Sivut kuvina

113 us to the contempt and derision of those who are not in our power; and if it makes us feared, it also makes us proportionably hated by our inferiors and dependants. Let the influence it gives us be ever so great that man must pay very dear for his power, who procures it at the expence of his own tranquillity and peace.

Besides, the imitation of anger, which is easily formed, will produce the same effect upon others, as if the passion was real. If therefore to quicken the slow, to rouse the inattentive, and restrain the fierce, it is sometimes expedient that they believe you are moved, you may put on the outward appearance of resentment. Thus you may obtain the end of anger without the danger and vexation that attends it; and may preserve your authority, without forfeiting the peace of your mind.


However manly and vigorous anger may thought, it is in fact, but a weak principle, compared with the sedate resolution of a wise and virtuous man. The one is uniform and permanent like the strength of a person in perfect health; the other like a force which proceedeth from a fever, is violent for a time, but it soon leaves the mind more feeble than before. To him therefore who is armed with a proper firmness of soul, no degree of passion can be useful in any respect. And to say it can never be laudable and virtuous, is indeed a sufficiently bold assertion. For the most part we blame it in others, and though we are apt to be indulgent enough to our own faults, we are often ashamed of it in ourselves. Hence it is common to hear men excusing themselves, and seriously declaring they were not angry, when they have given unquestionable proofs to the contrary. But

we do not commend him, who resents the injuries done to a friend or innocent person? Yes, we commend him; yet not for his passion, but for that generosity and friendship of which it is the evidence. For let any one impartially consider, which of these characters he esteems the better; his, who interests himself in the injuries of his friend, and zealously defends him with perfect calmness and serenity of temper; or his, who pursues the same conduct under the influence of resentment.

If anger then is neither useful nor commendable, it is certainly the part of wisdom to suppress it entirely. We should rather coufine it, you tell us, within certain bounds. But how shall we ascertain the limits, to which it may, and beyond which it ought not to pass ? When we receive a manifest injury, it seems we may resent it, provided we do it with moderation. When we suffer a worse abuse, our anger, I suppose, may rise somewhat higher. Now, as the degrees of injustice are infinite, if our anger must always be proportioned to the occasion, it may possibly proceed to the utmost extravagance. Shall we set bounds to our resentment while we are yet calm? how can we be assured, that being once let loose, it will not carry us beyond them? or shall we give passion the reins, imagining we can resume them at pleasure, or trusting it will tire or stop itself, as soon as it has run to its proper length? As well might we think of giving laws to a tempest; as well might we endeavour to run mad by rule and method.

In reality, it is much easier to keep ourselves void of resentment, than to restrain it from excess, when it has gained admission, for if Reason, while her strength is yet entire, is not able

to preserve her dominion, what can she do when her enemy has in part prevailed and weakened her force? To use the illustration of an excellent author, we can prevent the beginnings of some things, whose progress afterwards we cannot hinder. We can forbear to cast ourselves down from a precipice, but if once we have taken the fatal leap, we must descend, whether we will or no. Thus the mind, if duly cautious, may stand firm upon the rock of tranquillity; but if she rashly forsakes the summit, she can scarce recover herself, but is hurried away downwards by her own passion, with increasing violence.

Do not say that we exhort you to attempt that which is impossible. Nature has put it in our power to resist the motions of anger. We only plead inability, when we want an excuse for our own negligence. Was a passionate man to forfeit an hundred pounds, as often as he was angry, or was he sure he must die the next moment after the first sally of his passion, we should find, he had a great command of his temper, whenever he could prevail upon himself to exercise a proper attention about it. And shall we not esteem it worthy of equal attention, worthy of our utmost care and pains, to obtain that immoveable tranquillity of mind, without which we cannot relish either life itself, or any of its enjoyments? Upon the whole then, we both may and ought not merely to restrain, but extirpate anger. It is impatient of rule; in proportion as it prevails, it will disquiet our minds; it has nothing commendable in itself, nor will it answer any valuable purpose in life. HOLLAND.


Virtue our highest interest.

I find myself existing upon a little spot, sur


rounded every way by an immense unknown expansion. Where am I? What sort of a place do I inhabit? Is it exactly accommodated, in every instance, to my convenience? Is there no excess of cold, none of heat, to offend me ? Am I never annoyed by animals, either of my own kind, or a different? Is every thing subservient to me, as though I had ordered all myself? No -- nothing like it--the farthest from it possible.--The world appears not then originally made for the private convenience of me alone ?--It does not--But is it not possible so to accommodate it, by my own particular industry?--If to accommodate man and beast, heaven and earth; if this be beyond me, 'tis not possible--What consequence then follows? Or can there be any other than this--If I seek an interest which is chimerical, and can never have existence.

How then must I determine? have I no interest at all?--If I have not, I am a fool for staying here. "Tis a smoaky house, and the sooner out of it the better.--But why no interest ?Can I be contented with none, but one separate and detached ?--Is a social interest joined with others such an absurdity, as not to be admitted? The bee, the beaver, and the tribes of herding animals, are enough to convince me, that the thing is, somewhere at least, possible. How then am I assured, that 'tis not equally true of man? --Admit it; and what follows?--If so, then Honour and Justice are my interest--then the

whole train of Moral Virtues are my interest; without some portion of which, not even thieves can maintain society.

[ocr errors]

But farther still-I stop not here--I pursue this social interest, as far as I can trace my several relations. I pass from my own stock, my own neighbourhood, my own nation, to the whole race of mankind, as dispersed throughout the earth.--Am I not related to them all, by the mutual aids of commerce; by the general intercourse of arts and letters; by that common nature, of which we all participate ?--Again-I must have food and clothing--Without a proper genial warmth, I instantly perish--Am I not related, in this view, to the very earth itself? To the distant sun, from whose beams I derive vigour? To that stupendous course and order of the infinite host of heaven, by which the times and seasons ever uniformly pass on ?-Were this order once confounded, I could not probably survive a moment; so absolutely do I depend on this common general welfare.

What then have I to do, but to enlarge Virtue into Piety? Not only honour and justice, and what I owe to man, is my interest; but gratitude also, acquiescence, resignation, adoration, and all I owe to this great polity, and its greater Governor, our common Parent.

But if all these moral and divine habits be my interest, I need not surely seek for a better. I have an interest compatible with the spot on which I live--I have an interest which may exist, without altering the plan of Providence, without mending or marring the general order of events.--I can bear whatever happens with manlike magnanimity; can be contented, and fully happy in the good which I possess ; and can

« EdellinenJatka »