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serve me for that turn; I felt the excellence of the practice, I was penetrated with it through all my being, I clung to it, I cherished it, I made a point of everything; I was active, brisk, and animated (oh! how true is that word) in all things that I did, even to the picking up of a glove, or asking the time of day. If I ever felt the approach, the first approach, of the insidious languor, I said once within myself, in the next quarter of an hour I will do such a thing, and, presto, it was done, and much more than that into the bargain: my mind was set in motion, my spirits stirred and quickened, and raised to their proper height. I watched the cloud, and dissipated it at its first gathering, as well knowing that, if it could grow but to the largeness of a man's hand, it would spread out everywhere, and darken my whole horizon.
Oh, that this example might be as profitable to others as the practice has been to myself! How rich would be the reward of this book, if its readers would but take it to heart in this one article; if the simple truths that it here speaks could prompt them to take their happiness into their own hands, and learn the value of industry, not from what they may have heard of it, but because they have themselves tried and felt it! In the first place, its direct and immediate value, inasmuch as it quickens, and cheers, and gladdens every moment that it occupies, and keeps off the evil one by repelling him at the outposts, instead of admitting him to a doubtful, perhaps a deadly struggle, in the citadel; and again its more remote, but no less certain, value, as the mother of many virtues, when it has once grown into the temper of the mind; and the nursing mother of many more. And if we gain so much by its entertainment, how much more must we not lose by its neglect! Our vexations are annoying to us, the disappointments of life are grievous, its calamities deplorable, its indulgences and lusts sinful; but our idleness is worse than all these, and more painful, and more hateful, and, in the amount of its consequences, if not in its very essence, more sinful than even sin itself—just as the stock is more fruitful than any branch that springs from it. In fine, do what you will, only do
something, and that actively and energetically. Read, converse, sport, think, or study-the whole range is open to you-only let your mind be full, and then you will want little or nothing to fulfil your happiness.
Of Improving by Good Examples.
[OWEN FELTHAM was one of the most popular writers of the seventeenth century. In the present day he is well-nigh forgotten. His principal work, the tenth impression of which, dated 1677, a small folio, is before us, is entitled "Resolves." It is a collection of essays, distinguished by acute thought and playful fancy-great knowledge of the world, and genial kindness of heart -sincere piety, and a cheerful temper. Of the personal history of Owen Feltham very little is known. He appears, from his own account, to have possessed a moderate independence, for he says: "I have necessaries, and what is decent, and, when I desire it, something for pleasure." He is supposed to have been born about the last year of the reign of Elizabeth, and to have lived till 1680.]
There is no man, but, for his own interest, hath an obligation to be honest. There may be sometimes temptations to be otherwise; but, all cards cast up, he shall find it the greatest ease, the highest profit, the best pleasure, the most safety, and the noblest fame, to hold the horns of this altar, which, in all assays, can in himself protect him. And though in the march of human life, over the stage of this world, a man shall find presented sometimes examples of thriving vice, and several opportunities to invite him upon a seeming advantage to close with unhandsome practices; yet, every man ought so to improve his progress in what is just and right, as to be able to discern the fraud and feigned pleasureableness of the bad, and to choose and follow what is good and warrantable. If any man shall object that the world is far more bad than good, so that the good man shall be sure to be overpowered by the evil; the case is long since resolved by Antisthenes, that 'tis better with a few good men to fight against
an army of bad, than with swarms and shoals of bad men to have a few good men his enemies. And surely this was it which raised up David to that bravery of spirit which made him profess that though an host were pitched against him, yet should not his heart be afraid. He that is entirely and genuinely honest, is the figure and representation of the Deity, that will draw down a protection upon it against all the injuries of any that shall dare to abuse it. There is a kind of talismanical influence in the soul of such. A more immediate impress of the Divinity is printed on the spirits of these, than all the scattered herd of looser minds are capable of. The rays of heaven do more perpendicularly strike upon the minds of these, whereby they have both assimilation to God, propensity to good, and defence against injury. And it not only obligeth men not to do wrong, but to make amends if wrong be done; and to dispense with benefits to ourselves, if in the least they shall bring detriment to others. So that a man ought not only to restore what is unduly gotten, or unawares let slip by others, but to seek out how we may do right. Thus if I find a treasure, and know not him that lost it, I owe my endeavour to search and find him out, that it may be again restored. It is truly said by St Augustine, “Quoad invenisti et non reddidisti, rapuisti." He steals the thing he finds, that labours not to restore it." If he does not restore it, 'tis enougl that he does not do it, only because he cannot.
