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lo me, of all other, the most proper to train us up to private and public virtue.
We need but to cast our eyes on the world, and we (hall fee the daily force of example: we need but to turn them inward, and we ihall soon discover why example has this force. Pauti prudentia, fays Tacitus, honefta ab deterioribui, utilia ab noxiis difcernunt; plures aliorum event it docentur. Such is the imperfection of human understanding, such the frail temper of our minds, that abstract or general propositions, though never so true, appear obscure or doubtful to us very often, till they are explained by examples; and that the wisest lessons in savour of virtue go but a little way to convince the judgment and determine the will, unless they are enforced by the fame means, and we are obliged to apply to ourselves, what we fee happen to other men. Instructions by precept have the farther disadvantage of coming on the authority of others, and frequently require a long deduction of reasoning. Homines amplius oculis qaam auribus credunt: hngum iter eft per pracepta, breve et ejficax per exempla. The reason of this judgment, which I quote from one of Seneca's epistles, in confirmation of roy own opinion, rests I think on this. That when examples are pointed out to us, there is a kind of appeal, with which we are flattered, made to our fenses, as well as our understandings. The instruction comes then upon our own authority: we frame the precept after our own experience, and yield to fact when we resist speculation. But this is not the only advantage of instruction by example; for example appeals not to our understanding alone, but to our passions likewise. Example assuages these or animates them; sets passion on the side of judgment, and makes the whole man of a piece, which is more than the strongest reasoning and the clearest demonstration can do; and thus forming habits by repetitions, example secures the observance of those precepts which example insinuated.
§ 69. Human Nature, its Dignity.
In forming our notions of human nature, we are very apt to make a comparison betwixt men and animals, which are the only creatures endowed with thought, that fall under our fenses. Certainly this comparison is very favourable to mankind; on the one hand, we fee a creature, whose thoughts arc not limited by any narrow bounds either of place or time, who carries his researches into the most distant regions of this globe, and beyond this globe, to the planets and heavenly bodies; looks backward to consider the first origin of human race; casts his eyes forward to see the influence of his actions upon posterity, and the judgments which will be formed of his character a thousand years hence: a creature, who traces causes and effects to great lengths and intricacy; extracts general principles from particular appearances; improves upon his discoveries, corrects his mistakes, and makes his very errors profitable. On the other hand, we are presented with a creature the very reverse of this; limited in its observations and reasonings to a few sensible objects which surround it; wichout curiosity, without a foresight, blindly conducted by instinct, and arriving in a very short time at its utmost perfection, beyond which it is never able to advance a single step. What a difference is there betwixt these creatures; and howexal ted a notion must we entertain of the former, in comparison of the latter.
5 70. The Operations of Human Nature considered.
Wo are composed of a mind and of a body, intimately united, and mutually affecting each other. Their ope-v rations indeed are entirely different. Whether the immortal spirit that enlivens this machine is originally of a fuperiornatureinvariousbodies (which, I own, seems most consistent and agreeable to the scale and order of beings), or, whether the difference depends on a symmetry, or peculiar structure of the organs combined with it, is beyqnd
my my reach to determine. It is evidently certain, that the body is curiously formed with proper organs to delight, and such as are adapted to all the necessary uses of life. The spirit animates the whole ; it guides the natural appetites, and confines them within just limits. But, the natural force of this spirit is often immersed in matter; and the mind becomes subservient to passions, which it ought to govern and direct;. Your friend Horace, although pf the Epicurean doctrine, acknowledges this truth, where he fays,
Atque afligit humo divinae particulam aurae.
