Page:Moralreflection00stangoog.djvu/26

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xviii
INTRODUCTION.

quently put forward by men, and every one must be enté tained by the exquisite subtlety of manner in which he fai laid bare feelings and motives always most carefully hS den, often unacknowledged, sometimes unknown to tl actors themselves. Truly he may be said to have " anat mized" man and shown what breeds about his heart The spectacle he offers us is, it may be admitted, decided gloomy, and by no means gratifying to human pride; bu on the other hand. La Rochefoucauld is very far from d nying, as has been represented, the reality of virtue. ^Sê eral of the maxims show a complete recognition of î existence, and indeed a desire that it should be freed fro the odium created by the pretenders that usurp its nam The precise amount of truth which is allowed to be foui in the maxims will perhaps always vary with the expe: ence or the feelings of individual readers: but it may 1 remarked as strange, that any general denunciations of ti depravity of human nature are almost always tacitly, if n readily, acquiesced in; but when this principle comes be applied to particular actions, it is indignantly scoute The Scriptures have laid down that the heart of man " deceitful and desperately wicked;" the Church, that " m is far gone from original righteousness and has no streng of himself to turn to good works;" and that " not only < all just works, but even all holy desires, and all good cou sels, proceed from God." Moralists as well as theologia have been earnest in urging this point, and would appe to have been successful, at least in theory; but when; author like La Rochefoucauld attempts to elicit the sar principle from a subtle and penetrating analysis of hum; actions, the world seems to shrink from the practical app cation of the theory it had approved. The reason appea to be, that a general statement of a principle, as it concer