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diately replied, I am happy to be corrected by so great an orator as your Lordship.
AMBITION makes the same mistake concerning power, that avarice makes concerning wealth; she begins by accumulating power, as a mean to happiness, and she finishes by continuing to accumulate it, as an end. Ambition is, in fact, the avarice of power, and happiness herself is soon sacrificed to that lust of dominion which was first encouraged only as the best mode of attaining it. Hyder, like Richard the third, was observed, by one of his most familiar companions, Gholaum Ali, to start frequently in his sleep; he once took the liberty to ask this despot" of what he had been dreaming?" 66 My friend," replied Hyder, "the state of a beggar is more delightful than my envied monarchy; awake, they see no conspirators; asleep, they dream of no assassins." But ambition will indulge no other passions as favourites, still less will she bear with them as rivals; but as her vassals, she can employ them, or dismiss them at her will: she is cold, because with her all is calculation; she is systematic, because she makes every thing center in herself; and she regards policy too much, to have the slightest respect for persons. Cruelty or compassion, hatred or love, revenge or forbearance, are, to her votaries, instruments rather than influences, and means rather than motives. These passions form indeed, the disturbing forces of weaker minds, not infrequently opposing their march, and impeding their progress; but ambition overrules these passions, and drawing them into the resistless sphere of her own attraction, she converts them into satellites, subservient to her career, and augmentative of her splendour.* And yet ambition has not so wide an horizon as some have supposed; it is an horizon that embraces probabilities always, but impossibilities never.
* Sylla was an exception to this rule, ambition in him, was subordiBate to revenge.
Cromwell followed little events, before he ventured to govern great ones; and Napoleon never sighed for the sceptre until he had gained the truncheon; nor dreamt of the Imperial diadem, until he had first conquered a crown. None of those who gaze at the height of a successful usurper, are more astonished at his elevation, than he himself who has attained it; but even he was led to it by degrees, since no man aspires to that which is entirely beyond his reach. Caligula was the only tyrant who was ever suspected of longing for the moon; a proof of his madness, not of his ambition; and if little children are observed to cry for the moon, it is because they fancy they can touch it; it is beyond their desire, the moment they have discovered that it is beyond their reach.
GOD will excuse our prayers for ourselves, whenever we are prevented from them, by being occupied in such good works as to entitle us the prayers of others.
PRIDE often miscalculates, and more often misconceives. The proud man places himself at a distance from other men; seen through that distance, others perhaps appear little to him; but he forgets that this very distance causes him also to appear equally little to others.
THE truly great consider first, how they may gain the approbation of God; and secondly, that of their own conscience; having done this, they would then willingly conciliate the good opinion of their fellow-men. But the truly little reverse the thing; the primary object, with them, is to secure the applause of their fellow-men, and having effected this, the approbation of God, and their own conscience may follow on as they can.
THERE are some benefits which may be so conferred, as to become the very refinement of revenge; and there are some evils which we had rather bear in sullen silence, than be relieved from at the expence of our pride. In the reign of Abdallah the Third, there was a great drought at Bagdad; the Mahomedan doctors issued a decree that the prayers of the faithful should be offered up for rain; the drought continued: the Jews were then permitted to add their prayers to those of the true believers; the supplications of both were ineffectual: as famine stared them in the face, those dogs, the Christians, were at length enjoined also to pray; it so happened that torrents of rain immediately followed. The whole Conclave, with the Mufti at their head, were now as indignant at the cessation of the drought, as they were before alarmed at its continuance. Some explanation was necessary to the people, and a holy convocation was held; the members of it came to this unanimous determination: That the God of their Prophet was highly gratified by the prayers of the faithful; that they were as incense and as sweet smelling savour unto him, and that he refused their requests that he might prolong the pleasure of listening to their supplications; but that the prayers of those Christian infidels were an abomination to the Deity, and that he granted their petitions, the sooner to get rid of their loathsome importunities.
COMMENTATING lore makes a mighty parade, and builds a lofty pile of erudition, raised up like the pyramids, only to embalm some mouldering mummy of antiquity, utterly unworthy of so laborious and costly a mode of preservation. With very few exceptions, commentators would have been much better employed in cultivating some sense for themselves, than in attempting to explain the nonsense of others. How can they hope to make us understand a Plato or an Aristotle, in cases wherein it is quite evident that
neither of these philosophers understood themselves. The Head of a certain College at Oxford was asked by a stranger, what was the motto of the arms of that university? He told him that it was "Dominus illuminatio mea.” But he also candidly informed the stranger, that, in his private opinion, a motto more appropriate might be found in these words-" Aristoteles meæ tenebræ."
THERE are two things which speak as with a voice from heaven, that He that fills that eternal throne, must be on the side of virtue, and that which HE befriends must finally prosper and prevail. The first is, that the bad are never completely happy and at ease, although possessed of every thing that this world can bestow; and that the good are never completely miserable, although deprived of every thing that this world can take away. For there is one reflection which will obtrude itself, and which the best would not, and the worst cannot dismiss; that the time is fast approaching to both of them, when, if they have gained the favour of God, it matters little what else they have lost, but if they have lost his favour, it matters little what else they have gained. The second argument in support of the ultimate superiority of virtue is this: We are so framed and constituted, that the most vicious cannot but pay a secret though unwilling homage to virtue, in as much, as the worst men cannot bring themselves thoroughly to esteem a bad man, although he may be their dearest friend, nor can they thoroughly despise a good man, although he may be their bitterest enemy. From this inward esteem for virtue, which the noblest cherish, and which the basest cannot expel, it follows that virtue is the only bond of union on which we can thoroughly depend. Even differences of opinion on minor points, cannot shake those combinations which have virtue for their foundation, and truth for their end. Such friendships like those of Luther and Melancthon, should they cease to be friendships of agreement, will continue to be friendships, of alliance; approaching each other by angular lines, when they
no longer proceed together by parallel, and meeting at last in one common centre, the good of the cause in which they are embarked.
MURMUR at nothing; if our ills are reparable, it is ungrateful; if remediless, it is vain. But a Christian builds his fortitude on a better foundation than Stoicism; he is pleased with every thing that happens, because he knows it could not happen, unless it had first pleased God, and that which pleases him must be the best. He is assured that no new thing can befal him, and that he is in the hands of a Father who will prove him with no affliction that resignation cannot conquer, or that death cannot cure.
IT is a mistake that a lust for power is the mark of a great mind; for even the weakest have been captivated by it; and for minds of the highest order, it has no charms. They seek a nobler empire within their own breast; and he that best knew what was in man, would have no earthly crown, but one which was platted with thorns! Cincinnatus and Washington were greater in their retirement, than Cesar and Napoleon, at the summit of their ambition; since it requires less magnanimity to win the conquest, than to refuse the spoil. Lord Bacon has compared those who move in the higher spheres, to those heavenly bodies in the firmament, which have much admiration, but little rest. And it is not necessary to invest a wise man with power, to convince him that it is a garment bedizened with gold, which dazzles the beholder by its splendour, but oppresses the wearer by its weight. Besides, those who aspire to govern others, rather than themselves, must descend to meannesses which the truly noble cannot brook, nor will such stoop to kiss the earth, although it were like Brutus for dominion *!
Quo minus gloriam petebat, eo magis adsequebatur. When they