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$55. Habil, the Difficulty of conquering. There is nothing which we estimate so fallaciously as the force of our own resolutions, nor any fallacy which we so unwillingly and tardily detect. He that has resolved a thousand times, and a thousand times deserted his own purpose, yet suffers no abatement of his confidence, but still believes himself his own master, and able, by innate vigour of soul, to press forward to his end, through all the obstructions that inconveniences or delights can put in his way.

That this mistake should prevail for a time, is very natural. When conviction is present, and temptation out of sight, we do not easily conceive how any reasonable being can deviate from his true interest. What ought to be done while it yet hangs only in speculation, is so plain and certain, that there is no place for doubt: the whole soul yields itself to the predominance of truth, and readily determines to do what, when the time of action comes, will be at last omitted.

I believe most men may review all the lives that have passed within their observation, without remembering one efficacious resolution, or being able to tell a single instance of a course of practice suddenly changed in consequence of a change of opinion, or an establishment of determination. Many indeed alter their conduct, and are not at fifty what they were at thirty, but they commonly varied imperceptibly from themselves, followed the train of external causes, and rather suffered reformation than made it.

It is not uncommon to charge the difference between promise and performance, between profession and reality, upon deep design and studied deceit; but the truth is that there is very little hypocrisy in the world; we do not so often endeavour or wish to impose on others as ourselves; we resolve to do right, we hope to keep our resolutions, we declare them to confirm our own hope, and fix our own inconstancy, by calling witnesses of our actions; but at last habit prevails, and those whom we invited to our triumph, laugh at our defeat.

Custom is commonly too strong for the most resolute resolver, though furnished for the assault with all the weapons of philosophy. "He that endeavours to free himself from an ill habit," says Bacon, must not change too much at a time, lest he should be discouraged by dif

ficulty; nor too little, for then he willmake but slow advances." This is a precept which may be applauded in a book, but will fail in the trial, in which every change will be found too great or too little. Those who have been able to conquer habit, are like those that are fabled to have returned from the realms of Pluto:

Pauci, quos æquus amavit. Jupiter, atque ardens evexit ad æthera virtus.

They are sufficient to give hope but not security, to animate the contest, but not to promise victory.

Those who are in the power of evil habits, must conquer them as they can, and conquered they must be, or neither wisdom nor happiness can be attained; but those who are not yet subject to their influence, may, by timely caution, preserve their freedom, they may effectually resolve to escape the tyrant, whom they will very vainly resolve to conquer.


§ 56. Halfpenny, its Adventures.


"I shall not pretend to conceal from you the illegitimacy of my birth, or the baseness of my extraction: and though I seem to bear the venerable marks of old age, I received my being at Birmingham not six months ago. From thence I was transported, with many of my brethren of different dates, characters, and configurations, to a Jew pedlar in Duke's place, who paid for us in specie scarce a fifth part of our nominal and extrinsic value. We were soon after separately disposed of, at a more moderate profit, to coffeehouses, chop-houses, chandler's shops, and gin-shops. I had not been long in the world before an ingenious transmuter of metals laid violent hands on me; and observing my thin shape and flat surface, by the help of a little quicksilver exalted me into a shilling. Use, however, soon degraded me again to my native low station; and I unfortunately fell into the possession of an urchin just breeched, who received me as a Christmas-box of his godmother.

"A love of money is ridiculously instilled into children so early, that before they can possibly comprehend the use of it, they consider it as of great value: I lost therefore the very essence of my being, in the custody of this hopeful disciple of avarice and folly; and was kept only to be looked at and admired:

but a bigger boy, after a while, snatched me from him, and released me from my confinement.

"I now underwent various hardships among his play-fellows, and was kicked about, hustled, tossed up, and chucked into holes, which very much battered and impaired me; but I suffered most by the pegging of tops, the marks of which I have borne about me to this day. I was in this state the unwitting cause of rapacity, strife, envy, rancour, malice, and revenge, among the little apes of mankind; and became the object and the nurse of these passions which disgrace human nature, while I appeared only to engage children in innocent pastimes. At length I was dismissed from their service, by a throw with a barrow-woman for an orange.

"From her it is natural to conclude I posted to the gin-shop; where, indeed, it is probable I should have immediately gone, if her husband, a foot-soldier, had not wrested me from her, at the expence of a bloody nose, black eye, scratched face, and torn regimentals. By him I was carried to the Mall in St. James's Park, where I am ashamed to tell how I parted from him-let it suffice that I was soon after deposited in a night-cellar.

