An enquiry concerning the principles of morals: By David Hume, Esq;.
- SECTION. Page.
- I. Of the general Principles of Morals. 1
- II. Of Benevolence. 11
- III. Of Juſtice. 33
- IV. Of Political Society. 63
- V. Why Utility pleaſes. 73
- VI. Of Qualities uſeful to Ourſelves. 105
- VII. Of Qualities immediately agreeable to Ourſelves. 143
- VIII. Of Qualities immediately agreeable to Others. 161
- IX. Concluſion of the Whole. 171
- APPENDIX I. Concerning Moral Sentiment. 197
- APPENDIX II. Some farther Conſiderations with regard to Juſtice. 213
- A Dialogue. 223
Page 1. Line 10. for excepted read expected. P. 12. L.24. read our own Gratification. P. 15. L. 2. for one read a. P. 18. L. 3. for others read other Motives. P. 19. L. 9. for for read of. P. 21. L. 1. for from it read from Fame. P. 36. L. 6. for Fellow read Fellows. P. 43. L. 1. for pointed read painted. P. 46. L. 22. read ſerve to no manner. P. 47. L. 4. for to whom he is not bound by any Ties read to none of which he is bound. P. 50. L. ult. read Render Poſſeſſions ever ſo equal, Men's different Degrees. P. 69. L. 17. where the Search for Health or Pleaſure brings. P. 82. L. 18. for then read theſe. P. 83. L. 4. read that of the Community. P. 86. L. 15. read Circumſtance. P. 91. L. 1. read threaten'd. P. 95. L. 1. for alone read along, P. 98. L. 5. for will read ſhall. P. 117. L. 10. read pretty nearly of the ſame Kind or Species. P. 129. L. 11. for prof ſſes read poſſeſſes. P. 145. L. 5. read this Paſſage. P. 150. L. 22. for even read ever. P. 174. L. 18. read ſerve to no manner. P. 178. L. 24. read ariſe. P. 202. L. 9. read is often highly laudable. P. 205. L. 6. read and muſt ſuſpend. P. 217. L. penult. read tends. P. 227. L. 17. read had been courted. P. 233. L. 11. read that there was a Nation.
DISPUTES with Perſons, pertinaciouſly obſtinate in their Principles, are, of all others, the moſt irkſome; except, perhaps, thoſe with Perſons, who really do not believe at all the Opinion they defend, but engage in the Controverſy, from Affectation, from a Spirit of Oppoſition, or from a Deſire of ſhowing Wit and Ingenuity, ſuperior to the reſt of Mankind. The ſame blind Adherence to their own Arguments is to be excepted in both; the ſame Contempt of their Antagoniſts; and the ſame paſſionate Vehemence, in inforcing Sophiſtry and Falſhood. And as reaſoning is not the Source, whence either Diſputant derives his Tenets; 'tis in vain to expect, that any Logic, which ſpeaks not to the Affections, will ever engage him to embrace ſounder Principles.
[Page 2] THOSE who have refuſed the Reality of moral Diſtinctions, may be ranked in the latter Claſs, amongſt the diſingenuous Diſputants; nor is it conceivable, that any human Creature could ever ſeriouſly believe, that all Characters and Actions were alike entitled to the Affection and Regard of every one. The Difference, which Nature has plac'd betwixt one Man and another, is ſo wide, and this Difference is ſtill ſo much farther widened, by Education, Example, and Habit, that, where the oppoſite Extremes come at once under our Apprehenſion, there is no Scepticiſm ſo ſcrupulous, and ſcarce any Aſſurance ſo determin'd, as abſolutely to deny all Diſtinction betwixt them. Let a Man's Inſenſibility be ever ſo great, he muſt often be touch'd with the Images of RIGHT and WRONG; and let his Prejudices be ever ſo obſtinate, he muſt obſerve, that others are ſuſceptible of like Impreſſions. The only Way, therefore, of converting an Antagoniſt of this Kind, is to leave him to himſelf. For, finding that No-body keeps up the Controverſy with him, 'tis probable he will, at laſt, of himſelf, from mere Wearineſs, come over to the Side of common Senſe and Reaſon.
THERE has been a Controverſy ſtarted of late, much better worth Examination, concerning the [Page 3] general Foundation of MORALS, whether they are derived from REASON or from SENTIMENT; whether we attain the Knowledge of them by a Chain of Argument and Deduction, or by an immediate Feeling and finer internal Senſe; whether, like all ſound Judgment of Truth and Falſhood, they ſhould be the ſame in every rational intelligent Being; or whether, like the Perception of Beauty and Deformity, they are founded entirely on the particular Fabric and Conſtitution of the human Species.
THE antient Philoſophers, tho' they often affirm, that Virtue is nothing but Conformity to Reaſon, yet, in general, ſeem to conſider Morals as deriving their Exiſtence from Taſte and Sentiment. On the other Hand, our modern Enquirers, tho' they alſo talk much of the Beauty of Virtue, and Deformity of Vice, yet have commonly endeavoured to account for theſe Diſtinctions by metaphyſical Reaſonings, and by Deductions from the moſt abſtract Principles of human Underſtanding. Such Confuſion reign'd in theſe Subjects, that an Oppoſition of the greateſt Conſequence could prevail betwixt one Syſtem and another, and even in the Parts almoſt of each individual Syſtem; and yet No-body, till very lately, was ever ſenſible of it. The elegant and ſublime Lord Shaftesbury, who firſt gave Occaſion to remark this Diſtinction, and who, in general, adher'd to the [Page 4] Principles of the Antients, is not, himſelf, entirely free from the ſame Confuſion.
IT muſt be acknowledged, that both Sides of the Queſtion are ſuſceptible of ſpecious Arguments. Moral Diſtinctions, it may be ſaid, are diſcernible by pure Reaſon: Elſe, whence the many Diſputes, that reign, in common Life, as well as in Philoſophy, with regard to this Subject: The long Chain of Proofs often adduc'd on both Sides; the Examples cited, the Authorities appeal'd to, the Analogies employ'd, the Fallacies detected, the Inferences drawn, and the ſeveral Concluſions adjuſted to their proper Principles. Truth is diſputable; not, Taſte: What exiſts in the Nature of Things is the Standard of our Judgment; what each Man feels within himſelf is the Standard of Sentiment. Propoſitions in Geometry may be prov'd, Syſtems in Phyſics may be controverted; but the Harmony of Verſe, the Tenderneſs of Paſſion, the Brilliancy of Wit muſt give immediate Pleaſure. No Man reaſons concerning another's Beauty; but frequently concerning the Juſtice or Injuſtice of his Actions. In every Trial of Criminals, their firſt Object is to diſprove the Facts alledged, and deny the Actions imputed to them: The ſecond to prove, that even if theſe Actions were real, they might be juſtified, as innocent and lawful. 'Tis confeſſedly by Deductions of the Underſtanding, that the firſt Point is aſcertain'd: [Page 5] How can we ſuppoſe, that a different Faculty of the Mind is employ'd in fixing the other?
ON the other Hand, thoſe, who would reſolve all moral Determinations into Sentiment, may endeavour to ſhow, that 'tis impoſſible for Reaſon ever to draw Concluſions of this Nature. To Virtue, ſay they, it belongs to be amiable, and Vice odious. This forms their very Nature or Eſſence. But can Reaſon or Argumentation diſtribute theſe different Epithets to any Subjects, and pronounce a priori, that this muſt produce Love, and that Hatred? Or what other Reaſon can we ever aſſign for theſe Affections, but the original Fabric and Formation of the human Mind, which is naturally adapted to receive them?
THE End of all moral Speculations is to teach us our Duty; and by proper Repreſentations of the Deformity of Vice and Beauty of Virtue, beget correſpondent Habits, and engage us to avoid the one, and embrace the other. But is this ever to be expected from Inferences and Concluſions of the Underſtanding, which, of themſelves, have no Hold of the Affections, nor ſet the active Powers of Men in Motion and Employment? They diſcover Truth; but where the Truths they diſcover are indifferent, and beget no Deſire or Averſion, they can have no Influence on Conduct and Behaviour. What is honourable, [Page 6] what is fair, what is becoming, what is noble, what is generous, takes Poſſeſſion of the Heart, and animates us to embrace and to maintain it. What is intelligible, what is evident, what is probable, what is true, procures only the cool Aſſent of the Underſtanding; and gratifying a ſpeculative Curioſity, puts an end to our Reſearches.
EXTINGUISH all the warm Feelings and Prepoſſeſſions in favour of Virtue, and all Diſguſt or Averſion againſt Vice: Render Men totally indifferent towards theſe Diſtinctions; and Morality is no longer a practical Study, nor has any Tendency to regulate our Lives and Actions.
THESE Arguments on both Sides (and many more might be adduc'd) are ſo plauſible, that I am apt to ſuſpect they may, both of them, be ſolid and ſatisfactory, and that Reaſon and Sentiment concur in almoſt all moral Determinations and Concluſions. The final Sentence, 'tis probable, which pronounces Characters and Actions amiable or odious, praiſeworthy or blameable; that which ſtamps on them the Mark of Honour or Infamy, Approbation or Cenſure; that which renders Morality an active Principle, and conſtitutes Virtue our Happineſs, and Vice our Miſery: 'Tis probable, I ſay, that this final Sentence depends on ſome internal Senſe or Feeling, [Page 7] which Nature has made univerſal to the whole Species. For what elſe can have an Influence of this Nature? But, in order to pave the Way for ſuch a Sentiment, and give Men a proper Diſcernment of its Object, 'tis often neceſſary, we find, that much Reaſoning ſhould precede, that nice Diſtinctions he made, juſt Concluſions drawn, diſtant Compariſons form'd, accurate Relations examin'd, and general Facts fix'd and aſcertain'd. Some Species of Beauty, eſpecially the natural Kinds, on their firſt Appearance, command our Affection, and Approbation; and where they fail of this Effect, 'tis impoſſible for any Reaſoning to redreſs their Influence, or adapt them better to our Taſte and Sentiment. But in many Orders of Beauty, particularly thoſe of the finer Arts, 'tis requiſite to employ much Reaſoning, in order to feel the proper Sentiment; and a falſe Reliſh may frequently be corrected by Argument and Reflection. There are juſt Grounds to conclude, that moral Beauty partakes much of this latter Species, and demands the Aſſiſtance of our intellectual Faculties, in order to give it a ſuitable Influence on the human Mind.
BUT tho' this Queſtion, concerning the general Principle of Morals, be extremely curious and important; 'tis needleſs for us, at preſent, to employ farther Care in our Enquiries concerning it. For if we can be ſo happy, in the Courſe of this Enquiry, [Page 8] as to fix the juſt Origin of Morals, 'twill then eaſily appear how far Sentiment or Reaſon enters into all Determinations of this Nature*. Mean while, it will ſcarce be poſſible for us, 'ere this Controverſy is fully decided, to proceed in that accurate Manner, requir'd in the Sciences; by beginning with exact Definitions of VIRTUE and VICE, which are the Objects of our preſent Enquiry. But we ſhall do what may juſtly be eſteem'd as ſatisfactory. We ſhall conſider the Matter as an Object of Experience. We ſhall call every Quality or Action of the Mind, virtuous, which is attended with the general Approbation of Mankind: And we ſhall denominate vicious, every Quality, which is the Object of general Blame or Cenſure. Theſe Qualities we ſhall endeavour to collect; and after examining, on both Sides, the ſeveral Circumſtances, in which they agree, 'tis hop'd we may, at laſt, reach the Foundation of Ethics, and find thoſe univerſal Principles, from which all moral Blame or Approbation is ultimately derived. As this is a Queſtion of Fact, not of abſtract Science, we can only expect Succeſs, by following this experimental Method, and deducing general Maxims from a Compariſon of particular Inſtances. The other ſcientifical Method; where a general abſtract Principle is firſt eſtabliſh'd, and is afterwards branch'd [Page 9] out into a Variety of Inferences and Concluſions, may be more perfect in itſelf, but ſuits leſs the Imperfection of human Nature, and is a common Source of Illuſion and Miſtake, in this as well as in other Subjects. Men are now cured of their Paſſion for Hypotheſes and Syſtems in natural Philoſophy, and will hearken to no Arguments but thoſe deriv'd from Experience. 'Tis full Time they ſhould begin a like Reformation in all moral Diſquiſitions; and reject every Syſtem of Ethics, however ſubtile or ingenious, that is not founded on Fact and Obſervation.
THERE is a Principle, ſuppos'd to prevail amongſt many, which is utterly incompatible with all Virtue or moral Sentiment; and as it can proceed from nothing but the moſt deprav'd Diſpoſition, ſo in its Turn it tends ſtill farther to foſter and encourage that Depravity. This Principle is, that all Benevolence is mere Hypocriſy, Friendſhip a Cheat, Public Spirit a Farce, Fidelity a Snare to procure Truſt and Confidence; and while all of us, at the Bottom, purſue only our private Intereſt, we wear theſe fair Diſguiſes, in order to put others off their Guard, and expoſe them the more to our Wiles and Machinations. What Heart one muſt be poſſeſs'd of, who profeſſes ſuch Principles, and who feels no internal Sentiment to belye ſo pernicious a Theory, 'tis eaſy to imagine: And alſo, what Degree of Affection and Benevolence he can bear to a Species, [Page 12] whom he repreſents under ſuch odious Colours, and ſuppoſes ſo little ſuſceptible of Gratitude or any Return of Affection. Or if we will not aſcribe theſe Principles altogether to a corrupted Heart, we muſt, at leaſt, account for them from the moſt careleſs and precipitate Examination. Superficial Reaſoners, indeed, obſerving many falſe Pretences amongſt Mankind, and feeling, perhaps, no very ſtrong Reſtraint in their own Diſpoſition, might draw a general and a haſty Concluſion, that all is equally corrupted, and that Men, different from all other Animals, and indeed from all other Species of Exiſtence, admit of no Degrees of Good or Bad, but are, in every Inſtance, the ſame Creatures, under different Diſguiſes and Appearances.
THERE is another Principle, ſomewhat reſembling, the former; which has been much inſiſted on by Philoſophers, and has been the Foundation of many a fair Syſtem; that whatever Affection one may feel, or imagine he feels for others, no Paſſion is, or can be diſintereſted; that the moſt generous Friendſhip, however ſincere, is a Modification of Self-love; and, that even unknown to Ourſelves, we ſeek only our Gratification, while we appear the moſt deeply engag'd in Schemes for the Liberty and Happineſs of Mankind. By a Turn of Imagination, by a Refinement of Reflection, by an Enthuſiaſin of Paſſion, [Page 13] we ſeem to take Part in the Intereſts of others, and imagine Ourſelves diveſted of all ſelfiſh Views and Conſiderations: But at the Bottom, the moſt generous Patriot and moſt niggardly Miſer, the braveſt Hero and moſt abject Coward, have, in every Action, an equal Regard to their own Happineſs and Welfare.
WHOEVER concludes, from the ſeeming Tendency of this Opinion, that thoſe, who make Profeſſion of it, cannot poſſibly feel the true Sentiments of Benevolence, or have any Regard for genuine Virtue, will often find himſelf, in Practice, very much miſtaken. Probity and Honour were no Strangers to Epicurus and his Sect. Atticus and Horace ſeem to have enjoy'd from Nature, and cultivated by Reflection, as generous and friendly Diſpoſitions as any Diſciple of the auſterer Schools. And amongſt the Moderns, Hobbes and Locke, who maintain'd the ſelfiſh Syſtem of Morals, liv'd moſt irreproachable Lives; tho' the former lay not under any Reſtraints of Religion, which might ſupply the Defects of his Philoſophy.
AN Epicurean or a Hobbiſt readily allows, that there is ſuch a Thing as Friendſhip in the World, without Hypocriſy or Diſguiſe; tho' he may attempt, by a philoſophical Chymiſtry, to reſolve the Elements of this Paſſion, if I may ſo ſpeak, into thoſe of another, and explain every Affection to be Self-love, twiſted [Page 14] and moulded into a Variety of Shapes and Appearances. But as the ſame Turn of Imagination prevails not in every Man, nor gives the ſame Direction to the original Paſſion; this is ſufficient, even according to the ſelfiſh Syſtem, to make the wideſt Difference in human Characters, and denominate one Man virtuous and humane, another vicious and meanly intereſted. I eſteem the Man, whoſe Selflove, by whatever Means, is ſo directed as to give him a Concern for others, and render him ſerviceable to Society: As I hate or deſpiſe him, who has no Regard to any Thing beyond his own pitiful Gratifications and Enjoyments. In vain would you ſuggeſt, that theſe Characters, tho' ſeemingly oppoſite, are, at the Bottom, the ſame, and that a very inconſiderable Turn of Imagination forms the whole Difference betwixt them. Each Character, notwithſtanding theſe inconſiderable Differences, appears to me, in Practice, pretty durable and untranſmutable. And I find not, in this, more than in other Subjects, that the natural Sentiments, ariſing from the general Appearances of Things, are eaſily deſtroy'd by reſin'd Reflections concerning the minute Origin of theſe Appearances. Does not the lively, cheerful Colour of a Countenance inſpire me with Complacency and Pleaſure; even tho' I learn from Philoſophy, that all Difference of Complexion ariſes from the moſt minute [Page 15] Differences of Thickneſs, in the moſt minute Parts of the Skin; by which Differences one Superficies is qualify'd to reflect one of the original Colours of Light, and abſorb the others?
BUT tho' the Queſtion, concerning the univerſal or partial Selfiſhneſs of Man, be not ſo material, as is uſually imagin'd, to Morality and Practice, it is certainly of great Conſequence in the ſpeculative Science of human Nature, and is a proper Object of Curioſity and Enquiry. It may not, therefore, be improper, in this Place, to beſtow a few Reflections upon it*.
THE moſt obvious Objection to the ſelfiſh Hypotheſis, is, that being contrary to common Feeling and our moſt unprejudic'd Notions and Opinions; there [Page 16] is requir'd the higheſt Stretch of Philoſophy to eſtabliſh ſo extraordinary a Paradox. To the moſt careleſs Obſerver, there appear to be ſuch Diſpoſitions as Benevolence and Generoſity; ſuch Affections as Love, Friendſhip, Compaſſion, Gratitude. Theſe Sentiments have their Cauſes, Effects, Objects, and Operations, markt by common Language and Obſervation, and plainly diſtinguiſh'd from the ſelfiſh Paſſions. And as this is the obvious Appearance of Things, it muſt be admitted; till ſome Hypotheſis be diſcover'd, which, by penetrating deeper into human Nature, may prove the former Affections to be Nothing but Modifications of the latter. All Attempts of this Kind have hitherto prov'd fruitleſs, and ſeem to have proceeded entirely from that Love of Simplicity, which has been the Source of much falſe Reaſoning in Philoſophy. I ſhall not here enter into any Detail on the preſent Subject. Many able Philoſophers have ſhown the Inſufficiency of theſe Syſtems. And I ſhall take for granted what, I believe, the ſmalleſt Reflection will make evident to every impartial Enquirer.
BUT the Nature of the Subject furniſhes the ſtrongeſt Preſumption, that no better Syſtem will ever, for the future, be invented, to account for the Origin of the benevolent from the ſelfiſh Affections, and reduce all the various Emotions of the human Mind to a perfect [Page 17] Simplicity and Uniformity. The Caſe is not the ſame in this Species of Philoſophy as in Phyſics. Many an Hypotheſis in Nature, contrary to firſt Appearances, has been found, on more accurate Scrutiny, ſolid and ſatisfactory. Inſtances of this Kind are ſo frequent, that a judicious, as well as witty Philoſopher * has ventur'd to affirm, if there be more than one Way, in which any Phaenomenon may be produc'd, that there is a general Preſumption for its ariſing from the Cauſes, which are the leaſt obvious and familiar. But the Preſumption always lies on the other Side, in all Enquiries concerning the Origin of our Paſſions, and the internal Operations of the human Mind. The ſimpleſt and moſt obvious Cauſe, that can there be aſſign'd for any Phaenomenon, is probably the true one. When a Philoſopher, in the Explication of his Syſtem, is oblig'd to have Recourſe to ſome very intricate and refin'd Reflections, and to ſuppoſe them eſſential to the Production of any Paſſion or Emotion, we have Reaſon to be extremely on our Guard againſt ſo fallacious an Hypotheſis. The Affections are not ſuſceptible of any Impreſſion from the Refinements of Reaſon or Imagination; and 'tis always found, that a vigorous Exertion of the latter Faculties, from the narrow Capacity of the human Mind, deſtroys all Energy and Activity in the former. [Page 18] Our predominant Motive or Intention is, indeed, frequently conceal'd from Ourſelves, when it is mingled and confounded with others, which the Mind, from Vanity or Self-conceit, is deſirous of ſuppoſing of greater Force and Influence: But there is no Inſtance, that a Concealment of this Nature has ever ariſen from the Abſtruſeneſs and Intricacy of the Motive. A Man, who has loſt a Friend and Patron, may flatter himſelf, that all his Grief ariſes from generous Sentiments, without any Mixture of narrow or intereſted Conſiderations: But a Man, who grieves for a valuable Friend, that needed his Patronage and Protection; how can we ſuppoſe, that his paſſionate Tenderneſs ariſes from ſome metaphyſical Regards to a Self-intereſt, which has no Foundation or Reality? We may as well imagine, that minute Wheels and Springs, like thoſe of a Watch, give Motion to a loaded Waggon, as account for the Origin of Paſſion from ſuch abſtruſe Reflections.
ANIMALS are found ſuſceptible of Kindneſs, both to their own Species and to ours; nor is there, in this Caſe, the leaſt Suſpicion of Diſguiſe or Artifice. Shall we account for all their Sentiments too, from refin'd Deductions of Self-intereſt? Or if we admit a diſintereſted Benevolence in the inferior Species, by what Rule of Analogy can we refuſe it in the Superior?
[Page 19] LOVE betwixt the Sexes begets a Complacency and Good-will, very diſtinct from the Gratification of an Appetite. Tenderneſs to their Offspring, in all ſenſible Beings, is commonly able alone to counterballance the ſtrongeſt Motives of Self-love, and has no Manner of Dependance on that Affection. What Intereſt can a fond Mother have in View, who loſes her Health by aſſiduous Attendance on her ſick Child, and afterwards languiſhes, and dies for Grief, when freed, by its Death, from the Slavery of that Attendance?
Is Gratitude no Affection of the human Breaſt, or is that a Word merely, without any Meaning or Reality? Have we no Complacency or Satisfaction in one Man's Company above another's, and no Deſire of the Welfare of our Friend, even tho' Abſence or Death ſhould prevent us from all Participation in it? Or what is it commonly, that gives us any Participation in it, even while alive and preſent, but our Affection and Regard to him?
THESE and a thouſand other Inſtances are Marks of a generous Benevolence in human Nature, where no real Intereſt binds us to the Object. And how an imaginary Intereſt, known and avow'd for ſuch, can be the Origin of any Paſſion or Emotion, ſeems difficult [Page 20] to explain. No ſatisfactory Hypotheſis of this Kind has yet been diſcover'd; nor is there the ſmalleſt Probability, that the future Induſtry of Men will ever be attended with more favourable Succeſs.
BUT farther, if we conſider rightly of the Matter, we ſhall find, that the Hypotheſis, which allows of a diſintereſted Benevolence, diſtinct from Self-love, has really more Simplicity in it, and is more conformable to the Analogy of Nature, than that which pretends to reſolve all Friendſhip and Humanity into this latter Principle. There are bodily Wants or Appetites, acknowledged by every one, which neceſſarily precede all ſenſual Enjoyment, and carry us directly to ſeek Poſſeſſion of the Object. Thus, Hunger and Thirſt have eating and drinking for their End; and from the Gratification of theſe primary Appetites ariſes a Pleaſure, which may become the Object of another Species of Deſire or Inclination, that is ſecondary and intereſted. In the ſame Manner, there are mental Paſſions, by which we are impell'd immediately to ſeek particular Objects, ſuch as Fame or Power or Vengeance, without any Regard to Intereſt; and when theſe Objects are attain'd, a pleaſing Enjoyment enſues, as the Conſequence of our indulg'd Affections. Nature muſt, by the internal Frame and Conſtitution of the Mind, give an original Propenſity to Fame, 'ere we can reap any Pleaſure [Page 21] from it, or purſue it from Motives of Self-love, and a Deſire of Happineſs. If I have no Vanity, I take no Delight in Praiſe: If I be void of Ambition, Power gives no Enjoyment: If I be not angry, the Puniſhment of an Adverſary is totally indifferent to me. In all theſe Caſes, there is a Paſſion, which points immediately to the Object, and conſtitutes it our Good or Happineſs; as there are other ſecondary Paſſions, which afterwards ariſe, and purſue it as a Part of our Happineſs, when once it is conſtituted ſuch, by our original Affections. Were there no Appetites of any Kind, antecedent to Self-love, that Propenſity could ſcarce ever exert itſelf; becauſe we ſhould, in that Caſe, have felt few and ſlender Pains or Pleaſures, and have little Miſery or Happineſs, to avoid or to purſue.
Now where is the Difficulty of conceiving, that this may likewiſe be the Caſe with Benevolence and Friendſhip, and that, from the original Frame of our Temper, we may feel a Deſire of another's Happineſs or Good, which, by Means of that Affection, becomes our own Good, and is afterwards purſued, from the conjoin'd Motives of Benevolence and Self-enjoyment? Who ſees not that Vengeance, from the Force alone of Paſſion, may be ſo eagerly purſued, as to make us knowingly neglect every Conſideration of Eaſe, Intereſt, or Safety; and, like [Page 22] ſome vindictive Animals, infuſe our very Souls into the Wounds we give an Enemy*? And what a malignant Philoſophy muſt it be, that will not allow, to Humanity and Friendſhip, the ſame Privileges, which are indiſputably granted to the darker Paſſions of Enmity and Reſentment? Such a Philoſophy is more like a Satyr, than a true Delineation or Deſcription, of human Nature; and may be a good Foundation for paradoxical Wit and Raillery, but is a very bad one for any ſerious Argument or Reaſoning.
IT may be eſteem'd, perhaps, a ſuperfluous Task to prove, that the benevolent or ſofter Affections are VIRTUOUS; and wherever they appear, attract the Eſteem, Approbation, and Good-will of Mankind. The Epithets ſociable, good-natur'd, humane, merciful, grateful, friendly, generous, beneficent, are known in all Languages, and univerſally expreſs the higheſt Merit, which human Nature is capable of attaining: Where theſe amiable Qualities are attended with Birth and Power and eminent Abilities, and diſplay themſelves in the good Government or [Page 23] uſeful Inſtruction of Mankind, they ſeem even to raiſe the Poſſeſſors of them above the Rank of human Nature, and approach them, in ſome Meaſure, to the Divine. Exalted Capacity, undaunted Courage, proſperous Succeſs; theſe may only expoſe a Hero or Politician to the Envy and Malignity of the Public: But as ſoon as the Praiſes are added of humane and beneficent; when Inſtances are diſplay'd of Lenity, Tenderneſs, or Friendſhip; Envy itſelf is ſilent, or joins the general Voice of Applauſe and Acclamation.
WHEN Pericles, the great Athenian Stateſman and General, was on his Death-bed, his ſurrounding Friends, eſteeming him now inſenſible, began to indulge their Sorrow for their expiring Patron, by enumerating his great Qualities and Succeſſes, his Conqueſts and Victories, the unuſual Length of his Adminiſtration, and his nine Trophies, erected over the Enemies of the Republic. You forget, cries the dying Hero, who had heard all, you forget the moſt eminent of my Praiſes, while you dwell ſo much on thoſe vulgar Advantages, in which Fortune had a principal Share. You have not obſerv'd, that no Citizen has ever yet wore Mourning on my Account *.
[Page 24] IN Men of more ordinary Talents and Capacity, the ſocial Virtues become, if poſſible, ſtill more eſſentially requiſite; there being nothing eminent, in that Caſe, to compenſate for the Want of them, or preſerve the Perſon from our ſevereſt Hatred, as well as Contempt. A high Ambition, an elevated Courage is apt, ſays Cicero, in leſs perfect Characters, to degenerate into a turbulent Ferocity. The more ſocial and ſofter Virtues are there chiefly to be regarded. Theſe are always good and amiable*.
THE principal Advantage, which Juvenal diſcovers in the extenſive Capacity of the human Species, is, that it renders our Benevolence alſo more extenſive, and gives us larger Opportunities of ſpreading our kindly Influence than what are indulg'd to the inferior Creation†. It muſt, indeed, be confeſt, that by doing Good only, can a Man truly enjoy the Advantages of being eminent. His exalted Station, of itſelf, but the more expoſes him to Tempeſt and Thunder. His ſole Prerogative is to afford Shelter to Inferiors, who repoſe themſelves under his Cover and Protection.
BUT I forget, that it is not my preſent Buſineſs to recommend Generoſity and Benevolence, or to paint, [Page 25] in their true Colours, all the genuine Charms of the ſocial Virtues. Theſe, indeed, ſufficiently engage every Heart, on the firſt Apprehenſion of them; and 'tis difficult to abſtain from ſome Sally of Panegyric, as often as they occur in Diſcourſe or Reaſoning. But our Object here being more the ſpeculative, than the practical Part of Morals, 'twill ſuffice to remark, what will readily, I believe, be allow'd, that no Qualities are more entitled to the general Good-will and Approbation of Mankind, than Beneficence and Humanity, Friendſhip and Gratitude, Natural Affection and Public Spirit, or whatever proceeds from a tender Sympathy with others, and a generous Concern for our Kind and Species. Theſe, whereever they appear, ſeem to transfuſe themſelves, in a Manner, into each Beholder, and to call forth, in their own Behalf, the ſame favourable and affectionate Sentiments, which they exert on all around them.
WE may obſerve, that, in diſplaying the Praiſes of any humane, beneficent Man, there is one Circumſtance, which never fails to be amply inſiſted on, viz. the Happineſs and Satisfaction, deriv'd to Society from his Intercourſe and Goodoffices. [Page 26] To his Parents, we are apt to ſay, he endears himſelf, by his pious Attachment and duteous Care, ſtill more than by the Connexions of Nature. His Children never feel his Authority, but when employ'd for their Advantage. With him, the Ties of Love are conſolidated by Beneficence and Friendſhip. The Ties of Friendſhip approach, in a fond Obſervance of ech obliging Office, to thoſe of Love and Inclination. His Domeſtics and Dependants have in him a ſure Reſource; and no longer dread the Power of Fortune, but ſo far as ſhe exerciſes it over him. From him, the hungry receive Food, the naked Cloathing, the ignorant and ſlothful Skill and Induſtry. Like the Sun, an inferior Miniſter of Providence, he cheers, invigorates, and ſuſtains the ſurrounding World.
As theſe Topics of Praiſe never fail to be employ'd, and with Succeſs, where we would inſpire Eſteem for any one; may we not thence conclude, that the UTILITY, reſulting from the ſocial Virtues, forms, at leaſt, a Part of their Merit, and [Page 27] is one Source of that Approbation and Regard ſo univerſally pay'd them?
WHEN we recommend even an Animal or Plant as uſeful and beneficial, we give it an Applauſe and Recommendation ſuited to its Nature. As on the other Hand, Reflection on the baneful Influence of any of theſe inferior Beings always inſpires us with the Sentiments of Averſion. The Eye is pleas'd with the Proſpect of Corn-fields and loaded Vineyards; Horſes grazing, and Flocks paſturing: But flies the View of Bryars and Brambles, affording Shelter to Wolves and Serpents.
A Machine, a Piece of Furniture, a Garment, a Houſe, well contriv'd for Uſe and Conveniency, is ſo far beautiful, and is contemplated with Pleaſure and Approbation. An experienc'd Eye is here ſenſible to many Excellencies, which eſcape Perſons ignorant and uninſtructed.
CAN any Thing ſtronger be ſaid in Praiſe of a Profeſſion, ſuch as Merchandize or Manufactory, than to obſerve the Advantages, which it procures to Society? And is not a Monk and Inquiſitor enrag'd, when we treat his Rank and Order as uſeleſs or pernicious to Mankind?
YOUR Gods, ſays Cicero *, in Oppoſition to the Epicureans, cannot juſtly claim any Worſhip or Adoration, with whatever imaginary Perfections you may ſuppoſe them endow'd. They are totally uſeleſs and inactive. And even the Egyptians, whom you ſo much ridicule, never conſecrated any Animal but on Account of its Utility.
THE Sceptics aſſert†, tho' abſurdly, that the Origin of all religious Worſhip was deriv'd from the Utility of inanimate Objects, as the Sun and Moon, to the Support and Well-being of Mankind. This is alſo the common Reaſon, aſſign'd by Hiſtorians, for the Deification of eminent Heroes and Legiſlators‡.
[Page 29] IN all Determinations of Morality, this Circumſtance of public Utility is ever principally in View; and wherever Diſputes ariſe, whether in Philoſophy or common Life, concerning the Bounds of Duty, the Queſtion cannot, by any Means, be decided with greater Certainty, than by aſcertaining, on any Side, the true Intereſts of Mankind. If any falſe Opinion, embrac'd from Appearances, has been found to prevail; as ſoon as farther Experience, and ſounder Reaſoning have given us juſter Notions of human Affairs; we retract our firſt Sentiments, and adjuſt a-new the Boundaries of moral Good and Evil.
ALMS to common Beggars is naturally prais'd; becauſe it ſeems to carry Relief to the diſtreſt and indigent: But when we obſerve the Encouragement thence ariſing to Idleneſs and Debauchery, we regard that Species of Charity rather as a Weakneſs than a Virtue.
Tyrannicide or the Aſſaſſination of Uſurpers and oppreſſive Princes was highly prais'd in antient Times; becauſe it both freed Mankind from many of theſe Monſters, and ſeem'd to keep the others in Awe, whom the Poinard or the Poiſon could not reach. But Hiſtory and Experience having ſince convinc'd [Page 30] us, that this Practice encreaſes the Jealouſy and Cruelty of Princes; a Timoleon and a Brutus, tho' treated with Indulgence on Account of the Prejudices of their Times, are now conſider'd as very improper Models for Imitation.
