May we not find the “whole duty of man” condensed into a few brief sentences, which have been expressed by thoughtful men in all ages and in countries far apart?—such as:
“Love thy neighbour as thyself,”
“Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you.”
The chief themes of all teachers of morality are: benevolence and beneficence; tolerance of the opinions of others; self-control; the acquisition of knowledge—that jewel beyond price; the true uses of wealth; the advantages of resolute, manly exertion; the dignity of labour; the futility of worldly pleasures; the fugacity of time; man’s individual insignificance.
They are never weary of inculcating taciturnity in preference to loquacity, and the virtues of patience and resignation. They iterate and reiterate the fact that true happiness is to be found only in contentment; and they administer consolation and infuse hope by reminding us that as dark days are followed by bright days, so times of bitter adversity are followed by seasons of sweet prosperity; and thus, like the immortal Sir Hudibras, when “in doleful dumps”, we may “cheer ourselves with ends of verse, and sayings of philosophers.”
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