, in all the bitterness of anguish, bidding those who are just expiring the last adieu.
By disappointments and trials the violence of our passions is tamed, and our minds are formed to sobriety and reflection. In the varieties of life, occasioned by the vicissitudes of wordly fortune, we are inured to habits both of the active and suffering virtues. How much soever we complain of the vanities of the world, facts plainly show, that if its vanity were less, it could not answer the purpose of salutary discipline. Unsatisfactory as it is, its pleasures are still too apt to corrupt our hearts. How fatal then must the consequences have been, had it yielded us more complete enjoyment! If, with all its troubles, we are in danger of being too much attached to it, how entirely would it have seduced our affections, if no troubles had been mingled with its pleasures.
The most common propensity of mankind, is to store futurity with whatever is agreeable to them; especially in those periods of life, when imagination is lively and hope is ardent. Looking forward to the year now beginning, they are ready to promise themselves much, from the foundations of prosperity which they have laid; from the friendships and connexions which they have secured; and from the plans of conduct which they have formed. Alas! how deceitful do all these dreams of happiness often prove! While many are saying in secret to their hearts. "To-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundantly," we are obliged in return to say to them, "Boast not yourselves of to-morrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth !"
The scenes of nature contribute powerfully to inspire that serenity which heightens their beauties, and is necessary to our full enjoyment of them. By a se
cret sympathy, the soul catches the harmony which she contemplates; and the frame within assimilates itself to that without. In this state of sweet composure, we become susceptible of virtuous impressions, from almost every surrounding object. The patient ox is viewed with generous complacency: the guileless sheep with pity; and the playful lamb with emotions of tenderness and love. We rejoice with the horse in his liberty and exemptions from toil, while he ranges at large through enamelled pastures. We are charmed with the songs of birds, soothed with the buz of insects, and pleased with the sportive motions of fishes, because these are expressions of enjoyment; and, having felt a common interest in the gratifications of inferior beings, we shall be no longer indifferent to their sufferings, or become wantonly in. strumental in producing them.
I tell you truly and sincerely, that I will judge of your parts, by your speaking gracefully or ungrace. fully. If you have parts, you will never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a habit of speaking most gracefully; for I aver that it is in your power. You will desire your Tutor, that you may read aloud to him every day; and that he will interrupt and correct you every time you read too fast, do not observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will take care to open your teeth when you speak, to articulate every word distinctly, and to beg of any friend you converse with, to remind you if ever you fall into the rapid and unintelligible mutter. You will even read loud to yourself, and tune your utterance to your own ear; and read at first much slower than you need do, in order to correct that shameful habit of speaking faster than you ought. In short, you will make it your business, your study, and your pleasure, to speak well if you think right. Therefore what I have said is more than sufficient, if you have sense; and ten times more would not be sufficient, if you have not; so here I rest it,