LIBERATITY in Princes is regarded as a Mark of Beneficence: But when it occurs, that the homely Bread of the Honeſt and Induſtrious is often thereby converted into delicious Cates for the Idle and the Prodigal, we ſoon retract our heedleſs Praiſes. The Regrets of a Prince, for having loſt a Day, were noble and generous: But had he intended to have ſpent it in Acts of Generoſity to his greedy Courtiers, 'twas better loſt than miſemploy'd after that Manner.
LUXURY, or a Refinement on the Pleaſures and Conveniencies of Life, had long been ſuppos'd the Source of every Corruption and Diſorder in Government, and the immediate Cauſe of Faction, Sedition, civil Wars, and the total Loſs of Liberty. It was, therefore, univerſally regarded as a Vice, and was an Object of Declamation to all Satyriſts and ſevere Moraliſts. Thoſe, who prove, or attempt to prove, that ſuch Refinements rather tend to the Encreaſe of Induſtry, Civility, and Arts, regulate a new our moral as well as political Sentiments, [Page 31] and repreſent as laudable and innocent, what had formerly been regarded as pernicious and blameable.
UPON the Whole, then, it ſeems undeniable, that there is ſuch a Sentiment in human Nature as diſintereſted Benevolence; that nothing can beſtow more Merit on any human Creature than the Poſſeſſion of it in an eminent Degree; and that a Part, at leaſt, of its Merit ariſes from its Tendency to promote the Intereſts of our Species, and beſtow Happineſs on human Society. We carry our View into the ſalutary Conſequences of ſuch a Character and Diſpoſition; and whatever has ſo benign an Influence, and forwards ſo deſirable an End is beheld with Complacency and Pleaſure. The ſocial Virtues are never regarded without their beneficial Tendencies, nor view'd as barren and unfruitful. The Happineſs of Mankind, the Order of Society, the Harmony of Families, the mutual Support of Friends are always conſider'd as the Reſult of their gentle Dominion over the Breaſts of Men.
How conſiderable a Part of their Merit we ought to aſcribe to their Utility, will better appear from future Diſquiſitions*; as well as the Reaſon, why this Circumſtance has ſuch a Command over our Eſteem and Approbation.†.
THAT JUSTICE is uſeful to Society, and conſequently that Part of its Merit, at leaſt, muſt ariſe from that Conſideration; 'twould be aſuperfluous Undertaking to prove. That public Utility is the ſole Origin of Juſtice, and that Reflections on the beneficial Conſequences of this Virtue are the ſole Foundation of its Merit; this Propoſition, being more curious and important, will better deſerve our Examination and Enquiry.
LET us ſuppoſe, that Nature has beſtow'd on human Race ſuch profuſe Abundance of all external Conveniencies, that, without any Uncertainty in the Event, without any Care or Induſtry on our Part, every Individual finds himſelf fully provided of [Page 34] whatever his moſt voracious Appetites can want, or luxurious Imagination wiſh or deſire. His natural Beauty, we ſhall ſuppoſe, ſurpaſſes all acquir'd Ornaments: The perpetual Clemency of the Seaſons renders uſeleſs all Cloaths or Covering: The raw Herbage affords him the moſt delicious Fare; the clear Fountain, the richeſt Beverage. No laborious Occupation requir'd: No Tillage: No Navigation. Muſic, Poetry, and Contemplation form his ſole Buſineſs: Converſation, Mirth, and Friendſhip his ſole Amuſement.
IT ſeems evident, that, in ſuch a happy State, every other ſocial Virtue would flouriſh, and receive a tenfold Encreaſe; but the cautious, jealous Virtue of Juſtice would never once have been dreamt of. For what Purpoſe make a Partition of Goods, where every one has already more than enough? Why give Riſe to Property, where there cannot poſſibly be any Injury? Why call this Object mine, when, upon the Seizure of it by another, I need but ſtretch out my Hand to poſſeſs myſelf of what is equally valuable? Juſtice, in that Caſe, being totally USELESS, would be an idle Ceremonial, and could never poſſibly have Place amongſt the Catalogue of Virtues.
[Page 35] WE ſee, even in the preſent neceſſitous Condition of Mankind, that, wherever any Benefit is beſtow'd by Nature in an unlimited Abundance, we leave it always in common amongſt the whole human Race, and make no Subdiviſions of Right and Property. Water and Air, tho' the moſt neceſſary of all Objects, are not challeng'd by Individuals; nor can any one commit Injuſtice by the moſt laviſh Uſe and Enjoyment of theſe Bleſſings. In fertile, extenſive Countries, with few Inhabitants, Land is regarded on the ſame Footing. And no Topic is ſo much inſiſted on by thoſe, who defend the Liberty of the Seas, as the unexhauſted Uſe of them in Navigation. Were the Advantages, procur'd by Navigation, as inexhauſtible, theſe Reaſoners never had had any Adverſaries to refute; nor had any Claims been ever advanc'd of a ſeparate, excluſive Dominion over the Ocean.
IT may happen in ſome Countries, at ſome Periods, that there be eſtabliſh'd a Property in Water, none in Land*; if the latter be in greater Abundance than can be us'd by the Inhabitants, and the former be found, with Difficulty, and in very ſmall Quantities.
[Page 36] AGAIN; ſuppoſe, that, tho' the Neceſſities of human Race continue the ſame as at preſent, yet the Mind is ſo enlarg'd, and ſo replete with Friendſhip and Generoſity, that every Man has the utmoſt Tenderneſs for every Man, and feels no more Concern for his own Intereſt than for that of his Fellow: It ſeems evident, that the USE of Juſtice would, in this Caſe, be ſuſpended by ſuch an extenſive Benevolence, nor would the Diviſions and Barriers of Property and Obligation have ever been thought of. Why ſhould I bind another, by a Deed or Promiſe, to do me any Good-office, when I know he is before-hand prompted, by the ſtrongeſt Inclination, to ſeek my Happineſs, and would, of himſelf, perform the deſir'd Service; except the Hurt, he thereby receives, be greater than the Benefit accruing to me: In which Caſe, he knows, that, from my innate Humanity and Friendſhip, I ſhould be the firſt to oppoſe myſelf to his imprudent Generoſity? Why raiſe Land-marks betwixt my Neighbour's Field and mine, when my Heart has made no Diviſion betwixt our Intereſts; but ſhares all his Joys and Sorrows with equal Force and Vivacity as if originally my own? Every Man, upon this Suppoſition, being a Second-ſelf to another, would truſt all his Intereſts to the Diſcretion of every Man, without Jealouſy, without Partition, without Diſtinction. [Page 37] And the whole Race of Mankind would form only one Family; where all lay in common, and was us'd, freely, without Regard to Property; but cautiouſly too, with as entire Regard to the Neceſſities of each Individual, as if our own Intereſts were moſt intimately concern'd.
IN the preſent Diſpoſition of the human Heart, 'twould, perhaps, be difficult to find compleat Inſtances of ſuch enlarg'd Affections; but ſtill we may obſerve, that the Caſe of Families approaches towards it; and the ſtronger is the mutual Benevolence amongſt the Individuals, the nearer it approaches; till all Diſtinction of Property be, in a great Meaſure, loſt and confounded amongſt them. Betwixt marry'd Perſons, the Cement of Friendſhip is by the Laws ſuppos'd ſo ſtrong as to aboliſh all Diviſion of Poſſeſſions; and has often, in Reality, the Force aſcribed to it. And 'tis obſervable, that, during the Ardour of new Enthuſiaſms, where every Principle is inflam'd into Extravagance, the Community of Goods has frequently been attempted; and nothing but Experience of its Inconveniencies, from the returning or diſguis'd Selfiſhneſs of Men, could make the imprudent Fanatics adopt a-new the Ideas of Juſtice and of ſeparate Property. So true is it, that that Virtue derives [Page 38] its Exiſtence altogether from its neceſſary Uſe to the Intercourſe and Society of Mankind.
To make this Truth more evident, let us reverſe the foregoing Suppoſitions; and carrying every Thing to the oppoſite Extreme, conſider what would be the Effect of theſe new Situations. Suppoſe a Society to fall into ſuch Want of all common Neceſſaries, that the utmoſt Frugality and Induſtry cannot preſerve the greateſt Number from periſhing, and the whole from extreme Sufferance: It will readily, I believe, be admitted, that the ſtrict Laws of Juſtice are ſuſpended, in ſuch a preſſing Emergence, and give Place to the ſtronger Motives of Neceſſity and Self-preſervation. Is it any Crime, after a Shipwreck, to ſeize whatever Means or Inſtrument of Safety one can lay hold of, without Regard to former Limitations of Property? Or if a City beſieg'd were ſtarving with Hunger; can we imagine, that Men will ſee any Means of Life before them, and periſh, from a ſcrupulous Regard to what, in other Situations, would be the Rules of Equity and Juſtice? The USE and TENDENCY of that Virtue is to procure Happineſs and Security, by preſerving Order in Society: But where the Society is ready to periſh from extreme Neceſſity, no greater Evil can be dreaded from Violence and In [...]uſtice; and every Man may now provide for himſelf, [Page 39] by all Means, which Prudence can dictate, or Humanity permit. The Public, even in leſs urgent Neceſſities, open Granaries, without the Conſent of Proprietors; as juſtly ſuppoſing, that the Authority of Magiſtracy may, conſiſtent with Equity, extend ſo far: But were any Number of Men to aſſemble, without the Tye of Laws or civil Juriſdiction; would an equal Partition of Bread in a Famine, even without the Proprietor's Conſent, be regarded as criminal or injurious?
SUPPOSE alſo, that it ſhould be a virtuous Man's Fate to fall into the Society of Ruffians, remote from the Protection of Laws and Government; what Conduct muſt he embrace in that melancholy Situation? He ſees ſuch a deſperate Rapaciouſneſs prevail; ſuch a Diſregard to Equity, ſuch Contempt of Order, ſuch ſtupid Blindneſs to future Conſequences, as muſt immediately have the moſt tragical Concluſion, and muſt terminate in Deſtruction to the greater Number, and in a total Diſſolution of Society to the reſt. He, mean while, can have no other Expedient, than to arm himſelf, to whomever the Sword he ſeizes, or the Buckler may belong: Make Proviſion of all Means of Defence and Security: And his particular Regard to Juſtice being no longer of USE to his own Safety or that of others, he muſt conſult alone the Dictates of Self-preſervation, [Page 40] without Concern for thoſe, who no longer merit his Care and Attention.
WHEN any Man, even in political Society, renders himſelf, by his Crimes, obnoxious to the Public, he is puniſh'd by the Laws in his Goods and Perſon; that is, the ordinary Rules of Juſtice are, with Regard to him, ſuſpended for a Moment, and it becomes equitable to inflict on him, for the Benefit of Society, what, otherwiſe, he could not ſuffer without Wrong or Injury.
THE Rage and Violence of public War; what is it but a Suſpenſion of Juſtice amongſt the warring. Parties, who perceive, that that Virtue is now no longer of any Uſe or Advantage to them? The Laws of War, which then ſucceed to thoſe of Equity and Juſtice, are Rules calculated for the Advantage and Utility of that particular State, in which Men are now plac'd. And were a civiliz'd Nation engag'd with Barbarians, who obſerv'd no Rules even of War; the former muſt alſo ſuſpend their Obſervance of them, where they no longer ſerve to any Purpoſe; and muſt render every Action or Rencounter as bloody and pernicious as poſſible to the firſt Aggreſſors.
[Page 41] THUS the Rules of Equity or Juſtice depend entirely on the particular State and Condition, in which Men are plac'd, and owe their Origin and Exiſtence to that UTILITY, which reſults to the Public from their ſtrict and regular Obſervance. Reverſe, in any conſiderable Circumſtance, the Condition of Men: Produce extreme Abundance or extreme Neceſſity: Implant in the human Breaſt perfect Moderation and Humanity, or perfect Rapaciouſneſs and Malice: By rendering Juſtice totally uſeleſs, you thereby totally deſtroy its Eſſence, and ſuſpend its Obligation upon Mankind.
THE common Situation of Society is a Medium amidſt all theſe Extremes. We are naturally partial to Ourſelves, and to our Friends; but are capable of learning the Advantage, reſulting from a more equal Conduct. Few Enjoyments are given us from the open and liberal Hand of Nature; but by Art, Labour, and Induſtry, we can extract them in great Abundance. Hence the Ideas of Property become neceſſary in all civil Society: Hence Juſtice derives its Uſefulneſs to the Public: And hence alone ariſes its Merit and moral Obligation.
THESE Concluſions are ſo natural and obvious, that they have not eſcap'd even the Poets, in their [Page 42] Deſcriptions of the Felicity, attending the Golden Age or the Reign of Saturn. The Seaſons, in that firſt Period of Nature, were ſo temperate, if we credit theſe agreeable Fictions, that there was no Neceſſity for Men to provide themſelves with Cloaths and Houſes, as a Security againſt the Violence of Heat and Cold: The Rivers flow'd with Wine and Milk: The Oaks yielded Honey; and Nature ſpontaneouſly produc'd her greateſt Delicacies. Nor were theſe the chief Advantages of that happy Age. The Storms and Tempeſts were not alone remov'd from Nature; but thoſe more furious Tempeſts were unknown to human Breaſts, which now cauſe ſuch Uproar, and engender ſuch Confuſion. Avarice, Ambition, Cruelty, Selfiſhneſs were never heard of: Cordial Affection, Compaſſion, Sympathy were the only Movements, with which the Mind was yet acquainted. Even the punctilious Diſtinction of Mine and Thine was baniſh'd from amongſt that happy Race of Mortals, and carry'd with it the very Notion of Property and Obligation, Juſtice and Injuſtice.
THIS poetical Fiction of the Golden Age is, in ſome Reſpects, of a Piece with the philoſophical Fiction of the State of Nature; only that the former is repreſented as the moſt charming and moſt peaceable Condition, that can poſſibly be imagin'd; whereas the [Page 43] latter is pointed out as a State of mutual War and Violence, attended with the moſt extreme Neceſſity. On the firſt Origin of Mankind, as we are told, their Ignorance and ſavage Nature were ſo prevalent, that they could give no mutual Truſt, but muſt each depend upon himſelf, and his own Force or Cunning for Protection and Security. No Law was heard of: No Rule of Juſtice known: No Diſtinction of Property regarded: Power was the only Meaſure of Right; and a perpetual War of All againſt All was the Reſult of their untam'd Selfiſhneſs and Barbarity*.
[Page 44] WHETHER ſuch a Condition of human Nature could ever exiſt, or if it did, could continue ſo long as to merit the Appellation of a State, may juſtly be doubted. Men are neceſſarily born in a Family-ſociety, at leaſt; and are train'd up by their Parents to ſome Rule of Conduct and Behaviour. But this muſt be admitted, that if ſuch a State of mutual War and Violence was ever real, the Suſpenſion of all Laws of Juſtice, from their abſolute Inutility, is a neceſſary and infallible Conſequence.
THE more we vary our Views of human Life, and the newer and more unuſual the Lights are, in which we ſurvey it, the more ſhall we be convinc'd, that the Origin here aſſign'd for the Virtue of Juſtice is real and ſatisfactory.
WERE there a Species of Creatures, intermingied with Men, which, tho' rational, were poſſeſt of ſuch [Page 45] inferior Strength, both of Body and Mind, that they were incapable of all Reſiſtance, and could never, upon the higheſt Provocation, make us feel the Effects of their Reſentment; the neceſſary Conſequence, I think, is, that we ſhould be bound, by the Laws of Humanity, to give gentle Uſage to theſe Creatures, but ſhould not, properly ſpeaking, lie under any Reſtraint of Juſtice with Regard to them, nor could they poſſeſs any Right or Property, excluſive of ſuch arbitrary Lords. Our Intercourſe with them could not be call'd Society, which ſuppoſes a Degree of Equality; but abſolute Command on the one Side, and ſervile Obedience on the other. Whatever we covet, they muſt inſtantly reſign: Our Permiſſion is the only Tenure, by which they hold their Poſſeſſions: Our Compaſſion and Kindneſs the only Check, by which they curb our lawleſs Will: And as no Inconvenience ever reſults from the Exerciſe of a Power, ſo firmly eſtabliſh'd in Nature, the Reſtraints of Juſtice and Property, being totally uſeleſs, would never have Place, in ſo unequal a Confederacy.
THIS is plainly the Situation of Men with regard to Animals; and how far theſe may be ſaid to poſſeſs Reaſon, I leave it to others to determine. The great Superiority of civiliz'd Europeans above barbarous Indians, tempted us to imagine ourſelves on [Page 46] the ſame Footing with regard to them, and made us throw off all Reſtraints of Juſtice, and even of Humanity, in our Treatment of them. In many Nations, the female Sex are reduc'd to like Slavery, and are render'd incapable of all Property, in Oppoſition to their lordly Maſters. But tho' the Males, when united, have, in all Countries, brute Force ſufficient to maintain this ſevere Tyranny; yet ſuch are the Inſinuation, Addreſs, and Charms of their fair Companions, that they are commonly able to break the Confederacy, and ſhare with the ſuperior Sex in all the Rights and Privileges of Society.
WERE the human Species ſo fram'd by Nature as that each Individual poſſeſt within himſelf every Faculty, requiſite both for his own Preſervation and for the Propagation of his Kind: Were all Society and Intercourſe cut off betwixt Man and Man, by the primary Intention of the ſupreme Creator: It ſeems evident, that ſo ſolitary a Being would be as much incapable of Juſtice, as of ſocial Diſcourſe and Converſation. Where mutual Regards and Forbearance ſerve no Manner of Purpoſe, they would never direct the Conduct of any reaſonable Man. The headlong Courſe of the Paſſions would be check'd by no Reflection on future Conſequences. And as each Man is here ſuppos'd to love himſelf alone, and to depend only on himſelf and his own [Page 47] Activity for Safety and Happineſs, he would, on every Occaſion, to the utmoſt of his Power, challenge the Preference above every other Being, to whom he is not bound by any Ties, either of Nature or of Intereſt.
BUT ſuppoſe the Conjunction of the Sexes to be eſtabliſh'd in Nature, a Family immediately ariſes; and particular Rules being found requiſite for its Subſiſtance, theſe are immediately embrac'd; tho' without comprehending the reſt of Mankind within their Preſcriptions. Suppoſe, that ſeveral Families unite together into one Society, which is totally diſjoin'd from all others, the Rules, which preſerve Peace and Order, enlarge themſelves to the utmoſt Extent of that Society; but, being entirely uſeleſs, loſe their Force when carry'd one Step farther. But again ſuppoſe, that ſeveral diſtinct Societies maintain a Kind of Entercourſe for mutual Convenience and Advantage, the Boundaries of Juſtice ſtill grow larger and larger, in Proportion to the Largeneſs of Men's Views, and the Force of their mutual Connexions. Hiſtory, Experience, Reaſon ſufficiently inſtruct us in this natural Progreſs of human Sentiments, and the gradual Encreaſe of our Regards to Property and Juſtice in Proportion as we become acquainted with the extenſive Utility of that Virtue.
IF we examine all the particular Laws, by which Juſtice is directed, and Property determin'd; we ſhall ſtill be preſented with the ſame Concluſion. The Good of Mankind is the only Object of all theſe Laws and Regulations. Not only 'tis requiſite, for the Peace and Intereſt of Society, that Men's Poſſeſſions ſhould be ſeparated; but the Rules, which we follow in making the Separation, are ſuch as can beſt be contriv'd to ſerve farther the Intereſts of Society.
WE ſhall ſuppoſe, that a Creature, poſſeſt of Reaſon, but unacquainted with human Nature, deliberates with himſelf what RULES of Juſtice or Property would beſt promote public Intereſt, and eſtabliſh Peace and Security amongſt Mankind: His moſt obvious Thought would be, to aſſign the largeſt Poſſeſſions to the moſt extenſive Virtue, and give every one the Power of doing Good, proportion'd to his Inclination. In a perfect Theocracy, where a Being, infinitely intelligent, governs by particular Volitions, this Rule would certainly have Place, and might ſerve the wiſeſt Purpoſes: But were Mankind to execute ſuch a Law; (ſo great is the Uncertainty of Merit, both from its natural Obſcurity, [Page 49] and from the Self-conceit of each Individual) that no determinate Rule of Conduct would ever reſult from it; and the total Diſſolution of Society muſt be the immediate Conſequence. Fanatics may ſuppoſe, that Dominion is founded in Grace, and that Saints alone inherit the Earth; but the civil Magiſtrate very juſtly puts theſe ſublime Theoriſts on the ſame Footing with common Robbers, and teaches them, by the ſevereſt Diſcipline, that a Rule, which, in Speculation, may ſeem the moſt advantageous to Society, may yet be found, in Practice, totally pernicious and deſtructive.
THAT there were religious Fanatics of this kind in England, during the civil Wars, we learn from Hiſtory; tho' 'tis probable, that the obvious Tendency of theſe Principles excited ſuch Horrour in Mankind, as ſoon oblig'd the dangerous Enthuſiaſts to renounce, or at leaſt conceal their Tenets. Perhaps, the Levellers, who claim'd an equal Diſtribution of Property, were a Kind of political Fanatics, which aroſe from the religious Species, and more openly avow'd their Pretenſions, as carrying a more plauſible Appearance, of being practicable, as well as uſeful to human Society.
IT muſt, indeed, be confeſt, that Nature is ſo liberal to Mankind, that were all her Preſents equally [Page 50] divided amongſt the Species, and improv'd by Art and Induſtry, every Individual would enjoy all the Neceſſaries, and even moſt of the Comforts of Life; nor would ever be liable to any Ills, but ſuch as might accidentally ariſe from the ſickly Frame and Conſtitution of his Body. It muſt alſo be confeſt, that, wherever we depart from this Equality, we rob the Poor of more Satisfaction than we add to the Rich, and that the ſlight Gratification of a frivolous Vanity, in one Individual, frequently coſts more than Bread to many Families, and even Provinces. It may appear withal, that the Rule of Equality, as it would be highly uſeful, is not altogether impracticable; but has taken Place, at leaſt, in an imperfect Degree, in ſome Republics; particularly, that of Sparta; where it was attended, as 'tis ſaid, with the moſt beneficial Conſequences. Not to mention, that the Agrarian Laws, ſo frequently claim'd in Rome, and carry'd to Execution in many Greek Cities, proceeded, all of them, from a general Idea of the Utility of this Principle.
But Hiſtorians, and even common Senſe, may inform us, that, however ſpecious theſe Ideas of perfect Equality may ſeem, they are really, at the Bottom, impracticable; and were they not ſo, would be extremely pernicious to human Society. Render the Poſſeſſions of Men ever ſo equal, their different Degrees [Page 51] of Art, Care, and Induſtry will immediately break that Equality. Or if you check theſe Virtues, you reduce Society to the extremeſt Indigence; and inſtead of preventing Want and Beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole Community. The moſt rigorous Inquiſition too, is requiſite to watch every Inequality on its firſt Appearance; and the moſt ſevere Juriſdiction, to puniſh and redreſs it. But beſides, that ſo much Authority muſt ſoon degenerate into Tyranny, and be exerted with great Partialities; who can poſſibly be poſſeſt of it, in ſuch a Situation as is here ſuppos'd? Perfect Equality of Poſſeſſions, deſtroying all Subordination, weakens extremely the Authority of Magiſtracy, and muſt reduce all Power nearly to a Level, as well as Property.
WE may conclude, therefore, that, in order to eſtabliſh Laws for the Regulation of Property, we muſt be acquainted with the Nature and Situation of Man, muſt reject Appearances, which may be falſe, tho' ſpecious, and muſt ſearch for thoſe Rules, which are, on the whole, moſt uſeful, and beneficial, Vulgar Senſe and ſlight Experience are ſufficient for this Purpoſe; where Men give not way to too ſelfiſh Avidity, or too extenſive Enthuſiaſm.
[Page 52] WHO ſees not, for Inſtance, that whatever is produc'd or improv'd by a Man's Art or Induſtry ought, for ever, to be ſecur'd to him, in order to give Encouragement to ſuch uſeful Habits and Accompliſhments? That the Property ought alſo to deſcend to Children and Relations, for the ſame uſeful Purpoſe? That it may be alienated by Conſent, in order to beget that Commerce and Intercourſe, which is ſo beneficial to human Society? And that all Contracts and Promiſes ought carefully to be fulfill'd, in order to ſecure mutual Truſt and Confidence, by which the general Intereſt of Mankind is ſo much promoted?
EXAMINE the Writers on the Laws of Nature; and you will always find, that, whatever Principles they ſet out with, they are ſure to terminate here at laſt, and to aſſign, as the ultimate Reaſon for every Rule they eſtabliſh, the Convenience and Neceſſities of Mankind. A Conceſſion thus extorted, in Oppoſition to Syſtems, has more Authority, than if it had been made, in Proſecution of them.
WHAT other Reaſon, indeed, could Writers ever give, why this muſt be mine and that yours; ſince uninſtructed Nature, ſurely, never made any ſuch Diſtinction? Theſe Objects are, of themſelves, [Page 53] foreign to us; they are totally disjoin'd and ſeparate; and nothing but the general Intereſts of Society can form the Connection.
SOMETIMES, the Intereſts of Society may require a Rule of Juſtice in a particular Caſe; but may no [...] determine any particular Rule, amongſt ſeveral, which are all equally beneficial. In that Caſe, the ſlighteſt Analogies are laid hold of, in order to prevent that Indifference and Ambiguity, which would be the Source of perpetual Quarrels and Diſſentions. Thus Poſſeſſion alone, and firſt Poſſeſſion, is ſuppos'd to convey Property, where no-body elſe has any precedent Claim and Pretenſion. Many of the Reaſonings of Lawyers are of this analogical Nature, and depend on very ſlight Connexions of the Imagination.
Is it ever ſcrupled, in extraordinary Caſes, to violate all Regard to the private Property of Individuals, and ſacrifice to public Intereſt a Diſtinction, which had been eſtabliſh'd for the Sake of that Intereſt? The Safety of the People is the ſupreme Law: All other particular Laws are ſubordinate to it, and dependant on it: And if, in the common Courſe of Things, they be followed and regarded; 'tis only becauſe the public Safety and Intereſt, commonly demand ſo equal and impartial an Adminiſtration.
[Page 54] SOMETIMES both Utility and Analogy fail, and leave the Laws of Juſtice in total Uncertainty. Thus, 'tis highly requiſite, that Preſcription or long Poſſeſſion ſhould convey Property; but what Number of Days or Months or Years ſhould be ſufficient for that Purpoſe, 'tis impoſſible for Reaſon alone to determine. Civil Laws here ſupply the Place of the natural Code, and aſſign different Terms for Preſcription, according to the different Utilities, propos'd by the Legiſlator. Bills of Exchange and promiſſory Notes, by the Laws of moſt Countries, preſcribe ſooner than Bonds and Mortgages, and Contracts of a more formal Nature.
IN general we may obſerve, that all Queſtions of Property are ſubordinate to the Authority of civil Laws, which extend, reſtrain, modify, and alter the Rules of natural Juſtice, according to the particular Convenience of each Community. The Laws have, or ought to have, a conſtant Reference to the Conſtitution of Government, the Manners, the Climate, the Religion, the Commerce, the Situation of each Society. A late Author of great Genius, as well as extenſive Learning, has proſecuted this Subject at large, and has eſtabliſh'd, from theſe Principles, the beſt Syſtem of political Knowledge, that, [Page 55] perhaps, has ever yet been communicated to the World*.
[Page 56] WHAT is a Man's Property? Any Thing, which it is lawful for him and for him alone, to uſe. But what Rule have we, by which we can diſtinguiſh theſe Objects? Here we muſt have Recourſe to Statutes, Cuſtoms, Precedents, Analogies, and a hundred other Circumſtances; ſome of which are conſtant and inflexible, ſome variable and arbitrary. But the ultimate Point, in which they all profeſſedly terminate, is, the Intereſt and Happineſs of human Society. Where this enters not into Conſideration, nothing can appear more whimſical, unnatural, and even ſuperſtitious than all or moſt of the Laws of Juſtice and of Property.
THOSE, who ridicule vulgar Superſtitions, and expoſe the Folly of particular Regards to Meats, Days, Places, Poſtures, Apparel, have an eaſy Taſk; while they conſider all the Qualities and Relations of the Objects, and diſcover no adequate Cauſe for that Affection or Antipathy, Veneration or Horrour, which have ſo mighty an Influence over a conſiderable Part of Mankind. A Syrian would have ſtarv'd rather than taſte Pigeon; an Egyptian would [Page 57] not have approach'd Bacon: But if theſe Species of Food be examin'd by the Senſes of Sight, Smell or Taſte, or ſcrutiniz'd by the Sciences of Chymiſtry, Medicine, or Phyſics; no Difference is ever found betwixt them and any other Species, nor can that preciſe Circumſtance be pitch'd on, which may afford a juſt Foundation for the religious Paſſion. A Fowl on Thurſday is lawful Food; on Friday, abominable: Eggs in this Houſe, and in this Dioceſe are permitted during Lent; a hundred Paces farther, to eat them is a damnable Sin. This Earth or Building▪ yeſterday, was prophane; to-day, by the muttering of certain Words, it has become holy and ſacred. Such Reflections, as theſe, in the Mouth of a Philoſopher, one may ſafely ſay, are too obvious to have any Influence; becauſe they muſt always, to every Man, occur at firſt Sight; and where they prevail not, of themſelves, they are ſurely obſtructed by Education, Prejudice and Paſſion, not by Ignorance or Miſtake.
IT may appear, to a careleſs View; or rather, a too abſtracted Reflection; that there enters a like Superſtition into all the Regards of Juſtice; and that, if a Man ſubjects its Objects, or what we call Property, to the ſame Scrutiny of Senſe and Science, he will not, by the moſt accurate Enquiry, find any Foundation for the Difference made by moral [Page 58] Sentiment. I may lawfully nouriſh myſelf from this Tree; but the Fruit of another of the ſame Species, ten Paces off, 'tis criminal for me to touch. Had I wore this Apparel an Hour ago, I had merited the ſevereſt Puniſhment; but a Man, by pronouncing a few magical Syllables, has now render'd it fit for my Uſe and Service. Were this Houſe plac'd in the neighbouring Territory, it had been immoral for me to dwell in it; but being built on this Side the River, it is ſubject to a different municipal Law, and I incur no Blame or Cenſure. The ſame Species of Reaſoning, it may be thought, which ſo ſucceſsfully expoſes Superſtition, is alſo applicable to Juſtice; nor is it poſſible, in the one Caſe more than in the other, to point out, in the Object, that preciſe Quality or Circumſtance, which is the Foundation of the Sentiment.
BUT there is this material Difference betwixt Superſtition and Juſtice, that the former is frivolous, uſeleſs, and burthenſome; the latter is abſolutely requiſite to the Well-being of Mankind and Exiſtence of Society. When we abſtract from this Circumſtance (for 'tis too apparent ever to be overlookt) it muſt be confeſt, that all Regards to Right and Property, ſeem entirely without Foundation, as much as the groſſeſt and moſt vulgar Superſtition. Were the Intereſts of Society no way concern'd, 'tis as unintelligible, why another's articulating certain Sounds, [Page 59] implying Conſent, ſhould change the Nature of my Actions with regard to a particular Object, as why the reciting of a Liturgy by a Prieſt, in a certain Habit and Poſture, ſhould dedicate a Heap of Brick and Timber, and render it, thenceforth and for ever, ſacred*
[Page 60] THESE Reflections are far from weakening the Obligations of Juſtice, or diminiſhing any Thing from the moſt ſacred Attention to Property. On the contrary, ſuch Sentiments muſt acquire new Force from the preſent Reaſoning. For what ſtronger Foundation can be deſir'd or conceiv'd for any Duty than to obſerve, that human Society, or even human Nature could not ſubſiſt, without the Eſtabliſhment of it, and will ſtill arrive at greater Degrees of Happineſs and Perfection, the more inviolable the Regard is, which is pay'd to that Duty?17
[Page 61] THUS we ſeem, upon the Whole, to have attain'd a Knowledge of the Force of that Principle here inſiſted on, and can determine what Degree of Eſteem or moral Approbation may reſult from Reflections on public Intereſt and Utility. The Neceſſity of Juſtice to the Support of Society is the SOLE Foundation of that Virtue; and ſince no moral Excellence is more highly eſteem'd, we may conclude, that this Circumſtance of Uſefulneſs has, in general, the ſtrongeſt Energy, and moſt entire Command over our Sentiments. It muſt, therefore, be the Source of a conſiderable Part of the Merit, aſcrib'd to Humanity, Benevolence, Friendſhip, public Spirit, and other ſocial Virtues of that Stamp; as it is the SOLE Source of the moral Approbation pay'd to Fidelity, Juſtice, Veracity, Integrity, and thoſe other eſtimable and uſeful Qualities and Principles. 'Tis entirely agreeable to the Rules of Philoſophy, and even of common Reaſon; where any Principle has been found to have a great Force and Energy in one Inſtance, to aſcribe to it a like Energy in all ſimilar Inſtances*.
HAD every Man ſufficient Sagacity to perceive, at all Times, the ſtrong Intereſt, which binds him to the Obſervance of Juſtice and Equity, and Strength of Mind ſufficient to perſevere in a ſteady Adherence to a general and a diſtant Intereſt, in Oppoſition to the Allurements of preſent Pleaſure and Advantage: There had never, in that Caſe, been any ſuch Thing as Government or political Society, but each Man following his natural Liberty, had liv'd in entire Peace and Harmony with all others. What Need of poſitive Laws, where natural Juſtice is, of itſelf, a ſufficient Reſtraint? Why create Magiſtrates, where there never ariſes any Diſorder or Iniquity? Why abridge our native Freedom, when, in every Inſtance, the utmoſt Exertion of it is found innocent and beneficial? 'Tis evident, that, if Government were totally uſeleſs, it never could have Place, and that the SOLE Foundation of the [Page 4] Duty of ALLEGIANCE is the Advantage which it procures to Society, by preſerving Peace and Order amongſt Mankind.
WHEN a Number of political Societies are erected, and maintain a great Entercourſe together; a new Set of Rules are immediately diſcover'd to be uſeful in that particular Situation; and accordingly take place, under the Title of LAWS of NATIONS. Of this Kind are, the Sacredneſs of the Perſons of Ambaſſadors, abſtaining from poiſon'd Arms, Quarter in War, with others of that Kind; which are plainly calculated for the Advantage of States and Kingdoms, in their Entercourſe with each other.
