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are told how the genius can be known. If it is to be discovered only by experiment, life will be last before the resolution can be fixed; if any, other indications are to be found, they may perhaps be very easily discerned. At least, if to miscarry in the attempt be a proof of having mistaken the direction of the genius, men appear not less frequently deceived with regard to themselves, than to others; and therefore no one has much reason to complain that his life was planned out by his friends, or to be confident that he should have had either more honour or happiness by being abandoned to the chance of his own fancy.
Ibid. p. 120.
Many wonders are told of the Art of Education, and the very early ages at which boys are conversant in theGreek and Latin tongues, under some preceptors. But those who tell, or receive, those stories, should consider, that nobody can be taught faster than he can learn. The, speed of the best horseman must be limited by the power of his horse. Every man that has undertaken to instruct others, can tell what slow advances he has been able to make, and how much patience it requires to recall vagrant inattention, to stimulate sluggish indifference, and to rectify absurd misapprehension.
Life of Milton.
It was the labour of Socrates, to turn philosophy from the study of nature to speculations upon life; but there have been, and are, other preceptors, who are turning off attention from life to nature. They seem to think, that we are placed here to watch the growth of plants, or the motion of the stars; but Socrates was rather of
opinion, that what we had to learn, was how to do good, and avoid evil.
The bulk of mankind must, without the assistance of education and instruction, be informed only with the understanding of a child.
Rambler, vol. 3, p. 270.
Neither a capital city, nor a town of commerce, is adapted for the purposes of a college: the first exposes the students too much to levity and dissoluteness, the other to gross luxury. In one, the desire of knowledge easily gives way to the love of pleasure; and in the other, there is danger in yielding to the love of money.
Western Islands, p. 11.
Employment is the great instrument of intellectual dominion. The mind cannot retire from its enemy into total vacancy, or turn aside from one object, but by passufg to another. The gloomy and the resentful are always found among those who have nothing to do, or who do nothing. We must be busy about good or evil, and he to whom the present offers nothing, will often be looking backward on the past.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 113.
It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished
for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward. Preface to Johnson's Dictionary, p. 55
No evil is insupportable, but that which is accompanied with consciousness of wrong.
Prince of Abyffinia, p. 296.
Estimable and useful qualities, joined with an evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tatler, mentioning the sharpers of his time, observes," that some of them are men of such elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls in their way, is betrayed as much by his judgment as his passions."
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 4. p. 7.
It is the nature of man to imagine no evil so great, as that which is near him.
Ibid. vol. 5, p. 86.
Extended empire, like expanded gold, exchanges solid strength for feeble splendour.
Irene, p. 16.
Those who attain any excellence, commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.
Life of Pope.
There is a vigilance of observation, and accuracy of distinction, which books and precepts cannot confer; and from this almost all original and native excellence proceeds.
Preface to Shakspeare, p. 123.
They whose excellence of any kind has been loudly celebrated, are ready to conclude that their powers are universal.
Ibid. p. 131.
In the zeal of enquiry we do not always reflect on the silent encroachments of time, or remember that no man is in more danger of doing little, than he who flatters himself with abilities to do all.
Treatise on the Longitude, p. 14.
Evil is uncertain, in the same degree, as good; and for the reason we ought not to hope too securely, we ought not to fear with too much dejection. The state of the world is continually changing, and none can tell the result of the next vicissitude. Whatever is afloat in the stream of time, may, when it is very near us, be, driven away by an accidental blast, which shall happen to cross the general course of the current. The sudden accidents by which the powerful are depressed, may fall upon those whose malice we fear, and the greatness by which we expect to be overborne, may become another proof of the false flatteries of fortune. Our enemies may become weak, or we grow strong, before our encounter; or we may advance against each other without ever meeting. There are
indeed natural evils, which we can fatter ourselves with no hopes of escaping, and with little of delaying; but of the ills which are apprehended from human malignity, or the opposition of rival interests, we may always alleviate the terror, by considering that our persecutors are weak, ignorant, and mortal, like ⚫urselves.
Rambler, vol. 1, p. 178.
"Errors," says Dryden, "flow upon face:" but there are some who will fetch them from the bottom.
Notes upon Shakespeare, vol. 4. p. 393.
It is incumbent on every man who consults his own dignity, to retract his error as soon as he discovers it, without fearing any censure so much as that of his own mind. As justice requires that all injuries should be repaired, it is the duty of him who has seduced others by bad practices, or false notions, to endeavour that such as have adopted his errors should know his retraction, and that those who have learned vice by his example, should, by his example, be taught amendment.
Rambler, vol. 1, p. 192,
The men who can be charged with fewest failings, either with respect to abilities or virtue, are generally most ready to allow them. Casar wrote an account of the errors committed by him in his wars of Gaul; and Hippocrates, whose name is, perhaps, in rational estimation, greater than Cæsar's, warned posterity against a mistake