An essay on the history of civil society: By Adam Ferguson, ...



By ADAM FERGUSON, LL.D. Profeſſor of Moral Philoſophy in the Univerſity of Edinburgh.

DUBLIN: Printed by BOULTER GRIERSON, Printer to the King's moſt Excellent Majeſty. MDCCLXVII.



PART I. Of the General Characteriſtics of Human Nature.

Of the Queſtion relating to the State of Nature, Page 1
Of the Principles of Self-preſervation, Page 15
Of the Principles of Union among Mankind, Page 23
Of the Principles of War and Diſſenſion, Page 29
Of Intellectual Powers, Page 37
Of Moral Sentiment, Page 46
Of Happineſs, Page 59
[Page iv] SECT. VIII.
The ſame Subject continued. Page 71
Of National Felicity, Page 85
The ſame Subject continued, Page 93

PART II. Of the Hiſtory of Rude Nations.

Of the Informations on this Subject, which are derived from Antiquity, Page 109
Of Rude Nations prior to the Eſtabliſhment of Property, Page 119
Of Rude Nations, under the Impreſſions of Property and Intereſt, Page 142

PART III. Of the Hiſtory of Policy and Arts.

Of the Influences of Climate and Situation, Page 161
The Hiſtory of Subordination, Page 181
Of National Objects in general, and of Eſtabliſhments and Manners relating to them, Page 202
Of Population and Wealth, Page 206
Of National Defence and Conqueſt, Page 219
Of Civil Liberty, Page 231
Of the Hiſtory of Arts, Page 251
[Page vi] SECT. VIII.
Of the Hiſtory of Literature, Page 256

PART. IV. Of Conſequences that reſult from the Advancement of Civil and Commercial Arts.

Of the Separation of Arts and Profeſſions, Page 269
Of the Subordination conſequent to the Separation of Arts and Profeſſions, Page 275
Of the Manners of Poliſhed and Commercial Nations, Page 281
The ſame ſubject continued. Page 288

PART. V. Of the Decline of Nations.

Of ſuppoſed National Eminence, and of the Viciſſitudes of Human Affairs, Page 305
Of the Temporary Efforts and Relaxations of the National Spirit, Page 314
Of Relaxations in the National Spirit incident to Poliſhed Nations. Page 321
The ſame Subject continued, Page 337
Of National Waſte. Page 348

PART. VI. Of Corruption and Political Slavery.

Of Corruption in general, Page 353
Of Luxury, Page 365
Of the Corruption incident to Poliſhed Nations, Page 372
The ſame Subject continued, Page 382
Of Corruption, as it tends to Political Slavery, Page 391
Of the Progreſs and Termination of Deſpotiſm, Page 406



Of the General Characteriſtics of Human Nature.

1.1.1. SECTION I.
Of the queſtion relating to the State of Nature.

NATURAL productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables grow from a tender ſhoot, and animals from an infant ſtate. The latter being deſtined to act, extend their operations as their powers increaſe: they exhibit a progreſs in what they perform, as well as in the faculties [Page 2] they acquire, This progreſs in the caſe of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the ſpecies itſelf from rudeneſs to civilization. Hence the ſuppoſed departure of mankind from the ſtate of their nature; hence our conjectures and different opinions of what man muſt have been in the firſt age of his being. The poet, the hiſtorian, and the moraliſt, frequently allude to this ancient time; and under the emblems of gold, or of iron, repreſent a condition, and a manner of life, from which mankind have either degenerated, or on which they have greatly improved. On either ſuppoſition, the firſt ſtate of our nature muſt have borne no reſemblance to what men have exhibited in any ſubſequent period; hiſtorical monuments, even of the earlieſt date, are to be conſidered as novelties; and the moſt common eſtabliſhments of human ſociety are to be claſſed among the incroachments which fraud, oppreſſion, or a buſy invention, have made upon the reign of nature, by which the chief of our grievances or bleſſings were equally withheld.

AMONG the writers who have attempted to diſtinguiſh, in the human character, its original qualities, and to point out the limits between nature and art, ſome have repreſented mankind in their firſt condition, as poſſeſſed of mere animal ſenſibility, without any exerciſe of the faculties that render them ſuperior to the brutes, without any political union, without any means of explaining their ſentiments, and even without poſſeſſing any of the apprehenſions and paſſions which the voice and the geſture are ſo well fitted to expreſs. [Page 3] Others have made the ſtate of nature to conſiſt in perpetual wars, kindled by competition for dominion and intereſt, where every individual had a ſeparate quarrel with his kind, and where the preſence of a fellow-creature was the ſignal of battle.

THE deſire of laying the foundation of a favourite ſyſtem, or a fond expectation, perhaps, that we may be able to penetrate the ſecrets of nature, to the very ſource of exiſtence, have, on this ſubject, led to many fruitleſs inquiries, and given riſe to many wild ſuppoſitions. Among the various qualities which mankind poſſeſs, we ſelect one or a few particulars on which to eſtabliſh a theory, and in framing our account of what man was in ſome imaginary ſtate of nature, we overlook what he has always appeared within the reach of our own obſervation, and in the records of hiſtory.

IN every other inſtance, however, the natural hiſtorian thinks himſelf obliged to collect facts, not to offer conjectures. When he treats of any particular ſpecies of animals, he ſuppoſes, that their preſent diſpoſitions and inſtincts are the ſame they originally had, and that their preſent manner of life is a continuance of their firſt deſtination. He admits, that his knowledge of the material ſyſtem of the world conſiſts in a collection of facts, or at moſt, in general tenets derived from particular obſervations and experiments. It is only in what relates to himſelf, and in matters the moſt important, and the moſt eaſily known, that he ſubſtitutes hypotheſis inſtead of reality, and confounds [Page 4] the provinces of imagination and reaſon, of poetry and ſcience.

BUT without entering any farther on queſtions either in moral or phyſical ſubjects, relating to the manner or the origin of our knowledge; without any diſparagement to that ſubtilty which would analyze every ſentiment, and trace every mode of being to its ſource; it may be ſafely affirmed, That the character of man, as he now exiſts, that the laws of this animal and intellectual ſyſtem, on which his happineſs now depends, deſerve our principal ſtudy; and that general principles relating to this, or any other ſubject, are uſeful only ſo far as they are founded on juſt obſervation, and lead to the knowledge of important conſequences, or ſo far as they enable us to act with ſucceſs when we would apply either the intellectual or the phyſical powers of nature, to the great purpoſes of human life.

IF both the earlieſt and the lateſt accounts collected from every quarter of the earth, repreſent mankind as aſſembled in troops and companies; and the individual always joined by affection to one party, while he is poſſibly oppoſed to another; employed in the exerciſe of recollection and foreſight; inclined to communicate his own ſentiments, and to be made acquainted with thoſe of others; theſe facts muſt be admitted as the foundation of all our reaſoning relative to man. His mixed diſpoſition to friendſhip or enmity, his reaſon, his uſe of language and articulate ſounds, like the ſhape and the erect poſition of his body, are to be conſidered as ſo many attributes of his [Page 5] nature: they are to be retained in his deſcription, as the wing and the paw are in that of the eagle and the lion, and as different degrees of fierceneſs, vigilance, timidity, or ſpeed, are made to occupy a place in the natural hiſtory of different animals.

IF the queſtion be put, What the mind of man could perform, when left to itſelf, and without the aid of any foreign direction? we are to look for our anſwer in the hiſtory of mankind. Particular experiments which have been found ſo uſeful in eſtabliſhing the principles of other ſciences, could probably, on this ſubject, teach us nothing important, or new: we are to take the hiſtory of every active being from his conduct in the ſituation to which he is formed, not from his appearance in any forced or uncommon condition; a wild man therefore, caught in the woods, where he had always lived apart from his ſpecies, is a ſingular inſtance, not a ſpecimen of any general character. As the anatomy of an eye which had never received the impreſſions of light, or that of an ear which had never felt the impulſe of ſounds, would probably exhibit defects in the very ſtructure of the organs themſelves, ariſing from their not being applied to their proper functions; ſo any particular caſe of this ſort would only ſhew in what degree the powers of apprehenſion and ſentiment could exiſt where they had not been employed, and what would be the defects and imbecilities of a heart in which the emotions that pertain to ſociety had never been felt.

MANKIND are to be taken in groupes, as they have always ſubſiſted. The hiſtory of the individual is but a detail of the ſentiments and thoughts [Page 6] he has entertained in the view of his ſpecies; and every experiment relative to this ſubject ſhould be made with intire ſocieties, not with ſingle men. We have every reaſon, however, to believe, that in the caſe of ſuch an experiment made, we ſhall ſuppoſe, with a colony of children tranſplanted from the nurſery, and left to form a ſociety apart, untaught, and undiſciplined, we ſhould only have the ſame things repeated, which, in ſo many different parts of the earth, have been tranſacted already. The members of our little ſociety would feed and ſleep, would herd together and play, would have a language of their own, would quarrel and divide, would be to one another the moſt important objects of the ſcene, and, in the ardour of their friendſhips and competitions, would overlook their perſonal danger, and ſuſpend the care of their ſelf-preſervation. Has not the human race been planted like the colony in queſtion? Who has directed their courſe? whoſe inſtruction have they heard? or whoſe example have they followed?

NATURE, therefore, we ſhall preſume, having given to every animal its mode of exiſtence, its diſpoſitions and manner of life, has dealt equally with thoſe of the human race; and the natural hiſtorian who would collect the properties of this ſpecies, may fill up every article now, as well as he could have done in any former age. Yet one property by which man is diſtinguiſhed, has been ſometimes overlooked in the account of his nature, or has only ſerved to miſlead our attention. In other claſſes of animals, the individual advances from infancy to age or maturity; and he attains, in the compaſs of a ſingle life, to all the perfection [Page 7] his nature can reach: but, in the human kind, the ſpecies has a progreſs as well as the individual; they build in every ſubſequent age on foundations formerly laid; and, in a ſucceſſion of years, tend to a perfection in the application of their faculties, to which the aid of long experience is required, and to which many generations muſt have combined their endeavours. We obſerve the progreſs they have made; we diſtinctly enumerate many of its ſteps; we can trace them back to a diſtant antiquity; of which no record remains, nor any monument is preſerved, to inform us what were the openings of this wonderful ſcene. The conſequence is, that inſtead of attending to the character of our ſpecies, where the particulars are vouched by the ſureſt authority, we endeavour to trace it through ages and ſcenes unknown; and, inſtead of ſuppoſing that the beginning of our ſtory was nearly of a piece with the ſequel, we think ourſelves warranted to reject every circumſtance of our preſent condition and frame, as adventitious, and foreign to our nature. The progreſs of mankind from a ſuppoſed ſtate of animal ſenſibility, to the attainment of reaſon, to the uſe of language, and to the habit of ſociety, has been accordingly painted with a force of imagination, and its ſteps have been marked with a boldneſs of invention, that would tempt us to admit, among the materials of hiſtory, the ſuggeſtions of fancy, and to receive, perhaps, as the model of our nature in its original ſtate, ſome of the animals whoſe ſhape has the greateſt reſemblance to ours*.

[Page 8] IT would be ridiculous to affirm, as a diſcovery, that the ſpecies of the horſe was probably never the ſame with that of the lion; yet, in oppoſition to what has dropped from the pens of eminent writers, we are obliged to obſerve, that men have always appeared among animals a diſtinct and a ſuperior race; that neither the poſſeſſion of ſimilar organs, nor the approximation of ſhape, nor the uſe of the hand*, nor the continued intercourſe with this ſovereign artiſt, has enabled any other ſpecies to blend their nature or their inventions with his; that in his rudeſt ſtate, he is found to be above them; and in his greateſt degeneracy, never deſcends to their level. He is, in ſhort, a man in every condition; and we can learn nothing of his nature from the analogy of other animals. If we would know him, we muſt attend to himſelf, to the courſe of his life, and the tenor of his conduct. With him the ſociety appears to be as old as the individual, and the uſe of the tongue as univerſal as that of the hand or the foot. If there was a time in which he had his acquaintance with his own ſpecies to make, and his faculties to acquire, it is a time of which we have no record, and in relation to which our opinions can ſerve no purpoſe, and are ſupported by no evidence.

WE are often tempted into thoſe boundleſs regions of ignorance or conjecture, by a fancy which delights in creating rather than in merely retaining the forms which are preſented before it: we are the dupes of a ſubtilty, which promiſes to ſupply [Page 9] every defect of our knowledge, and, by filling up a few blanks in the ſtory of nature, pretends to conduct our apprehenſion nearer to the ſource of exiſtence. On the credit of a few obſervations, we are apt to preſume, that the ſecret may ſoon be laid open, and that what is termed wiſdom in nature, may be referred to the operation of phyſical powers. We forget that phyſical powers, employed in ſucceſſion, and combined to a ſalutary purpoſe, conſtitute thoſe very proofs of deſign from which we infer the exiſtence of God; and that this truth being once admitted, we are no longer to ſearch for the ſource of exiſtence; we can only collect the laws which the author of nature has eſtabliſhed; and in our lateſt as well as our earlieſt diſcoveries, only come to perceive a mode of creation or providence before unknown.

WE ſpeak of art as diſtinguiſhed from nature; but art itſelf is natural to man. He is in ſome meaſure the artificer of his own frame, as well as his fortune, and is deſtined, from the firſt age of his being, to invent and contrive. He applies the ſame talents to a variety of purpoſes, and acts nearly the ſame part in very different ſcenes. He would be always improving on his ſubject, and he carries this intention where-ever he moves, through the ſtreets of the populous city, or the wilds of the foreſt. While he appears equally fitted to every condition, he is upon this account unable to ſettle in any. At once obſtinate and fickle, he complains of innovations, and is never ſated with novelty. He is perpetually buſied in reformations, and is continually wedded to his errors. If he dwell in a cave, he would improve it into a cottage; if he has already built, he would ſtill build to a greater extent. [Page 10] But he does not propoſe to make rapid and haſty tranſitions; his ſteps are progreſſive and ſlow; and his force, like the power of a ſpring, ſilently preſſes on every reſiſtance; an effect is ſometimes produced before the cauſe is perceived; and with all his talent for projects, his work is often accompliſhed before the plan is deviſed. It appears, perhaps, equally difficult to retard or to quicken his pace; if the projector complain he is tardy, the moraliſt thinks him unſtable; and whether his motions be rapid or ſlow, the ſcenes of human affairs perpetually change in his management: his emblem is a paſſing ſtream, not a ſtagnating pool. We may deſire to direct his love of improvement to its proper object, we may wiſh for ſtability of conduct; but we miſtake human nature, if we wiſh for a termination of labour, or a ſcene of repoſe.

THE occupations of men, in every condition, beſpeak their freedom of choice, their various opinions, and the multiplicity of wants by which they are urged: but they enjoy, or endure, with a ſenſibility, or a phlegm, which are nearly the ſame in every ſituation. They poſſeſs the ſhores of the Caſpian, or the Atlantic, by a different tenure, but with equal eaſe. On the one they are fixed to the ſoil, and ſeem to be formed for ſettlement, and the accommodation of cities: The names they beſtow on a nation, and on its territory, are the ſame. On the other they are mere animals of paſſage, prepared to roam on the face of the earth, and with their herds, in ſearch of new paſture and favourable ſeaſons, to follow the ſun in his annual courſe.

[Page 11] MAN finds his lodgement alike in the cave, the cottage, and the palace; and his ſubſiſtence equally in the woods, in the dairy, or the farm. He aſſumes the diſtinction of titles, equipage, and dreſs; he deviſes regular ſyſtems of government, and a complicated body of laws: or, naked in the woods, has no badge of ſuperiority but the ſtrength of his limbs and the ſagacity of his mind; no rule of conduct but choice; no tie with his fellowcreatures but affection, the love of company, and the deſire of ſafety. Capable of a great variety of arts, yet dependent on none in particular for the preſervation of his being; to whatever length he has carried his artifice, there he ſeems to enjoy the conveniencies that ſuit his nature, and to have found the condition to which he is deſtined. The tree which an American, on the banks of the Oroonoko*, has choſen to climb for the retreat, and the lodgement of his family, is to him a convenient dwelling. The ſopha, the vaulted dome, and the colonade, do not more effectually content their native inhabitant.

IF we are aſked therefore, Where the ſtate of nature is to be found? we may anſwer, It is here; and it matters not whether we are underſtood to ſpeak in the iſland of Great Britain, at the Cape of Good Hope, or the Straits of Magellan. While this active being is in the train of employing his talents, and of operating on the ſubjects around him, all ſituations are equally natural. If we are told, That vice, at leaſt, is contrary to nature; we [Page 12] may anſwer, It is worſe; it is folly and wretchedneſs. But if nature is only oppoſed to art, in what ſituation of the human race are the footſteps of art unknown? In the condition of the ſavage, as well as in that of the citizen, are many proofs of human invention; and in either is not any permanent ſtation, but a mere ſtage through which this travelling being is deſtined to paſs. If the palace be unnatural, the cottage is ſo no leſs; and the higheſt refinements of political and moral apprehenſion, are not more artificial in their kind, than the firſt operations of ſentiment and reaſon.

IF we admit that man is ſuſceptible of improvement, and has in himſelf a principle of progreſſion, and a deſire of perfection, it appears improper to ſay, that he has quitted the ſtate of his nature, when he has begun to proceed; or that he finds a ſtation for which he was not intended, while, like other animals, he only follows the diſpoſition, and employs the powers that nature has given.

THE lateſt efforts of human invention are but a continuation of certain devices which were practiſed in the earlieſt ages of the world, and in the rudeſt ſtate of mankind. What the ſavage projects, or obſerves, in the foreſt, are the ſteps which led nations, more advanced, from the architecture of the cottage to that of the palace, and conducted the human mind from the perceptions of ſenſe, to the general concluſions of ſcience.

ACKNOWLEDGED defects are to man in every condition matter of diſlike. Ignorance and imbecility are objects of contempt: penetration and conduct give eminence, and procure eſteem. Whither [Page 13] ſhould his feelings and apprehenſions on theſe ſubjects lead him? To a progreſs, no doubt, in which the ſavage, as well as the philoſopher, is engaged; in which they have made different advances, but in which their ends are the ſame. The admiration Cicero entertained for literature, eloquence, and civil accompliſhments, was not more real than that of a Scythian for ſuch a meaſure of ſimilar endowments as his own apprehenſion could reach. ‘Were I to boaſt,’ ſays a Tartar prince*, ‘it would be of that wiſdom I have received from God. For as, on the one hand, I yield to none in the conduct of war, in the diſpoſition of armies, whether of horſe or of foot, and in directing the movements of great or ſmall bodies; ſo, on the other, I have my talent in writing, inferior perhaps only to thoſe who inhabit the great cities of Perſia or India. Of other nations, unknown to me, I do not ſpeak.’

MAN may miſtake the objects of his purſuit; he may miſapply his induſtry, and miſplace his improvements. If under a ſenſe of ſuch poſſible errors, he would find a ſtandard by which to judge of his own proceedings, and arrive at the beſt ſtate of his nature, he cannot find it perhaps in the practice of any individual, or of any nation whatever; not even in the ſenſe of the majority, or the prevailing opinion of his kind. He muſt look for it in the beſt conceptions of his underſtanding, in the beſt movements of his heart; he muſt thence diſcover what is the perfection and the [Page 14] happineſs of which he is capable. He will find, on the ſcrutiny, that the proper ſtate of his nature, taken in this ſenſe, is not a condition from which mankind are for ever removed, but one to which they may now attain; not prior to the exerciſe of their faculties, but procured by their juſt application.

OF all the terms that we employ in treating of human affairs, thoſe of natural and unnatural are the leaſt determinate in their meaning. Oppoſed to affectation, frowardneſs, or any other defect of the temper or character, the natural is an epithet of praiſe; but employed to ſpecify a conduct which proceeds from the nature of man, can ſerve to diſtinguiſh nothing: for all the actions of men are equally the reſult of their nature. At moſt, this language can only refer to the general and prevailing ſenſe or practice of mankind; and the purpoſe of every important inquiry on this ſubject may be ſerved by the uſe of a language equally familiar and more preciſe. What is juſt, or unjuſt? What is happy, or wretched, in the manners of men? What, in their various ſituations, is favourable or adverſe to their amiable qualities? are queſtions to which we may expect a ſatisfactory anſwer; and whatever may have been the original ſtate of our ſpecies, it is of more importance to know the condition to which we ourſelves ſhould aſpire, than that which our anceſtors may be ſuppoſed to have left.

1.1.2. SECT. II.
Of the principles of ſelf-preſervation.

[Page 15]

IF in human nature there are qualities by which it is diſtinguiſhed from every other part of the animal creation, men are themſelves in different climates and in different ages greatly diverſified. So far as we are able to account for this diverſity on principles either moral or phyſical, we perform a taſk of great curioſity or ſignal utility. It appears neceſſary, however, that we attend to the univerſal qualities of our nature, before we regard its varieties, or attempt to explain differences conſiſting in the unequal poſſeſſion or application of diſpoſitions and powers that are in ſome meaſure common to all mankind.

MAN, like the other animals, has certain inſtinctive propenſities, which, prior to the perception of pleaſure or pain, and prior to the experience of what is pernicious or uſeful, lead him to perform many functions of nature relative to himſelf and to his fellow-creatures. He has one ſet of diſpoſitions which refer to his animal preſervation, and to the continuance of his race; another which lead to ſociety, and by inliſting him on the ſide of one tribe or community, frequently engage him in war and contention with the reſt of mankind. His powers of diſcernment, or his intellectual faculties, which, under the appellation of reaſon, are diſtinguiſhed from the analogous endowments of other animals, refer to the objects around him, either as they are ſubjects of mere knowledge, or [Page 16] as they are ſubjects of approbation or cenſure. He is formed not only to know, but likewiſe to admire and to contemn; and theſe proceedings of his mind have a principal reference to his own character, and to that of his fellow-creatures, as being the ſubjects on which he is chiefly concerned to diſtinguiſh what is right from what is wrong. He enjoys his felicity likewiſe on certain fixed and determinate conditions; and either as an individual apart, or as a member of civil ſociety, muſt take a particular courſe in order to reap the advantages of his nature. He is, withal, in a very high degree ſuſceptible of habits; and can, by forbearance or exerciſe, ſo far weaken, confirm, or even diverſify his talents, and his diſpoſitions, as to appear, in a great meaſure, the arbiter of his own rank in nature, and the author of all the varities which are exhibited in the actual hiſtory of his ſpecies. The univerſal characteriſtics, in the mean time, to which we have now referred, muſt, when we would treat of any part of this hiſtory, conſtitute the firſt ſubject of our attention; and they require not only to be enumerated, but to be diſtinctly conſidered.

THE diſpoſitions which refer to the preſervation of the individual, while they continue to operate in the manner of inſtinctive deſires, are nearly the ſame in man that they are in the other animals: but in him they are ſooner or later combined with reflection and foreſight; they give riſe to his apprehenſions on the ſubject of property, and make him acquainted with that object of care which he calls his intereſt. Without the inſtincts which teach the beaver and the ſqurrel, the ant and the bee, to make up their little hoards for winter, at [Page 17] firſt improvident, and, where no immediate object of paſſion is near, addicted to ſloth, he becomes, in proceſs of time, the great ſtoremaſter among animals. He finds in a proviſion of wealth, which he is probably never to employ, an object of his greateſt ſolicitude, and the principal idol of his mind. He apprehends a relation between his perſon and his property, which renders what he calls his own in a manner a part of himſelf, a conſtituent of his rank, his condition, and his character, in which, independent of any real enjoyment, he may be fortunate or unhappy; and, independent of any perſonal merit, he may be an object of conſideration or neglect; and in which he may be wounded and injured, while his perſon is ſafe, and every want of his nature completely ſupplied.

IN theſe apprehenſions, while other paſſions only operate occaſionally, the intereſted find the object of their ordinary cares; their motive to the practice of mechanic and commercial arts; their temptation to treſpaſs on the laws of juſtice; and, when extremely corrupted, the price of their proſtitutions, and the ſtandard of their opinions on the ſubject of good and evil. Under this influence, they would enter, if not reſtrained by the laws of civil ſociety, on a ſcene of violence or meanneſs, which would exhibit our ſpecies, by turns, under an aſpect more terrible and odious, or more vile and contemptible than that of any animal which inherits the earth.

ALTHOUGH the conſideration of intereſt is founded on the experience of animal wants and deſires, its object is not to gratify any particular appetite, but to ſecure the means of gratifying all; and it impoſes frequently a reſtraint on the very deſires [Page 18] from which it aroſe, more powerful and more ſevere than thoſe of religion or duty. It ariſes from the principles of ſelf-preſervation in the human frame; but is a corruption, or at leaſt a partial reſult, of thoſe principles, and is upon many accounts very improperly termed ſelf-love.

LOVE is an affection which carries the attention of the mind beyond itſelf, and has a quality which we call tenderneſs, that never can accompany the conſiderations of intereſt. This affection being a complacency and a continued ſatisfaction in its object, independent of any external event, it has, in the midſt of diſappointment and ſorrow, pleaſures and triumphs unknown to thoſe who act without any regard to their fellow-creatures; and in every change of condition, it continues entirely diſtinct from the ſentiments which we feel on the ſubject of perſonal ſucceſs or adverſity. But as the care a man entertains for his own intereſt, and the attention his affection makes him pay to that of another, may have ſimilar effects, the one on his own fortune, the other on that of his friend, we confound the principles from which he acts; we ſuppoſe that they are the ſame in kind, only referred to different objects; and we not only miſapply the name of love, in conjunction with ſelf, but, in a manner tending to degrade our nature, we limit the aim of this ſuppoſed ſelfiſh affection to the ſecuring or accumulating the conſtituents of intereſt, or the means of mere animal life.

IT is ſomewhat remarkable, that notwithſtanding men value themſelves ſo much on qualities of the mind, on parts, learning and wit, on courage, generoſity, and honour, thoſe men are ſtill ſuppoſed to be in the higheſt degree ſelfiſh or attentive to [Page 19] themſelves, who are moſt careful of animal life, and who are leaſt mindful of rendering that life an object worthy of care. It will be difficult, however, to tell why a good underſtanding, a reſolute and generous mind, ſhould not, by every man in his ſenſes, be reckoned as much parts of himſelf, as either his ſtomach or his palate, and much more than his eſtate or his dreſs. The epicure, who conſults his phyſician, how he may reſtore his reliſh for food, and by creating an appetite, may increaſe the means of enjoyment, might at leaſt with an equal regard to himſelf, conſult how he might ſtrengthen his affection to a parent or a child, to his country or to mankind; and it is probable that an appetite of this ſort would prove a ſource of enjoyment not leſs than the former.

BY our ſuppoſed ſelfiſh maxims, notwithſtanding, we generally exclude from among the objects of our perſonal cares, many of the happier and more reſpectable qualities of human nature. We conſider affection and courage as mere follies, that lead us to neglect or expoſe ourſelves; we make wiſdom conſiſt in a regard to our intereſt; and without explaining what intereſt means, we would have it underſtood as the only reaſonable motive of action with mankind. There is even a ſyſtem of philoſophy founded upon tenets of this ſort, and ſuch is our opinion of what men are likely to do upon ſelfiſh principles, that we think it muſt have a tendency very dangerous to virtue. But the errors of this ſyſtem do not conſiſt ſo much in general principles, as in their particular applications; not ſo much in teaching men to regard themſelves, as in leading them to forget that their happieſt affections, their candour, and their independence [Page 20] of mind, are in reality parts of themſelves. And the adverſaries of this ſuppoſed ſelfiſh philoſophy, where it makes ſelf-love the ruling paſſion with mankind, have had reaſon to find fault, not ſo much with its general repreſentations of human nature, as with the obtruſion of a mere innovation in language for a diſcovery in ſcience.

WHEN the vulgar ſpeak of their different motives, they are ſatisfied with ordinary names, which refer to known and obvious diſtinctions. Of this kind are the terms benevolence and ſelfiſhneſs, by which they expreſs their deſire of the welfare of others, or the care of their own. The ſpeculative are not always ſatisfied with this proceeding; they would analyze, as well as enumerate the principles of nature; and the chance is, that, merely to gain the appearance of ſomething new, without any proſpect of real advantage, they will diſturb the order of vulgar apprehenſion. In the caſe before us, they have actually found, that benevolence is no more than a ſpecies of ſelf-love; and would oblige us, if poſſible, to look out for a new ſet of words, by which we may diſtinguiſh the ſelfiſhneſs of the parent when he takes care of his child, from his ſelfiſhneſs when he only takes care of himſelf. For according to this philoſophy, as in both caſes he only means to gratify a deſire of his own, he is in both caſes equally ſelfiſh. The term benevolent, in the mean time, is not employed to characteriſe perſons who have no deſires of their own, but perſons whoſe own deſires prompt them to procure the welfare of others. The fact is, that we ſhould need only a freſh ſupply of language, inſtead of that which by this ſeeming diſcovery we ſhould have loſt, in order to make the reaſonings of men proceed [Page 21] as they formerly did. But it is certainly impoſſible to live and to act with men, without employing different names to diſtinguiſh the humane from the cruel, and the benevolent from the ſelfiſh.

THESE terms have their equivalents in every tongue; they were invented by men of no refinement, who only meant to expreſs what they diſtinctly perceived or ſtrongly felt. And if a man of ſpeculation ſhould prove that we are ſelfiſh in a ſenſe of his own, it does not follow that we are ſo in the ſenſe of the vulgar; or, as ordinary men would underſtand his concluſion, that we are condemned in every inſtance to act on motives of intereſt, covetouſneſs, puſillanimity, and cowardice; for ſuch is conceived to be the ordinary import of ſelfiſhneſs in the character of man.

AN affection or paſſion of any kind is ſometimes ſaid to give us an intereſt in its object; and humanity itſelf gives an intereſt in the welfare of mankind. This term intereſt, which commonly implies little more than our regard to property, is ſometimes put for utility in general, and this for happineſs; inſomuch that, under theſe ambiguities, it is not ſurpriſing we are ſtill unable to determine, whether intereſt is the only motive of human action, and the ſtandard by which to diſtinguiſh our good from our ill.

SO much is ſaid in this place, not from any deſire to have a ſhare in any controverſy of this ſort, but merely to confine the meaning of the term intereſt to its moſt common accep ation, and to intimate our intention of employing it in expreſſing [Page 22] thoſe objects of care which refer to our external condition, and the preſervation of our animal nature. When taken in this ſenſe, it will not ſurely be thought to comprehend at once all the motives of human conduct. If men be not allowed to have diſintereſted benevolence, they will not be denied to have diſintereſted paſſions of another kind. Hatred, indignation, and rage, frequently urge them to act in oppoſition to their known intereſt, and even to hazard their lives, without any hopes of compenſation in any future returns of preferment or profit.

1.1.3. SECT. III.
Of the principles of Union among Mankind.

[Page 23]

MANKIND have always wandered or ſettled, agreed or quarrelled, in troops and companies. The cauſe of their aſſembling, whatever it be, is the principle of their alliance or union.

IN collecting the materials of hiſtory, we are ſeldom willing to put up with our ſubject merely as we find it. We are loth to be embarraſſed with a multiplicity of particulars, and apparent inconſiſtencies. In theory we profeſs the inveſtigation of general principles; and in order to bring the matter of our inquiries within the reach of our comprehenſion, are diſpoſed to adopt any ſyſtem. Thus, in treating of human affairs, we would draw every conſequence from a principle of union, or a principle of diſſenſion. The ſtate of nature is a ſtate of war or of amity, and men are made to unite from a principle of affection, or from a principle of fear, as is moſt ſuitable to the ſyſtem of different writers. The hiſtory of our ſpecies indeed abundantly ſhews, that they are to one another mutual objects both of fear and of love; and they who would prove them to have been originally either in a ſtate of alliance, or of war, have arguments in ſtore to maintain their aſſertions. Our attachment to one diviſion, or to one ſect, ſeems often to derive much of its force from an animoſity conceived to an oppoſite one: and this animoſity in its turn, as often ariſes from a [Page 24] zeal in behalf of the ſide we eſpouſe, and from a deſire to vindicate the rights of our party.

