Obrázky na stránke

for, give thyself another turn, become mild, affable, and obliging, and his reproaches of thee naturally cease. His reproaches may indeed continue, but thou art no longer the person whom he reproaches*.'

I often apply this rule to myself; and when I hear of a satirical speech or writing that is aimed at me, I examine my own heart, whether I deserve it or not. If I bring in a verdict against myself, I endeavour to rectify my conduct for the future in those particulars which have drawn the censure upon me; but if the whole invective be grounded upon a falsehood, I trouble myself no farther about it, and look upon my name at the head of it to signify no more than one of those fictitious names made use of by an author to introduce an imaginary character. Why should a man be sensible of the sting of a reproach, who is a stranger to the guilt that is implied in it? or subject himself to the penalty, when he knows he has never committed the crime? This is a piece of fortitude which every one owes to his own innocence, and without which it is impossible for a man of any merit or figure to live at peace with himself, in a country that abounds

with wit and liberty. The famous Monsieur Balzac, in a letter to the Chancellor of France, who had prevented the publication of a book against him, has the following words, which are a lively picture of the greatness of mind so visible in the works of that author : If it was a new thing, it may be I should not be displeased with the suppression of the first libel that should abuse me; but since there are enough of them to make a small library, I am secretly pleased to see the number increased, and take delight in raising a heap of stones that envy has cast at me without doing me any harm.'

* Epict. Ench. cap. 48 and 64, ed. Berk. 1670. 8vo.

The author here alludes to those monuments* of the eastern nations, which were mountains of stones raised

upon the dead bodies by travellers, that used to cast every one his stone upon it as they passed by. It is certain that no monument is so glorious as one which is thus raised by the hands of envy. For my part I admire an author for such a temper of mind as enables him to bear an undeserved reproach without resentment, more than for all the wit of any the finest satirical reply.

Thus far I thought necessary to explain myself in relation to those who have animadverted on this paper, and to shew the reasons why I have not thought fit to return them any formal answer. I must farther add, that the work would have been of very little use to the public had it been filled with personal reflections and debates ; for which reason I have never once turned out of my way to observe those little cavils which have been made against it by envy or ignorance. The common fry of scribblers, who have no other way of being taken notice of but by attacking what has gained some reputation in the world, would have furnished me with business enough, had they found me disposed to enter the lists with them.

I shall conclude with the fable of Boccalini's traveller, who was so pestered with the noise of grasshoppers in his ears, that he alighted from his horse in great wrath to kill them all. This,' says the author, ‘was troubling himself to no manner of purpose. Had he pursued his journey without taking notice of them, the troublesome insects would have died of themselves in a very few weeks, and he would have suffered nothing from them.'-L.

* There are abundant monuments of the same kind in North Britain, where they are called 'cairns.'

N° 356. FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 1712.

Aptissima quæque dabunt dii.
Charior est illis homo quam sibi.---Juv. Sat. x. 349.

-The gods will grant
What their unerring wisdom sees they want:
In goodness, as in greatness, they excel;

Ah! that we lov'd ourselves but half as well!-DRYDEN. It is owing to pride, and a secret affectation of a certain self-existence, that the noblest motive for action that ever was proposed to man is not acknowledged the glory and happiness of their being. The heart is treacherous to itself, and we do not let our reflections go deep enough to receive religion as the most 'honourable incentive to good and worthy actions. It is our natural weakness to flatter ourselves into a belief, that if we search into our inmost thoughts, we find ourselves wholly disinterested, and divested of any views arising from self-love and vain glory. But however spirits of superficial greatness may disdain at first sight to do any thing, but from a noble impulse in themselves, without any future regards in this or any other being; upon stricter inquiry they will find, to act worthily, and expect to be rewarded only in another world, is as heroic a pitch of virtue as human nature can arrive at. If the tenor of our actions have any other motive than the desire to be pleasing in the eye of the Deity, it will necessarily follow that we must be more than

men, if we are not too much exalted in prosperity and depressed in adversity. But the Christian world has a Leader, the contemplation of whose life and sufferings must administer comfort in affiction, while the sense of his power and omnipotence must give them humiliation in prosperity.

It is owing to the forbidding and unlovely con

straint with which men of low conceptions act when they think they conform themselves to religion, as well as to the more odious conduct of hypocrites, that the word Christian does not carry with it at first view all that is great, worthy, friendly, generous, and heroic. The man who suspends his hopes of the reward of worthy actions till after death, who can bestow unseen, who can overlook hatred, do good to his slanderer, who can never be angry at his friend, never revengeful to his enemy, is certainly formed for the benefit of society. Yet these are so far from heroic virtues, that they are but the ordinary duties of a Christian.

When a man with a steady faith looks back on the great catastrophe of this day*, with what bleeding emotions of heart must he contemplate the life and sufferings of his Deliverer! When his agonies occur to him, how will he weep to reflect that he has often forgot them for the glance of a wanton, for the applause of a vain world, for a heap of fleeting past pleasures, which are at present aching sorrows!

How pleasing is the contemplation of the lowly steps our Almighty Leader took in conducting us to his heavenly mansions! In plain and apt parable, similitude and allegory, our great Master enforced the doctrine of our salvation; but they of his acquaintance, instead of receiving what they could not oppose, were offended at the presumption of being wiser than they. They could not raise their little ideas above the consideration of him, in those circumstances familiar to them, or conceive that he, who appeared not more terrible or pompous, should have any thing more exalted than themselves; he in that place therefore would no longer ineffectually exert a power which was incapable of conquering the prepossession of their narrow and mean conceptions.

* This paper was published on Good Friday, 1712.


Multitudes followed him, and brought him the dumb, the blind, the sick, and maimed; whom when their Creator had touched, with a second life they saw, spoke, leaped, and ran.

In affection to him, and admiration of his actions, the crowd could not leave him, but waited near him till they were almost as faint and helpless as others they brought for suc

He had compassion on them, and by a miracle supplied their necessities. Oh, the ecstatic entertainment, when they could behold their food immediately increase to the distributor's hand, and see their God in person feeding and refreshing his creatures! Oh envied happiness! But why do I say envied ? as if our God did not still preside over our temperate meals, cheerful hours, and innocent conversations.

But though the sacred story is every where full of miracles pot inferior to this, and though in the midst of those acts of divinity he never gave the least hint of a design to become a secular prince, yet had not hitherto the apostles themselves any other than hopes of worldly power, preferment, riches, and pomp; for Peter, upon an accident of ambition among the apostles, hearing his Master explain that his kingdom was not of this world, was so scandalized that he whom he had so long followed should suffer the ignominy, shame, and death, which he foretold, that he took him aside and said, “Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee:' for which he suffered a severe reprehension from his Master, as having in his view the glory of man rather than that of God.

The great change of things began to draw near, when the Lord of nature thought fit, as a Saviour and Deliverer, to make his public entry into Jerusalem with more than the power and joy, but none of the ostentation and pomp, of a triumph; he came

« PredošláPokračovať »