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human inadvertence or accident; and still more from the various casualties and disasters which happen in the course of the natural world. Our ordinary journals will afford us a melancholy history of the sudden extinction of life;—by shipwrecks; by hurricanes and inundations; by fire; sometimes by thunder and lightning, or tremendous earthquakes; by the suffocation of mines, or a pestilential atmosphere; and by other disorders of the elements, equally unforeseen and irresistible: all which may teach us the great insecurity of our present being, after the utmost care we can employ for its preservation. 2. Another branch of personal security. which falls under the care of civil government, is the health of the subject. Among the means which a wise policy would employ to this purpose may be reckoned, the prevention of idleness; the restraint of vice. and luxury; the encouragement of agriculture, and other manly occupations, in order to lessen the number of sedentary employments, and to reduce the extent and popu
the graves of the human species; above all, the affording of due countenance to piety and virtue, which, according to one of our medical philosophers, contain the true secret of health and long life. Yet though by these and similar methods, many of those maladies which now severely afflict the world, might he prevented, and a considerable portion added to the stock of public health, there would still remain behind, to evince the impotency of all human efforts, the incurable malady of old age, which nothing but a return to the dust whence we were taken can either prevent or terminate.
3. The last branch of personal security we have specified, is character'; a possession by many more valued, though often more precarious and exposed, than any other.
The love of consequence we have seen is a prevailing passion in man; and reputation, by which we hold a place in the good opinion of others, may be considered as a species of consequence. This, when sought, as it too often is, by base or crooked means, and with no higher views than to advance a is certainly a vicious object of pursuit, and then only becomes allowable, when it is prosecuted in a just and laudable manner, and with an entire reference to God, who is the only fountain of all true honour.
But however sought or obtained, it is a possession very frail in its nature, and eminently exposed to the attacks of malignity and envy.
Such' is its frailty, that no delicacy of health can be more alive to the impressions of the atmosphere, than the tenderness of reputation is sensible to fame and rumour. Every day's experience may convince us, that the least breath of calumny is enough to injure, and a violent blast to destroy, the most established character. And how much a distinguished name is exposed to the attacks of envy and malignity, we may learn from the readiness with which it is run down even by those who have no interest in its abasement; of which, we have a trite instance in the illiterate clown who gave his vote for the banishment of Aristides, for no other reason than because he heard him everywhere celebrated under the title of the just*. And this spirit will discover itself still more in those who are themselves engaged in the race of honour, and at the same time are actuated by no higher motive than that of surpassing others. A man of this description is capable of any meannessor injustice. He will be disposed to view with jealousy a rising reputation, though it should not obstruct his own; in case of rivalship, if he cannot fairly outstrip a competitor, he will employ every art to supplant him; and if compelled to own his superiority, he will accompany the acknowledgment with every circumstance of invidious derogation. Nor is competition for wealth or pleasure less disparaging and injurious than emulation of excellence.
Further: The same spirit may be remarked in the readiness with which libels, satires, and other malicious tracts, are circulated in public; and perhaps still more in the liberty generally taken with the good name of the absent in our ordinary inter^ course; when to indulge a sally of wit, or a momentary triumph of vanity, to gratify a
sudden emotion of envy, or even from mere wantonness and caprice, the character of a neighbour or friend is lightly treated, or injuriously depreciated. To moralists in every age this has been a standing topic of complaint, as involving no small part of the misery of human life. Yet these are evils, however great, which must generally be suffered in order to avoid still greater: if every word or action that might be construed into sedition or defamation was liable to a legal process, our civil liberties might be endangered; human life would become a scene of perpetual litigation; a gloomy suspicion would hang over our social intercourse; the harmless pleasantry of familiar conversation would be checked; while ingenious malice would still continue to diffuse its poison in a manner too subtle for legal cognizance. Upon the whole then it appears, that both our life, our health, and character,
(which we have ranked under the head of
personal security) are blessings, after all the
precautions that can be taken, of a very
precarious nature; that in every stage of