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others, a desire necessarily attendant on the principles I have endeavoured to enforce, may sometimes, it must likewise be confessed, expose us to evils from which the selfish are exempted. Those who are completely engrossed by their own interest are not only less liable to imposition from their superior sagacity in detecting it, but are less liable to be selected by the designing as objects on whom their artifices may be exerted with success. An open temper and a generous heart will be more apt to fall into the snares of the crafty and perfidious than dispositions of an opposite cast; and will consequently be exposed to many a wound from which those who are for ever clothed in the armour of suspicion will undoubtedly escape. But though a hearty interest in the happiness of others may lead us into much trouble, and eventually proM 4 ' duce
duce to us loads of care, of sorrow, and disappointment; and though it cannot be concealed that sincerity may sometimes create to us more bitter enemies than were ever made by dissimulation; still the balance of happiness will preponderate on the aide of virtue. Were we to leave all idea of a future state out of the account, it would, taking in the probability of a long life, thus preponderate. For though by a firm adherence to moral integrity we may sometimes incur present inconvenience, and suffer from the sacrifice of present inclination, yet upon the whole, the advantages which will result to us, from the esteem and confidence which a course of virtue naturally inspires, will far outweigh all that we can possibly lose by pursuing it.
But "life may be short, the present
"moment only is ours, and there"fore the happiness of the present "moment is all our aim." Let us, then, obey the impulse of our passions. If we are offended, let us avenge the offence. Let us fill our breasts with hatred and malice, and exert our ingenuity to give them vent. If we are proud, let us gratify our pride at the expense of the feelings and of the interest of others; and those whom we cannot rise above, let us endeavour to degrade. Let us despise the virtue that is a reproach to us; and the characters which we cannot injure by our contempt, let us endeavour by our calumnies to destroy. Our time, our health, our fortune, let us waste, as folly may dictate, or as selfishness may prompt us. And then, if true wisdom consists in only consulting the happiness of the present moment, who shall M 5 dare
dare to say we have not done wisely? If, however, the present moment is to be followed by other moments that will in their turn be present, and if it proves that we have embittered these, where Avill then be our boasted wisdom? Now we happen to be so formed, as never to be able so entirely to cast off all regard to conscience, as to feel perfectly at ease without its approbation. Remorse for heinous crimes is not the only cause of this species of misery. Every malignant feeling and every selfish passion perturbs the peace of the mind, and renders it insusceptible of delight. Even the very absence of benevolent intention creates uneasiness and discontent. It is like a disordered stomach, which produces a feeling of want of health, without any positive malady. I leave it to those who have made the most accurate observations on life,
to say, whether they have ever known a callous and selfish heart illumined by the sunshine of a cheerful temper.
As far as I have seen of human character, I have ever found those to be the happiest who took the most lively interest in the happiness of others. The consciousness of having contributed to the well-being of a fellow-creature, nay, even the consciousness of having earnestly desired to contribute to it, produces such a degree of satisfaction, as those who look with apathy on all around them never can experience. In every idea which we form of a state of perfect happiness, we unite it with an idea of complete benevolence. We in our imaginations shut the gates of Heaven against the selfish and vindictive passions; and would we wish to taste the happiness. of the truly