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“ to us, by telling them that they “ are so; nor can we tell people when “ they interrupt us by an unseason. « able visit, that we wish they had “ staid at home.”
No, my dear, we cannot in justice do either; for we have no right to shock or to offend those who have given us no moral cause of offence. Nor do we sin against truth by refraining, on such occasions, to express our feelings. But if we pretend to regard those for whom we have no regard, to respect those for whom we have no respect, and gladly to receive those whom we in reality are vexed to see, we then sin against truth and against our own souls. Nor is this sort of simulation so necessary to those who live in the world as it is generally supposed to be. I could, even in your own family, point out to you an honourable proof that it is not: and that even in the common intercourse of society, sincerity need not be sacrificed in order to conciliate esteem. I could, on the contrary, produce the most satisfactory evidence to prove, that the simu. lation practised by vanity and selfish. ness, in order to deceive others into a belief that they are admired, or beloved, or esteemed, beyond what they really are, is the cause, not only of deeper, but of more frequent offence, than was ever given by an adherence to sincerity. The varnish of dissimulation, however artfully put on, cannot be always on; and when but for a moment laid aside, the features which it concealed are seen in even more than native de. formity. .
Let it then never for a moment be forgotten, that when you make prcfessions of regard which you do not
feel, you sin against God, against your neighbour, and against yourself. You sin against God, who is the witness of your dissimulation ; against your neighbour, who is the victim of it; and against yourself, because, that by exciting hopes which you never meant to fulfil, you incur a debt which you cannot discharge without loss, or cancel without dishonour.
To cheat people of their gratitude and good will, is no less incon. sistent with the principles of integrity, than to cheat them of their money: nay, it is in some respects worse, because it is a species of dishonesty which can only be practised with success on the unsuspicious and the upright.
It is no less foreign to the pure spirit of rectitude, to compliment those with whom we converse by an
apparent adoption of their prejudices. It may not be becoming or proper zealously to oppose them, but we may, without impropriety, be silent. Never, therefore, I beseech you, say what you think will be pleasing, in opposition to what you know to be true.
When you are called upon to speak on any past transaction, speak the truth openly, and candidly, and without reserve. Let neither fear, nor love, nor any other passion or affection of your heart, prevent you from doing justice, by inducing you to give any turn or colouring to suit the purpose of the present moment. Whenever the moral character of any human being is concerned, the principles of justice will teach us to speak in the same manner in which we should have spoken, if the recording angel stood visibly before us, tran
scribing every word we utter into the register of heaven.
Justice obliges us to be very careful of even remotely injuring others; and still more strictly does it bind us never by fraud or malice to de. prive them of their possessions. Now, though there is no possession so precious, there is none held upon so delicate a tenure, as character. I do not speak of character only with re. gard to what are deemed essentials in the reputation of either man or woman; but I speak of character as made up of separate qualities, which, taken in the aggregate, convey a general idea, which is either favourable or unfavourable according to the nature of the qualities supposed to preponderate. It is upon this impression of their general character that the influence of every human being chiefly, nay, almost entirely,