« PreviousContinue »
No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another. This I perceive in myself, for I am in the dark to all the world, and my nearest friends behold me but in a cloud; those that know me but superficially think less of me than I do of myself; those of my near acquaintance think more: God, who truly knows me, knows that I am nothing, for he only beholds me, and all the world, who looks not on us through a derived ray, or a trajection of a sensible species, but beholds the substance without the helps of accidents, and the forms of things, as we their operations. Further, no man can judge
+ See Ante 154, in note, where there is an extract from Wordsworth, upon “rash judgments and the sneers of selfish men."
What we oft do best,
up For our best act.--Henry VIII. Act 1. Scene 4. See Barrow's Sermon against detraction ; Sermon xix. See also his Sermon xx. against “ Rash Judgment,” which he says is
5. Productive of Evil. An honest and charitable mind disposeth us, when we see
another, because no man knows himself, for we censure others but as they disagree from that humour which we fancy laudable in ourselves, and commend others but for that wherein they seem to quadrate and consent with us. So that in conclusion, all is but that we all condemn, self-love.t
I THANK God, amongst those millions of vices I do inherit and hold from Adam, I have escaped one, and that a mortal enemy to charity, the first and father sin, not only of man, but of the devil, pride; a vice whose name is comprehended in a monosyllable, but in its nature not circumscribed
any man endued with good qualities, and pursuing a tenor of good practice, to esteem such a person, to commend him, to interpret what he doth to the best, not to suspect any ill of him or to seek any exception against him; it inclineth us, when we see any action materially good, to yield it simply due approbation and praise, without searching for or surmising any defect in the cause or principle whence it cometh, in the design or end to which it tendeth, in the way or manner of performing it. A good man would be sorry to have any good thing spoiled, as to find a crack in a fair building, a law in a fine jewel, a canker in a goodly flower, is grievous to any indifferent man: so would it be displeasing to him to observe defects in a worthy person, or commendable action.
The sensorious humour, as it argueth ill nature to be predominant (a vulturous nature which easily smelleth out, and hastily flieth toward, and greedily feedeth on carrion) so it signifieth bad conscience! for he that knoweth evil of himself
with a world; I have escaped it in a condition that can hardly avoid it; those petty acquisitions and reputed perfections that advance and elevate the conceits of other men, add no feathers into mine; I have seen a grammarian tour and plume himself over a single line in Horace, and shew more pride in the construction of one ode, than the author in the composure of the whole book. For my own part, besides the jargon and patois of several provinces, I understand no less than six languages; yet I protest I have no higher conceit of myself, than had our fathers before the confusion of Babel, when there was but one language in the world, and none to boast himself either linguist or critic. I have not only seen several countries, beheld the nature of their climes, the chorography of their provinces ; topography of their cities, but understood their several laws, customs and policies; yet
is most prone to suspect, and most quick to pronounce ill concerning others, so it breedeth and fostereth such ill dispositions : it debaucheth the minds of men, rendering them dim and doltish in apprehending their own faults, negligent and beed. less in regard to their own hearts and ways, apt to please and comfort themselves in the evils, realor imaginary, of their neighbours; which to do is a very barbarous and brutish practice.
A truly great man is considerate before he condemns, and hesitates when compelled to censure. He knows that in all censure of others there is something of self-approbation. He knows that, exalted into the situation of a judge, it is difficult to walk humbly. He remembers that it is the nature of human weakness to inflate its trifling acts into matters of vast importance. The school-boy who caught a tame rabbit, cannot all this persuade the dulness of my spirit unto such an opinion of myself, as I behold in nimbler and conceited heads, that never looked a degree beyond their nests. I know the names, and somewhat more, of all the constellations in
horizon; yet I have seen a prating mariner that could only name the pointers and the North star, out-talk me, and conceit himself a whole sphere above me. I know most of the plants of my country, and of those about me; yet methinks I do not know so many as when I did but know a hundred, and had scarcely ever simpled further than Cheapside ; for indeed heads of capacity, and such as are not full with a handful, or easy measure of knowledge, think they know nothing, till they know all; which being impossible, they fall upon the opinion of Socrates, and only know they know not anything. I
thought himself a mighty sportsman.”
He is also fearful that he may mislead others : that he may awaken intemperate zeal : that he may administer to envy and malice, and at last that a subject deeply considered, and by him cautiously stated, may prove a step for restless vanity, which would lift itself into notice, or a text for the cant which confounds goodness with the talk of goodness.-A. M.
Does not the tendency to Rash Judgment, which would crucify merit, really originate in the respect for merit, from the pain attendant upon the consciousness of being excelled?
# SOLILOQUIES OF THE OLD PHILOSOPHER AND THE
YOUNG LADY. Alas !” exclaimed a silver-headed sage, “ how narrow is the utmost extent of human knowledge ! how circumscribed the sphere of intellectual exertion! I have spent my life in acquiring knowledge, but how little do I know! The farther
THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
Now there is another part of charity, which is the basis and pillar of this, and that is the love of God,
I attempt to penetrate the secrets of nature, the more I am bewildered and benighted. Beyond a certain limit all is but confusion or conjecture : so that the advantage of the learned over the ignorant consists greatly in having ascertained how little is to be known. “ It is true that I can measure the sun,
compute the distances of the planets ; I can calculate their periodical movements; and even ascertain the laws by which they perform their sublime revolutions : but with regard to their construction, to the beings which inhabit them, of their condition and circumstances, whether natural or moral, what do I know more than the clown?
Delighting to examine the economy of nature in our own world, I have analyzed the elements; and have given names to their component parts. And yet, should I not be as much at a loss to explain the burning of fire, or to account for the liquid quality of water, as the vulgar who use and enjoy them without thought or examination ?
“I remark that all bodies, unsupported, fall to the ground; and I am taught to account for this by the law of gravitation. But what have I gained here more than a term? Does it convey to my mind any idea of the nature of that mysterious and invisible chain, which draws all things to a common centre? I observed the effect, I give a name to the cause, but can I explain or comprehend it?
“Pursuing the tract of the naturalist, I have learned to distinguish the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms : and to divide these into their distinct tribes and families:but can I tell, after all this toil, whence a single blade of grass derives its vitality ?—Could the most minute researches enable me to discover the exquisite pencil that paints and