52 SAMUEL JOHNSON
his own passions and those of others to en- counter, and is embarrassed with a thousand in- conveniences which confound him with variety of impulse, and either perplex or obstruct his way. He is forced to act without deliberation, and obliged to choose before he can examine; he is surprised by sudden alterations of the state of things, and changes his measures ac- cording to superficial appearances ; he is led by others, either because he is indolent, or because he is timorous ; he is sometimes afraid to know what is right, and sometimes finds friends or enemies diligent to deceive him.
We are, therefore, not to wonder that most fail, amidst tumult, and snares, and danger, in the observance of those precepts, which they lay down in solitude, safety, and tranquillity, with a mind unbiased, and with liberty un- obstructed. It is the condition of our present state to see more than we can attain; the exactest vigilance and caution can never main- tain a single day of unmingled innocence, much less can the utmost efforts of incorporated mind reach the summits of speculative virtue.
It is, however, necessary for the idea of perfection to be proposed, that we may have some object to which our endeavours are to be directed ; and he that is the most deficient in the duties of life, makes some atonement