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necessities, may have engaged him. It may perhaps be very disagrecable to him at first; but use and application will certainly render it not only less painful, but pleasing and satisfactory.
In the second place, I would recommend to every one that admirable precept which Pythagoras is said to have given to his disciples, and which that philosopher must have drawn from the observation I have enlarged upon. Optimum vita genus eligito, nam consuetudo faciet jucundissimum. Pitch upon that course of life which is the most excellent, and custom will render it the most delightful. Men whose circumstances will permit them to choose their own way of life, are inexcusable if they do not pursue that which their judg. ment tells them is the most laudable. The voice of reason is more to be regarded than the bent of any present inclination, since by the rule above-mentioned, inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never force reason to comply with inclination.
In the third place, this observation may teach the most sensual and irreligious man to overlook those hardships and difficulties which are apt to discourage him from the prosecution of a virtuous life. “The gods, (said Hesiod,) have placed Labour before Virtue; the way to her is at first rough and difficult, but grows more smooth and easy the further you advance in it.” The man who proceeds in it with steadiness and resolution, will in a little time find, that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.”
To enforce this consideration, we may further observe, that the practice of religion will not only be attended with that pleasure, which naturally accompanies those actions to which we are habituated, but with those supernumerary joys of heart, that rise from the consciousness of such a pleasure, from the satisfaction of acting up to the dictates of reason, and from the prospect of an happy immortality.
In the fourth place, we may learn from this observation which we have made on the mind of man, to take particular care, when we are once settled in a regular course of life, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in any the most innocent diversions and entertainments, since the mind may insensibly fall off from the relish of virtuous actions, and, by degrees, exchange that pleasure which it takes in the performance of its duty, for delights of a much more inferiorl and unprofitable nature. The last use which I shall make of this remarkable
prno perty in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is to show how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call heaven will not be capable of affecting those minds w! are not thus qualified for it; we must, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures, which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity, must be planted in her during this her present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of a religious life.
On the other hand, those evil spirits, who, by long custom, have contracted in the body habits of lust and sensuality, malice and revenge, an aversion to everything that is good, just, or laudable, are naturally seasoned and prepared for pain and misery. Their torments have already taken root in them, they cannot be happy when divested of the body, unless we may suppose, that Providence will, in a manner, create them anew, and work a miracle in the rectification of their faculties. They may, indeed, taste a kind of malignant pleasure in those actions to which they are accustomed whilst in this life, but when they are removed from all those objects which are here apt to gratify them, they will naturally become their own tormentors, and cherish in them selves those painful habits of mind, which are called in Scripture phrase, “the worm which never dies.” This notion of heaven and hell is so very conformable to the light of nature, that it was discovered by several of the most exalted heathens. It has been finally improved by many eminent divines of the last age, as in particular by Archbishop Tillotson and Dr. Sherlock, but there is none who has raised such noble speculations upon it as Dr. Scott, in the first book of his Christian Life, which is one of the finest and most rational schemes of divinity that is written in our tongue, or in any other. That excellent author has shown how
Inferior is itself a comparative. It should be for delights of an inn forior and much more unprofitable nature.
every particular custom and habit of virtue will, in its own nature, produce the heaven, or a state of happiness, in him who shall hereafter practise it; as, on the contrary, how every custom or habit of vice will be the natural hell of him in whom it subsists.
No. 451. THURSDAY, AUGUST 7.
-Jam sævus apertam
Ire minax impunè domosTHERE is nothing so scandalous to a government, and detestable in the eyes of all good men, as defamatory papers and pamphlets; but at the same time there is nothing so difficult to tame as a satirical author. An angry writer, who cannot appear in print, naturally vents his spleen in libels and lampoons. A gay old woman, says the fable, seeing all her wrinkles represented in a large looking-glass, threw it
upon the ground in a passion, and broke it in a thousand pieces ; but as she was afterwards surveying the fragments with a spiteful kind of pleasure, she could not forbear uttering herself in the following soliloquy. What have I got by this revengeful blow of mine? I have only multiplied my deformity, and see an hundred ugly faces, where before I saw but one.
It has been proposed, “to oblige every person that writes a book, or a paper, to swear himself the author of it, and enter down in a public register his name and place of abode."
