Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Art of Being Happy - In a Series of Letters from a Father to His Children: with Observations and Comments
Author: Droz, Joseph
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Art of Being Happy - In a Series of Letters from a Father to His Children: with Observations and Comments" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Internet Archive (https://archive.org)



Note: Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See
      https://archive.org/details/artofbeinghappy00droz


Transcriber’s note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      There are about seventy Notes at the back of the book. These
      are referenced in the text by a numeric anchor eg [1] or [15];
      some anchors have an ‘a’ suffix eg [15a] or [21a].

      There are two Footnotes in the main text, whose anchors are
      [A] and [B]. There are six Footnotes in the Notes section,
      whose anchors are [C] to [H]. All eight Footnotes have been
      placed at the back of the book after the Notes section.

      Numerous minor text changes are noted in the Transcriber’s Note
      at the end of the book.



THE ART OF BEING HAPPY:

From the French of DROZ,

‘SUR L’ART D’ETRE HEUREUX;’

In a Series of Letters
from
a Father to His Children:
with
Observations and Comments.

by

TIMOTHY FLINT.

   ‘----sua si bonna nôrint.’--VIRGIL.



Boston,
Published By Carter And Hendee.
1832.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1832,
BY CARTER AND HENDEE,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



ADVERTISEMENT.


The text, upon which the following observations and comments
are based, does not assume to be a literal translation of the
celebrated work of Droz. The original is strongly idiomatic;
and the author has carried an uncommon talent of being laconic
sometimes to the point of obscurity. I have often found it
impossible to convey to the English reader a sentiment, perfectly
obvious in the original, in as few words as are there used. The
French, in its more numerous articles, more allowable and bold
personifications, and arbitrary use of gender, has, in the hand
of certain writers, this advantage over our language. When the
doctrines of the book are compared one with the other, and each
with the general bearing of the work, the inculcation, namely, of
the truth that _virtue is happiness_, there will be found nothing
immoral or reprehensible in it. The author, on the whole, leans to
the Epicurean philosophy. Unfavorable, though erroneous impressions
have been very generally entertained of that philosophy. In
deference to that opinion, I have altogether omitted the few
sentences, which seemed appropriate to some of the dogmas of the
Epicureans. Nothing can be more remote from their alleged impiety,
than the general tenor of this work. One of its most eloquent and
impressive chapters is that upon religion. There is a distinct
class in France, both numerous and important, the _literatures_.
Many of the remarks of the author, bearing chiefly upon that class,
seemed inapplicable, or unintelligible in our country, where there
is no such class to address. I have passed over many passages and
parts of chapters, which had an almost exclusive reference to
persons in that walk in life. I have added members of sentences,
and even whole sentences to the text, where such additions seemed
necessary to develope the doctrine to an English reader.

In a word, I do not offer the text, as an exact translation, but
as the only treatise within the compass of my reading, which has
discussed the pursuit of happiness, as a science or an art; and
as one which has advanced more eloquent and impressive sentiments
upon the subject, than I have elsewhere met. With the slight
alterations, which I have made, I have found this book to meet
my own thoughts; and I have laid out of the text all phrases and
passages, which spoke otherwise. I have availed myself of the words
of another, because they have expressed my own views better than
I could have hoped to express them myself. This explanation will
be my reply to all remarks, touching mistranslation, or liberties
taken with the author.



ERRATA.


  Page 44, last line, dele the 5.
  Page 111, 5th line from bottom, dele 29.
  Page 121, end of second paragraph, dele 32.
  Page 149, 2d line from top, dele 51.
  Page 200, for Note 5, page 44, read 6, page 45.



CONTENTS.


                                                       Page.

      LETTER I.

  Introduction,                                            1

      LETTER II.

  The Physical, Organic and Moral Laws,                    8

      LETTER III.

  The same subject continued,                             25

      LETTER IV.

  General Views of the subject,                           39

      LETTER V.

  Our Desires,                                            45

      LETTER VI.

  Tranquillity of Mind,                                   51

      LETTER VII.

  Of Misfortune,                                          58

      LETTER VIII.

  Of Independence,                                        67

      LETTER IX.

  Of Health,                                              73

      LETTER X.

  Of Competence,                                          83

      LETTER XI.

  Of Opinion, and the Affection of Men,                   90

      LETTER XII.

  Of the Sentiment Men ought to Inspire,                  95

      LETTER XIII.

  Of some of the Virtues,                                100

      LETTER XIV.

  Of Marriage,                                           108

      LETTER XV.

  Of Children,                                           117

      LETTER XVI.

  Of Friendship,                                         124

      LETTER XVII.

  The Pleasures of the Senses,                           129

      LETTER XVIII.

  The Pleasures of the Heart,                            134

      LETTER XIX.

  The Pleasures of the Understanding,                    139

      LETTER XX.

  The Pleasures of the Imagination,                      144

      LETTER XXI.

  Melancholy,                                            148

      LETTER XXII.

  Religious Sentiments,                                  154

      LETTER XXIII.

  Of the Rapidity of Life,                               163

      LETTER XXIV.

  On Death,                                              170

      LETTER XXV.

  Conclusion of Droz ‘_Sur l’Art d’Etre Heureux_,’       176

      LETTER XXVI.

  The Choice of a Profession,                            182


  NOTES,                                             193-313



  THE ART OF BEING HAPPY.



LETTER I.


The following thoughts, my dear children, are those of an
affectionate father going out of life, to those he most loves, who
are coming forward in it. I am perfectly aware, that nothing but
time can impart all the dear bought instruction of experience.
Upon innumerable questions, that relate to life, you will receive
efficient teaching only by reaping the fruit of your own errors.
But one who has preceded you on the journey, who has listened to
the impressive oracles of years, may impart some aid if you will
listen with docility, to enable you to anticipate the lessons of
experimental acquaintance with the world. In what I am about to
write, I trust I may bring you this aid. As you embark on the
uncertain voyage, I cannot but hope, that your filial piety will
incline you to a frequent recurrence to the parental chart. You
are aware, that circumstances have brought me into contact with
all conditions, and into a view of all the aspects of life. I
ought, therefore, to be qualified to impart useful lessons upon the
evils and dangers of inexperience. You, at least, will not see
assumption in such lessons, when they result from the remembrance
of my own errors. You may consider what follows, whether it be my
own remarks, or what I have adopted from others, as the gleanings
of experimental instruction, from what I have myself seen, felt,
suffered, or enjoyed; and as my comments upon the influence, which
my election of alternatives has had, upon the amount of my own
enjoyment or suffering.

You will find enough who are ready to inspire you with indifference
or disdain for such counsels. They will indolently, and yet
confidently, assure you, that the theoretical discussion of the
pursuit of happiness is, of all visionary investigations, the most
profitless and inapplicable; that lecture, write, preach as we
may, the future will be, perhaps ought to be, as the past; that
the world is always growing older, without ever growing wiser; and
that men are evidently no more successful in their search after
happiness now, than in the remotest periods of recorded history.
They will affirm that man has always been the sport of accident,
the slave of his passions, the creature of circumstances; that it
is useless to reason, vain to consult rules, imbecile to surrender
independence, to follow the guidance of those who assume to be
wise, or receive instruction from those who have been taught
by years. They will allege the utter inefficacy of the lights
of reason, philosophy, and religion, judging from the little
illumination, which they have hitherto shed upon the paths of
life. On the same ground, and from the same reasonings, they might
declaim against every attempt, in every form to render the world
wiser and happier. With equal propriety they might say, ‘close the
pulpit, silence the press, cease from parental discipline, moral
suasion, and the training of education. Do what you will, the world
will go on as before.’ Who does not see the absurdity of such
language? Because we cannot do everything, shall we do nothing?
Because the million float towards the invisible future without any
pole star, or guided only by the presumption of general opinion,
is it proof conclusive that none have been rendered happier
in consequence of having followed wiser guidance, and pursued
happiness by system?

Such is the practical creed of the great mass, with whom you will
be associated in life. I, on the contrary, think entirely with the
French philosopher, whose precepts you are about to read, that this
general persuasion is palpably false and fatal; that much suffering
may be avoided, and much enjoyment obtained by following rules,
and pursuing happiness by system; that I have had the fortune to
meet with numbers, who were visible proofs that men may learn
how to be happy. I am confident that the far greater portion of
human suffering is of our own procuring, the result of ignorance
and mistaken views, and that it is a superfluous and unnecessary
mixture of bitterness in the cup of human life. I firmly believe
that the greater number of deaths, instead of being the result of
specific diseases, to which they are attributed, are really caused
by a series of imperceptible malign influences, springing from
corroding cares, griefs, and disappointments. To say, that more
than half of the human race die of sorrow, and a broken heart, or
in some way fall victims to their passions, may seem like advancing
a revolting doctrine; but it is, nevertheless, in my mind, a simple
truth.

We do not _see_ the operations of grief upon some one or all the
countless frail and delicate constituents of human life. But if
physiology could look through the infinitely complicated web of
our structure with the power of the solar microscope, it would
behold every chagrin searing some nerve, paralyzing the action of
some organ, or closing some capillary; and that every sigh draws
its drop of life blood from the heart. Nature is slow in resenting
her injuries; but the memory of them is indelibly impressed, and
treasured up for a late, but certain revenge. Nervousness, lowness
of spirits, headache, and all the countless train of morbid and
deranged corporeal and mental action, are, at once, the cause and
the effect of sorrow and anxiety, increased by a constant series
of action and reaction. Thought and care become impressed upon
the brow. The bland essence of cheerfulness evaporates. The head
becomes shorn of its locks; and the frosts of winter gather on
the temples. These concurrent influences silently sap the stamina
of life; until, aided by some adventitious circumstance, which we
call cold, fever, epidemic, dyspepsia--death lays his hand upon the
frame that by the sorrows and cares of life was prepared for his
dread office. The bills of mortality assign a name to the mortal
disease different from the true one.

Cheerfulness and equanimity are about the only traits that have
invariably marked the life of those who have lived to extreme old
age. Nothing is more clearly settled by experience, than that
grief acts as a slow poison, not only in the immediate infliction
of pain, but in gradually impairing the powers of life, and in
subtracting from the sum of our days.

If, then, by any process of instruction, discipline and mental
force, we can influence our circumstances, banish grief and create
cheerfulness, we can, in the same degree, reduce rules, for the
pursuit of happiness, to a system; and make that system a matter
of science. Can we not do this? The very million who deride the
idea of seeking for enjoyment through the medium of instruction,
unconsciously exercise the power in question to a certain
extent--though not to the extent, of which they are capable. All
those wise individuals, who have travelled with equanimity and
cheerfulness through the diversified scenes of life, making the
most of its good, and the least of its evils, bear a general
testimony to the truth of this fact. We find in them a conviction
that they had such power, and a force of character that enabled
them to act according to their convictions.

No person deserves the name of a philosopher, who is not wise in
relation to the great purpose of life. In the same proportion,
then, as I convince you, that by our own voluntary, physical and
mental discipline, we can act upon circumstances, and influence our
temperament, and thus bear directly upon our happiness, I shall
be able to stir up your powers, and call forth your energy of
character, to apply that discipline in your own case. In the same
proportion I shall be instrumental in training you to the highest
exercise of your reason, and the attainment of true philosophy.

The elements upon which you are to operate, are your circumstances,
habits, and modes of thinking and acting. The _philosopher of
circumstances_[A] denies that you can act upon these. But, by his
unwearied efforts to propagate his system, he proves, that he does
not himself act upon his avowed convictions. The impulse of all
our actions from birth to death, the spring of all our movements
is a conviction, that we can alter and improve our condition. We
have a consciousness stronger than our reason, that we can control
our circumstances. We can change our regimen and habits; and by
patience and perseverance, even our temperament. Every one can cite
innumerable and most melancholy instances of those who have done it
for evil. The habit of indulging in opium, tobacco, ardent spirits,
or any of the pernicious narcotics, soon reduces the physical and
mental constitution to that temperament, in which these stimulants
are felt to be necessary. A corresponding change is produced in the
mind and disposition. The frequent and regular use of medicine,
though it may have been wholly necessary at first, finally becomes
an inveterate habit. No phenomenon of physiology is more striking,
than the facility with which the human constitution immediately
commences a conformity to whatsoever change of circumstances, as
of climate, habit, or aliment, we impose upon it. It is a most
impressive proof, that the Creator has formed man capable of
becoming the creature of all climates and conditions.

If we may change our temperament both of body and mind for evil,
as innumerable examples prove that we may, why not as easily for
good? Our habits certainly are under our control; and our modes
of thinking, however little the process may have been explained,
are, in some way, shaped by our voluntary discipline. We have high
powers of self-command, as every one who has made the effort to
exercise them, must be conscious. We have inexhaustible moral force
for self-direction, if we will only recognise and exert it. We owe
most of our disgusts and disappointments, our corroding passions
and unreasonable desires, our fretfulness, gloom and self-torment,
neither to nature nor fate; but to ourselves, and our reckless
indifference to those rules, that ought to guide our pursuit of
happiness. Let a higher education and a truer wisdom disenthral
us from our passions, and dispel the mists of opinion and silence
the authority of example. Let us commence the pursuit of happiness
on the right course, and seek it where alone it is to be found.
Equanimity and moderation will shed their mild radiance upon our
enjoyments; and in our reverses we shall summon resignation and
force of character; and, according to the sublime ancient maxim, we
shall become masters of events and of ourselves.

I am sensible that there will always be a sufficient number of
those, deemed philosophers, who, notwithstanding their rules, have
wandered far from their aim. Such there will always be, so long as
there are stirring passions within or hidden dangers around us; and
there will be shipwrecks, so long as human cupidity and ambition
tempt self-confident and unskilful mariners upon the fickle and
tumultuous bosom of the ocean. But is this proof that a disciplined
pilot would not be most likely to make the voyage in safety, or
that the study of navigation is useless?

My affectionate desire is, to draw your attention to those moral
resources which your Creator has placed at your command. How many
millions have floated down the current in the indolent supineness
of inactivity, who, had they been aware of their internal means
of active resistance, would have risen above the pressure of
their circumstances! Who can deny, that there is a manifest
difference, even as things now are, between the moral courage of
action and endurance, put forth by a disciplined and reflecting
mind, possessing force of character, and the stupid and passive
abandonment, with which a savage meets pain and death?

May you speed on your voyage under the influence of the _lucida
sidera_, or, in higher phrase, may Providence be your guide.



LETTER II.

THE PHYSICAL, ORGANIC AND MORAL LAWS.


In relation to this most important subject, read _Combe on the
Constitution of Man_, a book, which I consider admirable for its
broad, philosophic, and just views of the laws of the universe,
in their bearing upon the constitution of our physical and moral
nature. You are not unaware, that I had presented you similar
views, and inculcated the same master principles, long before
this excellent work was published. Thousands, in all ages, have
entertained the same extended conceptions of the divine plan,
and its bearing upon man and all beings, upon this and all other
worlds. But the honor belongs to this author, to have given form
and systematic arrangement to these views. I have given my
thoughts upon this subject at the commencement of my letters, and
have subjoined remarks upon the Christian religion at the close,
because I deem that M. Droz, in not recurring to these fundamental
principles at the beginning of his work, and in dwelling with so
little earnestness upon the hope of the gospel, as an element of
happiness, at the close, has left chasms in it which ought to be
supplied.

The sect, numerous in my day, in yours, I trust, will have
disappeared, who hold that religion and philosophy are militant and
irreconcilable principles. Such persons are accustomed to brand
these broad views of Providence and moral obligation with the odium
of impiety. You will hardly need my assurance, that, if I thought
with them, _my right hand should forget its cunning_, before I
would allow anything to escape my pen which might have the least
tendency to impair in your minds the future and eternal sanctions
of virtue. I shall hereafter enlarge upon my persuasion, that, so
far from being in opposition, religion and philosophy, when rightly
understood, will be found resting on the same immutable foundation.
It is because the misguided friends of religion have attempted to
sustain them, as separate and hostile interests, in my view, that
the former has made so little progress towards becoming universal.
It will one day be understood, that whatever wars with reason
and common sense, is equally hostile to religion. The simple and
unchangeable truths of Christianity will be found to violate none
of our most obvious convictions. Truth will reassume her legitimate
reign. Piety, religion and morals, our best interests for this
life, and our surest preparations for a future one, will be found
exactly conformable to the eternal order of things, and the system
of the gospel will become universal, according to its legitimate
claims. True piety, in my mind, is equally our duty, our wisdom and
happiness. To behold God everywhere in his works, to hold communion
with him in a contemplative and admiring spirit, to love, and trust
him, to find, in the deep and constantly present persuasion of
his being and attributes, a sentiment of exhaustless cheerfulness
and excitement to duty, I hold to be the source of the purest and
sublimest pleasure, that earth can afford.

True philosophy unfolds the design of final causes with a calm
and humble wisdom. It finds the Creator everywhere, and always
acting in wisdom and power. It traces the highest benevolence of
intention, where the first aspect showed no apparent purpose, or
one that seemed to tend to misery; offering new inducements to
learn the first and last lesson of religion, and the ultimate
attainment of human wisdom--resignation to the will of God. In
vindicating his ways to men, it declares that so long as we do
not understand the laws of our being and so long as we transgress
them, either ignorantly, or wilfully and unconsciously, misery to
ourselves must just as certainly follow as that we can neither
resist nor circumvent them; and that the Omnipotent has forged
every link of the chain, that connects our own unhappiness with
every transgression of the laws of our nature.

We find ourselves making a part of an existing universe which
neither ignorance, nor wisdom, doubting, nor confidence can alter.
If we know the order, of which we are the subjects, and conform
to it, we are happy. If we ignorantly, or wilfully transgress
it, the order is in no degree changed, or impeded. It moves
irresistibly on, and the opposition is crushed. How wisdom and
benevolence are reconcilable with the permission of this ignorance
and opposition, in other words, why partial evil exists in God’s
universe, it is not my object to inquire. The inquiry would not
only be fruitless, but would in no degree alter the fact, that what
we call evil does exist. It is enough for us to know, that, as far
as human research has reached, or can reach, the more profoundly
we investigate the subject, the more clearly are design, wisdom
and benevolence discoverable. Beyond our ken, right reason, guided
by humility, would infer, that, where we cannot trace the impress
of these attributes, it is not because they are not discoverable,
but because our powers are not equal to the discovery. If we had a
broader vision, and were more fully acquainted with the relations
of all parts of God’s universe, the one to the other, and all the
reasons of the permanent ordinances of his government, we should
be able to understand the necessity of partial evil to the general
good; we should understand, why it rains on the waste ocean, when
drought consigns whole countries to aridity and desolation; in a
word, why ignorance, transgression, misery and death have a place
in our system.

All that we now know is, that the natural laws of this system
are universal, invariable, unbending; that physical and moral
tendencies are the same all over our world; and we have every
reason to believe, over all other worlds. Wherever moral beings
keep in harmony with these laws, there is no instance, in which
happiness is not the result. Men never enjoy health, vigor, and
felicity in disobedience to them. The whole infinite contrivance
of everything above, around, and within us, appears directed to
certain benevolent issues; and all the laws of nature are in
perfect harmony with the whole constitution of man.

I shall not enter upon the subtle controversies of moral
philosophers, as to the fundamental principle of moral obligation,
whether it be expediency, the nature of things, or the will of God?
In my view these are rather questions about words, than things. The
nature of things is a part of the will of God; and expediency is
conformity to this unchanging order. An action derives its moral
complexion from being conformed to the will of God, and the nature
of things; and whatever is so conformed, is expedient; consequently
all the different foundations of morals, when examined, are found
to be precisely the same.

My notions of morality are, that it is conformity to the physical,
organic and moral laws of the universe. Some will choose to
call it expediency; others, the will of God; and others still,
the constitution of things. These views, when reduced to their
elements, are the same, call them by what names we may. We may
obviously divide these laws into three classes. The first series we
call physical laws, or those which act upon the material universe,
and upon ourselves as a part of that universe. The second we call
organic, or those which regulate the origin, growth, well-being
and dissolution of organized beings. The last, denominated moral,
act chiefly on the intellectual universe. They are founded on our
relations to the sentient universe and God.

We infer from analogy, that these laws always have been, are, and
always will be, invariably the same; and that they prevail alike
in every portion of God’s universe. We so judge, because we believe
the existing order of things to be the wisest and the best. We
know that the physical laws actually do prevail alike in every
part of our world, and as far beyond it, as the highest helps of
astronomy can aid our researches into the depths of immensity. Is
it not probable, that if we could investigate the system, as far as
the utmost stretch of thought, we should find no point, where the
laws of gravity, light, heat and motion do not prevail; where the
sentient beings are not restricted to the same moral relations, as
in our world? Wherever the empire of science has extended, we note
these laws equally prevalent, in a molecule and a world, and from
the lowest order of sentient beings up to man. The arrangement of
the great whole, it should seem, must be a single emanation from
the same wisdom and will, perfectly uniform throughout the whole
empire. What an impressive motive to study these laws, and conform
to them, is it, to know, that they are as irresistible, as the
divine power, as universal, as the divine presence, as permanent
as the divine existence;--that there is no evading them, that no
art can disconnect misery from transgressing them, that no change
of place or time, that not death, nor any transformation which
our conscious being can undergo, will, during the revolutions of
eternity, dispense any more with the necessity of observing these
laws, than during our present transitory existence in clay!

I need not dwell a moment upon the proofs of the absolute identity
of the physical laws. No one need be told, that a ship floats,
water descends, heat warms, and cold freezes, and that all physical
properties of matter are the same over the globe. We shall only
show by a few palpable examples, that our system is arranged in
conformity to the organic laws. Every discovery in the kingdom of
animated nature developes new instances.

In the tropical regions, the muscular energy is less, in proportion
as the natural fertility of the soil is greater. In colder
latitudes muscular energy is increased; and ruder elements, and a
more sterile nature, proportion their claims accordingly. In arctic
regions no farinaceous food ripens. Sojourners in that climate
find, that bread and vegetable diet do not furnish the requisite
nutriment; that pure animal food is the only sustenance that will
there maintain the tone of the system, imparting a delightful
vigor and buoyancy of mind. Strange as it may seem, to conform to
this necessity, these dreary countries abound in infinite numbers
and varieties of animals, fowls and fishes. The climate favors
the drying and preserving of animal food, which is thus prepared
to sustain the inhabitants, when nature imprisons the material
creation in chains of ice, and wraps herself up in her mantle of
snow. Thus, if we survey the whole globe, the food, climate and
other circumstances will be found accommodated to the inhabitants;
and they, as far as they conform to the organic laws, will be found
adapted to their climate and mode of subsistence.

In all positions man finds himself called upon, by the clear
indications of the organic laws, to take that free and cheerful
exercise, which is calculated to develope vigorous muscular,
nervous and mental action. The laborer digs, and the hunter
chases for subsistence; but finds at the same time health and
cheerfulness. The penalty of the violation of this organic law by
the indulgence of indolence is debility, enfeebled action, both
bodily and mental, dyspepsia with all its horrid train, and finally
death. On the other hand, the penalty of over exertion, debauchery,
intemperance, and excess of every species, comes in other forms
of disease and suffering. These laws, though not so obviously
and palpably so, are as invariable and inevitable, as those of
attraction, or magnetism; and yet the great mass of our species,
even in what we call enlightened and educated countries, do not
recognise, and obey them. It is in vain for them, that, from age
to age, the same consequences have ensued, as the eternal heralds
of the divinity, proclaiming to all people, in all languages,
that his laws carry their sanctions with them. One of our most
imperious duties, then, is to study these laws, to make ourselves
conversant with their bearing upon our pursuit of happiness, that
we may conform to them. When we have become acquainted with their
universality and resistless power, we shall indulge no puerile hope
that we may enjoy the present gratification of infringing them, and
then evade the ultimate consequences. We shall as soon calculate
to change condition with the tenants of the air and the waters, as
expect to divert any one of them from its onward course.

He then is wise, who looks round him with a searching eye to become
fully possessed, without the coloring of sophistical wishes and
self-deceiving expectation, of the actual conditions of his being;
and who, instead of imagining, that the unchangeable courses of
nature will conform to him, his ignorance, interests or passions,
shapes his course so as to conform to them. He will no more expect,
for example, that he can indulge his appetites, give scope to his
passions, and yield himself to the seductions of life, and escape
without a balance of misery in consequence, than he would calculate
to throw himself unhurt, from a mountain precipice.

So far as regards himself, he will study the organic laws, in
reference to their bearing upon his mind, his health, his morals,
his happiness. He will strive to be cheerful; for he knows that it
is a part of the constitution of things, that cheerfulness tends to
physical and mental health. He will accustom himself to exercise,
and will avoid indolence, because he understands that he was formed
to be an active being, and that he cannot yield to his slothful
propensities, without forfeiting the delightful feeling of energy,
and the power to operate upon events, instead of being passively
borne along by them. He will be active, that he may feel conscious
power. He will rise above the silent and invisible influence of
sloth, and will exult in a feeling of force and self-command, for
the same reasons that the eagle loves to soar aloft, and look upon
the sun; because a sensation of power, and a sublime liberty are
enjoyed in the flight. He will be temperate in the gratification
of his appetites and passions, because he is aware, that every
excessive indulgence strikes a balance of suffering against him,
which he must discharge soon, or late; and helps to forge a chain
of habit, that will render it more difficult for him to resist
the next temptation to indulgence. He will rise early from sleep,
because nature calls him to early rising, in all her cheerful
voices, in the matin song of birds, the balmy morning freshness
and elasticity of the air, and the renovated cry of joy from the
whole animal creation. He will do this, because he has early heard
complaints from all sides of the shortness of life, and because
he is sensible, that he who rises every day two hours before the
common period, will prolong the ordinary duration of life by adding
six years of the pleasantest part of existence. He will rise early,
because next after the intemperate, no human being offers a more
unworthy spectacle, than is presented by the man, who calls himself
rational and immortal, who sees before him a greater amount of
knowledge, duty and happiness, than he could hope to compass in
a thousand years; and who yet turns himself indolently from side
to side, during the hours of the awakening of nature, enjoying
only the luxury of a savage or a brute, in a state of dozing
existence little superior to the dreamless sleep of the grave. I
test the character of a youth of whom I wish to entertain hope,
by this criterion. If he can nobly resist his propensities, if he
can act from reason against his inclinations, if he can trample
indolence under foot, if he can always make the effort to show the
intellectual in the ascendant over the animal being, I note him as
one, who will be worthy of eminence, whether he attain it or not.

In a word, there is something of dignity and intellectual grandeur
in the aspect of the young, who live in obedience to the organic
and moral laws, which commands at once that undefined, and almost
unconscious estimation and respect, which all minds involuntarily
pay to true greatness. Such was the image of the poet, when he
delineated the angel _severe in youthful beauty_; and such that
of the Mantuan, when he compares Neptune rebuking and hushing the
winds, to a venerable man, allaying by his words of peace, the
uproar of an infuriated populace.

Were I to enter into details of your obligations to understand and
obey these laws, as they relate to the various periods, pursuits
and duties of life, I should offer you a volume, instead of an
outline, which, from the examples given, your own thoughts can
easily fill out. But that I may not leave these momentous duties
wholly untouched, I shall dwell a moment on their bearing upon a
most important epoch of life, one which, perhaps more than any
other, gives the color to future years either of happiness or
misery.

When the young reach that period, when nature invokes them to
assume the obligations of connubial life, this knowledge and
conformity will cause them to pause, and reflect on what is before
them, and will interdict them from following the inconsiderate
throng, in entering into that decisive condition, consulting no
other lights, than a morbid fancy, those impulses which are common
to all other animals, or sordid calculations of interest. They are
well apprized, that the declamations of satire, and the bitter
and common jest of all civilized people, upon wedded life, have
but too much foundation in truth. They perceive at a glance, that
those who with such views take on them the obligations of the
conjugal state have no right to hope anything better than satiety,
ill-humor, monotonous disgust, and the insupportable imprisonment
of two persons, in intimate and indissoluble partnership, who find
weariness and penance in being together, who are reminded, at once
by the void in their hearts, and their mutual inability to fill it,
that they must not only endure the pain of being chained together,
but feel, that they are thus barred from a happier union, partly
by shame, partly by public opinion, and, more than all, by the
obstacles, wisely thrown by all civilized nations in the way of
obtaining divorce. There can be no doubt, that the common views
of the universal unhappiness of the wedded state in all Christian
countries are the result of gross exaggeration. Making all
allowances for errors from this source, language is too feeble, to
delineate the countless and unutterable miseries, that, in all time
since the institution of marriage, as recognised by Christianity,
have resulted from these incompatible unions, for the simple
reason, that, in this transaction, of so much more moment than
almost any other, scarcely one of the parties in a thousand, it is
believed, takes the least note of it in relation to the organic
and moral laws. The young and the aged, the feeble and the strong,
the healthy and the diseased, the beautiful and the deformed,
the mild and the fierce, the intellectual and the purely animal,
the rich and the poor, bring their incompatibilities to a common
stock, add ruinous excesses of temperament together, unite under a
spell, reckless of the live-long consequences involved, and arouse
from a short trance to the conscious and sober sadness of waking
misery. To them the hackneyed declamations against marriage have
a terrible import. Weariness, discontent, ennui, relieved only by
the fierceness of domestic discord, and a wretchedness aggravated
by the consciousness that there is no escape from it, but by death,
is the issue of a union consummated under illusive expectations of
more than mortal happiness. How many millions have found this to be
the reality of their youthful dreams! Yet if this most important
union is contracted under animal impulses, without any regard to
moral and intellectual considerations, without any investigation of
the organic and social fitness of the case, without inquiry into
the compatibility, without a mutual understanding of temperament,
dispositions, and habits; who cannot foresee, that the propensities
will soon languish in satiety; that repentance and discord and
disgust and disaffection and loathing, in proportion to the
remembered raptures forever passed away, will rudely open the eyes
of the parties to their real and permanent condition, and that by
a law as certain and inevitable, as that which propels water down
a precipice! And this is not the darkest shade in the picture. By
the same laws children are born with the doubled excess of the
temperaments of their parents; or puny, undeveloped and feeble, or
racked by all the fiercer passions of our nature. Opening their
eyes in this scene, which the guilty thoughtlessness of successive
generations has rendered little better than a vast lazar house,
evil example, gloom, unregulated tempers, repining and misery are
their first and last spectacles. They advance into life to repeat
the errors of their parents, to make common stock of their misery
anew, to multiply the number of the unhappy, or perhaps worse, to
tenant hospitals, and the receptacles of human ignorance and misery.

Can any question be imagined in life, in regard to which you ought
so deliberately to pause, investigate and weigh all the bearings
of the case? And yet can any other important transaction be named,
upon which, in this view, so little thought is bestowed, and which
is entered into with such reckless blindness to consequences?
He, who determines to respect the laws of his being, will study
his own temperament, and that of the other party, and weigh the
excesses and defects, as one convinced by the general analogy
of animated nature, that the physical and mental character, the
constitutional and moral temperament of the offspring, in the
ordinary course of things, will be a compound of that of the
parents. If he find himself subject to any peculiar corporeal
infirmity, hereditary tendency to disease, overbearing propensities
towards indulgence, or excess, unbalanced passions, or morbid
mental obliquity, he will be studiously solicitous, that the other
party shall not be laboring under similar disqualifications. I may
not follow out the subordinate details. Your thoughts cannot but
suggest innumerable considerations, that I pass in silence. Will
any moral being, capable of conscientious views of the ultimate
bearing of his actions, dare to treat this subject, all momentous
as it is, with unphilosophic levity and ridicule? Will any one
say, that such discussions ought to be pretermitted by a parent? I
affirm, that such are not my notions of the obligations of decorum
and propriety. The world has been too long peopled with mere
animals bound by the laws, and doomed to the responsibilities of
rationality, and yet acting like the orders below them, without a
capacity for finding their happiness. If, being men, and inheriting
either the privileges, or the doom of men, we will choose to
consider ourselves merely as animals, shall we dare to arraign
Providence, or fill the world with murmurs, if we enjoy not the
peculiar pleasures of either race, and are subject to the miseries
of both? When you are aware that such considerations must affect
not only your own happiness, or misery, but that of your offspring,
a whole coming generation, and the hopes of the regeneration and
improvement of a world, you will be sensible, that silence in such
a discussion would be guilty pride. I perfectly coincide with the
conclusions of Combe upon this subject, and transcribe for your
benefit an admirable exposition of my views from the notes appended
to his book on the _Constitution of Man_.

‘It is a very common error, not only among philosophers, but among
practical men, to imagine that the _feelings_ of the mind are
communicated to it through the medium of the _intellect_; and,
in particular, that if no indelicate objects reach the eyes, or
expressions penetrate the ears, perfect purity will necessarily
reign within the soul; and, carrying this mistake into practice,
they are prone to object to all discussion of the subjects treated
of under the ‘Organic Laws,’ in works designed for general use.
But their principle of reasoning is fallacious, and the practical
result has been highly detrimental to society. The _feelings_
have existence and activity distinct from the _intellect_; they
spur it on to obtain their own gratification; and it may become
either their slave or guide, according as it is enlightened
concerning their constitution and objects, and the laws of nature
to which they are subjected. The most profound philosophers have
inculcated this doctrine; and, by phrenological observation, it is
demonstrably established. The organs of the feelings are distinct
from those of the intellectual faculties; they are larger; and, as
each faculty, _cæteris paribus_, acts with a power proportionate
to the size of its organ, the feelings are obviously the active
or impelling powers. The cerebellum, or organ of Amativeness, is
the largest of the whole mental organs; and, being endowed with
natural activity, it fills the mind spontaneously with emotions
and suggestions which may be directed, controlled and resisted, in
outward manifestation, by intellect and moral sentiment, but which
cannot be prevented from arising nor eradicated after they exist.
The whole question, therefore, resolves itself into this, Whether
it is most beneficial to enlighten and direct that feeling, or
(under the influence of an error in philosophy, and false delicacy
founded on it), to permit it to riot in all the fierceness of a
blind animal instinct, withdrawn from the eye of reason, but not
thereby deprived of its vehemence and importunity. The former
course appears to me to be the only one consistent with reason and
morality; and I have adopted it in reliance on the good sense of
my readers, that they will at once discriminate between practical
instruction concerning this feeling, addressed to the intellect,
and lascivious representations addressed to the mere propensity
itself; with the latter of which the enemies of all improvement
may attempt to confound my observations. Every function of the
mind and body is instituted by the Creator; all may be abused;
and it is impossible regularly to avoid abuse of them, except by
being instructed in their nature, objects, and relations. This
instruction ought to be addressed exclusively to the intellect; and
when it is so, it is science of the most beneficial description.
The propriety, nay, necessity, of acting on this principle, becomes
more and more apparent, when it is considered that the discussions
of the text suggest only intellectual ideas to individuals in
whom the feeling in question is naturally weak, and that such
minds perceive no indelicacy in knowledge which is calculated to
be useful; while, on the other hand, persons in whom the feeling
is naturally strong, are precisely those who stand in need of
direction, and to whom, of all others, instruction is the most
necessary.’

No art in these days is better understood, by those who have
found their interest in investigating the subject, than that of
improving the races of the lower animals. Every species, upon which
the effort has been made, has been found perfectly subservient
to the art. The desirable forms and qualities are selected, and
the proper means of improvement applied. The wished result is not
obtained to its full extent in the first generation; but a uniform
approximation commences; and every successive amelioration brings
the animal nearer to the requisite standard. The whole art is
founded on observation of the organic laws of the races, and the
general fact, that the instincts, qualities, temperament, form and
color of the animals are hereditary, and transmissible. These are
truths so well known, that the grazier, and the shepherd apply
them constantly in rearing their domestic animals. Shall they be
disregarded, when it becomes known, that they bear equally upon
the improvement of man, _next in dignity to angels_? Shall these
considerations rear a nobler race of animals, and, by overlooking
them, shall man alone be consigned to degradation?



LETTER III.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.


I proceed to examples and developments of the doctrine, chiefly
insisted upon in the former letter. I draw them chiefly from Mr
Combe, premising, that they exactly coincide with views which
you cannot but remember to have heard me advance, before I had
read his book on _the constitution of man_. It is a law of the
animal creation, that not only the natural but even the acquired
qualities are transmitted by parents to their offspring; and man,
as an organized being, is subject to laws similar to those which
govern the organization of the lower animals. ‘Children,’ says Dr
Pritchard, ‘resemble in feature and constitution both parents; but
I think more generally the father.’ Changes produced by external
causes in the constitution and appearance of the individual are
temporary; and, in general, acquired characters are transient,
terminating with the individual, and having no influence on the
progeny. The mental development of the Circassian race is known
to be of the highest order. The nobles of Persia are children of
Circassian mothers, and they are remarkable, in that country, for
their mental and corporeal superiority over the other classes.
Every one acquainted with the condition of our southern slaves,
well understands the obvious fact, that the mulattoes are much
superior, in quickness and capability of acquiring and retaining
knowledge, to the negroes. The Indian half-breeds are remarkable
for the immediate ascendency, which they acquire in their
tribes over the full-blooded Indians. In oriental India, the
intermarriages of the Hindoos with Europeans have produced an
intermediate race much superior to the natives, and destined, it
is already predicted, to be the future sovereigns of India. In
fact, physiology has deduced no conclusion more certain, than that,
in ordinary cases, the temperament and intellect of the children
are a compound of that of their parents. Of this I might produce
innumerable instances from history of the Alexanders, Cæsars, and
Antonines, the distinguished great and wise, of ancient and modern
times; and equally, in the opposite direction, in the Neros and
Caligulas, the depraved and abandoned of all ages and countries,
where observation has been able to trace their parentage.

One of the most fertile sources of human misery, then, arises
from persons uniting in marriage, whose tempers, talents and
dispositions do not harmonize. If it be true that natural talents
and dispositions are connected by the Creator with particular
constitutions of the parents, it is obviously one of his
institutions, that these constitutions should be most seriously
taken into the calculation in forming a compact for life. The
Creator, having formed such ordinances in the unchangeable
arrangements of nature, as to confer happiness, when they are
discovered and observed, and misery, when they are unknown or
unobserved, it is obviously our best wisdom to investigate and
respect them. If individuals, after this truth reaches their
conviction should go on, in imitation of the common example, to
form reckless connexions, which can only eventuate in sorrow, it is
obvious that they must do so either from contempt of the effects
of this influence upon the happiness of domestic life, and a
secret belief, that they may in some way evade its consequences,
or from the predominance of avarice, or some other animal feeling,
precluding them from yielding obedience to what they see to be an
institution of the Creator.

At the first aspect of this subject three alternatives are
presented, one of which, it should seem, must have a determining
power upon the offspring. Either, in the first place, the corporeal
and mental constitution, which the parents themselves inherit at
birth, are transmitted so absolutely, as that the children are
exact copies of the parents, without variation or modification, sex
following sex; or, in the second place, the inherent qualities of
the father and mother combine, and are transmitted in a modified
form to the offspring; or, thirdly, the qualities of the children
are determined jointly by the constitution of the parents, and the
faculties and temperaments, which predominated in power and energy
at the particular period, when the organic existence of the child
commenced.

If these views are correct, and if a man and woman about to marry,
have not only their own domestic happiness but that of five or
more human beings depending on their attention to considerations
essentially the same as the foregoing, how differently ought this
contract to be viewed from the common aspect, which it presents to
persons assuming its solemn stipulations! Yet it is astonishing, to
what extent pecuniary and other minor considerations will induce
men to investigate and observe the natural laws; and how small an
influence moral and rational considerations exert upon this most
important of all earthly connexions.

I cannot forbear, under this head, quoting entire another passage
from the author, from whom I have substantially drawn many of the
foregoing observations.

‘Rules, however, are best taught by examples; and I shall,
therefore, proceed to mention some facts that have fallen under
my own notice, or been communicated to me from authentic sources,
illustrative of the practical consequences of infringing the law of
hereditary descent.

‘A man, aged about fifty, possessed a brain, in which the animal,
moral, and knowing intellectual organs were all strong, but the
reflecting weak. He was pious, but destitute of education; he
married an unhealthy young woman, deficient in moral development,
but of considerable force of character; and several children were
born. The father and mother were far from being happy; and, when
the children attained to eighteen or twenty years of age, they were
adepts in every species of immorality and profligacy; they picked
their father’s pockets, stole his goods, and got them sold back
to him, by accomplices, for money, which was spent in betting and
cock-fighting, drinking, and low debauchery. The father was heavily
grieved; but knowing only two resources, he beat the children
severely as long as he was able, and prayed for them; his words
were, that “if, _after that_, it pleased the Lord to make vessels
of wrath of them, the Lord’s will must just be done.” I mention
this last observation, not in jest, but in great seriousness. It
was impossible not to pity the unhappy father; yet who that sees
the institutions of the Creator to be in themselves wise, but in
this instance to have been directly violated, will not acknowledge
that the bitter pangs of the poor old man were the consequences of
his own ignorance; and that it was an erroneous view of the divine
administration, which led him to overlook his own mistakes, and to
attribute to the Almighty the purpose of making vessels of wrath
of his children, as the only explanation which he could give of
their wicked dispositions. Who that sees the cause of his misery
must not lament that his piety should not have been enlightened by
philosophy, and directed to obedience, in the first instance, to
the organic institutions of the Creator, as one of the prescribed
conditions, without observance of which he had no title to expect a
blessing upon his offspring.

‘In another instance, a man, in whom the animal organs,
particularly those of Combativeness and Destructiveness, were very
large, but with a pretty fair moral and intellectual development,
married, against her inclination, a young woman, fashionably
and showily educated, but with a very decided deficiency in
Conscientiousness. They soon became unhappy, and even blows were
said to have passed between them, although they belonged to the
middle rank of life. The mother, in this case, employed the
children to deceive and plunder the father, and, latterly, spent
the produce in drink. The sons inherited the deficient morality of
the mother, and the ill temper of the father. The family fireside
became a theatre of war, and, before the sons attained a majority,
the father was glad to get them removed from his house, as the
only means by which he could feel even his life in safety from
their violence; for they had by that time retaliated the blows with
which he had visited them in their younger years; and he stated
that he actually considered his life to be in danger from his own
offspring.

‘In another family, the mother possesses an excellent development
of the moral and intellectual organs, while, in the father, the
animal organs predominate in great excess. She has been the unhappy
victim of ceaseless misfortune, originating from the misconduct
of her husband. Some of the children have inherited the father’s
brain, and some the mother’s; and of the sons whose heads resembled
the father’s, several have died through mere debauchery and
profligacy under thirty years of age; whereas, those who resemble
the mother are alive and little contaminated, even amidst all the
disadvantages of evil example.

‘On the other hand, I am not acquainted with a single instance
in which the moral and intellectual organs predominated in size,
in both father and mother, and whose external circumstances also
permitted their general activity, in which the _whole_ children
did not partake of a moral and intellectual character, differing
slightly in degrees of excellence one from another, but all
presenting the decided predominance of the human over the animal
faculties.

‘There are well-known examples of the children of religious
and moral fathers exhibiting dispositions of a very inferior
description; but in all of these instances that I have been able to
observe, there has been a large development of the animal organs
in the one parent, which was just controlled, but not much more,
by the moral and intellectual powers; and in the other parent,
the _moral_ organs did not appear to be in large proportion. The
unfortunate child inherited the large animal development of the
one, with the defective moral development of the other; and, in
this way, was inferior to both. The way to satisfy one’s self on
this point, is to examine the heads of the parents. In all such
cases, a large base of the brain, which is the region of the animal
propensities, will very probably be found in one or other of them.

‘Another organic law of the animal kingdom deserves attention; viz.
that by which marriages betwixt blood relations tend decidedly
to the deterioration of the physical and mental qualities of
the offspring. In Spain, kings marry their nieces, and, in this
country, first and second cousins marry without scruple; although
every philosophical physiologist will declare that this is in
direct opposition to the institutions of nature. This law holds
also in the vegetable kingdom. “A provision, of a very simple kind,
is, in some cases, made to prevent the male and female blossoms of
the same plant from breeding together, this being found to hurt the
breed of vegetables, just as breeding in and in does the breed of
animals. It is contrived, that the dust shall be shed by the male
blossom before the female is ready to be affected by it, so that
the impregnation must be performed by the dust of some other plant,
and in this way the breed be crossed.”’

Such considerations, I hope, will induce you to exercise cautious
examination of this subject, if either of you should ever be placed
in circumstances to contemplate assuming the duties of the wedded
life. If you do not, you will have cast the pursuit of happiness
upon the die of chance at the very outset of your career. Allow me,
before I dismiss the book, from which I have already so liberally
quoted, to extract one passage more, touching the application of
the natural laws to the practical arrangements of life.

‘If a system of living and occupation were to be framed for human
beings, founded on the exposition of their nature, which I have now
given, it would be something like this.

‘1st. So many hours a day would require to be dedicated by every
individual in health, to the exercise of his nervous and muscular
systems, in labor calculated to give scope to these functions. The
reward of obeying this requisite of his nature would be health, and
a joyous animal existence; the punishment of neglect is disease,
low spirits and death.

‘2dly. So many hours a day should be spent in the sedulous
employment of the knowing and reflecting faculties; in studying
the qualities of external objects, and their relations; also the
nature of all animated beings, and their relations; not with the
view of accumulating mere abstract and barren knowledge, but of
enjoying the positive pleasure of mental activity, and of turning
every discovery to account, as a means of increasing happiness, or
alleviating misery. The leading object should always be to find
out the relationship of every object to our own nature, organic,
animal, moral, and intellectual, and to keep that relationship
habitually in mind, so as to render our acquirements directly
gratifying to our various faculties. The reward of this conduct
would be an incalculably great increase of pleasure, in the very
act of acquiring knowledge of the real properties of external
objects, together with a great accession of power in reaping
ulterior advantages, and in avoiding disagreeable affections.

‘3dly. So many hours a day ought to be devoted to the cultivation
and gratification of our moral sentiments; that is to say, in
exercising these in harmony with intellect, and especially in
acquiring the habit of admiring, loving, and yielding obedience
to the Creator and his institutions. This last object is of vast
importance. Intellect is barren of practical fruit, however rich
it may be in knowledge, until it is fired and prompted to act by
moral sentiment. In my view, knowledge by itself is comparatively
worthless and impotent, compared with what it becomes when
vivified by elevated emotions. It is not enough that intellect
is informed; the moral faculties must simultaneously cooperate;
yielding obedience to the precepts which the intellect recognises
to be true. One way of cultivating the sentiments would be for men
to meet and act together, on the fixed principles which I am now
endeavoring to unfold, and to exercise on each other in mutual
instruction, and in united adoration of the great and glorious
Creator, the several faculties of Benevolence, Veneration, Hope,
Ideality, Wonder, and Justice. The reward of acting in this manner
would be a communication of direct and intense pleasure to each
other; for I refer to every individual who has ever had the good
fortune to pass a day or an hour with a really benevolent, pious,
honest, and intellectual man, whose soul swelled with adoration
of his Creator, whose intellect was replenished with knowledge
of his works, and whose whole mind was instinct with sympathy
for human happiness, whether such a day did not afford him the
most pure, elevated, and lasting gratification he ever enjoyed.
Such an exercise, besides, would invigorate the whole moral and
intellectual powers, and fit them to discover and obey the divine
institutions.’

You will study, and obey the moral laws of the universe, of which
you are a part, because you are moral beings, and because obedience
to these laws constitutes the tie of affinity between you, the
higher orders of being and the divinity. You will respect them,
because it is the glory of your nature, that you alone, of all
creatures below, are morally subject to them. Laying out of the
question their momentous sanctions in the eternal future, you must
be aware, that the Creator has annexed pleasure to obeying them,
and pain to their violation as inevitably, as gravity belongs
to matter. One would think, it must be enough to determine the
conduct of a being, who laid claim to the character of rational,
to know, that no art nor dexterity, that no repentance nor return
to obedience, can avert the consequences of a single violation of
these laws; and that no imaginable present good can counterbalance
the future misery, that must accrue in consequence.

In regard, for example, to the practice of the most common and
every day duties, who can doubt the truth of the trite adage,
_honesty is the best policy_? This is, in effect, no more than
saying, that the moral laws of the universe are constituted upon
such principles, as to make it every man’s interest to obey
them. It is as certain, that they are so constituted, as that
fire will burn, or water drown you; and when you understand this
constitution, it marks the same want of a sane mind to violate
them, as to be unable to keep out of these elements. Yet the
greater portion of the species do not constantly act upon a full
belief in this hackneyed maxim. They think apparently, that they
can in some way obtain the imagined advantage of dishonesty and
evade the connected evil, not aware, that detection and diminished
confidence may be avoided, for once or twice; but not the loss of
self-respect, the pureness and integrity of internal principle,
the certainty of forging the first link in a chain of bad habits,
and a thousand painful consequences, which it would be easy to
enumerate in detail. Almost every one deems that he may safely put
forth every day false compliment, double-dealing, deception on a
small scale, and little frauds, not cognisable by any law or code
of honor. In a word, if actions are a test of the sincerity of
conviction, very few really are convinced that _honesty is the best
policy_.

We hold the man insane who should leap from a high building upon
the pavement, or attempt to grapple with the blind power of the
elements. But it is scarcely the subject of our remark, that the
multitude about us, in the most important, as well as the minute
concerns of life, live in habitual recklessness or violation of the
organic and moral laws; and yet we certainly know, that whoever
infringes them is as sure to pay the penalty, as he who madly
places himself in opposition to the material laws. I can never
present this astonishing and universal blindness in too many forms
of repetition, if the effect is to bring you to view these two
species of folly in the same light.

The reason clearly is, that in too many instances, men take no
pains to acquaint themselves with these laws, and their bearing
upon the constitution of man; or, deceived by the clamors of the
inclinations, and the illusions of present pleasure and advantage,
when balanced with future and remote penalties, they commit the
infractions, and hope, that between the certain pleasure and the
distant and contingent pain, they can interpose some evasion,
and sever the consequences from the fault. The expectation always
ends, like the alchymist’s dream, and the projector’s perpetual
motion. Even in the apprehension of the consequences, the mind is
paying the penalty of an unquiet conscience, and of an abatement
of self-confidence, and self-respect, penalties, which very few
earthly pleasures can compensate.

When I speak of these unchangeable laws, as emanations from
the divine wisdom and goodness, as transcripts of the divine
immutability, and as being the best of all possible arrangements,
not to be superseded, or turned from their course by the wisest
of beings, you will not understand me to bear upon the consoling
and scriptural doctrine of providence. I firmly believe, and trust
in it; not, however, in the popular view. It would not increase
my veneration for the Almighty, to suppose that his laws required
exceptions and variations, to meet particular cases; nor that
they would call for frequent suspensions and changes, to provide
for contingencies not foreseen at the commencement of the mighty
movements. Such are not the grounds of my trust in the wisdom
and goodness of the Supreme Being. I neither desire, nor expect
any deviation of laws, as wise and good as they can be, in their
general operation, to meet my particular wishes, or those of the
friends most dear to me. I expect, that none of the powers of
nature will change for me; I encourage no insane hopes, that things
will forego their tendencies to meet my conveniences or pleasures.
Prayer is a duty equally comforting and elevating; but my prayers
are not, that these fixed laws of the divine wisdom may change for
me; but that I may understand and conform to them. The providence,
in which I believe, supposes no exceptions, infringements, or
violations of the universal plan of the divine government. Miracles
only seem such to us, because we see but a link or two in the
endless chain of that plan. An ingenious mechanician constructs a
clock, which will run many years, and only once in the whole period
strike an alarm bell. It is a miracle to those who comprehend not,
that it was part of the original plan of the mechanician. May we
not with more probability adopt the same reasoning, in relation to
the recorded miracles, as parts of the original plan of the Eternal?

Piety, established upon a knowledge of these laws, and a respect
for them, and associated with veneration for their author, is
rational, consistent, firm and manly. It seeks, it expects nothing
in the puerile presumption, that the ordinances of a code, fitted
for the whole system of the Creator, will be wrested to the wants
of an insect. In docility and meekness it labors for conformity to
those ordinances; in other words, to the divine will. It violates
no principle, and calls for the exercise of no faith, that is
repugnant to the dictates of common sense, and the teaching of
common observation. Piety, founded on such views, abides the
scrutiny of the severest investigation. No vacillation of the mind
from varying fortunes, no questionings of unbelief, doubt and
despair, can shake it. It rests firmly on the basis of the divine
attributes. It holds fast to the golden chain, the last link of
which is riveted to the throne of the Eternal.

Thus it seems to me indispensable, as a pre-requisite to the
pursuit of happiness, that the inquirer should hold large discourse
with the physical, organic and moral laws; that he should carefully
investigate their whole bearing upon his constitution; that he
should trace all their influences on him from the first hour, in
which he opens his eyes on the light, to his departure out of life.
I insist the more earnestly upon this, because in these days the
study of the moral relations of things seems to me comparatively
abandoned. The exact and natural sciences are studied, rather,
it would seem, as an end, than a means. Natural philosophy,
mathematics and astronomy may be highly useful; but who will
compare these sciences, in regard to their utility and importance,
with those, which guide the mind to their author, which teach the
knowledge of his moral laws, which instruct us how to allay the
passions, to moderate our expectations, and to establish morality
on the basis of our regard to our own happiness?

If, then, you would give yourself to the patient study of the
natural sciences, that you may gain reputation and the ability to
be useful, much more earnestly will you study regimen, exercise,
temperance, moderation, cheerfulness, the benefits of a balanced
mind, and of a wise and philosophic conformity to an order of
things, not a tittle of which you can change, that you may be
resigned, useful and happy. All knowledge, which cannot be turned
to this account, either as relates to yourselves, or others, is
useless.

Innumerable counsels, in relation to your habits, your pleasures
and pursuits, your studies, your tastes and modes of conduct, your
_beau idéal_ of natural and moral beauty, your standard of dignity
and worth of character, press upon my mind, and all in some way
connected with the views, which I have just taken. But I shall
be able to present such of them as I may deem worthy to find a
place in these letters, perhaps with most propriety and effect, as
suggested in the form of notes[B] appended to the chapters of the
essay of M. Droz, a paraphrase of which I now offer you.



LETTER IV.

GENERAL VIEWS OF THE SUBJECT.


Man is created to be happy.[1] His desires and the wisdom of the
Creator concur to prove the assertion. Yet the earth resounds with
the complaints of the unhappy, although they are encompassed with
the means of enjoyment, of which they appear to know neither the
value nor the use. They resemble the shipwrecked mariner, on a
desert isle, surrounded with fruits, of the flavors and properties
of which he is ignorant, as he is doubtful whether they offer
aliment or poison.

I was early impelled to investigate the character and motives
of the crowd around me, eagerly rushing forward in pursuit of
happiness. I soon noted multitudes relinquishing the chase in
indolent despondency. They affirmed to me that they no longer
believed in the existence of happiness. I felt an insatiate
craving, and saw life through the illusive coloring of youth.
Unwilling to resign my hopes, I inquired of others, who seemed
possessed of greater strength of mind, and more weight of
character, if they could guide me to the place of happiness? Some
answered with an ill-concealed smile of derision, and others with
bitterness. They declared that in their view the pleasures of life
were more than counterbalanced by its pains. Because they were
disappointed and discouraged, they deemed that their superior
wisdom had enabled them to strip off the disguises of life, and
contemplate it with sullen resignation.

I remarked others in high places, whose restless activity and
brilliance dazzled the multitude and inspired envy. I eagerly asked
of them the secret of happiness. Too proud and self-satisfied to
dissemble, they made little effort to conceal their principles.
I saw their hearts contracted by the vileness of egotism, and
devoured with measureless ambition. A faithful scrutiny, which
penetrated beyond their dazzling exterior, showed me the righteous
reaction of their principles, and convinced me that they suffered
according to their deserts.

Weary and disheartened, I left them, and repaired to the class of
stern and austere moralists. They represented the world to me as
a melancholy and mysterious valley, through which the sojourner
passes, groaning on his way to the grave. Their doctrines inspired
me at once with sadness and terror. I soon resumed the elastic
confidence of youth, and replied, ‘I will never believe that the
Author of my being, who has imaged in my heart such pure and
tranquil pleasures, who has rendered man capable of chaste love,
and of friendship in its sanctity, who has formed us innocent
before we could practise virtue, and who has connected the
salutary bitterness of repentance with errors, has unalterably
willed our misery.’

