Page images

pulse of passion be filent, till you can be foft.. Labour even to get the command of your countenance so well, that those emotions may not be read in it: à most unspeakable ad. vantage in business! On the other hand, let. no complaie' fance, no gentleness of temper, no weak desire of pleasing on your part, no wheedling, coaxing, nor flattery,on other people's, made you recede one jor from any point that rea. fon and prudence have bid you pursue ; but return to the eharge, perfift, persevere, and you will find most things attainable, that are possible. A yielding timid meekness is always abused and insulted by the unjust and the unfeeling; but meekness, when sustained by the fortitèr in re, is always respected, commonly successful. In your friendthips and connections, as well as in your enmities, this rule is particularly useful ; let your firmness and vigour preserve and invite attachments to you; but at the same time, let your manner hinder the enemies of your friends and dependents from becoming yours: let your enemies be disarmed by the gentleness of your manner, but let them feel at the same time, the steadiness of your juft resentment: for there is a great difference between bearing malice, which is always ungenerous, and a resolute felf-defence, which is always prudent and justifiable.

I CONCLUDE with this observation, That gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind, is a short, but full description of human perfection, on this fide of religious and moral duties.





Were I to explain what I underfand by good senfé,

I should call it right reason; but right reason that arises not from formal and logical deductions, but from a sort of intuitive faculty in the soul, which distinguishes by immediate perception: a kind of innate fagacity, that in many of its properties seems

very much to resemble instinct. It would be improper, therefore, to say, that Sir Isaac Newton fhewed his good sense, by those amazing discoveries which he made in natural philosophy: the operations of this gift of Heaven are rather instantaneous, than the result of any tedious process. Like Diomed; after-Minerva had endued him with the power of discerning gods from mortals, the man of good sense discovers at once the truth of those objects he is most concerned to distinguish ; and conducts himself with suitable caution and security.

It is for this reason, possibly, that this quality of the mind is not so often found united with learning as one could wilh: for good sense being accustomed to receive her discoveries without l'abour or study, she cannot so easily wait for those truths, which being placed at a distance, and lying concealed under numberless covers, require much pains and application to unfold.

But though good sense is not in the number, nor always, it must be owned, in the company of the sciences; yet is it (as the most fenfible of the poets has justly observed)

fáirly worth the seven. Rectitude of understanding is indeed the most useful, as well as the most noble of human endowments, as it is the loveF 5


reign guide and director in every branch of civil and social intercourse.

Upon whatever occasion this enlightening faculty is exerted, it is always sure to act with distinguished eminence; but its chief and peculiar province seems to lie in the commerce of the world. Accordingly we may observe, that those who have converfed more with men than with books; whose wisdom is derived rather from experience than contemplation; generally possess this happy talent with fu, perior perfection. For good sense, though it cannot be acquired, may be improved; and the world, I believe, will ever be found to afford the most kindly foil for its cultivation.



ON S T U DY. STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. , The chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring: for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots, and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in ftudies, is fioth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by duty, and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. , Crafty men contemn Hudies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them:


for they teach not their own use, but that is a wisdom with. out them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and confider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed ; and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curioully; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books may also be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that should be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner fort of books; else distilled books are like common diftilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.




RUST me, this unwary pleasantry of thine will sooner or later bring thee into scrapes and difficulties, which no after wit can extricate thee out of. In these fallies, too oft I see, it happens, that the person laughed at, considers himself in the light of a person injured, with all the rights of such a situation belonging to him; and when thou viewest him in that light too, and reckonelt upon his friends, his family, his kindred and allies, and mufterest up with them the many recruits which will lift under him F6


from a sense of common danger; 'tis no extravagant arithmetic to say, that for every ten jokes, thou hast got an hundred enemies; and, till thou haft gone on, and raised a swarm of wasps about thine ears, and art half ftung to death by them, thou wilt never be convinced it is so.

I cannor suspect it in the man whom I esteem, that there is the leaft spur from spleen or malevolence of intent in these fallies. I believe and know them to be truly honeftand sportive; but consider, that fools cannot distinguish this, and that knaves will not; and thou knowest not what it is, either to provoke the one, or to make merry with the other: Whenever they associate for mutual defence, depend upon it they will carry on the war in such a manner against thee, my dear friend, as to make thee heartily fick of its and of thy life too.

Revenge, from some baneful corner, shall level a tale of dishonour at thee, which no innocence of heart or integrity of conduct shall set right. The fortunes of thy house fall, totter--thy character, which led the way to them, shall bleed on every side of it—thy faith questioned—thy works belied—thy wit forgotten-thy learning trampled on: To wind up the last scene of the tragedy, CRUELTY and COWARDICE, twin ruffians, hired and set on by Malice in the dark, shall strike together at all thy infirmities and mistakes. The best of us, my friend, lie-open there, and trust me--when to gratify a private appetite, it is once resolved upon, that an innocent and an helpless creature shall be sacrificed, it is an easy matter to pick up sticks enough from any thicket where it has strayed, to make a fire to offer it up with.



« PreviousContinue »