English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
Everyone knows the veneration which was paid by the Jews to a name so great, wonderful, and holy. They would not let it enter even into their religious discourses. What can we then think of those who make use of so tremendous a name in the ordinary expressions of their anger, mirth, and most impertinent passions? Of those who admit it into the most familiar questions and assertions, ludicrous phrases, and works of humor? Not to mention those who violate it by solemn perjuries! It would be an affront to reason to endeavor to set forth the horror and profaneness of such a practice. The very mention of it exposes it sufficiently to those in whom the light of nature, not to say religion, is not utterly extinguished.
For my own part, I think a man makes an odious and despicable figure, that is violent in a party; but a woman is too sincere to mitigate the fury of her principles with temper and discretion, and to act with that caution and reservedness which are requisite in our sex. When this unnatural zeal gets into them, it throws them into ten thousand heats and extravagances; their generous souls set no bounds to their love or their hatred; and whether a whig or a tory, a lap-dog or a gallant, an opera or a puppet-show, be the object of it, the passion, while it reigns, engrosses the whole woman.
Good-breeding shows itself most where to an ordinary eye it appears the least.
A face which is over-flushed appears to advantage in the deepest scarlet; and the darkest complexion is not a little alleviated by a black hood.
A man improves more by reading the story of a person eminent for prudence and virtue, than by the finest rules and precepts of morality.
A money-lender--he serves you in the present tense; he lends you in the conditional mood; keeps you in the conjunctive; and ruins you in the future.
A state of temperance, sobriety and justice without devotion is a cold, lifeless, insipid condition of virtue, and is rather to be styled philosophy than religion.
Accordingly, we find that those parts of the world are most healthy, where they subsist by the chase; and that men lived longest when their lives were employed in hunting, and when they had little food besides what they caught. Blistering, cupping, bleeding, are seldom of use but to the idle and intemperate; as all those inward applications which are so much in practice among us, are for the most part nothing else but expedients to make luxury consistent with health.
Ambition raises a tumult in the soul, and puts it into a violent hurry of thought.
An honest private man often grows cruel and abandoned when converted into an absolute prince. Give a man power of doing what he pleases with impunity, you extinguish his fear, and consequently overturn in him one of the great pillars of morality. This too we find confirmed by matter of fact. How many hopeful heirs-apparent to grand empires, when in the possession of them have become such monsters of lust and cruelty as are a reproach to human nature!
Antidotes are what you take to prevent dotes.
As fables took their birth in the very infancy of learning, they never flourished more than when learning was at its greatest height. To justify this assertion, I shall put my reader in mind of Horace, the greatest wit and critic in the Augustan age, and of Boileau, the most correct poet among the moderns; not to mention La Fontaine, who by this way of writing is come more into vogue than any other author of our times.
At the same time that I think discretion the most useful talent a man can be master of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them: cunning has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing which may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views, and, like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon: cunning is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it: cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done had he passed only for a plain man. Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interest and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings, cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them.
Blesses his stars and thinks it luxury.
But there is nothing that makes its way more directly to the Soul than Beauty, which immediately diffuses a secret satisfaction and complacency through the imagination, and gives a finishing to anything that is Great or Uncommon.
Calumnies often refuted are the postulatums of scribblers, upon which they proceed as upon first principles.
Consecrate the place and day to music and Cecilia. Let no rough winds approach, nor dare invade the hallow'd bounds, nor rudely shake the tuneful air, nor spoil the fleeting sounds. nor mournful sigh nor groan be heard, but gladness dwell on every tongue; whilst all, with voice and strings prepar'd, keep up the loud harmonious song, and imitate the blest above, in joy, and harmony, and love.
Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning is a kind of instinct that only looks out after our immediate interests and welfare?. In short, cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, in the same manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.
Everyone ought to fence against the temper of his climate or constitution, and frequently to indulge in himself those considerations which may give him a serenity of mind, and enable him to bear up cheerfully against those little evils and misfortunes which are common to human nature, and which, by a right improvement of them, will produce a satiety of joy, and an uninterrupted happiness.
For this reason I think there is nothing in the world so tiresome as the works of those critics who write in a positive dogmatic way, without either language, genius, or imagination. If the reader would see how the best of the Latin critics wrote, he may find their manner very beautifully described in the characters of Horace, Petronius, Quintilian, and Longinus, as they are drawn in the essay of which I am now speaking.
Good-nature is generally born with us; health, prosperity, and kind treatment from the world are great cherishers of it where they find it; but nothing is capable of forcing it up where it does not grow of itself. It is one of the blessings of a happy constitution, which education may improve, but not produce.