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truth, the only thing that can keep a man honest. The desire of fame, not regulated, is as dangerous to virtue as
167. Religious Education. It has happened to as to many active and prosperous men, that his mind has been wholly absorbed in business, or at intervals dissolved in amusement; and habituated so long to certain modes of employment or diversion, that in the decline of life it can no more receive a new train of images, than the hand can acquire dexterity in a new mechanical operation. For this reason a religious education is so necessary. Spiritual ideas may be recollected in old age, but can hardly be acquired.
168. Critics. Never let criticisms operate upon your face or your mind : it is very rarely that an author is hurt by bis critics. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out; but it often dies in the socket: a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed.
169. Seat in Parliament. It would be with great discontent that I should see Mr. Thrale decline the representation of the Borough. To sit in parliament for Southwark is the highest honour that his station permits him to attain ; and his ambition to attain it is rational and laudable. I will not say that for an honest man to struggle for a vote in the legislature, at a time when honest votes are so much wanted, is absolutely a duty ; but it is surely an act of virtue. The expense, if it was more, I should wish him to despise. Money is made for such purposes as this.
170. Sorrow. There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow; but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved, nor will, by me at least, be thought worthy of esteem.
Compassion. The world is not so unjust or unkind as it is peevishly represented. Those who deserve well seldom fail to receive from others such services as they can perform ; but few have much in their power, or are so stationed as to have great leisure from their own affairs ; and kindness must be commonly the exuberance of content. The wretched have no compassion ; they can do good only from strong principles of duty.
172. Anonymous Authors. I have been at Lichfield persecuted with solicitations to read a poem ; but I sent the author word, that I would never review the work of an anonymous author : for why should I put my name in the power of one who will not trust me with his own ? With this answer Lucy was satisfied ; and I think it may satisfy all whom it may
173. Hyperbolical Praise. Do not flatter. Cool reciprocations of esteem are the great comforts of life : hyperbolical praise only corrupts the tongue of the one, and the ear of the other.
174. Computation. Nothing amuses more harmlessly than computation, and nothing is oftener applicable to real business or speculative inquiries. A thousand stories which the ignorant tell, and believe, die away at once, when the computist takes them in his gripe. Cultivate in yourself a disposition to numerical inquiries : they will give you entertainment in solitude by the practice, and reputation in public by the effect.
175. Female Gluttony. Gluttony is less common among women than among
Women commonly eat more sparingly, and are less curious in the choice of meat; but, if once you find a woman gluttonous, expect from her very little virtue.
Her mind is enslaved to the lowest and grossest temptation.
176. Nature. — Human Life. Take all opportunities of filling your mind with genuine scenes of nature. Description is always fallacious; at least, till you have seen realities, you cannot know it to be true.
This observation might be extended to life; but life cannot be surveyed with the same safety as nature; and it is better to know vice and folly by report than by experience. A painter, says Sydney, mingled in the battle, that he might know how to paint it ; but his knowledge was useless, for some mischievous sword took away his head. They whose speculation upon
characters leads them too far into the world, may lose that nice sense of good and evil by which characters are to be tried. Acquaint yourself, therefore, both with the pleasing and the terrible parts of nature ; but, in life, wish to know only the good.
177. Mrs. Porter, the Tragedian. Mrs. Porter was so much the favourite of her time, that she was welcomed on the stage when she trod it by the help of a stick. She taught her pupils no violent graces; for she was a woman of very gentle and lady-like manners, though without much extent of knowledge, or activity of understanding.
178. Dictionaries. Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
179. Attention. Endeavour to reform that instability of attention which you have lately betrayed. Perhaps it is natural for those that have much within to think little on things without; but whoever lives heedlessly lives but in a mist, perpetually deceived by false appearances of the past, without any certain reliance or recollection.
180. Initials. I have a letter signed S. A. Thrale. I take S. A. to be Miss Sophy: but who is bound to recollect initials ? A name should be written, if not fully, yet so that it cannot be mistaken.
181. Old Friendships. Those that have loved longest love best. A sudden blaze of kindness may, by a single blast of coldness, be extinguished ; but that fondness which length of time has connected with many circumstances and occasions, though it may for a while be suppressed by disgust or resentment, with or without a cause, is hourly revived by accidental recollection. To those that have lived long together, every thing heard and every thing seen, recals some pleasure communicated, or some benefit conferred, some petty quarrel, or some slight endearment. Esteem of great powers, or amiable qualities newly discovered, may embroider a day or a week; but a friendship of twenty years is interwoven with the texture of life. A friend may be often found and lost ; but an old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.
182. Death. The frequency of death, to those who look upon it in the leisure of Arcadia, is very dreadful. We all know what it should teach us ; let us all be diligent to learn.
183. Incommunicative Taciturnity. Incommunicative taciturnity neither imparts nor invites friendship, but reposes on a stubborn sufficiency, selfcentered, and neglects the interchange of that social officiousness by which we are habitually endeared to one another. They that mean to make no use of friends will be at little trouble to gain them; and to be without friendship is to be without one of the first comforts of our present state.
To have no assistance from other minds,
in resolving doubts, in appeasing scruples, in balancing deliberations, is a very wretched destitution.
184. Purposes. Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression : we must always purpose to do more or better than in past time. The mind is enlarged and elevated by mere purposes, though they end as they begin, by airy contemplation. We compare and judge, though we do not practise.
185. Visitors. — Domestic Companions. Visitors are no proper companions in the chamber of sickness. They come when I could sleep or read ; they stay till I am weary; they force me to attend when my mind calls for relaxation, and to speak when my powers will hardly actuate my tongue. The amusements and consolations of languor and depression are conferred by familiar and domestic companions, which can be visited or called at will, and can occasionally be quitted or dismissed; who do not obstruct accommodation by ceremony, or destroy indolence by awakening effort.
186. Hannah More's “ Bas Bleu." Miss More has written a poem called “ Le Bas Bleu," which is, in my opinion, a very great performance. It wanders about in manuscript, and surely will soon find its
way to Bath.
187. Attention and Respect. I have now (Dec. 31. 1783) in the house pheasant, venison, turkey, and ham, all unbought. Attention and respect give pleasure, however late or however useless. But they are not useless when they are late : it is reasonable to rejoice, as the day declines, to find that it has been spent with the approbation of mankind.