Page images


THOSE missionaries who embark for India, like some other reformers, begin at the wrong end. They ought first to convert to practical christianity, those of their own countrymen who have crossed the Pacific, on a very different mission, to acquire money by every kind of rapine abroad, in order to squander it in every kind of revelry at home. But example is more powerful than precept, and the poor Hindoo is not slow in discovering how very unlike the Christians he sees, are to that christianity of which he hears: "Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,

"Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.”

The misfortune, therefore, is, that he understands the conduct of his master much better than the creed of his missionary, and has a clearer knowledge of the depravities of the disciple, than of the preachings of the preceptor. And these observations are strengthened by a remark of Dr. Buchanan, founded on his own experience. "Conversion," says he, "goes on more prosperously in Tanjore and other provinces, where there are no Europeans, than in Tranquebar, where they are numerous; for we find," he adds, "that European example in the large towns is the bane of Christian instruction."


WHEN you have nothing to say, say nothing; a weak defence strengthens your opponent, and silence is less injurious than a bad reply.


We know the effects of many things, but the causes of few; experience, therefore, is a surer guide than imagination, and enquiry, than conjecture. But those physical dif ficulties which you cannot account for, be very slow to arraign, for he that would be wiser than nature, would be wiser than God


WHEN punishments fall upon a villain, from some unknown quarter, he begins to consider within himself what hand may have inflicted them. He has injured many, this he knows, and judging from his own heart, he concludes that he is the most likely to have revenged himself, who has had the most power to do so. This conclusion, however, is often a most erroneous one, although it has proved the frequent source of fatal mischiefs, which have only fallen the heavier, from having had nothing to support them. But forgiveness, that noblest of all self-denial, is a virtue, which he alone who can practise, in himself, can willingly believe in another.


SOME men possess means that are great, but fritter them away, in the execution of conceptions that are little; and there are others who can form great conceptions, but who attempt to carry them into execution with little means. These two descriptions of men might succeed if united, but as they are usually kept asunder by jealousy, both fail. It is a rare thing to find a combination of great means, and of great conceptions, in one mind. The Duke of Bridgewater was a splendid example of this union, and all his designs were so profoundly planned, that it is delightful to observe how effectually his vast means supported his measures, at one time, and how gratefully his measures repaid his means, at another. On the blameless and the bloodless basis of public utility, he founded his own individual aggrandizement; and his triumphal arches, are those by which he subdued the earth, only to increase the comforts of those who possess it. I have heard my father say, that the duke was not considered a clever lad at Eton, which only strengthens an observation I have often made, that vivacity, in youth, is often mistaken for genius, and solidity for dulness.


THE farther we advance in knowledge, the more simplicity shall we discover in those primary rules that re gulate all the apparently endless, complicated, and multi form operations of the Godhead. To Him, indeed, all time is but a moment, and all space but a point, and He fills both, but is bounded by neither. As merciful in his re strictions, as in his bounties, he sees, at one glance, the whole relations of things, and has prescribed unto himself one eternal and immutable principle of action, that of producing the highest ultimate happiness, by the best possible means. But he is as great in minuteness as in magnitude, since even the legs of a fly have been fitted up and furnished with all the powers, and all the properties of an air pump, and this has been done by the self same hand that created the suns of other systems, and placed them at so immense a distance from the earth, that light herself seems to lag on so immeasurable a journey, occupying many millions of years in arriving from those bodies unto us. But, in proof of the observation with which I set out, modern discoveries in chemistry have so simplified the laws by which the Deity acts in his great laboratory of nature, that Sir Humphry Davy has felt himself authorised to affirm, that a very few elementary bodies indeed, and which may themselves be only different forms of some one, and the same primary material, constitute the sum total of our tangible universe of things. And as the grand discordant harmony of the celestial bodies, may be explained by the simple principles of gravity and impulse, so also in that more wonderful and complicated microcosm, the heart of man, all the phenomena of morals are perhaps resolvible into one single principle-the pursuit of apparent good; for although customs universally vary, yet man, in all climates and countries, is essentially the same. Hence, the old position of the Pyronnists, that the more we study, the less we know, is true, but not in the sense in which it has been usually received. It may be true that we know less, but that less is of the highest value; first, from its being a condensation of all that is certain; secondly, from its being a

rejection of all that is doubtful; and such a treasure, like the pages of the Sybil, increases in value, even by its diminution. For knowledge is twofold, and consists not only in an affirmation of what is true, but in the negation of that which is false. And it requires more magnanimity to give up what is wrong, than to maintain that which is right; for our pride is wounded by the one effort, but flattered by the other. But the highest knowledge can be nothing more than the shortest and clearest road to truth; all the rest is pretension, not performance, mere verbiage, and grandilo quence, from which we can learn nothing, but that it is the external sign of an internal deficiency. But to revert to our former affirmation of the simplicity of those rules that regulate the universe, we might farther add, that any machine would be considered to be most ingenious, if it contained within itself principles for correcting its own imperfections. Now, a few simple but resistlers laws have effected all this so fully for the world we live in, that it contains within itself the seeds of its own eternity. An Alexander could not add one atom unto it, nor a Napoleon take one away. A period, indeed, has been assigned unto it by revelation, otherwise it would be far less difficult to conceive of its eternal continuance, than of its final cessation.


AS the dimensions of the tree are not always regulated by the size of the seed, so the consequences of things, are not always proportionate to the apparent magnitude of those events that have produced them. Thus, the American revolution, from which little was expected, produced much; but the French revolution, from which much was expected, produced little. And, in antient times, so grovelling a passion as the lust of a Tarquin, could give freedom to Rome; that freedom to whose shrine a Cesar was afterwards sacrificed in vain, as a victim, and a Cato as a martyr; that freedom which fell, unestablished either by the immolation of the one, or the magnanimity of the other.


WHERE true religion has prevented one crime, false religions have afforded a pretext for a thousand.


WE ask advice, but we mean approbation.


BE very slow to believe that you are wiser than all others; it is a fatal but common error. Where one has been saved by a true estimation of another's weakness, thousands have been destroyed by a false appreciation of their own strength. Napoleon could calculate the former well, but to his miscalculations of the latter, he may ascribe his present degradation.


IN the present enlightened state of society, it is impossible for mankind to be thoroughly vitious; for wisdom and virtue are very often convertible terms, and they invariably assist and strengthen each other. A society composed of none but the wicked, could not exist; it contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, and, without a flood, would be swept away from the earth, by the deluge of its own iniquity. The moral cement of all society, is virtue, it unites and preserves, while vice separates and destroys. The good may well be termed the salt of the earth. For where there is no integrity, there can be no confidence; and where there is no confidence, there can be no unanimity. The story of the three German robbers is applicable to our present purpose, from the pregnant brevity of its moral. Having acquired, by various atrocities, what amounted to a very valuable booty, they agreed to divide the spoil, and to retire from so dangerous a vocation. When the day, which they had appointed for this purpose, arrived, one of them was dispatched to a neighbouring town, to

« PreviousContinue »