THE Rules of Juſtice, ſuch as prevail amongſt Individuals, are not altogether ſuſpended amongſt political Societies. All Princes pretend a Regard to the Rights of others; and ſome, no doubt, without Hypocriſy. Alliances and Treaties are every Day made betwixt independent States, which would only be ſo much Waſte of Parchment, if they were not found, by Experience, to have ſome Influence and Authority. But here is the Difference betwixt Kingdoms and Individuals. Human Nature cannot, by any Means, ſubſiſt, without the Aſſociation of Individuals; and that Aſſociation never could have Place, were no Regard pay'd to the Laws of Equity [Page 65] and Juſtice. Diſorder, Confuſion, the War of All againſt All are the neceſſary Conſequences of ſuch a licentious Conduct. But Nations can flouriſh without Entercourſe. They may even ſubſiſt, in ſome Degree, under a general War. The Obſervance of Juſtice, tho' uſeful among them, is not guarded by ſo ſtrong a Neceſſity as among Individuals; and the moral Obligation holds Proportion with the Uſefulneſs. All Politicians will allow, and moſt Philoſophers, that REASONS of STATE may, in particular Emergencies, diſpence with the Rules of Juſtice, and invalidate any Treaty or Alliance, where the ſtrict Obſervance of it would be prejudicial, in a conſiderable Degree, to either of the contracting Parties. But nothing leſs than the extremeſt Neceſſity, 'tis confeſt, can juſtify Individuals in a Breach of Promiſe, or an Invaſion of the Properties of others.
IN a confederated Commonwealth, ſuch as the Achaean Republic of old, or the Swiſs Cantons and United Provinces in modern Times; as the League has here a peculiar Utility, the Conditions of Union have a peculiar Sacredneſs and Authority, and a Violation of them would be equally criminal, or even more criminal, than any private Injury or Injuſtice.[Page 4] [...] [Page 65] [...]
[Page 66] THE long and helpleſs Infancy of Man requires the Combination of Parents for the Subſiſtance of their Young; and that Combination requires the Virtue of CHASTITY or Fidelity to the Marriage-bed. Without ſuch an Utility, 'twill readily be own'd, ſuch a Virtue would never have been thought of*.
AN Infidelity of this Nature is much more pernicious in Women than in Men. Hence the Laws of Chaſtity are much ſtricter over the one Sex than over the other†.
[Page 67] THOSE who live in the ſame Family have ſo many Opportunities of Licences of this Kind, that nothing could preſerve Purity of Manners, were Marriage allow'd amongſt the neareſt Relations, or any Intercourſe of Love betwixt them ratify'd by Law and Cuſtom. INCEST, therefore, being pernicious in a ſuperior Degree, has alſo a ſuperior Turpitude and moral Deformity, annex'd to it.
WHAT is the Reaſon, why, by the Greek Laws, one might marry a Half-ſiſter by the Father, but not by the Mother? Plainly this. The Manners of the Greeks were ſo reſerv'd, that a Man was never permitted [Page 68] to approach the Women's Apartment, even in the ſame Family, unleſs where he viſited his own Mother. His Step-mother and her Children were as much ſhut up from him as the Women of any other Family, and there was as little Danger of any criminal Intercourſe betwixt them: Uncles and Nieces, for a like Reaſon, might marry at Athens; but neither theſe nor Half-brothers and Siſters could contract that Alliance at Rome, where the Intercourſe was more open betwixt the Sexes. Public Utility is the Cauſe of all theſe Variations.
To repeat, to a Man's Prejudice, any Thing that eſcap'd him in private Converſation, or to make any ſuch Uſe of his private Letters, is highly blam'd. The free and ſocial Intercourſe of Minds muſt be extremely checkt, where no ſuch Rules of Fidelity are eſtabliſh'd.
EVEN in repeating Stories, whence we can ſee no ill Conſequences to reſult, the giving one's Authors is regarded as a Piece of Indiſcretion, if not of Immorality. Theſe Stories, in paſſing from Hand to Hand, and receiving all the uſual Variations, frequently come about to the Perſons concern'd, and produce Animoſities and Quarrels among People, whoſe Intentions are the moſt innocent and inoffenſive.
[Page 69] To pry into Secrets, to open or even read the Letters of others, to play the Spy upon their Words and Looks and Actions: What Habits more inconvenient in Society? What Habits, of conſequence, more blameable?
THIS Principle is alſo the Foundation of moſt of the Laws of Good-manners; a Kind of leſſer Morality calculated for the Eaſe of Company and Converſation. Too much or too little Ceremony are both blam'd, and every Thing, that promotes Eaſe, without an indecent Familiarity, is uſeful and laudable.
CONSTANCY in Friendſhips, Attachments, and Familiarities is commonly very laudable, and is requiſite to ſupport Truſt and good Correſpondence in Society. But in Places of general, tho' caſual Concourſe, where Health and Pleaſure bring People promiſcuouſly together, public Conveniency has diſpens'd with this Maxim; and Cuſtom there promotes an unreſerv'd Converſation for the Time, by indulging the Privilege of dropping afterwards every indifferent Acquaintance, without Breach of Civility or Goodmanners.
[Page 70] EVEN in Societies, that are eſtabliſh'd on Principles the moſt immoral, and the moſt deſtructive to the Intereſts of the general Society, there are requir'd certain Rules and Maxims, which a Species of falſe Honour, as well as private Intereſt, engages the Members to obſerve. Robbers and Pyrates, it has often been remark'd, could not maintain their pernicious Confederacy, did they not eſtabliſh a new diſtributive Juſtice amongſt themſelves, and recall thoſe Laws of Equity, which they have violated with the reſt of Mankind.
AMONGST Nations, where an immoral Gallantry, if cover'd with a thin Veil of Myſtery, is, in ſome Degree, authoriz'd by Cuſtom, there immediately ariſe a Set of Rules, calculated for the Conveniency of that Attachment. The famous Court or Parliament of Love in Provence decided formally all difficult Caſes of this Nature.
IN Societies for Play, there are Laws requir'd for the Conduct of the Game, and theſe Laws are different [Page 71] in each Game. The Foundation, I own, of ſuch Societies is frivolous; and the Laws are, in a great Meaſure, tho' not altogether, capricious and arbitrary. So far is there a material Difference betwixt them and the Rules of Juſtice, Fidelity and Loyalty. The general Societies of Men are abſolutely requiſite for the Subſiſtence of the Species; and the public Conveniency, which regulates Morals, is inviolably eſtabliſh'd in the Nature of Man, and of the World, in which he lives. The Compariſon, therefore, in theſe Reſpects, is very imperfect. We may only learn from it the Neceſſity of Rules, whereever Men have any Intercourſe with each other.
THEY cannot even paſs each other on the Road without Rules. Waggoners, Coachmen, and Poſtilions have Principles, by which they give way; and theſe are chiefly founded on mutual Eaſe and Convenience. Sometimes alſo they are arbitrary, or at beſt dependant on a Kind of capricious Analogy, like many of the Reaſonings of Lawyers*.
[Page 72] To carry the Matter farther, we may obſerve, that 'tis impoſſible for Men ſo much as to murther each other without Statutes and Maxims, and an Idea of Juſtice and Honour. War has it Laws as well as Peace; and even that ſportive Kind of War carried on amongſt Wreſtlers, Boxers, Cudgel-players, Gladiators, is ſupported by fixt Principles and Regulations. Common Intereſt and Utility beget infallibly a Standard of Right and Wrong amongſt the Parties concern'd.
IT ſeems ſo natural a Thought to aſcribe to their Utility the Praiſe which we beſtow on the ſocial Virtues, that one would expect to meet with this Principle every-where in moral Writers, as the chief Foundation of their Reaſoning and Inquiry. In common Life, we may obſerve, that the Circumſtance of Utility is always appeal'd to; nor is it ſuppos'd, that a greater Elogy can be given to any Man, than to diſplay his Uſefulneſs to the Public, and enumerate the Services he has perform'd to Mankind and Society. What Praiſe, even of an inanimate Form, if the Regularity and Elegance of its Parts deſtroy not its Fitneſs for any uſeful Purpoſe! And how ſatisfactory an Apology for any Diſproportion of ſeeming Deformity, if we can ſhow the Neceſſity of that [Page 74] particular Conſtruction for the Uſe intended! A Ship appears infinitely more beautiful to an Artiſt, or one moderately ſkill'd in Navigation; where its Prow is wide and ſwelling beyond its Poop, than if it were fram'd with a preciſe geometrical Regularity, in Contradiction to all the Laws of Mechanics. A Building, whoſe Doors and Windows were exact Squares, would hurt the Eye by that very Proportion; as ill adapted to the human Figure, for whoſe Service the Fabric was intended What Wonder then, that a Man, whoſe Habits and Conduct are hurtful to Society, and dangerous or pernicious to every one, that has an Intercourſe with him, ſhould, on that Account, be an Object of Diſapprobation, and communicate to every Spectator the ſtrongeſt Sentiments of Diſguſt and Hatred*?
[Page 75] BUT perhaps the Difficulty of accounting for theſe Effects of Uſefulneſs, or its contrary, has kept Philoſophers from admitting them into their Syſtems of Ethics, and has induc'd them rather to employ any other Principle, in explaining the Origin of moral Good and Evil. But 'tis no juſt Reaſon for rejecting any Principle, confirm'd by Experience, that we can give no ſatisfactory Account of its Origin, nor are able to reſolve it into other more general Principles. And if we would employ a little Thought on the preſent Subject, we need be at no Loſs to account for the Influence of Utility, and to deduce it from Principles, the moſt known and avow'd in human Nature.
[Page 76] FROM the apparent Uſefulneſs of the ſocial Virtues, it has readily been inferr'd by Sceptics, both antient and modern, that all moral Diſtinctions ariſe from Education, and were, at firſt, invented, and afterwards encourag'd, by the Arts of Politicians, in order to render Men tractable, and ſubdue their natural Ferocity and Selfiſhneſs, which incapacitated them for Society. This Principle, indeed, of Precept and Education muſt be ſo far own'd to have a powerful Influence, that it may frequently encreaſe or diminiſh, beyond their natural Standard, the Sentiments of Approbation or Diſlike; and may even, in particular Inſtances, create, without any natural Principle, a new Sentiment of this Kind; as is evident in all ſuperſtitious Practices and Obſervances: But that all moral Affection or Diſlike ariſes from this Origin will never ſurely be allow'd by any judicious Enquirer. Had Nature made no ſuch Diſtinction, founded on the original Frame and Conſtitution of the Mind, the Words, honourable and ſhameful, lovely and odious, noble and deſpicable, never had had place in any Language; nor could Politicians, had they invented theſe Terms, ever have been able to render them intelligible, or make them convey any Idea to the Audience. So that nothing can be more ſuperficial than this Paradox of the Sceptics; and 'twere well, if, in the abſtruſer Studies of Logics and Metaphyſics, [Page 77] we could as eaſily get rid of the Cavils of that Sect, as in the more practical and intelligible Sciences of Politics and Morals.
THE ſocial Virtues muſt, therefore, be allow'd to have a natural Beauty and Amiableneſs, which, at firſt, antecedent to all Precept or Education, recommends them to the Eſteem of uninſtructed Mankind, and engages their Affections. And as the Utility of theſe Virtues is the chief Circumſtance, whence they derive their Merit, it follows, that the End, which they have a Tendency to promote, muſt be ſome way agreeable to us, and take hold of ſome natural Affection. It muſt pleaſe, either from Conſiderations of Self-intereſt, or from more generous Motives and Regards.
IT has often been aſſerted, that, as every Man has a ſtrong Connexion with Society, and perceives the Impoſſibility of his ſolitary Subſiſtence, he becomes, on that Account, favourable to all thoſe Habits or Principles, which promote Order in Society, and enſure to him the quiet Poſſeſſion of ſo ineſtimable a Bleſſing. As much as we value our own Happineſs and Welfare, as much muſt we value the Practice of Juſtice and Humanity, by which alone the ſocial Confederacy can be maintain'd, and every Man reap the Fruits of mutual Protection and Aſſiſtance.
[Page 78] THIS Deduction of Morals from Self-love or a Regard to private Intereſt, is a very obvious Thought, and has not ariſen altogether from the wanton Sallies and ſportive Aſſaults of the Sceptics. To mention no others, Polybius, one of the graveſt, and moſt judicious, as well as moſt moral Writers of Antiquity, has aſſign'd this ſelfiſh Origin to all our Sentiments of Virtue.*. But tho' the ſolid, practical Senſe of that Author, and his Averſion to all vain Subtilties render his Authority on the preſent Subject very conſiderable; yet this is not an Affair to be decided by Authority; and the Voice of Nature and Experience ſeems plainly to oppoſe the ſelfiſh Theory.
WE frequently beſtow Praiſes on virtuous Actions, perform'd in very diſtant Ages and remote Countries; where the utmoſt Subtilty of Imagination would not diſcover any Appearance of Self-intereſt, or find any [Page 79] Connexion of our preſent Happineſs and Security with Events ſo widely ſeparated from us.
WHERE private Advantage concurs with general Affection for Virtue, we readily perceive and avow the Mixture of theſe diſtinct Sentiments, which have a very different Feeling and Influence on the Mind. We praiſe, perhaps, with more Alacrity, where the generous, humane Action contributes to our particular Intereſt: But the Topics of Praiſe we inſiſt on are very wide of this Circumſtance. And we may attempt to bring over others to our Sentiments, without endeavouring to convince them, that they reap any Advantage from the Actions, which we recommend to their Approbation and Applauſe.
FRAME the Model of a praiſe-worthy Character, conſiſting of all the moſt amiable moral Virtues: Give Inſtances, in which theſe diſplay themſelves, after an eminent and extraordinary Manner: You readily engage the Eſteem and Approbation of all your Audience, who never ſo much as enquir'd in what Age and Country the Perſon liv'd, who poſſeſt [Page 80] theſe noble Qualities: A Circumſtance, however, of all others, the moſt material to Self-love, or a Concern for our own individual Happineſs.
ONCE on a Time, a Stateſmen, in the Shock and Concurrence of Parties, prevail'd ſo far as to procure, by his Eloquence, the Baniſhment of an able Adverſary; whom he ſecretly follow'd, offering him. Money for his Support during his Exile, and ſoothing him with Topics of Conſolation on his Misfortunes. Alas! cries the baniſh'd Stateſman, with what Regret muſt I leave my Friends in this City, where even Enemies are ſo generous! Virtue, tho' in an Enemy, here pleas'd him: And we alſo give it the juſt Tribute of Praiſe and Approbation; nor do we retract theſe Sentiments, when we hear, that the Action paſt at Athens, about two thouſand Years ago, and that the Perſons Names were Eſchines and Demoſthenes.
WHAT is that to me? There are few Occaſions, when this Queſtion is not pertinent: And had it that univerſal, infallible Influence ſuppos'd, it would turn into Ridicule every Compoſition, and almoſt every Converſation, which contain any Praiſe or Cenſure of Men and Manners.
[Page 81] 'Tis but a weak Subterfuge, when preſs'd by theſe Facts and Arguments, to ſay, that we tranſport ourſelves, by the Force of Imagination, into diſtant Ages and Countries, and conſider the Advantage, which we ſhould have reapt from theſe Characters, had we been Contemporaries, and had any Commerce with the Perſons. 'Tis not conceivable, how a real Sentiment or Paſſion can ever ariſe from a known imaginary Intereſt; eſpecially when our real Intereſt is ſtill kept in View, and is often acknowledg'd to be entirely diſtinct from the imaginary, and even ſometimes oppoſite to it.
A Man, brought to the Brink of a Precipice, cannot look down without trembling; and the Sentiment of imaginary Danger actuates him, in Oppoſition to the Opinion and Belief of real Safety. But the Imagination is here aſſiſted by the Preſence of a ſtriking Object; and yet prevails not, except it be alſo aided by Novelty, and the unuſual Appearance of the Object. Cuſtom ſoon reconciles us to Heights and Precipices, and wears off theſe falſe and deluſive Terrors. The Reverſe is obſervable in the Eſtimates we form of Characters and Manners; and the more we habituate ourſelves to an accurate Scrutiny of the moral Species, the more delicate Feeling do we acquire of the moſt minute Diſtinctions betwixt Vice [Page 82] and Virtue. Such frequent Occaſion, indeed, have we, in common Life, to pronounce all Kinds of moral Determinations, that no Object of this Kind can be new or unuſual to us; nor could any falſe Views or Prepoſſeſſions maintain their Ground againſt an Experience, ſo common and familiar. Experience and Cuſtom being chiefly what form the Aſſociations of Ideas, 'tis impoſſible, that any Aſſociation could eſtabliſh and ſupport itſelf, in direct Oppoſition to theſe Principles.
USEFULNESS is agreeable, and engages our Approbation. This is a Matter of Fact, confirm'd by daily Obſervation. But, uſeful? For what? For ſome Body's Intereſt, ſurely. Whoſe Intereſt then? Not our own only: For our Approbation frequently extends farther. It muſt, therefore, be the Intereſt of thoſe, who are ſerv'd by the Character or Action approv'd of; and then we may conclude, however remote, are not totally indifferent to us. By opening up this Principle, we ſhall diſcover the great Secret of moral Diſtinctions.
SELF-LOVE is a Principle in human Nature of ſuch extenſive Energy, and the Intereſt of each Individual is, in general, ſo cloſely connected with that of Community, that thoſe Philoſophers were excuſable, who fancy'd, that all our Concern for the Public might, perhaps, be reſolv'd into a Concern for our own Happineſs and Preſervation. They ſaw, every Moment, Inſtances of Approbation or Blame, Satisfaction or Diſpleaſure towards Characters and Actions; they denominated the Objects of theſe Sentiments, Virtues or Vices; they obſerv'd, that the former had a Tendency to encreaſe the Happineſs, and the latter the Miſery of Society; they aſk'd, if it was poſſible we could have any general Concern for Society, or any diſintereſted Reſentment of the Welfare or Injury of others; they found it ſimpler to conſider all theſe Sentiments as Modifications of Self-love; and they diſcover'd a Pretext, at leaſt, for this Unity of Principle, in that cloſe Union of Intereſt, which is ſo obſervable betwixt the Public and each Individual.
BUT notwithſtanding this frequent Confuſion of Intereſts, 'tis eaſy to attain what natural Philoſophers, after my Lord Bacon, have affected to call [Page 84] the Experimentum crucis, or that Experiment, which points out the Way we ſhould follow, in any Doubt or Ambiguity. We have found Inſtances, wherein private Intereſt was ſeparate from public; wherein it was even contrary: And yet we obſerv'd the moral Sentiment to continue, notwithſtanding this Disjunction of Intereſts. And wherever theſe diſtinct Intereſts ſenſibly concur'd, we always found a ſenſible Encreaſe of the Sentiment, and a more warm Affection to Virtue, and Deteſtation of Vice, or what we properly call, Gratitude and Revenge. Compell'd by theſe Inſtances, we muſt renounce the Theory, which accounts for every moral Sentiment by the Principle of Self-love. We muſt adopt a more public Affection, and allow, that the Intereſts of Society are not, even on their own Account, altogether indifferent to us. Uſefulneſs is only a Tendency to a certain End; and 'tis a Contradiction in Terms, that any Thing pleaſes as Means to an End, where the End itſelf does no way affect us. If therefore Uſefulneſs be a Source of moral Sentiment, and if this Uſefulneſs be not always conſider'd with a Reference to Self; it follows, that every Thing, which contributes to the Happineſs of Society, recommends itſelf directly to our Approbation and Good-will. Here is a Principle, which accounts, in great Part, for the Origin of Morality: And what need we ſeek [Page 85] for abſtruſe and remote Syſtems, when there occurs one ſo obvious and natural*?
HAVE we any Difficulty to comprehend the Force of Humanity and Benevolence? Or to conceive, that the very Aſpect of Happineſs, Joy, Proſperity, gives Pleaſure; that of Pain, Sufferance, Sorrow, communicates Uneaſineſs? The human Countenance, ſays Horace †, borrows Smiles or Tears from the human Countenance. Reduce a Perſon to Solitude, and he loſes all Enjoyment, except merely of the ſpeculative Kind; and that becauſe the Movements of his Heart are not forwarded by correſpondent [Page 86] Movements in his Fellow-creatures. The Signs of Sorrow and Mourning, tho' arbitrary, affect us with Melancholy; but the natural Symptoms, Tears, and Cries, and Groans, never fail to infuſe Compaſſion and Uneaſineſs. And if the Effects of Miſery touch us in ſo lively a Manner; can we be ſuppos'd altogether inſenſible or indifferent towards its Cauſes; when a malicious or treacherous Character and Behaviour is preſented to us?
WE enter, I ſhall ſuppoſe, into a convenient, warm, well-contriv'd Apartment: We neceſſarily receive a Pleaſure from its very Survey; becauſe it preſents us with the pleaſing Ideas of Eaſe, Satisfaction, and Enjoyment. The hoſpitable, goodhumour'd, humane Landlord appears. This Cirſtance ſurely muſt embelliſh the whole; nor can we eaſily forbear reflecting, with Pleaſure, on the Satisfaction and Enjoyment, which reſults to every one from his Intercourſe and Good-offices.
HIS whole Family, by the Freedom, Eaſe, Confidence, and calm Satisfaction, diffus'd over their Countenances, ſufficiently expreſs their Happineſs. I have a pleaſing Sympathy in the Proſpect of ſo much Joy, and can never conſider the Source of it, without the moſt agreeable Emotions.
[Page 87] HE tells me, that an oppreſſive and powerful Neighbour had attempted to diſpoſſeſs him of his Inheritance, and had long diſturb'd all his innocent and ſocial Enjoyments. I feel an immediate Indignation ariſe in me againſt ſuch Violence and Injury.
BUT 'tis no Wonder, he adds, that a private Wrong ſhould proceed from a Man, who had enſlav'd Provinces, depopulated Cities, and made the Field and Scaffold ſtream with human Blood. I am ſtruck with Horror at the Proſpect of ſo much Miſery and am actuated by the ſtrongeſt Antipathy againſt its Author.
IN general, 'tis certain, that wherever we go, whatever we reflect on or converſe about; every Thing ſtill preſents us with the View of human Happineſs or Miſery, and excites in our Breaſts a ſympathetic Movement of Pleaſure or Uneaſineſs. In our ſerious Occupations, in our careleſs Amuſements, this Principle ſtill exerts its active Energy.
A MAN, who enters the Theatre, is immediately ſtruck with the View of ſo great a Multitude, participating of one common Amuſement; and experiences, from their very Aſpect, a ſuperior Senſibility [Page 88] or Diſpoſition of being affected with every Sentiment, which he ſhares with his Fellow-creatures.
EVERY Movement of the Theatre, by a ſkillful Poet, is communicated, as it were by Magic, to the Spectators, who weep, tremble, reſent, rejoice, and are enflam'd with all the Variety of Paſſions, which actuate the ſeveral Perſonages of the Drama.
WHERE any Event croſſes our Wiſhes, and interrupts the Happineſs of the favourite Perſonages, we feel a ſenſible Anxiety and Concern. But where their Sufferings proceed from the Treachery, Cruelty or Tyranny of an Enemy, our Breaſts are affected with the livelieſt Reſentment againſt the Author of theſe Calamities.
'TIS here eſteem'd contrary to the Rules of Art to repreſent any Thing cool and indifferent. A diſtant Friend, or a Confident, who has no immediate Intereſt in the Cataſtrophe, ought, if poſſible, to be avoided by the Poet; as communicating a like [Page 89] Indifference to the Audience, and checking the Progreſs of the Paſſions.
No Species of Poetry is more entertaining than Paſtoral; and every one is ſenſible, that the chief Source of its Pleaſure ariſes from thoſe Images of a gentle and tender Tranquillity, which it repreſents in its Perſonages, and of which it communicates a like Sentiment to the Readers. Sannazarius, who transfer'd the Scene to the Sea-ſhore, tho' he preſented the moſt magnificent Object in Nature, is confeſt to have err'd in his Choice. The Idea of Toil, Labour, and Danger, ſuffer'd by the Fiſhermen, is painful, by an unavoidable Sympathy, which attends every Conception of human Happineſs or Miſery.
WHEN I was twenty, ſays a French Poet, Ovid was my Choice: Now I am forty, I declare for Horace. We enter, to be ſure, more readily into Sentiments, that reſemble thoſe we feel every Moment: But no Paſſion, when well repreſented, can be altogether indifferent to us; becauſe there is none, of which every Man has not within him, at leaſt, the Seeds and firſt Principles. 'Tis the Buſineſs of Poetry to approach every Object by lively Imagery and Deſcription, and make it look like Truth and Reality: A certain Proof, that wherever [Page 90] that Reality is found, our Minds are diſpos'd to be ſtrongly affected by it.
ANY recent Event or Piece of News, by which the Fortunes of States, Provinces or many Individuals, are affected, is extremely intereſting even to thoſe whoſe Welfare is not immediately engag'd. Such Intelligence is propagated with Celerity, heard with Avidity, and enquir'd into with Attention and Concern. The Intereſts of Society appear, on this Occaſion, to be, in ſome Degree, the Intereſts of each Individual. The Imagination is ſure to be affected; tho' the Paſſions excited may not always be ſo ſtrong and ſteady as to have great Influence on the Conduct and Behaviour.
Thucydides and Guicciardin ſupport with Difficulty our Attention, while the former deſcribes the trivial Rencounters of the ſmall Cities of Greece, and the latter the harmleſs Wars of Piſa. The few Perſons intereſted, and the ſmall Intereſt fill not the Imagination, and engage not the Affections. The deep Diſtreſs of the numerous Athenian Army before Syracuſe; [Page 91] the Danger, which ſo nearly threatens Venice; theſe excite Compaſſion; theſe move Terror and Anxiety.
THE indifferent, unintereſting Stile of Suetonius, equally with the maſterly Pencil of Tacitus, may convince us of the cruel Depravity of Nero or Tiberius: But what a Difference of Sentiment! While the former coldly relates the Facts; and the latter ſets before our Eyes the venerable Figures of a Soranus and a Thraſea, intrepid in their Fate, and only mov'd by the melting Sorrows of their Friends and Kindred. What Sympathy then touches every human Heart! What Indignation againſt the inhuman Tyrant, whoſe cauſeleſs Fear or unprovok'd Malice, gave riſe to ſuch deteſtable Barbarity!
IF we bring theſe Subjects nearer: If we remove all Suſpicion of Fiction and Deceit: What powerful Concern is excited, and how much ſuperior, in many Inſtances, to the narrow Attachments of Self-love and private Intereſt! Popular Sedition, Party Zeal, a devoted Obedience to factious Leaders; theſe are ſome of the moſt viſible, tho' leſs laudable Effects of this ſocial Sympathy in human Nature.
WHEN a Perſon ſtutters, and pronounces with Difficulty, we even ſympathize with this trivial Uneaſineſs, and ſuffer for him. And 'tis a Rule in Criticiſm, that every Combination of Syllables or Letters, which gives Pain to the Organs of Speech in the Recital, appears alſo, from a Species of Sympathy, harſh and diſagreeable to the Ear. Nay, when we run over a Book with our Eye, we are ſenſible of ſuch unharmonious Compoſition; becauſe we ſtill imagine, that a Perſon recites it to us, and ſuffers from the Pronunciation of theſe jarring Sounds. So delicate is our Sympathy!
EASY and unconſtrain'd Poſtures and Motions are always beautiful: An Air of Health and Vigour is agreeable: Cloaths, that warm, without burthening the Body; that cover, without impriſoning the Limbs, are well-faſhion'd. In every Judgment of Beauty, the Sentiments are Feelings of the Perſons affected enter into Conſideration, and communicate to the Spectators ſimilar Touches of Pain or Pleaſure*. [Page 93] What Wonder, then, if we can pronounce no Sentence concerning the Characters and Conduct of Men without conſidering the Tendencies of their Actions, and the Happineſs or Miſery, which thence ariſes to Society? What Aſſociation of Ideas would ever operate, were that Principle here totally inactive†?
[Page 94] IF any Man, from a cold Inſenſibility, or narrow Selfiſhneſs of Temper, is unaffected with the Images of human Happineſs or Miſery, he muſt be equally indifferent to the Images of Vice and Virtue: As on the other Hand, 'tis always found, that a warm Concern for the Intereſts of our Species is attended with a delicate Feeling of all moral Diſtinctions; a ſtrong Reſentment of Injury done to Men; a lively Approbation of their Welfare. In this Particular, tho' great Superiority is obſervable of one Man above another; yet none are ſo entirely indifferent to the Intereſt of their Fellow-creatures, as to perceive no Diſtinctions of moral Good and Evil, in conſequence of the different Tendencies of Actions and Principles. How, indeed, can we ſuppoſe it poſſible of any one, who wears a human Heart, that, if there be ſubjected to his Cenſure, one Character or Syſtem of Conduct, which is beneficial, and another, which is pernicious, to his Species or Community, he will not ſo much as give a cool Preference to the former, or aſcribe to it the ſmalleſt Merit or Regard? Let us ſuppoſe ſuch a Perſon ever ſo ſelfiſh; let private Intereſt have ingroſt ever ſo much his Attention; yet in Inſtances, where that is not concern'd, he muſt unavoidably feel ſome Propenſity to the Good of Mankind, and make it an Object of Choice, if every Thing elſe be equal. [Page 95] Would any Man, that is walking alone, tread juſt as willingly on another's gouty Toes, whom he has no Quarrel with, as on the hard Flint and Pavement? There is here ſurely a Difference in the Caſe. We ſurely take into Conſideration the Happineſs and Miſery of others, in weighing the ſeveral Motives of Action, and incline to the former, where no private Regards draw us to ſeek our own Promotion or Advantage by the Injury of our Fellow-Creatures. And if the Principles of Humanity are capable, in many Inſtances, of influencing our Actions, they muſt, at all Times, have ſome Authority over our Sentiments, and give us a general Approbation of what is uſeful to Society, and Blame of what is dangerous or pernicious. The Degrees of theſe Sentiments may be the Subject of Controverſy, but the Reality of their Exiſtence, one ſhould think, muſt be admitted, in every Theory or Syſtem.
A CREATURE, abſolutely malicious and ſpiteful, were there any ſuch in Nature, muſt be worſe than indifferent to the Images of Vice and Virtue. All his Sentiments muſt be inverted, and directly oppoſite to thoſe, which prevail in the human Species. Whatever contributes to the Good of Mankind, as it croſſes the conſtant Bent of his Wiſhes and Deſires, muſt produce Uneaſineſs and Diſapprobation; and on the contrary, whatever is the Source of Diſorder [Page 96] order and Miſery in Society, muſt, for the ſame Reaſon, be regarded with Pleaſure and Complacency. Timon, who probably from his affected Spleen, more than any inveterate Malice, was denominated the Man-hater, embrac'd Alcibiades, 'tis ſaid, with great Fondneſs. Go on, my Boy! cries he, Acquire the Confidence of the People: You will one Day, I foreſee, be the Cauſe of great Calamities to them *. Could we admit the two Principles of the Manichaeans, 'tis an infallible Conſequence, that their Sentiments of human Actions, as well as of every Thing elſe, muſt be totally oppoſite; and that every Inſtance of Juſtice and Humanity, from its neceſſary Tendency, muſt pleaſe the one Deity, and diſpleaſe the other. All Mankind ſo far reſemble the good Principle, that where Intereſt or Revenge or Envy perverts not our Diſpoſition, we are always enclin'd, from our natural Philanthropy, to give the Preference to the Happineſs of Society, and conſequently to Virtue, above its oppoſite. Abſolute, unprovok'd, diſintereſted Malice has never, perhaps, Place in any human Breaſt; or if it had, muſt there pervert all the Sentiments of Morals, as well as the Feelings of Humanity. If the Cruelty of Nero be allow'd altogether voluntary, and not rather the Effect of conſtant Fear and Reſentment; 'tis evident, that Tigellinus, [Page 97] preferably to Seneca or Burrhus, muſt have poſſeſt his ſteady and uniform Approbation.
A STATESMAN or Patriot, that ſerves our own Country, in our own Time, has always a more paſſionate Regard paid him, than one whoſe beneficial Influence operated on diſtant Ages or remote Nations; where the Good, reſulting from his generous Humanity, being leſs connected with us, ſeems more obſcure, and affects us with a leſs lively Sympathy. We may own the Merit to be equally great, tho' our Sentiments are not rais'd to an equal Height, in both Caſes. The Judgment here corrects the Inequalities of our internal Emotions and Perceptions; in like Manner, as it preſerves us from Error, in the ſeveral Variations of Images, preſented to our external Senſes. The ſame Object, at a double Diſtance, really throws on the Eye a Picture of but half the Bulk; and yet we imagine it appears of the ſame Size in both Situations; becauſe we know, that, on our Approach to it, its Image would expand on the Senſes, and that the Difference conſiſts not in the Object itſelf, but in our Poſition with regard to it. And, indeed, without ſuch Correction of Appearances, both in internal and external Sentiment, Men could never think or talk ſteadily on any Subject; while their fluctuating Situations produce a continual Variation on Objects, [Page 98] and throw them into ſuch different and contrary Lights and Poſitions*.
