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Memory is the purveyor of reason; the power which places those images before the mind, upon which the judgment is to be exercised. Johnson.
Wisdom comprehends at once the end and the means, estimates easiness or difficulty, and is cautious or confident in due proportion. Ibid.
Man is seldom willing to let fall the opinion of his own dignity; he is better content to want diligence than power; and sooner confesses the depravity of his will than the imbecility of his nature. Ibid.
Nature seems to have taken a particular care to disseminate her blessings among the different regions of the world, with an eye to their mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind, that the natives of the several parts of the globe might have a kind of dependence upon one another, and be united together by their common interest. Spect. No. 69.
It is presumed that there are few readers of taste, who would not prefer a pause after the first word in all these sentences to such a pronunciation as should slide into the succeeding words without any rest at all.
Another instance we may borrow from Dr. Price's beautiful picture of virtue.
Virtue is of intrinsic value and good desert, and of indispensable obligation; not the creature of will, but necessary and immutable; not local or temporary, but of equal extent and antiquity with the divine mind; not a mode of sensation, but everlasting truth; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honour and esteem, and the source of all beauty, order, and happiness, in nature.
Mr. Addison furnishes us with many instances, where a single person begins a sentence:
Homer is in his province when he is describing a battle or a multitude, a hero or a god. Virgil is never better pleased than when he is in his elysium, or copying out an entertaining picture; Homer's persons are most of them godlike and terrible: Virgil has scarce admitted any into his poem who are not beautiful, and has taken particular care to make his hero so.
Spectator, No. 417
Plato expresses his abhorrence of some fables of the poets, which seem to reflect on the gods as the authors of injustice; and lays it down as a princi ple, that whatever is permitted to befall a just man, whether poverty, sickness, or any of those things which seem to be evils, shall, either in life or death, conduce to his good. Spectator, No. 237.
Seneca has written a discourse purposely upon this subject, in which he takes pains, after the doctrine of the stoics, to show that adversity is not in itself an evil; and mentions a noble saying of Demetrius, "That nothing would be more unhappy than a man who had never known affliction." Ibid.
Tully was the first who observed that friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy, and dividing of our grief: a thought, in which he hath been followed by all the essayers upon friendship that have written since his time. Ibid. No. 68.
In all these passages, a good reader will perceive the propriety of pausing after the first word, which forms the nominative case, or the subject of the sentence. By this pause the mind is fixed upon the principal object of attention, and prepared to proceed with clearness and deliberation to the reception of what follows.
When words or phrases are placed in contrast with each other, for the sake of being more distinctly perceived and more forcibly impressed upon the mind, they require a longer pause than ordinary between the contrasted parts, that each part may be more accurately distinguished; and a difference in the tone of voice with which each is pronounced, that this distinction may be more powerfully enforced. The distinction of voice I would recommend is a higher tone of voice upon the first part of the contrast; and, after a long pause, a lower tone upon the second. This mode of pronunciation will, if I mistake not, at once contribute to the clearness, force, and variety of the whole.
It may be observed, that when the contrast is formed between two persons or things, each of which begins the member of a sentence, they must each of
them have the pause we should give to the comma; for though these persons or things form the nominative case to the verb, and consist but of a single word, it will be necessary to pause after each, in order to show the contrast more distinctly.
At the same time that I think discretion the most useful talent a man can be master of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion, points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of obtaining them: cunning, has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing that may make them succeed. Discretion, has large and extended views, and, like a well formed eye, commands a whole horizon: cunning, is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects that are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion, the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it: cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force and makes a man incapable of bringing about, even those events, which he might have done had he passed only for a plain man. Discretion, is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning, is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interest and welfare. Discretion, is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding; cunning, is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them: in short, cunning, is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, in the same manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom. Spectator, No. 225.
We have a shining instance of the force of constrast in Cicero, where he is showing, the unequal circumstances of Cataline when compared with those of the Roman citizens.
But waving all other circumstances, let us balance the real situation of the opposing parties; from that we can form a true notion how very low our enemies are reduced. Here, regard to virtue, opposes insensibility to shame; purity, pollution; integrity, injustice; virtue, villany; resolution, rage; dignity, defilement; regularity, riot. On one side, are ranged, equity, temperance, courage, prudence, and every virtue; on the other, iniquity, luxury, cowardice, rashness, with every vice. Lastly, the struggle lies between wealth and want; the dignity, and degeneracy of reason; the force, and the frensy of the soul; between well-grounded hope, and widely extended despair. In such a strife, in such a struggle as this, even though the zeal of men were wanting, must not the immortal gods give such shining virtues the superiority over so great and such complicated vices?
Cicero's Oration against Cataline.