« PreviousContinue »
and many, you
overwhelm you; come to me with
THE art of destruction seems to have proceeded geometrically, while the art of preservation cannot be said to have advanced even in a plain arithmetical progression; for there are but two specifics known, which will infallibly cure their two respective diseases. But the modes of destroying life have increased so rapidly, that conquerors have not to consider how to murder men, but out of the numberless methods invented, are only puzzled which to chuse. If any nation should hereafter discover a new mode of more inevitable and universal destruction to its enemies, than is yet known, (and some late experiments in chemistry have made this supposition far from improbable), it would, in that case, become absolutely necessary for all neighbouring nations to attempt a similar discovery; or that nation which continued in sole possession of so tremendous a secret, would, like the serpent of Aaron, swallow up all neighbouring nations, and ultimately subjugate the world. Let such a secret be once known by any particular nation, and by the awakened activity of all neighbouring states, by every possible effort of vigilant and sleepless espionage, and by the immense rewards proposed for information, mankind would soon perceive which of the two arts government considered of the greatest consequence-the art of preservation, or that of destruction. If, indeed, any new and salutary mode of preserving life were discovered, such a discovery would not awaken the jealousy, nor become, in any degree, such a stimulus to the inventive faculties of other nations, as the art of destruction; princes and potentates would look on with indifference, and the progress of such discoveries has always been slow, and their salutary consequences remote and precarious. Inoculation was practised in Turkey, long before it was known in Europe; and vaccination has, at this moment, many prejudices to contend with. The Chinese, who aspire to be
thought an enlightened nation, to this day are ignorant of the circulation of the blood; and, even in England, the man who made that noble discovery, lost all his practice in consequence of his ingenuity; and Hume informs us, that no physician in the united kingdoms, who had attained the age of forty, ever submitted to become a convert to Harvey's theory, but went on preferring mumpsimus to sumpsimus to the day of his death. So true is that line of the satyrist, "a fool at forty, is a fool indeed;" and we may also add, on this occasion, another line from another satyrist:
"Quæ juvenes didicere, senes perdenda fateri."
THERE are two things which united, constitute the value of any acquisition, its difficulty and its utility. But the bulk of mankind, with Bayes in the Rehearsal, like what will astonish, rather than what will improve. Dazzled by the difficulty, they examine not the utility; and he that benefits them by some mode which they can comprehend, is not so sure of their applause, as the political juggler who merely surprises them, they know not how.
GOD is on the side of virtue; for whoever dreads punishment, suffers it, and whoever deserves it, dreads it.
THE most disagreeable two legged animal I know, is a little great man, and the next, a little great man's factotum and friend.
THERE are some men whose enemies are to be pitied much, and their friends more.
CIVIL and religious freedom go hand in hand, and in no country can much of the one long exist, without producing a correspondent portion of the other. No despotism, therefore, is so complete as that which imposes ecclesiastical as well as political restrictions; and those tyrants in Christendom, who discourage popery, have learned but half their lesson. Provided tyrants will assist her in fettering the mind, she will most readily assist them in enslaving the body.
THERE are some persons whose erudition so much outweighs their observation, and have read so much, but reflected so little, that they will not hazard the most familiar truism, or common place allegation, without bolstering up their ricketty judgments in the swaddling bands of antiquity, their doting nurse and preceptress. Thus, they will not be satisfied to say that content is a blessing, that time is a treasure, or that self-knowledge is to be desired, without quoting Aristotle, Thales, or Cleobulus, and yet these very men, if they met another walking in noon day, by the smoky light of a lanthorn, would be the first to stop and ridicule such conduct, but the last to recognize in his folly their own.
MYSTERY magnifies danger as the fog the sun. The hand that unnerved Belshazzar derived its most horrifying influence from the want of a body; and death itself is not formidable in what we do know of it, but in what we do not.
LEVITY is often less foolish, and gravity less wise,
than each of them appear.
REVENGE is a fever in our own blood, to be cured
only by letting the blood of another; but the remedy too often produces a relapse, which is remorse-a malady far more dreadful than the first disease, because it is incurable.
AFFLICTIONS sent by Providence, melt the constancy of the noble minded, but confirm the obduracy of the vile. The same furnace that hardens clay, liquifies gold; and in the strong manifestations of divine power, Pharaoh found his punishment, but David his pardon.
WHEN young, we trust ourselves too much, and we trust others too little when old. Rashness is the error of youth, timid caution of age. Manhood is the isthmus between the two extremes; the ripe and fertile season of action, when alone, we can hope to find the head to contrive, united with the hand to execute.
THE French nation despises all other nations, except the English; we have the honour of her hate, only because she cannot despise us.
THE firmest friendships have been formed in mutual adversity, as iron is most strongly united by the fiercest flame.
NEUTRALITY is no favourite with Providence, for
we are so formed that it is scarcely possible for us to stand neuter in our hearts, although we may deem it prudent to appear so in our actions.
RELIGION, like its votaries, while it exists on earth, must have a body as well as a soul. A religion purely spiritual, might suit a being as pure, but men are compound animals; and the body too often lords it over the mind.
SECRECY has been well termed the soul of all great designs; perhaps more has been effected by concealing our own intentions, than by discovering those of our enemy. But great men succeed in both
ALWAYS look at those whom you are talking to, never at those whom you are talking of.
THERE are some truths, the force and validity of which we readily admit, in all cases except our own; and there are other truths so self-evident, that we dare not deny them, but so dreadful, that we dare not believe them.
MANY speak the truth, when they say that they despise riches and preferment, but they mean the riches and preferment possessed by other men.
IF the weakness of the head were an admissible excuse for the malevolence of the heart, the one-half of mankind would be occupied in aggression, and the other half in forgiveness; but the interests of society peremptorily demand that things should not be so; for a fool is often as