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flames his crimes. A wise man should give a just attention to both of them, so far as they may tend to the improvement of one and the diminution of the other. Plutarch has written an essay on the benefits which a man may receive from his enemies; and among the good fruits of enmity, mentions this in particular, that, by the reproaches which it casts upon us; we see the worst side of ourselves, and open our eyes to several blemishes and defects in our lives and conversations, which we should not have observed without the help of such ill-natured monitors.
In order, likewise, to come at a true knowledge of ourselves, we should consider, on the other hand, how far we may deserve the praises and approbations which the world bestow upon us; whether the actions they celebrate proceed from laudable and worthy motives; and how far we are really possessed of the virtues which gain us applause among those with whom we converse. Such a reflection is absolutely necessary, if we consider how apt we are either to value or condemn ourselves by the opinions of others, and to sacrifice the report of our own hearts to the judgment of the world.
In the next place, that we may not deceive ourselves in a point of so much importance, we should not lay too great a stress on any supposed virtues we possess that are of a doubtful nature: and such we may esteem all those in which multitudes of men dissent from us, who are as good and wise as ourselves. We should always act with great cautiousness and circumspection in points where it is not impossible that we may be deceived. Intemperate zeal, bigotry, and perse
cution, for any party or opinion, how praise-worthy soever they may appear to weak men of our own principles, produce infinite calamities among mankind, and are highly criminal in their own nature: and yet how many persons eminent for piety suffer such monstrous and absurd principles of action to take root in their minds under the colour of virtues? For my own part, I must own I never yet knew any party so just and reasonable, that a man could follow it in its height and violence, and at the same time be innocent.
We should likewise be very apprehensive of those actions which proceed from natural constitutions, favourite passions, particular education, or whatever promotes our worldly interest or advantage. In these, and the like cases, a man's Judgment is easily perverted, and a wrong bias
hung upon his mind. These are the inlets of i prejudice, the unguarded avenues of the mind,
by which a thousand errors and secret faults find admission, without being observed or taken notice of. A wise man will suspect those actions to which he is directed by something besides reason, and always apprehend some concealed evil in every resolution that is of a disputable nature, when it is conformable to his particular temper, his age, or way of life, or when it favours his pleasure or his profit.
There is nothing of greater importance to us than thus diligently to sift our thoughts, and examine all these dark recesses of the mind, if we would establish our souls in such a solid and substantial virtue as will turn to account in that great day, when it must stand the test of infinite wis. dom and justice.
I shall conclude this essay with observing, that the two kinds of hypocrisy I have here spoken of, namely, that of deceiving the word, and that of imposing on ourselves, are touched with wonderful beauty in the hundred and thirty-ninth psalm. The folly of the first kind of hypocrisy is there set forth by reflections on God's omniscience and omnipresence, which are celebrated in as noble strains of poetry as any other I ever met with, either sacred or profane. The other kind of hypocrisy, whereby a man deceives himself, is intimated in the two last verses, where the Psalmist addresses himself to the great Searcher of hearts in that emphatical petition; Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart; prove me, and examine my thoughts. "Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' ADDISON.
No. 400. MONDAY, JUNE 9,
-Latet anguis in herba. There's a snake in the grass.
It should, methinks, preserve modesty and its interests in the world, that the transgression of it always creates offence; and the very purposes of wantonness are defeated by a carriage which has in it so much boldness as to intimate, that fear and reluctance are quite extinguished in an object which would be otherwise desirable. It was said of a wit of the last
Sedley* has that prevailing gentle art,
This prevailing gentle art was made up of complaisance, courtship, and artful conformity to the inodesty of a woman's manners. Rusticity, broad expression, and forward obtrusion, offend those of education, and make the transgressors odious to all who have merit enough to attract regard. It is in this taste that the scenery is so beautifully ordered in the description which Antony makes, in the dialogue between him and Dolabella, of Cleopatra in her barge.
Her galley down the silver Cidnos row'd;
* Sidney or Sedley, Sir Charles, a great favourite of Charles II. His verses, though not elegant, are thought soft and bewitching: He was also much admired for his personal address.
But hung upon the object. To soft flutes
Here the imagination is warmed with all the objects presented, and yet there is nothing that is luscious, or what raises any idea more loose than that of a beautiful woman set off to advantage. The like, or a more delicate and careful spirit of modesty, appears in the following passage in one of Mr. Phillips's pastorals.
Breathe soft, ye winds; ye waters gently flow;
Desire is corrected when there is a tenderness or admiration expressed which partakes the passion. Licentious language has something brutal in it, which disgraces humanity, and leaves us in the condition of the savages in the field. But it may be asked to what good use can tend a discourse of this kind at all? It is to alarm chaste ears against such as have what is above called the prevailing gentle art.? Masters of that talent are capable of clothing their thoughts in so soft a dress, and something so distant from the secret purpose of their heart, that the imagination of the unguarded is touched with a fondness which grows too insensibly to be resisted. Much care and concern for the lady's welfare, to seem afraid lest she should be annoyed by the very air which surrounds her, and this uttered rather with kind looks, and expressed by an interjection, an ah,