IT is to be observed that each virtue has a corre­sponding vice which is its opposite; and the genera of the virtues (as we have seen) being four, the genera of the vices might appear at first sight to be the same in number, — ignorance answering to wis­dom, cowardice to courage, lasciviousness to tem­perance, and iniquity to equity. Now what we ascertain from a closer examination is this: that every virtue has a limit which it no sooner over­passes, whether by excess or deficiency, than it verges towards vice.* The virtues then are in the situation of means, and the vices in the situation of extremes; or like a centre and circle, where the centre is the farthest of all points from its circum­ference, and other points are infinite, but all nearer on some side to the circumference: according to which the vices corresponding to every virtue will be infinite. Again: exactitude in the path of virtue is like motion in a straight line, and deviation from virtue is like deviation from that: now the straight line being the shortest that can be drawn between any two points, it is clear that between two points there can be but one straight line, while the lines not straight may be infinite. There is then but one road to which we can adhere in advancing to perfec­tion, but infinite are those whereby we can deviate from it.*

Now since it is extremely difficult to find a true mean, and, when found, more difficult to keep to it, hence it is that among the band of Prophets* they describe the way of rectitude as finer than a hair and sharper than a sword. And so perhaps the right way, direction to which it is the purport of the glorious opening of the Kurān to pray for,* may be no other than this. For in the opinion of the chiefest Doctors and most orthodox Fathers,* it is certain, that those particulars of another life by reference to which the veritable instructor has addressed himself to our hopes and fears, are entirely figures of habits and practices according to men’s predicament wherein they will be dealt with in their final home (as we may understand from the declara­tion, Sleeping are men, and when they die they wake, and from sundry other such enunciations which abound both in Scripture and Sunnah): the material of such figures being either in the culpable or com­mendable of the habits and practices acquired by men in the course of their earthly existence. If the sincere seeker would but put aside the fancy and suspicion which clings about his discernment like dust about his eyes; if he would but free his pene­tration from the servitude in which it is riveted by the followers of custom, as the serf’s neck in his iron collar, this fact would dawn upon him in the glorious expressions, Truly hell is a circle about the unbelieving, and the prophetical assertions, — “He that drinks in a vessel of gold or silver, verily in his maw the fire of hell shall gurgle” — and “Verily the ground of Paradise is extension, and the plants of it are hallelujahs to God’s praise.” That world-bruited dictum, “Futurity is our estate,” if he lis­tened with his judgment as well as his ear, would only be a repetition of the Poet’s sentiment, —

“Well spoke the dying husbandman
To the son he left alone,
‘Light of my eyes! thy hand must reap
That which thy hand hath sown.’”*

According to these premises, then, the straight way of the day of judgment, which is to be drawn, as the Prophets tell us, in the regions of the final meeting, over the summit of hell,* is a type of inter­mediacy in the practices of morals; and hell itself a type of the extremities, which are the vices: and he that is now firm-footed on the present straight way, never deviating from his course along the path of equilibrium, will be able on the last day to pass over the other straight way, and arrive at that eternal Paradise which is the abode of the pure: and whosoever seeks to deviate from the straight way in his present state, will be unable to traverse that way in his future one, and must remain in the hell which is prepared for the rebellious.* There is a saying ascribed to Pythagoras, that every quality which a man acquires originates an angel or a demon, which abides by him, after the intercourse of life is at an end, as a companion and attendant; if good, then to good; if bad, then to bad. How care­ful then men ought to be what companion they engender for themselves.*

To return, however, to our immediate subject. Mean is used in two significations — the true mean, or that which bears the same relation to both extremities, like as four is the mean between two and six, — and this is analogous to the true equator, on the unattainableness of which so many proofs are advanced; and the other the involved mean, in analogy with the equilibria which physicists affirm of species and individual.* Now the mean which in this science is the subject of discussion may be of the second class; and in determining the con­ditions of the virtues a different estimate must be applied to every individual, nay, to every time and state of the same individual; so that to every one of the virtues of every individual there will be an infinite number of corresponding vices.*

Here, however, our reflection is shaded by a doubt. For when we assign the mean of this science to the class of equipoise manifested in species and person, undoubtedly it will possess a latitude, similar to the latitude of temperament;* so that it is no longer necessary in defining it to insist on the exactitude of unity. To relieve our­selves of this obscurity, the way is this: even as of all the degrees of temperamental latitude there is some one degree which is superior to all the others, and nearest of all to perfect equipoise, so of all these degrees there is one superior to the rest; and that is the one of which we are actually in search: all other degrees, according to their distance from this one, being more or less tainted with excess or deficiency. And like as individual and species do not exist in those other degrees in their completest form, yet by reason of their assignable proximity to that degree, the essence of species and individual is maintained; so also in regard to the virtues, absolute virtue is that degree, and other degrees are to be numbered among the virtues, according to their proximity thereto: just as in the bodily equi­poise, the other degrees, though they come not within the true equipoise, nor are devoid of the taint of deviation, yet as no observable disturbance results therefrom to the actions, they are included in the series of degrees in equipoise. According to this exposition, therefore, the difference in the steps of perfection will be measured by the difference in their proximity to the true equipoise:* so that the prin­ciples of mental therapeutics will follow the analogy and standard of therapeutics for the body. No doubt equipoise, in its stricter meaning, is not without its application, though never devoid of difficulties. Indeed, if in the height of our correctness, we were to limit its description to the exactitude of unity, our lucubrations would be inapplicable to fact. God it is who directs in the straight way whom he will.

Deviation from the mean being either on the side of excess or on the side of deficiency, there will be two vices corresponding to every virtue,* which must itself be a mean between the two. Since then it has been established that the genera of the virtues are four, the genera of the vices must be eight: two of them extremes in relation to wisdom, and these are flightiness and stupidity; flightiness on the side of excess, and that is the exercise of the power of thought in what is not proper or beyond the proper degree (which may likewise be termed cunning); and stupidity on the side of deficiency, and that is intentional suspension of the power of thought, or discontinuing the exercise of it on proper occasions, or stopping short in such exercise at less than the proper limit. Two others are in the extremities of courage, rashness and cowardice; the first on the side of excess, and that is entering on situations of danger which the judgment does not approve of; the second on the side of deficiency, which is shun­ning what ought not to be shunned. The two in extremes of temperance are lasciviousness and indifference; the first in excess, being the inclination to lechery beyond the desirable degree; the second in deficiency, being a quiescence in the spirit from exertion in pursuit of urgent gratifications, such as in law and reason may be desired or allowed, — and this from choice, not from organization. The two in extremes of equity are tyranny and servility; the first on the side of excess, being the usurpation of men’s rights and properties; the second in deficiency, being the support of a tyrant in his tyranny, and obsequiousness to him in what it is interdicted him to do.* Some designate both extremes of equity by the single term oppression; which is tyrannizing either over self or over others:* and like as equity comprehends the collective perfections, its opposite comprehends the entire vices. Hence it has been said by Abdulla Ansāry and other philosophers, that there is no fault without injury;* every injury being oppression, either of one’s self, or of others. It has been observed by many great men,* that on most questions there is variance even among the ortho­dox; but all are agreed in recommending the pro­motion of enjoyment, and in interdicting the doing of injury. The Hadiyah Saheeh (Spur of Truth) says that the good deeds of the oppressor are trans­ferred to the account of the oppressed. As much may be understood from the glorious text, Us they injure not, but their own souls.

Now by the same analogy we are to apply the principle of intermediacy to all the species falling under the generic virtues.*