« EelmineJätka »
him asked him, many years after, “ whether he had learned to reduce this lesson to practice ?”— “ Nineteen years," replied the hermit, “ have I been trying, and have hardly attained the practice.” In order to speak well, we must speak bút little, remembering always the maxim of St. James," If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain.”
Plutarch says of Epaminondas, that no man knew more and spake less than he did.
Addison, who could write so agreeably on all subjects, is well known to have been given to taciturnity; and Dr. Johnson, with all his brilliant and masterly powers, could not be said to possess companionable agreement.
""'Tis astonishing,” says Pavillon, 66 that among the numerous rules for teaching men to speak, there have been none hitherto laid down for teaching them to be silent. Yet this certainly requires most skill; since we are prompted by nature to speak, while silence is a species of restraint. How many are great talkers or great orators, if that sounds better-compared with the silent ? We have the art of saying much on a little, whereas we most want the art of saying much in a little.' What is rhetoric, with all its boasted figures ? An ignorant woman, agitated by strong passions, is as energetic as Cicero. It is true that she does not, like Cicero, know the names of the several figures of speech which her emotion has employed; a mighty science, truly, after so laborious a study as that of rhetoric! But the art of silence is a quite different affair ; it is not acquired by passion, but by vigilance and reason : and how much more difficult it is to comply with the precepts of the latter than the former, need hardly be urged.
" As well in antient as in modern history, we every where meet with orators ; nothing is more common than accounts of men who talked a great deal, and talked well; but the glorious character of a silent man has only, as it appears to me, been conferred on a single character. He, indeed, it must be confessed, acted up to it, and was at the head of one of the greatest designs ever executed. I mean William prince of Orange, who made such a formidable stand against Spain, and founded the commonwealth of the united provinces. Cardinal Granville, a Spanish statesman, well knew the importance of this person's taciturnity : for, receiving advice that count Egmont and count Horn were both taken, he asked whether “ the silent man" also was apprehended; and being answered in the negative, he replied " Ah! then nothing is done.”
“Let us endeavour to recover this art of taciturnity ; examples in all attempts are encouraging; it is one of the best secrets in antiquity, and now totally lost : lost, too, as it seems, without any concern. We could better have spared their brass statues and marble monuments; yet, what a rout is made about these among the virtu. osi, though it would puzzle their delicate brains to point out any substantial utility in the greater part of them."
Howel, clerk to the most honourable privy council of king Charles the first, in his familiar letters, speaks thus in favour of silence." There is a saying, which carrieth no little weight with it, that-'Parvus amor loquitur, ingens stupet :' Small love speaks, while great love stands astonished in silence. The one keeps talking, while the other is struck dumb with amazement : like deep rivers, which to the eye of the beholder seem to stand still, while small shallow rivulets keep á noise ; or, like empty casks, that make an obstreperous hollow sound, which they would not do, were they replenished, and full of substance.”
A babbler being at table with a number of persops, among whom was one of the seven sages of Greece, expressed his astonishment, that a man so wise did not utter a single word. The sage instantly replied, " A fool cannot hold his tongue." --- Take away from the conversations of the generality of persons, in most companies, their slanders against the absent, their shallow criticisms, their ignorant political opinions, and their barren witricisms against religion, and you will find, that, on a just calculation, those who speak the most do not say more than those who keep a profound sijence. It is for this reason that a man of sense prefers always passing even for stupid, by his taci. turnity,''to the infamous talent of shining at the expence of religion, of the laws, of men of geni. us, and of his neighbours, to divert those who are falsely named great wits, or rejoice the hearts of men, who want judgment, justice, and humanity.”
INSTANCES OF GOOD TEMPERS, FOR
NOTHING is more congenial to christianity than a spirit of forgiveness. Jesus Christ constant. ly inculcated and exemplified it'; and his followers, in proportion as they are like him, will manifest the same spirit. There have been Alexanders and Cæsars, who have boasted of conquering the world, but, after all, never arrived to the honour of swaying the sceptre over themselves, but have continued resentful and rapacious, passionate and vicious, to the last. Christianity teaches us, however, to repress the rising passions, forgive the offending party, and to do good even to those who hate us. Happy is the man who lives under the influence of this spirit; for “ he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.”
“What great matter,” said a heathen to a chris. tian, while he was beating him almost to death, - what great matter did Christ ever do for thee ?" - Even this,” said the christian ; " that I can forgive you, though you use me thus cruelly.”.
Sir Walter Raleigh, a man of known courage and honour, being very injuriously treated by an hot-headed rash youth, who next proceeded to challenge him, and, on his relusał, spit in his face, and that too in public, the knight, taking out his handkerchief with great calmness, made him only this reply: 46 Young man, if I could as easily wipe your blood from my conscience as I can this injury from my face, I would this moment take away your life.” The consequence was, that the youth, with a sudden and strong sense of his misbehaviour, fell on his knees, and begged for. giveness.
It was said of archbishop Cranmer, that the way to have him one's friend, was to do him an unkindness. Of archbishop. Usher also it is said,
hoSuch was Rev. Philip hat the peop
that he was of so sweet a temper, that he never was known to do an ill office to any one, or to be revenged of any who had injured him. Of Mr. Hervey also it is recorded, that he was never known to be in a passion. Of how few can this be said! It would be well, however, could we learn to attain this victory over ourselves. It would not only produce happiness in our own minds, but bear an idelible impression on the minds of others. " For the tempers and lives of men,” says Mr. Fuller, " are books for common people to read, and they will read them, though they should read nothing else.”?
Such was the sweet temper and amiable con. duct of the Rev. Philip Henry (father to the cele. brated commentator,) that the people gave him the title of “ Heavenly Henry;" and by this title he was commonly know through all the country, He used to observe, that in almost every quarrel there was a fault on both sides; and that generally they were most in fault that were most forward and clamorous in their complaints. One making her moan to him of a bad husband she had, who in this and the other instance was unkind; “ and, Sir," said she (after a long complaint which he patiently heard,) “ what would you have me to do now?” 6 Why, truly,” said he, “ I would have you go home, and be a better wife to him, and then you will find that he will be a better husband to you?" Labouring to persuade one to forgive an injury that was done him, he argued thus: “ Are you not a Christian ?" and followed that argu. inent so close, that at length he prevailed.
Sir Isaac Newton's temper, it is said, was so equal and mild, that no accident could disturb it.