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The advantages of reading Periodical Publications.
the perasal of a paper containing only a few pages. Those who possess, or can easily obtain well written systems of morality, could hardly be recommended to better books except the sacred writings, for directing their conduct through life. Yet those persous, with regular systems at hand, will often find themselves inore inclined to peruse a volume of some periodical publicana tion, than those extensive and valuable works,-perlaps for this reason, among many others, that those who take 11, the pen to write systeins, seldom think how they shall make them most useful, but low they shall make them most extensive. This often leads them into unpardonable prolixity. But those who write essays are forced to express what they have to say is concisely as possible, which is more comfortable to the reader; his attention is not fatigued with too long applicaiton, nor the mult.. ory burdened by unnecessary circumlocution.
Works of this ure enable and incluce the writer to vary his style without impropriety; to be grave or cheerful, humoroits or severe, teach by positive rule or practical example; to speak in plain language, or under the engaging form of metaphor or allegory.
He has it in his power to select a variety of subjects, to treat them variously, suitable to the dispositions and manners of diffe. rent readers, or of the same reader at different times. This renders the work useful and entertaining, a companion for those who are engaged in the active employments of life, and for the scholar who is fatigued with close and intricate study; It must not be supposed that such works are adapted only to the illiterate and superficial reader. Several subjects of literature, of taste, and of morality have been discussed in a paper consisting only of a few pages, with a depth of judgment, originality of thonght, and simplicity of style, seldom equalled, and more rarely exceeded in any formal dissertation. The works of some of our best mcralists have not had such a general effect as might have been expected, merely from the extensive plan, and elaborate manner in which they have been written. This renders them unfit companions for those whose lives are not entirely devoted to study, and who cannot command a considerable portion of time uninterrupted. The human mind, though comprehensive to an astonishing degree, is still circumscribed within certain limits; and like a vessel which is full, suffers all which is above its capacity to run to waste. It is difficult in reading some voluminous works
The advantages of reading Periodical Publications,
to make a
selection of what is more valuable, from that which is of less importance, and ought to be omitted. But the concise manner and simple style in which a periodical paper
must be conducted, satisfy and inform the mind, without fatiguing it by long and close application.
Although writers who have bestowed part of their time on works of this nature, have favoured the world with much valuable information, still the mine out of which it has been extracted is rich and inexhaustible. The vicissitudes of fashion, and the improvements of taste and of literature, enable the judicious writer to discover and exhibit subjects of improvement till his time unobserved, or not completely delineated. And happily for the nation in which we have the inestimable blessing to exist, writers who have turned their attention to this mode of writing have neither been few in number, nor unsuccessful in their attempts. The morals, the taste, the amusements, as well as the understand ings of its inhabitants have been more generally improved by such valuable productions, though short and detached, than by more extensive and regular systems of morality. They were ad dressed to the feelings and to the imagination; levelled to the capacities of men in the common ranks of life; while scientific morality was calculated only for the exercise of the learned and laborious student, and its influence on the conduct of life circumscribed within narrow bounds.
It has been asserted by some, that in the times in which we live, learning is become too general, and too easily obtained : but surely none who have the happiness of mankind at heart, and the good of the nation to which they belong, will ever entertain such a sentiment. And should there be a few who do entertain it, they ought to be ashamed to utter it in company. Had Addison, who has been so much admired by all who have perused his papers, been of this opinion, he would never have devoted his time and talents to divest philosophy of that scholastic form, by which it had been disguised, by its inistaken followers, previous to his time, and presented it in a plain and simple dress, fit for appearing among men in the common ranks of society. But it is presumed, that none of true taste and discernment will ever disapprove of his conduct.
Pernicious Tendency of Controversy.
'Tis godlike magnanimity to keep,
Though the principal features of our mind be formed alike, it will nevertheless be found, that in many of the nice distinctions we shall be seen generally to vary; and concerning men and matters no two minds perhaps can be found who hold exactly the same opinions. Men naturally indulge in inquiry; and the desire of knowledge will, of its own accord, lead them to study a diversity of matter ; different objects which present themselves in their search, will beget various and contrary opinions in different observers ; and as far as the acquisition of knowledge, the improvement of our minds, and the praiseworthy ambition of becoming eminent, are the springs of our conduct, we cannot do better than prosecute our inquiries with ardour, and, seeking to learn the opinions of many, be enabled at last to form a just judgement for ourselves, But there is a spirit which has been rapidly acquiring strength among us, which requires reprobation rather than praise ; it is the ever-unsatisfied and ever-restless spirit of controversy, a spirit which, enslaving our mind, induces us vainly enough to imbibe notions for the most part fallacious, but which we constantly and pertinaciously contend to be founded in reason and in truth.
