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It will be impossible to avoid Envy: “ For a a right work,” and for a good one, and especially if a man do many such, “ he shall be envied of his neighbour.” It is incredible what power there is in the pride of men to produce detraction ! pride, working in a sort of impatience, that any man should be, or do more than they.
66 The minds of men,” as “ have got the vapours; a sweet report of any one throws them into convulsions; a foul one refreshes them.” You must bear all the outrage of it; and there is but one sort of revenge to be allowed you.
It is observed, “ There is not any revenge more heroical, than that which torments envy by doing good.”
It is a surprising passage, which a late French author has given us, “ That a man of great merit is a kind of public enemy.
And that by engrossing a multitude of applauses, which would serve to gratify a great many others, he cannot but be envied; and that men naturally hate what they esteem much, but cannot love." But, my readers, let us not be surprised at it. You have read, who suffered the ostracism at Athens; and what a pretty reason the country-fellow offered why he gave his voice for the banishment of Aristides:
66 Because he was every where always called the just :” and for what reason the Ephori laid a fine on Agesilaus:
66 Because he possessed, above all other men, the hearts of the Lacedemonians.” You have read the reason why the Ephesians expelled the best of their citizens : “ If any will excel their neighbours, let them find another place to do it.” You have read, that he who conquered Hannibal, saw it necessary to retire
I must press
from Rome, that the merit of others might be more noticed. My authors tell me, that, “ At all times nothing has been more dangerous among men than too shining merit.” But, my readers, the terror of this envy must not intimidate you. you to do good, and be so far from affrighted at it, that you shall rather be generously delighted with the most envious deplumations.
I wish I may prove a false prophet when I foretell one discouragement more which you will have to contend with; I mean—DERISION. let not my prediction be derided. It was long since noted,
And I pray
“ For ridicule shall frequently prevail,
It is a thing of late started, that the way of banter, and scoffing, and ridicule, or the “ Bartholomewfair method,” as they term it, is a more effectual way to discourage all goodness, and put it out of countenance, than fire and faggot. No cruelties are so insupportable to humanity “as cruel mockings.” It is extremely probable that the devil being somewhat chained up in several places, from other ways of persecution, will more than ever apply himself to this. Essays to.do good shall be derided with all the art and wit that he can inspire into his Janizaries (a yani-cheer, or, a new order, the grand seignior of hell has instituted.) Exquisite profaneness and buffoonery shall try their skill to laugh people out of them. The men who abound in them, shall be exposed on the stage; libels, and lampoons, and satires, the most poignant that ever were in
vented, shall be darted at them; and pamphlets full of lying stories be scattered, with a design to make them ridiculous. “ In this the devil may be discovered at work.” The devil will try whether the fear of being laughed at will not cool their zeal to do good, and scare it out of the world.
66 But let this rather increase your boldness and zeal.” Sirs, “ Despise the shame,” whatever “ contradiction of sinners' you meet with; you know what example did so before you.
“ Quit you like men—be strong;” you know who gives you the direction. Say with resolution, “ The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have not I declined to do as much good as I could!" If you should arrive to a share in such sufferings, I will humbly “show you my opinion” about the best conduct under them; it is, neglect and contempt.
I have a whole university on my side: the university of Helmstadt, upon a late abuse offered to it, had this noble passage in a declaration, “ Resolved, That we use no other remedy in this affair, than a generous silence, and a holy contempt.” Go on to do good: and “ Go well-comely in your goings,” like the noble creature which “ turneth not away for any." A life spent in industrious essays to do good will be your powerful and perpetual vindication. It will give you such a well-established interest in the minds where conscience is consulted, that a few squibbing, silly, impotent accusations, will never be able to extinguish it. If they ridicule you in their printed excursions, your name will be so oiled that ink will not adhere to it. I remember that Valerianus Magnus, being abused by a Jesuit, who had laboured
ill, are yet
(by a “modest inquiry,” you may be sure!) to make
trial to be very good, we naturally conclude that they have a merit which is troublesome to some other people.” The rule then is, be very good; yea,
much good; and cast a generous disdain upon contumelies,--the great remedy against them. If you want a pattern, I can give you an imperial one; it was Vespasian, who, when a person spake evil of him, said, “ While I do nothing that merits reproach, these lies give me no uneasiness.”
And I am deceived if it be not an easy thing to be as honest a man as Vespasian.
Sirs ! An unfainting resolution to do good, and an unwearied well-doing, is that which is now urged upon you. And may this little book now be so happy, as herein to perform the office of a monitor to the reader.
I do not find that I have spent so many weeks in composing the book, as Descartes, though a profound geometrician, declared he spent in studying the solution of one geometrical question: yet the composure has exceeded the limits which I wished;
and there is not one proposal in it, which would not, if well pursued, afford a more solid and durable satisfaction to the mind, than the solution of all the problems in Euclid, or in Pappus. It is a vanity in writers to compliment the readers with I am sorry it is no better.” Instead of which I freely tell my readers, “ I have written what is not unworthy of their perusal.” If I did not think so, truly, I would not publish it: for no man living has demanded it of me; it is not published “to gratify the importunity of friends," as your authors are used to say; but it is to use importunity with others, in a point on which I thought they needed it. And, I will venture to say, there is not one whimsey in all my proposals. I propose no object but what the conscience of every good man will say, “ It were well if it could be accomplished.” That writer was in the right who said, “I cannot understand how any honest man can print a book, and yet profess that he thinks none will be the wiser or better for the reading it.” Indeed I own that my subject is worthy to be much better treated; and my manner of treating it, is not such as to embolden me to affix my name to it, as the famous painter Titian did to his pieces, with a double fecit, fecit; as much as to say, “ Very well done!” and I must have utterly suppressed it, had I been of the same humour with Cimabus, another famous painter, who, if himself or any other detected the least fault in his pieces, would utterly destroy them, though he had bestowed a twelvemonth's pains upon them.
Yet I will venture to say, the book is full of reasonable and serviceable things; and it would be well for us if such