Thence I passed to the opposite extreme, and accosted a gay and
reckless throng, whose deportment showed that they had found the
object of my pursuit. I discovered them to be fickle by character,
and vacillating from indifference. They had only escaped the errors
of the moralists, by substituting, in place of their austere
maxims, enjoyments without any regard to consequences. I asked
them to point me to happiness. Without comprehending the import
of my question, they offered me participation in their pleasures.
But I saw them prodigal of life, dissipating years in a few days,
and reserving the remnant of their existence for unavailing
repentance.[2]

In view of so many observations, I abandoned the idea of guiding
my researches by the counsels of others; and began to inquire
for the secret in my own bosom. I heard the multitude around me
complaining, in disappointment and discouragement. I resolved,
that I would not commence the pursuit of happiness by servilely
following in their beaten path. I determined to reflect, and
patiently investigate a subject of so much moment. I detected
at once the error of the common impression, that pleasure and
happiness are the same. The former, fickle and fleeting, assumes
forms as various as human caprice; and its most attractive charm
is novelty. The object which gives it birth today, ceases to
please, or inspires disgust tomorrow. The perception of happiness
is not thus changeable and transient. It creates the consciousness
of an existence so tranquil and satisfying, that the longer we
experience it, the more we desire to prolong its duration.

Another mistaken, though common impression is, that the more
profoundly we reflect, and make the pursuit of happiness a study,
the less we shall be likely to enjoy. This is an error not only
in regard to happiness, but even pleasure. If it be innocent and
exempt from danger, to analyze it, and reason upon it, so far from
diminishing, prolongs the delight, and renders it higher. Without
reflection we only skim its surface; we do not penetrate, and enjoy
it.

Let us observe the few, who have acquired the wisdom to enjoy
that existence, which the multitude waste. In their festal unions
of friendship, let us mark the development of their desire to
multiply the happy moments of life. By what ingenious and pleasant
discussions do they heighten the charms of their condition! With
what delicacy of tact do they analyze their enjoyments, to taste
them with a more prolonged and exquisite relish! With what skill do
they discipline themselves sometimes to efface the images of the
future, that nothing may embitter, or distract their relish of the
present; and sometimes to invoke remembrances and hopes, to impart
to it still brighter embellishments!

Contrary to the prevalent impression, I therefore deem that, to
reflect much upon it, is one of the wisest means in the pursuit of
happiness. The first analysis of reflection, it is true, dispels
the charm with which youth invests existence. It forces the
conviction upon us, that the pleasures of life are less durable,
and its forms more numerous and prolonged, than we had anticipated.
The first result of the process is discouragement. But, as we
continue to reflect, objects change their aspect a second time.
The evils which at the first glance seemed so formidable, lose a
portion of their terrific semblance; and the fleeting pleasures
of existence receive new attractions from their analogy to human
weakness.

They mistake, too, who suppose that the art on which I write has
never been taught. The sages of Greece investigated the science of
happiness as eloquently and profoundly, as they studied the other
sciences. They wisely held the latter in estimation only so far
as they were subservient to the former. In all succeeding ages
there have arisen a few thinking men, who have regarded all their
faculties, their advantages of nature and fortune, their studies
and acquirements, not as ends in themselves, but as means conducive
to the right pursuit of happiness.

So long a period has elapsed since this has been a subject of
investigation, that when the opinion is advanced that this pursuit
may be successfully conducted by system, its rules reduced to an
art, and thus become assimilated to those of the other arts, most
men are utterly incredulous.[3] No truth, however, is more simple.
To attain to a knowledge of the rules, it is only requisite, as in
the other arts, that there should be natural dispositions for the
study, favorable circumstances, and an assiduous investigation of
the precepts.

The influence of fortunate dispositions for this study is chiefly
discernible in men of marked and energetic character. Some are
endowed by nature with such firmness and force of character, that
misfortune cannot shake them. It slides, if I may so speak, over
the surface of their stoical hearts, and the shock of adversity
inspires them almost with a sort of pleasure, calling forth the
conscious feeling of power and independence for resistance. But
we observe the greater number shrinking from affliction, and
even images of sadness, enjoying the present without apparent
consciousness, and forgetting the past without regret. Always
fickle and frivolous, they evade suffering by recklessness and
gayety. The most perfect organization for happiness[4] imparts at
the same time great force to resist the pains of life, and keen
sensibility to enjoy its pleasures. I am aware that great energy
and quick sensibility are generally supposed to be incompatible
qualities; I have, nevertheless, often seen them united. I would
lay down precepts, by which to obtain the combination. By a more
perfect education, it is hoped that, in the ages to come, this
union may become general.

Perhaps some will ask, if he who thus assumes to teach the art
of happiness has himself learned to be constantly happy? Endowed
with a moderate share of philosophy, and aided by favorable
circumstances, I have thus far found the pleasures of life greatly
overbalancing its pains. But who can hope felicity without alloy?
I would not conceal that I have had my share of inquietudes and
regrets; and I have sometimes forgotten my principles. I resemble
the pilot, who gives lessons upon his art after more than one
shipwreck.



LETTER V.

OUR DESIRES.


Whence are our most common sufferings? From desires which surpass
our ability to satisfy them. The ancients relate, that Oromazes
appeared to Usbeck, the virtuous, and said, ‘form a wish, and I
will grant it.’ ‘Source of light,’ replied the sage, ‘I only wish
to limit my desires by those things, which nature has rendered
indispensable.’[6]

Let us not suppose, however, that a negative happiness, a condition
exempt from suffering, is the most fortunate condition to which
we may aspire. They who contend for this gloomy system, have but
poorly studied the nature of man. If he errs in desiring positive
enjoyments, if his highest aim ought to be, to live free from pain,
the caves of the forest conceal those happy beings whom we ought to
choose for our models.

Bounded by the present, animals sleep, eat, procreate, live without
inquietude, and die without regret: and this is the perfection
of negative happiness. Man, it is true, loses himself in vain
projects. His long remembrances, his keen foresight create him
suffering in the past and the future. His imagination brings forth
errors, his liberty, crimes. But the abuse of his faculties does
not disprove their excellence. Let him consecrate to directing them
aright, that time which he has hitherto lost in mourning over their
aberrations, and he will have reason to be grateful to the Creator,
for having given him the most exalted rank among sublunary beings.
If, on the other hand, he chooses to abandon that rank, of which he
ought to be proud, he will degrade his immortal nature at his own
cost; and will only add to his other evils the shame of wishing to
render himself vile.

Let us examine those animals, the instincts of which have the
nearest relation to intelligence. Not one of them takes possession
of the paternal heritage, increases it, and transmits it to
posterity. Man alone does this, improves his condition and his
kind, and in this is essentially distinct from all other beings
below. From the Eternal to him, and from him to animals the chain
is twice broken.

For man, the absence of suffering and a negative happiness are not
sufficient. His noble faculties refuse the repose of indifference.
Created to aspire to whatever may be an element of enjoyment, let
him cherish his desires, and let them indicate to him the path
of happiness; too fortunate, if they do not entice him towards
objects, which retire in proportion as he struggles to attain them,
and towards those imaginary joys, of which the deceitful possession
is more fertile in regrets than in pleasures.

Far from being the austere censor of desires, I admit, that they
often produce charming illusions. What loveliness have they not
spread over our spring of life! Our imagination at that time, as
brilliant and as vivid as our age, embellished the whole universe,
and every position in which our lot might one day place us. We were
occupied with errors; but they were happy errors; and to desire was
to enjoy.

Those enchanting dreams, which hold such a delightful place in the
life of every man, whose imagination is gay and creative, spring
from our desires. Ingenious fictions! Prolific visions! While
ye cradle us, we possess the object of our magic reveries. Real
possession may be less fugitive. But may it not also vanish like a
dream?

Doubtless there are dangers blended with these seductive
imaginings. In leaving the region of illusion, the greater part of
men look with regret upon the abodes of reality, in which they must
henceforward dwell. Let us not share their gloomy weakness. Let
us learn to enjoy the moments of error, and perpetuate and renew
them by remembrance. Children, only, are allowed to weep, when the
waking moment dispels the toys, of which a dream had given them
possession.

We give ourselves up to illusions without danger, if we have
formed our reason; if we wisely think that the situation where
our lot has placed us may have advantages which no other could
offer. Imagination embellishes some hours without troubling any.
Prompt to yield to the delightful visions, there are few of which
I have not contemplated the charm. In seeing them vanish like a
fleeting dream, I look round on my wife and children, and believe
that I am remembered by a few friends. I open my heart to the
pleasures of my retreat, which, though simple, are ever new. As the
gilded creations of imagination disappear, I smile at my creative
occupation, and console myself with the consciousness, that fancy
can paint nothing brighter or more satisfying, than these my
realities.[7]

But let me hasten to make an important distinction, to prevent
the semblance of contradiction. Let me discriminate those fleeting
desires, which amuse, or delude us for a moment, from those deep
cravings, which, directing all our faculties towards a given end,
necessarily exercise a strong influence upon life. It is time to
contemplate the latter, and to suggest more grave reflections.
While the scope of our faculties is limited to narrow bounds,
our desires run out into infinity. From this fact result two
reflections--the one afflicting, that the multitude are miserable,
because it is easier to form, than to obtain our wishes; the other
consoling, that they might be happy, since every one can regulate
his desires.

Reduced to the necessity to realize, or restrain them, which course
does wisdom indicate? Will ambition conduct us to repose?[8] He
who chases its phantoms, resembles the child who imagines that he
shall be able to grasp the rainbow, which spans the mountain in
the distance. But from mountain to mountain, a new horizon spreads
before his eyes. But the courage and perseverance requisite to
regulate our desires, may intimidate us. We vex ourselves in the
pursuit of fortune, honor and glory. Philosophy is worth more than
the whole, and do we expect to purchase it without pain? True,
she declares to us, that to realize our desires is a part of the
science of happiness; but by no means the most important one. Yet
it is the only one to which most men devote themselves. Philosophy
should teach us, what desires we ought to receive and cherish, as
inmates. When they are fleeting and spring from a gay and creative
imagination, let us yield ourselves without fear to their transient
dreams. But when they may exercise a long and decisive influence,
let a mature examination teach us, whether wisdom allows the
attempt to realize them. Oh! how much uncertainty and torment we
might spare our weakness, if from infancy we directed our pursuit
towards the essential objects of felicity, and if we stripped
those, which, in their issue, produce chimerical hopes and bitter
regrets, of their deceitful charms! What gratitude should we not
owe that provident instruction, whose cares should indicate, and
smooth our road to happiness! The great results, which might be
obtained from education, would be, to moderate the desires, and to
find some indemnities for the sorrows of life. On the present plan,
by arousing our emulation, by enkindling our instinctive ardor to
increase our fortune, and eclipse our rivals, we make it a study,
if I may so say, to render ourselves discontented with our destiny;
and, as if afraid that we should not be sufficiently perverted by
the contagion of example, we invoke ambition and cupidity to enter
the soul. We treat as chimerical those desires, which are so simple
and pure, as to be pleasures of themselves, and which look to a
happiness easy of attainment.

Let us, then, unlearn most of the ideas we have received. Let us
close our eyes on the illusions which surround us. Let us remould
our plan of life, and retain in the heart only those desires which
nature has placed there. Let reflection impart energy to our mind,
and be our guide in the new path which reason opens before us.

We shall be told, that these desires animate us unsought and
continually. I admit it. But in most men they are the simple result
of instinct, and are vague, and without decisive effect. A craving
for happiness is diffused as widely as life. The enlightened desire
of happiness is as rare as wisdom. The mass of our species do not
avail themselves of life, to enjoy it; but apparently for other
purposes. My first and fundamental maxim is, that no one should
live by chance. Enfranchised from vulgar ideas, and guided by the
principles of true wisdom, let happiness be our end; and let us
view all our employments and pursuits, as means.

I meet men of sanguine temperament, who say in the pride of
internal energy, ‘my calculations must succeed. I am certain to
acquire wealth.’ Another of the same class assures me, that he
sees no turn to his rapid career of advancement; and that he is
confident of reaching the summit of greatness. What more fortunate
result can he propose, than happiness? My pupil should make all
his plans subservient to the numbering of happy days even from the
commencement of his career.[9]

Let us beware, however, of aspiring after a perfect felicity. The
art I discuss, will not descend from heaven. Its object is, to
indicate desirable situations, to guide us towards them, when they
offer, and to remove the vexations of life. The greater part of
mankind might exist in comfort. They fail of this, in aiming at
impracticable amelioration of their condition. It is an egregious
folly only to contemplate the dark side of our case. I deem it
a mark of wisdom and strength of mind, rather to exaggerate its
advantages.

Let us carefully ascertain, what things are indispensable to our
well-being; and let us discipline all our desires towards the
acquisition of them. If I consult those who are driven onward
by the whirlwind of life, to learn what objects are absolutely
necessary to my end, what a long catalogue they will name! If I ask
moralists, how many sacrifices, incompatible with human nature,
will they impose! Agitated, and uncertain, I am conscious, that
my powers are equally insufficient to amass all which the former
prescribe, or to tear me from all which the latter disdainfully
interdict.

In examining this all important subject, without the spirit
of system, I realize, that the essentials of a happy life are
tranquillity of mind, independence, health, competence, and
the affection of some of our equals. Let us strive to acquire
them. They are numerous, I admit, and difficult to unite in
the possession of an individual. Nevertheless, if a severe
discrimination enabled us to bound our pursuit by the desire of
obtaining only these objects, what a great and happy change would
be effected upon the earth; and how many disappointments would be
henceforward unknown![10]



LETTER VI.

TRANQUILLITY OF MIND.


By the word tranquillity I designate that state of the mind in
which, estranged from the weaknesses of life, it tastes that happy
calm which it owes to its own power and elevation. Inaccessible to
storms, it still admits those emotions which give birth to pure
pleasures, and yields to the generous movements which the virtues
inspire. Tranquillity seems indifference only in the eyes of the
vulgar. A delightful consciousness of existence accompanies it. We
may meditate with a just pride upon the causes which produce it.
Without reasoning we respire and enjoy it. It is the appropriate
pleasure of the sage.

A pure conscience is the profoundest source of this delightful
calm. Without it, we shall attempt in vain to veil our faults from
ourselves, or to listen only to the voice of adulation. An interior
witness must testify that we have sometimes sought occasions to
be useful; and that we have always welcomed those who offered us
opportunities to do good.

Another condition equally necessary is to close the heart against
unregulated ambition. I am well aware, in laying down this precept,
that I shall be deemed an idle dreamer. If you are convinced
beyond argument that there is nothing worth seeking in life but
distinctions and honors, you may close my book. If you are ready
to receive these brilliant illusions when they come unsought, and
return to the repose of your heart should you obtain them not, you
may pursue the reading of my lessons.

Do not fear that I am about to announce trite truths touching the
vices which ambition brings in its train, and the shameful actions
and base measures by which it proposes to elevate its aspirant.
Why should I declaim in common-place against ambition when I have
truths to offer so pressing, simple and self-evident?

To consecrate to true enjoyment as many days as possible, to
lose in disquieting desires as few moments as we may, these are
the elements of my philosophy. The world, on the other hand,
incessantly repeats, ‘Shine--ascend high places--bind fortune
to your chariot wheels;’ the multitude listen, and consume life
in tormenting desires which end in disappointment. I say to my
disciple, make your pursuit, whatever it be, a source of present
enjoyment, and be happy without delay. But the cry of objection
reaches me, ‘would you wish him to vegetate in obscurity and never
transcend the limits of the narrow circle in which he was born?’ I
would have him enjoy the self-respect of conscious usefulness, and
taste all the innocent pleasures of the senses, the heart, mind and
understanding. Farther than these, I see nothing but the miserable
inquietudes of vanity. I admit that the pleasures of gratified
ambition are high flavored and intoxicating; but compelled to
choose among enjoyments which cannot all be tasted together, I
balance the delights which they spread over life with the pains
which it must cost to obtain them. If I incline to ambition,
I must fly privacy and my retreat; and renounce the pleasures
which my family, friends and free pursuits daily renew. I must no
longer inhabit the paradise of my pleasant dreams. Abandoning the
simple and sincere enjoyments of obscurity, I abandon repose and
independence.

Suppose I obtain those honors of which the distant brilliancy
dazzles my vision, what destiny can I propose to myself? How long
can I enjoy my honors? Besieged by incessant alarm, through fear of
losing them, how often shall I sigh over the ill-judged exchange by
which I bartered peace and privacy for them? Number all the truly
happy days of the ambitious--they are those in which, forming his
projects, and, in his imagination, removing the obstacles that
lie in his way, he embellishes his career with the illusions of
his fancy. Too often the desired objects, which in the distance
glittered in his eyes, resemble those paintings which, seen from
afar, present enchanting scenery, but offer only revolting views
when beheld close at hand.

I wish to avoid the usual exaggeration upon these subjects.
Moralists deceive us when painting the contrast between the
virtues and the vices; they assign unmingled felicity to the one,
and absolute misery to the other. I am sensible that even in his
deepest inquietudes, and notwithstanding his desires and regrets,
the votary of ambition still has his moments of intoxicating
pleasure. It is not this alone, but happiness we seek. If we wish
only to toil up the heights of ambition to enjoy the dignities of
the summit, counsels are useless. If we ask for nothing more than
pleasures, they may be varied to infinity, and be found pervading
all situations in forms appropriate to all characters. This
hypocrite, that victim of envy, yonder miser, do they experience,
the moralist will ask, nothing but torment? Mark the misanthrope
who incessantly repeats that in a world peopled with perverse
beings and malign spirits, existence is an odious burden. This
man, notwithstanding, finds his pleasures in a world which he
affects so to detest. Every invective which he throws out against
it, is a eulogy reflected back upon himself. He rises in his own
estimation in proportion as he debases others, and finds in himself
all the qualities which he makes them want. Does he meet with a
partisan of his principles? how delightful for two misanthropes to
communicate their discoveries, and to make a joint war of sarcasm
upon the human race! Does he find an antagonist? he experiences a
charm in controverting him. Besides, as in vilifying human nature,
no one can want either facts or arguments to present it in hues
sufficiently dark, in the complacency of conscious triumph, he
terminates his war of words.

The votary of ambition not only has pleasures which are often
dazzling, but perhaps enjoyments not within the ordinary ken,
which require profound observation. The ardent aspiration after
success gives a charm to efforts in the struggle which would
otherwise present only unmixed bitterness. Acts in themselves
vile, ridiculous, or revolting, contemplated as means essential
to a proposed end, lose their meanness and tendency to lessen
self-respect. It is possible, in this view, that even extraordinary
humiliations may inspire the ambitious with a sort of pride, in
the consciousness that he has strength to stoop to them for his
purposes. In fine, it is too true that pleasure may be found in the
most capricious aberrations, the most shameful vices, and the most
atrocious crimes.

It will be seen that I abandon most of the trite declamation
against ambition. I touch not on its long inquietudes, its
inevitable torments, exacerbated a hundred fold, if their victim
preserve degrees of mental elevation and remains of moral
sentiment. Life passes pleasantly among men who have just views,
upright hearts and frank manners, the true elements of greatness
and enjoyment. Surrounded by such minds, we respire, as it
were, a free and an empyrean atmosphere. Yield yourself to the
empire of ambition; and in all countries, and in all time, you
condemn yourself to live surrounded by greedy, unquiet, false and
vindictive intriguers, gnashing their teeth at all success in
which they had no agency. All that encircle you unite insolence and
baseness.

Those who envy authority and office are worthy of commiseration.
Men in power are happy, they think. They have but to wish, and it
is accomplished. The epitaph of the Swedish minister is sublime,
and the index of a great truth. He had run the career of power and
fortune with success. When near the period of his death, he ordered
this inscription for his tomb: _Tandem Felix._ _At last I am happy._

We never leave the society of the great as we entered it. We have
become either better or more perverse. Inexperience is easily
dazzled with the superficial splendor. For a man of disciplined
mind and a character of energy, it is the most useful of schools.
Here he tests and confirms his principles. Here he observes,
sometimes with terror, sometimes with disgust, the melancholy
results of the seductive passions. He here sees those who seem to
have reached all their aims enjoying the repose of happy privacy.
I anticipate the objection, ‘that this is all absurdity; that not
one will be so convinced of his misery as to resign his power and
descend from his elevation to that obscurity for which he sighs.’
I believe it; and I see in this a deeper shade in his misery. He
has so long experienced the pernicious excitement of this splendid
torment, that he can no longer exist in repose.

Such is the lot of erring humanity, that the world naturally
associates glory and happiness with ambition, and sees not that
the association is formed by our own mental feebleness. To rise
above vulgar errors and the common train of thinking, to form sage
principles, and, still more, to have the courage and decision to
follow them, this is the proof of real force of character. But,
to feel the need of dazzling the vulgar, to be willing to creep in
order to rise, to struggle and dispute for trinkets, this is the
common standard by which the multitude estimate a great mind.

Philosophers are accused of having presented grandeur under an
unfavorable aspect in order to console themselves for not having
enjoyed it. History reads us another lesson. Aristotle instructed
the son of Philip. Plato was received at the courts of kings.
Cicero received the title of ‘father of his country’ by a decree
of the senate. Boethius, thrice clad with the consular purple,
when his locks were hoary, was dragged to a dungeon. He wrote ‘the
consolations inspired by philosophy,’ and laid down his book at
the foot of the scaffold. Marcus Aurelius honored the throne of
the world by those modest virtues which shone still brighter in
obscurity. Fenelon was raised to the highest dignities only to
experience their bitterness, and, like his great predecessor, to
owe his glory and his happy days only to wisdom and retirement.
Franklin will be remembered in all time, not as the governor,
legislator and ambassador, but as having trained himself to
his admirable philosophy of common sense amidst the laborious
occupations of a printer.

The certainty of acquiring the self-respect of conscious
usefulness, a certainty which the great can seldom have, ought
alone to determine a wise man to quit his obscurity. But if the
emoluments and honors of a high station seduce us, let us value our
independence and let us not exchange treasures for tinsel.

We have freedom to avoid every culpable action, and to contemplate
with pity the chimeras of ambition. Let us see if in misfortune we
can preserve tranquillity of mind.



LETTER VII.

OF MISFORTUNE.


If we wish our precepts to be followed, we must avoid the extremes
to which moralists and philosophers are too much inclined to
press their doctrines, for they are impracticable in real life.
It is useless to deny that there are evils against which the aids
of reason and friendship are powerless. Let us leave him who is
about to lose a being whose life is blended with his own, to
groan unreproved. Time alone can enfeeble his remembrances and
assuage his pain. To render man inaccessible to suffering would
be to change his nature. Those austere moralists who treat our
feebleness with disdain, and who would render us indifferent to the
most terrible blows of destiny, would at the same time leave us
no sensibility to taste pleasure. Nothing can be more absurd than
the vain harangues by which common-place consolation is offered
to those who mourn a wife, a child, a friend. All reasonings are
ineffectual when opposed to these words, ‘I have lost the loved
one. You inform me that my misfortune is without a remedy. Oh! if
there were a remedy, instead of unavailing tears, I would employ
it. It is precisely because there is none, that I grieve.’ ‘Your
tears are useless.’ ‘Still they serve to solace me.’ ‘God has done
it.’ ‘True, and God has formed my heart to suffer from his blow.’
‘Your child is happy, and knew neither the errors nor the sorrows
of life.’ ‘A parent’s instinctive love inspired the desire that I
might teach it to avoid both and obtain happiness.’ ‘In the course
of a long career your friend gave an example of all the virtues.’
‘It is because the loss of these virtues is irreparable to me that
I must deplore his death.’[11]

The greater portion of men, I admit, exaggerating their regrets,
pay a tribute of dissembled grief rather to opinion, than to
nature; and cold declamation and frivolous distractions are
sufficient to console them. But the orators of consolation
sometimes press their lessons on hearts which are really bleeding.
Let such groan at liberty, and attempt not to contradict nature.
Solitude may exalt the imagination; but it also inspires consoling
ideas. In the silence of its refuge the desolate mourner brings
himself to a nearer communion with him he regrets. He invokes,
sees, and addresses him. Grief is more ingenious than we imagine in
finding consolation, and has learned to employ different remedies
according as the wounds are slight or deep. Two persons have each
lost a dear friend. The one studiously avoids the places where he
used to meet his friend. The other repairs to his desolate haunts,
and surrounding himself by monuments associated with his memory, he
seeks, if I may so say, to restore him to life.

The death of a beloved wife is, perhaps, the most inconsolable of
evils. Let this follow a series of other misfortunes, and it so
effaces their remembrance that the sufferer feels he has not until
then known real grief. But if this affliction be one under which
our strength is broken, let it be the only one to obtain this fatal
triumph. Under all other misfortunes we may find in ourselves
resources for sustaining them; and may invariably either evade or
assuage them, or mitigate their bitterness by resignation.

Moralists have expatiated upon the manner in which a sage ought
to contemplate the evils of life. Instead of subscribing to their
trite maxims, often more imposing than practicable, I sketch a
summary of my philosophy. I caution the feeble and erring beings
that surround me, not to dream of unmixed happiness. I invite them
to partake promptly of all innocent pleasures. The evils too often
appended to them may follow. Know nothing of those which have no
existence except in opinion. Struggle with courage to escape all
that may be evaded. But if it become inevitable to meet them, let
resignation, closing your eyes on the past, secure the repose of
patient endurance when happiness exists for you no longer.

Permit me to give these ideas some development. If I may believe
the most prevalent modern philosophy, tranquillity of mind is the
result of organization, or temperament, and of circumstances. It is
the burden of my inculcation, that it may be of our own procuring;
and that we owe it still more to the masculine exercise of our
reason, discipline, and mental energy, than to our temperament or
condition.

We have reason to deplore that unhappy being, who, yielding to
dreams of pleasure, forgets to forearm himself against a fatal
awakening. The history of great political convulsions, and, more
than all, that of the French revolution furnishes impressive
examples of this spectacle. It offers more than one instance, in
the feebler sex, of persons, who seemed created only to respire
happiness. To the advantages of youth, talent and beauty, were
united the most exalted rank, and wealth, pleasure and power,
apparently to the extent of their wishes. To the dazzling
fascination, with which a brilliant crowd surrounded their
inexperience, many of them united the richer domestic enjoyments
of the wife and mother. In the midst of their illusions, the
revolutionary shout struck their ear, like a thunderstroke.
Executioners bade them ascend the scaffold.[12]

These great catastrophes, I know, are rare. But there will never
cease to be sorrows, which will receive their last bitterness
only in death. They are all too painful to be sustained, unless
they have been wisely foreseen. Let us think of misfortune, as of
certain characters, with whom our lot may one day compel us to
consort.

It is novelty alone, which gives our emotions extreme keenness.
Whoever has strength of character, may learn to endure anything.
The red men of the American wilderness are most impressive examples
of this truth. Time, however, is the most efficacious teacher of
the lesson of endurance. Poussin, in his painting of Eudomidas,
has delineated the human heart with fidelity. The young girl of
the piece abandons herself to despair. Half stretched upon the
earth, her head falls supinely on the knees of the aged mother of
the dying. This mother is sitting. Her attitude announces mingled
meditation and grief. Amidst her tears, we trace firmness on her
visage. One of the two women is taking her first lesson of misery.
The other has already passed through a long apprenticeship of
grief.[13]

Reflection imparts anticipated experience. It takes from misery
that air of novelty, which renders it terrible. When a wise man
experiences a reverse, his new position has been foreseen. He
has measured the sorrows, and prepared the consolations. Into
whatever scene of trial he is brought, he will show in no one the
embarrassment of a stranger.

Taught to be conscious that we are feeble combatants, thrown upon
an arena of strife, let us not calculate that destiny has no blows
in store for us. Let us prepare for wounds, painful and slow to
heal. Let us blunt the darts of misfortune in advance. Then, if
they strike they will not penetrate so deep. But in premeditating
the trials, which may be in reserve for our courage, let not
anticipated solicitude disturb the present. Of all mental efforts,
foresight is the most difficult to regulate. If we have it not, we
fall into reverses unprepared. If we exercise it too far, we are
perpetually miserable by anticipation.

The philosopher prepares himself for contingent perils by processes
which impart a keener pleasure to present enjoyment. He better
understands the value of the moments of joy, and learns to dispel
the fears, which might mar their tranquillity. That is a gloomy
wisdom, which condemns the precepts that invite us to draw, from
the uncertainty of our lot, a motive to embellish the moment of
actual happiness. Transient beings, around whom everything is
changing and in motion, adopt my maxims. Let us aid those who
surround us, to put them in practice. Let us render those who are
happy today more happy. Tomorrow the opportunity may have passed
forever.

As though nature had not sowed sufficient sorrows in our path
during our short career, we have added to the mass by our own
invention. The offspring of our vanity and puerile prejudices,
these factitious pains seem sometimes more difficult to support,
than real evils. A warrior, who has shown fearless courage in the
deadly breach, has passed a sleepless night, because he was not
invited to a party, or a feast; or because a riband, or a diploma
has not been added to the many, with which he is already decorated.
I had been informed, that the wife and son of a distinguished
acquaintance were dangerously sick. I met him pale, and thoughtful.
I was meditating, how to give him hope in regard to the objects
of his supposed anxiety. While I was hesitating how to address
him, he made known the subject of his real inquietude. He was in
expectation of a high employment. The man of power, in whose hand
was the gift, had just received him coldly a second time. He was
anxiously calculating his remaining chances, and striving to divine
the causes of his discouraging reception.

To avoid such ridiculous agonies, let us adopt a maxim, not the
less true, because the phrase, in which I express it, may seem
trivial. Three quarters and half the remaining quarter of our
vexations are not worth wasting a thought upon their cause. I add,
that even in expectations which appear important, we ought to fear
trusting too little to chance. The order of events, which we call
by this name, is often more sage than any that human calculation
can arrange. If it decides in a manner which at first view seems
greatly against us, let us defer our accusations, until we have
more thoroughly tested the event. I have met a man, who had long
been an aspirant for a certain place, with a radiant countenance,
having just obtained it. Three months afterwards, he would have
purchased at any price the power of recalling events. I have seen
another friend in desolation, because he could not obtain the hand
of the daughter of a man, whose enterprises promised an immense
fortune. He had been rejected. The speculations of her father
all failed; and the reputation of his integrity and good faith
with them. The despairing lover would have shared the poverty and
disgrace of a helpless family; and would have been tormented,
besides, with an incompatible union, of itself sufficient to have
rendered him miserable in the midst of all the expected prosperity.
One event is contemplated with a charmed eye; another with despair.
The issue alone can declare, which of the two we ought to have
desired.

I grant, that we are surrounded by real dangers. I pretend not to
be above suffering; and I attach no merit to becoming the reckless
dupe of men or chance. The highest philosophy is at the same time
the most simple and practicable. There is no error more common
than one, which is taken for profound wisdom. Most men look too
deep for the springs of events, and the motives of action. In many
alternatives, we shall be most wise in giving the reins to chance.
When we are menaced by an evident peril, let us summon all our
energy, and courageously struggle to ward it off. If, after all,
neither wisdom can evade it, nor bravery vanquish it, let us see,
how true wisdom ordains us to sustain it.

How many are ignorant of the value of resignation, or confound
it with weakness! The courage of resignation is, perhaps, the
most high and rare of all the forms of that virtue. Man received
the gift directly from the Author of his being. His desires,
inquietudes, misguided opinions, the fruits of an ambitious and
incongruous education, have weakened its force in the soul. Who
can read the anecdote of the American wilderness without thrilling
emotion? An Indian, descending the Niagara river, was drawn into
the rapids above the sublime cataract. The nursling of the desert
rowed with incredible vigor at first, in an intense struggle for
life. Seeing his efforts useless, he dropped his oars, sung his
death song, and floated in calmness down the abyss. His example
is worthy of imitation. While there is hope, let us nerve all our
force, to avail ourselves of all the chances it suggests. When
hope ceases, and the peril must be braved, wisdom counsels calm
resignation.[14]

In regard to unconquerable evils, the true doctrine is not vain
resistance, but profound submission. It conceals the outline of
what we have to suffer, as with a veil. It hastens to bring us the
fruit of consoling time. It opens our eyes to a clearer view of
the possessions which remain to us. It precedes hope, as twilight
ushers in the day.

It is by laying down certain well ascertained principles of
conduct, and re-examining them every day, that a new empire is
given to reason, and that we learn to select the most eligible
point in all situations in life. The Greek philosophers were,
incontestably, the men, who best understood the art of becoming
happy. Their studies led them to the unwearied contemplation of
the true good, the advantages of elevation of mind, the danger of
the passions, and a calm submission to inevitable ills. Such were
the habitual subjects of their meditations and discourses. They
suffered less from the evils of life, only because they cultivated
habits of profound reflection.

Among the moderns, in pursuit of happiness, some study only
to multiply their physical enjoyments; and limited to gross
sensations, differ little from brutes, except in discoursing about
what they eat. Others, higher in the scale of thought, cultivate
the pleasures of literature and the fine arts. But disciplining
but a single class of their powers, with a view to distinguish
themselves from the vulgar, they are not always more happy. True
philosophy is chiefly conversant about that kind of acquisition,
which preëminently constitutes the rational man, forms his reason,
and places him, as a master, in the midst of an unreflecting world
surrounded by children full of ignorance and fatuity.



LETTER VIII.

OF INDEPENDENCE.


We distinguish many kinds of liberty. That which we owe to equal
laws, without being indispensable to a philosopher, renders the
attainment of happiness more easy to him. However men differ in
their political opinions, they all have an instinctive desire to be
free. Every one is reluctant and afraid to submit himself to the
capricious power of those about him. The thirst of power is only
another form of this ardor for independence.

With what interest we read in history of those ignorant tribes,
unknown to fame, whose liberty and simple manners at once astonish
and delight us? When visiting the isles of Greece, where the charm
of memory rendered the view of their actual slavery more revolting,
what delight the traveller experiences in traversing the little
isle of Casos which had never submitted to the Ottoman yoke! He
there found the usages of the ancient Greeks, their costume, their
beauty and their amiable and elevated natural manner. This isle
is but a rock. But its dangerous shores have defended it against
tyranny. Associations with the songs of Homer and Hesiod are
renewed. Such a picture delights even a people whose manners are
refined to a degree tending to depravation. Thus those opulent
citizens who find the country a place of exile still decorate their
splendid halls with landscapes and flowers.

Let not a sensitive and wandering imagination kindle too readily at
the recitals of travellers. Were we to transport ourselves to one
of those remote points of the earth where felicity is represented
to have chosen her asylum, new usages, manners and pleasures, and
a foreign people every moment reminding us that we are strangers,
would, perhaps, give birth to the most painful regrets. When in our
youth we were charmed as we read of the prodigies of Athens and
Rome, we uttered the wish that we had been born in those renowned
republics. There is little doubt that, had our wish been realized,
we should be glad to escape their storms, in exchange for obscurely
tranquil days.

It is a distinguished folly which impels men far from their country
in search of happiness. The greater portion, deceived in their
hopes after having wandered amidst danger, die with regret and
sorrow, worn out with vexation resulting from the broken ties and
remembrances of home. Home is the last thought that comes over the
departing mind. ‘Et dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos.’ _Ubi patria
ibi bene_ is an adage which contains as much wise observation as
elevated patriotism. Our country is our common mother. We ought
to love and sustain her more firmly in her misery than in her
prosperity.

Whatever manners, opinions and talents we carry into another
country, we are still strangers there. The manners which we adopt
are new and irksome. The eye sees nothing to awaken dear and
embellished remembrances; and we find in the heart of no one the
reverberating chord of ancient friendship and sympathy. We always
regret the places where we knew the first pleasures and the first
pains, and saw the first enchanting visions of life; the cherished
spots where we learned to love and be loved. If, returning there,
drawn back by an invincible sentiment, after a long absence we see
it again, what sorrows await us! We find ourselves strangers in
our own country. We ask for our parents and friends who departed
in succession. The blows were struck at long intervals. We receive
them all in a moment. We return to shed tears only on the tombs of
our fathers![15]

Retreat and competence everywhere supply a wise man a degree of
independence. Even when the sport of oppression and injustice, he
yields to these evils as the caprices of destiny. He would be free
in the midst of Constantinople under the government of the Sultan.

Another kind of liberty is the portion of but a few in our own
country--the liberty of disposing of our whole time at our choice.
To those who understand not the value of time, this liberty
bequeaths a heavy bondage. But to those who have learned the
secret of happiness it is of inestimable value. The privilege of
the favored possessor of opulence is a high one. Neither the slave
of business, fashion, opinion or routine, it is in his power at
awaking to say ‘this day is all my own.’[15a]

But moralists exclaim, ‘you must pay your debt: you must render
yourselves useful to society.’ Let me not be understood to
inculcate the doctrine of indolence. Industry will have wings
and power when you unite it to freedom. But how many repeat the
hackneyed cry of ‘the debt to society,’ who, in the choice of their
profession, had never a thought but of its honors and emoluments!
This man whose industry in the pursuit of his choice proves that
his toil is his pleasure, that man who is in earnest to serve every
one whom he can oblige and who might have shone, had he chosen it,
in the career of ambition, but who, modest, proud, studious and
free, lives happily in the bosom of retreat, has this man done
nothing to acquit his debt? Is his example useless to society?

If my condition deny me leisure and independence in regard to
the disposal of my time, without bestowing much concern upon the
choice of my profession, I should choose that most favorable to
free thoughts, to breathing the open air, and, as much as might
be, in view of a beautiful nature. I should consider it as a
most important element in my happiness that I should be chiefly
conversant with people of compatible characters. The profession of
an advocate, perpetually conversant with the follies, vices and
crimes of society, is one of the most trying, both to integrity and
philosophy. That of the physician, continually witnessing groans,
tears and physical suffering, however painful to sensibility,
may become the source of high reflected pleasure to a generous
and humane heart. I would avoid a function the disquieting
responsibility of which would disturb my sleep. Above all, I should
dread one of high honor and emolument, connected with proportionate
uncertainty of tenure.

The balance of enjoyment being taken into view, I should prefer
an occupation of privacy. It would be more easy at once to obtain
and preserve. It would expose me less to envy and competition.
Exempt from the inquietudes inspired by severe labors, and the
ennui of important etiquette, I should at least find an absolute
independence, every evening, at the relinquishment of my daily
routine of occupation, and I should suffer no care for the morrow;
I would learn to enhance the charms of my condition by thinking of
the agitation, regrets and alarms of those who are still swept by
the whirlwinds of life. In this way I would imitate him who, to
procure a more delicious repose, placed his couch under a tent near
the sea, to be lulled by the dashing of its waves and the noise
of its storms. But it is time to contemplate the most useful kind
of liberty, the only indispensable kind, and happily one which is
accessible to all. It is the liberty resulting from self-command
and inward mastery of ourselves. It has a value to cause all others
to be forgotten--a value which no other kind can replace.

What liberty can that man enjoy who is the slave of ambition? A
gesture, a look of the eye, a smile affrightens him and causes him
painful and trembling calculations what that sinister sign of his
master may presage.

Look at the opulent merchant whose hopes are the sport of the
winds, seas, robbers, changes of trade, municipal regulations, and
a crowd of agents who seem subordinate, but who really command him.

Whatever kind of liberty we aim to possess, we may certainly
conclude that the surest means to enjoy it is to have few wants.
But how restrain our wants? The greater portion are happily placed
by their condition where they are ignorant of the objects which
most powerfully excite and seduce desire. The golden mean secludes
them from many temptations full of the bitterest regret, and exacts
of them little effort of wisdom. In the class of men of leisure and
elevated mind there are two means of rising above many wants.

The more austere philosophers have altogether disdained those
pleasures which they could never hope to obtain. Reducing
themselves to the limits of the strictest necessity, they indemnify
themselves for some privations by the certainty of being secured
from many pains, and by the sentiment of conscious independence.
This is, doubtless, one of the surest means of obtaining
independence; and they who attempt to employ any other, differ from
the vulgar by their principles rather than their conduct.

How many objects, of which the contemplation awakens the desires,
would have nothing dangerous if we could always exercise a stern
self-control over our minds! The surest means of exercising this
self-control is to reduce the number of our wants. To do it, I
admit, demands a rare elevation of mind and the exercise of a high
degree of philosophy. But since its value is beyond its cost, let
us dare to acquire it.

While the fleeting dreams of pleasure hover around us, let reason
still say to us, ‘an instant may dissipate them.’ Let us, then, be
ready to find a new pleasure in the consciousness of our firmness
and our masculine and vigorous independence. An enlightened mind
reigns over pleasures; and while they glitter around, enjoys all
that are innocent; but disdains a sigh or a regret when they have
taken wings and disappeared.

I commend the example of Alcibiades, the disciple of the graces and
of wisdom, who astonished in turn the proud Persian by his dignity,
and the Lacedemonian by his austerity. His enemies may charge him
with incessant change of principle. To me he seems always the
same, always superior to the men and circumstances that surround
him. Such strong mental stamina resemble those robust plants that
sustain, without annoyance, the extremes of heat and cold.



LETTER IX.

OF HEALTH.


Health results from moderation, gayety and the absence of care.
Eternal wisdom has ordained, that the emotions which disturb our
days, are those which have a natural tendency to shorten them.[16]

If there were ground for a single charge against the justice of
nature, it would be, that the errors of inexperience seem punished
with too great severity. We prodigally waste the material of life
and enjoyment, as we do our other possessions, as if we thought it
inexhaustible.

To the errors of youth succeed the vices of mature age. Ambition
and cupidity, envy and hatred concur to devour the very aliment of
life. The storms which prostrate the moral faculties, equally sap
the physical energy. Every debasing passion is a consuming poison.
To what other source of evil can we assign those inquietudes and
puerile anxieties, which disturb the days of the greater portion
of mankind? They are occupied by trifling interests, and agitated
by vain debates. They watch for futile excitements, and are in
desolation from chimerical troubles. Pleasant emotions sustain
life, and produce upon it the effect of a gentle current of air
upon flame. Trains of thought habitually elevated, and sometimes
inclined to revery, impart pure and true gayety to the soul. To
be able to command this train is one of the rarest felicities of
endowment. A distinguished physician recorded in his tablets the
apparent paradox, that three quarters of men die of vexation or
grief.

Huffland has published a work, upon the art of prolonging life,
full of interesting observations. ‘Philosophers,’ says he, ‘enjoy a
delightful leisure. Their thoughts, generally estranged from vulgar
interests, have nothing in common with those afflicting ideas,
with which other men are continually agitated and corroded. Their
reflections are agreeable by their variety, their vague liberty,
and sometimes even by their frivolity. Devoted to the pursuits of
their choice, the occupations of their taste, they dispose freely
of their time. Oftentimes they surround themselves with young
people, that their natural vivacity may be communicated to them,
and, in some sort, produce a renewal of their youth.’ We may make a
distinction between the different kinds of philosophy, in relation
to their influence upon the duration of life. Those which direct
the mind towards sublime contemplations, even were they in some
degree superstitious, such as those of Pythagoras and Plato, are
the most salutary. Next to them, I place those, the study of which,
embracing nature, gives enlarged and elevated ideas upon infinity,
the stars, the wonders of the universe, the heroic virtues, and
other similar subjects. Such were those of Democritus, Philolaus,
Xenophanes, the Stoics, and the ancient astronomers.’

‘I may cite next those less profound thinkers, who instead of
exacting difficult researches, seemed destined only to amuse the
mind; the followers of which philosophy, deviating wide from vulgar
opinion, peaceably sustain the arguments for and against the
propositions advanced. Such was the philosophy of Carneades and the
Academicians, to whom we may add the Grammarians and Rhetoricians.’

‘But those which turn only upon painful subtilties, which are
affirmative, dogmatic and positive, which bend all facts and
opinions to form and adjust them to certain preconceived principles
and invariable measures; in fine, such as are thorny, arid,
narrow and contentious, these are fatal in tendency, and cannot
but abridge the life of those, who cultivate them. Of this class
was the philosophy of the Peripatetics, and that also of the
Scholastics.’

Tumultuous passions and corroding cares are two sources of evil
influences, which philosophy avoids. Another influence, adverse to
life, is that mental feebleness, which renders persons perpetually
solicitous about their health, effeminate and unhappy. Fixing their
thoughts intensely on the functions of life, those functions,
that are subjects of this anxious inspection, labor. Imagining
themselves sick, they soon become so. The undoubting confidence
that we shall not be sick, is perhaps the best prophylactic for
preserving health.

I am ignorant of the exact influence of moral upon physical action,
in relation to health. But of this I am confident, that it is
prodigious; that physicians have not made it a sufficient element
in their calculations, or employed it as they should; and that in
future, under a wise and more philosophic direction, it may operate
an immense result, both in restoring and preserving health.

A man reads a letter, which announces misfortunes, or sinister
events. His head turns. His appetite ceases. He becomes faint, and
oppressed; and his life is in danger. No contagion, however, no
physical blow has touched him. A thought has palsied his forces
in a moment; and has successively deranged every spring of life.
We have read of persons of feeble and uninformed mind, who have
fallen sick, in consequence of the cruel sport of those, who have
ingeniously alarmed their imagination, and cautiously indicated
to them a train of fatal symptoms. Since imagination can thus
certainly overturn our physical powers, why may it not, under
certain regulations, restore them? Among the numberless recorded
cases of cures, reputed miraculous, it is probable, that a great
part may be accounted for on this principle.[17]

Suppose a paralytic disciple of the school of miracles, whose head
is exalted with ideas of the mystic power of certain holy men, and
who is meditating on the succor which he expects from a divine
interposition manifested in his favor. In an ecstasy of faith, he
sees a minister of heaven descend enveloped in light, who bids him
‘arise, and walk.’ In a moment the unknown nervous energy, excited
by the mysterious power of faith, touches the countless inert and
relaxed movements. The man arises and walks. During the siege of
Lyons, when bombs fell on the hospital, the terrified paralytics
arose and fled.

I am not disposed to question all the cures, which in France have
been attributed to magnetism. We know, what a salutary effect the
sight of his physician produces on the patient, who has confidence
in him. His cheerful and encouraging conversations are among the
most efficient remedies. If we entertained a long cherished and
intimate persuasion, that by certain signs, or touches, he could
dispel our complaints, his gestures would have a high moral and
physical influence. Magnetism was in this sense, as Bailly justly
remarked, a true experiment upon the power of the imagination.
At the moment of its greatest sway, while some regarded it an
infallible specific, and others deemed it entirely inefficient,
another class held it in just estimation. I cite an extract from
the report of the Academy of Science.

‘We have sought,’ say they, ‘to recognise the presence of the
magnetic fluid. But it escaped our senses. It was said, that its
action upon animated bodies was the sole proof of its existence.
The experiments, which we made upon ourselves, convinced us, that,
as soon as we diverted our attention, it was powerless. Trials
made upon the sick taught us, that infancy, which is unsusceptible
of prejudice experienced nothing from it; that mental alienation
resisted the action of magnetism, even in an habitual condition of
excitability of the nerves, where the action ought to have been
most sensible. The effects which are attributed to this fluid, are
not visible, except when the imagination is forewarned, and capable
of being struck. Imagination, then, seems to be the principle of
the action.

‘It remained to be seen, whether we could reproduce these effects
by the influence of imagination alone. We attempted it, and fully
succeeded. Without touching the subjects, who believed themselves
magnetised, and without employing any sign, they complained of pain
and a great sensation of heat. On subjects, endowed with more
excitable nerves, we produced convulsions, and what they called
_crises_. We have seen an exalted imagination become sufficiently
energetic to take away the power of speech in a moment. At the same
time, we proved the nullity of magnetism, put in opposition with
the imagination. Magnetism alone, employed for thirty minutes,
produced no effect. Imagination put in action produced upon the
same person, with the same means, in circumstances absolutely
similar, a strong, and well defined convulsion.

‘In fine, to complete the demonstration, and to finish the
painting of the effect of the imagination, a power equally capable
of agitating, and calming, we have caused those convulsions to
cease by the same power, which produced them--the power of the
imagination.

‘What we have learned, or, at least what has been confirmed to
us in a demonstrative and evident manner, by examination of the
processes of magnetism is, that man can act upon man at every
moment and almost at will, by striking his imagination; that signs
and gestures the most simple may have effects the most powerful;
and that the influence which may be exerted upon the imagination,
may be reduced to an art, and conducted by method.’

These truths had never before acquired so much evidence. We know,
that cures may be wrought by the single influence of imagination.
Ambrose Paré Boerhaave, and many other physicians, have cited
striking proofs of this fact. The first of these writers procured
abundant sweats for a patient, in making him believe that a
perfectly inert substance given him, was a violent sudorific.

It is worthy of the attention of moralists and physiologists,
as well as physicians, to examine, to what point we may obtain
salutary effects, by exciting the imagination. But perhaps, there
would soon be cause to dread the perilous influence of this art,
which can kill, as well as make alive. This excitable and vivid
faculty is never more easily put in operation, that when acted upon
by the presentiments of charlatanism and superstition.

We possess another means of operation, which may be exercised
without danger, and the power of which is, also, capable of
producing prodigies. Education rendering most men feeble and timid,
they are ignorant, how much an energetic will can accomplish. It
is able to shield us from many maladies; and to hasten the cure of
those under which we labor.

In mortal epidemics, the physicians, who are alarmed at their
danger, are ordinarily the first victims. Fear plunges the system
into that state of debility, which predisposes it to fatal
impressions, while the moral force of confidence, communicating its
aid to physical energy, enables it to repel contagion.

I could cite many distinguished names of men, who attributed their
cure, in desperate maladies, to the courage which never forsook
them, and to the efforts which they made to keep alive the vital
spark, when ready to become extinct. One of them pleasantly said,
‘I should have died like the rest, had I wished it.’[18]

Pecklin, Barthes and others think that extreme desire to see a
beloved person once more, has sometimes a power to retard death.
It is a delightful idea. I feel with what intense ardor one might
desire to live another day, another hour, to see a friend or a
child for the last time. The flame of love, replacing that of
life, blazes up for a moment before both are quenched in the final
darkness. The last prayer is accorded; and life terminates in
tasting that pleasure for which it was prolonged. If this be true,
the principle on which the most touching incident of romance is
founded, is not a fiction.

I have no need to say that an energetic will to recover from
sickness has no point of analogy with that fearful solicitude which
the greater part of the sick experience. The latter, produced by
mental feebleness, increases the inquietude and aggravates the
danger. Even indifference would be preferable. If education had
imparted to us the advantages of an energetic will and real force
of mind, if from infancy we had been convinced of the efficacy of
this moral power, we have no means to determine that it would not
have been, in union with the desire of life, an element in the
means of healing our maladies.

Medicine is still a science so conjectural that the most salutary
method of cure, in my view, is that which strives not to contradict
nature, but to second her efforts by moral means. I am ready to
believe that amidst the real or imagined triumphs of science,
those of medicine will, in the centuries to come, hold a rank
to which its past achievements will have borne no proportion.
But what an immense amount of experiment will be necessary! How
many unfortunate beings must contribute to the expense of these
experiments!

Contrary to the general opinion, I highly esteem physicians and
think but very little of medicine. In the profession of medicine
we find the greatest number of men of solid minds and various
erudition; and the best friends of humanity. But they are in the
habit of vaunting the progress of their science. To me it seems
incessantly changing its principles, without ever varying its
results. The systems of various great men have been successively
received and rejected. Do we, however, imagine that the great
physicians who have preceded us were more unfortunate in their
practice than those of our days? Among the most eminent physicians
of our cities, one practises by administering strong cathartics.
Another is resolute for copious bleeding. A third bids us watch
and wait the indications of nature. Each of these assumes that the
system of the rest is fatal--and so, it would seem, it should be.
At the end of the year, however, I doubt if any one of them all has
more reproaches to make, as regards want of success, than any other.

From these facts, there are those who hold that it is most prudent
to confide to nature, as the physician; forgetful that, if he could
bring no other remedy than hope, he unites moral to physical aid.
Yet, the very persons who, in health are readiest to maintain this
doctrine, like children who are heroes during the day but cowards
in the dark, when they are sick, are as prompt as others in sending
for the physician.

Even if agitation and fear had not fatal effects, in rendering us
more accessible to maladies, wisdom would strive to banish them, in
pursuit of the science of happiness. Fear, by anticipating agony,
doubles our sufferings. If there could exist a rational ground for
continual inquietude, it would be found in a frail constitution.
But how many men of the feeblest health survive those of the most
vigorous and robust frame! Calculations upon the duration of life
are so uncertain that we can always make them in our favor.

To him who cultivates a mild and pleasant philosophy, old age
itself should not be contemplated with alarm. It may seem a paradox
to say that all men are nearly of the same age, in reference to
their chances of another day. Men are as confident of seeing
tomorrow and the succeeding day, at eighty, as at sixteen. Such is
the beautiful veil with which nature conceals from us the darkness
of the future.

In general, men have less sympathy for the suffering than their
condition ought to inspire. We meet them with a sad face and are
more earnest to show them that we are afflicted ourselves, than
to seek to cheer their dejection. We multiply so many questions
touching their health that it would seem as if we feared to allow
them to forget that they were sick.

Of all subjects of conversation, my own pains and physical
infirmities have become the least interesting to me; as I know they
must be to others. I do not wish that those who surround my sick
bed should converse as though arranging the preparations for my
last dress, or determining the hour of my interment.

If we would live in peace, and die in tranquillity, let us, as
much as possible, avoid importunate cares. Our business is to
unite as many friends as we may; and to beguile pain and sorrow by
treasuring as many resources of innocent amusement as our means
will admit. If our sufferings become painful and incurable, we must
concentrate our mental energy and settle on our solitary powers
of endurance. We die, or we recover. Nature, though calm, moves
irresistibly to her point; and complaint is always worse than
useless.[19]

But in arming ourselves with courage to support our own evils, let
us preserve sensibility and sympathy for the sufferings of others.
It is among the dangerously sick that we find those unfortunate
beings who are most worthy to inspire our pity. Their only
expectation is death, preceded by cruel tortures; and yet they,
probably, suffer less for themselves than for weeping dependents
whom they are leaving, it may be, without a single prop. Ah! during
the few days of sorrow that remain to them on the earth, how
earnestly ought we to strive to mitigate their pains, to calm their
alarms and animate their feeble hopes! Blessed be that beneficent
being who shall call one smile more upon their dying lips![20]



LETTER X.

OF COMPETENCE.


Pretended sages announce to us, with sententious gravity, that
virtue ought to be the single object of our desires; that,
strengthened by it, we can support privations and misery without
suffering. Useless moralists! Shall I yield faith to precepts which
the experience of every day falsifies? It is only necessary, in
refutation, to present a man who has broken his limb, or whose
children suffer hunger.

His plan is wise, who examines, with a judgment free from ambition,
the amount of fortune necessary to competence in his case, viewed
in all its bearings; and commences the steady pursuit of it. Having
reached that measure, if his desires impel him beyond the limit
which, in a more reasonable hour, he prescribed for himself, he
henceforward strives to be happy by sacrificing enjoyment. He
barters it for a very uncertain means of purchasing even pleasures.
In this way competence becomes useless to the greater part of those
who obtain it. Victims of the common folly, and still wishing a
little more, they lose, in the effort to get rich, the time which
they ought to spend in enjoyment. We see grasping and adroit
speculators on every side; and, but rarely, men who know how to
employ the resources of a moderate fortune. It is not the art of
acquiring beyond competence, but of wisely spending, that we need
to learn.

Our business in life is to be happy; and yet, simple and obvious as
this truism is, the greater number disdain or forget it. To judge
from the passions and objects that we see exciting man to action,
we should suppose that he was placed on the earth, not to become
happy, but rich.

To what purpose so many cares and studies? ‘That man,’ we are
answered with a peculiar emphasis, ‘has an immense income.’ In his
rare, brilliant and envied condition, if he does not vegetate under
the weight of ennui, I recognise in him a man of astonishing merit.

The opulent may be divided into two classes. The employment of
the one is to watch over their expenditures. The other study the
mode of dissipating their revenue. Can I present, in detail, the
cares and vexations which an immense fortune brings? The possessor
leaves discussion with his tenants, to commence angry disputes
with his workmen. From these he departs to listen to the schemes
of projectors, or to the information of advocates. Is not such a
result dearly purchased at the expense of repose, independence
and time? Would it not be better to relinquish a part of these
possessions, in order to dispose, in peace, of the remainder? I
admit that a man who devotes himself to lucrative pursuits is not
overwhelmed with continual ennui. The banker respires again, after
having grown pale over his accounts. A speculation has succeeded,
and the enchantment of success banishes his alarms, fatigues and
slavery. But he whose purpose in life is to secure as many happy
moments as he can, and who sees how many innocent pleasures the
other allows to escape him, would refuse his fortune at the price
which he pays for it.