"From hence I got into the coat-pocket of a blood, and remained there with several of my brethren for some days unno. ticed. But one evening as he was reeling home from the tavern, he jerked a whole handful of us through a sash-window into the dining-room of a tradesman, who he remembered had been so unmannerly to him the day before as to desire payment of his bill. We reposed in soft ease on a fine Turkey carpet till the next morning, when the maid swept us up; and some of us were allotted to purchase tea, some to buy snuff, and I myself was immediately trucked away at the door for the Sweetheart's Delight.

able commodities. If I have encouraged debauchery, or supported extravagance, I have also rewarded the labours of industry, and relieved the necessities of indigence. The poor acknowledge me as their constant friend; and the rich, though they affect to slight me, and treat me with contempt, are often reduced by their follies to distresses which it is even in my power to relieve.

"The present exact scrutiny into our constitution has, indeed, very much obstructed and embarrassed my travels; though I could not but rejoice in my condition last Tuesday, as I was debarred having any share in maiming, bruising, and destroying the innocent victims of vulgar barbarity; I was happy in being confined to the mock encounters with feathers and stuffed leather; a childish sport, rightly calculated to initiate tender. minds in acts of cruelty, and prepare them for the exercise of inhumanity on helpless animals.

"I shall conclude, Sir, with informing you by what means I came to you in the condition you see. A choice spirit, a member of the kill-care club, broke a linkboy's pate with me last night, as a reward for lighting him across the kennel; the lad wasted half his tar flambeau in looking for me; but I escaped his search, being lodged snugly against a post. This morning a parish girl picked me up, and carried me with raptures to the next baker's shop to purchase a roll. The master, who was churchwarden, examined me with great attention, and then gruffly threatening her with Bridewell for putting off bad money, knocked a nail through my middle, and fastened me to the counter: but the moment the poor hungry child was gone, he whipt me up again, and sending me away with others in change to the next customer, gave me this opportunity of relating my adventures to you." Adventurer.

"It is not my design to enumerate every 57. History; our natural Fondness for

little accident that has befallen me, or to dwell upon trivial and indifferent circumstances, as is the practice of those important egotists, who write narratives, memoirs, and travels. As useless to community as my single self may appear to be, I have been the instrument of much good aud evil in the intercourse of mankind; I have contributed no small sum to the revenues of the crown, by my share in each newspaper; and in the consumption of tobacco, spirituous liquors, and other tax


it, and its true Use.

The love of history seems inseparable from human nature, because it seems inseparable from self-love. The same principle in this instance carries us forward and backward to future and to past ages. We imagine that the things which affect us, must affect posterity; this sentiment runs through mankind, from Cæsar down to the parish-clerk in Pope's Miscellany. We are fond of preserving, as far as is in our

frail power, the memory of our own adventures, of those of our own time, and of those that preceded it. Rude heaps of stones have been raised, and ruder hymns have been composed, for this purpose, by nations who had not yet the use of arts and letters. To go no further back, the triumphs of Odin were celebrated in Runic songs, and the feats of our British ancestors were recorded in those of their bards. The savages of America have the same custom at this day: and long historical ballads of their hunting and wars are sung at all their festivals. There is no need of saying how this passion grows among all civilized nations, in proportion to the means of gratifying it: but let us observe, that the same principle of nature directs us as strongly and more generally, as well as more early, to indulge our own curiosity, instead of preparing to gratify that of others. The child hearkens with delight to the tales of his nurse; he learns to read; and he devours with eagerness fabulous legends and novels. In riper years he applies to history, or to that which he takes for history, to authorized romance; and even in age the desire of knowing what has happened to other men, yields to the desire alone of relating what has happened to ourselves. Thus history, true or false, speaks to our passions always. What pity is it that even the best should speak to our understanding so seldom! That it does so, we have none to blame but ourselves. Nature has done her part. She has opened this study to every man who can read and think; and what she has made the most agreeable, reason can make the most useful application of to our minds. But if we consult our reason, we shall be far from following the examples of our fellow creatures, in this as in most other cases, who are so proud of being rational. We shall neither read to sooth our indolence, nor to gratify our vanity as little shall we content our selves to drudge like grammarians and critics, that others may be able to study, with greater ease and profit, like philosophers and statesmen; as little shall we affect the slender merit of becoming great scholars at the expence of groping all our lives in the dark mazes of antiquity. All these mistake the true drift of study, and the true use of history. Nature gave us curiosity to excite the industry of our minds, but she never intended it to be made the principal, much less the sole object of their application. The true and

proper object of this application, is a constant improvement in private and in public virtue. An application to any study, that tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men, and better citizens, is at best but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness, to use an expression of Tillotson: and the knowledge we acquire is a creditable kind of ignorance, nothing more. This creditable kind of ignorance is, in my opinion, the whole benefit which the generality of men, even of the most learned, reap from the study of history: and yet the study of history seems to me, of all other, the most proper. to train us up to private and public virtue.