THE more we converſe with Mankind, and the greater ſocial Entercourſe we maintain, the more will we be familiariz'd to theſe general Preferences and Diſtinctions, without which our Converſation and Diſcourſe could ſcarcely be render'd intelligible to each other. Every Man's Intereſt is peculiar to himſelf, and the Averſions and Deſires, which reſult from it, cannot be ſuppos'd to affect others in a [Page 99] like Degree. General Language, therefore, being form'd for general Uſe, muſt be moulded on ſome more general Views, and muſt affix the Epithets of Praiſe or Blame, in Conformity to Sentiments, which ariſe from the general Intereſts of the Community. And if theſe Sentiments, in moſt Men, be not ſo ſtrong as thoſe, which have a Reference to private Good; yet ſtill they muſt make ſome Diſtinction, even in Perſons the moſt deprav'd and ſelfiſh; and muſt attach the Notion of Good to a beneficent Conduct, and of Evil to the contrary. Sympathy, we ſhall allow, is much fainter than our Concern for Ourſelves, and Sympathy with Perſons, remote from us, much ſainter than that with Perſons, near and contiguous; but for this very Reaſon, 'tis neceſſary for us, in our calm Judgments and Diſcourſe concerning the Characters of Men, to neglect all theſe Differences, and render our Sentiments more public and ſocial. Beſides, that we Ourſelves often change our Situation in this Particular, we every Day meet with Perſons, who are in a different Situation from us, and who could never converſe with us on any reaſonable Terms, were we to remain conſtantly in that Poſition and Point of View, which is peculiar to Ourſelf. The Entercourſe of Sentiments, therefore, in Society and Converſation makes us form ſome general, inalterable Standard, by which we may approve or diſapprove of Characters [Page 100] and Manners. And tho' the Heart takes not part entirely with thoſe general Notions, nor regulates all its Love and Hatred, by the univerſal, abſtract Differences of Vice and Virtue, without regard to Self or the Perſons, with whom we are more immediately connected; yet have theſe moral Differences a conſiderable Influence, and being ſufficient, at leaſt, for Diſcourſe, ſerve all our Purpoſes in Company, in the Pulpit, on the Theatre, and in the Schools*.
THUS, in whatever Light we take this Subject, the Merit, aſcrib'd to the ſocial Virtues, appears ſtill uniform, and ariſes chiefly from that Regard, which the natural Sentiment of Benevolence engages us to pay to the Intereſts of Mankind and Society. If we conſider the Principles of the human Make; ſuch as they appear to daily Experience and Obſervation [Page 101] we muſt, a priori, conclude it impoſſible for ſuch a Creature as Man to be totally indifferent to the Well or Ill-being of his Fellow-creatures, and not readily, of himſelf, to pronounce, where nothing gives him any particular Byaſs, that what promotes their Happineſs is good, what tends to their Miſery is evil, without any farther Regard or Conſideration. Here then are the faint Rudiments, at leaſt, or Outlines, of a general Diſtinction betwixt Actions; and in Proportion as the Humanity of the Perſon is ſuppos'd to encreaſe, his Connexion to thoſe injur'd or benefited, and his lively Conception of their Miſery or Happineſs; his conſequent Cenſure or Approbation acquires proportionable Force and Vigour. There is no Neceſſity, that a generous Action, barely mention'd in an old Hiſtory or remote Gazette, ſhould communicate any ſtrong Feelings of Applauſe and Admiration. Virtue, plac'd at ſuch a Diſtance, is like a fixt Star, which, tho', to the Eye of Reaſon, it may appear as luminous as the Sun in his Meridian, is ſo infinitely remov'd, as to affect the Senſes, neither with Light nor Heat. Bring this Virtue nearer, by our Acquaintance or Connexion with the Perſons, or even by an eloquent Narration and Recital of the Caſe; our Hearts are immediately caught, our Sympathy enliven'd, and our cool Approbation converted into the warmeſt Sentiments of Friendſhip and Regard. Theſe ſeem neceſſary and [Page 102] infallible Conſequences of the general Principles of human Nature, as diſcover'd in common Life and Practice.
AGAIN; reverſe theſe Views and Reaſonings: Conſider the Matter a poſteriori; and weighing the Conſequences, enquire, if the Merit of all ſocial Virtue is not deriv'd from the Feelings of Humanity, with which it affects the Spectators. It appears to be Matter of Fact, that the Circumſtance of Utility, in all Subjects, is a Source of Praiſe and Approbation: That it is conſtantly appeal'd to in all moral Deciſions concerning the Merit and Demerit of Actions: That it is the ſole Source of that high Regard paid to Juſtice, Fidelity, Honour, Allegiance and Chaſtity: That it is inſeperable from all the other ſocial Virtues of Humanity, Generoſity, Charity, Affability, Lenity, Mercy and Moderation: And in a Word, that it is the Foundation of the chief Part of Morals, which has a Reference to Mankind and Society.
IT appears alſo, in our general Approbation or Judgment of Characters and Manners, that the uſeful Tendency of the ſocial Virtues moves us not by any Regards to Self-intereſt, but has an Influence much more univerſal and extenſive. It appears, that a Tendency to public Good, and to the promoting [Page 103] of Peace, Harmony, and Concord in Society, by affecting the benevolent Principles of our Frame, engages us on the Side of the ſocial Virtues. And it appears, as an additional Confirmation, that theſe Principles of Humanity and Sympathy enter ſo deep into all our Sentiments, and have ſo powerful an Influence, as may enable them to excite the ſtrongeſt Cenſure and Applauſe. The preſent Theory is the ſimple Reſult of all theſe Inferences, each of which ſeems founded on uniform Experience and Obſervation.
WERE it doubtful, whether there was any ſuch Principle in our Nature as Humanity or a Concern for others, yet when we ſee, in numberleſs Inſtances, that, whatever has a Tendency to promote the Intereſts of Society, is ſo highly approv'd of, we ought thence to learn the Force of the benevolent Principle; ſince 'tis impoſſible for any Thing to pleaſe as Means to an End, where the End itſelf is totally indifferent: On the other Hand, were it doubtful, whether there was, implanted in our Natures, any general Principle of moral Blame and Approbation, yet when we ſee, in numberleſs Inſtances, the Influence of Humanity, we ought thence to conclude, that 'tis impoſſible, but that every Thing, which promotes the Intereſts of Society, muſt communicate Pleaſure, and what is pernicious give Uneaſineſs. But when [Page 104] theſe different Reflections and Obſervations concur in eſtabliſhing the ſame Concluſion, muſt they not beſtow an undiſputed Evidence upon it?
'Tis however hop'd, that the Progreſs of this Argument will bring a farther Confirmation of the preſent Theory, by ſhowing the Riſe of other Sentiments of Eſteem and Regard from the ſame or like Principles.
NOTHING is more uſual, than for Philoſophers to encroach upon the Province of Grammarians; and to engage in Diſputes of Words, while they imagine, that they are handling Controverſies of the deepeſt Importance and Concern. Thus, were we here to aſſert or to deny, that all laudable Qualities of the Mind were to be conſider'd as Virtues or moral Attributes, many would imagine, that we had enter'd upon one of the profoundeſt Speculations of Ethics; tho' 'tis probable, all the while, that the greateſt Part of the Diſpute would be found entirely verbal. To avoid, therefore, all frivolous Subtilties and Altercations, as much as poſſible, we ſhall content Ourſelves with obſerving, firſt, that, in common Life, the Sentiments of Cenſure or Approbation, produc'd by mental Qualities of every Kind, are [Page 106] very ſimilar; and ſecondly, that all antient Moraliſts, (the beſt Models) in treating of them, make little or no Difference amongſt them.
FIRST. It ſeems certain, that the Sentiment of conſcious Worth, the Self-ſatisfaction, proceeding from a Review of a Man's own Conduct and Character; it ſeems certain, I ſay, that this Sentiment, which, tho' the moſt common of all others, has no proper Name in our Language* ariſes from the Endowments of Courage and Capacity, Induſtry and Ingenuity, as well as from any other mental Excellencies. Who, on the other Hand, is not deeply mortify'd with reflecting on his own Folly or Diſſoluteneſs, and feels not a ſecret Sting or Compunction, whenever his Memory preſents any paſt Occurence, where he behav'd with Stupidity or Ill-manners? No Time can efface the cruel Ideas of a Man's own Ill-conduct, or of Affronts, which Cowardice or Impudence have brought upon him. They ſtill [Page 107] haunt his ſolitary Hours, damp his moſt aſpiring Thoughts, and ſhow him, even to himſelf, in the moſt contemptible and moſt odious Colours imaginable.
WHAT is there too we are more anxious to conceal from others than ſuch Blunders, Infirmities, and Meanneſſes, or more dread to have expos'd by Raillery and Satyre? And is not the chief Object of Vanity, our Bravery or Learning, our Wit or Breeding, our Eloquence or Addreſs, our Taſte or Ability? Theſe we diſplay with Care, if not with Oſtentation; and commonly ſhow more Ambition of excelling in them, than even in the ſocial Virtues themſelves, which are, in Reality, of ſuch ſuperior Excellence. Good-nature and Honeſty, eſpecially the latter, are ſo indiſpenſibly requir'd, that, tho' the greateſt Cenſure attends any Violation of theſe Duties, no eminent Praiſe follows ſuch common Inſtances of them, as ſeem eſſential to the Support of human Society. And hence the Reaſon, in my Opinion, why, tho' Men often praiſe ſo liberally the Qualities of their Heart, they are ſhy of commending the Endowments of their Head; becauſe the latter Virtues, being ſuppos'd more rare and extraordinary, are obſerv'd to be the more uſual Objects of Pride and Self-conceit; and when boaſted of, beget a ſtrong Suſpicion of theſe Sentiments.
[Page 108] 'Tis hard to tell, whether you hurt a Man's Character moſt by calling him a Knave or a Coward, and whether a beaſily Glutton or Drunkard be not as odious and contemptible as a ſelfiſh, ungenerous Miſer. Give me my Choice; and I would rather, for my own Happineſs and Self-enjoyment, have a friendly, humane Heart than poſſeſs all the other Virtues of Demoſthenes and Philip united: But I would rather paſs with the World for one endow'd with extenſive Genius and intrepid Courage, and ſhould thence expect ſtronger Inſtances of general Applauſe and Admiration. The Figure a Man makes in Life, the Reception he meets with in Company, the Eſteem paid him by his Acquaintance; all theſe Advantages depend as much upon his good Senſe and Judgment as upon any other Part of his Character. Had a Man the beſt Intentions in the World, and were the fartheſt remov'd from all Injuſtice and Violence, he would never be able to make himſelf be much regarded, without a moderate Share, at leaſt, of Parts and Underſtanding.
WHAT is it then we can here diſpute about? If Senſe and Courage, Temperance and Induſtry, Wit and Knowledge confeſſedly form a conſiderable Part of perſonal Merit; if a Man poſſeſt of them is both better ſatisfy'd with himſelf, and better entitled [Page 109] to the Good-will, Eſteem, and Services of others, than one entirely devoid of them; if, in ſhort, the Sentiments be ſimilar, that ariſe from theſe Endowments and from the ſocial Virtues; is there any Reaſon for being ſo extremely ſcrupulous about a Word, or doubting whether they are entitled to the Denomination of Virtue*? It may, indeed, be pretended, that the Sentiment of Approbation, which thoſe Accompliſhments produce, beſides its being inferior, is alſo ſomewhat different from that, which attends the Virtues of Juſtice and Humanity. But this ſeems not a ſufficient Reaſon for ranking them entirely under different Claſſes and Appellations. The Character of Caeſar and that of Cato, as drawn by Saluſt, are both of them virtuous, in the ſtricteſt Senſe of the Word; but in a different Way: Nor are the Sentiments entirely the ſame, which ariſe from them. The one produces Love; the other, [Page 110] Eſteem: The one is amiable; the other awful: We could wiſh to meet the one Character in a Friend; the other we ſhould be ambitious of in Ourſelves. In like Manner the Approbation, which attends natural Abilities or Temperance or Induſtry, may be ſomewhat different from that which is paid to the ſocial Virtues, without making them entirely of a different Species. And indeed, we may obſerve, that the natural Abilities, no more than the other Virtues, produce not, all of them, the ſame Kind of Approbation. Good Senſe and Genius beget Eſteem and Regard: Wit and Humour excite Love and Affection*.
Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a Fool)Is Senſe and Spirit, with Humanity*.
WHAT Pretenſions has a Man to our generous Aſſiſtance or Good-offices, who has diſſipated his Wealth in profuſe Expences, idle Vanities, chimerical Projects, diſſolute Pleaſures, or extravagant Gaming? Theſe Vices (for we ſcruple not to call them ſuch) bring Miſery unpity'd, and Contempt on every one addicted to them.
ACHAEUS, a wiſe and prudent Prince, fell into a fatal Snare, which coſt him his Crown and Life, after having us'd every reaſonable Precaution to guard himſelf againſt it. On that Account, ſays the Hiſtorian, he is a juſt Object of Regard and Compaſſion: His Betrayers alone of Hatred and Contempt†.
[Page 112] THE precipitate Flight and improvident Negligence of Pompey, at the Beginning of the civil Wars, appear'd ſuch notorious Blunders to Cicero, as quite pall'd his Friendſhip towards that great Man In the ſame Manner, ſays he, as Want of Cleanlineſs, Decency, or Diſcretion in a Miſtreſs are found to alienate our Affections. For ſo he expreſſes himſelf, where he talks, not in the Character of a Philoſopher, but in that of a Stateſman and Man of the World, to his Friend Atticus *.
BUT ſecondly, the ſame Cicero, in Imitation of all the antient Moraliſts, when he reaſons as a Philoſopher, enlarges very much his Ideas of Virtue, and comprehends every laudable Quality or Endowment of the Mind, under that honourable Appellation. The Prudence, explain'd in his Offices †, is that Sagacity, which leads to the Diſcovery of Truth, and preſerves us from Error and Miſtake. Magnanimity, Temperance, Decency are there alſo at large diſcours'd of. And as that eloquent Moraliſt follow'd the common receiv'd Diviſion of the four cardinal Virtues, our ſocial Duties form but one Head, in the general Diſtribution of his Subject.
[Page 113] WE need only peruſe the Titles of Chapters in Ariſtotle's Ethics to be convinc'd, that he ranks Courage, Temperance, Magnificence, Magnanimity, Modeſty, Prudence, and a manly Freedom amongſt the Virtues, as well as Juſtice and Friendſhip.
EPICTETUS has ſcarce ever mentioned the Sentiment of Humanity and Compaſſion, but in order to put his Diſciples on their Guard againſt it. The Virtue of the Stoics ſeems to conſiſt chiefly in a firm Temper and a ſound Underſtanding. With them, as with Solomon and the Eaſtern Moraliſts, Folly and Wiſdom are equivalent to Vice and Virtue.
PLUTARCH is no more crampt by Syſtems in his Philoſophy than in his Hiſtory. Where he compares the great Men of Greece and Rome, he fairly [Page 114] ſets in Oppoſition all their Blemiſhes and Accompliſhments of whatever Kind, and omits nothing conſiderable, that can either depreſs or exalt their Characters. His moral Diſcourſes contain the ſame free and natural Cenſure of Men and Manners.
THE Character of Hannibal, as drawn by Livy *, is eſteem'd partial, but allows him many eminent Virtues. Never was there a Genius, ſays the Hiſtorian, more equally ſitted for thoſe oppoſite Offices of Command and Obedience; and 'twere, therefore, difficult to determine whether he render'd himſelf dearer to the General or to the Army: To none, would Haſdrubal entruſt more willingly the Conduct of any dangerous Enterprize; under none, did the Soldiers diſcover more Courage and Confidence. Great Boldneſs in affronting Danger; great Prudence in the Midſt of it. No Labour could fatigue his Body or ſubdue his Mind. Cold and Heat were indifferent to him: Meat and Drink he ſought as Supplies to the Neceſſities of Nature, not as Gratifications of his voluptuous Appetites: Waking or Reſt he us'd indiſcriminately, by Night or by Day—Theſe great VIRTUES were ballanc'd by great VICES: Inhuman Cruelty; Perfidy more than Punic; no Truth, no Faith, no Regard to Oaths, Promiſes or Religion.
[Page 115] THE Character of Alexander the Sixth, to be found in Guicciardin *, is pretty ſimilar, but juſter; and is a Proof, that even the Moderns, where they ſpeak naturally, hold the ſame Language with the Antients. In this Pope, ſays he, there was a ſingular Capacity and Judgment: Admirable Prudence; a wonderful Talent of Perſuaſion; and in all momentuous Enterprizes, a Diligence and Dexterity incredible But theſe Virtues were infinitely overballanc'd by his Vices; no Faith, no Religion, inſatiable Avarice, exorbitant Ambition, and a more than barbarous Cruelty.
POLYBIUS †, reprehending Timaeus for his Partiality againſt Agathocles, whom he himſelf allows to be the moſt cruel and impious of all Tyrants, ſays: If he took Refuge in Syracuſe, as aſſerted by that Hiſtorian, flying the Dirt and Smoke and Toil of his former Profeſſion of a Potter; and if, proceeding from ſuch ſlender Beginnings, he became Maſter, in a little Time, of all Sicily; brought the Carthaginian State into the utmoſt Danger; and at laſt dy'd in Old-age, and in Poſſeſſion of kingly Dignity: Muſt he not be allow'd ſomething prodigious and extraordinary, and to have poſſeſt great Talents and Capacity for Buſineſs and Action? [Page 116] His Hiſtorian, therefore, ought not to have alone related what tended to his Reproach and Infamy; but alſo what might redound to his PRAISE and HONOUR.
IN general, we may obſerve, that the Diſtinction of voluntary or involuntary was little regarded by the Antients in their moral Reaſonings; where they frequently treated the Queſtion as very doubtful, whether Virtue could be taught or not *? They juſtly conſider'd, that Cowardice, Meanneſs, Levity, Anxiety, Impatience, Folly, and many other Qualities of the Mind, might appear ridiculous, and deform'd, contemptible and odious, tho' independant of the Will. Nor could it be ſuppos'd, at all Times, in every Man's Power to attain every Kind of mental, more than exterior Beauty.
BUT modern Philoſophers, treating all Morals, as on a like Footing with civil Laws, guarded by the Sanctions of Reward and Puniſhment, were neceſſarily led to render this Circumſtance, of voluntary or involuntary, the Foundation of their whole Theory. Every one may employ Terms in what Senſe he pleaſes: But this, in the mean Time, muſt [Page 117] be allow'd, that Sentiments are every Day experienc'd of Blame and Praiſe, which have Objects beyond the Dominion of the Will or Choice, and of which it behoves us, if not as Moraliſts, as ſpeculative Philoſophers at leaſt, to give ſome ſatisfactory Theory and Explication.
A BLEMISH, a Fault, a Vice, a Crime; theſe Expreſſions ſeem to denote different Degrees of Cenſure and Diſapprobation; which are, however, all of them, at the Bottom, pretty nearly the ſame Kind of Species. The Explication of one will lead us eaſily into a juſt Conception of the others.
IT ſeems evident, that where a Quality or Habit is ſubjected to our Examination, if it appear, in any reſpect, prejudicial to the Perſon, poſſeſt of it, or ſuch as incapacitates him for Buſineſs and Action, it is inſtantly blam'd, and rank'd amongſt his Faults and Imperfections. Indolence, Negligence, Want of Order and Method, Obſtinacy, Fickleneſs, Raſhneſs, Credulity; no one ever eſteem'd theſe Qualities, indifferent to a Character; much leſs, extoll'd them as Accompliſhments or Virtues. The Prejudice, reſulting from them, immediately ſtrikes our [Page 118] Eye, and gives us the Sentiment of Pain and Diſapprobation.
No Qualiity, 'tis allow'd, is abſolutely either blameable or praiſe-worthy. 'Tis all according to its Degrees. A due Medium, ſay the Peripatetics, is the Characteriſtic of Virtue. But this Medium is chiefly determin'd by Utility. A proper Celerity, for Inſtance, and Diſpatch in Buſineſs is commendable. When defective, no Progreſs is ever made in the Execution of any Purpoſe: When exceſſive, it engages us in precipitate, and ill-concerted Meaſures and Enterprizes. By ſuch Reaſonings as theſe we fix the proper and commendable Mediocrity in all moral and prudential Diſquiſitions; and never loſe View of the Advantages, which reſult from any Character or Habit.
Now as theſe Advantages are enjoy'd by the Perſon, poſſeſt of the Character, it can never be Self-love, which renders the Proſpect of them agreeable to us, the Spectators, and prompts our Eſteem and Approbation. No Force of Imagination can convert us into another Perſon, and make us fancy, that we being that Perſon, reap Benefit from thoſe valuable Qualities, which belong to him. Or if it did, no Celerity of Imagination could immediately tranſport us back, into ourſelves, and make us love and eſteem the Perſon, as different from us. Views [Page 119] and Sentiments, ſo oppoſite to known Truth, and to each other, could never have place, at the ſame Time, in the ſame Perſon. All Suſpicion, therefore, of ſelfiſh Regards are here totally excluded. 'Tis a quite different Principle, which actuates our Boſom, and intereſts us in the Felicity of the Perſon we contemplate. Where his natural Talents and acquir'd Abilities give us the Proſpect of Elevation, Advancement, a Figure in Life, proſperous Succeſs, a ſteady Command over Fortune, and the Execution of great or advantageous Undertakings; we are ſtruck with ſuch agreeable Images, and feel a Complacency and Regard immediately ariſe towards him. The Ideas of Happineſs, Joy, Triumph, Proſperity are connected with every Circumſtance of his Character, and diffuſe over our Minds a pleaſing Sentiment of Sympathy and Humanity*.
[Page 120] LET us ſuppoſe a Perſon originally ſo fram'd as to have no Manner of Concern for his Fellow creatures, but to regard the Happineſs and Miſery of all ſenſible Beings with greater Indifference even than two contiguous Shades of the ſame Colour. Let us ſuppoſe, if the Proſperity of Nations were lay'd on the one hand and their Ruin on the other, and he were deſir'd to chooſe; that he would ſtand, like the Schoolman's Aſs, irreſolute and undetermin'd, betwixt equal Motives; or rather, like the ſame Aſs betwixt two Pieces of Wood or Marble, without any Inclination or Propenſity on either Side. The Conſequence, I believe, muſt be allow'd juſt, that ſuch a Perſon, being abſolutely unconcern'd, either as to the public Good of a Community or the private Utility of others, would look on every Quality, however pernicious, or however beneficial, to Society or to its Poſſeſſor, with the ſame Indifference as on the moſt common and unintereſting Object.
BUT if, inſtead of this fancy'd Monſter, we ſuppoſe a Man to form a Judgment or Determination in [Page 121] the Caſe; there is to him a plain Foundation of Preference, where every Thing elſe is equal; and however cool his Choice may be, if his Heart be ſelfiſh, or if the Perſons intereſted be remote from him; there muſt ſtill be a Choice, and a Diſtinction betwixt what is uſeful, and what is pernicious. Now this Diſtinction is the ſame in all its Parts, with the moral Diſtinction, whoſe Foundation has been ſo oſten, and ſo much in vain, enquir'd after. The ſame Endowments of the Mind, in every Circumſtance, are agreeable to the Sentiment of Morals and to that of Humanity; the ſame Temper is ſuſceptible of high Degrees of the one Sentiment and of the other; and the ſame Alteration in the Objects, by their nearer Approach or by Connexions, enlivens the one and the other. By all the Rules of Philoſophy, therefore, we muſt conclude, that theſe Sentiments are originally the ſame; ſince, in each particular, even the moſt minute, they are govern'd by the ſame Laws, and are mov'd by the ſame Objects.
WHY do Philoſophers infer, with the greateſt Certainty, that the Moon is kept in its Orbit by the ſame Force of Gravity, which makes Bodies fall near the Surface of the Earth, but becauſe theſe Effects are, upon Computation, found ſimilar and equal? And muſt not this Argument bring equal Conviction, in moral as in natural Diſquiſitions?
[Page 122] To prove, by any long Detail, that all the Qualities, uſeful to the Poſſeſſor, are approv'd, and the contrary cenſur'd, would be ſuperfluous. The leaſt Reflection, on what is every Day experienc'd in Life, will be ſufficient. We ſhall only mention a few Inſtances, in order to remove, if poſſible, all Doubt and Heſitation.
THE Quality, the moſt neceſſary for the Execution of any uſeful Enterprize, is DISCRETION; by which we carry on a ſafe Intercourſe with others, give due Attention to our own and to their Character, weigh each Circumſtance of the Buſineſs we undertake, and employ the ſureſt and ſafeſt Means for the Attainment of any End or Purpoſe. To a Cromwell, perhaps, or a De Retz, Diſcretion may appear an Alderman-like Virtue, as Dr. Swift calls it; and being incompatible with thoſe vaſt Deſigns, to which their Courage and Ambition prompted them, it might really, in them, be a Fault or Imperfection. But in the Conduct of ordinary Life, no Virtue is more requiſite, not only to obtain Succeſs, but to avoid the moſt fatal Miſcarriages and Diſappointments. The greateſt Parts without it, as obſerv'd by an elegant Writer, may be fatal to their Owner; as Polyphemus depriv'd of his Eye was only the more expos'd, [Page 123] on Account of his enormous Strength and Stature.
THE beſt Character, indeed, were it not rather too perfect for human Nature, is that which gives nothing to Temper of any Kind; but alternately employs Enterprize and Caution, as each is uſeful to the particular Purpoſe intended. Such is the Excellence, which St. Evremond aſcribes to Mareſchal Turenne, who diſplay'd every Campaign, as he grew older, more Temerity in his military Enterprizes; and being now, from long Experience, perfectly acquainted with every Incident in War, he advanc'd with greater Firmneſs and Boldneſs, in a Road ſo well known to him. Fabius, ſays Machiavel, was cautious; Scipio enterprizing: And both ſucceeded, becauſe the Situation of the Roman Affars, during the Command of each, was peculiarly adapted to his Genius; but both would have fail'd, had theſe Situations been inverted. He is happy, whoſe Circumſtances ſuit his Temper; but he is more excellent, who can ſuit his Temper to any Circumſtances.
WHAT need is there to diſplay the Praiſes of INDUSTRY, and to extol its Advantages, in the Acquiſition of Power and Riches, or in raiſing what we call a Fortune in the World? The Tortoiſe, according to the Fable, by his Aſſiduity, gain'd the [Page 124] Race of the Hare, tho' poſſeſt of much ſuperior Swiftneſs. A Man's Time, when well huſbanded, is like a cultivated Field, of which a few Acres produce more of what is uſeful to Life, than extenſive Provinces, even of the richeſt Soil, when over-run with Weeds and Brambles.
BUT all Proſpect of Succeſs in Life, or even of tolerable Subſiſtence, muſt fail, where a reaſonable FRUGALITY is wanting. The Heap, inſtead of encreaſing, diminiſhes daily, and leaves its Poſſeſſor ſo much more unhappy, that not having been able to confine his Expences to a larger Revenue, he will ſtill leſs be able to live contentedly on a ſmaller. The Souls of Men, according to Plato *, inflam'd with impure Appetites, and loſing the Body, which alone afforded Means of Satisfaction, hover about the Earth, and haunt the Places, where their Bodies are repoſited; poſſeſt with a longing Deſire to recover the loſt Organs of Senſation So may we ſee worthleſs Prodigals, having conſum'd their Fortunes in wild Debauches, thruſting themſelves into every plentiful Table, and every Party of Pleaſure, hated even by the vicious, and deſpis'd even by Fools.
[Page 125] THE one Extreme of Frugality is Avarice, which, as it both deprives a Man of all Uſe of his Riches, and checks Hoſpitality and every ſocial Enjoyment, is juſtly cenſur'd on a double Account: Prodigality, the other Extreme, is commonly more hurtful to a Man himſelf; and each of theſe Extremes is blam'd above the other, according to the Temper of the Perſon who cenſures, and according to his greater or leſs Senſibility to Pleaſure, either ſocial or ſenſual.
ALL Men, 'tis allow'd, are equally deſirous of Happineſs; but all Men are not equally ſucceſsful in the Purſuit: Of which one chief Cauſe is the common Want of STRENGTH of MIND, which might enable us to reſiſt the Temptation of preſent Eaſe or Pleaſure, and carry us forward in the Search of more diſtant Profit and Enjoyment. Our Affections, on a general Proſpect of their Objects, form certain Rules of Conduct, and certain Meaſures of Preference of one above another: And theſe Deciſions, tho' really the Reſult of our calm Paſſions, and Propenſities, (for what elſe can pronounce any Object eligible or the contrary?) are yet ſaid, by a natural Abuſe of Terms, to be the Determinations of pure Reaſon and Reflection. But when ſome of theſe Objects approach nearer us, or acquire the Advantages of favourable Lights and Poſitions, which [Page 126] catch the Heart or Imagination; our general Reſolutions are frequently confounded, a ſmall Enjoyment preferr'd, and laſting Shame and Sorrow entail'd upon us. And however Poets may employ their Wit and Eloquence, in celebrating preſent Pleaſure, and rejecting all diſtant Views to Fame, Health, or Fortune; 'tis obvious, that this Practice is the Source of all Diſſoluteneſs and Debauchery, Repentance and Miſery. A Man of a ſtrong and determin'd Temper adheres tenaciouſly to his general Reſolutions, and is neither ſeduc'd by the Allurements of Pleaſure, nor terrify'd by the Menaces of Pain; but keeps ſtill in View thoſe diſtant Purſuits, by which he, at once, enſures his Happineſs and his Honour.
SELF-SATISFACTION, at leaſt in ſome Degree, is an Advantage, that equally attends the FOOL and the WISE-MAN: But 'tis the only one; nor is there any other Circumſtance in the Conduct of Life, where they are upon an equal Footing. Buſineſs, Books, Converſation; for all of theſe, a Fool is totally incapacitated, and except condemn'd by his Station to the coarſeſt Drudgery, remains a uſeleſs Burthen upon the Earth. Accordingly, 'tis found, that Men are infinitely jealous of their Character in this Particular; and many Inſtances are ſeen of Profligacy and Treachery, the moſt avow'd, [Page 127] and unreſerved; none of bearing patiently the Imputation of Ignorance and Stupidity. Dicaearchus, the Macedonian General, who, as Polybius * tells us, openly erected one Altar to Impiety, and another to Injuſtice, in order to bid Defiance to Mankind; even he, I am well aſſur'd, would have ſtarted at the Epithet of Fool, and have meditated Revenge for ſo injurious an Appellation. Except the Affection of Parents, the ſtrongeſt and moſt indiſſoluble Bond in Nature, no Connexion has Strength ſufficient to ſupport the Diſguſt ariſing from this Character. Love itſelf, which can ſubſiſt under Treachery, Ingratitude, Malice, and Infidelity, is immediately extinguiſh'd by it, when perceiv'd and acknowledg'd; nor are Deformity and Old-age more fatal to the Dominion of that Paſſion. So dreadful are the Ideas of an utter Incapacity for any Purpoſe or Undertaking, and of continu'd Error and Miſconduct in Life!
WHEN 'tis aſk'd, whether a quick or a ſlow Apprehenſion be moſt valuable? Whether one, that, at firſt View, penetrates far into a Subject, but can perform nothing upon Study; or a contrary Character, which muſt work out every Thing by Dint of Application? Whether a clear Head or a copious [Page 128] Invention? Whether a profound Genius or a ſure Judgment? In ſhort, what Character, or peculiar Turn of Underſtanding is more excellent than another? 'Tis evident, we can anſwer none of theſe Queſtions, without conſidering which of thoſe Qualities capacitates a Man beſt for the World, and carries him faitheſt in any of his Undertakings.
IF refin'd Senſe and exalted Senſe be not ſo uſeful as common Senſe, their Rarity, their Novelty, and the Nobleneſs of their Objects make ſome Compenſation, and render them the Admiration of Mankind: As Gold, tho' leſs ſerviceable than Iron, acquires, from its Scarcity, a Value, which is much ſuperior.
THE Deſects of Judgment can be ſupply'd by no Art or Invention; but thoſe of MEMORY frequently may, both in Buſineſs and in Study, by Method and Induſtry, and by Diligence in committing every Thing to Paper; and we ſcarce ever hear a ſhort Memory given as a Reaſon for a Man's Want of Succeſs in any Undertaking. But in antient Times, when no Man could make a Figure without the Talent of ſpeaking, and when the Audience were too delicate to bear ſuch crude, undigeſted Harangues as our extemporary Orators offer to public Aſſemblies; the Faculty of Memory was then of [Page 129] the utmoſt Conſequence, and was accordingly much more valued than at preſent. Scarce any great Genius is mention'd in Antiquity, who is not celebrated for this Talent; and Cicero enumerates it amongſt the other ſublime Qualities of Caeſar himſelf*.
PARTICULAR Cuſtoms and Manners alter the Uſefulneſs of Qualities: they alſo alter their Merit. Particular Situations and Accidents have, in ſome Degree, the ſame Influence. He will always be more eſteem'd, who profeſſes thoſe Talents and Accompliſhments, which ſuit his Station and Profeſſion, than the whom Fortune has miſplac'd in the Part ſhe has aſſign'd him. The private or ſelfiſh Virtues are, in this reſpect, more arbitrary than the public and ſocial. In other reſpects, they are, perhaps, leſs liable to Doubt and Controverſy.
IN this Kingdom, ſuch continu'd Oſtentation, of late Years, has been diſplay'd among Men in active Life, with regard to public Spirit, and among thoſe in ſpeculative with regard to Benevolence; and ſo many falſe Pretenſions to each have been, no doubt, detected, that Men of the World are apt, without [Page 130] any bad Intention, to diſcover a ſullen Incredulity on the head of theſe moral Endowments, and even ſometimes abſolutely to deny their Exiſtence and Reality. In like Manner, I find, that, of old, the perpetual Cant of the Stoics and Cynics concerning Virtue, their magnificent Profeſſions and ſlender Performances, bred a Diſguſt in Mankind; and Lucian, who, tho' licentious on the Article of Pleaſure, is yet, in other reſpects, a very moral Writer, cannot, ſometimes, talk of Virtue, ſo much boaſted, without betraying Symptoms of Spleen and Irony*. But ſurely, this peeviſh Delicacy, whence-ever it ariſes, can never be carry'd ſo far as to make us deny the Exiſtence of every Species of Virtue, and all Diſtinction of Manners and Behaviour. Beſides Diſcretion, Caution, Enterprize, Induſtry, Aſſiduity, Fragality, OEconomy, Good-ſenſe, Prudence, Diſcernment; beſides theſe Virtues, I ſay, whoſe very Names force an Avowal of their Merit, there are many others, to which the moſt determin'd Sceptiſm cannot, for a Moment, refuſe the Tribute of Praiſe and Approbation: Temperance, Sobriety, Patience, Conſtancy, [Page 131] Perſeverance, Forethought, Conſiderateneſs, Secrecy, Order, Inſinuation, Addreſs, Preſence of Mind, Quickneſs of Conception, Facility of Expreſſion; theſe and a thouſand more of the ſame Kind, no Man will ever deny to be Excellencies and Endowments. As their Merit conſiſts in their Tendency to ſerve the Perſon, poſſeſt of them, without any magnificent Claims of public and ſocial Deſert, we are the leſs jealous of their Pretenſions, and readily admit them into the Catalogue of Virtues. We are not ſenſible, that, by this Conceſſion, we have pav'd the Way for all the other moral Excellencies, and cannot conſiſtently heſitate any longer, with regard to diſintereſted Benevolence, Patriotiſm, and Humanity.
