Abbildungen der Seite


3. One day when he was a child he heard his grandfa ther fetch a deep figh; and going up to him with much reverence, may I prefume," says he, "without losing the refpect I owe you, to inquire into the occafion of your grief? Perhaps you fear that your pofterity fhould degen. erate from your virtue, and difhonour you by their vices."

4. What put this thought into your head, fays his grandfather to him; and where have you learnt to speak in this manner? "From yourself," replied Confucius. “I attend diligently to you every time you speak; and I have often heard you say, that a fon, who does not by his own virtue fupport the glory of his ancestors, and imitate the virtues of his parents, does not deferve to bear their name "

5. At the age of twenty three, when he had gained confiderable knowledge of antiquity, and acquainted him. felf with the laws and cuftoms of his country, he began to proje a scheme for a general reformation; for then all the little kingdoms depended upon the Emperor; but it often happened that the imperial authority was not able to keep them within the bounds of their duty, each of the kings being mafter of his dominions.

6. Confucius, wifely perfuaded that the people could never be happy, fo long as avarice, ambition, voluptuous. nefs, and falfe policy fhould reign in this manner, refolv ed to preach up fevere morality; and accordingly he be gan to enforce temperance, justice, and other virtues, to infpire a contempt of riches and outward pomp, to excite to magnanimity and a greatness of foul, which fhould make men incapable of diffimulation and infincerity.


7. He used every mean he could devife, to redeem his countrymen from a life of pleasure, to a life of reafon. He was every where known, and as much beloved. His extreme knowledge, and great wisdom, foon made him known his integrity, and the splendour of his virtues, made him beloved. Kings were governed by his wisdom, and the people reverenced him as a faint. He in. culcated fidelity and candour among the men, exhorted the women to chastity and fimplicity of manners. By fuch methods he wrought a general reformation, and ef tablished every where fuch concord and humanity, that the whole kingdom feemed as if it were but one great family.

8. Thus the people, regulated by the wise maxims and precepts of Confucius, enjoyed general happiness, till at length, the jealousy of the neighbouring kings was excited. They were convinced that a king, under the counfels o fuch a man as Confucius, would foon become too power-f ful. Confucius had the misfortune to live in times, when rebellion, wars, and tumults raged throughout the empire.

9. Some philofophers among his contemporaries were fo affected with the terrible state of things, that they had rufticated themselves into the mountains and deferts, as the only places where happiness could be found; and would have perfuaded Confucius to follow them. "But I am a man," fays Confucius," and cannot exclude myfelf from the fociety of men, and confort with beafts. - Bad as the times are, I fhould do all that I can to recall men to virtue; for in virtue are all things, and if mankind would but once embrace it, and fubmit themselves to its difcipline and laws, they would not want me, nor any body elfe to inftruct them.

10. "It is the duty of a good man, firft to perfect himfelf, and then to perfect others. Human nature came to us from heaven pure and perfect; but in procefs of time, ignorance, the paffions, and evil examples, have corrupted it. All depends on reftoring it to its primitive beauty; and to be perfect, we must re-afcend to that point, from whence we have fallen.

11. "Obey Heaven, and follow the orders of him who governs it. Love your neighbor as yourself. yourself. Let your reafon, and not your fenfes, be the rule of your conduct; for reafon, will teach you to think wifely, to fpeak pru. dently, and to behave yourself worthily on all occafions." Confucius feems rather to speak like a doctor of a revealed law, than like a man who had no light, but what the law of nature afforded him; and a proof of his fincerity is, that he taught as forcibly by his example as by precept.

12. In fhort his gravity and fobriety, his rigorous abftinence, his contempt of riches, and what are commonly called the goods of this life, his continual attention and watchfulness over his actions, and above all, that modesty and humility, which are not to be found among the fages of Greece; all these would tempt one to believe, that he


[ocr errors]

was not a mere philofopher formed by reafon only; but a man infpired by God for the reformation of the world. 13. A few days before his illness, he told his difciples with tears in his eyes, that he was overcome with griefat the fight of the diforders, which prevailed in the empire. "The mountain," faid he, "is fallen; the high machine is demolished, and the fages are all fled." His meaning was, that the edifice of perfection, which he had endeavored to raise, was entirely overthrown. "The king," faid he," reject my maxims; and fince I am no longer ufeful on the earth, I may as well leave it.”




all human duties, none have a

claim to our attention than filial affection ; for next to our Maker, our parents are entitled to our venera. tion, gratitude and effeem. Yet with all these claims upon their children's affection, how often has the unhap py parent the mifery of finding pertness substituted in the place of humility, arrogance in that of dependence, and indifference in that of duty! and instead of their children's fubmitting with docility to the experience of age, behold them vain through ignorance and presumptuous through folly!

