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hung over me. There is something, indeed, in the first moments of feparation from those whom a daily commerce and long habitude of friendship has grafted upon the heart, that diforders our whole frame of thought, and discolors all one's enjoyments. Let Philosophy affift with the utmost of her vaunted strength, the mind cannot immediately recover the firmness of its posture, when those amicable props upon which it used to rest, are totally removed. Even the moft indifferent objects with which we have long been familiar, take fome kind of root in our hearts; and "I fhould hardly care" (as a celebrated author has, with great goodnature, obferved) "to have an old poft pulled up, which I remembered ever fince "I was a child,'
To know how to receive the full fatisfaction of a prefent enjoyment, with a difpofition prepared at the fame time to yield it up without reluctance, is hardly, I doubt, reconcileable to humanity: pain in being, difunited from those we love, is a tax we must be contented to pay, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the focial affections. One would not wifh, indeed, to be whol
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ly infenfible to difquietudes of this kind: and we must renounce the moft refined relish of our being, if we would upon all occafions poffefs our fouls in a Stoical tranquillity.
THAT antient philofopher whose precept it was, to converfe with our friends as if they might one day prove our enemies, has been justly cenfured as advancing a very ungenerous maxim. To remember, however, that we must one day moft certainly be divided from them, is a reflection, methinks, that should enter with us into our tender connections of every kind. From the prefent difcompofure, therefore, of my own breaft, and from that share which I take in
whatever may affect the repofe of yours, I cannot bid you adieu, without reminding you at the fame time of the useful caution of one of your poetical acquaintance: Quicquid amas, cupias non placuiffe nimis. I am, &c.
To PALAME DE S.
Feb. 13, 1741.
F one would rate any particular merit according to its true valuation, it may be neceffary, perhaps, to confider how far it can be justly claimed by mankind in general. I am fure at least, when I read the very uncommon sentiments of your last letter, I found their judicious author rife in my esteem, by reflecting, that there is not a more fingular character in the world, than that of a thinking man. It is not merely having a fucceffion of ideas, which lightly kim over the mind, that can with any propriety be ftyled by that denomination. It is observing them separately and distinctly, and ranging them under their respective claffes; it is calmly and fteddily viewing our opinions on every fide, and refolutely tracing them thro' all their confequences and connexions, that conftitutes the man of reflexion, and diftinguishes reafon from fancy. Providence, indeed, does not feem to have formed any very confiderable number A a 4 of
of our species for an extensive exercise of this higher faculty; as the thoughts of the far greater part of mankind are neceffarily reftrained within the ordinary purposes of animal life. But if we look up even to those who move in much fuperior orbits, and who have opportunities to improve, as well as leifure to exercise their understandings; we shall find, that thinking is one of the laft exerted privileges of cultivated humanity.
IT is, indeed, an operation of the mind which meets with many obftructions to check its juft and free direction; but there are two principles which prevail more or lefs in the conftitutions of most men, that particularly contribute to keep this faculty of the foul unemployed: I mean pride and indolence. To defcend to truth thro' the tedious progreffion of well examined deductions, is confidered as a reproach to the quickness of understanding; as it is much too laborious a method for any, but those who are poffeffed of a vigorous and refolute activity of mind. For this reason, the greater part of our fpecies generally choose either to feize upon their conclufions at once, or
to take them by rebound from others, as best fuiting with their vanity or their lazinefs. Thus Mr. Locke obferves, that there are not fo many errors and wrong opinions. in the world, as is generally imagined. Not that he thinks mankind are by any means uniform in embracing truth; but because the majority of them, he maintains, have no thought or opinion at all about those doctrines, concerning which they raise the greatest clamor. Like the common foldiers in an army, they follow where their leaders direct, without knowing, or even inquiring into the cause for which they fo warmly contend.
THIS will account for the flow steps by which truth has advanced in the world, on one fide; and for thofe abfurd systems which, at different periods, have had an universal currency on the other. For there is a strange difpofition in human nature, either blindly to tread the fame paths that have been traverfed by others, or to ftrike out into the most devious extravagancies : the greater part of the world will either totally renounce their reafon, or reafon only