[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

This angelick counsel every man of letters should always have before him. He that devotes himself to retired study naturally sinks from omission to forgetfulness of social duties; he must be therefore Sometimes awakened and recalled to the general condition of mankind. I am far from any intention to limit curiosity, or confine the labours of learning to arts of immediate and necessary use. It is only from the various essays of experimental industry, and the vague exCursions of minds sent out upon discovery, that any advancement of knowledge can be expected; and, though many must be disappointed in their labours, yet they are not to be charged with having spent their time in vain; their example contributed to inspire emulation, and their miscarriages taught Others the way to success. But the distant hope of being one day useful or eminent, ought not to mislead us too far from that study which is equally requisite to the great and mean, to the celebrated and obscure; the art of moderating the desires, of repressing the appetites, and of conciliating or retaining the favour of mankind. No man can imagine the course of his own life, or the conduct of the world around him, unworthy his attention; yet, among the sons of learning, many seem to have thought of every thing rather than of themselves, and to have observed every thing but what passes before their eyes: many who toil through the intricacy of complicated systems,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

are insuperably embarrassed with the least perplex-
ity in common affairs; many who compare the
actions, and ascertain the characters of ancient he-
roes, let their own days glide away without exami-
nation, and suffer vicious habits to encroach upon
their minds without resistance or detection,
The most frequent reproach of the scholastick race
is the want of fortitude, not martial but philosoph-
ick. Men bred in shades and silence, taught to im-
mure themselves at sunset, and accustomed to no
other weapon than syllogism, may be allowed to
feel terrour at personal danger, and to be discon-
certed by tumult and alarm. But why should he
whose life is spent in contemplation, and whose
business is only to discover truth, be unable to
rectify the fallacies of imagination, or contend suc-
cessfully against prejudice and passion ? To what
end has he read and meditated, if he gives up his
understanding to false appearances, and suffers
himself to be enslaved by fear of evils to which
only folly or vanity can expose him, or elated
by advantages to which, as they are equally con-
ferred upon the good and the bad, no real dignity
is annexed.
Such, however, is the state of the world, that the
most obsequious of the slaves of pride, the most
rapturous of the gazers upon wealth, the most offi-
cious of the whisperers of greatness, are collected
from seminaries appropriated to the study of wis-
dom and of virtue, where it was intended that ap-
petite should learn to be content with little, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that hope should aspire only to honours which no
human power can give or take away”.
The student, when he comes forth into the world,
instead of congratulating himself upon his exemp-
tion from the errours of those whose opinions have
been formed by accident or custom, and who live
without any certain principles of conduct, is com-
monly in haste to mingle with the multitude, and
shew his sprightliness and ductility by an expedi-
tious compliance with fashions or vices. The first
Smile of a man, whose fortune gives him power to
reward his dependants, commonly enchants him
beyond resistance; the glare of equipage, the sweets
of luxury, the liberality of general promises, the
Softness of habitual affability, fill his imagination;
and he soon ceases to have any other wish than to
bewell received, or any measure of right and wrong
but the opinion of his patron.
A man flattered and obeyed, learns to exact
grosser adulation, and enjoin lower submission.
Neither our virtues nor vices are all our own. If
there were no cowardice, there would be little in-
Solence; pride cannot rise to any great degree, but
by the concurrence of blandishment or the suffer-
ance of tameness. The wretch who would shrink
and crouch before one that should dart his eyes
upon him with the spirit of natural equality, be-
comescapricious and tyrannical when he sees himself

* “Such are a sort of sacrilegious ministers in the temple of intellect. They profane its shew-bread to pamper the palate, its everlasting lamp they use to light unholy fires within their breast, and show them the way to the sensual chambers of sense and worldliness.” IRVING.

approached with a downcast look, and hears the soft address of awe and servility. To those who are willing to purchase favour by cringes and compliance, is to be imputed the haughtiness that leaves nothing to be hoped by firmness and integrity. If, instead of wandering after the meteors of philosophy, which fill the world with splendour for a while, and then sink and are forgotten, the candidates of learning fixed their eyes upon the permament lustre of moral and religious truth, they would find a more certain direction to happiness. A little plausibility of discourse, and acquaintance with unnecessary speculations, is dearly purchased, when it excludes those instructions which fortify the heart with resolution, and exalt the spirit to independence.

No. 181. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1751

—New fluitem dubiao spe pendulus horae. -
HoR. Lib. i. Ep. xviii. 110.

Nor let me float in fortune's pow'r,
Dependent on the future hour. FRANCIS.


S I have passed much of my life in disquiet and

suspense, and lost many opportunities of advantage by a passion which I have reason to believe prevalent in different degrees over a great part of mankind, I cannot but think myself well qualified to warn those who are yet uncaptivated, of the danger which they incur by placing themselves within its influence.

« 前へ次へ »