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apprehend principles and we conclude propositions; and both with the like assurance, though by different ways. Nor is it less ridiculous for reason to demand of these perceptive and intellective faculties a proof of their maxims before it consents to them, than it would be for the said faculties to demand of reason a clear perception and intuition of all the problems it demonstrates. This defect, therefore, may serve to the humbling of reason, which pretends to be the judge of all things, but not to invalidate our assurance, as if reason were alone able to inform our judgment. On the contrary, it were to be wished that we had less occasion for rational deductions; and that we knew all things by instinct and immediate view. But nature has denied us this favour, and allows us but few notices of so easy a kind, leaving us to work out the rest by laborious consequences, and a continued series of argument.
We see here an universal war proclaimed against mankind. We must of necessity list ourselves on one side or on the other; for he that pretends to stand neuter is most effectually of the sceptical party : this neutrality constitutes the very essence of scepticism; and he that is not against sceptics, must be in a superlative manner for them. What shall a man do under these circumstances ? Shall he question everything? shall he doubt whether he is awake? whether another pinches him, or burns him ? shall he doubt whether he doubts? shall he doubt whether he exists? It seems impossible to come to this ; and therefore, I believe, there never was a finished sceptic, a Pyrrhonian in perfection. There is a secret force in nature which sustains the weakness of reason, and hinders it from losing itself in such a degree of extravagance. Well but shall a man join himself to the opposite faction? Shall he boast that he is in sure possession of truth, when, if we press him never so little, he can produce no title, and must be obliged to quit his hold?
Who shall extricate us from this dilemma ? The sceptics we see are confounded by nature, and the dogmatists by reason.
To what a distracting misery will that man, therefore, be reduced, who shall seek the knowledge of his own condition by the bare light and guidance of his own powers; it being alike impossible for him to avoid both these sects, for he cannot repose himself on either.
Such is the portrait of man, with regard to truth. Let us now behold him in respect of felicity, which he prosecutes with so much warmth through his whole course of action; for all desire to be happy: this general rule is without exception. Whatever variety there may be in the means employed, there is but one end universally pursued. The reason why one man embraceth the hazard of war, and why another declines it, is but the same desire, attended in each with different views. This is the sole motive to every action of every person; and even of such as most unnaturally become their own executioners.
And yet, after the course of so many ages, no person without faith has ever arrived at this point, towards which all continually tend. The whole world is busy in complaining: princes and subjects, nobles and commons, old and young, the strong and the feeble, the learned and the ignorant, the healthy and the diseased, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.
So long, so constant, so regular, and uniform a proof ought fully to convince us of our utter inability to acquire happiness by our own efforts. But example will not serve for our instruction in this case; because there being no resemblance so exact as not to admit some nicer difference, we are hence disposed to think that our expectation is not so liable to be deceived on one occasion as on another. Thus the present never satisfying us, the future decoys and allures us on, till, from one misfortune to another, it leads us into death, the sum and consummation of eternal misery.
This is next to a miracle, that there should not be any one thing in pature which has not been some time fixed as the last end and happiness of man; neither stars, nor elements, nor plants, nor animals, nor insects, nor diseases, nor war, nor vice, nor sin. Man being fallen from his natural estate, there is no object so extravagant as not to be capable of attracting his desire. Ever since he lost his real good, everything cheats him with the appearance of it; even his own de struction, though contrary as this seems both to reason and nature.
Some have sought after felicity in honour and authority, others in curiosity and knowledge, and a third tribe in the pleasures and enjoyments of sense. These three leading pursuits have constituted as many factions; and those whom we compliment with the name of philosophers, have really done nothing else but resigned themselves up to one of the three. Such amongst them as made the nearest approaches to truth and happiness, well considered that it was necessary the universal good which all desire, and in which each man ought to be allowed his portion, should not consist in any of the private blessings of this world, which can be properly enjoyed but by one alone, and which, if divided, do more grieve and afflict each possessor, for want of the part which he has not, than they oblige and gratify him with the part which he has. They rightly apprehend that the true good ought to be such as all may possess at once, without diminution, and without contention; and such as no man can be deprived of against his will. They apprehended this ; but they were unable to attain and execute it; and instead of a solid, substantial happiness, took up at last with the empty shadow of visionary excellence.
Our instinct suggests to us that we ought to seek our happiness within ourselves. Our passions hurry us abroad, even when there are no objects to engage and incite them. External objects are themselves our tempters, and charm and attract us, while we think not of them. Therefore, the wisest philosophers might weary themselves with crying, “ Keep within yourselves, and your felicity is in your own gift and power.” The generality never gave them credit, and those who were so easy as to believe them, became only the more unsatisfied and the more ridiculous. For is there anything so vain as the happiness of the stoics, or so groundless as the reasons on which they build it ?
