Ebenezer Cobham Brewer.

A guide to English composition, or One hundred and twenty subjects analysed ... online

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3rd Reason. — An honest man procures the good word
and recommendation of those who know him; and nothing
promotes success so much as the voluntary praise of the
disinterested :. But he who makes others the dupes of his
underhand dealings is always abused and exposed.

4th Reason. — The honest dealer retains the good
offices of those who once confide in him; and a constant
client, patient, or customer, is far better than many cafiual
ones: On the other hand, a dishonest knave may deceive
the unwary once, but cannot expect to palm his tricks a
second time on the same person.

Sth Reason. — Honest dealing never over-reaches itself;
and, therefore, is never subjected to pains and penalties :
But the fraudulent are constantly incurring heavy ex-
penses from fines, lawsuits, hush-money, and the thou-
sand annoyances which follow in the wake of dishonest

6th Reason. — Honesty produces no enemies^ for all ad-
mire integrity of conduct, and make allowances in times
of need : But artifice is sure to create opposition, and
every misadventure is attributed to knavery prepense.

1th Reason. — Honesty is a plain and easy way with
no turnings, as well as a sure and safe one : Whereas,
dislionosty turns to crooked paths and bye-ways which
are full of danger, trouble, difficulty, and doubt.

Similes. — It is better to travel by the high road, than
to venture through by-paths, with the hope of finding
out " a short cut."

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Tbe rook (in the fable) built her nest of sticks filched
from other birds; but no sooner was the theft discovered,
than the nest was palled down, and the dishonest rook
had to make two instead of one.

lU gains bring a curse, like the gold of Tofosa. — S^e
Class. Diet. art. •' Tolosa."

Honesty is a pearl of the first water; fraud is a base
imitation, like French paste, always tawdry and worthless.

A straight onward walk is more conducive to health
than one with frequent turnings.

Tbe Woodman, who threw his axe into the river, and
Mercury. — u£sop''s fable.

There is something unnatural in painting, which a
skilful eye may easily discern from native beauty and

The Jackdaw in borrowed plumes. — jEsop's fable.

^ The attempts of the dishonest to find a short road to
wealth, may be likened to the foolish attempt of British
adventurers to find a north-west passage to India.

Historical Illustrations. — ^The South Sea scneme.
A.D. 1720.

Some time ago there resided in a retired country village
a poor but worthy curate, who, with the small stipend of
40/. per annum, supported himself, a wife, and seven chil-
dren : walking in the fields one day he stumbled on a
purse of gold, which his wife advised him to employ, as
he could find no owner, but he positively refusotl, assur-
injr his wfie that " honesty is always the best policy."
After a time, the purse was owned by a gentleman at a
distance, to whom the clergyman returned it, with no
otlier reward than thanks. On bis return home, his wife
bC'^an to reproach the gentleman with ingratitude, and
to censure the over-scrupulous honesty of her husband ;
but the good man still replied as before, " honesty is
always the beat policy." A few months after this, the
5 V c

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poor curate received an invitation to dine with tlie same
gentleman, who presented him to a living worth 300/. a
year, and added a doncenr of 50/. for present exigencies.

When Oliver Goldsmith pnblished his Deserted Vil-
lage, the bookseller gave him 100 guineas for the copy-
right. A friend having observed, it was a very great
sum to give for so short a performance: " In truth," said
Goldsmith, " I think so too," and instantly returned the
note, begging the publisher " to pay him out of the profits
of the sale." The publisher complied with the request,
and soon handed him a cheque for 450/.

Sir Theodore Jansen, a merchant, by unavoidable losses
became a bankrupt. Several years afterwards, his creditors
being invited to a splendid banquet, were surprised to
find the money due, with the full legal interest thereon,
placed under the cover of each respective plate. 1'his
instance of honesty so endeared Jansen to the citizens,
that they elected him unanimously to the lucrative oflice
of chamberlain ; a post of honour and profit which he
retained to the end of his life.

Fabricius and Pyrrhus. . The integrity of the sturdy
Roman who sent back to Pyrrhus the traitorous physician,
saved Rome from a long and destructive invasion.

