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DOUBT. ANOTHER error is an impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion without due and mature suspension of judgment.* For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action commonly spoken of by the ancients; the one plain and smooth in the beginning, and in the end impassable; the other rough and troublesome in the entrance, but after a while fair and even: so it is in contemplation; if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
BACON. IN every question of conduct, where one side is doubtful, and the other side safe, we are bound to take the safe side.
PALEY. Moral Philosophy.
Jaques. Why, who cries out on pride,
That can therein tax any private party?
Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,
Till that the very means do ebb?
What woman in the city do I name,
When that I say, The city-woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders ?
Who can come in, and say that I mean her,
When such a one as she, such is her neighbour ?
Or what is he of basest function,
That says, his bravery is not on my cost,
(Thinking that I mean him,) but therein suits
His folly to the metal of my speech ?
There then; How, what then? Let me see wherein
My tongue hath wrong’d him: if it do him right,
Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free,
Why then, my taxing like a wild goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.
As You Like It, Act II. THEN we may be assured we have this disease, when we value any person chiefly because his advantages are of the same nature with those we enjoy, neglecting those who have an equal right to regard, only because their privileges are of a
different nature from our own. For instance, when men who derive their considerableness from the sword, the gown, or their ancestors, think none worthy their esteem, but such as claim under their own pretences; in this case it's evident, it can be nothing but partiality, and conceitedness, which makes them give the pre-eminence.
COLLIER. Essay on Pride. If they who affect show and pomp knew how many of their spectators derided their trivial taste, they would be very much less elated, and have an inclination to examine the merits of all they have to do with. They would soon find that there are many who make a figure below what their fortune or merit entitles them to, out of mere choice, and an elegant desire of ease and disencumbrance.
Spectator, No. 264. DIOGENES being at Olympia, saw at that celebrated festival some young men of Rhodes arrayed most magnificently. Smiling, he exclaimed, “This is Pride." Afterwards meeting some Lacedemonians in a mean and sordid dress, he said, “And this also is Pride."
VAIN-GLORY. SOME intermixture of vain-glorious tempers puts life into business, and makes a fit composition in grand enterprises, and hazardous undertakings. For men of solid and sober natures have more of the ballast than the sail.
THE truest characters of ignorance,
Are vanity, and pride, and arrogance ;
As blind men use to bear their noses higher,
Than those that have their eyes and sight entire.
BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.
For men are grown above all knowledge now,
And, what they're ignorant of, disdain to know;
Engross truth like fanatics, underhand,
And boldly judge before they understand;
The selfsame courses equally advance
In spiritual and carnal ignorance;
And, by the same degrees of confidence,
Become impregnable against all sense.
Ibid. On the Licentiousness of the Age.
This Life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children's breath,
Who chase it everywhere,
And strive who can most motion it bequeath.
And though it sometimes seem of its own might
Like to an eye of gold to be fix'd there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
But in that pomp it doth not long appear;
For when 'tis most admired, in a thought,
Because it erst was nought, it turns to nought.
To-MORROW, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creep in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow,-a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth, Act V.
LIFE! we've been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good Night, but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good Morning.
A. L. BARBAULD.
Hamlet. To be, or not to be, that is the question :
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them ?-To die,—to sleep,–
No more ;--and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,-'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die;—to sleep ;-
To sleep! perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause : There's the respect,
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin ? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,--
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns,-puzzles the will;
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of ?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all ;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Hamlet, Act III.
Claudio. DEATH is a fearful thing.
And shamed life & hateful.
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
Sad cure! for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion?
Paradise Lost, Book II.
Distrust and darkness of a future state
Make poor mankind so fearful of their fate.
Death, in itself, is nothing; but we fear
To be we know not what, we know not where.
DRYDEN. Aurenge-Zebe, Act IV.
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and uncertain thoughts
Imagine howling !—'tis too horrible !
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment,
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
Measure for Measure, Act III. Aurenge-Zebe. WHEN I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
Yet, fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay-
To morrow's falser than the former day,
Lies worse, and, while it says we shall be blest
With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
Strange couzenage ! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what remain:
And, from the dregs of life think to receive,
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tired with waiting for this chymick gold,
Which fools us young, and beggars us when olda
Nourmahal. 'Tis not for nothing that we life pursue;
It pays our hopes with something still that's new.*
* A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darken'd ways
Made for our searching : yea, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits.
KEATS. Endymion, Book I.