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THAT politeness which we put on, in order to keep the assuming and the presumptuous at a proper distance, will generally succeed. But it sometimes happens, that these obtrusive characters are on such excellent terms with themselves, that they put down this very politeness, to the score of their own great merits and high pretensions, meeting the coldness of our reserve, with a ridiculous condescension of familiarity, in order to set us at ease with ourselves. To a bye-stander, few things are more amusing than the cross play, underplot, and final ecclaircissements, which this mistake invariably occasions.
ENGLAND, with a criminal code the most bloody, and a civil code the most expensive in Europe, can, notwithstanding, boast of more happiness and freedom than any other country under Heaven. The reason is, that despotism, and all its minor ramifications of discretionary power, lodged in the hands of individuals, is utterly unknown. The laws are supreme.
THE Christian does not pray to be delivered from glory, but from vain-glory. He also is ambitious of glory, and a candidate for honour; but glory, in whose estimation? honour, in whose judgment? Not of those, whose censures can take nothing from his innocence; whose approbation can take nothing from his guilt; whose opinions are as fickle as their actions, and their lives as transitory as their praise; who cannot search his heart, seeing that they are ignorant even of their own. The Christian then seeks his glory in the estimation, and his honour, in the judgment of Him alone, Who
“From the bright Empyrean, where He sits,
High throned above all height, casts down his eye, "His own works, and man's works, at once to view!"
THE great remora to any improvement in our civil code, is the reduction that such reform must produce in the revenue. The laws' delays, bills of revival, rejoinder, and renewal, empty the Stamp Office of Stamps, the pockets of plaintiff and defendant of their money, but unfortunately they fill the Exchequer. Some one has said, that injustice, if it be speedy, would, in certain cases, be more desirable, than justice, if it be slow; and although we hear much of the glorious uncertainty of the law, yet all who have tried it will find, to their cost, that it can boast of two certainties, expense and delay. When I see what strong temptations there are that government should sympathize with the judge, the judge with the counsellor, and the counsellor with the attorney, in throwing every possible embarrassment in the way of legal dispatch and decision, and when I weigh the humble, but comparatively insignificant interests of the mere plaintiff or defendant, against this combined array of talent, of influence, and of power, I am no longer astonished at the prolongation of suits, and I wonder only at their termination *.
* Mr. Jeremy Bentham considers litigation a great evil, and deems it the height of cruelty to load a law-suit, which is one evil, with taxation, which is another. It would be quite as fair, he thinks, to tax a man for being ill, by enacting that no physician should write a prescription without a stamp. Mr. Pitt, on the contrary, considered a law-suit a luxury! and held that, like other luxuries, it ought to be taxed. "Westminster Hall," said he, " is as open to any man as the London Tavern ;" to which Mr. Sheridan replied," he that entered either without money, would meet with a very scurvy reception." Some will say that the heavy expences of law prevent the frequency of law-suits, but the practice does not confirm the theory. Others will say that they originate from men of obstinate and quarrelsome dispositions, and that such ought to suffer for their folly. There would be something in this, provided it were not necessary for a wise man to take a shield, when a fool has taken a sword. Law-suits, indeed, do generally originate with the obstinate and the ignorant, but they do not end with them; and that lawyer was right who left all his money to the support of an asylum for fools and lunatics, saying, that from such he got it, and to such he would bequeath it.
