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discount, and vice versâ : so that they damaged unfairly the reputation of one to whom they wished well.
It may be thought superfluous to warn any one against an excess of self-distrust. But in truth, there is the more danger of this, from the very circumstance that men are not usually warned against it, and fancy themselves quite safe from it. We should remember,—besides all other distrust,--to distrust our own self-distrust.
ESSAY V. OF ADVERSITY.
TT was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the 1 Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired—'Bona rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia." Certainly, it miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen), 'It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God'—“Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei." This would have done better in poesy,' where transcendencies are more allowed; and the poets, indeed have been busy with it—for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian, ‘that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthen pot or pitcher, lively describing christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh through the waves of the world. But to speak in a mean," the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's
- Sen. Ad Lricil. 66.
? Sen, Ad Lucil. 53. * Poesy. Poetry,
Musick and Poesy
To quicken you.'—Shakespere. * Transcendencies. Flights ; soarings. • Mystery. A secret meaning ; an emblem.
Important truths still let your fables hold,
"Temperance, with golden square,
favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed,» or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
Some kinds of adversity are chiefly of the character of TRIALS and others of DISCIPLINE. But Bacon does not advert to this difference, nor say anything at all about the distinction between discipline and trial; which are quite different in themselves, but often confounded together.
By • discipline' is to be understood, anything—whether of the character of adversity or not—that has a direct tendency to produce improvement, or to create some qualification that did not exist before; and by trial, anything that tends to ascertain what improvement has been made, or what qualities exist. Both effects may be produced at once; but what we speak of is, the proper character of trial, as such, and of discipline, as such.
A college tutor, for instance, seeks to make his pupils good scholars; an examiner, to ascertain how far each candidate is such. It may so happen that the tutor may be enabled to
'Felicities (rarely used in the plural). “The felicities of her wonderful reign.' -Atterbury.
* Sad. Dark-coloured. “I met him accidentally in London, in sad-coloured clothes, far from being costly.'-Walton's Lives.
• Incensed. Set on fire ; burned.
form a judgment of the proficiency of the pupils; and that a candidate may learn something from the examiner. But what is essential in each case, is incidental in the other. For no one would say that a course of lectures was a failure, if the pupils were well instructed, though the teacher might not have ascertained their proficiency; or that an examination had not an. swered its purpose, if the qualifications of the candidates were proved, though they might have learnt nothing from it.
A corresponding (listinction holds good in a great many other things: for instance, what is called 'proving a gun,' that is, loading it up to the muzzle and firing it—does not at all tend to increase its strength, but only proves that it is strong. Proper hammering and tempering of the metal, on the other hand, tends to make it strong
These two things are, as has just been said, very likely to be confounded together: (1) because very often they are actually combined ; as e. g., well-conducted exercise of the body, both displays, and promotes, strength and agility. The same holds good in the case of music, and various other pursuits, and in pone more than in virtuous practice.
(2) Because from discipline and from trial, and anything analogous to these, we may often draw the same inference, though by different reasonings : e. g., if you know that a gunbarrel has gone through such and such processes, under a skilful metallurgist, you conclude à priori that it will be a strong one; and again you draw the same inference from knowing that it has been proved. This latter is an argument from a sign, the other from cause to effect. So also, if you know that a man has been under a good tutor, this enables you to form an à priori conjecture, that he is a scholar; and by a different kind of argument, you infer the same from his having passed an examination.
Great evils may arise from mistaking the one of these things for the other. For instance, children's lives have been sacrificed by the attempt to make them hardy by exposing them to cold, and wet, and hardship. Those that have been so exposed are (as many of them as survive) hardy; because their having gone through it proves that they were of a strong constitution, though
* Rhetoric, Part I. Chap. II.
it did not make them so. The 'proving' of a gun is the cause, not of its being strong, but of our knowing it to be strong. And it is wonderful how prevalent in all subjects is the tendency to confound these two things together: e.g., Balak says to Balaam, 'I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.' And this must have been true, if Balaam was a true prophet; but the mistake was, to suppose that his curse or blessing brought on these results, when, in truth, it brought only the knowledge of the divine designs and sentences.
Different kinds of adversity (and also of prosperity, for both are equally trials, though it is only adversity that is usually called such) differ in this respect from each other, some being more of the character of discipline, and others of trial.
Generally speaking, a small degree of persecution and oppression is more of a discipline for humanity than very great and long-continued. It is everywhere observed that a liberated slave is apt to make a merciless master, and that boys who have been cruelly fagged at school are cruel fagger's. Sterne introduces a tender-hearted negro girl, of whom it is remarked that 'she had suffered oppression, and had learnt mercy,' as if this was a natural consequence. It would have been more true to have said, “Although she had suffered much oppression,' &c.
Most of the early Reformers were intolerant. Most bitter was the persecution, in the Low Countries, of the Arminians by the Calvinists, who had very recently been delivered from persecution themselves. And a people who have been so long and so severely persecuted as the Vaudois, and yet retain, as they do, a mild and tolerant character, give strong evidence of the domination of a real christian principle.
The celebrated ‘Pilgrim Fathers,' who fled from the tyranny of Laud and his abettors, to America, and are described as having "sought only freedom to worship God,' had no notion of allowing the same freedom to others, but enacted and enforced the most severe penalties against all who differed from
See, in Mr. Macaulay's History, a case of most atrocious cruelty perpetrated by Presbyterians who had witnessed cruel persecution of themselves or their fathers. Vol. iv. p. 781.