IT ſeems, indeed, certain, that firſt Appearances are here, as uſual, extremely deceitful, and that 'tis more difficult, in a ſpeculative Way, to reſolve into Self-love the Merit we aſcribe to the ſelfiſh Virtues above-mention'd, than that even of the ſocial Virtues of Juſtice and Beneficence. For this latter Purpoſe, we need but ſay, that whatever Conduct and Behaviour promotes the Good of the Community, is lov'd, prais'd, and eſteem'd by the Community, on Account of that Utility and Intereſt, of which every one partakes: And tho' this Affection and Regard be, in Reality, Gratitude, not Self-love, yet a Diſtinction, even of this obvious Nature, may not [Page 132] readily be made by ſuperficial Reaſoners; and there is Room, at leaſt, to ſupport the Cavil and Diſpute for a Moment. But as Qualities, which tend only to the Utility of their Poſſeſſor, without any Reference to us, or to the Community, are yet eſteem'd and valu'd; by what Theory or Syſtem can we account for this Sentiment from Self-love, or deduce it from that favourite Origin? There ſeems here a Neceſſity of confeſſing that the Happineſs and Miſery of others are not Spectacles altogether indifferent to us, but that the View of the former, whether in its Cauſes or Effects, like Sun-ſhine or the Proſpect of well-cultivated Plains (to carry our Pretenſions no higher) communicates a ſecret Joy and Satisfaction; the Appearance of the latter, like a lowering Cloud or barren Landſkip, throws a melancholy Damp over the Imagination. And this Conceſſion being once made, the Difficulty is over; and a natural, unforc'd Interpretation of the Phaenomena of human Life will afterwards, we may hope, prevail, amongſt all ſpeculative Enquirers.
IT may not be improper, in this Place, to examine the Influence of bodily Endowments and of the Goods of Fortune, over our Sentiments of Regard and Eſteem, and to conſider whether theſe Phaenomena ſtrengthen or weaken the preſent Theory.
'TIS evident, that one conſiderable Source of Beauty in all Animals is the Advantage they reap from the particular Fabric or Structure of their Limbs and Members, ſuitable to the particular Manner of Life, to which they are by Nature deſtin'd. The juſt Proportions of a Horſe, deſcrib'd by Xenophon and Virgil, are the ſame, which are receiv'd at this Day by our modern Jockeys; becauſe the Foundation of them is the ſame, viz. Experience of what is detrimental or uſeful in the Animal.
BROAD Shoulders, a lank Belly, firm Joints, taper Legs; all theſe are beautiful in our Species, becauſe Signs of Force and Vigour. Ideas of Utility and its contrary, tho' they do not altogether determine what is handſome or deform'd, are evidently [Page 134] the Source of a conſiderable Part of Approbation or Diſlike.
IN ancient Times, bodily Strength and Dexterity, being of greater Uſe and Importance in War, was alſo much more eſteem'd and valu'd, than at preſent. Not to inſiſt on Homer and the Poets, we may obſerve, that Hiſtorians ſcruple not to mention Force of Body among the other Accompliſhments even of Epaminondas, whom they acknowledge to be the greateſt Hero, Stateſman, and General of all the Greeks *. A like Praiſe is given to Pompey, one of the greateſt of the Romans †. This Inſtance is fimilar to what we obſerv'd above with regard to Memory.
WHAT Deriſion and Contempt, with both Sexes, attend Impotence; while the unhappy Object is regarded [Page 135] as one depriv'd of ſo capital a Pleaſure in Life, and at the ſame Time, as diſabled from communicating it to others. Barrenneſs in Women, being alſo a Species of Inutility, is a Reproach, but not in the ſame Degree: Of which the Reaſon is very obvious, according to the preſent Theory*.
THERE is no Rule in Painting or Statuary more indiſpenſible than that of ballancing the Figures, and placing them with the greateſt Exactneſs on their proper Center of Gravity. A Figure, which is not juſtly ballanc'd is ugly; becauſe it conveys the diſagreeable Ideas of Fall, Harm and Pain†.
[Page 136] A DISPOSITION or Turn of Mind, which qualifies a Man to riſe in the World, and advance his Fortune, is entitled to Eſteem and Regard, as has been already explain'd. It may, therefore, naturally be ſuppos'd, that the actual Poſſeſſion of Riches and Authority will have a conſiderable Influence over theſe Sentiments.
LET us examine any Hypotheſis, by which we can account for the Regard, pay'd the Rich and Powerful: We ſhall find none ſatisfactory but that which derives it from the Enjoyment, communicated by the Images of Proſperity, Happineſs, Eaſe, Plenty, Command, and the Gratification of every Appetite. Self-love, for Inſtance, which ſome affect ſo much to conſider as the Source of every Sentiment, is [Page 137] plainly inſufficient to this Purpoſe. Where no Goodwill or Friendship appears, 'tis difficult to conceive on what we can found our Hope of Advantage from the Riches of others; tho' we naturally eſteem and reſpect the Rich, even before they diſcover any ſuch favourable Diſpoſition towards us.
WE are affected with the ſame Sentiments, when we lie ſo much out of the Sphere of their Activity, that they cannot even be ſuppos'd to poſſeſs the Power of ſerving us. A Priſoner of War, in all civiliz'd Nations, is treated with a Regard, ſuited to his Condition; and Riches, 'tis evident, go far towards fixing the Condition of any Perſon. If Birth and Quality enter for a Share, this ſtill affords us an Argument to our preſent Purpoſe. For what is it we call a Man of Birth, but one, who is deſcended from a long Succeſſion of rich and powerful Anceſtors, and who acquires our Eſteem by his Conn [...]ion with Perſons, whom we eſteem? His Anceſtors, therefore, tho' dead, are reſpected, in ſome Meaſure, on Account of their Riches; and conſequently, without any Kind of Expectation.
BUT not to go ſo far as Priſoners of War or the Dead, to find Inſtances of this diſintereſted Regard for Riches; we may only obſerve, with a little Attention, thoſe Phaenomena, that occur in common [Page 138] Life and Converſation. A Man, who is himſelf, we ſhall ſuppoſe, of a competent Fortune, and of no Profeſſion, coming into a Company of Strangers, naturally treats them with different Degrees of Reſpect and Deference, as he is inform'd of their different Fortunes and Conditions; tho' 'tis impoſſible he can ſo ſuddenly propoſe, and perhaps would not accept of, any pecuniary Advantage from them. A Traveller is always admitted into Company, and meets with Civility, in Proportion as his Train and Equipage ſpeak him a Man of great or moderate Fortune. In ſhort, the different Ranks of Man are, in a great Meaſure, regulated by Riches; and that with regard to Superiors as well as Inferiors, Strangers as well as Acquaintance.
WHAT remains, therefore, but to conclude, that as Riches are deſir'd for ourſelf only as the Means of gratifying our Appetites, either at preſent or in ſome imaginary future Period; they beget Eſteem in others merely from their having that Influence. This indeed is their very Nature or Eſſence: They have a direct Reference to the Commodities, Conveniencies, and Pleaſures of Life: A Banker's Bill, who is broke, or Gold in a deſart Iſland, would otherwiſe be full as valuable. When we approach a Man, who is, as we ſay, at his Eaſe, we are preſented with the pleaſing Ideas of Plenty, Satisfaction, [Page 139] Cleanlineſs, Warmth; a chearful Houſe, elegant Furniture, ready Service, and whatever is deſirable in Meat, Drink, or Apparel. On the contrary, when a poor Man appears, the diſagreeable Images of Want, Penury, hard Labour, dirty Furniture, coarſe or ragged Cloaths, nauſeous Meat and diſtaſteful Liquor, immediately ſtrike our Fancy. What elſe do we mean by ſaying the one is rich, the other poor? And as Regard or Contempt is the natural Conſequence of theſe different Situations in Life; 'tis eaſily ſeen what additional Light and Evidence this throws on our preceding Theory, with Regard to all moral Diſtinctions*.
[Page 140] A MAN, who has cur'd himſelf of all ridiculous Prepoſſeſſions, and is fully, ſincerely, and ſteddily convinc'd, from Experience as well as Philoſophy, that the Differences of Fortune make leſs Difference in Happineſs than is vulgarly imagin'd; ſuch a one meaſures not out Degrees of Eſteem according to the Rent-rolls of his Acquaintance. He may, indeed, externally pay a ſuperior Deference to the great Lord above the Vaſſal; becauſe Riches are the moſt convenient, being the moſt fixt and determinate, Source of Diſtinction: But his internal Sentiments are more regulated by the perſonal Characters of Men, than by the accidental and capricious Favours of Fortune.
IN moſt Countries of Europe, Family, that is, hereditary Riches, mark'd with Titles and Symbols from the Sovereign, is the chief Source of Diſtinction In England, more Regard is paid to preſent Opulence and Plenty. Each Practice has its Advantages and Diſadvantages. Where Birth is reſpected, unactive ſpiritleſs Minds remain in haughty Indolence, and dream of nothing but Pedigrees and Genealogies: The generous and ambitious ſeek Honour and Command and Reputation and Favour. Where Riches are the chief Idol, Corruption, Venality, Rapine prevail: Arts, Manufactures, Commerce, [Page 141] Agriculture flouriſh. The former Prejudice, being favourable to military Virtue, is more ſuited to Monarchies. The other being the chief Spur to Induſtry, agrees better with a republican Government. And we accordingly find, that each of theſe Forms of Government, by varying the Utility of thoſe Cuſtoms, has commonly a proportionable Effect on the Sentiments of Mankind.
WHOEVER has paſt an Evening with ſerious melancholy People, and has obſerv'd how ſuddenly the Converſation was animated, and what Sprightlineſs diffus'd itſelf over the Countenance, Diſcourſe, and Behaviour of every one, on the Acceſſion of a good-humour'd, lively Companion; ſuch a one, I ſay, will eaſily allow, that CHEERFULNESS carries great Merit with it, and naturally conciliates the Affection and Goodwill of Mankind. No Quality, indeed, more readily communicates itſelf to all around; becauſe none has a greater Propenſity to diſplay itſelf, in jovial Talk and pleaſant Entertainment. The Flame ſpreads thro' the whole Circle; and the moſt ſullen and moroſe are often caught by it. That the melancholy [Page 144] hate the merry, even tho' Horace ſays it, I have ſome Difficulty to allow; becauſe I have always obſerv'd, that, where the Jollity is moderate and decent, ſerious People are ſo much the more delighted, that it diſſipates the Gloom, with which they are commonly oppreſt; and gives them an unuſual Satisfaction and Enjoyment.
FROM this Influence of Cheerfulneſs, both to communicate itſelf, and to engage Approbation, we may perceive, that there are another Set of Virtues, which, without any Utility or any Tendency to farther Good, either of the Community or of the Poſſeſſor, diffuſe a Satisfaction on the Beholders, and conciliate Friendſhip and Regard. Their immediate Senſation, to the Perſon poſſeſt of them, is agreeable: Others enter into the ſame Humour, and catch the Sentiment, by a Contagion or natural Sympathy: And as we cannot forbear loving whatever pleaſes, a kindly Emotion ariſes towards the Perſon, who communicates ſo much Delight and Satisfaction. He is a more animating Spectacle: His Preſence diffuſes over us more ſerene Complacency and Enjoyment: Our Imagination, entering into his Feelings and Diſpoſition, is affected in a more agreeable Manner, than if a melancholy, dejected, ſullen, anxious Temper were preſented to our Notice and Obſervation. Hence the Affection [Page 145] and Approbation, which attends the former: The Averſion and Diſguſt, with which we regard the latter*.
He loves no Play,As thou do'ſt, Anthony: He hears no Muſic:Seldom he ſmiles; and ſmiles in ſuch a Sort,As if he mockt himſelf, and ſcorn'd his SpiritThat could be mov'd to ſmile at any thing.
Not only ſuch Men, as Caeſar adds, are commonly dangerous, but alſo, having little Enjoyment within themſelves, they can never become agreeable to others, or contribute any Thing to ſocial Pleaſure and Entertainment. In all polite Nations and Ages, a Reliſh of Pleaſure, if accompany'd with Temperance and Decency, is eſteem'd a conſiderable [Page 146] Merit, even in the greateſt Men; and becomes ſtill more requiſite in thoſe of infe [...]ior Rank and Character. 'Tis an agreeable Repreſentation. Which a French Writer gives of the Situation of his own Mind in this Particular. Virtue I love, ſays he, without Aiſterity: Pleaſure, without Effeminacy: And Life, without ſecuring its End *.
WHO is not ſtruck with any ſignal Inſtance of GREATNESS of MIND or Dignity of Character; with Elevation of Sentiments, Diſdain of Slavery, and with that noble Pride and Spirit, which ariſes from conſcious Worth and Virtue? The Sublime, ſays Longinus, is often nothing but the Echo or Image of Magnanimity; and where this Quality appears in any one, even without uttering a Syllable, it excites our Applauſe and Admiration; as may be obſerv'd of the famous Silence of Ajax in the Odyſſey, which expreſies more noble Diſdain and reſolute Indignation, than any Language can convey†.
Were I Alexander, ſay'd Parmenio, I would accept of theſe Offers made by Darius. So would I too, reply'd Alexander, were I Parmenio. This Saying is admirable, ſays Longinus, from a like Principle‡.
[Page 147] GO! cries the ſame Hero to his Soldiers, when they refus'd to follow him to the Indies, go tell your Countrymen, you left Alexander compleating the Conqueſt of the World. ‘"Alexander,"’ ſaid the Prince of Condé, who always admir'd the Paſſage, ‘"abandon'd by his Soldiers, amongſt Barbarians, not yet fully ſubdu'd, felt in himſelf ſuch a Dignity and Right of Empire, that he could not believe it poſſible any one would refuſe to obey him. Whether in Europe or in Aſia, amongſt Greeks or Perſians, all was indifferent to him: Wherever he found Men, he fancy'd he would find Subjects."’
THE Confident of Medea in the Tragedy recommends Caution and Submiſſion; and enumerating all the Diſtreſſes of that unfortunate Heroine, aſks her, what ſhe has to ſupport her againſt ſo many Enemies. Myſelf, replies ſhe; Myſelf, I ſay; and it is enough. Boilcau juſtly recommends this Paſſage as an Inſtance of true Sublime*.
WHEN Phocion, the modeſt, the gentle Phocion, was led to Execution, he turn'd about to one of his Fellow-ſufferers, who was lamenting his own hard [Page 148] Fate. Is it not Glory enough for you, ſays he, that you die along with Phocion*?
PLACE in Oppoſition the Picture which Tacitus draws of Vitellius, fallen from Empire, prolonging his lgnominy from a wretched Love of Life, deliver'd over to the mercileſs Rabble; toſt, buffetted, and kickt about; and conſtrain'd, by their holding a Poynard under his Chin, to raiſe his Head, and expoſe himſelf to every Contumely. What abject Infamy! What low Humiliation! Yet even here, ſays the Hiſtorian, he diſcover'd ſome Symptoms of a Mind not altogether degenerate. To a Tribune, who inſulted him, he reply'd, I am ſtill your Emperor †.
WE never excuſe the abſolute Want of Spirit and Dignity of Character, or a proper Senſe of what is due to one's ſelf, in Society and the common Intercourſe [Page 149] of Life. This Vice conſtitutes what we properly call Meanneſs; when a Man can ſubmit to the baſeſt Slavery, in order to gain his Ends; fawn upon thoſe, who abuſe him; and degrade himſelf by Intimacies and Familiarities with undeſerving Inferiors. A certain Degree of generous Pride or Self-value is ſo requiſite, that the Abſence of it in the Mind diſpleaſes after the ſame Manner, as the Want of a Noſe, Eye, or any of the moſt material Features of the Face or Members of the Body*.
THE Utility of COURAGE, both to the Public and to the Perſon poſſeſt of it, is an obvious Foundation of Merit: But to any one, who conſiders the Matter juſtly, it will appear, that this Quality has a peculiar Luſtre, which it derives altogether from itſelf, and from that noble Elevation inſeperable from it. Its Figure, drawn by Painters and by Poets, diſplays, in each Feature, a Sublimity [Page 150] and daring Confidence; which catches the Eye, engages the Affections, and diffuſes, by Sympathy, a like Sublimity of Sentiment over every Spectator.
UNDER what glorious Colours does Demoſthenes * repreſent Philip; where the Orator apologizes for his own Adminiſtration, and juſtifies that pertinacious Love of Liberty, with which he had inſpir'd the Arhenians. ‘"I beheld Philip,"’ ſays he, ‘"he, with whom was your Conteſt, reſolutely, while in Purſuit of Empire and Dominion, expoſing himſelf to every Wound; his Eye goar'd, his Neck wreſted, his Arm, his Thigh piere'd, whatever Part of his Body Fortune ſhould ſeize on, that cheerfully relinquiſhing, provided that, with what remain'd, he might live in Honour and Renown. And ſhall it be ſaid, that he, born in Pella, a Place heretofore mean and ignoble, ſhould be inſpir'd with ſo high an Ambition and Thirſt of Fame: While you, Athenians, &c."’ Theſe Praiſes excite the higheſt Admiration; but the Views preſented by the Orator, carry us not, we ſee, beyond the Hero himſelf, nor even regard the future advantageous Conſequences of his Valour.
THE martial Temper of the Romans, inflam'd by continued Wars, had rais'd their Eſteem of Courage [Page 151] ſo high, that, in their Language, it was call'd Virtue, by way of Excellence and Diſtinction from all other moral Qualities. The Suevi, in the Opinion of Tacitus *, dreſt their Hair with a laudable Intent: Not for the Pnrpoſes of loving or being belov'd: They adorn'd themſelves only for their Enemies, and in order to appear more terrible. A Sentiment of the Hiſtorian, which would ſound a little oddly, in other Nations and other Ages.
THE Scythians, according to Herodotus †, after fl [...]aing the Skin from the Heads of their Enemies, whom they have ſlain, dreſs it like Leather, and uſe it as a Towel; and whoever has moſt of theſe Towels is moſt eſteem'd amongſt them. So much had martial Bravery, in that Nation, as well as in many others, deſtroy'd the Sentiments of Humanity; a Virtue ſurely much more uſeful and engaging.
'Tis indeed obſervable, that, amongſt all uncultivated Nations, which have not, as yet, had full Experience of the Advantages, attending Beneficence, Juſtice, and the ſocial Virtues, Courage is the predominant Excellence; what is moſt celebrated by Poets, recommended by Parents and Inſtructors, and admir'd by the Public in general. The Ethics [Page 152] of Homer are, in this Particular, very different from thoſe of Fenelon, his elegant Imitator; and ſuch as are well ſuited to an Age, wherein one Hero, as remarkt by Thucydides *, could aſk another, without Offence, if he was a Robber or not. Such alſo, very lately, was the Syſtem of Ethics, that prevail'd in many barbarous Parts of Ireland; if we may credit Spenſer, in his judicious Account of the State of that Kingdom†.
OF the ſame Claſs of Virtues with Courage is that undiſturb'd, philoſophical TRANQUILLITY, ſuperior to Pain, Sorrow, Anxiety, and each Aſſault of adverſe Fortune. Conſcious of his own Virtue, ſay the Philoſophers, the Sage elevates himſelf above every Accident of Life; and ſecurely plac'd in the Temple of Wiſdom, looks down on inferior Mortals, engag'd in Purſuit of Honours, Riches, Reputation, and each frivolous Enjoyment. Theſe Pretenſions, no doubt, when ſtretch'd to the utmoſt, [Page 153] are much too magnificent for human Nature. They carry, however, a Grandeur, with them, which ſeizes the Spectator, and ſtrikes him with Admiration. And the nearer we can approach, in Practice, to this ſublime Tranquillity and Indifference (for we muſt diſtinguiſh it from a ſtupid Inſenſibility) the more ſecure Enjoyment ſhall we attain within ourſelves, and the more Greatneſs of Mind ſhall we diſcover to the World. The philoſophical Tranquillity may, indeed, be conſider'd only as a Branch of Magnanimity.
WHO admires not Socrates; his perpetual Serenity and Contentment, amidſt the greateſt Poverty and domeſtic Vexations; his reſolute Contempt of Riches, and magnanimous Care of preſerving Liberty, while he refuſed all Aſſiſtance from his Friends and Diſciples, and avoided even the Dependance of an Obligation? Epictetus had not ſo much as a Door to his little Houſe or Hovel; and therefore, ſoon loſt his Iron Lamp, the only Furniture he had worth taking. But reſolving to diſappoint all Robbers for the future, he ſupply'd its Place with an earthen Lamp, which he very peaceably kept Poſſeſſion of ever after.
[Page 154] IN Antiquity, the Heroes of Philoſophy, as well as thoſe of War and Patriotiſm, have a Grandeur and Force of Sentiment, which aſtoniſhes our narrow Souls, and is raſhly rejected as extravagant and ſupernatural. They, in their Turn, I allow, would have had equal Reaſon to conſider, as romantic and incredible, the Degree of Humanity, Clemency, Order, Tranquillity, and other ſocial Virtues, to which, in the Adminiſtration of Government, we have attain'd in modern Times, had any one been then able to have made a fair Repreſentation of them. Such is the Compenſation, which Nature, or rather Education has made, in the Diſtribution of Excellencies and Virtues, in theſe different Ages.
THE Merit of BENEVOLENCE, ariſing from its Utility, and its Tendency to the Good of Mankind, has been already explain'd, and is, no doubt, the Source of a conſiderable Part of that Eſteem, which is ſo univerſally pay'd it But it will alſo be allow'd, that the very Softneſs and Tenderneſs of the Sentiment, its engaging Endearments, its fond Expreſſions, its delicate Attentions, and all that Flow of mutual Confidence and Regard, which enter into a warm Attachment of Love and Friendſhip: It will be allow'd, I ſay, that theſe Feelings being delightful in themſelves, are neceſſarily communicated to the [Page 155] Spectators, and melt them into the ſame Fondneſs and Delicacy. The Tears naturally ſtart in our Eyes on the Obſervation of a warm Sentiment of this Nature: Our Breaſt heaves, our Heart is agitated, and every humane tender Principle of our Frame, is ſet in Motion, and gives us the pureſt and moſt ſatisfactory Enjoyment.
WHEN Poets form Deſcriptions of Elyzian Fields, where the bleſſed Inhabitants ſtand in no Need of each other's Aſſiſtance, they yet repreſent them, as maintaining a conſtant Entercourſe of Love and Friendſhip, and ſooth our Fancy with the pleaſing Image of theſe ſoft and gentle Paſſions. The Idea of tender Tranquillity in a paſtoral Arcadia is agreeable from a like Principle, as has been obſerv'd above*.
WHO would live amidſt perpetual Wrangling, and Scolding, and mutual Reproaches? The Roughneſs and Harſhneſs of theſe Emotions diſturb and diſpleaſe us: We ſuffer by Contagion and Sympathy; nor can we remain indifferent Spectators, even tho' certain, that no pernicious Conſequences would ever follow from ſuch angry Paſſions.
[Page 156] As a certain Proof, that the whole Merit of Benevolence is not deriv'd from its Uſefulneſs, we may obſerve, that, in a kind Way of Blame, we ſay, a Perſon is too good; when he exceeds his Part in Society, and carries his Attention for others beyond the proper Bounds and Meaſure. In like Manner, we ſay a Man is too high-ſpirited, too intrepid, too indifferent about Fortune: Reproaches, which really, at the bottom, imply more Regard and Eſteem than many Panegyrics. Being accuſtom'd to rate the Merit and Demerit of Characters chiefly by their uſeful or pernicious Tendencies, we cannot forbear applying the Epithet of Blame, when we diſcover a Sentiment, which riſes to a Degree that is hurtful: But it may happen, at the ſame Time, that its noble Elevation, or its engaging Tenderneſs ſo ſeizes the Heart, as rather to encreaſe our Friendſhip and Concern for the Perſon*.
THE Amours and Attachments of Harry the IVth, during the civil Wars of the League, frequently hurt his Intereſt and his Cauſe; but all the young, at [Page 157] leaſt, and amorous, who can ſympathize with that Paſſion, will allow, that this very Weakneſs (for they will readily call it ſuch) chiefly endears that Hero, and intereſts them in his Fortunes.
THE exceſſive Bravery and reſolute Inflexibility of Charles the XIIth ruin'd his own Country, and infeſted all his Neighbours: But have ſuch Splendour and Greatneſs in their Appearance, as ſtrike us with Admiration; and they might, in ſome Degree, be even approv'd of, if they betray'd not ſometimes too evident Symptoms of Madneſs and Diſorder.
THE Athenians pretended to the firſt Invention of Agriculture and of Laws; and always valu'd themſelves extremely on the Benefit thereby procur'd to the whole Race of Mankind. They alſo boaſted, and with Reaſon, of their warlike Enterprizes; particularly againſt thoſe innumerable Fleets and Armies of Perſians, which invaded Greece during the Reign of Darius and of Xerxes. But tho' there be no Compariſon, in Point of Utility, betwixt theſe peaceful and military Honours; yet we find, that the Orators, who have wrote ſuch elaborate Panegyrics on that famous City, have chiefly triumph'd in diſplaying the warlike Atchievments. Lyſias, Thucydides, Plato and Iſocrates diſcover, all of them, the ſame Partiality: which, tho' condemn'd by calm [Page 158] Reaſon and Reflection, appears ſo natural in the Mind of Man.
'Tis obſervable, that the great Charm of Poetry conſiſts in lively Pictures of the ſublime Paſſions, Magnanimity, Courage, Diſdain of Fortune; or thoſe of the tender Affections, Love and Friendſhip; which warm the Heart, and diffuſe over us ſimilar Sentiments and Emotions. And tho' every Kind of Paſſion, even the moſt diſagreeable, ſuch as Grief and Anger, are obſerv'd, when excited by Poetry, to convey a Pleaſure and Satisfaction, from a Mechaniſm of Nature, not eaſy to be explain'd: Yet thoſe more elevated or ſofter Affections have a peculiar Influence, and pleaſe from more than one Cauſe or Principle. Not to mention, that they alone intereſt us in the Fortune of the Perſons repreſented, or communicate any Eſteem and Affection for their Character.
AND can it poſſibly be doubted, that this Talent itſelf of Poets, to move the Paſſions, this PATHETIC and SUBLIME of Sentiment, is a very conſiderable Merit, and being enhanc'd by its extreme Rarity, may exalt the Perſon poſſeſt of it, above every Character of the Age, in which he lives? The Prudence, Addreſs, Steadineſs, and benign Government of Auguſtus, adorn'd with all the [Page 159] Splendour of his noble Birth and imperial Crown, render him but an unequal Competitor for Fame with Virgil, who lays nothing into the oppoſite Scale but the divine Beauties of his poetical Genius.
THESE are ſome Inſtances of the Species of Virtue, that are prais'd from the immediate Pleaſure, which they communicate to the Perſon, poſſeſt of them. No Views of Utility or of future beneficial Conſequences enter into this Sentiment of Approbation; yet is it of a ſimilar Kind to that other Sentiment, which ariſes from Views of public or private Utility. The ſame ſocial Sympathy, we may obſerve, or Fellow-feeling with human Happineſs or Miſery, gives Riſe to both; and this Analogy in all the Parts of the preſent Theory may juſtly be regarded as a Confirmation of it.
8. SECTION VIII.
Of QUALITIES immediately agreeable to
AS the mutual Shocks, in Society, and the Oppoſitions of Intereſt and Self-love have conſtrain'd Mankind to eſtabliſh the Laws of Juſtice; in order to preſerve the Advantages of common Aſſiſtance and Protection: in like Manner, the eternal Contrarieties, in Company, of Men's Pride and Self-conceit have introduc'd the Rules of GOOD-MANNERS or POLITENESS, in order to facilitate the Intercourſe of Minds, and an undiſturb'd Commerce and Converſation. Amongſt [Page 162] well-bred People, a mutual Deference is affected; Contempt of others diſguis'd: Authority conceal'd: Attention given to each in his Turn: And an eaſy Stream of Converſation maintain'd, without Vehemence, without mutual Interruption, without Eagerneſs for Victory, and without any Airs of Superiority. Theſe Attentions and Regards are immediately agreeable to others, abſtracted from any Regard to Utility or beneficial Tendencies: They conciliate Affection, promote Eſteem, and enhance extremely the Merit of the Perſon, who regulates his Behaviour by them.
MANY of the Forms of Breeding are arbitrary and caſual: But the Thing expreſt by them is ſtill the ſame. A Spaniard goes out of his own Houſe before his Gueſt, to ſignify, that he leaves him Maſter of all. In other Countries, the Landlord walks out laſt, as a common Mark of Deference and Regard.
BUT in order to render a Man perfect Good-company, he muſt have WIT and INGENUITY as well as Good-manners. What Wit is, it may not be eaſy to define; but 'tis eaſy ſurely to determine, that 'tis a Quality immediately agreeable to others, and communicating, on its firſt Appearance, a lively Joy and Satisfaction to every one, that has any Comprehenſion [Page 163] of it. The moſt profound Metaphyſics, indeed, might be employ'd, in explaining the various Kinds and Species of Wit; and many Claſſes of it, which are now receiv'd on the ſimple Teſtimony of Taſte and Sentiment, might, perhaps, be reſolv'd into more general Principles. But this is ſufficient for our preſent Purpoſe, that it does affect Taſte and Sentiment, and beſtowing an immediate Enjoyment, is a ſure Source of Approbation and Affection.
IN Countries, where Men paſs all their Time in Converſation, and Viſits and Aſſemblies, theſe companionable Qualities, ſo to ſpeak, are of high Eſtimation, and form a chief Part of perſonal Merit. In Countries, where Men live a more domeſtic Life, and either are employ'd in Buſineſs or amuſe themſelves in a narrower Circle of Acquaintance, the more ſolid Qualities are chiefly regarded. Thus, I have obſerv'd, that, amongſt the French, the firſt Queſtions, with regard to a Stranger, are, Is he polite? Has he Wit? In our own Country, the chief Praiſe beſtow'd is always that of a good-natur'd, ſenſible Fellow.
IN Converſation, the lively Spirit of Dialogue is agreeable, even to thoſe who deſire not to have any Share of the Diſcourſe: Hence a Teller of long Stories or a pompous Declaimer is very little approv'd [Page 164] of. But moſt Men deſire likewiſe their Share in the Converſation, and regard, with a very evil Eye, that Loquacity, which deprives them of a Right they are naturally ſo jealous of.
THERE are a Set of harmleſs Lyars, frequently to be met with in Company, who deal much in the Marvelous and Extraordinary. Their uſual Intention is to pleaſe and entertain; but as Men are delighted with nothing but what they conceive to be Truth, theſe People miſtake extremely the Means of pleaſing, and incur univerſal Blame. Some Indulgence, however, to Lying or Fiction is given in humourous Stories; becauſe it is there agreeable and entertaining; and Truth is not of any Importance.
ELOQUENCE, Genius of all Kinds, even good Senſe, and ſound Reaſoning, when it riſes to an eminent Degree, and is employ'd upon Subjects of any conſiderable Dignity and nice Diſcernment; all theſe Qualities ſeem immediately agreeable, and have a Merit diſtinct from their Uſefulneſs. Rarity, likewiſe, which ſo much enhances the Price of every Thing, muſt ſet an additional Value on theſe noble Talents of the human Mind.
MODESTY may be underſtood in different Senſes, even abſtracted from Chaſtity, which has [Page 165] been already treated of. It ſometimes means that Tenderneſs and Nicety of Honour, that Apprehenſion of Blame, that Dread of Intruſion or Injury towards others, that Pudor, which is the proper Guardian of every Kind of Virtue, and a ſure Preſervative againſt Vice and Corruption. But its moſt uſual Meaning is, when it is oppos'd to Impudence and Arrogance, and expreſſes a Diffidence of our own Judgment, and a due Attention and Regard to others. In young Men chiefly, this Quality is a ſure Sign of Good-ſenſe; and is alſo the certain Means of augmenting that Endowment, by preſerving their Ears open to Inſtruction, and making them ſtill graſp after new Attainments. But it has a farther Charm to every Spectator; by flattering each Man's Vanity, and preſenting the Appearance of a docile Pupil, who receives, with proper Attention and Reſpect, every Word they utter*.
[Page 166] A DESIRE of Fame, Reputation, or a Character with others, is ſo far from being blameable, that it [Page 167] ſeems inſeparable from Virtue, Genius, Capacity, and a generous or noble Diſpoſition. An Attention, even to trivial Matters, in order to pleaſe, is alſo expected and demanded by Society; and no one is ſurpriz'd, if he finds a Man in Company, to obſerve a greater Elegance of Dreſs and more pleaſant Flow of Converſation, than when he paſſes his Time, at home, and altogether with his own Family. Wherein, then, conſiſts VANITY, which is ſo juſtly regarded as a Fault or Imperfection? It ſeems to conſiſt chiefly in ſuch an intemperate Diſplay of our Advantages, Honours and Accompliſhments; in ſuch an importunate and open Demand of Praiſe and Admiration, as is offenſive to others, and encroaches too far on their ſecret Vanity and Ambition It is beſides a ſure Symptom of the Want of true Dignity [Page 168] and Elevation of Mind, which is ſo great an Ornament to any Character. For why that impatient Deſire of Applauſe; as if you were not juſtly entitled to it, and might not reaſonably expect it would for ever attend you? Why ſo anxious to inform us of the great Company you have kept; the obliging Things, that were ſaid to you; the Honours, the Diſtinctions you met with; as if theſe were not Things of Courſe, and what we could readily, of ourſelves, have imagin'd, without being told of them?
DECENCY, or a proper Regard to Age, Sex, Character and Station in the World, may be rank'd among the Qualities, which are immediately agreeable to others, and which, by that Means, acquire Praiſe and Approbation. An effeminate Behaviour in a Man, a rough Manner in a Woman; theſe are ugly, becauſe unſuitable to each Character, and different from the Qualities we expect in the Sexes. 'Tis as if a Tragedy abounded in comic Beauties, or a Comedy in tragic. The Diſproportions hurt the Eye, and convey a diſagreeable Sentiment to the Spectators, the Source of Blame and Diſapprobation. This is that Indecorum, which is explain'd ſo much at large by Cicero in his Offices.
