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lations of which he will shortly be reduced to partake. Thus also this spirit of calculation suggests a sort of balance of infirmities between the characters of youth and age: arrogance accounts with anger, and peevishness with pride; ambition and apathy, closeness and prodigality, prejudice and contempt, enthusiasm and chicane, have their reckonings together; and, on the whole, they find it easy to compromise, as the debts on one side are nearly cancelled by the debts on the other.
As we extend this rule of proportion over the whole scheme of human life, we learn politically to estimate the worldly advantages of virtue and religion, and we despise the pitiful product of vicious pleasures, when the
proper subtractions are made on the side of constitution and conscience. Still elevating our views on this scale of calculation, we rise at length to a sort of infinite series, and take into the account the glorious promises of eternal life. It is then that our worldly interests hardly hold the place of units in our minds, and we feel the full force of those authoritative admonitions which we have received, to live soberly, redeeming the time because the days are evil; and are impelled to join the Psalmist in his solemn supplication, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
No. 26. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1792.
Disputat subtiliter, graviter, ornatè : frequenter etiam Platonicam ile
lam sublimitatem et latitudinem effingit. Sermo est copiosus et varius: dulcis in primis, et qui repugnantes quoque ducat et impellat. Ad hoc, proceritas corporis, decora facies. Quæ licet fortuita et inania putentur, illi tamen plurimum venerationis acquirunt. Nullus horror in vultu, nulla tristitia, multum severitatis : reverearis occursum, non reformides, Vitæ sanctitas summa, comitas par. Insectatur vitia, non homines : nec castigat errantes, sed emendat. SEQUARIS MONENTEM ATTENTUS ET PENDENS; ET PERSUADERE TIBI, ETIAM QUUM PERSUASERIT, CUPIAS.
His argumentation was acute, grave, and polished ; it frequently
even represented the Platonic sublimity and compass. His style, copious and diversified ; opening upon you with such sweetness as to draw and allure you in spite of your prejudices. Add to this a portly figure and a handsome countenance; which circumstances, however accidental or trifling they may be esteemed, much enhanced the general impression of respect which his presence created. Nothing harsh or gloomy in his looks, but a dignified severity. His approach inspired awe, but not alarm. If the sanctity of his life is great, his urbanity is not less conspicuous. Our vices, and not ourselves, are the subject of his reprobation. When he counsels, you would hang attentively on his words; and when he has finished advising
you, you would fain have him begin over again. As I have long regarded my readers in the light of a family that belongs to me; and as the interest with which I espouse them, has become of the most cordial kind by exercise and cultivation; I cannot view them gathering again around me, without those complacent emotions of domestic affection, which animate the meeting of relations that have been some time separated. But though my pen has been long idle, my labours have not altogether been suspended. I have been employed in looking around in the resorts of gaiety, and the busiest scenes of active life, for fresh matter of contemplation, fresh subjects of amusement, and fresh sources of instruction. My mind brings new energy to its task after this interval of recreation; and my spirits have acquired an alacrity which throws a gay colouring over the objects of my lucubrations, and enables me, in spite of gray hairs and growing infirmity, to look at life through a sprightly medium, and to deck out my topics in the dress of good-humour.
To that flexibility of thought, and diversity of attention, which is necessary to the execution of my design, nothing is more essential than an habitual cheerfulness; for it is the nature of melancholy, not only to contract the mind, and destroyits fecundity, but to draw to a point that latitude of discrimination, on which alone a good judgement can be founded, on the mixed and modified condition of human affairs. The best security against this gloominess of disposition, except the natural boon of a happy temper, is to dislodge as early as possible from the mind, all splendid views of life, and sanguine expectations of the fu. ture, which, by accumulating particular disappointments, are sure, in the end, to discolour the general character of our thoughts and maxims. But the particular advantages which I derive from this serenity of disposition, display themselves in my official character, and help very much to qualify me for the charge of dealing forth advice to the well-disposed part of my readers : for I know of nothing that so damps the efficacy of counsel, as a suspicion that it is bottomed in disgust or disappointment, or that it Aows more from the character than the experience
of the person who lends it. Of all the talents which lie within the compass of our ability, there are none which comprehend a greater range of qualifications, than the art of giving advice. To how few belong that delicate art which Persius attributes to Horace in these well-known lines,
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
SAT. I. 116,
If nothing more were necessary to ensure its success than its own internal recommendations, every man of sense, education, and experience, would be fully accomplished for the task; but, unhappily, these pretensions are of trifling avail, without a certain prejudice of character, and command of manner; without that selection of opportunity, of those “mollia tempora fandi,” and that grace of insinuation, which are advantages that result only from long and calm experience in human affairs, and are fruits that ripen slowly in a mind where even the soil and culture go hand in hand. But although the qualifications necessary to authorize advice are thus formidably great, yet there is no undertaking in which we more heedlessly embark; and the meanest among us are every day exalting themselves into the chair, from a pert propensity to rule and dogmatism. This promptitude to interpose advice is particularly common to characters remarkable for their enthusiasm and precipitation ; who, for the greater part, discover plainly, by their egotism and sufficiency, that they are more occupied with themselves than the persons whom they charitably espouse.
Another set of unqualified lawgivers are those who, after a youth besotted with idleness and dissipation, claim the privilege of schooling the world; -a description of people whom I regard as no way superior to broken merchants, that will give you plenty of notes, while they are without a shilling in their coffers. Such are misled by a notion, that maturity of mind is to be calculated by years ; and that discretion is a plant of spontaneous growth, which, if you give it time, will rise to as high perfection in a wilderness as in a cultivated garden.
I conceive that it would be wonderfully for the advantage of the political, as well as the petty concerns of life, if any way could be found of lessening the quantity of advice in the country; instead of which, we are contented to import it from our continental neighbours, at a price which leaves us most notorious losers, and turns the balance most cruelly in our disfavour.-Our vestries, our clubs, and our associations, have lately brought us such an overflow of this commodity, that the operations of productive industry are in danger of being embarrassed thereby; for I have remarked that the quantity of activity is generally in a reverse proportion to the quantity of counsel; and that where very many suppose in themselves an ability to advise, but very few feel the obligation to perform.
It is one of our family maxims, derived to us through many generations, never to take advicefrom the unfortunate, or from those who have bought experience at the expense of their honour, their reputation, or their happiness; which maxim is founded on a suspicion, that in these cases a levelling wish may lurk at the bottom, and on a persuasion that no