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the future historian of the yet far-famed Frederic, as indeed of every other distinguished character, will be guided in his representations entirely by truth. On this head, I shall adduce a passage or two from the writings of Plutarch, and which cannot be too frequently insisted on and recommended to the attention of the biographer. "As we choose that a painter, who is to draw a beautiful face, in which there is yet some imperfection, should neither wholly leave out, nor entirely express, what is faulty, because this would deform it, and that spoil the resemblance; so, since it is very hard, or rather impossible, to find a man whose life is wholly free from blemish, let us in the same manner follow truth, describing fully whatever is commendable; and, if any errors occur, which have been occasioned by the emotions of a sudden passion or the necessity of the times, let us look on them rather as defects of virtue than as vices, and carry the pencil gently over them, out of respect to human nature, which never formed a beautiful object that was complete and faultless, nor a virtuous character that was entirely free from blame." Such are the noble and generous sentiments of the Greek philosopher, who, still more to his honour, practises all that he advises in his work. But I must now bid you farewell, once more observing, that in almost every action of your life you have shown yourself deserving of the eminent title you bore. In fine, that you have, by an uncommon display of virtues and abilities, proved yourself, in the truest sense of the word, a King :* Aye, every inch a King."†
*KING, of Konnen, Sax. to know ;-by reason of the eminent know
ledge and prudence with which we expect him to be endued.
+ Shakspeare's Lear.
SCENE-AN OPEN COUNTRY.
MISANTHROPOS and LEViculus.
Misan. (Enters repeating.)
Here do I,
A dedicated beggar to the air,
With my disease of all-shunn'd poverty,
Yet wherefore should I murmur: why appear dissatisfied? I cannot indulge myself, it is true, in any of the luxuries of life, but I still am able to furnish out the necessaries of it.-How lovely, how diversified is the prospect before me! Nature, in her gayest attire, smiling and rosy as a cherub, scatters forth her bounties on unthankful man. In contemplating the works of the great Creator, I feel lifted above the earth. How pleasing, how grateful, the sensation! I could, I think, be happy nay, sometimes imagine that I am really so. But, alas! in the world's estimation I am poor. All men fly me, therefore, as they would contagion: all men shun me as a criminal of the blackest dye. This at one time produces mortification, at another it reconciles me the more to myself. "Who venerate themselves the world despise," says a poet of no little eminence. But I cannot entirely approve the sentiment. It exhibits an ostentatious humour, an arrogance dishonourable to the human character,—which should, after the example of our glorious Redeemer, be lowly and humble in spirit, doing good and eschewing evil. No; despise the world I cannot. It has done me wrong. But, thank Heaven! I can bear to be secluded from it; and learn to venerate myself.
Levic. (Enters repeating.)
Bring with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty.
And if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew:
To live with her and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free.
Ha! Misanthropos. Ever moping and musing. Were I not of the true Horatian, the right Anacreontic, disposition, thy melancholy would indubitably infect me, since I so frequently encounter thee in my walks.
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears :
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears.
Thou art an enemy to melancholy: a decrier of the sublimest affection that can possibly infuse itself into the human mind, only from being a stranger to its celestial nature. Let it for a moment have possession of thy breast, and thou wilt fancy thyself lifted at once into the third heaven into the empyreum of the immortals. How beautifully the poet, who felt the divine influence of which I speak in all its force
To the pure soul by fancy's fire refin'd—
When with the charm compar'd of heavenly melancholy.
Levic. Well, I had always supposed that the melancholy Jaques was a creature of the poet's imagination; but I now find the character realized in the philosophical Misanthropos.
Misan. I am obliged to you for the compliment, however; for, to be a philosopher in the present temper of the world is somewhat to the honour of a man. I consider a calm and philosophical disposition as the first of human blessings. The most valuable of all mundane possessions is not equal to it.
Levic. I am of a different opinion. How can moroseness, sheer crabbedness, be considered as a desirable quality in any one?
Misan. This is not the character of philosophy. But hear, in answer, the most sublime among our poets
How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose;
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Levic. Well, well; I will leave to you, pedant as you are, your bookish dreams. Indulge your sombre inclinations to the full. Invite the "pensive nun" to attend you in your walks: she, "pale companion," is not for me.
Misan. Right. Thou art fitted neither by nature nor by education for her sacred converse; her saintly visage is far too bright for thy unsteady eye to gaze on. Indeed, the glories, the rays of divinity, that break from it are often too powerful for mortal sight. Hence the morbid melancholy of the fanatic, so frequently confounded with the healthful meditations of the philosopher; and which has brought the latter occasionally into ridicule and contempt.
Levic. But while you talk of the contempt which is thrown on philosophers, you are evidently inclined to hold all other classes of men as entitled to it in the most superlative degree. Still, however, if you suppose me an enemy to philosophy, you are much mistaken; but I am a follower of Aristippus, and not of Heraclitus. Austereness is a quality I could never affect. The evils of life are many; but they may sometimes be avoided. To court and cherish them shall never be mine.
Misan. You are still entirely in the wrong. Far, very far, is the lover of philosophy, of moral philosophy, -for the question here is not of physics,-far is he, I say, from courting and cherishing the evils of life; but he is enabled, by the cultivation of the science, to bear them with becoming fortitude. The true philosopher, you should remember, will bear, with patience, pains and calamities, under which the ordinary man would sink.
Levic. "I never yet found philosopher that could endure the tooth-ache patiently."* But it is not against the principles of philosophy, but the manners of its teachers, that I would chiefly declaim: it is not against the virtues of the science, but the vices of its professors, that I earnestly protest.
Misan. How! The vices of the teacher, of the professor, of ethics? I do not rightly understand you. Explain.
Levic. Willingly. Thus then have I ever observed of the man who is distinguished by the name of philosopher: a sovereign contempt of those with whom he is perhaps obliged to mix; and a great and high opinion of himself. Misan. You were never more mistaken. despiser of his fellow men? No! were it not for their degeneracy he would consider the entire universe as his brethren and friends.
Levic. Indeed! I imagined that he who was desirous of living almost wholly abstracted from the world must necessarily hold it in contempt.
Misan. That must have arisen from your not having made a proper distinction between man in his natural, and man in his artificial state. In the first, or as moulded by the hand of the Deity, he is a virtuous and benevolent being; for we may rest assured that evil propensities are not inherent in man, nor were they implanted in him by the Creator of the world. In the latter, or as he loses sight of reason and truth, he becomes a compound of hypocrisy and vice. In a word, we may be certain that whatever may be found offensive in his character is acquired, while all that we admire in it is the gift of Heaven. Now, as these artificials (if philologers will allow me to use the word substantively) are by much the most numerous class, you may easily imagine that the philosopher who long has contemplated the human race, must necessarily wish to fly from what had awakened his indignation and disgust.