It is no less evident, that this immortal spirit has an independent power of acting, and, when cultivated in a proper manner, seemingly quits the corporeal frame within which it is imprisoned, and soars into higher, and more spacious regions; where, with an energy which I had almost said was divine, it ranges among those heavenly bodies that in this lower world are scarce visible to our eyes ; and we can at once explain the distance, magnitude, and velocity of the planets, and can foretel, even to a degree of minuteness, the particular time when a comet will return, and when the fun will be eclipsed in the next century. These powers certainly evince the dignity of .human nature, and the surprising effects of the immaterial spirit within us, which in so confined a state can thus disengage itself from the fetters of matter. It is from, this pre-emi, nence of the foul over the body, that we are enabled to view the exact order and curious variety of different beings; to consider and cultivate the natural productions of the earth ; and to ad. mire and imitate the wife benevolence which reigns throughout the sole system of the universe. It is from hence, that we form moral laws for our conduct. From hence we delight in copying that great original, who in his essence is utterly incomprehensible, but in his influence is powerfully apparent to every degree of his creation. From hence too we perceive^ a real beauty in virtue, aj»d a distinction be
tween good and evil. Virtue acts with the utmost generosity, and with no view to her own advantage: while Vice, like a glutton, feeds herself enormously, and then is willing to disgorge the nauseous offals of her feast. Orrery.
§ 71. Occonomy, Want of it no Mark of Genius.
The indigence of authors, and particularly of poets, has long been the object of lamentation and ridicule, of compassion and contempt.
It has been observed, that not one favourite of the Muses has ever been able to build a house since the days of Amphion, whose.art it would be fortunate for them if they possessed ; and that the greatest punishment that can possibly be inflicted on them, is to oblige them to sup in their own lodgings,
MoIUs ubi reddunt ova columba, Where pigeons lay their eggs.
Eoileau introduces Damon, whose writings entertained and instructed the city and the court, as having passed the summer without a shirt, and the winter without a cloak; and resolving at last to forsake Paris,
oti la vertu i?a plus n't feu m lieir9 Where stiiv'ring worth no longer finds a home,
and to find out a retreat in some distant grotto,
D\u jamah ri I'Huj/J!tr, »i le Sergent ti'ap
proebe, Safe, where no critics damn, no duns molest.
The rich comedian, fays Bruyere, "lolling in his gilt chariot, bespatters the face of Corneille walking afoot:" and Juvenal remarks, that his cotemporary bards generally qualified themselves by their diet to make excellent bustos; that they were compelled sometimes to hire lodgings at a baker's, in order to warm themselves for nothing; and that it was the common fate of the fraternity,
Fallen & v'mum toto nefeire Dccembri,
To pine, Look pale, and all December taste no wine. Dkydek.
Virgil himself is strongly suspected to have lain in the streets, or on some Roman bulk, when he speaks so feelingly of a rainy and tempestuous night in his well known epigram.
"There ought to be an hospital founded for decayed wits," said a lively Frenchman, " and it might be called the Hospital of Incurables."
Few, perhaps wander among the laurels of Parnassus, but who have reason ardently to wish and to exclaim with Æneas, tho' without that hero's good fortune,
Si nancse nobit ille auYeui arbore ramust
The patronage of Lælius and Scipio did not enable Terence to rent a house.
vTasso, in a humorous sonnet addressed to his favourite cat, earnestly entreats her to lend him the light of her eyes
1 during his midnight studies, not being himself able to purchase a candle to write by. Dante, the Homer of Italy, andCamoensof Pprtugal, were both banished and imprisoned. Cervantes, perhaps the most original genius the world ever beheld, perished by want in the streets of Madrid, as did our own Spenser at Dublin. And a writer little inferior to the Spaniard in the exquisiteness of his humour and raillery, I mean Erasmus, after tedious wanderings of many years from city to city, and from patron to patron, praised, and promised, and deceived by all, obtained no settlement but with his printer. "At last," fays he in one of his epistles, " I should have been advanced to a cardinalfhip, if there had not been a decree in my way, by which those are excluded from this honour, whose income amounts not to three thousand ducats."
