Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

19. Thus they generally attain one of the two ends almost equally desirable; they either incite his industry by elevating his hopes, or produce a high opinion of their own abilities, since they are supposed to relate only to what they have found, and to have proceeded with no less ease than they have promised to their followers.

20. The student inflamed by this encouragement, sets forward in the new path, and proceeds a few steps with great alacrity; but he soon finds asperities and intricacies of which he has not been forewarned, and imagining that none ever were so entangled or fatigued before him, sinks suddenly into despair, and desists as from an expedition in which fate opposes him. Thus his terrors are multiplied by his hopes, and he is defeated without resistance, because he had no expectation of an enemy.

21. Of these treacherous instructors, the one destroys industry, by declaring that industry is vaip, the other by representing it as needless; the one cuts away the root of hope, the o-her raises it only to be blasted. The one confines his pupu to the shore, by telling him that his wreck is certain ; the other sends him to sea without preparing him for tempests.

22. False hopes and false terrors are equally to be avoided. Every man who proposes to grow eminent by learning, should carry in his mind, at once, the difficulty of excellence and the force of industry; and remember that fame is not conferred but as the recompense of labour, and that labour, vigorously continued, has not often failed of its reward.

Fortitude founded upon the Fear of God.

GUARDIAN, No. 177. 1. L.

OOKING over the late edition of Monsieur Boileau's

works, I was very much pleased with the article which he has added to his notes on the translation of Longinus. He there tells us, that the sublime in writing rises either from the nóbleness of the thought, the magnificence, of the words, or the harmonious and lively turn of the phrase, and that the perfect sublime rises from all these three in conjunction together. He produces an instance of this perfect sublime, in four verses from the Athalia of Monsieur Racine.

2. When Abner, one of the chief officers of the court, represented to Joad the high priest, that the queen was incensed against liim, the high priest, not in the least terrified at the news, returns this answer ;

Celui qui met un frien a la fureur des flots,
Scait aussi des mechans arreter les complots,
Soumis avec respect a sa volente sainte.
Je crains Dieu, cher Abner, & n'ai point d'autre cruint.

M

3. “He who ruleth the raging of the sea, knows also how to check the designs of the ungodly. I submit myself with reverence to his holy will. O Abner, I fear my God, and I fear none but him.”' Such a thought gives no less a solemnity to human nature, 'than it does to good writing.

4. This religious fear, when it is produced by just apprehensions of a divine power, naturally overlooks all human greatness. that stands in competition with it, and extinguishes every other terror that can settle itself in the heart of a man: it lessens and contracts the figure of the most exalted person : it disarms the tyrant and executioner, and represents to our minds the most enraged and the most powerful as altogether harmless and impotent. ,

5. There is no true fortitude which is not founded upon this fear, as there is no other principle of so settled and fixed a nature. Courage that grows from constitution, very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, breaks out on all occasions, without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from a sense of our duty, and from a fear of offending him that made us, acts always in an uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.

6. What can a man fear who takes care in all his actions to please a Being who is omnipotent; a Being who is able to crush all his adversaries; a Being who can divert any misfortune from befalling him, or turn any such_misfortune to his advantage ? The person who lives with this constant and habitual regard to the great superintendant of the world, is indeed sure that no real evil can come into his lot.

7. Blessings may appear under the shape of pains; losses and disappointments, but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures. Dangers may threaten him, but he may rest satisfied that they will either not reach him, or if they do, they will be the instruments of good to him. In short, he may look upon all crosses and accidents, sufferings and afflictions, as means which are made use of to bring him to happiness.

8. This is even the worst of that man's condition whose mind is possessed with the habitual fear of which I am now speaking. But it very often happens, that those which appear evils in our own eyes, appear also as such to him who has human nature under his care, in which case they are certainly averted from the person who has made himself, by this virtúe an object of divine fa

vour.

9. Histories are full of instances of this nature, where men of virtue have had extraordinary escapes out of such dangers as have enclosed them, and which have seemed inevitable.

10. There is no example of this kind in Pagan history which more pleases me than that which is recorded in the life of Timoleon. This extraordinary man was famous for referring all his successes to Providence. Cornelius Nepos acquaints us that he had in his house a private chapel in which he used to pay his devotions to the goddess who represented Providence among the heathens. I think no man was ever more distinguished by the Deity, whom he blindly worshipped, than the great person I am speaking of, in several occurrences of his life, but particularly in the following one, which I shall relate out of Plutarch.

11. Three persons had entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Timoleon as he was offering up his devotions in a certain temple. In order to do it, they took their several stands in the most convenient places for their purpose. As they were waiting for an opportunity to put their design in execution, a stranger having observed one of the conspirators fell upon him and slew him. Upon which the other two, thinking their plot had been discovered, threw themselves at Timoleon's feet, and confessed the whole matter.

12. The stranger, upon examination, was found to have understood nothing of the intended assassination, but having several years before had a brother killed by the conspirator, whom he here put to death, and having till now sought in vain for an opportunity of revenge, he chanced to meet the murderer in the temple, who had planted himself there for the above mentioned purpose.