[Page 169] AMONGST the other Virtues, we may alſo give CLEANLINESS a Place; ſince it naturally renders us agreeable to others, and is no inconſiderable Source of Love and Affection. No one will deny, that a Negligence in this Particular is a Fault; and as Faults are nothing but ſmaller Vices, and this Fault can have no other Origin than the uneaſy Senſation, which it excites in others; we may, in this Inſtance, ſeemingly ſo trivial, clearly diſcover the Origin of moral Diſtinctions, about which the Learned have involved themſelves in ſuch Mazes of Perplexity and Error.
BUT beſides all the agreeable Qualities, the Origin of whoſe Beauty we can, in ſome Degree, explain and account for, there ſtill remains ſomething myſterious and unaccountable, which conveys an immediate Satisfaction to the Spectators, but how, or why, or for what Reaſon, they cannot pretend to determine. There is a MANNER, a Grace, a Genteelneſs, an I-know-not-what, which ſome Men poſſeſs above others, which is very different from external Beauty and Comelineſs, and which, however, catches our Affection almoſt as ſuddenly and powerfully. And tho' this Manner be chiefly talk'd of in the Paſſion betwixt the Sexes, where the conceal'd Magic is eaſily explain'd, yet ſurely much of it prevails [Page 170] in all our Eſtimation of Characters, and forms no inconſiderable Part of perſonal Merit. This Claſs of Virtues, therefore, muſt be truſted entirely to the blind, but ſure Teſtimony of Taſte and Sentiment; and muſt be conſider'd as a Part of Ethics, left by Nature to baffle all the Pride of Philoſophy, and make her ſenſible of her narrow Boundaries and ſlender Acquiſitions.
WE approve of another, becauſe of his Wit, Politeneſs, Modeſty, Decency, or any agreeable Quality he poſſeſſes, although he be not of our Acquaintance, nor has ever given us any Entertainment, by Means of theſe Accompliſhments. The Idea, which we form of their Effect on his Acquaintance, has an agreeable Influence on our Imagination, and gives us the Sentiment of Approbation. This Principle enters into all the Judgments, which we form concerning Morals.
IT may juſtly appear ſurprizing, that any Man, in ſo late an Age, ſhould find it requiſite to prove, by elaborate Reaſonings, that VIRTUE or PERSONAL MERIT conſiſts altogether in the Poſſeſſion of Qualities, uſeful or agreeable to the Perſon himſelf or to others. It might be expected that this Principle would have occur'd even to the firſt rude, unpractis'd Enquirers concerning Morals, and been receiv'd, from its own Evidence, without any Argument or Diſputation. Whatever is valuable in any Kind ſo naturally claſſes itſelf under the Diviſion of uſeful or agreeable, the utile or the dulce, that 'tis not eaſy to imagine, why we ſhould ever ſeek farther, or conſider the Queſtion as a Matter of nice Reſearch or Enquiry. And as every Thing [Page 172] uſeful or agreeable muſt poſſeſs theſe Qualities with regard either to the Perſon himſelf or to others, the compleat Delineation or Deſcription of Merit ſeems to be perform'd as naturally as a Shadow is caſt by the Sun, or an Image is reflected upon Water. If the Ground, on which the Shadow is caſt, be not broken and uneven, nor the Surface, from which the Image is reflected, diſturb'd and confus'd, a juſt Figure is immediately preſented, without any Art or Attention. And it ſeems a reaſonable Preſumption, that Syſtems and Hypotheſes have perverted our natural Underſtanding, when a Theory, ſo ſimple and obvious, could ſo long have eſcap'd the moſt elaborate Scrutiny and Examination.
BUT however the Caſe may have far'd with Philoſophy; in common Life, theſe Principles are ſtill implicitely maintain'd; nor is any other Topic of Praiſe or Blame ever recur'd to, when we employ any Panegyric or Satyre, any Applauſe or Cenſure of human Action and Behaviour. If we obſerve Men, in every Intercourſe of Buſineſs or Pleaſure, in each Conference and Converſation, we ſhall find them no where, except in the Schools, at any Loſs upon this Subject. What ſo natural, for Inſtance, as the following Dialogue? You are very happy, we ſhall ſuppoſe one to ſay, addreſſing himſelf to [Page 173] another, that you have given your Daughter to Cleanthes: He is a Man of Honour and Humanity. Every one, who has any Intercourſe with him, is ſure of fair and kind Treatment*. I congratulate you too, ſays another, on the promiſing Expectations of this Son-in-law; whoſe aſſiduous Application to the Sudy of the Laws, whoſe quick Penetration and early Knowledge both of Men and Buſineſs, prognoſticate the greateſt Honours and Advancement†. You ſurprize me much, replies a third, when you talk of Cleanthes as a Man of Buſineſs and Application. I met him lately in a Circle of the gayeſt Company, and he was the very Life and Soul of our Converſation: So much Wit with Good-manners; ſo much Gallantry without Affectation; ſo much ingenious Knowledge ſo genteely deliver'd, I have never before obſerv'd in any one‡. You would admire him ſtill more, ſays a fourth, if you knew him more familiarly. That Cheerfulneſs, which you might remark in him, is not a ſudden Flaſh ſtruck out by Company: It runs thro' the whole Tenor of his Life, and preſerves a perpetual Serenity on his Countenance, and Tranquillity in his Soul. He has met with ſevere Trials, Misfortunes as well as Dangers; and by his Greatneſs of Mind, was ſtill [Page 174] ſuperior to all of them*. The Image, Gentlemen, you have here delineated of Cleanthes, cry I, is that of accompliſh'd Merit. Each of you has given a Stroke of the Pencil to his Figure; and you have unawares exceeded all the Pictures drawn by Gratian or Caſtiglione. A Philoſopher might ſelect this Character as a Model of perfect Virtue.
AND as every Quality, which is uſeful or agreeable to ourſelves or others, is, in common Life, admitted under the Denomination of Virtue or perſonal Merit; ſo no other will ever be receiv'd, where Men judge of Things by their natural, unprejudic'd Reaſon, without the deluſive Gloſſes of Superſtition and falſe Religion. Celibacy, Faſting, Penances, Mortification, Self-denial, Humility, Silence, Solitude and the whole Train of monkiſh Virtues; for what Reaſon are they every where rejected by Men of Senſe, but becauſe they ſerve no Manner of Purpoſe; neither advance a Man's Fortune in the World, nor render him a more valuable Member of Society; neither qualify him for the Entertainment of Company, nor encreaſe his Power of Self-enjoyment? We obſerve, on the contrary, that they croſs all theſe deſirable Ends; ſtupify the Underſtanding and harden the Heart, obſcure the Fancy [Page 175] and ſower the Temper. We juſtly, therefore transfer them to the oppoſite Column, and place them in the Catalogue of Vices; nor has any Superſtition Force ſufficient, amongſt Men of the World, to pervert entirely theſe natural Sentiments. A gloomy, hair-brain'd Enthuſiaſt, after his Death, may have Place in the Calendar; but will ſcarce ever be admitted, when alive, into Intimacy and Society, except by thoſe who are as delirious and diſmal as himſelf.
IT ſeems a Happineſs in the preſent Theory, that it enters not into that vulgar Diſpute concerning the Degrees of Benevolence or Self-love, which prevail in human Nature; a Diſpute, which is never likely to have any Iſſue, both becauſe Men, who have taken Party, are not eaſily convinc'd, and becauſe the Phaenomena, which can be produc'd on either Side, are ſo diſpers'd, ſo uncertain, and ſubject to ſo many Interpretations, that 'tis ſcarce poſſible accurately to compare them, or draw from them any determinate Inference or Concluſion. 'Tis ſufficient for our preſent Purpoſe, if it be allow'd, what ſurely, without the greateſt Abſurdity, cannot be diſputed, that there is ſome Benevolence, however ſmall, infus'd into our Boſom; ſome Spark of Friendſhip for human Kind; ſome Particle of the Dove, kneaded into our Frame, along with the Elements of the [Page 176] Wolf and Serpent. Let theſe generous Sentiments be ſuppos'd ever ſo weak; let them be hardly ſufficient to move even a Hand or Finger of our Body; they muſt ſtill direct the Determinations of our Mind, and where every Thing elſe is equal, produce a cool Preference of what is uſeful and ſerviceable to Mankind, above what is pernicious and dangerous. A moral Diſtinction, therefore, immediately ariſes; a general Sentiment of Blame and Approbation; a Tendency, however faint, to the Objects of the one, and a proportionable Averſion to thoſe of the other. Nor will thoſe Reaſoners, who ſo earneſtly maintain the predominant Selfiſhneſs of human Kind, be any way ſcandaliz'd at hearing of the weak Sentiments of Virtue, implanted in our Nature. On the contrary, they are found as ready to maintain the one Tenet as the other; and their Spirit of Satyre, (for ſuch it appears, rather than of Corruption) naturally gives Riſe to both Opinions; which have, indeed, a great, and almoſt indiſſoluble Connexion together.
AVARICE, Ambition, Vanity, and all Paſſions, vulgarly, tho' improperly, compriz'd under the Denomination of Self-love, are here excluded from our Theory concerning the Origin of Morals, not becauſe they are too weak, but becauſe they have not a proper Direction, for that Purpoſe. The Notion of Morals implies ſome Sentiment, common to all [Page 177] Mankind, which recommends the ſame Object to general Approbation, and makes every Man, or moſt Men, agree in the ſame Opinion or Deciſion concerning it. It alſo implies ſome Sentiment, ſo univerſal and comprehenſive as to extend to all Mankind, and render the Actions and Conduct, even of Perſons the moſt remote, an Object of Cenſure or Applauſe, according as they agree or diſagree with that Rule of Right, which is eſtabliſh'd. Theſe two requiſite Circumſtances belong alone to the Sentiment of Humanity here inſiſted on. The other Paſſions produce, in every Breaſt, many ſtrong Sentiments of Deſire and Averſion, Affection and Hatred; but theſe neither are felt ſo much in common, nor are ſo comprehenſive, as to be the Foundation of any general Syſtem and eſtabliſh'd Theory of Blame or Approbation.
WHEN a Man denominates another his Enemy, his Rival, his Antagoniſt, his Adverſary, he is underſtood to ſpeak the Language of Self-love, and to expreſs Sentiments, peculiar to himſelf, and ariſing from his particular Circumſtances and Situation: But when he beſtows on any Man the Epithets of vicious or odious or deprav'd, he then ſpeaks another Language, and expreſſes Sentiments, in which he expects all his Audience are to concur with him. He muſt here, therefore, depart from his private and particular [Page 178] Situation, and muſt chooſe a Point of View, common to him with others: He muſt move ſome univerſal Principle of the human Frame, and touch a String, to which all Mankind have an Accord and Symphony. If he means, therefore, to expreſs, that this Man poſſeſſes Qualities, whoſe Tendency is pernicious to Society, he has choſen this common Point in View, and has touch'd the Principle of Humanity, in which every Man, in ſome Degree, concurs. While the human Heart is compounded of the ſame Elements as at preſent, it will never be altogether indifferent to the Good of Mankind, nor entirely unaffected with the Tendencies of Characters and Manners. And tho' this Affection of Humanity may not generally be eſteem'd ſo ſtrong, as Ambition or Vanity, yet, being common to all Men, it can alone be the Foundation of Morals, or of any general Syſtem of Conduct and Behaviour. One Man's Ambition is not another's Ambition; nor will the ſame Event or Object ſatisfy both: But the Humanity of one Man is the Humanity of every one; and the ſame Object touches this Paſſion in all human Creatures.
BUT the Sentiments, which ariſes from Humanity, are not only the ſame in all human Creatures, and produce the ſame Approbation or Cenſure; but they alſo comprehend all human Creatures; nor is there [Page 179] any one, whoſe Conduct and Character is not, by their Means, an Object, to every one, of Cenſure or Approbation. On the contrary thoſe other Paſſions, commonly denominated ſelfiſh, both produce different Sentiments in each Individual, according to his particular Situation; and alſo contemplate the greateſt Part of Mankind with the utmoſt Indifference and Unconcern. Whoever has a high Regard and Eſteem for me flatters my Vanity; whoever expreſſes Contempt mortifies and diſpleaſes me: But as my Name is known but to a ſmall Part of Mankind, there are few, that come within the Sphere of this Paſſion, or excite, on its Account, either my Affection or Diſguſt. But if you repreſent a tyrannical, inſolent, or barbarous Behaviour, in any Country or in any Age of the World; I ſoon carry my Eye to the pernicious Tendency of ſuch a Conduct, and feel the Sentiments of Repugnance and Diſpleaſure towards it. No Character can be ſo remote as to be, in this Light, altogether indifferent to me. What is beneficial to Society or to the Perſon himſelf muſt ſtill be prefer'd. And every Quality or Action, of every human Being, muſt, by this Means, be rank'd under ſome Claſs or Denomination, expreſſive of general Cenſure or Applauſe.
[Page 180] WHAT more, therefore, can we aſk to diſtinguiſh the Sentiments, dependant on Humanity, from thoſe [...] any other Paſſion, or to ſatisfy us [...] the Origin of Morals, and not the [...]? Whatever Conduct gains my Approbation, by [...] Humanity, procures alſo the Applauſe o [...] all Mankind, by affecting the ſame Principle in [...]. But what ſerves my Avarice or Ambition pleaſes only theſe Paſſions in me, and affects not the Avarice or Ambition of the reſt of Mankind. No Conduct, in any Man. which has a beneficial Tendency, but is agreeable to my Humanity, however remote the Perſon: But every Man, ſo far remov'd as neither to croſs nor ſerve my Avarice and Ambition, is altogether indifferent to thoſe Paſſions. The Diſtinction, therefore, betwixt thoſe different Species of Sentiment being ſo ſtrong and evident, Language muſt ſoon be moulded upon it, and muſt invent a peculiar Set of Terms to expreſs thoſe univerſal Sentiments of Cenſure or Approbation, which ariſe from Humanity or from Views of general Uſefulneſs and its contrary. VIRTUE and VICE become then known: Morals are recogniz'd: Certain general Ideas are fram'd of human Conduct and Behaviour: Such Meaſures are expected from Men, in ſuch Situations: This Action is determin'd conformable [Page 181] to our abſtract Rule; that other, contrary. And by ſuch univerſal Principles are the particular Sentiments of Self-love frequently controul'd and limited*.
FROM Inſtances of popular Tumults, Seditions, Factions, Panics, and all Paſſions, which are ſhar'd with a Multitude; we may learn the Influence of Society, in exciting and ſupporting any Emotion; [Page 182] while the moſt ungovernable Diſorders are rais'd, we find, by that Means, from the ſlighteſt and moſt frivolous Occaſions. Solon was no very cruel, tho', perhaps, an unjuſt Legiſlator, who puniſh'd Neuters in civil Wars; and few, I believe, would, in ſuch Caſes, incur the Penalty, were their Affection and Diſcourſe allow'd ſufficient to abſolve them. No Selfiſhneſs, and ſcarce any Philoſophy, has there Force ſufficient to ſupport a total Coolneſs and Indifference; and he muſt be more or leſs than Man, who kindles not in the common Blaze. What Wonder, then, that moral Sentiments are found of ſuch Influence in Life; tho' ſpringing from Principles, which may appear, at firſt Sight, ſomewhat ſmall and delicate? But theſe Principles, we muſt remark, are ſocial and univerſal: They form, in a Manner, the Party of Human-kind againſt Vice or Diſorder, its common Enemy: And as the benevolent Concern for others is diffus'd, in a greater or leſs Degree, over all Men, and is the ſame in all, it occurs more frequently in Diſcourſe, is foſter'd by Society and Converſation, and the Blame and Approbation, conſequent on it, are thereby rouz'd from that Lethargy, into which they are probably lull'd, in ſolitary and uncultivated Nature. Other Paſſions, tho' perhaps originally ſtronger, yet being ſelfiſh and private, are often over-power'd by its Force, and [Page 183] yield the Dominion of our Breaſt to thoſe ſocial and public Principles.
ANOTHER Spring of our Conſtitution, that brings great Addition of Force to moral Sentiment, is, the Love of Fame; which rules, with ſuch uncontrol'd Authority, in all generous Minds, and is often the grand Object of all their Deſigns and Undertakings. By our continual and earneſt Purſuit of a Character, a Name, a Reputation in the World, we bring our own Deportment and Conduct frequently in Review, and conſider how they appear in the Eyes of thoſe, who approach and regard us. This conſtant Habit of ſurveying ourſelf, as it were, in Reflexion, keeps alive all the Sentiments of Right and Wrong, and begets, in noble Natures, a certain Reverence for themſelves as well as others; which is the ſureſt Guardian of every Virtue. The animal Conveniencies and Pleaſures ſink gradually in their Value; while every inward Beauty and moral Grace is ſtudiouſly acquir'd, and the Mind is accompliſh'd in each Perfection, that can adorn or embelliſh a rational Creature.
HERE is the moſt perfect Morality we are acquainted with: Here is diſplay'd the Force of many Sympathies. Our moral Sentiment is itſelf a Feeling chiefly of that Nature: And our Regard to a Character [Page 184] with others ſeems to ariſe only from a Care of preſerving a Character with ourſelves, in order to which we find it neceſſary to prop our tottering Judgment on the correſpondent Approbation of Mankind.
BUT in order to accommodate Matters, and remove, if poſſible, every Difficulty, let us allow all theſe Reaſonings to be falſe. Let us allow, that when we reſolve the Pleaſure, that ariſes from Views of Utility, into the Sentiments of Humanity and Sympathy, we have embrac'd a wrong Hypotheſis. Let us confeſs it neceſſary to find ſome other Explication of that Applauſe, which is paid to all Objects, whether inanimate, animate or rational, if they have a Tendency to promote the Welfare and Advantage of others. However difficult it be to conceive, that an Object is approv'd of, on Account of its Tendency to a certain End, while the End itſelf is totally indifferent; let us ſwallow this Abſurdity, and conſider what are the Conſequences. The preceding Delineation or Definition of VIRTUE muſt ſtill retain its Evidence and Authority: It muſt ſtill be allow'd, that every Quality of the Mind, which is uſeful or agreeable to the Perſon himſelf or to others, communicates a Pleaſure to the Spectator, engages his Eſteem, and is admitted under the honourable Denomination of Virtue or Merit. Are [Page 185] not Juſtice, Fidelity, Honour, Veracity, Allegiance, Chaſtity eſteem'd ſolely on Account of their Tendency to promote the Good of Society? Is not that Tendency inſeperable from Humanity, Benevolence, Lenity, Generoſity, Gratitude, Moderation, Tenderneſs, Friendſhip, and all the other ſocial Virtues? Can it poſſibly be doubted, that Induſtry, Diſcretion, Frugality, Secrecy, Order, Perſeverance, Forethought, Judgment, and that whole Claſs of Virtues, of which many Pages would not contain the Catalogue; can it be be doubted, I ſay, that the Tendency of theſe Virtues to promote the Intereſt and Happineſs of their Poſſeſſor is the ſole Foundation of their Merit? Who can diſpute that a Mind, which ſupports a perpetual Serenity and Cheerfulneſs, a noble Dignity and undaunted Spirit, a tender Affection and Good-will to all around; as it has more Enjoyment within itſelf, is alſo a more animating and rejoicing Spectacle, than if dejected with Melancholy, tormented with Anxiety, irritated with Rage, or ſunk into the moſt abject Baſeneſs and Degeneracy? And as to the Qualities, immediately agreeable to others, they ſpeak ſufficiently for themſelves; and he muſt be unhappy, indeed, either in his own Temper, or in his Situation and Circumſtances, who has never perceiv'd the Charms of a facetious Wit or flowing Affability, of a delicate [Page 186] Modeſty or decent Genteelneſs of Addreſs and Manner.
I AM ſenſible, that nothing can be more unphiloſophical than to be poſitive or dogmatical on any Subject; and that, even if exceſſive Scepticiſm could be maintain'd, it would not be more deſtructive to all juſt Reaſoning and Enquiry. I am convinc'd, that, where Men are the muſt ſure and arrogant, they are commonly the moſt miſtaken, and have there given Reins to Paſſion, without that proper Deliberation and Suſpence, which can alone ſecure them from the groſſeſt Abſurdities. Yet I muſt confeſs, that this Enumeration puts the Matter in ſo ſtrong a Light, that I cannot, at preſent, be more aſſur'd of any Truth, which I learn from Reaſoning and Argument, than that Virtue conſiſts altogether in the Uſefulneſs or Agreeableneſs of Qualities to the Perſon himſelf, poſſeſt of them, or to others, who have any Intercourſe with him. But when I reflect, that, tho' the Bulk and Figure of the Earth have been meaſur'd and delineated, tho' the Motions of the Tides have been accounted for, the Order and Oeconomy of the heavenly Bodies ſubjected to their proper Laws, and INFINITE itſelf reduc'd to Calculation; yet Men ſtill diſpute concerning the Foundation of their moral Duties: When I reflect on this, I ſay, I fall back into Diffidence and Scepticiſm, [Page 187] and ſuſpect, that an Hypotheſis, ſo obvious▪ had it been a true one, would, long 'ere now, have been receiv'd, by the unanimous Suffrage and Conſent of Mankind.
THERE remains nothing, but to conſider briefly our Obligation to Virtue, and to enquire, whether every Man, who has any Regard to his own Happineſs and Welfare, will not beſt find his Account in the Practice of every moral Duty. If this can be clearly aſcertain'd from the foregoing Theory, we ſhall have the Satisfaction to reflect, that we have advanc'd Principles, which not only, 'tis hop'd, will ſtand the Teſt of Reaſoning and Enquiry, but may contribute to the Amendment of Men's Lives, and their Improvement in Morality and ſocial Virtue. And tho' the philoſophical Truth of any Propoſition by no Means depends on its Tendency to promote the Intereſt of Society; yet a Man has but a bad Grace, who delivers a Theory, however true, which, he muſt confeſs, leads to a Practice, dangerous and pernicious. Why rake into thoſe Corners of Nature, which ſpread a Nuiſance all around? Why dig up the Peſtilence from the Pit, in which it is bury'd? The Ingenuity of your [Page 188] Reſearches may be admir'd; but your Syſtems will be deteſted: And Mankind will agree, if they cannot refute them, to ſink them, at leaſt, in eternal Silence and Oblivion: Truths, which are pernicious to Society, if any ſuch there be, will yield to Errors, which are ſalutary and advantageous.
BUT what philoſophical Truths can be more advantageous to Society, than thoſe here deliver'd, which repreſent Virtue in all her genuine and moſt engaging Charms, and make us approach her with Eaſe, Familiarity and Affection? The diſmal Dreſs falls off, with which many Divines, and ſome Philoſophers had cover'd her; and nothing appears but Gentleneſs, Humanity, Beneficence, Affability; nay even, at proper Intervals, Play, Frolic, and Gaiety. She talks not of uſeleſs Auſterities and Rigors, Sufferance and Self-denial. She declares, that her ſole Purpoſe is, to make her Votaries and all Mankind, during every Inſtant of their Exiſtence, if poſſible, cheerful and happy; nor does ſhe ever willingly part with any Pleaſure but in Hopes of ample Compenſation in ſome other Period of their Lives. The ſole Trouble ſhe demands is that of juſt Calculation, and a ſteady Preference of the greater Happineſs. And if any auſtere Pretenders approach her, Enemies to Joy and Pleaſure, ſhe either rejects them as Hypocrites and Deceivers, or if ſhe admits them in her [Page 189] Train, they are rank'd, however, among the leaſt favour'd of her Votaries.
AND indeed, to drop all figurative Expreſſion, what Hopes can we ever have of engaging Mankind to a Practice, which we confeſs full of Auſterity and Rigour? Or what Morality can ever ſerve any uſeful Purpoſe, unleſs it can ſhow, by a particular Detail, that all the Duties it recommends, are alſo the true Intereſt of each Individual? And the peculiar Advantage of the foregoing Theory, ſeems to be, that it furniſhes proper Mediums for that Purpoſe.
THAT the Virtues, which are immediately uſeful or agreeable to the Perſon, poſſeſt of them, are deſirable in a View to Self-intereſt, it would ſurely be ſuperfluous to prove. Moraliſts, indeed, may ſpare themſelves all the Pains they often take in recommending theſe Duties. To what Purpoſe collect Arguments to evince, that Temperance is advantageous, and the Exceſſes of Pleaſure hurtful? When it appears, that theſe Exceſſes are only denominated ſuch, becauſe they are hurtful; and that, if the unlimited Uſe of ſtrong Liquors, for Inſtance, no more impair'd Health or the Faculties of the Mind and Body than the Uſe of Air or Water, it would not be a whit more vicious or blameable.
[Page 190] IT ſeems equally ſuperfluous to prove, that the companionable Virtues of Good-manners and Wit, Decency and Genteelneſs are more deſirable than the contrary Qualities. Vanity alone, without other Conſiderations, is a ſufficient Motive to make us wiſh the Poſſeſſion of theſe Accompliſhments. No Man was ever willingly deficient in this Particular. All our Failures here proceed from bad Education, Want of Capacity, or a perverſe and unpliable Diſpoſition. Would you have your Company coveted, admir'd, follow'd; rather than hated, deſpis'd, avoided? Can any one ſeriouſly deliberate in the Caſe? As no Enjoyment is ſincere, without ſome Reference to Company and Society; ſo no Society can be agreeable or even tolerable, where a Man feels his Preſence unwelcome, and diſcovers all around him Symptoms of Averſion and Diſguſt.
BUT why, in the greater Society or Confederacy of Mankind, ſhould not the Caſe be the ſame as in particular Clubs and Companies? Why is it more doubtful, that the enlarg'd Virtues of Humanity, Generoſity, Beneficence are deſirable with a View to Happineſs and Self-intereſt, than the limited Endowments of Ingenuity and Politeneſs? Are we apprehenſive, that thoſe ſocial Affections have a greater and more immediate Interference, than any [Page 191] other Purſuits, with private Utility, and cannot be gratify'd without ſome important Sacrifices of Honour and Advantage? If ſo, we are but ill inſtructed in the Nature of the human Paſſions, and are more influenc'd by verbal Diſtinctions than by real Differences.
WHATEVER Contradiction, may vulgarly be ſuppos'd betwixt the ſocial and ſelfiſh Sentiments or Diſpoſitions, they are really no more oppoſite than ſelfiſh and ambitious, ſelfiſh and revengeful, ſelfiſh and vain. 'Tis requiſite there be an original Propenſity of ſome Kind, in order to be a Baſis to Self-love, by giving a Reliſh to the Objects of its Purſuit; and none more fit for this Purpoſe than Beneficence or Humanity. The Goods of Fortune are ſpent in one Gratification or other: The Miſer, who accumulates his annual Income, and lends it out at Intereſt, has really ſpent it in the Gratification of his Avarice. And 'twould be difficult to ſhow, why a Man is more a Loſer by a generous Action, than by any other Method of Expence; ſince the utmoſt he can attain, by the moſt elaborate Selfiſhneſs, is the Indulgence of ſome Affection.
NOW if Life, without Paſſion, muſt be altogether inſipid and tireſome; let a Man ſuppoſe he has full Power of modelling his own Diſpoſition, and let [Page 192] him deliberate what Appetite or Deſire he would chooſe for the Foundation of his Happineſs and Enjoyment. Every Affection, he would obſerve, when gratify'd by Succeſs, gives a Satisfaction, proportion'd to its Force and Violence; but beſides this Advantage, common to all, the immediate Feeling of Benevolence and Friendſhip, Humanity and Kindneſs, is ſweet, ſmooth, tender, and agreeable, independent of all Fortune and Accidents. Theſe Virtues are beſides attended with a pleaſing Conſciouſneſs and Remembrance, and keep us in Humour with ourſelves as well as others; while we retain the agreeable Reflection of having done our Part towards Mankind and Society. And tho' all Men ſhow a Jealouſy of our Succeſs in the Purſuits of Avarice or Ambition; yet are we almoſt ſure of their Good-will and Good-wiſhes, ſo long as we perſevere in the Paths of Virtue, and employ ourſelves in the Execution of generous Plans and Purpoſes. What other Paſſion is there, where we ſhall find ſo many Advantages united; an agreeable Sentiment, a pleaſing Conſciouſneſs, a good Reputation? But of theſe Truths, we may obſerve, Men are, of themſelves, pretty much convinc'd; nor are they deficient in their Duty to Society, becauſe they would not wiſh to be generous, friendly, and humane; but becauſe they do not feel themſelves ſuch.
[Page 193] TREATING Vice with the greateſt Candour, and making it all poſſible Conceſſions, we muſt acknowledge, that there is not, in any Inſtance, the ſmalleſt Pretext for giving it the Preference above Virtue, with a View to Self-intereſt; except, perhaps, in the Caſe of Juſtice, where a Man, taking Things in a certain Light, may often ſeem to be a Loſer by his Integrity. And tho' 'tis acknowledg'd, that, without a Regard to Property, no Society could ſubſiſt; yet according to the imperfect Way, in which human Affairs are conducted, a ſenſible Knave, in particular Incidents, may think, that an Act of Iniquity or Infidelity will make a conſiderable Addition to his Fortune, without cauſing any conſiderable Breach in the ſocial Union and Confederacy. That Honeſty is the beſt Policy, may be a good general Rule; but is liable to many Exceptions: And he, it may, perhaps, be judg'd, conducts himſelf with moſt Wiſdom, who obſerves the general Rule, and takes Advantage of all the Exceptions.
I MUST confeſs, that if a Man thinks, that this Reaſoning much requires an Anſwer, 'twill be a little difficult to find any, that will to him appear ſatisfactory and convincing. If his Heart does not rebel againſt ſuch pernicious Maxims, if he feels no [Page 194] Reluctance to the Thoughts of Villainy or Baſeneſs, he has indeed loſt a conſiderable Motive to Virtue; and we may expect, that his Practice will be anſwerable to his Speculation. But in all ingenuous Natures, the Antipathy to Treachery and Roguery is too ſtrong to be counter-ballanc'd by any Views of Profit or pecuniary Advantage. Inward Peace of Mind, Conſciouſneſs of Integrity, a ſatisfactory Review of our own Conduct; theſe are Circumſtances very requiſite to Happineſs, and will be cheriſh'd and cultivated by every honeſt Man, who feels the Importance of them.
SUCH a one has, beſides, the frequent Satisfaction of ſeeing Knaves, with all their pretended Cunning and Ability, betray'd by their own Maxims; and while they purpoſe to cheat only with Moderation and Secrecy, a tempting Incident occurs, Nature is frail, and they give into the Snare; whence they can never extricate themſelves, without a total Loſs of Reputation, and the Forfeiture of all future Truſt and Confidence with Mankind.
BUT were they ever ſo ſecret and ſucceſsful, the honeſt Man, if he has any Tincture of Philoſophy, or even common Obſervation and Reflection, will diſcover, that they themſelves are, in the End, the greateſt Dupes, and have ſacrific'd the invaluable [Page 195] Enjoyment of a Character, with themſelves at leaſt, for the Acquiſition of worthleſs Toys and Gewgaws. How little is requiſite to ſupply the Neceſſities of Nature? And in the View of Pleaſure, what Compariſon betwixt the unbought Satisfactions of Converſation, Society, Study, even Health and the common Beauties of Nature, but eſpecially the peaceful Reflection on one's own Conduct: What Compariſon, I ſay, betwixt theſe, and the feveriſh, empty Amuſements of Luxury and Expence? Theſe natural Pleaſures, indeed, are really without Price; both becauſe they are below all Price in their Attainment, and above it in their Enjoyment.
IF the foregoing Hypotheſis be receiv'd, 'twill now be eaſy for us to determine the Queſtion firſt ſtated*, concerning the general Principles of Morals; and tho' we poſtpon'd the Deciſion of that Queſtion, leſt it ſhould then involve us in intricate Speculations, which are totally unfit for moral Diſcourſes, we may reſume it at preſent, and examine how far either Reaſon or Sentiment enters into all moral Determinations.
THE chief Foundation of moral Praiſe being ſuppos'd to lie in the Uſefulneſs of any Quality or Action; 'tis evident, that Reaſon muſt enter for a conſiderable Share in all Determinations of this Kind; ſince nothing but that Faculty can inſtruct us in the Tendency of Qualities and Actions, and point [Page 198] out their beneficial Conſequences to Society and to their Poſſeſſors. In many Caſes, this is an Affair liable to great Controverſy: Doubts may ariſe; oppoſite Intereſts occur; and a Preference muſt be given to one Side, from very nice Views and a ſmall Overballance of Utility. This is particularly remarkable in Queſtions with regard to Juſtice; as is, indeed, natural to ſuppoſe from that Species of Utility, which attends this Virtue*. Were every ſingle Inſtance of Juſtice, like that of Benevolence, beneficial and uſeful to Society; this would be a more ſimple State of the Caſe, and ſeldom liable to great Controverſy. But as ſingle Inſtances of Juſtice are often pernicious, in their firſt and immediate Tendency, and as the Advantage to Society reſults only from the Obſervance of the general Rule, and from the Concurrence and Combination of ſeveral Perſons in the ſame equitable Conduct; the Caſe here becomes more intricate and involv'd. The various Circumſtances of Society; the various Conſequences of any Practice; the various Intereſts, which may be propos'd: Theſe on many Occaſions are doubtful, and ſubject to great Diſcuſſion and Enquiry. The Object of municipal Laws is to fix all Queſtions with regard to Juſtice: The Debates of Civilians; the Reflections of Politicians; the Precedents [Page 199] of Hiſtories and public Records, are all directed to the ſame Purpoſe. And a very accurate Reaſon or Judgment is often requiſite, to give the true Determination, amidſt ſuch intricate Doubts ariſing from obſcure or oppoſite Utilities.