Camillus and the Faliscans. When a schoolmaster in
Falerium offered to betray his pupils into the hands of
the Roman general for reward, Camillus ordered the
traitor to be stripped and beaten back into the city: this
noble integrity induced the Faliscans to surrender at dis-
cretion, " not that they yielded to arms, but were won by

Tarpeia ngreed to betray Rome to the Sabines, on con-
dition tliat they gave her " the ornaments worn on their
arms:" when she opened the city gates, the invading
soUliers threw upon her their bucklers, instead of their
bracelets, and the traitoress was crushed to death.

Joseph in Totiphar's house, and after he was made
governor of Egypt.

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Quotations. — Of all crafts, to be an honest man is
the best craft.

KnaTcry may serve a tarn, bat honesty is best in the end.

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing. — Prov, x. 2.

He that walketh aprighj;ly walketh surely. — Prov, x. 9.

Cheats never thrive.

Craft bringeth nothing but shame.

Ill-gotten goods seldom prosper.

Unto the upright there arises light in darkness. —
Psalm cxii. 4.

The upright shall dwell in the land. — Prov. ii. 21.

The tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. — Prov.
xiv. 41.

Psalm xxxvii. 18-20 and 87-40.

Prov. xxviii. 10.

Deceit is the net of shallow politicians. — Bacon,

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is vanity.—
Prov, xxi. 6.

It is in life as in a journey, where the shortest road is
the dirtiest, and yet the better not much about. — Bacon,
I have heard you say,
Honour and policy, like unsevered friends,
r the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,
In peace, what cacK of them by th' other lose.
That they combine not there. — i^iakapeare.

Bonne renommee vaut mieux qui ceinture doree

De male qutesitis vix gaudet tertius hseres. — Horace,

Candor dat vLribos alas.

Mea virtu te me involvo.

Fraus hominum ad pemiciem, et integritas ad salutem
vocatur. — Cicero.

Melior ambulatio recta quam flexuosa. — Cehus,

Eamaxime conducunt, quae sunt rectissuna. — Cicero.

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Theme XVI. Honesty is ike best policy; biU he who
is hxmestfrom policy, is not an honest man.


Introduction. — He who is honest merely for the sake
of expediency or gain, and not from a sense of duty, can-
not be called a really honest man.

1st Reason. — ^The merit of every action should be
weighed by its moiivt : The motive of policy is profit ;
but the motive of genuine integrity is moral rectitude of

2nd Reason. — Politic honesty is merely superficial
eye-service; but honest actions no more constitute
honesty, than a king's robe and diadem make a king.

3rd Reason. — No reliance can be placed on such
honesty as springs from expediency, or the desire of gain ;
for immediately any other line of conduct may appear
more profitable, the same motive of policy will compel its
adoption: Whereas rectitude of heart knows no vacilla-
tion; but is single-minded, constant, and uniform.

4th Reason. — Politic honesty is a species of dissi-
mutation and hypocrisy ; and, therefore, is in direct
antagonism to that uprightness of soul which abhors all

5th Reason. — ^External honesty, assumed for motives
of policy, is always tainted with unholy wishes, and a
secret undercurrent of chicane ; for no mere assumption
is always consistent throughout : But the really honest
man is as upright when no eye is fixed upon him, and his
secret is secure, as in the broad eye of a gazing mul-

6th Reason. — Policy is purely selfish; but genuine
honesty has no regard to self.

7th Reason. — Policy is always venal; but upright-
ness of heart is never to be corrupted, or shaken {h)tn its

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Similes. — A fox is no sheep, though dressed in sheep's

The seed on the rock, where tliere was no depth of

The Jaj (in the fable) was no Dove, though he had
white-washed his feathers from mistaken policy.

A counter is no legal coin, though it contains the true
stamp and 8Uj)erscription.

The Ass (in u£sop's fable) was no Lion, though he put
on the lion^s hide.

Honesty without principle is like a mirage in the
desert, a lake without water.

Mere poUtic honesty is like a whited sepulchre ; which
is indeed beautiful externally, but within is full of all

An actor is no king, though he struts in royal append-

Historical Illustrations. — The ancient Pharisees
were very charitable, most scrupulous in their moral con-
duct, and in the discharge of every ceremonial observance;
yet our Lord perpetually told them, because they acted
thus merely to be seen of men, or from motives of policy,
they were worse than even the publicans and harlots;
whose conduct was more blameworthy, but whose hearts ,
were less corrupt. — MatL xxiii. 28.

The seven sons of Sceva were no disciples of Christ,
though they took upon themselves *' to call ov«r them
which had evil spirits in the name of Jesus. — Acts xix.

The Pharisee, who went up to the temple to pray, and
cried, saying, ** Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other
men are, extortioners, adulterers," &c. was no honest man,
thongh his conduct was irreproachable. — Luke^ xviii.

King Jolm was no friend to civil liberty, although, from
motives of policy, he signed the Magna Charta.

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64 THBlffE XVI.

King Henry VIII. cannot be called an honest num,
tbcmgh be exposed the frands of popery, and established
a more honest form of religion throughout his kingdom.

Who would call the disciples of Nicholas Machiavel
honest men, who adopt for their line of conduct the base
policy of their master; — " Pay no regard to virtue itself,
but only to the public reputation thereof ; for the credit
of integrity is a help to a man, but the thing itself a per-
petual hindcrance." This crooked policy has made the term
" Machiavellism" synonymous with perfidy and artifice.

David was no maniac, although from motives of policy
" he scrabbled on the doors, and let his spittle fall down
upon his beard," when he fled to Achish, the king of Gath.
—1 Sam, xxi. 10-13.

Quotations. — Not every one that saith unto me
" Lord, Lord," shall enter into the kingdom of God. —
MatL vii. 21-23.

Ho is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is
that circumcision which is outward in the flesh : but he
is a Jew which is one inwardly ; and circumcision is that
of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. — Rom. ii.
28, 29

The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. — 2 Cor.
iii. 6.

Not always actions show the man; we find

Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind. — Pope.

The%iost secret desire of wronging our neighbour, and
the most covert guile, destroy our pretence* to an honest
principle; as much as looking after a woman with un-
chaste thoughts destroys our pretences to purity of spirit.
— Law,

Follow not the common reputation of honosty, which
is for the most part no honesty at all ; but if you will
seem honest, be honest, or e)se seem as you are. — Wi/ait
to his son.

What we call an honest man, the French and Romans

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call a good man; applying honesty rather toqnalities and
principles which agree with hoiioiu* and esteem, than to
any set of ostensible actions. — Temple.

The utmost man can render is but small;
The principle and motive all in all. — Coivper,

Aetna non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.

Fallit enim vitium specie virtutis et umbra.

AfTectio nomen impunit open.

Themje XVIL a little Straw shows

Which way the Wind blows.

Introduction. — The most trivial actions and incon-
siderate words will often show more of a man^s natural
character than those of greater weight and deliberation.

1st Reason. — Actions of great pith and moment " being
the fruit of careful labour and long study ^ serve rather to
measure a man's industry and talent, than to point out his
natural character; but those of no importance, not being
subjected to thought or labour, are the spontaneous im-
pulses of simple nature.

2nd Reason. — Actions and words of much importance
are dressed up, like actors for the theatre; but those of
no moment are unadorned and undisguised.

3rd Reason. — Unguarded words and actions are either
too strong or too sudden for control^ and, therefore, show
what are the natural impulses far better than the con-
ventionalities of politeness, or the exotics of mere policy.

4th Reason. — -Any sudden inflvence has a more im-
mediate ejficl upon the natural impulses and prejudices
of the mind, than on the judgment and prudence; as a
gale of wintl would move loose straws sooner than heavy
timber: in (fonseqnence of which, judgment and pradence

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56 TflEMS XVU.

remain quiet, while the natural impulses and prejudices of
the mind are excited under such circumstances.

5th Reason. — Nature, like a loose coat, is too luxurious
to be abandoned entirely; but, like a loose coat, is not to
be seen in market or exchange: there are times, however,
when the luxury cannot be resisted, and would not even
if it could.

6th Reason. — The strongest impulses are the' last which
are brought under subjection^ and the Jlrst to break through
the trammels of restraint.

^TB. Reason. — The mind is constituted to form a judg^
mentfrom very fninute evidence, by the power of inference,
deduction, auology, and synthesis: in consequence of which,
it can form a judgment of a man^s natural character from
his most trivial words and actions.

8th Reason. — As face answereth to face in water, so
one mind is analogous to another; and the motives of a
stranger may be tried in our own crucible: hence a very
email sample will serve for a test, because we can judge of
others by ourselves.

