« ForrigeFortsæt »
IN squandering wealth was his peculiar art,
BOUNTY that makes gods, does still mar men.
Timon of Athens, Act IV.
SOME are unwisely liberal; and more delight to give presents than to pay debts.
Falstaff. WHAT money is in my purse?
Page. Seven groats and two pence.
Fals. I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse, borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable!
Henry IV., First Part.
THE regard one shows economy, is like that we show an old aunt, who is to leave us something at last.
A MAN should be very cautious of beginning those expenses which if once begun will continue, but may be more liberal on such occasions as are not likely to return. BACON. Essays.
FRUGALITY is founded on the principle that all riches have
SUPERFLUITY creates necessity; and necessity superfluity. Take care to be an economist in prosperity: there is no fear of your being one in adversity.
LET wealth come in by comely thrift,
Extremes have still their faults,
The softest fire makes the sweetest malt;
On! teach us, yet unspoil'd by wealth,
PRAISE was originally a pension paid by the world; but the moderns, finding the trouble and charge too great in collecting it, have lately bought out the fee-simple; since which time the right of presentation is wholly in ourselves.
SWIFT. Tale of a Tub-Preface.
It is always esteemed the greatest mischief a man can do to those whom he loves, to raise men's expectations of them too high by undue and impertinent commendations.
SPRAT. History of the Royal Society.
PRAISE in the beginning is agreeable enough, and we receive it as a favour; but when it comes in great quantities, we regard it only as a debt, which nothing but our merit could extort. GOLDSMITH. Essays.
Apemantus. YES, he is worthy of thee, and to pay thee for thy labour: he, that loves to be flattered, is worthy o' the flatterer.
Timon of Athens.
O, THAT men's ears should be
To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!
Act with cool prudence, and with manly temper
As well as manly firmness:
"Tis godlike magnanimity to keep
When most provoked our reason calm and clear,
Of what is right, without the vulgar aid
Of heat and passion, which, tho' honest, bear us Often too far. THERE is a courageous wisdom; there is also a false reptile prudence, the result not of caution but of fear. Under misfortune it often happens that the nerves of the understanding are so relaxed, the pressing perils of the hour so completely confound all the faculties, that no future danger can be properly provided for, can be justly estimated, can be so much as fully seen. The eye of the mind is dazzled and vanquished. An abject distrust of ourselves, an extravagant admiration of the enemy, present us with no hope but in a compromise with his pride by a submission to his will. This short plan of policy is the only counsel that will obtain a hearing. We plunge into a dark gulf with all the rash precipitation of fear.
An Epigram in the Welsh manner.
But closely kept his tongue confined.
IF the prudence of reserve and decorum dictates silence in some circumstances, in others prudence of a higher order may justify us in speaking our thoughts.
WANT of prudence is too frequently the want of virtue; nor is there on earth a more powerful advocate for vice than poverty.
PRUDENT men lock up their motives; letting familiars have a key to their heart, as to their garden.
THINK not here allow'd
That worst of tyrants, an usurping crowd.
POPE. Iliad, Book II.
CIVIL Freedom is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade us, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just reasoning that can be put upon it is of so coarse a tex
ture, as perfectly to suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy, and of those who are to defend it. Far from any resemblance to those propositions in geometry and metaphysics, which admit no medium, but must be true or false in all their latitude, social and civil freedom, like all other things in common life, are variously mixed and modified, enjoyed in very different degrees, and shaped into an infinite diversity of forms, according to the temper and circumstances of every community. The extreme of Liberty (which is its abstract perfection, but its real fault) obtains nowhere, nor ought to obtain anywhere, because extremes, as we all know, in every point which relates either to our duties or satisfactions in life, are destructive both to virtue and enjoyment. Liberty, too, must be limited in order to be possessed. The degree of restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely. But it ought to be the constant aim of every wise public council, to find out by cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little, not how much, of this restraint the community can subsist. For Liberty is a good to be improved, and not an evil to be lessened.
THAT principle to which Polity owes its stability, Life its happiness, Faith its acceptance, and Creation its continuance, in Obedience.
NOR is it the least among the sources of more serious satisfaction which I have found in the pursuit of a subject that at first appeared to bear but slightly on the grave interests of mankind, that the conditions of material perfection which it leads me in conclusion to consider, furnish a strange proof how false is the conception, how frantic the pursuit, of that treacherous phantom which men call Liberty; most treacherous, indeed, of all phantoms; for the feeblest ray of reason might surely show us, that not only its attainment, but its being, was impossible. There is no such thing in the universe. There can never be. The stars have it not; the earth has it not; the sea has it not; and we men have the mockery and semblance of it only for our heaviest punishment.
If there be any one principle more widely than another confessed by every utterance, or more sternly than another imprinted on every atom of the visible creation, that principle is not Liberty, but Law.
The enthusiast would reply that by Liberty he meant the Law
of Liberty. Then why use the single and misunderstood word? If by Liberty you mean chastisement of the passions, discipline of the intellect, subjection of the will; if you mean the fear of inflicting, the shame of committing, a wrong; if you mean respect for all who are in authority, and consideration for all who are in dependence; veneration for the good, mercy to the evil, sympathy with the weak; if you mean watchfulness over all thoughts, temperance in all pleasures, and perseverance in all toils; if you mean, in a word, that service which is defined in the Liturgy of the English Church to be perfect Freedom, why do you name this by the same word by which the luxurious mean licence, and the reckless mean change; by which the rogue means rapine, and the fool equality, by which the proud mean anarchy, and the malignant mean violence? Call it by any other name rather than this, but its best and truest is Obedience. Obedience is, indeed, founded on a kind of freedom, else it would become mere subjugation, but that freedom is only granted that obedience may be more perfect; and thus, while a measure of licence is necessary to exhibit the individual energies of things, the fairness and pleasantness and perfection of them all consists in their Restraint. Compare a river that has burst its banks with one that is bound by them, and the clouds that are scattered over the face of the whole heaven with those that are marshalled into ranks and orders by its winds. So that though Restraint, utter and unrelaxing, can never be comely, this is not because it is in itself an evil, but only because, when too great, it overpowers the nature of the thing restrained, and so counteracts the other laws of which that nature is itself composed.
MEN are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within,* the more there must be
* For it is an undeniable truth, which is commonly said, that there would be need of fewer laws, and less force to govern men, if their minds were rightly informed and set straight while they were young and pliable. History of the Royal Society.