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still more hateful. The first motive of SERM.
X. the proud man, I have just observed, is to raise himself, and the depression of others is but the means by which he persuades himself that he shall compass his end; but the envious man has not even this palliation, ignoble as it is; an impatience of excellence, an indignation at me. rit, is all which he feels, and if he can but degrade and disgrace the distinguished, it is all for which he cares.
A third origin of this vice is malice; we have received from our neighbour some real or imaginary injury; some opposition of interests has arisen between us; or some other circumstance has happened, be it what it may, which has provoked our dislike of him ; perhaps it is not in our power to avenge ourselves any other way, or not in our idea to an adequate degree, we therefore commence an attack on his character, vilify and abuse
SERM. him on all occasions, disparaging his me. X.
rits, and aggravating his failings, whenever we have opportunity.
The wicked, hateful, despicable nature of these passions is sufficiently obvious, and these are the usual springs, from which speaking evil of others may be deduced : the bare enumeration of them is alono sufficient to bring a disgrace and odium on whatever flows from them, but we should be still more on our guard against filling into this vice of slander, when we hear the great impediment to our interest and happiness, which it must prove both in this world and the next.
But, first, I will just mention one other ground of scandal, and that is vanity, There are many who repeat and aggravate stories to the disgrace of their neighbours, who are said to be influenced by no other motive than the desire of hearing themselves talk, and contributing to the enter
tainment of their companions : but it may SERM. be questioned whether vanity be ever the sole motive, and whether, in a greater or less degree, pride, envy, or malice do not mingle with it; or at the best, supposing the vain man entirely free from any vice in his defamatory practices, and instigated merely by folly, he is yet a pandar to the vices and bad passions of others : he does an infinity of mischief, and that perhaps to the most deserving, and is guilty of the greatest cruelty and injustice. He, who uttereth slander, is a fool; he is a great enemy to his own interest and happiness, both in this world and the next. This as, sertion is true, not only of a slanderer, properly so called-of one who invents and propagates falsehoods to the damage of another's reputation--but of him likewise, who on slight suspicions and weak grounds takes. up, and goes about repeating ru• mours, which may possibly in some de.
SERM. gree be true. If the esteem of his fellowX.
creatures be of any value in his eyes, let him remember, that he of all others stands the least chance of possessing it; the inventor of slander, the propagator of calumny, the retailer of scandal and detraction, is the object of universal contempt and abhorrence: to those who are immediately injured by him he is particularly odious, nor is there any other kind of rob. ber, whom they would not more readily pardon, than the robber of their good name.
But it is not the injured person alone who pursues the calumniator with his hatred; all men make common cause against him; the virtuous and noble cannot bear the thought of being deprived of a wellearned reputation, and of being subjected to the pestilential breath of obloquy :they of course hold him in detestation, from whom, knowing how he behaves to
wards others, they have so much reason SERM.
X. to expect injuries of the same kind to themselves; nay, even the vicious dislike and dread him, and though, from the base nature of all sorts of vice, they may take a pleasure in listening to his defamatory conversation, yet for his person they still entertain an aversion ; though they may love the slander, they hate the slanderer. But with his character his views in life must suffer at the same time, since who will have dealings with, who will trust, assist, or promote the common enemy of mankind ? His peace of mind too must be entirely gone, as he must live in perpetual apprehension of being detected and brought to shame, and of suffering either in his person or his property for his falsities and ill-nature. Such, and many more, are the evils which attend the calumniator; and, in addition to them, without repentVol.I.