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may be forced to retract our opinions. He may forfeit the esteem we have conceived of him, and some time or other appear to us under a different light from what he does at present. In short, as the life of any man cannot be called happy or unhappy, so neither can it be pronounced vicious or virtuous, before the conclusion of it.
It was upon this consideration that Epaminondas, being asked whether Chabrias, Iphicrates, or he himself 7, deserved most to be
esteemed ? “You must first see us die,' said he, “before that ques10 tion can be answered.'
As there is not a more melancholy consideration to a good man than his being obnoxious to such a change, so there is nothing more glorious than to keep up an uniformity in his actions, and preserve the beauty of his character to the last.
The end of a man's life is often compared to the winding up of a well written play, where the principal persons still act in character, whatever the fate is which they undergo. There is scarce a great person in the Grecian or Roman history, whose death has not
been remarked upon by some writer or other, and censured or 20 applauded according to the genius or principles of the person
who has descanted on it. Monsieur de St. Evremont n is very particular in setting forth the constancy and courage of Petronius Arbiter during his last moments, and thinks he discovers in them a greater firmness of mind and resolution than in the death of Seneca, Cato, or Socrates. There is no question but this polite author's affectation of appearing singular in his remarks, and making discoveries which had escaped the observation of others, threw him into this course of reflexion. It was Petronius's merit,
that he died in the same gaiety of temper in which he lived; but 30 as his life was altogether loose and dissolute, the indifference
which he shewed at the close of it is to be looked upon as a piece of natural carelessness and levity, rather than fortitude. The resolution of Socrates proceeded from very different motives, the consciousness of a well spent life, and a prospect of a happy eternity. If the ingenious author above-mentioned was so pleased with gaiety of humour in a dying man, he might have found a much nobler instance of it in our countryman Sir Thomas More n.
This great and learned man was famous for enlivening his or40 dinary discourses with wit and pleasantry, and, as Erasmus tells
him in an epistle dedicatory, acted in all parts of life like a second Democritus.
He died upon a point of religion, and is respected as a martyr by that side for which he suffered. That innocent mirth which had been so conspicuous in his life did not forsake him to the last; he maintained the same chearfulness of heart upon the scaffold which he used to shew at his table ; and, upon laying his head on the block, gave instances of that good humour with
which he had always entertained his friends in the most ordinary 10 occurrences. His death was of a piece with his life; there was
nothing in it new, forced, or affected. He did not look upon the severing his head from his body as a circumstance that ought to produce any change in the disposition of his mind; and as he died under a fixed and settled hope of immortality, he thought any unusual degree of sorrow and concern improper on such an occasion, as had nothing in it which could deject or terrify him.
There is no great danger of imitation from this example; men's natural fears will be a sufficient guard against it. I shall only ob
serve, that what was philosophy in this extraordinary man would 20 be a frenzy in one who does not resemble him as well in the
chearfulness of his temper, as in the sanctity of his life and manners.
I shall conclude this paper with the instance of a person who seems to me to have shewn more intrepidity and greatness of soul in his dying moments, than what we meet with among any of the most celebrated Greeks and Romans. I met with this instance in the history of the revolutions in Portugal, written by the Abbot de Vertot.
When Don Sebastian king of Portugal had invaded n the terri30 tories of Muly Moluc, emperor of Morocco, in order to dethrone
him, and set his crown upon the head of his nephew, Moluc was wearing away with a distemper which he himself knew was incurable. However, he prepared for the reception of so formidable an enemy. He was indeed so far spent with his sickness that he did not expect to live out the whole day, when the last decisive battle was given; but knowing the fatal consequences that would happen to his children and people, in case he should die before he put an end to that war, he commanded his princi
pal officers, that, if he died during the engagement, they should 40 conceal his death from the army, and that they should ride up to
the litter, in which his corpse was carried, under pretence of receiving orders from him as usual. Before the battle begun, he was carried through all the ranks of his army in an open litter, as they stood drawn up in array, encouraging them to fight valiantly in defence of their religion and country. Finding afterwards the battle to go against him, though he was very near his last agonies, he threw himself out of his litter, rallied his army, and led them on to the charge; which afterwards ended in a com
plete victory on the side of the Moors. He had no sooner 10 brought his men to the engagement, but, finding himself utterly
spent, he was again replaced in his litter; where, laying his finger on his mouth, to enjoin secrecy to his officers who stood about him, he died a few moments after in that posture.
