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A well-known writer once acknowledged his having said what he did from 'a wish to be orthodox.' Now, such a wish—merely as a wish—is quite natural and allowable; for almost every one would prefer being on the side of the majority; and this will of course be, by the majority, accounted orthodoxy. But he evidently meant that he was practically influenced by the wish,— that he acted with a view to the reputation for orthodoxy, and did not merely welcome it if it came spontaneously while he was aiming simply at truth. And accordingly he had his reward, in becoming a great party-leader; and he abandoned truth.
'No man can serve two masters;' not because they are necessarily at variance, but because they are two, and do not necessarily draw the same way. Even worldly profit (Mammon) will often be secured by the same conduct as would be dictated by a regard for divine favour; for 'honesty is in general the best policy.' But sometimes the two will pull different ways, and then it is that it will appear which master a man is serving. The desire of Truth must reign supreme, and everything else be welcomed only if coming in her train.
Deference for the (supposed) wise and good, and love of approbation, are two very distinct things, though in practice very difficult to be distinguished. The former may be felt towards those whom we never can meet with,—who perhaps were dead, ages before we were born, and survive only in their writings. It may be misplaced, or excessive; but it is quite different from the desire of their applause or sympathy, or dread of their displeasure or contempt. A man's desire to find himself in agreement with Aristotle, or Bacon, or Locke, or Paley, &c., whether reasonable, or unreasonable, can have nothing to do with their approbation of him. But when we are glad to concur with some living friends, whom we think highly of, and dread to differ from, then it is very difficult to decide how far this feeling is ike presumption formed by our judgment in favour of the correctness of their views, and how far it is the desire of their approbation and sympathy, and dread of the reverse. It is the desire of personal approbation,—the excessive care concerning what is thought of ourselves,—that we are bound so severely to check.
There is a distinction (alluded to above) between the love of admiration and the love of commendation, that is worth remarking. The tendency of the love of commendation is, chiefly, to make a man exert himself; of the love of admiration, to make him puff himself. The love of admiration leads to fraud, much more than the love of commendation; but, on the other hand, the latter is much more likely to spoil our good actions by the substitution of an inferior motive. And if we would guard against this, we must set ourselves resolutely to act as if we cared neither for praise nor censure,—for neither the bitter nor the sweet; and in time a man gets hardened And this will always be the case, more or less, through God's help, if we will but persevere, and persevere from a right motive. One gets hardened, as the Canadians do to walking in snow shoes [raquets]; at first a man is almost crippled with the 'mal au raquet'— the pain and swelling of the feet; but the prescription is, to go on walking in them, as if you felt nothing at all; and in a few days you do feel nothing.
Much eloquence and ingenuity is often exerted in descanting on the propriety of not being wholly indifferent to the opinions formed of us—the impossibility of eradicating the regard for approbation—and the folly of attempting it, or pretending to it, &c. Now, this is very true. The propensity to desire to gain approval and escape censure, we are not called upon to extirpate (that being, I conceive, impossible); but our care and pains are better bestowed in keeping under the feeling than in eradicating it. It must be treated like the grass on a lawn which you wish to keep in good order: you neither attempt, nor wish, to destroy the grass; but you mow it down from time to time, as close as you possibly can, well trusting that there will be quite enough left, and that it will be sure to grow again.
One difficulty in acting upon this principle is, that it is often even a duty to seek the good opinion of others, not as an ultimate object for its own sake, but for the sake of influencing them for their own benefit and that of others. 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.' But we are to watch and analyse the motives even of actions which .we are sure are in themselves right. 'Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of tbem.' And this is a kind of vigilance which human nature is always struggling to escape. One class of men are satisfied so long as they do what is justifiable ;—what may be done from a good motive, and, when so done, would be right, and which therefore may be satisfactorily defended. Another class—the ascetic—are for cutting off everything that may be a snare. They have heard of' the deceitfulness of riches,' and so they vow poverty; which is less trouble than watching their motives in gainiug, and in spending, money. And so on with the rest. But if we would cut off all temptations, we must cut off our heads at once.
The praise of men is not the test of our praiseworthiness; nor is their censure; but either should set us upon testing ourselves.