BUT tho' Reaſon, when fully aſſiſted and improv'd, be ſufficient to inſtruct us in the pernicious or uſeful Tendencies of Qualities and Actions; it is not alone ſufficient to produce any moral Blame or Approbation. Utility is only a Tendency to a certain End; and were the End totally indifferent to us, we ſhould feel the ſame Indifference towards the Means. 'Tis requiſite a Sentiment ſhould here diſplay itſelf, in order to give a Preference to the uſeful above the pernicious Tendencies. This Sentiment can be no other than a Feeling for the Happineſs of Mankind, and a Reſentment of their Miſery; ſince theſe are the different Ends, which Virtue and Vice have a Tendency to promote. Here therefore, Reaſon inſtructs us in the ſeveral Tendencies of Actions, and Humanity makes a Diſtinction in favour of thoſe, which are uſeful and beneficial.
THIS Partition betwixt the Faculties of Underſtanding and Sentiment, in all moral Deciſions, ſeems clear from the preceding Hypotheſis. But I ſhall ſuppoſe that Hypotheſis falſe: 'Twill then be [Page 200] requiſite to look out for ſome other Theory, that may be ſatisfactory; and I dare venture to affirm, that none ſuch will ever be found, as long as we ſuppoſe Reaſon to be the ſole Source of Morals. To prove this, it will be proper to weigh the five following Conſiderations.
I. 'Tis eaſy for a falſe Hypotheſis to maintain ſome Appearance of Truth, while it keeps altogether in Generals, makes uſe of undefin'd Terms, and employs Compariſons, inſtead of Inſtances. This is particularly remarkable in that Philoſophy, which aſcribes the Diſcernment of all moral Diſtinctions to Reaſon alone without the Concurrence of Sentiment. 'Tis impoſſible, in any particular Inſtance, that this Hypotheſis can ſo much as be render'd intelligible; whatever ſpecious Figure it may make in general Declamations and Diſcourſes. Examine the Crime of Ingratitude, for Inſtance; which has Place, wherever we obſerve Good-will, expreſt and known, along with Good-offices perform'd, on the one Side, and a Return of Ill-will or Indifference, with Ill-offices or Neglect, on the other: Anatomize all theſe Circumſtances, and examine, by your Reaſon alone, wherein conſiſts the Demerit or Blame: You never will come to any Iſſue or Concluſion.
[Page 201] REASON judges either of Matter of Fact or of Relations. Enquire then, firſt, where is that Matter of Fact, which we here call Crime; point it out; determine the Time of its Exiſtence; deſcribe its Eſſence or Nature; explain the Senſe or Faculty, to which it diſcovers itſelf. It reſides in the Mind of the Perſon, who is ungrateful. He muſt, therefore, feel it and be conſcious of it. But nothing is there, except the Paſſion of Ill-will or abſolute Indifference. You cannot ſay, that theſe, of themſelves, always, and in all Circumſtances, are Crimes. No: They are only Crimes, when directed towards Perſons, who have before expreſt and diſplay'd Good-will towards us. Conſequently, we may infer, that the Crime of Ingratitude is not any particular individual Fact; but ariſes from a Complication of Circumſtances, which, being preſented to the Spectator, excites the Sentiment of Blame, by the particular Structure and Fabric of his Mind.
THIS Repreſentation, you ſay, is falſe. Crime, indeed, conſiſts not in a particular Fact, of whoſe Reality we are aſſur'd by Reaſon: But it conſiſts in certain moral Relations, diſcoverable by Reaſon, in the ſame Manner as we diſcover, by Reaſon, the Truths of Geometry or Algebra. But what are the Relations, I aſk, of which you here talk? In [Page 202] the Caſe ſtated above, I ſee firſt Good-will and Good-offices, in one Perſon; then Ill-will and Ill-offices in the other: Betwixt theſe, there is the Relation of Contrariety. Does the Crime conſiſt in that Relation? But ſuppoſe a Perſon bore me Ill-will or did me Ill-offices; and I, in return, were indifferent towards him, or did him Good-offices: Here is the ſame Relation of Contrariety; and yet my Conduct is highly laudable. Twiſt and turn this Matter, as much as you will, you can never reſt the Morality on Relation; but muſt have Recourſe to the Deciſions of Sentiment.
WHEN 'tis affirm'd, that two and three are equal to the half of ten; this Relation of Equality, I underſtand perfectly. I conceive, that if ten be divided into two Parts, of which one had as many Unites as the other; and if any of theſe Parts be compar'd to two added to three, it will contain as many Unites as that compound Number. But when you draw thence a Compariſon to moral Relations, I own, I am altogether at a loſs to underſtand you. A moral Action, a Crime, ſuch as Ingratitude, is a complicated Object. Does the Morality conſiſt in the Relation of its Parts to each other. How? After what Manner? Specify the Relation: Be more particular and explicite in your Propoſitions; and you will eaſily ſee their Falſhood.
[Page 203] NO, ſay you, the Morality conſiſts in the Relation of Action to the Rule of Right; and they are denominated good or ill, according as they agree or diſagree with it. What then is this Rule of Right? Wherein does it conſiſt? How is it determin'd? By Reaſon, you'll ſay, which examines the moral Relations of Actions. So that moral Relations are determin'd by the Compariſon of Actions to a Rule. And the Role is determin'd by conſidering the moral Relations of Objects. Is not this fine Reaſoning?
ALL this is Metaphyſics, you cry. That is enough: There needs nothing more to give a ſtrong Preſumption of Falſhood. Yes, reply I: Here are Metaphyſics ſurely: But they are all on your Side, who advance an abſtruſe Hypotheſis, which can never be made intelligible, nor quadrate to any particular Inſtance or Illuſtration. The Hypotheſis we embrace is plain. It maintains, that Morality is determin'd by Sentiment. It defines Virtue to be, whatever mental Action or Quality gives to a Spectator the pleaſing Sentiment of Approbation; and Vice the contrary. We then proceed to examine a plain Matter of Fact, viz. what Actions have this Influence: We conſider all the Circumſtances, in which theſe Actions agree: And from thence endeavour to [Page 204] extract ſome general Obſervations with regard to theſe Sentiments. If you call this Metaphyſics, and find any thing abſtruſe here, you need only conclude, that your Turn of Mind is not ſuited to the moral Sciences.
II. WHEN a Man, at any Time, deliberates concerning his own Conduct, (as, whether he had better, in a particular Emergence, aſſiſt a Brother or a Benefactor) he muſt conſider theſe ſeparate Relations, with the whole Circumſtances and Situation of the Perſons, in order to determine his ſuperior Duty and Obligation: And in order to determine the Proportion of Lines in any Triangle, 'tis neceſſary to examine the Nature of that Figure, and the Relations, which its ſeveral Parts bear to each other. But notwithſtanding this apparent Similarity in the two Caſes, there is, at the bottom, an extreme Difference betwixt them. A ſpeculative Reaſoner concerning Triangles or Circles conſiders the ſeveral known and given Relations of the Parts of theſe Figures; and from thence infers ſome unknown Relation, which is dependent on the former. But in moral Deliberations, we muſt be acquainted, before-hand, with all the Objects, and all their Relations to each other; and from a Compariſon of the whole, fix our Choice or Approbation. No new Fact to be aſcertain'd: No new Relation to be [Page 205] diſcover'd. The whole Circumſtances of the Caſe are ſuppos'd to be laid before us, 'ere we can fix any Sentence of Blame or Approbation. If any material Circumſtance by yet unknown or doubtful, we muſt firſt employ our Enquiry or intellectual Faculties to aſſure us of it; and ſuſpend for a Time all moral Deciſion or Sentiment. While we are ignorant, whether a Man was Aggreſſor or not, how can we determine, whether the perſon, who kill'd him, be criminal or innocent? But after every Circumſtance, every Relation is known, the Underſtanding has no farther Room to operate, nor any Object, on which it could employ itſelf. The Approbation or Blame, which then enſues, cannot be the Work of the Judgment, but of the Heart, and is not a ſpeculative Propoſition or Affirmation, but an active Feeling or Sentiment. In the Diſquiſitions of the Underſtanding, from known Circumſtances and Relations, we infer ſome new and unknown. In moral Deciſions, the whole Circumſtances and Relations muſt be antecedently known; and the Mind, from the Contemplation of the Whole, feels ſome new Impreſſion of Affection of Diſguſt, Eſteem or Contempt, Approbation or Blame.
HENCE the great Difference betwixt a Miſtake of Fact and one of Right; and hence the Reaſon, why the one is commonly criminal and not the other. [Page 206] When OEdipus kill'd Laius, he was ignorant of the Relation, and from Circumſtances, innocent and involuntary, form'd erroneous Opinions concerning the Action he committed. But when Nero kill'd Agrippina, all the Relations betwixt himſelf and the perſon, and all the Circumſtances of the Fact were antecedently known to him: But the Motive of Revenge, or Fear or Intereſt, in his ſavage Heart, prevail'd over the Sentiments of Duty and Humanity. And when we expreſs a Deteſtation againſt him, to which he, himſelf, in a little Time, became inſenſible; 'tis not, that we ſee any Relations, of which he was ignorant, but that, from the Rectitude of our Diſpoſition, we feel Sentiments, againſt which he was harden'd, from Flattery and a long Perſeverance in the moſt enormous Crimes. In theſe Sentiments, then, not in a Diſcovery of Relations of any Kind, do all moral Determinations conſiſt. Before we can pretend to form any Deciſion of this kind, every Thing muſt be known and aſcertain'd on the Side of the Object or Action. Nothing remains but to feel, on our Part, ſome Sentiment of Blame or Approbation, whence we pronounce the Action criminal or virtuous.
III. THIS Doctrine will become ſtill more evident, if we compare moral Beauty with natural, to which, in many Particulars, it bears ſo near a Reſemblance. [Page 207] 'Tis on the Proportion, Relation, and Poſition of Parts, that all natural Beauty depends; but 'twould be abſurd thence to infer, that the Perception of Beauty, like that of Truth in geometrical Problems, conſiſts altogether in the Perception of Relations, and was perform'd entirely by the Underſtanding or intellectual Faculties. In all the Sciences, our Mind, from the known Relations, inveſtigates the unknown: But in all Deciſions of Taſte or external Beauty, the whole Relations are before-hand obvious to the Eye, and we thence proceed to feel a Sentiment of Complacency or Diſguſt, according to the Nature of the Object, and Diſpoſition of our Organs.
EUCLID has fully explain'd all the Qualities of the Circle; but has not, in any Propoſition, ſaid a Word of its Beauty. The Reaſon is evident. The Beauty is not a Quality of the Circle. It lies not in any Part of the Line, whoſe Parts are all equally diſtant from a common Center. It is only the Effect, which that Figure operates upon the Mind, whoſe peculiar Fabric or Structure renders it ſuſceptible of ſuch Sentiments. In vain, would you look for it in the Circle, or ſeek it, either by your Senſes or by mathematical Reaſonings, in all the Properties of that Figure.
[Page 208] ATTEND to Palladio and Perrault, while they explain all the Parts and Proportions of a Pillar: They talk of the Cornice and Freeze and Baſe and Entablature and Shaft and Architrave; and give the Deſcription and Poſition of each of theſe Members. But ſhould you aſk the Deſcription and Poſition of its Beauty, they would readily reply, that the Beauty is not any of the Parts or Members of a Pillar, but reſults from the Whole, when that complicated Figure is preſented to an intelligent Mind, ſuſceptible of thoſe finer Senſations. Till ſuch a Spectator appear, there is nothing but a Figure of ſuch particular Dimenſions and Proportions: From his Sentiments alone ariſes its Elegance and Beauty.
AGAIN; attend to Cicero, while he paints the Crimes of a Verres or a Catiline; you muſt acknowledge, that the moral Turpitude reſults, in the ſame Manner, from the Contemplation of the Whole, when preſented to a Being, whoſe Organs have ſuch a particular Structure and Formation. The Orator may paint Rage, Inſolence, Barbarity on the one Side: Meekneſs, Sufferance, Sorrow, Innocence on the other: But if you feel no Indignation or Compaſſion ariſe in you from this Complication of Circumſtances, you would in vain aſk him, wherein conſiſt, the Crime or Villainy, which he ſo vehemently [Page 209] exclaims againſt: At what Time, or on what Subject it firſt began to exiſt: And what has a few Months afterwards become of it, when every Diſpoſition and Thought of all the Actors is totally alter'd or annihilated. No ſatisfactory Anſwer can be given to any of theſe Queſtions, upon the abſtract Hypotheſis of Morals; and we muſt at laſt acknowledge, that the Crime or Immorality is no particular Fact or Relation, which can be the Object of the Underſtanding: But ariſes altogether from the Sentiment of Diſapprobation, which, by the Structure of human Nature, we unavoidably feel on the Apprehenſion of Barbarity or Treachery.
IV. INANIMATE Objects may bear to each other all the ſame Relations, which we obſerve in moral Agents; tho' the former can never be the Object of Love or Hatred, nor are conſequently ſuſceptible of Merit or Iniquity. A young Tree, that over-tops or deſtroys its Parent, from whoſe Seed it ſprung, ſtands in all the ſame Relations with Nero, when he murder'd Agrippina; and if Morality conſiſted in any abſtract Relations, would, no doubt, be equally criminal.
V. IT appears evident, that the ultimate Ends of human Actions can never, in any Caſe, be accounted for by Reaſon, but recommend themſelves entirely to [Page 210] the Sentiments and Affections of Mankind, without any Dependance on the intellectual Faculties. Aſk a Man, why he uſes Exerciſe; he will anſwer, becauſe he deſires to keep his Health. If you then enquire, why he deſires Health, he will readily reply, becauſe Sickneſs is painful. If you puſh your Enquiries farther, and deſire a Reaſon, why he hates Pain, 'tis impoſſible he can ever give any. This is an ultimate End, and is never refer'd to any other Object.
PERHAPS, to your ſecond Queſtion, why he deſires Health, he may alſo reply, that 'tis requiſite for the Exerciſe of his Calling. If you aſk, why he is anxious on that head, he will anſwer, becauſe he deſires to get Money. If you demand, Why? It is the Inſtrument of Pleaſure, ſays he. And beyond this, 'tis an Abſurdity to aſk for a Reaſon. 'Tis impoſſible there can be a Progreſs in infinitum; and that one Thing can always be the Reaſon, why another is deſir'd. Something muſt be deſirable on its own Account, and becauſe of its immediate Accord or Agreement with human Sentiment and Affection.
NOW as Virtue is an End, and is deſirable on its own Account, without Fee or Reward, merely for the immediate Satisfaction it conveys; 'tis requiſite there ſhould be ſome Sentiment, which it touches; ſome internal Taſte or Feeling, or whatever you [Page 211] pleaſe to call it, which diſtinguiſhes moral Good and Evil, and which embraces the one and rejects the other.
THUS the diſtinct Boundaries and Offices of Reaſon and Taſte are eaſily aſcertain'd. The former conveys the Knowledge of Truth and Falſhood: The latter gives the Sentiment of Beauty and Deformity, Vice and Virtue. The one diſcovers Objects, as they really ſtand in Nature, without Addition or Diminution: The other has a productive Faculty, and guilding or ſtaining all natural Objects with the Colours, borrow'd from internal Sentiment, raiſes in a Manner, a new Creation. Reaſon, being cool and diſengag'd, is no Motive to Action, and directs only the Impulſe, receiv'd from Appetite or Inclination, by ſhowing us the Means of obtaining Happineſs or avoiding Miſery: Taſte, as it gives Pleaſure or Pain, and thereby conſtitutes Happineſs or Miſery, becomes a Motive to Action, and is the firſt Spring or Impulſe to Deſire and Volition. From Circumſtances and Relations, known or ſuppos'd, the former leads us to the Diſcovery of the conceal'd and unknown: After all Circumſtances and Relations are laid before us, the latter makes us feel from the Whole a new Sentiment of Blame or Approbation. The Standard of the one, being founded on the Nature of Things, is eternal and inflexible, even by [Page 212] the Will of the Supreme Being: The Standard of the other, ariſing from the internal Frame and Conſtitution of Animals, is ultimately deriv'd from that Supreme Will, who beſtow'd on each being its peculiar Nature, and arrang'd the ſeveral Claſſes and Orders of Exiſtence.
THE ſocial Virtues of Humanity and Benevolence exert their Influence immediately, by a direct Tendency or Inſtinct, which keeps chiefly in View the ſimple Object, that moves the Affections, and comprehends not any Scheme or Syſtem, nor the Conſequences reſulting from the Concurrence, Imitation, or Example of others. A Parent flies to the Relief of his Child; tranſported by that natural Sympathy, which actuates him, and which affords no Leiſure to reflect on the Sentiments or Conduct of the reſt of Mankind in like Circumſtances. A generous [Page 214] Man embraces cheerfully an Opportunity of ſerving his Friend; becauſe he then feels himſelf under the Dominion of the beneficent Affections, nor is he concern'd whether any other Perſon in the Univerſe was ever before actuated by ſuch noble Motives, or will ever afterwards prove their Influence. In all theſe Caſes, the ſocial Paſſions have in View a ſingle individual Object, and purſue alone the Safety or Happineſs of the Perſon, lov'd and eſteem'd. With this, they are ſatisfy'd: In this, they acquieſce. And as the Good reſulting from their benign Influence, is in itſelf compleat and entire, it alſo excites the moral Sentiment of Approbation, without any Reflection on farther Conſequences, or more enlarg'd Views of the Concurrence or Imitation of the other Members of Society. On the contrary, were the generous Friend or diſintereſted Patriot to ſtand alone in the Practice of Beneficence; this would rather inhance his Value in our Eyes, and join the Praiſe of Rarity and Novelty to his other more exalted Merits.
THE Caſe is not the ſame with the ſocial Virtues of Juſtice and Fidelity. They are highly uſeful, or indeed abſolutely neceſſary to the Well-being of Mankind: But the Benefit, reſulting from them, is not the Conſequence of every individual ſingle Act; but ariſes from the whole Scheme or Syſtem, concur'd [Page 215] in by the whole, or the greateſt Part of the Society. General Peace and Order is the Attendant of Juſtice or a general Abſtinence from the Poſſeſſions of others: But a particular Regard to the particular Right of one individual Citizen may frequently, conſider'd in itſelf, be attended with pernicious Conſequences. The Reſult of the ſeveral Acts is here often directly oppoſite to that of the whole Syſtem of Actions; and the former may be extremely hurtful, while the latter is, to the higheſt Degree, advantageous. Riches, inherited from a Parent, are, in a bad Man's Hand, the Inſtruments of Miſchief. The Right of Succeſſion may, in one Inſtance, be hurtful. Its Benefit ariſes only from the Obſervance of the general Rule; and 'tis ſufficient, if Compenſation be thereby made for all the Ills and Inconveniencies, which flow from particular Characters and Situations.
CYRUS, young and unexperienc'd, conſider'd only the individual Caſe before him, and reflected on its limited Fitneſs and Convenience, when he aſſign'd the long Coat to the tall Boy, and the ſhort Coat to the other of ſmaller Size. His Governor inſtructed him better; while he pointed out more enlarg'd Views and Conſequences, and inform'd his Pupil of the general, inflexible Rules, requiſite to ſupport general Peace and Order in Society.
[Page 216] THE Happineſs and Proſperity of Mankind, ariſing from the ſocial Virtue of Benevolence and its Subdiviſions, may be compar'd to a Wall, built by many Hands; which ſtill riſes by each Stone, that is heap'd upon it, and receives proportional Encreaſe to the Diligence and Care of each Workman. The ſame Happineſs, rais'd by the ſocial Virtue of Juſtice and its Subdiviſions, may be compar'd to the building of a Vault, where each individual Stone would, of itſelf, fall to the Ground; nor does the whole Fabric ſupport itſelf, but by the mutual Aſſiſtance and Combination of its correſpondent Parts.
ALL the Laws of Nature, which regulate Property, as well as all civil Laws, are general, and regard alone ſome eſſential Circumſtances of the Caſe, without taking into Conſideration the Characters, Situations and Connexions of the Perſons concern'd, or any particular Conſequences, that may reſult from the Determination of theſe Laws, in every particular Caſe, that offers. They deprive, without Scruple, a beneficent Man of all his Poſſeſſions, if acquir'd by Miſtake, without a good Title; in order to beſtow them on a ſelfiſh Miſer, who has already heap'd up immenſe Stores of ſuperfluous Riches Public Utility requires, that Property ſhould be regulated by general inflexible Rules; and tho' [Page 217] ſuch Rules are adopted as beſt ſerve the ſame End of public Utility, 'tis impoſſible for them to prevent all particular Hardſhips, or make beneficial Conſequences reſult from every individual Caſe. 'Tis ſufficient, if the whole Plan or Scheme be neceſſary to the Support of civil Society, and if the Ballance of Good, in the main, does thereby preponderate much above that of Evil. Even the general Laws of the Univerſe, tho' plann'd by infinite Wiſdom, cannot exclude all Evil or Inconvenience, in every particular Operation.
IT has been aſſerted by ſome, that all Juſtice ariſes from HUMAN CONVENTIONS, and proceeds from the voluntary Choice, Conſent, or Combination of Mankind. If by Convention be here meant a Promiſe (which is the moſt uſual Senſe of the Word) nothing can be more abſurd, than this Poſition. The Obſervance of Promiſes is itſelf one of the moſt conſiderable Parts of Juſtice; and we are not ſurely bound to keep our Word, becauſe we have given our Word to keep it. But if by Convention be meant a Senſe of common Intereſt; which Senſe each Man feels in his own Breaſt, which he obſerves in his Fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general Plan or Syſtem of Actions, that tend to public Utility; it muſt be own'd, that, in this Senſe, Juſtice ariſes [Page 218] from human Conventions. For if it be allow'd (what is, indeed, evident) that the particular Conſequences of a particular Act of Juſtice may be hurtful to the Public as well as to Individuals; it follows, that every Man, in embracing that Virtue, muſt have an Eye to the whole Plan or Syſtem, and muſt expect the Concurrence of his Fellows in the ſame Conduct and Behaviour. Were all his Views to terminate in the particular Conſequences of each particular Act of his own, his Benevolence and Humanity, as well as Self-love, might often preſcribe to him Meaſures of Conduct very different from thoſe, which are agreeable to the ſtrict Rules of Right and Juſtice.
THUS two Men pull the Oars of a Boat, by common Convention, for common Intereſt, without any Promiſe or Contract: Thus Gold and Silver are made the Meaſures of Exchange; thus Speech and Words and Language are fixt, by human Convention and Agreement. Whatever is advantageous to two or more Perſons, if all perform their Part; but what loſes all Advantage, if only one perform, can ariſe from no other Principle. There would otherwiſe be no Motive for any one of them to enter into that Scheme of Conduct*.
[Page 219] THE Word, natural, is commonly taken in ſo many Senſes, and is of ſuch looſe Signification, that it ſeems to little Purpoſe to diſpute, whether Juſtice be natural or not. If Self-love, if Benevolence be natural to Man; if Reaſon and Forethought be alſo natural; then may the ſame Epithet be apply'd to Juſtice, Order, Fidelity, Property, Society. Men's Inclination, their Neceſſities lead them to combine; their Underſtanding and Experience tell them, that this Combination is impoſſible, where each governs himſelf by no Rule, and pays no Regard to the Poſſeſſions of others: And from theſe Paſſions and Reflections conjoin'd, as ſoon as we obſerve [Page 220] like Paſſions and Reflections in others, the Sentiment of Juſtice, thro' all Ages, has infallibly and certainly had place, to ſome Degree or other, in every Individual of human Species. In ſo ſagacious an Animal, what neceſſarily ariſes from the Exertion of his intellectual Faculties, may juſtly be eſteem'd natural*.
AMONGST all civiliz'd Nations, it has been the conſtant Endeavour to remove every Thing arbitrary and partial from the Deciſion of Property, and to fix the Sentence of Judges by ſuch general Views and Conſiderations, as may be equal to every Member of the Society. For beſides, that nothing could be more dangerous than to accuſtom the Bench, even in the ſmalleſt Inſtance, to regard private Friendſhip or Enmity; 'tis certain, that Men, [Page 221] where they imagine, that there was no other Reaſon for the Preference of their Adverſary but perſonal Favour, are apt to entertain the ſtrongeſt Jealouſy and Ill-will againſt the Magiſtrates and Judges. When natural Reaſon, therefore, points out no fixt View of public Utility, by which a Controverſy of Property can be decided, poſitive Laws are often fram'd to ſupply its Place, and direct the Procedure of all Courts of Judicature. Where theſe too fail, as often happens, Precedents are call'd for; and a former Deciſion, tho' given itſelf without any ſufficient Reaſon, juſtly becomes a ſufficient Reaſon for a new Deciſion. If direct Laws and Precedents be wanting, imperfect and indirect ones are brought in Aid; and the controverted Caſe is rang'd under them, by analogical Reaſonings, and Compariſons, and Similitudes, and Correſpondencies, that are often more fanciful than real. In general, it may ſafely be aſſerted, that Juriſprudence is, in this reſpect, different from all the Sciences; and in many of its nicer Queſtions, there cannot properly be ſaid to be Truth or Falſhood on either Side. If one Pleader brings the Caſe under any former Law or Precedent, by a refin'd Analogy or Compariſon; the oppoſite Pleader is not at a Loſs to find an oppoſite Analogy or Compariſon: And the Preference given by the Judge is often founded more on Taſte and Imagination. [Page 222] than on any ſolid Argument. Public Utility is the general View of all Courts of Judicature; and this Utility too requires a ſtable Rule in all Controverſies: But where ſeveral Rules, nearly equal and indifferent, preſent themſelves, 'tis a very ſlight Turn of Thought, which fixes the Deciſion in favour of either Party.
MY Friend, Palamedes, who is as great a Rambler in his Principles as in his Perſon, and who has run over, by Study and Travel, almoſt every Region of the intellectual and material World, ſurpriz'd me lately with an Account of a Nation, with whom, he told me, he had paſs'd a conſiderable Part of his Life, and whom he found, in the main, an extreme civiliz'd, intelligent People.
THERE is a State, ſay'd he, in the World, call'd Fourli, no matter for its Longitude or Latitude, whoſe Ways of thinking in many Things, particularly in Morals, are diametrically oppoſite to ours. When I came amongſt them, I found I muſt ſubmit to double Pains; firſt to learn the Meaning of the Terms in their Language, and then to know the Import of thoſe Terms, and the Praiſe or Blame attach'd to them. After a Word had been explain'd to me, and the Character, which it expreſt, had [Page 224] been deſcrib'd, I concluded, that ſuch an Epithet muſt neceſſarily be the greateſt Reproach in the World; and was extremely ſurpriz'd to find one, in a public Company, apply it to a Perſon, with whom he liv'd in the ſtricteſt Intimacy and Friendſhip. You fancy, ſaid I, one Day, to an Acquaintance, that Changuis is your mortal Enemy: I love to extinguiſh Quarrels; and I muſt, therefore, tell you, that Heard him talk of you in the moſt advantageous Manner. But to my great Aſtoniſhment, when I repeated Changuis's Words, tho' I had both remember'd and underſtood them perfectly, I found, that they were taken for the moſt mortal Affront, and that I had very innocently render'd the Breach betwixt theſe Perſons altogether irreparable.
As it was my Fortune to come amongſt this People on a very advantageous Footing, I was immediately introduc'd to the beſt Company; and being deſir'd to live with Alcheic, I readily accepted his Invitation, as I found him univerſally eſteem'd for his perſonal Merit; and indeed regarded by every one in Fourli, as a perfect Character.
ONE Evening he invited me, as an Amuſement, to bear him Company in a Serenade, which he intended to give Gulki, with whom, he told me, he was extremely enamour'd; and I foon found his [Page 225] Taſte was not ſingular: For we met many of his Rivals, who had come on the ſame Errand. I very naturally concluded, that this Flame of his muſt be one of the fineſt Women in Town; and I already felt a ſecret Inclination to ſee her, and be acquainted with her. But as the Moon began to riſe, I was much ſurpriz'd to find, that we were in the Midſt of the Univerſity, where Gulki ſtudy'd: And I was ſomewhat aſham'd for having attended my Friend, on ſuch an Errand.
I WAS told afterwards, that Alcheic's Choice of Gulki was very much approv'd of by all the good Company in Town; and that 'twas expected, while he gratify'd his own Paſſion, he would perform to that young Man the ſame good Office, which he had himſelf ow'd to Elcouf. It ſeems Alcheic had been very handſome in his Youth, and been courted by many Lovers; but had beſtow'd his Favours chiefly on the ſage Elcouf; to whom he was ſuppos'd to owe, in a great Meaſure, the aſtoniſhing Progreſs he had made in Philoſophy and Virtue.
[Page 226] MUCH about the ſame Time I diſcover'd (for it was not attempted to be kept a Secret from me or any Body) that Alcheic was a Murderer and a Parricide, and had put to Death an innocent Perſon, the moſt nearly connected with him, and whom he was oblig'd to protect and defend by all the Ties of Nature and Humanity. When I aſk'd, with all the Caution and Deference imaginable, what was his Motive for this Action; he reply'd coolly, that he was not then ſo much at his Eaſe as he is at preſent, and that he had acted, in that Particular, by the Advice of all his Friends.
HAVING heard Alcheic's Virtue ſo extremely celebrated, I pretended to join in the general Voice of Acclamation, and only aſk'd, by way of Curioſity, as a Stranger, which of all his noble Actions was moſt highly applauded; and I ſoon found, that all Sentiments were united in giving the Preference to the Aſſaſſination of Usbek. This Usbek had been to the laſt Moment Alcheic's intimate Friend, had lay'd many high Obligations upon him, had even ſav'd his Life on a certain Occaſion, and had, by his Will, which was found after the Murder, made him his Heir to a conſiderable Part of his Fortune. Alcheic, it ſeems, conſpir'd with about twenty or thirty more, moſt of them alſo Usbek's Friends; and falling all [Page 227] together on that unhappy Man, when he was not aware, they had tore him with a hundred Wounds; and given him that Reward for all his paſt Favours and Obligations. Usbek, ſaid the general Voice of the People, had many great and good Qualities: His very Vices were ſhining, magnificent, and generous: But this Action of Alcheic ſets him far above Usbek in the Eyes of all Judges of Merit; and is one of the nobleſt, that ever perhaps the Sun ſhone upon.
ANOTHER Part of Alcheic's Conduct, which I alſo found highly applauded, was his Behaviour towards Caliſh, with whom he was join'd in a Project or Undertaking of ſome Importance. Caliſh, being a paſſionate Man, gave Alcheic, one Day, a ſound Drubbing; which he took very patiently, waited the Return of Caliſh's good Humour, kept ſtill a fair Correſpondence with him; and by that Means brought the Affair, in which they were join'd, to a happy Iſſue, and gain'd himſelf immortal Honour by his remarkable Temper and Moderation.
I HAVE lately receiv'd a Letter from a Correſpondent in Fourli, by which I learn, that ſince my Departure, Alcheic, falling into a bad State of Health, has fairly hang'd himſelf; and has dy'd univerſally regreted and applauded by every one in that Country. So virtuous and noble a Life, ſays each Fourlian, [Page 228] could not be better crown'd than by ſo noble an End; and he has prov'd by this, as well as by all his other Actions, what was his conſtant Principle during his Life, and what he boaſted of near his laſt Moments, that a wiſe Man is ſcarce inferior to the great God, Vitzli. This is the Name of the Supreme Deity amongſt the Fourlians.
THE Notions of this People, continu'd Palamedes, are as extraordinary with regard to Good-manners and Sociableneſs, as with regard to Morals. My Friend Alcheic form'd once a Party for my Entertainment, compos'd of all the prime Wits and Philoſophers of Fourli; and each of us brought his Meſs along with him to the Place, where we aſſembled. I obſerv'd one of them to be worſe provided than the reſt, and offer'd him a Share of mine, which happen'd to be a roaſted Pullet: And I could not but remark, that he, and all the reſt of the Company ſtar'd at my Simplicity. I was told, that Alcheic had once ſo much Intereſt with his Club as to prevail with them to eat in common, and that he had made uſe of an Artifice to that Purpoſe. He perſuaded thoſe, whom he obſerv'd to be worſt provided, to offer their Meſs to the Company; after which, the others, who had brought more delicate Fare, were aſham'd not to make the ſame Offer. This is regarded as ſo extraordinary a Event, that it has ſince, as I [Page 229] learn, been recorded in the Hiſtory of Alcheic's Life, compos'd by one of the greateſt Geniuſes of Fourli.
PRAY, ſays I, Palamedes, when you was at Fourli, did you alſo learn the Art of turning your Friends into Ridicule, by telling them ſtrange Stories, and then laughing at them, if they believ'd you. I aſſure you, reply'd he, that had I been diſpos'd to learn ſuch a Leſſon, there was no Place in the World more proper. My Friend, ſo often mention'd, did nothing, from Morning to Night, but ſneer, and banter, and railly; and you could ſcarce ever diſtinguiſh, whether he was in Jeſt or Earneſt; But you think, then, that my Story is improbable; and that I have us'd, or rather abus'd the Privilege of a Traveller. To be ſure, ſays I, you was but in Jeſt. Such barbarous and ſavage Manners are not only incompatible with a civiliz'd, intelligent People, ſuch as you ſaid theſe were; but are ſcarce compatible with human Nature. They exceed all we ever read of, amongſt the Mingrelians and Topinamboues.
HAVE a care, cry'd he, have a care! You are not aware you are ſpeaking Blaſphemy, and are abuſing your Favourites, the Greeks, eſpecially the Athenians, whom I have couch'd all along, under theſe bizarre Names I employ'd. If you conſider aright, there is not one Stroke of the foregoing [Page 230] Character, which might not be fo [...]nd in the Man of higheſt Merit at Athens, without diminiſhing, in the leaſt, from the Brightneſs of his Character. The Greek Love, their Marriages*, and the expoſing of their Children cannot but ſtrike you immediately. The Death of Usbek is an exact Counter-part to that of Caeſar.
I DID not, reply'd he; leſt you ſhould diſcover the Parallel I aim'd at. But even adding this Circumſtance, we ſhould make no Scruple, according to our Sentiments of Morals, to denomitate Brutus, and Caſſius, ungrateful Traitors and Aſſaſſins: Tho' you know, that they are, perhaps, the higheſt Characters of all Antiquity; and the Athenians erected Statues to them; which they plac'd near thoſe of Harmodius and Ariſtogiton, their own Deliverers. And if you think this Circumſtance, you mention, ſo material to abſolve theſe Patriots, I ſhall compenſate it by another, not mention'd, which will equally aggravate their Crime. A few Days before the Execution [Page 231] of their fatal Purpoſe, they all ſwore Fealty to Caeſar; and proteſting to hold his Perſon ever ſacred, they touch'd the Altar with thoſe Hands, which they had already arm'd for his Deſtruction*.