2. It unfortunately happens, that the age which stands in most need of advice, fhould be the most prone to reject it. In China, fo great is the veneration and refpect in which the parental character is held, that an instance of its authority being difputed, is abfolutely unknown. The vir tue of filial tenderness is fo ftrongly exemplified in the following inftance, that one need only read it, to catch the virtuous fentiment, and imitate the pious example.

3. A Roman lady of tank was accused of a crime against the state, for which fhe was tried, and condemned to fuffer death. The keeper of the prifon, who was or dered to be her executioner, not only felt a great degree or repugnance to the office, but was abfolutely incapable of performing it; yet, aware that his own life depended upon the discharge of his duty, he dared not attempt preCerving her exiftence. Thus circumstanced, the crus

idea, which had compaffion for its foundation, occurred, of letting her remain without fuftenance, knowing that the must then die from want, and that he should escape the pain of becoming her executioner.

4. A man in that fituation, who could fhrink from the discharge of his duty from motives of humanity, it is natural to fuppofe, might easily be fubdued by tenderness, and overcome by perfuafion. It is no wonder that he yielded to the entreaties of the daughter, and permitted her to visit her unhappy mother; though he was under the neceffity of fearching her to prevent her being the conweyer of any kind of nourishment.

5. Several days elapfed without any ftriking alteration in the unfortunate mother's appearance. This circumftance called forth the keeper's astonishment fo much, that he began to imagine the daughter had contrived fome means of eluding his rigilance, therefore refolved to watch them when the daily meeting took place.

6. He did fo, and beheld a fight that called forth his pity and admiration. An affectionate daughter was prefented to his view, lengthening out her parent's existence, by that nourishment nature had given for the fupport of her own offspring, and endeavouring to avert the decrees of justice, by the nutritious qualities of the milk of tendernefs!

7. The humane keeper inftantly flew to her judges, defcribed the interesting scene he had beheld, and had the happiness of procuring a pardon for the unfortunate mother. The Senate were fo ftruck with this inftance of amiable tenderness, that they ordered a temple to be erected to filial piety, on the fpot where the prifon ftood, and both mother and daughter to be maintained at the public expense.




ability. Their chief use for delight is in privatenefs and retirement; for ornament, is in difcourfe; and for ability, is in the judgment, and difpofition of bulinefs. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particu lars, one by one; but the general counfels, and plots, and

marshalling of affairs, come beft from those who are learned.

2. To spend too much time in ftudies is floth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of a fcholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experi ence; for natural abilities are like natural plants, which need pruning by study; and ftudies themfelves give forth directions too much at large, except they be limited by experience. Crafty men contemn ftudies, fimple men admire them, and wife men use them; for they teach not their own ufe; but that is a wifdom won by obferation.

3. Read not to contradict and refute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and difcourfe, but to weigh and confider. Some books are to be tasted 95 others to be fwallowed; and fome few are to be chewed and digested; that is, fome books are to be read only in part; others to be read, but not curiously; and fome few to read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

4. Some books alfo may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that fhould be in the lefs important arguments, and the meaner fort of books; elfe diftilled books are like common ditilled watets, flashy things. Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.


GEN WASHINGTON'S LETTER TO PRESIDENT ADAMS, On his Appointment to the office of Commander in Chief of all the Armies of the United States.

Mount Vernon, 13th July, 1798.

HAD the honour, on the evening of the 11th inftant, to receive from the hand of the Secretary of War, your favour of the 7th, announcing that you had, with the advice and confent of the Senate, appointed me "Lieutenant-General and Commander in Chief of all the armies raifed, or to be raised, for the fervice of the United States."




2 I cannot exprefs how greatly affected I am at this new proof of public confidence, and the highly flattering

« ZurückWeiter »