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that we interpret otherwise, yet we can get nothing by repining, nor save anything by resisting.
You will say, perhaps, that one thing was all to you, and your fondness of it made you indifferent to everything else. But this, I doubt, will be so far from justifying you, that it will prove to be your fault, as well as your misfortune. God Almighty gave you all the blessings of life, and you set your heart wholly upon one, and despise or undervalue all the rest: is this his fault or yours? Nay, is it not to be very unthankful to Heaven, as well as very scornful to the rest of the world? is it not to say, because you have lost one thing God has given, you thank him for nothing he has left, and care not what he takes away? is it not to say, since that one thing is gone out of the world, there is nothing left in it which you think can deserve your kindness or esteem? *
Christianity teaches and commands us to moderate our passions; to temper our affections towards all things below; to be thankful for the possession, and patient under the loss, whenever He who gave shall see fit to take away. Your extreme fondness was perhaps as displeasing to God before, as now your extreme affliction is; and your loss may have been a punishment for your faults in the manner of enjoying what you had. It is, at least, pious to ascribe all the ill that befalls us to our own demerits, rather than to injustice in God. And it becomes us better to adore the issues of his providence in the effects, than to inquire into the causes; for submission is the only way of reasoning between a creature and its Maker; and contentment in his will is the greatest duty we can pretend to, and the best remedy we can apply to all our misfortunes.
LORD SHAFTESBURY. 1671-1713. (Manual, p. 297.)
FROM "THE MORALISTS."
188. THE DEITY UNFOLDED IN HIS WORKS.
How oblique and faintly looks the sun on yonder climates, far removed from him! How tedious are the winters there! How deep the horrors of the night, and how uncomfortable even the light of day! The freezing winds employ their fiercest breath, yet are not spent with blowing. The sea, which elsewhere is scarce confined within its limits, lies here immured in walls of crystal. The snow covers the hills, and almost fills the lowest valleys. How wide and deep it lies, incumbent o'er the plains, hiding the sluggish rivers, the shrubs and trees, the dens of beasts, and mansions of distressed and feeble men! See where they lie confined, hardly secure against the raging cold or the attacks of the wild beasts, now masters of the wasted field, and forced by hunger out of the naked wood. Yet not disheartened (such is the force of human breasts), but thus provided for by art and
prudence, the kind compensating gifts of Heaven, men and their herds may wait for a release. For, at length, the sun approaching melts the snow, sets longing men at liberty, and affords them means and time to make provision against the next return of cold. It breaks the icy fetters of the main, where vast sea-monsters pierce through floating islands, with arms which can withstand the crystal rock; whilst others, who of themselves seem great as islands, are by their bulk alone armed against all but man, whose superiority over creatures of such stupendous size and force should make him mindful of his privilege of reason, and force him humbly to adore the great Composer of these wondrous frames, and Author of his own superior wisdom.
But leaving these dull climates, so little favored by the sun, for those happier regions, on which he looks more kindly, making perpetual summer, how great an alteration do we find! His purer light confounds weak-sighted mortals, pierced by his scorching beams. Scarce can they tread the glowing ground. The air they breathe cannot enough abate the fire which burns within their panting breasts. Their bodies melt. O'ercome and fainting, they seek the shade, and wait the cool refreshments of the night. Yet oft the bounteous Creator bestows other refreshments. He casts a veil of clouds before them, and raises gentle gales; favored by which, the men and beasts pursue their labors, and plants refreshed by dews and showers can gladly bear the warmest sunbeams.
And here the varying scene opens to new wonders. We see a country rich with gems, but richer with the fragrant spices it affords. How gravely move the largest of land-creatures on the banks of this fair river! How ponderous are their arms, and vast their strength, with courage, and a sense superior to the other beasts! Yet are they tamed (we see) by mankind, and brought even to fight their battles, rather as allies and confederates than as slaves. *
Now may we see that happy country where precious gums and balsams flow from trees, and nature yields her most delicious fruits. How tame and tractable, how patient of labor and of thirst, are those large creatures, who, lifting up their lofty heads, go led and laden through those dry and barren places! Their shape and temper show them framed by nature to submit to man, and fitted for his service, who from hence ought to be more sensible of his wants, and of the divine bounty thus supplying them.
LORD BOLINGBROKE. 1678-1751. (Manual, p. 298.)
189. THE USE OF HISTORY.
To teach and to inculcate the general principles of virtue, and the general rules of wisdom and good policy which result from such details of actions and characters, comes, for the most part, and always should come, expressly and directly into the design of those who are
capable of giving such details; and, therefore, whilst they narrate as historians, they hint often as philosophers: they put into our hands, as it were, on every proper occasion, the end of a clue, that serves to remind us of searching, and to guide us in the search of that truth which the example before us either establishes or illustrates. If a writer neglects this part, we are able, however, to suppy his neglect by our own attention and industry: and when he gives us a good history of Peruvians or Mexicans, of Chinese or Tartars, of Muscovites or Negroes, we may blame him, but we must blame ourselves much more, if we do not make it a good lesson of philosophy. This being the general use of history, it is not to be neglected. Every one may make it who is able to read, and to reflect on what he reads; and every one who makes it will find, in his degree, the benefit that arises from an early acquaintance contracted in this manner with mankind. We are not only passengers or sojourners in this world, but we are absolute strangers at the first steps we make in it. Our guides are often ignorant, often unfaithful. By this map of the country, which history spreads before us, we may learn, if we please, to guide ourselves. In our journey through it, we are beset on every side. We are besieged sometimes, even in our strongest holds. Terrors and temptations, conducted by the passions of other men, assault us; and our own passions, that correspond with these, betray us. History is a collection of the journals of those who have travelled through the same country, and been exposed to the same accidents: and their good and their ill success are equally instructive. In this pursuit of knowledge an immense field is opened to us: general histories, sacred and profane; the histories of particular countries, particular events, particular orders, particular men; memorials, anecdotes, travels. But we must not ramble in this field without discernment or choice, nor even with these must we ramble too long.
