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opinions; for there is no man, however well informed, but who has yet to learn the beauty of some principle, either in natural or moral philosophy; or who has still some opinion that wants correction : this is the province of conversation ; for such is the nature of the human mind, that with every possible exertion of its own towards gaining correct notions, there will be still some error left behind, that but for the kind and impartial eye of a friend would ever remain : and not only so, but as there are no two men whose ideas are exactly alike, the coalition of sentiment will open to each a fresh source of information, and tend to enlarge as well as arrange the general understanding ; but men who would receive this advantage from conversation, must remember to seek for companions that are fitted for it. It is not every fool a man meets that can either give or receive information ; nor does charity in its most extended light require that he should throw away that time in trying to beat sense into a block head, that might be better spent in rational society. Men whose object is to promote knowledge and virtne, and who are active in the pursuit of that object, are best fitted for associates; for in their society wisdom presides, and receiving her full tribute of attention and respect, directs them unerringly towards the palace of truth.
Another useful means of arranging our ideas, is committing our thoughts to writing. A man cannot write without first determining on what he shall write; and he cannot determine without some reflection. It is true, the immense heap of rubbish, in the shape of books, proves that if men cannot write without reflection, they can at least write without sense; but this is an abuse of the practice, to which the best and most salutary means of improvement are at all times liable. Men may write nonsense if they will, but they are not obliged to do so; nor will that man be liable to fall into this error who keeps his proper object in view. Men who write for the instruction of themselves or of others, should remember that good sense is the principal thing; and he who neglects that, to make fine sentences or round periods, had better not! write at all : it will only get him into the habit of substituting sound for sense ; buť it he studies to put good sense in plain and clear language, he will serve himself and others too; for it is that which every rational man is in search of: and here I cannot help strongly recommending the plan pursued by Dr. Franklin, and some of his friends - a plan which, I can say from experience, is productive of much good. Let five or six individuals, who are desirous of enlarging their understandings, form themselves into a society, and meet once a week; let each write an essay upon one and the same subject, to be appointed by the society the week before; and at the next meeting let each
essay be read twice; the first time without any remarks, but the second time let it undergo as many corrections and improvements in grammar, style, and sense, as can be suggested. The beneficial effects of this plan will soon be felt; I practised it myself, with a few friends, for several years; and we now look back with pleasure and satisfaction on the days of our junta.
The last, though not the least, point that I shall mention, as being absolutely necessary to be attended to in the arrangement'of our ideas, is justice. He who in his thoughts, his conversation, and his writings, uniformly remembers that justice and propriety should controul them all, will, in the course of time, bring all his associations so nicely in unison with this principle, that it will be hardly possible for him to reason superficially, or to pass an unjust judgment. This is the summit of the human understanding ; beyond this it cannot go. Having, therefore, pointed out the road which leads to mental excellence, I shall conclude by noticing some of the impediments which the traveller will meet in his way.
is, the source of all evil, and more or less it assails every man; he who gives way to it must never hope to pass the moral equator; if he is ignorant, indolence will keep him so; if he is not ignorant, indolence will soon make him so; for it not only prevents a man from gaining knowledge, but if he has any it will surely rob him of it-it is a sword that cuts two ways, and is so effectual in its movements, that one might as well attempt to bring a dead man to life as to give sense or wisdom to an idle man. Idleness, like a periodical disease, assails a inan at different seasons; its first attack is when he has little or no understanding--and its second when he has acquired a tolerable share-and then it is that it is most likély to succeed; for intolerable ignorance will sometimes shaine a man into exertion, but when he has acquired a moderate share of intellect, he is then as wise as most of his neighbors; and as they do not wish him to surpass themselves in knowledge, they hold out no stimulus for him to go on, but rather retard him in his pursuit, by praising him and taking notice of bim, and raise his vanity to so inordinate a degree, that this embryo of a mind thinks it knows all that is worth knowing. Apathy and neglect of study is a natural consequence the little knowledge that it possessed is starved out, and in a short time nothing but idolence and vanity is left. The wise man is on his guard to prevent this; he knows that the mind, like the body, requires a constant succession of food ; and in proportion as it advances in excellence, so its exercise must be increased and its resources enlarged.
Another obstacle opposed to mental improvement is a wandering mind. There are some men who will wander from point to point, like children at play, often tired before they begin ; they will touch at every species of knowledge, and become in the course of one month compleat scientific dabblers, capable of talking on any subject, but of reasoning upon none. This is a class of men that will never rival Newton or supersede Locke, but who flutter about like butterflies, proud of their plumage, which is indeed all that they possess. Men of more moderate pretensions are well aware that there is much more knowledge in the world than any one man can acquire, and in consequence they very prudently confine themselves within contain limits : nor do they think it any disgrace to be ignorant of that which does not immediately belong to them, or to whieh they have not thought proper to devote their attention. For the soundness of a man's judgment, or the extent of his merit, is not measured by the versatility of bis mind, but rather by the correctness of his reasoning and the propriety of his actions.
