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them very often useful in all parties, and at all times. But whatever wealth and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to consider, that every one stands as a blot in the annals of his country, who arrives at the temple of Honour, by any other way than through that of Virtue.
Human Nature. « Mr. Spectator,
HAVỀ always been a very great lover of your speculaI of treating it. Human nature I always thought the most useful object of human reason, and to make the consideration of it pleasant and entertaining, I always thought the best employment of human wit: other parts of philosophy may perhaps make us wiser, but this not only answers that end, but makes us better too.
2. “Hence it was that the oracle pronounced Socrates the wisest of all men living, because he judiciously made choice of human nature the object of his thoughts: an inquiry into which as much exceeds all other learning, as it is of more consequence to adjust the true nature and measures of right and wrong, than to settle the distance of the planets, and compute the times of their circumvolutions.
3. “One good effect that will immediately arise from a near observation of human nature, is that we shall cease to wonder at those actions which men are used to reckon wholly unaccountable; for as nothing is produced without a cause, so by observing the nature and course of the passions, we shall be able to trace every action from its first conception to its death.
4. "We shall no more admire at the proceedings of Cataline and Tiberius, when we know the one was actuated by a cruel jealousy, the other by a furious ambition; for the actions of men follow their passions as naturally as light does heat, or as any other effect flows from its cause; reason must be employed in adjusting the passions, but they must ever remain the principles of action.
5. “The strange and absurd variety that is so apparent in men's actions, shews plainly they can never proceed immediately from reason; so pure a fountain emits no such troubled waters; they must necessarily arise from the passions, which are to the -nind as the winds to a ship; they only can move it, and they too often destroy it; if fair and gentle, they guide it into the harbour; if contrary and furious, they overset it in the waves.
6. “In the same manner is the mind assisted or endangered by the passions; reason must then take the place of pilot, and can never fail of securing her charge if she be not wanting to her,
self; the strength of the passions will never be accepted as an excuse for complying with them: they were designed for subjection: and if a man suffers them to get the upper hand, he then betrays the liberty of his own soul.
7. * As nature has framed the several species of beings as it were in a chain, so man seems to be placed as the middle link : between angels and brutes; hence he participates both of flesh and spirit by an admirable tie, which in him occasions perpetual war of passions; and as a man inclines to the angelic or brute part of his constitution, he is then denominated good or bad, virtuous or wicked; if love, mercy, and good nature prevail, they speak him of the angel; if hatred, cruelty, and envy predominate, they declare his kindred to the brute.
8.“ Hence it was that some ancients imagined, that as men in this life inclined more to thì angel or the brute, so after their death they should transmigrate into the one or the other: and it would be no unpleasant notion to consider the several species of brutes, into which we may imagine that tyrants, misers, the proud, malicious, and ill natured, might be changed.
9.“ As a consequence of this original, all passions are in all men, but appear not in all; constitution, education, custom of the country, reason, and the like causes may improve or abate, the strength of them, but still the seeds remain, which are ever ready to sprout forth upon the least encouragement.
10. “I have heard a story of a good religious man, who having been bred with the milk of the goat, was very modest in public, by a careful reflection he made on his actions, but he frequently had an hour in secret, wherein he had his frisks and capers; and if we had an opportunity of examining the retirement of the strictest philosophers, no doubt but we should find perpetual returns of those passions they so artfully conceal from the public.
11.“ I remember Machiavel observes, that every state should entertain a perpetual jealousy of its neighbours, that so it should ne er be unprovided when an emergency happens; in like manner should reason be perpetually on its guard against the passions, and never suffer them to carry on any design that may be destructive of its security: yet at the same time it must be careful, that it do not so far break their strength as to render them contemptible, and consequently itself unguarded.
12.“ The understanding being of istelf too slow and lazy to exert itself into action, it is necessary it should be put in motion by the gentle gales of passions, which may preserve it from stagnation and corruption; for they are as necessary to the health of the mind, 'as the circulation of the animal spirits is to the health of the body; they keep it in life, and strength and vigour; nor is it possible for the mind to perform its offices without their assis
tance; these motions are given us with our being; they are little spirits, that are born and die with us : to some they are mild, easy and gentle, to others wayward and unruly, yet never too strong for the reins of reason, and the guidance of judgment.
13. “We may generally observe a pretty nice proportion between the strength of reason and passion; the greatest geniuses have commonly the strongest affections, as, on the other hand, the weaker understandings have generally the weaker passions ; and it is fit the fury of the coursers should not be too great for the strength of the charioteer.
14." Young men, whose passions are not a little unruly, give small hopes of their ever being considerable; the fire of youth will of course abate, and is a fault, if it be a fault, that mends every day; but surely, unless a man has fire in youth, he can hardly have warmth in old age.
