« ÎnapoiContinuați »
an extensive plan. We propose measures for securing its possession, and for prolonging its duration. Consult
whole nature. Consider yourselves not only as sensitive, but as rational beings; not only as rational, but social; not only as social, but immortal. Whatever violates your nature in any of these respects, cannot afford true pleasure, any more than that which undermines an essential part of the vital system can promote health. For the truth of this conclusion, we appeal not merely to the authority of religion, nor to the testimony of the aged, but to yourselves and your own experience. We ask, whether you have not found, that, in the course of any excess, your pleasure was more than compensated by succeeding pain? Whether, if not from every particular instance, yet from every habit, at least, of improper gratifications, there did not spring some thorn to wound you ; there did not arise some consequence to make you repent of it in the issue ? How long will you repeat the same round of pernicious folly, and tamely expose yourselves to be caught in the same snare? If you have any consideration or any firmness left, avoid temptations, for which you have found yourselves unequal, with as much care as you would shun pestilential infection. Break off all connexions with the unprincipled and profligate.
By the imprudent and unhappy excesses of pleasures in youth, how many amiable dispositions are corrupted or destroyed; how many rising capacities and powers are suppressed; how many flattering hopes of parents and friends are totally extinguished? Who but must drop a tear over human nature, when he beholds that morning which arose so bright, overcast with such untimely darkness ; that good humour which once captivated all hearts, that vivacity which sparkled in every company, those abilities which were fitted for adorning the highest stations, all sacrificed at the shrine of what is called pleasure ; and one, who was formed for running the fair career of life in the midst of public esteem, cut off by his vices at the beginning of his course, or sunk for the
whole of it into insignificancy and contempt! These, O sinful Pleasure, are thy trophies! It is thus that, co-operating with the foe of God and man, thou degradest human honour, and blastest the opening prospects of human felicity.
I CONSIDER a human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein that runs through the body of it. Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which without such helps are never able to make their appearance.
If my reader will give me leave to change the allusion so soon upon him, I shall make use of the same instance to illustrate the force of education, which Aristotle has brought to explain his doctrine of substantial forms, when he tells us that a statue lies hid in a block of marble, and that the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter, and removes the rubbish. The figure is in the stone, the sculptor only finds it. What the sculptor is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lie hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and have brought to light. I am, therefore, much delighted with reading the accounts of savage nations, and with contemplating those virtues which are wild and uncultivated; to see courage exerting itself in fierceness, resolution in obstinacy, wisdom in cunning, patience in sullenness and despair.
Men's passions operate variously, and appear in different kinds of actions, according as they are more or less rectified and swayed by reason. When one hears of negroes, who upon the death of their masters, or upon changing their service, hang themselves upon the next tree, as it frequently happens in our American plantations, who can forbear admiring their fidelity, though it expresses itself in so dreadful a manner ? What might not that savage greatness of soul, which appears in these poor wretches, on many occasions, be raised to, were it rightly cultivated ? And what colour of excuse can there be for the contempt with which we treat this part of our species? That we should not put them upon the common footing of humanity; that we should only set an insignificant fine upon
the man who murders them ;' nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them off from the prospects of human happiness in another world as well as this, and deny them that which we look upon as the proper means for attaining it?
It is therefore an unspeakable blessing to be born in those parts of the world where wisdom and knowledge flourish; though it must be confessed there are, even in these parts, several poor uninstructed persons, who are but little above the inhabitants of those nations of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantages of a more riberal education rise above one another by several different degrees of perfection. For to return to our statue in the block of marble, we see it sometimes only begun to be chipped, sometimes rough-hewn, and but just sketched into a human figure; sometimes we see man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features, sometimes we see the figure wrought up to a great elegancy, but seldom meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or Praxiteles could not give several nice touches and finishes.
1 It is almost unnecessary to observe, that slavery no longer exists in our Colonies; and that the noblest efforts have been made, and are still making, both by the British Parliament and people, to ameliorate the condition of this unfortunate race, and to bring them within the pale of Christianity. The“ Free and enlightened" Republic of North America, is almost the only Christian state in which slavery is still tolerated.
3 See The Spectator, No. 215, for a story in illustration.
VIII.LABOUR AND EXERCISE.
BODILY labour is of two kinds, either that which a man submits to for his livelihood, or that which he undergoes for his pleasure. The latter of them generally changes the name of labour for that of exercise, but differs only from ordinary labour as it rises from another motive.
A country life abounds in both these kinds of labour, and for that reason gives a man a greater stock of health, and consequently a more perfect enjoyment of himself, than
any other way of life. I consider the body as a system of tubes and glands, or to use a more rustic phrase, a bundle of pipes and strainers, fitted to one another after so wonderful a manner as to make a proper engine for the soul to work with. This description does not only comprehend the bowels, bones, tendons, veins, nerves, and arteries, but every muscle and every ligature, which is a composition of fibres, that are so many imperceptible tubes or pipes interwoven on all sides with invisible glands or strainers.
This general idea of a human body, without considering it in the niceties of anatomy, lets us see how absolutely necessary labour is for the right preservation of it. There must be frequent motions and agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the juices contained in it, as well as to clear and cleanse that infinitude of pipes and strainers of which it is composed, and to give their solid parts a more firm and lasting tone. Labour or exercise ferments the humours, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions without which the body cannot subsist in its vigour, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.
I might here mention the effects which this has upon all the faculties of the mind, by keeping the understanding clear, the imagination untroubled, and refining those spirits that are necessary for the proper exertion of our intellectual faculties, during the present laws of union between soul and body. It is to a neglect in this particular that we must ascribe the spleen which is so frequent in men of studious and sedentary tempers, as well as the vapours to which those of the other sex are so often subject.
Had not exercise been absolutely necessary for our wellbeing, nature would not have made the body so proper for it, by giving such an activity to the limbs, and such a pliancy to every part as necessarily produce those compressions, extensions, contortions, dilatations, and all other kinds of motions that are necessary for the preservation of such a system of tubes and glands as has been before mentioned. And that we might not want inducements to engage us in such an exercise of the body as is proper for its welfare, it is so ordered that nothing valuable can be procured without it. Not to mention riches and honour, even food and raiment are not to be come at without the toil of the hands and sweat of the brow. Providence furnishes materials, but expects that we should work them up ourselves. The earth must be laboured before it gives its increase, and when it is forced into its several products, how many hands must they pass through before they are fit for use. Manufactures, trade, and agriculture, naturally employ more than nineteen parts of the species in twenty ; and as for those who are not obliged to labour, by the condition in which they are born, they are more miserable than the rest of mankind, unless they indulge themselves in that voluntary labour which goes by the name of exercise.
DISCRETION does not only show itself in words, but in all the circumstances of action; and is like an under-agent of Providence, to guide and direct us in the ordinary concerns of life.
There are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion; it is this indeed which gives a value to all the rest, which sets them at work