They conclude, that what has been done once may be done always ; and that, because the desire of glory has spurred on its votaries to great and worthy actions, all others may use it with the same success. But these are the motions of fever and phrenzy, which sound health and judgment can never imitate.
The civil war between reason and passion has occasioned two opposite projects for the restoring of peace to mankind; the one, of those who were for renouncing their passions, and becoming gods; the other, of those who were for renouncing their reason, and becoming beasts. But neither the one nor the other could take effect. Reason ever continues to accuse the baseness and injustice of the passions, and to disturb the repose of those who abandon themselves to their dominion; and on the contrary, the passions remain lively and vigorous in the hearts of those who talk the most of their extirpation.
This is the just account of human nature, and human strength, in respect of truth and happiness. We have an idea of truth not to be effaced by all the wiles of the sceptic; we have an incapacity of argument not to be rectified by all the power of the dogmatist. We wish for truth, and find nothing in ourselves but uncertainty. We
seek after happiness, and are presented with nothing but misery. Our double aim is, in effect, a double torture; while we are alike unable to compass either, and to relinquish either. These desires seem to have been left in us, partly as a punishment of our fall, and partly as an indication and remembrance whence we are fallen.
If man was not made for God, why is God alone sufficient for human happiness? If man was made for God, why is the human will, in all things, repugnant to the divine ?
Man is at a loss where to fix himself, and to recover his proper station in the world. He is unquestionably out of his way; he feels within himself the small remains of his once happy state, which he is now unable to retrieve. And yet this is what he daily courts and follows after, always with solicitude, and never with success; encompassed with darkness, which he can neither escape nor penetrate.
Hence arose the contest amongst the philosophers; some of whom endeavoured to raise and exalt man, by displaying his greatness ; others to depress and abase him, by representing his misery. And what seems more strange, is, that each party borrowed from the other the ground of their own opinion. For the misery of man may be inferred from his greatness, as his greatness is deducible from his misery. Thus the one sect, with more evidence, demonstrated his misery in that they derived it from his greatness; and the other more strongly concluded his greatness, because they founded it on his misery. Whatever was offered to establish his greatness, on one side, served only to evince his misery in behalf of the other; it being more miserable to have fallen from the greater height. And the same proportion holds vice versa. So that in this endless circle of dispute, each helped to advance his adversary's cause; for it is certain, that the more degrees of light men enjoy, the more degrees they are able to discern of misery and of greatness. In a word, man knows himself to be mi. serable; he is therefore exceedingly miserable, because he knows that he is so; but he likewise appears to be eminently great, from this very act of knowing himself to be miserable.
What a chimera then is man! What a surprising novelty! What a confused chaos! What a subject of contradiction! A professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth; the great depositary and guardian of truth, and yet a mere medley of uncertainty; the glory and the scandal of the universe. If he is too aspiring and lofty, we can lower and humble him; if too mean and little, we can exalt him. To conclude, we can bait him with repugnances and contradictions, until, at length, he considers himself to be a monster even beyond conception.
51.-LADY FANSHAWE. [SIR RICHARD FANSHAWE, a devoted adherent to the fortunes of Charles I., and a faithful servant to Charles II., was an honest statesman, and a gentleman of rare private virtue. He was also a scholar and a poet; and is known for a translation, very beautiful in parts, of Guarini's Pastor Fido.' In his life of peril and difficulty he had the support of an incomparable wife, who survived him; and who left a manuscript memoir of her career, for the instruction of her son. This interesting narrative was first printed in 1829. It contains many curious anecdotes of the times; but its greatest charm consists in the picture it presents of the devoted attachment of an accomplished and heroic woman to the husband of her love. Lady Fanshawe wrote her memoir in 1676, and died in 1680.]
I have thought it good to discourse to you, my most dear and only son, the most remarkable actions and accidents of your family, as well as the more eminent ones of your father; and my life and necessity, not delight or revenge, hath made me insert some passages which will reflect on their owners, as the praises of others will be but just, which is my intent in this narrative. I would not have you be a stranger to it; because, by the example, you may imitate what is applicable to your condition in the world, and endeavour to avoid those misfortunes we have passed through, if God pleases.
Endeavour to be innocent as a dove, but as wise as a serpent; and let this lesson direct you most in the greatest extremes of fortune. Hate idleness, and curb all passions; be true in all words and actions ; unnecessarily deliver not your opinion ; but when you do, let it be just, well-considered, and plain. Be charitable in all thought, word, and deed, and ever ready to forgive injuries done to yourself, and be more pleased to do good than to receive good.
Be civil and obliging to all, dutiful where God and nature command you; but friend to one, and that friendship keep sacred, as the greatest