It is this spirit which produces anger, engenders hate, and fosters the worst passions and the worst suspicions in the heart; it frequently deranges the good fellowship which existed between man aud man; bursts asunder the bonds of sense and good breeding, and is too often the means of separating the oldest friends and the dearest interests of the heart,
It is as strange as it is lamentable, that when disputes could be casier settled did the disputants but call moderation to the trial, that they should blindly close to the door of concession, by summoning violence and abuse to their aid: they give thema selves no time to consider that intemperate warmth betrays a weak cause, and abuse, lack of argument. Truth is never more libelled than when violence and bigotry pretend to be its sup
The power of Conscience-Anecdote of Bessus, a native of Greece.
porters, never better upheld than when mildness and temperance are really so. The petty ambition of becoming authors, more “ than aught towards the public good” prompts, it is greatly to be feared, the controversialists of every, but especially of the present age, to give their opinions to the public eye. And it is at least in my eyes, of no great honour to us to observe, that a great majority of the writings of the present day are on topics which are disgracefully made the vehicles of controversy, when they ought to be the cementers of peace and good will among
“ 'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
So let us beware of risking that judgement in unprofitable and toa violent controversies.—Let moderation be ever our manager in all contests, and good-breeding our steersman, good humour our companion, and the benefit of ourselves or of mankind be our aim when we enter the list; let us above all, remember,
“ Be sure ourselves and our own reach to know,
S. W. X. Z,
* Conscience is a faithful monitor."
How irrisistible is the power of conscience! It is a vi per which twines itself round the heart, and cannot be shaken off. It lays fast hold of us; it lies down with us and stings us in our sleep. It rises with us and preys upon our vitals. Hence ancient moralists compared an evil conscience to a vulture feeding upon our liver, and the
that are felt by the one, to the throes of the other : supposing at the same time the vulture's hunger to be insatiable, and this entrail to be most exquisitely
Conscience awakened mztraordinary confession of a murderer.
sensible of pain, and to grow as fast as devoured. What can he a stronger representation of the most lingering and most acute corporeal pains? Yet strong as it is, it falls greatly short of the anguish of a guilty consciencc; imagination cannot conceive the horrors which, when troubled, it can excite, or the tortures to which it can give birth.
Whąt must have been the state of mind of Bessus, a native of Pellonia in Greece, when he disclosed the well-authenticated fact! His neighbours seeing him one day extremely earnest in pulling down some birds' nests, and passionately destroying their young, could not help taking notice of it, and upbraiding him with his ill-nature, and cruelty to poor crcatures, that by nestling so near him, seemed to court his protection and hospitality. He replied, that their voice to him was insufferable, as they never ceased twitting him with the murder of his father! This execrable villany had lain concealed many years, and had never been suspected. In all probability it would never have come to light, had not the avenging fury of conscience drawn, by these extraordinary means, a public acknowledgment of it from the paricide's own mouth. Bessus is not the only person that has stood self-convicted. Though the discovery has not been attended by such a strange circumstance, many have made a voluntary confession, and sought for refuge from the torments of conscience in death. The following singular case is an instance.
A jeweller, a man of good character and considerable wealth, having occasion in the way of his business to travel at some distance from the place of his abode, took with him a servant in order to take care of his portmanteau. He had along with him some of his best jewels, and a large sum of money, to which his servant was likewise privy. The master having occasion to dismount on the road, the servant watching his opportunity, took a pistol from his master's saddle, and shot him dead on the spot; then rifled him of his jewels and money, and hanging a large stone to his neck, he threw him into the nearest canal. With this booty he made off to a distant part of the country, where he had reason to believe that neither he nor his master were known, 'There he began trade in a very low way at first, that his obscuriiy might screen þim from observation; and in the course of a good many years seemed to rise by the natural progress
of business, into wealth. Of these he counterfeited the appearance so well, that he grew into great credit, married into a good family, and by laying out his sudden stores discreetly,