13. Plutarch cannot forbear, on this occasion, speaking with a kind of rapture on the schemes of Providence, which in this particular, had so contrived it, that the stranger should for so great a space of time, be debarred the means of doing justice to his brother, till, by the same blow that revenged the death of one innocent man, he preserved the life of another.

14. For my own part, I cannot wonder that a man of Timor leon's religion should have this intrepidity and firmness of mind, or that he should be distinguished by such a deliverance as I have here related.

The Folly of Youthful Extravagance.

RAMBLER, No. 26. ). IT. T is usual for men, engaged in the same pursuits, to be

inquisitive after the conduct and fortune of each other; and therefore, I suppose it will not be unpleasing to you, to read an account of the various changes which have appeared in part of a life devoted to literature. My narrative will not exhibit any great variety of events, or extraordinary revolution ; but may perhaps be not less useful, because I shall relate nothing which is not likely to happen to a thousand others.

2. I was born heir to a very small fortune, and left by my father, whom I cannot remember, to the care of an uncle. He having no children, always treated me as his son, and finding in me those qualities which old men easily discover in sprightly children when they happen to love them, declared that a genius like mine should never be lost for want of cultivation.

3. He therefore placed me for the usual time at a great school, and then sent me to the university, with a larger allowance than my own patrimony would have afforded, that I might not keep mean company, but learn to become my dignity when I should be made Lord Chancellor, which he often lamented that the increase of his infirmities was very likely to preclude him from seeing.

4. This exuberance of money displayed itself in gaiety of appearance, and wantonness of expense, and introduced me to the acquaintance of those whom the same superfluity of fortune betrayed to the same license and ostentation; young heirs, who pleased themselves with a remark very frequently in their mouths, that though they were sent by their fathers to the university, they were not under the necessity of living by their learning.

5. Among men of this class I easily obtained the reputation of a great geuius, and was persuaded that, with such liveliness of imagination and delicacy of sentiment, I should never be able to submit to the drudgery of the law.

6. I therefore gave myself wholly to the more airy and elegant parts of learning, and was often so much elated with my superiority to the youths with whom I conversed, that I began to lis-, ten, with great attention, to those who recommended to me a wider and more conspicuous theatre, and was particularly touched with an observation made by one of my friends, that it was not by lingering in the university that Prior became ambassador, or Addison secretary of state.

7. This desire was hourly increased by the solicitation of my companions who removing one by one to London, as the caprice. of their relations allowed them, or the legal dismissions from the hands of their guardians put it in their power, never failed to send an account of the beauty and felicity of the new world, and to remonstrate how much was lost by every hour's continuance in a place of retirement and constraint.

8. My uncle in the mean time frequently harrassed me with monitory letters, which I sometimes neglected to open for a week after I received them, and generally read them in a tavern with such comments as might shew how much I was superior to instruction or advice. I could not but wonder, how a man confined to the country, and unacquainted with the present system of things, should imagine himself qualified to instruct a rising gen

gius, born to give laws to the age, refine its taste, and multiply its pleasures.

9. The postman, however, still continued to bring me new remonstrances; for my uncle was very little depressed by the ridicule and reproach which he never heard. But men of parts have quick resentments; it was impossible to bear his usurpations for ever; and Fresolved, once for all, to make him an example of those who imagine themselves wise because they are old, and to teach young men who are too tame under representation, in what manner grey bearded insolence ought to be treated.

10. I therefore one evening took my pen in hand, and after having animated myself with a catch, wrote a general answer to all his precepts, with such vivacity of turn, such elegance of irony, and such asperity of sarcasm, that I convulsed a large company with universal laughter, disturbed the neighbourhood with vociferations of applause, and five days afterwards was answered, that I must be content to live upon my own estate.

11. This contraction of my income gave me no disturbance, for a genius like mine was out of the reach of want. I had friends who would be proud to open their purses at my call, and prospeets of such advancement as would soon reconcile my uncle, whom, upon mature deliberation, I resolved to receive into favour, without insisting on any acknowledgment of his offence, when the splendour of my condition should induce him to wish for my countenance.

12. I therefore went up to London, before I had shewn the alteration in my condition, by any abatement of my way of living, and was recived by all my academical acquaintance with triumph and congratulation. I was immediately introduced among the wits and men of spirit; and in a short time, had divested myself of all my scholar's gravity, and obtained the reputation of a pretty fellow.

13. You will easily believe that I had no great knowledge of the world ; yet I had been hindered, by the general disinclination every man feels to confess poverty from telling to any one the resolution of my uncle, and some time subsisted upon the stock of money which I had brought with me, and contributed my share as before to all our entertainments. But my pocket was soon emptied and I was obliged to ask my friends for a small

sum.

14: This was a favour, which sve had often reciprocally received from one another; they supposed my wants only accidental, and therefore willingly supplied them. In a short time, I found a necessity of asking again, and was again treated with the same civility ; but the third time they began to wonder what

« AnteriorContinuar »