‘MAN is born in ſociety,’ ſays Monteſquieu, ‘and there he remains.’ The charms that detain him are known to be manifold. We may reckon the parental affection, which, inſtead of deſerting the adult, as among the brutes, embraces more cloſe, as it becomes mixed with eſteem, and the memory of its early effects; together with a propenſity common to man and other animals, to mix with the herd, and, without reflection, to follow the croud of his ſpecies. What this propenſity was in the firſt moment of its operation, we know not; but with men accuſtomed to company, its enjoyments and diſappointments are reckoned among the principal pleaſures or pains of human life. Sadneſs and melancholy are connected with ſolitude; gladneſs and pleaſure with the concourſe of men. The track of a Laplander on the ſnowy ſhore, gives joy to the lonely mariner; and the mute ſigns of cordiality and kindneſs which are made to him, awaken the memory of pleaſures which he felt in ſociety. In fine, ſays the writer of a voyage to the north, after deſcribing a mute ſcene of this ſort, ‘We were extremely pleaſed to converſe with men, ſince in thirteen months we had ſeen no human creature*.’ But we need no remote obſervation to confirm this poſition: The wailings of the infant, and the languors of the adult, when alone; the lively joys of the one, and the chearfulneſs of the other, upon the return of company, are a ſufficient proof of its ſolid foundations in the frame of our nature.

[Page 25] IN accounting for actions we often forget that we ourſelves have acted; and inſtead of the ſentiments which ſtimulate the mind in the preſence of its object, we aſſign as the motives of conduct with men, thoſe conſiderations which occur in the hours of retirement and cold reflection. In this mood frequently we can find nothing important, beſides the deliberate proſpects of intereſt; and a great work, like that of forming ſociety, muſt in our apprehenſion ariſe from deep reflections, and be carried on with a view to the advantages which mankind derive from commerce and mutual ſupport. But neither a propenſity to mix with the herd, nor the ſenſe of advantages enjoyed in that condition, comprehend all the principles by which men are united together. Thoſe bands are even of a feeble texture, when compared to the reſolute ardour with which a man adheres to his friend, or to his tribe, after they have for ſome time run the career of fortune together. Mutual diſcoveries of generoſity, joint trials of fortitude, redouble the ardours of friendſhip, and kindle a flame in the human breaſt, which the conſiderations of perſonal intereſt or ſafety cannot ſuppreſs. The moſt lively tranſports of joy are ſeen, and the loudeſt ſhrieks of deſpair are heard, when the objects of a tender affection are beheld in a ſtate of triumph or of ſuffering. An Indian recovered his friend unexpectedly on the iſland of Juan Fernandes: He proſtrated himſelf on the ground, at his feet: ‘We ſtood gazing in ſilence,’ ſays Dampier, ‘at this tender ſcene.’ If we would know what is the religion of a wild American, what it is in his heart that moſt reſembles devotion: it is not his fear of the ſorcerer, nor his [Page 26] hope of protection from the ſpirits of the air or the wood; it is the ardent affection with which he ſelects and embraces his friend; with which he clings to his ſide in every ſeaſon of peril; and with which he invokes his ſpirit from a diſtance, when dangers ſurpriſe him alone.* Whatever proofs we may have of the ſocial diſpoſition of man in familiar and contiguous ſcenes, it is poſſibly of importance, to draw our obſervations from the examples of men who live in the ſimpleſt condition, and who have not learned to affect what they do not actually feel.

MERE acquaintance and habitude nouriſh affection, and the experience of ſociety brings every paſſion of the human mind upon its ſide. Its triumphs and proſperities, its calamities and diſtreſſes, bring a variety and a force of emotion, which can only have place in the company of our fellowcreatures. It is here that a man is made to forget his weakneſs, his cares of ſafety, and his ſubſiſtence; and to act from thoſe paſſions which make him diſcover his force. It is here he finds that his arrows fly ſwifter than an eagle, and his weapons wound deeper than the paw of the lion, or the tooth of the boar. It is not alone his ſenſe of a ſupport which is near, nor the love of diſtinction in the opinion of his tribe, that inſpire his courage, or ſwell his heart with a confidence that exceeds what his natural force ſhould beſtow. Vehement paſſions of animoſity or attachment are the firſt exertions of vigour in his breaſt; under their influence, every conſideration, but that of [Page 27] his object, is forgotten; dangers and difficulties only excite him the more.

THAT condition is ſurely favourable to the nature of any being, in which his force is increaſed; and if courage be the gift of ſociety to man, we have reaſon to conſider his union with his ſpecies as the nobleſt part of his fortune. From this ſource are derived, not only the force, but the very exiſtence of his happieſt emotions; not only the better part, but almoſt the whole of his rational character. Send him to the deſert alone, he is a plant torn from its roots: the form indeed may remain, but every faculty droops and withers; the human perſonage and the human character ceaſe to exiſt.

MEN are ſo far from valuing ſociety on account of its mere external conveniencies, that they are commonly moſt attached where thoſe conveniences are leaſt frequent; and are there moſt faithful, where the tribute of their allegiance is paid in blood. Affection operates with the greateſt force, where it meets with the greateſt difficulties: In the breaſt of the parent, it is moſt ſolicitous amidſt the dangers and diſtreſſes of the child: In the breaſt of a man, its flame redoubles where the wrongs or ſufferings of his friend, or his country, require his aid. It is, in ſhort, from this principle alone that we can account for the obſtinate attachment of a ſavage to his unſettled and defenceleſs tribe, when temptations on the ſide of eaſe and of ſafety might induce him to fly from famine and danger, to a ſtation more affluent, and more ſecure. Hence the ſanguine affection which every Greek bore to his country, and [Page 28] hence the devoted patriotiſm of an early Roman. Let thoſe examples be compared with the ſpirit which reigns in a commercial ſtate, where men may be ſuppoſed to have experienced, in its full extent, the intereſt which individuals have in the preſervation of their country. It is here, indeed, if ever, that man is ſometimes found a detached and ſolitary being: he has found an object which ſets him in competition with his fellow-creatures, and he deals with them as he does with his cattle and his ſoil, for the ſake of the profits they bring. The mighty engine which we ſuppoſe to have formed ſociety, only tends to ſet its members at variance, or to continue their intercourſe after the bands of affection are broken.

1.1.4. SECT. IV.
Of the principles of War and Diſſenſion.

[Page 29]

‘THERE are ſome circumſtances in the lot of mankind,’ ſays Socrates, ‘that ſhew them to be deſtined to friendſhip and amity: Thoſe are, their mutual need of one another; their mutual compaſſion; their ſenſe of mutual benefits; and the pleaſures ariſing in company. There are other circumſtances which prompt them to war and diſſenſion; the admiration and the deſire which they entertain for the ſame ſubjects; their oppoſite pretenſions; and the provocations which they mutually offer in the courſe of their competitions.’

WHEN we endeavour to apply the maxims of natural juſtice to the ſolution of difficult queſtions, we find that ſome caſes may be ſuppoſed, and actually happen, where oppoſitions take place, and are lawful, prior to any provocation, or act of injuſtice; that where the ſafety and preſervation of numbers are mutually inconſiſtent, one party may employ his right of defence, before the other has begun an attack. And when we join with ſuch examples, the inſtances of miſtake, and miſunderſtanding, to which mankind are expoſed, we may be ſatisfied that war does not always proceed from an intention to injure; and that even the beſt qualities of men, their candour, as well as their reſolution, may operate in the midſt of their quarrels.

[Page 30] THERE is ſtill more to be obſerved on this ſubject. Mankind not only find in their condition the ſources of variance and diſſenſion; they appear to have in their minds the ſeeds of animoſity, and to embrace the occaſions of mutual oppoſition, with alacrity and pleaſure In the moſt pacific ſituation there are few who have not their enemies, as well as their friends; and who are not pleaſed with oppoſing the proceedings of one, as much as with favouring the deſigns of another. Small and ſimple tribes, who in their domeſtic ſociety have the firmeſt union, are in their ſtate of oppoſition as ſeparate nations, frequently animated with the moſt implacable hatred. Among the citizens of Rome, in the early ages of that republic, the name of a foreigner, and that of an enemy, were the ſame. Among the Greeks, the name of Barbarian, under which that people comprehended every nation that was of a race, and ſpoke a language, different from their own, became a term of indiſcriminate contempt and averſion. Even where no particular claim to ſuperiority is formed, the repugnance to union, the frequent wars, or rather the perpetual hoſtilities, which take place among rude nations and ſeparate clans, diſcover how much our ſpecies is diſpoſed to oppoſition, as well as to concert.

LATE diſcoveries have brought us to the knowledge of almoſt every ſituation in which mankind are placed. We have found them ſpread over large and extenſive continents, where communications are open, and where national confederacy might be eaſily formed. We have found them in narrower diſtricts, circumſcribed by mountains, [Page 31] great rivers, and arms of the ſea. They have been found in ſmall and remote iſlands, where the inhabitants might be eaſily aſſembled, and derive an advantage from their union. But in all thoſe ſituations, alike, they were broke into cantons, and affected a diſtinction of name and community. The titles of fellow-citizen and countryman, unoppoſed to thoſe of alien and foreigner, to which they refer, would fall into diſuſe, and loſe their meaning. We love individuals on account of perſonal qualities; but we love our country, as it is a party in the diviſions of mankind; and our zeal for its intereſt, is a predilection in behalf of the ſide we maintain.

IN the promiſcuous concourſe of men, it is ſufficient that we have an opportunity of ſelecting our company. We turn away from thoſe who do not engage us, and we fix our reſort where the ſociety is more to our mind. We are fond of diſtinctions; we place ourſelves in oppoſition, and quarrel under the denominations of faction and party, without any material ſubject of controverſy. Averſion, like affection, is foſtered by a continued direction to its particular object. Separation and eſtrangement, as well as oppoſition, widen a breach which did not owe its beginnings to any offence. And it would ſeem, that till we have reduced mankind to the ſtate of a family, or found ſome external conſideration to maintain their connection in greater numbers, they will be for ever ſeparated into bands, and form a plurality of nations.

THE ſenſe of a common danger, and the aſſaults of an enemy, have been frequently uſeful to nations, by uniting their members more firmly together, and by preventing the ſeceſſions and [Page 32] actual ſeparations in which their civil diſcord might otherwiſe terminate. And this motive to union which is offered from abroad, may be neceſſary, not only in the caſe of large and extenſive nations, where coalitions are weakened by diſtance, and the diſtinction of provincial names; but even in the narrow ſociety of the ſmalleſt ſtates. Rome itſelf was founded by a ſmall party, which took its flight from Alba; her citizens were often in danger of ſeparating; and if the villages and cantons of the Volſci had been further removed from the ſcene of their diſſenſions, the Mons Sacer might have received a new colony before the mother-country was ripe for ſuch a diſcharge. She continued long to feel the quarrels of her nobles and her people; and the gates of Janus were frequently opened, to remind her inhabitants of the duties they owed to their country.

IF ſocieties, as well as individuals, be charged with the care of their own preſervation, and if in both we apprehend a ſeparation of intereſt, which may give riſe to jealouſies and competitions, we cannot be ſurpriſed to find hoſtilities ariſe from this ſource. But were there no angry paſſions of a different ſort, the animoſities which attend an oppoſition of intereſt, ſhould bear a proportion to the ſuppoſed value of the ſubject. ‘The Hottentot nations,’ ſays Kolben, ‘treſpaſs on one another by thefts of cattle and of women; but ſuch injuries are ſeldom committed, except with a view to exaſperate their neighbours, and bring them to a war.’ Such depredations then are not the foundation of a war, but the effects of a hoſtile intention already conceived. The nations of North America, who have no herds to preſerve, nor ſettlements to defend, are yet engaged [Page 33] in almoſt perpetual wars, for which they can aſſign no reaſon, but the point of honour, and a deſire to continue the ſtruggle their fathers maintained. They do not regard the ſpoils of an enemy; and the warrior who has ſeized any booty, eaſily parts with it to the firſt perſon who comes in his way*.

BUT we need not croſs the Atlantic to find proofs of animoſity, and to obſerve, in the colliſion of ſeparate ſocieties, the influence of angry paſſions, that do not ariſe from an oppoſition of intereſt. Human nature has no part of its character, of which more flagrant examples are given on this ſide of the globe. What is it that ſtirs in the breaſts of ordinary men when the enemies of their country are named? Whence are the prejudices that ſubſiſt between different provinces, cantons, and villages, of the ſame empire and territory? What is it that excites one half of the nations of Europe againſt the other? The ſtateſman may explain his conduct on motives of national jealouſy and caution, but the people have diſlikes and antipathies, for which they cannot account. Their mutual reproaches of perfidy and injuſtice, like the Hottentot depredations, are but ſymptoms of an animoſity, and the language of a hoſtile diſpoſition already conceived. The charge of cowardice and puſillanimity, qualities which the intereſted and cautious enemy ſhould, of all others, like beſt to find in his rival, is urged with averſion, and made the ground of diſlike. Hear the peaſants on different ſides of the Alps, and the [Page 34] Pyrenees, the Rhine, or the Britiſh channel, give vent to their prejudices and national paſſions; it is among them that we find the materials of war and diſſenſion laid without the direction of government, and ſparks ready to kindle into a flame, which the ſtateſman is frequently diſpoſed to extinguiſh. The fire will not always catch where his reaſons of ſtate would direct, nor ſtop where the concurrence of intereſt has produced an alliance. ‘My Father,’ ſaid a Spaniſh peaſant, ‘would riſe from his grave, if he could foreſee a war with France.’ What intereſt had he, or the bones of his father, in the quarrels of princes?

THESE obſervations ſeem to arraign our ſpecies, and to give an unfavourable picture of mankind; and yet the particulars we have mentioned are conſiſtent with the moſt amiable qualities of our nature, and often furniſh a ſcene for the exerciſe of our greateſt abilities. They are ſentiments of generoſity and ſelf-denial that animate the warrior in defence of his country; and they are diſpoſitions moſt favourable to mankind, that become the principles of apparent hoſtility to men. Every animal is made to delight in the exerciſe of his natural talents and forces: The lion and the tyger ſport with the paw; the horſe delights to commit his mane to the wind, and forgets his paſture to try his ſpeed in the field; the bull even before his brow is armed, and the lamb while yet an emblem of innocence, have a diſpoſition to ſtrike with the forehead, and anticipate, in play, the conflicts they are doomed to ſuſtain. Man too is diſpoſed to oppoſition, and to employ the forces of his nature againſt an equal antagoniſt; he loves to bring his reaſon, his eloquence, his [Page 35] courage, even his bodily ſtrength, to the proof, His ſports are frequently an image of war; ſweat and blood are freely expended in play: and fractures or death are often made to terminate the paſtimes of idleneſs and feſtivity. He was not made to live for ever, and even his love of amuſement has opened a path that leads to the grave.

WITHOUT the rivalſhip of nations, and the practice of war, civil ſociety itſelf could ſcarcely have found an object, or a form. Mankind might have traded without any formal convention, but they cannot be ſafe without a national concert. The neceſſity of a public defence, has given riſe to many departments of ſtate, and the intellectual talents of men have found their buſieſt ſcene in wielding their national forces. To overawe, or intimidate, or, when we cannot perſuade with reaſon, to reſiſt with fortitude, are the occupations which give its moſt animating exerciſe, and its greateſt triumphs, to a vigorous mind; and he who has never ſtruggled with his fellow-creatures, is a ſtranger to half the ſentiments of mankind.

THE quarrels of individuals, indeed, are frequently the operations of unhappy and deteſtable paſſions; malice, hatred, and rage. If ſuch paſſions alone poſſeſs the breaſt, the ſcene of diſſenſion becomes an object of horror; but a common oppoſition maintained by numbers, is always allayed by paſſions of another ſort. Sentiments of affection and friendſhip mix with animoſity; the active and ſtrenuous become the guardians of their ſociety; and violence itſelf is, in their caſe, an exertion of generoſity as well as of courage. We applaud, as proceeding from a national or party [Page 36] ſpirit, what we could not endure as the effect of a private diſlike; and amidſt the competitions of rival ſtates, think we have found, for the patriot and the warrior, in the practice of violence and ſtratagem, the moſt illuſtrious career of human virtue. Even perſonal oppoſition here does not divide our judgment on the merits of men. The rival names of Ageſilaus and Epaminondas, of Scipio and Hannibal, are repeated with equal praiſe; and war itſelf, which in one view appears ſo fatal, in another is the exerciſe of a liberal ſpirit; and in the very effects which we regret, is but one diſtemper more by which the author of nature has appointed our exit from human life.

THESE reflections may open our view into the ſtate of mankind; but they tend to reconcile us to the conduct of Providence, rather than to make us change our own: where, from a regard to the welfare of our fellow-creatures, we endeavour to pacify their animoſities, and unite them by the ties of affection. In the purſuit of this amiable intention, we may hope, in ſome inſtances, to diſarm the angry paſſions of jealouſy and envy; we may hope to inſtil into the breaſts of private men ſentiments of candour toward their fellowcreatures, and a diſpoſition to humanity and juſtice. But it is vain to expect that we can give to the multitude of a people a ſenſe of union among themſelves, without admitting hoſtility to thoſe who oppoſe them. Could we at once, in the caſe of any nation, extinguiſh the emulation which is excited from abroad, we ſhould probably break or weaken the bands of ſociety at home, and cloſe the buſieſt ſcenes of national occupations and virtues.

1.1.5. SECT. V.
Of Intellectual Powers.

[Page 37]

MANY attempts have been made to analyze the diſpoſitions which we have now enumerated; but one purpoſe of ſcience, perhaps the moſt important, is ſerved, when the exiſtence of a diſpoſition is eſtabliſhed. We are more concerned in its reality, and in its conſequences, than we are in its origin, or manner of formation.

THE ſame obſervation may be applied to the other powers and faculties of our nature. Their exiſtence and uſe are the principal objects of our ſtudy. Thinking and reaſoning, we ſay, are the operations of ſome faculty; but in what manner the faculties of thought or reaſon remain, when they are not exerted, or by what difference in the frame they are unequal in different perſons, are queſtions which we cannot reſolve. Their operations alone diſcover them: when unapplied, they lie hid even from the perſon to whom they pertain; and their action is ſo much a part of their nature, that the faculty itſelf, in many caſes, is ſcarcely to be diſtinguiſhed from a habit acquired in its frequent exertion.

PERSONS who are occupied with different ſubjects, who act in different ſcenes, generally appear to have different talents, or at leaſt to have the ſame faculties variouſly formed, and ſuited to different purpoſes. The peculiar genius of nations, as well as of individuals, may in this manner ariſe from the ſtate of their fortunes. And [Page 38] it is proper that we endeavour to find ſome rule, by which to judge of what is admirable in the capacities of men, or fortunate in the application of their faculties, before we venture to paſs a judgment on this branch of their merits, or pretend to meaſure the degree of reſpect they may claim by their different attainments.

TO receive the informations of ſenſe, is perhaps the earlieſt function of an animal combined with an intellectual nature; and one great accompliſhment of the living agent conſiſts in the force and ſenſibility of his animal organs. The pleaſures or pains to which he is expoſed from this quarter, conſtitute to him an important difference between the objects which are thus brought to his knowledge; and it concerns him to diſtinguiſh well, before he commits himſelf to the direction of appetite. He muſt ſcrutinize the objects of one ſenſe by the perceptions of another; examine with the eye, before he ventures to touch; and employ every means of obſervation, before he gratifies the appetites of thirſt and of hunger. A diſcernment acquired by experience, becomes a faculty of his mind; and the inferences of thought are ſometimes not to be diſtinguiſhed from the perceptions of ſenſe.

THE objects around us, beſide their ſeparate appearances, have their relations to one another. They ſuggeſt, when compared, what would not occur when they are conſidered apart; they have their effects, and mutual influences; they exhibit, in like circumſtances, ſimilar operations, and uniform conſequences. When we have found and expreſſed the points in which the uniformity [Page 39] of their operations conſiſts, we have aſcertained a phyſical law. Many ſuch laws, and even the moſt important, are known to the vulgar, and occur upon the ſmalleſt degrees of reflection: but others are hid under a ſeeming confuſion, which ordinary talents cannot remove; and are therefore the objects of ſtudy, long obſervation, and ſuperior capacity. The faculties of penetration and judgement, are, by men of buſineſs, as well as of ſcience, employed to unravel intricacies of this ſort; and the degree of ſagacity with which either is endowed, is to be meaſured by the ſucceſs with which they are able to find general rules, applicable to a variety of caſes that ſeemed to have nothing in common, and to diſcover important diſtinctions between ſubjects which the vulgar are apt to confound.

TO collect a multiplicity of particulars under general heads, and to refer a variety of operations to their common principle, is the object of ſcience. To do the ſame thing, at leaſt within the range of his active engagements, pertains to the man of pleaſure, or buſineſs: and it would ſeem, that the ſtudious and the active are ſo far employed in the ſame taſk, from obſervation and experience, to find the general views under which their objects may be conſidered, and the rules which may be uſefully applied in the detail of their conduct. They do not always apply their talents to different ſubjects; and they ſeem to be diſtinguiſhed chiefly by the unequal reach and variety of their remarks, or by the intentions which they ſeverally have in collecting them.

[Page 40] WHILST men continue to act from appetites and paſſions, leading to the attainment of external ends, they ſeldom quit the view of their objects in detail, to go far in the road of general inquiries. They meaſure the extent of their own abilities, by the promptitude with which they apprehend what is important in every ſubject, and the facility with which they extricate themſelves on every trying occaſion. And theſe, it muſt be confeſſed, to a being who is deſtined to act in the midſt of difficulties, are the proper teſt of capacity and force. The parade of words, and general reaſonings, which ſometime carry an appearance of ſo much learning and knowledge, are of little avail in the conduct of life. The talents from which they proceed, terminate in mere oſtentation, and are ſeldom connected with that ſuperior diſcernment which the active apply in times of perplexity; much leſs with that intrepidity and force of mind which are required in paſſing through difficult ſcenes.

THE abilities of active men, however, have a variety correſponding to that of the ſubjects on which they are occupied. A ſagacity applied to external and inanimate nature, forms one ſpecies of capacity; that which is turned to ſociety and human affairs, another. Reputation for parts in any ſcene is equivocal, till we know by what kind of exertion that reputation is gained. That they underſtand well the ſubjects to which they apply, is all that can be ſaid, in commending men of the greateſt abilities: and every department, every profeſſion, would have its great men, if there were not a choice of objects for the underſtanding, [Page 41] and of talents for the mind, as well as of ſentiments for the heart, and of habits for the active character.

THE meaneſt profeſſions, indeed, ſo far ſometimes forget themſelves, or the reſt of mankind, as to arrogate, in commending what is diſtinguiſhed in their own way, every epithet the moſt reſpectable claim as the right of ſuperior abilities. Every mechanic is a great man with the learner, and the humble admirer, in his particular calling; and we can, perhaps, with more aſſurance pronounce what it is that ſhould make a man happy and amiable, than what ſhould make his abilities reſpected, and his genius admired. This, upon a view of the talents themſelves, may perhaps be impoſſible. The effect, however, will point out the rule and the ſtandard of our judgement. To be admired and reſpected, is to have an aſcendant among men. The talents which moſt directly procure that aſcendant, are thoſe which operate on mankind, penetrate their views, prevent their wiſhes, or ſruſtrate their deſigns. The ſuperior capacity leads with a ſuperior energy, where every individual would go, and ſhews the heſitating and the irreſolute a clear paſſage to the attainment of their ends.

THIS deſcription does not pertain to any particular craft or profeſſion; or perhaps it implies a kind of ability, which the ſeparate application of men to particular callings, only tends to ſuppreſs or to weaken. Where ſhall we find the talents which are fit to act with men in a collective body, if we break that body into parts, and confine the obſervation of each to a ſeparate track?

[Page 42] TO act in the view of his fellow-creatures, to produce his mind in public, to give it all the exerciſe of ſentiment and thought, which pertain to man as a member of ſociety, as a friend, or an enemy, ſeems to be the principal calling and occupation of his nature. If he muſt labour, that he may ſubſiſt, he can ſubſiſt for no better purpoſe than the good of mankind; nor can he have better talents than thoſe which qualify him to act with men. Here, indeed, the underſtanding appears to borrow very much from the paſſions; and there is a felicity of conduct in human affairs, in which it is difficult to diſtinguiſh the promptitude of the head from the ardour and ſenſibility of the heart. Where both are united, they conſtitute that ſuperiority of mind, the frequency of which among men, in particular ages and nations, much more than the progreſs they have made in ſpeculation, or in the practice of mechanic and liberal arts, ſhould determine the rate of their genius, and aſſign the palm of diſtinction and honour.

WHEN nations ſucceed one another in the career of diſcoveries and inquiries, the laſt is always the moſt knowing. Syſtems of ſcience are gradually formed. The globe itſelf is traverſed by degrees, and the hiſtory of every age, when paſt, is an acceſſion of knowledge to thoſe who ſucceed. The Romans were more knowing than the Greeks; and every ſcholar of modern Europe is, in this ſenſe, more learned than the moſt accompliſhed perſon that ever bore either of thoſe celebrated names. But is he on that account their ſuperior?

[Page 43] MEN are to be eſtimated, not from what they know, but from what they are able to perform; from their ſkill in adapting materials to the ſeveral purpoſes of life; from their vigour and conduct in purſuing the objects of policy, and in finding the expedients of war and national defence. Even in literature, they are to be eſtimated from the works of their genius, not from the extent of their knowledge. The ſcene of mere obſervation was extremely limited in a Grecian republic; and the buſtle of an active life appeared inconſiſtent with ſtudy: but there the human mind, notwithſtanding, collected its greateſt abilities, and received its beſt informations, in the midſt of ſweat and of duſt.

IT is peculiar to modern Europe, to reſt ſo much of the human character on what may be learned in retirement, and from the information of books. A juſt admiration of ancient literature, an opinion that human ſentiment, and human reaſon, without this aid, were to have vaniſhed from the ſocieties of men, have led us into the ſhade, where we endeavour to derive from imagination and thought, what is in reality matter of experience and ſentiment: and we endeavour, through the grammar of dead languages, and the channel of commentators, to arrive at the beauties of thought and elocution, which ſprang from the animated ſpirit of ſociety, and were taken from the living impreſſions of an active life. Our attainments are frequently limited to the elements of every ſcience, and ſeldom reach to that enlargement of ability and power which uſeful knowledge ſhould give. Like mathematicians, who ſtudy the Elements [Page 44] of Euclid, but never think of menſuration, we read of ſocieties, but do not propoſe to act with men: we repeat the language of politics, but feel not the ſpirit of nations: we attend to the formalities of a military diſcipline, but know not how to employ numbers of men to obtain any purpoſe by ſtratagem or force.

BUT for what end, it may be ſaid, is it to point out a misfortune that cannot be remedied? If national affairs called for exertion, the genius of men would awake; but in the receſs of better employment, the time which is beſtowed on ſtudy, if even attended with no other advantage, ſerves to occupy with innocence the hours of leiſure, and ſet bounds to the purſuit of ruinous and frivolous amuſements. From no better reaſon than this, we employ ſo many of our early years, under the rod, to acquire what it is not expected we ſhould retain beyond the threſhold of the ſchool; and whilſt we carry the ſame frivolous character in our ſtudies that we do in our amuſements, the human mind could not ſuffer more from a contempt of letters, than it does from the falſe importance which is given to literature, as a buſineſs for life, not as a help to our conduct, and the means of forming a character that may be happy in itſelf, and uſeful to mankind.

IF that time which is paſſed in relaxing the powers of the mind, and in with-holding every object but what tends to weaken and to corrupt, were employed in fortifying thoſe powers, and in teaching the mind to recogniſe its objects, and its ſtrength, we ſhould not, at the years of maturity, [Page 45] be ſo much at a loſs for occupation; nor, in attending the chances of a gaming-table, miſemploy our talents, or waſte the fire which remains in the breaſt. They, at leaſt, who by their ſtations have a ſhare in the government of their country, might believe themſelves capable of buſineſs; and while the ſtate had its armies and councils, might find objects enough to amuſe, without throwing a perſonal fortune into hazard, merely to cure the yawnings of a liſtleſs and inſignificant life. It is impoſſible for ever to maintain the tone of ſpeculation; it is impoſſible not ſometimes to feel that we live among men.

1.1.6. SECT. VI.
Of Moral Sentiment.

[Page 46]

UPON a ſlight obſervation of what paſſes in human life, we ſhould be apt to conclude, that the care of ſubſiſtence is the principal ſpring of human actions. This conſideration leads to the invention and practice of mechanical arts; it ſerves to diſtinguiſh amuſement from buſineſs; and, with many, ſcarcely admits into competition any other ſubject of purſuit or attention. The mighty advantages of property and fortune, when ſtript of the recommendations they derive from vanity, or the more ſerious regards to independence and power, only mean a proviſion that is made for animal enjoyment; and if our ſolicitude on this ſubject were removed, not only the toils of the mechanic, but the ſtudies of the learned, would ceaſe; every department of public buſineſs would become unneceſſary; every ſenate-houſe would be ſhut up, and every palace deſerted.

IS man therefore, in reſpect to his object, to be claſſed with the mere brutes, and only to be diſtinguiſhed by faculties that qualify him to multiply contrivances for the ſupport and convenience of animal life, and by the extent of a fancy that renders the care of animal preſervation to him more burdenſome than it is to the herd with which he ſhares in the bounty of nature? If this were his caſe, the joy which attends on ſucceſs, or the griefs which ariſe from diſappointment, would make the ſum of his paſſions. The torrent that waſted, or [Page 47] the inundation that enriched his poſſeſſions, would give him all the emotion with which he is ſeized, on the occaſion of a wrong by which his fortunes are impaired, or of a benefit by which they are preſerved and enlarged. His fellow-creatures would be conſidered merely as they affected his intereſt. Profit or loſs would ſerve to mark the event of every tranſaction; and the epithets uſeful or detrimental would ſerve to diſtinguiſh his mates in ſociety, as they do the tree which bears plenty of fruit, from that which ſerves only to cumber the ground, or intercept his view.

THIS, however, is not the hiſtory of our ſpecies. What comes from a fellow-creature is received with peculiar attention; and every language abounds with terms that expreſs ſomewhat in the tranſactions of men, different from ſucceſs and diſappointment. The boſom kindles in company, while the point of intereſt in view has nothing to inflame; and a matter frivolous in itſelf, becomes important, when it ſerves to bring to light the intentions and characters of men. The ſoreigner, who believed that Othello, on the ſtage, was enraged for the loſs of his handkerchief, was not more miſtaken, than the reaſoner who imputes any of the more vehement paſſions of men to the impreſſions of mere profit or loſs.

MEN aſſemble to deliberate on buſineſs; they ſeparate from jealouſies of intereſt; but in their ſeveral colliſions, whether as friends or as enemies, a fire is ſtruck out which the regards to intereſt or ſafety cannot confine. The value of a favour is not meaſured when ſentiments of kindneſs are perceived; [Page 48] and the term misfortune has but a feeble meaning, when compared to that of inſult and wrong.

AS actors or ſpectators, we are perpetually made to feel the difference of human conduct, and from a bare recital of tranſactions which have paſſed in ages and countries remote from our own, are moved with admiration and pity, or tranſported with indignation and rage. Our ſenſibility on this ſubject gives their charm, in retirement, to the relations of hiſtory, and to the fictions of poetry; ſends forth the tear of compaſſion, gives to the blood its briſkeſt movement, and to the eye its livelieſt glances of diſpleaſure or joy. It turns human life into an intereſting ſpectacle, and perpetually ſolicits even the indolent to mix, as opponents or friends, in the ſcenes which are acted before them. Joined to the powers of deliberation and reaſon, it conſtitutes the baſis of a moral nature; and whilſt it dictates the terms of praiſe and of blame, ſerves to claſs our fellow-creatures by the moſt admirable and engaging, or the moſt odious and contemptible, denominations.

IT is pleaſant to find men, who, in their ſpeculations, deny the reality of moral diſtinctions, forget in detail the general poſitions they maintain, and give looſe to ridicule, indignation, and ſcorn, as if any of theſe ſentiments could have place, were the actions of men indifferent; and with acrimony pretend to detect the fraud by which moral reſtraints have been impoſed, as if to cenſure a fraud were not already to take a part on the ſide of morality*.

[Page 49] CAN we explain the principles upon which mankind adjudge the preference of characters, and upon which they indulge ſuch vehement emotions of admiration or contempt? If it be admitted that we cannot, are the facts leſs true? or muſt we ſuſpend the movements of the heart until they who are employed in framing ſyſtems of ſcience have diſcovered the principle from which thoſe movements proceed? If a finger burn, we care not for information on the properties of fire: if the heart be torn, or the mind overjoyed, we have not leiſure for ſpeculations on the ſubject of moral ſenſibility.

