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long contest involves so many circumstances, that
or how much we increase the mischief to ourselves by Voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design the effects of accident; we may think the blow violent only because we have made ourselves delicate and tender; we are on every side in danger of errour and of guilt; which we are certain to avoid only by speedy forgiveness.
From this pacifick and harmless temper, thus propitious to others and ourselves, to domestick tranquillity and to social happiness, no man is withheld but by pride, by the fear of being insulted , by his adversary, or despised by the world.
| It may be laid down as an unfailing and universal |
axiom, that “all pride is abject and mean.” It is always an ignorant, lazy, or cowardly acquiescence in a false appearance of excellence, and proceeds | not from consciousness of our attainments, but in- ! Sensibility of our wants.
Nothing can be great which is not right. Nothing which reason condemns can be suitable to the dignity of the human mind. To be driven by external motives from the path which our own heart approves, to give way to any thing but conviction, to Suffer the opinion of others to rule our choice, or overpower our resolves, is to submit tamely to the lowest and most ignominious slavery, and to resign the right of directing our own lives.
The utmost excellence at which humanity can arrive, is a constant and determinate pursuit of Virtue, without regard to present dangers or adVantage; a continual reference of every action to
the divine will; an habitual appeal to everlasting justice; and an unvaried elevation of the intellectual eye to the reward which perseverance only can obtain. But that pride which many, who presume to boast of generous sentiments, allow to regulate their measures, has nothing nobler in view than the approbation of men, of beings whose superiority we are under no obligation to acknowledge, and who, when we have courted them with the utmost assiduity, can confer no valuable or permanent reward; of beings who ignorantly judge of what they do not understand, or partially determine what they never have examined; and whose sentence is therefore of no weight till it has received the ratification of our own conscience. He that can descend to bribe suffrages like these, at the price of his innocence: he that can suffer the delight of such acclamations to withhold his attention from the commands of the universal Sovereign, has little reason to congratulate himself upon the greatness of his mind; whenever he awakes to seriousness and reflection, he must become despicable in his own eyes, and shrink with shame from the remembrance of his cowardice and folly. Of him that hopes to be forgiven, it is indispensably required that he forgive. It is therefore superfluous to urge any other motive. On this great duty eternity is suspended, and to him that refuses to practise it, the Throne of mercy is inaccessible, and the Saviour of the world has been born in vain.
No. 186. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1751
Poné me, pigris ubi nulla campis
Arbor asstiva recreatur aurá—
Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
Place me where never summer breeze
The nymph, who sweetly speaks and sweetly smiles.
F the happiness and misery of our present state, part arises from our sensations, and part from Our opinions; part is distributed by nature, and part is in a great measure apportioned by ourselves. Positive pleasure we cannot always obtain, and positive pain we often cannot remove. No man can give to his own plantations the fragrance of the Indian groves; nor will any precepts of philosophy enable him to withdraw his attention from wounds or diseases. But the negative infelicity which proceeds, not from the pressure of sufferings, but the absence of enjoyments, will always yield to the remedies of reason. One of the great arts of escaping superfluous uneasiness, is to free our minds from the habit of comparing our condition with that of others on whom the blessings of life are more bountifully bestowed, Or with imaginary states of delight and security, perhaps unattainable by mortals. Few are placed in a situation so gloomy and distressful, as not to see every day beings yet more forlorn and miserable, from whom they may learn to rejoice in their ownlot. No inconvenience is less superable by art or diligence than the inclemency of climates, and therefore none affords more proper exercise for this philosophical abstraction. A native of England, pinched with the frosts of December, may lessen his affection for his own country by suffering his imagination to wander in the vales of Asia, and sport among the woods that are always green, and streams that always murmur; but if he turns his thought towards the polar regions, and considers the nations to whom a great portion of the year is darkness, and who are condemned to pass weeks and months amidst mountains of snow, he will soon recover his tranquillity, and, while he stirs his fire, or throws his cloak about him, reflect how much he owes to Providence, that he is not placed in Greenland or Siberia. The barrenness of the earth and the severity of the skies in these dreary countries, are such as might be expected to confine the mind wholly to the contemplation of necessity and distress, so that the § care of escaping death from cold and hunger, should leave no room for those passions which, in lands of t plenty, influence conduct, or diversify characters; o t y
the summer should be spent only in providing for
the winter, and the winter in longing for the summer.
Yet learned curiosity is known to have found its
way into these abodes of poverty and gloom: Lap
land and Iceland have their historians, their criticks,
and their poets; and love, that extends his dominion