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institution. In both these, the gratification of private revenge was the object of law; and he who suffered the wrong was the only person who had a right to pursue, to exact, or to remit the punishment. While laws allowed such full scope to the revenge of one party, the interests of the other were not neglected. If the evidence of his guilt did not amount to a full proof, or if he reckoned himself to be unjustly accused, the person to whom a crime was imputed had a right to challenge his adversary to single combat, and on obtaining the victory vindicated his own honour. In almost every considerable cause whether civil or criminal arms were appealed to, in defence either of the innocence or the property of the parties. Justice had seldom occasion to use her balance; the sword alone decided every contest.
Which of us
132. OUR NATURAL FACULTIES LIMITED. creatures, by all our thought and industry, can add one specific power to our beings more than God has bestowed upon them? 'Tis true, indeed, we may either exert or clog our native faculties in different degrees; we may either invigorate them by exercise and habit, or damp and stifle them by sloth and neglect; so that the same person under one education and tour of life would extremely differ from himself had he fallen under another. But with all our endeavours we can exalt none of our faculties above their original pitch: we can never raise the aqueduct above the level of the fountainhead; we cannot advance our species, or change our human nature to a superior class of being; we must all continue in our settled rank and degree, as God was pleased to place mankind in the great scale of creation: 'tis the will and decree of God that we are what we are; and as we are all his creatures, the work of his hands, his servants of such particular station, we do all live to him, and not to ourselves.
133. OF DEBT. Whoever borrows money is bound in conscience to repay it. This every man can see; but every man cannot see, or does not however reflect, that he is, in consequence, also bound to use the means necessary to enable himself to repay it. If he pay the money when he has it, or has it to spare, he does all that an honest man can do, and all, he imagines, that is required of him; whilst the previous
measures, which are necessary to furnish him with that money, he makes no part of his care, nor observes to be as much his duty as the other; such as selling a family-seat or a family estate, contracting his plan of expense, laying down his equipage, reducing the number of his servants, or any of those humiliating sacrifices, which justice requires of a man in debt, the moment he perceives that he has no reasonable prospect of paying his debts without them. An expectation, which depends upon the continuance of his own life, will not satisfy an honest man, if a better provision be in his power; for it is a breach of faith to subject a creditor, when we can help it, to the risk of our life, be the event what it will; that not being the security to which credit was given. I know few subjects which have been more misunderstood, than the law which authorizes the imprisonment of insolvent debtors. It has been represented as a gratuitous cruelty, which contributed nothing to the reparation of the creditor's loss or to the advantage of the community. The prejudice arises principally from considering the sending of a debtor to gaol, as an act of private satisfaction to the creditor, instead of a public punishment. As an act of satisfaction or revenge, it is always wrong in the motive and often intemperate and undistinguishing in the exercise. Consider it is a public punishment; founded upon the same reason, and subject to the same rules, as other punishments; and the justice of it, together with the degree to which it should be extended, and the objects upon whom it may be inflicted, will be apparent.
