Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/230

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218
SAYINGS OF SIGVAT.

upon it. Nature is savage enough, and is likely to continue so; I don't think that she has made her arrangements specially for our placid and inane comfort, nor do I find that the saints and the goody philosophers are her darlings. We must have teeth, and strong and sharp ones, to crack the hard nuts she throws to us. To think that there are grown men always talking treacle and pap! men who have seen and heard a thunderstorm, and are not ignorant of the existence of shark and crocodile and tiger!

Very often to the optimist philosophers or sophs who pestered him, he would give no other answer than that sentence of the great sage which he hugely relished: "Man is not what one calls a happy animal; his appetite for sweet victual is so enormous."

To some of the sect of the Christians he once remarked: In the old Jewish book of your idolatry I find one very good text, though read as I read it in English, it means not quite the same it meant in the original. Perchance because it is so excellent, I do not remember to have heard or seen a sermon upon it. "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope" The iniquity which a man draws and tugs painfully to him, that is the abomination; not the iniquity which itself draws him. The so-called sin which glows with hot fire of passion, one does not detest even when it is such sin as one's self is not inclined to. But they who violate their own nature, who force themselves to sin for which they have no liking but which happens to be fashionable, who sacrifice themselves to show and tickling vanity, these are the poor dupes and fools one finds it hard to keep temper with. Yet what an immense portion of the world's iniquity is drawn with cords of vanity! what a great share of the world's sin is dragged onerously as it were with a cart-rope! How many men take more trouble against their own inclinations to be