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CLVII.

89

ERASMUS candidly informs us, that he had not courage enough for a martyr; and expresses his fears that he should imitate Peter in case of persecution; "Non erat animus ob veritatem, capite periclitari; non omnes ad martyrium satis habent roboris; vereor autem si quid inciderit tumultus, Petrum sim imitaturus." But if Erasmus had not the courage to face danger, he had the firmness to renounce He offered up a daily sacrifice, honours and emoluments. denial, rather than a single sacrifice, death. But he was a powerful agent in the cause of truth, for his writings acted upon the public mind as alteratives upon the body, and gradually prepared men to undergo the effects of the more violent cathartics of Luther: hence, it was not uncommon to say, that Luther hatched the egg, but that Erasmus had laid it. Had Erasmus been brought to the stake, and recanted in that situation, I question whether he would have found a better salvo for his conscience, than that of Mustapha, a Greek Christian, of Constantinople. This man was much respected by the Turks; but a curiosity he could not resist, induced him to run the hazard of being present at some of the esoteric ceremonies of the Moslem faith, to see which is to incur the penalty of death, unless the infidel should atone for the offence, by embracing the faith of Mahomet. Mustapha chose the latter alternative, and thus saved his life. But as he was known to be a man of strict integrity, he did not escape the remonstrances of some of his

invited Numa, says Dion,to the sovereignty, he for some time refused it, and persisted loug in his resolution not to accept the invitation. But, at the pressing instance of his brothers, and at last of his father, who would not suffer him to reject the offer of so great an honour, he condescended to be a king. As soon as the Romans were informed of all this by the ambassadors, they conceived a great affection for him, before they saw him, esteeming it as a sufficient argument of his wisdom, that while others valued royalty beyond measure, looking upon it as the source of happiness, he alone despised it as a thing of small value, and unworthy his attention. And when he approached the city, they met him upon the road, and with great applause, salutations, and other honours, conducted him into Rome.-Dio. H. Book the Second.

former friends, to whom he made this excuse for his apos. tacy: "I thought it better to trust a merciful God with my soul, than those barbarous wretches with my body.”

CLVIII.

HE that openly tells his friends all that he thinks of them, must expect that they will secretly tell his enemies much that they do not think of him.

CLIX.

THE greatest friend of Truth is Time, her greatest enemy,is Prejudice, and her constant companion, is Humility.

CLX.

DID universal charity prevail, earth would be an heaven, and hell a fable.

CLXI.

HOW small a portion of our life it is that we really enjoy. In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age, we are looking backwards to things that are gone past; in manhood, although we appear indeed to be more occupied in things that are present, yet even that is too often absorbed in vague determinations to be vastly happy on some future day, when we have time.

CLXII.

IN all governments, there must of necessity be both the law and the sword; laws without arms would give us not liberty, but licentiousness; and arms without laws, would produce not subjection, but slavery. The law, therefore, should be unto the sword what the handle is to the hatchet; it should direct the stroke, and temper the force.

CLXIII.

"And pride, vouchsaf'd to all, the common friend."

THE Poet who wrote this line, evinced a profound knowledge of human nature. It has been well remarked, that it is on this principle that the pangs felt by the jealous are the most intolerable, because they are wounds inflicted on them through their very shield, through that pride which is our most common support even in our bitterest misfortunes. This pride, which is as necessary an evil in morals, as friction in mechanics, this it is that induces men to reiterate their complaints of their own deficiencies, in every conceivable gift, except in that article alone, where such complaints would neither be irrational nor groundless, namely, a deficiency in understanding. Here it is, that self-conceit would conceal the disorder, and submit to the consequences, rather than permit the cure; and Solomon is the only example on record, of one who made wisdom the first and the last object of his desires, and left the rest to heaven. Philosophers have widely differed as to the seat of the soul, and St. Paul has told us, that out of the heart proceed murmurings; but there can be no doubt that the seat of perfect contentment is in the head; for every individual is thoroughly satisfied with his own proportion of brains. Socrates was so well aware of this, that he would not start as a teacher of truth, but as an enquirer after it. As a teacher, he would have had many disputers, but no disciples: He therefore adopted the humbler mode of investigation, and instilled his knowledge into others, under the mask of seeking information from them.

CLXIV.

IF you have performed an act of great and disinterested virtue, conceal it; if you publish it, you will neither be believed here, nor rewarded hereafter.

CLXV.

THYSICAL courage, which despises all danger, will make a man brave, in one way; and moral courage, which

despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another. The former would seem most necessary for the camp, the latter for the council; but to constitute a great man, both are necessary. Napoleon accused Murat of a want of the one, and he himself has not been wholly unsuspected of a want of the other.

CLXVI.

THERE are two things that bestow consequence; great possessions, or great debts.* Julius Cæsar consented to be millions of sesterces worse than nothing, in order to be every thing; he borrowed large sums of his officers, to quell seditions in his troops, who had mutinied for want of pay, and thus forced his partizans to anticipate their own success only through that of their commander.

CLXVII.

THESE who are prejudiced, or enthusiastic, live and move, and think and act, in an atmosphere of their own conformation. The delusion so produced is sometimes deplorable, sometimes ridiculous, always remediless. No events are too great, or too little, to be construed by such persons into peculiar or providential corroboratives or consequences of their own morbid hallucinations. An old maiden lady, who was a most determined espouser of the cause of the Pretender, happened to be possessed of a beautiful canary bird, whose vocal powers were the annoyance of one half of the neighbourhood, and the admiration of the other. Lord Peterborough was very solicitous to procure this bird, as a present to a favourite female, who had set her heart on being mistress of this little musical wonder. Neither his Lordship's entreaties, nor his bribes could prevail; but so able a

*The above remark is applicable to states, no less than to individuals. A public debt is a kind of anchor in the storm; but if the anchor be too heavy for the vessel, she will be sunk by that very weight which was intended for her preservation.-Sapienti, verbum sat.

negociator was not to be easily foiled. He took an opportumity of changing the bird, and of substituting another in its cage, during some lucky moment, when its vigilant protectress was off her guard. The changeling was precisely like the original, except in that particular respect which alone constituted its value; it was a perfect mute, and had more taste for seeds than for songs. Immediately after this manœuvre, that battle which utterly ruined the hopes of the Pretender, took place. A decent interval had elapsed, when his Lordship summoned up resolution to call again on the old lady; in order to smother all suspicion of the trick he had played upon her, he was about to affect a great anxiety for the possession of the bird; she saved him all trouble on that score, by anticipating, as she thought, his errand, exclaiming, "Oho, my Lord, then you are come again I presume, to coax me out of my dear little idol, but it is all in vain, he is now dearer to me than ever, I would not part with him for his cage full of gold; Would you believe it my Lord? From the moment that his gracious Sovereign was defeated, "The sweet little fellow has not uttered a single note!!!' Mr. Lackington, the great bookseller, when young, was locked up, in order to prevent his attendance at a methodist meeting in Taunton. He informs us, that in a fit of superstition, he opened the Bible for directions what to do. The very first words he hit upon were these: " He has given his angels charge over thee, lest at any time thou shouldest dash thy foot against a stone." This, says he, was quite enough for me; so, without a moment's hesitation, I ran up two pair of stairs to my own room, and out of the window I leaped, to the great terror of my poor mistress. It appears that he encountered more angles in his fall than angels, as he was most intolerably bruised, and being quite unable to rise, was carried back, and put to bed for a fortnight. "I was ignorant enough," says he, "to think that the Lord had not used me very well on this occasion," and it is most likely that he did not put so high a trust in such presages for the future.

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