I remember to have read a satire in Latin prose, entitled, " A Poet hath bought a house." The poet having purchased a house, the matter was immemediately laid before the parliament of poets, assembled on that important occasion, as a thing unheard-of, as a very bad precedent, and of most pernicious consequence; and accordingly a very
severe sentence was pronauced against the buyer. When the members came to give their votes, it appeared there was not a single person in the assembly, who, through the favour of powerful patrons, or their own happy genius, was worth so much as to be proprietor of a house, either by inheritance or purchase: all of them neglecting their private fortunes, confessed and boasted, that they lived in lodgings. The poet was, therefore, ordered to fell his house immediately, to buy wine with the money for their entertainment, in order to make some expiation for his enormous crime, and to teach him to live unsettled, and without care, like a true poet. . i
Such are the ridiculous, and such the pitiable stories related, to expose the poverty of poets in different ages an# nations; but which, I am inclined to) think, are rather boundless exaggerations of satire and fancy, than the sober result of experience, and the determination of truth and judgment: for the general position may be contradicted by numerous examples; and it may, perhaps, appear on reflection and examination, that the art is not chargeable with the faults and failings of its particular professors; that it has no peculiar tendency to make men either rakes or spendthrifts; and that those who are indigent poets would have been indigent merchants and mechanics.
The neglect of ceconomy, in which great geniuses are supposed to have indulged themselves, has unfortunately given so much authority and justification to carelessness and extravagance, that many a minute rhymer has fallen into dissipation and drunkenness, because Butler and Otway lived and died in an alehouse. As a certain blockhead wore his gown on one shoulder to mimic the negligence of Sir Thomas More, so these servile imitators follow their masters in all that disgraced them; contract immoderate debts, because Dryden died insolvent; and neglect to change their linen, because Smith was a sloven. "If I should happen to look pale," says Horace, " all the hackney writers in Rome would immediately drink cummin to gain the fame complexion."
The first objects of a stranger's curiosity are the public spectacles. I was carried last night to one they call an Opera, which is a concert of music brought from Italy, and in every respect foreign to this country. It was performed in a chamber as magnificent as the resplendent palace of our emperor, and as full of handsome women as his seraglio. They had no eunuchs among them; but there was one who fung upon the stage, and, by the luxurious tenderness of his airs, seemed fitter to make them' wanton, than keep them chaste.
Instead of the habit proper to such creatures, he wore a suit of armour, and called himself Julius Cæsar.
I asked who Julius Cæsar was, and whether he had been famous for singing? They told me he was a warrior that had conquered all the world, and debauched half the women in Rome.
I was going to express my admiration at seeing him so represented, when I heard two ladies, who fat nigh me, cry out, as it were in an ecstasy, " O that dear creature! 1 am dying for love of him."
At the same time I heard a gentleman say aloud, that both the music and singing were detestable.
"You must not mind him," said my friend, " he is of the other parly, and comes here only as a spy."
"How! said I, have you parties in music?" " Yes," replied he, " it is a rule with us to judge of nothing by our fenses and understanding, but to hear, 'and fee, and think, only as we chance to be differently engaged.
"I hope," said I, " that a stranger may be neutral in these divisions; and, to fay the truth, your music is very far from inflaming me to a spirit of faction; it is much more likely to lay me asleep. Ours in Persia sets us all adancing; but I am quite unmoved with this."
«' Do but fancy it moving," married my friend, " and you will soon bd moved as much as others. It is a trick you may learn when you will,'with a little pains: we have most of us learnt it in our turns." Lord Lyttelton.
§ 73. Patience recommended.
The darts of adverse fortune are always levelled at our heads. Some reach Usj and some fly to wound our nei^h-* bours. Let us therefore impose an equal • temper on our minds, and pay without murmuring the tribute which we owe to humanity. The winter brings cold, and we must freeze. The summer returns with heat, and we must melt. The inclemency of the air disorders our health, and we must be sick. Here we are exposed to wild beasts, and there to men more savage than the beasts: and if we escape the inconveniences and dangers of the air and the earth, there are perils by water and perils by fire. This established course of things it is not in our power to change; but it is in our power to assume such a greatness of mind as becomes wife and virtuous men, as may enable us to encounter the accidents of life with fortitude, and to conform ourselves to the order of Nature, who governs her great kingdom, the world, by continual mutations. Let us submit to this order; let us be persuaded that whatever does happen ought to happen, and never be so foolish as to expostulate with Nature. The best resolution we can take is to suffer what we cannot alter, and to pursue without repining the road which Providence, who directs every thing, has marked to us: for it is enough to follow; and he is but a bad soldier who sighs, and marches with reluctancy. We must receive the orders with spirit and chearfulness, and not endeavour to slink out of the post which is assigned us in this beautiful disposition of things, whereof even sufferings make a necessary part. Let us address ourselves to God who governs all, as Cleanthes did in those admirable verses.