IT is fortunate in this, as in other articles to which ſpeculation and theory are applied, that nature proceeds in her courſe, whilſt the curious are buſied in the ſearch of her principles. The peaſant, or the child, can reaſon, and judge, and ſpeak his language, with a diſcernment, a conſiſtency, and a regard to analogy, which perplex the logician, the moraliſt, and the grammarian, when they would find the principle upon which the proceeding is founded, or when they would bring to general rules, what is ſo familiar, and ſo well ſuſtained in particular caſes. The felicity of our conduct is more owing to the talent we poſſeſs for detail, and to the ſuggeſtion of particular occaſions, than it is to any direction we can find in theory and general ſpeculations.

WE muſt, in the reſult of every inquiry, encounter with facts which we cannot explain; and to bear with this mortification would ſave us frequently a great deal of fruitleſs trouble. Together [Page 50] with the ſenſe of our exiſtence, we muſt admit many circumſtances which come to our knowledge at the ſame time, and in the ſame manner; and which do, in reality, conſtitute the mode of our being. Every peaſant will tell us, that a man hath his rights; and that to treſpaſs on thoſe rights is injuſtice. If we aſk him farther, what he means by the term right? we probably force him to ſubſtitute a leſs ſignificant, or leſs proper term, in the place of this; or require him to account for what is an original mode of his mind, and a ſentiment to which he ultimately refers, when he would explain himſelf upon any particular application of his language.

THE rights of individuals may relate to a variety of ſubjects, and be comprehended under different heads. Prior to the eſtabliſhment of property, and the diſtinction of ranks, men have a right to defend their perſons, and to act with freedom; they have a right to maintain the apprehenſions of reaſon, and the feelings of the heart; and they cannot for a moment converſe with one another, without feeling that the part they maintain may be juſt or unjuſt. It is not, however, our buſineſs here to carry the notion of a right into its ſeveral applications, but to reaſon on the ſentiment of favour with which that notion is entertained in the mind.

IF it be true, that men are united by inſtinct, that they act in ſociety from affections of kindneſs and friendſhip; if it be true, that even prior to acquaintance and habitude, men, as ſuch, are commonly to one another objects of attention, and ſome degree of regard; that while their proſperity [Page 51] is beheld with indifference, their afflictions are conſidered with commiſeration; if calamities be meaſured by the numbers and the qualities of men they involve; and if every ſuffering of a fellowcreature draws a croud of attentive ſpectators; if even in the caſe of thoſe to whom we do not habitually wiſh any poſitive good, we are ſtill averſe to be the inſtruments of harm; it ſhould ſeem, that in theſe various appearances of an amicable diſpoſition, the foundations of a moral apprehenſion are ſufficiently laid, and the ſenſe of a right which we maintain for ourſelves, is by a movement of humanity and candour extended to our fellow-creatures.

WHAT is it that prompts the tongue when we cenſure an act of cruelty or oppreſſion? What is it that conſtitutes our reſtraint from offences that tend to diſtreſs our fellow-creatures? It is probably, in both caſes, a particular application of that principle, which, in preſence of the ſorrowful, ſends forth the tear of compaſſion; and a combination of all thoſe ſentiments, which conſtitute a benevolent diſpoſition; and if not a reſolution to do good, at leaſt an averſion to be the inſtrument of harm*.

[Page 52] IT may be difficult, however, to enumerate the motives of all the cenſures and commendations which are applied to the actions of men. Even while we moralize, every diſpoſition of the human mind may have its ſhare in forming the judgement, and in prompting the tongue. As jealouſy is often the moſt watchful guardian of chaſtity, ſo malice is often the quickeſt to ſpy the failings of our neighbour. Envy, affectation, and vanity, may dictate the verdicts we give, and the worſt principles of our nature may be at the bottom of our pretended zeal for morality; but if we only mean to inquire, why they who are well diſpoſed to mankind, apprehend, in every inſtance, certain rights pertaining to their fellow-creatures, and why they applaud the conſideration that is paid to thoſe rights, we cannot perhaps aſſign a better reaſon, than that the perſon who applauds, is well diſpoſed to the welfare of the parties to whom his applauſes refer.

[Page 53] WHEN we conſider, that the reality of any amicable propenſity in the human mind has been frequently conteſted; when we recollect the prevalence of intereſted competitions, with their attendant paſſions of jealouſy, envy, and malice; it may ſeem ſtrange to alledge, that love and compaſſion are the moſt powerful principles in the human breaſt: but they are deſtined, on many occaſions, to urge with the moſt irreſiſtible vehemence; and if the deſire of ſelf-preſervation be more conſtant, and more uniform, theſe are a more plentiful ſource of enthuſiaſm, ſatisfaction, and joy. With a power, not inferior to that of reſentment and rage, they hurry the mind into every ſacrifice of intereſt, and bear it undiſmayed through every hardſhip and danger.

THE diſpoſition on which friendſhip is grafted, glows with ſatisfaction in the hours of tranquillity, and is pleaſant, not only in its triumphs, but even in its ſorrows. It throws a grace on the external air, and, by its expreſſion on the countenance, compenſates for the want of beauty, or gives a charm which no complexion or features can equal. From this ſource the ſcenes of human life derive their principal felicity; and their imitations in poetry, their principal ornament. Deſcriptions of nature, even repreſentations of a vigorous conduct, and a manly courage, do not engage the heart, if they be not mixed with the exhibition of generous ſentiments, and the pathetic, which is found to ariſe in the ſtruggles, the triumphs, or the misfortunes of a tender affection. The death of Polites, in the Aeneid, is not more affecting than that of many others who periſhed in the ruins of Troy; [Page 54] but the aged Priam was preſent when this laſt of his ſons was ſlain; and the agonies of grief and ſorrow force the parent from his retreat, to fall by the hand that ſhed the blood of his child. The pathetic of Homer conſiſts in exhibiting the force of affections, not in exciting mere terror and pity; paſſions he has never perhaps, in any inſtance, attempted to raiſe.

WITH this tendency to kindle into enthuſiaſm, with this command over the heart, with the pleaſure that attends its emotions, and with all its effects in meriting confidence, and procuring eſteem, it is not ſurpriſing, that a principle of humanity ſhould give the tone to our commendations and our cenſures, and even where it is hindered from directing our conduct, ſhould ſtill give to the mind, on reflection, its knowledge of what is deſirable in the human character, What haſt thou done with thy brother Abel? was the firſt expoſtulation in behalf of morality; and if the firſt anſwer has been often repeated, mankind have notwithſtanding, in one ſenſe, ſufficiently acknowledged the charge of their nature. They have felt, they have talked, and even acted, as the keepers of their fellow-creatures: They have made the indications of candour and mutual affection the teſt of what is meritorious and amiable in the characters of men: They have made cruelty and oppreſſion the principal objects of their indignation and rage: Even while the head is occupied with projects of intereſt, the heart is often ſeduced into friendſhip; and while buſineſs proceeds on the maxims of ſelf-preſervation, the careleſs hour is employed in generoſity and kindneſs.

[Page 55] HENCE the rule by which men commonly judge of external actions, is taken from the ſuppoſed influence of ſuch actions on the general good. To abſtain from harm, is the great law of natural juſtice; to diffuſe happineſs is the law of morality; and when we cenſure the conferring a favour on one or a few at the expence of many, we refer to public utility, as the great object at which the actions of men ſhould be aimed.

AFTER all, it muſt be confeſſed, that if a principle of affection to mankind, be the baſis of our moral approbation and diſlike, we ſometimes proceed in diſtributing applauſe or cenſure, without preciſely attending to the degree in which our fellow-creatures are hurt or obliged; and that beſides the virtues of candour, friendſhip, generoſity, and public ſpirit, which bear an immediate reference to this principle, there are others which may ſeem to derive their commendation from a different ſource. Temperance, prudence, fortitude, are thoſe qualities likewiſe admired from a principle of regard to our fellow-creatures? Why not, ſince they render men happy in themſelves, and uſeful to others? He who is qualified to promote the welfare of mankind, is neither a ſot, a fool, nor a coward. Can it be more clearly expreſſed, that temperance, prudence, and fortitude, are neceſſary to the character we love and admire? I know well why I ſhould wiſh for them in myſelf; and why likewiſe I ſhould wiſh for them in my friend, and in every perſon who is an object of my affection. But to what purpoſe ſeek for reaſons of approbation, where qualities are ſo neceſſary to our happineſs, and ſo great a part in the perfection of our [Page 56] nature? We muſt ceaſe to eſteem ourſelves, and to diſtinguiſh what is excellent, when ſuch qualifications incur our neglect.

A PERSON of an affectionate mind, poſſeſſed of a maxim, That he himſelf, as an individual, is no more than a part of the whole that demands his regard, has found, in that principle, a ſufficient foundation for all the virtues; for a contempt of animal pleaſures, that would ſupplant his principal enjoyment; for an equal contempt of danger or pain, that come to ſtop his purſuits of public good. ‘A vehement and ſteady affection magnifies its object, and leſſens every difficulty or danger that ſtands in the way.’ ‘Aſk thoſe who have been in love,’ ſays Epictetus, ‘they will know that I ſpeak truth.’

‘I HAVE before me,’ ſays another eminent moraliſt*, ‘an idea of juſtice, which if I could follow in every inſtance, I ſhould think myſelf the moſt happy of men.’ And it is, perhaps, of conſequence to their happineſs, as well as to their conduct, if thoſe can be disjoined, that men ſhould have this idea properly formed: It is perhaps but another name for that good of mankind, which the virtuous are engaged to promote. If virtue be the ſupreme good, its beſt and moſt ſignal effect is to communicate and diffuſe itſelf.

TO love, and even to hate, on the apprehenſion of moral qualities, to eſpouſe one party from a ſenſe of juſtice, to oppoſe another with indignation [Page 57] excited by iniquity, are the common indications of probity, and the operations of an animated, upright, and generous ſpirit. To guard againſt unjuſt partialities, and ill-grounded antipathies; to maintain that compoſure of mind, which, without impairing its ſenſibility or ardour, proceeds in every inſtance with diſcernment and penetration, are the marks of a vigorous and cultivated ſpirit. To be able to follow the dictates of ſuch a Spirit through all the varieties of human life, and with a mind always maſter of itſelf, in proſperity or adverſity, and poſſeſſed of all its abilities, when the ſubjects in hazard are life, or freedom, as much as in treating ſimple queſtions of intereſt, are the triumphs of magnanimity, and true elevation of mind. ‘The event of the day is decided. Draw this javelin from my body now,’ ſaid Epaminondas, ‘and let me bleed.’

IN what ſituation, or by what inſtruction, is this wonderful character to be formed? Is it found in the nurſeries of affectation, pertneſs, and vanity, from which faſhion is propagated, and the genteel is announced? in great and opulent cities, where men view with one another in equipage, dreſs, and the reputation of fortune? Is it within the admired precincts of a court, where we may learn to ſmile without being pleaſed, to careſs without affection, to wound with the ſecret weapons of envy and jealouſy, and to reſt our perſonal importance on circumſtances which we cannot always with honour command? No: but in a ſituation where the great ſentiments of the heart are awakened; where the characters of men, not their ſituations and fortunes, are the principal diſtinction; where the anxieties of intereſt, or vanity, periſh in the blaze of [Page 58] more vigorous emotions; and where the human ſoul, having felt and recogniſed its objects, like an animal who has taſted the blood of his prey, cannot deſcend to purſuits that leave its talents and its force unemployed.

PROPER occaſions alone operating on a raiſed and a happy diſpoſition, may produce this admirable effect, whilſt mere inſtruction may always find mankind at a loſs to comprehend its meaning, or inſenſible to its dictates. The caſe however, is not deſperate, till we have formed our ſyſtem of politics, as well as manners; till we have ſold our freedom for titles, equipage, and diſtinctions; till we ſee no merit but proſperity and power, no diſgrace but poverty and neglect. What charm of inſtruction can cure the mind that is tainted with this diſorder? What ſyren voice can awaken a deſire of freedom, that is held to be meanneſs, and a want of ambition? or what perſuaſion can turn the grimace of politeneſs into real ſentiments of humanity and candour?

1.1.7. SECT. VII.
Of Happineſs.

[Page 59]

HAVING had under our conſideration the active powers and the moral qualities which diſtinguiſh the nature of man, is it ſtill neceſſary that we ſhould treat of his happineſs apart? This ſignificant term, the moſt frequent, and the moſt familiar, in our converſation, is, perhaps, on reflection, the leaſt underſtood. It ſerves to expreſs our ſatisfaction, when any deſire is gratified: It is pronounced with a ſigh, when our object is diſtant: It means what we wiſh to obtain, and what we ſeldom ſtay to examine. We eſtimate the value of every ſubject by its utility, and its influence on happineſs; but we think that utility itſelf, and happineſs, require no explanation.

THOSE men are commonly eſteemed the happieſt, whoſe deſires are moſt frequently gratified. But if, in reality, the poſſeſſion of what we deſire, and a continued fruition, were requiſite to happineſs, mankind for the moſt part would have reaſon to complain of their lot. What they call their enjoyments, are generally momentary; and the object of ſanguine expectation, when obtained, no longer continues to occupy the mind: A new paſſion ſucceeds, and the imagination, as before, is intent on a diſtant felicity.

HOW many reflections of this ſort are ſuggeſted by melancholy, or by the effects of that very languor and inoccupation into which we would willingly [Page 60] ſink, under the notion of freedom from care and trouble.

WHEN we enter on a formal computation of the enjoyments or ſufferings which are prepared for mankind, it is a chance but we find that pain, by its intenſeneſs, its duration, or frequency, is greatly predominant. The activity and eagerneſs with which we preſs from one ſtage of life to another, our unwillingneſs to return on the paths we have trod, our averſion in age to renew the frolics of youth, or to repeat in manhood the amuſements of children, have been accordingly ſtated as proofs, that our memory of the paſt, and our feeling of the preſent, are equal ſubjects of diſlike and diſpleaſure*.

THIS concluſion, however, like many others, drawn from our ſuppoſed knowledge of cauſes, does not correſpond with experience. In every ſtreet, in every village, in every field, the greater number of perſons we meet, carry an aſpect that is chearful or thoughtleſs, indifferent, compoſed, buſy, or animated. The labourer whiſtles to his team, and the mechanic is at eaſe in his calling; the frolicſome and the gay feel a ſeries of pleaſures, of which we know not the ſource; even they who demonſtrate the miſeries of human life, when intent on their argument, eſcape from their ſorrows, and find a tolerable paſtime in proving that men are unhappy.

THE very terms pleaſure and pain, perhaps, are equivocal; but if they are confined, as they [Page 61] appear to be in many of our reaſonings, to the mere ſenſations which have a reference to external objects, either in the memory of the paſt, the feeling of the preſent, or the apprehenſion of the future, it is a great error to ſuppoſe, that they comprehend all the conſtituents of happineſs or miſery; or that the good humour of an ordinary life is maintained by the prevalence of thoſe pleaſures which have their ſeparate names, and are on reflection, diſtinctly remembered.

THE mind, during the greater part of its exiſtence, is employed in active exertions, not in merely attending to its own feelings of pleaſure or pain; and the liſt of its faculties, underſtanding, memory, foreſight, ſentiment, will, and intention, only contains the names of its different operations.

IF, in the abſence of every ſenſation to which we commonly give the names either of enjoyment or ſuffering, our very exiſtence may have its oppoſite qualities of bappineſs or miſery; and if what we call pleaſure or pain, occupies but a ſmall part of human life, compared to what paſſes in contrivance and execution, in purſuits and expectations, in conduct, reflection, and ſocial engagements; it muſt appear, that our active purſuits, at leaſt on account of their duration, deſerve the greater part of our attention. When their occaſions have failed, the demand is not for pleaſure, but for ſomething to do; and the very complaints of a ſufferer are not ſo ſure a mark of diſtreſs, as the ſtare of the languid.

[Page 62] WE ſeldom, however, reckon any taſk which we are bound to perform, among the bleſſings of life. We always aim at a period of pure enjoyment, or a termination of trouble; and overlook the ſource from which moſt of our preſent ſatisfactions are really drawn. Aſk the buſy, Where is the happineſs to which they aſpire? they will anſwer, perhaps, That it is to be found in the object of ſome preſent purſuit. If we aſk, Why they are not miſerable in the abſence of that happineſs? they will ſay, That they hope to attain it. But is it hope alone that ſupports the mind in the midſt of precarious and uncertain proſpects? and would aſſurance of ſucceſs fill the intervals of expectation with more pleaſing emotions? Give the huntſman his prey, give the gameſter the gold which is ſtaked on the game, that the one may not need to fatigue his perſon, nor the other to perplex his mind, and both will probably laugh at our folly: the one will ſtake his money anew, that he may be perplexed; the other will turn his ſtag to the field, that he may hear the cry of the dogs, and follow through danger and hardſhip. Withdraw the occupations of men, terminate their deſires, exiſtence is a burden, and the iteration of memory is a torment.

THE men of this country, ſays one lady, ſhould learn to ſow and to knit; it would hinder their time from being a burden to themſelves, and to other people. That is true, ſays another; for my part, though I never look abroad, I tremble at the proſpect of bad weather; for then the gentlemen come mopping to us for entertainment; and the ſight of a huſband in diſtreſs, is but a melancholy ſpectacle.

[Page 63] IN deviſing, or in executing a plan, in being carried on the tide of emotion and ſentiment, the mind ſeems to unfold its being, and to enjoy itſelf. Even where the end and the object are known to be of little avail, the talents and the fancy are often intenſely applied, and buſineſs or play may amuſe them alike. We only deſire repoſe to recruit our limited and our waſting force: when buſineſs fatigues, amuſement is often but a change of occupation. We are not always unhappy, even when we complain. There is a kind of affliction which makes an agreeable ſtate of the mind; and lamentation itſelf is ſometimes an expreſſion of pleaſure. The painter and the poet have laid hold of this handle, and find, among the means of entertainment, a favourable reception for works that are compoſed to awaken our ſorrows.

TO a being of this deſcription, therefore, it is a bleſſing to meet with incentives to action, whether in the deſire of pleaſure, or the averſion to pain. His activity is of more importance than the very pleaſure he ſeeks, and langour a greater evil than the ſuffering he ſhuns.

THE gratifications of animal appetite are of ſhort duration; and ſenſuality is but a diſtemper of the mind, which ought to be cured by remembrance, if it were not perpetually inflamed by hope. The chace is not more ſurely terminated by the death of the game, than the joys of the voluptuary by the means of completing his debauch. As a bond of ſociety, as a matter of diſtant purſuit, the objects of ſenſe make an important part in the ſyſtem of human life. They lead us to [Page 64] fulfil the purpoſe of nature, in preſerving the individual, and in perpetuating the ſpecies: but to rely on their uſe as a principal conſtituent of human felicity, were an error in ſpeculation, and would be ſtill more an error in practice. Even the maſter of the ſeraglio, for whom all the treaſures of empire are extorted from the hoards of its frighted inhabitants, for whom alone the choiceſt emerald and the diamond are drawn from the mine, for whom every breeze is enriched with perfumes, for whom beauty is aſſembled from every quarter, and, animated by paſſions that ripen under the vertical ſun, is confined to the grate for his uſe, is ſtill, perhaps, more wretched than the very herd of the people, whoſe labours and properties are devoted to relieve him of trouble, and to procure him enjoyment.

SENSUALITY is eaſily overcome by any of the habits of purſuit which uſually engage an active mind. When curioſity is awake, or when paſſion is excited, even in the midſt of the feaſt when converſation grows warm, grows jovial, or ſerious, the pleaſures of the table we know are forgotten. The boy contemns them for play, and the man of age declines them for buſineſs.

WHEN we reckon the circumſtances that correſpond to the nature of any animal, or to that of man in particular, ſuch as ſafety, ſhelter, food, and the other means of enjoyment or preſervation, we ſometimes think that we have found a ſenſible and a ſolid foundation on which to reſt his felicity. But thoſe who are leaſt diſpoſed to moralize, obſerve, that happineſs is not connected with fortune, although fortune includes at once all the [Page 65] means of ſubſiſtence, and the means of ſenſual indulgence. The circumſtances that require abſtinence, courage, and conduct, expoſe us to hazard, and are in deſcription of the painful kind; yet the able, the brave, and the ardent, ſeem moſt to enjoy themſelves when placed in the midſt of difficulties, and obliged to employ the powers they poſſeſs.

SPINOLA being told, that Sir Francis Vere died of having nothing to do, ſaid, ‘That was enough to kill a general*.’ How many are there to whom war itſelf is a paſtime, who chuſe the life of a ſoldier, expoſed to dangers and continued fatigues; of a mariner, in conflict with every hardſhip, and bereft of every conveniency; of a politician, whoſe ſport is the conduct of parties and factions; and who, rather than be idle, will do the buſineſs of men and of nations for whom he has not the ſmalleſt regard. Such men do not chuſe pain as preferable to pleaſure, but they are incited by a reſtleſs diſpoſition to make continued exertions of capacity and reſolution; they triumph in the midſt of their ſtruggles; they droop, and they languiſh, when the occaſion of their labour has ceaſed.

WHAT was enjoyment, in the ſenſe of that youth, who, according to Tacitus, loved danger itſelf, not the rewards of courage? What is the proſpect of pleaſure, when the ſound of the horn or the trumpet, the cry of the dogs, or the ſhout of war, awaken the ardour of the ſportſman and [Page 66] the ſoldier? The moſt animating occaſions of human life, are calls to danger and hardſhip, not invitations to ſafety and eaſe: and man himſelf, in his excellence, is not an animal of pleaſure, nor deſtined merely to enjoy what the elements bring to his uſe; but, like his aſſociates, the dog and the horſe, to follow the exerciſes of his nature, in preference to what are called its enjoyments; to pine in the lap of eaſe and of affluence, and to exult in the midſt of alarms that ſeem to threaten his being. In all which, his diſpoſition to action only keeps pace with the variety of powers with which he is furniſhed; and the moſt reſpectable attributes of his nature, magnanimity, fortitude, and wiſdom, carry a manifeſt reference to the difficulties with which he is deſtined to ſtruggle.

IF animal pleaſure becomes inſipid when the ſpirit is rouſed by a different object, it is well known likewiſe, that the ſenſe of pain is prevented by any vehement affection of the ſoul. Wounds received in a heat of paſſion, in the hurry, the ardour, or conſternation of battle, are never felt till the ferment of the mind ſubſides. Even torment, deliberately applied, and induſtriouſly prolonged, are borne with firmneſs, and with an appearance of eaſe, when the mind is poſſeſſed with ſome vigorous ſentiment, whether of religion, enthuſiaſm, or love to mankind. The continued mortifications of ſuperſtitious devotees in ſeveral ages of the Chriſtian church; the wild penances, ſtill voluntarily borne, during many years, by the religioniſts of the eaſt; the contempt in which famine and torture are held by moſt ſavage nations; the chearful or obſtinate patience of the ſoldier in the field; the hardſhips endured by the ſportſman in his paſtime, [Page 67] ſhow how much we may err in computing the miſeries of men, from the meaſures of trouble and of ſuffering they ſeem to incur. And if there be a refinement in affirming, that their happineſs is not to be meaſured by the contrary enjoyments, it is a refinement which was made by Regulus and Cincinnatus before the date of philoſophy; it is a refinement, which every boy knows at his play, and every ſavage confirms, when he looks from his foreſt on the pacific city, and ſcorns the plantation, whoſe maſter he cares not to imitate.

MAN, it muſt be confeſſed, notwithſtanding all this activity of his mind, is an animal in the full extent of that deſignation. When the body ſickens, the mind droops; and when the blood ceaſes to flow, the ſoul takes its departure. Charged with the care of his preſervation, admoniſhed by a ſenſe of pleaſure or pain, and guarded by an inſtinctive fear of death, nature has not intruſted his ſafety to the mere vigilance of his underſtanding, nor to the government of his uncertain reflections.

THE diſtinction betwixt mind and body is followed by conſequences of the greateſt importance; but the facts to which we now refer, are not founded on any tenets whatever. They are equally true, whether we admit or reject the diſtinction in queſtion, or whether we ſuppoſe, that this living agent is formed of one, or is an aſſemblage of ſeparate natures. And the materialiſt, by treating of man as of an engine, cannot make any change in the ſtate of his hiſtory. He is a being, who, by a multiplicity of viſible organs, performs a variety of functions. His joints are [Page 68] bent, and his muſcles relax and contract in our ſight; the heart beats in his breaſt, and the blood flows to every part of his frame. He performs other operations which we cannot refer to any corporeal organ. He perceives, he recollects, and forecaſts; he deſires, and he ſhuns; he admires, and contemns. He enjoys his pleaſures, or he endures his pain. All theſe different functions, in ſome meaſure, go well or ill together. When the motion of the blood is languid, the muſcles relax, the underſtanding is tardy, and the fancy is dull: when diſtemper aſſails him, the phyſician muſt attend no leſs to what he thinks, than to what he eats, and examines the returns of his paſſion, together with the ſtrokes of his pulſe.

WITH all his ſagacity, his precautions, and his inſtincts, which are given to preſerve his being, he partakes in the fate of other animals, and ſeems to be formed only that he may die. Myriads periſh before they reach the perfection of their kind; and the individual, with an option to owe the prolongation of his temporary courſe to reſolution and conduct, or to abject fear, frequently chuſes the latter, and by a habit of timidity, imbitters the life he is ſo intent to preſerve.

MAN, however, at times, exempted from this mortifying lot, ſeems to act without any regard to the length of his period. When he thinks intenſely, or deſires with ardour, pleaſures and pains from any other quarter aſſail him in vain. Even in his dying hour, the muſcles acquire a tone from his ſpirit, and the mind ſeems to depart in its vigour, and in the midſt of a ſtruggle to obtain the recent aim of its toils. Muley Moluck, borne on [Page 69] his litter, and ſpent with diſeaſe, ſtill fought the battle, in the midſt of which he expired; and the laſt effort he made, with a finger on his lips, was a ſignal to conceal his death: the precaution, perhaps, of all which he had hitherto taken, the moſt neceſſary to prevent a defeat.

CAN no reflections aid us in acquiring this hábit of the ſoul, ſo uſeful in carrying us through many of the ordinary ſcenes of life? If we ſay, that they cannot, the reality of its happineſs is not the leſs evident. The Greeks and the Romans conſidered contempt of pleaſure, endurance of pain, and neglect of life, as eminent qualities of a man, and a principal ſubject of diſcipline. They truſted, that the vigorous ſpirit would find worthy objects on which to employ its force; and that the firſt ſtep towards a reſolute choice of ſuch objects was to ſhake off the meanneſs of a ſolicitous and timorous mind.

MANKIND, in general, have courted occaſions to diſplay their courage, and frequently, in ſearch of admiration, have preſented a ſpectacle, which to thoſe who have ceaſed to regard fortitude on its own account, becomes a ſubject of horror. Scevola held his arm in the fire, to ſhake the ſoul of Porſenna. The ſavage inures his body to the torture, that in the hour of trial he may exult over his enemy. Even the Muſſulman tears his fleſh to win the heart of his miſtreſs, and comes in gaiety, ſtreaming with blood, to ſhew that he deſerves her eſteem*.

[Page 70] SOME nations carry the practice of inflicting, or of ſporting with pain, to a degree that is either cruel or abſurd; others regard every proſpect of bodily ſuffering as the greateſt of evils; and in the midſt of their troubles, imbitter every real affliction, with the terrors of a feeble and dejected imagination. We are not bound to anſwer for the follies of either, nor, in treating a queſtion which relates to the nature of man, make an eſtimate of its ſtrength, or its weakneſs, from the habits or apprehenſions peculiar to any nation or age.

1.1.8. SECT. VIII.
The ſame ſubject continued.

[Page 71]

WHOEVER has compared together the different conditions and manners of men, under varieties of education or fortune, will be ſatisfied, that mere ſituation does not conſtitute their happineſs or miſery; nor a diverſity of external obſervances imply any oppoſition of ſentiments on the ſubject of morality. They expreſs their kindneſs and their enmity in different actions; but kindneſs or enmity is ſtill the principal article of conſideration in human life. They engage in different purſuits, or acquieſce in different conditions; but act from paſſions nearly the ſame. There is no preciſe meaſure of accommodation required to ſuit their conveniency, nor any degree of danger or ſafety under which they are peculiarly fitted to act. Courage and generoſity, fear and envy, are not peculiar to any ſtation or order of men; nor is there any condition in which ſome of the human race have not ſhewn, that it is poſſible to employ, with propriety, the talents and virtues of their ſpecies.

WHAT, then, is that myſterious thing called Happineſs, which may have place in ſuch a variety of ſtations, and to which circumſtances in one age or nation thought neceſſary, are in another held to be deſtructive, or of no effect? It is not the ſucceſſion of mere animal pleaſures, which, apart from the occupation or the company in which they ſerve to engage the mind, can fill up but a few moments [Page 72] in the duration of life. On too frequent a repetition, thoſe pleaſures turn to ſatiety and diſguſt; they tear the conſtitution to which they are applied in exceſs, and, like the lightning of night, only ſerve to darken the gloom through which they occaſionally break. Happineſs is not that ſtate of repoſe, or that imaginary freedom from care, which at a diſtance is ſo frequent an object of deſire, but with its approach brings a tedium, or a languor, more unſupportable than pain itſelf. If the preceding obſervations on this ſubject be juſt, it ariſes more from the purſuit, than from the attainment of any end whatever; and in every new ſituation to which we arrive, even in the courſe of a proſperous life, it depends more on the degree in which our minds are properly employed, than it does on the circumſtances in which we are deſtined to act, on the materials which are placed in our hands, or the tools with which we are furniſhed.

IF this be confeſſed in reſpect to that claſs of purſuits which are diſtinguiſhed by the name of amuſement, and which, in the caſe of men who are commonly deemed the moſt happy, occupy the greater part of human life, we may apprehend, that it holds, much more than is commonly ſuſpected, in many caſes of buſineſs, where the end to be gained, and not the occupation, is ſuppoſed to have the principal value.

THE miſer himſelf, we are told, can ſometimes conſider the care of his wealth as a paſtime, and has challenged his heir, to have more pleaſure in ſpending, than he in amaſſing his fortune. With this degree of indifference to what may be [Page 73] the conduct of others; with this confinement of his care to what he has choſen as his own province, more eſpecially if he has conquered in himſelf the paſſions of jealouſy and envy, which tear the covetous mind; why may not the man whoſe object is money, be underſtood to lead a life of amuſement and pleaſure, not only more entire than that of the ſpendthrift, but even as much as the virtuoſo, the ſcholar, the man of taſte, or any of that claſs of perſons who have found out a method of paſſing their leiſure without offence, and to whom the acquiſitions made, or the works produced, in their ſeveral ways, perhaps, are as uſeleſs as the bag to the miſer, or the counter to thoſe who play from mere diſſipation at any game of ſkill or of chance?

WE are ſoon tired of diverſions that do not approach to the nature of buſineſs, that is, that do not engage ſome paſſion, or give an exerciſe proportioned to our talents, and our faculties. The chace and the gaming-table have each their dangers and difficulties, to excite and employ the mind. All games of contention animate our emulation, and give a ſpecies of party-zeal. The mathematician is only to be amuſed with intricate problems, the lawyer and the caſuiſt with caſes that try their ſubtilty, and occupy their judgement.

THE deſire of active engagements, like every other natural appetite, may be carried to exceſs; and men may debauch in amuſements, as well as in the uſe of wine, or other intoxicating liquors. At firſt, a trifling ſtake, and the occupation of a moderate paſſion, may have ſerved to amuſe the [Page 74] gameſter; but when the drug becomes familiar, it fails to produce its effect: The play is made deep, and the intereſt increaſed, to awaken his attention; he is carried on by degrees, and in the end comes to ſeek for amuſement, and to find it only in thoſe paſſions of anxiety, hope, and deſpair, which are rouſed by the hazard into which he has thrown the whole of his fortunes.

IF men can thus turn their amuſements into a ſcene more ſerious and intereſting than that of buſineſs itſelf, it will be difficult to aſſign a reaſon, why buſineſs, and many of the occupations of human life, independent of any diſtant conſequences, or future events, may not be choſen as an amuſement, and adopted on account of the paſtime they bring. This is, perhaps, the foundation on which, without the aid of reflection, the contented and the chearful have reſted the gaiety of their tempers. It is perhaps the moſt ſolid baſis of fortitude which any reflection can lay; and happineſs itſelf is ſecured, by making a certain ſpecies of conduct our amuſement; and, by conſidering life, in the general eſtimate of its value, as well as on every particular occaſion, as a mere ſcene for the exerciſe of the mind, and the engagements of the heart. ‘I will try and attempt every thing,’ ſays Brutus, ‘I will never ceaſe to recal my country from this ſtate of ſervility. If the event be favourable, it will prove matter of joy to us all; if not, yet I, notwithſtanding, ſhall rejoice.’ Why rejoice in a diſappointment? Why not be dejected, when his country was overwhelmed? Becauſe ſorrow, perhaps, and dejection, can do no good. Nay, but they muſt be endured when they come. And [Page 75] whence ſhould they come to me? might the Roman ſay; I have followed my mind, and can follow it ſtill. Events may have changed the ſituation in which I am deſtined to act; but can they hinder my acting the part of a man? Shew me a ſituation in which a man can neither act nor die, and I will own he is wretched.