190. THE PATRIOT KING.
The good of the people is the ultimate and true end of government. Governors are therefore appointed for this end, and the civil constitution which appoints them, and invests them with their power, is determined to do so by that law of nature and reason which has determined the end of government, and which admits this form of government as the proper mean of arriving at it. Now the greatest good of a people is their liberty; and in the case here referred to, the people has judged it so, and provided for it accordingly. Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to the individual body: without health no pleasure can be tasted by man, without liberty no happiness can be enjoyed by society. The obligation, therefore, to defend and maintain the freedom of such constitutions, will appear most sacred to a patriot king. Kings who have weak understandings, bad hearts, and strong prejudices. and all these, as it oftens happens, inflamed by
their passions, and rendered incurable by their self-conceit and presumption, such kings are apt to imagine, and they conduct themselves so as to make many of their subjects imagine, that the king and the people in free governments are rival powers, who stand in competition with one another, who have different interests, and must of course have different views that the rights and privileges of the people are so many spoils taken from the right and prerogative of the crown; and that the rules and laws, made for the exercise and security of the former, are so many diminutions of their dignity, and restraints on their power.
A patriot king will see all this in a far different and much truer light. The constitution will be considered by him as one law, consisting of two tables, containing the rule of his government, and the measure of his subjects' obedience; or as one system, composed of different parts and powers, but all duly proportioned to one another, and conspiring by their harmony to the perfection of the whole.
Bishop BERKELEY. 1684-1753. (Manual, p. 299.)
191. LUXURY THE CAUSE OF NATIONAL RUIN.
Frugality of manners is the nourishment and strength of bodies politic. It is that by which they grow and subsist, until they are corrupted by luxury, the natural cause of their decay and ruin.. Of this we have examples in the Persians, Lacedæmonians, and Romans: not to mention many later governments which have sprung up, continued a while, and then perished by the same natural causes. But these are, it seems, of no use to us: and, in spite of them, we are in a fair way of becoming ourselves another useless example to future ages.
It is not to be believed, what influence public diversions have on the spirit and manners of a people. The Greeks wisely saw this, and made a very serious affair of their public sports. For the same reason, it will, perhaps, seem worthy the care of our legislature to regulate the public diversions, by an absolute prohibition of those which have a direct tendency to corrupt our morals, as well as by a reformation of the drama; which, when rightly managed, is such a noble entertainment, and gave those fine lessons of morality and good sense to the Athenians of old, and to our British gentry above a century ago; but for these last ninety years, hath entertained us, for the most part, with such wretched things as spoil, instead of improving the taste and manners of the audience. Those who are attentive to such propositions only as may fill their pockets, will probably slight these things as trifles below the care of the legislature. But I am sure, all honest, thinking men must lament to see their country run headlong into all those luxurious follies, which, it is evident, have been fatal to other nations, and will undoubtedly prove fatal to us also, if a timely stop be not put to them.
192. LADY MARY MONTAGU. 1690-1762. (Manual,
FROM HER LETTERS.
Vienna, October 1, O. S. 1716.
But now I am speaking of Vienna, I am sure you expect I should say something of the convents: they are of all sorts and sizes; but I am best pleased with that of St. Lawrence, where the ease and neatness they seem to live with, appears to be much more edifying than those stricter orders, where perpetual penance and nastiness must breed discontent and wretchedness. The nuns are all of quality. I think there are to the number of fifty. They have each of them a little cell perfectly clean, the walls of which are covered with pictures more or less fine, according to their quality. A long stone gallery runs by all of them, furnished with the pictures of exemplary sisters; the chapel is extremely neat, and richly adorned. Nothing can be more becoming than the dress of these nuns. It is a white robe, the sleeves of which are turned up with fine white calico, and their headdress the same, excepting a small veil of black crape that falls behind. They have a lower sort of serving nuns that wait on them as their chamber-maids. They receive all visits of women, and play at ombre in their chambers with permission of their abbess, which is very easy to be obtained. I never saw an old woman so good-natured; she is near fourscore, and yet shows very little signs of decay, being still lively and cheerful. She caressed me as if I had been her daughter, giving me some pretty things of her own work, and sweetmeats in abundance. The grate is not of the most rigid; it is not very hard to put a head through. The young Count of Salamis came to the grate, while I was there, and the abbess gave him her hand to kiss. But I was surprised to find here the only beautiful young woman I have seen at Vienna, and, not only beautiful, but genteel, witty, and agreeable, of a great family, and who had been the admiration of the town. I could not forbear showing my surprise at seeing a nun like her. She made me a thousand obliging compliments, and desired me to come often. "It would be an infinite pleasure to me," said she, sighing, "but I avoid, with the greatest care, seeing any of my former acquaintances; and, whenever they come to our convent, I lock myself in my cell.". I observed tears come into her eyes, which touched me extremely, and I began to talk to her in that strain of tender pity she inspired me with.