No. 381. The Praise of Cheerfulness; its different aspects ; atheism and vice tend to destroy it ; its permanent sources.
Æquam memento rebus in arduis
Ab insolenti temperatam
HOR. Od. ii. 3. I have always preferred chearfulness to mirth. The latter I consider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient, chearfulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest transports of mirth who are subject to the greatest depressions of melancholy: on the contrary,
chearfulness, though it does not give the mind such an exquisite 20 gladness, prevents us from falling into any depths of sorrow.
Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; chearfulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
Men of austere principles look upon mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and insolence of heart, that is inconsistent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers.
Writers of this complexion have observed, that the sacred 30 person who was the great pattern of perfection was never seen
Chearfulness of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions : it is of a serious and composed nature; it does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the present state of humanity, and is very conspicuous in the characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the heathens, as well as among those who have been deservedly esteemed as saints and holy men among Christians.
If we consider chearfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converse with, and to the great Author of our 10 being, it will not a little recommend itself on each of these ac
counts. The man who is possessed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of his soul : his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed : his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or in solitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured about him, and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befal him.
If we consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good-will towards him. A chearful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good humour in those who come within its influ
A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the chearfulness of his companion : it is like a sudden sun-shine that awakens a secret delight in the mind, without her attending to it: the heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has so
kindly an effect upon it. 30 When I consider this chearful state of mind in its third relation,
I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the great Author of nature. An inward chearfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations: it is a kind of acquiescence in the state wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the divine will in his conduct towards
There are but two things, which, in my opinion, can reasonably deprive us of this chearfulness of heart. The first of these is the
sense of guilt. A man who lives in a state of vice and impeni40 tence can have no title to that evenness and tranquillity of mind which is the health of the soul, and the natural effect of virtue and innocence. Chearfulness in an ill man deserves a harder name than language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we commonly call folly or madness.
Atheism, by which I mean a disbelief of a Supreme Being, and consequently of a future state, under whatsoever titles it shelters itself, may likewise very reasonably deprive a man of this chearfulness of temper. There is something so particularly gloomy
and offensive to human nature in the prospect of non-existence, 10 that I cannot but wonder, with many excellent writers, how it is
possible for a man to outlive the expectation of it. For my own part, I think the being of a God is so little to be doubted, that it is almost the only truth we are sure of, and such a truth as we meet with in every object, in every occurrence, and in every thought. If we look into the characters of this tribe of infidels, we generally find they are made up of pride, spleen, and cavil : it is indead no wonder that men who are uneasy to themselves should be so to the rest of the world : and how is it possible for
a man to be otherwise than uneasy in himself, who is in danger 20 every moment of losing his entire existence, and dropping into nothing?
The vicious man and atheist have therefore no pretence to chearfulness, and would act very unreasonably should they endeavour after it. It is impossible for any one to live in goodhumour, and enjoy his present existence, who is apprehensive either of torment or of annihilation: of being miserable, or of not being at all.
After having mentioned these two great principles, which are destructive of chearfulness in their own nature, as well as in 30 right reason, I cannot think of any other that ought to banish
this happy temper from a virtuous mind. Pain and sickness, shame and reproach, poverty and old age, nay, death itself, considering the shortness of their duration, and the advantage we may reap from them, do not deserve the name of evils: a good mind may bear up under them with fortitude, with indolence, and with chearfulness of heart. The tossing of a tempest does not discompose him, which he is sure will bring him to a joyful harbour.
A man who uses his best endeavours to live according to 40 the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual sources