Another opulent class inherit fortunes acquired by the industry
and sacrifices of their fathers. Rendered effeminate in a school,
the reverse of that in which their fathers were trained, without
resources in themselves, accustomed from infancy to have their
least desires anticipated, under the influence of feeble parents,
pliant and servile instructers, greedy servants and a seducing
world, their appetite is early palled, and every pleasure in life
worn out.

But suppose the rich heir brought up as though he were not rich,
destiny places before him a strange alternative. If he succeed
in resisting desires which everything excites and favors, what
painful struggles! If he yield to them, what effort can preserve
him an untainted mind? The experience of all time declares the
improbability that he will resist. So many pretended friends are
at hand to take up the cause of the present against the future,
a cause, too, which always finds a powerful patron in our own
bosoms! The pleasures of the senses have, besides, this dangerous
advantage, that before we have tasted them we are sufficiently
instructed by the imagination, that we shall receive vivid and
delightful emotions from their indulgence. We are not certain that
pleasures of a higher class have a charm of enchantment until after
we have made the happy experiment. Thus everything prepares the
opulent for the sadness of satiety, moral disgust and ennui without
end, the only suffering of life which is not softened by hope.

You will sometimes see these men at public places where they are
professedly in search of amusement, giving no sign of existence
except by an occasional yawn. Cast your eyes on those spectators
who are alive to the most vivid enthusiasm. They are young students
or mechanics who have economised ten days to spend an hour of the
eleventh in this amusement![21] It is in clean cottages, in small
but well directed establishments, that pleasures are vivid, because
they are obtained at a price, and through industry and order. A
festival is projected, or a holiday returns. Friends are assembled,
and how blithe and free is the joy! A slight economy has been
practised to supply the moderate expenses. There is high pleasure
in looking forward to the epoch and in making the arrangements in
anticipation. There is still more pleasure in the remembrance. When
the interval which separates us from pleasure is not very long,
even this interval has charms.

What a touching narrative is recorded of the suppers of two of
the greatest men of the past age, of whom one was the Abbe de
Condillac. Both were so poor that the expenses were reduced to
absolute necessaries. But what conversations prolonged the repast,
and with what swiftness flew the enchanted hours! Neither great
genius nor profound acquirements are necessary to enjoy evenings
equally pleasant.

In an establishment of moderate competence, those who compose it
rarely leave it. All the joys which spring up in the bosom of
a beloved family seem to have been created for them. Give them
riches, without changing their hearts, and they would taste less
pleasure. New duties and amusements would trench upon a part of
that time which had hitherto been sacred to friendship. More
conversant with society, they would be less together. Receiving
more visitants, they would see fewer friends. Transported into a
new sphere where a thousand objects of comparison would excite
their desires, they would, perhaps, for the first time, experience
privations and regrets.

Women and young people taste the advantages which a retired,
pleasant and modest condition offers only so long as they avoid
comparisons of that lot with one which the world considers more
favored. _We must carry into the world a high philosophy, or never
quit our retreat._

Persons even of a disciplined reason, just thought and a noble
character, may grow dizzy, for a moment, with the splendor and
noise of opulence, perceived for the first time. But as soon
as they begin to blush and forfeit self-respect in tracing the
causes of their intoxication, the scene vanishes, and, as they
contemplate and compare, it is replaced by the sentiment of their
own happiness. In the midst of the brilliant crowd they experience
a legitimate pride in saying, ‘from how many regrets and cares am I
saved! How many futilities are here, of which I have no need!’

But I shall be told that opulence has at least this advantage,
that it attracts consideration. There is no doubt that many people
measure the esteem they pay you by the scale of your riches. You
will never persuade them that merit often walks on foot, while
stupidity rides in a carriage.

But will a man esteem himself a philosopher, and take into his
calculation the opinion of such fools as these? In a circle where
opulence puts forth its splendor, when you experience a slight
revulsion of shame in perceiving that the simplicity of your dress
is remarked, ask yourself if you would change your mode of life,
character and talents with those around you? If you feel that you
would not, repress the weakness of wishing incompatible advantages;
and resume the self-respect of an honest man.[21a]

To be satisfied with a moderate fortune is, perhaps, the highest
test and best proof of philosophy. All others seem to me doubtful.
He who can live content on a little, gives a pledge that he would
preserve his probity and courage in the most difficult situations.
He has placed his virtue, repose and happiness as far as possible
above the caprices of his kind, and the vicissitudes of earthly
things.

There are moments when the desire of wealth penetrates even the
retreat of a sage, not with the puerile and dangerous wish to
dazzle with show, but with the hope, dear to a good mind, that
it might become a means of extended usefulness. When imagination
creates her gay visions, we sometimes think of riches, and in our
dreams make an employment of them worthy of envy. What a delightful
field then opens before those who possess riches? They can
encourage the progress of science, and aid in advancing the glory
of letters. How much assistance they can offer to deserving young
people whose first efforts announce happy dispositions, and whose
character, at the same time, little fitted for worldly success,
is a compound of independence and timidity? How much they may
honor themselves in decking the modest retreat of the aged scholar
who has consecrated his life to study, and who has neglected his
personal fortune to enrich the age with inventions of genius! They
have the means of giving a noble impulse to the arts, without
trenching upon their resources. A picture, which perpetuates the
remembrance of a generous or heroic exploit, costs no more than
a group of bacchanalians or debauchees. A career more beautiful
still, is open to opulence. Of how many vices and how many tears it
may dry the source! A rich man, to become happy, has only to wish
to become so. He can not only immortalize his name as the patron of
arts and useful inventions, but, what is better, can deserve the
blessings of the miserable. Such pleasures are durable, and may be
tasted, with unsated relish, after a settled lassitude from the
indulgence of all others.[22]

Let not such seducing dreams, however, leave us a prey to ambitious
and disappointing desires at our awakening. It is in the sphere
where Providence has placed us, that we must search for the means
of being useful; and if there are pleasures which belong only to
opulence, there are others which can best be found in mediocrity.
Perhaps, in giving us riches, we shall realize but half the dream
of virtue and contentment. ‘It seems to me,’ says Plato, ‘that gold
and virtue were placed in the opposite scales of a balance; and
that we cannot throw an additional weight into one scale, without
subtracting an equal amount from the other.’



LETTER XI.

OF OPINION AND THE AFFECTION OF MEN.


In selecting the same route, in which the agitated crowd
is pressing onward, we are evidently on the wrong road to
happiness; since we hear the multitude on every side expressing
dissatisfaction with their life. If we choose a different path,
we cannot expect to evade the shafts of censure, since the same
multitude are naturally disposed, from pride of opinion, to think
all, not on the same road with themselves, astray. It is, then, an
egregious folly to hope for a happiness thus pursued by system,
and for the approbation of the vulgar at the same time. Among the
obstacles which are at war with our repose, one of the greatest,
and at the same time most frivolous, is the fatal necessity of
becoming of importance to others, instead of becoming calmly
sufficient to ourselves. Like restless children, always seduced
by appearances, it is a small point, that we are happy in our
condition. We desire that it should excite envy. A happiness
which glares not in the eyes of the multitude, compelling them to
take note of it, is no longer regarded as happiness. There are
both dupes and victims of opinion. Those who are devoured by the
fever of intrigue, and those who, to dazzle others, dissipate
their fortune, are the miserable victims. The dupes are those who
voluntarily weary themselves out of three quarters of their life,
and offer this as their apology--‘these visits, these ceremonies,
these evening parties! they are tiresome, we grant. But we must
mix with good company.’ Why not always mix with the best--your own
enlightened and free thoughts?

I shall be obliged to present one truth under a thousand forms. It
is that much courage is exacted for the attainment of happiness.
Such a man has estimable qualities, an interesting family, tried
friends, a fortune equal to his wants. His lot ought to seem a
delightful one. How differently the public judge! ‘This man,’
says the public, ‘has intelligence. Why has he not increased
his fortune? He is able to distinguish himself. Why has he not
sought place or office? He seems to stand aloof, that he may pique
himself on a proud and foolish originality. We judge him less
favorably. Every one distinguishes himself, that can. To be without
distinction is a proof that he has not power to acquire it.’ If the
man, of whom this is said, has not courage, mourn over him. The
public will end, by rendering him ashamed of his happiness.

To hear the false reasoning of the multitude is not what astonishes
me. That stupid people, full of self-esteem, should hold these
foolish discourses, with strong emphasis, is perfectly natural.
What I wonder at is, that their maxims should guide people of
understanding.

We are guilty of the whimsical contradiction of judging our own
ideas with complacency, and of pronouncing upon those of others
with severity. Yet we every day sacrifice principles which we
esteem, through fear of being blamed by people whom we despise.[23]

The moment I escape the yoke of opinion, what a vast and serene
horizon stretches out before my eyes! The pleasures of vanity
scatter, like morning mists. Those of repose and independence
remain. I no longer sacrifice to the disquieting desire of
preserving a protector, or eclipsing my rivals. I am no longer the
slave of gloomy etiquette. I henceforward prolong my delightful
evenings for my own enjoyment. The caprices of men have lost
their empire over me. If poor, I shall remain a stranger to the
pains excited by blasting ridicule and overwhelming contempt. If
rich, indolent and impertinent people will no longer regulate
my expenses; and the happy choice of my pleasures will multiply
my riches. These are presented to a wise man in two opposite
relations. Do they call for a service? The most tender interest
excites him to their aid. Do they show a disposition to manage him?
He meets the attempt only with profound disdain. He who possesses a
disciplined reason, and a courageous mind, does not choose to walk
by the faith of a feeble and uncertain guide, who has need himself
to be led. Allow yourself to become docile to the eccentric laws
of opinion, and the slave of its imperious caprices, and follow
it with the most earnest perseverance of loyalty; still it will
finally terminate in condemning you.

But hypocrisy opens against me, and feeble men ask me, if it be
not dangerous, thus to inculcate contempt of opinion? In following
but a part of the ideas, which I announce, my readers might be led
astray. The whole must be adopted, for a fair experiment of the
result. A physician had chosen many plants, from which to form a
salutary decoction. His patient swallowed the juice of but one and
was poisoned.

Let us discard that timidity, which conducts to falsehood; and, to
subserve morals, let us be faithful to truth. The wicked and the
sage alike break the yoke of opinion; the former to increase his
power of annoyance; the latter that of doing good.

I can conceive, that a depraved man will commit fewer faults, in
yielding to the caprices of opinion, than in abandoning himself to
his own errors. There are cruel passions and shameful vices, which
he reproves even in the midst of his aberrations. But in doing so
he gives to falsehood the name of politeness, and to cowardice the
title of prudence. His favorite inculcation is, _the terror of
ridicule_. To form true men, it is indispensable, that this precept
should be engraven on their hearts--_Fear nothing but remorse_.

The simple and generous mind, that follows these lessons, and is
worthy of happiness, need not blush, in view of his course. Only
let him march on with unshrinking courage. In breaking the yoke
of opinion, let him fly the still more shameful chains which the
passions impose. In contemning the prejudices of the multitude
dread still more those fatal instructers, who treat morality as a
popular fable, and pretend to the honor of dispelling our errors.
The aberrations of opinion prove only, that the most bold, not the
most virtuous, press forward to announce their principles. These
principles cannot annihilate that secret and universal opinion,
that voice of conscience, without which the moral world would have
presented only a chaos; and the human race would have perished.
Consult those men, who have been instructed by the lessons of
wisdom and experience. Consult those whom you would choose to
resemble. Their first precept will be, that you descend into
yourself. If we interrogate conscience, in good faith, she will
enlighten us. She makes herself heard in the tumult of our vices,
even against our will. If she become distorted, during the storm of
our passions, she recovers the serenity of truth, as soon as that
passes away; as a river, which has been agitated by a tempest, as
soon as calm returns, reflects anew the verdure of the shores and
the azure of heaven.

If there were a people formed by sage laws, whose words were
frank, and whose actions upright, there it would be a duty to
hearken to the voice of opinion in religious silence; and to follow
its decrees, as though they were those of the divinity. Phocion
asked, what foolish thing he had done when the Athenians applauded
him? Happy the country, where this would have been a criminal
pleasantry, and where the pages of that chapter which condemns
opinion ought to be torn out.

Perhaps I may be accused of contradiction, in saying that, in the
enlightened pursuit of happiness, the opinion of the multitude
must be received with neglect; and yet, that it is pleasant to be
esteemed by the society, of which we are members. We receive their
services, and ought to know the pleasure of obliging them. We often
share those weaknesses, which we censure in them. Our multiplied
relations with them render their affection desirable. It may not
be necessary to happiness; but it gives to enjoyment a more vivid
charm.

May we be able, in pursuing the path indicated by wisdom, to obtain
esteem, and taste the delight of a sentiment still pleasanter, and
more precious. Friendship is, to esteem, what the flower is to the
stem which sustains it.

But I can never imagine, that we ought to become subservient to the
caprices of opinion. We should first be satisfied with ourselves;
and afterwards, if it may be, with others. To merit affection, I
perceive but two methods; to love our kind, and to cultivate those
virtues which diffuse a charm over life.



LETTER XII.

OF THE SENTIMENT MEN OUGHT TO INSPIRE.


There is no such being as a misanthrope. The men designated by
this name, may be divided into many classes. In one class I see
men of philosophic minds, revolted by our vices, or shocked by
our contradictions, who censure these universal traits with a
blunt frankness. Their disgust springs from the evils, which the
universal follies of the age have shed upon our career. But if they
really hated men, would they wield the pen of satire, in striving
to correct them?

Another class consists of those unfortunate beings, who hope to
find peace only in solitude. They fly a world which has pierced
their heart with cruel wounds; and perhaps avow, in words, an
implacable hatred towards men. But their sensibility belies their
avowal; and we soothe their griefs, as soon as we ask their
services.

Finally, there are those who strive only to render themselves
singular, who are really less afflicted, than whimsical; rather
officious than observing. These would tire us with the avowal
of their love of mankind, if they did not deem that they render
themselves more piquant and original by declaring that they hate
them.

We may excuse indignation towards prejudices, contradictions and
vices. But how can man have merited hatred or contempt? Man is
good. Such is his primitive character, which he can never entirely
efface. Good, but seduced, erring and unhappy, he has claims upon
our most tender interest.

I do not propose to vex the question whether man is born good? I
consider him to be born without either virtue or vice. But as he
advances in life, nature arranges everything around him in such a
manner, as ought to render him good. A mother is the first object
that offers to his view. The first words which he hears express the
tenderest affection. Caresses inspire his first sentiments; and his
first occupations are sports.

Too soon, it is true, very different objects surround him. As he
grows into life, he is struck with such a general spectacle of
injustice, as reverses his ideas, and sours his character. But,
although the contagion reaches him, and the passions and prejudices
degrade him, some traits of his primitive goodness will always
remain in his heart.

Even those terrible enthusiasts, who thrust themselves forward
in the effervescence of party, who, to give triumph to their
cause, blow up the incipient flame of civil discord, and with an
unshrinking hand raise the sword of proscription, these fanatics
may be strangers to every humane sentiment. Yet many of them are
seen to love their wives and children with tenderness, and to
preserve in the bosom of their family, so to speak, the germs of
innocence. Robbers, the horror of society, whom the gibbet claims,
honor themselves with some acts of humanity; and tyrants have their
days of clemency.

During great calamities, natural sentiments develope themselves,
and form a touching contrast with the scenes of horror with which
they are surrounded. When a destructive conflagration is sweeping
along a city, there are no distinctions, no animosities among the
wretched sufferers, whom the same terror pursues. Enemies forget
their hatred, and partisans their parties. The rich and poor cry
out together. All love and aid each other. Misfortune has broken
down the separating barriers of pride and prejudice, and they find
each other good and equal.

Even upon the theatre of war, where the spectacle of destruction
excites an appetite to destroy, we often discover affecting traces
of humanity. At the siege of Mentz, in 1795, I remember that the
advanced guards of the attack on the left, occupied an English
garden, near the village of Montback. The garden was completely
destroyed. The walks and labyrinths were changed, by the trampling
of the soldiers, into high roads. Batteries were raised upon the
mounds, from distance to distance, around which still grew rare
trees and shrubs. The French bivouacs banished the verdure of the
bowling greens; and in advance of them, a half overturned kiosk
served for the front guard of the Austrians. The nearest water
was on their side; the nearest wood on the side of the French. To
obtain water, the French threw their canteens to the Austrians,
who filled them and sent them back again. When night drew on, the
French soldiers, in return, cut wood for the Austrians, and dragged
fagots between the videttes of the two armies. Thus, waiting the
signal to cut each other’s throat, the advance guards lived in
peace, and made exchanges like those between friendly people. This
spectacle excited in me a profound emotion; and I was scarcely able
to refrain from tears, in seeing men, so situated, still good, on a
soil red with blood.[24]

This primitive goodness is not the only beautiful trait which is
continually developing to our view in human nature. For men to
be generous, and magnanimous, the soul never entirely loses the
elevation, which it received from its author.

Under oppression, in degradation, in slavery, men still preserve
some impress of their first dignity. Those outrages which inflict
personal humiliation, are among the most frequent causes of
revolutions; and, perhaps tyrants incur less danger in shedding the
blood of citizens, than in insulting them. An outrage upon a woman
was the signal of the liberty of Rome. A similar crime drew on the
fall of the Pisistrati, who had found no obstacle in overturning
the laws of their country. The Swiss and Danes supported the rigors
of a tyrannic yoke in silence. They arose the first day in which
their oppressors exacted of them an act of degradation. Genoa had
been conquered. An Austrian officer struck a man of the lower
class. The indignant Genoese flew to arms, and drove away their
conquerors.

Under the most absolute despotism, we sometimes see the subjects
preserving magnanimous sentiments; and not being able to give them
a useful direction, put forth, to serve their master, a courage
equal to that with which free citizens honor themselves in serving
their country. Of this I might cite striking proofs from the
history of even barbarous nations.

A convincing demonstration, that an innate principle of elevation
exists in the soul, results from the universality of religious
ideas. Man is discouraged by his errors, his infirmities and faults
in vain. An interior voice admonishes him of his high destination.
Transient as he is, and comparatively lost in the immensity of
the universe, he invokes the Divinity to sanctify the union of
his espousals, and to preside over the birth of his infants. He
raises his voice to him over the tombs of his fathers. When the
contemplation of the works of the Eternal has inspired him with
humble sentiments of himself, he still deems himself superior to
all the beings that surround him. Occupying but a point on the
globe, his disquieting thoughts embrace the universe. He beholds
time devouring the objects of his affections, crumbling monuments
and overturning even the works of nature. From the midst of the
ruins he aspires to immortality.[24a]

What would not these sentiments, at once elevated and good, these
precious germs produce, were they developed by happy circumstances!
That they exist in the human bosom is a sufficient indication that
we owe a tender interest to the being who possesses them. Let us
love our kind, and cultivate the virtues which render us worthy of
their affection.



LETTER XIII.

OF SOME OF THE VIRTUES.


Placed in the midst of men, the most useful virtue is indulgence.
To allow ourselves to become severe, is to forget how many good
qualities we want ourselves; and from what faults we are preserved
only by chance and our circumstances. It is to forget the weakness
of men, and the empire exercised over them by the objects that
surround them. To render exact justice to our kind, we ought to
take into the estimate all the assistance and all the obstacles,
with which they have met in their career. Thus weighing them,
celebrated actions will become less astonishing, and faults begin
to appear excusable.

By cultivating the spirit of indulgence, we learn the happy secret
of being well with ourselves, and well with men. Some carry into
their intercourse with the world an austere frankness. They are
dreaded, and the opposition which they every day experience,
increases their disagreeable and tiresome roughness, and their
officious rudeness. Others, blushing at no complaisance, and
equally supple and false, smile at what displeases them; praise
what they feel to be ridiculous; and applaud what they know to be
vile. Be indulgent, and you will not sacrifice self-esteem; and
your frankness, far from annoying, will render your affability more
amiable.

The less we occupy ourselves with the vices and aberrations of men,
the more pleasant does existence become. Indulgence carries its own
recompense with it, and causes us to see our kind almost such as
they should be.

Let us extend a courageous indulgence towards those unfortunate
beings, who are victims of long continued errors. Enough will
be ready to assume the office of their accusers. Let us draw
round them the veil of charity. I am aware that gloomy moralists
will object to these views; and call them easy principles, that
encourage the vices, flatter the passions, and excuse disorders.
Believe me, the most easy and successful mode of reclaiming the
wandering, is to carry encouragement and hope to their hearts, and
to have faith in their repentance.[25]

Born in an age when every one professes to applaud toleration, far
from adopting the real spirit, we scarcely know how to practise
indulgence even towards abstract opinions, that differ from our
own. Let us never forget the weakness and error of our own judgment
and understanding; and then we shall possess an habitual temper of
candor towards the views of others. In most instances, when we say
‘that man thinks rightly,’ the phrase, when translated, imports,
‘that man thinks as I do.’

Let us never forget that chance may have given us the opinions
most dear to us. The ardent patron of this party, had he only been
in a house contiguous to his own, would have had opinions and
prejudices, the exact reverse of those he now reveres. It is not
improbable that he might have died in the opposite ranks.

A particular idea, which you formerly deemed correct, at present
seems false. Perhaps you may one day return to your first judgment.
Let us accord, to our antagonist, a right which we frequently
exercise for ourselves, the right to be deceived. During the
contests of party, I have more than once seen the spectacle of two
men changing their principles almost at the same moment, in such
a manner, that one of them takes the place of the other in the
faction, which, but a short time since, he professed to detest.
Taking human nature as it is, into view, this does not astonish me.
What I find strange is, that these two men should hate each other
more than ever, and that it has become impossible to reconcile
them, now that the one has espoused the opinion which the other
held but a moment before.[26]

An essential truth that ought to be constantly announced, is, that
both political and religious opinions have much less influence than
is commonly imagined upon the qualities of the heart. No verity
has been so completely demonstrated to my conviction. I have been
conversant with men of all parties. In every one I have met with
persons full of disinterestedness and integrity. To esteem them, it
was only necessary to remark the noble and unshrinking courage with
which they were willing to suspend everything on the issue of their
convictions.[27]

A crowd of useful reflections upon this subject naturally offer,
upon which it would be easy to enlarge.--The brevity of my plan
impels me to other subjects. There is one quality, difficult to
define, yet easily understood, which always affects us pleasantly.
It is a quality as rare as its effects are useful; and yet we
have scarcely a specific term in our language by which fully to
designate it. An obliging disposition is the common phrase that
conveys it. Examine all the pleasant things of life, and you will
find this disposition the pleasantest of all. There often remains
no memory of the benefits received. Of those we have rendered,
something is always retained.

But what shall we say of the ungrateful? We are told that they
are formidable from their numbers and boldness, and that they
people the whole earth. How eccentric and contradictory are the
common maxims of the world! We admit that we have a right to exact
gratitude; and yet wish that benefits should be forgotten: I hold
it wrong to depend upon gratitude, since the expectation will
generally be deceived.--On the contrary, I approve his course, who
keeps an exact account of his good actions. In reading the record,
he will one day taste a legitimate reward. What reading can be so
useful? To remember that we have done good in time past, is to bind
us to beneficence in time to come. We hear it continually repeated,
that it requires a sublime effort to do good to our enemies.--Men
more zealous than enlightened have advanced, that the morality of
the gospel has alone prescribed the rendering of good for evil.
Evangelical duty is sufficiently elevated by being founded on the
basis of higher sanctions and a future retribution; and rests not
its claims upon new discoveries of what is true, beautiful and
obligatory in morals. They who advocate that the grand maxims of
evangelical morality are found nowhere else than in the gospel,
seem to me to have committed two faults; the one in advancing an
error, the other in tending to estrange men from the virtues they
inculcate, by intimating that their practice exacts more than human
power.

A writer of unquestionable piety, the late Sir William Jones
found the grand maxim, ‘do unto others as you would wish them
to do unto you,’ implied in the discourses of Lysias, Thales and
Pittacus, and, word for word, in the original of Confucius. The
obligation _to render good for evil_, he affirms, is inculcated in
the religious books of the Hindoos and Arabians; in confirmation of
which he cites many passages from them. The sentiment of moralists
has everywhere been graven upon the human heart. It is enough
that our Lord has sanctioned the sublime precepts that belong to
our faith with immortal recompenses; and still more may we rely
upon those sanctions, when we add to them the present pleasure of
performing good actions.[27a]

Let us add, that in enjoining the gospel maxim _to render good
for evil_, we inculcate elevation of mind, the source of all the
virtues. But christian moralists have too often been tempted to
neutralize or destroy the effect of their precepts, by pushing
them to absurd or impracticable lengths. To practise forgiveness,
and to do good, are evangelical commands, as sublime as they are
conformable to our natural views of duty. To enjoin upon us to
degrade ourselves in the estimate of our enemies, by feeling and
acting towards them as though they were our friends, as some have
understood the bearing of the christian precept, would be injurious
and impracticable. Socrates pardoned his enemies, but preserved
an imposing dignity. There was no abasement in the infinitely
higher example of him, who, suffering on the cross, prayed for his
murderers.

If such are our obligations as men and Christians towards our
enemies, what duties ought we not to fulfil to those benefactors
who have steadily sought occasions to be useful to us, to ward off
danger from us, and to repair our misfortunes? To such let us seek
incessant opportunities of acquitting our debt. Gratitude will
prolong the pleasure conferred by their benefits.

Indulgence, and the desire to oblige, seem to me the two principal
means of conciliating to ourselves the affections of our kind.
A virtue which at least commands their esteem is integrity.
Not only is he who practises it, faithful to his engagements,
since he allows no promises of his to be held slight, but his
uprightness makes itself felt in all his actions, and frankness
in all his conversation. The faults that he commits he is prompt
to acknowledge; he confesses them without false shame, and seeks
neither to exaggerate nor extenuate them. Touching the interests
which are common to him and other people, he decides for simple
justice; and, in so awarding, does not deem that he injures
himself, his first possession being his own self-respect. Without
rendering me high services, he obliges me in the lesser charities,
and procures me one of the most vivid pleasures I can taste, that
of contemplating a noble character.

Among the virtues which ought to secure a kind regard, we
universally assign to modesty a high rank. A simple and modest man
lives unknown, until a moment, which he could not have foreseen,
reveals his estimable qualities and his generous actions. I compare
him to the concealed flower springing from an humble stem, which
escapes the view, and is discovered only by its perfume. Pride
quickly fixes the eye, and he who is always his own eulogist,
dispenses every other person from the obligation to praise him.
A truly modest man, emerging from his transient obscurity, will
obtain those delightful praises which the heart awards without
effort. His superiority, far from being importunate, will become
attractive. Modesty gives to talents and virtues the same charm
which chastity adds to beauty.

Let us carry into the world neither curiosity nor indiscretion.
Curiosity is the defect of a little mind, which, not knowing how
to employ itself at home, feels the necessity of being amused with
the occupations of others. In relation to minute objects it is
ridiculous. In important affairs it becomes odious. Let us know
nothing about those debates, piques and parties, which it is not in
our power to settle.

An attribute so precious, that, in my eye, it becomes a virtue, is
a gentle and constant equality of temper.--To sustain it, not only
exacts a pure mind, but a vigor of understanding which resists the
petty vexations and fleeting contrarieties which a multitude of
objects and events are continually bringing. What an unalterable
charm does it give to the society of the man who possesses it! How
is it possible to avoid loving him whom we are certain always to
find with serenity on his brow and a smile in his countenance?

I foresee that our brilliant observers, as they run over these
precepts, will say to me, ‘you resemble those philosophers who
trace the plan of a republic, without taking into the account the
passions of men or the state of society; a thousand times more
unreasonable, than those writers of romance who publish their
dreams as dreams. Your maxims upon indulgence will only awaken for
you the pity due to good natured weakness. The maxim of the world
is, be adroit to seize upon defects, and prompt to censure the
weaknesses of men, that you may intimidate those who can only serve
to annoy you; and give up to ridicule those who can only amuse
you. Make a display of your desire to oblige. Pronounce sentimental
phrases with grace. Make dupes if you can; but take care that you
do not become one yourself, by having your own maxims practised
upon you. Credit is not revenue, but a sum which becomes exhausted
in proportion as you spend upon it, without replacing it. Ought I
to be modest when so many examples prove that talents are a small
thing, if there be not subjoined the happy talent of making them
known. The man who speaks of himself with modesty is believed upon
his word; and when I search for the causes of that admiration which
certain personages have obtained, I can discover no other than the
long obstinacy and persevering intrepidity which they have put in
requisition to praise themselves. There are eulogies which men
give themselves, of which, as of the calumnies that they wipe out,
some traces will always remain. Finally, opinion alone renders our
qualities estimable; and he who, with a view to succeed, should
immediately cultivate the tawdry virtues which you celebrate,
would be as ridiculous as he who should appear in society in the
costume worn a century ago.’ They who say this are as right, in
their views, as I am in mine. If the interest with which our kind
inspires us, if our virtues cannot shield us from injustice, let us
hold ourselves aloof from opinion, and while we allow the multitude
their way of thinking, let it not disturb our repose. Among the
circumstances essential to felicity, I count the attachment of some
individuals, but not popularity.



LETTER XIV.

OF MARRIAGE.


Since we cannot assure ourselves of the general affection, nor even
of the justice of men, it becomes our interest, in the midst of the
great mass, that we cannot move, to create a little world, which we
can arrange at the disposal of our reason and affections.

In this retreat, dictated to us alike by our instincts and our
hearts, let us forget the chimeras which the crowd pursue; and if
the men of fashion and the world stare, ridicule, and even condemn
us, let their murmurs sound in our ears as the dashing of the waves
on the distant shore, to the stranger, under the hospitable roof
which shelters him from the storm.

The universe of reason and affection must be composed of a single
family. Of that universe a wedded pair must be the centre. A wife
is the best and the only disinterested friend, by the award of
nature. She remains such, when fortune has scattered all others.
How many have been recalled to hope by a virtuous and affectionate
wife, when all beside had been lost! How many, retrieved from
utter despondency, have felt in an ineffable effusion of heart,
that conjugal heroism and constancy were an ample indemnity for
the deprivation of all other good things! How many, undeceived by
external illusions, have in this way been brought home to their
real good! If we wish to see the attributes of conjugal heroism,
in their purest brilliancy, let us suppose the husband in the last
degree of wretchedness. Let us imagine him not only culpable, but
so estimated, and an outcast from society. Repentance itself, in
the view of candor, has not been available to cloak his faults.
She alone, accusing him not, is only prodigal of consolations.
Embracing duties as severe as his reverses, she voluntarily shares
his captivity or exile. He finds still, on the faithful bosom of
innocence, a refuge, where remorse becomes appeased; as in former
days, the proscribed found, at the foot of the altar, an asylum
against the fury of men.

Marriage is generally assumed as a means of increasing credit
and fortune, and of assuring success in the world. It should be
undertaken as a chief element of happiness, in the retirement of
domestic repose.[28] I would wish that my disciple, while still in
the freshness of youth, might have reason and experience enough
to select the beloved person, whom he would desire one day to
espouse. I would hope, that, captivated with her dawning qualities,
and earnestly seeking her happiness, he might win her tenderness,
and find his satisfaction in training her to a conformity to his
tastes, habits and character.

The freshness of her docile nature demands his first forming cares.
As she advances in life she is moulded to happy changes, adapted
to supply his defects. She is reared modest, amiable, instructed,
respectable, and respected; one day to govern his family, and
direct his house, by diffusing around the domestic domain, order
and peace. Let neither romances, metaphysics, pedantry nor fashion
render a qualification for these important duties, either trifling
or vulgar in her view. Still, domestic duties are by no means to
occupy all her hours. The time which is not devoted to them will
flow quietly on in friendly circles, not numerous, but animated
by gayety, friendship and the inexplicable pleasures which spring
from intercourse with rational society. There are, also, more
unimportant duties, which we expect her not to neglect. We wish
her to occupy some moments at a toilet; where simplicity should be
the basis of elegance; and where native tact might develope the
graces, and vary, and multiply, if I may so say, the forms of her
beauty. In fine, the versatility of her modes of rendering herself
agreeable, should increase the chances of always escaping ennui in
her presence.

But train women to visit a library as _savans_, and they will be
likely to bring from it pedantry without solid instruction; and
coquetry without feminine amiability. I would not be understood to
question the capability of the female understanding. I am not sure
that I would wish the wife of my friend to have been an author,
though some of the most amiable and enlightened women have been
such. But I deem that in their mental constitution, and in the
assignment of their lot, providence has designated them to prefer
the graces to erudition; and that to acquire a wreath of laurels,
they must ordinarily relinquish their native crown of roses.[28a]
When we see a husband and wife thus united by tenderness, good
hearts and simple tastes, everything presages for them a delightful
futurity. Let them live contented in their retirement. Instead of
wishing to blazon, let them conceal their happiness, and exist for
each other. Life will become to them the happiest of dreams.

Perhaps the world will say, ‘you speak, it may be, of such a wife
as you would be understood to possess yourself. But you do not
paint marriage in the abstract, while you thus describe happiness
as finding a habitation within the domestic walls, and pain and
sorrow without: how many people find eternal ennui at home, and
respire pleasure, only when they have fled their own threshold.’
There are few wives so perfect, says La Bruyere, ‘as to hinder
their husbands from repenting at least once in a day, that they
have a wife; or from envying the happiness of him who has none.’

This sentence, instead of containing a just observation, is only
an epigram. In looking round a circle of individuals, ridiculously
called the world, we shall find happy family establishments less
rare than we imagine. Besides, it would be absurd to count among
unhappy unions, all those which are not wholly exempt from stormy
passions. Not only is perfect felicity a chimerical expectation
on the earth, but we meet with many people who would be fatigued
into ennui in a perfect calm, and who require a little of the spice
of contrariety to season the repast of life. I would not covet
their taste; but there are modes of being singular, which, without
imparting happiness, procure pleasures. Finally, supposing the
number of unhappy marriages to be as immense as is contended, what
is the conclusion? The great majority adopting, as maxims of life,
principles so different from mine, it would be strange if they
obtained such results as I desire.

In these days, the deciding motive with parents, in relation
to marriage, is interest; and, what seems to me revolting in
the spirit of the age, is, that the young have also learned to
calculate. When a man marries simply on a speculation of interest,
if he sees his fortune and distinction secured, reign disorder and
alienation in his house as they may, he is still happier than he
deserves to be.

Our marriages of inclination guaranty happiness no more than our
marriages of interest. What results should be anticipated from
the blind impulse of appetite? Let there be mutual affection,
such as reason can survey with a calm and severe scrutiny. Such
love as is painted in romances is but a fatal fever. It is
children alone who believe themselves in love, only when they feel
themselves in a delirium. They have imagined that life should be
a continual ecstasy; and these indulged dreams of anticipation
spoil the reality of wedded life. I have supposed the husband
older than his wife. I have imagined him forming the character of
his young, fair and docile companion; and that, so to speak, they
have become assimilated to each other’s tastes and habits. The
right combination of reason and love assures for them, under such
circumstances, as much as possible, a futurity of happiness.

I might here speak of the misery of jealousy and infidelity, and
the comparative guilt of these vices in the husband and the wife.
But these are sources of torment only in unions contracted and
sustained by the maxims and the spirit of the world. According
to my views these crimes could not mar the marriages which were
undertaken from right motives, and under the approving sanction of
severe reason. I, therefore, pass them by, as not belonging to my
subject; and as supposing that when marriage is the result of wise
foresight and regulated choice, and when its duties are discharged
from a proper sense of their obligation, such faults can not occur.

Another cause of disunion springs from the proud temper of some
wives. They erroneously and obstinately persuade themselves
that fidelity includes all their duty. More than one husband,
incessantly tormented by an imperious and capricious wife, feels
almost disposed to envy the gentle spouse who sleeps pleasantly
under deceitful caresses. As much as an honest man ought to avoid
crimes, in order to merit his reputation and sustain it, ought
the highest meed awarded to women to be bestowed, not on those
alone who are chaste, but on those who know how to watch over the
happiness of their family by eager attentions and studious cares.

This petulance of temper is commonly supposed to be a conjoined
attribute of conjugal fidelity. I have sometimes seen wives
both peevish and coquettish, and I cannot imagine a more odious
combination. If we despise the man who is rough and slovenly at
home, and becomes charming in society, what sentiment does that
wife merit who wears out her husband’s patience with her arrogance,
and puts on seducing graces, and affects sensibility, in the
presence of strangers?

I have often heard men who were sensible upon every other subject,
express their conviction that the orientals, in excluding their
women from all eyes but their own, had established the only
reasonable domestic policy. There is no more wit than humanity in
this barbarous sentiment, however frequently it is uttered. No one
could be in earnest, in wishing to copy, into free institutions,
this appalling vestige of slavery. But my inward respect for
women withholds me from flattering them. Authority ought to
belong to the husband; and the influence of tenderness, graces and
the charms of constancy, gentleness and truth, constituting the
appropriate female empire, belongs of right to the wife. I take
leave to illustrate this phrase. Masculine vigor, and aptitude
to contend and resist, clearly indicate that nature has confided
authority to man. To dispossess him of it, and control him by a
still more irresistible sway, it is necessary that the feeble
sex should learn patience, docility, passive courage, and the
management of their appropriate weapons in danger and sorrow, and
to become energetic for the endurance of the peaceful cares of the
domestic establishment. Man is formed by nature for the calls of
active courage; and woman, for the appalling scenes of pain and
affliction, and the agony of the sick and dying bed. In a word,
all argument apart, nature has clearly demonstrated to which sex
authority belongs.

I discover that the defects of man spring from the tendency of his
natural traits, in which force predominates, to run to excess. I
see his gentle companion endowed with attributes and qualities
naturally tending to temper his defects. The means she has received
to reach this end announce that it is the purpose of nature that
she should use them with this view. She has charms which, when
rightly applied, none can resist. Her character is a happy compound
of sensibility, wisdom and levity. She has superadded a felicity of
address which she owes to her organization, and which the reserve,
that her education imposes, serves to develope. Thus the qualities,
and even the imperfections of the two sexes serve to bring them
together. It follows, that man should possess authority, and woman
influence, for their mutual happiness.

When the wife commands, I cease to behold a respectable married
pair. I see a ridiculous tyrant, and a still more ridiculous slave.
It is vain to urge that she may be most capable of authority, and
that her orders may be conformable to wisdom and justice. They
are absurd, from the very circumstance that they are orders. The
virtues which the husband ought to practise towards his wife must
have their origin in love, which can only be inspired, and which
flies all restraint. In a single position, the wife honors herself
in assuming authority. It is when reverses have overwhelmed and
desolated her husband, so that, ceasing to sustain her and changing
the natural order, she supports him. Grant that he receives hope
as her gift; grant that he is compelled to blush in imitating her
example of courage; she aspires to this power no longer than to
be able to restore him to the place whence misery had cast him
down.[30]

It is a truth that ought not to be contested, that dissatisfied
husbands and wives often love each other more than they imagine.
Suppose them to believe themselves indifferent; and to seem so; and
even on the verge of mutual hate; should one of them fall sick, we
see the other inspired with sincere alarms. Suppose them on the
eve of separation; when the fatal moment comes, both recoil from
the act. Habit almost causes the pains, to which we have been long
accustomed, to become cause of regret when they cease. When the
two begin mutually to complain of their destiny, I counsel each,
instead of wishing to criminate and correct each other, to give
each other an example of mutual forbearance and indulgence. It may
be, that the cause of their mutual dissatisfaction is unreal;
the supposed wrong not intended, the suspicion false. Candor and
forgiveness will appease all. The husband may have gone astray only
in thought; which is beyond human privilege to fathom. The wife
may have minor defects and an unequal temper, without forfeiting
much excellence and many remaining claims to be loved. The morbid
influence of ill health and irresistible temperament, in their
powerful action upon the temper, may have been the source whence
the faults flowed on either part; and the mutual wrongs may thus
have been, in some sense, independent of the will of the parties.
Bound, as they are, in such intimate and almost indissoluble
relations, before they give that happiness, which they hoped
and promised, to the winds, let them exhaust their efforts of
self-command and mutual indulgence, to bring back deep and true
affection.

The purest happiness of earth is, unquestionably, the portion of
two beings wisely and fitly united in the bonds of indissoluble
confidence and affection. What a touching picture does Madame de
Stael present in these lines: ‘I saw, during my sojourn in England,
a man of the highest merit united to a wife worthy of him. One
day, as we were walking together, we met some of those people that
the English call gipseys, who generally wander about in the woods
in the most deplorable condition. I expressed pity for them thus
enduring the union of all the physical evils of nature. “Had it
been necessary,” said the affectionate husband, pointing to his
wife, “in order to spend my life with her, that I should have
passed thirty years in begging with them, we would still have been
happy.” “Yes,” responded the wife, “the happiest of beings.”’



LETTER XV.

CHILDREN.


One of the happiest days, and, perhaps, the most beautiful of
life, is when the birth of a child opens the heart of the parent
to emotions, as yet, unknown.[31] Yet what torments are prepared
by this epoch! What painful anxiety, what agonies their sufferings
excite! What terror, when we fear for their infant life! These
alarms terminate not with their early age. The inquietude with
which their parents watch over their destiny fills every period of
their life to their last sigh.

The compensating satisfaction which they bring must be very vivid,
since it counterbalances so many sufferings. In order to love them,
we have no need to be convinced that they will respond to our
cares, and one day repay them. If there be in the human heart one
disinterested sentiment, it is parental love. Our tenderness for
our children is independent of reflection. We love them because
they are our children. Their existence makes a part of ours; or,
rather, is more than ours. All that is either useful or pleasant
to them, brings us a pure happiness, springing from their health,
their gayety, their amusements.

The chief end which we ought to propose to ourselves, in rearing
them, is to train and dispose them so that they may wisely enjoy
that existence which is accorded them. Of all the happy influences
which can be brought to bear upon their mind and manners, none
is more beneficial than the example of parental gentleness. The
good Plutarch most eloquently advanced this doctrine in ancient
time. Montaigne, Rousseau, M’Kenzie, and various writers of minor
fame among the moderns, have reproduced his ideas, and, by their
authority, have finally effected a happy revolution in education.
I delight to trace the most important ideas thus reproduced by
enlightened and noble minds in different ages. It is chiefly by
persevering in the system of the influence of gentleness that we
may expect an ultimate melioration in the human character and
condition.

But scarcely has any such salutary change been effected, before
minds, either superficial or soured, see only the inconveniences
which accompany it; and, instead of evading or correcting them,
would return to the point whence they started. We hear people
regretting the decline of the severity of ancient education; and
maintaining the wisdom of those contrarieties and vexations which
children used to experience; ‘a fitting discipline of preparation,’
say they, ‘to prepare them for the sorrows of life.’ Would they,
on the same principle, inflict bruises and contusions, to train
them to the right endurance of those that carelessness or accident
might bring? ‘It is an advantage,’ say they, ‘to put them to an
apprenticeship of pain at the period when the sorrow it inflicts
is light and transient.’ This mode of speaking, with many others
of similar import, presents a combination of much error with some
truth.

The sufferings of childhood seem to us trifling and easy to endure,
because time has interposed distance between them and us; and we
have no fear of ever meeting them again. It does not cease to be
a fact, that the child that passes a year under the discipline
of the ferule of a severe master, is as unhappy as a man deprived
a year of his liberty. The latter, in truth, has less reason to
complain; since he ought to find, in the discipline of his reason,
and his maturity and force of character, more powerful motives for
patient endurance. Parents! Providence has placed the destiny of
your children in your hands. When you thus sacrifice the present
to an uncertain future, you ought to have strong proof that you
will put at their disposal the means of indemnification. If the
sacrifice of the present to the future were indispensable, I would
not dissuade from it. But my conviction is, that the best means
of preparing them for the future may be found in rendering them
as happy as possible for the present. If it should be your severe
trial to be deprived of them in their early days, you will, at
least, have the consolation of being able to say, ‘I have rendered
them happy during the short time they were confided to me.’ Strive
then, by gentleness, guided by wisdom and authority, to cast the
sunshine of enjoyment upon the necessary toils and studies of the
morning of their existence.

It is the stern award of nature to bring them sorrows. Our task is
to soothe them. I feel an interest when I see the child regret the
trinket it has broken, or the bird it has reared. Nature in this
way, gives them the first lessons of pain, and strengthens them to
sustain the more bitter losses of maturer days. Let us prudently
second the efforts of nature; and to console the weeping child,
let us not attempt to change the course of these fugitive ideas,
nor to efface the vexation by a pleasure. In unavoidable suffering
let the dawning courage and reason find strength for endurance.
Let us first share the regrets, and gently bring the sufferer to
feel the inutility of tears. Let us accustom him not to throw away
his strength in useless efforts; and let us form his mind to bear
without a murmur the yoke of necessity. These maxims, I am aware,
are directly against the spirit of modern education, which is
almost entirely directed towards the views of ambition.

But while I earnestly inculcate gentleness in parental discipline,
I would not confound it with weakness. I disapprove that
familiarity between parents and children which is unfavorable to
subordination. Fashion is likely to introduce an injurious equality
into this relation. I see the progress of this dangerous effeminacy
with regret. The dress and expenditures which would formerly have
supplied ten children, scarcely satisfy at present the caprices of
one. This foolish complaisance of parents prepares, for the future
husbands and wives, a task most difficult to fulfil. Let us not,
by anticipating and preventing the wishes of children, teach them
to be indolent in searching for their own pleasures. Their age is
fertile in this species of invention. That they may be successful
in seizing enjoyment, little more is requisite to be performed on
our part than to break their chains.

There are two fruitful sources of torments for children. One is,
what the present day denominates politeness. It is revolting to me
to see children early trained to forego their delightful frankness
and simplicity, and learning artificial manners. We wish them to
become little personages; and we compel them to receive tiresome
compliments, and to repeat insignificant formulas of common-place
flattery. In this way, politeness, destined to impart amenity to
life, becomes a source of vexation and restraint. It would seem
as if we thought it so important a matter to teach the usages of
society, that they could never be known unless the study were
commenced in infancy. Besides, do we flatter ourselves, that we
shall be able to teach children the modes and the vocabulary of
politeness, without initiating them, at the same time, in the
rudiments of falsehood? They are compelled to see that we consider
it a trifle. If we wish them to become flatterers and dishonest, I
ask what more efficient method we could take?

Labor is the second source of their sufferings. I would by no
means be understood to dissuade from the assiduous cultivation of
habits of industry. You may enable children to remove mountains,
if you will contrive to render their tasks a matter of amusement
and interest. The extreme curiosity of children announces an
instinctive desire for instruction. But instead of profiting by it,
we adopt measures which tend to stifle it. We render their studies
tiresome, and then say that the young naturally tire of study.

When the parent is sufficiently enlightened to rear his child
himself, instead of plying him with rudimental books, dictionaries
and restraint, let him impart the first instructions by familiar
conversation. Ideas advanced in this way are accommodated to
the comprehension of the pupil, by mutual good feeling rendered
attractive, and brought directly within the embrace of his mind.
This instruction leads him to observe, and accustoms him to
compare, reflect and discriminate, offers the sciences under
interesting associations, and inspires a natural thirst for
instruction. Of all results which education can produce, this is
the most useful. A youth of fifteen, trained in this way, will come
into possession of more truths, mixed with fewer errors, than much
older persons reared in the common way. He will be distinguished by
the early maturity of his reason, and by his eagerness to cultivate
the sciences, which, instead of producing fatigue or disgust,
will every day give birth to new ideas and new pleasures. I am
nevertheless little surprised, that the scrupulous advocates of the
existing routine should insist that such a method tends to form
superficial thinkers. I can only say to these profound panegyrists
of the present order of instruction, that the method which I
recommend, was that of the Greeks.--Their philosophers taught while
walking in the shade of the portico or of trees, and were ignorant
of the art of rendering study tiresome, and not disposed to throw
over it the benefits of constraint. Modern instructers ought,
therefore, to find that they were shallow reasoners, and that their
poets and artists could have produced only crude and unfinished
efforts.[33]

Besides, this part of education is of trifling importance, compared
with the paramount obligation to give the pupil robust health, pure
morals, and an energetic mind. I deeply regret that the despotic
empire of opinion is more powerful than paternal love. Instead of
gravely teaching to your son the little arts of shining in the
world, have the courage to say to him, ‘oblige those of thy kind
whose sufferings thou canst lighten, and exhibit a constant and
universal example of good morals. Form, every evening, projects
necessary for enjoying a happy and useful succeeding day.’ Thus you
will see him useful, good and happy, if not great in the world’s
estimation. You will behold him peacefully descending the current
of time. In striking the balance with life, he will be able to say,
I have known only those sufferings which no wisdom could evade, and
no efforts repel. But such are the prejudices of the age, to give
such counsels to a son requires rare and heroic courage.

Is not that filial ingratitude, of which parents so generally
complain, the bitter fruit of their own training?--You fill their
hearts with mercenary passions, and with measureless ambition.
You break the tenderest ties, and send them to distant public
schools. Your children, in turn, put your lessons to account,
and abandon your importunate and declining age, if you depend on
them, to mercenary hands. When they were young, you ridiculed
them out of their innocent recklessness, and frankness, and want
of worldly wisdom. You vaunted to them that ambition and those
arts of rising, which, put in practice, have steeled their hearts
against filial piety, as well as the other affections that belong
not to calculation. Since the paramount object of your training
was to teach them to shine, and make the most out of every body,
you have at least a right to expect from their vanity, pompous
funeral solemnities. I revere that indication of infinite wisdom,
that has rendered the love of the parent more anxious and tender
than that of the child. The intensity of the affections ought to
be proportionate to the wants of the beings that excite them. But
ingratitude is not in nature. Better training would have produced
other manners. In rearing our children with more enlightened
care, in inspiring them with moderate desires, in reducing their
eagerness for brilliancy and distinction, we shall render them
happy, without stifling their natural filial sentiments; and we
shall thus use the best means of training them to sustain and
soothe our last moments, as we embellished their first days.[34]



LETTER XVI.

OF FRIENDSHIP.


Let us bring within the family circle a few persons of amiable
manners and simple tastes. Our domestic retreat may then become our
universe. But we must search for real friends, with capabilities
for continuing such. If interest and pleasure break the accidental
ties of a day, shall friendship, which was always a stranger to the
connexion, be accused of the infraction?

A real friend must not be expected from the common ties of vulgar
interest; but must be, in the circle to which he belongs, as
a brother of adoption. So simple should be our confidence in
the entireness of his affection, and the disinterestedness and
wisdom of his advice, as to incline us to consult him without
afflicting our wife or children by a useless communication of our
perplexities. To him we should be able to confide our fears; and
while we struggle, by his advice and aid to escape the pressing
evil which menaces to overwhelm us, our family may still repose in
tranquil security.[35]

If he suffer in turn, we share his pains. If he have pleasures,
we reciprocally enjoy them. If either party experience reverses,
instead of finding himself alone in misery, he receives
consolations so touching and tender, that he ceases to complain of
a lot which has enabled him to become acquainted with the depth of
the resources of friendship.

How pure is the sentiment, how simple the pleasures, which flow
from the intercourse of two men united by similar opinions and
like desires, who have both cultivated letters, the arts, and
true wisdom! With what rapidity the moments of these charming
conversations fly! Even the hours consecrated to study are less
pleasant, perhaps less instructive. Such a friend, so to speak, is
of a different nature from that of the rest of men. They either
conceal our defects, or cause us to see them from motives of ill
feeling. A friend so discusses them, in our presence, as not to
wound us. He kindly reproaches us with faults, to our face, which
he extenuates, or excuses before others in our absence. We can
never fully comprehend to what extent a friend may be useful and
dear until after having been a long time the faithful companion of
his good and evil fortune. What emotions we experience in giving
ourselves up to the remembrance of the common perils, storms and
trials we have experienced together! It is never without tenderness
of heart that we say, ‘we have had the same thoughts, affections
and hopes. Such an event penetrated us with common joy; such
another filled us with grief. Uniting our efforts, we rescued a
victim of poverty and misfortune. We mutually shared his tears of
gratitude. The hard necessity of circumstances separated us; and
our paths so diverged that seas and mountains divided us. But we
still remained present to each other, in communion of thought.
He had fears for me, and I for him, as we foresaw each other’s
dangers. I learned his condition, interpreted his thoughts and
feelings, and said, ‘such a fear agitates him; he forms such a
project, conceives such a hope.’ Finally, we met again. What
charms, what effusion of heart in the union!’

It is a puerile absurdity to be proud of the reputation of one to
whom we are united by the ties of blood--a distinction which nature
gave us. But we may be justly proud of the rare qualities of our
friend. The ties of this relation are not the work of nature or
contingency. We prove that, in meriting his esteem, we, at least,
resemble him in the qualities of his heart.

I immediately form a high opinion of the man whom I hear earnest in
the applause of the talents or virtues of his friend. He possesses
the qualities which he applauds; since he has need to affirm their
existence in the person he loves.

This noble and pure sentiment has had its peaceable heroes. What
names, what examples could I not cite, in ancient and in modern
times! What splendid and affecting proofs of identity of fortune,
joys and sorrows, and even danger and death! I knew two friends,
of whom every one spoke with respect. One of them was asked the
extent of his fortune? ‘Mine is small,’ he replied, ‘but my friend
is rich.’ The other, a few days before he died of a contagious
disease, asked, ‘why so many persons were allowed to enter his
chamber? No one,’ he added, ‘ought to be admitted but my friend.’
Thus were they one in fortune, in life and in death.[36]

I deem, that even moralists have sought to render this peaceable
sentiment, this gentle affection, and the only one exempt from
storms, too exclusive. I am aware, how much our affections become
enfeebled, in proportion as their objects multiply. There is force
in the quaint expression of an old author. ‘Love is like a large
stream which bears heavy laden boats. Divide it into many channels,
and they run aground.’ Still, we may give the honored name of
friend to several, without profaning it, if there exist between us
mutual sympathy, high esteem and tender interest; if our pleasures
and pains are, in some sense, common stock, and we are reciprocally
capable of a sincere devotion to each other’s welfare. As much,
however, as I revere the real sentiment, I am disgusted by the
sickly or exaggerated affectation of it.

The sentiment is still more delightful when inspired by a woman. I
shall be asked, if it can exist in its purity between persons of
the different sexes? I answer in the affirmative, when the impulses
of youth no longer agitate the heart. We then experience the whole
charm of the sentiment, as the difference of sex, which is never
entirely forgotten, imparts to it a vague and touching tenderness
and an ideal delight for which language is too poor to furnish
terms.

Why can love and friendship, the sunshine of existence, decay
in the heart? Why are they not eternal? But since it is not so,
if we are cruelly deceived in our affections, the surest means
of medicating our pain is, instead of cherishing misanthropic
distrust, to look round and form the same generous ties anew. Has
your friend abandoned you? or, worse, has your wife become unworthy
of your love? It is better to be deceived a thousand times than
to add, to the grief of wounded affection, the insupportable
burden of general distrust, misanthropy and hatred. Let these
baneful feelings never usurp the place of those sentiments which
must constitute human happiness. Pardon to those by whom you have
been loved, the sorrows which their abandonment has caused you, in
consideration of those days of the past which was embellished by
their friendship.

But these treasons and perfidies are only frequent in the
intercourse of those who are driven about by the whirlwinds of
life; in which so many opposing interests, so many deceitful
pleasures confuse and separate men. The simple minded and good,
whose days flow pleasantly in retreat, every day value more the
price of those ties that unite them. Their happiness is veiled and
guarantied by a guardian obscurity.

I give place to none of the illusions of inexperience in regard
to men.[37] The errors, contradictions and vices with which they
are charged, exist. I admit that the greater part of satires are
faithful paintings. But there are still to be found, everywhere,
persons whose manners are frank, whose heart is good, and whose
temper amiable. These persons exist in sufficient numbers to
compose this new world of which I have spoken. Writers are disposed
to declaim against men. I have never ceased to feel good will
towards my kind. I have chosen only to withdraw from the multitude,
in order to select my position in the centre of a small society.
For me there are no longer stupid or wicked people on the earth.

