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each of which are essential to it. Hence, by obstacles unavoidable , it may often be retarded : nay more, may be so embarrassed, as never possibly to be attained. But in the moral art of life, the very conduct is the End; the very conduet, I say, itself, throughout its every minutest energy ; because each of these, however minute, partake as truly of rectitude, as the largest combinations of them, when considered collectively. Hence of all arts this is the only one perpetually complete in every instant, because it needs not , like ofher arts, time to arrive at that perfection, at which in every instant it is arrived already. Hence by duration, it is not rendered either more or less perfect; completion, like truth, admitting of no degrees, and being in no sense capable of either intension or remission. And hence too by necessary connection (which is a greater paradox than all ) even that Happiness or Sovereign Good, the end of this moral art, is itself too, in every instant, consummate and compleat ; is neither heightened nor diminished by the quantity of its duration, but is the same to its enjoyers, for a moment or a century.
Upon this I smiled. He asked me the reason. It is only to observe, said I, the course of our enquiries. A new hypothesis has been advarced : appearing somewhat strange, it is desired to be explained. You comply with the request, and in pursuit of the explanation, make it ten times more obscure and intelligible, than before. It is but too often the fate, said he, of us commentators. But
know in such cases what is usually done. When the comment will not explain the text, we try whether the text will not explain itself. This method, it is possible, may assist us here. The hypothesis which we would have illustrated, was no more than this : That the Sovereign Good lay in Rectitude of Conduct; and that this Good corresponded to all our pre-conceptions. Let us examine then , whether, upon trial, this correspondence will appear to hold ; and, for all that we have advanced since , suffer it to pass, and not "perplex us. Agreed , said I, willingly, for now I hope to comprehend you.
Recollect then, said he. Do you not remember that one pre-conception of the Sovereign Good, was to be accommodated to all times and places? I remember it. And is there any time, or any place, whence Rectitude of Conduct may be excluded? Is there not a right action in prosperity, a right action in adversity ? May there not be a decent, generous ,
and laudable behaviour, not only in peace,
power, and in health ; but in war, in oppression, sickness, and in death? There may.
And what shall we say to those other preconceptions ; to being durable, self-derived, and indeprivable ? Can there be any Good so durable, as the power of always doing right ? Is there any Good conceivable, so entirely beyond the power of others ? Or, if you hesitate, and are doubtful, I would willingly be informed, into what circumstances may fortune throw & brave and honest man, where it-shall not be in his power to act bravely and honestly : If there be no such, then Rectitude of Conduct, if a Good, is a Good indeprivable. I confess, said I, it appears so.
But farther, said he: Another pre-conception of the Sovereign Good was, to be agreeable to nature. It was. And can any thing be more agreeable to a rational and social animal, thai rational and social conduct ? Nothing. But Rectitude of Conduct is with us Rational and Social Conduct. It is.
Once more, contimued he; Another preconception of this Good was, to be conducive not to mere being, but to well-being. Admit it. And can any thing, believe you, conduce so probably to the well-being of a rational, social animal, as the right exercise of that reason, and of those social affections ! Nothing. And what is the same exercise, but the highest Rectitude of Conduct ? Certainly.
HARRIS. CHA P. III.
On Criticism. --AND
ND how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night ? Oh, against all rule, my lord, most ungrammatically! betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case and gender, he made a breach thus, -- stopping as if the point wanted settling;
and betwixt the nominative case, which your lordship knows should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times three seconds and three fifths by a stop-watch my lord, each time. --Admirable grammarian! But in suspending his voice
was the sense suspended likewise ? did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm ? Was the eye silent ? Did you narrowly look ? I look'd only at the stop-watch, my lord. Excellent observer.
And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about ? Oh ! 'tis out of all plumb, my lord ,--quite an irregular thing ! not
one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle. I had my rule and compasses , etc. my lord , in my pocket.--Excellent critic !
And for the epic poem your lordship bid me look at ; -- upon taking the length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu's-'tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions. Admirable connoisseur !
--And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture in your way back ? 'Tis a melancholy daub ! my lord ; not one principle of the pyramid in any one group !--And what a price !--for there is nothing of the colouring of Titian--the expression of Rubens; the grace of Raphael ; the purity of Dominichino ; the corregiescity of Corregio; the learning of Poussin; the airs of Guido; the taste of the Carrachi's ; or the grand contour of Angelo.
Grant me patience, just Heaven ! -- Of an the cants which are canted in this canting world--though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst--the cant of criticism is the most tormenting
I would go fifty miles on foot, to kiss the hand of that man, whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his author's hands--be pleased he knows not why, and cares not wherefore.
CHA P. I V.
HEN Tom, an' please your honour, got to the shop, there was nobody in it, but a my uncle
poor negro girl, with a bunch of white feathers slightly tied to the end of a long cane, flapping away flies--not killing them.--"Tis a pretty picture ! said my uncle Toby--she had suffered persecution, Trim, and had learnt mercy-
She was good, an' please your honour from nature as well as from hardships ; and there are circumstances in the story of that poor friendless slut that would melt a heart of stone , said Trim ; and some dismal winter's evening, when your honour is in the humour, they shall be told you with the rest of Tom's story, for it makes a part of it-Then do not forget, Trim,
A negro has a soul, an' please your honour; said the corporal ( doubtingly. )
I am not much versed , corporal, quo!h my uncle Toby, in things of that kind; but I suppose, God would not leave him without one, any more than thee or me.-
--It would be putting one sadly over the head of another, quoth the corporal.
It would so; said my uncle Tohy. TVhy then, an' please your honour, is a black wench to be used worse than a white one ?
I can give no reason, said my uncle Toby--
cried the corporal, shaking his head, because she has no one to stand up for her.
'Tis that very thing, Trim , quoth my uncle Toby, which recommends her to protection, and her brethren with her ; 'tis the fortune of war which has put the whip into our hands now--where it may be hereafler, Heaven knows ! but be it where it will, the brave, Trim, will not use it unkindly.
--God forbid, said the corporal.