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of the hiftory of families or the factions of the country; fo that when the first civilities are over, they ufually talk to one another, and I am left alone in the midst of the company. Though I cannot drink myself, I am obliged to encourage the circulation of the glafs; their mirth grows more turbulent and obftreperous; and before their merriment is at an end, I am fick with difguft, and, perhaps, reproached with my fobriety, or by fome fly infinuations infulted as a cit.
Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the life to which I am condemned by a foolish endeavour to be happy by imitation; fuch is the happiness to which I pleafed myfelf with approaching, and which I confidered as the chief end of my cares and my labours. I toiled year after year with cheerfulness, in expectation of the happy hour in which I might be idle; the privilege of idleness is attained, but has not brought with it the bleffing of tranquillity.
NUMB. 107. TUESDAY, November 13, 1753.
Sub judice lis eft.
And of their vain difputings find no end.
T has been fometimes afked by thofe, who find the appearance of wisdom more easily attained by questions than folutions, how it comes to pafs, that the world is divided by fuch difference of opinion; and why men, equally reafonable, and equally lovers of truth, do not always think in the fame manner ?
With regard to fimple propofitions, where the terms are understood, and the whole fubject is comprehended at once, there is such an uniformity of fentiment among all human beings, that, for many ages, a very numerous fet of notions were fuppofed to be innate, or neceffarily co-exiftent with the faculty of reafon : it being imagined, that univerfal agreement could proceed only from the invariable dictates of the univerfal parent.
In questions diffuse and compounded, this fimilarity of determination is no longer to be expected. At our firft fally into the intellectual world, we all march together along one ftraight and open road; but as we proceed further, and wider profpects open to our view, every eye fixes upon a different fcene; we divide into various paths, and, as we move forward, are still at a greater distance from each other. VOL. IX. As
As a question becomes more complicated and involved, and extends to a greater number of relations, difagreement of opinion will always be multiplied; not because we are irrational, but because we are finite beings, furnished with different kinds of knowledge, exerting different degrees of attention, one difcovering confequences which efcape another, none taking in the whole concatenation of causes and effects, and moft comprehending but a very fmall part, each comparing what he obferves with a different criterion, and each referring it to a different purpose.
Where, then, is the wonder, that they who fee only a small part, fhould judge erroneously of the whole? or that they, who fee different and diffimilar parts, fhould judge differently from each other?
Whatever has various refpects, must have various appearances of good and evil, beauty or deformity; thus, the gardener tears up as a weed, the plant which the phyfician gathers as a medicine; and "a general," fays Sir Kenelm Digby, "will look with pleature over a plain, as a fit place on which the "fate of empires might be decided in battle, which "the farmer will defpife as bleak and barren, nei"ther fruitful of pafturage, nor fit for tillage."
Two men examining the fame question proceed commonly like the phyfician and gardener in felecting herbs, or the farmer and hero looking on the plain; they bring minds impreffed with different notions, and direct their inquiries to different ends; they form, therefore, contrary conclufions, and each wonders at the other's abfurdity.
We have less reafon to be surprised or offended when we find others differ from us in opinion, because we very often differ from ourselves. How often we alter our minds, we do not always remark; because the change is fometimes made imperceptibly and gradually, and the laft conviction effaces all memory of the former yet every man, accustomed from time to time to take a furvey of his own notions, will by a flight retrospection be able to discover, that his mind has fuffered many revolutions; that the fame things have in the feveral parts of his life been condemned and approved, purfued and fhunned: and that on many occafions, even when his practice has been steady, his mind has been wavering, and he has perfifted in a fcheme of action, rather because he feared the cenfure of inconftancy, than because he was always pleafed with his own choice.
Of the different faces fhewn by the fame objects as they are viewed on oppofite fides, and of the different inclinations which they must conftantly raise in him that contemplates them, a more striking example cannot eafily be found than two Greek epigrammatifts will afford us in their accounts of hu man life, which I fhall lay before the reader in English profe.
idippus, a comick poet, utters this complaint: Through which of the paths of life is it eligible "to pass? In publick affemblies are debates and "troublesome affairs: domestic privacies are "haunted with anxieties; in the country is labour; "on the fea is terror: in a foreign land, he that has "money must live in fear, he that wants it must "pine in diftrefs; are you married? you are H2-OCO " troubled
those who cannot accommodate themfelves to our fentiments if they are deceived, we have no right to attribute their mistake to obstinacy or negligence, because we likewife have been mistaken; we may, perhaps, again change our own opinion, and what excufe fhall we be able to find for averfion and malignity conceived against him, whom we fhall then find to have committed no fault, and who offended us only by refusing to follow us into error?
It may likewife contribute to foften that refentment which pride naturally raifes against oppofition, if we confider, that he who differs from us, does not always contradict us; he has one view of an object, and we have another; each defcribes what he fees with equal fidelity, and each regulates his steps by his own eyes: one man, with Pofidippus, looks on .celibacy as a state of gloomy folitude, without a partner in joy or a comforter in forrow; the other confiders it, with Metrodorus, as a ftate free from incumbrances, in which a man is at liberty to choofe his own gratifications, to remove from place to place in queft of pleafure, and to think of nothing but merriment and diverfion: full of thefe notions one haftens to choofe a wife, and the other laughs at his rathnefs, or pities his ignorance; yet it is poffible that each is right, but that each is right only for hanielf..
Life is not the object of fcience; we fee a little, very little; and what is beyond we only can conjecture. If we enquire of those who have gone before us, we receive fmall fatisfaction, fome have travelled life without obfervation, and fome willingly mislead The only thought, therefore, on which we can repois