Page images

statement. Tradition says, that in Bohemia, in the eighth century, a leg-bone of a giant was found, which measured twenty feet!

Liberality will preserve a person from many erroneous notions, and from many improper actions: it will enable him to give to others that credit which is due; whereas bigotry brings into operation all the worst passions of human nature. There is scarcely any thing more contributive to happiness to a free, calm, and pleasant condition of the mind — than liberality; and scarcely any thing more productive of misery- of credulity and discord — than bigotry.



TRANQUILLITY is opposed to anger, in the same way as a calm is opposed to a storm. Tranquillity is rather negative than positive. It is the absence of exciting causes; and thus the gods of almost all nations have been described as existing in a state of repose. The voluptuous Asiatic experiences tranquillity, and this is his highest enjoyment. Tranquillity, however, in the usual acceptation of the word, implies a state of equality; an evenness of disposition, which is the opposite to anger and the influence of unhappy passions. This may be adapted for the bustling engagements of life; there may be an outward energy and an inward calm. Tranquillity implies cheerfulness, good temper, or good humour. Dr. Johnson terms it " a habit of being pleased, a constant and perpetual softness of manners, easiness of approach, and suavity of disposition.” It resembles the delightful stillness of a summer's evening, when the ocean is tranquil and glassy — the heavens are adorned with brilliant tints — the clouds repose on the horizon— the hills, the vales, and the groves are peaceful. Or it is motion without confusion; as when the stream glides softly, and the birds warble melodiously, or the sun rises and pursues his course, or the heavenly bodies at midnight roll on harmoniously.


would generally allow the truth of this assertion, and if they would act rationally, we should never hear of any endeavours to make all men of the same mind. Constantine endeavoured to accomplish this foolish project, and so did Charles V.; but these, with all such visionaries, have failed. Charles V., in his retirement at St. Justus, constructed clocks, and endeavoured to keep them all alike, but he could not succeed; and thus he had a practical illustration of his former folly. If there are no two objects in the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms which are the counterpart of each other; no two rivulets, rivers, seas, or mountains that are exactly alike; why should we imagine that there either are or may be minds which shall harmonise in opinion, inclination, and action? We may agree with regard to the general character of some particular facts. For instance, we believe that the sun has risen and will rise; but if the opinions of men be collected respecting the age of this luminary, its origin, its nature, and its continuance, we shall soon discover that a great variation exists.

Bigotry frequently runs into credulity. The same influence which will prevent a man from going as far as the boundary of reason will allow on some occasions, will carry him farther on others. A person of this kind will not only disbelieve more than he ought, but he will become credulous. A Hindoo writer has said, “ He that obstinately adheres to any set of opinions may bring himself to believe that the freshest sandal wood is a flame of fire.” Bayle quotes the following story from

Huet (in an account of a journey to Stockholm), as a proof that nothing may be too absurd to be believed :-“ The burghers of Hardenburgh elect a burgomaster in this manner:- On the day of election the burghers fix themselves around a table, and place their chins, which are ornamented with long beards, upon it. A louse is then put on the middle of the table. As soon as the little animal has recovered from the agitation which its rough usage had occasioned, it begins to travel, and crawls towards one of the beards; and whereever it fixes itself, the owner of that beard is chosen for the office !” Men who are incredulous in common matters have brought themselves to believe that there have been nations on the globe without heads; others without necks; some with only one eye; others with only one leg; some with the face situated in the breast; others with tails; and giants of incredible stature. Herodotus, Ctesias, and Lord Monboddo, have related many marvellous stories. Herodotus gives an account of human beings who had an eye fixed in the middle of the forehead. Ctesias says, that in a war which was carried on in India, one of the kings took with him to battle one hundred thousand elephants. Lord Monboddo states, that at Thessalonica the body of a giant was found which measured ninety-six French feet in length. “ This story,” his Lordship says, “ is so well attested, that I cannot doubt it.” And yet this writer opposed, with much bigotry and obstinacy, many consistent and probable statements. But his Lordship may cite one authority as a countenance to his gigantic

Tranquillity or cheerfulness is found in connection with the best qualities. Plato says, that good and bad tempers are the rule by which we may judge of the goodness or badness of the heart. 66 A good disposition," observes Dr. Formey, “ is almost ever the mark of a good heart and a right understanding.” The best moralists have been distinguished by calmness: the most successful warriors have been gifted with coolness: the most eminent sculptors, painters, and philosophers, have been celebrated for a tranquil mind and an uniform pursuit of their engagements. Our first parents, in a state of innocence, were adorned by moral graces in the same degree as the works of nature were lovely and tranquil.

- ". In their looks divine The image of their glorious Maker shone.”

And if we raise our attention from visible to invisible existences, we may contemplate minds that are never ruffled, - always active, but always happy.

A tranquil disposition is not easily depressed by the troubles of life, nor greatly elated by the smiles of fortune. It enables a man to persevere amidst difficulties, when another would be disheartened. It causes him to go on cheerfully

“ As smooth as oyle pour'd forth, and calme

As showers, and sweet as drops of balme;" while the querulous and irritable person, like a ship without ballast, moves about, giving and receiving blows from his neighbours, and finally

« PreviousContinue »