The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

[Illustration:  SMYRNA.]

The fine port of Smyrna is frequented by ships from all nations, freighted with valuable cargoes, both outward and inward.  The greater part of the trading transactions is managed by Jews, who act as brokers, the principals meeting afterwards to conclude the bargains.

In 1402 Smyrna was taken by Tamerlane, and suffered very severely.  The conqueror erected within its walls a tower constructed of stones and the heads of his enemies.  Soon after, it came under the dominion of the Turks, and has been subsequently the most flourishing city in the Levant, exporting and importing valuable commodities to and from all parts of the world.

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[Illustration:  Letter I.]

I begin with distinguishing true gentleness from passive tameness of spirit, and from unlimited compliance with the manners of others.  That passive tameness which submits, without opposition, to every encroachment of the violent and assuming, forms no part of Christian duty; but, on the contrary, is destructive of general happiness and order.  That unlimited complaisance, which on every occasion falls in with the opinions and manners of others, is so far from being a virtue, that it is itself a vice, and the parent of many vices.  It overthrows all steadiness of principle; and produces that sinful conformity with the world which taints the whole character.  In the present corrupted state of human manners, always to assent and to comply is the very worst maxim we can adopt.  It is impossible to support the purity and dignity of Christian morals without opposing the world on various occasions, even though we should stand alone.  That gentleness, therefore, which belongs to virtue, is to be carefully distinguished from the mean spirit of cowards, and the fawning assent of sycophants.  It renounces no just right from fear.  It gives up no important truth from flattery.  It is indeed not only consistent with a firm mind, but it necessarily requires a manly spirit, and a fixed principle, in order to give it any real value.  Upon this solid ground only, the polish of gentleness can with advantage be superinduced.

It stands opposed, not to the most determined regard for virtue and truth, but to harshness and severity, to pride and arrogance, to violence and oppression.  It is properly that part of the great virtue of charity, which makes us unwilling to give pain to any of our brethren.  Compassion prompts us to relieve their wants.  Forbearance prevents us from retaliating their injuries.  Meekness restrains our angry passions; candour, our severe judgments.  Gentleness corrects whatever is offensive in our manners, and, by a constant train of humane attentions, studies to alleviate the burden of common misery.  Its office, therefore, is extensive.  It is not, like some other virtues, called forth only on peculiar emergencies; but it is continually in action, when we are engaged in intercourse with men.  It ought to form our address, to regulate our speech, and to diffuse itself over our whole behaviour.

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The Illustrated London Reading Book from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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