And although no man be privileged to swerve from what is honest; yet some men have by much more obligation to be so than others. They have tasted of higher dispensations, been more deterred by judgments, more gained upon by mercies, or are illuminated with more radiant knowledge, whereby they better understand than others wherein to be so. And indeed without knowledge it is impossible to understand wherein to do right. Though the best knowledge a man hath, be a light so dimly burning that it hardly shows him to see clearly all the cobwebs and foul corners in his affairs; yet ignorance is an opacious thing, and if not a total darkness, yet such an eclipse as makes us apt to stumble, and puts us to grope out our way.
And besides all these, there are some that have more reason to be honest than others, as having found dealings from others, that, like fire brought nearer, warms their conscience more; and not only would be evidence and conviction against them if they did wrong, but stirs them up to do right.
And truly I shall not blush to tell my reader, that in the number of these, I look upon myself as concerned. Should I fail of being honest when advantage should be in my hand, I should not only be upbraided, but condemned by two especial passages that happened to myself, which, for the rarity, may beget my pardon that here I set them down to be known. One was:
An unknown porter brings to me, at my lodgings, a box sealed up, and on the outside directed to myself. I inquired from whom he had it; he told me, a gentleman that was a stranger to him, and whose name or residence he knew not, gave it him in the street, and gave him sixpence to deliver it safely; which now he had done, and, having discharged his part, he could give me no further account. I opened the box, where the first thing I met with was a note written in a hand I knew not, without any name subscribed, in these very following words :---
"Mr Owen Feltham,-It was my hap in some dealing with you to wrong you of five pounds, which I do now repay double, humbly intreating you to forgive me that great wrong, and to pray the Lord to forgive me this, and the rest of my sins."
And under this note, folded in another paper in the same box, were ten twenty-shilling pieces in gold. I cannot call to mind that ever I was deceived of such a sum as five pounds in any kind of dealing, nor to this hour can I so much as guess at the person from whom it came. But I believe he did it to disburthen a conscience. And surely, if I knew him, I should return him an esteem suitable to the merit of so pious an action. And since he would not let me know his name to value him as he deserved, I have presumed to recite the thing, that others from the sense of it may learn to be honest, and himself reap the benefit that may happen by so good an example.
This perhaps might be from some one that not only professed
but practised piety and the rules of honest living. And though I could not expect so much should be found among those that pretend not so high in religion; yet to show that even in looser callings, and as well now as in our Saviour's time, some (reckoned among publicans and sinners) may go to heaven before the captious and critical censurist, (if we shall judge by exterior demeanour, as the rule that is given us ;) I shall beg leave to give my reader this second story, which was thus:
Going with some gentlewomen to a play at Salisbury Court, I cast into the woman's box who sat at the door to receive the pay (as I thought) so many shillings as we were persons in number; so we passed away, went in, and sat out the play, returning out the same way. The woman that held the box as we went in was there again as we went out; neither I, nor any of my com pany, knew her, nor she us; but, as she had observed us going in, she addresses me, and says, Sir, do you remember what money you gave me when you went in } Sure (said I) as I take it, I gave you twelve pence apiece for myself, and these of my company. Ay, sir, (replies she,) that you did, and something more, for here is an eleven-shilling piece of gold that you gave me instead of a shilling; and if you please to give me twelve pence for it 'tis as much as I can demand. Here had been, if the woman had been so minded, (though a little) yet a secure prize. But, as many do probably conjecture, that Zaccheus, that made restitution to the shame of the obdurate Jews, was a Gentile as well as a publican; so this, from one of a calling in disrepute, and suspected, may not only instruct the more precise of garb, and form of honesty, but show us that, in any vocation, a man may take occasion to be just and faithful. And let no man wonder, that a person thus dealt withal, and lessoned into his duty by the practice of others to him, joined with his other obligations to goodness, be hereby prevailed upon to a greater care of his own uprightness and integrity, than perhaps without finding these might have been. I will not have the vanity to say these passages have rendered me better; nor am I ashamed to confess, that I have sometimes remembered them with profit. Sure I am, they ought not to lose