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ing error of the imagination, complained hard of his
* Dreain after dreain ensues-
And still are disappointed."
But when the illusion relates to the moral qualitins of our hearts, flattering us that our vices are virtues, or at least that they are the less culpable for being ours ; it is then that it is pregnant with in finite mischief.
Of all human knowledge, Self-knowledge is accounted the most difficult of attainment ;-and why! Assuredly, it is not so very difficult in itself. We are conscious not only of our own actions, but also of the views and motives by which we are actuated. The thoughts and affections of our hearts are all open
to our own inspection. Why then is it hard for one so far to know himself as to be able to pencil his own true picture with considerable exactness ? The main difficulty arises from the blinding and deluding bias that we have toward ourselves. It is by reason of this kind of sophistry, that though we discern the mote in the
eye of another, we perceive not the beam in our
own ; that though we are clear-sighted quite enough with respect to the faults of our neighbors, we are purblind as moles in regard to as great, or even greater faults in ourselves ; that, at best, we weigh our own with more than some grains of allowance, but those of every one else excepting our particular friends, without any allowance at all, finally, to the same cause it is owinw, that we magnify into shining virtues such deeds of our own doing, as we should think but lightly of if done by persons in whom we had no particular interest.
The sophistry with which we cheat ourselues runs into our social intercourse and our dealings. In estimating the characters of those about us, we are apt to judge of them according to the particular bearings they have to our own dear selves. If they are near of kin, or close friends, our favouritism blinds us to their frailties, and magnifies, in them, every thing that has the appearance of excellence ; but if they are aliens from our hearts, we are apt enough to judge them with all that severity which appearances can any ways justify. So, too, in matters of deal, it is a hard thing indeed for one to determine right in one's own cause ; the oppo-. site positions of mine and thine, not unfrequently swaying men of honest intentions. For which reason it is, that in all the intercourse and business of life, the frequent use or application of the golden rule is, in point of morals. of such immeasurable importance; since, in innnmerable cases, it is only by changing places, ideally, with those we have concers or deal with, that we can know exactly how to do them justice.
And not only is the daily appiication of that divine rule so necessary in all our business, but it is alike necessary in the management of conflicting opinions. The free exercise of private judgment, is what every man claims for himself, and yet almost every man grudges it to others. And hence it is, that disputes of
opinion are so commonly acrimonious. Whereas, if we were no less willing that others should enjoy the free exercise of private judgment than to enjoy it ourselves, our disputes would be conducted with fairness, and good temper.
Of the wide difference between Wisdom and Cunning.
In one of the tragedies of Sophocles there is an admirable Moral, couched under the veil of heathen fable.
Philoctetes, to whom Hercules had bequeathed his bow and arrows, went, along with the other princes and chiefs of Greece, to the siege of Troy. He was son of the renowned Achilles, and no less distinguished for his valour than his birth. But having been bit by a serpent, an incurable and most painful ulcer ensued ; and his perpetual groans and lamentations disturbed and disheartened the whole Grecian camp. For this reason the chief of that military confederacy, had him conveyed to Lemnos, a desolate island, where he remained ten years, alone, and in intolerable anguish. At the expiration of that time, it being declared by an Oracle that Troy could never be conquered without the arrows of Hercules then in the possession of Philoctetes, Ulysses and Neoptolemus were jointly sent to Lemnos to obtain them of him.
Ulysses, notorious above all men for craft and intrigue, and well knowing that Philoctetes bore the Grecians an implacable hatred for their barbarous usage of him, laid a cunning plan to get the arrows from him by fraud, which he communicated to Neoptolemus ; at the same time insisting that he should become the in
strument of its execution. Neoptolemus, who was a
What open arms can do
O king, believe me,
Than rise by guilt to certain victory.” Ulysses, however, (so easy is it for an arch deceiver to corrupt the integrity of an inexperienced youth,) gained his point at last, by his cunning sophistry and honied persuasions; and Neoptolemus submitted to an act of treachery which his soul abhorred. He first insinuated himself into the confidence of Philoctetes by a train of falsehoods, and then robbed him of his arrows, which he bore off to the ship that lay ready to sail back to the coast of Troy. But reflecting afterward upon the baseness of the deed and stung with remorse and pity, he, notwithstanding the invectives and threats of Ulysses, went back, and restored the arrows to Philoctetes.
After all the arts of persuasion to induce Philoctetes to go to the siege of Troy, or at least to send his arrows th ither, had been used in vain, and there seemed no possibility left that that point could be gained by any human ineans, Hercules descended from heaven, and effected, what mere man could not do, a change of will in Philoctetes, who then voluntarily went with Neoptolemus to the Grecian camp, carrying along with him his bow and arrows; and by means of them, Troy was conquered.
This, in short, is the moral of the fable :-open and honest policy, aided by the powers above, was crowned finally with more complete success, than could bave been obtained by the deep- laid fraudulent plan of the crafty Ulysses.
The arts of falsehood and trick, whether on a large scale or a small one, are but foolishness, however subtilely managed.
• The secret snare when falshood-spreads,
Herself she fetters in the subtile threads." Craft, partaking as it does of moral turpitude, which it perpetually strives to conceal, exposes itself by its very attempts at concealment, as the serpent tells us where to strike him, by covering his head. Whether in the private or public walks of life ; whether in the common intercourse between neighbours and fellow citizens, or in the great concerns of princes and statesmen,-an honest policy will be found to wear best. Our great and beloved Washington, whom Heaven crowned with such marvellous success, had nothing of the craft of Ulysses. With a 'mind good as it was great, he sought noble ends by honest means ; by means that he could never blush to own. He was admirable for his real unsophisticated wisdom ; for the wisdom that soared above the base arts of intrigue, and which was without guile, without hypocrisy.
“ Cunning,” says Mr. Locke, in his excellent treatise on Education, Cunning, which is the ape of wisdom, is the most distant from it that can be ; and as an ape,
for the likeness it has to a man, wanting what really should make him so, is by so much the uglier; cunning is only the want of understanding ; which because it cannot compass its ends by direct ways, would do it by trick and circumvention. No cover was ever made either so big or so fine as to hide itself. None were ever so cunning as to conceal their being so.
There are few particulars in which mankind more often misjudge than in this: they are apt to think that the unprincipled artful, because they display considerable cunning, are of course men of superior parts ;, whereas, generally speaking, their minds are narrow.