WHOEVER has the ſorce of mind ſteadily to view human life under this aſpect, has only to chuſe well his occupations, in order to command that ſtate of enjoyment, and freedom of ſoul, which probably conſtitute the peculiar felicity to which his active nature is deſtined.

THE diſpoſitions of men, and conſequently their occupations, are commonly divided into two principal claſſes; the ſelfiſh, and the ſocial. The firſt are indulged in ſolitude; and if they carry a reference to mankind, it is that of emulation, competition, and enmity. The ſecond incline us to live with our fellow-creatures, and to do them good; they tend to unite the members of ſociety together; they terminate in a mutual participation of their cares and enjoyments, and render the preſence of men an occaſion of joy. Under this claſs may be enumerated the paſſions of the ſexes, the affections of parents and children, general humanity, or ſingular attachments; above all, that habit of the ſoul by which we conſider ourſelves as but a part of ſome beloved community, and as but individual members of ſome ſociety, whoſe general welfare is to us the ſupreme object of zeal, and the great rule of our conduct. This affection is a principle of candour, which knows no partial diſtinctions, and is confined to no [Page 76] bounds: it may extend its effects beyond our perſonal acquaintance; it may, in the mind, and in thought, at leaſt, make us feel a relation to the univerſe, and to the whole creation of God. ‘Shall any one,’ ſays Antoninus, ‘love the city of Cecrops, and you not love the city of God?’

NO emotion of the heart is indifferent. It is either an act of vivacity and joy, or a feeling of ſadneſs; a tranſport of pleaſure, or a convulſion of anguiſh: and the exerciſes of our different diſpoſitions, as well as their gratifications, are likely to prove matter of the greateſt importance to our happineſs or miſery

THE individual is charged with the care of his animal preſervation. He may exiſt in ſolitude, and, far removed from ſociety, perform many functions of ſenſe, imagination, and reaſon. He is even rewarded for the proper diſcharge of thoſe functions; and all the natural exerciſes which relate to himſelf, as well as to his fellow-creatures, not only occupy without diſtreſſing him, but in many inſtances are attended with poſitive pleaſures, and fill up the hours of life with agreeable occupation.

THERE is a degree, however, in which we ſuppoſe that the care of ourſelves becomes a ſource of painful anxiety and cruel paſſions; in which it degenerates into avarice, vanity, or pride; and in which, by foſtering habits of jealouſy and envy, of fear and malice, it becomes as deſtructive of our own enjoyments, as it is hoſtile to the welfare of mankind. This evil, however, is not to be charged upon any exceſs in the care of ourſelves, [Page 77] but upon a mere miſtake in the choice of our objects. We look abroad for a happineſs which is to be found only in the qualities of the heart▪ we think ourſelves dependent on accidents; and are therefore kept in ſuſpence and ſolicitude: we think ourſelves dependent on the will of other men; and are therefore ſervile and timid: we think our felicity is placed in ſubjects for which our fellow-creatures are rivals and competitors; and in purſuit of happineſs, we engage in thoſe ſcenes of emulation, envy, hatred, animoſity, and revenge, that lead to the higheſt pitch of diſtreſs. We act, in ſhort, as if to preſerve ourſelves were to retain our weakneſs, and perpetuate our ſufferings. We charge the ills of a diſtempered imagination, and a corrupt heart, to the account of our fellowcreatures, to whom we refer the pangs of our diſappointment or malice; and while we foſter our miſery, are ſurpriſed that the care of ourſelves is attended with no better effects. But he who remembers that he is by nature a rational being, and a member of ſociety; that to preſerve himſelf, is to preſerve his reaſon, and to preſerve the beſt feelings of his heart; will encounter with none of theſe inconveniencies; and in the care of himſelf, will find ſubjects only of ſatisfaction and triumph.

THE diviſion of our appetites into benevolent and ſelfiſh, has probably, in ſome degree, helped to miſlead our apprehenſion on the ſubject of perſonal enjoyment and private good; and our zeal to prove that virtue is diſintereſted, has not greatly promoted its cauſe. The gratification of a ſelfiſh deſire, it is thought, brings advantage or [Page 78] pleaſure to ourſelves; that of benevolence terminates in the pleaſure or advantage of others: whereas, in reality, the gratification of every deſire is a perſonal enjoyment, and its value being proportioned to the particular quality or force of the ſentiment, it may happen that the ſame perſon may reap a greater advantage from the good fortune he has procured to another, than from that he has obtained for himſelf.

WHILE the gratifications of benevolence, therefore, are as much our own as thoſe of any other deſire whatever, the mere exerciſes of this diſpoſition are, on many accounts, to be conſidered as the firſt and the principal conſtituent of human happineſs. Every act of kindneſs, or of care, in the parent to his child; every emotion of the heart, in friendſhip or in love, in public zeal, or general humanity, are ſo many acts of enjoyment and ſatisfaction. Pity itſelf, and compaſſion, even grief and melancholy, when grafted on ſome tender affection, partake of the nature of the ſtock; and if they are not poſitive pleaſures, are at leaſt pains of a peculiar nature, which we do not even wiſh to exchange but for a very real enjoyment, obtained in relieving our object. Even extremes, in this claſs of our diſpoſitions, as they are the reverſe of hatred, envy, and malice, ſo they are never attended with thoſe excruciating anxieties, jealouſies, and fears, which tear the intereſted mind; or if, in reality, any ill paſſion ariſe from a pretended attachment to our fellow-creatures, that attachment may be ſafely condemned, as not genuine. If we be diſtruſtful or jealous, our pretended affection is probably no more than a deſire [Page 79] of attention and perſonal conſideration, a motive which frequently inclines us to be connected with our fellow-creatures; but to which we are as frequently willing to ſacrifice their happineſs. We conſider them as the tools of our vanity, pleaſure, or intereſt; not as the parties on whom we may beſtow the effects of our good-will, and our love.

A MIND devoted to this claſs of its affections, being occupied with an object that may engage it habitually, is not reduced to court the amuſements or pleaſures with which perſons of an ill temper are obliged to repair their diſguſts: and temperance becomes an eaſy taſk when gratifications of ſenſe are ſupplanted by thoſe of the heart. Courage too is moſt eaſily aſſumed, or is rather inſeparable from that ardour of the mind, in ſociety, friendſhip, or in public action, which makes us forget ſubjects of perſonal anxiety or fear, and attend chiefly to the object of our zeal or affection, not to the trifling inconveniencies, dangers, or hardſhips, which we ourſelves may encounter in ſtriving to maintain it.

IT ſhould ſeem, therefore, to be the happineſs of man, to make his ſocial diſpoſitions the ruling ſpring of his occupations; to ſtate himſelf as the member of a community, for whoſe general good his heart may glow with an ardent zeal, to the ſuppreſſion of thoſe perſonal cares which are the foundation of painful anxieties, fear, jealouſy, and envy; or, as Mr. Pope expreſſes the ſame ſentiment,

[Page 80]

Man, like the generous vine, ſupported lives;
The ſtrength he gains, is from th'embrace he gives*.

If this be the good of the individual, it is likewiſe that of mankind; and virtue no longer impoſes a taſk by which we are obliged to beſtow upon others that good from which we ourſelves refrain; but ſuppoſes, in the higheſt degree, as poſſeſſed by ourſelves, that ſtate of felicity which we are required to promote in the world.

WE commonly apprehend, that it is our duty to do kindneſſes, and our happineſs to receive them: but if, in reality, courage, and a heart devoted to the good of mankind, are the conſtituents of human felicity, the kindneſs which is done infers a happineſs in the perſon from whom it proceeds, not in him on whom it is beſtowed; and the greateſt good which men poſſeſſed of fortitude and generoſity can procure to their fellowcreatures, is a participation of this happy character. ‘You will confer the greateſt benefit on your city,’ ſays Epictetus, ‘not by raiſing the roofs, but by exalting the ſouls of your fellowcitizens; for it is better that great ſouls ſhould live in ſmall habitations, than that abject ſlaves ſhould burrow in great houſes*.’

[Page 81] TO the benevolent, the ſatisfaction of others is a ground of enjoyment; and exiſtence itſelf, in a world that is governed by the wiſdom of God, is a bleſſing. The mind, freed from cares that lead to puſillanimity and meanneſs, becomes calm, active, fearleſs, and bold; capable of every enterpriſe, and vigorous in the exerciſe of every talent, by which the nature of man is adorned. On this foundation was raiſed the admirable character, which, during a certain period of their ſtory, diſtinguiſhed the celebrated nations of antiquity, and rendered familiar and ordinary in their manners, examples of magnanimity, which, under governments leſs favourable to the public affections, rarely occur; or which, without being much practiſed, or even underſtood, are made ſubjects of admiration and ſwelling panegyric. ‘Thus,’ ſays Xenophon, ‘died Thraſybulus; who indeed appears to have been a good man.’ What valuable praiſe, and how ſignificant to thoſe who know the ſtory of this admirable perſon! The members of thoſe illuſtrious ſtates, from the habit of conſidering themſelves as part of a community, or at leaſt as deeply involved with ſome order of men in the ſtate, were regardleſs of perſonal conſiderations: they had a perpetual view to objects which excite a great ardour in the ſoul; which led them to act perpetually in the view of their fellowcitizens, and to practiſe thoſe arts of deliberation, elocution, policy, and war, on which the fortunes of nations, or of men, in their collective body, depend. To the force of mind collected in this career, and to the improvements of wit which were made in purſuing it, theſe nations owed, not only their magnanimity, and the ſuperiority of [Page 82] their political and military conduct, but even the arts of poetry and literature, which among them were only the inferior appendages of a genius otherwiſe excited, cultivated, and refined.

TO the ancient Greek, or the Roman, the individual was nothing, and the public every thing. To the modern, in too many nations of Europe, the individual is every thing, and the public nothing. The ſtate is merely a combination of departments, in which conſideration, wealth, eminence, or power, are offered as the reward of ſervice. It was the nature of modern government, even in its firſt inſtitution, to beſtow on every individual a fixed ſtation and dignity, which he was to maintain for himſelf. Our anceſtors, in rude ages, during the receſs of wars from abroad, fought for their perſonal claims at home, and by their competitions, and the balance of their powers, maintained a kind of political freedom in the ſtate, while private parties were ſubject to continual wrongs and oppreſſions. Their poſterity, in times more poliſhed, have repreſſed the civil diſorders in which the activity of earlier ages chiefly conſiſted; but they employ the calm they have gained, not in foſtering a zeal for thoſe laws, and that conſtitution of government, to which they owe their protection, but in practiſing apart, and each for himſelf, the ſeveral arts of perſonal advancement, or profit, which their political eſtabliſhments may enable them to purſue with ſucceſs. Commerce, which may be ſuppoſed to comprehend every lucatrive art, is accordingly conſidered as the great object of nations, and the principal ſtudy of mankind.

[Page 83] SO much are we accuſtomed to conſider perſonal fortune as the ſole object of care, that even under popular eſtabliſhments, and in ſtates where different orders of men are ſummoned to partake in the government of their country, and where the liberties they enjoy cannot be long preſerved, without vigilance and activity on the part of the ſubject; ſtill they, who, in the vulgar phraſe, have not their fortunes to make, are ſuppoſed to be at a loſs for occupation, and betake themſelves to ſolitary paſtimes, or cultivate what they are pleaſed to call a taſte for gardening, building, drawing, or muſic. With this aid, they endeavour to fill up the blanks of a liſtleſs life, and avoid the neceſſity of curing their languors by any poſitive ſervice to their country, or to mankind.

THE weak or the malicious are well employed in any thing that is innocent, and are fortunate in finding any occupation which prevents the effects of a temper that would prey upon themſelves, or upon their fellow-creatures. But they who are bleſſed with a happy diſpoſition, with capacity and vigour, incur a real debauchery, by having any amuſement that occupies an improper ſhare of their time; and are really cheated of their happineſs, in being made to believe, that any occupation or paſtime is better fitted to amuſe themſelves, than that which at the ſame time produces ſome real good to their fellow-creatures.

THIS ſort of entertainment, indeed, cannot be the choice of the mercenary, the envious, or [Page 84] the malignant. Its value is known only to perſons of an oppoſite temper; and to their experience alone we appeal. Guided by mere diſpoſition, and without the aid of reflection, in buſineſs, in friendſhip, and in public life, they often acquit themſelves well; and borne with ſatisfaction on the tide of their emotions and ſentiments, enjoy the preſent hour, without recollection of the paſt, or hopes of the future. It is in ſpeculation, not in practice, they are made to diſcover, that virtue is a taſk of ſeverity and ſelf-denial.

1.1.9. SECT. IX.
Of National Felicity.

[Page 85]

MAN is, by nature, the member of a community; and when conſidered in this capacity, the individual appears to be no longer made for himſelf. He muſt forego his happineſs and his freedom, where theſe interfere with the good of ſociety. He is only part of a whole; and the praiſe we think due to his virtue, is but a branch of that more general commendation we beſtow on the member of a body, on the part of a fabric or engine, for being well fitted to occupy its place, and to produce its effect.

IF this follow from the relation of a part to its whole, and if the public good be the principal object with individuals, it is likewiſe true, that the happineſs of individuals is the great end of civil ſociety: for in what ſenſe can a public enjoy any good, if its members, conſidered apart, be unhappy?

THE intereſts of ſociety, however, and of its members, are eaſily reconciled. If the individual owe every degree of conſideration to the public, he receives, in paying that very conſideration, the greateſt happineſs of which his nature is capable; and the greateſt bleſſing that the public can beſtow on its members, is to keep them attached to itſelf. That is the moſt happy ſtate, which is moſt beloved by its ſubjects; and they are the moſt happy men, whoſe hearts are engaged to a [Page 86] community, in which they find every object of generoſity and zeal, and a ſcope to the exerciſe of every talent, and of every virtuous diſpoſition.

AFTER we have thus found general maxims, the greater part of our trouble remains, their juſt application to particular caſes. Nations are different in reſpect to their extent, numbers of people, and wealth; in reſpect to the arts they practiſe, and the accommodations they have procured. Theſe circumſtances may not only affect the manners of men; they even, in our eſteem, come into competition with the article of manners itſelf; are ſuppoſed to conſtitute a national felicity, independent of virtue; and give a title, upon which we indulge our own vanity, and that of other nations, as we do that of private men, on the ſcore of their fortunes and honours.

BUT if this way of meaſuring happineſs, when applied to private men, be ruinous and falſe, it is ſo no leſs when applied to nations. Wealth, commerce, extent of territory, and the knowledge of arts, are, when properly employed, the means of preſervation, and the foundations of power. If they fail in part, the nation is weakened; if they were entirely with-held, the race would periſh: their tendency is to maintain numbers of men, but not to conſtitute happineſs. They will accordingly maintain the wretched, as well as the happy. They anſwer one purpoſe, but are not therefore ſufficient for all; and are of little ſignificance, when only employed to maintain a timid, dejected, and ſervile people.

[Page 87] GREAT and powerful ſtates are able to overcome and ſubdue the weak; poliſhed and commercial nations have more wealth, and practiſe a greater variety of arts, than the rude: but the happineſs of men, in all caſes alike, conſiſts in the bleſſings of a candid, an active, and ſtrenuous mind. And if we conſider the ſtate of ſociety merely as that into which mankind are led by their propenſities, as a ſtate to be valued from its effect in preſerving the ſpecies, in ripening their talents, and exciting their virtues, we need not enlarge our communities, in order to enjoy theſe advantages. We frequently obtain them in the moſt remarkable degree, where nations remain independent, and are of a ſmall extent.

TO increaſe the numbers of mankind, may be admitted as a great and important object; but to extend the limits of any particular ſtate, is not, perhaps, the way to obtain it; while we deſire that our fellow-creatures ſhould multiply, it does not follow, that the whole ſhould, if poſſible, be united under one head. We are apt to admire the empire of the Romans, as a model of national greatneſs and ſplendour: but the greatneſs we admire in this caſe, was ruinous to the virtue and the happineſs of mankind; it was found to be inconſiſtent with all the advantages which that conquering people had formerly enjoyed in the articles of government and manners.

THE emulation of nations proceeds from their diviſion. A cluſter of ſtates, like a company of men, find the exerciſe of their reaſon, and the teſt of their virtues, in the affairs they tranſact, upon [Page 88] a foot of equality, and of ſeparate intereſt. The meaſures taken for ſafety, including great part of the national policy, are relative in every ſtate to what is apprehended from abroad. Athens was neceſſary to Sparta, in the exerciſe of her virtue, as ſteel is to flint in the production of fire; and if the cities of Greece had been united under one head, we ſhould never have heard of Epaminondas or Thraſybulus, of Lycurgus or Solon.

WHEN we reaſon in behalf of our ſpecies, therefore, although we may lament the abuſes which ſometimes ariſe from independence, and oppoſition of intereſt; yet, whilſt any degrees of virtue remain with mankind, we cannot wiſh to croud, under one eſtabliſhment, numbers of men who may ſerve to conſtitute ſeveral; or to commit affairs to the conduct of one ſenate, one legiſlative or executive power, which, upon a diſtinct and ſeparate footing, might furniſh an exerciſe of ability, and a theatre of glory, to many.

THIS may be a ſubject upon which no determinate rule can be given, but the admiration of boundleſs dominion is a ruinous error; and in no inſtance, perhaps, is the real intereſt of mankind more entirely miſtaken.

THE meaſure of enlargement to be wiſhed for any particular ſtate, is often to be taken from the condition of its neighbours. Where a number of ſtates are contiguous, they ſhould be near an equality, in order that they may be mutually objects of reſpect and conſideration, and in order that they may poſſeſs that independence in which the political life of a nation conſiſts.

[Page 89] WHEN the kingdoms of Spain were united, when the great fiefs in France were annexed to the crown, it was no longer expedient for the nations of Great Britain to continue disjoined.

THE ſmall republics of Greece, indeed, by their ſubdiviſions, and the balance of their power, found almoſt in every village the object of nations. Every little diſtrict was a nurſery of excellent men, and what is now the wretched corner of a great empire, was the field on which mankind have reaped their principal honours. But in modern Europe, republics of a ſimilar extent, are like ſhrubs, under the ſhade of a taller wood, choked by the neighbourhood of more powerful ſtates. In their caſe, a certain diſproportion of force fruſtrates, in a great meaſure, the advantage of ſeparation. They are like the trader in Poland, who is the more deſpicable, and the leſs ſecure, that he is neither maſter nor ſlave.

INDEPENDENT communities, in the mean time, however weak, are averſe to a coalition, not only where it comes with an air of impoſition, or unequal treaty, but even where it implies no more than the admiſſion of new members to an equal ſhare of conſideration with the old. The citizen has no intereſt in the annexation of kingdoms; he muſt find his importance diminiſhed, as the ſtate is enlarged: but ambitious men, under the enlargement of territory, find a more plentiful harveſt of power, and of wealth, while government itſelf is an eaſier taſk. Hence the ruinous progreſs of empire; and hence free nations, under the ſhew of acquiring dominion, ſuffer themſelves, [Page 90] in the end, to be yoked with the ſlaves they had conquered.

OUR deſire to augment the force of a nation is the only pretext for enlarging its territory; but this meaſure, when purſued to extremes, ſeldom fails to fruſtrate itſelf.

NOTWITHSTANDING the advantage of numbers, and ſuperior reſources in war, the ſtrength of a nation is derived from the character, not from the wealth, nor from the multitude of its people. If the treaſure of a ſtate can hire numbers of men, erect ramparts, and furniſh the implements of war; the poſſeſſions of the fearful are eaſily ſeized; a timorous multitude falls into rout of itſelf; ramparts may be ſcaled where they are not deſended by valour; and arms are of conſequence only in the hands of the brave. The band to which Ageſilaus pointed as the wall of his city, made a defence for their country more permanent, and more effectual, than the rock and the cement with which other cities were fortified.

WE ſhould owe little to that ſtateſman who were to contrive a defence that might ſuperſede the external uſes of virtue. It is wiſely ordered for man, as a rational being, that the employment of reaſon is neceſſary to his preſervation: it is fortunate for him, in the purſuit of diſtinction, that his perſonal conſideration depends on his character; and it is fortunate for nations, that, in order to be powerful and ſafe, they muſt ſtrive to maintain the courage, and cultivate the virtues, of their people. By the uſe of ſuch means, they at once gain their external ends, and are happy.

[Page 91] PEACE and unanimity are commonly conſidered as the principal foundations of public felicity; yet the rivalſhip of ſeparate communities, and the agitations of a free people, are the principles of political life, and the ſchool of men. How ſhall we reconcile theſe jarring and oppoſite tenets? It is, perhaps, not neceſſary to reconcile them. The pacific may do what they can to allay the animoſities, and to reconcile the opinions, of men; and it will be happy if they can ſucceed in repreſſing their crimes, and in calming the worſt of their paſſions. Nothing, in the mean time, but corruption or ſlavery can ſuppreſs the debates that ſubſiſt among men of integrity, who bear an equal part in the adminiſtration of ſtate.

A PERFECT agreement in matters of opinion is not to be obtained in the moſt ſelect company; and if it were, what would become of ſociety? ‘The Spartan legiſlator,’ ſays Plutarch, ‘appears to have ſown the ſeeds of variance and diſſenſion among his countrymen: he meant that good citizens ſhould be led to diſpute; he conſidered emulation as the brand by which their virtues were kindled; and ſeemed to apprehend, that a complaiſance, by which men ſubmit their opinions without examination, is a principal ſource of corruption.’

FORMS of government are ſuppoſed to decide the happineſs or miſery of mankind. But forms of government muſt be varied, in order to ſuit the extent, the way of ſubſiſtence, the character, and the manners of different nations. In ſome caſes, the multitude may be ſuffered to govern [Page 92] themſelves; in others, they muſt be ſeverely reſtrained. The inhabitants of a village in ſome primitive age, may have been ſafely intruſted to the conduct of reaſon, and to the ſuggeſtion of their innocent views; but the tenants of Newgate can ſcarcely be truſted, with chains locked to their bodies, and bars of iron fixed to their legs. How is it poſſible, therefore, to find any ſingle form of government that would ſuit mankind in every condition?

WE proceed, however, in the following ſection, to point out the diſtinctions, and to explain the language which occurs in this place, on the head of different models for ſubordination and government.

1.1.10. SECT. X.
The ſame ſubject continued.

[Page 93]

IT is a common obſervation, That mankind were originally equal. They have indeed by nature equal rights to their preſervation, and to the uſe of their talents; but they are fitted for different ſtations; and when they are claſſed by a rule taken from this circumſtance, they ſuffer no injuſtice on the ſide of their natural rights. It is obvious, that ſome mode of ſubordination is as neceſſary to men as ſociety itſelf; and this, not only to attain the ends of government, but to comply with an order eſtabliſhed by nature.

PRIOR to any political inſtitution whatever, men are qualified by a great diverſity of talents, by a different tone of the ſoul, and ardour of the paſſions, to act a variety of parts. Bring them together, each will find his place. They cenſure or applaud in a body; they conſult and deliberate in more ſelect parties; they take or give an aſcendant as individuals; and numbers are by this means fitted to act in company, and to preſerve their communities, before any formal diſtribution of office is made.

WE are formed to act in this manner; and if we have any doubts with relation to the rights of government in general, we owe our perplexity more to the ſubtilties of the ſpeculative, than to any uncertainty in the feelings of the heart. Involved [Page 94] in the reſolutions of our company, we move with the croud before we have determined the rule by which its will is collected. We follow a leader, before we have ſettled the ground of his pretenſions, or adjuſted the form of his election: and it is not till after mankind have committed many errors in the capacities of magiſtrate and ſubject, that they think of making government itſelf a ſubject of rules.

IF therefore, in conſidering the variety of forms under which ſocieties ſubſiſt, the caſuiſt is pleaſed to inquire, What title one man, or any number of men, have to controul his actions? he may be anſwered, None at all, provided that his actions have no effect to the prejudice of his fellow-creatures; but if they have, the rights of defence, and the obligation to repreſs the commiſſion of wrongs, belong to collective bodies, as well as to individuals. Many rude nations, having no formal tribunals for the judgement of crimes, aſſemble, when alarmed by any flagrant offence, and take their meaſures with the criminal as they would with an enemy.

BUT will this conſideration, which confirms the title to ſovereignty, where it is exerciſed by the ſociety in its collective capacity, or by thoſe to whom the powers of the whole are committed, likewiſe ſupport the claim to dominion, where-ever it is caſually lodged, or even where it is only maintained by force?

THIS queſtion may be ſufficiently anſwered, by obſerving, that a right to do juſtice, and to do good, is competent to every individual, or order of men; and that the exerciſe of this right has no [Page 95] limits but in the defect of power. But a right to do wrong, and commit injuſtice, is an abuſe of language, and a contradiction in terms. It is no more competent to the collective body of a people, than it is to any ſingle uſurper. When we admit ſuch a prerogative in the caſe of any ſovereign, we can only mean to expreſs the extent of his power, and the force with which he is enabled to execute his pleaſure. Such a prerogative is aſſumed by the leader of banditti at the head of his gang, or by a deſpotic prince at the head of his troops. When the ſword is preſented by either, the traveller or the inhabitant may ſubmit from a ſenſe of neceſſity or fear; but he lies under no obligation from a motive of duty or juſtice.

THE multiplicity of forms, in the mean time, which different ſocieties offer to our view, is almoſt infinite. The claſſes into which they diſtribute their members, the manner in which they eſtabliſh the legiſlative and executive powers, the imperceptible circumſtances by which they are led to have different cuſtoms, and to confer on their governors unequal meaſures of power and authority, give riſe to perpetual diſtinctions between conſtitutions the moſt nearly reſembling one another, and give to human affairs a variety in detail, which, in its full extent, no underſtanding can comprehend, and no memory retain.

IN order to have a general and comprehenſive knowledge of the whole, we muſt be determined on this, as on every other ſubject, to overlook many particulars and ſingularities, diſtinguiſhing different governments; to fix our attention on certain points, in which many agree; and thereby eſtabliſh [Page 96] a few general heads, under which the ſubject may be diſtinctly conſidered. When we have marked the characteriſtics which form the general points of coincidence; when we have purſued them to their conſequences in the ſeveral modes of legiſlation, execution, and judicature, in the eſtabliſhments which relate to police, commerce, religion, or domeſtic life; we have made an acquiſition of knowledge, which, though it does not ſuperſede the neceſſity of experience, may ſerve to direct our inquiries, and, in the midſt of affairs, to give an order and a method for the arrangement of particulars that occur to our obſervation.

WHEN I recollect what the Preſident Monteſquieu has written, I am at a loſs to tell, why I ſhould treat of human affairs: but I too am inſtigated by my reflections, and my ſentiments; and I may utter them more to the comprehenſion of ordinary capacities, becauſe I am more on the level of ordinary men. If it be neceſſary to pave the way for what follows on the general hiſtory of nations, by giving ſome account of the heads under which various forms of government may be conveniently ranged, the reader ſhould perhaps be referred to what has been already delivered on the ſubject by this profound politician and amiable moraliſt. In his writings will be found, not only the original of what I am now, for the fake of order, to copy from him, but likewiſe probably the ſource of many obſervations, which, in different places, I may under the belief of invention, have repeated, without quoting their author.

THE ancient philoſophers treated of government commonly under three heads; the Demoratic, [Page 97] the Ariſtocratic, and the Deſpotic. Their attention was chiefly occupied with the varieties of republican government; and they paid little regard to a very important diſtinction, which Mr. Monteſquieu has made, between deſpotiſm and monarchy. He too has conſidered government as reducible to three general forms; and, ‘to underſtand the nature of each,’ he obſerves, ‘it is ſufficient to recal ideas which are familiar with men of the leaſt reflection, who admit three definitions, or rather three facts: That a republic is a ſtate in which the people in a collective body, or a part of the people, poſſeſs the ſovereign power: That monarchy is that in which one man governs according to fixed and determinate laws: and a deſpotiſm is that in which one man, without law, or rule of adminiſtration, by the mere impulſe of will or caprice, decides, and carries every thing before him.’

REPUBLICS admit of a very material diſtinction, which is pointed out in the general definition; that between democracy and ariſtocracy. In the firſt, ſupreme power remains in the hands of the collective body. Every office of magiſtracy, at the nomination of this ſovereign, is open to every citizen; who, in the diſcharge of his duty, becomes the miniſter of the people, and accountable to them for every object of his truſt.

IN the ſecond, the ſovereignty is lodged in a particular claſs, or order of men; who, being once named, continue for life; or by the hereditary diſtinctions of birth and fortune, are advanced to a ſtation of permanent ſuperiority. From this order, and by their nomination, all the offices of magiſtracy are filled; and in the different aſſemblies [Page 98] which they conſtitute, whatever relates to the legiſlation, the execution, or juriſdiction, is finally determined.

MR. Monteſquieu has pointed out the ſentiments or maxims from which men muſt be ſuppoſed to act under theſe different governments.

IN democracy, they muſt love equality; they muſt reſpect the rights of their fellow-citizens; they muſt unite by the common ties of affection to the ſtate. In forming perſonal pretenſions, they muſt be ſatisfied with that degree of conſideration they can procure by their abilities fairly meaſured with thoſe of an opponent; they muſt labour for the public without hope of profit; they muſt reject every attempt to create a perſonal dependence. Candour, force, and elevation of mind, in ſhort, are the props of democracy; and virtue is the principle of conduct required to its preſervation.

HOW beautiful a pre-eminence on the ſide of popular government! and how ardently ſhould mankind wiſh for the form, if it tended to eſtabliſh the principle, or were, in every inſtance, a ſure indication of its preſence!

BUT perhaps we muſt have poſſeſſed the principle, in order, with any hopes of advantage, to receive the form; and where the firſt is entirely extinguiſhed, the other may be fraught with evil, if any additional evil deſerves to be ſhunned where men are already unhappy.

AT Conſtantinople or Algiers, it is a miſerable ſpectacle when men pretend to act on a foot of equality: they only mean to ſhake off the reſtraints [Page 99] of government, and to ſeize as much as they can of that ſpoil, which, in ordinary times, is ingroſſed by the maſter they ſerve.

IT is one advantage of democracy, that the principal ground of diſtinction being perſonal qualities, men are claſſed according to their abilities, and to the merit of their actions. Though all have equal pretenſions to power, yet the ſtate is actually governed by a few. The majority of the people, even in their capacity of ſovereign, only pretend to employ their ſenſes; to feel, when preſſed by national inconveniencies, or threatened by public dangers; and with the ardour which is apt to ariſe in crouded aſſemblies, to urge the purſuits in which they are engaged, or to repel the attacks with which they are menaced.

THE moſt perfect equality of rights can never exclude the aſcendant of ſuperior minds, nor the aſſemblies of a collective body govern without the direction of ſelect councils. On this account, popular government may be confounded with ariſtocracy. But this alone does not conſtitute the character of ariſtocratical government. Here the members of the ſtate are divided, at leaſt, into two claſſes; of which one is deſtined to command, the other to obey. No merits or defects can raiſe or ſink a perſon from one claſs to the other. The only effect of perſonal character is, to procure the individual a ſuitable degree of conſideration with his own order, not to vary his rank. In one ſituation he is taught to aſſume, in another to yield the pre-eminence. He occupies the ſtation of patron or client, and is either the ſovereign or the ſubject of his country. The whole citizens may [Page 100] unite in executing the plans of ſtate, but never in deliberating on its meaſures, or enacting its laws. What belongs to the whole people under democracy, is here confined to a part. Members of the ſuperior order, are among themſelves, poſſibly, claſſed according to their abilities, but retain a perpetual aſcendant over thoſe of inferior ſtation. They are at once the ſervants and the maſters of the ſtate, and pay with their perſonal attendance and their blood for the civil or military honours they enjoy.

TO maintain for himſelf, and to admit in his fellow-citizen, a perfect equality of privilege and ſtation, is no longer the leading maxim of the member of ſuch a community. The rights of men are modified by their condition. One order claims more than it is willing to yield; the other muſt be ready to yield what it does not aſſume to itſelf: and it is with good reaſon that Mr. Monteſquieu gives to the principle of ſuch governments the name of moderation, not of virtue.