IT has been asked, which are the greatest minds, and to which do we owe the greatest reverence? To those who by the powerful deductions of their reason, and the well grounded suggestions of analogy, have made profound discoveries in the sciences, as it were "a priori;" or to those, who, by the patient road of experiment, and the subsequent improvement of instruments, have brought these discoveries to perfection, as it were "a posteriori." Who have rendered that certain which before was only conjectural, practical which was problematical, safe which was dangerous, and subservient which was unmanageable. It would seem that the first class demand our admiration, and the second our gratitude. Seneca predicted another hemisphere, but Columbus presented us with it. He that, standing on the shore, foretells, with truth, many of the undiscovered treasures of the ocean of science, even before the vessel that is to navigate it, can be fully equipped for the voyage, gives us a convincing proof of exalted wisdom, and of profound penetration. But he that builds the vessel of experiment, and actually navigates the wide ocean of science, who neither intimidated by the risk of failure, nor the expence of the outfit, realises all that the other had only imagined, and returning laden with the stores of knowledge, communicates liberally that which he has won so laudably, surely the attainments of such a man are as fully entitled to our gratitude, as the anticipations of the other to our admiration. Sir Isaac Newton predicted, that both water and the diamond would be found to have an inflammable base, if ever they could be analyzed, a thing at that time uneffected. He was led to this conclusion, by observing that all bodies possessed of high refractive powers, had an inflammable base, and water and the diamond have those powers in a high degree. Subsequent experimentalists have succeeded in analyzing both these substances; and pure carbon is the base of the diamond, and hydrogen, the most inflammable of all the airs, is the base of the water. When Copernicus promulgated his planetary system, it was objected to it, that Mars and Venus G
ought to appear to us to be much greater at some periods than at others, because they would be nearer to the earth by so many diameters; but no such difference was apparent. The objection was solid, and Copernicus modestly replied, "that it might be owing to the greatness of their distance." Telescopes were discovered, and then it was found that he was right, and knowledge changed that into a confirmation, which ignorance had advanced as an objection. Kant also, in modern times, predicted by analogy those planets beyond Saturn, which Herschell and others have now discovered by observation. Kant had observed, that nature has no chasm in the links of her operations; that she acts not per saltum, but pedetentim et gradatim, and that the planetary world could not be made to approximate to, and, as it were, shake hands with the cometary, unless there were some planets superior to Saturn, having their orbits still more eccentric, and filling that abyss of unoccupied space, which would otherwise exist between the most eccentric of the planets, and the least eccentric of the comets. This was affirmed by Kant, before Herschell's forty feet reflector was brought to prove by observation, what he had anticipated by analogy. But it is a mortifying truth, and ought to teach the wisest of us humility, that many of the most valuable discoveries have been the result of chance, rather than of contemplation, and of accident rather than of design.
HYPOCRISY is a cruel stepmother, an "injusta noverca" to the honest, whom she cheats of their birthright, in order to confer it on knaves, to whom she is indeed a mother. 66 Verily they have their reward." Let them enjoy it, but not accuse the upright of an ignorance of the world, which might be more fairly retorted on the accuser. He that knows a little of the world, will admire it enough to fall down and worship it; but he that knows it most, will most despise it. "Tinnit, inane est."
REPARTEE is perfect, when it effects its purpose with a double edge. Repartee is the highest order of wit, as it bespeaks the coolest yet quickest exercise of genius, at a moment when the passions are roused. Voltaire, on hearing the name of Haller mentioned to him by an English traveller at Ferney, burst forth into a violent panegyric upon him; his visitor told him that such praise was most disinterested, for that Haller by no means spoke so highly of him. Well well, " n'importe," replied Voltaire, perhaps we are both mistaken
PAIN may be said to follow pleasure as its shadow; but the misfortune is, that in this particular case, the substance belongs to the shadow, the emptiness to its cause.
BY privileges, immunities, or prerogatives to give unlimited swing to the passions of individuals, and then to hope that they will restrain them, is about as reasonable as to expect that the tyger will spare the hart, to browse upon the herbage.
A MAN who knows the world, will not only make the most of every thing he does know, but of many things he does not know, and will gain more credit by his adroit mode of hiding his ignorance, than the pedant by his awkward attempt to exhibit his erudition. In Scotland, the "jus et norma loquendi" has made it the fashion to pronounce the law term curător curător. Lord Mansfield gravely corrected a certain Scotch barrister when in Court, reprehending what appeared to English usage a false quantity, by repeating-curator, Sir, if you please. The barrister imme