I have examined the essential things of life, tranquillity and
independence of mind, health, competence and the affection of some
of our kind. I wish now to give my observations something more
of detail and diversity. But I wish it still to be borne in mind,
that I give only the materials and outlines of an essay, and make
no pretensions to fill out a complete treatise. I wish that a
temple may be raised to happiness. Hands, more skilful than mine,
will rear it. It is sufficient to my purpose to indicate those
delightful sites, in the midst of which it may be erected.



LETTER XVII.

THE PLEASURES OF THE SENSES.


Nature has decreed, that each one of our senses should be a source
of pleasure. But if we seek our enjoyment, only in physical
sensations, the same stern arbiter has enacted, that our capability
of pleasure should soon be exhausted, and that, palled and
disgusted, we should die without having known true happiness.[38]

Exactly in proportion as pleasures are less associated with
the mind, their power to give us any permanent satisfaction is
diminished. On the contrary, they become vivid and durable,
precisely in the degree in which they awaken and call forth moral
ideas. They become celestial, when they connect the past with the
present, the present with the future, and the whole with heaven.

In proportion as we scrutinize the pleasures of the senses, we
shall always find their charm increasing in the same degree, as
losing, if I may so say, their physical stain, they rise in the
scale of purification, and become transformed, in some sense, to
the dignity of moral enjoyments.

I look at a painting: it represents an old man, a child, a woman
giving alms, and a soldier, whose attitude expresses astonishment.
I admire the fidelity, the truth and coloring of the picture;
and my eye is intensely gratified. But remaining ignorant of
the subject, I go away, and the whole shortly vanishes from my
memory. I see it again; and am now struck with the inscription at
the bottom, ‘_Date obolum Belisario_.’ I remember an interesting
passage of history. A crowd of moral images throng upon my spirit:
I soften to tenderness; and I comprehend the affecting lesson,
which the artist is giving me. I review the painting, again and
again; and thrill at the view of the blind warrior, and of the
child holding out his helmet to receive alms.

When we travel, those points of view in the landscape which long
fix our eye, are those which awaken ideas of innocence and peace;
affecting the heart with associations connected with the morning
of our life; or ideas of that power and immensity, which move and
elevate the soul. The paintings of nature, as well as those of men,
are thus capable of being embellished by moral associations. In
travelling, I perceive a delightful isle embosomed in a peaceful
lake. While I contemplate it, with the simple pleasure excited by
a charming landscape, I am told that it is inhabited by a happy
pair, who were long crossed and separated; but who wore out the
persevering opposition of fortune; and are now living there in
the innocence and peace of the first tenants of paradise. How
different an interest the landscape now assumes! I behold the happy
pair, without care or regret, sheltered from jealous observation,
enjoying the dream of their happy love, gratefully contemplating
the Author of the beautiful nature around them, and elevating their
love and their hearts, as a sacrifice to HIM.

Sites, which, in themselves, have no peculiar charm, become most
beautiful as soon as they awaken touching remembrances. Suppose
yourself cast by misfortune on the care of a stranger in a strange
land. He attempts to dispel your dejection, and says, ‘these
countries are hospitable, and nature here puts forth all her
opulence; come, and enjoy it with us.’ The gay landscapes, which
spread before you, all assume the appearance of strangers; and
offer no attractions. But while your eye traverses the scenery with
indifference, you see blue hills melting into the distant horizon.
No person remarks them, but yourself. They resemble the mountains
of your own country, the scenes upon which your infant view first
rested. You turn away to conceal the new emotions, and your eyes
are filling with tears. You continue to gaze fondly on those hills,
dear to memory. In the midst of a rich landscape, they are all that
interests you. You return to review them every day, and demand
of them their treasured remembrances and illusions,--the dearest
pleasures of your exile.[39]

All the senses would offer me examples, in illustration of this
idea. Deprive the pleasures of physical love of moral associations,
which touch the heart, and you take from it all that elevates the
enjoyment above that of the lowest animals. Else, why do modesty,
innocence, the expression of unstained chastity, and the graces
of simplicity possess such enchanting attractions? The truth, that
there exists in love a charm stronger than physical impulse, is
not unknown even to women of abandoned manners. The most dangerous
of all those in this unhappy class, are they, who, not relying on
their beauty, feign still to possess, or deeply to regret those
virtues, which they have really cast away.

There are useful duties upon this subject, which I should find
it difficult to present in our language. In proportion as the
manners of a people reach the extreme refinement of artifice and
corruption, their words become chaste. It is a final and sterile
homage rendered to modesty.

The last delights which imagination can add to the pleasures of
love, are not to be sought in those vile places where libertinism
is an art. We must imagine the first wedded days of a young and
innocent pair, whose spirits are blended in real affection, in
similar tastes, pursuits and hopes, who realize those vague images
which they had scarcely allowed before to float across their mind.

They who seek in the pleasures of taste only physical sensations,
degrade their minds and finish their useless existence in infirmity
and brutal degradation. The pleasures of taste should only serve
to render the other enjoyments more vivid, the imagination more
brilliant, and the pursuits of life more easy and pleasant.--All
objects should present themselves under a gay aspect. A happy veil
should shroud those pains which have been, or are to be endured.
Even the wine cup, more powerful than the waters of Lethe, should
not only procure forgetfulness of the past, but embellishment of
the future.

The pleasures derived from odors are only vivid, when they impart
to the mind a fleeting and vague exaltation. If the orientals
indulge a passion for respiring perfumes, it is not solely to
procure pleasurable physical sensations. An embalmed atmosphere
exalts the senses, and disposes the mind to pleasant revery, and
paints dreams of paradise upon the indolent imagination.

Were I disposed to present the details of a system upon this
subject, the sense of hearing would offer me a crowd of examples.
The brilliant and varied accents of the nightingale are ravishing.
But what a difference between hearing the melody from a cage, and
listening to the song at the noon of night, when a cool and pure
air refreshes the lassitude of the burning day, and we behold
objects by the light of the moon, and hear the strains of the
solitary bird poured from her free bower!

A symphony, the sounds of which only delight the ear, would soon
become wearying. If it have no other determinate expression, it
ought, at least, to inspire revery, and produce an effect not
unlike that of perfumes upon the orientals.

Suppose we have been at an opera, got up with all the luxury of
art. Emotions of delight and astonishment rapidly succeed each
other, and we believe it impossible to experience new sensations
of pleasure. In returning home, we chance to hear in the distance,
through the stillness of night, a well remembered song of our
infancy, that was sung to us by some one dear to our memory. It
is at once a music exciting more profound emotion, than all the
strains of art which we so recently thought could not be surpassed.
The remembrances of infancy and home rush upon the spirit, and
efface the pompous spectacle, and the artificial graces of
execution.[39a]

Observations to the same effect might be multiplied without end. If
you desire pleasures, fertile in happy remembrances, if you wish to
preserve elevation of mind and freshness of imagination, choose,
among the pleasures of the senses, only those which associate
with moral ideas. Feeble, when separated from the alliance of
those ideas, they become fatal when they exclude them. To dare
to taste them, is to sacrifice happiness to pleasures which are
alike ephemeral and degrading. It is to resemble him, who should
strip the tree of its flowers, to enjoy their beauty. He loses the
fruits which would have followed, and scarcely casts his eye on the
flowers before they have faded.



LETTER XVIII.

THE PLEASURES OF THE HEART.


The Creator has put forth in his gifts, a magnificence which should
impress our hearts. What variety in those affectionate sentiments,
of the delights of which our natures are susceptible! Without going
out of the family circle, I enumerate filial piety, fraternal
affection, friendship, love, and parental tenderness. These
different sentiments can all coëxist in our hearts, and, so far
from weakening each other, each tends to give vigor and intensity
to the other. No doubt, the need of so many affections and props
attests our feebleness and dependence. But I can scarcely conceive
of the happiness, which a being, impassible to weaknesses and
wants, could find in himself. I am ready to bless that infirmity of
our natures, which is the source of such pure pleasures, and such
tender affections.

Let us avoid confounding that sensibility which exacts the
pleasures of the heart, with that which produces impassioned
characters. They differ as essentially as the genial, vital
warmth, from the burning of a fever. Indolence, objects calculated
strongly to strike the imagination, and those maxims which corrupt
the understanding, develope a vague and ardent sensibility, which
sometimes conducts to crime, and always to misery. The other
species is approved by reason and preserved by virtue. We owe to it
those pure emotions which impart upon earth an indistinct sentiment
of the joys of heaven.

There are men, however, who dread genuine sensibility; and,
under the conviction that it will multiply their pains, study to
eradicate the germs of it from their soul.

Hume was unhappily an unbeliever; but I might easily cite from
his life many honorable traits indicative of a good natural
disposition. He remarked to a friend, who confided to him his
secret sorrows, ‘you entertain an internal enemy, who will always
hinder you from being happy. It is your sensibility of heart.’
‘What!’ responded his friend with a kind of terror, ‘have you not
sensibility?’ ‘No. My reason alone speaks, and it declares that it
is right to soothe distress.’

In listening to this reply of Hume, we are at once struck with the
idea, that the greater part of those who adopt his principles,
do not pause at the same point with their model. They sink into
that heartless class, who see all human calamities with a dry eye,
provided they have no tendency to abridge their own enjoyments.

Suppose even that they pursue the lessons of the Scotch philosopher
to better purpose; and without any emotion, without any impulse
of heart, hold out a succoring hand to those who suffer. This,
perhaps, may answer the claims of reason. But the social instinct
will always repel that austere morality, which would give to the
human heart an unnatural insensibility, and deprive it, if I may so
say, of its amiable weakness. I would hardly desire to see a man
oppose a courage, too stoical, to his own miseries. The natural
tears which he sheds in extreme affliction, are his guaranty for
the sympathy which he will feel for my sorrows.

It is a vile but common maxim, that two conditions are necessary
to success in life. The one is, to have a selfish heart. The
other, the adage of egotism, is, that to avoid suffering, we must
stifle sensibility. I say to these heartless philosophers of the
world, that if the only requisite is to avoid suffering, through
destitution of feeling, to die is the surest method of all.[40]

The secret of happiness does not consist in avoiding all evils;
for in that case, we must learn to love nothing. If there be a
lot on earth worthy of envy, it is that of a man, good and tender
hearted, who beholds his own creation in the happiness of all
who surround him. Let him who would be happy, strive to encircle
himself with happy beings. Let the happiness of his family be the
incessant object of his thoughts. Let him divine the sorrows and
anticipate the wishes of his friends. Let him inspire the fidelity
of affection in his domestics, by pledging to them a comfortable
and pleasant old age. Let him, as far as may be, preserve the same
servants, and give them all needed succor and counsel. In fine,
let the inmates and dependents of the house all respire a calm
and regulated happiness. Let even the domestic animals know, that
humanity presides over their condition.

Entertaining such views, it will be easy to see in what light I
contemplate those men who take pleasure in witnessing the combats
of animals. What man who has a heart, can see spectacles, equally
barbarous and detestable, with satisfaction; such as dogs tearing
to pieces a bull, exhausted with wounds, cocks mangling each other,
the encounter of brutal boxers, or of bad boys in the streets,
encouraged to the diabolical sport of fighting? These are the true
schools of cowardly and savage ferocity, and not of manly courage,
as too many have supposed.[41] But it is not my purpose to draw a
painting in detail of the abominations of cruelty, or the pleasures
of beneficence, and I resume my rapid and desultory reflections.

To preserve the sentiments of beneficence and sensibility, let
us avoid the pride which mars them. Beneficence in one respect
resembles love. Like that, it courts concealment and the shade.

The most useful direction we can give to beneficence is, to
multiply its gifts as widely as possible. Let us avoid imitating
those men who are always fearful of being deceived by those who
solicit their pity. In an uncertainty whether or not you ought to
extend succor, grant it. It can only expose you to the error that
is least subject to repentance.[42]

Offer useful counsels and indulgent consolations. Save, from
despair, the unfortunate victim, who groans under the remorse of
an unpremeditated fault. Unite him again to society by those cords
which his imprudence has broken. Rekindle in him the love of his
kind, by saying to him, ‘though you may not recover innocence,
repentance can at least restore your virtue.’

If we have access to the opulent and powerful, we have an
honorable, but difficult task to fulfil. To assume the often
thankless office of soliciting frequent favors for friends,
without losing the consideration necessary to success, requires
peculiar tact, discernment and dignity.--Above all, it requires
disinterested zeal. In attempting this delicate duty in the form of
letters, we may soon dissipate our slender fund of credit. Letters
of recommendation resemble a paper currency. They are redeemed in
specie so long as they are issued discreetly, and in small amounts,
but which become worse than blank paper, as soon as we multiply
them too far.[43]

Such is the intrinsic attraction of beneficence, that even if we
refuse to practise it, we still love whatever retraces its image.
A romance affects us. Pathetic scenes soften our hearts at the
theatre. In thus embracing the shadow, we pay a sublime testimonial
to the substance.

The example of beneficence so readily finds its way to every heart,
that we are affected even in thinking of those who practise it.
The coldest hearts pay a tribute of veneration to those women,
who, in consecrating themselves to the service of the poor and the
sick, encounter extreme fatigue, disgust, and often abuse from
the wretched objects themselves, in the squalidness and filth of
prisons and hospitals. How beautiful to learn to put forth patience
to mitigate the maladies of the body, and hope, to soothe those of
the mind![44] Ye, who practise virtues thus touching and sublime,
may well hope the highest recompenses of heaven. Such alone are
worthy of your pure spirits. Ye seem to have passed in light across
our dark sphere, only to fulfil a transient and celestial mission,
to return again to your country.



LETTER XIX.

THE PLEASURES OF THE UNDERSTANDING.


In the savage man the intellectual faculties sleep. As soon as
his appetites are satisfied, he sees neither pleasures to desire,
nor pains to fear. He lies down and sleeps again. This negative
happiness would bring desolation to the heart of a civilized man.
All his faculties have commenced their development. He experiences
a new craving, which occupations, grave or futile, but rapidly
changed and renewed, can alone appease. If there occur between
them intervals which can be filled neither by remembrances, nor by
necessary repose, lassitude and ennui intervene, and measure for
him the length of these chasms in life by sadness.

The next enemy to happiness, after vice, is ennui. Some escape it
without much seeming calculation. My neighbor every morning turns
over twenty gazettes, the state articles of which are copied the
one from the other. Economising the pleasure of this reading, and
gravely reposing in the intervals, he communicates, sometimes with
an oracular tone, sometimes with a modest reserve, his reflections
to those who surround him; and, at length, leaves the reading room
with the importance of one who feels that he has discharged a debt
to society.

In public places, it is not the spectacles, but the emotions of the
common people who behold them, that are worthy of contemplation. In
the murder of a poor tragedy by poorer actors, what transports from
this enthusiastic mass of the audience when a blow of the poniard,
preceded by a pompous maxim, lays the tyrant of the piece low! What
earnest feeling, what sincere tears do we witness! How much more
worthy of envy these honest people who lose their enjoyment neither
by the revolting improbability of the situations, nor by the
absurdity of the dialogue, nor by the mouthing of the rehearsal,
than those fastidious critics who exalt their intellectual pride at
the expense of these cheap enjoyments!

From the moment in which a man feels sincere pleasure in
cultivating his understanding, he may date defiance to the fear
of the weight of time. He has the magic key which unlocks the
exhaustless treasury of enjoyments. He lives in the age and country
which he prefers. Space and time are no longer obstacles to his
happiness. He interrogates the wise and good of all ages and all
countries; and his conversations with them cease, or change object,
as soon as he chooses. How much gratitude does he owe the author of
nature for having impressed on genius so many different impulses!
With Plato, he is among the sages of Greece, hearing their lessons
and associating his wishes with theirs for the happiness of his
kind.[45] In the range of history, he ascends to the infancy of
empires and time. Does he court repose? Horace bids him gather the
roses before they fade; or Shakspeare reminds him, when illusions
will vanish like the baseless fabric of a vision.

If a man has powers and acquirements, it is a great evil, if he
is disposed to fatigue others with his self-love. If we could
number all the subjects of which the most accomplished scholar
is ignorant, we should perceive that the interval between him
and a common person is not so immense as he may imagine. Ought
he to be astonished if the real friends of the Muses tire of his
declamations, his recitations and occupancy with himself?

To attain truth should be the real end of all study. In such
researches the mind kindles, as by enchantment, at every step! The
desire to succeed, produces that noble emotion which is always
developed by ardent zeal and pure intentions. Success, although we
were to think nothing of its results, inspires a kind of pleasure;
because truth comports with our understanding, as brilliant and
soft colors agree with the eye, or pleasant sounds with the ear.
This enjoyment naturally associates with another still more vivid.
The effect of truth is universally salutary; and every instance
in which our feeble intellect discovers some gleams, elevates
the spirit, and intimately penetrates it with a high degree of
happiness.

One of the chief advantages of study is, that it enfranchises the
mind from those prejudices that disturb life. How many, and what
agonizing torments have been caused by those which are associated
with false ideas of religion.[46] After those great calamities in
the dark ages which destroyed the traces of the sciences and arts,
men, pursued by terror, seemed to imagine that they constantly
saw malevolent spirits flying among the clouds or wandering in
the depth of woods. The sound of strong wind and thunder came to
their ear as the voice of infernal divinities; and, prostrate
with terror, they sought to appease their angry gods by bloody
sacrifices. In process of time, a small number of men, enlightened
by observation, dared to raise the veil by degrees, and succeeded
in dissipating these terrors by tracing the seeming prodigies to
some of the simplest laws of physics. The phantoms of superstition
vanished, and, in the light of reason, revealed a just and
beneficent Divinity presiding over obedient nature.

We think, in our pride, that an immense interval separates us from
those times of disaster, ignorance and alarm. How many of our
kind, unhappy by their intellectual weakness, still tremble before
the jealous and implacable god of their imaginations, who enjoins
hatred and wrath; and punishes even the errors of opinion by the
most horrible torments. The man who is exempt from prejudices is
alone capable of prostrating himself before the Divinity from a
feeling of love, and whose prayer, alike confident and resigned, is
addressed to his noble attributes of power, justice and clemency.

There are other errors which study dispels. The student who is
charmed with communion with the muses, does not consume his best
years in gloomy intrigues; nor do you meet him pressing forward
in the path which ambition has traced. The Greeks, fertile in
significant allegories, supposed the same divinity to preside over
the sciences and wisdom.

The habit of living in converse with the noblest works of mind and
art, produces elevation of soul; and he who has an elevated mind
must be intrinsically good and happy. Exempt from the weaknesses
of vanity, free from the tumultuous passions, he cultivates the
noble and generous virtues for the pleasure of practising them.
Disdaining a mass of objects of desire which disturb the vulgar, he
offers a small mark to misery. Should adversity strike him, he has
resources so much the more sure, as he finds them in himself.

No one can ever taste the full charm of letters and the arts,
except in the bosom of retirement. If he reads and meditates only
for the pursuit of fame, amusements change to labors. If we propose
to enter the lists, outstrip rivals, and direct a party, we are
soon agitated with little passions, but great inquietudes. Heaven,
sternly decreeing that no earthly felicity shall be unalloyed, has
placed a thirst for celebrity as a drawback upon the love of study.

But ought the ardor to render immortal services--ought the noble
ambition to be useful, to be stifled? Are not these the source
of pleasures as pure as they are ravishing? I contemplate an
immense and indestructible republic, composed of all those men
who devote themselves to the happiness of their kind. Occupied
without relaxation or abatement in continuing the works which their
predecessors have begun, they bequeath to their successors the
care of pursuing and crowning their labors. Men of genius are the
chiefs of this republic. As they have talents which separate them
from the rest of the human race; they have also pleasures reserved
for themselves alone. What a sublime sentiment must have elevated
the spirit of Newton when a part of the mysterious laws of the
universe first dawned on his mind! A glow still more delightful
must have pervaded the bosom of Fenelon when meditating the most
beautiful lessons which wisdom ever announced to the powerful and
the rulers of the people. To these privileged beings it belongs, to
give a powerful impulse to minds, and to trace a new path for the
generations to come.

I shall have attained my humble ambition if, docile to the voice
of the wise, I shall be able, in any degree, to indicate the way
in which these lessons may be put in practice. I shall thus have
contributed my aid to dissipate the night of prejudice and vice.



LETTER XX.

THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.


If these words denote pleasures which have no reality, let us
no longer use them.[47] The person who, during the twelve hours
of every day that he passed in sleep, believed himself clothed
with royal authority, shared a lot exactly similar to the king
who, dreaming through the same number of hours, imagined that he
suffered cold and hunger, and asked the pity of the peasants in the
streets.

All our pleasures are fugitive, and they are all real. That
wonderful faculty, the imagination, awakens past pleasures, charms
the instant that is flowing, and either veils the future, or
embellishes it in the radiance of hope.

Let us banish that vulgar prejudice which represents reason and
imagination as two enemies which cannot coëxist. The severest
reason ought to disdain no easy and pure pleasures. The happy
paintings even of a dream bring joy, until their rainbow hues melt
away. The dreams of the imagination have greatly the advantage over
those of sleep. Our will gives them birth. We prolong, dissipate
and renew them at pleasure.[48] All, who have learned to multiply
these happy moments, know, at the same time, how to enjoy these
agreeable visions, and paint with enchantment those dreamy hours
which they owe to the effervescence of a gay imagination.

There are situations in which reason has no better counsel to give
us than to yield ourselves up to those illusions which mingle
pleasures with our sufferings. I knew a worthy, but unfortunate
man, who passed twenty months in prison. He informed me that,
every night, he had a dream, in which he imagined that his wife
and children visited him and restored him to liberty. This dream
left a remembrance so profound, an emotion so delightful, that
he determined to attempt to renew it by day. When evening came,
exciting his imagination to its most vigorous action, he endeavored
to persuade himself that the moment of the reunion was come. He
represented to himself the transport of his wife and the caresses
of his children; and he allowed no thought but these delightful
visions to occupy his mind until the moment when sleep once
more wrapped him in forgetfulness. The habit of concentrating
his imagination for this result, he assured me, finally rendered
these illusions incredibly vivid and real. He expected night with
impatience; and the certainty that the close of day would bring
some happy moments, threw over the tedious hours an emotion which
mitigated his sufferings.

These charming illusions, in misfortune, resemble those brilliant
boreal lights which, in the midst of a night that lasts for weeks,
present the image of dawn during the dreary winters of the polar
circle. An excitable and vivid faculty, which deceives misfortune,
ought to embellish happiness. To the pleasant things we possess,
it adds those we desire. By its magic, we renew the hours of which
the memory is dear. We taste the pleasures which a distant future
promises; and see, at least, the fleeting shadow of those which are
passing away.

A gloomy philosopher has told us, that such illusions are the
effect of a transient insanity. It seems to me that insane thoughts
are those which create ennui; and that reasonable ideas are those
which throw innocent charms over life. If you reject these views,
be persuaded, at least, not to adopt a false and gloomy wisdom.
You ought rather to prefer the conviction that everything below
is folly.[50] But still, I can distinguish gay follies, frightful
follies, and amiable follies; and I easily discover that there is a
choice among them.

Why should the morose being who perceives only bad people on the
earth, and only miseries in the future, blame him who cradles
flattering hopes, always springing up anew, for allowing himself
to be beguiled by the illusions of his imagination? Both deceive
themselves. But the one cherishes a mistake which brings hatred and
suffering, and the other lives on gaily in his illusions.

Wisdom does not disdain a faculty merely for being brilliant; and,
to taste all the pleasures of imagination, it is indispensable that
reason should be much exercised.

Imagination resembles the magician of an oriental romance who
transports his favorite hero to scenes of enchantment, to try him
with pleasures; and then delivers him over to a hostile magician,
who multiplies peril and misery around him. This creative faculty,
in its perversion, is as fertile to invent torments as, in its
more propitious moods, to bring forth pleasures. If once we resign
ourselves to its gloomy caprices, it conjures up the terror of a
thousand unreal evils. Reason cannot always follow its meteor path;
but ought, at least, to point out the course in which happiness
invites it to walk.

The aid of reason is still more necessary at the moment when the
chimeras of imagination disappear. It is an afflicting moment.
Reason should prepare us to meet it. Every man, with an elevated
mind and a good heart, has delighted to imagine himself far away
from the stupid and wicked; in a smiling country, separated from
the rest of the world, and alone with a few friends. Suppose
this dream realized; I am aware that, tomorrow, the peaceful
exile might be indulging regrets for the place he had left; and
forming plans to escape from the ennui of the new country. Since
we change our destiny in these respects, without altering our
instinctive desire of change, let us study the art of softening
the pains of our actual condition; and let us learn to extract all
possible advantages from it by imparting to it, if nothing more,
the embellishment created by the happy anticipations of a fertile
imagination.

Ought we to indulge regrets because these paintings of the
imagination so rapidly disappear. I have seen the rich and the
great stripped, in a moment, of their fortune and power; and shall
I afflict myself because my dream has vanished? These unfortunate
people lost all that was dear to them, forever. For me, I can renew
these pleasures of imagination at my will.

Far from sacrificing any of our faculties, let us exercise them
all; and let them mutually conduce to our happiness. As we advance
in life, our reason should grow to the calm of mature age. But let
the imagination and the heart still preserve scintillations of the
fire of youth.



LETTER XXI.

MELANCHOLY.


There is no pleasure of earth but, as soon as it becomes vivid,
has a tendency to tinge itself with melancholy. The birth of an
infant, the convalescence of a father, the return of a friend who
has been long absent, fill the eyes with tears. Nature has thus
chosen to mingle the colors of joy and sadness. Having destined us
to experience each of the emotions in turn, she has ordained that
the shades of transition should melt into each other.[51]

The dearest remembrances are those which are accompanied by
tenderness of heart. The sports of infancy, the first loves, the
perils we have forever escaped, and the faults we have learned to
repair, are of the number. Whoever will recollect the happiest
moments of his life, will find them to have produced this emotion.

But there are two kinds of melancholy; or rather, we must not
confound melancholy with gloom. Will the slight tenderness of
sorrow which imparts a new charm to the fugitive pleasures of
existence be inspired by those gloomy books which this age has
attempted to bring into fashion; by those terrific and wild
dreams in which hideous personages enact revolting scenes? Modern
imagination has painted melancholy a tall and unearthly spectre
enveloped in a winding sheet. The real traits of her countenance
are those of innocence occupied in pleasant revery; and at the same
time that tears are in her eyes, a smile dwells on her lips.

It is the resort of a sterile imagination and a cold heart, to
invest even the tomb with borrowed ideas of darkness; to wait for
night in which to visit it; and to torment the fancy to people it
with sinister phantoms. Real sensibility would not require such an
effort to be awakened. It fills my mind with a pleasing sadness to
wander in the church-yard, under the melancholy radiance of the
moon, among monuments of white marble, and hear the night breeze
sigh among the weeping willows. I am deeply affected with, here
and there, a touching inscription.[52] I remember one in which a
father says, that he has had five children, and that here sleeps
the last that remained to him for consolation. In another, a father
and mother announce that their daughter died at seventeen, a victim
of their weak indulgence, and of the extravagant modes of the
time. This sojourn of repose, these words written in the abodes
of silence, which inspire tenderness for those that are no more,
and those whose treasured affection still remembers them, always
penetrate the soul with an emotion not without its charms. In the
view of tombs, we immediately direct our thoughts to an internal
survey of ourselves. I mark out my place among the peaceful
mansions. I imagine the vernal grass and flowers reviving over my
place of rest. My imagination transports me to the days which I
shall not see, and sounds for me the soothing dirge of the adieus
of friendship pronounced over the spot where I am laid.[53]

I generally carry from my sojourn in these our last mansions,
one painful sentiment. I remark that many tombs are raised by
parents for their children; by husbands for their wives; by widows
for their husbands. I observe that there are but few erected by
children for their fathers. Perhaps it is right that love should
ascend in that scale, rather than descend in the other.

Occasional visits to ruins and tombs inspire salutary melancholy.
But the habit of frequently contemplating these lugubrious objects
is dangerous. It blunts sensibility and creates the necessity of
always requiring strong emotions. It nourishes in the soul sombre
ideas which do not associate with happiness. Without doubt, there
are those who are so unhappy as to long for the repose of the
grave; who find solace in these gloomy spectacles. Young, after
having lost his only daughter, after having in vain solicited a
little consecrated earth to cover the remains of the youthful
victim; after being reduced to the necessity of interring the loved
one with his own hands, might be tempted to fly his kind and love
only night, solitude and tombs. There have been men, condemned by
the award of nature, to such reverses as nourish an incurable and
perpetual melancholy. Their frigid imitators, without their reason
and profound feeling, in wishing to render themselves singular,
become tiresome and ridiculous in their melancholy.

Writers of the most splendid genius of the age have consecrated
their talents to celebrate melancholy; not that melancholy which
has a smile of profound sensibility, but that which has been
cradled in tombs and which holds out to us the full draught
of sadness. There is something in these heart-rending scenes,
these lugubrious spectacles, which the age seeks with avidity.
A writer whose talent tends to render his errors seducing, has
taken pleasure in viewing the christian religion as opening an
inexhaustible source of melancholy. It seems to exalt his mind,
most of all, when it presents itself to him under a funereal aspect.

He paints religion as born in the forests of Horeb and Sinai,
forever surrounded with a formidable gloom; and offering to our
adorations a God who died for men. He describes the invasion of
the barbarians, the persecutions of the first believers, cloisters
arising from deep and dark groves, and melancholy continually
receiving new accessions from the austere rules imposed upon the
pious inmates.

‘There,’ said he, ‘the tenants of these religious seclusions
dug their own tombs, by the light of the moon, in the cemeteries
of their own cloisters. Their couch was a coffin. Some of them
occasionally wandered away to sojourn among the ruins of Memphis
and Babylon, striking the chords of the harp of David, surrounded
by beasts of prey. Some condemned themselves to perpetual silence.
Others sung a continual hymn, echoing the sighs of Job, the
lamentations of Jeremiah, or the penitential songs of the prophet
king. Their monasteries were built on sites the most savage, on the
summits of Lebanon, in the deep forests of Gaul, or on the crags of
the British shores. How sad the knell of the religious bells, heard
at the noon of night, must have sounded when calling the vestals
to their vigils and prayers! The sounds, as they swelled and died
away, mingled the last strains of the hymns with the distant
dashing of the waves. How profound must have been the meditations
of the solitary who, from his grated window, indulged in revery, as
his eye wandered over the illimitable sea, perhaps agitated with
a tempest! What a contrast between the fury of the waves and the
calm of his retreat! The expiring cries of men are heard as they
dash upon the rocks at the foot of the asylum of peace. Infinity
stretches out on one side of their cell; and on the other the
slab of a tomb alone separates between eternity and life. All the
different forms of misfortune, remembrance, manners, and the scenes
of nature concurred to render the christian religion the genius of
melancholy.’[53a]

Can it be thought, for a moment, possible that sighs without
end, the love of deserts and the hope of the tomb are all the
consolations that this divine religion is calculated to bring to
the heart of man? Such an error could only have had its origin in
an unregulated imagination. The christian religion, though pensive
and serious, is not sad. Less brilliant, less imaginative than
paganism, less friendly to pleasure, she is far more favorable to
happiness.

My opinion in regard to the legitimate tendency of religion, is not
only different but directly opposite. A pure religion must produce
tranquillity, confidence and joy. It is departure from religious
views which are true and just, that is followed by a vague sadness,
gloom and despondency.

These funereal and yet eloquent paintings, traced with the
enthusiasm of melancholy, must have had the effect to increase
the number of men of atrabilious temperament, weary of the
world, and tired of themselves. Were it true that the christian
religion inspired an insatiate craving for funereal reveries,
far from considering it as I do, divine, I should estimate it
anti-social.--The true friends of the christian religion always
paint it as it is, more powerful than even human misery; giving
clothing to the naked, bread to the hungry, an asylum to the sick,
a peaceful home to the returning prodigal, and a mother to the
orphan; wiping away the tears of innocence with a celestial hand,
and filling the eyes of the culpable and contrite with tears of
consolation. Let pious thankfulness and a calm courage, which even
death cannot shake, environ its modest heroes. Let its martyrs be
those of charity and toleration;--the protestant opening an asylum
to catholic, falling under the fanatical fury of his brethren; and
when bloody and impious mandates order the massacre of protestants,
the catholic sheltering them in his mansion. Such was the spirit
of Erasmus; such, of the divine Fenelon; such, of William Penn, and
a few tolerant lights that have gleamed through ages of persecution
and darkness. Such are the men whose disciples we desire to
multiply. Let us cease to incorporate melancholy errors and gloomy
follies with the religion of peace, confidence and hope. Eloquence
was imparted for a nobler use.



LETTER XXII.

RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS.


The philosophy of happiness must find its ultimate requisite in the
hopes of religion. Man must be persuaded that his present life has
relation to a never ending future, and that an eternal providence
watches over the universe, before he will abandon himself with a
tranquil confidence to those irresistible laws by which he is borne
along. He then marches towards the future, as he would confidently
follow a guide of tried prudence and fidelity in a dark path.[54]

In the fever and tumult of worldly pleasures and pursuits, the
voice of wisdom has little chance to be heard, and it seems
necessary that misfortune should have forced the mind in upon
itself, before we become inclined to find resources in religion.
Then we invoke this sublime and consoling power, and like the
friend that avoids our prosperity and our festivals, but returns
to cheer our misfortunes, this celestial friend is at hand to
offer her sustaining succor. We may class all those pleasures as
noxious, which will not associate with this august visitant. Even
in our periods of happiness, if we pause for the reflection of
a moment, we find the need of immortality. All the generous and
tender affections acquire a new charm in alliance with religious
ideas, in the same manner as objects beautiful in themselves,
receive a new lustre when a pure light is thrown upon them. Filial
piety becomes more touching in those children who pray with
fervor for the preservation of the life of a mother. Let a pious
courage guide the sister of charity, and she becomes the angel
of consolation, as she visits the abodes of misery. Even virtue
itself does not receive its celestial impress, except in alliance
with religious sentiments. A few of the higher philosophers among
the great ancients, and Fenelon, Newton, Milton and a few other
men of immortal name, saw the divinity as He is, and contemplated
the perfect model of his infinite perfections. Their efforts
tended to coöperate with the divine views of order and harmony, in
constantly directing human actions and thoughts towards good. The
beautiful system of the gospel has the same simplicity of object;
and its tendency to honor and meliorate humanity is directed by
the highest wisdom. Sentiments which give to all our faculties a
direction, fertilize genius as well as virtue. High models, in any
walk of mind, will never be produced in a world whose inhabitants
believe in nothing but matter, fortuitous combinations, and the
annihilation of our being. Apostles of atheism! your dreary creed
throws an impenetrable gloom upon the universe, and dries the
source of all high thoughts. The advocates of these views vaunt
the necessity of proclaiming the truth. I, too, am the fearless
advocate of the truth, and have no dread of its results. But could
I be persuaded, that religious hopes were unfounded, I should be
tempted to renounce my confidence in truth itself; and no longer
to inculcate the necessity of loving and seeking to propagate it.
It is by the light of this divine torch, that real sages have
desired to investigate religion. Were it possible that the elevated
and consoling ideas, which religion offers, could be baseless and
absurd chimeras, error and truth would be so confounded, that
there would no longer remain any discriminating sign by which to
distinguish the one from the other. Atheists boast that they are
the only frank and hardy antagonists of superstition. They are its
most effectual allies. The superstitious have brought forth the
atheists, and the atheists have re-produced the superstitious;
as, in revolutions, resistance produces fury, and that multiplies
resistance.

I have known excellent men, apparently earnest and docile inquirers
for truth, who have desired in vain to establish in their mind
these consoling convictions.--Their understanding refused to
respond to the wish of their hearts.

Why can I not impart this happy conviction to their understanding?
My subject precludes reasoning, and I only know arguments that
are very simple; but I think with Bacon, that it needs quite as
much credulity to adopt the opinion of atheists, as to yield
faith to all the reveries of the Talmud or the Koran. The more
profoundly I attempt to investigate the doctrines of infidelity,
and consider everything that surrounds me, as resulting from the
combinations of chance, the play of atoms, the efforts of brute
matter, the more my inquiries are involved in darkness. I strive
in vain to give to any hypothesis of atheism the honest semblance
of probability. Matter cannot reflect upon the order which its
different parts require. Neither can those parts interchange reason
and discussion. Neither an atom, nor a globe can say to others of
their class, ‘such are the courses in which we must move.’ Let us
simplify difficulties, as much as possible, and admit that matter
has always existed; let us even suppose motion essential to it; a
supreme intelligence is none the less necessary to the harmony of
the universe. Without a governor of worlds, I can only conceive of
nihility or chaos.

From the sublimest of all thoughts, there is a God, flow all
the truths which my heart desires. The beautiful superstructure
of Christianity results, as a corollary, or ultimate inference,
from this consoling axiom. The system which rejects the soul’s
immortality, is equally absurd with that of atheism. Of the
different arguments against the being of a God, the most striking
one is that which is drawn from the evils which prevail on the
earth. The first thought of every man of sensibility, is, that
had he the power to make a world, he would banish misery from it,
and so arrange the order of things, as that existence should be,
to all conscious beings, a succession of moments, each marked by
happiness. But infirmities, vices, misery, sorrow and death pursue
us. How reconcile the misery of the creation with the power and
beneficence of the Creator? How resolve this strange problem? How
explain this revolting contradiction? Immortality is the only
solution of the enigma of life.[55]

A whimsical combination of deism and materialism forms, at present,
the most widely diffused system among the unbelieving. They have
imagined a God possessing only physical power, and contemplating
the movement of his innumerable worlds, alike indifferent to crime
and virtue. He beholds with the same carelessness the generations
that pass, and those that succeed; and sees deliverers and tyrants
alike confounded in their fall.--Admit the truth of such dogmas,
and the conceptions of a religious man would possess more expansion
and sublimity than the views of the Eternal. Socrates, without
the illumination of the gospel, could have taught them better.
Surrounded by his weeping disciples, he points them beyond the tomb
to the places where the sage at last respires freely; and where the
misfortunes and inequalities of earth are redressed. In painting
these illusions of hope, if they are vain, the sage has conceived
in his dreams an equity superior to that of the infinite Being. Let
us dare to maintain that the feeble children of clay have a right
to entertain ideas of order and desert, more just than those of the
Creator, or admit that the heart, made capable of the desire of
another life, is destined to enjoy it.

The destiny of all the inferior orders that surround us, appears
to terminate upon the earth. Ours alone is evidently not
accomplished here. The animals, exempt from vice, incapable of
virtue, experience, in ceasing to live, neither hopes nor regrets.
They die without the foresight of death. Man, in the course of an
agitated life, degrades himself by follies and vices, or honors
himself by generous and useful actions. Remembrances, loves, ties,
in countless forms, twine about his heart. He is torn, in agony,
from beings for whom he has commenced an affection that he feels
might be eternal. Persecuted for his virtue, proscribed for his
wisdom and courage, calumniated for his most conscientious acts, he
turns to heaven a fixed look of confidence and hope. Has he nothing
to perform beyond death? Has the author of nature forgotten his
justice, only in completing his most perfect work?

Our immortality is a necessary consequence of the existence of
God. Let us not wander astray in vain discussions, which, with
our present faculties, we can never master--such as relate to the
nature of the soul. My hopes, my convictions, rest not upon a
cloudy, metaphysical argument. Neither can the proud treatise of
a sophist weaken, nor the puerile dialectics of a pedant increase
it. It is enough for me that there is a God. Virtue in misfortune
must have hopes which do not terminate with the tomb. The sublime
inculcation of Socrates was, ‘preserve confidence in death.’ But
recompense in another existence supposes merit; and merit requires
liberty.

Is man free? We can reduce this question which has been so much
vexed, and so often obscured, to terms of entire simplicity. It
has been most forcibly presented by Hobbes, the vile apostle
at once of atheism and despotism, who seems to have striven to
unite the most pernicious doctrines with an example, which merits
execration. ‘Two objects,’ he remarks, ‘attract us in opposite
directions. As long as they produce impressions nearly equal, our
mind, in a state of uncertainty, vacillates from the one to the
other; and we believe, that we are deliberating. Finally, one of
the objects strikes us with a stronger impression than the other.
We are drawn towards it; and we believe that it is because we will
it.--Thus, man, always passive, yields to the strongest and most
vivid sensation. Free actions would be an effect without a cause.’
Admirable reasoning! What other freedom could I wish, than to
prefer what seems to me the most desirable? Let the disciples of
Hobbes instruct me how they would choose that man should determine,
in order to be conscious of liberty? Would they wish him to choose
the object that is repugnant to him? This is too evidently absurd.
Should he vacillate in indifference between the one object and the
other? This would be to sink into an existence of perfect apathy,
without reason or will. Man has all the liberty, of which such a
being is capable--all, in fact, which he could desire.

How puerile are these metaphysical subtleties, when employed upon
moral truths![56] What a monster would man become on the system
of the fatalists! What is that system worth, the consequences of
which cannot be admitted? If we act under the inevitable empire
of fatalism, why is he who proclaims this doctrine, indignant
at the thought of crime? Does he contemplate Socrates and his
executioners with the same approbation?--Will he regard with the
same feeling Antoninus dictating pious lessons to his son, and Nero
assassinating his mother? Will he estimate as alike meritorious
a persecuted Christian praying for his enemies, and the monarch
ordering the massacre of St Bartholomew? Do such contrasts offend
us? And why? According to the system of fatalism, the good ought
to inspire us with less interest than the wicked. A blind fatality
awards to the virtuous that pure pleasure, that is inseparably
connected with good actions. They receive a high reward without any
merit; while the others are a prey to remorse, and the incessant
object of public hatred and abhorrence. If they are innocent, as
on the principles of fatalism they must be, how ought we to mourn
over them, and pity them! What purpose can these doctrines serve?
He who advocates them, is conscious of impulses to do good, and
deliberates upon alternatives in the courses which honor and duty
call him to pursue. His principles, then, are contradicted by the
voice of his own heart. When he has committed a fault, it declares
to him that he might have chosen a contrary part.--When he has done
a virtuous action, it inspires emotions of joy, which render him
conscious that he is a free agent. This voice within is anterior
to all reasoning, and as incapable of being invalidated as any
other consciousness. Inexhaustible emotions of satisfaction spring
from religious hopes. Reanimated by them, I no longer see tears
without consolation, nor fear an eternal adieu.--The tomb, though a
fearful, is but a frail barrier, which separates us from those real
joys, of which the pleasures of a fugitive existence are but the
shadow.

Never would men have exchanged their natural convictions, their
internal aspirations, their instinctive hopes of immortality, for
the lurid and deceptive glare of infidelity, if religious views
had not been disfigured by being combined with the grossest errors
and prejudices. Of these, there are two which every good man ought
to strive to eradicate from all minds, and if it were possible, to
purge from the earth.

The first causes us to behold in the divinity a menacing and
implacable judge, constantly eager to execute vengeance. Monstrous
conception! Revolting error! Infancy and old age, the two extremes
of earthly existence, which from their feebleness, call for our
most soothing cares, are those most persecuted with this vile
and fierce prejudice. A cruel superstition has selected these
terrific ideas, these horrible images, with which to besiege the
bed of death, to light up the scene of agony--of parting and
trembling apprehensions--with the flames of perdition. My bosom
swells with mingled emotions, when I see any one attempting to
darken the feeble and docile reason of a child with these sinister
views. Pursued even in his dreams by these terrible menaces,
before he knows the meaning of crime, he has already felt its
torments. Astonishing infatuation! It is in this aspect that gloomy
religionists have presented the compassionate and sustaining hope
of the gospel. Instead of inspiring sweet and consoling ideas, they
have succeeded in filling innocence with remorse.

The other prejudice is intolerance, or that spirit which causes
us to view all persons guilty, whose faith is different from
ours. While religion enjoins it upon us to cover the faults of
our kind with a veil of indulgence, intolerance teaches us to
transform their opinions into crimes. Religion rears asylums for
the unfortunate.--Intolerance prepares scaffolds for all whom
she chooses to denominate heretics. The one invokes ministers of
charity, and the other, executioners. The one wipes away tears, and
the other sheds blood.

Intolerance without power is simply ridiculous; but becomes most
odious when armed with authority. The cry of humanity is ‘Peace
with all men.’ If any were excepted, it should be the intolerant.
Even they merit no severer punishment, than the inflictions of
their own fury. They may attain to deliverance from remorse in
their confident delirium, and may count their crimes as virtues,
through the influence of self-blindness. But this strange obliquity
of the understanding, this horrible intoxication, repels happiness.
Joy and peace must fly the soul, of which this spirit has taken
possession.

In another life, the measure of our felicity in the mansions of the
just, will be the happiness we have created for the beings around
us in this fleeting existence. A religious man constantly strives
to render this, our terrestrial sojourn, more like the abode
towards which his thoughts are elevated. His constant occupation
is to mitigate suffering, banish prejudice and hatred, and calm
the fury of party. All his relations are those of peace and love.
Intolerant men! Who, of your number, will hope to hear it said of
him in the retribution of the just, ‘much has been forgiven him,
because he has loved much?’



LETTER XXIII.

OF THE RAPIDITY OF LIFE.


In considering the different ages of life, the first sentiment I
feel, is gratitude for the variety of pleasures, destined for us by
nature. Thrice happy for us, if we knew how to taste the charms of
all the situations through which we pass! Instead of this, we first
regret infancy, then youth, then mature age. The happy period is
always that which is no more.

It is a great folly to sadden the present, in looking back upon the
past, as though it had been darkened by no shadow of a cloud. The
sorrows which nature sends us in infancy, resemble spring showers,
the traces of which are effaced by a passing breeze. The pains and
alarms of each age have been chiefly the work of men. Who cannot
remember the violent palpitations which he felt, when, exposed to
the searching eye of his companions, he went forward to excuse
his not having prepared his task, his translation or theme, at
school? I have seen situations more perilous, since that time, but
no misfortunes have awakened more bitterness, than the preference
granted by the professor to the theme of another over mine. The
beautiful age, for a frivolous being, is youth; for the ambitious,
maturity; for the recluse, old age; for a reasonable man, each age:
for heaven has reserved peculiar pleasures for each.

The second sentiment I experience, in contemplating life, is,
regret to see the moments so rapidly gliding away. Time flies, and
days and years steal away as rapidly as hours. Still, some complain
of the burden of time, and endure cruel suffering from not knowing
how to employ it.

To prolong my days, I will neither ask the elixir of life from
alchymists, nor precepts from physicians. A severe regimen tends to
abridge life. Multiplied privations give a sadness to the spirit,
more noxious than the prescribed remedies are salutary. Besides,
what is physical without moral life; that is to say, improvement
and enjoyment? Physicians vaunt the miracles of abstinence and
a careful regimen in the case of Cornaro, the Venetian, who was
born dying, and yet spun out the thread of life with so much care
that he vegetated a century. To attain this result, he weighed his
aliment, and marked every hour of the day, with the most minute
exactness. Bacon cites the case, but jests upon a man who believed
himself living, because, in fact, he was not dead.

Moderation, cheerfulness and the happy employment of time furnish
the best means of living as many days as nature permits; and the
regimen of philosophic moralists has an effect more certain than
that of physicians.[57]

Every one has observed that a year in youth presents a long
perspective; and that the further we advance in our career, the
more the course of time seems to accelerate. Let us strive to
investigate the causes which so modify our judgments, with a view,
if it be possible, to avoid them.

There is one inevitable cause--experience. At sixteen, what an
illimitable prospective space is seen in the sixteen years that are
to succeed! The termination of the latter period is lost to vision
in the future, as the commencement of the first years are effaced
from the memory of the past. But, in touching the goal which
seemed so distant, we have discovered a scale by which the mind’s
eye measures the future. Impatient youth, burning to overleap the
interval which separates the object from the desires, strives to
accelerate the tardy hours. In mature age, on the contrary, seeing
every day bringing us nearer the termination of our career, we
begin to regret the want of power to arrest the march of time. Thus
our weakness hastens the flight which we desire to delay. Let us
be less fearful of the uncertain future, and the hours will lose
their desolating swiftness.

Finally, in our youth, all objects being new, produce the vivid
impression of novelty. Every instant is filled with landmarks of
memory, because in every instant a new sensation is produced, and
a new link in the chain of the succession of ideas. As we advance
in time, objects imperceptibly cease to excite our curiosity. We
pass by beautiful objects and striking events which once filled us
with transport or surprise, with a carelessness which fails to fix
them in our memory. We return mechanically to the occupations of
the preceding day, scarcely noting the transit of those monotonous
periods which were rendered remarkable neither by ennui nor
pleasure. Let us avoid this mental carelessness, which gives new
speed to the flight of time, and is so fatal to happiness. Friends
of humanity, of literature, of the arts and true enjoyment, let us
preserve the mind in its freshness, the imagination in its youthful
brilliancy. Let us thus arrest the happy moments; and let us
preserve the enthusiasm of youth enlightened by the taste of mature
age, for everything which merits our admiration.[58]

If we desire that our days should not be abridged, we must love
retreat. The immediate result of this shelter is to keep off a
crowd of officious and indolent people. There are those who would
not think of taking our money, and who yet will steal hours and
days from us without scruple. They seem not to realize the value of
these fractions of time which are the material of life.

But while the idle rob us of hours, we ourselves sacrifice years.
A great portion of our race, deafened by the clamor of the
passions, agitated by feverish dreams, are scarcely conscious of
existence; and, awakening for a moment, at death, regret that they
have been long on the earth and yet have not lived. A few others,
after having been long swept onward by the torrent, taught at last
by experience, resist, land and fix their sojourn far from the
tumult; and, finally, begin to taste the pleasant consciousness of
existence. Why not prolong these final hours to the utmost? If our
pursuits interdict us from the independent command of our time, we
may, at least, consecrate portions of every evening to retreat, in
order to review the past, pause on the present, and prepare for the
future. Thus, making every day count in accumulating the pleasant
stores of memory, we add it to the happy days of the past, and no
longer allow life to vanish like a dream.

It is, more than all, in converse with ourselves that we give a
right direction to the mind, elevation to the soul, and gentleness
and firmness to the character. Life is a book in which we every day
read a page. We ought to note down every instructive incident that
passes.

The admirable Marcus Aurelius took delight in converse with
himself; and learned to find enjoyment in the present by extracting
from the past lessons for the future. I never fail to be affected
when I read the account which he gives of all those persons whose
cares had concurred to form his character and his manners. ‘I
learned,’ says he, ‘of my grandfather Verus, to be gentle and
complaisant.

‘The reputation which my father left, and the memory of his good
actions which has been preserved, taught me modesty. My mother
formed me to piety, taught me to be liberal, and not even to
meditate, still less, to do a wrong.

‘I owe it to my governor that I am patient of labor, indulge few
wants, know how to work with my own hands, meddle with no business
that does not concern me, and give no encouragement to informers.

‘Diognetus taught me not to be amused with frivolities, to yield
no credit to charlatans and enchanters, and to have no faith in
conjurations, demons and superstitions of that sort. I learned of
him to permit every one to speak to me with entire freedom, and to
apply myself wholly to philosophy.

‘Rusticus made me perceive that I needed to correct my manners,
that I ought to avoid the pride of the sophists, and not use effort
to inspire the people with admiration of my patience and austerity
of life; to be always ready to pardon those who had offended me,
and to receive them kindly whenever they were disposed to resume
their former intercourse.

‘I learned of Apollonius to be at the same time frank and firm in
my designs, to follow no guide but my reason, even in the smallest
matters, and to be always composed, even under the most acute
sufferings. By his example I was instructed that it is possible to
be at once severe and gentle.

‘Sextus taught me to govern my house as a good father, to preserve
a simple gravity without affectation, to attempt to divine and
anticipate the wishes and necessities of my friends; to endure,
with calmness and patience, the ignorant and presumptuous who
speak without thinking what they say; and to sustain relations of
kindness with all.

‘I learned from Alexander, the grammarian, in disputation to use no
injurious words in reply to my antagonist.

‘Fronto taught me to know that kings are surrounded by the envious,
by knaves and hypocrites.

‘Alexander, the Platonist, instructed me never to say or to write
to any person interceding for my interest, “I have had no time to
attend to your affairs;” nor to allege, as an excuse, “I have been
overwhelmed with business;” but to be always prompt to render all
those good offices which the bonds of society demand.

‘I owe to my brother Severus, the love which I have for truth and
justice. From him I derived the desire to govern my states by equal
laws, and to reign in such a manner as that my subjects might
possess perfect liberty.

‘I thank the Divinity for having given me virtuous ancestors, a
good father, a good mother, a good sister, good preceptors and good
friends; in a word, all the good things I could have desired.’[59]

A crowd of useful thoughts cannot but flow from such self-converse.
Hold every day one of these solitary conversations with yourself.
This is the way in which to attain the highest relish of existence;
and, if I may so say, to cast anchor in the river of life.



LETTER XXIV.

ON DEATH.


If we were to allow ourselves to express the wish that we might
never die, an absurd wish which, perhaps, every man has sometimes
indulged, a moralist might say, ‘Suppose it were granted, where
would be the end of dissension, hatred, revenge? Where would the
victim whom injustice pursues, find an asylum and repose?’ To all
this it is sufficient to reply, that if we accuse nature for having
subjected us to the penalty of death, we have not less reason to
accuse her for having often rendered death desirable, as a relief
from greater evils. Instead of showing herself so niggardly in
bestowing happy moments, why did she not spare humanity the evils
that render death a comparative release?

There are, as I believe, more solid reasons to justify nature
in rendering death an inevitable allotment. When, undertaking
to reform the universe in my day dreams, I render our earthly
existence eternal, I find no difficulty in imagining all the
evils which afflict us removed. But I strain my imagination to no
purpose to give form and reality to those pleasures which shall be
adequate to replace those which this new order of things cannot
admit. Suppose that it were no longer necessary that generation
should succeed generation; and that death were banished from the
earth. The same beings, without hopes or fears, would always
cover its surface. No more loves; no more parental tenderness; no
more filial piety! Flattering hopes forsake the bosom along with
enchanting remembrances. All those affections which give value to
life owe their existence to death.[60]

Our prejudices transform death into a terrible spectre, accompanied
by frightful dreams. The dark and anti-social doctrine, that we
were placed on the earth for the punishment of exile, and that
we ought never to intermit our contemplation of the grave, was
imagined by hypocrites, who preached to others contempt of the
world, that they might appropriate it to themselves. A wise man
sees in existence a gift which he ought not to sacrifice. In
learning how to live, he instructs himself how to die.

We must sometimes look Death in the face to judge how we shall be
able to sustain his approach.[61] It is not necessary often to
repeat this stern examination which presents gloomy ideas, even
to minds the most disciplined. Another manner of contemplating
the final scene offers all the useful results of the first, and
presents nothing afflicting. It consists in observing the influence
which death ought to exercise over life. This term, unknown, but
always near, should render our duties more sacred, our affections
more tender, our pleasures more vivid. In noting the rapidity
of the flight of time, a wise man seizes upon those ideas which
disturb the hours of the multitude, to enhance the charm of his own
thoughts. It was not without an aim that certain of the ancient
philosophers placed in their festal hall a death’s head decked with
roses.

Those who say that death is nothing, may be thought to affect the
semblance of courage. They speak, in fact, only one of the simplest
truths. The term death is the sign of a purely negative idea; and
denotes an instant impossible for thought to measure. It is not yet
death, or it is past; and there is no interval.

Without doubt, the circumstances which precede it are extremely
afflicting. Sudden deaths ought to cost us fewer tears than any
others. Yet we hear it repeated, with a sigh, ‘the unfortunate
sufferer lingered but a few hours.’ Was not that space sufficiently
long when the moments were counted by agony? Let us not tinge our
views by the coloring of egotism; and we shall perceive in this
prompt departure, two motives for consolation; that the deceased,
whom we regret, saw not the long approach of death in advance; and,
that, in meeting it, he experienced a brief pang. Such an end is
worthy of envy, and is the last benefit of heaven.

So died my father, the best of fathers, whom every one recognised
by his force of character, his gentleness and serenity. He did
not dazzle, either by his vivacity of mind, or the variety of his
acquirements. But he so said the simplest things as to render them
the best. During sixty-five years he shared the pains of others,
but never added to them. One day, having experienced unaccustomed
fatigue, he retired early, and a few moments after, slept in death.
Such a death, without pain and alarm, was worthy of a life so pure
that, to render him happy in the life to come, it would be only
necessary to leave him the remembrance of what he had been and what
he had done upon earth.

