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inconstancy in pursuing them, are the greatest and most universal causes of all our disquiet and unhappiness. When ambition pulls one way, interest another, inclination a third, and perhaps reason contrary to all, a man is likely to pass his time but ill who has so many different parties to please. When the mind hovers among such a variety of allurements, one had better settle on a way of life that is not the very best we might have chosen, than grow old without determining our choice, and go out of the world as the greatest part of mankind do, before we have resolved how to live in it. There is but one method of setting ourselves at rest in this particular, and that is by adhering stedfastly to one great end as the chief and ultimate aim of all our pursuits. If we are firmly resolved to live up to the dictates of reason, without any regard to wealth reputation or the like considerations any more than as they fall in with our principal design, we may go through life with steadiness and pleasure ; but if we act by several broken views, and will not only be virtuous, but wealthy popular and every thing that has a value set upon it by the world, we shall live and die in misery and repentance. One would take more than ordinary care to guard one's self against this particular imperfection, because it is that which our nature very strongly inclines us to; for if we examine ourselves thoroughly, we shall find that we are the most changeable beings in the universe. There is scarce a state of life or stage in it which does not produce changes and revolutions in the mind of man. Our schemes of thought in infancy are lost in those of youth; these too take a different turn in manhood, until old age often leads us back into our former infancy.
99. THE DUTY OF THE HISTORIAN. Passing political events are matters of importance to every people, who enjoy any share of freedom or intelligence; to Englishmen they are matters of deep and momentous interest. Sooner or later they must be known; more or less they will be known immediately; but the more accurately they are known, the better. The narration of them will disclose many things to the honour and advantage of some men, to the shame and discredit of others. In the great drama of human life the actors are not all heroes. Fools, knaves and cowards play their part upon the scene. Pericles and Agricola are contrasted with Cleon and Domitian. It is the business of the
historian, to represent men as he finds them; to tell us what they say and what they do. If this be libellous, things must change their names; the annals of Tacitus must be called the libels of Tacitus; Xenophon and Thucydides the traducers of their countrymen ; the old Bailey calendar an infamous compilation of slander. What then is to become of contemporary history? Who is to furnish the materials, from which the philosopher of a future age shall draw his lessons of practical wisdom? Are the virtues alone and not the vices of man to be recorded? Is the chronicler of his own times to be a mere composer of panegyric? Shall he describe a golden age of happiness, which, in the iron days that follow, the sad experience of mankind will force them to disbelieve? Shall he leave to his successor the laborious task of unravelling a tissue of misrepresentation ? And if so, at what period shall truth begin? Shall it commence with the epitaph? Or must the dead still be honoured, to spare the feelings of the living ; and the monuments of literature contend with the sculptured marble for the glory of perpetuating falsehood? It cannot be. No man may hope to escape from the sentence of his fellows. High or low, it is the same. The villager receives a character from his neighbours, the statesman from his country.
100. PHILOSOPHY, ITS WORK IS TO REGULATE ONLY, NOT TO ASSEMBLE MASSES OF MEN. It is the greatest boast of Eloquence and Philosophy, that they first congregated men dispersed, united them into societies, and built up the houses and the walls of cities. I wish they could unravel all they had woven ; that we might have our woods and our innocence again instead of our castles and our policies. They have assembled many thousands of scattered people into one body: it is true, they have done so, they have brought them together into cities to cozen, and into armies to murder, one another: they found them hunters and fishers of wild creatures, they have made them hunters and fishers of their brethren; they boast to have reduced them to a state of peace, when the truth is, they have only taught them an art of war. But the men who praise Philosophy from this topic are much deceived; let oratory answer for itself, the tinkling perhaps of that may unite a swarm: it never was the work of philosophy to assemble multitudes, but to regulate only, and govern them when they were assembled, to make the best of an evil, and
bring them, as much as is possible, to unity again. Avarice and Ambition only were the first builder of towns, and founders of empires. What was the beginning of Rome, the metropolis of all the world; what was it but a concourse of thieves, and a sanctuary of criminals? It was justly named by the augury of no less than twelve vultures, and the Founder cemented his walls with the blood of his brother.
