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we have a mind should succeed, by unfairly withdrawing the attention of persons from it, can only be allowable in cases of great exigence or in absolute trifles. Mere huinour is a thing that we are at liberty to control and guide in what way we please; but when the case is of importance, we are scarcely fit judges, if it touches ourselves, whether we are at liberty to deceive another to what, we may think, ever so good an end. If it is a person over whom we have any authority, the case is somewhat clearer. Madness and folly we have a right to govern, founded in the utter incapacity of those who are thus governed ; and the point is indisputable, that children may be cheated into health with a sugаred potion; and that, to steal away the sword of a distracted person, or humour his frenzy till we have secured him, is no theft or deceit.
But to surprise any person's reason is utterly unjustifiable: and, be the end we purpose ever só good, the means is most detestable. If people will not make a right use of leisure and reflection, their fault is great; but if we do not allow them both, ours is much greater.
All hypocrisy is hateful and despicable; but there certainly are infinite cases where others have no right to know our private thoughts and resolutions. Reserve is always allowable : where we go a step farther, it is accompanied with a kind of shame that is sufficient to instruct us. Yet sometimes, to be sure, we may put on an appearance of something better than we are, as showing a disdain of our present imperfections; and provided we put this on with a real intention and aim of rising to the mark we have set. But any appearance contrary to what we are in our hearts and wishes is vile.';
Once again: people's humours we may, nay ought to soothe, and wind, and govern, as we best can; for humour is the childishness of the mind, reason its maturity; and children ought to submit to the direction of grown persons. These are the little arts that humanize society, and give it a pleasing and a gentle air. But to work upon people's weaknesses, to take advantage of their sim. plicity, to side with their passions, for our own pur. poses this is that monstrous policy, which is the wisdom of this world, and the foolishness of a better. .
To introduce any perplexing subject in the easiest mauner, provided our intention be a good one, is but using fit means to a laudable end ; but let all have a care how they grow too fond of their own ingenuity and dexterity, in managing even laud. able undertakings; the step is too easy to a low sort of cunning, that is as far from the true sublime of virtue, as any species of false wit is from the true sublime in writing.
· Most comedies are very pernicious in this way: they turn upon a thousand little stratagems and intrigues, that, even when they are innocent, tend strangely to corrupt the amiable simplicity of an hopest mind.
· True taste in every thing is plainness and simplicity, the least deviation from nature that is pos. sible ; for that is very consistent with the highest improvement of it. Buildings, gardens, statues, pictures, writings of all sorts, come within this rule, and it holds full as strongly in character and behaviour. It is the saying of a very excellent author, that the true art of conversation, if any body can hit it, seems to be this; an appearing freedom and openness, with a resolute reservedness as little appearing as is possible. I stumbled at it at first; but, upon consideration, I must suppose him (and from what goes before, it seems most probable, to mean, by reservedness, a strict watch over our. selves, not to be led into saying any thing 'improper, or that can be of the least harın to others; and this may most allowably be tempered with such a winning carriage, and so easy a good humour, as shall take off from the height of virtue and discre. tion all appearance of stiffness and moroseness.
To insinuate instruction in a pleasing way, to introduce useful subjects by unaffected transitions, and to adorn truth with a mixture of pleasing fictions, is the highest merit of conversation, and has nothing to do with cunning. To watch for a favourable opportunity of doing people good, or reclaiming them from some error-who ever com. plained of being so over-reached ?
On the Necessity of encouraging Hope.
I do not know whether it is a pragmatical dispo. sition, or whether it is the effect of a happy inclination to hope in spite of all discouragements; but, for my part, I cannot abide to hear people, in a desponding way, give up every attempt in which they cannot thoroughly succeed. It is, generally too, the best and wisest sort of people, and who would, therefore, be the most likely to succeed in some degree, that, by carrying their wishes of success too far, and finding it impossible to attain them in their full extent, sit down in a useless despair, and moralize upon the world ; which, because it is too bad to be completely reformed by them, they disdain to‘mend as far as they might.
Thus the best and most useful designs are the soonest discouraged, while those of the wicked and the trifling are pursued day after day; the one too violent to be checked by any consideration that would oppose the ruling passion; the others,