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Did you deal with fortune fairly

Most people complain of fortune, few of nature; and the kinder they think the latter has been to them, the more they murmur at what they call the injustice of the former.

Why have not I the riches, the rank, the power, of such and such, is the common expostulation with fortune; but why have not I the merit, the talents, the wit, or the beauty, of such and such others, is a reproach rarely or never made to nature.

The truth is, that nature, seldom profuse, and seldom niggardly, has distributed her gifts more equally than she is generally supposed to have done. Education and situation make the great difference. Culture improves, and occasions elicit, natural talents I make no doubt but that there are potentially, if I may use that pedantic word, many Bacons, Lockes, Newtons, Caesars, Cromwells, and Mariboroughs at the ploughtail behind counters, and, perhaps, even among the nobility; but the soil must be cultivated, and the season favourable, for the fruit to have all its spirit and flavour.

If sometimes our common parent has been a little partial, and not kept the scales quite even; if one preponderates too much, we throw into the lighter a due counterpoise of vanity, which never fails to set all right. Hence it happens, that hardly any one man would, without reverse, and in every particular, change with any other.

Though all are thus satisfied with the dispensations of nature, how few listen to her voice! How to follow her as a guide! In vain she points out to us the plain and direct way to truth, vanity, fancy, affection, and fashion assume her shape and wind us through fairy-ground to folly and error.

很多人抱怨命運,卻很少有人抱怨自然;人們越是認為自然對他們仁愛有加,便越是嘀咕命運對他們的所謂不公。

人們常常對命運發出詰難:我為何沒有財富、地位、權力以及諸如此類的東西;但人們卻很少或從不這樣責怪過自然:我為何沒有長處、天賦、機智或美麗以及諸如此類的東西。

事實是,自然總是將天賦公平地分配給人們,比人們通常認為的還要不偏不倚,很少過分地慷慨!也很少吝嗇。人與人之間的巨大差異是由于教育和環境使然。文化修養改良了天賦,機遇環境誘發了天賦。我們并不懷疑在農田耕作,在柜臺后營業,甚至在豪門貴族中間有很多潛在的培根們、洛克們、牛頓們、凱撒們、克倫威爾們和馬爾伯勒們,如果允許我用“潛在的”這個學究味濃重的詞的話;但是要使果實具有它全部的品質和風味,還必須有耕耘過的泥土,必須有適宜的季節。

倘若大自然有時候有那么一點偏心,沒有將天平擺正;倘若有一頭過重,我們就會在輕的一頭投上一枚大小適當的虛榮的砝碼,它每次都會將天平重新調平,從不出差錯。因此就出現了這種情況:幾乎沒有人會毫無保留地和另一個人里里外外全部對換一下。

雖然對于自然的分配,人人都感到滿意;然而肯聽聽她的忠告的人卻是如此之少!能將她當作向導而跟隨其后的人又是如此之少!她徒然地為我們指出一條通向真理的筆直的坦途;而虛榮、幻想、矯情、時髦卻儼然以她的面貌出現,暗中將我們引向虛幻的歧途,走向愚笨和謬誤。

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