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After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
OF INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES. 1. You have obliged a man: very well! what would you have more? Is not the consciousness of doing good a sufficient reward ?
2. Searching every kingdom for the man who has the least comfort in life, where is he to be found ? In the royal palace. What! His Majesty ? Yes; especially if he be despotic.
3. Is there any one who will seriously maintain, that the taste of a Hottentot or a Laplander is as delicate and as correct as that of a Longinus or an Addison ? or, that he can be charged with no defect or incapacity, who thinks a common newswriter as excellent an historian as Tacitus ?
4. What shadow can be more vain than the life of a great part of mankind? Of all that eager and bustling crowd we behold on earth, how few discover the path of true happiness? How few can we find, whose activity has not been misemployed, and whose course terminates not in confessions of disappointments ?
5. Can honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound ? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honour? A word. What is that word honour? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. It is insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it: therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere 'scutcheon; and so ends my catechism.
i For the inflection of the voice in INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES, the learner should refer to the Introduction, pages 54 and 55.
6. Can the soldier, when he girdeth on his armour, boast like him that putteth it off? Can the merchant predict that the speculation on which he has entered, will be infallibly crowned with success? Can even the husbandman, who has the promise of God that seed-time and harvest shall not fail, look forward with assured confidence to the expected increase of his fields ? In those, and in all similar cases, our resolution to act can be founded on probability alone.
7. Consider, I beseech you, what was the part of a faithful citizen ? of a prudent, an active, and an honest minister? Was he not to secure Eubea, as our defence against all attacks by sea ? Was he not to make Beotia our barrier on the midland side? the cities bordering on Peloponnesus our bulwark on that quarter? Was he not to attend with due precaution to the importation of corn, that this trade might be protected, through all its progress, up to our own harbours ? Was he not to cover those districts which we commanded, by seasonable detachments, as the Proconesus, the Chersonesus, and Tenedos ? To exert himself in the assembly for this purpose, while with equal zeal he laboured to gain others to our interest and alliance, as Byzantium, Abydus, and Eubæa ? Was he not to cut off the best and most important resources of our enemies, and to supply those in which our country was defective? And all this you gained by my counsels, and my administration.
8. Suppose a youth to have no prospect either of sitting in parliament, of pleading at the bar, of appearing upon the stage or in the pulpit; does it follow, that he need bestow no pains in learning to speak properly his native
language? Will he never have occasion to read, in a company of his friends, a copy of verses, a passage of a book or newspaper? Must he never read a discourse of Tillotson, or a chapter of the Whole Duty of Man, for the instruction of his children and servants ? Cicero justly observes, that address in speaking is highly ornamental, as well as useful, even in private life. The limbs are parts of the body much less noble than the tongue; yet no gentleman grudges a considerable expense of time and money to have his son taught to use them properly; which is very commendable. And is there no attention to be paid to the use of the tongue, the glory of man?
9. Are you desirous that your talents and abilities may procure you respect? Display them not ostentatiously to public view. Would you escape
riches might excite? Let them not minister to pride, but adorn them with humility. There is not an evil incident to human nature for which the Gospel doth not provide a remedy. Are you ignorant of many things which it highly concerns you to know? The Gospel offers you instruction. Have you deviated from the path of duty? The Gospel offers you forgiveness. Do temptations surround you? The Gospel offers you the aid of heaven. Are you exposed to misery? It consoles you. Are you subject to death? It offers you immortality
10. Life is short and uncertain: we have not a moment to lose. Is it prudent to throw away any of our time in tormenting ourselves or others, when we have so little for honest pleasures ? Forgetting our weakness we stir up mighty enmities, and fly to wound as if we were invulnerable. Wherefore all this bustle and noise? The best use of a short life is, to make it agreeable to ourselves and to others. Have you cause of quarrel with your servant, your master, your king, your neighbour? Forbear a moment; death is at hand, which makes all equal. What has man to do with wars, tumults, ambushes? You would destroy your enemy? You lose your trouble; death will do all your business while you are at rest. And, after all, when you have had your revenge, how short will be your joy or his pain? While we are among men, let us cultivate humanity: let us not be the cause of fear or of pain to one another. Let us despise injury, malice, and detraction; and bear with an equal mind such transitory evils. While we speak, while we think, death comes up, and closes the scene.
11. I hold it to be an unquestionable position, that they who duly appreciate the blessings of liberty, revolt as much from the idea of exercising, as from that of enduring oppression. How far this was the case with the Romans, you may inquire of those nations that surrounded them.
Ask them, “What insolent guard paraded before their gates, and invested their strong-holds ?” They will answer, “ A Roman legionary.” Demand of them, “What greedy extortioner fattened by their poverty, and clothed himself by their nakedness?” They will inform you,
A Roman quæstor." Inquire of them, “What imperious stranger issued to them his mandates of imprisonment or confiscation, of banishment or death?” They will reply to you, “A Roman consul." Question them, “ What haughty conqueror led through his city their nobles and kings in chains; and exhibited their countrymen, by thousands, in gladiators' shows for the amusement of his fellow-citizens?” They will tell you, “A Roman general.” Require of them, “What tyrants imposed the heaviest yoke? enforced the most rigorous exactions ? inflicted the most savage punishments, and showed the greatest gust for blood and torture ?” They will exclaim to you,
“ The Roman people.” 12. When will you, my countrymen, when will you rouse from
your indolence, and bethink yourselves of what is to be done? When you are forced to it by some fatal disaster? When irresistible necessity drives you? What think you
of the disgraces which are already come upon you? Is not the past sufficient to stimulate your activity? or, do you wait for somewhat more forcible and urgent? How long will you amuse yourselves with inquiring of one another after news as you ramble idly about the streets ?
What news so strange ever came to Athens, as that a Macedonian should subdue this state and lord it over Greece ?
13. To purchase heaven, has gold the power ?
14. Who taught the natives of the fields and wood,
15. Wrong’d in my love, all proffers I disdain ;
16. Think you, a little din can daunt mine ears;