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If a man purchase articles of merchandise, and anticipate the amount of his gain, he is greviously disappointed if he does not obtain it. But having received a pleasure from the anticipation, he will be inclined to consider the matter as settled; while the dull and slow process of realising his expectations will appear exceedingly tedious. The actual gain of a shilling, by an engagement attended with labour, will appear tiresome to that person who has calculated on hundreds of pounds without labour. On the other hand, if this speculative fancy has been checked, the consciousness of obtaining a small profit, cheers and stimulates a man to the performance of his necessary business.
Some persons are continually changing from speculations, which they have scarcely tried, to something which is still more unlikely to prove successful. But novelty is the bait; and any thing will do which presents this tempting snare. They risk the substance for the shadow. Like the “camel driver" of Collins, they will leave a certainty for an uncertainty; and then, with him, they may exclaim,
“Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
A person, therefore, who would move on smoothly, must not be very sanguine or speculative. He must look to the present time for his labour, and its results; and he must look to the future for a continuation of his engagements. He must not be dispirited, but he must buffet the waves of adversity, and climb up the precipices which impede his progress. Locke, in his Treatise on Education, observes, that “ this brawniness and insensibility of mind is the best armour we can have against the common evils and accidents of life; and being a temper that is to be got by exercise and custom, the practice of it should be begun by times,--and happy is he that is taught it early.”
Many persons foolishly increase their unhappiness by a thousand fears and anxieties; and not unfrequently by an officious interference with the affairs of others. If, however, a man be proceeding badly, it will afford him but a sorry consolation to discover that others are doing no better; and if he be proceeding successfully, why should he be envious because others are doing as well? Has not one person as much right to obtain a maintenance as another? It is certainly much better for a man to mind his own engagements, and not to make himself anxious about those of others. If he attend to his own concerns, he may go on prosperously; but a continual attention to the business of his neighbours, with envyings and oppositions, will never assist him in his progress.—pp. 159, 161.
Industry, in a succeeding chapter, is contrasted in its effects with idleness. There are few qualifications of more utility, or that come to us more recommended by high authority, than this one of industry. The famous Duke de Sully, the minister, told the court that he had no leisure for amusemements: he rose at four daily. Michael Angelo laboured during the night, sometimes going to bed with his clothes on, merely for a short time, and rising again to resume his labour. The minute account which Dr. Johnson gives us of the course of life of the great Milton, shows how preciously that illustrious poet valued the use of time. The industry of some
writers has been shown in the magnitude of their works: Wickliffe could afford to have two hundred of his works destroyed, and still he may be regarded as a volnminous writer; Prynne, who flourished at the period of the Commonwealth, wrote more than forty folio and quarto volumes; Anthony Arnauld composed more than one hundred works ; and Lope de Vegas assures us that he himself wrote, on the average, five sheets per day during his life. In nothing, in fact, are there greater distinctions of merit occasioned between men, than in industry and idleness. Some one reminded Muntesquieu that idleness was placed amongst the pleasures of heaven ; it should rather, said that great philosopher, be accounted as one of the torments of hell : and this is the judgment which every experienced man will be inclined to concur in. Louis XIV. warned his son that there was nothing, even in the duties of the kingly office, more laborious than idleness; and a duke of the same nation, De Rohan, was known to have said that a greater curse could not befal a man, than having nothing to do Dr. Cheyne, a late very penetrating and acute physician, used to say, that the head-aches, stomach-aches, colics, nervous pains, and disorders, so much complained of by certain classes in this country, were universally the produce of idleness and fulness of bread. It is related of Dr. Jeremy Taylor, that he once remonstrated with a lady who was bringing up her son in idleness, in the following manner :
“Madame, if you do not fill your son's head with something, the devil will."
In an interesting chapter on the Nature of the Human Mind, our author boldly stands up for the equality of the intellect of the female with that of the man. The reason why this truth should ever be put in doubt, is that women have not been usually placed in the same circumstances as men. The occupations of women belong to a very different sphere from that which would give them opportunities of worldly distinctions and eminence; whilst men, in pursuing their ordinary occupations, meet with a thousand occasions for calling forth their ingenuity and acquiring a reputation. The balance, therefore, is turned against the women, so far as advantages are concerned ; but it does not follow that the balance of innate endowments is against them too.
Many females (says the author,) have attained a considerable degree of eminence in poetry, painting, and music, in logic and in philosophy, in war and in government. There is scarcely any science, or polite accomplishment, in which some of the softer sex have not become illustrious. In sprightliness of thought and expression, as well as epistolary composition, they certainly excel. Professor Stewart says, “ I am inclined to think, that in the other sex, (probably in consequence of early education,) ideas are more easily associated together than in the minds of men. Hence the liveliness of their fancy, and the superiority they possess in epistolary writing." Females have been capable of comprehending some of the most profound subjects. Descartes dedicated his “ Principia" to the Princess, Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick V., and declared that she was the only person who possessed the capability of thoroughly understanding his philosophy; and Jeremy Taylor says that he never met with a person, male or female, of better mental powers than Lady Conway. “She was mistress," he said, “ of the highest theories, whether of philosophy or religion ; and as she always wrote in a very clear style, so she could argue sometimes, or put the deepest or noblest queries imaginable.” Dr. Donn used to say of Anne, Countess of Dorset, that her knowledge was so extensive as to embrace almost every subject. Queen Catherine, consort of George II. used to read Butler's “ Analogy" at her breakfast-table, with ease and a perfect comprehension of that intricate subject,-a work which gave a learned bishop a pain in his head whenever he looked into it. If we examine the annals of biography, we may find many other females who were celebrated for their mental powers. The school of Pythagoras contained many who were capable of unravelling the philosophical systems of that profound theorist. The difference, then, between the mental powers of the male and the female, is rather in appearance than reality. It depends on the varia. tion of engagements, and the unequal facility for cultivating the intellect. Men are more public—females are more domestic. The former are trained to the pursuit of knowledge; the latter are endowed with a few triffing accomplishments, and then they are inducted into, and encircled with, the various economy of domestic affairs. The engagements of the male call him into the bustle of the world, where his views become enlarged: those of the female keep her within doors, where her faculties are confined by a narrow circle. The former is led, sometimes, for his amusement or improvement, to the science of the heavenly bodies, their peculiarities and government; the latter is restricted to earthly and human bodies—to the rising generation, their cross-purposes and unruliness. The former is bewildered with the music of the spheres ; and the latter with music and tears. The sublime principles of light and heat, with the male, are reduced to candle-light and coal-fire with the female. Chemistry with the one, is cookery with the other. How, then, can the latter fly so high, when, having the ability, they have no opportunity ?-vol. i., pp. 199–201.