My steps with chearful resignation turn.
Thus let us speak, and thus let us act. Resignation to the will of God is true magnanimity. But the sure mark of a pusillanimous and base spirit, is to struggle against, to censure the order of Providence, and, instead of mendiug our own conduct, to set up for correcting that of our Maker. Bolingbroke.
§ 74. Patience exemplified in the Storj cf an Ass.
I was just receiving the dernier compliments of Monsieur Le Blanc, for a pleasant voyage down the Rhone when I was stopped at the gate.
'Twas by a poor ass, who had just turned in with a couple of large panniers upon his back, to collect eleemostnary turnip-tops and cabbage-leaves; and stood dubious, with his two forefeet on the inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the street, as not knowing very well whether he was to go in or no.
Now, 'tis an animal (be in what hurry
I may) [ cannot bear to strike there
is a patient endurance of sufferings, wrote so unaffectedly in his looks and carriage, which pleads so mightily for him, that it always disarms me; and to that degree, that I do not like to speak unkindly to him: on the contrary, meet him where I will—whether in town or country—in cart or under panniers—whether in liberty or bondage 1 have ever something civil to
say to him on my part; and as one word begets another (if he has as little to do as 1)—I generally fall into conversation with him; and surely never is my imagination so busy as in framing his responses from the etchings of his countenance—and where those carry me not
deep enough in flying from my own
heart into his, and leeing uhat is natural for an ass to think—as well a* a man, upon the occasion. In truth, it is the only creature of all the classes of beings below me, with whom I can do this: for parrots, jackdaws, &c——I never exchange a word wi;h Uitui——.
nor with the apes, &c. for pretty near the fame reason; they act by rote, as the others speak by it, and equally make me silent: nay my dog and my cat, though I value them both (and for my dog, he would speak if he could)—yet, somehow or other, they neither of them possess the talents for conversation—I can make nothing of a discourse with them, beyond the proposition, the reply, and rejoinder, which terminated my father's and my mother's conversations, in his beds of justice— and those uttered—there's an end of the dialogue
But with an ass, I can commune for ever.
Come, Honesty! said I—seeing it was impracticable to pass betwixt him and the gate—art thou for coming in, or going out?
The ass twisted his head round to look up the street
Well—replied I—we'll wait a minute for thy driver.
■ He turned his head thoughtful about, and looked wistfully the opposite way
I understand thee perfectly, answered I—if thou takest a wrong step in this affair, he will cudgel thee to death ■ —Well ! a minute is but a minute, and if it saves a fellow-creature a drubbing, it shall not be set down as ill— spent.
He was eating the stem of an artichoke as this discourse went on, and in, the title peevish contentions of nature betwixt hunger and unsnvouriness, had dropt it out of his mouth half a dozen times, and pick'd it up again — God help thee, Jack 1 said I, thou halt a bitter breakfast on't—«nd many a bit'er day's labour—and many a bitter hlow, I fear, for its wage:—'tis all—all bitterness to thee, whatever life is to others.
And now thy mouth, if one
knew the truth ofit, is as bit'.er, I dare fay, as sojt—(for he had cast alide the stem) and thou hast not a friend perhaps in all this world, that will give thee a macaroon ■ In saying this,
I pulled out a pap r cf them, which I had just purchased, and gave him one —and at this moment that I am telling it, my heart smites me, that there 3 A vva»