صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

would seem to be. Besides, it is often as troublesome to support the pretence of a good quality as to have it, and if a man have it not, it is most likely he will be discovered to want it, and then all his labour to seem to have it is loft. There is fomething unnatural in painting, which a fkilful eye will easily discern from native beauty, and complexinn.

It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will betray herself at one time or other. Therefore if any man think it convenient to seem good, let him be fu indeed, and then his goodness will appear to every one's fatisfaciion; for truth is convincing, and car. ties its own light and evidence along with it, and will not only commend us to every man's conscience, but, which is much more, to God, who fearcheth our hearts. So that upon all accounts fincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many advantages over all the artificial modes of dissimulation and deceit. It is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world; it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, cf danger and hazard in it; it is the hortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thisher in a itraight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning continually grow weaker and less eff ctual and serviceable to those that practise them ; whereas integrity gains strength by use, and the inore and longer any man pratuitech it, the greater fervice it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encourazing those with whom he hath to do, to repose the greater confi ience in him which is a unspeakable ad. Vantage in buline.s and I e affairs of life. A DISEMBLEniuft always be


his guard, and Watch !imself carefully, that he do not contradict his own pretensions; for le acts an unnat ral part, and therefore must put a continual force and reitrairit upon himself.


Whereas he that acts fincerely hath the eafieft talk in the world; because he follows nature, and fo is put to no trouble and care about his words and actions ;, he needs not invent any pretences beforehand, nor make.excuses afterwards, for any thing he has faid or done.

But insincerity is very troublesome to manage; a hypo- ' crite hath so many things to attend to, as make his life a very perplexed and intricate thing. A liar hath need of a good memory, left, he contradict at one time what he said at another ;' but truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and fits upon our lips ; whereas a lie is troublefome, and needs a.great many more to make it good.

Add to all this, that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy dispatch of bufiness. It creates confidence in ihose we have to deat with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man fooner to his journey's end, than by-ways, in which men often lofe themselves. In a word ; whatsoever convenience may thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when -perhaps he means honestly.. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.

INDEED, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as respects the affairs of this world) if he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw. But if he be to continue in the world, and would have the advantage of reputation whilft


he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words and actions, for nothing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts may fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out to the last.



ON HONOUR. Every principle that is a motive to good actions ought to be encouraged, since men are of so different a make, that the same principle does not work equally upon all minds. What fome men are prompted to by confcience, duty, or religion, which are only different names for the same thing, others are prompted to by honour.

The sense of honour is of fo fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by great examples; or a refined education. This essay therefore is chiefly de. figned for those who, by means of any of these advantages, are, or ought to be, actuated by this glorious principle.

But as nothing is more pernicious than a principle of action, when it is misunderstood, I shall consider honour with respect to three sorts of men. First of all, with regard to those who have a right notion of it. Secondly, with regard to those who have a mistaken notion of it. And, thirdly, with regard to thofe who treat it as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule.

In the first place, true honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the fame effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, terminate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue, as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour, as it is graceful and ornamental to human nature. The religious man fears, the man of honour scorns, to do an ill action. The latter confidens vice as something that is beneath him, the other as something that is offensive to the Divine Being. The one, as what is unbecoming; the other, as what is forbid. den. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine lao goage of a man of honour, when lie declares, that were there no God to fee or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, lo base, and so vile a nature.


I shall conclude this head with the description of Honour in the speech of young Juba.

Honour's a sacred tie, the law of Kings, The noble mind's distinguishing perfection, That aids and strengthens virtue when it meets her, · And imitates her actions where she is not. It ought not to be fported with.

САто. .

In the second place, we are to consider those who have miftaken notions of honour. And these are such as establish any thing to themselves for a point of honour,which is contrary either to the laws of God or of their country; who think it more honourable to revenge than to forgive an injury; who make no fcruple of telling a lie, but would pat any man to death that accuses them of it; who are more careful to guard their reputation by their courage than by their virtue. True fortitude is indeed fo becoming in human wature, that he who wants it scarce deserves the name of a man; but we find several who fo much abuse this notion, that they place the whole idea of honour in a kind of brutal courage ; by which means we have had many among us who bave called themfelves men of honour, that would have been a disgrace to a gibbet. In a word, the man who fa. crifices any duty of a reasonable creature to a prevailing mode or fashion, who looks upon any thing as honourable that is difpleasing to his Maker, or deftructive to fociety, who thinks himself obliged by this principle to the practice

[ocr errors]

of some virtues and not of others, is by no means to be sickoned among true men of honour.

T:MOCENES was a lively instance of one actuated by falfe honour, Timogenies would smile at a man's jest who ridi. culed his Maker, and at the same time run a man through the body that spoke ill of his friend. Timogenes would have fcorned to have betrayed a secret that was entrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the dircovery of it. Timogenes took away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having spoke ill of Belinda, a lady whom he him elf had seduced in her youth, and betrayed into want and ignominy. To close his character, Timogenes, after having ruined several poor tradesmen's families who had trusted him, fold his estate to satisfy his creditors ; but, like a man of honour, difposed of all the money he could make of it, in the paying of his play debts, or, to speak in his own language, his debes of honour.

In the third place we are to consider those persons, who treat this principle as chirgerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are professedly of no honour, are of a more profli. gate and abandoned nature than even those who are actuated by false notions of it, as there is more hope of a heretic than of an atheiít. These fons of infamy consider honour with old Syphax, in the play before mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads aftray young unexperienced men, and draws them into real mischiefs, while they are engaged in the pursuit of a shadow. These are generally perfons who, in Shakspeare's phrase, “are worn and hackneyed in the ways of men;" whose imaginations are grown callous, and have lost all those delicate sentiments which are natural to minds that are innocent and undepraved. Such old battered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic that comes in competition with their present interest, and treat those persons as visionaries, who dare ftand up in a corrupt age, for what has not its immediate reward joined to it. The


« السابقةمتابعة »