LONDON AFTER THE BATTLE OF EDGEHILL. It is certain the consternation was very great at London and in the two houses, from the time that they heard that the king marched from Shrewsbury with a formed army, and that he was resolved to fight as soon as he could meet with their army. However, they endeavoured confidently to keep up the ridiculous opinion amongst the common people, that the king did not command, but was carried about in that army of the Cavaliers, and was desirous to escape from them; which they hoped the earl of Essex would give him opportunity to do. The first news they heard of the army's being engaged was by those who fled upon the first charge; who made marvellous haste from the place of dar.ger, and thought not themselves safe till they were gotten out of any possible distance of being pursued. It is certain, though it was past two of the clock before the battle began, many of the soldiers, and some commanders of no mean name, were at St Albans, which was near thirty miles from the field, before it was dark. These men, as all runaways do for their own excuse, reported all for lost, and the king's army to be so terrible, that it could not be encountered.
102. OF DISAPPOINTMENTS. I never wake without finding life a more insignificant thing than it was the day before ; which is one great advantage I get by living in this country, where there is nothing I shall be sorry to lose. But my greatest misery is recollecting the scene of twenty years past, and then all on a sudden dropping into the present. I remember, when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line, which I drew up almost on the ground but it dropt in, and the disappointment vexcs me to this very day; and I believe it was the type of all my future disappointments. I should be ashamed to say this to you, if you had not a spirit
fitter to bear your own misfortunes than I have to think of them. Is there patience left to reflect, by what qualities wealth and greatness are got and by what qualities they are lost?
103. THE CLIMATE OF ANCIENT GERMANY, ITS EFFECTS ON THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION OF THE NATIVES. It is difficult to ascertain, and easy to exaggerate, the influence of the climate of ancient Germany over the minds and bodies of the natives. Many writers have supposed, that the rigorous cold of the North was favourable to long life and generative vigour, that the women were more fruitful, and the human species more prolific, than in warmer and more temperate climates. We may assert, with greater confidence, that the keen air of Germany formed the large and masculine limbs of the natives, who were, in general, of a more lofty stature than the people of the South, gave them a kind of strength better adapted to violent exertions than to patient labour, and inspired them with constitutional bravery, which is the result of nerves and spirits. The severity of a winter campaign, that chilled the courage of the Roman troops, was scarcely felt by these hardy children of the North, who in their turn were unable to resist the summer heats, and dissolved away in languor and sickness under the beams of an Italian sun.
104. CHARACTER OF LORD FALKLAND. As he was of a most incomparable gentleness, application, and even submission to good and worthy and entire men, so he was naturally (which could not but be more evident in his place, which objected him to another conversation and intermixture than his own election had done) adversus malos iniucundus; and was so ill a dissembler of his dislike and disinclination to ill men, that it was not possible for such not to discern it.
When there was any overture or hope of peace, he would be more erect and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press any thing which he thought might promote it; and sitting amongst his friends, often, after a deep silence and frequent sighs, would, with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word Peace, Peace; and would passionately profess, that the very agony of the war, and the view of the calamities and desolation the kingdom did and must endure, took his sleep from him, and would shortly break his heart. This FOL. CENT.
made some think, or pretend to think, that he was so much enamoured on peace, that he would have been glad the king should have bought it at any price; which was a most unreasonable.calumny. As if a man, that was himself the most punctual and precise in every circumstance that might reflect upon conscience or honour, could have wished the king to have committed a trespass against either.
105. CHARACTER OF SIR THOMAS COVENTRY, LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL. He was a man of wonderful gravity and wisdom; and understood not only the whole science and mystery of the law, at least equally with any man who had ever sate in that place; but had a clear conception of the whole policy of the government both of church and state, which by the unskilfulness of some well-meaning men justled each the other too much. He knew the temper and disposition and genius of the kingdom most exactly; saw. their spirits grow every day more sturdy and inquisitive and patient; and therefore naturally abhorred all innovations which he foresaw would produce ruinous effects. who stood at a distance, thought that he was not active and stout enough in opposing those innovations. For though, by his place, he presided in all public councils, and was most sharp-sighted in the consequence of things; yet he was seldom known to speak in matters of state, which, he well knew, were for the most part concluded before they were brought to that public agitation: never in foreign affairs, which the vigour of his judgment could well comprehend; nor indeed freely in any thing, but what immediately and plainly concerned the justice of the kingdom ; and in that, as much as he could, he procured reference to the judges. Though in his nature he had not only a firm gravity, but a severity, and even some morosity; but yet it was so happily tempered, and his courtesy and affability towards all men so transcendent, so much without affectation, that it marvellously reconciled him to all men of all degrees, and he was looked upon as an excellent courtier, without receding from the native simplicity of his own manner.
106. HORACE WALPOLE TO HON. H. S. CONWAY. It is very hard, that because you do not get my letters, you will