ignorant peasant, without fault, is greater than the philosopher with many; for what is genius or courage without a heart? An honest man is the noblest work of God.”

“I always held that hackney’d maxim of Pope,” returned Mr. Burchell, “as very unworthy of a man of genius, and a base desertion of his own superiority. As the reputation of books is raised not by their freedom from defect, but the greatness of their beauties; so should that of men be prized not for their exemption from fault, but the size of those virtues they are possessed of. The scholar may want prudence, the statesman may have pride, and the champion ferocity; but shall we prefer to these the low mechanic, who laboriously plods through life without censure or applause? We might as well prefer the tame correct paintings of the Flemish school to the erroneous, but sublime animations of the Roman pencil.”

“Sir,” replied I, “your present observation is just, when there are shining virtues and minute defects; but when it appears that great vices are opposed in the same mind to as extraordinary virtues, such a character deserves contempt.”

“Perhaps,” cried he, “there may be some such monsters as you describe, of great vices joined to great virtues; yet in my progress through life I never yet found one instance of their existence: on the contrary, I have ever perceived, that where the mind was capacious, the affections were good. And, indeed, Providence seems kindly our friend in this particular, thus to debilitate the understanding where the heart is corrupt, and diminish the power where there is the will to do mischief. This rule seems to extend even to other animals: the little vermin race are ever treacherous, cruel, and cowardly, whilst those endowed with strength and power, are generous, brave, and gentle.”

“These observations sound well,” returned I, “and yet it would be easy this moment to point out a man,” and I fixed my eye steadfastly upon him, “whose head and heart form a most detestable contrast. Ay, sir,” continued I, raising my voice, “and I am glad to have this opportunity of detecting him in the midst of his fancied security. Do you know this, sir, this pocket-book?”—“Yes, sir,” returned he, with a face of impenetrable assurance, “that pocket-book is mine, and I am glad you have found it.”—“And do you know,” cried I, “this letter? Nay, never falter, man; but look me full in the face: I say, do you know this letter?” —“That letter,” returned he, “yes, it was I that wrote that letter.”—“And how could you,” said I, “so basely, so ungratefully presume to write this letter?”—“And how came you,” replied he, with looks of unparalleled effrontery, “so basely to presume to break open this letter? Don’t you know, now, I could hang you all for this? All that I have to do is to swear at the next justice’s that you have been guilty of breaking open the lock of my pocket-book, and so hang you all up at this door.” This piece of unexpected insolence raised me to such a pitch, that I could scarcely govern my passion. “Ungrateful wretch, begone, and no longer pollute my dwelling with thy baseness: begone, and never let me see thee again: go from my doors, and the only punishment I wish thee is an alarmed conscience, which will be a sufficient tormentor!” So saying, I threw him his pocket-book, which he took up with a smile, and shutting the clasps with the utmost composure, left us, quite astonished at the serenity of his assurance. My wife was particularly enraged that nothing could make him angry, or make him seem ashamed of his villianies. “My dear,” cried I, willing to calm those passions that had been raised too high among us, “we are not to be surprised that bad men want shame; they only blush at being detected in doing good, but glory in their vices.

“Guilt and shame, says the allegory, were at first companions, and in the beginning of their journey inseparably kept together. But their union was soon found to be disagreeable and inconvenient to both; Guilt gave Shame frequent uneasiness, and Shame often betrayed the secret conspiracies of Guilt. After long disagreement, therefore, they at length consented to part for ever. Guilt boldly walked forward alone, to overtake Fate, that went before in the shape of an executioner: but Shame being naturally timorous, returned back to keep company with Virtue, which, in the beginning of their journey, they had left behind. Thus, my children, after men have travelled through a few stages in vice, Shame forsakes them, and returns back to wait upon the few virtues they have still remaining.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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