This, indeed, would have effectually suppressed all printed scandal, which generally appears under borrowed names, or under none at all. But it is to be feared, that such an expedient would not only destroy scandal, but learning. It would operate promiscuously, and root up the corn and tares together. Not to mention some of the most celebrated works of piety, which have proceeded from anonymous authors, who have made it their merit to convey to us so great a charity in secret; there are few works of genius that come out at first with the author's name.
The writer generally makes a trial of them in the world before he owns
them; and, I believe, very few who are capable of writing, would set pen to paper, if they knew, beforehand, that they must not publish their productions but on such conditions. For my own part, I must declare, the papers I present the public are like fairy favours, which shall last no longer than while the author is concealed.
That which makes it particularly difficult to restrain these Bons of calumny and defamation is, that all sides are equally guilty of it, and that every dirty scribbler is countenanced by great names, whose interests he propagates by such vile and infamous methods. I have never yet heard of a ministry who have inflicted an exemplary punishment on an author that has supported their cause with falsehood and scandal, and treated in a most cruel manner the names of those who have been looked upon as their rivals and antagonists. Would a government set an everlasting mark of their displeasure upon one of those infamous writers, who makes his court to them by tearing to pieces the reputation of a competitor, we should quickly see an end put to this race of vermin, that are a scandal to government, and a reproach to human nature. Such a proceeding would make a minister of state shine in history, and would fill all mankind with a just abhorrence of persons who should treat him unworthily, and employ against him those arms which he scorned to make use of against his enemies.
I cannot think that any one will be so unjust as to imagine what I have here said is spoken with a respect to any party or faction. Every one who has in hin the sentiments either of a Christian or a gentleman, cannot but be highly offended at this wicked and ungenerous practice, which is so much in use among us at present, that it is become a kind of national crime, and distinguishes us from all the governments that lie about us. I cannot but look
the finest strokes of satire which are aimed at particular persons, and which are supported even with the appearances of truth, to be the marks of an evil mind, and highly criminal in them. selves. Infamy, like other punishments, is under the direction and distribution of the magistrate, and not of any private person. Accordingly we learn from a fragment of Cicero, that though there were very few capital punishments in the twelve tables, a libel or lampoon which took away
the good name of another was to be punished by death. Bet
this is far from being our case. Our satire is nothing but ribaldry and Billingsgate. Scurrility passes for wit; and he who can call names in the greatest variety of phrases, is looked upon
to have the shrewdest pen. By this means the honour of families is ruined, the highest posts and greatest titles are rendered cheap and vile in the sight of the people; the noblest virtues, and most exalted parts, exposed to the contempt of the vicious and the ignorant. Should a foreigner, who knows nothing of our private factions, or one who is to act his part in the world when our present heats and ani. mosities are forgot,-should, I say, such an one form to him
I self a notion of the greatest men of all sides in the British nation, who are now living, from the characters which are given them in some or other of those abominable writings which are daily published among us, what a nation of monsters must we appear !
As this cruel practice tends to the utter subversion of all truth and humanity among us, it deserves the utmost detestation and discouragement of all who have either the love of their country, or the honour of their religion, at heart. I would therefore earnestly recommend it to the consideration of those who deal in these pernicious arts of writing; and of those who take pleasure in the reading of them. As for the first, I have spoken of them in former papers, and have not stuck to rank them with the murderer and assassin. Every honest man sets as high a value upon a good name, as upon life itself; and I cannot but think that those who privily assault the one, would destroy the other, might they do it with the same secrecy and impunity.
As for persons who take pleasure in the reading and dispersing of such detestable libels, I am afraid they fall very little short of the guilt of the first composers. By a law of the emperors
Valentinian and Valens, it was made death for any person not only to write a libel, but if he met with one by chance, not to tear or burn it. But because I woula not be thought singular in my opinion of this matter, I shall conclude my paper with the words of Monsieur Bayle, who was a man of great freedom of thought, as well as of exquisite learning and judgment.
“I cannot imagine, that a man who disperses a libel, is less desirous of doing mischief than the author himself. But what shall we say of the pleasure which a man takes in the