THE elevation of one claſs is a moderated arrogance; the ſubmiſſion of the other a limited deference. The firſt muſt be careful, by concealing the invidious part of their diſtinction, to palliate what is grievous in the public arrangement, and by their education, their cultivated manners, and improved talents, to appear qualified for the ſtations they occupy. The other muſt be taught to yield, from reſpect and perſonal attachment, what could not otherwiſe be extorted by force. When this moderation fails on either ſide, the conſtitution totters. A populace enraged to mutiny, may claim the right of equality to which they are admitted [Page 101] in democratical ſtates; or a nobility bent on dominion, may chuſe among themſelves, or find already pointed out to them, a ſovereign, who, by advantages of ſortune, popularity, or abilities, is ready to ſeize for his own family, that envied power, which has already carried his order beyond the limits of moderation, and infected particular men with a boundleſs ambition.

MONARCHIES have accordingly been found with the recent marks of ariſtocracy. There, however, the monarch is only the firſt among the nobles; he muſt be ſatisfied with a limited power; his ſubjects are ranged into claſſes; he finds on every quarter a pretence to privilege, that circumſcribes his authority; and he finds a force ſufficient to confine his adminiſtration within certain bounds of equity, and determinate laws.

UNDER ſuch governments, however, the love of equality is prepoſterous, and moderation itſelf is unneceſſary. The object of every rank is precedency, and every order may diſplay its advantages to their full extent. The ſovereign himſelf owes great part of his authority to the ſounding titles and the dazzling equipage which he exhibits in public. The ſubordinate ranks lay claim to importance by a like exhibition, and for that purpoſe carry in every inſtant the enſigns of their birth, or the ornaments of their fortune. What elſe could mark out to the individual the relation in which he ſtands to his fellow-ſubjects, or diſtinguiſh the numberleſs ranks that fill up the interval between the ſtate of the ſovereign and that of the peaſant? Or what elſe could, in ſtates of a great extent, preſerve any appearance of order, among members diſunited by ambition and intereſt, and deſtined [Page 102] to form a community, without the ſenſe of any common concern?

MONARCHIES are generally found, where the ſtate is enlarged in population and in territory, beyond the numbers and dimenſions that are conſiſtent with republican government. Together with theſe circumſtances, great inequalities ariſe in the diſtribution of property; and the deſire of preeminence becomes the predominant paſſion. Every rank would exerciſe its prerogative, and the ſovereign is perpetually tempted to enlarge his own; if ſubjects, who deſpair of precedence, plead for equality, he is willing to favour their claims, and to aid them in procuring what muſt weaken a force with which he himſelf is, on many occaſions, obliged to contend. In the event of ſuch a policy, many invidious diſtinctions and grievances peculiar to monarchical government, may, in appearance, be removed; but the ſtate of equality to which the ſubjects approach, is that of ſlaves, equally dependent on the will of a maſter, not that of freemen in a condition to maintain their own.

THE principle of monarchy, according to Monteſquieu, is honour. Men may poſſeſs good qualities, elevation of mind, and fortitude; but the ſenſe of equality, that will bear no incroachment on the perſonal rights of the meaneſt citizen; the indignant ſpirit, that will not court a protection, nor accept as a favour, what is due as a right; the public affection, which is founded on the neglect of perſonal conſiderations, are neither conſiſtent with the preſervation of the conſtitution, nor agreeable to the habits acquired in any ſtation aſſigned to its members.

[Page 103] EVERY condition is poſſeſſed of peculiar dignity, and points out a propriety of conduct, which men of ſtation are obliged to maintain. In the commerce of ſuperiors and inferiors, it is the object of ambition, and of vanity, to refine on the advantages of rank; while, to facilitate the intercourſe of polite ſociety, it is the aim of good breeding, to diſguiſe or reject them.

THOUGH the objects of conſideration are rather the dignities of ſtation than perſonal qualities; though friendſhip cannot be formed by mere inclination, nor alliances by the mere choice of the heart; yet men ſo united, and even without changing their order, are highly ſuſceptible of moral excellence, or liable to many different degrees of corruption. They may act a vigorous part as members of the ſtate, an amiable one in the commerce of private ſociety; or they may yield up their dignity as citizens, even while they raiſe their arrogance and preſumption as private parties.

IN monarchy, all orders of men derive their honours from the crown; but they continue to hold them as a right, and they exerciſe a ſubordinate power in the ſtate, founded on the permanent rank they enjoy, and on the attachment of thoſe whom they are appointed to lead and protect. Though they do not force themſelves into national councils, and public aſſemblies, and though the name of ſenate is unknown; yet the ſentiments they adopt muſt have weight with the ſovereign; and every individual, in his ſeparate capacity, in ſome meaſure, deliberates for his country. In whatever does not derogate from his rank, he has an arm ready to ſerve the community; in whatever alarms his ſenſe [Page 104] of honour, he has averſions and diſlikes, which amount to a negative on the will of his prince.

INTANGLED together by the reciprocal ties of dependence and protection, though not combined by the ſenſe of a common intereſt, the ſubjects of monarchy, like thoſe of republics, find themſelves occupied as the members of an active ſociety, and engaged to treat with their fellow-creatures on a liberal footing. If thoſe principles of honour which ſave the individual from ſervility in his own perſon, or from becoming an engine of oppreſſion in the hands of another, ſhould fail; if they ſhould give way to the maxims of commerce, to the refinements of a ſuppoſed philoſophy, or to the miſplaced ardours of a republican ſpirit; if they are betrayed by the cowardice of ſubjects, or ſubdued by the ambition of princes; what muſt become of the nations of Europe?

DESPOTISM is monarchy corrupted, in which a court and a prince in appearance remain, but in which every ſubordinate rank is deſtroyed; in which the ſubject is told, that he has no rights; that he cannot poſſeſs any property, nor fill any ſtation, independent of the momentary will of his prince. Theſe doctrines are founded on the maxims of conqueſt; they muſt be inculcated with the whip and the ſword; and are beſt received under the terror of chains and impriſonment. Fear, therefore, is the principle which qualifies the ſubject to occupy his ſtation: and the ſovereign, who holds out the enſigns of terror ſo freely to others, has abundant reaſon to give this paſſion a principal place with himſelf. That tenure which he has deviſed for the rights of others, is ſoon applied to his own; and from his eager deſire to ſecure, or to extend, [Page 105] his power, he finds it become, like the fortunes of his people, a creature of mere imagination and unſettled caprice.

WHILST we thus, with ſo much accuracy, can aſſign the ideal limits that may diſtinguiſh conſtitutions of government, we find them, in reality, both in reſpect to the principle and the form, variouſly blended together. In what ſociety are not men claſſed by external diſtinctions, as well as perſonal qualities? In what ſtate are they not actuated by a variety of principles; juſtice, honour, moderation, and fear? It is the purpoſe of ſcience, not to diſguiſe this confuſion in its object, but, in the multiplicity and combination of particulars, to find the principal points which deſerve our attention, and which, being well underſtood, ſave us from the embarraſſment which the varieties of ſingular caſes might otherwiſe create. In the ſame degree in which governments require men to act from principles of virtue, of honour, or of fear, they are more or leſs fully compriſed under the heads of republic, monarchy, or deſpotiſm, and the general theory is more or leſs applicable to their particular caſe.

FORMS of government, in fact, mutually approach or recede by many, and often inſenſible gradations. Democracy, by admitting certain inequalities of rank, approaches to ariſtocracy. In popular, as well as ariſtocratical governments, particular men, by their perſonal authority, and ſometimes by the credit of their family, have maintained a ſpecies of monarchical power. The monarch is limited in different degrees: even the deſpotic prince is only that monarch whoſe ſubjects [Page 106] claim the feweſt privileges, or who is himſelf beſt prepared to ſubdue them by force. All theſe varieties are but ſteps in the hiſtory of mankind, and mark the fleeting and tranſient ſituations through which they have paſſed, while ſupported by virtue, or depreſſed by vice.

PERFECT democracy and deſpotiſm appear to be the oppoſite extremes to which conſtitutions of government are ſometimes carried. Under the firſt, a perfect virtue is required; under the ſecond, a total corruption is ſuppoſed: yet in point of mere form, there being nothing fixed in the ranks and diſtinctions of men, beyond the caſual and temporary poſſeſſion of power, ſocieties eaſily paſs from a condition in which every individual has an equal title to reign, into one in which they are equally deſtined to ſerve. The ſame qualities in both, courage, popularity, addreſs, and military conduct, raiſe the ambitious to eminence. With theſe qualities, the citizen or the ſlave eaſily paſſes from the ranks to the command of an army, from an obſcure to an illuſtrious ſtation. In either, a ſingle perſon may rule with unlimited ſway; and in both, the populace may break down every barrier of order, and reſtraint of law.

IF we ſuppoſe that the equality eſtabliſhed among the ſubjects of a deſpotic ſtate, has inſpired its members with confidence, intrepidity, and the love of juſtice; the deſpotic prince, having ceaſed to be an object of fear, muſt ſink among the croud. If, on the contrary, the perſonal equality which is enjoyed by the members of a democratical ſtate, ſhould be valued merely as an equal pretenſion [Page 107] to the objects of avarice and ambition, the monarch may ſtart up anew, and be ſupported by thoſe who mean to ſhare in his profits. When the covetous and mercenary aſſemble in parties, it is of no conſequence under what leader they inliſt, whether Caeſar or Pompey; the hopes of rapine or power are the only motives from which they become attached to either.

IN the diſorder of corrupted ſocieties, the ſcene has been frequently changed from democracy to deſpotiſm, and from the laſt too, in its turn, to the firſt. From amidſt the democracy of corrupt men, and from a ſcene of lawleſs conſuſion, the tyrant aſcends a throne with arms reeking in blood. But his abuſes, or his weakneſſes, in the ſtation which he has gained, in their turn, awaken and give way to the ſpirit of mutiny and revenge. The cries of murder and deſolation, which in the ordinary courſe of military government terrified the ſubject in his private retreat, are carried through the vaults, and made to pierce the grates and iron doors of the ſeraglio. Democracy ſeems to revive in a ſcene of wild diſorder and tumult: but both the extremes are but the tranſient fits of paroxyſm or languor in a diſtempered ſtate.

IF men be any where arrived at this meaſure of depravity, there appears no immediate hope of redreſs. Neither the aſcendency of the multitude, nor that of the tyrant, will ſecure the adminiſtration of juſtice: neither the licence of mere tumult, nor the calm of dejection and ſervitude, will teach the citizen that he was born for candour and affection to his fellow-creatures. And if the [Page 108] ſpeculative would find that habitual ſtate of war which they are ſometimes pleaſed to honour with the name of the ſtate of nature, they will find it in the conteſt that ſubſiſts between the deſpotical prince and his ſubjects, not in the firſt approaches of a rude and ſimple tribe to the condition and the domeſtic arrangement of nations.

Of the Hiſtory of Rude Nations.

[Page 109]

1.2.1. SECTION I.
Of the Informations on this ſubject which are derived from Antiquity.

THE hiſtory of mankind is confined within a limited period, and from every quarter brings an intimation that human affairs have had a beginning. Nations, diſtinguiſhed by the poſſeſſion of arts, and the felicity of their political eſtabliſhments, have been derived from a feeble original, and ſtill preſerve in their ſtory the indications of a ſlow and gradual progreſs, by which this diſtinction was gained. The antiquities of every people, however diverſified, and however diſguiſed, contain the ſame information on this point.

IN ſacred hiſtory, we find the parents of the ſpecies, as yet a ſingle pair, ſent forth to inherit the earth, and to force a ſubſiſtence for themſelves amidſt the briers and thorns which were made to [Page 110] abound on its ſurface. Their race, which was again reduced to a few, had to ſtruggle with the dangers that await a weak and infant ſpecies; and after many ages elapſed, the moſt reſpectable nations took their riſe from one or a few families that had paſtured their flocks in the deſert.

THE Grecians derive their own origin from unſettled tribes, whoſe frequent migrations are a proof of the rude and infant ſtate of their communities; and whoſe warlike exploits, ſo much celebrated in ſtory, only exhibit the ſtruggles with which they diſputed for the poſſeſſion of a country they afterwards, by their talent for fable, by their arts, and their policy, rendered ſo famous in the hiſtory of mankind.

ITALY muſt have been divided into many rude and feeble cantons, when a band of robbers, as we are taught to conſider them, found a ſecure ſettlement on the banks of the Tiber, and when a people, yet compoſed only of one ſex, ſuſtained the character of a nation. Rome, for many ages, ſaw, from her walls, on every ſide, the territory of her enemies, and found as little to check or to ſti [...] the weakneſs of her infant power, as ſhe did afterwards to reſtrain the progreſs of her extended empire. Like a Tartar or a Scythian horde, which had pitched on a ſettlement, this naſcent community was equal, if not ſuperior, to every tribe in its neighbourhood; and the oak which has covered the field with its ſhade, was once a feeble plant in the nurſery, and not to be diſtinguiſhed from the weeds by which its early growth was reſtrained.

[Page 111] THE Gauls and the Germans are come to our knowledge with the marks of a ſimilar condition; and the inhabitants of Britain, at the time of the firſt Roman invaſions, reſembled, in many things, the preſent natives of North America: they were ignorant of agriculture; they painted their bodies; and uſed for cloathing, the ſkins of beaſts.

SUCH therefore appears to have been the commencement of hiſtory with all nations, and in ſuch circumſtances are we to look for the original character of mankind. The inquiry refers to a diſtant period, and every concluſion ſhould build on the facts which are preſerved for our uſe. Our method, notwithſtanding, too frequently, is to reſt the whole on conjecture; to impute every advantage of our nature to thoſe arts which we ourſelves poſſeſs; and to imagine, that a mere negation of all our virtues is a ſufficient deſcription of man in his original ſtate. We are ourſelves the ſuppoſed ſtandards of politeneſs and civilization; and where our own features do not appear, we apprehend, that there is nothing which deſerves to be known. But it is probable that here, as in many other caſes, we are ill qualified, from our ſuppoſed knowledge of cauſes, to prognoſticate effects, or to determine what muſt have been the properties and operations, even of our own nature, in the abſence of thoſe circumſtances in which we have ſeen it engaged. Who would, from mere conjecture, ſuppoſe, that the naked ſavage would be a coxcomb and a gameſter? that he would be proud and vain, without the diſtinctions of title and fortune? and that his principal care would be to adorn his perſon, and to find an amuſement? [Page 112] Even if it could be ſuppoſed that he would thus ſhare in our vices, and, in the midſt of his foreſt, vie with the follies which are practiſed in the town; yet no one would be ſo bold as to affirm, that he would likewiſe, in any inſtance, excel us in talents and virtues; that he would have a penetration, a force of imagination and elocution, an ardour of mind, an affection and courage, which the arts, the diſcipline, and the policy of few nations would be able to improve. Yet theſe particulars are a part in the deſcription which is delivered by thoſe who have had opportunities of ſeeing mankind in their rudeſt condition: and beyond the reach of ſuch teſtimony, we can neither ſafely take, nor pretend to give, information on the ſubject.

IF conjectures and opinions formed at a diſtance, have not ſufficient authority in the hiſtory of mankind, the domeſtic antiquities of every nation muſt, for this very reaſon, be received with caution. They are, for moſt part, the mere conjectures or the fictions of ſubſequent ages, and even where at firſt they contained ſome reſemblance of truth, they ſtill vary with the imagination of thoſe by whom they are tranſmitted, and in every generation receive a different form. They are made to bear the ſtamp of the times through which they have paſſed in the form of tradition, not of the ages to which their pretended deſcriptions relate. The information they bring, is not like the light reflected from a mirrour, which delineates the object from which it originally came; but, like rays that come broken and diſperſed from an opaque or unpoliſhed ſurface, only give [Page 113] the colours and features of the body from which they were laſt reflected.

WHEN traditionary fables are rehearſed by the vulgar, they bear the marks of a national character; and though mixed with abſurdities, often raiſe the imagination, and move the heart: when made the materials of poetry, and adorned by the ſkill and the eloquence of an ardent and ſuperior mind, they inſtruct the underſtanding, as well as engage the paſſions. It is only in the management of mere antiquaries, or ſtript of the ornaments which the laws of hiſtory forbid them to wear, that they become even unfit to amuſe the fancy, or to ſerve any purpoſe whatever.

IT were abſurd to quote the fable of the Iliad or Odyſſey, the legends of Hercules, Theſeus, or OEdipus, as authorities in matter of fact relating to the hiſtory of mankind; but they may, with great juſtice, be cited to aſcertain what were the conceptions and ſentiments of the age in which they were compoſed, or to characteriſe the genius of that people, with whoſe imaginations they were blended, and by whom they were fondly rehearſed and admired.

IN this manner fiction may be admitted to vouch for the genius of nations, while hiſtory has nothing to offer that is intitled to credit. The Greek fable accordingly conveying a character of its authors, throws light on an age of which no other record remains. The ſuperiority of this people is indeed in no circumſtance more evident than in the ſtrain of their fictions, and in the ſtory of thoſe fabulous heroes, poets, and ſages, whoſe tales, being invented or embelliſhed by an imagination [Page 114] already filled with the ſubject for which the hero was celebrated, ſerved to inflame that ardent enthuſiaſm with which this people afterwards proceeded in the purſuit of every national object.

IT was no doubt of great advantage to thoſe nations, that their ſyſtem of fable was original, and being already received in popular traditions, ſerved to diffuſe thoſe improvements of reaſon, imagination, and ſentiment, which were afterwards, by men of the fineſt talents, made on the fable itſelf, or conveyed in its moral. The paſſions of the poet pervaded the minds of the people, and the conceptions of men of genius being communicated to the vulgar, became the incentives of a national ſpirit.

A MYTHOLOGY borrowed from abroad, a literature founded on references to a ſtrange country, and fraught with foreign alluſions, are much more confined in their uſe: they ſpeak to the learned alone; and though intended to inform the underſtanding, and to mend the heart, may, by being confined to a few, have an oppoſite effect: they may foſter conceit on the ruins of common ſenſe, and render what was, at leaſt innocently, ſung by the Athenian mariner at his oar, or rehearſed by the ſhepherd in attending his flock, an occaſion of vice, and the foundation of pedantry and ſcholaſtic pride.

OUR very learning, perhaps, where its influence extends, ſerves, in ſome meaſure, to depreſs our national ſpirit. Our literature being derived from nations of a different race, who flouriſhed at a time when our anceſtors were in a ſtat [Page 115] of barbarity, and conſequently when they were deſpiſed by thoſe who had attained to the literary arts, has given riſe to a humbling opinion, that we ourſelves are the offspring of mean and contemptible nations, with whom the human imagination and ſentiment had no effect, till the genius was in a manner inſpired by examples, and directed by leſſons that were brought from abroad. The Romans, from whom our accounts are chiefly derived, have admitted, in the rudeneſs of their own anceſtors, a ſyſtem of virtues, which all ſimple nations perhaps equally poſſeſs; a contempt of riches, love of their country, patience of hardſhip, danger, and fatigue. They have, notwithſtanding, vilified our anceſtors for having perhaps only reſembled their own; at leaſt, in the defect of their arts, and in the neglect of conveniencies which thoſe arts are employed to procure.

IT is from the Greek and the Roman hiſtorians, however, that we have not only the moſt authentic and inſtructive, but even the moſt engaging, repreſentations of the tribes from whom we deſcend. Thoſe ſublime and intelligent writers underſtood human nature, and could collect its features, and exhibit its characters in every ſituation. They were ill ſucceeded in this taſk by the early hiſtorians of modern Europe; who, generally bred to the profeſſion of monks, and confined to the monaſtic life, applied themſelves to record what they were pleaſed to denominate facts, while they ſuffered the productions of genius to periſh, and were unable, either by the matter they ſelected, or the ſtyle of their compoſitions, to give any repreſentation of the active ſpirit of mankind in any condition. With them, a narration was ſuppoſed [Page 116] to conſtitute hiſtory, whilſt it did not convey any knowledge of men; and hiſtory itſelf was allowed to be complete, while, amidſt the events and the ſucceſſion of princes that are recorded in the order of time, we are left to look in vain for thoſe characteriſtics of the underſtanding and the heart, which alone, in every human tranſaction, render the ſtory either engaging or uſeful.

WE therefore willingly quit the hiſtory of our early anceſtors, where Caeſar and Tacitus have dropped them; and perhaps, till we come within the reach of what is connected with preſent affairs, and makes a part in the ſyſtem on which we now proceed, have little reaſon to expect any ſubject to intereſt or inform the mind. We have no reaſon, however, from hence to conclude, that the matter itſelf was more barren, or the ſcene of human affairs leſs intereſting, in modern Europe, than it has been on every ſtage where mankind were engaged to exhibit the movements of the heart, the efforts of generoſity, magnanimity, and courage.

THE trial of what thoſe ages contained, is not even fairly made, when men of genius and diſtinguiſhed abilities, with the accompliſhments of a learned and a poliſhed age, collect the materials they have found, and, with the greateſt ſucceſs, connect the ſtory of illiterate ages with tranſactions of a later date: it is difficult even for them, under the names which are applied in a new ſtate of ſociety, to convey a juſt apprehenſion of what mankind were in ſituations ſo different, and in times ſo remote from their own.

[Page 117] IN deriving from hiſtorians of this character the inſtruction which their writings are fit to beſtow, we are frequently to forget the general terms that are employed, in order to collect the real manners of an age, from the minute circumſtances that are occaſionally preſented. The titles of Royal and Noble were applicable to the families of Tarquin, Collatinus, and Cincinnatus; but Lucretia was employed in domeſtic induſtry with her maids, and Cincinnatus followed the plough. The dignities, and even the offices, of civil ſociety, were known many ages ago, in Europe, by their preſent appellations; but we find in the hiſtory of England, that a king and his court being aſſembled to ſolemnize a feſtival, an outlaw, who had ſubſiſted by robbery, came to ſhare in the feaſt. The king himſelf aroſe to force this unworthy gueſt from the company, a ſcuffle enſued between them, and the king was killed*. A chancellor and prime miniſter, whoſe magnificence and ſumptuous furniture were the ſubject of admiration and envy, had his appartments covered every day in winter with clean ſtraw and hay, and in ſummer with green ruſhes or boughs. Even the ſovereign himſelf, in thoſe ages, was provided with forage for his bed. Theſe pictureſque features and characteriſtical ſtrokes of the times, recal the imagination from the ſuppoſed diſtinction of monarch and ſubject, to that ſtate of rough familiarity in which our anceſtors lived, and under which they [Page 118] acted, with a view to objects, and on principles of conduct, which we ſeldom comprehend, when we are employed to record their tranſactions, or to ſtudy their characters.

THUCYDIDES, notwithſtanding the prejudice of his country againſt the name of Barbarian, underſtood that it was in the cuſtoms of barbarous nations he was to ſtudy the more ancient manners of Greece.

THE Romans might have found an image of their own anceſtors, in the repreſentations they have given of ours: and if ever an Arab clan ſhall become a civilized nation, or any American tribe eſcape the poiſon which is adminiſtered by our traders of Europe, it may be from the relations of the preſent times, and the deſcriptions which are now given by travellers, that ſuch a people, in after ages, may beſt collect the accounts of their origin. It is in their preſent condition, that we are to behold, as in a mirrour, the features of our own progenitors; and from thence we are to draw our concluſions with reſpect to the influence of ſituations, in which, we have reaſon to believe, our fathers were placed.

WHAT ſhould diſtinguiſh a German or a Briton, in the habits of his mind or his body, in his manners or apprehenſions, from an American, who, like him, with his bow and his dart, is left to traverſe the foreſt; and in a like ſevere or variable climate, is obliged to ſubſiſt by the chace?

IF, in advanced years, we would form a juſt notion of our progreſs from the cradle, we muſt [Page 119] have recourſe to the nurſery, and from the example of thoſe who are ſtill in the period of life we mean to deſcribe, take our repreſentation of paſt manners, that cannot, in any other way, be recalled.

1.2.2. SECT. II.
Of rude nations prior to the Eſtabliſhment of Property.

FROM one to the other extremity of America; from Kamſchatka weſtward to the river Oby, and from the Northern ſea, over that length of country, to the confines of China, of India, and Perſia; from the Caſpian to the Red ſea, with little exception, and from thence over the inland continent and the weſtern ſhores of Africa; we every where meet with nations on whom we beſtow the appellations of barbarous or ſavage. That extenſive tract of the earth, containing ſo great a variety of ſituation, climate, and ſoil, ſhould, in the manners of its inhabitants, exhibit all the diverſities which ariſe from the unequal influence of the ſun, joined to a different nouriſhment and manner of life. Every queſtion, however, on this ſubject is premature, till we have firſt endeavoured to form ſome general conception of our ſpecies in its rude ſtate, and have learned to diſtinguiſh mere ignorance from dullneſs, and the want of arts from the want of capacity.

[Page 120] OF the nations who dwell in thoſe, or any other of the leſs cultivated parts of the earth, ſome intruſt their ſubſiſtence chiefly to hunting, fiſhing, or the natural produce of the ſoil. They have little attention to property, and ſcarcely any beginnings of ſubordination or government. Others having poſſeſſed themſelves of herds, and depending for their proviſion on paſture, know what it is to be poor and rich. They know the relations of patron and client, of ſervant and maſter, and ſuffer themſelves to be claſſed according to their meaſures of wealth. This diſtinction muſt create a material difference of character, and may furniſh two ſeparate heads, under which to conſider the hiſtory of mankind in their rudeſt ſtate; that of the ſavage, who is not yet acquainted with property; and that of the barbarian, to whom it is, although not aſcertained by laws, a principal object of care and deſire.

IT muſt appear very evident, that property is a matter of progreſs. It requires, among other particulars which are the effects of time, ſome method of defining poſſeſſion. The very deſire of it proceeds from experience; and the induſtry by which it is gained, or improved, requires ſuch a habit of acting with a view to diſtant objects, as may overcome the preſent diſpoſition either to ſloth or to enjoyment. This habit is ſlowly acquired, and is in reality a principal diſtinction of nations in the advanced ſtate of mechanic and commercial arts.

IN a tribe which ſubſiſts by hunting and fiſhing, the arms, the utenſils, and the fur, which [Page 121] the individual carries, are to him the only ſubjects of property. The food of to morrow is yet wild in the foreſt, or hid in the lake; it cannot be appropriated before it is caught; and even then, being the purchaſe of numbers, who fiſh or hunt in a body, it accrues to the community, and is applied to immediate uſe, or becomes an acceſſion to the ſtores of the public.

WHERE ſavage nations, as in moſt parts of America, mix with the practice of hunting ſome ſpecies of rude agriculture, they ſtill follow, with reſpect to the ſoil and the fruits of the earth, the analogy of their principal object. As the men hunt, ſo the women labour together; and after they have ſhared the toils of the ſeed-time, they enjoy the fruits of the harveſt in common. The field in which they have planted, like the diſtrict over which they are accuſtomed to hunt, is claimed as a property by the nation, but is not parcelled in lots to its members. They go forth in parties to prepare the ground, to plant, and to reap. The harveſt is gathered into the public granary, and from thence, at ſtated times, is divided into ſhares for the maintenance of ſeparate families.* Even the returns of the market, when they trade with foreigners, are brought home to the ſtock of the nation.

AS the fur and the bow pertain to the individual, the cabbin and its utenſils are appropriated to the family; and as the domeſtic cares are committed [Page 122] to the women, ſo the property of the houſehold ſeems likewiſe to be veſted in them. The children are conſidered as pertaining to the mother, with little regard to deſcent on the father's ſide. The males, before they are married, remain in the cabbin in which they are born; but after they have formed a new connection with the other ſex, they change their habitation, and become an acceſſion to the family in which they have found their wives. The hunter and the warrior are numbered by the matron as a part of her treaſure; they are reſerved for perils and trying occaſions; and in the receſs of public councils, in the intervals of hunting or war, are maintained by the cares of the women, and loiter about in mere amuſement or ſloth*.

WHILE one ſex continue to value themſelves chiefly on their courage, their talent for policy, and their warlike atchievments, this ſpecies of property which is beſtowed on the other, is in reality a mark of ſubjection; not, as ſome writers alledge, of their having acquired an aſcendant. It is the care and trouble of a ſubject with which the warrior does not chuſe to be embarraſſed. It is a ſervitude, and a continual toil, where no honours are won; and they whoſe province it is, are in fact the ſlaves and the helots of their country. If in this deſtination of the ſexes, while the men continue to indulge themſelves in the contempt of ſordid and mercenary arts, the cruel eſtabliſhment of ſlavery is for ſome ages deferred; [Page 123] if in this tender, though unequal alliance, the affections of the heart prevent the ſeverities practiſed on ſlaves; we have in the cuſtom itſelf, as perhaps in many other inſtances, reaſon to prefer the firſt ſuggeſtions of nature, to many of her after refinements.

IF mankind, in any inſtance, continue the article of property on the footing we have now repreſented, we may eaſily credit what is farther reported by travellers, that they admit of no diſtinctions of rank or condition; and that they have in fact no degree of ſubordination different from the diſtribution of function, which follows the differences of age, talents, and diſpoſitions. Perſonal qualities give an aſcendant in the midſt of occaſions which require their exertion; but in times of relaxation, leave no veſtige of power or prerogative. A warrior who has led the youth of his nation to the ſlaughter of their enemies, or who has been foremoſt in the chace, returns upon a level with the reſt of his tribe; and when the only buſineſs is to ſleep, or to feed, can enjoy no preeminence; for he ſleeps and he feeds no better than they.

WHERE no profit attends dominion, one party is as much averſe to the trouble of perpetual command, as the other is to the mortification of perpetual ſubmiſſion: ‘I love victory, I love great actions,’ ſays Monteſquieu in the character of Sylla; ‘but have no reliſh for the languid detail of pacific government, or the pageantry of high ſtation.’ He has touched perhaps what is a prevailing ſentiment in the ſimpleſt ſtate of ſociety, when the weakneſs of motives ſuggeſted by [Page 124] intereſt, and the ignorance of any elevation not founded on merit, ſupplies the place of diſdain.

THE character of the mind, however, in this ſtate, is not founded on ignorance alone. Men are conſcious of their equality, and are tenacious of its rights. Even when they follow a leader to the field, they cannot brook the pretenſions to a formal command: they liften to no orders; and they come under no military engagements, but thoſe of mutual fidelity, and equal ardour in the enterpriſe*.

THIS deſcription, we may believe, is unequally applicable to different nations, who have made unequal advances in the eſtabliſhment of property. Among the Caribbees, and the other natives of the warmer climates in America, the dignity of chieftain is hereditary, or elective, and continued for life: the unequal diſtribution of property creates a viſible ſubordination. But among the Iroquois, and other nations of the temperate zone, the titles of magiſtrate and ſubject, of noble and mean, are as little known as thoſe of rich and poor. The old men, without being inveſted with any coercive power, employ their natural authority in adviſing or in prompting the reſolutions of their tribe: the military leader is pointed out by the ſuperiority of his manhood and valour: the ſtateſman is diſtinguiſhed only by the attention with which his counſel is heard; the warrior by the confidence with which the youth of his nation follow [Page 125] him to the field: and if their concerts muſt be ſuppoſed to conſtitute a ſpecies of political government, it is one to which no language of ours can be applied. Power is no more than the natural aſcendency of the mind; the diſcharge of office no more than a natural exerciſe of the perſonal character; and while the community acts with an appearance of order, there is no ſenſe of diſparity in the breaſt of any of its members*.

IN theſe happy, though informal, proceedings, where age alone gives a place in the council; where youth, ardour, and valour in the field, give a title to the ſtation of leader; where the whole community is aſſembled on any alarming occaſion, we may venture to ſay, that we have found the origin of the ſenate, the executive power, and the aſſembly of the people; inſtitutions for which ancient legiſlators have been ſo much renowned. The ſenate among the Greeks, as well as the Latins, appears, from the etymology of its name, to have been originally compoſed of elderly men. The military leader at Rome, in a manner not unlike to that of the American warrior, proclaimed his levies, and the citizen prepared for the field, in conſequence of a voluntary engagement. The ſuggeſtions of nature, which directed the policy of nations in the wilds of America, were followed before on the banks of the Eurotas and the Tyber; and Lycurgus and Romulus found the model of their inſtitution where the members of every rude nation find the earlieſt mode of uniting their talents, and combining their forces.

