Page images

tion know his happiness, in possessing, with quiet obscurity, all the comforts of society and domestic . life, with leisure and advantage for making the noblest improvements of the mind: let the rich and great still look higher; and, instead of repi. ning at

· Ceremony, the idol ceremony!"

which debars them of those free and humble joys, delight themselves with their extensive power of doing good and diffusing happiness around them. ' ,

What an alternative is put into the choice of nan! By employment or misuse of the faculties assigned him, he may rise to what dignity, or sink to what baseness he will, in the class of moral beings. Human existence is an inestimable gem, capable of receiving whatever polish we will please to give it; and, if heightened with the diligence it ought, will shine, in due time, with a lustre more dazzling than the stars.

'It would not be fantastical (for its foundation is in truth and reality) to form a scale of nobility very different from the common distinction of birth, titles, and fortune; and wholly according to that figure persons make in the moral world, and according to their various degrees of improvement and usefulness. The change would not be total : many who are now in high life would continue so; but not a few would be strangely degraded.

Of what account, indeed, in the true system of life is he (be he what he will in greatness) who sleeps away his being in 'indolent amusement; whose hours hang heavy on his hands with out the gaming-table, the bottle, the buffoon, or the tailor; and whose mind, amidst them all, is perpetually clouded with a splenetic discontent, the inevitable rust of unused faculties?' Uncoin. fortable to himself, and unimportant to his fellowcreatures, whatever were his advantages of nature and fortune, he has degraded himself from them all. A day-labourer, who does his utmost at the plough and the cart, is a much more respectable being.

In this scale, the miser's plea of poverty would be readily admitted, as witnessed by his anxious look and sordid life; while the frank heart and open countenance should be set down for the merit of a plum. .. . :'.

, Even the miser himself ltas a class of inferiors, aņd that without speaking of the downright vicious, who come under another kind of consideration. These are the oyster-livers ; such as lose the very use of their limbs from mere laziness, and waste year after year, fixed to one uncomfortable spot, where they eat and drink, sleep and grumble on; while the duty of their situation, properly attended to, would make them happy in themselves, and a happiness to others. Were the pearl'taken out of that un. sightly shell, what a circulation of riches and orna

ments might it make to society! But while these poor animals can fatten on their barren rock, it matters not to them.

If cowardice sinks persons lower than all other vices, beneath even these will come in the poor slaves of false shame, the mean deserters of their duty. How many, that now pass for men of honour and spirit, would appear more weak and timorous than female fear: some not daring to refuse a challenge; others drinking against inclina. tion, or affronting religion against their own consciences; or prodigal of health and fortune, from merely wanting strength to resist the vain current of fashion! No black slave, sold in a market, is so far from liberty as every one o. these,

In numberless such ways does the bewildered race of man deviate from the paths of felicity and glory, and childishly squander away inestimable advantages : for just in proportion to the improvement of those faculties with which Heaven has intrusted us, our beings are ennobled, and our happiness heightened. The enjoyments of a inere animal existence are flat and low; the comforts of plain ordinary life, in those who have some feelings of the connexions of society, but no idea of any thing higher, rise in the next degree: the pleasures of an improved imagination take in a circle vastly wider and more fair: the joys of a benevolent heart, animated by an active diligent spirit, refined sentiments, and affections justly warm, exceed the most gay imagination. The strong sense and genuine love of truth and good.' Hess, with all those noblest dispositions that fill a mind, affected and penetrated, as it ought to be; with a sense of religion, and practising every part of Christian duty, ascends still higher, and raises humanity to that point from which it begins to claim a near alliance with superior natures.


On true Politeness.

Politeness is the most agreeable band of society, and I cannot help attributing more ill consequences to the general disregard of it, than people, at present, are apt to attend to. Perhaps it may be so entirely laid aside by the time that this manuscript comes into any body's hand, that the page, which preserves some faint outlines of its resemblance, may be thought no upuseful one; or, at least by the lovers of antiquity, may be read with pleasure, as containing some curious remains of an elegant art; an art that humanized the world for many years, till the fine spirits of the present age thought fit to throw it off, as a narrow restraint and a mean prejudice of education.

Politeness is the just medium between form and rudeness; it is the consequence of a benevolent nature, which shows itself to general acquaintance, in an obliging, unconstrained civility, as it does to more particular ones, in distinguished acts of kiudness. This good nature must be directed by a justness of sense and a quickness of discern- ^

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »