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Like Paul's Athenians, seeking something new.
3. Hark, where the martial trumpet fills the air,
4. In the thronged court the ruling passions read,
LESSON CXL. Extract from Prometheus. PERCIVAL. 1. Our thoughts are boundless, though our frames are frail, Our souls immortal, though our limbs decay ; Though darkened in this poor life by a vail Of suffering, dying matter, we shall play In truth's eternal sunbeams; on the way To heaven's high capitol our cars shall roll; The temple of the Power whom all obey, That is the mark we tend to, for the soul Can take no lower flight, and seek no meaner goal.
* About the time that the beautiful poem from which this piece is extracted was written, the Hon. Daniel Webster and William Wirt, the Attorney General of the United States, were engaged on opposite sides in a case before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The Circuit Court of the United States, over which Judge Story presided, held its sessions in the same building.
2. I feel it, - though the flesh is weak, I feel
4. Our home is not on earth ; although we sleep,
5. How awful is that hour, when conscience stings
LESSON CXLI. Effects of Refinement on Public and Private Life. — HUME.
1. In times when industry and the arts flourish, men are kept in perpetual occupation, and enjoy as their reward the occupation itself, as well as those pleasures which are the fruit of their labor. The mind acquires new vigor, enlarges its powers and faculties, and, by an assiduity in honest industry, both satisfies its natural appetites, and prevents the growth of unnatural ones, which commonly spring up when nourished by ease and idleness.
2. Banish those arts from society, you deprive men both of action and of pleasure; and leaving nothing but indolence in their place, you even destroy the relish of indolence, which never is agreeable but when it succeeds to labor, and recruits the spirits exhausted by too much application and fatigue.
3. Another advantage of industry and of refinements in the mechanical arts is, that they commonly produce some refinements in the liberal ; nor can one be carried to perfection without being accompanied in some degree with the other. The same age which produces great philosophers and politicians, renowned generals and poets, usually abounds with skillful weavers and ship-carpenters.
4. We cannot reasonably expect that a piece of woolen cloth will be brought to perfection in a nation which is ignorant of astronomy, or where ethics are neglected. The spirit of the age affects all the arts, and the minds of men being once roused from their lethargy and put into a fermentation, turn themselves on all sides, and carry improvements into every art and science. Profound ignorance is totally banished, and men'enjoy the privilege of rational creatures, to think as well as to act, to cultivate the pleasures of the mind as well as those of the body.
5. The more these refined arts advance, the more sociable men become. Nor is it possible, that when enriched with science, and possessed of a fund of conversation, they should be contented to remain in solitude, or live with their fellow. citizens in that distant manner which is peculiar to ignorant and barbarous nations.
6. They flock into cities ; love to receive and communicate knowledge; to show their wit or their breeding; their taste in conversation or living, in clothes or furniture. Curiosity allures the wise; vanity the foolish; and pleasure both. Particular clubs and societies are everywhere formed; both sexes meet in an easy and sociable manner; and the tempers of men, as well.as their behavior, refine
a pace. 7. So that, beside the improvements which they receive from knowledge and the liberal arts, it is impossible but they must feel an increase of humanity, from the very
habit of conversing together, and contributing to each other's pleasure and
entertainment. Thus industry, knowledge, and humanity, are linked together by an indissoluble chain, and are found, from experience as well as reason, to be peculiar to the more polished, and what are commonly denominated the more
8. What has chiefly induced severe moralists to declaim against refinement in the arts, is the example of ancient Rome, which, joining to its poverty and rusticity, virtue and public spirit, rose to such a surprising height of grandeur and liberty; but, having learned from its conquered provinces the Asiatic luxury, fell into every kind of corruption; whence arose sedition and civil wars, attended, at last, with the total loss of liberty.
9. All the Latin classics whom we peruse in our infancy are full of these sentiments, and universally ascribe the ruin of their state to the arts and riches imported from the East; insomuch that Sallust represents a taste for painting as a vice, no less than lewdness and drinking.
10. And so popular were these sentiments during the latter ages of the republic, that this author abounds in praises of the old rigid Roman virtue, though himself the most egregious instance of modern luxury and corruption; speaks contemptuously of the Grecian eloquence, though the most elegant writer'in the world ; nay, employs preposterous digressions and declamations to this purpose, though a model of taste and correctness.
11. But it would be easy to prove that these writers mistook the cause of the disorders in the Roman state, and ascribed to luxury and the arts what really proceeded from an ill-modeled government, and the unlimited extent of conquests. Refinement on the pleasures and conveniences of life has no natural tendency to beget venality and corruption.
12. The value which all men put upon any particular pleasure depends on comparison and experience; nor is a porter less greedy of money which he spends on bacon and brandy, than a courtier who purchases champagne and ortolans.*
13. Riches are valuable at all times, and to all men, hecause they always purchase pleasures such as men are accustomed to and desire : nor can anything restrain or regulate the love of money but a sense of honor and virtue ; which, if it be not nearly equal at all times, will naturally abound most in ages of knowledge and refinement.
* See Notes to Lesson II.
The Progress of Sin.- JEREMY TAYLOR.* 1. I HAVE seen the little purls of a spring sweat through the bottom of a bank, and intenerate † the stubborn pavement, till it hath made it fit for the impression of a child's foot; and it was despised, like the descending pearls of a misty morning, till it had opened its way and made a stream large enough to carry away the ruins of the undermined strand, and to invade the neighboring gardens : but then the despised drops were grown into an artificial river, and an intolerable mischief.
2. So are the first entrances of sin, stopped with the antidotes of a hearty prayer, and checked into sobriety by the eye of a reverend man, or the counsels of a single sermon : but when such beginnings are neglected, and our religion hath not in it so much philosophy as to think anything evil as long as we can endure it, they grow up to ulcers and pestilential evils; they destroy the soul by their abode, who at their first entry might have been killed with the pressure of a little finger.
3. He that hath passed many stages of a good life, to prevent his being tempted to a single sin, must be very careful that he never entertain his spirit with the remembrances of his past sin, nor amuse it with the fantastic apprehensions of the present. When the Israelites fancied the sapidness and relish of the flesh-pots, they longed to taste and to return.
4. So when a Libyan tiger, drawn from his wilder foragings,is shut up and taught to eat civil meat, and suffer the authority of a man, he sits.down tamely in his prison, and pays to his keeper fear and reverence for his meat; but if he chance to come again, and taste a draught % of warm blood, he presently leaps into his natural cruelty.
5. He scarce abstains from eating those hands that brought him discipline and food. So is the nature of a man made tame and gentle by the grace of God, and reduced to reason, and kept in awe by religion and laws, and by an awful virtue is taught to forget those alluring and sottish relishes of sin;
* Jeremy Taylor was born in 1613, and died in 1667. The reader will notice that the style of this extract from his writings is very different from the style of writers at the present day. + To soften.
I Wanderings in search of food. $ Pronounced draft.