« AnteriorContinuar »
own part, if I bade my footman bring me a glass of wine,
have a hastiness in your temper, which umguardedly breaks out into indiscreet sallies, or rough expressions to either your superiors, your equals, or your inferiors, watch it narrowly, check it carefully, and call the suaviter in modo to your assistance : at the first impulse of passion be silent, till you can be soft. Labour' even to get the command of your countenance so well, that those emotions may not be read in it: a most unspeakable advantage in business! On the other hand, let no complaisance, no gentleness of temper, no weak desire of pleasing on your part, no wheedling, coaxing, nor flattery, on other people's, make you recede one jot from any point that reason and prudence bave bid you pursue; but return to the charge, persist, persevere, and you will find most things attainable that are possible. A yielding, timid meekness is always abused and insulted by the uujust and the unfeeling; but meekness when sustained by the fortiter in re, is always respected, commonly
successul. In your friendships 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 just resentment: for there is a great difference between bearing malice, which is always ungenerous, and a resolute self-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 side of religious and moral duties.
WERE I to explain what I understand by good sense, 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 sagacity, that in many of its properties seems very much to resemble instinct. It would be improper, therefore,to say, that Sir Isaac Newton shewed 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 Imortals, the man ot 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 wish: for good sense being accustomed to receive her discoveries without labour or study, she cannot so easily wait for those truths, which being placed at a distance, and lying concealed under numberless covers, requires 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 sensible of poets has justly observed)
fairly worth the seven.' Rectitude of understanding is indeed the most useful, as well as the noble of human endowments, as it is the sovereign 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 conversed more with men than with books; whose wisdom is derived rather from experience than contemplation; generally possess this happy talent with superior perfection. For good sense, though it cannot i be acquired, may be improved ; and the world, I believe, will ever be found to afford the most kindly soil for its cultivation.
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. The chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring ; for ornainent, 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 who are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of a schol. lar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience ; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by duty, and studies themselves to give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them for they teach not their own use, but that is a wisdom without 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 consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swalHowed, 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 curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others ; but that should be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therfore 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 sode
--TRUST me, this unworthy pleasantry of thine will sooner or later bring thee intoscrapes and difficulties which no after wit can extricate thee out of. In these sallies, 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 reckonest upon his friends, his family, his kindred and allics, and musterest up with them the many recruits which will list under him 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 hast gone on, and raised'a swarm of wasps about thine rs, and art half stung to death by them, thou wilt never be convinced it is so.
I cannot suspect it in the man whom I esteem, that there is the least spur from spleen or malevolence of intent in these sallies. I believe and know them to be truly honest and sportive; but consider, that fools cannot distinguish this, and that knaves will not; and thou knowest not what it i, either to provoke the one, or to make merry with the other ; whenever they associate, for inutual defence, depend upon it they will carry on the war in such a manner against thee, my dear friend, as to make thee heartily sick of it, and of thy life too, Revenge from some baneful corner shall level a tale of