We need but to cast our eyes on the world, and we shall see the daily force of example: we need but to turn them inward, and we shall soon discover why example has this force. Pauci prudentia, says Tacitus, honesta ab deterioribus, utilia obnoxiis discernunt: plures aliorem eventis docentur. Such is the imperfection of human understanding, such the frail temper of our minds, that abstract or general propositions, though never so true, appear obscure or doubtful to us very often, till they are explained by examples: and that the wisest lessons in favour of virtue go but a little way to convince the judg ment and determine the will, unless they are enforced by the same means, and we are obliged to apply to ourselves that we see happen to other men. Instructions by precept have the further disadvantage of coming on the authority of others, and frequently require a long deduction of reasoning. Homines amplius oculis quam auribus credunt: longum inter est per præcepta, breve et efficax per exempla. The reason of this judgment, which I quote from one of Seneca's epistles, in confirmation of my own opinion, rests, I think, on this, That when examples are pointed out to us, there is a kind of appeal, with which we are flattered, made to our senses, as well as our understandings. The instruction comes then upon our own authority: we frame the precept after our own experience, and yield to fact when we resist speculation. But this is not the only advantage of instruction by example; for example appeals not to our understanding alone, but to our passions. likewise. Example assuages these or animates them; sets passion on the side of judgment, and makes the whole man of a-piece, which is more than the strongest

reasoning and the clearest demonstration can do; and thus forming habits by repetitions, example secures the observance of those precepts which example insinuated. Bolingbroke.

$58. Human Nature, its Dignity.

In forming our notions of human nature we are very apt to make comparison betwixt men and animals, which are the only creatures endowed with thought, that fall under our senses. Certainly this comparison is very favourable to mankind; on the one hand, we see a creature, whose thoughts are not limited by any narrow bounds either of place or time, who carries his researches into the most distant regions of this globe, and beyond this globe, to the planets and heavenly bodies; looks backward to consider the first origin of the human race; casts his eyes forward to see the influence of his actions upon posterity, and the judgments which will be formed of his character a thousand years bence: a creature who traces causes and effects to great lengths and intricacy; extracts general principles from particular appearances; improves upon his dicoveries, corrects his mistakes, and make his very errors profitable. On the other hand, we are presented with a creature the very reverse of this; limited in its observations and reasonings to a few sensible objects which surround it; without curiosity, without a foresight, blindly conducted by instinct, and arriving in a very short time at its utmost perfection, beyond which it is never able to advance a single step. What a difference is there betwixt these creatures; and how exalted a notion must we entertain of the former, in comparison of the latter.

Hume's Essays.

§ 59. The Operations of Human Nature considered.

We are composed of a mind and of a body, intimately united, and mutually affecting each other. Their operations indeed are entirely different. Whether the immortal spirit that enlivens this machine, is originally of a superior nature in various bodies, (which, I own, seems most consistent and agreeable to the scale and order of beings), or whether the difference depends on a symmetry, or peculiar structure of the organs combined with it, is beyond my reach to de

termine. It is evidently certain, that the body is curiously formed with proper organs to delight, and such as are adapted to all the necessary uses of life. The spirit animates the whole; it guides the natural appetites, and confines them within just limits. But the natural force of this spirit is often immersed in matter; and the mind becomes subservient to passions, which it ought to govern and direct. Your friend Horace, although of the Epicurean doctrine, acknowledges this truth, where he says,

Atque affigit humo divinæ particulam auræ. It is no less evident, that this immortal spirit has an independent power of acting, and, when cultivated in a proper manner, seemingly quits the corporeal frame within which it is imprisoned, and soars into higher and more spacious regions; where, with an energy which I had almost said was divine, it ranges among those heavenly bodies that in this lower world are scarce visible to our eyes; and we can at once explain the distance, magnitude, and velocity of the planets, and can foretel, even to a degree of minuteness, the particular time when a comet will return, and when the sun will be eclipsed in the next century. These powers certainly evince the dignity of human nature, and the surprising effects of the immaterial spirit within us, which in so confined a state can thus disengage itself from the fetters of matter. It is from this pre-eminence of the soul over the body, that we are enabled to view the exact order and curious variety of different beings; to consider and cultivate the natural productions of the earth; and to admire and imitate the wise benevolence which reigns throughout the sole system of the universe. It is from hence that we form moral laws for our conduct.

