« AnteriorContinuar »
It is certain that to enjoy life and health as a constant feast, we should not think pleasure necessary; but, if possible, to arrive at an equality of mind. It is as mean to be overjoyed upon occasions of good fortune, as to be dejected in circumstances of distress. Laughter in one condition is as unmanly as weeping in the other. We should not form our minds to expect transport on every occasion, but know how to make it enjoyment to be out of pain. Ambition, envy, vagrant desire, or impertinent mirth, will take up our minds, without we can possess ourselves in that sobriety of heart which is above all pleasures, and can be felt much better than described. But the ready way, I believe, to the right enjoyment of life, is, by a prospect towards another to have but a very mean opinion of it. A great author of our time has set this in an excellent light, when with a philosophic pity of human life, he spoke of it in his Theory of the Earth in the following manner :
"For what is this life but a circulation of littlemean actions? We lie down and rise again, dress and undress, feed and wax hungry, work or play, and are weary, and then we lie down again, and the circle returns. We spend the day in trifles, and when the night comes, we throw ourselves into the bed of folly amongst dreams and broken thoughts and wild imaginations. Our reason lies asleep by us, and we are for the time as errant brutes as those that sleep in the *alls or in the field. Are not the capacities of mai gher than these? And ought not his ambition and expectations to be greater? Let us be adventurers for another world: it is at least a fair and noble chance; and there is nothing in this worth our thoughts or our passions. If we should be disappointed, we are still no worse than the rest of our fellow-mortals; and if we succeed in our expectations, we are eternally happy.” T
Postquam se lumine puro
Implevit stellasque vagas miratur et astra
Now to the blest abode, with wonder fill'd,
THE common topics against the pride of man, which are laboured by florid and declamatory writers, are taken from the baseness of his original, the imperfections of his nature, or the short duration of those goods in which he makes his boast. Though it be true that we can have nothing in us that ought to raise our vanity, yet a consciousness of our own merit may be sometimes laudable. The folly therefore lies here; we are apt to pride ourselves in worthless or perhaps shameful things; and on the other hand, count that disgraceful which is our truest glory.
Hence it is, that the lovers of praise take wrong measures to attain it. Would a vain man consult his own heart, he would find that if others knew his weaknesses well as he himself doth, he could not have the impudence to expect the public esteem. Pride therefore flows from want of reflection, and ignorance of ourselves. Knowledge and humility come upon us together.
The proper way to make an estimate of ourselves, is to consider seriously what it is we value or despise in others. A man who boasts of the goods of fortune, a gay dress, or a new title, is generally the mark of ridicule. We ought therefore not to admire in
ourselves, what we are so ready to laugh at in other
Much less can we with reason pride ourselves in those things, which at some time of our life we shall certainly despise. And yet, if we will give ourselves the trouble of looking backward and forward on the several changes which we have already undergone and hereafter must try, we shall find that the greater degrees our knowledge and wisdom, serve only to show us our own imperfections.
As we rise from childhood to youth, we look with contempt on the toys and trifles which our hearts have hitherto been set upon. When we advance to manhood, we are held wise in proportion to our shame and regret for the rashness and extravagance of youth. Old age fills us with mortifying reflections upon a life mispent in the pursuit of anxious wealth or uncertain honour. Agreeable to this gradation of thought in this life, it may be reasonably supposed, that in a future state, the wisdom, the experience, and the maxims of old age, will be looked upon by a separate spirit in much the same light as an ancient man now sees the little follies and toyings of infants. The pomps, the honours, the policies, and arts of mortal men, will be thought as trifling as hobby-horses, mock-battles, or any other sports that now employ all the cunning, and strength, and ambition of rational beings from four years old to nine or ten.
If the notion of a gradual rise in beings from the meanest to the most high, be not a vain imagination, it is not improbable that an angel looks down upon a man, as a man doth upon a creature which approaches nearest to the rational nature. By the same rule, if I may indulge my fancy in this particular, a superior brute looks with a kind of pride on one of an inferior species. If they could reflect, we might imagine from the gestures of some of them that they think them. selves the sovereigns of the worid, and that all things
were made for them. Such a thought would not be more absurd in brute creatures, than one which men are apt to entertain, namely, that all the stars in the firmament were created only to please their eyes and amuse their imaginations. Mr. Dryden, in his fable of the Cock and the Fox, makes a speech for his hero the cock, which is a pretty instance for this purpose.
"Then turning, said to Partlet, see, my dear,
What I would observe from the whole is this, that we ought to value ourselves upon those things only which superior beings think valuable, since that is the only way for us not to sink in our esteem hereafter.
Noris quam elegans formarum spectator sum. TER. You shall see how nice a judge of beauty I am.
THERE is something irresistible in a beauteous
form; the most severe will not pretend, that they 9 not feel an immediate prepossession in favour of ⚫ handsome. No one denies them the privilege of Sg first heard, and being regarded before others in Atters of ordinary consideration. At the same time The handsome should consider that it is a possession, as it were, foreign to them. No one can give it himself, or preserve it when they have it. Yet so it is, VOL. II.
that people can bear any quality in the world better than beauty. It is the consolation of all who are naturally too much affected with the force of it, that a little attention, if a man can attend with judgment, will cure them. Handsome people are usually so fantastically pleased with themselves, that if they do not kill at first sight, as the phrase is, a second interview disarms them of all their power. I shall make this essay rather a warning-piece to give notice where the danger is, than to propose instructions how to avoid it when you have fallen in the way of it. Handsome women shall take up the present discourse.
Amaryllis, who has been in town but one winter, is extremely improved with the arts of good breeding, without leaving nature. She has not lost the native simplicity of her aspect, to substitute that patience of being stared at, which is the usual triumph and distinction of a town-lady. In public assemblies you meet her careless eye diverting itself with the objects around her, insensible that she herself is one of the brightest in the place.
Dulcissa is quite of another make, she is almost a If it beauty by nature, but more than one by art. were possible for her to let her fan or any limb about her rest, she would do some part of the execution she meditates; but though she designs herself a prey, she will not stay to be taken. No painter can give you words for the different aspects of Dulcissa in half a moment, wherever she appears: so little does she accomplish what she takes so much pains for, to be gay and careless.
Merah is attended with all the charms and accomplishments of man. It is not to be our but she has a great deal of wit, if she were not sur beauty; and she would have more beauty had she so much wit. Affectation prevents her excelle from walking together. If she has a mind to such a thing, it must be done with such an air body; and if she has an inclination to look very are