Similes. — A little weed will indicate a climate;, soil, lo-
cality, or nation, far better than a garden of flowers, or a
plantation of trees: For example, a bramble shows poverty
of soil; a thistle, moisture; a nettle, proximity to human
dwellings. So, again, the hedges of England are variegated
with daisies, violets, and primroses ; the wilds of Scotland
with the heather ; Ireland with the shamrock ; Holland
with tiie gorgeous and scentless geranium ; India with the
marigold ; and so on.

A banner or motto will show to what nation an army or
fleet belongs, better than the build and general aspect of
the men and shii)s themselves.

A crest or coat of arms will indicate the nobility of an
ancient family far better than a house or i>ark, a robe of
Btate or costly banquet.

A little word, a look, or touch, will often convey more

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meaning than a whole Tolume of studied rhetoric ooold

A very little rise or fall in the mercury of a barometer
will indicate approaching weather better than the face of
the skies, or the whole map of the visible world.

A leaf will declare the character of a tree, as weD as a
sight of the tree itself could.

The Ass (in jEsop's fable) dressed in the skin of a Lion,
was detected by his ears, which protruded throi^h the

A foreigner, though he speaks good grammatical English,
and makes a most judicious selection of his words, may,
nevertheless, be detected by the tone of his voice, or the
incidental substitution of the letter d for th.

The Fox knew by the footmarks all pointing toward the
Lion's cave, that the den was dangerous, quite as well as if
she had seen the carcases actually devoured. — JEsop's fable,

A tune hummed or whistled in an idle moment will dis-
close a man's native country more effectually than his
general conversation.

A provincial word, or manner of pronouncing a letter,
will plainly shew to what nation or county the speaker
belongs. ,

Historical Illustrations. — Catiline knew, when the
senate left the bench on which he was sitting, that his con-
spiracy was discovered, and that he was an object of ab-
horrence, fAr better than from the powerful oration of the
consul Cicero. — Sallust.,

When ^neas and his desperate followers changed
armour with Androgeos and the Greeks, they were de-
tected by the tone of their voices and their foreign
accent. — VirgWs ^neld, ii.

Thetis, to prevent Achilles going to the Trojan war,
where she knew he would be killed, sent him privily to
the court of Lycomedes, disguised in fehiale attire. As,
however, Troy could not be taken without him, Ulysses


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resolved to find him out, which he did by displaying a
collection of wares, consisting of arms and jewels, before the
disguised hero; and when Achilles made choice of a sword
in preference to a trinket, he instantly betrayed the
warrior through the female dress.

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Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong. — Shakspeare,

A carpenter is known bj his chips.

Ex pede Herculcm (i. e. we may judge of the size of
Hercuies' stature by merely seeing the foot).

Ex uno disce omnes.

Naturam expeUas furca, tamen nsqne recurret.


Theme XVIII. Mental Cultivation conduces to both
Health and Happiness.

IxTRODrcnoN. — Literary pursuits are considered by
many ignorant persons as dull and unhealthy ; but ex-
perience testifies that they afford ever-varying and abiding
enjoyment, and more than an average portion of good

IsT Reasox. — Mind and body are so intimately con-
nected^ that each participates in the health and sickness,
the joy and sorrow, of the oth^r ; and, therefqfe, a ju-
dicious exercise of the mind contributes to the Vell-being
of the body, no less than health of body increases the
vigour of the mind.

2xD Reason.— Mental cultivation helps to balance the
animal passions, and keep them under discipline, which
greatly injure both health 'and happiness when suffered to
run riot and obtain the mastery.

3rd Reason. — Cultivation of the mind tends to eradicate
those vicious inclinations and rud£ pleasures which are so
frequently indulged in by gross and sensual minds, to the
injury of happiness and health.

4th Reason. — Education supplies a thcnisand new
smirces of enjoyment^ to keep the spirit cheerful, and the
temper sweet, than which nothing is more essential to
happiness and health.

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<$0 TBXMB XVm.

6th Reason. — Edncation indv^s with a new charm the
most wdinary objects of life. The stars, the flowers, the
very ground we tread on, furnish a stimulus to the well-
cultivated mind, which acts upon the nerves, and contri-
butes to the well-being of the bodj.

6th Reason. — Mental cultivation prevents (hot " tee-
dium vitcB " and ennui which greatly depresses the nervous
system, and deranges alike the functions of the mind and

7th Reason. — ^The companions of the well-educated,
instead of being gay, dissolute libertines, or dull, un-
lettered boors, are persons of cultivated minds ; and
afford new naental pleasures and bodily relaxation.

