« AnteriorContinuar »
men of merit, are destroyed in a few moments by a free intercourse and acquaintance with libertines; and thus the work is always to be begun anew. A gamester resolves to leave off play, by which he finds his health impaired, his family ruined, and his passions inflamed ; in this resolution he persists a few days, but soon yields to an invitation, which will give his prevailing inclination an opportunity of reviving in all its force. The case is the same with other men ; but is reason to be charged with these calamities and follies, or rather the man who, refuses to listen to its voice in opposition to impertinent solicitations * On the means recommended for the attainment of happiness, he observes, “that the abilities which our Maker has given us, and the internal and external advantages with which he has invested us, are of two very different kinds ; those of one kind are betowed in common upon us and the brute creation, but the other exalts us far above other animals. To disregard any of these gifts would be ingratitude ; but to neglect those of greater excellence, to go no farther than the gross satisfactions of sense, and the functions of mere animal life, would be a far greater crime. We are formed by our Creator capable of acquiring knowledge, and regulating our conduct by reasonable rules; it is therefore our duty to cultivate our understandings and exalt our virtues. We need but make the experiment to find, that the greatest pleasures will arise from such endeavours. “It is trifling to allege, in opposition to this truth, that knowledge cannot be acquired, nor virtue pursued, without toil and efforts, and that all efforts produce fatigue. God requires nothing disproportioned to the powers he has given, and in the exercise of those powers consists the highest satisfaction. “Toil and weariness are the effects of vanity ; when a man has formed a design of excelling others in merit, he is disquieted by their advances, and leaves nothing unattempted, that he may step before them; this occasions a thousand unreasonable emotions, which justly bring their punishment along with them. , “But let a man study and labour to cultivate and improve his abilities in the eye of his Maker, and with the prospect of his approbation ; let him attentively reflect on the infinite value of that approbation, and the highest encomiums that men can bestow will vanish into nothing at the comparison. When we live in this manner, we find that we live for a great and glorious end. “When this is our frame of mind, we find it no longer difficult to restrain ourselves in the gratifications of eating and drinking, the most gross enjoyments of sense. We take what is necessary to preserve health and vigor, but are not to give ourselves up to pleasures that weaken the attention, and dull the understanding.” And the true sense of Mr. Poshe’s assertion, that Whatever is, is right, and I believe the sense in which it was written, is thus explained; “A sacred and adorable order is established in the government of mankind. these are certain and unvaried truths ; he that seeks God, and makes it his happiness to live in obedience to him, shall obtain what he endeavours after, in a degree far above his present comprehension. He that turns his back upon his Creator, neglects to obey him, and perseveres in his disobedience, shall obtain no other happiness than he can receive from enjoyments of his own procuring ; void of satisfaction, weary of life, wasted by empty cares, and remorses equally harassing and just, he will experience the certain consequences of his own choice. Thus will justice and goodness resume their empire, and that order be restored which men have broken.” I am afraid of wearying you or your readers with more quotations, but if you shall inform me that a continuation of my correspondence will be well received, I shall descend to particular passages, show how Mr. Pope gave sometimes occasion to mistakes, and how Mr. Crousaz was misled by his suspicion of the system of fatality,
It has always been lamented, that of the little time allotted to man, much must be spent upon superfluities. Every prospect has its obstructions, which we must break to enlarge our view ; every step of our progress finds impediments, which, however eager to go forward, we must stop to remove. Even those who profess to teach the way to happiness, have multiplied our incumbrances, and the author of almost every book retards his instructions by a preface. The writers of the Chronicle hope to be easily forgiven, though they should not be free from an infection that has seized the whole fraternity, and instead of falling immediately to their subjects, should detain the reader for a time with an account of the importance of their design, the extent of their plan, and the accuracy of the method which they intend to prosecute. Such premonitions,
though not always necessary when the reader has the
book complete in his hand, and may find by his own eyes whatever can be found in it, yet may be more easily allowed to works published gradually in successive parts, of which the scheme can only be so far known as the author shall think fit to discover it. The paper which we now invite the public to add to the papers with which it is already rather wearied than satisfied, consists of many parts; some of which it has in common with other periodical sheets, and some peculiar to itself. The first demand made by the reader of a journal is; that he should find an accurate account of foreign transactions and domestic incidents. This is always expected, but this is very rarely performed. Of those writers who have taken upon themselves the task of intelligence, some have given and others have sold their abilities, whether small or great, to one or other of the parties that divide us ; and without a wish for truth or thought of decency, without care of any other reputation than that of a stubborn adherence to their abettors, carry on the same tenor of representation through all the vicissitudes of right and wrong, neither depressed by detection, nor abashed by confutation, proud of the hourly increase of infamy, and ready to boast of all the contumelies that falsehood and slander may bring upon them, as new proofs of their zeal and fidelity. With these heroes we have no ambition to be numbered, we leave to the confessors of faction the merit of their sufferings, and are desirous to shelter ourselves under the protection of truth. That all our facts will be authentic, or all our remarks just, we dare not venture to promise; we can relate but what we hear, we can point out but what we see. Of remote transactions, the first accounts are always confused, and commonly exag
* Dr. Johnson received the humble reward of a guinea from Mr. Dodsley for this composition. C.