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FROM “ CATO."
185. Cato's SOLILOQUY ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
It must be so; — Plato, thou reason'st well,
[Laying his hand on his sword.
Sir RICHARD STEELE. 1675-1729. (Manual, p. 291.)
186. THE DREAM. I was once myself in agonies of grief that are unutterable, ana in so great a distraction of mind, that I thought myself even out of the possibility of receiving comfort. The occasion was as follows: When I was a youth in a part of the army which was then quartered at Dover, I fell in love with an agreeable young woman, of a good family in
those parts, and had the satisfaction of seeing my addresses kindly received, which occasioned the perplexity I am going to relate.
We were, in a calm evening, diverting ourselves upon the top of a cliff with the prospect of the sea, and trifling away the time in such little fondnesses as are most ridiculous to people in business, and most agreeable to those in love.
In the midst of these our innocent endearments, she snatched a paper of verses out of my hand, and ran away with them. I was following her, when on a sudden the ground, though at a considerable distance from the verge of the precipice, sunk under her, and threw her down from so prodigious a height upon such a range of rocks, as would have dashed her into ten thousand pieces, had her body been made of adamant. It is much easier for my reader to imagine my state of mind upon such an occasion, than for me to express it. I said to myself, It is not in the power of Heaven to relieve me! when I awaked, transported and astonished, to see myself drawn out of an affiction which, the very moment before, appeared to me altogether inextricable.
The impressions of grief and horror were so lively on this occasion, that while they lasted they made me more miserable than I was at the real death of this beloved person, which happened a few months after, at a time when the match between us was concluded; inasmuch as the imaginary death was untimely, and I myself in a sort an accessary; whereas her real decease had at least these alleviations, of being natural and inevitable.
The memory of the dream I have related still dwells so strongly upon me, that I can never read the description of Dover Cliff in Shakspeare's tragedy of King Lear, without a fresh sense of my escape. The prospect from that place is drawn with such proper incidents, that whoever can read it without growing giddy must have a good head, or a very bad one.
Sir William TEMPLE. 1628–1699. (Manual, p. 296.)
187. AGAINST EXCESSIVE GRIEF. (From a Letter addressed to the Countess of Essex on the loss of her only daughter.)
I know no duty in religion more generally agreed on, nor more justly required by God Almighty, than a perfect submission to his will in all things; nor do I think any disposition of mind can either please him more, or becomes us better, than that of being satisfied with all he gives, and contented with all he takes away. None, I am sure, can be of more honor to God, nor of more ease to ourselves. For, if we consider him as our Maker, we cannot contend with him; if as our Father, we ought not to distrust him: so that we may be confident, whatever he does is intended for good; and whatever happens
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 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 sứch 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