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975. Ethics. It is a mistake to think, that a large system of ethics, dissected according to the nice distinctions of logic, and methodically replenished with definitions,, divisions, distinctions, and syllogisms, is requisite or sufficient to make men virtuous. The actual possession of one virtue is preferable to the bare speculative knowledge of all arts and sciences together.---Boyle.
276. Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware; whereas a lie is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack; and one trick needs a great many more to make it good. - Tillotson.
977. Women should be acquainted, that no beauty has any charms, but the inward one of the mind; and that a gracefulness in their manners is much more engaging than that of their persons : that meekness and modesty are the true and lasting ornaments; for she that has these is qualified as she ought to be for the management of a family, for the educating of children, for an affection to her husband, and submitting to a prudent way of living. These only are the charms that render wives amiable, and give them the best title to our respect.-Epictetus.
978. Infinity and Variety of Life and Being.Sometimes in moments of depression, nature appears to me a vast body of water, which for ever encroaches on its own icy shores, and melts them away. On them are seen the million shapes of individual existence, from the leaf and grain of sand to man, each in turn devoured and lost in the advancing waves of that ocean, which they all swell with the same substance as its own. On the opposite verge to that on which I am placed, the surf is congealing, perhaps into strand, and forming, as it hardens, innumerable modes of being, each to last but for a day, and be again absorbed and diffused in the returning tide.--Arthur Coningsby.
979. Metaphorical Reasoning.-A promise is a child of the understanding and the will : the understanding begets it, the will brings it. forth. He that performs, delivers the mother: he that breaks it, murders the child. If he be begotten in the absence of the understanding, it is a bastard, but the child must be kept. If thou mistrust thy understanding, promise not; if thou hast promised, break it not: it is better to maintain a bastard, than to murder a child.---Quarles.
980. Contempt of Events. There can be no peace in human life, without the contempt of all events. He that troubles his head with drawing consequences from mere contingences, shall never be at rest.
L'Estrange. 981. Education.-1t is observed, that education is generally the .worse, in proportion to the wealth and grandeur of the parents. Many are apt to think, that to dance, fence, speak French, and to know how to behave among great persons, comprehends the whole duty of a gentleman ; which opinion is enough to destroy all the seeds of knowledge, honour, wisdom, and virtue among us.-Swift.
982. Conversation.-The reason why we meet with so few men who are agreeable in conversation is, that there are scarce any who think not more of what they have to advance, than of what they have to answer. Even those who have the most address and politeness, fancy they do enough, if they only seem to be attentive ; at the same time that their eyes and minds betray a distraction as to what is addressed to them, and an impatience to return to what they themselves were saying: not reflecting that to be thus studious of pleasing themselves, is but a poor way of pleasing or convincing others; and that to hear, patiently, and answer precisely, are the great perfections of conversation.
983. Age.—How vain are such who are desirous of life, yet would avoid old age : as if it were a reproach to look old! Tell a woman of her age, and perhaps you make her as deeply blush as if you accused her of incontinency.-L'Estrange.
984. The Way to Fame is like the way to heaven---through much tribulation.---Steele.
985. Doing Justice to Others.---What makes it so difficult to do justice to others is, that we are hardly sensible of merit, unless it falls in with our own views and line of pursuit; and where this is the case, it interferes with our own pretensions. To be forward to praise others, implies either great eminence that can afford to part with applause ; or great quickness of discernment, with confidence in our own judgments; or great sincerity and love of truth, getting the better of our self-love.
986. Gold can gild a rotten stick, and dirt sully an ingot.--- Anon.
987. How to Govern.---The surest way of governing, both a private family and a kingdom, is for a husband and a prince to yield at certain times something of their prerogative.--- Anon.
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“The proper study of mankind is man.”—Pope. 988. Effects of Ignorance and Inequality of Condition.-Whoever has traversed the environs, and the miserable quarters of this city, that are particularly infested by poverty and vice, has there beheld, in full plenitude, the fatal effects of ignorance and inequality of condition; and he will discover that the original evil is in government, which leaves these uninformed outcasts a victim to its power. “ The world is not their friend, nor the world's law; the world affords no law to make them happy.” They have feelings, and are alive to temptation, like their betters, without similar advantages of knowledge or education, to withhold them from its snares; they yield, and are afterwards punished for crimes, which, under the oppressive and seducing circumstances, it is not in their power to resist. Month after month we continue the savage practice of immolating unhappy men to the bad arrangements of society, without an effort made to remedy, or even to palliate the evil. All the principal corruptions that exist in society, as we have already observed, originate in that unwarrantable inequality of condition, whereby one description of men revel in all the superfluous luxury that the utmost refinement of invention can conceive; and another ignorant, uninstructed, Jabouring under the pressure of want, debauched by idleness, liable to infirmities, like their superiors, from inevitable causes, less able to resist their effects, are left to perish in want, or to die in tortures and disgrace. This representation is no ways exaggerated; the great keep aloof from such scenes, and their vile interest renders them sceptics as to their existence; nevertheless the horrors are not imaginary, and while men are thus cut off by the laws of society from all those enjoyments to which they have an equal natural right, denied even the worst offals that are thrown away from the sumptuous tables of the nobility, they must naturally feel the injustice, and rebel against it.
