Contains a further definition of revenge, its force, effects, and the chasm it leaves on the mind when once it ceases. The tranquility of being entirely devoid of all passions; and the impossibility for the soul to remain in that state of inactivity is also shewn; with some remarks on human nature in general, when left to itself, Page 190.
Contains a remarkable proof, that tho’ the passions may operate with greater velocity and vehemence in youth, yet they are infinitely more strong and permanent, when the person is arrived at maturity, and are then scarce ever eradicated. Love and friendship are then, and not till then, truly worthy of the names they bear; and that the one between those of different sexes, is always the consequence of the other, Page 206.
How the most powerful emotions of the mind subside, and grow weaker in proportion as the strength of the body decays, is here exemplified; and that such passions as remain after a certain age, are not properly the incentives of nature but of example, long habitude, or ill humour, Page 224.
I have often heard it observed by the readers of biography, that the characters are generally too high painted; and that the good or bad qualities of the person pretended to be faithfully represented, are displayed in stronger colours than are to be found in nature. To this the lovers of hyperbole reply, that virtue cannot be drawn too beautiful, nor vice too deformed, in order to excite in us an ambition of imitating the one, and a horror at the thoughts of becoming any way like the other.—The argument at first, indeed, seems to have some weight, as there is nothing, not even precept itself, which so greatly contributes whether to rectify or improve the mind, as the prevalence of example: but then it ought to be considered, that if the pattern laid down before us, is so altogether angelic, as to render it impossible to be copied, emulation will be in danger of being swallowed up in an unprofitable admiration; and, on the other hand, if it appears so monstrously hideous as to take away all apprehensions of ever resembling it, we might be too apt to indulge ourselves in errors which would seem small in comparison with those presented to us.—There never yet was any one man, in whom all the virtues, or all the vices, were summed up; for, though reason and education may go a great way toward curbing the passions, yet I believe experience will inform, even the best of men, that they will sometimes launch out beyond their due bounds, in spite of all the care can be taken to restrain them; nor do I think the very worst, and most wicked, does not feel in himself, at some moments, a propensity to good, though it may be possible he never brings it into practice; at least, this was the opinion of the antients, as witness the poet’s words: