Page images

and that strength of imagery, which conspire to excite our admiration of this beautiful

28. Proud of an easy conquest all along,


She but removes weak passions for the strong.t

This is from the Duke de la Rochefoucault : "Whenever we get the better of our passions, it is more owing to their weakness than our own strength. And again, there is in the heart of man a perpetual succession of passions, insomuch, that the ruin of one is always the rise of another."+

29. Let pow'r or knowledge, gold or glory, please,
Or oft, more strong than all, the love of ease.§

An acute observation, plainly taken from La Rochefoucault. ""Tis a mistake to believe that none but the violent passions, such as ambition and love, are able to triumph over the other passions. Laziness, as languid as it is, often gets

G 3

* The Pleasures of Imagination, Book iii. v. 546.

+ Ver. 157.


[blocks in formation]

the mastery of them all, usurps over all the designs and actions of life, and insensibly consumes, and destroys, both passions and virtues."*

30. Virtuous and vicious ev'ry man must be ;
Few in th' extreme, but all in the degree:
The rogue and fool by fits is fair and wise;
And e'en the best, by fits, what they despise.+

A fine reflection, and calculated to subdue that petulant contempt, and unmerited aversion, which men too generally entertain against each other, and which diminish and destroy the social affections."Our emulation, (says one of the bestnatured philosophers,) our jealousy, or envy, should be restrained, in a great measure, by a constant resolution of bearing always in our minds the lovely side of every character.

* Max. CCLXVI.

The completely

+ Ver. 231.

Hutcheson's Nature and Conduct of the Passions, p. 190.

Ὁ ουν αδελφος εαν αδικη εντεύθεν αυτο 8 λαμβανης, ότι αδικει αυλη λαβη 850 αυτε 8 φορητης αλλ' εκείθεν μάλλον, ότι αδελφος, ὅτι συντρόφος.

[ocr errors]

See Epicteti Enchiridion. Also,


completely evil are as rare as the perfectly virtuous; there is something amiable almost in every one, as Plato observes in his Phædon."

This charitable doctrine of putting candid constructions on those actions that appear most blameable, nay, most detestable, and most deformed, is illustrated and enforced, with great strength of argument and benevolence, by KING, in his fifth chapter on the Origin of Evil;* where he endeavours to evince the prevalence of moral good in the world, and teaches us to make due allowances for men's follies and vices.

31. What crops of wit and honesty appear,

From spleen, from obstinacy, hate or fear !†

[blocks in formation]

Many lessons on this useful species of humanity, tending to soften the disgust that arises from a prospect of the absurdity and wickedness of human nature, are to be found in Marcus Antoninus and many noble precepts in the New Testament, rightly understood, have the same tendency, but are delivered with more dignity and force, and demand certainly a deeper attention, and more implicit regard.

* See also to this purpose a sensible passage in Hutcheson's Conduct of the Passions, page 183.

+ Ver. 185.

Au Cid persecuté Cinna doit sa naissance,

Et peut-estre ta plume aux Censeurs de Pyrrhus
Doit les plus nobles traits dont tu peignis Burrhus.*

32. Heav'n forming each on other to depend,

A master, or a servant, or a friend,

Bids each on other for assistance call,

'Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all.
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally
The common interest, or endear the tie.

To these we owe true friendship, love sincere,
Each home-felt joy that life inherits here.†


*Boileau, Epistre vii. a M. Racine, pag. 57.

+ "In rerum systemate vel optimè constituto, debent esse diversa animantium genera superiora, et inferiora, ut locus sit præclaris animi virtutibus ubi se exerceant: excluderentur enim commiseratio, beneficentia, liberalitas, fortitudo, æquanimitas, patientia, lenitas, et officia omnia gratuita et immerita, quorum sensus longe est omnium lætissimus, et memoria jucundissima; si nulla esset imbecillitas, nulla indigentia, nulla hominum vitia et errores."

Hutcheson. Metaphysicæ Synopsis, cap. ii. page 81.

This resembles the doctrine of the old Stoic Chrysippus, as he is quoted by Aulus Gellius, lib. vi. cap. 1. "Nullum adeo contrarium sine contrario altero. Quo enim pacto justitiæ sensus esse posset nisi essent injuriæ ? Aut quid aliud justitia est quam injustitiæ privatio? Quid item fortitudo intelligi posset nisi ex ignaviæ oppositione? Quid continentia nisi ex intem

perantia ?

It was an objection constantly urged by the ancient Epicureans, that man could not be the creature of a benevolent being, as he was formed in a state so helpless and infirm. Montaigne took it, and urged it also. They never considered, or perceived, that this very infirmity and helplessness were the cause and cement of society; that if men had been perfect, and self-sufficient, and had stood in no need of each other's assistance, there would have been no occasion for the invention of the arts, and no opportunity for the exertion of the affections. The lines, therefore, in which Lucretius proposes this objection,


perantia? Quo item modo prudentia esset, nisi foret ex contrario imprudentia ?"" To this purpose the elegant lyric poet :

Who founds in discord Beauty's reign,
Converts to pleasure ev'ry pain,
Subdues the hostile forms to rest,

And bids the universe be blest."

"This is that magic divine, which, by an efficacy past comprehension, can transform every appearance, the most hideous, into beauty, and exhibit all things fair and good to thee! Essence Increate! who art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." Three Treatises, by J. H. page 234.

« EelmineJätka »