SiifiLES. — As wind not only clarifies the air, but by
opening the earth, renders it more prolific ; so mental cul-
tivation not only strengthens the mind, but by exciting the
intellectual functions diffuses a wholesome influence over
the nervous system.

As plants kept from the light not only lose their fine
colours, but also their woody strength ; so the darkness of
ignorance haa a baneful influence on the cheerfulness of
the raind^ as well as on the health of the body

As weariness of the body depresses the mind, so weari-
ness of the mind depresses the animal spirits.

As cultivation of the earth renders the soil more fruit-
ful, and the air more healthy ; so cultivation of the
mind ....

Asa genial fire is exhilarating to the spirits, and con-
ducive to health ; so is it with mental cultivation.

As the practice of dancing, singing, and rhetoric, in-
crease the a])petite, promote digestion, and exhilarate the
spirits, contributing to both health and happiness ; so edu-
cation, generally, has a beneficial effect uiwn the mental
and physical functions.

As trees, shrubs, and flowers not only delight the
senses, but purify the air (by absorbing carbonic acid and

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exhaKng oxygen); so mental cnltiTation defights and
pnrifies the mind, while it supplies a healthy stimuhis to
the body, and diverts the inclination from pernicious
Bensnal indolgences.

Historical Illustrations. — When Petrarch (th©
great Italian poet) was at Vaucluse, his friend, the Bishop
of Cavaillon, fearing that his too close application to study
was the cause of his declining health, locked up the books*
and writing desk of the student, saying to hira, " I interdict
you from pen, ink, paper, and books, for ten days." Pe-
trarch submitted. The first day passed in the most
tedious manner ; during the second day he suffered from
a violent headache ; and on the third he became affected
with low fever. The bishop, alarmed at these symptoms,
returned Petrarch the key of his library, and the next day
he seemed restored to his usual state of health.

The seven famous sages of antiquity all lived to a very
advanced age ; Cleobulus, the youngest of all, died at the
age of to years ; Thales, at the age of 91 ; Pittacus,
Chilo, and Bias, about 85 ; Solon, and Periander, at the
age of 81 years.

The five English philosophers (all except Sir Francis
Bacon, who died at the age of 66 years) lived beyond the
average age of man : thus, Roger Bacon lived to the age
of 80; the hon. Robert Boyle to 70; Locke to 73 ; and Sir
Isaac Xewton to 85.

The same may be said of foreigners : thus, Boerhaave,
the famous chemist and botanist, lived to the age of 70
years ; Galileo, the astronomer, to 78 ; Fontenelle (called
by Yoltuire), the universal genius, to 101, &c. Tliis list
might be easily extended to a very great length, add serve
to demonstrate that mental cultivation conduces to both
health and happiness.

Life assurances for clergymen, who are proverbially
jnen of letters, are considerably less than those for other
men : a practical illustration this of the acknowledged
feet, that mental cultivation conduces to longevity.

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62 TBSMB zvm*

Insanity has often been cured by bodily and mental
occupation, and has as often been produced by solitary
confinement, where there has been no employment for the
mind and body.

Quotations. — Mental stimulus is essential for healthy
bodily exercise. — Vomhe,

One of the rewards 'of philosophy is long life. — Bacon,

Happy is the man that findetb wisdom, and the man
that getteth understanding. Length of days is in her
right hand ; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
—Prov. iii. 13, 16, 17.

Get wisdom, get understanding, and the years of thy life
shall be many.

A cultivation of learning is req.uired to give a season-
ing to life, and make us taste its blessings. — Dryden,

To a mind well cultivated, no part of creation is in-
diflFerent; in the crowded city and howling wilderness; in
the flowery lawn and craggy mountain; in the murmur of
the rivulet and in the uproar of the ocean; in the radiance
of summer and gloom of winter; in the thunders of
heaven and in the whisper of the breeze, will be found
something to rouse or soothe the imagination, to draw
forth the affections, and employ the understanding. —

Animi cultus, quasi quidam humanitatis cibus. — Cicero.

Is mihi demum vivere, et frui anima, videtur, qui (aliquo
negotio intentus) praeclari facinoris aut artis bon© famam
quierit. — SaUuat.

Studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectaut, se-

Online LibraryEbenezer Cobham BrewerA guide to English composition, or One hundred and twenty subjects analysed ... → online text (page 5 of 29)