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of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of his soul : his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed : his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or in solitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured about him, and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befal him.
If we consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and goodwill towards him. A chearful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good humour in those who come within its influence. A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the chearfulness of his companion: it is like a sudden sunshine that awakens a secret delight in the mind, without her attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has so kindly an effect upon it.
When I consider this chearful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the great Author of nature. An inward chearfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the state wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the Divine Will in his conduct towards man.
There are but two things which, in my opinion, can reasonably deprive us of this chearfulness of heart. The first of these is the sense of guilt. A man who lives in a state of vice and impenitence, can have no title to that evenness and tranquillity of mind which is the health of the soul, and the natural effect of virtue and innocence. Chearfulness in an ill man deserves a harder name than language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we commonly call folly or madness.
Atheism, by which I mean a disbelief of a Supreme Being, and consequently of a future state, under what
soever titles it shelters itself, may likewise very reasonably deprive a man of this chearfulness of temper. There is something so particularly gloomy and offensive to human nature in the prospect of non-existence, that I cannot but wonder, with many excellent writers, how it is possible for a man to out-live the expectation of it. For my own part, I think the being of a God is so little to be doubted, that it is almost the only truth we are sure of, and such a truth as we meet with in every object, in every occurrence, and in every thought. If we look into the characters of this tribe of infidels, we generally find they are made up of pride, spleen, and cavil: it is indeed no wonder, that men, who are uneasy to themselves, should be so to the rest of the world, and how is it possible for a man to be otherwise than uneasy in himself, who is in danger every moment of losing his entire existence, and dropping into nothing?
The vicious man and atheist have therefore no pretence to chearfulness, and would act very unreasonably, should they endeavour after it. It is impossible for any one to live in good humour, and enjoy his present existence, who is apprehensive either of torment or of annihilation; of being miserable, or of not being at all.
After having mentioned these two great principles, which are destructive of chearfulness in their own nature, as well as in right reason, I cannot think of any other that ought to banish this happy temper from a virtuous mind. Pain and sickness, shame and reproach, poverty and old age, nay death itself, considering the shortness of their duration, and the advantage we may reap from them, do not deserve the name of evils. A good mind may bear up under them with fortitude, with indolence, and with chearfulness of heart. The tossing of a tempest does not discompose him," which he is sure will bring him to a joyful harbour.
A man who uses his best endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two
The relative is too far from the antecedent. The whole sentence had run better thus : the tossing of a tempest does not discompose him, who is sure of being driven by it into a joyful harbour.
perpetual sources of chearfulness; in the consideration of his own nature, and of that Being on whom he has a dependance. If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that existence, which is so lately bestowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be still new, and still in its beginning. How many self-congratulations naturally arise in the mind, when it reflects. on this its entrance into eternity, when it takes a view of those improvable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first setting out, have made so considerable a progress, and which will be still receiving an increase of perfection, and consequently an increase of happiness? The consciousness of such a Being spreads a perpetual diffusion of‘joy through the soul of a virtuous man, and makes him look upon himself every moment as more happy than he knows how to conceive. .
The second source of chearfulness to a good mind, is its consideration of that being on whom we have our dependance, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of his perfections, we see every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves every where upheld by his goodness, and surrounded with an immensity of love and mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of him, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity.
Such considerations, which every one should perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that secret heaviness of heart which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction, all that anguish which we may feel from an evil that actually oppresses us, to which I may likewise add those little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than support it; and establish in us such an even and chearful temper, as makes us pleasing to ourselves,
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to those with whom we converse, and to Him whom we were made to please.
As I was sitting in my chamber, and thinking on a subject for my next Spectator, I heard two or three irregular bounces at my landlady's door, and upon the opening of it, a loud chearful voice inquiring whether the philosopher was at home. The child who went to the door answered very innocently, that he did not lodge there. I immediately recollected that it was my good friend Sir Roger's voice; and that I had promised to go with him on the water to Spring-Garden, in case it proved a good evening. The knight put me in mind of my promise from the stair-case, but told me that if I was speculating, he would stay below till I had done. Upon my coming down, I found all the children of the family got about my old friend, and my landlady herself, who is a notable prating gossip, engaged in a conference with him ;, being mightily pleased with his stroaking her little boy upon the head, and bidding him be a good child, and mind his book.
We were no sooner come to the Temple-stairs, but we were surrounded with a crowd of watermen, offering their respective services. Sir Roger, after having looked about him very attentively, spied one with a wooden leg, and immediately gave him orders to get his boat ready. As we were walking towards it, You must know, (says Sir Roger,) I never make use of any body to row me that has not either lost a leg or an arm. I would rather bate him a few strokes of his oar, than not employ an honest man that has been wounded in the Queen's service. If I was a lord or a bishop, and kept
a barge, I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg.'
My old friend, after having seated himself, and trimmed the boat with his coachman, who, being a very sober man, always serves for ballast on these occasions, we made the best of our way for Fox-hall. Sir Roger obliged the waterman to give us the history of his right leg, and hearing that he had left it at La Hogue, with many particulars which passed in that glorious action, the knight in the triumph of his heart made several reflections on the greatness of the British nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in danger of popery so long as we took care of our fleet; that the Thames was the noblest river in Europe; that London-bridge was a greater piece of work than any of the seven wonders of the world; with many other honest prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.
After some short pause, the old knight turning about his head twice or thrice, to take a survey of this great metropolis, bid me observe how thick the city was set with churches, and that there was scarce a single steeple on this side Temple-bar. “A most heathenish sight! (says Sir Roger :) There is no religion at this end of the town. The fifty new churches will very much mend the prospect; but church-work is slow, "churchwork is slow !'
I do not remember I have any where mentioned in Sir Roger's character, his custom of saluting every body that passes by him with a good-morrow or a good-night. This the old man does out of the overflowings of humanity, though at the same time it renders him so popular among all his country neighbours, that it is thought to have gone a good way in making him once or twice knight of the shire. He cannot forbear this exercise of benevolence even in town, when he meets with any one in his morning or evening walk. It broke from him to several boats that passed by us upon the water; but to the knight's great surprise, as he gave the good-night to two or three young fellows a little before