« AnteriorContinua »
ambition, together with all those vast projects, which during a half a century, had alarmed and agitated Europe, filling every kingdom in it, by turns, with the terror of his arms, and the dread of being subjected to his power.
VI.—Importance of Virtue.—Prise.
VIRTUE is of intrinsic value, and good desert, and of indispensable obligation ; not the creature of will, but necessary and immutable ; not local or temporary, but of equal extent and antiquity with the Divine mind ; not a mode of sensation, but everlasting truth ; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honor and esteem, and the source of all beauty, order and happiness, in nature. It is what confers value on all the other endowments and qualities of a reasonable being, to which they ought to be absolutely subservient ;. and without which, the more eminent they are, the more hideous deformities, and the greater curses they become.
The use of it is not confined to any one stage of our existence, or to any particular situation we can be in, but reaches through all the periods and circumstances of our beings. Many of the endowments and talents we now possess, and of which we are too apt to be proud, will cease entirely with the present state ; but this will be our ornament and dignity, in every future state, to which we may be removed. Beauty and wit will die, learning will vanish away, and all the arts of life be soon forgot; but virtue will remain forever. This unites us to the whole rational creation ; and fits us for conversing with any order of superior natures, and for a place. in any part of God's works. It procures us the approbation and love of all wise and good beings, and renders them our allies and friends. But what is of unspeakably greater consequence, is, that it makes God friend, assimilates and unites our minds to his, and engages his Almighty power in our defence. Superior beings of all ranks are bound by it, no less than ourselves. It has the same authority in all worlds that it has in this. The further any being is advanced in excellence :
and perfection, the greater is his attachment to it, and the more he is under its influence. To say no more, it is the law of the whole universe, it stands first in the estimation of the Deity; its original is his nature, and it is the very object that makes him lovely.
Such is the importance of virtue.—Of what consequence, therefore, is it that we practise it? There is no argument or motive, in any respect fitted to influence a reasonable mind, which does not call us to this. One virtuous disposition of soul, is preferable to the greatest natural accomplishments and abilities, and of more value than all the treasures of the world. If you are wise, then study virtue, and contemn every thing that can come in competition with it. Remember that nothing else deserves one anxious thought or wish. Remember that this alone is honor, glory, wealth and happiness. Secure this and you secure every thing. Lose this, and all is lost.
VII.—Addreaa to Art.—Harris. 0 ART ! Thou distinguishing attribute and honor of human kind ! Who art not only able to imitate nature in her graces, but even to adorn her with graces of thine owi : Possessed of thee, the meanest genius grows deserving, and has a just demand for a portion of our esteem ; devoid of thee, the brightest of our kind lie lost and useless, and are but poorly distinguished from the most despicable and base. When we inhabited forests, in common with brutes, not otherwise known from them than by the figure of our species, thou taughtest us to assert the sovereignty of our nature, and to assume that empire for which Providence intended us. Thousands of utilities owe their birth to thee; thousands of elegancies, pleasures and joys, without which life itself would be but an insipid possession.
Wide and extensive is the reach of thy dominion. No element is there, either so violent or so subtle, so yielding or so sluggish, as by the powers of its nature to be superior to thy direction. Thou dreadest not the fierce impetuosity of fire, but compellest its violence to be both obedient and useful. By it thou softenest the stubborn
tribe of minerals, so as to be formed and moulded into shapes innumerable. Hence weapons, armor, coin ; and, previous to these and thy other works and energies, hence all those various tools and instruments, which empower thee to proceed to farther ends more excellent. Nor is the subtile air less obedient to thy power, whether thou wiliest it to be a minister to our pleasure or utility. At thy command, it giveth birth to sounds, which charm the soul with all the powers of harmony. Under thy instruc-. tion it moves the ship over seas; while that yielding element, where otherwise we sink, even water itself, is by thee taught to bear us ; the vast ocean, to promote that intercourse of nations, which ignorance would imagine it was destined to intercept. To say how thy influence ra seen on earth, would be to teach the meanest what he knows already. Suffice it but to mention, fields of arable and pasture ; lawns, and groves, and gardens, and plantations ; cottages, villages, castles, towns ; palaces, temples and spacious cities.
