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from the beginning of the world, and to have been making continual additions to his stock of knowledge in every country.
Mr. Bigland observes, that nothing has a greater tendency to eradicate narrow and illiberal prejudices, than a general acquaintance with those circumstances and events, which, at different periods, have taken place in the world, and which have, in so decisive a manner, determined the conditions and opinions of mankind. And this knowledge, the judicious perusal of ancient and modern History communicates. Hence arise extensive views and just ideas, with which the spirit of persecution and intolerance is incompatible.
The bigoted Protestant condemns, perhaps without examination, what he calls the absurdities of the Church of Rome, and the bigoted Catholic anathe matizes the Protestant, who refuses obediences to what the other deems the infallible Church. The Calvinist condemns the Arminian, and the Arminian the Calvinist, because they happen to think differently respecting the mysterious plan of redemption, and of the divine decrees. The bigots of every persuasion condemn and persecute one another ; but the enlightened philanthropist
, of whatever denomination he may be, sees in every man a brother, and regards the whole collective mass of mankind as one vast family, the children of one common Father. The bigot breathes nothing but intolerance and persecution against those who happen to have opinions different from himself. But the enlightened and benevolent Christian considers the different nations of mankind as living under different dispensations, and resigns them all into the hands of the Divine Being, who rules and disposes all things as he thinks fit, and in a manner which our feeble reason is not able to comprehend.
They who devote themselves to the study of politics, or who may be called to conduct public affairs, will learn from History the springs of government, their vices and excellencies, their force and weakness. The man of letters and the philosopher will there discern the progress of the human mind, its illusions and wanderings, the relation of causes and effects, the origin of the arts and sciences, their vicissitudes, and their influence on society, and at the same time the horrors which are occasioned by ignorance, superstition, and tyranny.
It is History which assists, far beyond the power of precept, to rescue us from the delusions of self-love and natural partialities. He who has never known any other than his native country, easily persuades himself that the government, the manners, and the prevailing notions of the spot he inhabits, are alone reasonable ; and, indulging this prejudice, he regards with contempt all other nations. It is only by a connected study of History, and by familiarizing himself with the institutions, usages, and habits of different ages and countries, that he will learn to esteem wisdom and virtue, and to search for merit wherever it is to be found. We thus discern that, in those revolutions which have changed the political face of the globe, nothing new has occurred; and we arm ourselves against that blind astonishment which is ever the lot of ignorance and imbecility of mind.
O blest biography! thy charms of yore
HAYLEY. BIOGRAPHY introduces to our acquaintance the illus trious characters of all ages, whose talents, writings, or virtues, have graced the world.
Of history, which is one of the most attractive and delightful of studies, much of the power to charm and instruct is derived, probably from that quality which assimilates it to Biography ;—from the details which it furnishes of the lives of particular men, and from its frequent delineation of individual character. If his tory, then, can delight while it exhibits a distant view of human life, at once obscured by the remoteness of the scene, confused by the multiplicity of objects, and scarcely perceptible from the light and rapid pencil with which its outline is traced; how grateful must be the pleasure imparted by particular Biography, which, placing the object of contemplation at the proper distance for distinct vision, enables the mind to observe its minutest parts, to trace its most delicate features, and to catch the symmetry and beauty of the whole. Great, certainly, are the advantages of this pleasing and popular branch of human knowledge; and perbaps they are yet greater than we generally apprehend. Let him, who wishes to make a just estimate of them, review the tenor of his past life; and let him reflect how often he has been excited to virtue, or deterred from vice,-how often his indolence has been shamed, and his activity animated, and in how many instances he has been impelled to pursuits which have led to wealth or fame, to happiness or to honour,—by reading the account of some of the illustrious dead, who have left an example of virtue, industry, and fortitude.
Biography makes us acquainted with the wonderful varieties of heart and mind in the human species. It shews us by what efforts knowledge and virtue have been attained; it explains to us how frailty and vice have been conquered; it shews by what errors and mistakes happiness have been lost, or neglected ; and how sorrow and disgrace have been incurred. By learning what has been done by others, we may ascertain the extent of our own capacities and talents, and how we may best improve them.
Biography opens to our view the private life and private feelings of the celebrated of every age and
country; and by shewing us how frequently the most illustrious are not the most happy, may serve to check that wildness of ambition which is so apt to agitate the human mind.
Biography may be considered as the most animating and instructive species of composition for persons of all ages, and more particularly for youth: it exhibits models for imitation, or paints the vicious in such colours as may warn and deter. It is, in fact, a kind of history which comes home to every person's feelings; and when there is a just appreciation of the characters of the dead, it has the most powerful effect on the manners of the living.
STUDY OF NATURE.
To me be Nature's volume broad display'd;
It should be the business of the naturalist to study the works of God with a view and an earnest desire to understand his designs respecting them. He should endeavour to learn their utility, both general and particular, rather than to make himself acquainted with their mere external character, their names, or the classes into which they appear naturally separated, though linked. He should regard all created beings as one vast family, united together for some great end; over whom, so far as is practicable or beneficial, as lord of the whole, he should extend the offices of benevolence, rather than the spirit of persecution. In using, applying, or changing natural bodies for his own purposes, he should be careful to fulfil, rather than to counteract, the will of the great Father and
Architect of the universe; so far, at least, as it can be felt or discovered. And, above all, he should seek to know his own duties in the midst of the beautiful creation, which, like a celestial garden, has been spread out for his footsteps, and given to him as an inheritance. If the true lover of Nature attempt these things, he may, indeed, at some future day of emancipation and of bliss, hope to have the veil, which now darkens his vision, removed, and to behold things as they really are:-
Heav'n's King, whose face, unveil'd, consummates bliss;
The man who surveys the vast field of Nature with an eye of true philosophical inquiry, who devotes a portion of his time to the study of the principles which influence or govern the motion of animated beings, however minute they may be, will not only derive infinite pleasure from the pursuit, but he will gain the only means of discovering the object and utility of their creation. And, as he journeys along from one gradation of knowledge to another, he will become more and more intimate with the designs of the Great Creator of all. He will gain a more comprehensive view of that wonderful and illimitable Power which hath organized the universe, for purposes with which, in the fulness of time, the wise and the virtuous will, doubtless, be made acquainted ; not, perhaps, in the present state of existence, lest the splendour and magnitude of the sight should be too much for mortal vision. But knowledge must