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are looked on as natural endowments or oratory. Nobody is made anything will be found, when examined into more by hearing of rules, or laying them up in narrowly, to be the product of exercise, his memory; practice must settle the habit and to be raised to that pitch only by of doing without reflecting on the rule ; repeated actions.
Some men are re. and you may as well hope to make a marked for pleasantness in raillery, others good painter or musician extempore by a for apologues and apposite diverting lecture and instruction in the arts of stories. This is apt to be taken for the music and painting, as a coherent thinker, effect of pure nature, and that the rather, or strict reasoner, by a set of rules, showbecause it is not got by rules, and those who him wherein right reasoning consists. excel in either of them, never purposely This being so, that defects and weakset themselves to the study of it as an art ness in men's understandings, as well as to be learnt. But yet it is true, that at other faculties, come from want of a right first some lucky hit which took with use of their own minds, I am apt to think somebody, and gained him commenda- the fault is generally mislaid upon nature, tion, encouraged him to try again, in- and there is often a complaint of want of clined his thoughts and endeavours that parts, when the fault lies in a want of way, till at last he insensibly got a facility a due improvement of them. We see in it without perceiving how; and that is men frequently dexterous attributed wholly to nature, which was enough in making a bargain, who, if you much more the effect of use and practice. reason with them about matters of reliI do not deny that natural disposition gion, appear perfectly stupid. may often give the first rise to it; but that never carries a man far without use and exercise, and it is practice alone that THE UNWELCOMENESS OF brings the powers of the mind as well as
NEW TRUTHS. those of the body to their perfection. Many a good poetic vein is buried under THE imputation of novelty is a terrible a trade, and never produces anything for charge amongst those who judge of men's want of improvement. We see the ways heads, as they do of their perukes, by the of discourse and reasoning are very dif- fashion, and can allow none to be right ferent, even concerning the same matter, but the received doctrines. Truth scarce at court and in the university. And he ever yet carried it by vote anywhere at its that will go but from Westminster-hall to first appearance: new opinions are always the Exchange, will find a different genius suspected, and usually opposed, without and turn in their ways of talking; and one any other reason but because they are not cannot think that all whose lot fell in the already common. But truth, like gold, city were born with different parts from is not the less so for being newly brought those who were bred at the university or out of the mine. It is trial and examinainns of court.
tion must give it price, and not any To what purpose all this, but to show antique fashion: and though it be not yet that the difference, so observable in men's current by the public stamp, yet it may, understandings and parts, does not arise for all that, be as old as nature, and is so much from the natural faculties, as certainly not the less genuine. acquired habits? He would be laughed at that should go about to make a fine dancer out of a country hedger, at past THE DUTY OF PRESERVING fifty. And he will not have much better
HEALTH. success who shall endeavour at that age to make a man reason well, or speak IF by gaining knowledge we destroy handsomely, who has never been used to our health, we labour for a thing that it, though you should lay before him a will be useless in our hands; and if, by collection of all the best precepts of logic harassing our bodies (though with a design to render ourselves more useful), every one sees in his brother's eye, but we deprive ourselves of the abilities and never regards the beam in his own. For opportunities of doing that good we who is there almost that is ever brought might have done with a meaner talent, fairly to examine his own principles, and which God thought sufficient for us, by see whether they are such as will bear having denied us the strength to improve the trial ? But yet this should be one of it to that pitch which men of stronger the first things every one should set constitutions can attain to, we rob God about, and be scrupulous in, who would of so much service, and our neighbour of rightly conduct his understanding in the all that help which, in a state of health, search of truth and knowledge. with moderate knowledge, we might have To those who are willing to get rid of been able to perform. He that sinks his this great hindrance of knowledge (for to vessel by overloading it, though it be such only I write); to those who would with gold, and silver, and precious shake off this great and dangerous imstones, will give his owner but an ill poster Prejudice, who dresses up falseaccount of his voyage.
