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you are as much at a loss as ever. assert, that it is a firmness of mind in sustaining evils and encountering dangers, according to those two assigned parts of courage, sustinere et aggredi, to sustain and attack. But we are still unacquainted with what it is thus firmly to sustain or encounter, and where evils are to be thus sustained and encountered.
To settle therefore the point, I consider first, in general, that courage has the evil of pain for its object, which in some circumstances is to be chosen or submitted to. Hence I form this general idea of courage, that it is a firm and peremptory temper of mind to chuse the evil of pain in right circumstances, or when it is truly
We have now to ascertain where an evil is truly eligible, and we shall have an idea of courage sufficiently determinate. To make a thing eligible, it is necessary that some way or other it appear good, for evil itself under its proper form cannot be eligible, and to make an evil put on the appearance of good, two things are necessary: first, that it be a lesser evil than some other, and secondly, that the choice of it be the necessary means for avoiding that other. other case, is evil truly eligible;
Then, and in no and consequentin the idea of
ly we shall not be mistaken courage, if we define it to be such a firm and constant disposition of mind whereby a man is
fixed and determined never to dread any evil so far as to evade it, when the choice of such an evil is the only remedy against a greater. This is most eminently displayed in the case of martyrdom, when a man submits to the greatest evils of pain, to avoid the much greater of sin. This is the summit and perfection of courage, which a Hannibal or a Scipio could never equal in their feats of war; and I dare affirm that he, who would rather die or relinquish any worldly interest than commit a sin, can never be a coward.
And here I cannot but notice a false notion of honour and courage, by which the world has been generally abused, especially those men who make the highest pretensions to both. According to their estimation, it is a sufficient reason to post a man up a coward if he declines a duel, and to merit a badge of honour from the Herald's office if he accepts it. These men would be ready to laugh at me, if I, as a lover of paradoxes, should tell them that their characters must be quite transposed to make them true. Yet so it is, that he who declines the duel, is the mau of honour and courage; and he who accepts it is the coward. For he who declines it despises the obloquy and scorn of the world, that he may approve himself to God and his own conscience, and so chuses a lesser evil to avoid a greater. But he that accepts the duel so dreads the loss
of his credit among those whose good opinion is of no value, that to avoid it he chuses to incur sin, and the punishment of sin, and so encounters a greater evil to avoid a less. And if this be courage, we must strike it out of the catalogue of the virtues; for nothing is so that is not under the direction of prudence, much less what is mere folly and the very height of madness.
THE Spleen is oftentimes nothing but a nice. and exceptious temper, which takes offence at every little disappointment. It is often derived from a tincture of conceit; for those who overvalue their pretensions are ant upon every little occasion to think themselves ill used. You need not provoke their spirits by outrages either of fame or fortune, or by any injury of greater magnitude. A careless gesture, a look or a word, is enough to disconcert them. Such a supposed
neglect spreads a gloom upon their humours, renders them sullen and unsociable; and when they are disturbed only by their own weakness, and doing penance for their own vanity, they lay fault upon their constitution.
It is commonly said the Spleen is a wise disease, which, I believe, makes some fond of catching it, as possibly it may be their only symptom of sense. But if a man can shew his understanding in no better way than troubling himself and the company, let him, instead of pretending to sense, make it his business to be a fool. However, it must be granted that these fits of chagrin proceed sometimes from natural causes. The fumes of indigestion, sensible abatements of health, sudden changes of weather, affect the brain, though they make no sensible impression elsewhere. This disturbs the imagination, and gives a new and melancholy complexion to the appearances of things.
When outward causes concur, the idle, the anxjous, and the unfortunate are soonest seized by this infection. At such a time a man should awaken himself, and immediately engage in business or in some innocent diversion. Next to religion there is nothing like a vigorous mind. Resolution and spirit will quickly repel the malignity and dissipate the humour. Now every one is bound in honour as well as interest to do his best. For to lie at the command of so many
little accidents can be no pleasing discovery: to lose the comforts of life in a few vapours, and to be smoaked and smothered out of our reason are far from circumstances of credit. What wise man would bring the night-mare upon his fancy; and conjure up apparitions to frighten himself? Who would double his misfortunes and injure the habit of his body and mind if he could avoid it? Evils of necessity are numerous enough without being multiplied by those of choice.
The way to prevent this distemper is not to be too sanguine in our expectations. Shall we take it amiss that our acquaintance are not always ready to solicit our business; to study our inclinations, and to compliment our humour? To look for so obliging a world as this, is to miscalculate extremely. When all is done most people will love themselves best. Therefore we should not be surprised to see them prefer their own interest, break a jest at our expence, or raise themselves by our depression. It is possible they may be only making reprisals and returning our own usage.
However, it is proper not to rely too much on the fairness of others; more especially those who would live at ease must not be nice in trivial matters, nor insist upon punctualities in behaviour, nor be afflicted at the omission of a little ceremony. All do not like to be tied down to forms, nor to walk in trammels. He who values