Page images
PDF
EPUB

they are able to mark all the spots as well as beauties of everything that is so close to their sight; they presently begin to despise their own times, to exalt the past, to contemn the virtues, and aggravate the vices of their country, not endeavouring to amend them, but by such examples as are now impracticable, by reason of the alteration of men and manners.—Dr T. Fuller.

466. Many monkish writers, who being much retired from the world, having much leisure,

and few books, did spin out every subject into wandering mazes, and airy speculations.----Dr T. Fuller.

467. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unapplicable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed good nourishment in the healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate.John Milton.

468. There is a debt due to those who come after us, and it is the historian's office to punish, though he cannot correct. Where he cannot give patterns to imitate, he must give examples to deter.Letters of Junius.

469.

The historian commands attention, and rewards it, by selecting the more brilliant circumstances of, great events, by unfolding the characteristic qualities of eminent personages, and by tracing wellknown effects through all the obliquities, and all the recesses, of their secret causes.-Dr Parr.

470. From the early occurrences of life, as they

influence the conduct of extraordinary men, the biographer collects such scattered rays as may be concentrated into one bright assemblage of truth upon the character which he has undertaken to delineate.-Dr Parr.

471. If an editor unites a large share of accuracy, even with a moderate portion of erudition; if he collects materials with industry, and uses them with judgment; if he distinguishes between ingenuity and refinement, and separates useful information from ostentatious pedantry, he will have a claim to public favor, though he should not possess the exquisite taste of a Heyne, the profound erudition of a Hemsterhuis, or the keen penetration of a Porson.-Dr Parr.

472. Compilation is a task of far greater difficulty than the production of what is original; though there is no comparison between their intellectual merit or their praise, whatever may be the case as to their respective utility. It is in literature as in life; the most laborious departments are the most necessary, yet often the least appreciated or lucrative.-W. B. Clulow.

473. It is a doubt whether mankind are most indebted to those who, like Bacon and Butler, dig the gold from the mine of literature, or to those who, like Paley, purify it, stamp it, fix its real value, and give it currency and utility. For all the practical purposes of life, truth might as well be in a prison as in the folio of a schoolman, and those who release her from her cobwebbed shelf, and teach her to live with men, have the merit of liberating, if not of discovering her.--Lacon.

474. The extremes of human knowledge may be con

sidered as founded, on the one hand, purely upon reason, and on the other, purely on sense. Now, a very large portion of our knowledge, and what in fact may be considered as the most important part of it, lies between these two extremes, and results from a union or mixture of them, that is to say, consists of the application of rational principles to the phænomena presented by the objects of nature.Dr Prout.

475. Perfect proof requires perfect comprehension; what we can only partially comprehend, we can only have partial proof of; because the full proof must be adequate to the thing which is to be proved, so that both will be incomprehensible by us : but if the proof of a thing in itself incomprehensible by us, rises as high as our comprehension can reach, we ought to attribute the deficiency of proof that may be necessary for our perfect conviction, not to the defect of probability (capability of being proved) in the thing itself

, but to our own incompetency to receive the full proof of it. To defective intelligence, then, proof proportionately defective will be sufficient to make a thing probable ; that is, such as may be proved.—W. Danby.

476. The strongest arguments on any subject will be of no avail, unless there is some disposition in the mind to receive them: so much are our feelings concerned in our opinions.—W. Danby.

477. Conclusions from partial reasoning often, perhaps always, make more difficulties than they remove. -W. Danby.

478. The evidence of others is not comparable to personal experience: nor is, “I heard,” so good as " I saw.”Chinese Maxim.

[ocr errors]

of many.

479. We are often inclined to ascribe an effect to one cause, when it may be owing to a combination

In reasoning thus we may often lose ground instead of gaining it.-W. Danby.

480. Testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow, the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it: argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has great force though shot by a child.-Bacon.

481. He that gives reason for what he saith, has done what is fit to be done, and the most that can be done: he that gives not reason, speaks nothing, though he saith never so much. - Dr Whichcote.

482. I can hardly believe that a person who is unfair in argumentation will be honest in practical affairs, under circumstances of temptation. If it were not that ignorance, like age, has its privileges, and can play strange tricks, and that man, instead of being defined a thinking animal, might more properly be termed an unthinking one, it would be difficult to avoid the suspicion that the way in which some argue implies, as it assuredly tends to produce, an utter corruption of moral principle. There is nothing in a course of dissipation, or religious negligence, that so blunts all perception of right and wrong, as the bigotry which will not open its eyes to evidence, and the sophistry that defends what reason has pronounced untenable.-W. B. Clulow,

483. He that makes a question where there is no doubt, must take an answer where there is no

reason.

484. Be always so precisely true in whatsoever thou

relatest of thy own knowledge that thou mayest get an undoubted and settled reputation of veracity; and thou wilt have this advantage, that every body will believe (without further proof) whatsoever thou affirmest be it never so strange.- Dr T. Fuller.

485.

Let us be assured of the matter of fact, before we trouble ourselves with enquiring into the cause. It is true, that this method is too slow and dull for the greatest part of mankind, who run naturally to the cause, and pass over the truth of the matter of fact; but for my part, I will not be so ridiculous as to find out a cause for what is not.—Dr T. Fuller.

486. One plain positive proof is a better reason to believe anything, than a hundred objections against it are, not believe it; because since it is confessed on all hands, that our knowledge is very imperfect, it is no reason to disbelieve what we do know, and what we are as certain of as we can be of anything, because there are some things relating to the same subject, which we do not know: and therefore unless the objection be as positive and evident as the proof is, we may very reasonably acknowledge, that there are some difficulties, which we do not understand, and yet may very reasonably believe on as we did. Dr T. Fuller.

487. Oceans of ink, and reams of paper, and disputes infinite might have been spared, if wranglers had avoided lighting the torch of strife at the wrong end; since a tenth part of the pains expended in attempting to prove the why, the where, and the when, certain events have happened, would have been more than sufficient to prove that they never happened at all.-Lacon.

« PreviousContinue »