A fact recognised by numberless observing physicians is, that the
last agony of a good man is rarely violent. It is probable, that in
regard to all forms of death, mankind generally entertain the most
erroneous conceptions. The vulgar, naturally embracing ideas that
terrify them, believe that the dissolution of our earthly being is
accompanied by all conceivable torments. It is probable, on the
contrary, that, in entering upon eternal repose, we experience
sensations analogous to those of a wearied man who feels the sweet
influence of sleep stealing gently upon him.

These sensations, it is true, can be imagined to belong only to the
last moments. Cruel maladies may precede them. But it would seem
that nature invariably employs some means to mitigate the evils
which she inflicts. Among mortal diseases, those which are severely
painful are equally rapid; while those which are slow in their
progress are comparatively free from pain. They allow the patient
time to accustom himself to the idea of his departure. It is
common for those who die in this way to close their career in the
indulgence of dreamy and melancholy musings, solacing themselves
alternately by resignation and hope.

A spectacle, touching to the heart, and, unhappily, too common,
is presented in the case of a fair and florid young woman struck
with a pulmonary malady. Absolute unconsciousness of danger often
accompanies this cruel disease to the last moment. We are perfectly
aware that the patient cannot survive the coming winter. We hear
her pantingly discuss the projects which she expects to execute
with her companions when health and spring shall return. The
contrast of her daily increasing debility with her gentle gayety,
and of her future projects, with the rapid approach of death, makes
the heart bleed. Every one is pained for her but herself. The
hectic fever imparts a kind of joyous inspiration; and nature, to
absolve itself for inflicting death on one so young, leads her to
her last hour in tranquil security. Death is to her as a sleep.

It is certain that physical sufferings are not those which infuse
the utmost bitterness into this last cup. The gloomy thoughts with
which death is invested are excited much more keenly by those
affections which attach us to earth and our kind. We may well
hold the understanding of those ambitious persons in disdain who
instruct us, that when they have finished their vast projects
their days shall thenceforward glide in peace and serenity. Death
uniformly surprises them, tormenting themselves in the pursuit of
their shadows. Others, with less show of stupidity, repine because
death strikes them reposing upon their pleasures. Their groans are
caused by having forgotten the rapidity and evanescence of their
joys. They had not known how to give them an additional charm in
saying, ‘we possess them but for a day.’

But suppose we regret neither ambitious projects nor transient
pleasures, may we not wish to live longer for our children? I
attempt not to inculcate an impracticable or exaggerated system.
There is a situation in which death is fearful. There is a period
in which it would seem as if man ought not to die. It commences
when one has become a parent, and terminates when his sustaining
hand is no longer indispensable to his family.

If nature calls us to quit life before this epoch, all consolations
resemble the remedies which palliate the pains of the dying,
without possessing efficacy to remove them. Still we dare not so
outrage nature as to believe that there can exist a situation
in which a good man can find no alleviation for his sorrows. In
quitting a life which he would wish to retain longer, for the
happiness of those most dear to him, he may derive force and
magnanimity from the thought that he owes it to himself to leave an
example of courage and decent dignity in the last act; that he may
show the influence of piety, resignation, the hope of a good man,
and the discipline of that philosophy which forbids its disciple to
struggle against the inevitable lot.

The approach of death always brings associations of gloom when it
comes in advance of old age, to destroy the tender affections. In
the slow and natural course of years, it is an event as simple, as
little to be deprecated, as the other occurrences of life. Alas!
during a short sojourn, we see those who were most dear continually
falling around us. We soon retain a less number with us than exist
already in another world. The family is divided. I am not surprised
that it becomes a matter of indifference to a wise man to remain
with his present friends, or go and rejoin those that are absent.

As long as our children have need of our support, we resemble a
traveller charged with business of extreme importance. As soon
as these cares become useless, we resemble him who travels at
leisure and by chance; and who takes up his lodging for the night
wherever the setting sun surprises him. For me, I see the second
epoch drawing near. If I reach it, I shall bless heaven for having
awarded me a sufficient number of years, and for having diffused
over them so few pains.

Let us not charge that man with weakness who, when on the eve
of departure for distant and untravelled countries, is perceived
to impart the intonation and tenderness of sorrow to his adieus.
Ought we to exact more of him whom death is about to conduct to
that ‘undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns?’
I would not seem to affect an austere and unnatural courage. But
whenever delivered from the only heart-rending agony, I will hope
and strive to preserve sufficient tranquillity of mind to impress
the sentiment on those I love, that we ought, with becoming
dignity, to submit ourselves to the immutable laws of nature; that
complaint is useless, and murmuring unjust; and that it becomes us,
with transient but subdued emotion, to say, as we receive the final
embrace, ‘may we meet again!’



LETTER XXV.

CONCLUSION OF ‘DROZ SUR L’ART D’ETRE HEUREUX.’


I shall have attained my purpose if these sketches should produce
any degree of conviction that man, in exercising his faculties, can
mitigate his pains and multiply his pleasures, and, consequently,
should serve as the outlines of a plan for reducing the pursuit of
happiness to an art. I am aware that no view could be offered more
contrary to the prevalent opinions in society. The morose and the
frivolous make common cause to attack it. To them the very idea
seems absurd; and the most indulgent among them question the good
faith of him who announces it.[62]

To such grave and learned authorities, and more, even to
the general suffrage against it, I might dare to oppose
counterbalancing authorities. From Socrates to Franklin, I see
philosophers who have been persuaded that man may be directed in
the art, and instructed in the science of happiness; and that his
faculties may be enlarged to pursue it. Who are the men that have
entertained this persuasion? The very _elite_ of the human race.
Was each individual of them surrounded by those happy circumstances
which would naturally inspire the same philosophy? They were
persons who had experienced all the conditions of life. As if
nature had studied to prove, by great examples, that our happiness
depends upon our reason more than upon our circumstances, Epictetus
lived in chains, and Marcus Aurelius on a throne.

We justly render homage to the Greek philosophers. Is their glory
founded on their physics, long since known to be full of errors,
or their metaphysics, often puerile? Upon neither; but they have
merited the veneration of ages by indicating principles, the
practice of which, would render us better and more happy.

Which of the sciences did the admirable Socrates chiefly esteem?
The single one which teaches us how to live as we ought. Let it
not be said that I substitute one science for another; and that
Socrates taught morals, and not my pretended science of happiness.
With the Greeks, morals had a perfectly definite end. Their
philosophers held all their teaching subservient to conducting
their disciples to happiness. Illustrious men! we disdain their
maxims, but still revere their names. What fruit have we obtained
from the boasted light and improvement of the age? We speak with
enthusiasm of those sciences which they judged frivolous; and we
treat as chimerical those studies which they judged alone worthy of
human nature.

Suppose it had been said to these philosophers, ‘you will never
reform the human race; and, instead of profitless dreams about
wisdom and happiness, you ought to desist from subjects so futile,
and consecrate your vigils to sciences more worthy to occupy your
thoughts.’ Would they not have smiled with pity upon such counsel?
Had they deigned to reply, would they not have said, ‘We are well
aware that we shall not purify the heart of the wicked of its
pride, envy, cupidity; but shall we derive no glory from having
confirmed some good men in their career? In the midst of storms
we felt our energies invigorated as we perceived that our spirits
were in accordance with theirs. However feeble may have been the
influence of our writings, affront not humanity by supposing that
ours, however partial may have been their circulation, will,
nowhere, find minds worthy to profit by them. Perhaps they will
kindle the holy love of virtue in some of those who may read them
in the youthful age of unsophisticated and generous resolutions.
Few, who read, will practise our doctrine in all its extent. Almost
every one will be indebted to it for some solitary principles. It
is possible we may never have numerous disciples. But we shall
have some in all countries and in all time. It is a truth that
ought to satisfy us, that such discussions are based neither upon
exaggeration nor revery. The science of happiness would indeed
be chimerical if we expected that it would impart the same charms
to all predicaments in which our lot might cast us. Instead of
indulging such visionary hopes, if these discussions dissipate
the errors which veil the true good from our eyes, if we learn to
bring together all the easy and innocent pleasures, and to render
the painful moments of life more rapid, we have been taught an art
which it is possible to demonstrate and improve to an indefinite
extent.’

Does this art appear difficult? Let any one be named which it
exacts no effort to acquire. Will it be thought that it cannot
become of general utility? Will professors, of the highest
reputation, cease to teach eloquence because they do not form
as many orators as they have pupils? The more maturely I have
reflected upon the art in question, the more clearly I am convinced
that it may be assimilated to the other arts. It differs from them
only in its superior importance. The interest and attention that
all the rest merit should be measured only by their relation, more
or less direct, to this first of all arts. To settle the utility of
any science, law, enterprise, or action, I know no better measure
than to note its influence on human happiness.

If moral lessons leave but a transient influence, it may be
attributed to two principal causes; the weakness of our nature, and
the contagion of example. A third belongs to those who teach us the
doctrine of morals, and is found in their exaggeration of their
doctrine. They elevate the altar of wisdom upon steep mountains;
and discourage our first steps, by proclaiming the painful efforts
necessary to scale them. From the sadness of the ministers of the
worship, it would not be inferred, that the divinity of the place
was liberal in dispensing pure pleasures, bright hopes, oblivion of
pain, and remembrances almost as pleasant as either.

It is a fatal error to imagine that it is useful to exaggerate
the doctrine of morals. To do this, fails not to excite disgust
towards the precepts inculcated. Men, that have been deceived
upon these points, as soon as they judge for themselves, in their
impatience to shake off the yoke of prejudices, are tempted to
reject principles the most wise with those errors by which they
have been misled. That we may be heard and followed, let us be
true. Let us present, with force, the evils which the abuse of our
faculties brings upon our short career.--Let us avow with equal
frankness, that we commit an egregious mistake, if we refuse, or
neglect to draw from our faculties all the advantages in our power,
to embellish life.

The doctrine of morals is a phrase that has been often employed
to designate the propagation of false and extravagant principles.
For this phrase, which is too worn out, and of equivocal import,
suppose we substitute a definition, which will clearly indicate
the end, towards which, morals ought to be directed. Morals is
that which teaches the art of happiness. If it be not so, the
foundation of ethics is a mere matter of convention, either useless
or dangerous.

Morals should be taught only as subservient to happiness. Austerity
should be banished equally from the manner of teaching and from
the matter that is taught.--They are the useful teachers, whose
tenderness of heart impels them rather to inspire virtue than to
enjoin it; and whose brilliant imagination enables them to offer
wise principles under such pleasant forms as charm the mind and
awaken curiosity. If I were to point to one of the best works on
morals, according to my judgment, I would name ‘_The Vicar of
Wakefield_.’ To present a family struggling with every form of
misfortune, and constantly opposing resignation or courage to each,
is to offer the sublimest painting that it is possible to execute.
The concurrence of genius and virtue could alone have conceived the
idea. All good men owe the tribute of gratitude and veneration to
the memory of the author.

The concurrent influence of public institutions and education would
be necessary to render the general habits conformable to happiness.
Books, the influence of which I certainly have not exaggerated, may
be useful to men, raised by the discipline of their reason above
the multitude. That man is happy, who knows how to add good books
to the number of his friends, who often retires from the world
to enjoy their peaceful and instructive conversation, and always
brings back serenity, courage and hope.

Were the doctrine true, that it is impossible to increase the
happiness or diminish the evils of life, it is not perceived that
it would not still be necessary to follow my principles. Preach
this discouraging doctrine to a good man, and you may afflict him,
but will obtain no influence over his conduct. He will always
strive to improve his condition, mitigate the sufferings that press
upon him, and render men more compassionate and happy. Such noble
efforts cannot be entirely lost. The pure intentions, the sincere
wishes, which he forms for the good of his kind, give to his mind
a pleasant serenity. It assures his own happiness to meditate the
means of increasing that of others.



LETTER XXVI.

THE CHOICE OF A PROFESSION.


The considerate Knight of La Mancha would not dismiss his follower
and friend to the government of Barataria, without a few more last
words, and without arming him for his high functions with a copious
homily of counsels and admonitions. Before I leave you to the
stern encounter of the painful emergencies of life, to unravel its
intricacies, and settle its innumerable perplexing and difficult
alternatives, I do not mean to oppress your memory with the
thousand and one particular directions, to meet every imaginable
occurrence with the right mode of conduct. Innumerable cases of
perplexity will be continually occurring, that can only be settled
by extempore judgment and prudence. I shall limit my counsels to a
single one among the many questions of universal application, each
one of which present a great variety of aspects and alternatives;
questions of difficult solution for the young; and yet on the right
disposal of which depend their character, success and happiness
in life. Among the subjects to which I refer, are, the choice of
a profession--decision in regard to our plans and projects--the
selection of our company--the dispositions with which we should
regard the place assigned us in society--the deportment appropriate
to gentlemen and ladies--the proper selection of books--the mode
and place of worship, and what are the best evidences of true
wisdom in character. The first of these is the only one upon which
I shall offer you my remarks.

In the choice of a profession, the first point to be consulted is
our physical and mental temperament and endowment, or aptitude.
That some are constituted for sedentary and inactive pursuits,
others to beat the anvil, follow the plough, or mount the reeling
mast with a firm step in the uproar of a tempest; some for the
bar, others for the pulpit, and still others to be musicians,
painters, poets or engineers, I consider a truth so universally and
obviously taught by observation and experience, that I shall not
deem it necessary to pause to prove it to such as would contest
it. I am sufficiently informed that there are those who contend
that all minds are formed equal and alike--and that all the after
differences result from education and circumstances. With them,
Virgil and Byron had no constitutional aptitudes to poetry, and
the same training that gave Handel and Gluck their preëminence in
music, would have imparted to any other mind equal skill. According
to their system, La Place and Zerah Colburn were no earlier or
more strongly inclined to mathematics, than other children. These
sapient physiologists in descending to the animal tribes, ought to
find, that web-footed animals had no natural aptitude for water,
the canine tribes for animal food, and the ruminating, to feed on
grass and vegetables. I shall leave those who hold this dogma to
retain it unquestioned so far as I am concerned; and they will
be obliged to leave me to mine, which is, that there are immense
differences in the physical and mental constitution, differences
which every enlightened parent discovers in his children from the
very dawn of their faculties--differences which every intelligent
instructer notes in his pupils, as soon as he becomes intimately
acquainted with them--differences which, to keen and close
observation, distinguish more or less each individual in the
immense mass of society. No matter how much alike these persons are
reared and trained; the most striking diversities of endowment are
often observed in members of the same family, reared and educated
with all possible uniformity. This is, no doubt, a beautiful trait
of that general impress of variety, which providence has marked
upon every portion of the animate and inanimate creation. Nature
has willed, that not only men should possess an untiring diversity
of form, countenance and mind, but that not two pebbles on the
shore, or insects in the air, should be found precisely alike. The
sign manual of the Creator on his works is a grand and infinite
variety.

The physiological inquiry whence these differences of temperament
and aptitude arise, is one, which belongs to another subject;
though I have no wish to conceal my belief, that the fundamental
positions of phrenology are as immovably founded in fact, and as
certainly follow from observation, as the leading axioms of any
physical science. It is enough for my present purpose, that the
order of every form of society calls for an infinite variety of
aptitude, talent and vocation, and that nature has furnished the
requisite variety of endowment, adequately to meet those calls.

The ancient system, still in use, goes on the supposition, that
all minds are originally alike; and that all children are equally
fit to be trained for each of the vocations. Hence we see tailors
at the anvil, and blacksmiths on the shopboard, innumerable
excellent ploughmen generating prose, and sleeping at the bar and
pulpit, and ingenious fiddlers ruined as engineers; in a word, all
that ludicrous disarrangement and seeming play at cross purposes,
in virtue of which, men, who would have been borne, by a strong
current, to the first place in the profession for which nature
designed them, become dull and useless in another. A great part
of the whole labor of instruction has thus been worse than thrown
away. It has been the hard effort of poetic fiction, laboring the
huge stone up an acclivity, to see it recoil and hear it thunder
back again; the effort to circumvent, and cross the purposes of
nature.

It seems to me to be among the most responsible inquiries of a
parent and a conscientious instructor, what pursuit or calling is
indicated for his child by his temperament and aptitude? The boy,
who, like Pope, even in childhood lisps in numbers, because the
numbers come, will probably be found to have not only an ear for
the peculiar harmony of rhythm, but an inventive mind, stored with
images, and a quick eye to catch the various phases of nature and
society. If placed under favorable circumstances, and judicious
training, this child will become a poet, while ninety-nine in a
hundred of those, who make verses, could by no forcing of nature
ever rise higher than rhymers. Thus may be detected the embryo
germs of temperament, endowment and character, which give the
undeveloped promise of the future orator, lawyer, mathematician,
naturalist, mechanician, in a word, of the mind fitted to attain
distinction in any walk in society. I am aware of the mistakes,
which fond and doting parents are likely to make, in interpreting
an equivocal, perhaps an accidental sally of the cherished child,
to be a sure proof of genius and endowment. No judicious and
intelligent parent will be in much danger of being led astray by
fondness so weak and misguided.--Wherever real endowment exists, it
never fails to put forth continual indications. It is the elastic
vigor of nature working at the root, to which no foolish partiality
will be blind.

It is true, that nature, equally beneficent in what she has
granted, and what she has withheld, forms the million for the
common duties and undistinguished employments; stamps them at once
with a characteristic uniformity and variety; and sends them forth
with specific adaptations, but not so strongly marked, as not to
be mistaken with comparative impunity. Hence the ordinary pursuits
and employments of life are conducted with general success,
notwithstanding these smaller mistakes in regard to endowment.

Not so in those rarer instances, where she has seen fit to stamp
the clear and strong impress of peculiar endowment and aptitude,
in which the embryo poet, painter, mathematician, naturalist, and
orator are indicated by such unequivocal signs, as cannot easily
be overlooked, or mistaken by any competent judge. Hence, in the
biography of most of those who have truly and greatly distinguished
themselves, we are informed that the most ordinary people about
them were perfectly aware of the harbingers of their future
greatness. I am confident, that to keen and faithful observation
these harbingers are as palpable in the germ, as in the
development. To mistake in such a case, and not only to withdraw
the youthful aspirant from the career to which nature beckons him,
but to force him into one, in which every effort must be rowing
against the stream, is to consign him to an Egyptian bondage, a
slavery of the soul, by which many a spirit of firmer mould has
been broken down, and lost to society, and others worse than lost,
rendered the scourge and curse of all with whom their lot was cast.

Such as have arrived at a maturity of reason and years, to have the
responsibility of the choice of a profession cast upon themselves,
will infer, what are my views in regard to the first element, by
which they ought to be directed. It involves a previous question,
for what pursuit or calling their temperament, faculties and
powers best fit them? By long and close observation, pursued
with a fidelity proportioned to its importance, by intent study
of themselves, as called out by the changes of their health and
prospects, the fluctuations of their spirits, their collisions
with society, in all the contingencies that befall them, they can
scarcely fail to form some conception of the peculiar cast of their
powers, and the walk in life, for which their capabilities are best
adapted. If they select wisely in this respect, habit and time will
certainly render it the profession of their inclinations.

As soon as the mind begins to survey the professions, in regard
to the honors, emolument and success, which they respectively
offer, there is great danger, lest imagination, taking the place
of reason, should look at the scene through a prism, and see
all the chances of an illusive brilliancy of promise, which
sober experience will be sure to disappoint. There are the
immense promises of the law, alluring a crowd of aspirants and
competitors, the greater portion of whom must fail to realize their
expectations. There are the honors of the physician, binding him,
by the strongest of all ties, to the confidence and affection of
the families that employ him. He exercises the only profession that
does not depend upon the caprice of fashion, or the vibrations of
transient feeling.--There is the ministry, with its time-honored
claims, its peculiar title to be admitted to the privacy of
affection, sickness and death, and its paramount capability of the
highest forms of that only eloquence that swells and softens the
heart, by coming home to men’s business and bosoms. There is the
varied range, and the rapidly acquired fortunes of merchandize and
commerce; the growing interest and importance of the new portico
to a new order of nobility, manufactures. There is agriculture,
always seen to be the most satisfactory and useful of employments,
and now rapidly coming to be viewed in the light of scientific
investigation and of a liberal pursuit. To adjust and settle the
respective views, which the judgment and imagination will take of
the chances of these various pursuits, and their contiguity to
love, marriage, wealth, and distinction, will be found to be no
easy task. Sometimes one view will predominate--sometimes another;
and the mind appears like a pendulum vibrating between them.

Reason presents one decisive view of the subject. All these
chances--all these balances of advantage and disadvantage have
long since settled to their actual and natural level. If the law
presents more tempting baits, and more rich and glittering prizes,
over-crowded competition, heart-wearing scramble, difficulty of
rising above the common level, into the sun and air of distinction,
are appended, as inevitable weights, in the opposing scale. The
advantages and disadvantages of all the professions are adjusted
by the level of society, exactly in the same way. He who is guided
in this inquiry by common sense, will comprehend at a glance, that
it is impossible, in the nature of things, to combine all the
advantages and evade all the disadvantages of any one pursuit. No
expectation more irrational and disappointing can be indulged, than
to unite incompatible circumstances of happiness. The inquirer
must reflect, that such a pursuit connects a series of fortunate
chances; but there are the counterbalancing evils. Such another
has a different series of both. It is folly to expect to form an
amalgam of these immiscible elements. Reason can expect no more
than that we unite in the calling, finally fixed upon, as many
fortunate circumstances as possible, and avoid, as far as may be,
its inconveniences and evils.



NOTES.



NOTES.


Note 1, page 39.

The history of circumstances under which I commenced reading the
book of M. Droz, _sur l’ art d’ étre heureux_, the substance of the
first chapter of which is given as above, will not be irrelevant,
I would hope, _to you_, if to others. It was a beautiful April
morning, and I had wandered away from the town, with the book
in my hand, among the hills. I inhaled a bland atmosphere that
just ruffled half formed leaves, and shook from trees, shrubs and
flowers the pearly drops and the delicious aroma of the season.
A dun, purple, smoky vapor veiled the brilliancy of the sun and
gave the face of nature its most exquisite coloring. A repose,
like sleep, seemed to rest upon the earth, only interrupted by the
ruminating of the flocks and herds on the hill sides. The bees
sped away to their nectar cells from tree and flower, leaving upon
the dark and fleeting line of their passage through the air a
lulling hum like the tones of an Eolian harp. A large town, with
its ceaseless and heavy roll of mingled sounds, lay outstretched
beneath my feet. Painted boats were slowly wending their way along
a canal from the town, and winding their course round the foot of
the hills. Before me was a vast panorama of activity, business,
commerce and all the accompaniments of a busy town. A few paces
behind me, and I was plunged in a forest where town and commerce
and life were hidden as if by the shifting of a scene, and the jay
screamed, and the woods showed as to the red man who had seen
them centuries before. A beautiful spring branch murmured by me in
its deep and flood-worn channel down the glen. A little advance
spread the town before me. A little retreat gave me back to the
wildness of nature in the forest. Here I had often enjoyed much of
the little that life allows us to enjoy, in quiet communion with
nature and my own thoughts. I had never experienced it in higher
measures than at this moment. Could I, by a volition, have arrested
the flight of time and the succession of sensations, here would I
have fixed the _punctum stans_ of existence, and been content to
have this scene always around me, and the enjoyment of this union
of meditation and repose, perpetual.

But a change came over my thoughts, as I read the quaint axiom,
laid down with such mathematical precision, _man is formed to be
happy_. What I saw and what I felt, my own consciousness assented
to the proposition. But, startled by a transient feeling of pain,
a new train of ideas succeeded. I have only to pass, said I, the
short interval between this repose, verdure, quietness and internal
satisfaction, to reach the scene of dust and smoke before me.
Besides spires and mansions, I shall see hovels, poor, blind, lame,
squalid, blaspheming youth, imbecile age, prostitutes, beggars,
haunts of felons and outlaws; and even in the abodes of what shows
external comfort and opulence, the sick and dying hanging in
agonies of suspense upon the countenance of their physician and
friends, as they catch gleams of hope or shades of despair from
their aspect. Many of these sick, even if they recover, will only
be restored to trembling age, to perpetual and incurable infirmity,
and to evils worse than death. Yet, unhappy in living, and afraid
to die, they cling to this wretched existence as though it were
the highest boon. These varied shades of misery that the picture
before me will present to the slightest inspection, in ten thousand
forms and combinations, are visible in every part of our world. I,
too, shall soon add to the deepness of the shading. My friends will
depart in succession; and in my turn, on the bed of death, I shall
look in the faces of those most dear to me, as I am compelled to
depart out of life. What an affecting contrast with what I see and
what I am!

Why there is this partial evil in the world is not a question which
I shall here attempt to vex; for I could add nothing to what has
already been said upon the subject. It is enough that the evil
does actually exist. Is it remediless? Can life be so spent as to
leave a balance of enjoyment set over against the evil? These are
my questions. There will always be inequality, ignorance, vice,
disease, a measureless amount of misery and death. What portion
of the evils of life can be cured? What portion must be manfully,
piously endured? What transient gleams of joy can be made to
illumine the depth of shade?

I yield entire faith to the doctrine before you, that, estimate
these evils as highly as you may, a balance of enjoyment may
still be struck in favor of life. I do not doubt, that more than
one half the suffering and sorrow which every individual endures
is simply of his own procuring, and not only that it might have
been wholly avoided, but that positive enjoyment might have been
substituted in its place. An inconceivable mass of misery would at
once be struck from the sum if, as I have already remarked, we knew
the physical, organic and moral laws of our being, and conformed
ourselves to them. A uniform, consistent and thorough education
would cure us of innumerable errors of opinion, injurious habits,
and a servile conformity to established and prescribed prejudices,
and would impart to us wisdom, force of character and resignation,
to enable us to sustain, as we ought, those that are unavoidable.
Imperfection, pain, decay and death, in the inevitable measures
belonging to organized beings, would remain. The dignity of true
philosophy, the stern consciousness of the necessity of courage,
profound and filial submission to the divine will, and the well
defined and investigated hopes of religion would accomplish the
remainder.

Consider one single evil--fear, unnecessary fear, an entirely
gratuitous infusion of bitterness in the cup of life. I ask the man
who has seen fourscore winters to tell me, were all that he has
suffered in his pilgrimage cast into one account, what would be the
greatest item in the sum? I believe that almost every one might
answer, that more than half might be charged to one single source
of suffering--fear--fear of opinion, reproach, shame, poverty,
pain, danger, disease and death. I pause not to consider the usual
dull illustrations of the wisdom and utility of assigning to us
the instinct of fear, to put us on our guard and to enable us to
ward off evils. It is not this instinctive shrinking and vigilance
to avoid evil that I consider. Let education have its most perfect
work in raising us superior to this servile and tormenting passion,
and too much of it would still remain. Of all that we have suffered
from fear, what portion has been of any service in shielding us
from that which we apprehended? Not only have we avoided no evil
in consequence, but the enervating indulgence of this passion
has taken from us our quickness of foresight, our coolness of
deliberation, our firmness of action and resolve, by the exercise
of which, we might have escaped all that we dreaded. We may
calculate then, that every pang we have felt from this source has
been just so much gratuitous agony.

Not only natural instincts, but acquired habits are transmitted;
and this evil of fearfulness, this foreboding of apprehension,
shaping the fashion of uncertain ills, has been the growing
inheritance of countless generations; and a shrinking and
effeminate timidity has been woven into our mental constitution
by nature. Education, instead of resisting, or counteracting, or
diminishing the transmitted mischief, has labored with terrible
effect, to make it a principle and a motive to action, and the
most efficient engine of the inculcated systems of morality and
religion. Fear of death, and a slavish terror, springing from
misapprehensions of the character of the divine being, and unmanly
and debilitating horrors in regard to the unknown future in another
life, these have been the chief sources of this evil. Terribly have
the father and the mother, the minister and the school-master, and
general prescription and example concurred, to strengthen this
barbarous instrument of governing, which never inspired a good
action, and which it would be cruel to apply to a slave. Horrible
have been the bondage, the mean abjectness of spirit, the long
agony of the soul, which this inculcation has inspired.--We have
been sedulously trained in a course of discipline which has made
us afraid of our own shadows in the dark, and inspired us with
shrinking and terror in view of a silent and peaceful corpse,
which, in the eye of sober reason, should originate associations no
more fearful, than a waxen figure. We, who are the victims of this
inborn and instinctive inheritance, we, who have had it inwoven by
precept, education and example, and the prevalent impression, that
it is one of the purest and most religious motives of action, are
best able from our own consciousness, and the memory of what we
have suffered from it, to present just views of it to others.--It
may be in us an ingrafted principle, too deep to be uprooted
by any rules, or reasons, or system of discipline; a habit too
unyieldingly become a part of our nature, to be overcome. But with
minds more docile, with temperaments more pliant, with habits
less fixed, it may be otherwise. The next generation may transmit
a more manly and less timid nature to the generations to come.
Education, building on the basis of minds of more force, may then
accomplish its perfect work, imbuing them with a filial confidence
in the Almighty, a sense of the beauty of well-doing, and a perfect
fearlessness in regard to everything, but doing wrong. The happier
generation of that era, will be spared the agony of all deaths, but
the single one of nature; and will be fortified by discipline, and
the force of general opinion and example, to regard this inevitable
law of our being, this merciful provision of providence, this rest
for the worn and weary, as the hireling regards the evening shade,
when he reposes from his labors and receives his reward. I shall
elsewhere advert to this evil in more detail, and point out such
remedies, as appear to me to be suggested by reason, education and
religion.


Note 2, page 41.

This classification of the great divisions of our species, as they
are occupied in the pursuit of happiness, seems to me to unite
truth with poetry and philosophy, and to be both happy and just.
The disappointed, who affirm that the earth offers no happiness,
the gloomy, who view life as a place of penance, austerity and
tears, the dissipated and voluptuous, who seek only pleasure, and
whose doctrine is, that life offers no happiness but in unbridled
indulgence, the ambitious, who consider happiness to consist only
in wealth, power and distinction, and a very numerous class, who
have no object in view, but to vegetate through life by chance,
constitute the great mass of mankind. The number of those who
have lived by system, and disciplined themselves to the wise and
calculating pursuit of happiness, has always been small. But
there have still been some, enough to prove the practicability
of the art.--Wherever we find a person, who declares that he has
lived happily, if his enjoyments have been of a higher kind,
than the mere vegetative easiness of a felicitous temperament
and an unthinking joyousness, we shall find on inquiry, that he
has been a philosopher in the highest and best sense. He may
scarcely understand the import of the term; but, however ignorant
of systems, and the learning of the schools, if he have made it
his chief business, to learn by the study of himself, and general
observation, how to be happy, he is the true sage. He may well
be content, let others regard him as they may; for he has put in
requisition the best wisdom of life. No one maxim, especially,
ever included more important and practical truth, than that, to be
happy, we must assiduously train ourselves to retain through life
a keen and juvenile freshness of sensibility to enjoyment, and
must early learn to anticipate the effect of experience and years
in cultivating a stern indifference, a strong spirit of endurance,
and unshrinking obtuseness to pain. It has been my fortune to see
examples of persons who enjoyed life even to old age with all the
ardor and the quick perception of the young, and who had always
been as remarkable for their impassive and heroic endurance of pain.


Note 3, page 43.

We are told, in ridicule of this study, that men have been very
happy without rules, and before any system had been laid down,
and will continue to be happy, unconscious of the means by which
they arrived at their enjoyment. So have men reasoned without
acquaintance with the rules of logic; but this proves not the
inutility of the study. Let the objector convince us that the happy
without thought and rules would not have been happier if they had
sought enjoyment with the keen and practical intelligence of a
Franklin.

Whatever men do well without definite aim and without rules, it is
clear to me, they would do better with these advantages. The same
argument equally militates with all means of moral instruction.
‘The world,’ the objector may say, ‘will proceed as before, say
what we may.’ But this would be deemed no just ground of objection
to an attempt to improve the age, though the efforts may have
little visible and apparent effect.


Note 4, page 44.

No term has been more hackneyed, in these days, than education.
We have had system upon system, and treatise upon treatise; and
more has been written and declaimed upon this subject than almost
any other. And yet, scarcely a word has been said upon a grand
and radical defect in all existing systems which reduces to a
very humble scale the results of the best concerted efforts. I
lay out of the question all other incongruities, that I might
easily mention, and come directly to that which I have chiefly in
my mind. Each of the different instructors, through whose forming
hands the pupil passes, communicates to him different, militant
and incompatible impulses; so that, instead of a continuous
operation and an onward movement, it seems to be the work of each
successive teacher to undo that of all the others. The father and
mother, besides various minor inculcations, labor, as their highest
object, to infuse into the mind of their child, ambition, the
desire of preëminence and distinction. The school-master instils
the same principles under such different circumstances as to
render the envy, rivalry and competition of the school-room almost
another series of impulses. The minister and the catechism enjoin
humility, meekness and a disposition to prefer others in honor
before themselves. ‘Be honest and high-minded,’ say the parents
and teachers. ‘Be adroit, and circumvent those who are watching
to take advantage of your weakness and inexperience,’ says the
master at the counting-desk. The elder friends teach one class of
maxims, and the younger another. The actual world inculcates rules
different from all the rest. Thus the parents, the school-master,
the minister, the politician, society and the world are continually
varying the direction of the youthful traveller. No wonder that
most people either have no character, or one that is a compound of
the most incongruous elements. A pupil, to have a strong, wise,
marked and efficient character, should have had it steadily trained
to one end; and every impulse ought to have been in a right line
and concurrent with every other. Such must be the case before
honest and uniform characters will be formed.

There is little force in the objection, that he who has not been
constantly happy himself ought not to presume to teach others to
be happy. On the contrary, as the author beautifully suggests,
none can discuss, with so much experience and force of truth, the
dangers of shipwreck, as they who have themselves suffered it. If
the art of happiness can be taught, the teacher must necessarily
have paid the price of a qualification to impart it, in having
been himself unhappy. Conscious that he had the susceptibility of
enjoyment, and wanted only the right direction of the means, he
will be able to set up way-marks, as a warning to others, at the
points where he remembers that he went astray himself.


Note 6, page 45.

The necessity of moderating our desires and reducing them within
the limits of what we may reasonably hope to acquire, has been
the beaten theme of prose and song for so many ages that the
triteness of repetition has finally caused the great truth to
be almost disregarded by moralists. Yet, who can calculate the
sum of torment that has been inflicted by wild and unreasonable
desires, by visionary and puerile expectations, beyond all
probable bounds of means to realize them, indulged and fostered
until they have acquired the force of habit! Whose memory cannot
recur to sufferings from envy and ill will, generated by cupidity,
for the possessions and advantages of others that we have not!
Who can count the pangs which he has endured from extravagant
and unattainable wishes! Poetry calls our mortal sojourn a vale
of tears; yet what ingenuity to multiply the gratuitous means
of self-torment! Has another health, wealth, beauty, fortune,
endowment, which I have not? Envy will neither take them from
him, nor transfer them to me. Why, then, should I allow vultures
to prey upon my spirit? Learn neither to regret what you want
and cannot supply, nor to hate him who is more fortunate. With
all his apparent advantages over you, he wants, perhaps, what
you may possess, a tranquil mind. There is little doubt that you
are the happier person if you contemplate his advantages and his
possessions with a cheerful and unrepining spirit.

I present two considerations only, as inducements to control and
regulate your desires. 1. In indulging them beyond reason you are
fostering internal enemies and becoming a self-tormentor. In the
quaint language of the ancient divines, they are like fire, good
servants but terrible masters. 2d. The higher gifts of fortune, the
common objects of envious desire, are awarded to but a few. The
number of those who may entertain any reasonable hope of reaching
them is very small. But every one can moderate his desires. Every
one can set bounds to his ambition. Every one can limit his
expectations. What influence can fortune, events, or power exercise
over a person, who has learned to be content with a little, and
who has acquired courage to resign even that without repining?
Franklin might well smile at the impotent malice of those who would
deprive him of his means and his business, when he proved to them
that he could live on turnips and rain water. It is not the less
true or important, because it has been a million times said, that
happiness, the creature of the mind, dwells not in external things.


Note 7, page 47.

Wherever civilized man has been found, the first effort of his
mind, beyond the attainment of his animal wants, has been to
travel into the regions of imagination, to create a nobler and
more beautiful world than the dull and common-place existing one,
to assign to man a higher character and purer motives than belong
to the actual race. To possess a frame inaccessible to pain and
decay, and to dwell in eternal spring, surrounded by beauty and
truth, is an instinctive desire. A mind of any fertility can
create and arrange such a scene; and in this dreaming occupation
the sensations are tranquillizing and pleasant beyond the more
exciting enjoyment of actual fruition. With the author, I deem
the propensity for this sort of meditation neither unworthy in
itself, nor tending to consequences to be deprecated. So far as
my own experience goes, and I am not without my share, it neither
enervates nor satiates. It furnishes enjoyment that is calm and
soothing; and such enjoyment, instead of enfeebling, invigorates
the mind to sustain trials and sorrows. Why should we not enter
into every enjoyment that is followed by no painful consequences?
Why should we not be happy when we may? Is he not innocently
employed who is imagining a fairer scene--a better world--more
benevolence, and more joy than this ‘visible diurnal sphere’
affords? Addison is never presented to me in a light so amiable
as when he relates his day-dreams, his universal empire, in which
he puts down all folly and all wickedness, and makes all his
personages good and happy. Every writer who has produced a romance
worth reading, has been endowed in this way, as a matter of course;
and I confidently believe that the greatest and best of men have
been most strongly inclined to this sort of mental creation. May
not their noblest achievements have been the patterns of those
archetypes? I have no doubt that imaginings infinitely more
interesting than any recorded in romances, Arabian tales, or any
other work of fiction, have imparted their transient exhilaration
to meditative minds, and have passed away with the things that
never grew into the material and concrete grossness of sensible
existence. If ink and paper and printing could have been created as
cheaply and readily as a new earth and better men and women, and
scenes more like what we hope for at last, the world would have had
bequeathed to it more volumes, than would have weighed down all
the ponderous dulness of by-gone romance. I cannot assure myself,
that you would have been amused, or instructed in reading; but you
would then have been able to form some idea of the hours of pain,
embarrassment, lack of all external means of pleasant occupation,
journeying, cold and watching, that have been beguiled by this
employment. I only add that, so far as my experience extends, the
first calm days of spring, and the period of Indian summer in
autumn are most propitious to this sort of revery.


Note 8, page 48.

These and the subsequent views of ambition in this essay of M.
Droz, have been the theme of severe and sweeping strictures upon
the general tendency of his book. Ambitious and aspiring men will
find it ridiculous, of course, to exact, as a pre-requisite to
the pursuit of happiness, the abandonment, or the moderation of
ambitious thoughts, especially in such a country as ours, where
some boon is held out to tempt these aspirings in almost every
condition, from the mansion to the cabin. It may not be amiss
for men, who are themselves aspirants, and to whom the access to
distinction and power is easy, and the attainment probable, to
declaim against the tendency of these maxims. I know well, that
in every rank and position, the inculcation of aspiring thoughts,
emulation and rivalry is the first and last lesson, the grand
and beaten precept, upon which the million are acting. I am well
aware how many hearts are wrung by all the fierce and tormenting
passions, associated with this devouring one. I affirm nothing in
regard to my own interior views, respecting what the world calls
fame, glory and immortality. Those who are most dear to me, will
not understand me to be entering my _caveat_ to dissuade them from
this _last infirmity of noble minds_. Could I do it with more
eloquence than ever yet flowed from tongue or pen, there will
always be a hundred envious competitors for every single niche
in the temple of fame. It can be occupied but by one; and he who
gains it will exult in his elevation only during its freshness
and novelty. The rest, to the torment of fostered and devouring
desires, will add the bitterness of disappointment.

Since it is a fact out of question, that the greater portion of
the species can never secure the objects of their ambition, is it
ill-judged in one who treats upon the science of happiness, to
write for the million instead of the few favorites of fortune?
The principles of a philosophic investigation ought not to be
narrowed down to meet the wishes of the few. The question is,
whether, taking into view ambition and all the associated feelings,
the toil of pursuit, and the difficulty and unfrequency of the
attainment of its objects, it is, on the whole, favorable to
happiness to cherish the passion, or not? I am clear, that even
the successful aspirants, if their rivalry were more generous and
philanthropic, and their indulgence of the cankering and corroding
of ill-concealed envy, derision, hate and scorn, were regulated,
would be not the less rapid in reaching the goal, or happy in the
fruition of their attainment. I have little doubt, if an exact
balance of enjoyment and suffering could be struck, at the last
hour between two persons, whose circumstances in other respects
had been similar, one of whom had been distinguished in place
and power, in consequence of cultivating ambition; and the other
obscure in peaceful privacy, in consequence of having chosen that
condition, that the scale of happiness would decidedly incline
in favor of the latter. In a word, it is the index of sound
calculation, to prepare for the fate of the million, rather than
that of the few. Repress ambition, as much as we may, there will
always remain enough to render the world an aceldama, and the human
heart a place of concentrated torment.

It is clear, therefore, to me, that in making up the debt and
credit account of life, in relation to happiness, most of the
sentiments associated with ambition, and its prolific family of
self-tormenting passions, may be set down as gratuitous items
of misery, superinduced by our own voluntary discipline. I shall
be asked, what is to stimulate to exertion, to study, toil and
sacrifice, to great and noble actions, and what shall lead to fame
and renown, if this incentive be taken away? I answer, that, what
is ordinarily dignified with the appellation of ambition, is a vile
mixture of the worst feelings of our nature. There is in all minds,
truly noble, a sufficient impulse towards great actions, apart from
these movements, which are generally the excitements of little and
mean spirits. Take the whole nature of man into the calculation,
and there can never be a want of sufficient impulse towards
distinction, without a particle of those contemptible motives,
which are generally put to the account of praiseworthy incitement.
Truly great men have been remarkable for their exemption from
envy, the inseparable concomitant of conscious deficiency; and
for a certain calm and tranquil spirit, indicating moderation and
comparative indifference in the struggle of emulation. They are
able to say, in regard to the highest boon of ambition,

      ‘I neither spurn, nor for the favor call,
       It comes unasked-for, if it comes at all.’

Why, then, in a world, and in an order of society, where ambition,
with its associated passions, brings in an enormous amount to
the mass of human self-inflicted torment, should he be censured,
who advises, that in the philosophic and calculating pursuit of
happiness, this element of misery should be, as much as possible,
repressed? The question may be more strongly urged, when we take
into the account, the consideration, that the far greater portion
of the species must calculate on the bitterness of disappointment,
in addition to the miseries which are inseparable from the
indulgence of this passion. All the inordinate thirst for power
and fame of the countless aspirants, who desire to be Alexanders,
Cæsars and Napoleons, not only is so much subtracted from their
enjoyment, and added to their misery, but has little tendency to
aid them to attainments, which, after all, are as frequently the
award of contingency, as of calculation.

Let the evils of retirement and obscurity, be fairly balanced
with those of gratified ambition, and let the aspirant feel, that
they are absolutely incompatible, the one with the other.--Let
him then make his election, in view of the consequences, and not
foolishly expect that he can unite incompatible advantages. If he
chooses the dust and scramble of the arena, and the intoxicating
pleasures at the goal, let him not repine, that he cannot unite
with them those of repose, retirement and a tranquil mind. If, on
the contrary, he prefers to hold on the noiseless tenor of his
way, in peace and privacy, let not the serpents of envy sting him,
when he sees the car of the fortunate aspirant drawn forward by
the applauding million. Let not murmurs arise in his heart, when
he hears, or reads of the rewards, honors and immortality of those
whom he may believe to be endowed no higher than himself with
talents or virtues. Let him say, ‘no one can show me the mind, or
paint me the consciousness of that man. Fortune and my own choice
have assigned me the shade. Let me not embitter its coolness and
its satisfactions, by idle desires to unite advantages, that are,
in their nature, incongruous. Let me remember, that mine is the
condition of the million. My Creator cannot have doomed so vast
a proportion of his creatures to a state, which is necessarily
miserable. All that remains to me, is to make the best of the
common lot.’


Note 9, page 50.

Severe strictures have, also, been passed upon this maxim. I well
know, that the common rules proposed to the young, in commencing
their serious and more advanced studies, lead them to look forward
to happiness, as a garland suspended from the goal, an object only
in remote expectation, the fruition of which should be hoped for
only at a period of life, when few are capable of enjoyment, even
if the means were in their power. To calculate on comfort and
repose, early in life, has been considered as a sort of effeminate
weakness.

These unphilosophic views of education have, more than almost any
other, thrown over the whole course of preparatory discipline for
life, a repulsive gloom, tending to fill the mind of the pupil
with dismay and disgust in view of his studies.--The young should
be early imbued with the sentiment, that God sent them here to be
happy, not in indolence, intoxication, voluptuousness or insanity;
but in earnest and vigorous discipline for coming duties. And at
this bright epoch, when nature spreads a charm over existence, a
philosophic teacher may easily train them to invest their studies,
labors, and pursuits, and perhaps even their privations and
severer toils, with a coloring of cheerfulness and gayety, when
contemplated as the only means of discipline by which they may hope
to reach a desired end. They should be trained to meet events, and
brave the shock of adversity with a firm and searching purpose,
to find either a way to mitigate the pressure, or to increase
self-respect by the noble pride of manifesting to themselves, with
how much calmness and patient endurance they can overcome the
inevitable ills of their condition. In other words, they should
make enjoyment a means, as well as an end, that they may carry
onward, from their first days, an accumulating stock of happiness,
with which courage and cheerfulness may paint future anticipations
in the mellow lustre of past remembrances. In this way the bow of
promise may be made to bend its brilliant arch over every period of
this transient existence, connecting what has been, and what will
be, in the same radiant span.

Entertaining such views of the direction which might be given to
the juvenile mind, I mourn over those weak parents, who are nursing
their children with effeminate fondness, not allowing the _winds
to visit them too roughly_, pampering their wishes, instead of
teaching them to repress them: and rather striving to ward from
them all pains and privations, than teaching them that they must
encounter innumerable sorrows and disappointments, and disciplining
them to breast the ills of life with a conquering fortitude.
Opulence generally gives birth to this injudicious plan of parental
education. Penury, as little directed by sound views, but impelled
by the stern teaching of necessity, imparts to the children of the
poor, a much more salutary discipline, and they ordinarily come
forward with a more robust spirit, with more vigor, power and
elasticity; and it is in this way, that providence adjusts the
balance of advantages between these different conditions.

We have all admired the practical philosophy of the man, who, when
sick of a painful disease, thanked God that he was not subject to a
still more painful one; and when under the pressure of the latter,
found cause for cheerfulness, that he was not visited with both
diseases at the same time. Akin to this was the noble fortitude of
the mariner, who, when a limb was carried away by a cannon-ball,
congratulated himself that it was not his head. I do not say
that any one can find cheerfulness in contemplating such Spartan
spirits, but that a philosophy of this sort would disarm the common
ills of life of much of their power, and would even enable the
sufferer to find enjoyment in the midst of them.

It would be no disadvantage even to the ambitious and aspiring
to abstract, from the toils of their pursuit, the bitter and
corroding spirit of rivalry and envy, and in its stead to cultivate
sentiments of kindness, complacency and moderation. Let their ends
be so noble, as to give an air of dignity to the means that they
employ, and they will throw a splendor of self-respect over their
course. Let the aspirant say, ‘I struggle not for myself, but
to procure competence for aged parents, to gild their declining
years with the view of my success. It is for dependent relatives,
orphans, the poor and friendless, whom Providence has given
particular claims on me, that I struggle. It is to benefit and
gladden those who are dearer to me than life, and not for my own
sordid vanity and ambition, that I strive to toil up the ascent of
fame.

In fine, the author, while he inculcates the maxim that we should,
from the beginning, study to number happy days, would not teach,
as he has been charged with teaching, that we may give labor and
study and the toil of preparation to the winds, and consult only
the indolent leading of our passions; for he knows, as do we all,
that this course results in anything but ‘happy days.’ He would
send us, on the contrary, in pursuit of happiness, to the teaching
of wisdom and experience, that never bestow impracticable lessons.
He would only inculcate, that while others have taught us to seek
ultimate happiness through means of pain, we should make the means
themselves immediate sources of enjoyment. It is a fact out of
question, that we may train ourselves to find enjoyment in those
toils and privations, which are to others, sources of disgust
and sorrow. Who has not thrilled, as he read of the author, who,
oppressed with cares, infirmities and years, took leave of a
book, the result of the most laborious and protracted study, that
was to be published only after his death, with a pleasant ode of
thankfulness to it, as having furnished him agreeable occupation,
and beguiled years of sorrow and pain? On this subject, I too can
speak experimentally. I have often experienced an inward conscious
satisfaction in realizing the pleasure and enjoyment, which I
found in the same pursuits and labors, which were the most painful
drudgery to others, equally qualified to pursue them with myself.
The bee extracts honey from the same flower which to the spider
yields only poison.

Nothing but experience can teach us to what extent force of
character, and a capacity without cowardly shrinking, to face
danger, pain and death, may be acquired.--Compare, for example, a
militia-man torn from the repose of his retreat, and forced into
immediate battles, with the same person in the same predicament,
when he shall have become a trained veteran. Compare the only child
of weak, fond and opulent parents, as he is seen in the hour of
apprehended shipwreck, or of fierce conflict with the enemy, with
the sailor-boy, born in the same vicinity, but compelled by the
rough discipline of poverty, to encounter the elements, and the
aspect of danger and death from boyhood.

I shall take occasion hereafter, to remark on the stubborn and
invincible apathy of the red men of our forests, in the endurance
of slow fire, and all the forms of torture, which the ingenuity
of Indian revenge can devise. I no longer trace this apparent
insensibility to pain and fear, as I formerly did, to a more
callous frame, and nerves of obtuser feeling. I see in it the
astonishing result of their institutions, and the influence of
public opinion upon them. In the same connexion, I shall remark
upon the testimony which the conduct of martyrs bears to the same
point. Place a sufficient motive before the sufferer, and the
proper witnesses around him, and he may be disciplined to endure
anything without showing a subdued spirit. The most timid woman
will not shrink from a surgical operation, when those she loves
and respects, surround her and applaud her courage. Leave her
alone with the surgeon, and the very sight of his instrument will
produce shrieks and faintings. The mad personage who leaped the
Genesee falls, fell a victim, to the influence which encouraged
vanity and ambition exert upon their subject to spur him on to
any degree of daring. If the right application of a motive, so
little worthy as the mere gratification of a moment’s vanity, can
harden the spirit for such attempts, what might not be effected by
a discipline, wisely guided by a simple purpose to impart force,
energy and unshrinking courage, to meet and vanquish the inevitable
evils of life? To me there is nothing incredible in the story of
the Spartan boy, who had stolen the fox, and allowed the animal,
while concealed under his mantle, to tear his entrails, rather
than, by uttering a groan, to commit his character for hardihood
and capability of adroit thieving. Parents, your children will
be compelled to encounter fatigue, privation and pain, under any
circumstances in which they can be placed. You can easily pamper
them to an effeminacy that will shrink from any effort, and, if I
may so quote, ‘to die of a rose in aromatic pain;’ to be feeble,
timid, repining, and yet voluptuous. You can as easily teach them
to find pleasure in labor, and in the sentiment of that force of
mind, with which they can firmly meet pain, privation, danger and
death. Train them for the world in which they are destined to live.
Teach them to _quit themselves like men, and be strong_.


Note 10, page 51.

It is impossible to present a better summary of the essentials of
happiness. As the author remarks, they are difficult to unite. Yet,
whoever lacks either, must be peculiarly unfortunate, or indulgent
to himself, if he cannot trace the want to some aberration or
neglect of his own. Health, perhaps, is the least within our
power; for, by the fault of our ancestors, we may have inherited a
constitution and temperament essentially vitiated and unhealthy. We
may lose health by casualty or by the influence of causes utterly
beyond our knowledge or our control. But for one person thus
afflicted with want of health, it is notorious that a hundred are
so from causes which they may trace to their own mismanagement.
Tranquillity of mind, is certainly a frame, on which we have a
controlling influence. Whoever, in our country, has not competence,
must assuredly seek the cause, if he have health, in his own want
of industry or management. Most of the complaints of the caprice,
infidelity and unworthiness of friends would have a more equitable
application to our own want of temper, truth and disinterestedness.
These things, indispensable to happiness, are far more subject to
our command, than our self-flattery will allow us to imagine. The
greater portion of those about us might unite all these advantages.
Yet, if all misery, other than that which arises from want of
being able to unite all these numerous and difficult requisites to
happiness, were abstracted from human nature, I am confident that
a moiety of the sorrows of earth would be removed; in other words,
that a philosophic pursuit of happiness, would at once deliver us
from more than half of our suffering here below.


Note 11, page 59.

The memory of almost every person who has been present at a
funeral, attended by a protestant minister of a certain class, will
furnish him with recollections of these preposterous harangues
of attempted consolation. The mourners are instructed that it is
sinful to grieve; that grief implies want of faith in the great
truths of the gospel; that Christianity forbids it; and, more than
all, that it argues doubt of the happiness of the deceased; or a
murmuring want of submission to the Divine will. Such doctrines,
in the minds of weak and superstitious mourners who feel that it
is not in their power to repress grief, inspire painful distrust
and self-reproach; and, in men more disciplined in the ways
of the world, and more acquainted with human nature, contempt
for the ignorant folly or gross hypocrisy of the declaimer. The
unchanging constitution of human nature revolts at such maxims.
Whoever affects to be insensible to the loss of a child, relative,
or friend, is either a stranger to his own perceptions, practises
deceit, or has no heart to be grieved. Christianity is preëminently
the religion of tenderness, and forbids the indulgence of no
inherent emotion of our nature within its proper limits. It is most
absurd of all, to suppose that God has forbidden, or interprets
as murmurs, the sorrows that we feel from his stroke. There are
few persons so disinterested, even if they were assured beyond a
doubt, that the person they mourn is happy, as not to grieve at the
final earthly severance which cuts off the accustomed communion of
heart; and interdicts the mourner from the sight and participation
of that happiness. The cause of Christianity has suffered beyond
calculation, from the exaggeration of its requirements by weak
enthusiasts, or designing bigots. Distorted views and impracticable
requisitions have disgusted more persons with the system of the
gospel than Hume’s argument against miracles, or all the sophistry
of unbelief. The gospel takes into view the whole nature of man,
and all its precepts announce, _nolumus leges naturæ mutari_--_we
will that the laws of nature should not be changed_.


Note 12, page 61.

It is not necessary to recur to the history of great revolutions
to furnish the most impressive examples of human vicissitude and
instability. The Latin poet had reason for his maxim, who said,

      ‘Si fortuna juvat caveto tolli;
       Si fortuna tonat caveto mergi.’

Life in every country and in all time has been full of affecting
instances of the young, beautiful, endowed and opulent struck
down in the brightest presage of their dawn. That is the true
philosophy which draws, from continual exposure to these blows, a
motive, to make the most, in the way of innocent enjoyment, of the
period that is in our power.


Note 13, page 62.

This beautiful painting furnishes an impressive emblem of the
capability of the human constitution, corporeal and mental, to
assimilate itself to any change; and of becoming insensible, by
habit, to any degree of uniform endurance. Those fanatics in the
early ages of the church, preposterously called saints, and others
like them, professing all forms of religion, that may still be
found in the oriental countries, who sit for years on a pillar
under the open sky, or curve themselves into a half circle and
remain in that position until their forms grow to it, shortly cease
to feel much uneasiness in a posture which becomes habitual. To
restore them to their original forms, after nature has affixed her
seal of consent to the distortion, would, probably, cause as much
pain as was requisite to acquire the habit. We have all read the
affecting tale of the prisoner released from the Bastille after
a confinement of more than a quarter of a century. He found the
ordinary pursuits and intercourse of life insupportable, and begged
to be restored to his dungeon. This is a most important aspect
of the nature of man which parents and instructers have as yet
scarcely taken into view in their efforts to mould the youthful
character. Children can as easily be formed to be Spartans as
Sybarites; and, in the former case, they not only acquire the noble
attributes of courage and force of character, but contract habits
of patient and manly endurance, furnishing a better shield against
the ills of life than any in the command of opulence or foresight.