A third obstacle is conceit—some men are so intolerably conceited, that they cannot even listen with patience to an opinion contrary to their own. They think nobody right but themselves; and if you watch them, you will find that although their opinions change as often as the weathercock, and startround as it were from north to south at one motion, yet they never acknowledge themselves wrong, or allow that they ever entertained a contrary idea. Such men as these are indeed weathercocks : they turn and turn again, but never advance a single step, nor do they quit the pivot of conceit round which they turn, until they drop off and sink into oblivion. The man however who is in pursuit of wisdom, must not only change his opinion, but he must see and acknowledge that he has ehanged it; he must not only turn round, but he must also move forwards; for who will take the trouble to point out those errors which we cannot see ourselves, if we do not acknowledge the correction; or of what use is it to change our opinions if we do not change them for the better? Conceit then is a great evil-he who would be wise must court reproof, he must listen to the censure of his enemy, and seek the advice of his friend.
I could dwell much on this subject, Mr. Editor, but I have already exceeded the limits I intended, and shall therefore, for the present, take my leave. I am, your's, &c. Kingsland Road, Oct.4, 1812.
TIMOTHEUS. THE CHRISTIAN's REVIEW OF THE
à For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them, every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest, every one dealeth falsely: They have healed also the hurl of my people slightly, saying, " Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush ; therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.”--JER. vi, 13, 14, 15.
THE state of the Jewish nation, at the period when the
above prophecy was delivered, must have been truly deplorable, when it should seem that the whole people were so corrupt, from the smallest to the greatest, that there was no hope of their amendment; and they were doomed to fall among the surrounding nations, by that God who had chosen them for his peculiar people, and whose threats they knew by woeful experience had never been made in vain.
As the people of England, in consequence of professing to be a reformed Christian nation, and from having been heretofore so highly favoured by heaven, have indulged themselves in the belief that they are objects of God's peculiar favour and regard, it will be well for us to examine, if, like them, we have not, been unmindful of such mercies, and to have deserved the same reproof and the same judgment: and to those who.observe the varying manners of mankind, it must be obvious that the character is as applicable to this nation as ever it was to the Jewish nation. We pray God, that by timely repentance and amendment of our ways, we may not be exposed to the same calamities : for when we look at the corruptions of the court, of our nobles, our parliaments, and the priesthood, what can we expect but that from so foul a fountain must issue waters that are unclean, and that every other class of the people will, from such vile examples, become grossly corrupt, and hardened in their iniquities ?
Since our last review, various and important have been the events of a political kind which have transpired; and that which is not the least worthy of our notice-a dissolution of the House of Commons-a house that has added more to the burthens of the people, and taken from them more of their rights and liberties, than any House of Commons that ever before existed ; that has sanctioned the most barefaced corruptions, and shielded from punishment the vilest criminals; which has voted a declining ministry incapable of guiding the reins of government to-day, and the fittest and wisest of states. men on the morrow~that in fact has been so completely subservient to the borough faction, that it has reminded us of the parliaments of France before the revolution, whose sole business was to register the edicts of the minister. Indeed so gross has their conduct appeared to us, that the whole vocabuJary of the English language does not seem sufficient to describe the vastness of their delinquency. The following extract from Sir Francis Burdett's admirable address to the Electors of Westminster, will furnish some faint outline, and shew us what we have to expect from a House of Commons so circumstanced as that which has been dissolved :
“Neither can I, with truth, profess that I shall be highly, or at all gratified, hy being returned a member of an assembly where corruption is acknowledged to be as notorious as the sun at noon-day,' and where practices which would have made our forefathers startle with indignation, in utter oblivion of every former maxim and feeling of parliament,' have been impudently, arowed, and shamelessly justified.
This has brought us into a situation almost impossible, within the limits of an advertisement, to depict. Nine hundred millions of debt; inland fortresses under the name of barracks; an arny of German and other foreign mercenaries; an arıny of spies and informers; of tax and excise agents; an inquisition of private property; a phantom for a king; a degraded aristocracy; an oppressed people; a confiding parliament; irresponsible ministers; a corrupt and intimidated press ; pensioned justices; packed juries; vague and sanguinary laws, sometimes shamefully relaxed, at other times violently stretched beyond their tone ; which, together with a host of failures of foreign expeditions, and the present crushing burthen of taxation, are some of the bitter fruits of corruption in the House of Com.
A House of Commons, the members of which did, agreeably to a return laid before it in 1808, put into their own pockets 178,9941. a-year in sinecures, salaries, and pensions, besides their staff-appointments, and their commissions, and besides the money received by their wives and other relations. In fact, the whole of the evil arises here those who vote the money are, some way or other, interested in the expenditure of it. The small number of independent men have no weight at all.
“ Gentler.en, it is often affirmed, that the savings in our power to make from sinecures and pensions, would afford no relief to the people : let us take a few out of numerous instan. ces. The House of Commons itself, in sheer places and penBions, swallows as much as would give fitiy shillings a-year to 71,224 families. Would this be nothing ? Would it not be felt