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ployed myself, I cannot help observing, how those about me suffer themselves to be blinded by prejudice and inclination, how readily they pronounce on every man's character, which they can give in two words, and make him either good for nothing, or qualified for every thing. On the contrary, those who search thoroughly into human nature, will find it more difficult to determine the value of their fellowcreatures, and that men's characters are not thus to be given in general words. There is indeed no such a thing as a person entirely good or bad; virtue and vice are blended and mixed together, in a greater or less proportion, in every one; and if you would search for some particular good quality in its most eminent degree of perfection, you will often find it in a mind, where it is darkened and eclipsed by an hundred other irregular passions.
Men have either no character at all, says a celebrated author, or it is that of being inconsistent with themselves. They find it easier to join extremities, than to be uniform and of a piece. This is finely illustrated in Xenophon's life of Cyrus the Great. That author tells us, that Cyrus having taken a most beautiful lady named Panthea, the wife of Abradatus, committed her to the custody of Araspus, a young Persian nobleman who had a little before maintained a discourse, that a mind truly virtuous was incapable of entertaining an unlawful passion. The young gentleman had not long been in possession of his fair captive, when a complaint was made to Cyrus, that he not only solicited the lady Panthea to receive him in the room of her absent husband, but that finding his entreaties had no effect, he was preparing to make use of force. Cyrus, who loved the young man, immediately sent for him, and in a gentle manner representing to him his fault, and putting him in mind of his former assertion, the unhappy youth, confounded with a quick sense of his guilt and shame, burst out into a flood of tears, and spoke as follows.
"Oh Cyrus, I am convinced that I have two souls. Love has taught me this piece of philosophy. If I had but one soul, it could not at the same time pant after virtue and vice, wish and abhor the same thing. It is certain therefore we have two souls: when the good soul rules, I undertake noble and virtuous actions; but when the bad soul predominates, I am forced to do evil. All I can say at present is, that I find my good soul, encouraged by your presence, has got the better of my bad."
I know not whether my readers will allow of this piece of philosophy; but if they will not, they must confess we meet with as different passions in one and the same soul as can be supposed in two. We can hardly read the life of a great man who lived in former ages, or converse with any who is eminent among our contemporaries, that is not an instance of what I am saying.
But as I have hitherto only argued against the partiality and injustice of giving our judgment upon men in gross, who are such a compositon of virtues and vices, of good and evil. I might carry this reflection still further, and make it extend to most of their actions. If on the one hand we fairly weighed every circumstance, we should frequently find them obliged to do that action we at first sight condemn, in order to avoid another we should have been much more displeased with. If on the other hand we nicely examine such actions as appear most dazzling to the eye we should find mostx>f them either deficient and lame in several parts, produced by a bad ambition, or directed to an ill end. The very same action may sometimes be so oddly circumstanced, that it is difficult to determine whether it ought to be rewarded or punished. Those who compiled the laws of England were so sensible' of this, that they have laid it down as one of their first maxims, 'It is better suffering a mischief than an inconvenience,' which is as much as to say in other words, that since no law can take in or provide for all cases, it is better private men should have some injustice done to them, than that a public grievance should not be redressed. This is usually pleaded in defence of all those hardships which fall on particular persons in particular occasions, which could not be foreseen when a law was made. To remedy this, however, as much as possible, the court of chancery was erected, which frequently mitigates, and breaks the teeth of the common law, in case of men's properties, while in criminal cases, there is a power of pardoning still lodged in the crown.
Notwithstanding this, it is perhaps impossible in a large government to distribute rewards and punishments strictly proportioned to the merits of every action. The Spartan commonwealth was indeed wonderfully exact in this particular; and I do not remember in all my reading to have met with so nice an example of justice as that recorded by Plutarch, with which I shall close my paper for this day.
The city of Sparta being unexpectedly attacked by a powerful army of Thebans, was in very great danger of falling into the hands of their enemies. The citizens suddenly gathering themselves into a body, fought with a resolution equal to the necessity of their affairs, yet no one so remarkably distinguished himself on this occasion, to the amazement of both armies, as Isadcs the son of Phcebidas, who was at that time in the bloom of his youth, and very remarkable for the comeliness of his person. He was coming out .of the bath when the alarm was given, so that he had not time to put on his clothes, much less his armour; however, transported with a desire to serve his country in so great an exigency, snatching up a spear in one hand and a sword in the other, he flung himself into the thickest ranks of his enemies. Nothing could withstand his fury: in -what part soever he fought he put the enemies to flight without receiving a single wound. Whether, says Plutarch, he was the particular care of some god, who rewarded his valour that day with an extraordinary protection, or that his enemies, struck with the unusualness of his dress and beauty of his shape, supposed him something more than man, I shall not determine.
The gallantry of this action was judged so great by the Spartans, that the Ephori, or chief magistrates, decreed he should be presented with a garland; but as soon as they had done so, fined him a thousand drachmas for going out to the battle unarmed.
No. DLXV. FRIDAY, JULY 9.
Deum namque ire per omnes
Terrasque, tractusque maris, caelumque profundum. Virg.
For God the whole created mass inspires;
Thro' heav'n, and earth, and ocean's depths he throws
His influence round, and kindles as he goes. Dryden.
I WAS yesterday about sun-set walking in the open fields, till the night insensibly fell upon me. I at first amused myself with all the richness and variety of colours which appeared in the western parts of heaven: in proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another, till the whole firmament was in a glow. The blueness of the &ther was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, and by the rays of all those luminaries that passed through it. The galaxy appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose at length in that clouded majesty which Milton takes notice of, and opened to the eye a new picture of nature, which was more finely shaded, and disposed among softer lights, than that which the sun had before discovered to us.
As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the constellations, a thought rose in me which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures. David himself fell into it in that reflection, ' When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou regardest him '.' In the same manner when I consider that infinite host of stars, or to speak more philoscphically, of suns, which were then shining upon me, with those innumerable sets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective suns; when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds rising still above this which we discovered, and these still enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us; in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works.
Were the sun, which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds that move about him utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be missed more than a grain of sand upon the sea-shore. The space they possess is so exceedingly little, in comparison of the whole, that it would scarce make a blank in the creation. The chasm would be imperceptible to an eye, that could take in the whole compass of nature, and pass from one end of the creation to the other; as it is possible | there may be such a sense in ourselves hereafter, or