From hence we delight in copying that great original, who in his essence is utterly incomprehensible, but in his influence is powerfully apparent to every degree of his creation. From hence, too, we perceive a real beauty in virtue, and a distinction between good and evil. Virtue acts with the utmost generosity, and with no view to her own advantage: while Vice, like a glutton, feeds herself enormously, and then is willing to disgorge the nauseous offals of her feast.


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The first objects of a stranger's curiosity are the public spectacles. I was carried last night to one they call an Opera, which is a concert of music brought from Italy, and in every respect foreign to this country. It was performed in a chamber as magnificent as the resplendent palace of our emperor, and as full of handsome women, as his seraglio. They had no eunuchs among them; but there was one who sung upon the stage, and by the luxurious tenderness of his airs, seemed fitter to make them wanton, than keep them chaste.

Instead of the habit proper to such creatures, he wore a suit of armour, and called himself Julius Cæsar.

I asked who Julius Cæsar was, and whether he had been famous for singing? They told me he was a warrior that had conquered all the world, and debauched half the women in Rome.

I was going to express my admiration at seeing him so represented, when I heard two ladies, who sat nigh me, cry out, as it were in ecstasy, "O that dear creature! I am dying for love of him."

At the same time I heard a gentleman say aloud, that both the music and singing were detestable.

You must not mind him," said my friend," he is of the other party, and comes here only as a spy."

"How !" said I, "have you parties in music?" "Yes," replied he, "it is a rule with us to judge of nothing by our senses and understanding, but to hear and see, and think, only as we chance to be differently engaged.'

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"I hope," said I," that a stranger may be neutral in these divisions; and, to say the truth, your music is very from inflaming me to a spirit of faction; it is much more likely to lay me asleep. Ours in Persia sets us all a-dancing; but I am quite unmoved with this."

"Do but fancy it moving," returned my friend, "and you will soon be moved as much as others. It is a trick you may learn when you will, with a little pains: we have most of us learnt it in our turns." Lord Lyttelton.

§61. Patience recommended. The darts of adverse fortune are always levelled at our heads. Some reach

us, and some fly to wound our neighbours. Let us therefore impose an equal temper on our minds, and pay without murmuring the tribute which we owe to humanity. The winter brings cold, and we must freeze: The summer returns with heat, and we must melt. The inclemency of the air disorders our health, and we must be sick. Here we are exposed to wild beasts, and there to men more savage than the beasts: and if we escape the inconveniences and danger of the air and the earth, there are perils by water, and perils by fire. This esta blished course of things it is not in our power to change; but it is in our power to assume such a greatness of mind as becomes wise and virtuous men, as may enable us to encounter the accidents of life with fortitude, and to conform ourselves to the order of Nature, who governs her great kingdom, the world, by continual mutations. Let us submit to this order; let us be persuaded that whatever does happen ought to happen, and never be so foolish as to expostulate with nature. The best resolution we can take, is to suffer what we cannot alter, and to pursue without repining the road which Providence, who directs every thing, has marked to us: for it is enough to follow; and he is but a bad soldier who sighs, and marches with reluctancy. We must receive the orders with spirit and cheerfulness, and not endeavour to slink out of the post which is assigned us in this beautiful disposition of things, whereof even sufferings make a necessary part. Let us address ourselves to God who governs all, as Cleanthes did in those admirable


Parent of nature! Master of the world!
Where'er thy providence directs, behold
My steps with cheerful resignation turn;
Fate leads the willing, drags the backward on:
Why should I grieve, when grieving I must

Or take with guilt, what guiltlessI might share?

Thus let us speak, and thus let us act. Resignation to the will of God is true magnanimity. But the sure mark of a pusillanimous and base spirit, is to struggle against, to censure the order of Providence, and, instead of mending our own conduct, to set up for correcting that of our Maker. Bolingbroke. § 62.

Patience exemplified in the Story of an Ass.

I was just receiving the dernier com

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