134. HUMAN NATURE, BY WHOM VILIFIED. Men of elegant and noble minds are shocked at seeing the characters of persons who deserve esteem for their virtue, knowledge or services to their country, placed in wrong lights and by misrepresentation made the subject of buffoonery. Such a nice abhorrence is not indeed to be found among the vulgar, 'but, methinks, it is wonderful that these who have nothing but the outward figure to distinguish them as men, should delight in seeing it abused, vilified and disgraced. I must confess there is nothing that more pleases me in all that I read in books or see among mankind, than such passages as represent human nature in its proper dignity. As man is a creature made up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean: a skilful artist may draw an
excellent picture of him in either views. The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference between them as great as between Gods and Brutes. In short, it is impossible to read a page in Plato, Tully and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or of those of our own country, who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself and at every thing about me. Their business is to depreciate human nature and consider it under its worst appearances. They give mean interpretations and base motives to the worthiest actions. They resolve virtue and vice into constitution. In short, they make no distinction between man and man or between the species of Men and that of Brutes. J. ADDISON
135. OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KINGDOMS. Number (it selfe) in Armies, importeth not much, where the People is of weake Courage: For (as Virgil saith) It never troubles a Wolfe, how many the sheepe be. [The Armie of the Persians, in the Plaines of Arbela, was such a vast Sea of People, as it did somewhat astonish the Commanders in Alexanders Armie; Who came to him therefore, and wisht him, to set upon them by Night; But hee answered, He would not pilfer the Victory. And the Defeat was Easie. When Tigranes the Armenian, being incamped upon a Hill, with 400000 Men, discovered the Armie of the Romans, being not above 14000 marching towards him, he made himselfe Merry with it, and said; Yonder Men are too Many for an Ambassage, and too Few for a Fight. But before the Sunne sett, he found them enough, to give him the Chace, with infinite Slaughter.] Many are the Examples of the great oddes between Number and Courage: So that a Man may truly make a Iudgement; That the Principal Point of Greatnesse in any State, is to have a Race of Military Men. Neither is Money the Sinewes of Warre, (as it is trivially said) where the Sinewes of Mens Armes, in Base and Effeminate People, are failing. For Solon said well to Crasus
(when in Ostentation he shewed him his Gold) Sir, if any Other come, that hath better Iron then you, he will be Master of all this Gold. Therefore let any Prince or State, thinke soberly of his Forces, except his Militia of Natives be of good and Valiant Soldiers. And let Princes, on the other side, that have Subiects of Martiall disposition, know their owne Strength; unlesse they be otherwise wanting unto Themselves. As for Mercenary Forces, (which is the Helpe in this Case) all Examples shew; That, whatsoever Estate or Prince doth rest upon them; Hee may spread his Feathers for a time, but he will mew them soone after.
136. THE FORCE OF CUSTOM CONSIDERED IN REGARD TO A FUTURE LIFE. The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is, to show how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call Heaven will not be capable of affecting those minds, which are not thus qualified for it; we must, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures, which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity, must be planted in her, during this her present state of probation. In short, Heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of a religious life. On the other hand, those evil spirits, who by long custom have contracted in the body habits of lust and sensuality, malice and revenge, an aversion to every thing that is good, just or laudable, are naturally seasoned and prepared for pain and misery. Their torments have already taken root in them, they cannot be happy when divested of the body, unless we may suppose, that Providence will in a manner create them anew and work a miracle in the rectification of their faculties. They may indeed taste a kind of malignant pleasure in those actions to which they are accustomed, whilst in this life; but when they are removed from all those objects which are here apt to gratify them, they will naturally become their own tormentors and cherish in themselves those painful habits of mind which are called in Scripture phrase, 'the worm which never dies.'
137. ASTRONOMY. The wisest and greatest of men, both amongst the ancients and moderns, have confessed themselves charmed with the beauties of this science. To contemplate the grand spectacle of the heavens, has ever been considered as the noblest privilege of our nature. For it is here that we discover the wonders of the Deity, and see his wisdom in the works of creation. Nor is there any knowledge, attained by the light of nature, that gives us juster ideas of this great Being, or furnishes us with stronger arguments by which to demonstrate his existence and attributes. 'The heavens,' as the Psalmist observes, 'declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy-work; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge; and there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.' Thus Astronomy is not only valuable, as it affords us such exalted ideas of God and his works; but it also improves the mind, and increases the force and penetration of the human understanding. For, by means of this science, we are taught to discover the spring and fountain of all the celestial motions; to follow the footsteps of the Creator through the immense regions of his empire; and to trace the secret causes by which he regulates the great machine of the universe. Were a knowledge of this kind attended with no other advantage, it has rendered essential service to humanity, by dissipating our superstitious opinions and vain fears. Man is naturally timid and terrified at dangers which he cannot foresee. Before he is familiarized with nature, he suspects her constancy, and regards many of her operations with dread and apprehension. The regular and invariable order of things will at length inspire him with confidence; but still there are some singular phænomena, which appear as alarming exceptions to the general rule.
138. CHARACTER OF OLIVER CROMWELL. He was one of those men, whom his very enemies could not condemn without commending him at the same time; for he could never have done half that mischief without great parts of courage and industry and judgment. And he must have had a wonderful understanding in the natures and humours of men, and as great a dexterity in the applying them, who from a private and obscure birth, (though of a good family) without interest of estate, alliance or friendships, could raise himself to such