It is to be observed that, in some cases, censure is equivalent to high praise. If, for instance, those who wish to perpetuate some abuse, fiercely assail one who advocates needful reform, or if revolutionists of any description decry some defender of law and order, this affords a presumption that he is a formidable champion. And the more pains they take to assure us that his arguments deserve nothing but contempt, the more they prove that they themselves do not feel any. Again, if any defender of the truth of Christianity, who refuses to join any Party in the Church, is thereupon denounced as unsound by zealous party-men, this adds to the force of his arguments by indicating that the belief he professes is sincere, and not assumed for the sake of popularity. And if, again, some violent and injudicious advocates of a good cause are doing it harm instead of good, so that it is needful for a wise and moderate man to repudiate all connexion with them, no disclaimer on his part will have so much weight, as their vehemently reviling him.
ESSAY LIV. OF TAIN GLORY.
IT was prettily devised of iEsop, the fly sat upon the axle-tree of the chariot wheel, and said, 'What a dust do 1 raise !* So are there some vain persons, that, whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it. They that are glorious' must needs be factious; for all bravery2 stands upon comparisons. They must needs be violent, to make good their own vaunts; neither can they be secret; and therefore not effectual; but, according to the French proverb,'beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit'—much bruit,3 little fruit. Yet, certainly, there is use of this quality in civil affairs: where there is an opinion and fame to be created, either of virtue or greatness, these men are good trumpeters. Again, as Titus Livius * noteth, in the case of Antiochus and the iEtolians, there are sometimes great effects of* cross lies, as if a man that negotiates between two princes, to draw them to join in a war against a third, doth extol the forces of either of them above measure, the one to the other: and sometimes he that deals between man and man raiseth his own credit with both, by pretending greater interest that he hath in either; and in these, and the like kinds* it often falls out, that somewhat is produced of nothing; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance.
In military commanders and soldiers, vain glory is an essential point; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory' one courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great enterprise upon7 charge and adventure,1 a composition of glorious natures doth put life into business; and those that are of solid and sober natures, have more of the ballast than of the sail. In fame of learning, the flight will be slow without some feathers of ostentation: 'Qui de contemnenda gloria libros scribunt, nomen snum inscribunt.'2 Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation: certainly vain glory helpeth to perpetuate a man's memory; and virtue was never so beholden3 to human nature, as4 it received its due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well if it had not been joined with some vanity in themselves, like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only shine, but last.
1 Glorious. Boastful. See page 493.
2 Bravery. Ostentation. Seo page 412.
3 Bruit. Noise; report. (This proverb has its parallel in the English one, 'Great cry and little wool.') 'All that hear the bruit of thee.'—Nakum iii. 19.
* Vid. Liv. xxxvii. 48. * Of. From. See page 289.
8 Glory. Vaunting; boaetfulness. 'I will punish the glory of his high looks.' —Isaiak x.
'On death-bods somo in conscious glory lie. Since of the doctor in the mode they die.'—Young. 7 Upon. At. See page 393.
But all this while, when I speak of vain glory, I mean not of that property that Tacitus doth attribute to Mucianus, ' Omnium, quae dixerat feceratque, arte quadam ostentator ;'s for that proceeds not of vanity, but of natural magnanimity and discretion; and in some persons it is not only comely but gracious :• for excusations,7 cessions,8 modesty itself, well governed, are but arts of ostentation; and amongst those arte there is none better than that which Plinius Secundus speaketh of, which is, to be liberal of praise and commendation to others, in that wherein a man's self hath any perfection; for, saith Pliny, very wittingly, 'In commending another, you do yourself right? for he that you commend is either superior to you in that10 you commend, or inferior; if he be inferior, if he be to be commended, you much more; if he be superior, if he be not to be commended, you much less.
- • Charge and adventure. Cod and risk. 'That I may make the gospel of Christ without charge.'—1 Cor. ix. 18. 'One castle yielded; but two stood on their adventure.'—Hayward.
1 'Those who write books on despising glory inscribe their names therein.'— Cicero, Tusc. Disp. i. 15.
3 Beholden. Indebted.
'We are not much beholden to your love.'—Shakespere.
4 As. That. See page 26.
* 'By a certain art he made a display of all he had said or done.'—Bid. xi. 80.
* Gracious, Graceful. See page 459.
'He made his exalsation.
8 Cessions. Concessions.
9 Plin. Epid. vi. 17.
* That . What. See pago 8j.