The author, in pursuing the train of his reflections on the nature of the human mind, shows that he is another of those inquirers who believe that the happiness of a future life will consist, to a great extent at least, in the expanded state, of all our intellectual faculties, whereby a fuller and clearer insight of the many things which we can but examine very imperfectly at present, will be afforded to us. He tells us that a celebrated philosopher was so persuaded of this fact, that when he was dying he exclaimed, “ I shall now discover more in a few minutes than I have learnt in the labours of a life.” There is a great variation in the character of the human mind produced by differences of climate ; but our author mistakes for primary, what are really but secondary, causes. There is no physical reason why he who lives beneath the ecliptic should not be as fully endowed with intellectual powers, as he who is born under a temperate sun: all the difference between the two, is the nature of the social condition of the inhabitants in the two places. A Turk can work mentally or corporeally with any other man on the globe ; but circumstances forbid the Turkish people to acquire a habit of activity: they are, therefore, and will for a long time to come, be an ignorant people. We do not agree with Goldsmith or our author, in the notion expressed by them that a residence in cities is calculated to enfeeble the mind, as compared with a residence in the country. We had ever thought that cities were the centre to which talent and intelligence always were brought; and if not in such a community as a metropolis affords, where shall we find the best informed, the most inquiring, the most intellectual of the nation ?
Our author, in his chapter on Genius, appears to have a doubt as to whether there be such a thing as an aptness or tendency derived from nature for some particular object or occupation. He does not deny that there may be an adaptation of the body for a particular business; but with respect to the mind, he does not seem altogether satisfied. Thus he describes Sir Joshua Reynolds's devotion to painting to be merely the accidental result of his having, when very young, heard Richardson's Treatise on Painting. Sir William Jones, he tells us, attributed his disposition for learning to the accidental occurrence of having broken his leg at school, which gave him the opportunity of acquiring a taste for books. But these facts, we can tell the author, prove nothing for his case, because we can, without fear of contradiction, state that the accidents in all these instances were merely the occasions by which genius detected its own tendencies ; and if this be not the case, why is it that every man who reads Richardson's Treatise on Painting, and who reads when he is laid up with a bad leg, does not become a Sir Joshua Reynolds, or a Sir Wm. Jones ? But there is no use in discussing the question. Nothing is better understood, nowa-days, than that genius has its soil as well as a vegetable, and that you might as well attempt to make a conferva grow in dry land, as try to make a man, without an ear, a perfect musician. But we pass to another and pleasanter portion of the dissertation on genius—that which relates to instances of its early development :
The learned Lord Somers seemed to possess a taste for knowledge in his infancy. When at school, he never played with children ; but was constantly to be seen, in the intervals of school-hours, with a book in his hand. Gray and Huet were averse to play in their childhood. Milton says, in " Paradise Regained,”—
" When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing.” Bossuet was so much averse to the usual sports of his schoolfellows, that the more witty boys punned on his name, by applying to him, from Virgil, Bos suetus aratro-an ox accustomed to the plough. Gassendi, at four years of age, used to deliver sermons to his playfellows; and he was accustomed, at this period, to steal away from his parents, for the purpose
sono vent in infiatermed. From po
of making observations on the heavens. Lilly, the astronomer, was born and brought up among rustic society; but he turned his childish mind from sheep and oxen, from ploughs and harrows, to the moon and stars. Descartes was termed “ the philosopher" when he was a child. Plato was eloquent in infancy. Poetry has been able to boast of some of her worthiest sons, that they were cradled in the lap of the Muses. This was the case with Cowley, Milton, Lope de Vegas, Pope, Watts, and many others, Pope says of himself.
" While still a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
1 lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.” Gray has delightfully described the openings of poetic genius,
.". For oft before his infant eye would run
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray
With orient hues.” There is a somewhat obscure but enchanting prospect, which engages the mind when it raises itself to the regions of intellectual beauty; like
“ Dreams that wave before the half-shut eye,
Or splendid castles in the clouds that pass,
Origen, Alfred the Great, Bede, and Sir Isaac Newton, evinced marks of
- We have read the chapters on the Advantage of Knowledge, and that on the Pursuit of Knowledge, with unmixed pleasure. · The six last chapters of the first volume are devoted to the basis general subject of the nature of sensations, emotions, passions, habits, and associations. The capabilities of the senses are first appreciated; the differences between the results upon them are