[Page 126] AMONG the North-American nations, every individual is independent; but he is engaged by his affections and his habits in the cares of a family. Families, like ſo many ſeparate tribes, are ſubject to no inſpection or government from abroad; whatever paſſes at home, even bloodſhed and murder, are only ſuppoſed to concern themſelves. They are, in the mean time, the parts of a canton; the women aſſemble to plant their maize; the old men go to council; the huntſman and the warrior joins the youth of his village in the field. Many ſuch cantons aſſemble to conſtitute a national council, or to execute a national enterpriſe. When the Europeans made their firſt ſettlements in America, ſix ſuch nations had formed a league, had their amphyctiones or ſtates-general, and, by the firmneſs of their union, and the ability of their councils, had obtained an aſcendant from the mouth of the St. Laurence to that of the Miſſiſippi*. They appeared to underſtand the objects of the confederacy, as well as thoſe of the ſeparate nation; they ſtudied a balance of power; the ſtateſman of one country watched the deſigns and proceedings of another; and occaſionally threw the weight of his tribe into a different ſcale. They had their alliances and their treaties, which, like the nations of Europe, they maintained, or they broke, upon reaſons of ſtate; and remained at peace from a ſenſe of neceſſity or expediency, and went to war upon any emergence of provocation or jealouſy.

[Page 127] THUS, without any ſettled form of government, or any bond of union, but what reſembled more the ſuggeſtion of inſtinct, than the invention of reaſon, they conducted themſelves with the concert, and the force, of nations. Foreigners, without being able to diſcover who is the magiſtrate, or in what manner the ſenate is compoſed, always find a council with whom they may treat, or a band of warriors with whom they may fight. Without police or compulſory laws, their domeſtic ſociety is conducted with order, and the abſence of vicious diſpoſitions, is a better ſecurity than any public eſtabliſhment for the ſuppreſſion of crimes.

DISORDERS, however, ſometimes occur, eſpecially in times of debauch, when the immoderate uſe of intoxicating liquors, to which they are extremely addicted, ſuſpends the ordinary caution of their demeanour, and inflaming their violent paſſions, engages them in quarrels and bloodſhed. When a perſon is ſlain, his murderer is ſeldom called to an immediate account: but he has a quarrel to ſuſtain with the family and the friends; or, if a ſtranger, with the countrymen of the deceaſed; ſometimes even with his own nation at home, if the injury committed be of a kind to alarm the ſociety. The nation, the canton, or the family, endeavour, by preſents, to atone for the offence of any of their members; and, by pacifying the parties aggrieved, endeavour to prevent what alarms the community more than the firſt diſorder, the ſubſequent effects of revenge and animoſity*. The ſhedding of blood, however, if [Page 128] the guilty perſon remain where he has committed the crime, ſeldom eſcapes unpuniſhed: the friend of the deceaſed knows how to diſguiſe, though not to ſuppreſs his reſentment; and even after many years have elapſed, is ſure to repay the injury that was done to his kindred or his houſe.

THESE conſiderations render them cautious and circumſpect, put them on their guard againſt their paſſions, and give to their ordinary deportment an air of phlegm and compoſure ſuperior to what is poſſeſſed among poliſhed nations. They are, in the mean time, affectionate in their carriage, and in their converſations pay a mutual attention and regard, ſays Charlevoix, more tender and more engaging, than what we profeſs in the ceremonial of poliſhed ſocieties.

THIS writer has obſerved, that the nations among whom he travelled in North America, never mentioned acts of generoſity or kindneſs under the notion of duty. They acted from affection, as they acted from appetite, without regard to its conſequences. When they had done a kindneſs, they had gratified a deſire; the buſineſs was finiſhed, and it paſſed from the memory. When they received a favour, it might, or it might not, prove the occaſion of friendſhip: if it did not, the parties appeared to have no apprehenſions of gratitude, as a duty by which the one was bound to make a return, or the other intitled to reproach the perſon who had failed in his part. The ſpirit with which they give or receive preſents, is the ſame which Tacitus obſerved among the ancient Germans: They delight in them, but do not [Page 129] conſider them as matter of obligation*. Such gifts are of little conſequence, except when employed as the ſeal of a bargain or treaty.

IT was their favourite maxim, That no man is naturally indebted to another; that he is not, therefore, obliged to bear with any impoſition, or unequal treatment. Thus, in a principle apparently fullen and inhoſpitable, they have diſcovered the foundation of juſtice, and obſerve its rules with a ſteadineſs and candour which no cultivation has been found to improve. The freedom which they give in what relates to the ſuppoſed duties of kindneſs and friendſhip, ſerves only to engage the heart more entirely, where it is once poſſeſſed with affection. We love to chuſe our object without any reſtraint, and we conſider kindneſs itſelf as a talk, when the duties of friendſhip are exacted by rule. We therefore, by our demand for attentions, rather corrupt than improve the ſyſtem of morality; and by our exactions of gratitude, and our frequent propoſals to inforce its obſervance, we only ſhew, that we have miſtaken its nature; we only give ſymptoms of that growing ſenſibility to intereſt, from which we meaſure the expediency of friendſhip and generoſity itſelf; and by which we would introduce the ſpirit of traffic into the commerce of affection. In conſequence of this proceeding, we are often obliged to decline a favour with the ſame ſpirit that we throw off a ſervile engagement, or reject a bribe. [Page 130] To the unrefining ſavage every favour is welcome, and every preſent received without reſerve or reflection.

THE love of equality, and the love of juſtice, were originally the ſame: and although, by the conſtitution of different ſocieties, unequal privileges are beſtowed on their members; and although juſtice itſelf requires a proper regard to be paid to ſuch privileges; yet he who has forgotten that men were originally equal, eaſily degenerates into a ſlave or in the capacity of a maſter, is not to be truſted with the rights of his fellow-creatures. This happy principle gives to the mind its ſenſe of independence, renders it indifferent to the favours which are in the power of other men, checks it in the commiſſion of injuries, and leaves the heart open to the affections of generoſity and kindneſs. It gives to the untutored American that air of candour, and of regard to the welfare of others, which, in ſome degree, ſoftens the arrogant pride of his carriage, and in times of confidence and peace, without the aſſiſtance of government or law, renders the approach and commerce of ſtrangers ſecure.

AMONG this people, the foundations of honour are eminent abilities and great fortitude; not the diſtinctions of equipage and fortune: The talents in eſteem are ſuch as their ſituation leads them to employ, the exact knowledge of a country, and ſtratagem in war. On theſe qualifications, a captain among the Carribbes underwent an examination. When a new leader was to be choſen, a ſcout was ſent forth to traverſe the foreſts which led to the enemy's country, and, upon his return▪ [Page 131] the candidate was deſired to find the track in which he had travelled. A brook, or a fountain, was named to him on the frontier, and he was deſired to find the neareſt path to a particular ſtation, and to plant a ſtake in the place*. They can accordingly, trace a wild beaſt, or the human foot, over many leagues of a pathleſs foreſt, and find their way acroſs a woody and uninhabited continent, by means of refined obſervations, which eſcape the traveller who has been accuſtomed to different aids. They ſteer in ſlender cannoes, acroſs ſtormy ſeas, with a dexterity equal to that of the moſt experienced Pilot. They ca [...]y a penetrating eye for the thoughts and intentions of thoſe with whom they have to deal; and when they mean to deceive, they cover themſelves with arts which the moſt ſubtile can ſeldom elude. They harangue in their public councils with a nervous and figurative elocution; and conduct themſelves in the management of their treaties with a perfect diſcernment of their national intereſts.

THUS being able maſters in the detail of their own affairs, and well qualified to acquit themſelves on particular occaſions, they ſtudy no ſcience, and go in purſuit of no general principles. They even ſeem incapable of attending to any diſtant conſequences, beyond thoſe they have experienced in hunting or war. They intruſt the proviſion of every ſeaſon to itſelf; conſume the fruits of the earth in ſummer; and, in winter, are driven in [Page 132] queſt of their prey, through woods, and over deſerts covered with ſnow. They do not form in one hour thoſe maxims which may prevent the errors of the next; and they fail in thoſe apprehenſions, which, in the intervals of paſſion, produce ingenuous ſhame, compaſſion, remorſe, or a command of appetite. They are ſeldom made to repent of any violence; nor is a perſon, indeed, thought accountable in his ſober mood, for what he did in the heat of a paſſion, or in a time of debauch.

THEIR ſuperſtitions are groveling and mean: and did this happen among rude nations alone, we could not ſufficiently admire the effects of politeneſs; but it is a ſubject on which few nations are intitled to cenſure their neighbours. When we have conſidered the ſuperſtitions of one people, we find little variety in thoſe of another. They are but a repetition of ſimilar weakneſſes and abſurdities, derived from a common ſource, a perplexed apprehenſion of inviſible agents, that are ſuppoſed to guide all precarious events to which human foreſight cannot extend.

IN what depends on the known or the regular courſe of nature, the mind truſts to itſelf; but in ſtrange and uncommon ſituations, it is the dupe of its own perplexity, and, inſtead of relying on its prudence or courage, has recourſe to divination, and a variety of obſervances, that, for being irrational, are always the more revered. Superſtition being founded in doubts and anxiety, is foſtered by ignorance and myſtery. Its maxims, in the mean time, are not always confounded with thoſe of common life; nor does its weakneſs or folly always prevent the watchfulneſs, penetration, and [Page 133] courage, men are accuſtomed to employ in the management of common affairs. A Roman conſulting futurity by the pecking of birds, or a King of Sparta inſpecting the intrails of a beaſt, Mithridates conſulting his women on the interpretation of his dreams, are examples ſufficient to prove, that a childiſh imbecility on this ſubject is conſiſtent with the greateſt military and political talents.

CONFIDENCE in the effect of ſuperſtitious obſervances is not peculiar to any age or nation. Few, even of the accompliſhed Greeks and Romans, were able to ſhake off this weakneſs. In their caſe, it was not removed by the higheſt meaſures of civilization. It has yielded only to the light of true religion, or to the ſtudy of nature, by which we are led to ſubſtitute a wiſe providence operating by phyſical cauſes, in the place of phantoms that terrify or amuſe the ignorant.

THE principal point of honour among the rude nations of America, as indeed in every inſtance where mankind are not greatly corrupted, is ſortitude. Yet their way of maintaining this point of honour, is very different from that of the nations of Europe. Their ordinary method of making war is by ambuſcade; and they ſtrive, by over-reaching an enemy, to commit the greateſt ſlaughter, or to make the greateſt number of priſoners, with the leaſt hazard to themſelves. They deem it a folly to expoſe their own perſons in aſſaulting an enemy, and do not rejoice in victories which are ſtained with the blood of their own people. They do not value themſelves, as in Europe, on defying their enemy upon equal terms. They [Page 134] even boaſt, that they approach like foxes, or that they fly like birds, not leſs than that they devour like lions. In Europe, to fall in battle is accounted an honour; among the natives of America, it is reckoned diſgraceful*. They reſerve their fortitude for the trials they abide when attacked by ſurpriſe, or when fallen into their enemies hands; and when they are obliged to maintain their own honour, and that of their nation, in the midſt of torments that require efforts of patience more than of valour.

ON theſe occaſions, they are far from allowing it to be ſuppoſed that they wiſh to decline the conflict. It is held infamous to avoid it, even by a voluntary death; and the greateſt affront which can be offered to a priſoner, is to refuſe him the honours of a man, in the manner of his execution: ‘With-hold,’ ſays an old man, in the midſt of his torture, ‘the ſtabs of your knife; rather let me die by fire, that thoſe dogs, your allies, from beyond the ſeas, may learn to ſuffer like men.’ With terms of defiance, the victim, in thoſe ſolemn trials, commonly excites the animoſity of his tormentors, as well as his own; and whilſt we ſuffer for human nature, under the effect of its errors, we muſt admire its force.

THE people with whom this practice prevailed, were commonly deſirous of repairing their own loſſes, by adopting priſoners of war into their families: and even in the laſt moment, the hand [Page 135] which was raiſed to torment, frequently gave the ſign of adoption, by which the priſoner became the child or the brother of his enemy, and came to ſhare in all the privileges of a citizen. In their treatment of thoſe who ſuffered, they did not appear to be guided by principles of hatred or revenge: they obſerved the point of honour in applying as well as in bearing their torments; and, by a ſtrange kind of affection and tenderneſs, were directed to be moſt cruel where they intended the higheſt reſpect: the coward was put to immediate death by the hands of women: the valiant was ſuppoſed to be intitled to all the trials of fortitude that men could invent or employ: ‘It gave me joy,’ ſays an old man to his captive, ‘that ſo gallant a youth was allotted to my ſhare: I propoſed to have placed you on the couch of my nephew, who was ſlain by your countrymen; to have transferred all my tenderneſs to you; and to have ſolaced my age in your company: but maimed and mutilated as you now appear, death is better than life: prepare yourſelf therefore to die like a man*.’

IT is perhaps with a view to theſe exhibitions, or rather in admiration of fortitude, the principle from which they proceed, that the Americans are ſo attentive, in their earlieſt years, to harden their nerves. The children are taught to vie with each other in bearing the ſharpeſt torments; the [Page 136] youth are admitted into the claſs of manhood, after violent proofs of their patience; and leaders are put to the teſt, by famine, burning, and ſuffocation*.

IT might be apprehended, that among rude nations, where the means of ſubſiſtence are procured with ſo much difficulty, the mind could never raiſe itſelf above the conſideration of this ſubject; and that man would, in this condition, give examples of the meaneſt and moſt mercenary ſpirit. The reverſe, however is true. Directed in this particular by the deſires of nature, men, in their ſimpleſt ſtate, attend to the objects of appetite no further than appetite requires; and their deſires of fortune extend no further than the meal which gratifies their hunger: they apprehend no ſuperiority of rank in the poſſeſſion of wealth, ſuch as might inſpire any habitual principle of covetouſneſs, vanity, or ambition: they can apply to no taſk that engages no immediate paſſion, and take pleaſure in no occupation that affords no dangers to be braved, and no honours to be won.

IT was not among the ancient Romans alone that commercial arts, or a ſordid mind, were held in contempt. A like ſpirit prevails in every rude and independent ſociety. ‘I am a warrior, and not a merchant,’ ſaid an American to the governor of Canada, who propoſed to give him goods in exchange for ſome priſoners he had taken; ‘your cloaths and utenſils do not tempt me; but my priſoners are now in your power, and [Page 137] you may ſeize them: if you do, I muſt go forth and take more priſoners, or periſh in the attempt; and if that chance ſhould beſal me, I ſhall die like a man; but remember that our nation will charge you as the cauſe of my death*.’ With theſe apprehenſions, they have an elevation, and a ſtatelineſs of carriage, which the pride of nobility, where it is moſt revered by poliſhed nations, ſeldom beſtows.

THEY are attentive to their perſons, and employ much time, as well as endure great pain, in the methods they take to adorn their bodies, to give the permanent ſtains with which they are coloured, or preſerve the paint, which they are perpetually repairing, in order to appear with advantage.

THEIR averſion to every ſort of employment which they hold to be mean, makes them paſs great part of their time in idleneſs or ſleep; and a man who, in purſuit of a wild beaſt, or to ſurpriſe his enemy, will traverſe a hundred leagues on ſnow, will not, to procure his food, ſubmit to any ſpecies of ordinary labour. ‘Strange,’ ſays Tacitus, ‘that the ſame perſon ſhould be ſo much averſe to repoſe, and ſo much addicted to ſloth.’

GAMES of hazard are not the invention of poliſhed ages; men of curioſity have looked for their origin, in vain, among the monuments of an [Page 138] obſcure antiquity; and it is probable that they belonged to times too remote and too rude even for the conjectures of antiquarians to reach. The very ſavage brings his furs, his utenſils, and his beads, to the hazard-table: he finds here the paſſions and agitations which the applications of a tedions induſtry could not excite: and while the throw is depending, he tears his hair, and beats his breaſt, with a rage which the more accompliſhed gameſter has ſometimes learned to repreſs: he often quits the party naked, and ſtripped of all his poſſeſſions; or where ſlavery is in uſe, ſtakes his freedom to have one chance more to recover his former loſs*.

WITH all theſe infirmities, vices, or reſpectable qualities, belonging to the human ſpecies in its rudeſt ſtate; the love of ſociety, friendſhip, and public affection, penetration, eloquence, and courage, appear to have been its original properties, not the ſubſequent effects of device or invention. If mankind are qualified to improve their manners, the ſubject was furniſhed by nature; and the effect of cultivation is not to inſpire the ſentiments of tenderneſs and generoſity, nor to beſtow the principal conſtituents of a reſpectable character, but to obviate the caſual abuſes of paſſion; and to prevent a mind, which feels the beſt diſpoſitions in their greateſt force, from being at times likewiſe the ſport of brutal appetite and ungovernable violence.

[Page 139] WERE Lycurgus employed anew to operate on the materials we have deſcribed, he would find them, in many important particulars, prepared by nature herſelf for his uſe. His equality in matters of property being already eſtabliſhed, he would have no faction to apprehend from the oppoſite intereſts of the poor and the rich; his ſenate, his aſſembly of the people, is conſtituted; his diſcipline is in ſome meaſure adopted; and the place of his helots is ſupplied by the taſk allotted to one of the ſexes. With all theſe advantages, he would ſtill have had a very important leſſon for civil ſociety to teach, that by which a few learn to command, and the many are taught to obey: he would have all his precautions to take againſt the future intruſion of mercenary arts, the admiration of luxury, and the paſſion for intereſt: he would ſtill perhaps have a more difficult taſk than any of the former, in teaching his citizens the command of appetite, and an indifference to pleaſure, as well as a contempt of pain; in teaching them to maintain, in the field, the formality of uniform precautions, and as much to avoid being themſelves ſurpriſed, as they endeavour to ſurpriſe their enemy.

FOR want of theſe advantages, rude nations in general, though they are patient of hardſhip and fatigue, though they are addicted to war, and are qualified by their ſtratagem and valour to throw terror into the armies of a more regular enemy; yet, in the courſe of a continued ſtruggle, always yield to the ſuperior arts, and the diſcipline of more civilized nations. Hence the Romans [Page 140] were able to over-run the provinces of Gaul, Germany, and Britain; and hence the Europeans have a growing aſcendency over the nations of Africa and America.

ON the credit of a ſuperiority which certain nations poſſeſs, they think that they have a claim to dominion; and even Caeſar appears to have forgotten what were the paſſions, as well as the rights of mankind, when he complained, that the Britons, after having ſent him a ſubmiſſive meſſage to Gaul, perhaps to prevent his invaſion, ſtill pretended to fight for their liberties, and to oppoſe his deſcent on their iſland*.

THERE is not, perhaps, in the whole deſcription of mankind a circumſtance more remarkable than that mutual contempt and averſion which nations, under a different ſtate of commercial arts, beſtow on each other. Addicted to their own purſuits, and conſidering their own condition as the ſtandard of human felicity, all nations pretend to the preference, and in their practice give ſufficient proof of ſincerity. Even the ſavage ſtill leſs than the citizen, can be made to quit that manner of life in which he is trained: he loves that freedom of mind which will not be bound to any taſk, and which owns no ſuperior: however tempted to mix with poliſhed nations, and to better his fortune, the firſt moment of liberty brings him back to the woods again; he droops and he pines [Page 141] in the ſtreets of the populous city; he wanders diſſatisfied over the open and the cultivated field; he ſeeks the frontier and the foreſt, where, with a conſtitution prepared to undergo the hardſhips and the difficulties of the ſituation, he enjoys a delicious freedom from care, and a ſeducing ſociety, where no rules of behaviour are preſcribed, but the ſimple dictates of the heart.

1.2.3. SECT. III.
Of Rude Nations under the Impreſſions of Property and Intereſt.

[Page 142]

IT was a proverbial imprecation in uſe among the hunting nations on the confines of Siberia, That their enemy might be obliged to live like a Tartar, and be ſeized with the folly of breeding and attending his cattle*. Nature, it ſeems, in their apprehenſion, by ſtoring the woods and the deſert with game, rendered the taſk of the herdſman unneceſſary, and left to man only the trouble of ſelecting and of ſeizing his prey.

THE indolence of mankind, or rather their averſion to any application in which they are not engaged by immediate inſtinct and paſſion, retards their progreſs in extending the notion of property. It has been found, however, even while the means of ſubſiſtence are left in common, and the ſtock of the public is yet undivided, that this notion is already applied to different ſubjects; as the ſur and the bow pertain to the individual; the cottage, with its furniture, are appropiated to the family.

WHEN the parent begins to deſire a better proviſion for his children than is ſound under the [Page 143] promiſcuous management of many copartners, when he has applied his labour and his ſkill apart, he aims at an excluſive poſſeſſion, and ſeeks the property of the ſoil, as well as the uſe of its fruits.

WHEN the individual no longer finds among his aſſociates the ſame inclination to commit every ſubject to public uſe, he is ſeized with concern for his perſonal fortune; and is alarmed by the cares which every perſon entertains for himſelf. He is urged as much by emulation and jealouſy, as by the ſenſe of neceſſity. He ſuffers conſiderations of intereſt to reſt on his mind, and when every preſent appetite is ſufficiently gratified, he can act with a view to futurity, or rather finds an object of vanity in having amaſſed what is become a ſubject of competition, and a matter of univerſal eſteem. Upon this motive, where violence is reſtrained, he can apply his hand to lucrative arts, confine himſelf to a tedious taſk, and wait with patience for the diſtant returns of his labour.

THUS mankind acquire induſtry by many and by ſlow degrees. They are taught to regard their intereſt; they are taught to abſtain from unlawful profits; they are ſecured in the poſſeſſion of what they fairly obtain; and by theſe methods the habits of the labourer, the mechanic, and the trader, are gradualiy formed. A hoard, collected from the ſimple productions of nature, or a herd of cattle, are, in every rude nation, the firſt ſpecies of wealth. The circumſtances of the ſoil, and the climate, determine whether the inhabitant ſhall apply himſelf chiefly to agriculture or paſture; [Page 144] whether he ſhall fix his reſidence, or be moving continually about with all his poſſeſſions.

IN the weſt of Europe; in America, from ſouth to north, with a few exceptions; in the torrid zone, and every where within the warmer climates; mankind have generally applied themſelves to ſome ſpecies of agriculture, and have been diſpoſed to ſettlement. In the eaſt and the north of Aſia, they depended entirely on their herds, and were perpetually ſhifting their ground in ſearch of new paſture. The arts which pertain to ſettlement have been practiſed, and variouſly cultivated, by the inhabitants of Europe. Thoſe which are conſiſtent with perpetual migration, have, from the earlieſt accounts of hiſtory, remained nearly the ſame with the Scythian or Tartar. The tent pitched on a moveable carriage, the horſe applied to every purpoſe of labour, and of war, of the dairy, and of the butcher's ſtall, from the earlieſt to the lateſt accounts, have made up the riches and equipage of this wandering people.

BUT in whatever way rude nations ſubſiſt, there are certain points in which, under the firſt impreſſions of property, they nearly agree. Homer either lived with a people in this ſtage of their progreſs, or found himſelf engaged to exhibit their character. Tacitus has made them the ſubject of a particular treatiſe; and if this be an aſpect under which mankind deſerve to be viewed, it muſt be confeſſed, that we have ſingular advantages in collecting their features. The portrait has already been drawn by the ableſt hands, and gives, at one view, in the writings of theſe celebrated authors, whatever has been ſcattered in the relations of hiſtorians, or whatever we have opportunities [Page 145] to obſerve in the actual manners of men, who ſtill remain in a ſimilar ſtate.

IN paſſing from the condition we have deſcribed, to this we have at preſent in view, mankind ſtill retain many parts of their earlieſt character. They are ſtill averſe to labour, addicted to war, admirers of fortitude, and, in the language of Tacitus, more laviſh of their blood than of their ſweat*. They are fond of fantaſtic ornaments in their dreſs, and endeavour to fill up the liſtleſs intervals of a life addicted to violence, with hazardous ſports, and with games of chance. Every ſervile occupation they commit to women or ſlaves. But we may apprehend, that the individual having now found a ſeparate intereſt, the bands of ſociety muſt become leſs firm, and domeſtic diſorders more frequent. The members of any community, being diſtinguiſhed among themſelves by unequal ſhares in the diſtribution of property, the ground of a permanent and palpable ſubordination is laid.

THESE particulars accordingly take place among mankind, in paſſing from the ſavage to what may be called the barbarous ſtate. Members of the ſame community enter into quarrels of competition or revenge. They unite in following leaders, who are diſtinguiſhed by their fortunes, and by the luſtre of their birth. They join the deſire of ſpoil with the love of glory; and from an opinion, that what is acquired by force, [Page 146] juſtly pertains to the victor, they become hunters of men, and bring every conteſt to the deciſion of the ſword.

EVERY nation is a band of robbers, who prey without reſtraint, or remorſe, on their neighbours. Cattle, ſays Achilles, may be ſeized in every field; and the coaſts of the Aegean ſea were accordingly pillaged by the heroes of Homer, for no other reaſon, than becauſe thoſe heroes choſe to poſſeſs themſelves of the braſs and iron, the cattle, the ſlaves, and the women, which were found among the nations around them.

A Tartar mounted on his horſe, is an animal of prey, who only inquires where cattle are to be found, and how far he muſt go to poſſeſs them. The monk, who had fallen under the diſpleaſure of Mangu Chan, made his peace, by promiſing, that the Pope, and the Chriſtian princes, ſhould make a ſurrender of all their herds*.

A ſimilar ſpirit reigned, without exception, in all the barbarous nations of Europe, Aſia, and Africa. The antiquities of Greece and Italy, and the fables of every ancient poet, contain examples of its force. It was this ſpirit that brought our anceſtors firſt into the provinces of the Roman empire; and that afterward, more perhaps than their reverence for the croſs, led them to the Eaſt, to ſhare with the Tartars in the ſpoils of the Saracen empire.

[Page 147] FROM the deſcriptions contained in the laſt ſection, we may incline to believe, that mankind, in their ſimpleſt ſtate, are on the eve of erecting republics. Their love of equality, their habit of aſſembling in public councils, and their zeal for the tribe to which they belong, are qualifications that fit them to act under that ſpecies of government; and they ſeem to have but a few ſteps to make, in order to reach its eſtabliſhment. They have only to define the numbers of which their councils ſhall conſiſt, and to ſettle the forms of their meeting: They have only to beſtow a permanent authority for repreſſing diſorders, and to enact a few rules in favour of that juſtice they have already acknowledged, and from inclination ſo ſtrictly obſerve.

BUT theſe ſteps are far from being ſo eaſily made, as they appear on a ſlight or a tranſient view. The reſolution of chuſing, from among their equals, the magiſtrate to whom they give from thenceforward a right to controul their own actions, is far from the thoughts of ſimple men; and no eloquence, perhaps, could make them adopt this meaſure, or give them any ſenſe of its uſe.

EVEN after nations have choſen a military leader, they do not intruſt him with any ſpecies of civil authority. The captain, among the Caribbees, did not pretend to decide in domeſtic diſputes; the terms juriſdiction and government were unknown in their tongue*.

[Page 148] BEFORE this important change is admitted, men muſt be accuſtomed to the diſtinction of ranks; and before they are ſenſible that ſubordination is matter of choice, muſt arrive at unequal conditions by chance. In deſiring property, they only mean to ſecure their ſubſiſtence: but the brave who lead in war, have likewiſe the largeſt ſhare in its ſpoils. The eminent are fond of deviſing hereditary honours; and the multitude, who admire the parent, are ready to extend their eſteem to his offspring.

POSSESSIONS deſcend, and the luſtre of family grows brighter with age. Hercules, who perhaps was an eminent warrior, became a god with poſterity, and his race was ſet apart for royalty and ſovereign power. When the diſtinctions of fortune and thoſe of birth are conjoined, the chieftain enjoys a pre-eminence, as well at the feaſt as in the field. His followers take their place in ſubordinate ſtations; and inſtead of conſidering themſelves as parts of a community, they rank as the followers of a chieftain, and take their deſignation from the name of their leader. They find a new object of public affection, in defending his perſon, and in ſupporting his ſtation; they lend of their ſubſtance to form his eſtate; they are guided by his ſmiles and his frowns; and court, as the higheſt diſtinction, a ſhare in the feaſt which their own contributions have furniſhed.

AS the former ſtate of mankind ſeemed to point at democracy, this ſeems to exhibit the rudiments of monarchical government. But it is yet far ſhort of that eſtabliſhment which is known in [Page 149] after ages by the name of monarchy. The diſtinction between the leader and the follower, the prince and the ſubject, is ſtill but imperfectly marked: their purſuits and occupations are not different; their minds are not unequally cultivated; they feed from the ſame diſh; they ſleep together on the ground; the children of the king, as well as thoſe of the ſubject, are employed in tending the flock; and the keeper of the ſwine was a prime counſellor at the court of Ulyſſes.

THE chieftain, ſufficiently diſtinguiſhed from his tribe, to excite their admiration, and to flatter their vanity by a ſuppoſed affinity to his noble deſcent, is the object of their veneration, not of their envy: he is conſidered as the common bond of connection, not as their common maſter; is foremoſt in danger, and has a principal ſhare in their troubles: his glory is placed in the number of his attendants, in his ſuperior magnanimity and valour; that of his followers, in being ready to ſhed their blood in his ſervice*.

THE frequent practice of war tends to ſtrengthen the bands of ſociety, and the practice of depredation itſelf engages men in trials of mutual attachment and courage. What threatened to ruin and overſet every good diſpoſition in the human breaſt, what ſeemed to baniſh juſtice from the ſocieties of men, tends to unite the ſpecies in clans and fraternities; formidable, indeed, and hoſtile to one another, but in the domeſtic ſociety of each, faithful, diſintereſted, and generous. Frequent [Page 150] dangers, and the experience of fidelity and valour, awaken the love of thoſe virtues, render them a ſubject of admiration, and endear their poſſeſſors.

ACTUATED by great paſſions, the love of glory, and the deſire of victory; rouſed by the menaces of an enemy, or ſtung with revenge; in ſuſpenſe between the proſpects of ruin or conqueſt, the barbarian ſpends every moment of relaxation in the indulgence of ſloth. He cannot deſcend to the purſuits of induſtry or mechanical labour: the beaſt of prey is a ſluggard; the hunter and the warrior ſleeps, while women or ſlaves are made to toil for his bread. But ſhew him a quarry at a diſtance, he is bold, impetuous, artful, and rapacious: no bar can withſtand his violence, and no fatigue can allay his activity.

EVEN under this deſcription mankind are generous and hoſpital to ſtrangers, as well as kind, affectionate, and gentle, in their domeſtic ſociety*. Friendſhip and enmity are to them terms of the greateſt importance: they mingle not their functions together; they have ſingled out their enemy, and they have choſen their friend. Even in depredation, the principal object is glory; and ſpoil is conſidered as a badge of victory. Nations and tribes are their prey: the ſolitary traveller, by whom they can acquire only the reputation of generoſity, is ſuffered to paſs unhurt, or is treated with ſplendid munificence.

[Page 151] THOUGH diſtinguiſhed into ſmall cantons under their ſeveral chieftains, and for the moſt part ſeparated by jealouſy and animoſity; yet when preſſed by wars and formidable enemies, they ſometimes unite in greater bodies. Like the Greeks in their expedition to Troy, they follow ſome remarkable leader, and compoſe a kingdom of many ſeparate tribes. But ſuch coalitions are merely occaſional; and even during their continuance, more reſemble republic than monarchy. The inferior chieftains reſerve their importance, and intrude, with an air of equality, into the councils of their leader, as the people of their ſeveral clans commonly intrude upon them*. Upon what motive indeed could we ſuppoſe, that men who live together in the greateſt familiarity, and amongſt whom the diſtinctions of rank are ſo obſcurely marked, would reſign their perſonal ſentiments and inclinations, or pay an implicit ſubmiſſion to a leader who can neither overawe nor corrupt?

MILITARY force muſt be employed to extort, or the hire of the venal to buy, that engagement which the Tartar comes under to his prince, when he promiſes, ‘That he will go where he ſhall be commanded; that he will come when he ſhall be called; that he will kill whoever is pointed out to him; and for the future, that he will conſider the voice of the King as a ſword.’

[Page 152] THESE are the terms to which even the ſtubborn heart of the barbarian has been reduced, in conſequence of a deſpotiſm he himſelf had eſtabliſhed; and men have, in that low ſtate of the commercial arts, in Europe, as well as in Aſia, taſted of political ſlavery. When intereſt prevails in every breaſt, the ſovereign and his party cannot eſcape the infection: he employs the force with which he is intruſted, to turn his people into a property, and to command their poſſeſſions for his profit or pleaſure. If riches are by any people made the ſtandard of good and of evil, let them beware of the powers they intruſt to their prince. ‘With the Suiones,’ ſays Tacitus, ‘riches are in high eſteem; and this people are accordingly diſarmed, and reduced to ſlavery*.’

