« НазадПродовжити »
with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle ; and so I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw any one too ambitious of court-favour, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect; He pays, indeed, says I, too much for his whistle.
If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth ; Poor man, says I, you indeed pay too much for your whistle,
When I meet a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations; Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison ; Alas, says I, he has paid dear, very dear for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl, married to an ill-natured brute of a husband;
What a pity it is, says I, that she has paid so much for a
In short, I perceived that great part of the miseries of mankind, weiu brought upon them by the false estimate they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
MONG the crowd of amusements, the volup
tuary may endeavour to stifle his uneasiness; but through all his defences it will penetrate. A conscious sense of his own insignificance, when he sees others distinguished for acting a manly and worthy part; reflection on the time he has wasted, and the contempt he has incurred; the galling remembrance of his earlier and better days, when he gave the fair promise of accomplishments, which now are blasted, have frequently been found to sadden the festive hour. The noise of merriment may be heard ; but heaviness lies at the heart. While the tabret and the viol play, a melancholy voice sounds in his ears. The wasted estate, the neglected halls, and ruined mansions of his father, rise to view. The angry countenances of his friends seem to stare him in the face. A hand appears to come forth on the wall, and to write his doom.
Retreat, then, from your dishonourable courses, ye who by licentiousness, extravagance, and vice, are abusers of the world! You are degrading-you are ruining yourselves. You are grossly misemploying the gifts of God; and the Giver will not fail to punish. Awake to the pursuits of men of virtue and honour. Break loose from that magic circle, within which you are at present held. Reject the poisoned cup which the enchantress Pleasure holds up to your lips. Draw aside the veil which she throws over your eyes. You will then see other objects than you now behold. You will see a dark abyss opening below your feet. You will see virtue and temperance marking out the road, which conducts to true felicity. You will be enabled to discern, that the world is enjoyed to advantage, by none but such as follow those divine guides ; and who consider pleasure as the seasoning, but not as the busia
ness, of life.
THE CHARACTER OF
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
THE character of this prince has seldom been set
in its true light; some eminent writers having been dazzled so much by the more shining parts of it, that they have hardly seen his faults; while others, out of a strong detestation of tyranny, have been unwilling to allow him the praise he deserves.
He may with justice be ranked among the greatest generals any age has produced. There was united in him activity, vigilance, intrepidity, caution, great force of judgment, and never failing presence of mind. He was strict in his discipline, and kept his soldiers in perfect obedience; yet preserved their affection, Having been, from his very childhood, continually in war, and at the head of armies, he joined to all the capacity that genius could give, all the knowledge and skill that experience could teach, and was a perfect master of the military art, as it was practised in the time wherein he lived.
His constitution enabled him to endure any hardships, and very few were equal to him in personal
strength, which was an excellence of more importance than it is now, from the manner of fighting then in use. It is said of him, that none except himself could bend his bow.
His courage was heroic, and he possessed it, not only in the field, but (which is more uncommon) in the cabinet, attempting great things with means that to other men appeared totally unequal to such undertakings, and steadily prosecuting what he had boldly resolved, being never disturbed or disheartened by difficulties, in the course of his enterprizes ; but having that noble vigour of mind, which, instead of bending to opposition, rises against it, and seems to have a power of controlling and commanding Fortune herself.
Nor was he less superior to pleasure than to fear. No luxury softened him, no riot disordered, no sloth relaxed. It helped not a little to maintain the high respect his subjects had for him, that the majesty of his character was never let down by any incontinence, or indecent excess. His temperance and his chastity were constant guards that secured his mind from all weakness, supported its dignity, and kept it always, as it were, on the throne.
Through his whole life, he had no partner of his bed but his queen; a most extraordinary virtue in one who had lived, even from his earliest youth, amidst all the licence of camps, the allurements of a court, and seductions of sovereign power! Had he kept his oaths to his people, as well as he did his marriage vow, he would have been the best of kings; but he indulged other passions of a worse nature, and infinitely more detrimental to the public than those he restrained. A lust of power, which no regard to justice could limit, the most unrelenting cruelty, and the most insatiable avarice possessed his soul.
It is true, indeed, that among many acts of extreme inhumanity, some shining instances of great clemency
may be produced, that were either effects of his policy, which taught him the method of acquiring friends, or of his magnanimity, which made him slight a weak and subdued enemy, such as was Edgar Atheling, in whom he found neither spirit nor talents, able to contend with him for the crown. But where he had no advantage nor pride in forgiving, his nature discovered itself to be utterly void of all sense of compassion; and some barbarities, which he committed, exceeded the bounds that even tyrants and conquerors prescribe to themselves.
Most of our ancient historians gave him the character of a very religious prince; but his religion was after the fashion of those times, belief without examination, and devotion without piety. It was a religion that prompted him to endow monasteries, and at the same time allowed him to pillage kingdoms: that threw him on his knees before a relic or cross, but suffered him unrestrained to trample upon the liberties and rights of mankind.
As to his wisdom in government, of which some modern writers have spoken very highly, he was, indeed, so far wise, that, through a long unquiet reign, he knew how to support oppression by terror, and employ the properest means for carrying on a very iniquitous and violent administration. But that which alone deserves the name of wisdom, in the character of a king, the maintaining of authority, by the exercise of those virtues which make the happiness of his people, was what, with all his abilities, he does not appear to have possessed.
Nor did he excel in those soothing and popular arts, which sometimes change the complexion of tyranny, and give it a fallacious appearance of freedom. His government was harsh and despotic, violating even the principles of that constitution which he himself had established. Yet so far he performed the duty of a sovereign, that he took care to maintain a good police