I NEED not put you in mind of the famous and applauded Story of Themiſtocles, and of his Patience towards Eurybiades, the Spartan, his commanding Officer, who, heated by a Debate, lifted his Cane to him in a Council of War (the ſame Thing as if he had cudgel'd him) Strike! Cries the Athenian, Strike! but hear me.
YOU are too good a Scholar not to diſcover Socrates and his Athenian Club in my laſt Story; and you would certainly obſerve, that it is exactly copy'd from Xenophon, with a Variation only of the Names†. And I think I have fairly made appear, that an Athenian Man of Merit might be ſuch a one as with us would paſs for Inceſtuous, a Parricide, an Aſſaſſin, an ungrateful, perjur'd Traitor, and ſomething elſe too abominable to be nam'd; not to mention his Ruſticity and Ill-manners. And having liv'd in this Manner, his Death may be entirely ſuitable: He [Page 232] may conclude the Scene by a deſperate Act of Self-murder, and dye with the moſt abſurd Blaſphemies in his Mouth. And notwithſtanding all this, he ſhall have Statues, if not Altars, erected to his Memory; Poems and Orations ſhall be compos'd in his Praiſe; great Sects ſhall be proud of calling themſelves by his Name; and the moſt diſtant Poſterity ſhall blindly continue their Admiration: Tho' were ſuch a one to ariſe amongſt themſelves, they would juſtly regard him with Horror and Execration.
I MIGHT have been aware, reply'd I, of your Artifice. You ſeem to take Pleaſure in this Topic; and are indeed the only Man I ever knew, who was well acquainted with the Antients, and did not extremely admire them. But inſtead of attacking their Philoſophy, their Eloquence, or Poetry, the uſual Subjects of Controverſy betwixt us, you now ſeem to impeach their Morals, and accuſe them of Ignorance in a Science, which is the only one, in my Opinion, wherein they are not ſurpaſs'd by the Moderns. Geometry, Phyſics, Aſtronomy, Anatomy, Botany, Geography, Navigation; in theſe we juſtly claim the Superiority: But what have we to oppoſe to their Moraliſts? Your Repreſentation of Things is fallacious. You have no Indulgence for the Manners and Cuſtoms of different Ages. Would you try [Page 233] a Greek or Roman by the Common-law of England? Hear him defend himſelf by his own Maxims; and then pronounce.
THERE are no Manners ſo innocent or reaſonable, which may not be render'd odious or ridiculous, if meaſur'd by a Standard, unknown to the Perſons; eſpecially, if you employ a little Art or Eloquence, in aggravating ſome Circumſtances, and extenuating others, as beſt ſerves the Purpoſe of your Diſcourſe. All theſe Artifices may eaſily be retorted on you. Could I inform the Athenians, for Inſtance, there was a Nation, wherein Adultery, both active and paſſive, ſo to ſpeak, was in the higheſt Vogue and Eſteem: Wherein every Man of Education choſe for his Miſtreſs a marry'd Woman, the Wife, perhaps, of his Friend and Companion; and valu'd himſelf upon theſe infamous Conqueſts, as much as if he had been ſeveral Times a Conqueror in Boxing or Wreſtling at the Olympic Games. Wherein every Man, alſo, took a Pride in his Tameneſs and Facility with regard to his own Wife, and was glad to make Friends or gain Intereſt by allowing her to proſtitute her Charms; and even, without any ſuch Motive, gave her full Liberty and Indulgence. I aſk, what Sentiments the Athenians would entertain of ſuch a People; they who never mention'd the Crime of Adultery but in Conjunction with Robbery and Poiſoning? [Page 234] Which would they admire moſt, the Villainy or the Meanneſs of ſuch a Conduct?
SHOULD I add, that the ſame People were as proud of their Slavery and Dependance as the Athenians were of their Liberty; and tho' a Man among them were oppreſt, diſgrac'd, impoveriſh'd, inſulted, or impriſon'd by the Tyrant, he would ſtill regard it as the higheſt Merit to love, ſerve, and obey him; and even to die for his ſmalleſt Glory or Satisfaction: Theſe noble Greeks would probably aſk me, whether I ſpoke of a human Society, or of ſome inferior, ſervile Species.
'TWAS then I might inform my Athenian Audience, that theſe People, however, wanted not Spirit and Bravery. If a Man, ſays I, tho' their intimate Friend, ſhould throw out, in a private Company, a Raillery againſt them, nearly approaching any of thoſe, with which your Generals and Demagogues every Day regale each other, in the Face of the whole City, they never can forgive him; but in order to revenge themſelves, they oblige him immediately to run them thro' the Body, or be himſelf murder'd. And if a Man, who is an abſolute Stranger to them, ſhould deſire them, at the Peril of their own Life, to cut the Throat of their Boſom-companion▪ they immediately obey, and think themſelves [Page 235] highly oblig'd and honour'd by the Commiſſion. Theſe are their Maxims of Honour: This is their favourite Morality.
BUT tho' ſo ready to draw their Sword againſt their Friends and Countrymen; no Diſgrace, no Infamy, no Pain, no Poverty will ever engage theſe People to turn the Point of it againſt their own Breaſt. A Man of Rank would row in the Gallies, would beg his Bread, would languiſh in Priſon, would ſuffer any Tortures; and ſtill preſerve his wretched Life. Rather than eſcape his Enemies by a generous Contempt of Death, he would infamouſly receive the ſame Death from his Enemies, aggravated by their triumphant Inſults, and by the moſt exquiſite Sufferings.
'TIS very uſual too, continu'd I, amongſt this People to ſhut up ſeveral of their Children in a perpetual Priſon (where every Art of plaguing, and tormenting them is carefully ſtudy'd and practis'd) in order, that another Child, whom they own to have no greater or rather leſs Merit than the reſt, may enjoy their whole Fortune, and wallow in every Kind of Voluptuouſneſs and Pleaſure. Nothing ſo virtuous in their Opinion as this barbarous Partiality.
[Page 236] BUT what is more particular in this whimſical Nation, ſay I to the Athenians, is, that a Frolic of yours during the Saturnalia, *, when the Slaves are ſerv'd by their Maſters, is ſeriouſly continu'd by them thro' the whole Year, and thro' the whole Courſe of their Lives; and accompany'd too with ſome Circumſtances, which ſtill farther augment the Abſurdity and Ridicule. Your Sport only elevates for a few Days thoſe whom Fortune has thrown down, and whom ſhe too, in Sport, may really elevate for ever above you: But this Nation gravely exalt thoſe, whom Nature has ſubjected to them, and whoſe Inferiority and Infirmities are abſolutely incurable. The Women, tho' without Virtue, are their Maſters and Sovereigns: Theſe they reverence, praiſe, and magnify: To theſe, they pay the higheſt Deference and Reſpect: And in all Places and at all Times, the Superiority of the Females is readily acknowledg'd and ſubmitted to by every one, who has the leaſt Pretenſions to Education and Politeneſs. Scarce any Crime would be ſo univerſally deteſted as an Infraction of this Rule.
[Page 237] YOU need go no farther, reply'd Palamedes, I can eaſily conjecture the People you aim at. The Strokes, with which you have painted them, are pretty juſt; and yet you muſt acknowledge, that ſcarce any People are to be found, either in antient or modern Times, whoſe national Character is, upon the Whole, leſs liable to Exceptions. But I give you Thanks for helping me our with my Argument. I had no Intention of exalting the Moderns at the Expence of the Antients. I only meant to repreſent the Uncertainty of all theſe Judgments concerning Characters; and to convince you, that Faſhion, Vogue, Cuſtom, and Law were the chief Foundation of all moral Determinations. The Athenians ſurely, were a civiliz'd, intelligent People, if ever there was one; and yet their Man of Merit might, in this Age, be held in Horror and Execration. The French are alſo, without doubt, a very civiliz'd, intelligent People; and yet their Man of Merit might, with the Athenians, be an Object of the higheſt Contempt and Ridicule, and even Hatred. And what renders the Matter more extraordinary: Theſe two national Characters are ſuppos'd to be the moſt ſimilar of any in antient or modern Times; and while the Engliſh flatter themſelves that they reſemble the Romans, their Neighbours on the Continent draw the Parallel betwixt themſelves and theſe polite Greeks. What [Page 238] wide Difference, therefore, in the Sentiments of Morals, muſt be found betwixt civiliz'd Nations and Barbarians, or betwixt Nations whoſe Characters have little in common? How ſhall we pretend to fix a Standard for Judgments of this Nature?
BY tracing Matters, reply'd I, a little higher, and examining the firſt Principles, which each Nation eſtabliſhes, of Blame or Cenſure. The Rhine flows North, the Rhone South; yet both ſpring from the ſame Mountain, and are alſo actuated, in their oppoſite Directions, by the ſame Principle of Gravity: The different Inclinations of the Ground, on which they run, cauſe all the Difference of their Courſes.
IN how many Circumſtances would an Athenian and French Man of Merit certainly concur? Good-ſenſe, Knowledge, Wit, Eloquence, Humanity, Fidelity, Truth, Juſtice, Courage, Temperance, Conſtancy, Dignity of Mind. Theſe you have all omitted; in order to inſiſt only on the Points, in which they may, by Accident, differ. Very well: I am willing to comply with you; and ſhall endeavour to account for theſe Differences from the moſt univerſal, eſtabliſh'd Principles of Morals.
THE Greek Loves, I care not to examine more particularly. I ſhall only obſerve, that, however blameable, [Page 239] they aroſe from a very innocent Cauſe, the Frequency of the Gymnaſtic Exerciſes amongſt that People; and were recommended, tho' abſurdly, as the Source of Friendſhip, Sympathy, mutual Attachment, and Fidelity*; Qualities eſteem'd in all Nations and all Ages.
THE Marriage of Half-brothers and Siſters ſeems no great Difficulty. Love betwixt the nearer Relations is contrary to Reaſon and public Utility; but the preciſe Point, where we are to ſtop, can ſcarcely be determin'd by natural Reaſon; and is therefore a very proper Subject of municipal Law or Cuſtom. If the Athenians went a little too far on the one Side, the Canon Law has ſurely puſh'd Matters a great way into the other Extremity†.
HAD you aſk'd a Parent at Athens, why he bereav'd his Child of that Life, which he had ſo lately given it. 'Tis becauſe I love it, he would reply; and regard the Poverty it muſt inherit from me, as a greater Evil than a Death, which it is not capable of dreading, feeling, or reſenting‡.
HOW is public Liberty, the moſt valuable of all Bleſſings, to be recover'd from the Hands of an [Page 240] Uſurper or Tyrant, if his Power ſhields him from public Rebellion, and our Scruples from private Vengeance? That his Crime is capital by Law, you acknowledge: And muſt the higheſt Aggravation of his Crime, the putting himſelf above Law, form his full Security? You can reply nothing, but by ſhowing the great Inconveniencies of Aſſaſſination; which, could any one have prov'd clearly to the Antients, he had reform'd their Sentiments in this Particular.
AGAIN, to caſt your Eye on the Picture I have drawn of modern Manners; there is almoſt as great Difficulty, I acknowledge, to juſtify French as Greek Gallantry; except only, that the former is much more natural and agreeable than the latter. But our Neighbours, it ſeems, have reſolv'd to ſacrifice ſome of the domeſtic to the ſociable Pleaſures; and to prefer Eaſe, Freedom, and an open Commerce to a ſtrict Fidelity and Conſtancy. Theſe Ends are both good, and are ſomewhat difficult to reconcile; nor need we be ſurpriz'd, if the Cuſtoms of Nations encline too much, ſometimes to the one Side, ſometimes to the other.
THE moſt inviolable Attachment to the Laws of our Country is every-where acknowledg'd a capital Virtue; and where the People are not ſo happy, as [Page 241] to have any other Legiſlature but a ſingle Perſon, the ſtricteſt Loyalty is, in that Caſe, the trueſt Patriotiſm.
NOTHING ſurely can be more abſurd and barbarous than the Practice of Duelling; but thoſe, who juſtify it, ſay, that it begets Civility and Good-manners. And a Dueliſt, you may obſerve, always values himſelf upon his Courage, his Senſe of Honour, his Fidelity and Friendſhip; Qualities, which are here indeed very oddly directed, but have been eſteem'd univerſally, ſince the Foundation of the World.
YOU ſee then, continu'd I, that the Principles, upon which Men reaſon in Morals are always the ſame; tho' the Concluſions they draw are often very different. That they all reaſon aright with regard to this Subject, more than with regard to any other, it is not incumbent on any Moraliſt to ſhow. 'Tis ſufficient, that the original Principles of Cenſure or Blame are uniform, and that erroneus Concluſions can be corrected by ſounder Reaſonings and a larger [Page 242] Experience. As many Ages as have elaps'd ſince the Fall of Greece and Rome, and ſuch Changes as have arriv'd in Religion, Language, Laws, and Cuſtoms; none of theſe Revolutions has ever produc'd any conſiderable Innovation in the primary Sentiments of Morals, more than in thoſe of external Beauty. Some minute Differences, perhaps, may be obſerv'd in both. Horace * celebrates a low Forehead, and Anacreon join'd Eye-brows†: But the Apollo and the Venus of Antiquity are ſtill our Models for Male and Female Beauty; in like Manner as the Character of Scipio continues our Standard for the Glory of Heroes, and that of Cornelia for the Honour of Matrons.
IT appears, that there never was any Quality, recommended by any one, as a Virtue or moral Excellence; but on account of its being uſeful, or agreeable, to a Man himſelf, or to others. For what other Reaſon can there ever be for Praiſe or Approbation? Or where would be the Senſe of extolling good Character of Action, which, at the ſame Time, is allow'd to be good for nothing? All the Differences, therefore, in Morals may be reduc'd to this [Page 243] one general Foundation, and may be accounted for by the different Views, which People take of theſe Circumſtances.
SOMETIMES Men differ in their Judgment about the Uſefulneſs of any Habit or Action: Sometimes alſo the peculiar Circumſtances of Things render one moral Quality more uſeful than others, and give it a peculiar Preference.
'TIS not ſurpriſing, that, during a Period of War and Diſorder, the military Virtues ſhould be more celebrated than the pacific, and attract more the Admiration and Attention of Mankind.‘"How uſual is it,"’ ſays Tully *, ‘"to find Cimbrians, Celtiberians, and other Barbarians, who bear, with inflexible Conſtancy, all the Fatigues and Dangers of the Field; but are immediately diſpirited under the Suffrance and Hazard of a languiſhing Diſtemper: While, on the other hand▪ the Grecks patiently endure the ſlow Approaches of Death, when arm'd with Sickneſs and Diſeaſe; but timorouſly fly his Preſence, when he attacks them violently with Swords and Falchions!"’ So oppoſite is even the ſame Virtue of Courage amongſt warlike or peaceful Nations! And indeed, we may [Page 244] obſerve, that as the Difference betwixt War and Peace is the greateſt, that ariſes among Nations and public Societies, it produces alſo the greateſt Variations in moral Sentiment, and diverſifies the moſt our Idea of Virtue and perſonal Merit.
SOMETIMES too, Magnanimity, Greatneſs of Mind, Diſdain of Slavery, inflexible Rigour and Integrity may ſuit better the Circumſtances of one Age than thoſe of another, and have a more kindly Influence, both on public Affairs, and on a Man's own Safety and Advancement. Our Idea of Merit, therefore, will alſo vary a little with theſe Variations; and Labeo, perhaps, be cenſur'd for the ſame Qualities, which procur'd Cato the higheſt Approbation.
A DEGREE of Luxury may be ruinous and pernicious in a Native of Switzerland, which only foſters the Arts, and encourages Induſtry in a Frenchman or Engliſhman. We are not, therefore, to expect, either the ſame Sentiment, or the ſame Laws in Berne, that prevail in London or Paris.
DIFFERENT Cuſtoms have alſo ſome Influence, as well as different Utilities; and by giving an early Biaſs to the Mind, may produce a ſuperior Propenſity, either to the uſeful or the agreeable Qualities; to [Page 245] thoſe, which regard Self, or thoſe, which extend to Society. Theſe four Sources of moral Sentiment ſtill ſubſiſt; but particular Accidents may, at one Time, make one of them flow with greater Abundance than at another.
THE Cuſtoms of ſome Nations ſhut up the Women from all ſocial Commerce: Thoſe of others make them ſo eſſential a Part of Society and Converſation, that, except where Buſineſs is canvaſs'd, the Male-ſex alone are ſuppos'd abſolutely incapable of mutual Diſcourſe and Entertainment. As this Difference is the moſt material, that can happen in private Life, it muſt alſo produce the greateſt Variation in our moral Sentiments.
OF all Nations in the World, where Polygamy was not allow'd, the Greeks ſeem to have been the moſt reſerv'd in their Commerce with the Fair-ſex, and to have impos'd on them the ſtricteſt Laws of Modeſty and Decency. We have a ſtrong Inſtance of this in an Oration of Lyſias *. A Widow injur'd, ruin'd, undone, calls a Meeting of a few of her neareſt Friends and Relations; and tho' never before accuſtom'd, ſays the Orator, to ſpeak in the Preſence of Men, the Diſtreſs of her Circumſtances conſtrain'd [Page 246] her to lay the Caſe before them. Her very Opening her Mouth in ſuch Company requir'd, it ſeems, an Apology.
WHEN Demoſthenes proſecuted his Tutors, to make them refund his Patrimony, it became neceſſary for him, in the Courſe of the Law ſuit, to prove that the Marriage of Aphobus's Siſter with Oneter was entirely fraudulent, and that, notwithſtanding her Sham-marriage, ſhe had liv'd with her Brother at Athens for two Years laſt paſt, ever ſince her Divorce from her former Huſband. And 'tis remarkable, that tho' theſe were People of the firſt Fortune and Diſtinction in the City, the Orator could prove this Fact no Way, but by calling for her female Slaves to be put to the Queſtion, and by the Evidence of one Phyſician, who had ſeen her in her Brother's Houſe during her Illneſs*. So reſerv'd were Greek Manners.
WE may be certain, that an extreme Purity was the Conſequence of this Reſerve. Accordingly, we find, that, except the fabulous Stories of an Helen and a Clytemneſtra, there ſcarce is an Inſtance of any Event in the Greek Hiſtory, that proceeded from the Intrigues of Women. On the other hand, in modern [Page 247] Times, particularly in a neighbouring Nation, the Females enter into all Tranſactions and all Management of Church and State; and no Man can ſucceed, who takes not care to obtain their good Graces. Harry the third, by incurring the Diſpleaſure of the Fair, endanger'd his Crown, and loſt his Life, as much as by his Indulgence to Hereſy.
'TIS needleſs to diſſemble: The Conſequence of a very free Commerce betwixt the Sexes, and of their living much together, will often terminate in Intrigues and Gallantry. We muſt ſacrifice ſomewhat of the uſeful, if we be very anxious to obtain all the agreeable Qualities; and cannot pretend to reach alike every Kind of Advantage. Inſtances of Licence, daily multiplying, will weaken the Scandal with the one Sex, and teach the other, by Degrees, to adopt the famous Maxim of la Fontaine, with regard to female Infidelity, that if one knows it, it is but a ſmall Matter; if one knows it not, it is nothing *.
SOME People are inclin'd to think, that the beſt Way of adjuſting all Differences, and of keeping the proper Medium betwixt the agreeable and uſeful Qualities of the Sex is to live with them after the [Page 248] Manner of the Romans and the Engliſh (for the Cuſtoms of theſe two Nations ſeem ſimilar in this Reſpect*) that is, without Gallantry† and without Jealouſy. By a Parity of Reaſon, the Cuſtoms of the Spaniards and of the Italians of an Age ago (for the preſent are very different) muſt be the worſt of any; becauſe they favour both Gallantry and Jealouſy.
NOR will theſe different Cuſtoms of Nations affect only the one Sex: The Idea of perſonal Merit in the Males muſt alſo be ſomewhat different, with regard, at leaſt, to Converſation, Addreſs, and Humour. The one Nation, where the Men live much apart, will naturally more eſteem Prudence; the other, Gaiety: With the one, Simplicity of Manners will be in the higheſt Reſpect; with the other, Politeneſs. The one will diſtinguiſh themſelves by [Page 249] Good-ſenſe and Judgment; the other, by Taſte and Delicacy: The Eloquence of the former will ſhine moſt in the Senate; that of the other, on the Theatre.
THESE, I ſay, are the natural Effects of ſuch Cuſtoms. For it muſt be confeſt, that Chance has a great Influence on national Manners; and many Events happen in Society, which are not to be accounted for by general Rules. Who could imagine, for Inſtance, that the Romans, who liv'd freely with their Women, ſhould be very indifferent about Muſic, and eſteem Dancing infamous: While the Greeks, who never almoſt ſaw a Woman but in their own Houſes, were continually piping, ſinging, and dancing?
THE Differences of moral Sentiment, which naturally ariſe from a republican or monarchical Government, are alſo very obvious; as well as thoſe, which proceed from general Riches or Poverty, Union or Faction, Ignorance or Learning. I ſhall conclude this long Diſcourſe with obſerving, that different Cuſtoms and Situations vary the original Ideas of Merit (however they may, ſome Conſequences) in no very eſſential Point, and prevail chiefly with regard to young Men, who can aſpire [Page 250] to the agreeable Qualities, and may attempt to pleaſe, The MANNER, the ORNAMENTS, the GRACES, that ſucceed in this Shape, are more arbitrary and caſual: But the Merit of riper Years is almoſt every-where the ſame; and conſiſts chiefly in Integrity, Humanity, Ability, Knowledge and the other more ſolid and uſeful Qualities of the human Mind.
WHAT you inſiſt on, reply'd Palamedes, may have ſome Foundation, when you ſtick to the Maxims of common Life and ordinary Conduct. Experience and the Practice of the World readily correct any great Extravagance on either Side. But what ſay you to artificial Lives and Manners? How do you reconcile the Maxims, on which theſe are founded?
WHAT do you underſtand by artificial Lives and Manners, ſaid I? I explain myſelf, reply'd he. You know, that Religion had, in antient Times' very little Influence on common Life, and that, after Men had perform'd their Duty in Sacrifices and Prayers at the Temple, they thought, that the Gods left the reſt of their Conduct to themſelves, and were little pleas'd, or offended with thoſe Virtues and Vices, that only affected the Peace and Happineſs of human Society. In thoſe Ages, 'twas the Buſineſs of Philoſophy alone to regulate Men's ordinary Behaviour [Page 251] and Deportment; and accordingly, we may obſerve, that this being the ſole Principle, by which a Man could elevate himſelf above his Fellows, it acquir'd a mighty Aſcendant over many, and produc'd great Singularities of Maxims and of Conduct. At preſent, that Philoſophy has loſt the Allurement of Novelty, it has no ſuch extenſive Influence; but ſeems to confine itſelf moſtly to Speculations in the Cloſet; in the ſame Manner, as the antient Religion was limited to Sacrifices in the Temple. Its Place is now ſupply'd by the modern Religion, which inſpects our whole Conduct, and preſcribes an univerſal Rule to our Actions, to our Words, to our very Thoughts and Inclinations; a Rule ſo much the more auſtere, that it is guarded by infinite, tho' diſtant. Rewards and Puniſhments; and no Infraction of it can ever be conceal'd or diſguis'd.
DIOGENES is the moſt celebrated Model of extravagant Philoſophy. Let us ſeek a Parallel to him in modern Times. We ſhall not diſgrace any philoſophic Name by a Compariſon with the Dominics or Loyolas, or any canoniz'd Monk or Friar. Let us compare him to Paſcal, a Man of Parts and Genius as well as Diogenes himſelf; and perhaps too, [Page 252] a Man of Virtue, had he allow'd his virtuous Inclinations to have exerted and diſplay'd themſelves.
THE Foundation of Diogenes's Conduct was to render himſelf an independent Being as much as poſſible, and to confine all his Wants and Deſires and Pleaſures within himſelf and his own Mind: The Aim of Paſcal was to keep a perpetual Senſe of his Dependance before his Eyes, and never to forget his numberleſs Wants and Neceſſities. The Antient ſupported himſelf by Magnanimity, Oſtentation, Pride, and the Idea of his own Superiority above his Fellow-creatures. The Modern made conſtant Profeſſion of Humility and Abaſement, of the Contempt and Hatred of himſelf; and endeavour'd to attain theſe ſuppos'd Virtues, as far as they are attainable. The Auſterities of the Greek were in order to inure himſelf to Hardſhips, and prevent his ever ſuffering: Thoſe of the Frenchman were embrac'd merely for their own Sake, and in order to ſuffer as much as poſſible. The Philoſopher indulg'd himſelf in the moſt beaſtly Pleaſures, even in public: The Saint refus'd himſelf the moſt innocent, even in private: The former thought it his Duty to love his Friends, and to rail at them, and reprove them, and ſcold them: The latter endeavour'd to be abſolutely indifferent towards his neareſt Relations, and to love and ſpeak well of his Enemies. The great Object [Page 253] of Diogenes's Wit was every Kind of Superſtition, that is, every Kind of Religion known in his Time. The Mortality of the Soul was his Standard Principle; and even his Sentiments of a Divine Providence ſeem to have been very licentious. The moſt ridiculous Superſtitions directed Paſcal's Faith and Practice; and an extreme Contempt of this Life, in Compariſon of the future, was the chief Foundation of his Conduct.
IN ſuch a remarkable Contraſt do theſe two Men ſtand: Yet both of them have met with univerſal Admiration in their different Ages, and have been propos'd as Models of Imitation. Where then is the univerſal Standard of Morals, which you talk of? And what Rule ſhall we eſtabliſh for the many different, nay contrary Sentiments of Mankind?
AN Experiment, ſaid I, that ſucceeds in the Air, will not always ſucceed in a Vacuum. When Men depart from the Maxims of common Reaſon, and affect theſe artificial Lives, as you call them, no-one can anſwer for what will pleaſe or diſpleaſe them. They are in a different Element from the reſt of Mankind; and the natural Principles of their Mind play not with the ſame Regularity, as if left to themſelves, free from the Illuſions of religious Superſtition or philoſophical Enthuſiaſm.FINIS.
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The Author of L'Eſprit des Loix. This illuſtrious Writer, however, ſets out with a different Theory, and ſuppoſes all Right to be founded on certain Rapports or Relations; which is a Syſtem, that, in my Opinion, never will reconcile with true Philoſophy. Father Malebranche, as far as I can learn, was the firſt, that ſtarted this abſtract Theory of Morals, which was afterwards adopted by Dr. Clarke and others; and as it excludes all Sentiment, and pretends to found every Thing on Reaſon, it has not wanted Followers in this philoſophic Age. See Eſſay 1. and Appendix 1. With 1 gard to Juſtice, the Virtue here treated of, the Inference againſt this Theory ſeems ſhort and concluſive. Property is allow'd to be dependant on civil Laws: Civil Laws are allow'd to have no Object but the Intereſt of Society: This therefore muſt be allow'd to be the ſole Foundation of Property and Juſtice. Not to mention, that our Obligation itſelf to obey the Magiſtrate and his Laws is founded on nothing but the Intereſts of Society.
If the Ideas of Juſtice, ſometimes, do not follow the Diſpoſitions of civil Law; we ſhall find, that theſe Caſes, inſtead of Objections, are Confirmations of the Theory deliver'd above. Where a civil Law is ſo perverſe as to croſs all the Intereſts of Society, it loſes all its Authority, and Men judge by the Ideas of natural Juſtice, which are conformable to thoſe Intereſts. Sometimes alſo civil Laws, for uſeful Purpoſes, require a Ceremony or Form; and where that is wanting, their Decrees run contrary to the uſual Tenor of Juſtice; but one, who takes Advantage of ſuch Chicanes, is not regarded as an honeſt Man. Thus, the Intereſts of Society require, that Contracts be fulfill'd; and there is not a more material Article either of natural or civil Juſtice: But the Omiſſion of a trifling Circumſtance will often, by Law, invalidate a Contract, in foro humano, but not in foro conſcientiae, as Divines expreſs themſelves. In theſe Caſes, the Magiſtrate is ſuppos'd only to withdraw his Power of enforcing the Right, not to have alter'd the Right. Where his Intention extends to the Right, and is conformable to the Intereſts of Society; it never fails to alter the Right; a clear Proof of the Origin of Juſtice and of Property, as aſſign'd above.
We ought not to imagine, becauſe an inanimate Object may be uſeful as well as a Man, that therefore it ought alſo, according to this Syſtem, to merit the Appellation of virtuous. The Sentiments, excited by Utility, are, in the two Caſes, very different; and the one is mixt with Affection, Eſteem, Approbation, &c. and not the other. In like Manner, an inanimate Object may have good Colour and Proportions as well as a human Figure. But can we ever be in Love with the former? There are a numerous Set of Paſſions and Sentiments, of which thinking rational Beings are, by the original Conſtitution of Nature, the only proper Objects: And tho' the very ſame Qualities be transferr'd to an inſenſible, inanimate Being, they will not excite the ſame Sentiments. The beneficial Qualities of Herbs and Minerals are, indeed, ſometimes call'd their Virtues; but this is an Effect of the Caprice of Language, which ought not to be regarded in Reaſoning. For tho' there be a Species of Approbation, attending even inanimate Objects, when beneficial, yet this Sentiment is ſo weak, and ſo different from what is directed to beneficent Magiſtrates or Stateſmen, that they ought not to be rank'd under the ſame Claſs or Appellation.
A very ſmall Variation of the Object, even where the ſame Qualities are preſerv'd, will deſtroy a Sentiment. Thus; the ſame Beauty, transferr'd to a different Sex, excites no amorous Paſſion, where Nature is not extremely perverted.
For a like Reaſon, the Tendencies of Actions and Characters, not their real accidental Conſequences, are alone regarded in our moral Determinations or general Judgments; tho' in our real Feeling or Sentiment, we cannot help paying greater Regard to one whoſe Station, join'd to Virtue, renders him really uſeful to Society, than to one, who exerts the ſocial Virtues only in good Intentions and benevolent Affections. Separating the Character from the Fortune, by an eaſy and neceſſary Effert of Thought, we pronounce theſe Perſons alike, and give them the ſame general Praiſe. The Judgment corrects or endeavours to correct the Appearance: But is not able entirely to prevail over Sentiment.
Why is this Peach-tree ſaid to be better than that other; but becauſe it produces more or better Fruit? And would not the ſame Praiſe be given it, tho' Snails or Vermin had deſtroy'd the Fruit, before it came to full Maturity? In Morals too, is not the Tree known by the Fruit? And cannot we eaſily diſtinguiſh betwixt Nature and Accident, in the one Caſe as well as in the other?
Men have in general a much greater Propenſity to over-value than under-value themſelves; notwithſtanding the Opinion of Ariſtotle. This makes us more jealous of the Exceſs on the former Side, and cauſes us to regard, with a particular Indulgence, all Tendency to Modeſty and Self-diffidence; as eſteeming the Danger leſs of falling into any vicious Extreme of that Nature. 'Tis thus, in Countries, where Men's Bodies are apt to exceed in Corpulency, perſonal Beauty is plac'd in a much greater Degree of Slenderneſs, than in Countries where that is the moſt uſual Defect. Being ſo often ſtruck with Inſtances of one Species of Deformity, Men think they can never keep at too great a Diſtance from it, and wiſh always to have a Leaning to the oppoſite Side. In like Manner, were the Door open'd to Self-praiſe, and were Montaigne's Maxim obſerv'd, that one ſhould ſay as frankly, I have Senſe, I have Learning, I have Courage, Beauty, or Wit; as 'tis ſure we often think ſo; were this the Caſe, I ſay, every one is ſenſible, that ſuch a Flood of Impertinence would break in upon us as would render Society altogether intolerable. For this Reaſon Cuſtom has eſtabliſh'd it as a Rule, in common Societies, that Men ſhould never praiſe themſelves, and not even ſpeak much of themſelves; and 'tis only amongſt intimate Friends or People of very manly Behaviour, that one is allow'd to do himſelf Juſtice. No body finds fault with Maurice, Prince of Orange, for his Reply to one, who aſk'd him whom he eſteem'd the firſt General of the Age, The Marquis de Spinola, ſaid he, is the ſecond. Tho' 'tis even obſervable, that the Self-praiſe imply'd is here better imply'd, than if it had been directly expreſs'd, without any Cover or Diſguiſe.
He muſt be a very ſuperficial Thinker, who imagines, that all Inſtances of mutual Deference are to be underſtood in earneſt, and that a Man would be more eſteemable for being ignorant of his own Merits and Accompliſhments. A ſmall Byaſs towards Modeſty, even in the internal Sentiments, is favourably regarded, eſpecially in young People; and a ſtrong Byaſs is requir'd in the outward Behaviour: But this excludes not a noble Pride and Spirit, which may openly diſplay itſelf in its full Extent, when one lies under Calumny or Oppreſſion of any Kind. The generous Contumacy of Socrates, as Cicero calls it, has been highly celebrated in all Ages; and when join'd to the uſual Modeſty of his Behaviour, forms a moſt ſhining Character. Iphicrates, the A [...]benian General, being accus'd of betraying the Intereſts of his Country, aſk'd his Accuſer, Would you, ſays he, on a like Occaſion, have been guilty of that Crime? By no Means, reply'd the other. And can you then imagine, cry'd the Hero, that Iphicrates would be guilty? Quinctil. Lib. 5. Cap. 12. In ſhort, a generous Spirit and Self-value, well founded, decently diſguis'd, and courageouſly ſupported under D [...]ſtreſs and Calumny, is a very great Virtue, and ſeems to derive its Merit from the noble Elevation of its Sentiment, or its immediate Agreeableneſs to its Poſſeſſor. In ordinary Characters, we approve of a Byaſs to Modeſty, which is immediately agreeable to others. The vic [...]ous Exceſs of the former Virtue, viz. Inſolence or Haughtineſs, is immediately diſagreeable to others: The Exceſs of the latter is ſo to the Poſſeſſor. Thus are the Boundaries of theſe Duties adjuſted.