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LII. Biography. To find that great lengths have actually been gone in learning and virtue that high degrees of perfection have actually been attained by men like our. selves, entangled among the infirmities, the temptations, the oppositions from wicked men, and the other various evils of life-how does this show us to ourselves as utterly inexcusable, if we do not endeavour to reach the heights we know have been gained by others of our fellow creatures ? Biography sets before us the whole character of a person, who has made himself eminent either by his virtues or his vices-shows us how he came first to take a right or a wrong turn the prospects which invited him to aspire to higher degrees of glory, or the delusions which misled him from his virtue and his peace; the circumstances which raised him to true greatness, or the rocks on which he split, and sunk to infamy. And how can we more effectually, or in a more entertaining manner, learn the important lesson, what we ought to pursue, and what to avoid ?-Burgh's Dignity of Human Nature,
LIII. Amusements.-In studying the character of a people, our inquiry should always be, what were their amusements? We here get hold of great features, which often unriddle the rest. This is indispensably necessary, where states have risen to cultivation. In the finer tracts of the temperate regions of the earth, you meet amusements that are elegant, and pleasures that are refined. Departing on either hand to the south, or to the north, you find taste to degenerate, and gratification to become impure. At length, arriving at the extremities, refinement is utterly lost; to give pleasure is to stupify, or to intoxicate-here
by opium—there by brandy and tobacco. The happy intermediate regions enjoy the ivresse du sentiment. Is the philosopher to set at nought these distinctions? Is he to lay no stress upon the different state of the art? Is he to imagine it imports not that the peasant in Muscovy subsists on garlic, and solaces himself with ardent spirits; and in Italy, that he feeds on a water-melon, and goes forth with the guitar on his back to plough?—Robertson's Inquiry into the fine Arts.
LIV. . Industry.—Excellence is never granted to man, but as the reward of labour. It argues, indeed, no small strength of mind to persevere in the habits of industry without the pleasure of perceiving those advantages, which, like the hand of a clock, whilst they make hourly approaches to their point, yet proceed so slowly as to escape observa. tion.-Sir Joshua Reynolds.
LV. Existence a Self-evident Principle.- Des Cartes said, "Cogito, ergo sum;" I think, therefore I am; that is, I, who am, think; therefore I, who think, am; I being supposed to exist, do think, therefore this thinking proves that existence. Is not this plainly arguing in a circle, and proving a thing by pre-supposing it? and is it not full as clear to me that I am, as that I think? though perhaps I could not be certain of iny existence except I perceived something; yet surely the perception of my own exist. ence must be both as early and as evident as any other perception. Is it not absurd then to attempt to prove our own existence from any other medium, namely, from any of our operations ?-L.
The Mind the Standard of Man.-It was said by Charles XII. of Sweden, that he who was ignorant of the arithmetical art was but half a man. With how much greater force may a similar expression be applied to him who carries to his grave the neglected and unprofitable seeds of faculties, which it depended on himself to have reared to maturity, and of which the fruits bring accessions to human happiness—more precious than all the gratifications which power or wealth can command.Dugald Stewart
LVII. Economy of Nature.--Nothing could be more desirable to creatures moral (as we are by the necessary condition of terrestrial matter) and obnoxious to miseries, than to be born after such a manner, as, in the first part of life, while we are tender, unacquainted with things, and put under the guardianship of others, to enjoy the sweets without the care; in the middle, to please ourselves as much in
taking care of others; and in the decrepit feeble age, to be i assisted in our turn by others whom we have educated. - King's Origin of Evil.
LVII. : The worth of a Good Companion.-A companion that is cheerful, and free from swearing and scurrilous discourse, is worth gold, I love such mirth as does not make friends ashamed to look upon one another next morning; nor men, that cannot well bear it, to repeat the money they spend when they be warmed with drink. And take this for a rule: you may pick out such times and such companions, that you may make yourselves merrier for a
little than a great deal of money; for “'tis the company and not the charge that makes the feast."- Isaac Walton.
LIX. . Books.-Read not to contradict and confute, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention. Reading maketh a full man, conference, a ready man, and writing an exact man. -Lord Bacon. .
Laws must not be inconsistent with Natural Justice. By a law to enact any thing which is naturally unjust, is to enact that which is morally evil, and that which is opposite to those laws, by which it is manifestly the will of our Creator we should be governed; and to enact what is thus evil must be evil indeed. And to establish injus. tice must be utterly inconsistent with the general good and happiness of any society; unless to be unjustly treated, pilled, and abused, can be happiness. And if so, it is utterly inconsistent with the end of society; or, it is to deny that to be the end of it, which is the end of it. Wollaston.
Hypochondriacs.- Sick persons change their tempers, as the seat of the disease alters. And though men see daily instances of this, they do not reflect, but praise or blame the sick capriciously. Hence a miserable melancholic shall labour under a double disease; the internal one of his own bad feelings, and the external torment of hatred and reproach; for some people will not allow such a sufferer to have any disease at all; but contemptuously call it whim, vapours, sullenness, &c. Such a perverted judgment is cruel. We readily excuse paralytics from labour; and shall we be angry with a hypochondriac for not being cheerful in company? Must we stigmatize such an unfortunate person as peevish, positive, and unfit for society? his disorder may no more suffer him to be merry, than the gout will suffer another to dance. The advising a melancholic to be cheerful is like bidding a coward be courageous, or a dwarf be taller.- Ibid.
LXII. Ignorance the Causé of Error and Vice.-Few writers disclose the source of errors, so frequently committed to the hurt of society; nor seem to know that they chiefly arise from ignorance. People are hurried by shoals into vice, merely through ignorance: and it is impossible for them to act right, till they are taught what is right and wrong in particulars. From ignorance it is, that men make false judgments one of another. Thus one man shall be praised for his patience, because he is not by nature prone to anger; and another be condemned for his warmth, because he happens to have much bile in his constitution. The Reflector.
Ridiculous Gravity-An assumed gravity may indeed, for a time, procure the reputation of sense; as a beggar in brocade may paşs for a rich man, A reserved behaviour, arising from ignorance, often passes for wisdom; as many, by a stupid silence, have passed for learned. In the ac