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Out of these inconveniences arises naturally one more, which is that no greatness can be satisfied or contented with itself: still if it could mount up a little higher, it would be happy; if it could gain but that point, it would obtain all its desires; but yet at last, when it reaches the very top of the pic of Teneriff, it is in very great danger of breaking its neck downwards, but in no possibility of ascending upwards into the seat of tranquillity above the moon. The first ambitious men in the world, the old giants, are said to have made an heroical attempt of scaling heaven in despight of the Gods; and they cast Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa; two or three mountains more, they thought, would have done their business, but the thunder spoilt all the work, when they had mounted to the third story.
“ And what a noble plot was crost ;
« And what a brave design was lost ?!" A famous person of their offspring, the late giant * of our nation, when from the condition of a very inconsiderable captain, he had made himself lieutenant general of an army of little Titans, which was his first mountain, and afterwards general, which was his second, and after that absolute tyrant of three kingdoms, which was the third, and almost touched the heaven which he affected, is believed to have died with grief and discontent
because he could not attain to the honest name of a king, and the old formality of a crown, though he had before exceeded the power by a wicked usurpation. If he could have compassed that, he would perhaps have wanted something else that is necessary to felicity, and pined away for want of the title of an emperor or a god.
The reason of this is, that greatness has no reality in nature, but is a creature of the fancy, a nution that consists only in relation and comparison: it is indeed an idol, but St. Paul teaches us that an idol is nothing in the world. There is in truth, no rising or meridian of the sun, but only in respect to several places; there is no right or left, no upper hand in nature, every thing is little and every thing is great, according as it is diversiy compared. There may be perhaps some village in Scotland or Ireland where I might be a great man; and in that case I should be like Cæsar, (you wonder how Cæsar and I should be like one another in any thing) and chuse rather to be the first man of the village than second at Rome.
Our country is called Great Britain, in regard only to a lesser of the same name, it would be but a ridiculous epithet for it when we compare it with the kingdom of China. That too is but a pitiful rood of ground in comparison of the whole earth besides; and this whole globe of earth, which we account so immense a body, is but one point or atom in relation to those numberless worlds that are scattered up and down in the infinite
space of the sky which we behold.
I shall end this essay with an ode of Horace, not exactly copied, but rudely imitated.
HORACE. LIB. III. ODE I.
Odi profanum vulgus, &c.
HENCE ye profane; I hate ye all ;
Both the great vulgar, and the small To virgin minds which yet their native whiteness hold, Not yet discolour'd with the love of gold,
(That jaundice of the soul Which makes it look so gilded and so foul) To you, ye very few, these truths I tell ; The muse inspires my song; hark, and observe it well.
2. We look on men and wonder at such odds
'Twixt things, that were the same by birth; We look on kings as giants of the earth, These giants are but pigmics to the gods.
The humblest bush and proudest oak Are but of equal proof against the thunder-stroke: Beauty, and strength, and wit, and wealth, and power,
Have their short flourishing hour;
And love to see themselves and smile, And joy in their pre-eminence a while;
Even so in the same land, Poor weeds, with corn, gay flowers, together stand; Alas, death mows down all with an impartial hand.
3. And all ye men, whom greatness docs so please,
Ye feast, I fear, like Damocles;
If ye your eyes could upwards move,
No tide of wine would drown your cares;
The meanest country cottages;
His poppy grows amidst the corn.
In any stormy breast;
Darkness but half her work will do : 'Tis not enough, she must find quiet too.
5. The man, who in all wishes he does make,
Does only nature's counsel take,
The evil aspects of the year ;
Whether he fortunate shall be.
6. If of your pleasures and desires no end be found, God to your cares and fears will set no bound.
What would content you? who can tell ?
As if ye lik'd it well:
Go level hills, and fill up seas,
But trust me, when ye've done all this, Much will be missing still, and much will be amiss.
INDUSTRY is the cordial that nature has provided to cure all its own infirmities and diseases, and to supply all its defects; the weapon to preserve and defend us against all the strokes and assaults of fortune; it is our guide that conducts us through any noble enterprise to a noble end. What we obtain without it is by chance; what we obtain with it, is by virtue. It is a great pity that so powerful an instrument should be put to very ill purposes. It was the first foundation of Jeroboam's greatness. “And Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph,” by which he gained credit and authority to deprive his son of the greater part of his dominions.
There is no act or science too difficult for in. dustry to attain ; it is the gift of tongues, and makes a man understood and valued in all countries, and by all nations; it is the philosopher's stone that turns all metals and even stones into gold, and suffers no want to break into its dwellings; it is the