« 上一頁繼續 »
little connected with them. But what will not wrongheaded men abuse! This advantage, which mathematical reasoning has for discovering truth, hath given occasion to some to reject truth itself, though supported by the most unexceptionable arguments. Contending that nothing is to be taken for truth but what is proved by mathematical demonstration, they in many cases take away everycriterion of truth, while they boast that they defend the only infallible one.
But how easy is it to show the absurdity of such Questioning. a way of philosophizing? Ask those gentlemen whether they have any more doubt that there were in former times such men as Alexander and Cæsar, than whether all the angles of a plane triangle amount to the sum of one hundred and eighty degrees; they cannot pretend that they believe the latter at all more firmly than the former ; yet they have geometrical demonstration for the latter, and nothing more than mere moral evidence for the former. Does not this show that many things to be received are actually received even by themselves, for truth, for certain truth, which are not capable of mathematical demonstration?
There is, therefore, an evidence different from Arguing. mathematical, to which we cannot deny our assent; and it is called by later philosophers moral evidence, as the persuasion arising from it is called moral certainty a certainty as real and as much to be depended upon as mathematical, though of a different species. Nor is there any more difficulty in conceiving how this may be than in conceiving that two buildings may be both sufficiently substantial, and to all the intents and purposes of buildings equally so, though the one may be of marble and the other of Portland stone.
The object of mathematics is quantity. The
geometrician measures extension ; the mechanic compares forces. Divinity, ethics, ontology, and history are naturally incapable of mathematical disquisition or demonstration. Yet moral subjects are capable of being inquired into, and truths concerning them determined in that way, which is proper to them, as well as mathematical in theirs ; in the same manner, as money is reckoned by tale, bullion by weight, and liquors by measure, &c.— Gravesend Orations.
Calisthenes's honest speech in reproof of Cleon's dattery to
Alexander, on whom Cleon wanted divinity to be conferred
by vote.-Q. Curtius. Displeasure. If the king were present, Cleon, there would be no
need of my answering to what you have just proposed. Reproof. He would himself reprove you for endeavouring to
draw him into an imitation of foreign absurdities, and for bringing endy upon him by such unmanly flattery. As he is absent, I take upon me to tell you in his name, that no praise is lasting but what is rational ; and that you do what you can to lessen his glory instead of adding to it. Heroes have never, among us, been deified till after their death. And, whatever
your way of thinking, Cleon, for my part, I wish the king may not for many years to come obtain that honour. You have mentioned, as precedents of what you propose, Hercules and Bacchus. Do you imagine, Cleon, that they were deified over a cup of wine ? And are you and I qualified to make gods? Is the king, our sovereign, to receive his
divinity from you and me, who are his subjects ? Challenge. First try your power, whether you can make a king.
It is, surely, easier to make a king than a god; to
give an earthly dominion than a throne in Olympus. I only wish that the gods may have heard, without Apprehenoffence, the arrogant proposal you have made, of sion. adding one to their number; and that they may still be so propitious to us as to grant the continuance of that success to our affairs with which they have hitherto favoured us. For my part, I am not ashamed Honest of my country; nor do I approve of our adopting the pride. rites of foreign nations, or learning from them how we ought to reverence our kings. To receive laws, or rules of conduct from them, what is it but to confess ourselves inferior to them?
V.REMONSTRANCE AND CONTEMPT OF PRIDE.
Does greatness secure persons of rank from infirmi- Questioning. ties either of body or mind? Will the headache, the gout, or fever, spare a prince any more than a subject? When old age comes to lie heavy: upon him will his engineers relieve him of the load? Can his guards and sentinels, by doubling and trebling their fear. numbers and their watchfulness, prevent the approach of death? Nay, if jealousy, or even ill-humour, dis- Cunte-wpt. turb his happiness, will the cringes of his fawning attendants restore his tranquillity? What comfort has he in reflecting (if he can make the reflection) while the colic, like Prometheus's vulture, tears his bowels, that he is under a canopy of crimson velvet fringed with gold? When the pangs of the gout Anguish. extort from him groans of agony, do the titles of Highness or Majesty come sweetly into his ear ? If he is agitated with rage does the sound of Serene or Most Christian prevent his staring, reddening, and gnashing with his teeth like a madman ?
Would not Contempt.
The word heavy to be dragged out as expressing distress.
a twinge of the toothache, or an affront from an inferior, make the mighty Cæsar forget that he was emperor of the world ?-Montaigne.
Humorous petition of a French gentleman to the king, who
had given him a title, to which his income was not equal,
by reason of the weight of the taxes levied from his estate. [After acknowledging the honour done him by the king's con
ferring on him a title, he goes on as follows.] Complaint. Your Majesty has only made me more unhappy by
giving me a title; for there is nothing more.pitiable Vexation. than a gentleman laden with a knapsack. This empty
sound, which I was such a fool as to be ambitious of, does not keep away hunger. I know well enough, that glory makes us live after we are dead; but in this world a man has but a poor time of it, if he has not a bit of bread to put in his mouth. I had but a
little bit of land on the banks of the Rhone, on which Apprehen- I made a shift to live. But as it is now taxed, anysion.
body may have it from me ; for I suppose I shall soon, with my title and estate, be glad of an alms-house for my seat. I have no resources, if there be a prosecution commenced against me, as they threaten, but in your Majesty's goodness. If indeed
fate is to be decided by that, I am in no danger, but
shall laugh at them all. If your Majesty were to Deprecation seize my poor patrimony whole, what would a few Pomp.
acres of marsh land be to the mighty monarch of Contempt.
France and Navarre ? It bears nothing but willows,
and your Majesty values no trees but the laurel. I Submission, therefore beseech your Majesty to give me leave to
enjoy what my little spot brings in, without deduction. Entreating. All that a poor subject asks of your Majesty is, that
your Majesty would ask nothing of him.
VII.--PETITIONING WITH DEJECTION.
Presented to the French king by a disgraced minister. BEING
weary of the useless life I live at present, I Dejection. take the liberty of imploring, with profound submission, your Majesty, that I may have leave to seek an honourable death in your Majesty's service. After the disappointments and reverses of fortune which I have had to struggle with, my expectations of rising Humble reagain to prosperity are brought low enough. But it monstrance. would be a satisfaction to me that my real character were known to your Majesty ; which if it were, I flatter myself I should have your Majesty's indulgence, nay your esteem. Refuse not, most gracious Beseeching. Sovereign, the means for gaining this end to a man who is ready to shed his blood in proof of his loyalty and affection to your Majesty. Were my own private interest alone concerned, I should be peculiarly cautious how I intruded upon your Majesty with these solicitations. But as the only happiness I desire Earnest soli. in this world is to have an opportunity of serving my king and country, I humbly hope I may be forgiven, though I urge my suit with some warmth and importunity. I do not presume, sire, to claim a total exemption from hardship. I pretend to no right to live a life of indulgence. All I ask is, to change one punishment for another. And I beseech your Majesty to have some consideration for my past services; and that a year's imprisonment, five years' exile, the ruin of my fortune, the submission with which I have borne these punishments, and the zeal I still am ready to show for your Majesty's service, may plead in my favour, and disarm your Majesty of your indignation against me. It is true, that in Humble remaking your Majesty the offer of my life, I offer monstrance. what is of little value even to myself. But it is all