hood in the likeness of truth, and so dexterously hoodwinks men's minds, as
to keep them in the dark, with a belief PREJUDICES.
that they are more in the light than any
that do not see with their eyes, I shall Every one is forward to complain of offer this one mark whereby prejudice the prejudices that mislead other men or may be known. He that is strongly of parties, as if he were free, and had none any opinion, must suppose (unless he be of his own. This being objected to on self-condemned) that his persuasion is all sides, it is agreed that it is a fault, built upon good grounds, and that his and a hindrance to knowledge. What, assent is no greater than what the now, is the cure? No other but this, evidence of the truth he holds forces him that every man should let alone others' to; and that they are arguments, and not prejudices, and examine his own. No- inclination or fancy, that make him so body is convinced of his by the accusa- confident and positive in his tenets. Now tion of another : he recriminates by the if, after all his profession, he cannot same rule, and is clear. The only way bear any opposition to his opinion, if to remove this great cause of ignorance he cannot so much as give a patient and error out of the world, is for every hearing, much less examine and weigh one impartially to examine himself. If the arguments on the other side, does he others will not deal fairly with their own not plainly confess it is prejudice governs minds, does that make my errors truths, him? And it is not evidence of truth, or ought it to make me in love with but some lazy anticipation, some beloved them, and willing to impose on myself. presumption, that he desires to rest unIf others love cataracts on their eyes, disturbed in. For if what he holds be as should that hinder me from couching of he gives out, well fenced with evidence, mine as soon as I could ? Every one and he sees it to,be true, what need he declares against blindness, and yet who fear to put it to the proof? If his opinion almost is not fond of that which dims his be settled upon a firm foundation, if the sight, and keeps the clear light out of his arguments that support it, and have mind, which should lead him into truth obtained his assent, be clear, good, and and knowledge ? False or doubtful posi- convincing, why should he be shy to have tions, relied upon as unquestionable it tried whether they be proof or not? maxims, keep those in the dark from He whose assent goes beyond his evidence, truth who build on them. Such are owes this excess of his adherence only to usually the prejudices imbibed from prejudice, and does, in effect, own it when education, party, reverence, fashion, in- he refuses to hear what is offered against terest, &c. This is the mote which it; declaring thereby, that it is not evidence he seeks, but the quiet enjoy- those whom you silence by your impertiinent of the opinion he is fond of, with a nent talking. forward condemnation of all that may Be not too earnest, loud, or violent in stand in opposition to it, unheard and your conversation. Silence your opponent unexamined.
with reason, not with noise.
Be careful not to interrupt another when he is speaking; hear hiin out, and
you will understand him the better, and (SIR MATTHEW HALE. 1609-1675.) be able to give him the better answer. COUNSEL TO HIS CHILDREN.
Consider before you speak, especially
when the business is of moment; weigh Dear CHILDREN_I thank God I came the sense of what you mean to utter, and well to Farrington this day, about five the expressions you intend to use, that o'clock. And as I have some leisure time they may be significant, pertinent, and at my inn, I cannot spend it more to my inoffensive. Inconsiderate persons do not own satisfaction, and your benefit, than, think till they speak; or they speak, and by a letter, to give you some good counsel. then think. The subject shall be concerning your Some men excel in husbandry, some in speech; because much of the good or gardening, some in mathematics. In conevil that befalls persons arises from the versation, learn, as near as you can, well or ill managing of their conversa where the skill or excellence of any pertion. When I have leisure and oppor- son lies ; put him upon talking on that tunity, I shall give you my directions on subject, observe what he says, keep it in other subjects.