Thus we are, and shall ever remain, till a radical spirit of reformation shall succeed, in a state of constant warfare with each other. The legislature is averse from innovation, the lawyers have an insuperable interest in perpetuating the actual error; they continue without compassion or reluce tance, periodically to pronounce the dreadful sentence of death on their fellow creatures, and instead of recommending laws for the prevention of crime, that lead to such a dreadful catastrophe, strenuously enforce the virtues of the old system, that engender them, rejecting, as we have already stated, every plan recommended for the purpose of reformation, under the blessed idea that it wouid be to innovate and alter the established law of the land. The true reason is, the interest they derive from the present practice. To enumerate all the dreadful grievances contained within this system would complete a folio, but we have endeavoured briefly to point out the origin of them, and shall conclude with advancing a position, which experience confirms, that till an effectual plan is devised to improve the morals, inform the understanding, or ameliorate the condition of the people, government may hang thousands, but the evil will still exist in all its magnitude. Let us once again express an anxious heartfelt hope, that the reign of ignorance and delusion will soon expire, and that finally inankind will arise and assert themselves ! -A Sketch of the Manners of the Age, 1792.
989. “ Anima Mundi.”—It is somewhat singular, that as the vital principle of man has been personified under the name of soul, so the vital principle of the universe has been personified under the name of God; and yet neither can be proved to have any separate existence distinct from matter.
Burdon's Materials for Thinking.
990. Cause and Effect. The ancients seem well to bave understood cause and effect; whereas our schemes are in continual opposition. We expect courage, and teach cowardice; we look for disinterestedness, and teach the vilest selfishness; we expect men to be rational, and fill them with extravagant and mystical fables; we inculcate humanity, and our final causes are replete with horrid barbarities. When a few enlightened philosophers, benefactors of the human race, strive to better the fortunes of mankind, they are always decried and calumniated.
Life and Opinions of Sir Richard Maltravers.
991. Talents.—Talents give a man a superiority far more agreeable than that which proceeds from riches, birth, or employments, which are all external. Talents constitute our very essence.-Rollin.
992. Belief.-If we take a survey of that variety of sects which are scattered over the face of the earth, and who mutually accuse each other of falsehood and error, and ask which is the right; every one in their turns will answer theirs : “ we know our sect is in the right because God hath declared so." “All of them,” says Charron,“ pretend that they do derive their doctrine, not from men, nor from any created being, but from God. But to say truth, without flattery or disguise, there is nothing in such pretensions : however they may talk, they owe their religion to human means : witness the manner in which they first adopt it. The nation, country, and place where they are born and bred, determine it. Are we
not circumcised or baptised, made Jews, Turks, or Christians, before we are men ?" Our religion is not the effect of choice, but of accident; and to impute it to us is unjust: it is to reward or punish us for being born in this or that country. If the method taken by him who is in the right and by him who is in the wrong be the same, what merit or demerit hath the one more than the other? True faith is assured and confirmed by the understanding; and the best of all religions is undoubtedly the clearest.
Would we seek the truth, therefore, in sincerity, we must lay no stress on the place and circumstances of our birth, nor on the authority of our fathers or teachers; but appeal to the dictates of reason and conscience concerning every thing taught us in our youth. It is no purpose to bid me subject my reason to the truth of things of which it is incapacitated to judge. 1 he man who would impose on me a falsehood, may bid me do the same : it is necessary, therefore, that I should employ my reason even to know when taught to submit. ---Rousseau.
993. Things above Reason. Of such men as these I usually demand whether their own assent to the things they would have us believe, be grounded upon some rational argument. If they say 'tis not, they are fools to believe it themselves; and I should add to the number of fools, if, after this acknowledgment, I should believe them: but if they say it is, I desire them to produce their argument; for since 'tis framed by a human understanding, the force of it may also be comprehended and judged of by a human understanding: and 'tis to no purpose to say that the subject surpasses human reason; for if it do so indeed, it will
surpass theirs as well as mine, and so leave us upon even terms. And let the thing assented to be what it will, the assent itself must be founded upon a sufficient reason, and consequently upon one that is intelligible to the human intellect that is wrought on by it. - A Discourse of Things above Reason, 1681.
994. Philosophical Necessity.—1 observed that, however men had, from the beginning of the world, endeavoured to blink the great question of necessity, still the majority had decided with the Stoics, and that every positive religion, and every system of philosophy, had propounded that doctrine ; indeed, most of them had done more, and had maintained it in one shape or other. Nor can I forego my admiration of those who had the firmness of mind to entertain this great and eternal truth, and the boldness to avow a dogma which carries with it so many consolations: for it checks the swellings of pride, and dissipates the sighs of despair: it dries up the tears of sorrow, and perpetually presents to our longing sight Hope. She, who is decked out in never fading colours; she, who sits upon
the warrior's crest, and beside him in his dismal cell; who ever accompanies the weary steps of the slave, and who lulls all to balmy repose, saving fortune's fools; she is, indeed, the first-born offspring of our reason !_Maltravers.
995. A credulous person is like a pitcher borne by the ears, empty of itself, but apt to hold whatsoever is put into it.--Butler.