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which is only a peculiar species of wine. The effect he describes it to have upon wit and learning, peculiarly applies to the table, and may afford a hint to those who circulate their wine as if it were merely designed for sensual purposes, that it has nobler
“A good sherris-sack hath a twofold operation in it. It ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish, dull, and crudy vapours, which environ it; makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, * full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes; which, delivered o'er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. The second property of your excellent sherris is, the warming of the blood, which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice; but the sherris warms it, and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme. It illumineth the face, which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man, to arm; and then the vital commoners, and inland petty spirits, muster me all to their captain, the heart; who, great and puffed up with this retinue, doth any deed of courage, and this valour comes of sherris. So that skill in the weapon is nothing without sack, for that sets it a-work; and learning, a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil, till sack commences it, and sets it in act and use. Hereof comes it that Prince Harry is valiant; for the cold blood he did naturally inherit of his father, he hath, like lean, sterile, and bare land, manured, husbanded, and tilled, with excellent endeavour of drinking good, and good store of fertile sherris, that he has become
hot and valiant. If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them, should be, to forswear thin potations, and addict themselves to sack.”
EASE OF MIND. Ease of mind is incomparably the most valuable of all possessions—not the ease of indolence, but of action—the smoothness of the unruffled current, not of the stagnant pool. This possession is not the gift of fortune; the gifts of fortune frequently destroy it. It must be of our own acquiring, and is, in a great measure, within the reach of all who diligently seek after it. It does not depend upon the amount of our worldly possessions, but upon our mode of using them; not upon our ability to gratify our desires, but upon our regulation of them. It is essentially the result of our habits, which habits are entirely within our own control. To enjoy ease of mind, there must be a feeling that we
are fulfilling our duties to the best of our power, otherwise we only sear instead of satisfying our conscience. The possession of riches, or the pursuit of them, beyond the limits of moderation, are unfavourable to this state, because temperance in the use of worldly enjoyments is absolutely necessary to it, and then comes the responsibility of the application of our superfluity. How many men's ease must be destroyed by superabundance, who would have been happy with less temptation, or with the feeling that less was expected from them! The pursuit of riches for the sake of riches, unfits the mind for ease, by generating a perpetual restlessness and anxiety, and by exposing to continual disappointments; and the same may be said, even in a stronger degree, of an ambitious love of those worldly distinctions, which, neither in the pursuit, nor in the possession, can confer any real enjoyment. A steady advance by honest roads towards those things which are within our reach without too arduous efforts, and which, being attained, are worth our having, should be the aim of all who have their fortune to make: whilst they who have had theirs made for them, should habituate themselves to temperance in their own enjoyments, and to active and discreet liberality towards others. They who diligently cultivate the habits necessary to attain ease of mind, place themselves almost above its disturbance. To the mortifications of disappointed ambition they are not at all exposed, and to the crosses of adverse fortune very little, whilst unavoidable afflictions, in the well-constituted, soften rather than sour the mind, and cannot be said to destroy its ease. Like cypresses, they throw a shade over the current, but in no way to disturb its smoothness. Strict and constant discipline can ensure ease of mind in poverty or privation, of which St. Paul has afforded a beautiful example in his own person.
“ I have learnt in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." But it must not be forgotten, that in this discipline is included the fixed contemplation of things above. They of this world only, cannot expect to bear the afflictions of the world, as if they looked upon it as a mere state of preparation for another, which is the peculiar advantage possessed by the true Christian. There is no book comparable to the New Testament for teaching that temper of mind which is alone capable of ensuring a current of happiness independent of external interruptions. It gives that tone which prevents us from annoying or feeling annoyance. It teaches us to bear all things, to hope all things, and to think no evil. How different such a state from that of those who bear nothing, hope nothing, and are ever thinking evil! In order to derive full benefit from the doctrines of the New Testament, it is not sufficient to recur to them occasionally, but by daily attention to make them part of our system, so that the mind may become its own master, and as much as possible independent of everything without. Goldsmith says,
“ How small of all that human hearts endure,
Our own felicity we make or find.” Shakspeare observes, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so ;” and Milton expresses it,
“ The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” In order to enjoy ease of mind in our intercourse with the world, we should introduce into our habits of business punctuality, decision, the practice of being beforehand, despatch, and exactness ; in our pleasures, harmlessness and moderation, and in all our dealings, perfect integrity and love of truth. Without these observances we are never secure of ease, nor indeed taste it in its highest state. As in most other things, so here, people in general do not aim at more than mediocrity of attainment, and of course usually fall below their standard ; whilst many are so busy in running after what should procure them ease, that they totally overlook the thing itself.
