« AnteriorContinuar »
him above the want of hourly affiftance, or to extinguish the defire of fond endearments, and tender officioufnefs; and therefore no one should think it unneceffary to learn thofe arts by which friendship may be gained. Kindness is preserved by a conftant reciprocation of benefits or interchange of pleasures; but fuch benefits only can be beftowed, as others are capable of receiving, and fuch pleafures only imparted, as others are qualified to enjoy.
By this descent from the pinnacles of art no honour will be loft for the condefcenfions of learning are always overpaid by gratitude. An elevated genius employed in little things, appears, to use the fimile of Longinus, like the fun in his evening declination; he remits his fplendour but retains his magnitude; and pleases more though he dazzles lefs. RAMBLER.
ON THE ADVANTAGES OF UNITING
GENTLENESS OF MANNERS WITH FIRMNESS
MENTIONED to you fome time ago, a sentence, which I would most earnestly wish you always to retain in your thoughts, and obferve in your conduct; it is fuavitèr in modo, fortitèr in re. I do not know any one rule fo unexceptionably useful and neceffary in every part of life.
THE fuavitèr in modo alone would degenerate and fink into a mean, timid complaifance, and passiveness, if not fupported and dignified by the fortitèr in re; which would alfo run into impetuofity and brutality, if not tempered and foftened by the fuavitèr in modo : however, they are feldom -united. The warm cholerie man, with strong animal fpi rits, defpifes the suavitèr in modo, and thinks to carry all. before him by the fortitèr in re. He may poffibly, by great accident, now and then fucceed, when he has only weak
and timid people to deal with; but his general fate will be, to fhock, offend, be hated, and fail. On the other hand, the cunning crafty man thinks to gain all his ends by the Suavitèr in modo only; he becomes all things to all men ; he feems to have no opinion of his own, and fervilely adopts the prefent opinion of the prefent perfon, he infinuates himself only into the esteem of fools, but is foon detected, and furely defpifed by every body elfe. The wife man (who, differs as much from the cunning, as from the choleric man) alone joins the fuavitèr in modo with the fortiter in re.
If you are in authority, and have a right to command, your commands delivered suavitèr in modo will be willingly, cheerfully, and confequently well obeyed: whereas if given only fortitèr, that is brutally, they will rather, as Tacitus says, be interpreted than executed. For my own part, if I bade my footman bring me a glafs of wine, in a rough infulting manner, I fhould expect, that in obeying me, het would contrive to fpill some of it upon me: and I am fure
fhould deferve it. A cool fteady resolution should show, that where you have a right to command, you will be obeyed; but at the fame time, a gentleness in the manner of enforcing that obedience should make it a cheerful one, and foften, as much as poffible, the mortifying conscioufnefs of inferiority. If you are to ask a favour, or even to folicit your due, you must do it fuavitèr in modo, or you will give thofe, who have a mind to refuse you either, a pretence to do it, by refenting the manner; but, on the other hand, you muft, by a fteady perfeverance and decent tenaciousness, show the fortitèr in re. In short, this precept is the only way I know in the world, of being loved without being defpifed, and feared without being hated. It constitutes the dignity of character, which every wise man must endeavour to establish.
If therefore find that you have a haftinefs in your temper, which unguardedly breaks out into indifcreet fallies, or rough expreffions, to either your fuperiors, your equals, or your inferiors, watch it narrowly, check it carefully, and call the fuavitèr in modo to your affiftance: at the first impulse of paffion be filent, till you ean be foft. Labour even to get the command of your countenance so well, that those emotions may not be read in it: a most unspeakable advantage in bufinefs! On the other hand, let no complaifance, no gentleness of temper, no weak defire of pleafing on your part, no wheedling, coaxing, nor flattery, on other people's, make you recede one jot from any point that reason and prudence have bid you purfue; but return to the charge, perfift, perfevere, and you will find moft things attainable that are poffible. A yielding, timid meekness is always abufed and infulted by the unjuft and the unfeeling; but meeknefs, when fuftained by the fortitèr in re, is always respected, commonly fuccefsful. In your friendfhips and connections, as well as in your enmities, this rule is particularly useful: let your firmnefs and vigour preferve and invite attachments to you; but, at the fame time, let your manner hinder the enemies of your friends and dependents from becoming yours; let your enemies be difarmed by the gentleness of your manner, but let them feel, at the fame time, the steadiness of your just refentment; for there is a great difference between bearing malice, which is always ungenerous, and a refolute felf-defence, which is always prudent and justifiable.
I CONCLUDE with this obfervation, That gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind, is a short, but full defcription of human perfection, on this fide of religious and moral duties.
ON GOOD SENSE.
ERE I to explain what I understand by good fenfe, I fhould call it right reafon; but right reafon that arifes not from formal and logical deductions, but from a fort of intuitive faculty in the foul, which diftinguishes by immediate perception: a kind of innate fagacity, that in many of its properties feems very much to refemble inftinct. It would be improper, therefore, to fay, that Sir Ifaac Newton fhowed his good fenfe, by thofe amazing difcoveries which he made in natural philofophy; the operations of this gift of Heaven are rather inftantaneous than the refult of any tedious procefs. Like Diomed, after Minerva had indued him with the power of difcerning gods from mortals, the man of good sense discovers at once the truth of thofe objects he is moft concerned to distinguish; and conducts himself with fuitable caution and fecurity.
Ir is for this reafon, poffibly, that this quality of the mind is not fo often found united with learning as one could wish; for good fenfe being accuftomed to receive her difcoveries without labour or study, the cannot fo eafily wait for thofe truths, which being placed at a distance, and lying concealed under numberless covers, require much pains and application to unfold.
Bur though good fenfe is not in the number, nor always, it must be owned, in the company of the sciences; yet is it (as the moft fenfible of poets has justly observed) I fairly worth the feven.'
Rectitude of understanding is indeed the moft ufeful, as well as the moft noble of human endowments, as it is the fovereign guide and director in every branch of civil and focial intercourse.
UPON whatever occafion this enlightening faculty is ex
erted, it is always fure to act with diftinguifhed eminence ; but its chief and peculiar province feems to lie in the commerce of the world. Accordingly we may obferve, that thofe who have conversed more with men than with books; whofe wifdom is derived rather from experience than contemplation; generally poffefs this happy talent with fuperior perfection. For good fenfe, though it cannot be acquired, may be improved; and the world, I believe, will ever be found to afford the moft kindly foil for its cultivation.
STUDIES ferve for delight, for ornament, aud for ability. The chief ufe for delight is in privatenefs and retiring; for ornament, is in difcourfe; and for ability, is in the judgment and difpofition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars one by one 3 but the general counfels, and the plots, and marshalling of affairs, come beft from those that are learned. To spend too much time in ftudies is floth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of a fcholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by duty; and ftudies themfelves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn ftudies, fimple men admire them, and wise men use them: for they teach not their own ufe, but that is a wifdom with. out them, and above them, won by obfervation. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for grant ed, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and confider. Some books are to be tafted, others to be swallowed, and fome few to be chewed and digefted: that is, fome