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over those performances and incidents, which promote vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, and to display the minute detail of daily life, where external appendages are cast aside, and men excel each other only by prudence and by virtue. There are many invisible circumstances which whether we read as inquirers after natural or moral knowledge, are more important than public occurrences. Thus the story of Melancthon affords a striking lecture on the value of time, by informing us, that when he had an appointment, he expected not only the hour but the minute to be fixed, that the day might not run out in the idleness of suspense. And all the plans and enterprises of De Wit, are now of less importance to the world, than the part of his personal character which represents him as careful of health, and negligent of life. In the estimation of uncorrupt reason, what is of most use is of most value. Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man, rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise."
Neither are eccentric characters the best suited to instruct and impress. These can be easily made to awaken notice, and therefore
their lives are often written and greedily read but as the former subjects cannot be imitated so these ought not. Eccentricity is sometimes found connected with genius, but it does not coalesce with true wisdom. Hence men of the first order of intellect have never betrayed it; and hence also men of secondary talents drop it as they grow wiser; and are satisfied to found their consequence on real and solid excellency, not on peculiarity and extravagance. They are content to awaken regard and obtain applause by the rectitude and gracefulness of their going, rather than to make passengers stare and laugh by leaping over the wall, or tumbling along the road. True greatness is serious: trifling is beneath its dignity. We are more indebted to the regular, sober, constant course of the sun, than to the glare of the comet: the one indeed, occupies our papers, but the other enriches our fields and gardens; we gaze at the strangeness of the one, but we live by the influence of the other.
For the purposes of biography, those lives are the most eligible that are the most imitable; and these are derived from characters that belong to our own community, that are found in the same relations and conditions with ourselves; whose circumstances make us feel for
the time the emotions which would be excited by the same good or evil happening to ourselves; whose attainments while they resulted from the divine blessing, appear not to have been preternatural, but were made under no greater advantages than our own; whose progress was not less owing to the stroke of the oar, than the favourableness of the wind; whose excellences while they do not discourage us by their perfection, animate us by their degree; whose success teaches us not how to be great, but how to be good and happy; whose piety is not fluctuating, but steady; not visionary, but producing a beautiful correspondence to all the claims of the stations in which they are placed.
Those lives are worthy of remark that exhibit a sameness of principle in diversified circumstances. For the changing scenes through which a man passes, render his history at once more interesting and more profitable: they revolve his character, and we behold it successively in every point of light.
A life is deserving of regard that has filled various offices and relations, and has been exemplary in each of them. They that were connected with him, and those who were under his care will be likely to remember his instructions and example; while he serves as a model for
others who are called to move in the same direction with himself.
Our great moralist admires a life in which a man is his own biographer." Those relations. are commonly of most value in which the writer tells his own story. He that recounts the life of another, commonly dwells most upon conspicuous events, lessens the familiarity of his tale to increase its dignity, shews his favorite at a distance decorated and magnified like the ancient actors in their tragic dress, and endea vors to hide the man, that he may produce a hero. But if it be true which was said by a French prince, that no man was a hero to the ser÷ vants of his chamber; it is equally true, that every man is yet less a hero to himself. He that is most elevated above the crowd by the importance of his employment, or the reputation of his genius, feels himself affected by fame or business, but as they influence his domestic life. The high and low, as they have the same faculties and the same senses, have no less similitude in their pains and pleasures. The sensations are the same in all, though produced by different occasions. The prince feels the same pain when an invader seizes a province, as the farmer when a thief drives away his cow. Men thus equal in themselves, will
appear equal in honest and impartial biography; and those whom fortune or nature place at the greatest distance, may afford instruction to each other.
The writer of his own life has at least the first qualification of an historian, the knowledge of the truth; and though it may be plausibly objected that his temptations to disguise it, are equal to his opportunities of knowing it, yet I cannot but think that impartiality may be expected with equal confidence from him that relates the passages of his own life, as from him that delivers the transactions of another. that sits down calmly and voluntarily to review his life for the admonition of posterity, or to amuse himself, and leaves this account unpublished, may be commonly presumed to tell truth, since falsehood cannot appease his own mind, and fame will not be heard beneath the tomb."
If these considerations are allowed, I am fully justified in having wished to send forth the following account of the Rev. Cornelius Winter. It was principally written by himself. He has moved in a variety of relative situations. His life though it has not made so much noise in the world as the progress of some others, has been in no small degree diversified and eventful; and