IT is in this woful condition that mankind, being ſlaviſh, intereſted, inſidious, deceitful, and bloody, bear marks, if not of the leaſt curable, ſurely of the moſt lamentable, ſort of corruption. Among them, war is the mere practice of rapine, to enrich the individual; commerce is turned into a ſyſtem of ſnares and impoſitions; and government by turns oppreſſive or weak.

IT were happy for the human race, when guided by intereſt, and not governed by laws, that being ſplit into nations of a moderate extent, they found in every canton ſome natural bar to its further enlargement, and met with occupation enough in [Page 153] maintaining their independence, without being able to extend their dominion.

THERE is not diſparity of rank, among men in rude ages, ſufficient to give their communities the form of legal monarchy; and in a territory of conſiderable extent, when united under one head, the warlike and turbulent ſpirit of its inhabitants ſeems to require the bridle of deſpotiſm and military force. Where any degree of freedom remains, the powers of the prince are, as they were in moſt of the rude monarchies of Europe, extremely precarious, and depend chiefly on his perſonal character: where, on the contrary, the powers of the prince are above the control of his people, they are likewiſe above the reſtrictions of law. Rapacity and terror become the predominant motives of conduct, and form the character of the only parties into which mankind are divided, that of the oppreſſor, and that of the oppreſſed.

THIS calamity threatened Europe for ages, under the conqueſt and ſettlement of its new inhabitants*. It has actually taken place in Aſia, where ſimilar conqueſts have been made; and even without the ordinary opiates of effeminacy, or a ſervile weakneſs, founded on luxury, it has ſurpriſed the Tartar on his wain, in the rear of his herds. Among this people, in the heart of a great continent, bold and enterpriſing warriors aroſe: they ſubdued, by ſurpriſe, or ſuperior abilities, [Page 154] the contiguous hords; they gained, in their progreſs, acceſſions of numbers and of ſtrength; and, like a torrent increaſing as it deſcends, became too ſtrong for any bar that could be oppoſed to their paſſage. The conquering tribe, during a ſucceſſion of ages, furniſhed the prince with his guards; and while they themſelves were allowed to ſhare in its ſpoils, were the voluntary tools of oppreſſion. In this manner has deſpotiſm and corruption made their way into regions ſo much renowned for the wild freedom of nature: a power which was the terror of every effeminate province is diſarmed, and the nurſery of nations is itſelf gone to decay*.

WHERE rude nations eſcape this calamity, they require the exerciſe of foreign wars to maintain domeſtic peace: when no enemy appears from abroad, they have leiſure for private feuds, and employ that courage in their diſſenſions at home, which, in time of war, is employed in defence of their country.

‘AMONG the Gauls,’ ſays Caeſar, ‘there are ſubdiviſions, not only in every nation, and in every diſtrict and village, but almoſt in every houſe, every one muſt fly to ſome patron for protection.’ In this diſtribution of parties, not only the feuds of clans, but the quarrels of families, even the differences and competitions of individuals, are decided by force. The ſovereign, when unaſſiſted by ſuperſtition, endeavours in vain [Page 155] to employ his juriſdiction, or to procure a ſubmiſſion to the deciſions of law. By a people who are accuſtomed to owe their poſſeſſions to violence, and who deſpiſe fortune itſelf without the reputation of courage, no umpire is admitted but the ſword. Scipio offered his arbitration to terminate the competition of two Spaniards in a diſputed ſucceſſion: ‘That,’ ſaid they, ‘we have already refuſed to our relations: we do not ſubmit our difference to the judgement of men; and even among the gods, we appeal to Mars alone*

IT is well known that the nations of Europe carried this mode of proceeding to a degree of formality unheard of in other parts of the world: the civil and criminal judge could, in moſt caſes, do no more than appoint the liſt, and leave the parties to decide their cauſe by the combat: they apprehended that the victor had a verdict of the gods in his favour: and when they dropped in any inſtance this extraordinary form of proceſs, they ſubſtituted in its place ſome other more capricious appeal to chance; in which they likewiſe thought that the judgement of the gods was declared.

THE fierce nations of Europe were even fond of the combat as an exerciſe and a ſport. In the abſence of real quarrels, companions challenged each other to a trial of ſkill, in which one of them frequently periſhed. When Spicio celebrated the funeral of his father and his uncle, the Spaniards came in pairs to fight, and, by a public exhibition of their duels, to increaſe the ſolemnity53.

[Page 156] IN this wild and lawleſs ſtate, where the effects of true religion would have been ſo deſireable, and ſo ſalutary, ſuperſtition frequently diſputes the aſcendant even with the admiration of valour; and an order of men, like the Druids among the ancient Gauls and Britons*, or ſome pretender to divination, as at the Cape of Good Hope, finds, in the credit which is paid to his ſorcery, a way to the poſſeſſion of power: his magic wand comes in competition with the ſword itſelf; and, in the manner of the Druids, gives the firſt rudiments of civil government to ſome, or, like the ſuppoſed deſcendent of the ſun among the Natchez, and the Lama among the Tartars, to others, an early taſte of deſpotiſm and abſolute ſlavery.

WE are generally at a loſs to conceive how mankind can ſubſiſt under cuſtoms and manners extremely different from our own; and we are apt to exaggerate the miſery of barbarous times, by an imagination of what we ourſelves ſhould ſuffer in a ſituation to which we are not accuſtomed. But every age hath its conſolations, as well as its ſufferings. In the interval of occaſional [Page 157] outrages, the friendly intercourſes of men, even in their rudeſt condition, is affectionate and happy*. In rude ages, the perſons and properties of individuals are ſecure; becauſe each has a friend, as well as an enemy; and if the one is diſpoſed to moleſt, the other is ready to protect; and the very admiration of valour, which in ſome inſtances tends to ſanctify violence, inſpires likewiſe certain maxims of generoſity and honour, that tend to prevent the Commiſſion of wrongs.

MEN bear with the defects of their policy, as they do with hardſhips and inconveniencies in their manner of living. The alarms and the fatigues of war become a neceſſary recreation to thoſe who are accuſtomed to them, and who have the tone of their paſſions raiſed above leſs animating or trying occaſions. Old men, among the courtiers of Attila, wept, when they heard of heroic deeds, which they themſelves could no longer perform. And among the Celtic nations, when age rendered the warrior unfit for his former toils, it was the cuſtom, in order to abridge the languors of a liſtleſs [Page 158] and inactive life, to ſue for death at the hands of his friends*.

WITH all this ferocity of ſpirit, the rude nations of the Weſt were ſubdued by the policy and more regular warfare of the Romans. The point of honour, which the barbarians of Europe adopted as individuals, expoſed them to a peculiar diſadvantage, by rendering them, even in their national wars, averſe to aſſailing their enemy by ſurpriſe, or taking the benefit of ſtratagem; and though ſeparately bold and intrepid, yet, like other rude nations, they were, when aſſembled in great bodies, addicted to ſuperſtition, and ſubject to panics.

THEY were, from a conſciouſneſs of their perſonal courage and force, ſanguine on the eve of battle; they were, beyond the bounds of moderation, elated on ſucceſs, and dejected in adverſity; and being diſpoſed to conſider every event as a judgement of the gods, they were never qualified by an uniform application of prudence, to make the moſt of their forces, to repair their miſfortunes, or to improve their advantages.

RESIGNED to the government of affection and paſſion, they were generous and faithful where they had fixed an attachment; implacable, froward, and cruel, where they had conceived a diſlike: addicted to debauchery, and the immoderate [Page 159] uſe of intoxicating liquors, they deliberated on the affairs of ſtate in the heat of their riot; and in the ſame dangerous moments, conceived the deſigns of military enterpriſe, or terminated their domeſtic diſſenſions by the dagger or the ſword.

IN their wars they preferred death to captivity. The victorious armies of the Romans, in entering a town by aſſault, or in forcing an incampment, have found the mother in the act of deſtroying her children, that they might not be taken; and the dagger of the parent, red with the blood of his family, ready to be plunged at laſt into his own breaſt*.

IN all theſe particulars we perceive that vigour of ſpirit, which renders diſorder itſelf reſpectable, and which qualifies men, if fortunate in their ſituation, to lay the baſis of domeſtic liberty, as well as to maintain againſt foreign enemies their national independence and freedom.

Of the Hiſtory of Policy and Arts.

[Page 161]

1.3.1. SECT. I.
Of the Influences of Climate and Situation.

WHAT we have hitherto obſerved on the condition and manners of nations, though chiefly derived from what has paſſed in the temperate climates, may, in ſome meaſure, be applied to the rude ſtate of mankind in every part of the earth: but if we intend to purſue the hiſtory of our ſpecies in its further attainments, we may ſoon enter on ſubjects which will confine our obſervation to more narrow limits. The genius of political wiſdom and civil arts appears to have choſen his ſeats in particular tracts of the earth, and to have ſelected his favourites in particular races of men.

[Page 162] MAN, in his animal capacity, is qualified to ſubſiſt in every climate. He reigns with the lion and the tyger under the equatorial heats of the ſun, or he aſſociates with the bear and the raindeer beyond the polar circle. His verſatile diſpoſition fits him to aſſume the habits of either condition, or his talent for arts enables him to ſupply its defects. The intermediate climates, however, appear moſt to favour his nature; and in whatever manner we account for the fact, it cannot be doubted, that this animal has always attained to the principal honours of his ſpecies within the temperate zone. The arts, which he has on this ſcene repeatedly invented, the extent of his reaſon, the fertility of his fancy, and the force of his genius in literature, commerce, policy, and war, ſufficiently declare either a diſtinguiſhed advantage of ſituation, or a natural ſuperiority of mind.

THE moſt remarkable races of men, it is true, have been rude before they were poliſhed. They have in ſome caſes returned to rudeneſs again: and it is not from the actual poſſeſſion of arts, ſcience, or policy, that we are to pronounce of their genius.

THERE is a vigour, a reach of capacity, and a ſenſibility of mind, which may characteriſe as well the ſavage as the citizen, the ſlave as well as the maſter; and the ſame powers of the mind may be turned to a variety of purpoſes. A modern Greek, perhaps, is miſchievous, ſlaviſh, and cunning, from the ſame animated temperament that made his anceſtor ardent, ingenious, and bold, in the camp, or in the council of his nation. [Page 163] A modern Italian is diſtinguiſhed by ſenſibility, quickneſs, and art, while he employs on trifles the capacity of an ancient Roman; and exhibits now, in the ſcene of amuſement, and in the ſearch of a frivolous applauſe, that fire, and thoſe paſſions, with which Gracchus burned in the Forum, and ſhook the aſſemblies of a ſeverer people.

THE commercial and lucrative arts have been, in ſome climates, the principal object of mankind, and have been retained through every diſaſter; in others, even under all the fluctuations of fortune, they have ſtill been neglected; while in the temperate climates of Europe and Aſia, they have had their ages of admiration as well as contempt.

IN one ſtate of ſociety, arts are ſlighted, from that very ardour of mind, and principle of activity, by which, in another, they are practiſed with the greateſt ſucceſs. While men are ingroſſed by their paſſions, heated and rouſed by the ſtruggles and dangers of their country; while the trumpet ſounds, or the alarm of ſocial engagement is rung, and the heart beats high, it were a mark of dullneſs, or of an abject ſpirit, to find leiſure for the ſtudy of eaſe, or the purſuit of improvements, which have mere convenience or eaſe for their object.

THE frequent viciſſitudes and reverſes of fortune, which nations have experienced on that very ground where the arts have proſpered, are probably the effects of a buſy, inventive, and verſatile ſpirit, by which men have carried every national [Page 164] purſuit to extremes. They have raiſed the fabric of deſpotic empire to its greateſt height, where they had beſt underſtood the foundations of freedom. They periſhed in the flames which they themſelves had kindled; and they only, perhaps, were capable of diſplaying, by turns, the greateſt improvements, or the loweſt corruptions, to which the human mind can be brought.

ON this ſcene, mankind have twice, within the compaſs of hiſtory, aſcended from rude beginnings to very high degrees of refinement. In every age, whether deſtined by its temporary diſpoſition to build or to deſtroy, they have left the veſtiges of an active and vehement ſpirit. The pavement and the ruins of Rome are buried in duſt, ſhaken from the feet of barbarians, who trod with contempt on the refinements of luxury, and ſpurned thoſe arts, the uſe of which it was reſerved for the poſterity of the ſame people to diſcover and to admire. The tents of the wild Arab are even now pitched among the ruins of magnificent cities; and the waſte fields which border on Paleſtine and Syria, are perhaps become again the nurſery of infant nations. The chieftain of an Arab tribe, like the founder of Rome, may have already fixed the roots of a plant that is to flouriſh in ſome future period, or laid the foundations of a fabric, that will attain to its grandeur in ſome diſtant age.

GREAT part of Africa has been always unknown; but the ſilence of ſame, on the ſubject of its revolutions, is an argument, where no other proof can be found, of weakneſs in the genius of its people. The torrid zone, every where round [Page 165] the globe, however known to the geographer, has furniſhed few materials for hiſtory; and though in many places ſupplied with the arts of life in no contemptible degree, has no where matured the more important projects of political wiſdom, nor inſpired the virtues which are connected with freedom, and required in the conduct of civil affairs.

IT was indeed in the torrid zone that mere arts of mechaniſm and manufacture were found, among the inhabitants of the new world, to have made the greateſt advance: it is in India, and in the regions of this hemiſphere, which are viſited by the vertical ſun, that the arts of manufacture, and the practice of commerce, are of the greateſt antiquity, and have ſurvived, with the ſmalleſt diminution, the ruins of time, and the revolutions of empire.

THE ſun, it ſeems, which ripens the pineapple and the tamarind, inſpires a degree of mildneſs that can even aſſuage the rigours of deſpotical government: and ſuch is the effect of a gentle and pacific diſpoſition in the natives of the Eaſt, that no conqueſt, no irruption of barbarians, terminates, as they did among the ſtubborn natives of Europe, by a total deſtruction of what the love of eaſe and of pleaſure had produced.

TRANSFERRED, without any great ſtruggle, from one maſter to another, the natives of India are ready, upon every change, to purſue their induſtry, to acquieſce in the enjoyment of life, and the hopes of animal pleaſure: the wars of conqueſt are not prolonged to exaſperate the parties engaged in them, or to deſolate the land for [Page 166] which thoſe parties contend: even the barbarous invader leaves untouched the commercial ſettlement which has not provoked his rage: though maſter of opulent cities, he only incamps in their neighbourhood, and leaves to his heirs the option of entering, by degrees, on the pleaſures, the vices, and the pageantries his acquiſitions afford: his ſucceſſors, ſtill more than himſelf, are diſpoſed to foſter the hive, in proportion as they taſte more of its ſweets; and they ſpare the inhabitant, together with his dwelling, as they ſpare the herd or the ſtall, of which they are become the proprietors.

THE modern deſcription of India is a repetition of the ancient, and the preſent ſtate of China is derived from a diſtant antiquity, to which there is no parallel in the hiſtory of mankind. The ſucceſſion of monarchs has been changed; but no revolutions have affected the ſtate. The African and the Samoiede are not more uniform in their ignorance and barbarity, than the Chineſe and the Indian, if we may credit their own ſtory, have been in the practice of manufacture, and in the obſervance of a certain police, which was calculated only to regulate their traffic, and to protect them in their application to ſervile or lucrative arts.

IF we paſs from theſe general repreſentations of what mankind have done, to the more minute deſcription of the animal himſelf, as he has occupied different climates, and is diverſified in his temper, complexion, and character, we ſhall find a variety of genius correſponding to the effects of his conduct, and the reſult of his ſtory.

[Page 167] MAN, in the perfection of his natural faculties, is quick and delicate in his ſenſibility; extenſive and various in his imaginations and reflections; attentive, penetrating, and ſubtile, in what relates to his fellow-creatures; firm and ardent in his purpoſes; devoted to friendſhip or to enmity; jealous of his independence and his honour, which he will not relinquiſh for ſafety or for profit: under all his corruptions or improvements, he retains his natural ſenſibility, if not his force; and his commerce is a bleſſing or a curſe, according to the direction his mind has received.

BUT under the extremes of heat or of cold, the active range of the human ſoul appears to be limited; and men are of inferior importance, either as friends, or as enemies. In the one extreme, they are dull and ſlow, moderate in their deſires, regular and pacific in their manner of life; in the other, they are feveriſh in their paſſions, weak in their judgements, and addicted by temperament to animal pleaſure. In both the heart is mercenary, and makes important conceſſions for childiſh bribes; in both the ſpirit is prepared for ſervitude: in the one it is ſubdued by fear of the future; in the other it is not rouſed even by its ſenſe of the preſent.

THE nations of Europe who would ſettle or conquer on the ſouth or the north of their own happier climates, find little reſiſtance: they extend their dominion at pleaſure, and find no where a limit but in the ocean, and in the ſatiety of conqueſt. With few of the pangs and the ſtruggles that precede the reduction of nations, mighty provinces [Page 168] have been ſucceſſively annexed to the territory of Ruſſia; and its ſovereign, who accounts within his domain, entire tribes, with whom perhaps none of his emiſſaries have ever converſed, diſpatched a few geometers to extend his empire, and thus to execute a project, in which the Romans were obliged to employ their conſuls and their legions*. Theſe modern conquerors complain of rebellion, where they meet with repugnance; and are ſurpriſed at being treated as enemies, where they come to impoſe their tribute.

IT appears, however, that on the ſhores of the Eaſtern ſea, they have met with nations who have queſtioned their title to reign, and who have conſidered the requiſition of a tax as the demand of effects for nothing. Here perhaps may be found the genius of ancient Europe, and under its name of ferocity, the ſpirit of national independence; that ſpirit which diſputed its ground in the Weſt with the victorious armies of Rome, and baffled the attempts of the Perſian monarchs to comprehend the villages of Greece within the bounds of their extenſive dominion.

THE great and ſtriking diverſities which obtain betwixt the inhabitants of climates far removed from each other, are, like the varieties of other animals in different regions, eaſily obſerved: The horſe and the rain-deer are juſt emblems of the Arab and the Laplander: the native of Arabia, [Page 169] like the animal for whoſe race his country is famed, whether wild in the woods, or tutored by art, is lively, active, and fervent in the exerciſe on which he is bent. This race of men, in their rude ſtate, fly to the deſert for freedom, and in roving bands alarm the frontiers of empire, and ſtrike a terror in the province to which their moving encampments advance*. When rouſed by the proſpect of conqueſt, or diſpoſed to act on a plan, they ſpread their dominion, and their ſyſtem of imagination, over mighty tracts of the earth: when poſſeſſed of property and of ſettlement, they ſet the example of a lively invention, and ſuperior ingenuity, in the practice of arts, and the ſtudy of ſcience. The Laplander, on the contrary, like the aſſociate of his climate, is hardy, indefatigable, and patient of famine; dull rather than tame; ſerviceable in a particular tract; and incapable of change. Whole nations continue from age to age in the ſame condition, and, with immoveable phlegm, ſubmit to the appellations of Dane, of Swede, or of Muſcovite, according to the land they inhabit; and ſuffer their country to be ſevered like a common, by the line on which thoſe nations have traced their limits of empire.

IT is not in the extremes alone that theſe varieties of genius may be clearly diſtinguiſhed. Their continual change keeps pace with the variations of climate with which we ſuppoſe them connected: and though certain degrees of capacity, penetration, and ardour, are not the lot of entire nations, nor the vulgar properties of any [Page 170] people; yet their unequal frequency, and unequal meaſure, in different countries, are ſufficiently manifeſt from the manners, the tone of converſation, the talent for buſineſs, amuſement, and literary compoſition, which predominate in each.

IT is to the Southern nations of Europe, both ancient and modern, that we owe the invention and the embelliſhment of that mythology, and thoſe early traditions, which continue to furniſh the materials of fancy, and the field of poetic alluſion. To them we owe the romantic tales of chivalry, as well as the ſubſequent models of a more rational ſtyle, by which the heart and the imagination are kindled, and the underſtanding informed

THE fruits of induſtry have abounded moſt in the North, and the ſtudy of ſcience has here received its moſt ſolid improvements: the efforts of imagination and ſentiment were moſt frequent and moſt ſucceſsful in the South. While the ſhores of the Baltic became famed for the ſtudies of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler, thoſe of the Mediterranean were celebrated for giving birth to men of genius in all its variety, and for having abounded with poets and hiſtorians, as well as with men of ſcience.

ON one ſide, learning took its riſe from the heart and the fancy; on the other, it is ſtill confined to the judgement and the memory. A faithful detail of public tranſactions, with little diſcernment of their comparative importance; the treaties and the claims of nations, the births and genealogies of princes, are, in the literature of [Page 171] Northern nations, amply preſerved; while the lights of the underſtanding, and the feelings of the heart, are ſuffered to periſh. The hiſtory of the human character; the intereſting memoir, founded no leſs on the careleſs proceedings of a private life, than on the formal tranſactions of a public ſtation; the ingenious pleaſantry, the piercing ridicule, the tender, pathetic, or the elevated ſtrain of elocution, have been confined in modern as well as ancient times, with a few exceptions, to the ſame latitudes with the fig and the vine.

THESE diverſities of natural genius, if real, muſt have great part of their foundation in the animal frame: and it has been often obſerved, that the vine flouriſhes, where, to quicken the ferments of the human blood, its aids are the leaſt required. While ſpiritous liquors are, among Southern nations, from a ſenſe of their ruinous effects, prohibited; or from a love of decency, and the poſſeſſion of a temperament ſufficiently warm, not greatly deſired; they carry in the North a peculiar charm, while they awaken the mind, and give a taſte of that lively fancy and ardour of paſſion, which the climate is found to deny.

THE melting deſires, or the fiery paſſions, which in one climate take place between the ſexes, are in another changed into a ſober conſideration, or a patience of mutual diſguſt. This change is remarked in croſſing the Mediterranean, in following the courſe of the Miſſiſippi, in aſcending the mountains of Caucaſus, and in paſſing from the Alps and the Pyrenees to the ſhores of the Baltic.

[Page 172] THE female ſex domineers on the frontier of Louiſiana, by the double engine of ſuperſtition, and of paſſion. They are ſlaves among the native inhabitants of Canada, and chiefly valued for the toils they endure, and the domeſtic ſervice they yield64.

THE burning ardours, and the torturing jealouſies, of the ſeraglio and the haram, which have reigned ſo long in Aſia and Africa, and which, in the Southern parts of Europe, have ſcarcely given way to the difference of religion and civil eſtabliſhments, are found, however, with an abatement of heat in the climate, to be more eaſily changed, in one latitude, into a temporary paſſion which ingroſſes the mind, without enfeebling it, and which excites to romantic atchievements: by a farther progreſs to the North, it is changed into a ſpirit of gallantry, which employs the wit and the fancy more than the heart; which prefers intrigue to enjoyment; and ſubſtitutes affectation and vanity, where ſentiment and deſire have failed. As it departs from the ſun, the ſame paſſion is farther compoſed into a habit of domeſtic connection, or frozen into a ſtate of inſenſibility, under which the ſexes at freedom ſcarcely chuſe to unite their ſociety.

THESE variations of temperament and character, do not indeed correſpond with the number [Page 173] of degrees that are meaſured from the equator to the pole; nor does the temperature of the air itſelf depend on the latitude. Varieties of ſoil and poſition, the diſtance or neighbourhood of the ſea, are known to affect the atmoſphere, and may have ſignal effects in compoſing the animal frame.

THE climates of America, though taken under the ſame parallel, are obſerved to differ from thoſe of Europe. There, extenſive marſhes, great lakes, aged, decayed, and crouded foreſts, with the other circumſtances that mark an uncultivated country, are ſuppoſed to repleniſh the air with heavy and noxious vapours, that give a double aſperity to the winter, and, during many months, by the frequency and continuance of fogs, ſnow, and froſt, carry the inconveniencies of the frigid zone far into the temperate. The Samoiede and the Laplander, however, have their counterpart, though on a lower latitude, on the ſhores of America: the Canadian and the Iroquois bear a reſemblance to the ancient inhabitants of the middling climates of Europe: the Mexican, like the Aſiatic of India, being addicted to pleaſure, was ſunk in effeminacy; and in the neighbourhood of the wild and the free, had ſuffered to be raiſed on his weakneſs, a domineering ſuperſtition, and a permanent fabric of deſpotical government.

GREAT part of Tartary lies under the ſame parallels with Greece, Italy, and Spain; but the climates are found to be different; and while the ſhores, not only of the Mediterranean, but even thoſe of the Atlantic, are favoured with a moderate [Page 174] change and viciſſitude of ſeaſons, the eaſtern parts of Europe, and the northern continent of Aſia, are afflicted with all their extremes. In one ſeaſon, we are told, that the plagues of an ardent ſummer reach almoſt to the frozen ſea; and that the inhabitant is obliged to ſcreen himſelf from noxious vermin in the ſame clouds of ſmoke in which he muſt, at a different time of the year, take ſhelter from the rigours of cold, When winter returns, the tranſition is rapid, and with an aſperity almoſt equal in every latitude, lays waſte the face of the earth, from the northern confines of Siberia, to the deſcents of Mount Caucaſus and the frontier of India.

WITH this unequal diſtribution of climate, by which the lot, as well as the national character, of the Northern Aſiatic may be deemed inferior to that of Europeans who lie under the ſame parallels, a ſimilar gradation of temperament and ſpirit, however, has been obſerved, in following the meridian on either tract; and the Southern Tartar has over the Tonguſes and the Samoiede, the ſame pre-eminence that certain nations of Europe are known to poſſeſs, over their Northern neighbours, in ſituations more advantageous to both.

THE Southern hemiſphere ſcarcely offers a ſubject of like obſervation. The temperate zone is there ſtill undiſcovered, or is only known in two promontories, the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Horn, which ſtretch into moderate latitudes on that ſide of the line. But the ſavage of South America, notwithſtanding the interpoſition of the nations of Peru and of Mexico, is found to reſemble [Page 175] his counterpart on the North; and the Hottentot in many things, the barbarian of Europe: he is tenacious of freedom, has rudiments of policy, and a national vigour, which ſerve to diſtinguiſh his race from the other African tribes, who are expoſed to the more vertical rays of the ſun.

WHILE we have, in theſe obſervations, only thrown out what muſt preſent itſelf on the moſt curſory view of the hiſtory of mankind, or what may be preſumed from the mere obſcurity of ſome nations, who inhabit great tracts of the earth, as well as from the luſtre of others, we are ſtill unable to explain the manner in which climate may affect the temperament, or foſter the genius, of its inhabitant.

THAT the temper of the heart, and the intellectual operations of the mind, are, in ſome meaſure, dependent on the ſtate of the animal organs, is well known from experience. Men differ from themſelves in ſickneſs and in health; under a change of diet, of air, and of exerciſe: but we are, even in theſe familiar inſtances at a loſs how to connect the cauſe with its ſuppoſed effect: and though climate, by including a variety of ſuch cauſes, may, by ſome-regular influence, affect the characters of men, we can never hope to explain the manner of thoſe influences till we have underſtood what probably we ſhall never underſtand, the ſtructure of thoſe finer organs with which the operations of the ſoul are connected.

[Page 176] WHEN we point out, in the ſituation of a people, circumſtances which, by determining their purſuits, regulate their habits, and their manner of life; and when, inſtead of referring to the ſuppoſed phyſical ſource of their diſpoſitions, we aſſign their inducements to a determinate conduct; in this we ſpeak of effects and of cauſes whoſe connection is more familiarly known. We can underſtand, for inſtance, why a race of men like the Samoiede, confined, during great part of the year, to darkneſs, or retired into caverns, ſhould differ, in their manners and apprehenſions, from thoſe who are at liberty in every ſeaſon; or who, inſtead of ſeeking relief from the extremities of cold, are employed in ſearch of precautions againſt the oppreſſions of a burning ſun. Fire and exerciſe are the remedies of cold; repoſe and ſhade the ſecurities from heat. The Hollander is laborious and induſtrious in Europe; he becomes more languid and ſlothful in India*.

GREAT extremities, either of heat or cold, are, perhaps, in a moral view, equally unfavourable to the active genius of mankind, and by preſenting alike inſuperable difficulties to be overcome, or ſtrong inducements to indolence and ſloth, equally prevent the firſt applications of ingenuity, or limit their progreſs. Some intermediate degrees of inconvenience in the ſituation, at once excite [Page 177] the ſpirit, and, with the hopes of ſucceſs, encourage its efforts. ‘It is in the leaſt favourable ſituations,’ ſays Mr. Rouſſeau, ‘that arts have flouriſhed the moſt. I could ſhow them in Egypt, as they ſpread with the overflowing of the Nile; and in Africa, as they mounted up to the clouds, and from a rocky ſoil and from barren ſands; while on the fertile banks of the Eurotas, they were not able to faſten their roots.’

WHERE mankind from the firſt ſubſiſt by toil, and in the midſt of difficulties, the defects of their ſituation are ſupplied by induſtry: and while dry, tempting, and healthful lands are left uncultivated*, the peſtilent marſh is drained with great labour, and the ſea is fenced off with mighty barriers, the materials and the coſt of which, the ſoil to be gained can ſcarcely afford or repay. Harbours are opened, and crouded with ſhipping, where veſſels of burden, if they are not conſtructed with a view to the ſituation, have not water to float. Elegant and magnificent edifices are raiſed on foundations of ſlime; and all the conveniencies of human life are made to abound, where nature does not ſeem to have prepared a reception of men. It is in vain to expect, that the reſidence of arts and commerce ſhould be determined by the poſſeſſion of natural advantages. Men do more when they have certain difficulties to ſurmount, than when they have ſuppoſed bleſſings to enjoy: and the ſhade of the barren oak [Page 178] and the pine are more favourable to the genius of mankind, than that of the palm or the tamarind.

AMONG the advantages which enable nations to run the carrier of policy, as well as of arts, it may be expected, from the obſervations already made, that we ſhould reckon every circumſtance which enables them to divide and to maintain themſelves in diſtinct and in independent communities. The ſociety and concourſe of other men, are not more neceſſary to form the individual, than the rivalſhip and competition of nations are to invigorate the principles of political life in a ſtate. Their wars, and their treaties, their mutual jealouſies, and the eſtabliſhments which they deviſe with a view to each other, conſtitute more than half the occupations of mankind, and furniſh materials for their greateſt and moſt improving exertions. For this reaſon, cluſters of iſlands, a continent divided by many natural barriers, great rivers, ridges of mountains, and arms of the ſea, are beſt fitted for becoming the nurſery of independent and reſpectable nations. The diſtinction of ſtates being clearly maintained, a principle of political life is eſtabliſhed in every diviſion, and the capital of every diſtrict, like the heart in an animal body, communicates with eaſe the vital blood and the national ſpirit to its members.

THE moſt reſpectable nations have always been found where at leaſt one part of the frontier has been waſhed by the ſea. This barrier, perhaps the ſtrongeſt of all in the times of barbarity, does not, however, even then ſuperſede the cares of a national defence; and in the advanced [Page 179] ſtate of arts, gives the greateſt ſoope and facility to commerce.

THRIVING and independent nations were accordingly ſcattered on the ſhores of the Pacific and the Atlantic. They ſurrounded the Red ſea, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic; while, a few tribes excepted, who retired among the mountains bordering on India and Perſia, or who have found ſome rude eſtabliſhment among the creeks and the ſhores of the Caſpian and the Euxine, there is ſcarcely a people in the vaſt continent of Aſia who deſerves the name of a nation. The unbounded plain is traverſed at large by hordes, who are in perpetual motion, or who are diſplaced and harraſſed by their mutual hoſtilities. Although they are never perhaps actually blended together in the courſe of hunting, or in the ſearch of paſture, they cannot bear one great diſtinction of nations, which is taken from the territory, and which is deeply impreſſed by an affection to the native ſeat. They move in troops, without the arrangement or the concert of nations; they become eaſy acceſſions to every new empire among themſelves, or to the Chineſe and the Muſcovite, with whom they hold a traffic for the means of ſubſiſtence, and the materials of pleaſure.

WHERE a happy ſyſtem of nations is formed, they do not rely for the continuance of their ſeparate names, and for that of their political independence, on the barriers erected by nature. Mutual jealouſies lead to the maintenance of a balance of power; and this principle, more than the Rhine and the Ocean, than the Alps and the Pyrenees in modern Europe; more than the ſtraits [Page 180] of Thermopylae, the mountains of Thrace, or the bays of Salamine and Corinth in ancient Greece; tended to prolong the ſeparation, to which the inhabitants of theſe happy climates have owed their felicity as nations, the luſtre of their fame, and their civil accompliſhments.

