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hand, to disparage or undervalue those we dislike; grudging to allow them such good qualities as they really possess, or to commend them for such good deeds as they have really done; and displaying all their failings in the highest colours of aggravation. This perverse propensity, wrought into the very web of our fallen nature, is exceedingly difficult to cure. How few possess enough of magnanimity, not to say of the genius and spirit of christianity, to do full justice to the good deeds of a real or supposed foe ; or even to one belonging to an adverse party, in religion, or in poltics !

“ The true critic” (said Dean Swift, ironically)" is a discoverer aud collector of writers' faults."

But not to run foul of the critics ; some men and women, like flies, feed altogether, upon the sore part of the characters of those about them. These scavengers of reputation, are ever hunting about, with a microscopic eye, for foibles, infirmities, and blemishes; and are too busy abroad, to regulate things aright at home.

Pliny relates of Julius Cæsar, that he blamed, in so artful a manner, that he seemed to praise. On the contrary, others are as artful in their praises, as Ceesar was in his reproaches; and that too, with the basest intentions. “They use envenomed praise, which, by a side-blow, exposes, in the person. they commend, such faults as they dare not any other way lay open."

The tooth of calumny never wounds more deeply, nor ever infuses more poison into the wound, than by this insidious method.

NUMBER CIX.

Of officiously meddling with, and a total disregard of,

the affairs of others.

SOCIETY has been infested, in all ages of the world, with persons prone to intrude themselves into the concerns of their neighbours; with tattlers, busy bodies and intermeddlers, who must needs have their spoons in every body's porringer. These unwelcome and troublesome guests were distinctly marked by the sagacious eye of the king of Israel, who has given them their full due. Indeed some of this sort are quite ingenious in their way, and so much the worse ; for by how much greater is their ingenuity, by so much the more mischief they do: their minds resembling a fertile soil, which for want of proper culture, bears nothing but weeds and poisonous plants.

Not but that, now and then, an officious intermeddler, or even a talebearer, may mean no harm ; the one being actuated by an undue opinion of his own importance, and the other from the vanity of appearing to know the characters and the concerns of all about him. But intentional sowers of discord, who, from envy, malice, or the love of mischief, employ themselves in breeding dissentions in families and neighbourhoods, are well nigh as pestilent as thieves and robbers; and the less they are punishable by civil law, the more should they be made to feel that species of punishment which public opinion inflicts.

Parents and preceptors can hardly do a better service for their children, than by principling their minds and fixing their hearts against faults so pernicious to society and so ruinious to character : faults which are

curable when they first appear in the young mind, but which grow into inveterate habits by the indulgence of neglect. It is hardly conceivable what a vast amount of evil might be prevented if the young were taught as generally and as carefully in this particular, as they are in the first rudiments of learning.

By those who, from habit, or from temper, make it their business and delight to pry into and publish the failings of others, be it remembered, “ that at that day when the failings of all shall be made manifest, the attention of each individual will be fixed only on his

own."

There is a fault, however, directly opposite to that of officiously meddling with the concerns of our neighbours : I mean the absence of all heartfelt concern for any but ourselves and our near kin. This fault, however artfully it may be covered, springs, for the most part, from sordid selfishness, or from anti-social apathy of heart.

Selfishness, which is the love of self and every thing else for the sake of self, has the power of keeping some persons at a vast distance from intermeddling with their neighbours'affairs, for which they care not a straw any farther than such extraneous affairs have a bearing upon their own personal interests. So also the coldhearted, in whose bosoms is the perpetual calm of apathy, trouble not their neighbours as busy bodies - in their matters; because they have not enough energy of soul either to love or to hate in good earnest. Now it often falls out, that some belonging to each of these two classes value themselves mightily upon their practical abstraction from all concerns but their own, and boast of it as a shining virtue. 66 We are not meddlers, not we.

It is our manner to mind our own business, and to let all other folk alone." Nevertheless, if they

would

open the folds of their own hearts and observe fairly what is going on there, they would find that their not being meddlers is owing to any thing else, rather than to a pure principle of virtue.

And here it is not unimportant to remark, that it is no less the purpose and business of proper education to foster and encourage the social feelings of our nature, - than it is to eradicate dispositions of intrusive meddling : for if one without all warmth of heart any way, be seldom tempted to become a busy body in other mens' matters, he as seldom is much better than a mere blank in society-doing little mischief, and as little good.

Am I my brother's keeper ? -We know who said it. And so, in manifold instances, when one is ruining himself and family by the mismanagement of his affairs, or when one betrays the symptoms of an inceptive vice, which, growing into a habit, will land him in perdition; his neighbours coolly look on, saying in their hearts, and to one another, “ It is his own affair.Not employing a single effort to save him, though, often, betwixt themselves, they shake the head, and remark, that he is in the road to ruin. Perhaps it is a youth, that is supposed to have stepped into this fatal road ; a young man of goodly promise, or a young woman of amiable dispositions, but wanting discretion. Perhaps that youth is an orphan, and errs for lack of the guiding hand of a parent. It is all the same. Every body is sorry, mighty sorry indeed, but no body moves the tongue, or lifts a finger, for the purpose of rescue or prevention.

It is not so that we act in other respects. We struggle hard to save a fellow being that is drowning before our eyes. Should we see a man stand upon the brink of a frightful precipice and unconscious of his danger, doubtless we would instantly give him warning. Hardly would we neglect to snatch either the empoisoned bow! from the lips of one that mistook the poison for a wholesome beverage, or the knife or razor from the throat of a man or woman in the act of committing suicide. Common humanity impels us to acts of this sort. And yet when we see in scarcely less jeopardy of another kind, a neighbour, an acquaintance—one whom the offices of discreet and faithful friendship might per. adventure rescue and restore-we are listless—we let him alone-we'll not meddletis his own affair!

NUMBER CX.

Of turning good to ill, by tampering with it.

66

A GREAT part of the ill we suffer might be avoided, if we would only learn to let well alone. But such is the plague of our hearts, relative to temporal as well as higher matters, that we are seldom or never, quite contented with our lot, when even it is in no wise an unpleasant one, but must paw it about,” till we-mar and spoil what we perversely endeavour to mend.

How often is comeliness of face, of features, and of personal form, disfigured by affectation, which would fain make better, what God hath made well.

How often do we lose our health by tampering with it, in order to make it more healthy. When we are well, we cannot be easy, and let well alone, but must needs be meddling with the mechanism while it is going exactly right. A morning bitter, or some far-famed nostrum, how good is it to prevent disease and preserve the health! or rather not to speak ironically, but so

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