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who catches at the Applause of an idle Multitude, as No. 224. he can find no solid Contentment at the End of his Friday, Journey, so he deserves to meet with Disappointments
1711. in his Way. But he who is actuated by a nobler Principle, whose Mind is so far enlarged as to take in the Prospect of his country's Good, who is enamour'd with that Praise which is one of the fair Attendants of Virtue, and values not those Acclamations which are not seconded by the impartial Testimony of his own Mind; who repines not at the low Station which Providence has at present allotted him, but yet would willingly advance himself by justifiable Means to a more rising and advantageous Ground; such a Man is warmed with a generous Emulation; it is a virtuous Movement in him to wish and to endeavour that his Power of doing Good may be equal to his Will
The Man who is fitted out by Nature, and sent into the World with great Abilities, is capable of doing great Good or Mischief in it. It ought therefore to be the Care of Education to infuse into the untainted Youth zarly Notices of Justice and Honour, that so the possible Advantages of good Parts may not take an evil Turn, aor be perverted to base and unworthy Purposes. It s the Business of Religion and Philosophy not so much o extinguish our Passions, as to regulate and direct hem to valuable well-chosen Objects: When these have sointed out to us which Course we may lawfully steer, tis no Harm to set out all our Sail; if the Storms and Tempests of Adversity should rise upon us, and not uffer us to make the Haven where we would be, it will however prove no small Consolation to us in these Circumstances, that we have neither mistaken our Course, nor fallen into Calamities of our own procuring,
Religion therefore (were we to consider it no further han as it interposes in the Affairs of this Life) is highly valuable, and worthy of great Veneration; as t settles the various Pretensions, and otherwise interering Interests of mortal Men, and thereby consults he Harmony and Order of the great Community: as t gives a Man room to play his Part, and exert his Abilities, as it animates to Actions truly laudable in
themselves, in their Effects beneficial to Society, as it: inspires rational Ambition, correct Love, and elegant Desire.
Saturday, November 17,
open, we should see but little Difference between that of the Wise Man and that of the Fool, There are infinite Reveries, numberless Extravagancies, and a perpetual Train of Vanities which pass through both The great Difference is, that the first knows how to pick and cull his Thoughts for Conversation, by sup pressing some, and communicating others, whereas the other lets them all indifferently fly out in Words. This sort of Discretion, however, has no Place in private Conversation between intimate Friends, On such Occasions the wisest Men very often Talk like the weakest; for indeed the Talking with a Friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.
Tully has therefore very justly exposed a Precept delivered by some
Ancient Writers, That Man should live with his Enemy in such a manner, as might leave him room to become his Friend; and with his Friend in such a manner, that if he became his Enemy it should not be in his power to hurt him. The first part of this Rule, which regards our Behaviour towards an Enemy, is indeed very reasonable, as well as very prudential; but the latter part of it, which regards our Behaviour towards a Friend, favours more of Cunning than of Discretion, and would cut a Man off from the greatest Pleasures of Life, which are the Freedoms of Conversation with a bosom Friend. Be sides, that when a Friend is turned into an Enemy and (as the Son of Sirach calls himself) a Bewrayer of Secrets, the World is just enough to accuse the Per. fidiousness of the Friend, rather than the Indiscretion of the Person who confided in him.
Discretion does not only shew it self in Words, but No. 225. in all the Circumstances of Action, and is like an Saturday, Under-Agent of Providence to guide and direct us in Nov. 17,
171. the ordinary Concerns of Life.
There are many more shining Qualities in the Mind of Man, but there is none so useful as Discretion ; it is this indeed which gives a Value to all the rest, which sets them at work in their proper Times and Places, and turns them to the Advantage of the Person who is possessed of them. Without it Learning is Pedantry, and Wit Impertinence; Virtue it self looks like Weakness; the best Parts only qualifie a Man to be more sprightly in Errors, and active to his own Prejudice.
