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who has seen the right way should voluntarily shut bis eyes,

that he may quit it with more tranquillity. Yet all these absurdities are every hour to be found; the wisest and best men deviate from known and acknowledged duties, by inadvertency or surprise ; and most are good no longer than while temptation is away, than while their passions are without excitements, and their opinions are free from the counteraction of

any other motive. Among the sentiments which almost every man changes as he advances into years, is the expectation of uniformity of character. He that without acquaintance with the power of desire, the cogency of distress, the complications of affairs, or the force of partial influence, has filled his mind with the excellence of virtue, and, having never tried his resolution in any encounters with hope or fear, believes it able to stand firin whatever shall oppose it, will be always clamorous against the smallest failure, ready to exact the utmost punctualities of right, and to consider every man that fails in any part of his duty, as without conscience and without merit; unworthy of trust or love, of pity or regard; as an enemy whom all should join to drive out of society, as a pest which all should avoid, or as a weed which all should trample.

It is not but by experience, that we are taught the possibility of retaining some virtues, and rejecting others, or of being good or bad to a particular degree. For it is very easy to the solitary reasoner, to prove that the same arguments by which the mind is fortified against one crime are of equal force against all, and the consequence very naturally follows, that he whom they fail to inove on any occasion, has either never considered them, or has by some fallacy taught himself to evade their validity; and that, therefore, when a man is known to be guilty of one crime, no farther evidence is needful of his depravity and corruption.


Yet, such is the state of all mortal virtue, that it is always uncertain and variable, sometiines extending to the whole compass of duty, and sometimes shrinking into a narrow space, and fortifying only a few avenues of the heart, while all the rest is left open to the incursions of appetite, or given up to the dominion of wickedness. Nothing therefore is more unjust than to judge of man by too short an acquaintance, and too slight inspection; for it often happens that, in the loose, and thoughtless, and dissipated, there is a secret radical worth, which may shoot out by proper cultivation ; that the spark of heaven, though dimmed and obstructed, is yet not extinguished, but may, by the breath of counsel and exhortation, be kindled into flame.

To imagine that everyone who is not completely good is irrecoverably abandoned, is to suppose that all are capable of the saine degrees of excellence; it is indeed to exact from all that perfection which none ever can attain. And since the purest virtue is consistent with so'me vice, and the virtue of the greatest number with almost an equal proportion of contrary qualities, let none too hastily conclude, that all goodness is lost, though it may for a time be clouded and overwhelmed; for most


minds are the slaves of external circumstances, and conforın to any hand that undertakes to mould them, roll down any torrent of custom in which they happent to be caught,' or bend to any importunity that bears hard against them.

It may bo particularly observed of women, that they are for the most part good or bad, as they fall among those who practise vice or virtue; and that neither education nor reason gives them much security against the influence of example. Whether it be that they have less courage to stand against opposition, or that their desire of admiration makes them sacrifice their principles to the poor pleasure of worthless praise, it is certain, whatever be the cause, that female goodness seldom keeps its ground against laughter, flattery, or fashion.

For this reason, every one should consider him-, self as entrusted, not only with his own conduct, but with that of others; and as accountable, not only for the duties which he neglects, ar the crimes that he commits, but for that negligence and irregularity which he may encourage or inculcate. Every man, in whatever station, has, or endeavours to have, bis followers, admirers, and imita tors, and has' therefore the influence of his example to watch with care; he ought to avoid not only crimes, but the appearance of crimes, and not only to practise virtue, but to applaud, countenance, and support it. For it is possible that for want of attention, we may teach others faults from which ourselves are free, or, by a cowardly desertion of a


cause which we ourselves approve, may pervert those who fix their eyes upon us, and, having no rulc of their own to guide their course, are easily misled by the aberrations of that example which they chuse for their direction.


London: Frinted by Lake Hansard & Sons,

's-Inn Fields

near Lin

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