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Grief is a species of idleness; and the necessity of attention to the present preserves us, by the merciful disposition of Providence, from being lacerated and devoured by sorrow for the past.
All unnecessary vows are folly, because they suppose a prescience of the future which has not been given us. They are, I think, a crime, because they resign that life to chance, which God has given us to be regulated by reason; and superinduce a kind of fatuity, from which it is the great privilege of our nature to be free. I think an unlimited promise of acting by the opinion of another so wrong, that nothing, or hardly any thing, can make it right.
150. Filial Obedience.
Unlimited obedience is due only to the Universal Father of heaven and earth. My parents may be mad or foolish; may be wicked and malicious; may be erroneously religious, or absurdly scrupulous. I am not bound to compliance with mandates, either positive or negative, which either religion condemns or reason rejects.
There wanders about the world a wild notion, which extends over marriage more than over any other transaction. If Miss **** followed a trade, would it be said that she was bound in conscience to give or refuse credit at her father's choice? And is not marriage a thing in which she is more interested, and has therefore more right of choice? When I When I may suffer for my own crimes, when may be sued for my own debts, I may judge, by parity of reason, for my own happiness.
You do not tell me whither the young lovers are gone. What a life do they image in futurity! how unlike to what they are to find! But To-morrow is an old deceiver, and his cheat never grows stale.
152. Praise and Flattery.
The difference between praise and flattery is the same as between that hospitality that sets wine enough before the guest, and that which forces him to be drunk.
153. Travellers and Books of Travels.
He that wanders about the world sees new forms of human misery; and if he chances to meet an old friend, meets a face darkened by troubles. You have often heard me complain of finding myself disappointed by books of travels. I am afraid travel itself will end likewise in disappointment. One town, one country, is very like another civilised nations have the same customs, and barbarous nations have the same nature: there are indeed minute discriminations both of places and manners, which, perhaps, are not wanting of curiosity, but which a traveller seldom stays long enough to investigate and compare. The dull utterly neglect them; the acute see a little, and supply the rest with fancy and conjecture.
154. Use of Travelling.
The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and, instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
Principles can only be strong by the strength of understanding, or the cogency of religion.
"All is best," says Cheyne, "as it has been, excepting the errors of our own free will." Burton concludes his long book upon melancholy with this important precept: -"Be not solitary; be not idle." Remember Cheyne's position, and observe Burton's precept.
Do not make speeches to your country friends. Unusual compliments, to which there is no stated and pre
scriptive answer, embarrass the feeble, who know not what to say, and disgust the wise, who, knowing them. to be false, suspect them to be hypocritical.
158. Seeing Shows.
It is easy to talk of sitting at home contented, when others are seeing or making shows. But not to have been where it is supposed that all would go if they could; to be able to say nothing when every one is talking; to have no opinion where every one is judging; to hear exclamations of rapture without power to depress; to listen to falsehoods without right to contradict, is, after all, a state of temporary inferiority, in which the mind is rather hardened by stubbornness, than supported by fortitude.
159. Mingling with the World.
If the world be worth winning, let us enjoy it; if it is to be despised, let us despise it by conviction. But the world is not to be despised, but as it is compared with something better. Company is in itself better than solitude, and pleasure better than indolence. Ex nihilo nihil fit, says the moral as well as natural philosopher. By doing nothing, and by knowing nothing, no power of doing good can be obtained. He must mingle with the world that desires to be useful. Every new scene comprises new ideas, enriches the imagination, and enlarges the powers of reason, by new topics of comparison.
All pleasure preconceived and preconcerted ends in disappointment; but disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.
161. Bright and cloudy Days.
Most men have their bright and their cloudy days; at least, they have days when they put their powers into act, and days when they suffer them to repose.
162. Keeping a Diary.
Do not remit the practice of writing down occurrences as they arise, of whatever kind, and be very punctual in annexing the dates. Chronology, you know, is the eye of hstory; and every man's life is of importance to himself. Do not omit painful casualties, or unpleasing passages, they make the variegation of existence; and there are many transactions, of which I will not premise, with Eneas, et hæc olim meminisse juvabit; - yet that remembrance which is not pleasant may be useful. There is, however, an intemperate attention to slight circumstances which is to be avoided, lest a great part of life be spent in writing the history of the rest. Every day, perhaps, has something to be noted; but in a settled and uniform course few days can have much.
A camp, however familiarly we may one of the great scenes of human life.
speak of it, is War and War and peace
divide the business of the world. Camps are the habitations of those who conquer kingdoms, or defend them.
To grieve for evils is often wrong; but it is much more wrong to grieve without them. All sorrow that lasts longer than its cause is morbid, and should be shaken off as an attack of melancholy, as the forerunner of a greater evil than poverty or pain.
165. Weariness.- Labour. - Exercise.
Weariness is itself a temporary resolution of the nerves, and is therefore to be avoided. Labour is exercise, continued to fatigue. Exercise is labour, used only while it produces pleasure.
166. "Nil admirari.”
Horace says, that "Nil admirari" is the only thing that can make or keep a man happy. It is, with equal