Nor does Discretion only make a Man_the Master of his own Parts, but of other Men's. The discreet -:Man finds out the Talents of those he Converses with, and knows how to apply them to proper Uses. Actordingly if we look into particular Communities and Divisions of Men, we may observe that it is the Discreet Man, not the Witty, nor the Learned, nor the Brave who guides the Conversation, and gives Measures to the Society. A Man with great Talents, put void of Discretion, is like Polyphemus in the Fable, Strong and Blind, endued with an Irresistible Force which for want of Sight is of no use to him,
Though a Man has all other Perfections, and wants Discretion, he will be of no great Consequence in the World; but if he has this single Talent in Perfection, ind but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular Station of Life.
At the same time that I think Discretion the most useful Talent a Man can be Master of, I look upon Cunning to be the Accomplishment of little, mean, un generous Minds. Discretion points out the noblest Ends o us, and pursues the most proper and laudable Methods of attaining them: Cunning has only private selfish Aims, and sticks at nothing which may make them ucceed. Discretion has large and extended Views, and, ike a well-formed Eye, commands a whole Horizoni Cunning is a kind of Short-sightedness, that discovers
No. 225. the minutest Objects which are near at hand, but is Saturday, not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion the Nov, 17,
more it is discovered, gives a greater Authority to the 1711
Person who possesses it: Cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a Man incapable of bringing about even those Events which he might have done, had he passed only for a plain Man. Disa cretion is the Perfection of Reason, and a Guide to us in all the Duties of Life: Cunning is a kind of Instinct, that only looks out after our immediate Interest and Welfare, Discretion is only found in Men of strong Sense and good Understandingss Cunning is often to be met with in Brutes themselves, and in Persons who are but the fewest Removes from them. In short, Cunning is only the Mimick of Discretion, and may pass upon weak Men, in the same manner as Vivacity is often mistaken for Wit
, and Gravity for Wisdom. The Cast of Mind which is natural to a discreet Man makes him look forward into Futurity, and consider what will be his Condition millions of Ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the Misery or Happiness which are reserved for him in another World
, lose nothing of their Reality by being placed at so great a distance from him. The Objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He considers that those Pleasures and Pains which lie hid in Eternity approach nearer to him every Moment, and will be present with him in their full Weight and Measure, as much as those Pains and Pleasures which he feels at this very Instant. For this Reason he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper Happiness of his Nature, and the ultimate Design of his Being. He carries his Thoughts to the End of every Action, and considers the most distant as well as the most immediate Effects of it. He supercedes every little Prospect of Gain and Advantage which offers it self here, if he does not find it consistent with his Views of an Hereafter. In a Word, his Hopes are full of Immortality, his Schemes are large and glorious, and his Conduct suitable to one who knows his true Interest, and how to pursue it by proper Methods,
I have, in this Essay upon Discretion, considered it No. 225. both as an Accomplishment and as a Virtue, and have Saturday, therefore described it in its full Extent; not only as it Nov. 17, is conversant about worldly Affairs, but as it regards Four whole Existence; not only as it is the Guide of a mortal Creature, but as it is in general the Director of a reasonable Being. It is in this Light that Discretion is represented by the Wise Man, who sometimes mentions it under the name of Discretion, and somer times under that of Wisdom. It is indeed (as described in the latter part of this Paper) the greatest Wisdom, but at the same time in the Power of every one to attain. Its Advantages are infinite, but its Acquisition easie; or, to speak of her in the Words of the Apocryphal Writer whom I quoted in my last Saturday's Paper, Wisdom is glorious, and never fadeth away, yet she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as seek her. She preventeth them that desire her, in making herself first known unto them. He that seeketh her early shall have no great Travel: for he shall find her sitting at his Doors, To think therer fore upon her is perfection of Wisdom, and whoso watcheth for her shall quickly be without Care. For she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her, sheweth herself favourably unto them in the Ways, ind meeteth them in every Thought.
Monday, November 19.
in several Speculations, that the Art of Painting is nade so little Use of to the Improvement of our Manners. When we consider that it places the Action f the Person represented in the most agreeable Aspect maginable, that it does not only express the Passion r Concern as it_sits upon him who is drawn, but las under those Features the Height of the Painter's magination, What strong Images of Virtue and