15.“ We must therefore be very cautious, lest while we think to regulate the passions, we should quite extinguish them; which is putting out the light of the soul; for to be without passion, or to be hurried away with it, makes a man equally blind. The extraordinary severity used in most of our schools has this fatal effect, it breaks the spring of the mind, and most certainly destroys more good geniuses than it can possibly improve.
16. “And surely it is a mighty mistake that the passions should be so entirely subdued; for little irregularities are sometimes not only to be borne with but to be cultivated too, since they are frequently attended with the greatest perfections. All great geniuses have faults mixed with their virtues, and resemble the flaming bush which has thorns amongst lights.
17. “ Since therefore the passions are the principles of human actions, we must, endeavour to manage them so as to retain their vigour; yet keep them under strict command; we must govern them rather like free subjects than slaves, test, while we intend to make them obedient, they become abject, and unfit for those great purposes to which they were designed.
18.“For my part, I must confess I could never have any regard to that sect of philosophers, who so much insisted upon an absolute indifference and vacancy from all passion; for it seems to me a thing very inconsistent for a man to divest himself of hu
manity, in order to acquire tranquillity of mind, and to eradicate the very principles of action, because it is possible they may produce ill effects.
I am, Sir,
The advantages of representing Human Nature in its proper
TATLER, No. 108. 1.Ttis not to be imagined, how great an effect well-disposed
Lights, with proper forms and orders in assemblies, have upon some tempers. I am sure I feel it in so extraordinary a manner, that I cannot in a day or two get out of imagination any very beautiful or disagreeable impression which I receive on such occasions. For this reason I frequently look in at the play-house, in order to enlarge my thoughts, and warm my mind with some new ideas, that may be serviceable to me in my lucubrations.
2. In this disposition I entered the theatre the other day, and placed myself in the corner of it, very convenient for seeing, without being myself observed. I found the audience hushed in a very deep attention, and did not question but some noble tragedy was just then in its crisis, or that an incident was to be unravelled which would determine the fate of an hero. While I was in this suspense, expecting every moment to see my old friend Mr. Betterton appear in all the majesty of distress, to my unspeakable amazement, there came up a monster with a face between his feet; and, as I was looking on, he raised himself on one leg in such a perpendicular posture, that the other grew in a direct line above his head,
3. It afterwards twisted itself into the motions and wreathings of several different animals, and, after great variety of shapes and transformations, went off the stage in the figure of a human creature. The admiration, the applause, the satisfaction of the audience, during this strange entertainment, is not to be expressed. I was very much out of countenance for my dear countrymen, and looked about with some apprehension, for fear
foreigner should be present.
4. Is it possible, thought I, that human nature can rejoice in its disgrace, and take pleasure in seeing its own figure turned into ridicule, and distorted into forms that raise horror and aversion? There is something disengenuous and immoral in the being able to bear such a sight. Men of elegant and noble minds are shocked at the seeing characters of persons who deserve esteem for their virtue, koowledge, or services to their country, placed in wrong lights and by misrepresentation made the subject of buffoonery.
5. Such a nice abhorrence is not, indeed, to be found among the vulgar; but methinks it is wonderful, that those, who have nothing but the outward figure to distinguish them as men, should delight in seeing it abused, vilified and disgraced.
I must confess there is nothing that more pleases me, in all that I read in books, or see among mankind, than such passages as represent human nature in its proper dignity.
6. As man is a creature made up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean; a skilful artist may draw an excellent picture of him in either of these viewsit The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes, of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference betwixt them as great as between gods and brutes.
7. In short, it is impossible to read a page in Plato, Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or those of our own country, who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself and with every thing about me.
8. Their business is, to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appearances. They give mean interpreta. tion and base motives to the worthiest actions; they resolve virtue and vice into constitution. In short, they endeavour to make no distinction between man and man, or between the species of men and that of brutes. As an instance of this kind of authors, among many others, let any one examine the celebrated Rochefoucauld, who is the great philosopher for administering of consolation to the idle, the envious, and worthless part of mankind.
9. I remember a young gentleman of moderate understanding, but great vivacity, who, by dipping into many authors of this nature, had got a little smattering of knowledge, just enough to make an atheist or a free-thinker, but not a philosopher or a man of sense. With these accomplishments, he went to visit his father in the country, who was a plain, rough, honest man, and wise, though not learned. The son, who took all opportunities to shew his learning, began to establish a new religion in the family, and to enlarge the narrowness of their country notions; in which he succeeded so well that he had seduced the butler by his table talk, and staggered his eldest sister.
10. The old gentleman began to be alarmed at the schisms that arose among his children, but did not yet believe his son's doctrine to be so pernicious as it really was, till one day talking of his setting dog, the son said he did not question but Trey was as immortal as any one of the family, and in the heat of the argument told his father, that for his own part he expected to die like a dog. Upon which the old gentleman, starting up in a