Ease of mind has the most beneficial effect upon the body, and it is only during its existence that the complicated physical functions are performed with the accuracy and facility which nature designed. It is consequently a great preventive of disease, and one of the surest means of effecting a cure when disease has occurred; without it, in many cases no cure can take place. ease of mind many people have survived serious accidents, from which nothing else could have saved them, and in every
instance recovery is much retarded by the absence of it. Its effect upon the appearance is no less remarkable. It prevents and repairs the ravages of time in a singular degree, and is the best preservative of strength and beauty. It often depends
greatly upon health, but health always depends greatly upon it. The torments of a mind ill at ease seem to be less endurable than those of the body; for it scarcely ever happens that suicide is committed from bodily suffering. As far as the countenance is an index, " the vultures of the mind” appear to tear it more mercilessly than any physical pain, and no doubt there have been many who would willingly have exchanged their mental agony for the most wretched existence that penury could produce. From remorse
there is no escape. In aggravated cases, probably, there is no instant, sleeping or waking, in which its influence is totally unfelt. Remorse is the extreme one way; the opposite is that cleanliness of mind, which has never been recommended anywhere to the same extent that it is by the precepts of the Christian religion, and which alone constitutes “ perfect freedom.” It would be curious if we could see what effect such purity would have upon
appearance and actions of a human being-a being who lived, as Pope expresses it, in “ the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.”
DIFFICULTIES. It is weak to be scared at difficulties, seeing that they generally diminish as they are approached, and oftentimes even entirely vanish. No man can tell what he can do till he tries. It is impossible to calculate the extent of human powers; it can only be ascertained by experiment. · What has been accomplished by parties and by solitary individuals in the torrid and the frozen regions, under circumstances the most difficult and appalling, should teach us that, when we ought to attempt, we should never despair. The reason why men oftener succeed in overcoming uncommon difficulties than ordinary ones is, that in the first case they call into action the whole of their resources, and that in the last they act upon calculation, and generally undercalculate. Where there is no retreat, and the whole energy is forward, the chances are in favour of success; but a backward look is full of danger. Confidence of success is almost success; and obstacles often fall of themselves before a determination to overcome them. There is something in resolution which has an influence beyond itself, and it marches on like a mighty lord among its slaves; all is prostration where it appears. When bent on good, it is almost the noblest attribute of man; when on evil, the most dangerous. It is by habitual resolution that men succeed to any great extent ; impulses are not sufficient. What is done at one moment is undone the next ; and a step forward is nothing gained, unless it is followed up. Resolution depends mainly on the state of the digestion, which St. Paul remarkably illustrates, when he says, “ Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I hare preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
MIDNIGHT REFLECTIONS. “ The iron tongue of midnight” proclaims another day gone for ever.
How we loiter away our lives! If we wasted our means as we do our time, we should be bankrupts all.
We live on resolutions instead of performances, and content
exertion. We condemn the omissions of others, and overlook
We neglect the advantages we have, and think what we should do if we were something else than what we are.
We look back upon the past, and sigh that we did not begin
We possess each the sovereignty of ourselves—the noblest and most profitable field in which to exercise dominion, but we busy ourselves most in what least concerns us. We make ourselves slaves where we might be kings, and seek for power where it profits us nothing.
We pretend to reform others, whilst we exhibit in our own persons examples of neglect, disorder, and revolt.
Our passions, which we ought to govern, we suffer to govern us, and instead of aiding us in our course they hurry us out of it till they have lost their force; and our judgment takes possession of her seat when she has nothing to guide. Man is like a vehicle hurried across a dangerous country by powerful and fiery steeds, and never gaining the road till they are become worn-out hacks.
But there are the busy few toiling after their own destruction in the fields of avarice and ambition, mistaking means for ends, and laying up for themselves loads of care and anxiety, till the grave opens, and they discover on its brink that the journey through this world was not to provide the things of this world, but those for the world to come. They are like travellers from a distant country arriving on the shores of the boundless ocean, encumbered with everything but what pertains to their voyage. Though they have used their time it was only to abuse it, and their labour has been worse than vain.
If we would live as we ought to do, we must so enjoy the present that we may look upon the past with pleasure, and upon the future with hope. The more we can bring ourselves to consider the importance of the future, the more likely we are duly to regulate the present; and the happiness of this life mainly depends upon our reference to that in the life to come.