your memory, or commit it to writing. Never speak anything for a truth which | By this means you will glean the worth you know or believe to be false. Lying and knowledge of everybody you conis a great sin against God, who gave us a verse with; and, at an easy rate, acquire tongue to speak the truth, and not false- what may be of use to you on many hood. It is a great offence against hu- occasions. manity itself; for, where there is no regard When you are in company with light, to truth, there can be no safe society vain, impertinent persons, let the observbetween man and man. And it is an ing of their failings make you the more injury to the speaker; for, besides the cautious both in your conversation with disgrace which it brings upon him, it them and in your general behaviour, that occasions so much baseness of mind, that you may avoid their errors. he can scarcely tell truth, or avoid lying, If any one, whom you do not know to even when he has no colour of necessity be a person of truth, sobriety, and weight, for it; and, in time, he comes to such a relates strange stories, be not too ready pass, that as other people cannot believe to believe or report them; and yet (unless he speaks truth, so he himself scarcely he is one of your familiar acquaintance) knows when he tells a falsehood.
be not too forward to contradict him. As you must be careful not to lie, so If the occasion requires you to declare you must avoid coming near it. You your opinion, do it modestly and gently, must not equivocate, nor speak any not bluntly nor coarsely; by this means thing positively for which you have no you will avoid giving offence, or being authority but report, or conjecture, or abused for too much credulity. opinion.
Be careful that you do not commend Let your words be few, especially when yourselves. It is a sign that your repuyour superiors, or strangers, are present, tation is small and .sinking, if your own lest you betray your own weakness, and tongue must praise you; and it is fulsome rob yourself of the opportunity, which you and unpleasing to others to hear such might otherwise have had, to gain know- commendations. ledge, wisdom, and experience, by hearing Speak well of the absent whenever you
have a suitable opportunity. Never speak Keep yourselves in some useful employill of them, or of anybody, unless you are ment; for idleness is the nursery of vain sure they deserve it, and unless it is neces- and sinful thoughts, which corrupt the sary for their amendment, or for the safety mind, and disorder the life. Be kind and benefit of others.
and loving to one another. Honour your Avoid, in your ordinary communica- minister. Be not bitter nor harsh to my tions, not only oaths, but all imprecations servants. Be respectful to all. Bear my and earnest protestations.
absence patiently and cheerfully. Behave Forbear scoffing and jesting at the con- as if I were present among you, and saw dition or natural defects of any person. you,
Remember, you have a greater Such offences leave a deep impression; Father than I am, who always, and in all and they often cost a man dear.
places, beholds you, and knows your Be very careful that you give no re- hearts and thoughts. Study to requite proachful, menacing, or spiteful words to my love and care for you with dutifulness, any person. Good words make friends; observance, and obedience; and account bad words make enemies. It is great it an honour that you have an opportuprudence to gain as many friends as we nity, by your attention, faithfulness, and honestly can, especially when it may be industry, to pay some part of that debt done at so easy a rate as a good word; which, by the laws of nature and of graand it is great folly to make an enemy by titude, you owe to me. Be frugal in my ill words, which are of no advantage to family, but let there be no want; and the party who uses them. When faults provide conveniently for the poor. are committed, they may, and by a supe- I
pray God to fill your hearts with his rior they must, be reproved: but let it be grace, fear, and love, and to let you see done without reproach or bitterness; the comfort and advantage of serving him; otherwise it will lose its due end and use, and that his blessing, and presence, and and, instead of reforming the offence, it direction, may be with you, and over you will exasperate the offender, and lay the all. I am your ever loving father. -Sir reprover justly open to reproof.
Matthew Hale. If a person be passionate, and give you ill language, rather pity him than be moved to anger.
You will find that [ABRAHAM COWLEY. 1618-1667.] silence, or very gentle words, are the most
A LOWLY LIFE. exquisite revenge for reproaches; they will either cure the distemper in the angry What a brave privilege is it to be free man, and make him sorry for his passion, from all contentions, from all envying or or they will be a severe reproof and being envied, from receiving and from punishment to him.
paying all kinds of ceremonies! It is, in Never utter any profane speeches, nor my mind, a very delightful pastime for make a jest of any Scripture expressions. two good and agreeable friends to travel When you pronounce the name of God up and down together, in places where or of Christ, or repeat any passages or they are by nobody known, nor know words of Holy Scripture, do it with re- anybody. It was the case of Æneas and verence and seriousness, and not lightly, his Achates, when they walked invisibly for that is " taking the name of God in about the fields and streets of Carthage.