Note 14, page 65.

‘Fate leads the willing, drags the unwilling on,’ and the single
question is, by which of these processes would we choose to meet
our lot? No doctrine of the true philosophy lies so obviously on
the surface as the wisdom of resignation; the disposition, in the
exercise of which, more than in any order, a wise man differs from
the million of murmuring and repining beings about him, who are
madly struggling with the inexorable powers of nature, and doubting
their evils by this useless and painful resistance. When we can
no longer either evade or resist fortune, we can, at least, half
disarm her by a calm and manly resignation.


Note 15, page 69.

The instinctive sentiment of the love of country and home is
beautifully described in these paragraphs. In health and good
fortune, the amusements and distractions of life, may keep this
sentiment out of sight. But ‘_dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos_’
is the feeling with which most strangers die in a foreign land.
In every heart, rightly constituted, the moment the absence of
adventitious pleasures forces the mind back upon itself, the
instinctive feeling resumes its original force. It seems to me
always an unfavorable trait in the character of an immigrant from
abroad, that he is disposed to speak unfavorably of his native
country, or does not seem to prefer it to all others. God has
wrought into the mind of every good man a filial feeling towards
his native country.


Note 15a, page 69.

None of the sentiments and maxims of M. Droz have been more
severely censured than those of the succeeding paragraphs. I am as
little disposed to inculcate an indolent philosophy, as any other
person. These views seem peculiarly unfitted for the genius of our
country, where everything respires, as it ought, energy, industry,
a fixed purpose and a keen pursuit. That such are the requirements
of our institutions is a truth too strongly forced upon us by
the order of everything in our country, to require any other
proof. I would be the last person to feel disposed to recommend
a philosophy, which would tend to quench that busy and daring
spirit which is the most striking characteristic of our nation.
No elevation or opulence among us can dispense with a definite
pursuit. So forcibly is every citizen reminded of this, by all he
sees about him, that without a pursuit, no one among us can sustain
his own self-respect. He, who courts seclusion and retirement, on
the principles of the author is obliged, even in his retirement,
to keep himself engaged. He must devote himself to agriculture,
manufactures, or some other absorbing pursuit.

It is hardly necessary to add that no American is in danger
of subscribing to his disqualifying views of the law, or any
other profession. A freeman ought to hold, that he can confer
respectability upon whatever pursuit circumstances may impel him
to follow. Happily, no harm would result, in our country, from the
dislike of the author to the law. By what seems to me an unhappy
general consent among us, the law is absorbing in the temptations
that it offers to our young men. It is the prescribed avenue to all
honor and place. All our functionaries must have passed into the
temple of power and fame through this portico. Hence it is, and
probably long will be thronged by a great corps of supernumeraries.
I would certainly be the last, not to think respectfully of the
profession; but still I dislike to see so many of our aspiring
young men crowding into it, to meet inevitable disappointment.

But critics will moderate their strictures upon the author, when
they call to mind, that although there is no such class, as people
of leisure in our country, it constitutes a great and powerful one
in France; perhaps greater in proportion, than any other country.
The chief application of these paragraphs must be to men of that
condition, of whom the better class make literature at once
their amusement and pursuit. For such, these are, probably, the
wisest and best precepts that could be given. The whole of that
part of this chapter, which inculcates an inactive retirement,
is altogether calculated for another meridian, than that of our
country. I have entirely omitted some of the passages, as not
only of erroneous general tendency, but altogether inapplicable
to any order of things among us. But admitting this, and a few
other trifling exceptions, I have been astonished at the charges
which have been brought against the moral tendency of the general
opinions of M. Droz.


Note 16, page 73.

This short chapter upon health seems to me full of the soundest
practical wisdom. Every one must be aware, that the wise pursuit
of happiness must be preceded by the preserving of health. The
wise ancients justly made the _mens sana in corpore sano_, to
be the condition, if not the essence of human happiness. Most
treatises upon health have oppressed the subject by too many, and
too intricate rules. It would be difficult to add to the author’s
precepts, brief as they are, so far as they relate to the moral and
intellectual regimen necessary to health. I add a remark, or two,
touching some physical appliances, that should be appended to the
moral rules.

So far as my reading and observation extend, there are but three
circumstances, which have almost invariably accompanied health and
longevity. The favored persons have lived in elevated rather than
in low and marshy positions; have been possessed of a tranquil and
cheerful temperament, and active habits; and have been early risers.

It is related that the late King George the Third, who made the
causes of longevity a subject of constant investigation, procured
two persons, each considerably over a hundred years of age, to
dance in his presence. He then requested them to relate to him
their modes of living, that he might draw from them, if possible,
some clue to the causes of their vigorous old age. The one had been
a shepherd, remarkably temperate and circumspect in his diet and
regimen; the other a hedger, equally noted for the irregularity,
exposure, and intemperance of his life. The monarch could draw
no inference, to guide his inquiries, from such different modes
of life, terminating in the same result. On further inquiry, he
learned, that they were alike distinguished by a tranquil easiness
of temper, active habits, and early rising.

After all the learned modern expositions of the causes of
dyspepsia, I suspect that not one in a thousand is aware how much
temperance and moderation in the use of food conduce to health.
There are very few among us who do not daily consume twice the
amount of food, necessary to satisfy the requisitions of nature.
The redundant portion must weigh as a morbid and unconcocted mass
upon the wheels of life. Every form of alcohol is unquestionably
a poison, slow or rapid, in proportion to the excess in which it
is used. Disguise it is as we may, be the pretexts of indulgence
as ingenious and plausible, as inclination and appetite can frame,
it retains its intrinsic tendencies under every sophistication.
Wine, in moderation, is, doubtless, less deleterious than any
of its disguises. In declining age, and in innumerable cases of
debility, it may be indicated as a useful remedy; but even here,
only as a less evil to countervail a greater. Pure water, all other
circumstances equal, is always a healthier beverage for common use.
Next to temperance, a quiet conscience, a cheerful mind, and active
habits, I place early rising, as a means of health and happiness. I
have hardly words for the estimate which I form of that sluggard,
male or female, that has formed the habit of wasting the early
prime of day in bed.--Laying out of the question the positive loss
of life, the _magna pars dempta solido de die_, and that too of the
most inspiring and beautiful part of the day, when all the voices
of nature invoke man from his bed; leaving out of the calculation,
that longevity has been almost invariably attended by early rising;
to me, late hours in bed present an index to character, and an omen
of the ultimate hopes of the person who indulges in this habit.
There is no mark, so clear, of a tendency to self-indulgence. It
denotes an inert and feeble mind, infirm of purpose, and incapable
of that elastic vigor of will which enables the possessor always
to accomplish what his reason ordains. The subject of this
unfortunate habit cannot but have felt self-reproach, and a purpose
to spring from his repose with the freshness of the dawn. If the
mere indolent luxury of another hour of languid indulgence is
allowed to carry it over this better purpose, it argues a general
weakness of character, which promises no high attainment or
distinction.--These are never awarded by fortune to any trait, but
vigor, promptness and decision. Viewing the habit of late rising,
in many of its aspects, it would seem as if no being, that has
any claim to rationality, could be found in the allowed habit of
sacrificing a tenth, and that the most pleasant and spirit-stirring
portion of life, at the expense of health, and the curtailing of
the remainder, for any pleasure which this indulgence could confer.


Note 17, page 76.

From personal experience and no inconsiderable range of
observation, I am convinced that the author has by no means
overrated the influence of imagination upon health and disease. It
is indeed astonishing, at this late period, when every physiologist
and physician is ready to proclaim his own recorded observations
upon the medicinal influence of the moral powers, the passions, and
especially the imagination, that so few medical men have thought
it an object to employ them as elements of actual application.
Hitherto these unknown and undefined powers of life and death
have been in the hands of empirics, jugglers, mountebanks and
pretended dispensers of miraculous healing. It is, at the same
time, matter of regret, that scientific physicians, instead of
questioning their undeniable cures, and pouring attempted ridicule
upon them, have not separated the true from the false, and sought
access to the real fountain of the efficacy of their practice,
the employment of confident faith, hope, and the unlimited agency
of the all pervading power of the imagination. Many physicians
are sufficiently wise, and endowed with character, to exercise
circumspection in giving their opinions and pronouncing upon
the prognostics of their patients. They regulate their words,
countenance and deportment with a caution and prudence which speak
volumes in regard to their conviction of the influence which
imprudence in these points might have.

In fact, it is only necessary to observe the intense and painful
earnestness with which the patient and the friends watch his
countenance and behaviour, to be aware what an influence may
be thus exerted. It is only requisite to understand with what
prying anxiety the sick man questions those around him, what the
physician thinks and predicts of his case, to make him sensible
how vigilantly he should be on his guard, in spending his judgment
rashly in the case. All this negative wisdom, in the application
of moral means, is sufficiently common. Not to possess it, in a
considerable degree, would indicate a physician unacquainted with
the most common etiquette of a sick chamber.

But, as yet, we see the positive employment of these means almost
wholly interdicted by custom to regular physicians. We contend
for their exercise only within the limits of the most scrupulous
veracity and the most severe discretion. What powers would he not
exert, who, snatching these moral means from the hands of empirics,
and who, to thorough acquaintance with all that can be known in
regard to physical means, should join the wise and discriminating
aid of an imagination creating a healing world of hope and
confidence about the patient? Such a benefactor of our species
will, ere long, arise, who will introduce a new era into medicine.

Who can doubt that implicit faith in the healing powers of prince
Hohenlohe may have wrought cures, even in cases of paralysis,
without the least necessity for introducing the vague and
misapplied term, a miracle; or that some out of many persons in an
asylum of paralytics would find themselves able to fly when bombs
fell upon the roof of their receptacle?

The influence of a vigorous will upon the physical movements of
our frame has scarcely been conjectured, much less submitted to
the scrutiny of experiment. Yet it would be easy, I think, to
select innumerable cases where, by its means, men have exerted
powers previously unknown to themselves. We see the immediate
application of almost superhuman energy upon the access of frenzy
to the patient; and this affords conclusive proof that, upon the
addition of the due amount of excitement, the body and mind become
capable of incredible exertions, and yet sink into infantine
debility the moment that the excitement is withdrawn. Every one
has been made aware of what mere resolution can do, in sustaining
the frame in cases of cold, exposure, hunger and exhaustion. All
these instances are only different forms of proof, which might
be multiplied indefinitely, of the agency of moral powers upon
physical nature. Under similar influences, omens and predictions,
in weak and superstitious minds, become adequate causes of their
own completion. Since perfect knowledge alone can deliver the mind
from more or less susceptibility of this influence, it is important
that it should be wisely directed to bear, as far as it may, upon
the imagination, in kindling it to confidence, cheerfulness and
hope.


Note 18, page 79.

      ‘Why drew Marseilles’ good bishop purer breath,
       When the air sickened, and each gale was death?’

Because he was sustained by a cheerful reliance upon Providence,
a firm determination to do his duty, and have no fear of
consequences. The whole scope of my own observation, beside the
sick bed, perfectly coincides with these views. I do not say that
there are not numberless exceptions. But of this I am confident,
that the general rule is, that persons who attend the sick and
dying, in cases of epidemic disease of a mortal type, with a
fearless and cheerful mind, escape; while the timid, who are
alarmed and have an implicit belief in the danger of contagion,
succumb.


Note 19, page 83.

If there ever was an age when invalids and the suffering might
promise themselves sympathy in the dolorous detail of their
symptoms, which is questionable, it certainly is not now, during
the era of labor-saving machinery, political economy, and the
all-engrossing influence of money and corporate achievement. He who
now suffers from acute pain, in any form, will do wisely to summon
all his strength and philosophy to suppress any manifestation in
his countenance and muscles, rather than task his eloquence in
framing his tale of symptoms.

This whole chapter upon health abounds in the highest practical
wisdom, and the hints in it might easily be expanded to a volume. I
only add, that I earnestly recommend a poem upon the same subject,
one, as it seems to me, among the most classical and beautiful
in our language, and which has become strangely and undeservedly
obsolete--Dr Armstrong’s Art of Health.


Note 20, page 83.

How often have similar thoughts pressed upon my mind, as I have
stood over the bed of the sick and dying! Here is the peculiar
empire of minds truly and nobly benevolent, where the head and main
prop of a family is preparing to conflict with the last enemy:
where pain and groans, terror and death, fill the foreground, and
the dim but inevitable perspective of desolation, struggle and
want, in contact with indifference and selfishness, opens in the
distance before the survivors. Let us thank God for religion.
Philosophy may inculcate stern endurance and wise submission; but
knows not a fit and adequate remedy. The hopes and the example
imparted by him _who went about doing good_, are alone sufficient
for the relief of such cases, of which, alas! our world is full.


Note 21, page 86.

No view of human life is more consoling or just than that presented
in these paragraphs. Yet no human calculation will ever reach
the sum of agony that has been inflicted by the jealousy, envy
and heart-burning that have resulted from that most erroneous
persuasion, that certain conditions and circumstances of life bring
happiness in themselves. Beautifully has the bible said, that ‘God
has set one thing over against another’--has balanced the real
advantages of the different human conditions. The result of my
experience would leave me in doubt and at a loss, in selecting
the condition which I should deem most congenial to happiness. I
should have to balance abundance of food, on the one hand, against
abundance of appetite, on the other; the habit superinduced by the
necessity of being satisfied with a little, with the habit of being
disgusted with the trial of much. There are joys, numerous and
vivid, peculiar to the rich; and others, in which none but those
in the humbler conditions of life can participate. In the whole
range of the enjoyment of the senses, if there be any advantage,
it belongs to the poor. The laws of our being have surrounded the
utmost extent of human enjoyment with adamantine walls, which one
condition can no more overleap than another. It is wonderful to
see this admirable adjustment, like the universal laws of nature,
acting everywhere and upon everything. Even in the physical world,
what is granted to one country is denied to another; and the
wanderer who has seen strange lands and many cities, in different
climes, only returns to announce, as the sum of his experience
and the teaching of years, that light and shadow, comfort and
discomfort, pleasure and pain, like air and water, are diffused in
nearly similar measures over the whole earth.


Note 21a, page 88.

It needs but little acquaintance with human condition to perceive,
in the general adjustment of advantages settled by Providence,
that great proportions of them have been thrown into opposite
scales, and so contrasted that the selection of one class implies
the rejection of the other. For example, smitten with the thousand
temptations of wealth, you are determined to be rich. Be it so.
Industry, frugality and the convergence of your faculties to
this single point will hardly fail to render you so. But then
you will not be so absurd as to envy another the fame of talents
and acquirements which required absorbing devotion to pursuits
incompatible with yours.

You are rich, and complain of satiety and _ennui_. Knew you not,
when you determined to be rich, that poor people sing and dance
about their cabin fires? You have gained power and distinction
and discovered the heartless selfishness of your competitors and
dependents. Were you ignorant that friendship can only be purchased
by friendship; and that, in selecting your all-engrossing pursuit,
you have precluded yourself from furnishing your quota of the
reciprocity? The choices of life are alternatives. You may select
from this scale, or that. But, in most cases, you cannot take from
both. How much murmuring would be arrested if this most obvious
truth were understood and men would learn to be satisfied with
their alternative! Choose wisely and deliberately; and then quietly
repose on your choice. Say, ‘I have this; another has that. I am
certain that I have my choice. I do not know but his condition was
forced upon him.’


Note 22, page 89.

If I have ever allowed myself the indulgence of envy, it is after
having tasted the pleasure of rewarding merit, or relieving
distress, in thinking how continually such celestial satisfactions
are within the reach of the opulent. What a calm is left in the
mind after having wiped away tears! What aspirations are excited
in noting the joy and gratitude consequent upon misery relieved!
How delightful to recur to the remembrance during the vigils of
the night watches! How it expands the heart to reflect upon the
consciousness of the all powerful and all good Being, measuring the
circuit of the universe in doing good! Unhappily, the experience
of all time demonstrates that the possession of opulence and power
not only has no direct tendency to inspire increased sensibility
to such satisfactions, but has an opposite influence. For one,
rendered more kind and benevolent by good fortune, how many become
callous, selfish and proud by it! Kindly and wisely has Providence
seen fit to spare most men this dangerous trial.


Note 23, page 92.

This chapter of the author, among the rest, has been obnoxious
to severe strictures. I am sensible that the young require the
exercise of cautious discretion in few questions more than in
this, ‘How far is it wise to disregard public opinion?’ To press
the point too far is to incur the reputation of eccentricity
and arrogant confidence in our own judgment. Implicitly to
copy the expressions and habits of the multitude precludes all
pursuit of happiness by system; and reduces the whole inquiry to
the injunction, to walk with the rest, and add our _ennui_ and
disappointment to the mass of the unhappiness of all those who
have gone before. If certain modes appear to me, after the most
deliberate examination, conducive to my happiness, why should I
be deterred from adopting them, because I am not countenanced by
the general opinion and example of a crowd, each individual of
which I should altogether reject as a teacher and an example? If
I avow that the ten thousand, in all time, have formed the most
erroneous judgments, touching the wisdom of human pursuits, why
should I continue blindly to copy their errors? He is certainly
the most fortunate man who, if an exact account of his sensations
and thoughts could be cast into a sum at his last hour, would be
found to have enjoyed the greatest number of agreeable moments,
pleasurable sensations and happy reflections. If to court
retirement, repose, the regulation of the desires and passions,
and the cultivation of those affections which are best nurtured in
the shade, be the most certain route to happiness, why should I
be swayed from choosing that path by the suggestions of ambition,
avarice and the spirit of the world, which enjoin the common course?

Yet every one is, more or less, a slave to the prevalent fashions
of thinking and acting. How much vile hypocrisy does this slavery
which covers the face of society with a vast mask of semblance,
engender? Contemplate the routine of all the professions which we
make and infringe in a single day, in the manifest violation of
our inward thought and belief; and we must admit that the world
agrees to enact a general lie, alike deceiving and deceived,
through terror of being the first to revolt against the thraldom of
opinion. The very persons, too, who cherish the profoundest secret
contempt for the judgment of the multitude, are generally the
loudest and the first in decrying any departure from the standard
of public opinion almost as an immorality.

I would by no means desire to see those most dear to me arrogantly
setting at defiance received ideas and usages. These have, as the
author justly remarks, a salutary moral sway in repressing the
influence of the impudent and abandoned. I am not insensible to
the danger of following our independent judgment beyond the limits
of a regulated discretion. But there is no trait in the young for
which I feel a more profound respect, than the fixed resolve to
consult their own light, in setting the rules of their conduct and
selecting their alternatives. A calm and reflecting independence,
an unshaken firmness in encountering vulgar prejudices, is what I
admire as the evidence of strong character, fearless thinking and
capability of self-direction.


Note 24, page 98.

How often must every reflecting mind have been led to similar
views of human nature! To form just estimates and entertain
right sentiments of our kind, we must not contemplate men under
the action of the narrowness of sectarian hate, or through the
jaundiced vision of party feeling. We must see them in positions
like those so happily presented by the author, when great and
sweeping calamities level men to the consciousness and the
sympathies of a common nature, and a sense of common exposure to
misery, and open the fountains of generous feeling. Who has not
seen men, on such occasions, forget their pride, their miserable
questions of rank and precedence, and meet with open arms and the
mingled tears of gratitude and relief, persons, the view of whom
under other circumstances, would have called forth only feelings of
scornful comparison and reckless contempt?

The incident of the hostile French and German posts is a singularly
touching one. In what a horrid light does it place the character
and passions of princes, generals, conquerors and warriors, in
all time, who for their measureless cupidity, or the whim of
their ambition, have used these amiable beings, formed with
natural sympathies to aid and love each other, as the mechanical
engines of their purposes, to meet breast to breast as enemies,
and plunge the murderous steel into each others’ hearts! Hence,
rivers of life blood have flowed as uselessly as rain falls upon
the ocean! It is difficult to determine whether we ought most to
execrate the accursed ambition of the few, or despise the weak
stupidity of the many who have been led, unresistingly, like
animals to the slaughter, only the more firmly to rivet the chains
of the survivors. What a view does war present, of the miserable
ignorance, the brute stupidity of the mass of the species, and the
detestable passions of those called the great, in all time! Who
does not exult to see the era, every day approaching, when men will
be too wise, too vigilant and careful of their rights to become
instruments in the hands of others; when the rational consciousness
of their own predominant physical power shall be guided by wisdom,
self-watchfulness and self-respect? Then, instead of being tamely
led out to slay each other, when invoked to this detestable sport
of kings, they will show their steel to their oppressors.


Note 24a, page 99.

I am as much impressed with the eloquence of this passage as
with its truth. I reserve more particular views of religion for
comments on the letter upon the subject. I wish to present in this
place, as consonant with the spirit of this passage, one view of
religion which has long been one of my most fixed and undoubting
conclusions. It is, that man is a religious being, by the organic
constitution of his frame, still more than by any intellectual
process of reasoning. I have no doubt, that a rightly organized
and well endowed man, born and reared in a desert isle, without
ever being brought into contact with man or any discipline to call
forth reason or speech, would be subject to precisely the same
emotions as, varied and moulded by the circumstances of birth and
education, constitute the substance of all the religions in the
world; in other words, that man is constituted a religious animal
in the same way as he clearly is an animal with other instincts
and passions. I am aware, that divines and moralists do not often
insist upon the religious instinct, as one of the most conclusive
and convincing arguments (to me, at least,) of the soul’s
immortality. It seems with them the favorite view to consider
religion a science that may be taught, like geometry or chemistry.

To me, this absorbing subject presents a very different aspect. I
see man everywhere religious in some form. The sentiment takes the
molding of his accidental circumstances. It is poetry, enthusiasm,
eloquence, bravery; but in every form an aspiration after the vast,
illimitable, eternal, shadowy conceptions of an unknown hereafter,
that the senses have not embodied. It is rational or fanciful, it
is respectable or superstitious, it is a pure abstraction or a
gorgeous appeal to the senses, according to one’s country, training
and temperament. But man, whether he be a dweller in the far isles
of the sea, or in the crowded mart, whether christian or savage,
is everywhere found, in some form, invoking a God and reposing the
hopes and affections of his worn heart in another and a better
world; and extending his faith to an immortal life and an eternal
sphere of action.

Instead of searching for this universal principle with
metaphysicians, pronouncing upon it with dogmatists, or deducing it
from creeds, or creeds from it, I behold in it the same unwritten
revelation which we call instinct. Vague and undefined as is this
law, and questioned by some as is even its existence, it announces
to us one of the most impressive and beautiful homilies upon the
truth and goodness of the Author of our being. It may be called
the scripture of the lower orders, guiding them, with unerring
certainty, to their enjoyments and their end. Beasts feel it, and
graze the plain. Birds feel it, and soar in the air. Fishes feel
it, and dart along their liquid domain; each feeding, moving,
resting, playing and perpetuating its kind, according to its
organic laws. Winter comes upon the gregarious tribes of water
fowls enjoying themselves in the Canadian lakes. They listen to
this call from heaven, and mount the autumnal winds; and without
chart or compass, by a course to which that of circumnavigators
is devious, they sail to the shores of the south, where a softer
atmosphere and new supplies of food await them. It leads the young
one of these animals, scarcely yet disengaged from the shell, to
patter its bill in the dry sand, impatiently to search for water
before it has yet seen it. It creates in the new born infant a
purpose to search for its supplies in the yet untasted fountains of
the maternal bosom. It guides all the lower orders of being through
the whole mysterious range of their peculiar habits and modes of
life. Under its influence, animals and men exercise powers which
transcend the utmost efforts of our reason. Who can tell me why the
duckling plunges into the water with the shell on its head? Who can
inform me how the affectionate house dog, blindfolded and conveyed
in utter darkness in a carriage to a distance of fifty leagues,
the moment he is emancipated, returns by a more direct route than
that by which he came? There would be no use in presenting the
most extended details of these developments of instinct through
the whole range of animated nature. Every one knows that wherever
we discern them, either in the structure or habits of the animal,
or both, they are indications of unerring guidance, the voice of
eternal and unswerving truth, which, as soon as promulgated, is
received as the parental counsel of the Author of nature.

He who could interpret the language and the gestures of the lower
orders would see in the structure and manifested wants of fishes,
that water was provided as a home for them, had he seen them in the
air. When he had noted the movements and heard the cries of the new
born infant, he would be in no doubt, that the nutriment in the
maternal bosom was stored for it somewhere. Seeing the structure,
the starting pinions and plumage of the unfledged bird in its nest,
he could be at no loss in reasoning, that as these indications of
contrivance for other modes of life were lost in its present manner
of existence, it was intended for movements, where pinions and
plumage would avail it.

As certain as these instincts and indications are the pledged
verity of the Author of nature, that a sphere is provided for
the exercise of these undeveloped powers, and a corresponding
gratification for these instinctive desires, so sure as they
point out, in a language, which can neither deceive nor be
mistaken, the aim and end of the animal to which they belong,
so sure, if religion be an instinctive sentiment, and the hope,
and the persuasion of another existence result from the organic
constitution of our nature, there must be another life. That it is
so, the usages and modes of all people that have yet been known,
the people of the first ages, and the last, the people of the
highest refinement, and those, who scarcely know the use of fire,
have concurred to prove to us. Superficial travellers, indeed, have
told us of newly discovered tribes, who had no visions of a God--a
worship, or an hereafter. Other travellers have followed them, and
observed better, and discovered, that their predecessors based the
fact on their own ignorance. They have been found to belong to the
general analogy, and to look to

      ‘Some happier land in depth of woods embraced;
       Some lovelier island in the watery waste.’

It seems to me, that this universal agreement of religious ideas is
the most unequivocal manifestation, that the sentiment of religion
is an instinct, that is exhibited in the whole range of animated
nature. If so, it is the offered pledge of the divine veracity,
that the soul is immortal; and that as certain as the instinct of
migrating birds is proof, that the milder skies which they seek,
exist, and are prepared for them, so surely the undeveloped powers
of the spirit, which have no range on the earth, have a country
prepared also for them. Our aspirations, our _longings after
immortality_, every mode of worship, and every form of faith--are
the rudiments, the germs, the starting pinions of the embryo
spirit, which is to escape from its nest at death, and fly in the
celestial atmosphere, in which it was formed to move.

To me these universal religious manifestations are proofs, that
religion springs not, as some suppose, from tradition; or, as
others think, from reasoning. It is a sentiment. It is an inwrought
feeling in our mental constitution, an unwritten, universal, and
everlasting gospel, pointing to God and immortality. Bring the most
uninstructed peasant, who has seen nothing of the earth, but its
plains, in sight of Chimborazo. The thrill of awe and sublimity,
that springs within him at the view, and lifts his spirit above
the blue summits to the divinity, is one of the forms, in which
this sentiment acts. The natural mental movements, in view of the
illimitable main, of the starry firmament, of elevated mountains,
of whatever is vast in dimension, irresistible in power, terrible
in the exercise of anger, in short, all those emotions, which we
call the sublime, are modified actings of the religious sentiment.
Justly has the author pronounced the universality of these ideas
the highest testimony to the elevation of human nature. It is the
most impressive and interesting attribute of the soul, that it is
subject to these impulses. It is a standing index, that the godlike
stranger, imprisoned in clay, has, inwrought in its consciousness,
indelible impressions of its future destiny.


Note 25, page 101.

Whoever philosophically considers the constitution of the human
mind--how much we are the creatures of our circumstances, how much
we are blown about by impulse and passion, the dimness of our own
mental vision upon most subjects, the narrow limit, which separates
between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and moreover, that
we ourselves view everything through the coloring of our own pride
and prejudice--will perceive at once, that, under all circumstances
of error and even of crime, men are quite as worthy of pity, as
of vindictive blame. A little, cold and selfish mind invariably
finds much matter for bitter censure in every act, that, according
to its own chart, is an aberration. On the contrary, nothing, in
my estimate, so decidedly marks a generous and noble, as well as
an enlightened and a philosophic spirit, as the disposition to be
indulgent in its construction of the views and conduct of others,
and to interpret all by the comment of palliation and kindness,
whenever the case will admit of them. Great minds fail not to be
conscious what a weak, miserable compound of vanity, impulse,
ignorance and selfishness is that lord of creation, that passive
molding of circumstances, which we call man. Of course in calmly
scanning his views and conduct, all other sensations than those
of pity and kindness, die away within him. As the human mind is
exalted by its light, and its intrinsic elevation towards the
divinity, in the same proportion it soars above the mists of its
own passions and prejudices, and sees little in humanity to inspire
other feelings, than those of compassion and benevolence. What is
the view of human nature, presented to a wise and good man?

      ‘’Tis but to know how little can be known,
       To see all others’ faults, and feel our own.’


Note 26, page 102.

I am not certain, that the real spirit of tolerance has made so
much progress in this age, as is commonly imagined. Who among us
admits in practice, as well as theory, that the mind is passive in
receiving evidence, and forming conclusions, which it cannot shape,
except according to impressions, which it has much less power to
exclude, or evade, than is generally believed? Who among us acts
on the conviction, that errors of opinion are almost invariably
involuntary? Every view of human nature, and the laws of the human
mind ought to inspire us with an unlimited feeling of tolerance
towards those who differ from us in opinion, howsoever widely. We
cannot fail so to feel, if we reflect that, had we been in their
situation, and under their circumstances, and they in ours, our
views might have been reversed. Yet it is scarcely possible to
converse with any one a few moments, without starting them by
some opposing opinion, that jars with their excited feelings and
a certain amount of estrangement is the result. Who can conduct a
disputed point, in politics or religion, with an unruffled temper?
Angry disputation is only another form of intolerance. If we
narrowly inspect the actings of human nature, we shall discover,
that the whole world is composed of individuals, almost every one
of whom thinks he has a right to be offended with every other one,
who does not adopt his opinions.

It is very true, that the age of actual persecution, by fines,
imprisonment and death, is gone by. But this results rather
from practical political progress of ideas, than from a settled
conviction that no one mind has a right to find, in the opinions
of another mind, cause of offence. Whoever cannot look upon the
most opposite faith and opinions of his neighbor, in religion, in
politics, and the ordinary concerns of life, without any feeling of
temper and bitterness, in view of that difference, is in heart and
spirit intolerant. In this view, who can justly and fully lay claim
to toleration? The whole world is divided into millions of little
parties and sects, often finding the bitterest germs of contention
in the smallest differences. Scarcely one in ten thousand, of all
these sects and parties, has real philosophic magnanimity enough to
perceive, that all other men have as much claim for indulgence to
their opinions, as he exacts for his own.


Note 27, page 102.

It would be amusing, if such important consequences did not flow
from the error, to perceive, how much weight most people attach
to the sect and party to which the persons, about whom they are
forming an estimate, belong. The externals, the deportment, dress
and manner are often strongly influenced by these matters; but
the mental complexion or temperament far less than is commonly
supposed. We meet with people, every day, of the most exclusive and
bigoted creeds, who act liberally: and again with people, who have
much liberality and catholicism in their mouths, and very little
in their temper and spirit. I have met with liberal and illiberal
people, in almost equal proportions, in all the sects, parties
and denominations, with which I have been acquainted. Still, I do
not, as from these remarks it might be inferred that I do, deem
error, even in abstract opinions, such as those which appertain
to religious and metaphysical subjects, as of no consequence. But
I have not time, nor have I place, in a note, for explaining my
convictions on this subject.


Note 27a, page 104.

An indiscreet and exaggerating zeal often injures the cause it
would wish to serve. The gospel is best sustained by its own
unborrowed glory, and is prejudiced by adventitious appendages.
I have often heard ministers declare, from the pulpit, that the
duty of forgiveness, and of loving and doing good to enemies was
a peculiar discovery of the gospel, a precept unknown before. We
have never considered it among the objects of the mission of our
Lord, to reveal a new code of morals. The grand eternal principles
of this science were originally engraven on the heart. Man could
not have existed in society without them. Whoever has read the
elaborate and eloquent treatises of heathen moralists, will
perceive, that there was little left incomplete in the code; and
that these sublime virtues were eulogized, as beautiful and just
in theory, if not to be expected in practice. It is the spirit,
unction and tenderness of gospel inculcation, that is unique and
original. The heathen ethical writers had not failed to enjoin it
upon the members of communities, to aid and love one another. But
it is only necessary to glance upon the apostolic epistles, to see
that Christians were a new and peculiar people, bound together by
cords of affection, altogether unknown in the previous records of
the human heart. What tenderness, what love, _stronger than death_,
what sublime disinterestedness! How reckless to the sordid motives
of ambition and interest, which ruled the surrounding world! We
scarcely need other evidence, that this simplicity of love, so
unlike aught the world had seen before, was not an affection of
earthly mold; and that this new and strong people were not bound
together by ties, which had relation to the grossness of earthly
bonds. To me there is something inexpressibly delightful and of
which I am never weary, in contemplating the originality and
simplicity of early Christian affection, nor is it one of the
feeblest testimonies to the glory and divinity of the gospel.

For the rest, I have much abridged the paragraphs, to which this
note alludes, and have interpolated some expressions, not found in
the original--because I would not allow myself to leave anything
equivocal, touching my own views of the importance of Christian
morals and example.

It would be useless to add to the beautiful views, presented by
the author, of the disposition to oblige, and the necessity of
cultivating modesty, and an equal and serene temper. One cannot
enlarge upon these beaten topics, as he has foreseen, without
running into common-places. These virtues are preëminently their
own reward. Whoever chooses to indulge the opposite tempers has
only to reflect, that he assumes the thankless office of becoming
a self-tormentor, and injures no one so much as himself. Of these
fierce passions, the heathen poets have given us an affecting
emblem in the undying vultures, gnawing upon the ever growing
entrails of Tityus. If you would form the sublimest conceptions
of the eternal and underived satisfaction of the divinity,
cultivate dispositions to oblige, and seize occasions to practise
beneficence. If you would image more impressive ideas of the
torment of demons than poets have dreamed, muse upon injuries;
cultivate envy and revenge, and wish that you had the bolts of the
thunderer, only that you might hurl them upon your foes. If you
would experience the eternal gnawing of the vulture allow yourself
in the constant indulgence of your temper.


Note 28, page 109.

To those, who have already assumed this tie, or contemplate
assuming it, not a word need be said upon the most worn of all
themes, the paramount influence of marriage, beyond all other
relations, in imparting the coloring of brightness or gloom to
all subsequent life. The place, in which the only satisfactions
of life, that are worth any serious pursuit, are to be found, is
within the domestic walls. Honor, fame, wealth, luxury, literary
distinction, everything is extrinsic, and hollow, everything the
mere mockery and shadow of joy, but the comfort of a quiet and
affectionate home. Whoever does not share this faith with me, will
hardly be enlightened to the true sources of enjoyment by any
lucubrations of mine. Instead of details and declamation upon this
truth, I present an unvarnished, unexaggerated view, an abstract,
if I may so say, of the circumstances, under which the greater
number of marriages are consummated in our country, and I imagine,
in most civilized countries. It may not embrace the exact train of
the incidents connected with every case; but will serve, in the
phrase of the makers of calendars, ‘without material variation,’
as an outline of the history of those courtships that terminate in
matrimony. What wonder, that wedded life is so often unhappy!

I am compelled to believe, that very few marriages take place in
consequence of such an intimate acquaintance of the parties with
each other’s unsophisticated and interior character, as to justify
the chances of affection and domestic happiness. The first adverse
circumstance is, that both are constantly on such a trial to make
a show of wit, good temper, and manners, as to render the whole
scene, from commencement to close, a drama, in which all is acting;
in which there is no admission to the real life behind the scenes,
until after marriage. How often does the actor or actress, who
successfully personated a wit, and an angel, detect in the other
party a simpleton, a brute, or a termagant! The walk of life, in
which they are found, may vary the shades, but it changes not the
natural circumstances of a picture, which, in its broader features,
applies alike to elevated and humble life.

The parties, in the bloom of life, in all the excitement of
juvenile buoyancy, moving in the illumined atmosphere of
imagination, meet at the party, ball-room, assembly, church, or
other place of concourse, for which the young dress, to look
around, and be gazed upon. They are clad in their gayest, and stand
on their best. No airs, or graces, that mothers, or friends, or
society, or their Chesterfield, or their imaginations can suggest,
are pretermitted. No attempted inflictions are spared from any
relentings of mercy. Many gratuitous nods and smiles and remarks,
and much odious affectation, inspired by the love of conquest, pass
well enough in the tinsel illusion of the scene and circumstances.
Accident brings the couple into contact. They sing, dance, walk,
converse, or, in some of these ways, are thrown together. Or,
perhaps, some officious mediator reports, to the one, flattering
remarks made by the other. The first impulses to the acquaintance
are those of vanity, and the instinctive attraction of persons,
so situated, towards each other. A vague and momentary liking,
which might be effaced, as easily as mists vanish in the sun, is
the result. The lady, from the delicacy of her organization, and
the quickness of her perceptions, is the first aware of the new
state of mutual feeling; and by conjoining a happy combination of
coquetry, shyness, and encouragement, adds fuel to the kindling
spark. They converse apart, and the masonic pressure of hands
is interchanged. Compliments ensue, more or less polished, and
eloquent, according to their native readiness and artificial
training. Vanity comes in with her legion of auxiliaries, and,
in the same proportion as memory invests this intercourse with
pleasant sensations and agreeable associations, conversation with
other persons, between whom and themselves these processes have
not commenced, becomes tasteless and irksome; and ennui in all
other society does its part to put imagination in action. They
find themselves weary and sad in separation. Fancy runs riot and
begins to weave her fairy tissue, and to build her oriental bowers.
The parties are now in love, as they believe, and as the world
pronounces. Now commence the hours of poetry and sentimentality;
and the spring time of their new born passion. Not a moment, for
discriminating observation of each other’s character, has yet
occurred.

The freshness of the vernal inclination acquires the fervor
of settled and summer passion. The preliminaries of form are
commenced; and under such associations, and with such mutual
inclinations, incompatibility, unfitness, opposition of friends,
all obstacles that are not absolutely insurmountable, disappear.
What parent can resist the impassioned eloquence of a child, or
contemplate for a moment the prospect of inflicting the agony of
a disappointed and hopeless love! Have they measured each other’s
understanding and good sense? No: this requires a discrimination,
for which in the fever, the delirium of the senses, they have
no capacity. Know they aught of each other’s worth and good
temper? No. Lovers find nothing to jar their temper, or try their
disposition. Surrounded by a halo of imagination, everything about
them is invested with its brilliancy. The silliest remark of the
_inamorata_ sounds in the ears of the lover, like the response of
an oracle; and he is astonished and enraged that all others do not
see, and hear with him. Everything that is said becomes wisdom,
and everything done noble and graceful. Who has not heard all
these ascriptions, all these extravagant eulogies, applied to a
fair female, uttering nothing, and incapable of uttering anything,
but voluble and vapid nonsense; or worse, ebullitions of envy,
detraction and bad feeling! Meanwhile, the parties, enveloped in
illusion, would not see real character, if they could; and could
not, if they would. Is this extravagant, or exaggerated? Let the
well known fact, that sensible men oftener marry fools, and gifted
women coxcombs, than otherwise, be received as evidence, that this
great transaction is generally commenced, and terminated under a
spell, in which the actors see nothing, as it really is, and as
it appears to disinterested spectators. After having united many
hundred pairs myself, and seen all aspects of society, such seem
to me the most common circumstances appended to the beginning,
progress and issue of courtship, in its common forms.

When ambitious views, the lust of wealth, and purposes of
aggrandizement, are the prompting incitements, the order of
circumstances indeed may be essentially varied, without much
altering the result. The excitement of the senses and the illusions
of the imagination give place to these more sordid motives. They
are, however, equally absorbing with the former. The faculties,
having converged to the point of cautious and keen speculation,
allow no greater scope, and furnish no happier facilities, for
noting the development of understanding, character and temper,
than in the other predicament. The appetite for money, and the
burning of ambition may as effectually blind the aspirant to the
silliness and bad temper of her who is seen through the flattering
medium of his plans and his hopes, as could his vanity and his
youthful inclinations. How can a person be expected to compare,
and discriminate traits, and the almost imperceptible lights and
shades of character, whose whole mind is intensely concentrated
on the chances of his speculation, the fear of rivals, the danger
of mishap, and the means of hastening the issue? Who, under such
circumstances, inquires about the elements of happiness or misery,
the good sense, the regulated temper, the discretion, health,
temperament, and habits, that appertain to the means, by which a
fortune and a name are to be obtained? These are passed by, as
subordinate considerations. Suppose inquiries touching these points
to glance through the mind. Suppose the speculator to have lucid
glimpses, and some startling premonitions of the importance of
settled and discriminating views, in relation to these matters;
contemplated through golden associations and in the glare of
ambitious hopes, they will be hardly likely to undergo a very
severe or sifting scrutiny.

The marriage, whether of love, of ambition, of convenience or mere
animal impulse, takes place. The music and dancing are no more,
and the brilliancy of the bridal torch is extinct, and with those
physical _parapharnalia_, one mental illusion after another begins
to melt into thin air. The discriminating faculties, judgment and
the critical vision, now become morbidly sensitive and severe,
since satiety and the extinction of fancy and the imagination have
left these capacities to unchecked action, beholding the object
of their scrutiny continually, and close at hand. The medium
becomes as unnaturally dark, as it was unnaturally light before.
A thousand circumstances, never dreamed of in the philosophy of
love and courtship, crowd upon this disposition to cynical and
bilious criticism. Manifestations of temper and character, that
once indicated to the lover, amiability and intelligence, become,
to the moody husband or the discontented wife, marks of a weak
understanding and a bad heart; and in proportion, as they nourish
despondency and disappointment, they destroy the capability of
indulgence and forbearance, and resist efforts to soothe, and
correct, and conciliate.

In proportion as they become dissatisfied with each other, by
a mental progress, exactly the reverse of that which brought
them together, home is enveloped with associations of gloom. The
imagination finds sunshine in every other place; and every other
person is sensible and attractive, but the one they have sworn to
love and honor until death.

There are those who will see in these revolting representations, a
coloring of misanthropy; and pronounce this statement of the case
harsh beyond nature. I would it were so; for, unless I deceive
myself, I love my kind; and my only object is, to impress upon
the young the importance of inquiring, when contemplating this
vital and all important transaction, whether they see things in
the clear light of truth, and as they will certainly appear after
the delirium of love has passed away; or under the nameless and
numberless illusions of that fever of the senses, of vanity, and
instinct, too often miscalled by the name of love. I much mistake,
if the greater portion of the domestic infelicity, which is loudly
charged upon the wedded state in the abstract, is not owing to
this fascination, this incapacity to examine the only elements,
on which the happiness of a family must depend. All I would say,
is, before entering on this union, remember, that it is easier to
repent before, than after the evil is without a remedy. Pause and
scrutinize; and let not the first glimpse of real light open your
eyes to your true condition, when it is irretrievable.

I am as well aware, as the author can be, that there are many more
happy marriages, than vulgar opinion allows, and that even in
those, which are not reputed happy, in which the parties themselves
have had their criminating and complaining _éclaircissements_,
there is often much more affection, than has been allowed to exist.
Such is generally found to be the case, in the numberless attempted
separations, which prove abortive, when the final alternative is to
be adopted. I know, too, that the history of the manifestation of
conjugal affection is one of the most affecting and honorable to
human nature, that has ever been exhibited. No union of tenderness
and fortitude has ever been displayed in the annals of human
nature, that can be compared with the maternal love and conjugal
affection of a devoted wife. Of this, if I had space, and my scope
were different, I could cite numerous, and most impressive examples.


Note 28a, page 110.

I beg leave to enter my utter dissent to this doctrine. It seems
from a note appended to this chapter of the author, that dislike to
female authorship has been carried to the most ridiculous lengths
in France. This is the more astonishing, as no country has produced
so many admirable female writers, many of them peculiarly noted
for possessing the charm of simplicity, and freedom from pedantry
and affectation. A woman, not less than a man, is more amiable,
interesting and capable of sustaining any relation with honor and
dignity, in proportion as she is more instructed and enlightened.
It is to female pedants only, that the ridiculous question of the
French academy, whether a reputable woman could write a book,
ought to apply. If a woman really deserves a crown of laurels, it
sits more gracefully on her brow, than any chaplet of roses that
poet ever dreamed of. But let us have real, unpresuming knowledge,
without pedantry or affectation, either of which is always odious
in man or woman, but certainly, as it seems to me, most so in
woman.


Note 30, page 115.

Nothing, however, is more common, than this contemptible ambition
of wives to govern their husbands. It is said that there are
coteries of wives, who impart the rules in masonic conclave. Be
it so. Whoever exults in having usurped this empire, glories in
her shame. If there be any axiom universally applying to this
partnership, it is, that the interest and reputation of the concern
must be identical. However much a wife may humble her husband, in
general estimation, by presenting him in the light of a weak and
docile subject, with all sensible persons, she humbles herself
still more. If the slave is contemptible, the tyrant is still more
so. For the rest, this chapter contains more truth and impressive
eloquence upon this all important theme, than I have elsewhere met
in so small a compass.


Note 31, page 117.

I present you with the following development of these new emotions,
which, I hope, you will not find amiss. ‘William and Yensi were as
happy in this vale, as man can hope to be here below. They would
have requested nothing more of heaven, than thousands of years of
this half dreaming, yet satisfying existence. A daughter was born
to them, a desert flower of exquisite beauty even from its birth.
New and unmoved fountains of slumbering and mysterious affections
were awakened in the deepest sanctuary of their hearts. In the
clear waters of the brook, which chafed over pebbles, turfed with
wild sage and numberless desert flowers, under the overhanging
pines, in the tops of which the southern breeze played the grand
cathedral service of the mountain solitudes, William performed, as
priest, father and Christian, the touching ceremony of baptizing
his babe. Adding the name Jessy to that of the mother, it was
called Jessy Yensi. The sacred rite was performed on the sabbath,
as the sun was sinking in cloud-curtained majesty behind the
western mountains. The domestics, Ellswatta and Josepha, looked
on with awe. William read the Scriptures, prayed, and sang a hymn;
baptized his babe, and handed the nursling of the desert to Yensi.
As she received the beloved infant in her arms, after it had been
consecrated, as an inmate in the family of the Redeemer, while
tears of tenderness and piety filled her eyes and fell from her
cheeks, she declared, that she would no longer invoke the universal
Tien, that the God of William and her babe should be her God,
and that they would both call on the same name, when they prayed
together for the dear babe even unto death.’--_Shoshonee Valley_,
vol. i. p. 52, 53.

Of the emotions excited by all the incidents between the cradle
and the grave, none can be compared for depth and tenderness to
those, called forth by the birth and baptism of the first child of
an affectionate and happy husband and wife. Those, for whom this
work is more peculiarly intended, will be aware, to what incident
in our common stock of remembrances the above extract refers.
Delightful sentiments, and yet deeply tinged with sadness! What
a mystery is this conjoined miniature image of the parents, the
babe itself! What a mystery the world with its mingled lights and
shadows, upon which the feeble stranger is entering! What a mystery
the unknown bourne to which it is bound! What a mystery the God,
to whom it is consecrated! Callous and cold must be the heart of
parents, that this mutual pledge of love and duty will not unite in
one unchangeable sentiment of love and identity of interest, until
death.


Note 33, page 122.

My views touching the modes, in which the best results of education
are to be obtained, whether just or erroneous, have at least
the advantage of being entirely practical. I am sufficiently
convinced, that there must be an adequate and happy organization
and mental development, without which no education, however wise
and assiduous, will ever effect anything more, than mediocrity of
character and acquirement. In the present state of public opinion,
as great mistakes are made by expecting too much from the training
of schools, as were formerly committed by attempting too little.
The opulent, and people in the higher walks especially, are tempted
by their condition to believe, that wealth and distinction can
purchase, and even command mind, and that cultivation of it, by
which more enlarged and distinguished minds differ from the common
measure of intellect; a mistake, than which no other is more
universally, and palpably taught by every day’s experience. The
Author of our being reserves, and will never impart his own high
prerogative, to bestow mind; and he as often dispenses the noblest
and richest endowment of it in the lower, as in the upper walks
of life; though, as we have seen, he has indicated, in the order
of nature, a process of unlimited improvement of organization and
endowment.

But the substratum of a practical and well endowed mind, to begin
with, being granted, I beg leave to add my conviction to that of M.
Droz, a conviction, which, as I think, will resume its authority
and influence, when most of the present tedious and endless
systems and projects of education will have passed into their
merited oblivion. It is, that strong, latent and distinguished
character and acquirement receive in domestic education, that
predominant and fashioning direction, which they retain through
life. The peculiar impress of a parent, a family-friend, a single
tutor, is often as distinctly marked upon the whole after life
of the scholar, that becomes truly distinguished, as though he
had been wax in the hands of a moulder. The numerous tutors of
opulent families, and of public institutions, seldom impart the
same advantage. Their different views and modes of discipline
countervail, and neutralize each other. The Greeks and the great
Romans taught at home, the master being a member and an honored
one of the family. The master and the pupil walked, conversed,
and pursued their amusements together; and the sweet associations
of home and the shade and freedom from restraint were conjoined
with the lessons. When the good Plutarch paints to us, with his
inimitable _naiveté_, one of his favorite characters, he indicates
as his first felicity, that it was his lot to have the training
of an Aristotle, or some similar worthy. Consult the English
Plutarch for the same fact. Could all the commencing circumstances
of most of the great men, who have lived, be exactly traced, we
should find the same truth disclosed. That the development of
strong inclination for books, studies and literature depends
almost entirely on domestic habits and pursuits, the family, in
which _our_ common remembrances centre, is a striking example.
During the years, in which the minds of this family received their
unchangeable impress, the members were almost as vagrant in their
modes, as the Tartars. All their education, except domestic, was
exceedingly imperfect and desultory. Books were often wanting;
adequate teachers always. But the love of the parents for books
and reading was a simple, natural, unaffected and intense impulse.
They loved the thing for its own sake, and independent of all its
results. The first instruments of pleasure, and things of estimated
value, that greeted the infant eyes of the children, were books;
not furniture, dress, and the imposing ostentation of a modern
parlor. Pleasant conversations, disputes, between laughter and
seriousness, about these books, were the first conversations that
greeted their listening ears. These conversations were perceived
to be of deep and heart-felt interest, and as little mixed with
pedantry and formality, as the manifestations of instinct. The
children saw, that to those, they most loved, admired, and were
disposed to imitate, books were the grand sources of interest,
converse and enjoyment. They as naturally imbibed similar tastes,
as, to use a coarse illustration, the children of savages learn
to love hunting. The first thing for which they contended, and
with which they wished to play, was a book, or a picture. Their
first lispings were trials of skill, touching the comparative
progress, which they had made in their knowledge of the contents
of these books, and the application of it to present use. These
trials they saw to be the chief points of interest and amusement
for their parents. Thus, habits of reading and application _grew
with their growth and strengthened with their strength_; and many
a criticism, if not erudite and profound, at least eliciting
hearty praise and laughter, passed away unrecorded in their
domestic privacy. Their neighbors admired, and, I fear, envied,
and calumniated; but could not but take astonished note of such
results in a family without wealth, without the common appliances,
which themselves could so much better afford, and which they had
been accustomed to consider the only price, at which intellectual
improvement could be purchased. It was placed beyond question, or
denial, that the members of that family had right views, quiet
and unawed self-respect, and could converse rationally, upon
every other topic, as well as books; that tact and discrimination
pervaded their manifestations of thought and pursuit; and that they
possessed an inexhaustible source of amusement, and satisfaction
independent of wealth, fashion, society, distinction, or any
external resource whatever--the habit of internal reflection,
comparison and pleasant converse with themselves.

Parents, when you have imparted to your children habits and tastes,
like these, you have bequeathed them an intellectual fortune, which
few changes can take away; and which is as strictly independent, as
anything earthly can be. You have unlocked to their gratuitous use
perennial fountains of innocent and improving enjoyment. You have
secured them forever against the heart-wearing gloom of _ennui_,
insufficiency to themselves, and slavish dependence upon others for
amusement. Spend as lavishly as you may, in multiplying fashionable
instructers, and blazon, as much as you will, the advantages of
your children; if they do not perceive, while the rudiments of
their taste and habits are forming, that you consider literature,
science and the improvement of intellect a matter of paramount
interest and importance, you will never cause their stream to
flow higher, than your fountain. An occasional parlor lecture, or
a high wrought eulogy, will not convince them, or avail to your
purpose. They must see this preference, as all others, which they
will be inclined to copy, manifested in your whole deportment and
conversation.

But, while I am convinced, that parents will find efforts to
train their children to be highly intellectual, rowing against
the current, unless they evince, themselves, by their habitual
examples, that they consider it a higher attainment, to possess
literature and conversational powers, than fashion, or wealth or
the common objects of pursuit, in other words, that all efficient
education must be essentially domestic, I would not be understood
to undervalue public schools and colleges. I am aware, that in
these places are best imparted the knowledge and adroitness
that fit them for the keen scramble of ambitious competition.
But in regard to those boys who leave their competitions behind
the classes of the university, I think on examination, we shall
find, that the germ and the stamina of this progress were early
communicated by instruction and example at home. At table, around
the evening fire, in the Sabbath walk, in the common family
intercourse, in the intervals of the toil of your profession,
whatever it be, the taste and the permanent inclination for
literature and intellectual cultivation are imparted. This can
never be, if behind all your eulogy of these things, you discover,
that your ruling passion is money, or the sordid objects of common
pursuit.


Note 34, page 124.

It is a common and, I much fear, a well founded complaint, that
some latent mischief in our system of education, political
institutions, the ordering of our establishments, or in all
these together, has generated, as a prevalent moral evil, filial
unkindness and ingratitude. Scramble, competition and rivalry
are the first, last, and universally witnessed order of things
in our country. Nothing becomes a topic of conversation that
is of absorbing interest, but acquisition and distinction. The
manifestations of an intellect, sharpened for the pursuit of
these things, is the subject of most earnest eulogy. Children, by
our usages, are early cast upon their own resources, and taught
to shift for themselves. The consequence seems to be, that the
parental and filial ties are severed, as soon as the children are
able to take care of themselves, almost as recklessly, in regard
to subsequent duty, piety or affection, as those of the lower
animals. When we see a spectacle so revolting, and unhappily so
common, of sons who, as soon as they have realized _the portion of
goods that falleth to them_, or of daughters, as soon as they have
secured lovers or husbands, forgetting the authors of their days,
it becomes us to search deeply for the defect in our discipline, or
institutions, that originates the evil. The callous hearts of such
children may no longer be appalled by the terrible execution of the
Jewish law against such monsters. They may neither feel, nor care,
how _sharper than a serpent’s tooth_, may be this want of filial
piety to their parents. But, by a righteous reaction of the divine
justice, more terribly vindictive than the threatened judgment of
the Jewish law, thankless children bear in their hearts the certain
guaranty of their own self-inflicted punishment. They part forever
with the purest and noblest sentiments of the human heart; and they
procure for themselves the sad certainty of being cast off in their
turn, by their children, in the helpless period of their old age.


Note 35, page 124.

The history of literature proves, that none of the more unworthy
sentiments of human nature have been so adverse to friendship,
as the vanity of literary rivals. From many noble examples of
a contrary kind, which we might cite, I select the intercourse
between Racine and Boileau. When Racine was persuaded, that his
malady would end in death, he charged his eldest son to write to
M. de Cavoye, to ask him to solicit the payment of what was due of
his pension, that his family might not be left without ready money.
He wrote the letter and read it to his father. ‘Why did you not,’
said he, ‘request the payment of the pension of Boileau at the
same time? Write again, and let him know, that I was his friend in
death.’ This friend came to receive his last adieu. Racine rose in
bed, as far as his weakness would allow. As he embraced his friend,
he said ‘I regard it a happiness to die in your presence.’


Note 36, page 126.

The celebrated Voiture, one of the _beaux esprits_ of the age of
Louis XIII. had lost all his money, and had an immediate call for
200 pistoles. He wrote to the Abbe Costar, his faithful friend.
This admirable letter presents us with a trait of that confidence
and frankness, which sincere friendship inspires. It was this.

