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ON THE SPIRIT OF OBLIGATIONS,
The two rarest things to be met with are good sense_and good-nature. For one man who judges right, there are twenty who can say good things; as there are numbers who will serve you or do friendly actions, for one who really wishes you well. It has been said, and often repeated, that“mere good-nature is a fool:”
“ but I think that the dearth of sound sense, for the most part, proceeds from the want of a real, unaffected interest in things, except as they react upon ourselves; or from a neglect of the maxim of that good old philanthropist, who said, “ Nihil humani a me alienum puto.” The narrowness of the heart warps the understanding, and makes us weigh objects in the scales of our self-love, instead of those of truth and justice. We consider not the merits of the case, or what is due to others, but the manner in which our own credit or consequence will be affected; and adapt our opinions and conduct
to the last of these rather than to the first. The judgment is seldom wrong where the feelings are right; and they generally are so, provided they are warm and sincere. He who intends others well, is likely to advise them for the best; he who has any cause at heart, seldom ruins it by his imprudence. · Those who play the public or their friends slippery tricks, have in secret no objection to betray them.
One finds out the folly and malice of mankind by the impertinence of friends—by their professions of service and tenders of advice-by their fears for your reputation and anticipation of what the world may say of you; by which means
; they suggest objections to your enemies, and at the same time absolve themselves from the task of justifying your errors, by having warned you of the consequences-by the care with which they tell you ill-news, and conceal from you any flattering circumstance-by their dread of your engaging in any creditable attempt, and mortification, if you succeed-by the difficulties and hindrances they throw in your way-by their satisfaction when you happen to make a slip or get into a scrape, and their determination to tie your hands behind you, lest you should get out of it-by their panic-terrors at your entering into a vindication of yourself, est in the