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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.

很多人抱怨命运,却很少有人抱怨自然;人们越是认为自然对他们仁爱有加,便越是嘀咕命运对他们的所谓不公。

人们常常对命运发出诘难:我为何没有财富、地位、权力以及诸如此类的东西;但人们却很少或从不这样责怪过自然:我为何没有长处、天赋、机智或美丽以及诸如此类的东西。

事实是,自然总是将天赋公平地分配给人们,比人们通常认为的还要不偏不倚,很少过分地慷慨!也很少吝啬。人与人之间的巨大差异是由于教育和环境使然。文化修养改良了天赋,机遇环境诱发了天赋。我们并不怀疑在农田耕作,在柜台后营业,甚至在豪门贵族中间有很多潜在的培根们、洛克们、牛顿们、凯撒们、克伦威尔们和马尔伯勒们,如果允许我用“潜在的”这个学究味浓重的词的话;但是要使果实具有它全部的品质和风味,还必须有耕耘过的泥土,必须有适宜的季节。

倘若大自然有时候有那么一点偏心,没有将天平摆正;倘若有一头过重,我们就会在轻的一头投上一枚大小适当的虚荣的砝码,它每次都会将天平重新调平,从不出差错。因此就出现了这种情况:几乎没有人会毫无保留地和另一个人里里外外全部对换一下。

虽然对于自然的分配,人人都感到满意;然而肯听听她的忠告的人却是如此之少!能将她当作向导而跟随其后的人又是如此之少!她徒然地为我们指出一条通向真理的笔直的坦途;而虚荣、幻想、矫情、时髦却俨然以她的面貌出现,暗中将我们引向虚幻的歧途,走向愚笨和谬误。

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