‘I yesterday lost all my money, and 200 pistoles more, which I
have promised to pay today. If you have that sum, do not fail to
send it. If not, borrow it. Obtain it, as you may, you must lend
it me. Be careful, to allow no one to anticipate you, in giving me
this pleasure. I should be concerned lest it might affect my love
for you. I know you so well, that I am aware, you would find it
difficult to console yourself. To avoid this misfortune, rather
sell what will raise it. You see how imperious my love for you is.
I take a pleasure in conducting in this manner towards you. I feel,
that I should have a still greater, if you would be as frank with
me. But you have not my courage in this point. Judge, if I am not
perfectly assured in regard to you, since I will give my promise to
him, who shall bring the money.’ The Abbe Costar replied--‘I feel
extreme joy, to be in condition to render you the trifling service,
you ask of me. I had never thought, that one could purchase so
much pleasure for 200 pistoles. Having experienced it, I give you
my word, that, for the rest of my life, I will retain a little
capital, always ready for your occasions. Order confidently at your
pleasure. You cannot take half the satisfaction in commanding, that
I shall in obeying. But submissive as you may find me in other
respects, I shall be revolted, if you wish to compel me to take a
promise from you.’


Note 37, page 128.

Although I do not intend to cite in this place the story of Damon
and Pythias, nor to harp upon discussions of a theme, upon
which there has been more odious prosing, and more semblance of
sentiment than all others, yet a subject, intrinsically of the
first importance, and founded in nature, can never cease to have
claims upon attention, in consequence of having been hackneyed to
thread-bare triteness. There is such an affection, as friendship.
It belongs to man, and is the highest honor of his nature, less
gross and terrene, than the short epilepsy, the transient and
fitful fever of the senses, commonly dignified with the name of
love, and warmer, more exhilarating, and elevated, than mere
esteem, and common liking; it excites, without inflaming; it
thrills, without jealousy, corroding fear, or morbid solicitude.
It is that sentiment, which a poet would naturally assign to
intellectual beings of a higher order, who were never invested with
the corporeal elements of mortality.

I wish those, most dear to me, implicitly to believe in friendship.
I would a thousand times prefer, that they should err on the
side of credulity, than of suspicion and distrust. I deprecate,
above all things, that they should give up human nature. I
consider real misanthropy the last misfortune. I would, rather, my
children should meet with treachery and inconstancy every day of
their lives, than resign themselves to the morbid and heartless
persuasion, weakly considered an attribute of wisdom and greatness,
that men are altogether selfish, and unworthy of confidence. It
is a persuasion, that not only forever invests the universe in an
Egyptian gloom, ‘_that may be felt_,’ but, by an energetic bearing
on all the faculties and sources of feeling, causes the heart,
that entertains such views to become what it believes to be the
character of the species.

No scruples of false decorum shall withhold me from saying, that,
amidst all the selfishness, which optics of the most charitable
vision could not but discover on every side, I have seen
friendship, pure, holy, disinterested, like that of the angels;
nay, more--have been myself the subject of it. My heart swells, and
will to its latest pulsation, with the remembered proofs. True, the
instances, that have fallen within the compass of my experience,
are very few. But they are sufficient to settle my conviction, that
the sentiment, which has inspired the enthusiasm of eloquence,
painting and song, in all time, is not the illusion of a weak and
misguided imagination. Selfish as man is, we often see instances of
the most generous and devoted friendship, even in this silver age,
the age of revenue and political economy.

With my author I believe, that where the sentiment exists between a
man and a woman, admitting each to possess the estimable endowments
peculiar to each sex, and so exists, as not to be modified by any
of those countless associations of another order of sentiment, that
almost imperceptibly invest relations between the two sexes, it is
more vivid, permanent and disinterested, more capable of making
sacrifices, and more tender and delightful than it can be between
persons of the same sex. Of this class are the most noble, touching
and sublime examples of a constancy under every form of proof, that
the history of the human heart records.

While every one is sensible, that there must exist between
characters, that are susceptible of all the fidelity and beauty
of this sentiment, a certain adaptation of circumstances, and
conformity of disposition, mind, development and temperament, I
believe with St Pierre, that it is desirable, that there should be
a certain contrast as well as much fitness. Constant assentation,
the same opinions, tastes, tempers and views have been found by
experience, not to generate the most permanent, and pleasant unions
of the sort. The moral, as well as the physical appetite, would
grow weary of perpetual uniformity and unvarying similarity, and
requires the spice, afforded by the mixture of various ingredients
of affectionate contrariety. Both the love and friendship, most
likely to endure, spring up between the placid and piquant, the
tranquil and energetic, the monotonously sweet tempered and the
sensitive, whose irritability is held in check by good sense,
kindness and self-control;--between the temperament, connected
with blue eyes and fair hair, and that of the keen, deep black
eye, and raven locks. ‘Soldiers,’ says St Pierre, ‘on long and
distant expeditions, should be associated with ministers, lawyers
with naturalists, and in general, the strongest contrasts of
profession’--_all nature’s discord thus making all nature’s peace_.
But I am perfectly aware, that there will be great danger of making
fatal mistakes, in acting on this principle. I am confident,
that is true in the abstract; but let sentimentalists beware of
trenching too confidently on ground, where the limits between
safety and ruin are so narrow, and difficult to discern. Doves of
a different feather may pair happily, but not doves and vultures.
There must be a certain compatibility not only of character, but of
age, condition and circumstances, as we are broadly instructed in
the fable of the frog thinking to wed with the ox.

Any discussion of the details, touching the requisite circumstances
of compatibility to form friendships with any chance of their being
pleasant and permanent, as well as the obligations and duties
involved by it, would require a volume, and would carry me utterly
beyond my present purpose. Books are ample, if not interesting
and just, in the information which they impart upon this subject.
With my views of its obligations and duties in few words, I shall
dismiss it.

In a pecuniary point of view the claims of friendship are only
limited by the sterner demands of justice. The common adage, which
calls upon us to be just, before we allow ourselves to be generous,
is worthy to be written in letters of gold; though it has been a
thousand times wrested by selfish and cold hearts, into a pretext
for their avarice. Whoever should think of lavishing his money
upon a friend, in order to absolve himself from the more difficult
calls of justice, would show a mind, too weak and incapable of
discrimination, to honor that friend by his bounty. But, grant that
the friends have delicacy, consideration and gentlemanly tact, and
they may possess a common purse, without danger to the duties of
either.

The fame and character of the one are strictly the property of
the other. Let no one, who has the least particle of the base
alloy of envy in his feelings towards him, whom he calls his
friend, who is willing to hear, and countenance abatements of his
qualities, talents, or virtues, dare to assume that almost sacred
name. He is equally unworthy of it, if he stand by in neutrality
when calumny is busily passing against him; and still more, if by
smiles he gives his countenance, and half his consent to the story
of detraction and abatement. It is a forfeiture of the right to
the name, though it may be a less worthy one, to make the person,
called friend, the subject of jest and ridicule. In regard to all
these points, the duties are clear, distinct, palpable and not
to be compromised. Every honorable mind feels, in witnessing any
infraction of the laws of equity, or strict justice, a sentiment
of recoil and disgust, difficult perhaps to define, but one which
instantly designates the person guilty of it, as unworthy of the
name of friend. Honest, frank and disinterested advice, especially
in relation to concerns of great interest to the party, is a
paramount obligation, whether the advised will bear, or forbear.
This prerogative may, indeed, be claimed by unfeeling and rude
bluntness. But, by a discriminating mind, the suggestions of a
counterfeit, will never be mistaken for those of genuine friendship.

The time, the courtesy and the amount of intercourse, due from
one friend to another, can never be brought under subjection to
rules. Moral, like physical attraction, acting unconsciously, will
regulate this portion of duty, with the unvarying certainty of
the laws of nature. If persons, claiming to sustain this relation
to each other, do not wish to be as much together, as duty and
propriety will admit; if they allow this matter to be settled by
the rigid tithing of etiquette, they are anything rather than real
friends.

I have been struck by an incident in the life of a religious woman,
I think it was Mrs Graham. There was a sacramental pledge between
her and a friend, that, whichever of them should be first called
from life, the other should visit her in the sickness, which
she should consider her last, and not leave her, until she had
received her last sigh. Sublime test of affection! What a tender,
sacred office, after a life of friendship, thus, by a sacramental
contract, to close the eyes of the friend beloved in life, and
separated only by death! There can be no doubt that the feelings,
called thus into action, are peculiarly fitted to mitigate the
last sorrows; and in the simple grandeur of such a sentiment,
so manifested, the departing friend will see a proof, that such
affections are, in their own nature, immortal; and that such ties
shall be renewed in the eternal regions of the living.

When friends are separated wide from each other by distance,
duty, and the stern calls of our pursuits, I admire the custom of
baptizing, if I may so say, our remembrances, by giving the names
of our dear and distant friends to the hills, valleys, streams,
trees or pleasant views in our walks; or the objects most familiar
and pleasant to our view. The stern silence of nature may thus be
compelled to find a tongue, and discourse with us of those we love.

In a word, the name, I am sensible, is too often a morbid mockery
of cold and affected sentimentalism, both weak and disgusting,
the cant term for the intercourse between the enlarged prisoners
of boarding schools. But the sentiment exists, pure, simple
delightful. Neither fawning, nor cant, nor flattery, nor any
mixture of earth’s mould makes any part of it. Honorable,
dignified, unshaken, it feels its obligations, and discharges
them. The reputation, character and whole interest of the friend
is its object; and his highest happiness its prayer. In holy
segregation from the hollow intercourse, false phrases and
deceitful compliments of fashion, and what is called the world,
it is faithful and consistent, under all proofs and trials, until
death; and when the eyes of the departed are closed, his memory is
enshrined in the remembrance of the survivor. Thank God! I have
seen, I have felt, that there are such friendships; and if there is
anything honorable, dignified and attractive in aught, that earth
presents, it is the sight of two friends, whose attachment dates
from their first remembered sentiment; and has survived difference
of opinion and interest, the changes of distance, time and
disease, and those weaning influences, which, while they crumble
the most durable monuments, convert most hearts to stone.


Note 38, page 129.

I have long been in the habit of measuring the character, mental
power and prospects of the young, who are brought by circumstances
under my observation, by the power which they evince, to resist the
suggestion of the senses. In the same proportion, as I see them
capable of rising above the thraldom of their appetites, capable
of that energy of will, that gives the intellectual control over
the animal nature, I graduate them higher in the scale of moral
power and prospect. But if, in their course, they manifest the
clear preponderance of the animal; if sloth, sensuality, and the
inclinations, which have no higher origin than the senses, sway
them beyond the influence of advice and moral suasion, be they
ever so beautiful, endowed, rich, distinguished, be their place in
general estimation ever so high, I put them down, as belonging to
the animal, and not the intellectual orders. They can never reach
higher worth and success, than that, which is the blind award of
accident.


Note 39, page 131.

It seems to me, that writers on taste have not seen all the
importance of uniting physical with moral ideas, to give them any
deep and permanent interest. This subject might be enlarged to any
extent, by carrying out the details, suggested by the striking,
just, but necessarily very brief views of the author. We have here
a clue, by which we may explore a whole universe of the highest
and purest pleasures which can touch the heart, and which to the
greater portion of the species have no existence.

There are travellers more learned, and equally capable of noting
facts with M. de Chateaubriand. They have traversed the same
countries, seen the same objects, and collected an immense mass
of facts, which they have published, on their return, to be read
by none, but kindred spirits, as dull as themselves. In his
record of his travels in the same countries, we are beguiled
onward, under the spell of a sustained charm. The imagination is
constantly in action; the heart swells; images of grandeur and
beauty, remembrances of pathos and power are evoked from every
side, and the shadows of the past throng round us. Why is it
so? The former see brute nature, in its lifeless and motionless
materiality, divorced from mind and memory. The latter not only
sees that universe with a radiant eye, but holds converse with a
superincumbent universe, as much more vast, beautiful, touching,
diversified, than the other, as mind is superior to matter. It is
this creation of thoughts, remembrances, poetry, and affecting
images, in his mind, intimately connected with the other, and
overshadowing it, like an illumined stratum over a region covered
with palpable mist, by virtue of which he makes nature eloquent.
This is the charm spread over all the beautiful passages that
abound in his writings; a peculiar aptitude to associate nature,
in every position and form, with the universe of thought within
him. Such is the endowment of all poets, orators, and painters,
that have produced efforts worthy of immortality. Common writers
see nature dead, silent, sterile--mere brute and voiceless
matter. Endowed minds kindle it into speech, beauty and grandeur;
interpreting it by the internal world in their own minds.


Note 39a, page 134.

These illustrations of the importance of uniting moral with
physical ideas, in regard to vision, landscape, painting and music,
are as true, as they are eloquent and striking. Who has not had
the vivid remembrance of home recalled in a distant land, by a
tree, a feature in the landscape, a blue hill in the distance!
How readily the shadowy images of memory are evoked! Every one is
acquainted with the touching circumstance in the character of
the Swiss soldiers serving in foreign countries. Great numbers of
them used to serve, as stipendaries, in the French armies. It was
forbidden to play, in their presence, the air _Ranz des vaches_.
Homesickness and desertion scarcely failed to ensue from hearing
it. The wild and plaintive air reminded them of ‘Sweet home,’
their mountains, their simple pleasures, and the range and lowing
of their kine. The beautiful Scotch airs derive their charm from
their association with mountain scenery, and the peculiar history
and manners of a highly sensitive, intelligent and national
people. The same may be said of the unrivalled _Erin go Bragh_, in
relation to the Irish; in a word of the national music of every
people. Associate any idea with sentiment and the heart, and it
becomes touching, and sublime, and capable of stirring the deepest
fountains of feeling, according to the remembrance with which it is
allied.


Note 40, page 136.

I have heard persons, endowed with keen feelings, repiningly
contrast the miseries which they endured from an excess of
irritable and unregulated sensibility, with the apparently joyous
apathy of fat and fortunate burghers, who seem to find no sorrows
and no troubles in life, and who hear with incredulity and, in
fact, with an entire want of comprehension, about sufferings
resulting from witnessing misery, which we have no means of
relieving, and the sorrows, from innumerable sources, to which
those of a keenly sensitive nature are subject. I have never seen
these contrasts of character in this light. I unhesitatingly
believe that a righteous Providence has exactly and admirably
adjusted the weights in either scale. The great mass, who are not
disturbed with excess of feeling, are, from the same temperament,
interdicted from a whole universe of enjoyments, into which those,
who possess sensibility, and regulate it aright, have free access.


Note 41, page 137.

Man seems to contain, according as he is contemplated in different
lights, inexplicable contradictions of character; and to be at one
time all tenderness of heart; and at another an odious compound
of insensibility and cruelty; according to the circumstances
with which he is surrounded, and the positions in which he is
placed. Who could believe, that it was the same being, that now
dissolves into tears at the rehearsal of a tragedy, on reading a
romance or witnessing a spectacle of misery, and now hurries from
these emotions to see a bull-fight; and in passing to the show,
encourages two bullies in the street to form a ring, to bruise
each other! Who would believe, that it has always been considered
an attribute in the more susceptible sex, to regard duellists with
a partial eye; to give a secret place in their kind feelings to
those who are reckless of their own and another’s blood; and more
than all to look propitiously on soldiers encrimsoned with the
fresh stains of the battle field? Nay, more, who reads without
astonishment, and almost without unbelief, that a whole people, in
the days of the pagan Roman emperors, days of the utmost luxury of
taste and refinement, days, in which, in all probability, traits
of kindness, generosity and magnanimity were no more uncommon than
now, the ladies of the greatest and most splendid city in the world
thronged with an irrepressible curiosity, and an intense desire,
to see naked gladiators lacerate, and stab each other, and old and
feeble men torn in pieces by lions and wild beasts, when merely a
movement of a finger would save them!

The ministers of the gospel, who attribute the abhorrence, which
the same spectacles would excite in the population of a Christian
city, to the humanizing influences of our faith, forget that such a
city has seen, times without number, its inhabitants pouring forth
from its gates, to witness miserable victims burnt to death at an
_auto da fé_, and shouting with joy at the spectacle.

Protestant ministers exult, in contrasting the influences of the
reformed faith with results like these; and yet witness their
congregations thronging in crowds to see a wretched criminal
swinging in the agonies of strangulation. The same people thrill
with horror, as they hear, around their evening fire, how those
whom they call savages, dance, and yell round the stake, at which
a captive enemy is burning. To the red man it seems the extreme of
cold-blooded ferocity, to execute a criminal with a halter, by the
hands of a person who bears no ill will to the victim.

Far be it from me to question one of the sublime trophies of the
gospel, or to doubt its refining and humanizing influences. But the
whole aspect of history and society compels me to believe, that
fashion and prevalent opinions exert an influence, that will bring
men to tolerate almost anything. I much fear, that the spectacles
of the Roman Amphitheatre might be revived, if a certain number of
any community would pertinaciously conspire, to write in favor of
them, and countenance them by their presence.


Note 42, page 137.

To present, in contrast, the favorable side of human
contradictions:--I have seen a man plunge into the water, and
put his own life at fearful jeopardy, to rescue a stranger from
drowning. I have witnessed instances of disinterested and heroic
sacrifice, which present men in the aspect of angels, in every walk
of life. Such sublime samples of the capability of our nature are
the appropriate theme of oratory, painting and song; and cannot
be too much blazoned. Pity it is that history did not select more
instances, and dwell upon them with more partial eulogy, instead of
amplifying the revolting details of war.

Two instances of affecting manifestation of tenderness are deeply
impressed upon my memory, simply because they were elicited by
common cases of suffering; and had in them nothing of romance, or
of uncommon tendency to excite the feelings.

I was passing in the streets of one of our northern cities. On the
marble door steps of a sumptuous mansion sat a ragged boy, with
a look at once dogged and subdued, manifesting long acquaintance
with sorrow and want. Near him sat an aged woman, apparently his
mother, decrepit, worn and squalid, with her face turned from me.
The boy was devouring with voracious greediness a piece of dried
herring. Fair and richly dressed children were passing to their
morning school. Most of them jeered him, in passing, calling on him
to get down from the steps, and asking him if he was very hungry?
‘Yes, and you would be hungry, and sad too, if you was poor and a
stranger, and had to take care of an old mother, and had walked as
far as I have.’ One of the boys lingered behind, as if ashamed of
his feelings. I noticed his broad, high forehead, and eye speaking
a soul within. His eyes filled with tears, as he handed the boy
money. My own eyes moistened, as I witnessed the angelic expression
of this noble boy, who I dare affirm, had not the spirit to do such
things by halves.

The other was in another extremity of our country, where money and
cotton, sugar and slaves, balls and theatres are the all-absorbing
objects of interest. A large group of gaily dressed gentlemen
and ladies were promenading, in company with an heiress and her
intended husband, who were shortly to be married, and they were
merely discussing the preparations. A poor, pale boy, apparently a
stranger, came up to them, with his written petition for charity;
and with the low and subdued tone of voice appropriate to shame,
bashfulness and misery, began to tell his little story. The
splendid laughers walked on with an incurious carelessness. One of
the group lingered behind. He was struggling with the difficulties
of obtaining a profession, and aiding in the support of a distant
family. But, he bestowed on the boy one of his few remaining
dollars. When I see such instances of native tenderness of heart, I
thank God that men are not totally depraved.


Note 43, page 138.

Every one who has had extensive acquaintances, and been exposed
to frequent requests for letters of recommendation, and to
procure the intervention and aid of opulent friends, must feel
the importance and justice of these remarks. We ought not to
refuse such letters from indolence, selfishness, or the commonly
alleged fear of troubling our friends. But then, the case must be
such, as will bear us out, in being measured and scrupulous, in
regard to the existence, the actual truth and justice, of what we
advance; otherwise our inter-position will soon be rendered cheap
and inefficient; and will react, in creating want of respect for
the writer, instead of good feeling toward the person recommended.
Such, in a great measure, is the result, in the current value of
these letters, as they are emitted, according to the common forms
of society.


Note 44, page 139.

A most affecting proof, that the human heart is not intrinsically
bad, and that the obduracy and cold-blooded selfishness of the
world is adventitious, and the result of our modes and our
training, is, that the sisters of charity, the truly beneficent
everywhere, create a deep sensation of respect in beholders.
Efficient charity is almost the only thing, that no one feels
disposed to question, or slander. A corpse was borne slowly by me,
to the place of its long sleep. An immense procession followed
with sorrow and respect impressed upon their countenances. I
asked, whom they were burying. ‘A single woman without wealth or
connexions.--But her life has been marked by beneficence.’ If that
sex, which so instinctively desire to appear to advantage, knew, in
what light a lady, distinguished by fortune and cultivation appears
while traversing the dirty and dark lanes of a city, to seek out,
and relieve cases of misery, they would practise charity, were it
from no higher motive, than to create a sensation, and appear
lovely. Every one knows the example of the sublime, quoted by
Longinus from Moses. A passage in the Gospel seems to me still more
sublime. _He went about doing good._ All other homage, than that
which the heart pays to beneficence, is adventitious. This is real.


Note 45, page 141.

Of all the pleasures of our earthly sojourn, after those of a
good conscience, the most varied, and yet equable, healthful and
permanent are those of reading. ‘I have never,’ says a respectable
writer, ‘passed a comfortable day without books since I was capable
of reading.’ It is certainly pleasant, to be able to converse with
the wise and instructed of all countries and all times without
formality, without embarrassment, and just as long as we choose;
and then dismiss one of them without any apology, and sit down
with another. We travel without expense with them. We inhabit the
tropics, or the polar circle, the table summits of mountains, or
the wide plains, at our choice. We journey by land or by sea. We
select congenial minds, and make them converse with us about our
congenial pursuits. We throw away no voice. We never dialogue in
wrath; and intelligence converses with intelligence, divested of
terrene grossness and passion. When detained on long journeys,
in some remote interior tavern, by a storm, or inability to find
a conveyance, how keenly, while reading almanacks of the past
years, and old fragments of books, found on the dusty shelf of
the ordinary, have I felt the value of books, as a perfect cure
for the impatience of such a position. In this state of privation
and intellectual fasting, we master dull and tiresome books,
which, under other circumstances, we should not have dreamed of
reading. Then the mind is taught to pay the proper homage to these
intellectual resources.

The pleasures of winter reading, in the sacred privacy of the
parlor, are thus finely described by Thomson, the painter of
nature.

                  ‘There studious let me sit,
      And hold high converse with the mighty dead;
      Sages of ancient time, as gods revered,
      As gods beneficent, who bless’d mankind
      With arts, with arms, and humanized a world.
      Roused at th’ inspiring thought, I throw aside
      The long-lived volume; and, deep-musing, hail
      The sacred shades, that slowly-rising pass
      Before my wondering eyes. First Socrates,
      Who, firmly good in a corrupted state,
      Against the rage of tyrants single stood,
      Invincible! calm Reason’s holy law,
      That voice of God within th’ attentive mind,
      Obeying, fearless, or in life or death:
      Great moral teacher! Wisest of mankind!
      Solon the next, who built his commonweal
      On equity’s wide base; by tender laws
      A lively people curbing, yet undamped
      Preserving still that quick peculiar fire,
      Whence in the laurel’d field of finer arts,
      And of bold freedom, they unequall’d shone,
      The pride of smiling Greece and human kind.
      Lycurgus then, who bow’d beneath the force
      Of strictest discipline, severely wise,
      All human passions. Following him, I see,
      As at Thermopylæ he glorious fell,
      The firm devoted chief,[C] who proved by deeds
      The hardest lesson which the other taught.
      Then Aristides lifts his honest front;
      Spotless of heart, to whom th’ unflattering voice
      Of freedom gave the noblest name of Just;
      In pure majestic poverty revered;
      Who, e’en his glory to his country’s weal
      Submitting, swell’d a haughty rival’s[D] fame.
      Rear’d by his care, of softer ray appears
      Cimon sweet-soul’d; whose genius, rising strong,
      Shook off the load of young debauch; abroad
      The scourge of Persian pride, at home the friend
      Of every worth and every splendid art;
      Modest and simple, in the pomp of wealth.
      Then the last worthies of declining Greece,
      Late call’d to glory, in unequal times
      Pensive appear. The fair Corinthian boast,
      Timoleon, happy temper! mild and firm,
      Who wept the brother while the tyrant bled.
      And, equal to the best, the Theban Pair,[E]
      Whose virtues, in heroic concord join’d,
      Their country raised to freedom, empire, fame.
      He too, with whom Athenian honor sunk,
      And left a mass of sordid lees behind,
      Phocion the Good; in public life severe,
      To virtue still inexorably firm;
      But when, beneath his low illustrious roof,
      Sweet peace and happy wisdom smooth’d his brow,
      Not friendship softer was, nor love more kind.
      And he, the last of old Lycurgus’ sons,
      The generous victim to that vain attempt,
      To save a rotten state, Agis, who saw
      E’en Sparta’s self to servile avarice sunk.
      The two Achaian heroes close the train:
      Aratus, who a while relumed the soul
      Of fondly lingering liberty in Greece;
      And he, her darling as her latest hope,
      The gallant Philopœmen; who to arms
      Turn’d the luxurious pomp he could not cure;
      Or toiling on his farm, a simple swain;
      Or, bold and skilful, thundering in the field.
        ‘Of rougher front, a mighty people comes!
      A race of heroes! in those virtuous times
      Which knew no stain, save that with partial flame
      Their dearest country they too fondly loved:
      Her better Founder first, the light of Rome,
      Numa, who soften’d her rapacious sons;
      Servius the king, who laid the solid base
      On which o’er earth the vast republic spread.
      Then the great consuls venerable rise.
      The public Father[F] who the private quell’d,
      As on the dread tribunal sternly sat.
      He whom his thankless country could not lose,
      Camillus, only vengeful to her foes.
      Fabricius, scorner of all-conquering gold;
      And Cincinnatus, awful from the plough.
      Thy willing victim,[G] Carthage, bursting loose
      From all that pleading Nature could oppose,
      From a whole city’s tears, by rigid faith
      Imperious call’d, and honor’s dire command.
      Scipio, the gentle chief, humanely brave,
      Who soon the race of spotless glory ran,
      And, warm in youth, to the poetic shade
      With Friendship and Philosophy retired.
      Tully, whose powerful eloquence a while
      Restrain’d the rapid fate of rushing Rome.
      Unconquer’d Cato, virtuous in extreme;
      And thou, unhappy Brutus, kind of heart,
      Whose steady arm, by awful virtue urged,
      Lifted the Roman steel against thy friend.
      Thousands besides the tribute of a verse
      Demand; but who can count the stars of heaven?
      Who sing their influence on this lower world?
        ‘Behold, who yonder comes! in sober state,
      Fair, mild, and strong, as is a vernal sun;
      ’Tis Phœbus’ self, or else the Mantuan swain!
      Great Homer too appears, of daring wing,
      Parent of song! and, equal by his side,
      The British Muse; join’d hand in hand they walk,
      Darkling, full up the middle steep to fame,
      Nor absent are those shades, whose skilful touch
      Pathetic drew th’ impassion’d heart, and charm’d
      Transported Athens with the moral scene;
      Nor those who, tuneful, waked th’ enchanted lyre.
        ‘First of your kind! society divine!
      Still visit thus my nights, for you reserved,
      And mount my soaring soul to thoughts like yours.
      Silence, thou lonely power! the door be thine;
      See on the hallow’d hour that none intrude,
      Save a few chosen friends, who sometimes deign
      To bless my humble roof, with sense refined,
      Learning digested well, exalted faith,
      Unstudied wit, and humor ever gay.
      Or from the Muses’ hill will Pope descend,
      To raise the sacred hour, to bid it smile,
      And with the social spirit warm the heart?
      For though not sweeter his own Homer sings,
      Yet is his life the more endearing song.’


Note 46, page 142.

Whoever has attempted to concentrate his thoughts in fixed
contemplation upon the origin of the human race, the object of our
present existence, and our prospects beyond it, upon the character
and plan of the divinity, and the mode of his being, must have
felt a painful vagueness, a dizzying sense of the weakness of our
powers, very naturally preparing us for superstitious and terrific
views of the first cause. But when, in the clear light of reason,
I look upon his creation, on his star-spangled firmament, and the
glory of his works, I should as soon doubt my own existence, as
the perfect wisdom and goodness of the author of my being. All
religion, which does not strengthen our confidence in this, must
be a dreary illusion. Horrible dreams, dating their origin from
the associations of childhood, and the rant of wild and visionary
ministers, may sometimes interpose, in the uncertain moments
between sleeping and waking, as among the gloomy presentiments
and partial delirium of ill health. But every rational mind must
finally settle to repose in that glorious persuasion, which
instantly irradiates the moral universe with perennial sunshine.
‘The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice.’ In this or any other
world, in our present or any other forms of conscious being, we may
advance upon the unexplored scenes with a full confidence that we
can never travel beyond the beneficence and equity of the infinite
mind.

One of the standing themes of Christian pulpits is the puerile
and absurd views, which the common creed of the Greeks and Romans
presented of the rabble divinities of their Pantheon; deities, who
fought, intrigued, made love, and intoxicated themselves; deities,
who had great power in a valley, and none on the adjoining hills;
deities, who were conquered, and transferred with their territory,
and became in consequence subservient to their conquerors. I have
heard discussions of this kind in the discourse of the sabbath
morning: and, in that of the evening, views of Christian theology,
scarcely less narrow and unworthy of the Supreme Being. I am
compelled to believe, from reading and observation, that the mass
of the people, in all churches, have had no other conception of
the divinity, than that of a being molded much like themselves.
We cannot avoid discovering, that their ideas of a God are gross,
material, local, partial; that they behold him, as the God of their
place, party and passions. Converse with the fiercer sects, and
you perceive, that their views immediately become vague, as soon
as they contemplate the Almighty occupied with concerns beyond
their sect. It seems beyond their thoughts, to realize, that their
denomination bears to the species little more than the proportion
of a drop to the ocean: and that the Supreme Being cannot be
rationally supposed more concerned about them, than any other equal
number of his children.

Nothing can be more philosophical, or consoling, than the Scripture
views of what has been called a _particular providence_. But,
as we hear it generally expounded from the press, the pulpit,
and in common conversation, it offers views of the divine Being
and government, scarcely less weak, monstrous and unworthy, than
those entertained by the ancient pagans. What a conception, to
suppose that a perfect law, as wise and equitable in its general
operation, as infinite wisdom and goodness could ordain, could
be continually infringed, to meet countless millions of opposing
prayers and interests! What a view of God, to imagine, that
earnest and concurrent prayers can at any time divert him from his
purpose, and change his plans! What palpable misinterpretation of
the Scriptures, to suppose, that they give any countenance to such
debasing conceptions of God! Hear rigid sectarians converse, and
you discover, that they think little of the divine providence,
which has no reference to their individual interests and concerns.
From the tone of their conversations, it is but too manifest, that
they have an interior confidence, that they can obtain of the
divine power, almost what they will.

The testimony of church history and the experience of time
testify, that the million, under all degrees of light, shrink from
the difficult and philosophical idea of the real Jehovah of the
Bible; and form, instead, the easy and natural image of a limited,
partial, changeable God, whom importunity can easily induce to
swerve from his purpose; and who is, in many respects, such a
being as themselves. It is the embodied conception of their own
narrow views, assigned to a local habitation. To him the countless
millions of other lands, and other forms of worship, are not, like
them, as children. Unable to rise to the Supreme Being, they have
brought Him down to them.

A few minds, from age to age, elevated by endowment and
circumstances far above their cotemporaries, have not only
embraced, in common with others, the easy and simple sentiments
of Him, which the heart entertains, but have raised their
contemplations so high, as to behold Him in the light of
truth--have seen Him, in some sense, _as He is_--have been filled
with awe and confidence, in the view of his immutability, and with
filial and cheerful resignation, in seeing in the universe, its
order, mutations and variety, in the mixed condition of man, in a
word, in every feature of the natural and moral creation, as in a
mirror, a perfect transcript of the divine perfections--a pattern
of an archetype without a shade of defect. Instead of bringing the
Divine Being down to them, they have raised themselves up to Him.
The veil, that screens his glory from the feeble vision of the
multitude, has been removed. Being assured, that He has made of one
blood all nations, that dwell on the earth, they have seen it to be
impossible, that He should look upon one portion of his children
with more favor than on another. They have seen, in the superior
light and advantages of one part of the species over another, not
the indication, of what is technically called _special favor_, but
the natural result of the operation of his universal laws. They
have seen, that if the inhabitants of one region are enabled to
rise higher in the intellectual scale, and pay him a more spiritual
and worthy homage--the simple inhabitants of _distant, barbarous
isles_ have an organization admitting them to be as happy as their
natures will admit, and as full of enjoyment as their measure can
contain. If they are unable to offer an intellectual worship,
the service of their minds, their hearts are formed for fervent
admiration and worship of the thunderer--the being, who raises
fruits and flowers, and hangs out his bow on their clouds. They
see, in all this, _that God, also, hath set one thing over against
another_.


Note 47, page 144.

The wisdom of allowing any place to the imagination, among the
faculties to be nurtured, I have often heard called in question.
The extremes of opinion frequently meet in the same point. The
most earnest declaimers against the indulgence of the imagination
are commonly found among the class of strict religionists. It is,
at the same time, a strong and prominent trait in the system of
Mr Owen ‘the philosopher of circumstances,’ and his followers,
that we ought to eradicate this faculty, if possible, or at least
suppress its exercise; and reduce all mental operations to the
cultivation of the reasoning powers. For me, I hold, that we are
as much indebted to the author of our being for granting us this
faculty, as any other. I see nothing wrong, or unphilosophical
in cultivating it to the utmost extent; provided our imaginings
would be innocent, if we could render them realities; unless it
can be shown, that the indulgence of this faculty enervates the
mind, and unfits it for encountering the stern duties and trials
of life. So far from believing this to be the natural tendency of
its allowed exercise, my experience has led me to suppose, that
persons, strongly endowed with this faculty, are most likely to
show energy for the discharge of common duties; and constancy and
cheerfulness in encountering trials. Are the southern people of
Europe, for example, less firm in conflicting with danger and
sorrow, or more feeble and remiss in the discharge of duties,
than the northern nations, admitted to be far less imaginative?
Within the range of my experience, I find those possessed of the
most vivid imagination, the most prompt to duty, and the most
cheerful in sorrow. The moody advocates of pure and exclusive
reason lay feeling, one of the strongest impulses to duty, out
of the question; and would extinguish one of the surest supports
in sorrow, the power of creating a bright internal world for
ourselves, when the external world is involved in unavoidable gloom.

They who decry the indulgence of the imagination, must, of course,
object to the endowment of poets and painters; and equally to
the pleasure derived from reading poetry, and contemplating
paintings. The whole empire of these kindred studies is that of
the imagination. Let us try the alleged puerility of indulging
this faculty. No one will deny, that it is the highest wisdom to
seek to be as happy, as we innocently may. When a mental faculty
is employed in creating within us a celestial world, peopled
with nobler beings, acting from higher motives, and showing a
happier existence; and in substituting the beautiful possible for
the tame real; if we find innocent happiness in this celestial
castle-building, are we not employing reason, only in a different
direction from the common? When any one can prove to me, that
it is puerile, to make ourselves happy, and from sources always
within our own control, then I will admit, that ideal pleasures are
unworthy of a reasonable being. Prove only, that the indulgence
of the faculty enervates the mind, and indisposes it for duty
and constancy in suffering, and I will grant at once, that it
should be stifled, or its action restricted or suppressed. So far
from believing this to be the fact, I would counsel him, whom
I most love, to seek in her whom he would select for his wife,
a cheerful and active imagination. It is an egregious mistake,
that mathematicians and practical men have generally been found
destitute of a good development of this faculty. Contrary to the
vulgar and hackneyed theme of pulpit declamation, I have found
on examination, that some of the most energetically charitable
women, I have ever known, were veteran novel readers; as have also
been some of the most profound lawyers that have ever adorned the
judgment seat in our country.


Note 48, page 145.

It is not exactly true, that this faculty can be subjected to the
complete control of the will. I know of no point in metaphysics,
connected, also, with an important question in rhetoric, upon which
less light has been thrown, than the question, how far, and in
what way the imagination can be cultivated: and by what methods
brought under the control of the will. A system of useful and
practical rules for this result is, as far as my reading extends, a
desideratum. Dr Johnson, it is well known, believed, that a man’s
muse was _sua dextra_, his own will, industry and habits, and that
by a vigorous effort over himself, he could write, for example,
at any time. This may be true in efforts, in which imagination is
not required; but, where the vivid exercise of this faculty is
requisite to excellence, it is not true. Let the most amply endowed
poet suffer under mental depression, dyspepsia, a concurrence of
small misfortunes and petty vexations. Let him write in a smoky
apartment, and look abroad upon a leaden sky, marked with the
dulness of winter, without its storms and congenial horrors. He may
repair to his rules. He may apply the whip and spur, and invoke the
nimble fancies from the vasty deep, and the muses from their hill,
but they will not answer, nor come at his bidding.

The imagination may be cultivated to a certain extent; and brought
by rules and intense concentration of mind, in a certain degree,
under the control of the will. Those, who would nurture it, ought
intensely to study those rules. But, after all, to be able to
exercise it in high measures of vivacity, is an endowment, in the
bestowment of which nature has been more capricious than in almost
any other. Even when possessed in copious measures, its province
lies so intermediate between corporeal and mental influence,
between the prevalent temperament of the period of its action, and
the concurrence of external circumstances beyond our control, that
we can easily see, why the wise ancients, who thought more justly
upon these subjects, and more profoundly than the moderns seem to
be willing to apprehend, attributed the successful efforts of the
muses to a superior and celestial influence. He, who pushes the
theory of our control over this faculty beyond truth, adopts an
error, nearly if not quite as dangerous, as he, who holds, that we
have no control over it at all.

A thousand external circumstances, which it would require
a volume to enumerate, must concur with a certain easy and
strong excitability in the physical and mental frame; and that
excitability called into action by the right sort of stimulants,
to impart happy and vigorous action to the imagination. Milton
affirmed, that his muse was most propitious in the spring. As far
as I can judge, the season of reproduction, and the awakening of
the slumbering powers of nature, in the aroma and brilliancy of
vegetation and flowers, acts too voluptuously on the senses, to
give the highest and best direction to the imagination. The Indian
summer days of autumn, with the associated repose of nature, the
broad and crimson disk of the sun enthroned in the dome of a misty
sky, the clouds sleeping in the firmament, the gorgeous coloring
of the forests, the flashing fall of the first leaves, and the not
unpleasing sadness of the images, called up by the imperceptible
decay of nature, and the stealthy approach of winter, seem to me
most favorable to heavenly musing. A cloudless morning, a beautiful
sun, the glittering brightness of the dew drops, the renovated
freshness of nature, morning sounds, the mists rolling away from
the path of the sun, a bland southwest breeze, good health,
self-satisfaction, the recent reception of good news, and the right
train of circumstances all concur to put this faculty into its
happiest action.

Every one is acquainted with the unsparing ridicule bestowed on
Bayes, in Buckingham’s Rehearsal, for announcing, that he always
took physic, before he wrote. Yet the dull coxcomb had reason and
truth on his side. Mental action is more dependent upon corporeal,
and the ethereal powers upon the right disposition of that
organized clod, the body, than most are willing to acknowledge. Who
has not felt, when first going abroad from severe sickness, the
new aspects of nature, a fullness of heart, and the crowding of
innumerable images upon the thoughts, which have no place in the
mind, after a turtle feast or a full dinner? When the digestive
powers are oppressed with morbid accumulation, the wheels of mental
movement, as every one knows, move heavily. Students, orators,
painters, poets, imaginative men must live as near famine as may
be, and the most useful stimulants are coffee and tea. Every one
has read, that Byron’s inspiration was gin. It may be, that the
detestible combination of terebinthine and alcoholic excitement may
have aroused from the mouldy and terrene dormitories of his brain
the images of Don Juan, and the obscene, irreligious, anti-social,
and fierce thoughts, that abound in his works. But I would hardly
believe, on his own assertion, that he wrote the Prisoners of
Children under such an influence. The muse of alcohol is accursed;
and her influence is too corroding, dreggy, and adverse to life, to
originate ideas worthy of being handed down in immortal verse. If
these baleful aids were resorted to at all, I should consider opium
a thousand times preferable to alcohol.

I know, from my own experience, that this reality of actual
and present existence may be imparted to the creations of the
imagination, by long habits of subjecting it to the control of the
will. The enjoyment, resulting from reality, may be more intense,
but it is, also, more tumultuous and feverish. I know of no
happiness, more pure, prolonged and tranquil, more like what we may
imagine to be the bliss of higher intelligences, than to be able
to create this sunshine of the soul, this fair and celestial world
within ourselves, and make ourselves free denizens of the country.
From these fairy mansions labor, care and want are excluded. The
obstacles and impediments of time, distance, and disease, both of
body and mind, are excluded. The inhabitants, walking in the light
of truth and the radiance of immortal beauty, from sin and death
forever free, unite the wisdom of angels to the simplicity and
affectionate confidence of children.


Note 50, page 146.

No people, in my estimation, are farther from true wisdom, than
they, who denounce these pleasures of the imagination, as the
puerile follies of weak minds. They who are most prompt to bring
the charge, are generally destitute of the faculty, and its
kindred endowments themselves; and seem to desire that other minds
should be reduced to their own scale of sterility. Puerile, to
avail ourselves of the power of rendering ourselves innocently
happy! To me the puerility belongs to those who mostly abstain
from contemplating the few gleams of sunshine, that we can behold
between the cradle and the grave. ‘But these joys are unreal!’
What is there in the _vain show_ of life, that is not so? See the
greedy scramble of ambition, after honor, wealth and distinction,
the painted baubles of insects, who hold all by the frail tenure of
life! Life itself, what is it, but a dream, sometimes illumined by
the rainbows of imagination and hope?


Note 51, page 149.

A being endowed with such intense emotions, as man; and so placed,
as to have them so strongly called forth by the relations he
contracts: so much in the dark in regard to his origin, his end and
everything about him, conscious, that he must shortly leave home,
all that he loves, the view of the earth and the sky, and that
body, which long habit has taught him to consider as himself, to
molder back to the soil, should naturally be expected to have this
tendency to melancholy. Beautifully said the fabulist, ‘that he who
formed us, moistened the clay of our structure not with water but
tears.’ The natural expression of the human countenance in sleep
is shaded with a slight veil of melancholy. It has been observed,
that the national music of all people, and, more especially, of
the uncivilized tribes, is on a key of melancholy. Most of the
voices of the animal tribes are of this cast. The strain of the
nightingale is the deepest expression of this sentiment. Religion
should be the grand re-agent, in bringing light and cheerfulness to
a universe of sadness and death, by presenting new views of that
universe, its author, his beneficence, and the ultimate hope of the
soul.

      ‘See truth, love and mercy in triumph descending,
       And nature all glowing in Eden’s first bloom;
       On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending.
       And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.’


Note 52, page 149.

With the honorable exception of some towns and districts in our
country, the epitaphs and monumental inscriptions are utterly
beneath criticism. The greater portion are from Watts, and the
other minor poets, too often little more than extravagant, coarse,
miserable conceits. Here and there, a beautiful quotation from
the Bible, such as ‘Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord;’
‘Man cometh forth, like a flower, and is cut down,’ only serve
to render the worthlessness of the remainder more conspicuous
by contrast. What adds to the unpleasant effect is, that no
inconsiderable portion of them are absolutely misspelt, to say
nothing of the punctuation. Strange, that survivors should incur
the expense of a slab, and permit a stone-cutter to select, spell,
and point the inscriptions. It is to be hoped, that some competent
writer will, ere long, take in hand this matter, so vital to the
literary reputation of our country, and introduce a thorough and
general reform, by wiping away this national stain, and introducing
that beautiful and sublime simplicity, which ought always to
characterize monumental inscriptions.

Akin to the bad taste of this sort, is the slovenly manner in which
our church-yards are kept, in whole sections of the country. Who
has not felt pain, at seeing many and even most of these places
sacred to memory, in the western county especially, uninclosed,
trampled upon by cattle, and the narrow heap of turf disturbed by
swine?

Of writers, whose works have been immortalized by the muse
of melancholy, I am acquainted, in the French language, with
Chateaubriand, who has produced occasional passages of this class
not to be surpassed; and Lamartine, whose poetry breathes a rich
and deep strain of melancholy. Young’s Night Thoughts, Blair’s
Grave, and Porteus ‘on Death,’ are celebrated English specimens
of this class of poetry. In our country the Thanatopsis of Bryant
ranks quite as high as either of the former writers in this walk.
Some of the lines are of exquisite beauty, as paintings of the
trophies of the tomb. Another age will do justice to many of the
thoughts in the Sorotaphion of a young poet, who has written on the
remote shores of Red River.

The first lines of the inscription on the famous Roman statue of
Sleep are the sublimest concentration of melancholy thought:

‘It is better to sleep, than wake; and best of all to be in marble.’

The same may be said of that of the orphan nun, who died in the
prime of youth and beauty: ‘I was alone among the living. I am
alone here.’

But it is in the book of Job, that poetic images, upon which has
been thrown the shade of a sublime melancholy, are set forth, with
a power and pathos that leave little more, to succeeding writers in
that walk, than to study, combine, and reproduce their features.
How perfectly has this author given utterance to the groans of one
in utter despondency and bereavement! Here the heart speaks its
own language, with a simplicity and truth to make its way to every
other heart. These features fix the date of this poem at a period
antecedent to the settled art of writing, and plagiarizing the
shadow of a shade, more conclusively than volumes of criticism.
He copied not; but drank at the fountain; feeling deeply, and
expressing what he felt.


Note 53, page 150.

When in my travels I pass through a town, or village, which I have
not seen, if I have sufficient leisure, the first place which
I visit, is uniformly the church-yard. The feeling that I am a
stranger, that I know not the scenery, and that it knows not me,
naturally induces a sort of pensive meditation, which disposes me
for that sojourn. I form certain estimates of the taste and moral
feeling of the people, from the forms and devices of the slabs
and monuments; and the order in which the consecrated ground is
inclosed, and kept. The inscriptions are ordinarily, in too bad a
taste to claim much interest, though there are few church-yards,
that cannot show some monuments, which, by their eccentric
variation from the rest, mark character. All this is a matter of
trifling interest, compared with the throng of remembrances and
anticipations, that naturally crowd upon the spirit of a stranger
in such a place. Youth with its rainbows, and its loves; mature
age with its ambitious projects; old age in the midst of children,
death in the natal spot, or the house of the stranger; eternity
with its dim and illimitable mysteriousness; these shadowy images,
with their associated thoughts, pass through the mind, and return,
like the guests at an inn. While I look up towards the rolling
clouds, and the sun walking his unvarying path along the firmament,
how natural the reflection, that they will present the same aspect,
and suggest the same reflections, that the trees will stand forth
in their foliage and the hills in their verdure, to him who comes
after me, when I shall have taken my place with the unconscious
sleepers about me! I never fail to recollect the charming
reflections in a number of the Spectator, that treats upon a visit
to Westminster Abbey, the most impressive writing of the kind, as
it seems to me, in our language.

Here is the place to reflect upon the folly, if not the guilt, of
human hatred and revenge, ambition and avarice, and the million
puerile projects and cares, that are incessantly over-clouding the
sunshine of existence. What an eloquent lesson do these voiceless
preachers read, upon the wisdom of most of those thoughts and
solicitudes, that disturb our course through life!

The heart cannot but be made better by occasional communion with
these tenants of the narrow house, where--

      ‘Each waits the other’s license to disturb
       The deep, unbroken silence.’


Note 53a, page 152.

It is questionable, how far they could lay claim to be the real
friends of humanity, who would reason away this last, best solace
of human wretchedness, even were it proved an illusion. But man
is just as certainly and necessarily a religious being, as he
is a being constituted with appetites and passions. Grant, that
there are people, who seem wholly destitute of the religious
sentiment. Such are the real Atheists from internal conviction; for
observe, there are many, who assume to be such, to pass for free
and independent thinkers, and who are most likely, in their dying
moments, to require absolution and extreme unction. But if there
are men thus monstrously constituted, so are there individuals
apparently as destitute of the common appetites and passions. We
take no account of such exceptions, in indicating a general rule;
and say, that man is constituted a religious being, and possessed
of certain appetites and passions; although there may be selected a
few individuals, who seem entirely without either.

Religion is the key stone of the arch of the moral universe. It
is the fountain of endearing friendship; and on it are founded
those sublime relations, which exist between the visible and the
invisible world; those, who still sojourn here, and those who
have become citizens of the country beyond us. It is the poesy of
existence, the basis of all high thought and virtuous feeling; of
charities and morals; and the very tie of social existence. Let no
person claim to be good, while laying an unhallowed hand upon this
ark of the covenant of the Eternal with the children of sorrow and
death.


Note 54, page 154.

Treatises upon the evidences of religion may be useful for
theological students; and I have heard people affirm, that they
have been rescued by such works from the gloom of unbelief. But,
believing, as I do, that we were constituted religious animals,
if such a term may be admitted, and that the religious sentiment
is a part of our organization, I have quite as much confidence in
the arguments of the heart, as of the head. I undertake not to
pronounce, whether M. de Chateaubriand were a good christian, or
not. But I affirm, that I have nowhere seen my own views of the
process, by which the original endowment of the religious sentiment
is called into action, so eloquently described, as in the following
extract from that writer.

‘My mother, after being thrown, at the age of seventy-two years,
into a dungeon, where she saw a part of her children perish,
expired at last upon a couch of straw, to which her miseries
had consigned her. The remembrance of my errors infused great
bitterness into her last days. In death she charged one of my
sisters to recall me to that religion, in which I had been reared.
My sister transmitted me the last wish of my mother. When this
letter reached me beyond the seas, my sister herself was no more.
She had died from the consequences of her imprisonment. These two
voices, proceeding from the tomb, this death, which served as the
interpreter of the dead, deeply struck me. I did not yield, I
admit, to great supernatural lights. My conviction proceeded from
the heart. I wept, and I believed.’


Note 55, page 157.

The belief naturally originated by the sentiment of religion, or
what may be called the faith of the heart, is presented in the last
fruitless attempt of the old man, to cheer the despair of Paul in
the exquisite tale of Paul and Virginia. ‘And why deplore the fate
of Virginia? Virginia still exists. There is, be assured, a region,
in which virtue receives its reward. Virginia now is happy. Oh! if
from the abode of angels, she could tell you, as she did, when she
bade you farewell, “O Paul, life is but a trial. I was faithful to
the laws of nature, love and virtue. Heaven found I had fulfilled
my duties, and snatched me forever from all the miseries, I might
have endured myself; and all, I might have felt for the miseries
of others. I am placed above the reach of all human evils, and you
pity me! I am become pure and unchangeable, as a particle of light,
and you would recall me to the darkness of human life. O Paul! O
my beloved friend! Recollect those days of happiness, when in the
morning we felt the delightful sensations excited by the unfolding
beauties of nature; when we gazed upon the sun, gilding the peaks
of those rocks; and then spreading his rays over the bosom of the
forests. How exquisite were our emotions, while we enjoyed the
glowing colors of the opening day, the odors of our shrubs, the
concerts of our birds! Now at the source of beauty, from which
flows all that is delightful on earth, my soul intuitively sees,
tastes, hears, touches, what before she could only be made sensible
of through the medium of our weak organs. Oh! what language can
describe, those shores of eternal bliss, which I inhabit forever!
All, that infinite power and celestial bounty can confer, that
harmony, which results from friendship with numberless beings,
exulting in the same felicity, we enjoy in unmixed perfection.
Support, then, the trial which is allotted you, that you may
heighten the happiness of your Virginia, by love, which will know
no termination, by hymeneals, which will be immortal. There I will
calm your regrets; I will wipe away your tears. Raise your thoughts
towards infinite duration, and bear the evils of a moment.”’


Note 56, page 160.

Phrenologists affirm, that along the centre of the crown is
situated the organ of veneration, or religious sentiment; that,
where it is large, the subject is strongly endowed with religious
feeling, and the contrary, when it is otherwise; that, with some
few monstrous exceptions, all possess this organ in a larger
or smaller degree; and that, as the sentiment springing from
the action of this organ is directed towards proper or improper
objects, enlightened by reason, rendered gloomy by fear, or
superstitious by credulity, is the religious character of the
person. Neither my subject, nor my inclination calls upon me to
agitate a system, which has generally been met only with unsparing
ridicule, instead of manly argument. With its doctrines or merits I
intermeddle not in this place. But, as far as the system declares,
that those people, whom we call pious, whose tone of mind seems
to dispose them to strong religious feeling, are so inclined
from organization, rather than volition, or argument, I most
confidently believe. Morals, whatever is taught by the science of
ethics, dogmas, ceremonies, commonly phrased religion, make, in
my mind, no part of it. I consider religion to be simply love,
originating from instinctive impulses of veneration in the mind,
for whatever is powerful, beneficent, and worthy of love. Its
native tendency is to expend its affection, first upon the unknown
and incomprehensible power, from whom we derived our being, whom
the heart, without argument, intuitively perceives to be good.
Its next and associated tendency is philanthropy, or the love of
what bears the impress and image of God. If we possess not this
original organization, no argument will ever persuade us to be
religious. If we have it, we may be liberal, or bigoted, Christians
or Mahometans, earnest or cold, according to our proportion of
endowment, our training and circumstances. We may even adopt the
flippant arguments of the unbelieving, and enlist ourselves under
their banner. But the original principle is still within us,
uneradicated, and uneradicable; and ready, if circumstances should
favor the change, to present us in the form of devotees, or, as
the phrase is, _converted_. The whole wisdom and excellence of
religious training consist in enlightening this noble sentiment,
and giving it a right direction. I am the rather confirmed in these
views, by having remarked, that the chief, palpable and tangible
influences of religion, which I have witnessed in all the sects,
that I have had occasion to observe, have seemed to me to result
from the affectionate spirit of their worship, creating in them
strong dispositions to love one another.

Open the gospels and the epistles, and what is the first impression
from perusing these unique and original writings, so wholly unlike
any other recorded compositions, and bearing upon a theme of
such astonishing import? The simplicity and fervor, with which
the spirit of love is impressed upon the pages. The strong and
before unwitnessed manifestation of this spirit was the striking
aspect, which the first Christians presented to pagan beholders.
‘See!’ said they, ‘how these Christians love one another.’ Every
time, I peruse the writings of the New Testament, this peculiar
badge of discipleship seems more visibly impressed upon them. In
what other institution, but that of Christianity, was it ever
practicable to possess all things in common? Where has been the
community, in which no one felt want, when a disciple had wherewith
to satisfy it? In what other chronicles do we meet with such
affecting and sublime examples of devotion to each other, and a
constancy of affection, which showed itself proof against all other
human passions, selfishness, hope, fear, earthly love, and the
terror of death? What tenderness and singleness of heart in their
affection for each other! How beautifully they demonstrate, that
the sentiment, which actuated them, had gained a complete triumph
over all considerations, arising from objects below the sun? He on
whose bosom the loved disciple leaned must certainly be admitted to
know the peculiar and distinguishing feature of his religion. This
feature stands forth embodied in all his teachings. Philanthropy
is the predominant trait in the life of him, _who went about doing
good_. Consider the basis of religion to be a sentiment implanted
in our constitution, and this result would naturally be expected to
flow from its development.

True religion, consisting in an enlightened and affectionate
direction of the heart towards the divinity, and manifesting
itself in love to the human family, and in consequent obedience to
the universal and unchangeable laws of the Creator, can only be
expected to result from the highest discipline of the mind, and the
ultimate exercise of the purest reason. But the sentiment, from
which this religion springs, in some form or other, as naturally
impels the heart towards God, and its faith and aspirations towards
immortality, as fishes desire to find their home in the water,
or birds in the air; and as everything, that has life, obeys the
peculiar instincts and impulses impressed by the divine hand. Why
else, should every people under heaven, in all time, have been
found with a religion in some form, and hopes and fears beyond the
grave? Consider religion in this light, and its hopes are as sure,
as those objects, towards which the instincts of all other animals
prompt them.

Do I undervalue morals, since I do not deem them a part, of
what should be properly called religion? I trust, I cannot be
so mistaken. Ethics may be taught, as a science, and, however
important, seems to me no more a part of religion, than mathematics
or natural philosophy. Love will create morals; and its perfection
the perfection of morals, that we ascribe to angels. All that has
been urged from the pulpit, in regard to faith and works, as cause
and effect, may, with still more justice, be applied to love and
duty. Love is the faith of the heart, and its original impress,
when rightly trained in the science of ethics, and enlightened
by pure and simple reason, produces its results in the best
exemplification of the christian character.