Venus herself I have little further to add at this time, “A veil of thicken'd air around them cast, but my wish and command that you will That none might know, or see them, as they remember the former counsels that I have frequently given you. Begin and The common story of Demosthenes conend the day with private prayer; read fession, that he had taken great pleasure the Scriptures often and seriously; be in hearing of a tinker-woman say, as he attentive to the public worship of God. I passed, " This is that Demosthenes," is wonderfully ridiculous from so solid an it accompanies, but it is an efficacious orator. I myself have often met with shadow, and like that of St. Petre, cures that temptation to vanity (if it were any); the diseases of others. The best kind of but am so far from finding it any pleasure, glory, no doubt, is that which is reflected that it only makes me run faster from the from honesty, such as was the glory of place, till I get, as it were, out of sight. Cato and Aristides; but it was harmful shot. Democritus relates, and in such a to them both, and is seldom beneficial to manner as if he gloried in the good for- | any man whilst he lives ; what is it to tune and commodity of it, that, when he him after his death I cannot say, because came to Athens, nobody there did so I love not philosophy merely notional and much as take notice of him; and Epi- conjectural, and no man who has made curus lived there very well, that is, lay the experiment has been so kind as to hid many years in his gardens, so famous come back to inform us. Upon the since that time, with his friend Metro- whole matter, I account a person who has dorus : after whose death, making, in one a moderate mind and fortune, and lives of his letters, a kind commemoration of in the conversation of two or three agreethe happiness which they two had enjoyed able friends, with little commerce in the together, he adds at last, that he thought world besides, whois esteemed well enough it no disparagement to those great felici- by his few neighbours that know him, ties of their life, that, in the midst of the and is truly irreproachable by anybody; most talked-of and talking country in the and so, after a healthful, quiet life, before world, they had lived so long, not only the great inconveniences of old age, goes without fame, but almost without being more silently out of it than he came in heard of; and yet, within a very few | (for I would not have him so much as years afterwards, there were no two names cry in the exit): this innocent deceiver of men more known or more generally of the world, as Horace calls him, this celebrated. If we engage into a large muta persona, I take to have been more acquaintance and various familiarities, we happy in his part, than the greatest actors set open our gates to the invaders of most that fill the stage with show and noise; of our time; we expose our life to a quo- nay, even than Augustus himself, who tidian ague of frigid impertinences, which asked with his last breath, whether he had would make a wise man tremble to think not played his farce very well. of. Now, as for being known much by sight, and pointed at, I cannot comprehend the honour that lies in that; what
OF PROCRASTINATION. soever it be, every mountebank has it more than the best doctor, and the hang- I AM glad that you approve and applaud man more than the lord-chief-justice of a my design of withdrawing myself from all city. Every creature has it, both of tumult and business of the world, and nature and art, if it be any ways extra- consecrating the little rest of my time to ordinary. It was as often said, " This is those studies to which naturé had so that Bucephalus,” or “This is that Inci- motherly inclined me, and from which tatus,", when they were led prancing fortune, like a stepmother, has so long through the street, as, “ This is that detained me. But, nevertheless (you say, Alexander," or, “ This is that Domi- which but is ærugo mera, a rust which tian ;” and truly, for the latter, I take spoils the good metal it grows upon. But Incitatus to have been a much more you say) you would advise me not to prehonourable beast than his master, and cipitate that resolution, but to stay a while more deserving the consulship than he the longer with patience and complaisance, empire.
till I had gotten such an estate as might I love and commend a true good fame, afford me (according to the saying of that because it is the shadow of virtue: not person, whom you and I love very much, that it doeth any good to the body which and would believe as soon as another