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Well did a wiser than the “wisest heart” bid us try and continue children. But there are foolish as well as wise children, and it is a special mark of the former, whether little or grown, to affect manhood, and to confound it with cunning and violence.—Do men die, in order that life and its freshness may be as often and as multitudinously renewed as possible? Or do children grow old, that our consciousness may attain to some better mode of being through a rough path? Superstition answers only to perplex us, and make us partial. Nature answers nothing. But Nature's calm and resolute silence tells us at once to hope for the future, and to do our best to enjoy the present. What if it is the aim of her workmanship to produce self-moving instruments, that may carry forward their own good ? “A modest thought,” you will say. Yet it is more allied to some doctrines celebrated for their humility than you may suppose. Vanity, in speculations earnest and affectionate, is a charge to be made only by vanity. What has it to do with them ?

ENDEAVOUR. Either this world (to use the style of Marcus Antoninus) is meant to be what it is, or it is not. If it is not, then our endeavours to render it otherwise are right : if it is, then we must be as we are, and seek excitement through the same means, and our endeavours are still right. In either case, endeavour is good and useful; but in one of them, the want of it must be a mistake.

GOOD AND EVIL. Nature is justified (to speak humanly) in the ordinary state of the world, granting it is never to be made better, because the sum of good upon the whole is greater than that of evil, For in the list of goods we are not only to rank all the more obvious pleasures which we agree to call such, but much that is ranked under the head of mere excitement, taking hope for the ground of it, and action for the means. But we have no right, on that account, to abstain from endeavouring to better the condition

of our species, were it only for the sake of individual suffering. Nature, who is infinite, has a right to act in the gross. Nothing but an infinite suffering should make her stop; and that should make her stop, were the individual who infinitely suffered the only inhabitant of his hell. Heaven and Earth should petition to be abolished, rather than that one such monstrosity should exist : it is the absurdest as well as most impious of all the dr ms of fear. To suppose that a Divine Being can sym: pathise with our happiness, is to suppose that he can sympathise with our misery; but to suppose that he can sympathise with misery, and yet suffer infinite misery to exist, rather than put an end to misery and happiness together, is to contradict his sympathy with happiness, and to make him prefer a positive evil to a negative one, the existence of torment to the cessation of feeling. As Nature, therefore, if considered at all, must be considered as regulated in her operation, though infinite, we must look to fugitive suffering as Nature must guard against permanent : she carves out our work for us in the gross; we must attend to it in the detail. To leave everything to her, would be to settle into another mode of existence, or stagnate into death. If it be said that she will take care of us at all events, we answer, first, that she does not do so in the ordinary details of life,-neither earns our food for us, nor washes our bodies, nor writes our books; secondly, that of things usefullooking and uncertain, she incites us to know the profit and probability; and thirdly (as we have hinted in a previous observation), that, not knowing how far we may carry on the impulse of improvement, towards which she has given us a bias, it becomes us on every ground, both of ignorance and wisdom, to try.

DEGRADING IDEAS OF DEITY. The superstitious, in their contradictory representations of God, call him virtuous and benevolent out of the same passion of fear as induces them to make him such a tyrant. They think


they shall be damned if they do not believe him the tyrant he is described: they think they shall be damned also if they do not gratuitously ascribe to him the virtues incompatible with damnation. Being so unworthy of praise, they think he will be particularly angry at not being praised. They shudder to think themselves better, and hasten to make amends for it by declaring themselves as worthless as he is worthy.

GREAT DISTINCTION TO BE MADE IN BIGOTS. There are two sorts of religious bigots, the unhealthy and the unfeeling. The fear of the former is mixed with humanity, and they never succeed in thinking themselves favourites of God; but their sense of security is embittered by aversions which they dare not own to themselves, and terror for the fate of those who are not so lucky. The unfeeling bigot is a mere unimaginative animal, whose thoughts are confined to the snugness of his own kennel, and who would have a good one in the next world as well as in this. He secures a place in heaven as he does in the Manchester coach or a Margate hoy. Never mind who suffers outside, woman or child. We once found ourselves by accident on board a hoy which professed to “sail by Divine Providence.” Walking about the deck at night to get rid of the chilliness which would occasionally visit our devotions to the starry heavens and the sparkling sea, our foot came in contact with something white, which was lying gathered up in a heap. Upon stooping down, we found it to be a woman. The Method ists had secured all the beds below, and were not to be disturbed.

SUPERSTITION THE FLATTERER OF REASON. We are far from thinking that reason can settle everything, We no more think so than that our eyesight can see into all existence. But it does not follow, on that acco

ccount, that we are to take for granted the extremest contradictions of reason. Why should we? We do not even think well enough of reason to do so.

For here is one of the secrets of superstition. It is

so angry at reason for not being able to settle everything, that it runs in despair into the arms of irrationality.


“God Almighty !
There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distil it out!"

So, with equal wisdom and good-nature, does Shakspeare make one of his characters exclaim. Suffering gives strength to sympathy. Hate of the particular may have a foundation in love for the general. The lowest and most wilful vice may plunge deeper, out of a regret of virtue. Even in envy may be discerned something of an instinct of justice, something of a wish to see universal fair play, and things on a level.--" But there is still a residuum of evil, of which we should all wish. to get rid.”—Well then, let us try.

ARTIFICE OF EXAGGERATED COMPLAINT, Disappointment likes to make out bad to be worse than it is, in order to relieve the gnawing of its actual wound. It would confuse the limits of its pain ; and, by extending it too far, try to make itself uncertain how far it reached.


Custom is seen more in what we bear than what we enjoy: And yet a pain long borne so fits itself to our shoulders that we do not miss even that without disquietude. The novelty of the sensation startles us. Montaigne, like our modern beaux, was uneasy when he did not feel himself well braced up and tightened in his clothing. Prisoners have been known to wish to go back to their prisons; invalids have missed the accompaniment of an old gunshot wound; and the world is apt to be very angry with reformers and innovators, not because it is in the right, but because it is accustomed to be in the wrong. This is a good thing, and shows the indestructible tendency of

nature to forego its troubles. But then reformers and innovators must arise, upon that very ground. To quarrel with them upon a principle of avowed spleen, is candid, and has a self-knowledge in it. But to resent them as impertinent or effeminate, is at bottom to quarrel with the principle of one's own patience, and to set the fear of moving above the courage of it.


It has been well observed, that advice is not disliked because it is advice, but because so few people know how to give it. Yet there are people vain enough to hate it in proportion to its very agreeableness.

HAPPINESS, HOW WE FOREGO IT. By the same reason for which we call this earth a Vale of Tears, we might call heaven when we got there a Hill of Sighs : for, upon the principle of an endless progression of beatitude, we might find a still better heaven promised us, and this would be enough to make us dissatisfied with the one in possession. Suppose that we have previously existed in the planet Mars; that there are no fields and trees there, and that we nevertheless could imagine them, and were in the habit of anticipating their delight in the next world. Suppose that there was no such thing there as a stream of air, as a wind fanning one's face for a whole summer's day. What a romantic thing to fancy! What a beatitude to anticipate! Suppose, above all, that there was no such thing as love. Words would be lost in anticipating that. “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” &c. Yet when we got to this heaven of green fields and fresh airs, we might take little notice of either, for want of something more ; and even love we might contrive to spoil pretty odiously.

[NOTE. ---This essay was one of Lamb's favourites, together with those on the “ Deaths of Little Children” and “Coaches.”—E. O.]

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