Note 57, page 165.

That person has no right to complain of the shortness of life,
who lies in bed, either sleeping, or dozing, until nine; and
thus voluntarily consigns to unconsciousness a twelfth part of
his existence. As little reason has he for indulging a querulous
spirit on this score, if he spends without object a considerable
portion of his time with people, about whom he knows nothing,
except that they are incapable of furnishing a moment’s pleasure,
or instruction to any one. If each one noted down at night the
incidents of the day, that had occupied his time, and how much of
it he had appropriated to each, I fear all that portion, that we
call people of leisure would be able to show but a lean schedule
either of utility or enjoyment, as the result.

Complaints of the brevity of life are equally interdicted to all
those, who do not wisely improve every hour of the brief and
uncertain present. He, who regretted his stinted fortune, would
find, and deserve little sympathy, if, in the very moments of
complaining, he was seen inconsiderately squandering from that
limited fund. To form a resolution to mark every moment of life,
that we might, with a succession of pleasant ideas, would probably
triple the duration of most human lives. To sleep no more than
nature requires, to rise early, to discipline ourselves to preserve
an elastic and active spirit and a vigorous will, are parts of
this resolution. It is a much greater part, than is commonly
apprehended, to waste as little time as possible on those, who are
incapable of understanding us, and whom we are as little capable of
understanding. Reciprocal good feeling is much more likely to be
created, and sustained by those who are determined to avoid this
course, than those who, from mere unmeaning civility and common
etiquette, bring their incompatibilities together, to make common
stock of a mutual weariness with each other, which soon ripens into
concealed, if not expressed ill feeling.

They, who are accustomed to think in this direction, will easily
fill out the fine outline of the author’s views touching the right
mode to arrest the flight of time. To add to this sketch would
require an extent of detail, for which I have here no place. The
general principle of this process seems to consist in meeting pain
and adversity with a spirit so philosophic and firm that they will
recoil from it; and to dwell upon every innocent enjoyment, as
though it were our first, and would be our last; to prolong it by
investing it with all possible moral relations; and to discipline
the mind never to become hackneyed, sated, wearied, and callous to
the sense of objects in which man is bound to feel an interest,
alike by his duty and his nature.

Never was a more stupid maxim, than that common one, that _nil
admirari_ is the proper motto of a philosopher. To preserve a
freshness, a juvenile sensibility of the heart for the admiration
of whatever is new, beautiful and striking, for all the pleasures
of taste and the understanding, seems to me the true secret of
the highest wisdom. Who can fail to be inspired with disgust at
witnessing the common spectacle of _cognoscenti_, men of _virtu_,
travelled fools, who have been everywhere, and seen everything; and
by the contemptuous sneer, with which they effect to see, hear,
feel and speak of all, that passes under their present observation,
instruct you, that they are too wise, and of a taste too refined,
to be pleased with what satisfies untravelled people. For my part,
when I hear them boast of the music, paintings and architecture
of continental Europe, and England, as though all the sources of
beauty were there, I can only say, that nature is always at hand,
to mock at all the puny efforts of art; that she delights to mould
living faces and forms in remote country cottages, that no _beau
idéal_ can reach; that the songs of the birds, that return from
other climes to their forsaken groves with the first sunny days
of spring constitute a music richer to the heart, than the most
fashionable opera; and that a pure spring landscape is a pictured
thousand times more splendid, than any that ever adorned the walls
of the Louvre. He, who preserves, to his utmost age, his youthful
sensibility of heart, and who is willing to be pleased with
whatever will impart innocent pleasure, will find innumerable and
never failing occasions to give his heart up to the full impulses
of joy.

‘I pity,’ says Sterne, ‘the man, who can travel from Dan to
Beersheba, and cry ’tis all barren; and yet so it is; and so is
all the world, to him who will not cultivate the fruits it offers.
I declare said I, clapping my hands cheerly together, that were
I in a desert, I would find in it the wherewith to call forth
my affections. If I could not do better, I would fasten them on
some sweet myrtle, or seek some melancholy cypress, to connect
myself to. I would court its shade, and greet it kindly for its
protection; I would cut my name upon it, and swear, it was the
loveliest tree in the desert. If its leaves withered, I would teach
myself to mourn; and when they rejoiced, I would rejoice with them.’


Note 58, page 166.

I consider it no unimportant part of the process of prolonging our
earthly sojourn, to lay in, if I may so speak, as great a stock
as possible, of pleasant remembrances. I appeal to the experience
of every one, if the sudden recollection of a foolish thing that
we have said, or done, returning upon us after a lapse of years,
has not brought back with the convulsive shudder of shame, a long
train of associated remembrances, which have carried us back whole
days upon the scene? How long seem the periods, in which these
incidents occurred! Pleasant recollections are no less efficient,
in prolonging the periods, in which they occurred, adding their
duration to the sum of the fugitive existence that is stealing from
us.

For myself I can confidently affirm, that I have long since learned
to find my purest and most abiding satisfactions in the memory
of the past. I repeat all its happier passages and incidents. I
recall the bright days, verdant landscapes, loved persons, and
joyous sensations from their shadowy mansions. I renew my youthful
sports; and watch for the trout along the flush spring brooks. I
seat myself again on the sunny banks of the pleasant spots of my
career. I would be glad to convey some idea of the vivid pleasure,
I experience after a lapse of forty winters, from the deeply
impressed remembrance of one beautiful spring morning, after a
long and severe winter, when I was still a school-boy. The vast
masses of snow were beginning to melt. The birds of prey, shut up
in their retreats during the bitter winter, sailed forth in the
mild clear blue. The blue bird whistled; and my heart expanded with
joy and delight unknown, in the same degree, before or since. The
place where these thoughts, comprising my youthful anticipations,
hopes and visions occurred, will never be obliterated from my mind,
while memory holds her seat. I have a thousand such treasured
recollections, with which I can at any time, and to a certain
extent, cheer pain, sorrow and decay. These are enjoyments stored
beyond the reach of fortune, which we can prolong, and renew at
pleasure.

Is there not practical wisdom, in commencing every day with the
steady effort, to make as much of it, as if it were to be our whole
existence. If we have duties to perform, in themselves severe and
laborious, we may inquire, if there be not some way, by which to
invest them with pleasant associations? A man may find amusement
in his free thoughts, while following his plough upon the hill
side; in digging up the words for a dictionary, or in copying out
a brief. He may train himself, by an inefficient and shrinking
spirit, to recoil from these tasks, as insupportable burdens. How
many men find their pleasure, in what would be the positive horror
and torment of the indolent! How weak the spirit, and how silly
the vanity which we display, in ever renewing narrations of our
little personal troubles, pains and misfortunes! If we would have
the discretion to measure the sympathy, which we may expect from
others, in such discourses, by that, which we are conscious of
feeling for theirs of the same character, it would go far to teach
us the folly of that querulous spirit, which doles forth the story
of sufferings and sorrows, as though the narrator were the only
sufferer, and were entitled to a monopoly of all the passing pity.


Note 59, page 169.

This compendium of the moral acquirements, entering into the
character of an accomplished philosopher, I consider one of the
happiest, which any book of morals can show. Here is an ample
volume of ethics, on a page. How differently would a modern
auto-biographer have announced the same facts! In what rounded
periods and circuitous expressions would he have striven to
convey the same ideas, to impress the reader, that his modesty
forbade the frank personality of the Roman philosopher. The
whole spirit of this admirable summary would have evaporated in
barren generalities. What we admire in the ancients is their
noble simplicity and directness, which disdains the vanity of
circumlocution, that wishes to hide itself under the semblance of
modesty.

It seems to me, that it would not be amiss for the clergy of the
day to seek the models of their homilies and sermons in such a
manner of declaring moral truth. Abstract ethical declamation,
and all the scholastic acquirements and the _limæ labor_ are but
poor substitutes for that searching directness, which, avoiding
abstractions and generalities, appeals at once to the personal
consciousness. I allow, that I should love to hear such sermons,
as that of Dr Primrose to his fellow prisoners, in the Vicar of
Wakefield. There is no eloquence, there can be none, except in
simple and direct appeals to thought and conscience.


Note 60, page 171.

Various writers of splendid genius have tasked their imagination,
to present us with the results of endowing a person with
immortality on earth. Such a character has been delineated with
great power by Godwin, in his St Leon; and by Croly in the story
of _Salathiel, or the Wandering Jew_. It is an instructive labor,
to record the wanderings, changes, weariness, abandonment, and
final despair of a wretch cursed with immortality; and by the
circumstance rendered a monster, out of relation with human beings;
and cut off from all real sympathy with his mortal kind. It is
questionable, whether these writers, or any others who have drawn
similar pictures, have formed adequate conceptions, of what would
be the actual result of an earthly immortality. The view of the
author before me seems just. I can easily imagine the immortal
delivered from earthly sorrows. But, when I contemplate him
divested of the hopes, fears, affections and sympathies, which
trace their origin to our common mortal nature, I cannot imagine
the affections, that are to replace these.

I can conceive none other, than a being, who would become drowsy
at sixty, and sleepy at a hundred. All beyond presents to me a
lethargy of almost unconscious existence, from which my fancy can
devise no effort of sufficient energy to arouse him. In fact, it
is sufficient, that nature has awarded, in her universal decree,
that man should not be out of analogy and relation with the rest
of nature; to convince us, that the decision involves our best
interest. The more our views of nature enlarge, the more we become
conscious, that she has arranged all her laws with such perfect
wisdom, that if we could reverse any of them, we should do it at
the expense of our own happiness.

Of all pictures of men, rendered immortal upon earth, the most
forcible, brief and revolting, is that of Swift. ‘After this
preface, he gave me a particular account of the Struldbrugs among
them. He said, they commonly acted like mortals, till about
thirty years old; after which they grew melancholy and dejected,
increasing in both till they came to fourscore. This he learned
from their own confession; for otherwise, there not being more than
two or three of that species born in an age, they were too few to
form a general observation by. When they come to fourscore years,
which is reckoned the extremity of living in this country, they
had not only all the follies and infirmities of other men, but
many more, which arose from the dreadful prospect of never dying.
They were not only opinionative, covetous, peevish, morose, vain,
talkative, but incapable of friendship, and dead to all natural
affection, which never descended below their grandchildren. Envy
and their impotent desires are their prevailing passions. But those
objects, against which their envy seems particularly directed,
are the vices of the younger sort, and the death of the old. By
reflecting on the former, they find themselves cut off from all
possibility of pleasure; and whenever they see a funeral, they
lament, and repine, that others have gone to a harbor of rest, at
which they can never hope to arrive. They have no remembrance of
anything, but what they learned, and observed in their youth and
middle age, and even that is very imperfect; and for the truth or
particulars of any fact, it is safer to depend on common tradition,
than their best recollection. The least miserable among them, are
those, who turn to dotage, and entirely lose their memories. These
meet with more pity and assistance, because they want many bad
qualities, which abound in others.

‘If a Struldbrug happen to marry one of his kind, the marriage is
dissolved of course, by the courtesy of the kingdom, as soon as the
younger of the two comes to be fourscore; for the law thinks it a
reasonable indulgence, that those, who are condemned, without any
fault of their own, to a perpetual continuance in the world, should
not have their misery doubled by the load of a wife. As soon as
they have completed the term of eighty years, they are considered
dead in law. At ninety they lose their teeth and hair, and have
no distinction of taste, but eat and drink whatever they can get,
without relish or appetite. The diseases they were subject to,
still continue without increasing, or diminishing. In talking, they
forget the common appellations of things, and the names of persons,
even of those, who are their nearest friends and relations. For the
same reason, they can never amuse themselves with reading, because
their memory will not serve to carry them from the beginning of a
sentence to the end; and by this defect they are deprived of the
only entertainment whereof they might be capable.

‘They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld, and the
women more horrible than the men. Besides the usual deformities
in extreme old age, they acquired an additional ghastliness, in
proportion to their number of years, which is not to be described;
and among half a dozen, I soon distinguished who was the oldest,
although there was not above a century or two between them.

‘The reader will easily believe, from what I have heard and seen,
that my keen appetite for perpetuity and life was much abated. I
grew heartily ashamed of the pleasing visions I had formed, and
thought no tyrant could invent a death into which I would not run
with pleasure, from such a life. The king heard all that had passed
between me and my friends upon this occasion, and rallied me very
pleasantly, wishing I could send a couple of Struldbrugs to my own
country, to arm our people against the fear of death.’


Note 61, page 171.

Fear, absolutely useless, gratuitous fear, probably constitutes
much the largest proportion of the whole mass of human misery;
and of this proportion the fear of death is the principal part.
There are but very few people who, in examining the feeling of
revulsion and horror, most constantly present to their minds, will
not find it to be the dread of death. The whole observation, which
I have made upon human nature, has only enlightened me the more
as to the universality and extent of the influence of this evil.
I see it infusing bitterness into the bosoms of the young, before
they are as yet capable of reflection; and ceasing not to inspire
its terrors into the heart, which has experienced the sorrows of
fourscore winters. I see little difference in the alarm with which
it darkens the mind of the heir, elate with youthful hope, and the
galley slave--those apparently the most happy, and the tenants of
penitentiaries and lazar-houses. All cling alike convulsively to
life, and shudder at the thought of death.

Part, and perhaps the greater part, of this fear is a sad
heritage, which has been transmitted down to us, an accumulating
fund of sorrow, for a hundred generations. I have stated my
conviction in another place, that our education, religious
ceremonies, domestic manners, in short, all the influences of the
present institutions of society tend to increase this evil. I am
well aware, at the same time, that the number of those, who will
admit it to be an evil, is but small. Most view it as it has been
considered in all Christian countries, from time immemorial, as
an instrument in the hand of God and his servants, to awe, and
restrain the mind, recall it from illusions and vanities, and
reduce it to the seriousness and obedience of religion. The broad
declamation of the pulpit for effect, revolting representations of
hell-torment and the vindictive justice of God, have passed with
a readier tolerance, under a kind of tacit allowance, that if the
means were unworthy, the proposed end was such as would sanctify
them. It is almost unnecessary to remark, that all my hope of
producing any useful impression is with the small, but growing
number, (in the next age, I trust, it will be a majority) who
hold this whole doctrine in utter unbelief; who have no faith in
amendment and conversion, that grows out of the base and servile
principle of fear; and least of all the fear of death; who believe
that a great reform, a thorough amelioration of our species, will
never be effected, until it is made a radical principle of our
whole discipline, and all our social institutions, to bring this
servile passion completely under the control of our reason. With
these, it is a deep and fixed conviction, that every thing base,
degrading and destructive of intellect and improvement, readily
associates with fear; and that the basis of true religion, generous
conception, high thoughts and really noble character, is firmly
laid in a young mind, when trained to become as destitute of fear,
as if it were conscious of being a sinless angel, above the reach
of pain or death.

It would be to no purpose for me to pause in this place, to obviate
the strictures of those who will denounce this doctrine, by quoting
from the scriptures the frequent inculcations of the _fear of the
Lord_, and the Apostle’s declaration, that by the _terrors of the
Lord we persuade men_. The true and religious fear, inculcated
in the scriptures, not only has no relation to the passion I am
discussing, but cannot exist, any more than the other requisite
traits of religious character, in a bosom swayed by the grovelling
and selfish passion of servile fear.

That nature has implanted in our bosoms an instinctive dread of
death, I readily admit. But fear, as a factitious and unnatural
addition to the true instincts of human nature, has been so
accumulated by rolling down through a hundred generations, that we
are in no condition to know the degree, in which nature intended
we should possess it. We have innumerable base propensities,
which we charge upon nature, that are, in fact, no more, than the
guilty heritage, bequeathed us by our ancestors. Nature could have
implanted no higher degree of instinctive dread of death, than
just what was requisite, to preserve the race from prodigal waste,
or rash exposure of a gift, which, once lost, is irretrievable.
If nature has inwrought in any constitution one particle of fear,
beyond what was required for this result, she has, as in all other
excessive endowments, granted reason and judgment, to regulate, and
reduce it to its due subordination.

Will not religion achieve the great triumph of casting out the
base principle of fear? I would be the last to deny, or undervalue
the trophies of true religion. I have no doubt that religion has,
in innumerable instances, extracted the pain and poison from the
sting of death. More than this, it would unquestionably produce
this triumph in every case, if every individual were completely
under the influence of the true principle. It would attain this end
by processes and discipline exactly concurrent, if not similar,
with those I am about to propose. But it is a lamentable fact,
that very few are under the influence of true religion. Of those,
whom charity deems most sincerely pious, under all professions and
forms, the far greater number exhibit, on the bed of dangerous
sickness, the same fear of death with the rest. We consider this
a generally conceded fact; for, among all but the most extravagant
sects, death-bed terror, or triumph has ceased to be considered a
test of the personal religion of the deceased. Even in the cases
of enthusiastic triumph in the last moments, which we have all
witnessed, and which are justly so soothing to the survivors, it
would often be difficult to determine the respective influence of
laudanum, and partial insanity doing its last work upon the nervous
system.

Be this as it may, the triumph over the fear of death, which I
would inculcate, should not be tested by the equivocal deportment
of the patient, in the near view of death; but by his own joyous
consciousness of deliverance from this tormenting thraldom and
bondage, during his whole life. Let fear and horror crowd what
bitterness they may into the last few hours, it can bear but little
proportion to the long agony of a whole life, passed in _bondage
through fear of death_. To produce the desired triumph, the highest
training of philosophy should concur with the paternal spirit and
the immortal hopes of the gospel; and a calm, reasoning, unboasting
fearlessness of death should enable us to taste all the little of
pure and innocent joy, that may be found between the cradle and
the grave--as unmolested, as unsprinkled with this fear, as if the
destroyer were not among the works of God.

How may this result be obtained? How may a generation be so trained
as to lose not a particle of enjoyment, nor be influenced to one
unworthy act, by the fear of death? To answer these questions, in
the requisite detail of illustration, would require volumes. It
might, perhaps, best be done by selecting a single child as an
example; and by developing, at every advancing step, the process
of his training; pointing out every instance, in which it would be
necessary to withdraw him from the influence of the present systems
of discipline; in which, in a word, his whole education should
be conducted with a preponderant purpose, among other desirable
results, to render him perfectly fearless of death. It is hoped
that some one of those, who believe this a chief desideratum in the
reformation and improvement of the present system of education,
will take this great point in hand; and in this way indicate to
the age the modes of discipline, through which this result may
be expected. It is obvious, that a much severer discipline would
be required for the first generation so trained, than for the
second; who, with less transmitted cowardice than their parents,
would perpetuate a constantly improving moral constitution to the
generations to come. My present plan admits only a brief summary of
motives and arguments, commonly adduced, as calculated to diminish,
regulate, and subdue the fear of death. It is evident, that these
motives and arguments are predicated upon present opinions, and
such as may be supposed capable of acting upon the existing
generation, enduring the hereditary and inculcated bondage of this
passion.

1. The terrific and undefinable images of horror, that
imagination affixes to the term _death_, are founded in an entire
misconception. The word is the sign of no positive idea whatever.
It conjures up a shadowy horror to the mind, finely delineated,
as a poetic personage, by Milton; and implies some agony that is
supposed to lie between the limits of existence and non-existence,
or existence in another form. This is simple illusion. So long
as we feel, death is not--and when we cease to feel, or commence
feeling in a changed form, death has been:--_fuit mors_. So
that the term imports a mere phantom of the imagination. In the
words of Droz, ‘it is not yet; or it is past.’ If one can arrest
the _punctum stans_, and the actual sensation, where waking
consciousness terminates, and sleep commences, he can tell us, what
death is. Every one is conscious of having passed through this
change; but no one can give any account, what were his sensations
in the dividing moment of interval between wakefulness and sleep.

2. Imagination is allowed to settle all the circumstances, and
form all the associations belonging to the supposed agony of this
event. It is one of the few important incidents in life, upon which
reason is never allowed to fix a calm and severe scrutiny. It has
been seen in a light, too sacred and terrible, to permit such a
lustration. ‘It is dreadful,’ says common apprehension, ‘for it
is the breaking up the long and tender partnership, and producing
a separation between the body and the soul--dreadful, because it
is the wages of sin, and is appointed to be a perpetual memorial
of the righteous displeasure of God in view of sin;’ ‘dreadful,’
say others, who most unphilosophically believe that man was not
originally intended to be mortal, ‘because a violence upon nature;
dreadful, because a departure of the spirit from the regions
of the living, and the light of the sun, into an unknown and
eternal condition. Suns will revolve, moons wax and wane, years,
revolutions, ages, counted by all the particles of mist in the
sea, will elapse, but the place, whence the spirit is gone, will
never know it more.’ ‘It is terrible,’ says common apprehension,
‘for it is often preceded and accompanied by spasm, and convulsive
struggle.’ The psalmody, which we sing in church, speaks of the
_ghastly paleness_, the _chill sweat_, and the _mortal coldness_,
circumstances all, which, seen in other associations, would assume
no aspect of peculiar terror.

Then, too, the attendants in the sick room with a look of horror
inspect the extremities of the patient, and petrify bystanders with
the terrible words, ‘he is struck with death,’ as though the grisly
phantom king of the poet’s song had invisibly glided in, and, with
his icy sceptre, given his victim the blow of mortal destiny. Who
knows not that, though there are usually mortal symptoms, which
enable an experienced eye to foresee approaching dissolution,
the term _death-struck_ imports nothing but the weakest vulgar
prejudice, a prejudice under the influence of which millions have
been suffered to expire, that might have been roused! Innumerable
persons, pronounced to be in that situation, have actually
recovered; and no moment, in the ordinary forms of disease, can
with any certainty be pronounced beyond hope and the chances of
aid, but that which succeeds the last sigh. Thus every thought of
the living, and every aspect of the dying, by a wayward ingenuity,
heightens the imagined horror of the event.

Then there are conversations and hymns and funeral odes and
Night Thoughts, which speak of the coldness, silence and eternal
desolation of the grave; as though the unconscious sleeper felt the
chill of the superincumbent clay, the darkness of his narrow house
or this terrible isolation from the living. The pale and peaceful
corpse is contemplated with a look of horror. Two, of stout heart
and tried friendship, abide near the kneaded clod, until the living
are relieved from their ghostly terrors, by its deposition out of
their sight in the narrow house. The family, the children, the
friends alike showing the creeping horror, glide quick and silently
on tiptoe through the apartment, where the sleeper lies. The first
nightfall after the disease is one of peculiar and unmitigated
horror. The family, however disinclined to union before, this
evening unite, with that impress on their countenances, which words
reach not. Now return to their thoughts the nursery tales, the
thrilling narratives of haunted houses and wandering ghosts; and
if the minister comes among them, it is probably to evoke before
their imaginations condemned spirits doomed to eternal sufferings,
quenchless flames, groans without respite, and all the ineffable
and eternal torments, that the clerical vocabulary of centuries has
accumulated.

Need we wonder, that in a christian country, and among families
of the best training, such impressions have become so universal,
that they, who would be reputed brave, blazon their courage, by
affirming their readiness to sleep in a cemetery, or the funeral
vault of a church! It requires no extraordinary effort, and nothing
more than the simple triumph of reason among the faculties, to
enable any man, to sleep alone in a charnel house with as little
dread, as in the apartment of an inn, so that the places were alike
in comfort and salubrity. It does not require us to be wise, or
courageous; but simply not cowards and fools, to feel as little
horror in the view of corpses, as statues of plaster or marble.
One of the most terrible ideas of death, after all, is, that we
shall thus, immediately upon our decease, inflict this shrinking
revulsion of terror upon all, who look at our remains.

The view, which reason takes of the sick and dying bed is, that,
in the far greater number of mortal cases, the transition from
life to death is as imperceptible, as the progress of the sun
and the seasons. One faculty dies after another. The victim has
received the three warnings unconsciously. Ordinarily, a person may
be said to have paid a third part of his tribute of mortality at
forty-five; half at fifty-five; and the whole at three score and
ten.

When acute and severe sickness assails the patient, he has passed
through what may be called the agony of death at a very early
period of his disease. His chief suffering is past, as soon the
irritability and the vigorous powers of life have been broken down.
When the disorder assumes the typhoid and insensible form, the
dull sleep, that precedes the final rest of the tomb, is already
creeping upon him; and severe suffering is precluded. If there are
convulsions after this, as often happens, they are seldom more
than spasmodic movements, impressed by the nervous action upon
the tendons, more terrible to the beholder, than the sufferer;
differing little from those starts and struggles, with which many
persons in high health commence sleeping and waking. He who has
experienced the sensation of fainting, and, still more, of an
epileptic fit, has suffered, I am ready to believe, all that there
is in dying.

3. Reason, calmly surveying the case of the dying person himself,
sees many alleviations, of which imagination, sketching under
the influence of the dread of death, takes no account. He finds
himself, in this new predicament, the absorbing object of all
interests and all solicitude and affection. It is not in human
nature, that this should not call up complacent emotions and
slumbering affections from their secret cells. The subsequent
progress towards the last moment brings an imperceptibly increasing
insensibility, manifested by drowsiness and sleep. Of those, who
preserve the exercise of their faculties entire to the last, many
instances are recorded of persons, who had shown the most unmanly
dread of death in their health, that have met dissolution with the
calmness of perfect self-possession. Of the rest, the greater
number die with little more apparent pain and struggle, than
accompany the act of sleeping. The greater freshness, vigor and
nervous irritability of young people and children cause that most
of the exceptions are of this description. In a great number of
cases, which I have witnessed, I have paused in doubt, whether the
person had yielded his last sigh, or not, after he had actually
deceased. To soften the last infliction, nature almost invariably
veils it under a low delirium, or absolute unconsciousness.

4. It is impossible to imagine a more obvious and unquestionable
principle of philosophy, than that every reasoning faculty of our
nature must declare to us, loudly and unequivocally, and with an
influence as strong as reason can command, that it is wisdom, nay,
the dictate of the least portion of common sense, to dread, to
resist, to repine, to groan, as little as possible, in view of an
endurance absolutely inevitable. If it be hard to sustain when met
with a fearless, resigned and unmurmuring spirit, it must certainly
be still harder, when we are obliged to bend our necks to it with
the excruciating addition of shrinking fear, dreadful anticipation
and ineffectual struggles to evade it, and with murmurs and groans,
at finding the inutility of these efforts. Innumerable examples
prove to us, that nature has kindly endowed us with reason and
mental vigor to such an extent, that, under the influence of
right motive and training, no possible form of suffering can be
presented, over which this power may not manifest, and has not
manifested a complete triumph.

Of these innumerable examples, it is only necessary to cite those
of the martyrs, of all forms of religion. These prove farther,
that this undaunted self-possession, in every conceivable shape
and degree of agony, was not the result of a rare and peculiar
temperament, a want of sensibility, or the possession of uncommon
physical courage; that it was not because there was no perception
of danger, or susceptibility of pain; this magnanimity, this
impassibility to fear and pain and death has been exhibited in
nearly equal degrees by people of every age, each sex and all
conditions. Let the proper motive be supplied, let the martyr have
had the common influence of the training of his faith, and the
consequence failed not. All the shades and varieties of natural and
mental difference of character were noted in the deportment of the
sufferers. But they were alike in the stern proof of a courage,
which defied death. The fact is proved by them, as strongly as
moral fact can be proved, that the mind of every individual might
find in itself native self-possession and vigor, to enable it to
display an entire ascendency over fear, pain and death.

Nor does this fact rest solely for support on the history of
martyrs, or sufferers at an _Auto da fé_, or by torture in any of
its forms. We could find examples of it in every department of
history, and every view of human character. The red men of our
wilderness, as we have elsewhere seen, are still more astonishing
illustrations of this fact--I say astonishing, because the timid
and effeminate white man shivers, and scarcely credits his senses,
as he sees the young Indian warrior smoking his pipe, singing
his songs, boasting of his victories and uttering his menaces,
when enveloped in a slow fire, apparently as unmoved, as reckless
and unconscious of pain, as if sitting at his ease in his own
cabin. All, that has been found necessary, by this strange
people, to procure this heroism, is, that the children, from
boyhood, should be constantly under a discipline, every part and
every step of which tends directly to shame and contempt at the
least manifestation of cowardice, in view of any danger, or of a
shrinking consciousness of pain in the endurance of any suffering.
The males, so trained, never fail to evidence the fruit of their
discipline. Sentenced to death, they almost invariably scorn to fly
from their sentence, when escape is in their power. If in debt,
they desire a reprieve, that they may hunt, until their debts
are paid. They then voluntarily return, and surrender themselves
to the executioner. Nothing is more common than for a friend to
propose to suffer for his friend, a parent for a child, or a child
for a parent. When the sufferer receives the blow, there is an
unblenching look, which manifests the presence of the same spirit,
that smokes with apparent unconcern amidst the crackling flames.

A proof, that this is the fruit of training, and not of native
insensibility, as others have thought, and as I formerly thought
myself, is that this contempt of pain and death is considered a
desirable trait only in the males. To fly, like a woman, like her
to laugh, and weep, and groan, are expressions of contempt, which
they apply to their enemies with ineffable scorn. The females,
almost excluded from witnessing the process of Spartan discipline,
by which the males acquire their mental hardihood, partake not of
the fruits of it, and with some few exceptions, are shrinking and
timid, like the children of civilization.

I know, that there will not be wanting those, who will condemn
alike the training and the heroism, as harsh, savage, unfeeling,
stoical and unworthy to be admitted, as an adjunct to civilization.
But no one will offer to deny, that the primitive Christian, put in
conflict with a hungry lion, that Rogers at the Smithfield stake,
that the young captive warrior, exulting, and chanting his songs
while enduring the bitterest agonies that man can inflict, in the
serene and sublime triumph of mind over matter, and spirit over the
body, is the most imposing spectacle we can witness, the clearest
proof we can contemplate, that we have that within us which is not
all of clay, nor all mortal; or doubt, that these persons endure
infinitely less physical pain, in consequence of their heroic
self-possession, than they would have suffered, had they met their
torture in paroxysms of terror, shrinking and self-abandonment.

However we may reason, however we may decry these views, as
savage, impracticable, unnatural and undesirable, the fact is,
that we all feel alike upon this subject. The thousands in a Roman
amphitheatre only evinced a trait, that belongs to our common
nature, when they instantly, and without consulting each other,
gave the signal to save that gladiator, who most clearly manifested
cool self-possession and contempt of death. After witnessing the
execution of a criminal, who shows courage, the spectators go away
describing, with animated gesture, and in terms of admiration, the
fearlessness of the fellow the moment before his death. We all
speak with unmingled satisfaction of the circumstance, in the death
of our friends, that they departed in the conscious dignity of
self-possession and hope. All readers are moved with one sensation,
as they read the record of the noble trait in the character of
Cæsar, gracefully folding himself in his mantle, after he had
received so many mortal thrusts. Few of us hear unmoved of the old
English patriot, who requested the executioner to support him up
the steps to the scaffold, adding that he would shift for himself
to get down; or of the other, who cried, as he stooped his head to
the block, _dulce et decorum est pro patria mori_! If I recollect,
it is Silliman, who gives the affecting notice of the last hours of
the duke of Richmond, the late governor general of Canada. Invested
with all conceivable circumstances to render life desirable, he
was bitten by a favorite dog in a rabid state; and died, in the
most excruciating tortures, of the terrible hydrophobia. When
the horrible paroxysm was felt by him to be approaching, he was
accustomed to nerve his sinking courage by these words; ‘Henry,
remember, that none of your ancestors were cowards.’ I give the
trait from recollection, but have heard substantially the same
account from other sources. This is the secret of the perverse
general admiration of warriors, and heroes, and great generals. It
is this principle in its blindness, which finds a niche of favor
in so many hearts for duellists. In a word, intrepidity, deny it
who may, is the trait which finds more universal favor with human
nature in general than any other. Why? Because we are weak and
frail beings, exposed to innumerable pains and dangers; and the
quality we most frequently need, is courage. Without it life is
a living death, a long agony of fear. With it, we die but once,
enduring at the most but a momentary pang, never anticipated, never
embittering a moment in advance with imaginary suffering.

We have no hesitation in affirming, that it would be no more
difficult to educate the coming generation of civilized people to
this spirit, than it is to impart it to the whole race of males
among the red men. However inferior we may count these people, in
comparison with ourselves in other respects, they have at least one
manifest advantage over us; they never torment themselves, because
they know they must die.

But we are told that the actual possession of this spirit would
produce such a recklessness of life, that the great ends of
Providence would be defeated; and people would expose themselves
to death with so little concern, that the race would waste away
and become extinct. We never need combat a theory, an abstract
opinion, when the case can be settled by a fact. Is it so with the
warriors of the red men? On the contrary, can another people be
found so wary, so adroit to evade, or resist danger, so fertile
in expedients to save life? The coward of their number meets the
death he would fly; and the intrepid warrior puts forth all the
resources of his instinctive sagacity, all his keen and practised
discernment, to discover the best means of evasion. If he must meet
that death, which his skill cannot evade, nor his powers resist, he
instantly settles down upon the resource of his invincible heroism
of endurance.

In fact, one of the direct fruits of the intrepidity we would
wish to see universal, is, that it will give its possessor all
possible chances for preserving health and life. It saves him from
the influence of fear, a passion among the most debilitating, and
adverse to life, of any to which our nature is subject. Braced by
his courage, he passes untouched amidst a contagious epidemic, to
which the timid and apprehensive nature falls a victim. In danger
it gives him coolness and self-command, to discover, and avail
himself of all his chances of wise resistance, or probable escape.
In sickness, he has all the aids to recover, which nature allows,
in being delivered from the most dangerous symptom in innumerable
maladies, the debilitating persuasion of the patient, that he shall
not rise from his sickness. In a word, the direct reverse of the
charge is the fact. The wise and enlightened fearlessness, which
I consider it so important to acquire, is in every way as much
the preserver of life, as it is indispensable to happiness; as
cowardice proverbially runs in the face of the hideous monster that
it creates.

5. The fact, that an evil is felt to be alleviated, which is shared
in common with all around us, has been generally recognised, though
this perverted sympathy has been traced to the basest selfishness,
by a humiliating analysis of our nature, which I have neither space
nor inclination to develope. We all know, that the same person, who
is most beneficent, most active in his benevolence, and large in
his wishes to do good, would shrink from a great calamity, which
he saw himself destined to encounter, for the first and the last
among his whole race. But inform him, that by an impartial award
he shares it in common with all his kind, and you reconcile him at
once to his lot. Whether the spirit of his resignation in this case
be pure, or polluted in its origin, it is not my present purpose
to inquire. It is sufficient to be assured, that there is such a
feeling deeply inherent in human nature. The suffering patient, as
he lays himself down to part from all friends, to be severed from
all ties, to see the green earth, the bright sun, and the visible
heavens no more, and to be conscious, that the everlasting circle
of ages will continue its revolutions without ever bringing him
back to the forsaken scene, cannot repine, that he has been put
upon this bitter trial alone. He must be deeply conscious, view
it in what aspect he may, that it presents no new harshness nor
horror to him. Of all the countless millions, that have passed
away, and been replaced by others, like the vernal leaves, death
has stood before every solitary individual of the mighty mass,
the same phantom king of terrors. Each has contemplated the same
inexorable, irreversible award, been held in the same suspense
of hopes, and fears, and compelled to endure the same struggles.
Looking upon the immense mortal drama of ages, the actors seem
slowly and imperceptibly to enter, and depart from the scene. But
in the lapse of one short age, the hopes, fears, loves and hatreds
of all the countless millions have vanished, to be replaced by
those of another generation. The heart swells at the recollection
how much each of these mortals must have endured, in this stern and
inevitable encounter, as measured by our own suffering in the same
case. It is only necessary for the patient to extend his vision
a few years in advance of his own decease; and his friends, his
children, his visitants, all that surround him, will in their turn
recline on the same bed. Who cannot feel the palpable folly of
repining at an evil shared with all, that have been, are, or will
be!

                  ‘Not to thy eternal resting place,
      Shalt thou retire alone:    *    *
          *    *  Thou shalt lie down
      With patriarchs of the infant world, with kings,
      The powerful of the earth, the wise, the good,
      Fair forms and hoary seers of ages past,
      All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills,
      Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales
      Stretching in pensive quietness between;
      The venerable woods, rivers, that move
      In majesty, and the complaining brooks,
      That make the meadows green, and, poured round all,
      Old ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,
      Are but the solemn decorations all
      Of the great tomb of man.’

6. Philosophers and moralists will readily admit, that the only
easy and adequate remedy for the fear of death is the hope of
immortality. On the other hand, they, whose vocation it is to
question and decry the aids, which reason and philosophy offer
in the case, as sullen, cold, stoical, will not deny, that
‘innumerable’ examples have been offered in all countries, and
in all time, of men, who, in virtue of no higher discipline
than that of reason and philosophy, have met death with such
unshrinking and invincible firmness, as could hardly have been
rendered more illustrious by any additional motives. They have
shown, beyond all question, that nature has furnished us with a
power of resistance, which, when rightly called forth, enables
us to triumph over fear and death. The pagans of ancient story,
the unbelieving of christian lands, the red men of our forests,
offer us demonstrations to any extent. I am aware, in what places
this simplest of all truths is weakly denied. Those, for whom I
write, are of the number who exact the truth; and I have no fear to
declare it; nor would I contend for a moment with such as deny this
fact.

But I am not the less sensible, that the triumph, in these cases,
is bitter and painful. It can only be obtained by a violence done
to instinctive nature, connected with innumerable revulsions
and horrors, and to all those ineffable clingings to earth, and
shrinkings from the first step into the unknown land, that are
partly the heritage of nature, and partly the result of the
concurrent influence of all our institutions. It is a violence
to all the passions, affections, hopes and fears fostered by the
earth. But the victory has been wrought, and can be wrought, even
though the bosom, in which it is wrought become as of iron.

But the same triumph is won by the hope of immortality, by a
process, simple, easy, natural, in entire consonance with the most
tender affections and lively sympathies of flesh and blood. We lie
down in pain and agony, with a spirit of easy endurance, if we have
a confident persuasion that, during the night, we shall have shaken
off the cause of our sufferings, and shall rise to renewed health
and freshness in the morning. Death can bring little terror to him,
who believes that its darkness will instantly be replaced by the
light of another scene: and that the separation from friends in the
visible land, is only rejoining the more numerous group, who have
already become citizens of the invisible country.

To what extent am I the subject of this hope myself; and whence
do I derive my belief? These are questions which affection will
ask; and the answers, if devoid of interest _now_, will not be so
when the _memory of things that were shall come over the mind of
the reader like a cloud_, and when read as the thoughts of one,
who, during his whole sojourn, felt and reflected intensely upon
those subjects; and who will then himself have passed away to the
experience of all that which is here matter of discussion. Those
most dear to me will know what relations I sustained to these
subjects, during the best part of my life; and will not be without
solicitude to know my final thoughts upon them; thoughts, purified
at least from all stain of party interest and _esprit du corps_,
and put forth in the simple consciousness of my own convictions,
however they may be powerless to produce belief in the mind of
any other. With the fierce war cry of sects in religion, in their
acrimonious and never ending contests about abstract terms without
a meaning, their combats about the vague and technical phrases of
formulas of faith, I have long since had nothing to do. For many
years they have rung on my ear like the distant thunder of clouds
that have passed by. To the denunciations of those, who assume
to hold all truth imprisoned in their articles of confession, if
I might hope the distinction of receiving them, I am perfectly
callous. Neither would I desire to add another book to the millions
of volumes of polemic theology which already exist, and which have
as little bearing upon the knowledge, virtue and happiness of the
age, as the last year’s snow.

We are, after all, unconsciously influenced, and that in no slight
degree, by authority, however humble may be its claims, as a test
of truth. How did such a person believe on such a point? Many a
young aspirant suspends his opinion, until he hears; and settles
into fixed persuasion afterwards. How many are there, in christian
lands especially, who have never had a wandering or unbelieving
doubt of the soul’s immortality float over their minds? How many,
who have had no terrene and gross ideas, influenced by seeing the
tenement of flesh, by which all that was called the mind and the
soul stood visible to the eye, and tangible to the thought, yielded
up to consumption and decay? This is a question which no one can
answer for another. For myself, I believe unhesitatingly, and with
no stain of doubt, that I shall, in some way, exactly provided for
by Him who made me, exist after death, as simply conscious, that
I am the same person, as I am now in the morning, that I slept
at night. Do I derive this conviction from books and reasonings?
I am by no means sure that I do; though the gospel assuredly
speaks directly to my heart. I do ready homage to the talents and
learning of Clarke, Locke, Paley, Channing and a cloud of reasoning
witnesses, of whom every Christian may well be proud; and, most of
all, to the profound and admirable Butler.

I hear the author of our faith directly declaring a resurrection
and immortality. A single assertation from such a source were
enough. But I find him reasoning, and insisting less upon the
fact, than I should have expected, had he intended to implant it
in the mind, as it were a truth, chiefly to be apprehended by the
understanding. It seems to me that he so discusses it, as one who
was aware that it was already inwoven in the sentiments and hearts
of his hearers, vague, dark, without moral consequence, it may be;
but an existing sentiment, taken for granted, upon which he might
predicate his doctrines, as upon a thousand other facts, which we
can clearly perceive, he considers already admitted by his hearers.

Let a man walk in the fields on a June morning after night showers.
Let him seat himself for meditation on the hill-side, under the
grateful canopy of foliage. Let him ask himself to embody his
conceptions of the divinity, and to give form and place to the
Author of the glorious scene outstretched before him. He may have
just risen from reading the admirable demonstrations of Clarke,
and the astronomical sermons of Chalmers. He may concentrate his
conceptions by a fixedness of study, that may amount to pain. He
may bewilder his faculties, in attempting to embody something,
that his thoughts and reasonings can grasp. I know not what the
powers of others can achieve in this case. But I know, by painful
experiment, what mine cannot. I ask my understanding and reasoning
powers about this glorious Being. They inform me that it is a
subject that comes not within their purview. They can follow
the chain of reasoning, see that every link is complete, and the
demonstration irresistible. But when they wish to avail themselves
of their new truth, they have no distinct idea either of premises
or conclusion. It has evaporated in the analysis.

I ask my heart, or the source of my moral sentiment, be it what it
may, the same question. The grateful verdure, the matin freshness,
the glad voices, the aroma of flowers, the earth, the rolling
clouds, the sun, all the lamps, that will burn in the firmament by
night, my own happy consciousness in witnessing this impressive
scene, cry out _a God_. To my heart, it is the first, the simplest,
most obvious thought, presenting itself, it seems to me, as soon
as the consciousness of my own existence; certainly susceptible of
as little doubt. I have no need to define, analyze, embody. The
moment I attempt to do it, my thoughts are vague and unsettled. I
yield myself to the conviction. My heart swells with gratitude,
confidence, love. So good, so beneficent a Being can do nothing but
good, in this or any other world, to him who loves and trusts him,
and strives to obey his laws.

My most treasured hopes of immortality are from the same source.
Will this conscious being, capable of such remote excursions into
the two eternities between which its existence is suspended, live
beyond the present life? Not a particle of matter, for ought
that appears, can be annihilated. Will the nobler thoughts, the
warmer affections perish, as though they had not been? We ask
our senses, and they can give us no hope. The body lives, and we
speak of it as including the conscious being. We see it die, pass
under the empire of corruption, molder, and incorporate with its
kindred elements. The sensible evidence, that the person exists,
is entirely destroyed. The most insatiate appetite of our natures,
however, craves continued existence, and ceases not to seek for
it. The inquirer after immortality cannot but be in earnest in
this pursuit. The arguments of the venerable sages of old are
spread before him. From the soul’s nature, from the unity of
consciousness, the incorruptibility of thought, the everlasting
progress, of which our faculties are capable, the strong and
unquenchable desire of posthumous fame, the sacredness of earthly
friendships, and similar arguments, they strove to establish, on
the basis of reasoning, the conviction of immortality.

From these reasonings he repairs to the Scriptures. A strange book,
utterly unlike any writings that had appeared before, declares
that we shall exist forever. The religion which has arisen from
this book, in its whole structure and dispensation, is predicated
on the assumed fact, that we shall exist forever in another life,
happy or miserable, according to our deeds on earth. Jesus,
_the author and finisher of this faith_, announces himself _the
resurrection and the life_; with a voice of power calls his dead
friend from the tomb; declares, that death has no power over
himself; that, after suffering a violent death, on the third day
from that event, he shall arise from the dead. He arises, according
to his promise; and, in the midst of his awe-struck friends he
visibly ascends to his own celestial sphere. Millions, as by one
impulse, catch the spirit of this wonderful book--love each other
with anew and single-hearted affection, as unlike the spirit of
all former ties of kindness and love, as the doctrines of this
religion are different from those of paganism. The new sect look
with a careless eye upon whatever is transitory; and will submit
to privation, derision and torture, of whatever form, rather than
waver, or equivocate, in declaring themselves subjects of this
hope of immortality. This Christian hope, in every period from the
time of its author, has made its way to the heart of millions, who
have laid themselves down on their last bed, and felt the approach
of their last sleep, expecting, as confidently to open their eyes
on an eternal morning, as the weary laborer, at his evening rest,
trusts that he shall see the brightness of the morrow’s dawn.

I recur, with new and unsated satisfaction, to these arguments for
the soul’s immortality. I love to evoke the venerable shades of
Socrates and Plato and Cicero, and hear them, each in his own way,
persuade himself, that the thoughts and affections, of which he
was conscious, could only belong to an immortal spirit. I listen to
the eloquent and impressive apostrophe of Tacitus, to the conscious
spirit of him, whose life he had so charmingly delineated, with
feelings which I cannot well describe.

‘Si quis piorum manibus locus; si, ut sapientibus placet, non
cum corpore extinguontur magnæ animæ, placide quiescas; nosque,
domum tuam, ab infirmo desiderio, et muliebribus lamentis, ad
contemplationem virtutum tuarum voces, quas neque lugeri, neque
plangi fas est: admiratione te potius temporalibus laudibus, et, si
natura suppeditet, similitudine decoremus.’[H]

I repair with new confidence and hope to the gospel, and strive to
imbibe the cheering conviction, as I hear Paul sublimely declare,
_that this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal
immortality, and that death shall be swallowed up in victory_.

I have no disposition to deny that these arguments would be, in
themselves, insufficient to turn the balance against the evidence
of the senses, and produce the conviction of immortality from the
deductions of simple reason, if religion were an impression to be
raised and sustained by argument. But, if we are religious, in
some form, from our very constitution, if immortality be felt as
a sentiment, with more or less clearness and force, I deem that
these arguments have their appropriate effect, in giving form and
direction to this interior sentiment; that believers have been
such, because these doctrines have found a concurrent sympathy
in their spirit, a suitableness to the wants of their heart, a
development of the germ of their hopes. It seems to me, that
whoever has a heart, cannot look upon the earth and the firmament,
without exclaiming ‘there is a God,’ nor within himself, without a
conviction, that his soul is immortal.

I see in the enthusiasm,--the embraces, cries, tears, swoonings and
the revolting extravagances of various sects under the influence
of high religious excitement, nothing more than the morbid
development of this latent religious sentiment. Instead of being,
as scoffers affirm, subjects of a mere factitious intoxication,
these people, who seem only to demand wings, to soar aloft, are
only manifesting the unregulated action of nature working at the
bottom of their hearts.

For myself I feel that I am immortal, and that those fellow
sojourners, to whom I have been attached by the affection of long
intimacy, and the reception of many and great kindnesses, will
exist with me hereafter. I pretend to conceive nothing, I wish
to inquire nothing, about the mode, the place and circumstances.
I should as soon think of disturbing myself, by endeavoring to
conceive the ideas that might be imparted by a sixth sense. It is
sufficient that my heart declares, that a being who has seen this
glorious world, cherished these warm affections, entertained these
illimitable aspirations, felt these longings after immortality,
indulged ‘_these thoughts, that wander through eternity_,’ _cannot_
have been doomed by Him, who gave them, to have them quenched
forever in annihilation. Even an illusion so glorious would be
worth purchasing at the price of a world. I would affirm, even to
repetition, that there is given us that high and stern power, which
implies a courage superior to any conflict, and which gives the
mind a complete ascendency over any danger, pain or torture, which
belongs to life or death. But we would not be so extravagant, as
for a moment, to question that death, as the present generation
have been trained, and as we are accustomed, by all we see, and
hear to view it, is a formidable evil, fitly characterized by its
dread name, _the king of terrors_. Many a debilitating interior
misgiving will assail the stoutest mind, in certain moments, in
view of it. There are dark intervals by night, in the midnight
hours of pain, periods between the empire of sleep and active
reason, when the terrific and formless image rushes in its terror
and indefiniteness upon the mind. As age steals upon us, and the
vivid perceptions, and the bright dreams of youth disappear, many a
dark shadow will cloud the sunshine of the soul. The conflict, in
which all these terrors are overcome by unaided nature and reason
is, as has been seen, a cruel one. The tender sensibilities, the
keen affections, the dear and delusive hopes of our nature must all
be crushed, before we can be unmoved in the endurance of the pain
and torture that precede, and the death that follows.

It is only to a firm and unhesitating faith, that it becomes as
easy and natural to die, as to sleep. Glorious and blessed hope,
the hope of meeting our friends, in the eternal land of those who
truly and greatly live forever! There we shall renew our youth, and
_mount as on the wings of eagles_.

      ‘But we shall meet, but we shall meet,
       Where parting tears shall cease to flow:
       And, when I think thereon, almost I long to go!’


Note 62, page 177.

That is an unworthy opponent, who assails what assumes to be
important truth, by no better argument than ridicule and sarcasm.
That is a despicable one, unworthy of exciting any feelings but
those of pity and contempt, who attempts to bring to bear upon
it the blind and fierce prejudices of the multitude. This last
is the prevalent mode of modern attack. By those, who deem that
wisdom will die with them, and that they can learn nothing more,
who dogmatize without examining, and measure the views of others
by their own preconceived and settled opinions, all the foregoing
doctrines, which militate with the established prejudices and
habits of the age, will be denounced, I am aware, as heretical,
imaginary, false.

‘He would teach people how to be happy,’ say they with a sneer,
‘as though they were not compelled to pursue happiness by a law
of their natures.’ My business is not with such opponents, and I
should consider their opposition an honor and a distinction.

The fact will remain true, be it welcomed, be it ridiculed, as it
may, that a few, in all time, have found the means of being more
comfortable and happy, than others in the same circumstances. They
had a method of their own in creating this difference. That method
might be so indicated, as to be reduced to general, and settled
rules. This is the amount of the foregoing doctrines. The object
has been to discuss and fix some of those rules. No moralist was
ever so stupid, as to expect, that the world would not pursue
its headlong course, inculcate what he might. Every one, who
understands the analogy of the present to the past, will expect
that no form of virtuous effort will be screened from question and
ridicule; and that no purity of purpose will conquer the blind and
fierce hate of the multitude.

But there will still be a few quiet, reflecting and philosophic
people. What is better, the number will be always increasing. For
such, are these my labors, and those, which I have adopted from
another, chiefly designed. Their suffrage is an ample reward. Their
plaudit is true fame. If they say, ‘we and those about us may be
better and happier; let us make the effort to become so,’ my object
is attained.

To encourage us to shake off the superincumbent load of
indifference, ridicule, and opposition, and to make efforts to
extend virtue and happiness, it is a sublime reflection, that
a thought may outlive an empire. Babylon and Thebes are, now,
nowhere to be found; but the moral lessons of the cotemporary wise
and good, despised and disregarded, perhaps, in their day, have
descended to us and are to be found everywhere. As the seminal
principles of plants, borne through the wide spaces of the air by
their downy wings, find at length a congenial spot, in which to
settle down, and vegetate, these seeds of virtue and happiness,
floating down the current of time, are still arrested, from age to
age, by some kindred mind, in which they germinate, and produce
their golden fruit. No intellect can conjecture, in how many
instances, and to what degree, every fit moral precept may have
come between the reason and passions of some one, balancing between
the course of happiness and ruin, and may have inclined the scale
in his favor. The consciousness of even an effort to achieve one
such triumph is a sufficient satisfaction to a virtuous mind.


FOOTNOTES:

[A] E.g. Robert Owen and others of the atheistical school.

[B] These _Notes_ will be found at the end of the volume. The small
numerals, in the text, refer to them.

[C] Leonidas.

[D] Themistocles.

[E] Pelopidas and Epaminondas.

[F] Marcus Junius Brutus.

[G] Regulus.

[H] Tacit. Vit. Agricolæ, _ad fin._



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

  The ERRATA (page vi) directs that the anchors for Notes [5] [29]
  [32] and [51] be deleted, since actual Notes for these references
  do not exist. However Note [51] does exist, it is Note [49] that
  is missing. Therefore, anchors for [5] [29] [32] and [49] have
  been deleted in this etext.  The ERRATA change for page 200,
  (replace “Note 5, page 44.” with “Note 6, page 45.”) has also
  been made.

  In addition to these four missing references, several anchors
  had the same number, but referenced two separate Notes. For clarity
  the duplicate anchor number has been amended with an ‘a’ suffix.
  The etext now has [15] and [15a]; [21] and [21a]; [24] and [24a];
  [27] and [27a]; [28] and [28a]; and [39] and [39a].

  There was a single anchor [53], but two separate Notes for this
  one anchor. A second anchor [53a] has been added on page 152, and
  the second Note heading “Note 53, page 150.” has been changed to
  “Note 53a, page 152.”

  Obvious punctuation errors have been corrected after careful
  comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation
  of external sources.

  There are numerous typographical errors in the original text which
  have been corrected in the etext. These are noted below.

  Except for those specific changes also noted below, all misspellings
  in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.


  =Typographical errors=
  Page 20: =digust= changed into =disgust=
  Page 20: =nto= changed into =into=
  Page 23: =consisten twith= changed into =consistent with=
  Page 50: =commencment= changed into =commencement=
  Page 56: =associa ion= changed into =association=
  Page 56: =feeleness= changed into =feebleness=
  Page 61: =badethem= changed into =bade them=
  Page 96: =amy= changed into =may=
  Page 99: =pu= changed into =put=
  Page 101: =whe= changed into =when=
  Page 101: =exac= changed into =exact=
  Page 156: =Themore= changed into =The more=
  Page 158: =orms= changed into =forms=
  Page 161: =concsious= changed into =conscious=
  Page 172: =done upon upon earth= changed into =done upon earth=
  Page 174: =call us= changed into =calls us=
  Page 197: =corse= changed into =corpse=
  Page 198: =al= changed into =all=
  Page 208: =paticular= changed into =particular=
  Page 211: =controling= changed into =controlling=
  Page 219: =Hohenloe= changed into =Hohenlohe=
  Page 225: =resolved= changed into =resolve=
  Page 231: =e lfish= changed into =selfish=
  Page 241: =contemptiole= changed into =contemptible=
  Page 250: =permament= changed into =permanent=
  Page 253: =there= changed into =their=
  Page 255: =aquainted= changed into =acquainted=
  Page 256: =Home, sickness= changed into =Homesickness=
  Page 263: =Serviu= changed into =Servius=
  Page 264: =kind cf heart,= changed into =kind of heart=
  Page 267: =and and moral creation= changed into =and moral creation=
  Page 273: =some times= changed into =sometimes=
  Page 274: =conspicious= changed into =conspicuous=
  Page 296: =corse= changed into =corpse=
  Page 296: =corses= changed into =corpses=
  Page 305: =weekly= changed into =weakly=


  =Other changes=
  Page viii: =l’Art d’Etre Heureuse= changed into =l’Art d’Etre Heureux=
  Page 6: =wholly unnecessary= changed into =wholly necessary=
  Page 176: =L’ART D’ETRE HEUREUSE= changed into =L’ART D’ETRE HEUREUX=
  Page 185: =conscientious instructer= changed into =conscientious
             instructor=
  Page 193: =l’ art d’ étre heureuse= changed into =l’ art d’ étre
             heureux=
  Page 199: =different instructers= changed into =different instructors=
  Page 213: =Bastile after= changed into =Bastille after=
  Page 220: =Why drew Marseilles’s= changed into =Why drew Marseilles’=
  Page 240: =eclaircissemens= changed into =éclaircissements=
  Page 307: =A single asservation= changed into =A single assertation=





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Art of Being Happy - In a Series of Letters from a Father to His Children: with Observations and Comments" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home