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Emperor pinched her nose pretty smartly, and said, “ You are witty, but you are also malicious : do not be so; for a woman loses all her charms when she becomes an object of dread.”
As a feeling of forgiveness may be produced or increased by weighing and estimating matters correctly, so an opposite disposition may be produced by estimating incorrectly; by aggravating the action and magnifying the result. In Richard the Third we have an introduction to the art of generating a revengeful spirit :
“ O thou well skill'd in curses, stay a while,
And teach me how to curse mine enemies.
Forbear to sleep the night, and fast the day;
And he that slew them fouler than he is.” The feeling of revenge may be counteracted by the indulgence of charity ; by looking at ourselves, and considering that we also may be faulty. The eminent Baldus was always inclined to excuse the misconduct of others; for he said, “ If we knew the actual character of the best men, we should find much that needed correction.” An inclination for revenge may be diminished, also, by raising one's self in a very allowable dignity) above the trifle which is intended as an affront or disadvantage. Descartes used to observe, “ When any one injures me, I endeavour to elevate my mind so high, that the injury cannot reach it.” It is noble to avoid revenge ; but it is disgraceful to offer insults.
In taking revenge, Dr. Beattie remarks, a man is but even with bis enemy; but in passing it over he is superior.” — “ Contemn injuries,” observes St. Chrysostom, “and thou shalt be a conqueror.”
The disposition to revenge transforms an imaginary evil into a real one; it makes an unintentional offence the source of a perpetual quarrel ; it stirs up families, it sets one village against another, one city against another city, one kingdom against a neighbouring kingdom; it produces civil wars and foreign wars; it occasions discords among men of commerce, of literature, and religion; it occasions the human race, like so many ferocious birds or savage beasts, to inflict upon each other pains and penalties, losses and crosses, discontentment and unhappiness; to occasion sorrow and lamentation, rather than the offices of kindness, the exercise of charity, and the enjoyment of happiness.
ON VERACITY AND FALSEHOOD.
VERACITY includes all that is expressed by the terms truth, integrity, honesty, fidelity, and sincerity; indeed, all that implies a correspondence of things with words, or words with thoughts. Falsehood includes error, deception, dishonesty, simulation, dissimulation, infidelity, and hypocrisy. Every thing is true in itself; for truth signifies reality or being: therefore falsehood must arise from the signs or means which are employed for the representation of things. There may be error or falsehood occasioned by circumstances: if, for example, two rods be placed in such a position, that when the eye sees the one, the other is hid, being in a continuation of the same line from the eye, the spectator supposes there is only one rod instead of two. If a plank be placed in such a way that the edge, and that only, should be seen by a by-stander, it would resemble a narrow piece of wood instead of a wide one. These errors are unavoidable — they arise from the limited action of the senses. In the same way, a traveller on a desert beholds, as he fancies, a beautiful lake; but on approaching he finds it an optical deception. The northern voyager beholds ships in the heavens — this arises from a similar cause. The wanderer on
the Broken Mountain in Hanover is sometimes astonished at the sight of an immense figare, which seems to walk on the earth, but to raise his head among the clouds, and to imitate the actions of the spectator.
If certain arrangements were made, for the purpose of giving a more attractive appearance to natural or artificial scenery, and there was no intention of producing injury to any person, but only a pleasing and amusing deception, it would be a species of falsehood, but not, therefore, objectionable. Of this sort is the disposal of trees and shrubberies, of flowers, of paintings, of statues, and mirrors; by which truth is mingled with error, and the spectator is deceived. And thus the Koran states, that Solomon received the Queen of Seba in an apartment which was covered with glass, the effect of which was extremely surprising and beautiful. There are novel and unreal representations of things wherever we turn our eyes. Many of the arts are employed solely for the purpose of producing deception. Scenic representations of landscapes and seas; of ships and storms; of battles by land and by water; of houses, cities, and palaces; of conferences among savage chiefs or powerful sovereigns; of ancient events or modern occurrences; of the rural cot, flowers, groves, streams, &c.:—all these are intended to produce a momentary influence of deception. And thus the comic and tragic addresses and actions of
performers are intended to take the semblance of real occurrences. The sculptor, as well as the painter, endeavours to deceive us; and so do the orator,
prose writer, and the poet. When the horse neighed at the portrait of one of Alexander's horses, as if he had recognised an old acquaintance, the animal was deceived; and so were the birds which pecked at the grapes which came from the magic pencil of Zeuxis.
But in these cases falsehood was allowable and praiseworthy.
Even brutes practise deception. The Creator has given them certain capabilities, and they have employed them for decoying their prey. Thus, the wolf bleats like the lamb; the tiger imitates the bellowing of the bull; the cat mimics the noise of little birds; some animals alter their form in order to deceive; some conceal themselves; and thus, from the largest beast that feeds on animals to the smallest insect, some kind of deception is employed. Whether these inferior creatures are capable of acting sinfully, in the same manner as men, is a curious and a doubtful question. They do not employ these artifices for the destruction of their own species, but for the subduing of other kinds; therefore it may be no harm. If man were to employ his ingenuity for the purpose of deception, in order to injure or destroy his fellow-creatures, he would be culpable; but it does not appear that any method of deceiving and decoying brutes may be deemed improper. For instance, fishes, birds, wild quadrupeds, and almost every kind which is taken for food or service, is decoyed. The Indians and Africans decoy the elephant, the Arabs the horse, the Greenlanders the reindeer; and we decoy the ox to the yoke and the horse to the bridle, if they be obstinate or restive.