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honour, as applied to a man himself, is nothing but virtue. Honour as applied to others is the reputation of virtue. Virtue, then, is the substance, honour is the shadow. He who acts uprightly and in conformity with the laws of reason and religion is the truly honourable man: for he is honourable whether man think so or not, he who deserts the path of duty, and, by servile compliance, seeks to be accounted honourable by the world, pursues the shadow and loses the substance. In the eyes of God and in the eyes of all wise men he is actually dishonoured, for he wants the only foundation on which honour can rest.
Beside, let those who are disposed to follow fashion and opinion, as the guides of conduct, consider seriously the consequences of such a principle. Our ideas of morality would not in that case be more stable than our taste in dress and equipage. Their is not a duty which might not be got rid of, if the prevailing opinion were once admitted to be the standard of virtue; if vague and unauthorised maxims of honour were allowed to create exceptions to the divine law.
By steadily adhering to our duty, through good report and through bad report, we enjoy the internal approbation of our own mind; and surely one self-approving hour far outweighs the loudest plaudits of the giddy multitude,
The man who follows honour, as a guide of conduct distinct from virtue, puts his neck under a yoke, he becomes the slave of publick opinion, he enlists himself in the service of one of the most capricious, inconsistent and tyrannical masters, whose laws are obscure, perplexed and entangled. The man of principle, who follows virtue as his sole guide and his only aim, proceeds in a safe and plain path, he has only to inquire whether God hath said, “this do,” to awaken his exertions, and “ this thou shalt not do,” to induce him to abstain. He is not insensible to the voice of sincere and well-earned praise; but still it is a small matter with him to be judged of man's judgment. He looks up to a higher tribunal, where the judge is altogether competent to decide, and his decision will finally award the prize. A few misguided men may censure him who has courage to set at nought their opinions, to act according to his own principles, to reject a sinful compliance with the practice and maxims of the world. But
his record is on high, his witness is in heaven. He has confidence towards God; his own heart does not condemn him. Angels proclaim their approbation; all wise and good men join their amen. Even the censures and reproaches of the world, like clouds which seek to obscure the sun, will be gradually dispersed, and the man of principle, who feared God and had no other fear, will shine forth with greater splendour, approved of God and
:: Thus dangerous and uncertain a guide is human opinion, even allowing it to be innocent and well founded. But if the opinion of the world be false and absurd; if it be at utter variance with our duty and interest, then, I should suppose,
there can be no question whether we ought to obey God or man; that we must not follow the whole world to do evil. Now, in the case before us, what are the opinions of the world which are the foundation of this destructive practice ? First, that it is cowardly to put up with an affront or any imputation on our honour. '. But as to this virtue of courage, deemed so honourable, and the reputation of which is so highly courted, abstractly considered, it is no virtue at all. It depends
entirely upon the purpose to which it is
ap plied. When employed in the discharge of our duty, when guided by discretion, when tempered with humanity, it is justly ranked among the highest principles of our nature. But when exercised with passion, in the service of revenge, to destroy and not to protect, then it is brutal and ferocious, an object of de testation and abhorrence. In this species of courage, if it may be called so, the highwayman and the robber, are certainly entitled to the palm ; the lion and the tyger leave all your men of honour at a hopeless distance.
But allowing that, independent of the merits of the question, some kind of courage is necessary to expose our person in the field, does it follow that he is destitute of courage who de clines the call? There is a species of valour, different indeed in kind from the former, but of a much more exalted and honourable nature, which is displayed in resisting our own passions and in meeting undismayed the eye of a misjudging world. This passive valour requires a greater exertion of self-command, it manifests a greater superiority to popular prejudices; it shows fortitude in the discharge of duty which neither his own turbulent pas
síons, nor the insolence of provocation, nor the sneers of folly can shake. He that is slow to wrath is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit greater than he that taketh a city. He who, from weakness of nerves or bodily imbecility, cannot meet his adversary in the field, is not intitled to this praise. But, on the other hand, he is not deserving of blame; for he might as well be condemned for wanting the strength of the elephant or the swiftness of the rein deer. But the man who, from principle and a just sentiment of honour, disregards the efforts of little angry souls to wound his feelings and to disturb his peace, who repays contumely and insults with courteous behaviour and kind offices, who marches on in the path of duty with a firm and undaunted step, rises above the ordinary rank of humanity, and imitates him whose fairest best loved attribute is to pity and forgive.
To meet another, in what is falsely called the field of honour, is an effort which many a coward has forced himself against his nature to make, but we cannot meet with a single instance where he could induce himself to forgive. This is a task left for men of great and generous dispositions, for men who are as