Nor does thy empire end in subjects thus inanimate. Its power also extends through the various race of animals who either patiently submit to become thy slaves, or are sure to find thee an irresistible foe. The faithful dog, the patient ox, the generous horse, and the nrghty elephant, are content all to receive their instructions from thee, and readily to lend their natural instincts or strength, to perform those offices which thy occasions call for. If there be found any species which are serviceable when dead, thou suggestest the means to investigate and take them ; if any be so savage as to refuse being tamed, or of natures fierce enough to venture an attack, thou teachest us to scorn their brutal rage ; to meet, repel, pursue and conquer.
Such, O Art, is thy amazing influence, when thou art employed only on these inferior subjects, on natures inanimate, or at best irrational. But whenever thou choosest a subject more noble, and settest to the cultivation of mind itself, then it is thou becomest truly amiable and divine—the overflowing source of those sublimer beauties, of which no subject but mind alone is capable.
Then it is thou art enabled to exhibit to mankind the admired tribes of poets and orators ; the sacred train of patriots and heroes; the godlike list of philosophers and legislators ; the forms of virtuous and equal politics; where private welfare is made the same with public where crowds themselves prove disinterested, and virtue is made a national and popular characteristic.
Hail, sacred source of all these wonders ! Thyself, instruct me to praise thee worthily; through whom, whatever we do, is done with elegance and beauty ; without whom, what we do is ever graceless and deformed.-Venerable power ! By what name shall I address thee ? Shall I call thee ornament of the mind, or art thou more truly Mind itself ? It is Mind thou art, most perfect : Mind : Not rude, untaught ; but fair and polished. In such thou dwcllest ;—of such thou art the form ; nor is it a thing more possible to separate thee from such, than it would be to separate thee from thy own existence.
VIII.—Flattery.—Theophrastus. FLATTERY is a manner of conversation very shameful in itself, but beneficial to the flatterer.
If a flatterer is upon a public walk with you,“ Do but mind," says he," how every one's eye is upon you. Sure, there is not a man in Athens that is taken so much notice of. You had justice done you yesterday, in the porti
There were above thirty of us together ; and, the question being started, who was the most considerable person in the commonwealth--the whole company was of the same side. In short, Sir, every one made familiar with your name." He follows this whisper with a thousand other flatteries of the same nature.
Whenever the person to whom he would make his court, Logins to speak, the sycophant begs the company to be silent, most impudently praises him to his face, is in raptures all the while he talks, and as soon as he has done, cries out, “ That is perfectly right I" When his patron aims at being witty upon any man, he is ready to burst at the smartness of his railery, and stops his mouth with his handkerchief, that he may not laugh out. If he calls his children about him, the flatterer has a pocket
full of apples for them, which he distributes among them with a great deal of fondness ; wonders to see so many fine boys ; and turning about to the father, tells him they are all as like him as they can stare.
When he is invited to a feast, he is the first man that calls for a glass of wine, and is wonderfully pleased with the deliciousness of the flavor ; gets as near as possible to the man of the house, and tells him, with much concern, that he eats nothing himself. He singles out some particular dish and recommends it to the rest of the company for a rarity. He desires the master of the feast to sit in a warmer part of the room, begs him to take more care of his health, and advises him to put on a supernumerary garment in this cold weather. He is in a close whisper with him during the whole entertainment, and has neither eyes nor ears for any one else in the company.
If a man shows him his house, he extols the architect, admires the gardens, and expatiates upon the furniture. If the owner is grossly fattered in a picture, he outflatters the painter ; and though he discovers a great likeness in it, can by no means allow that it does justice to the original. In short, his whole business is to ingratiate himself with those who hear him, and to wheedle them out of their senses.
IX —The absent Man.—Spectator. MENACLES comes down in the morning ; opens his door to go out ; but shuts it again, because he perceives he has his nightcap on ; and examining himself further, finds that he is but half shaved, that he has stuck his sword on his right side, that his stockings are about his heels, and that his shirt is over his breeches.
When he is dressed, he goes to court ; comes into the drawing room; and, walking upright under a branch of
; candlesticks, his wig is caught up by one of them, and hangs dangling in the air. All the courtiers fall a laughing ; but Menacles laughs louder than any of them, and looks about for the person that is the jest of the company. Coming down to the court gate, he finds a coach ; which taking for his own, he whips into it;