We are led to the belief of a future state, not only by the weaknesses, by the hopes and fears of human nature, but by the noblest and best principles which belong to it, by the love of virtue, and by the abhorrence of vice and injustice.
We are more industrious than our fathers, because in the present time the funds destined for the maintenance of industry are much greater in proportion to those likely to be employed in the maintenance of idleness, than they were two or three centuries ago.
There is one sort of labour which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed; there is another which has no such effect. The former, as it produces a value, may be called productive, the latter unproductive, labour.
The passion of love generally appears to everybody but the man who feels it entirely disproportionate to the value of the object; and though love is pardoned in a certain age, because we know it is natural, having violently seized the imagination, yet it is always laughed at, because we cannot enter into it; and all serious and strong expressions of it appear ridiculous to a third person; and though a lover is good company to his mistress, he is so to nobody else.
The regard to the general rules of morality is what is properly called a sense of duty; a principle of the greatest consequence in human life, and the only principle by which the bulk of mankind are capable of directing their actions. There is scarce any man who, by discipline, education, and example, may not be impressed with a regard to those general rules of conduct as to act upon almost every occasion with tolerable decency, and through the whole of his life avoid a tolerable degree of blame. Without this sacred regard to the general rules of morality, there is no man whose conduct can be much depended upon. It is this which constitutes the most essential difference between a man of principle and honour and a worthless fellow. The one adheres on all occasions steadily and resolutely to his maxims, and preserves through the whole of his life one even tenor of conduct. The other acts variously and accidentally, as humour, inclination, or interest chance to be uppermost.
The man who, by some sudden revolution of fortune, is lifted up all at once into a condition of life greatly above what he had formerly lived in, may be assured that the congratulations of his best friends are not all of them perfectly sincere. An upstart, though of the greatest merit, is generally disagreeable, and a sentiment of envy commonly prevents us from heartily sympathizing with his joy. If he has any judgment, he is sensible of this, and, instead of appearing to be elated with his good fortune, he endeavours, as much as he can, to smother his joy, and keep down that elevation of mind with which his new circumstances naturally inspire him. He affects the same plainness of dress, and the same modesty of behaviour, which became him in his former station. He redoubles his attention to his old friends, and endeavours more than ever to be humble, assiduous, and complaisant. And this is the behaviour which in his situation we most approve of; because we expect, it seems, that he should have more sympathy with our envy and aversion to his happiness, than we have with his happiness. It is seldom that with all this he succeeds. We suspect the sincerity of his humility, and he grows weary of this constraint.
He is happiest who advances more gradually to greatness; whom the Public destines to every step of his preferment long before he arrives at it; in whom, upon that account, when it comes, it can excite no extravagant joy, and with regard to whom it cannot reasonably create either any jealousy in those he overtakes, or any envy in those he leaves behind.