( Originally Published 1879 )
IT is the office of judgment to compare the ideas received through the senses with one another, and thereby to gain right conceptions of things and events. Hence it by degrees forms for itself a standard of duty and propriety, accumulates rules and maxims for conduct, and materials for reflection and meditation.
The judgment not only receives, investigates, and arranges the ideas presented to it, but it also regulates and directs the other faculties, where their exertions may be most beneficial and compensating. It also restrains them from undue excursiveness, and prevents their wandering into unprofitable and vicious efforts.
The most necessary talent in a man of conversation, which is what we ordinarily intend by a gentleman, is a good judgment. He that has this in perfection is master of his companion, without letting him see it; and has the same advantage over men of any other qualifications whatsoever, as one that can see would have over a blind man of ten times his strength.
Judgment, too; is abused in its use, especially when used to judge others. Knaves try to help themselves, by pretending to help others. Great ingenuity, industry, and perseverance are manifested in the modes of attack. False sympathy, flattery, a tender concern for your interest, bare-faced impudence and hypocrisy, make their attacks in front-whilst slander, falsehood, dark innuendoes, and damning praise, assail the rear. Pliny says, that Julius Coesar blamed so ingeniously, that his censures were mistaken for praise. Many, at the present day, praise only to reproach. As has been observed by an eminent writer, " They use envenomed praise, which, by a side blow, exposes, in the person they commend, such faults as they dare not, in any other way, lay open." Deeply is the poison of calumny infused in this way—the venom of a coward, and the cunning of a knave combined.
He that sees ever so accurately, ever so finely into the motives of other people's acting, may possibly be entirely ignorant as to his own: it is by the mental as the corporal eye, the object may be placed too near the sight to be seen truly, as well as so far, off; nay, too near to be seen at all.
A RIGHT judgment
The great misfortune, arising from a disposition to judge others, and meddle with their affairs, consists in its being void of genuine philanthropy. Rare instances may occur when a person intrudes himself upon another for good—but such intrusions are, "like angels' visits, few and far between." It is of the contrary, and by far more numerous class, that we speak—men and women, who look at others through a smoked glass—that they may avoid the brightness of the good qualities, and discover more clearly the bad-who first perform the office of the green fly, that other flies may prey upon the putridity they produce—scavengers of reputation, who gather the faults, blemishes, and infirmities of their neighbors into a Pandora box—and there pamper them, like a turtle for a holiday dinner—until they are inflated to an enormous size; they are then thrown into the market, and astonish every beholder.
Devils blush, and angels weep over such a disposition as this. It is a canker worm in the body politic—the destroyer of reputation; the bane of peace in society;, the murderer of innocence; a foul blot upon human. nature; a curse in community, and a disgrace to our species.
Its baleful influence is felt, its demoniac effects are experienced, in all the walks of life. In the political arena within the pale of the church, and in the domestic circle—its miasma is infused. The able statesman, the profound jurist, the eloquent advocate, the pulpit orator, the investigating philosopher, the. skillful physician, the judicious merchant, the industrious mechanic, the honest farmer, the day laborer,, the humblest peasant, the child in the nursery—have all experienced the scorpion lashes of this imp of Satan. Nay, more—female character, basking in the sunshine of innocence, has often been withered, blighted, ruined,, by its chilling breath.
Let each reader examine and see if this propensity,, so deeply rooted in human nature, is exercising an influence over his or her mind. If so, banish it from your bosom, as you would a deadly viper. Let its enormity be held up to children, by parents and teachers, that they may learn to dread, despise, and avoid it. Teach them charity, forbearance, forgiveness, and all. the virtues that adorn our race.
Dear reader, does this propensity exist in your heart? If so, banish it, for it will do you much harm, and in time ruin your soul.