IF we mean to purſue the hiſtory of civil ſociety, our attention muſt be chiefly directed to ſuch examples, and we muſt here bid farewel to thoſe regions of the earth, on which our ſpecies, by the effects of ſituation or climate, appear to be reſtrained in their national purſuits, or inferior in the powers of the mind.

1.3.2. SECT. II.
The Hiſtory of Subordination.

[Page 181]

WE have hitherto obſerved mankind, either united together on terms of equality, or diſpoſed to admit of a ſubordination founded merely on the voluntary reſpect and attachment which they paid to their leaders; but, in both caſes, without any concerted plan of government, or ſyſtem of laws.

THE ſavage, whoſe fortune is compriſed in his cabin, his fur, and his arms, is ſatisfied with that proviſion, and with that degree of ſecurity, he himſelf can procure. He perceives, in treating with his equal, no ſubject of diſcuſſion that ſhould be referred to the deciſion of a judge; nor does he find in any hand the badges of magiſtracy, or the enſigns of a perpetual command.

THE barbarian, though induced by his admiration of perſonal qualities, the luſtre of a heroic race, or a ſuperiority of fortune, to follow the banners of a leader, and to act a ſubordinate part in his tribe, knows not, that what he performs from choice, is to be made a ſubject of obligation. He acts from affections unacquainted with forms; and when provoked, or when engaged in diſputes, [Page 182] he recurs to the ſword, as the ultimate means of deciſion, in all queſtions of right.

HUMAN affairs, in the mean time, continue their progreſs. What was in one generation a propenſity to herd with the ſpecies, becomes, in the ages which follow, a principle of national union. What was originally an alliance for common defence, becomes a concerted plan of political ſorce; the care of ſubſiſtence becomes an anxiety for accumulating wealth, and the foundation of commercial arts.

MANKIND, in following the preſent ſenſe of their minds, in ſtriving to remove inconveniencies, or to gain apparent and contiguous advantages, arrive at ends which even their imagination could not anticipate, and paſs on, like other animals, in the track of their nature, without perceiving its end. He who firſt ſaid, ‘I will appropriate this field; I will leave it to my heirs;’ did not perceive, that he was laying the foundation of civil laws and political eſtabliſhments. He who firſt ranged himſelf under a leader, did not perceive, that he was ſetting the example of a permanent ſubordination, under the pretence of which, the rapacious were to ſeize his poſſeſſions, and the arrogant to lay claim to his ſervice.

MEN, in general, are ſufficiently diſpoſed to occupy themſelves in forming projects and ſchemes: but he who would ſcheme and project for others, will find an opponent in every perſon who is diſpoſed to ſcheme for himſelf. Like the winds, that come we know not whence, and blow whitherſoever they liſt, the forms of ſociety are derived [Page 183] from an obſcure and diſtant origin; they ariſe, long before the date of philoſophy, from the inſtincts, not from the ſpeculations, of men. The croud of mankind, are directed in their eſtabliſhments and meaſures, by the circumſtances in which they are placed; and ſeldom are turned from their way, to follow the plan of any ſingle projector.

EVERY ſtep and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindneſs to the future; and nations ſtumble upon eſtabliſhments, which are indeed the reſult of human action, but not the execution of any human deſign*. If Cromwell ſaid, That a man never mounts higher, than when he knows not whither he is going; it may with more reaſon be affirmed of communities, that they admit of the greateſt revolutions where no change is intended, and that the moſt refined politicians do not always know whither they are leading the ſtate by their projects.

IF we liſten to the teſtimony of modern hiſtory, and to that of the moſt authentic parts of the ancient; if we attend to the practice of nations in every quarter of the world, and in every condition, whether that of the barbarian or the poliſhed, we ſhall find very little reaſon to retract this aſſertion. No conſtitution is formed by concert, no government is copied from a plan. The members of a ſmall ſtate contend for equality; the members of a greater, find themſelves claſſed in [Page 184] a certain manner that lays a foundation for monarchy. They proceed from one form of government to another, by eaſy tranſitions, and frequently under old names adopt a new conſtitution. The ſeeds of every form are lodged in human nature; they ſpring up and ripen with the ſeaſon. The prevalence of a particular ſpecies is often derived from an imperceptible ingredient mingled in the ſoil.

WE are therefore to receive, with caution, the traditionary hiſtories of ancient legiſlators, and founders of ſtates. Their names have long been celebrated; their ſuppoſed plans have been admired; and what were probably the conſequences of an early ſituation, is, in every inſtance, conſidered as an effect of deſign. An author and a work, like cauſe and effect, are perpetually coupled together. This is the ſimpleſt form under which we can conſider the eſtabliſhment of nations: and we aſcribe to a previous deſign, what came to be known only by experience, what no human wiſdom could foreſee, and what, without the concurring humour and diſpoſition of his age, no authority could enable an individual to execute.

IF men during ages of extenſive reflection, and employed in the ſearch of improvement, are wedded to their inſtitutions; and, labouring under many acknowledged inconveniencies, cannot break looſe from the trammels of cuſtom; what ſhall we ſuppoſe their humour to have been in the times of Romulus and Lycurgus? They were not ſurely more diſpoſed to embrace the ſchemes of innovators, or to ſhake off the impreſſions of habit: they were not more pliant and ductile, when their [Page 185] knowledge was leſs; not more capable of refinement, when their minds were more circumſcribed.

WE imagine, perhaps, that rude nations muſt have ſo ſtrong a ſenſe of the defects under which they labour, and be ſo conſcious that reformations are requiſire in their manners, that they muſt be ready to adopt, with joy, every plan of improvement, and to receive every plauſible propoſal with implicit compliance. And we are thus inclined to believe, that the harp of Orpheus could effect, in one age, what the eloquence of Plato could not produce in another. We miſtake, however, the characteriſtic of ſimple ages: mankind then appear to feel the feweſt defects, and are then leaſt deſirous to enter on reformations.

THE reality, in the mean time, of certain eſtabliſhments at Rome and at Sparta, cannot be diſputed: but it is probable, that the government of both theſe ſtates took its riſe from the ſituation and genius of the people, not from the projects of ſingle men; that the celebrated warrior and ſtateſman, who are conſidered as the founders of thoſe nations, only acted a ſuperior part among numbers who were diſpoſed to the ſame inſtitutions; and that they left to poſterity a renown, pointing them out as the inventors of many practices which had been already in uſe, and which helped to form their own manners and genius, as well as thoſe of their countrymen.

IT has been formerly obſerved, that, in many particulars, the cuſtoms of ſimple nations coincide with what is aſcribed to the invention of early [Page 186] ſtateſmen; that the model of republican government, the ſenate, and the aſſembly of the people; that even the equality of property, or the community of goods, were not reſerved to the invention or contrivance of ſingular men.

IF we conſider Romulus as the founder of the Roman ſtate, certainly he who killed his brother that he might reign alone, did not deſire to come under reſtraints from the controuling power of the ſenate, nor to refer the councils of his ſovereignty to the deciſion of a collective body. Love of dominion is, by its nature, averſe to conſtraint; and this chieftain, like every leader in a rude age, probably found a claſs of men ready to intrude on his councils, and without whom he could not proceed. He met with occaſions, on which, as at the ſound of a trumpet, the body of the people aſſembled, and took reſolutions, which any individual might in vain diſpute, or attempt to controul; and Rome, which commenced on the general plan of every artleſs ſociety, found laſting improvements in the purſuit of temporary expedients, and digeſted her political frame in adjuſting the pretenſions of parties which aroſe in the ſtate.

MANKIND, in very early ages of ſociety, learn to covet riches, and to admire diſtinction: they have avarice and ambition, and are occaſionally led by them to depredation and conqueſt: but in their ordinary conduct, theſe motives are balanced or reſtrained by other habits and other purſuits; by ſloth, or intemperance; by perſonal attachments, or perſonal animoſities; which miſlead from the attention to intereſt. Theſe circumſtances [Page 187] render mankind, at times, remiſs or outrageous: they prove the ſource of civil peace or diſorder, but diſqualify thoſe who are actuated by them, from maintaining any fixed uſurpation; ſlavery and rapine are firſt threatened from abroad, and war, either offenſive or defenſive, is the great buſineſs of every tribe. The enemy occupy their thoughts; they have no leiſure for domeſtic diſſenſions. It is the deſire of every ſeparate community, however, to ſecure itſelf; and in proportion as it gains this object, by ſtrengthening its barrier, by weakening its enemy, or by procuring allies, the individual at home bethinks him of what he may gain or loſe for himſelf: the leader is diſpoſed to enlarge the advantages which belong to his ſtation; the follower becomes jealous of rights which are open to incroachment; and parties who united before, from affection and habit, or from a regard to their common preſervation, diſagree in ſupporting their ſeveral claims to prececedence or profit.

WHEN the animoſities of faction are thus awakened at home, and the pretenſions of freedom are oppoſed to thoſe of dominion, the members of every ſociety find a new ſcene upon which to exert their activity. They had quarrelled, perhaps, on points of intereſt; they had balanced between different leaders; but they had never united as citizens to withſtand the encroachments of ſovereignty, or to maintain their common rights as a people. If the prince, in this conteſt, finds numbers to ſupport, as well as to oppoſe his pretenſions, the ſword which was whetted againſt foreign enemies, may be pointed at the boſom of fellowſubjects, and every interval of peace from abroad, [Page 188] be filled with domeſtic war. The ſacred names of Liberty, Juſtice, and Civil Order, are made to reſound in public aſſemblies; and, during the abſence of other alarms, give to ſociety, within itſelf, an abundant ſubject of ferment and animoſity.

IF what is related of the little principalities which, in ancient times, were formed in Greece, in Italy, and over all Europe, agrees with the character we have given of mankind under the firſt impreſſions of property, of intereſt, and of hereditary diſtinctions, the ſeditions and domeſtic wars which followed in thoſe very ſtates, the expulſion of their kings, or the queſtions which aroſe concerning the prerogatives of the ſovereign, or privilege of the ſubject, are agreeable to the repreſentation which we now give of the firſt ſtep toward political eſtabliſhment, and the deſire of a legal conſtitution.

WHAT this conſtitution may be in its earlieſt form, depends on a variety of circumſtances in the condition of nations: It depends on the extent of the principality in its rude ſtate; on the degree of diſparity to which mankind had ſubmitted before they began to diſpute its abuſes: it depends likewiſe on what we term accidents, the perſonal character of an individual, or the events of a war.

EVERY community is originally a ſmall one. That propenſity by which mankind at firſt unite, is not the principle from which they afterwards act in extending the limits of empire. Small tribes, where they are not aſſembled by common objects [Page 189] of conqueſt or ſafety, are even averſe to a coalition. If, like the real or fabulous confederacy of the Greeks for the deſtruction of Troy, many nations combine in purſuit of a ſingle object, they eaſily ſeparate again, and act anew on the maxims of rival ſtates.

THERE is, perhaps, a certain national extent, within which the paſſions of men are eaſily communicated from one, or a few, to the whole; and there are certain numbers of men who can be aſſembled, and act in a body. If, while the ſociety is not enlarged beyond this dimenſion, and while its members are eaſily aſſembled, political contentions ariſe, the ſtate ſeldom fails to proceed on republican maxims, and to eſtabliſh democracy. In moſt rude principalities, the leader derived his prerogative from the luſtre of his race, and from the voluntary attachment of his tribe: the people he commanded, were his friends, his ſubjects and his troops. If we ſuppoſe, upon any change in their manners, that they ceaſe to revere his dignity, that they pretend to equality among themſelves, or are ſeized with a jealouſy of his aſſuming too much, the foundations of his power are already withdrawn. When the voluntary ſubject becomes refractory; when conſiderable parties, or the collective body, chuſe to act for themſelves; the ſmall kingdom, like that of Athens, becomes of courſe a republic.

THE changes of condition, and of manners, which, in the progreſs of mankind, raiſe up to nations a leader and a prince, create, at the ſame time, a nobility, and a variety of ranks, who have, in a ſubordinate degree, their claim to diſtinction. [Page 190] Superſtition, too, may create an order of men, who, under the title of prieſthood, engage in the purſuit of a ſeparate intereſt; who, by their union and firmneſs as a body, and by their inceſſant ambition, deſerve to be reckoned in the liſt of pretenders to power. Theſe different orders of men are the elements of whoſe mixture the political body is generally formed; each draws to its ſide ſome part from the maſs of the people. The people themſelves are a party upon occaſion; and numbers of men, however claſſed and diſtinguiſhed, become, by their jarring pretenſions and ſeparate views, mutual interruptions and checks; and have, by bringing to the national councils the maxims and apprehenſions of a particular order, and by guarding a particular intereſt, a ſhare in adjuſting or preſerving the political form of the ſtate.

THE pretenſions of any particular order, if not checked by ſome collateral power, would terminate in tyranny; thoſe of a prince, in deſpotiſm; thoſe of a nobility or prieſthood, in the abuſes of ariſtocracy; of a populace, in the confuſions of anarchy. Theſe terminations, as they are never the profeſſed, ſo are they ſeldom even the diſguiſed, object of party: but the meaſures which any party purſues, if ſuffered to prevail, will lead, by degrees, to every extreme.

IN their way to the aſcendant they endeavour to gain, and in the midſt of interruptions which oppoſite intereſts mutually give, liberty may have a permanent or a tranſient exiſtence; and the conſtitution may bear a form and a character as various [Page 191] as the caſual combination of ſuch multiplied parts can effect.

TO beſtow on communities ſome degree of political freedom, it is perhaps ſufficient, that their members, either ſingly, or as they are involved with their ſeveral orders, ſhould inſiſt on their rights; that under republics, the citizen ſhould either maintain his own equality with firmneſs, or reſtrain the ambition of his fellow-citizen within moderate bounds: that under monarchy, men of every rank ſhould maintain the honours of their private or their public ſtations; and ſacrifice, neither to the impoſitions of a court, nor to the claims of a populace, thoſe dignities which are deſtined, in ſome meaſure, independent of fortune, to give ſtability to the throne, and to procure a reſpect to the ſubject.

AMIDST the contentions of party, the intereſts of the public, even the maxims of juſtice and candour, are ſometimes forgotten; and yet thoſe fatal conſequences which ſuch a meaſure of corruption ſeems to portend, do not unavoidably follow. The public intereſt is often ſecure, not becauſe individuals are diſpoſed to regard it as the end of their conduct, but becauſe each, in his place, is determined to preſerve his own. Liberty is maintained by the continued differences and oppoſitions of numbers, not by their concurring zeal in behalf of equitable government. In free ſtates, therefore, the wiſeſt laws are never, perhaps, dictated by the intereſt and ſpirit of any order of men: they are moved, they are oppoſed, or amended, by different hands; and come at laſt to expreſs [Page 192] that medium and compoſition which contending parties have forced one another to adopt.

WHEN we conſider the hiſtory of mankind in this view, we cannot be at a loſs for the cauſes which, in ſmall communities, threw the balance on the ſide of democracy; which, in ſtates more enlarged in reſpect to territory and numbers of people, gave the aſcendant to monarchy; and which, in a variety of conditions and of different ages, enabled mankind to blend and unite the characters of different forms; and, inſtead of any of the ſimple conſtitutions we have mentioned*, to exhibit a medly of all.

IN emerging from a ſtate of rudeneſs and ſimplicity, men muſt be expected to act from that ſpirit of equality, or moderate ſubordination, to which they have been accuſtomed. When crouded together in cities, or within the compaſs of a ſmall territory, they act by contagious paſſions, and every individual feels a degree of importance proportioned to his figure in the croud, and the ſmallneſs of its numbers. The pretenders to power and dominion appear in too familiar a light to impoſe upon the multitude, and they have no aids at their call, by which they can bridle the refractory humours of a people who reſiſt their pretenſions. Theſeus, King of Attica, we are told, aſſembled the inhabitants of its twelve cantons into one city. In this he took an effectual method to unite into one democracy, what were before the ſeparate members of his monarchy, and to haſten the downfal of the regal power.

[Page 193] THE monarch of an extenſive territory has many advantages in maintaining his ſtation. Without any grievance to his ſubjects, he can ſupport the magnificence of a royal eſtate, and dazzle the imagination of his people, by that very wealth which themſelves have beſtowed. He can employ the inhabitants of one diſtrict againſt thoſe of another; and while the paſſions that lead to mutiny and rebellion, can at any one time ſeize only on a part of his ſubjects, he feels himſelf ſtrong in the poſſeſſion of a general authority. Even the diſtance at which he reſides from many of thoſe who receive his commands, augments the myſterious awe and reſpect which are paid to his government.

WITH theſe different tendencies, accident and corruption, however, joined to a variety of circumſtances, may throw particular ſtates from their bias, and produce exceptions to every general rule. This has actually happened in ſome of the later principalities of Greece, and modern Italy, in Sweden, Poland, and the German empire. But the united ſtates of the Netherlands, and the Swiſs cantons, are perhaps the moſt extenſive communities, which maintaining the union of nations, have, for any conſiderable time, reſiſted the tendency to monarchical government; and Sweden is the only inſtance of a republic eſtabliſhed in a great kingdom on the ruins of monarchy.

THE ſovereign of a petty diſtrict, or a ſingle city, when not ſupported, as in modern Europe, by the contagion of monarchical manners, holds the ſceptre by a precarious tenure, and is perpetually [Page 194] alarmed by the ſpirit of mutiny in his people, is guided by jealouſy, and ſupports himſelf by ſeverity, prevention, and force.

THE popular and ariſtocratical powers in a great nation, as in the caſe of Germany and Poland, may meet with equal difficulty in maintaining their pretenſions; and in order to avoid their danger on the ſide of kingly uſurpation, are obliged to with-hold from the ſupreme magiſtrate even the neceſſary truſt of an executive power.

THE ſtates of Europe, in the manner of their firſt ſettlement, laid the foundations of monarchy, and were prepared to unite under regular and extenſive governments. If the Greeks, whoſe progreſs at home terminated in the eſtabliſhment of ſo many independent republics, had under Agamemnon effected a conqueſt and ſettlement in Aſia, it is propable, that they might have furniſhed an example of the ſame kind. But the original inhabitants of any country, forming many ſeparate cantons, come by ſlow degrees to that coalition and union into which conquering tribes are, in effecting their conqueſts, or in ſecuring their poſſeſſions, hurried at once. Caeſar encountered ſome hundreds of independent nations in Gaul, whom even their common danger did not ſufficiently unite. The German invaders, who ſettled in the lands of the Romans, made, in the ſame diſtrict, a number of ſeparate eſtabliſhments, but far more extenſive than what the ancient Gauls, by their conjunctions and treaties, or in the reſult of their wars, could after many ages have reached.

[Page 195] THE ſeeds of great monarchies, and the roots of extenſive dominion, were every where planted with the colonies that divided the Roman empire. We have no exact account of the numbers, who, with a ſeeming concert, continued, during ſome ages, to invade and to ſeize this tempting prize. Where they expected reſiſtance, they endeavoured to muſter up a proportionable force; and when they propoſed to ſettle, entire nations removed to ſhare in the ſpoil. Scattered over an extenſive province, where they could not be ſecure, without maintaining their union, they continued to acknowledge the leader under whom they had fought; and, like an army ſent by diviſions into ſeparate ſtations, were prepared to aſſemble whenever occaſion ſhould require their united operations or counſels.

EVERY ſeparate party had its poſt aſſigned, and every ſubordinate chieftain his poſſeſſions, from which he was to provide his own ſubſiſtence, and that of his followers. The model of government was taken from that of a military ſubordination, and a fief was the temporary pay of an officer proportioned to his rank*. There was a claſs of the people deſtined to military ſervice, another to labour, and to cultivate lands for the benefit of their maſters. The officer improved his tenure by degrees, firſt changing a temporary grant into a tenure for his life; and this alſo, upon the obſervance of certain conditions, into a grant including his heirs.

[Page 196] THE rank of the nobles became hereditary in every quarter, and formed a powerful and permanent order of men in every ſtate. While they held the people in ſervitude, they diſputed the claims of their ſovereign; they withdrew their attendance upon occaſion, or turned their arms againſt him. They formed a ſtrong and inſurmountable barrier againſt a general deſpotiſm in the ſtate; but they were themſelves, by means of their warlike retainers, the tyrants of every little diſtrict, and prevented the eſtabliſhment of order, or any regular applications of law. They took the advantage of weak reigns or minorities, to puſh their incroachments on the ſovereign; or having made the monarchy elective, they by ſucceſſive treaties and ſtipulations, at every election, limited or undermined the monarchical power. The prerogatives of the prince have been, in ſome inſtances, as in that of the German empire in particular, reduced to a mere title; and the national union itſelf preſerved in the obſervance only of a few inſignificant formalities.

WHERE the conteſt of the ſovereign, and of his vaſſals, under hereditary and ample prerogatives annexed to the crown, had a different iſſue, the feudal lordſhips were gradually ſtript of their powers, the nobles were reduced to the ſtate of ſubjects, and obliged to hold their honours, and exerciſe their juriſdictions, in a dependence on the prince. It was his ſuppoſed intereſt to reduce them to a ſtate of equal ſubjection with the people, and to extend his own authority, by reſcuing the labourer and the dependent from the oppreſſions of their immediate ſuperiors.

[Page 197] IN this project the princes of Europe have variouſly ſucceeded. While they protected the people, and thereby encouraged the practice of commercial and lucrative arts, they paved the way for deſpotiſm in the ſtate; and with the ſame policy by which they relieved the ſubject from many oppreſſions, they increaſed the powers of the crown.

BUT where the people had by the conſtitution a repreſentative in the government, and a head, under which they could avail themſelves of the wealth they acquired, and of the ſenſe of their perſonal importance, this policy turned againſt the crown; it formed a new power to reſtrain the prerogative, to eſtabliſh the government of law, and to exhibit a ſpectacle new in the hiſtory of mankind; monarchy mixed with republic, and extenſive territory, governed, during ſome ages, without military force.

SUCH were the ſteps by which the nations of Europe have arrived at their preſent eſtabliſhments: in ſome inſtances, they have come to the poſſeſſion of legal conſtitutions; in others, to the exerciſe of a mitigated deſpotiſm; or continue to ſtruggle with the tendency which they ſeverally have to theſe different extremes.

THE progreſs of empire, in the early ages of Europe, threatened to be rapid, and to bury the independent ſpirit of nations in that grave which the Ottoman conquerors found for themſelves; and for the wretched race they had vanquiſhed. The Romans were led by ſlow degrees to extend the limits of their empire; every new acquiſition [Page 198] was the reſult of a tedious war, and required the ſending of colonies, and a variety of meaſures, to ſecure any new poſſeſſion. But the feudal ſuperior being animated, from the moment he had gained an eſtabliſhment, with a deſire of extending his territory, and of enlarging the liſt of his vaſſals, made frequent annexation of new provinces, merely by beſtowing inveſtiture, and received independent ſtates, without any material innovation in the form of their policy, as the ſubjects of his growing dominion.

SEPARATE principalities were, like the parts of an engine, ready to be joined, and, like the materials of a building, ready to be erected. They were in the reſult of their ſtruggles put together or taken aſunder with facility. The independence of weak ſtates was preſerved only by the mutual jealouſies of the ſtrong, or by the general attention of all to maintain a balance of power.

THE happy ſyſtem of policy on which European ſtates have proceeded in preſerving this balance; the degree of moderation which is, in adjuſting their treaties, become habitual even to victorious and powerful monarchies, does honour to mankind, and may give hopes of a laſting felicity to be derived from a prepoſſeſſion, never, perhaps, equally ſtrong in any former period, or among any number of nations, that the firſt conquering people will ruin themſelves, as well as their rivals.

IT is in ſuch ſtates, perhaps, as in a fabric of a large dimenſion, that we can perceive moſt diſtinctly the ſeveral parts of which a political [Page 199] body conſiſts; and obſerve that concurrence or oppoſition of intereſts, which ſerve to unite or to ſeparate different orders of men, and lead them, by maintaining their ſeveral claims, to eſtabliſh a variety of political forms. The ſmalleſt republics, however; conſiſt of parts ſimilar to theſe, and of members who are actuated by a ſimilar ſpirit. They furniſh examples of government diverſified by the caſual combinations of parties, and by the different advantages with which thoſe parties engage in the conflict.

IN every ſociety there is a caſual ſubordination, independent of its formal eſtabliſhment, and frequently adverſe to its conſtitution. While the adminiſtration and the people ſpeak the language of a particular form, and ſeem to admit no pretenſions to power, without a legal nomination in one inſtance, or without the advantage of hereditary honours, in another, this caſual ſubordination, poſſibly ariſing from the diſtribution of property, or from ſome other circumſtance that beſtows unequal degrees of influence, gives the ſtate its tone, and fixes its character.

THE plebeian order at Rome having been long conſidered as of an inferior condition, and excluded from the higher offices of magiſtracy, had ſufficient force, as a body, to get this invidious diſtinction removed; but the individual ſtill acting under the impreſſions of a ſubordinate rank, gave in every competition his ſuffrage to a patrician, whoſe protection he had experienced, and whoſe perſonal authority he felt. By this means, the aſcendency of the patrician families was, for a certain period; as regular as it could be made by the avowed maxims of ariſtocracy; [Page 200] but the higher offices of ſtate being gradually ſhared by plebeians, the effects of former diſtinctions were prevented or weakened. The laws that were made to adjuſt the pretenſions of different orders were eaſily eluded. The populace became a faction, and their alliance was the ſureſt road to dominion. Clodius, by a pretended adoption into a plebeian family, was qualified to become tribune of the people; and Caeſar, by eſpouſing the cauſe of this faction, made his way to uſurpation and tyranny.

IN ſuch fleeting and tranſient ſcenes, forms of government are only modes of proceeding, in which every ſubſequent age may differ from the former. Faction is ever ready to ſeize all occaſional advantages; and mankind, when in hazard from any party, ſeldom find a better protection than that of its rival. Cato united with Pompey in oppoſition to Caeſar, and guarded againſt nothing ſo much as that reconciliation of parties, which was in effect to be a combination of different leaders againſt the freedom of the republic. This illuſtrious perſonage ſtood diſtinguiſhed in his age like a man among children, and was raiſed above his opponents, as much by the juſtneſs of his underſtanding, and the extent of his penetration, as he was by the manly fortitude and diſintereſtedneſs with which he ſtrove to baffle the deſigns of a vain and childiſh ambition, that was operating to the ruin of mankind.

ALTHOUGH free conſtitutions of government ſeldom or never take their riſe from the ſcheme of any ſingle projector, yet are they often preſerved by the vigilance, activity, and zeal, of ſingle men. Happy are they who underſtand and who chuſe this [Page 201] object of care; and happy it is for mankind when it is not choſen too late. It has been reſerved to ſignalize the lives of a Cato or a Brutus, on the eve of fatal revolutions; to foſter in ſecret the indignation of Thraſea and Helvidius; and to occupy the reflections of ſpeculative men in times of corruption. But even in ſuch late and ineffectual examples, it was happy to know, and to value, an object which is ſo important to mankind. The purſuit, and the love of it, however unſucceſsful, has thrown a luſtre on human nature.

1.3.3. SECT. III.
Of National Objects in general, and of Eſtabliſhments and Manners relating to them.

[Page 202]

WHILE the mode of ſubordination is caſual, and forms of government take their riſe, chiefly from the manner in which the members of a ſtate have been originally claſſed, and from a variety of circumſtances that procure to particular orders of men a ſway in their country, there are certain objects that claim the attention of every government, that lead the apprehenſions and the reaſonings of mankind in every ſociety, and that not only furniſh an employment to ſtateſmen, but in ſome meaſure direct the community to thoſe inſtitutions, under the authority of which the magiſtrate holds his power. Such are the national defence, the diſtribution of juſtice, the preſervation and internal proſperity of the ſtate. If theſe objects be neglected, we muſt apprehend that the very ſcene in which parties contend for power, for privilege, or equality, muſt diſappear, and ſociety itſelf no longer exiſt

THE conſideration due to theſe objects will be pleaded in every public aſſembly, and will produce, in every political conteſt, appeals to that common ſenſe and opinion of mankind, which, ſtruggling with the private views of individuals, and the claims of party, may be conſidered as the great legiſlator of nations.

[Page 203] THE meaſures required for the attainment of moſt national objects, are connected together, and muſt be jointly purſued: they are often the ſame. The force which is prepared for defence againſt foreign enemies, may be likewiſe employed to keep the peace at home: the laws made to ſecure the rights and liberties of the people, may ſerve as encouragements to population and commerce: and every community, without conſidering how its objects may be claſſed or diſtinguiſhed by ſpeculative men, is, in every inſtance, obliged to aſſume or to retain that form which is beſt fitted to preſerve its advantages, or to avert its misfortunes.

NATIONS, however, like private men, have their favourite ends, and their principal purſuits, which diverſify their manners, as well as their eſtabliſhments. They even attain to the ſame ends by different means; and, like men who make their fortune by different profeſſions, retain the habits of their principal calling in every condition at which they arrive. The Romans became wealthy in purſuing their conqueſts; and probably, for a certain period, increaſed the numbers of mankind, while their diſpoſition to war ſeemed to threaten the earth with deſolation. Some modern nations proceed to dominion and enlargement on the maxims of commerce; and while they only intend to accumulate riches at home, continue to gain an imperial aſcendant abroad.

THE characters of the warlike and the commercial are variouſly combined: they are formed in different degrees by the influence of circumſtances [Page 204] that more or leſs frequently give riſe to war, and excite the deſire of conqueſt; of circumſtances that leave a people in quiet to improve their domeſtic reſources, or to purchaſe, by the fruits of their induſtry, from foreigners, what their own ſoil and their climate deny.

THE members of every community are more or leſs occupied with matters of ſtate, in proportion as their conſtitution admits them to a ſhare in the government, and ſummons up their attention to objects of a public nature. A people are cultivated or unimproved in their talents, in proportion as thoſe talents are employed in the practice of arts, and in the affairs of ſociety: they are improved or corrupted in their manners, in proportion as they are encouraged and directed to act on the maxims of freedom and juſtice, or as they are degraded into a ſtate of meanneſs and ſervitude. But whatever advantages are obtained, or whatever evils are avoided, by nations, in any of theſe important reſpects, are generally conſidered as mere occaſional incidents: they are ſeldom admitted among the objects of policy, or entered among the reaſons of ſtate.

WE hazard being treated with ridicule, when we require political eſtabliſhments, merely to cultivate the talents of men, and to inſpire the ſentiments of a liberal mind: we muſt offer ſome motive of intereſt, or ſome hopes of external advantage, to animate the purſuits, or to direct the meaſures, of ordinary men. They would be brave, ingenious, and eloquent, only from neceſſity, or for the ſake of profit: they magnify the [Page 205] uſes of wealth, population, and the other reſources of war; but often forget that theſe are of no conſequence without the direction of able capacities, and without the ſupports of a national vigour. We may expect, therefore, to find among ſtates the bias to a particular policy, taken from the regards to public ſafety; from the deſire of ſecuring perſonal freedom, or private property; ſeldom from the conſideration of moral effects, or from a view to the genius of mankind.

1.3.4. SECT. IV.
Of Population and Wealth.

[Page 206]

WHEN we imagine what the Romans muſt have felt when the tidings came that the flower of their city had periſhed at Cannae; when we think of what the orator had in his mind when he ſaid, ‘That the youth among the people was like the ſpring among the ſeaſons;’ when we hear of the joy with which the huntſman and the warrior is adopted, in America, to ſuſtain the honours of the family and the nation; we are made to feel the moſt powerful motives to regard the increaſe and preſervation of our fellow-citizens. Intereſt, affection, and views of policy, combine to recommend this object; and it is treated with entire neglect only by the tyrant who miſtakes his own advantage, by the ſtateſman who trifles with the charge committed to his care, or by the people who are become corrupted, and who conſider their fellow-ſubjects as rivals in intereſt, and competitors in their lucrative purſuits.

AMONG rude ſocieties, and among ſmall communities in general, who are engaged in frequent ſtruggles and difficulties, the preſervation and increaſe of their members is a moſt important object. The American rates his defeat from the numbers of men he has loſt, or he eſtimates his victory from the priſoners he has made; not from his having remained the maſter of a field, or from [Page 207] his being driven from a ground on which he encountered his enemy. A man with whom he can aſſociate in all his purſuits, whom he can embrace as his friend; in whom he finds an object to his affections, and an aid in his ſtruggles, is to him the moſt precious acceſſion of fortune.

EVEN where the friendſhip of particular men is out of the queſtion, the ſociety, being occupied in forming a party that may defend itſelf, and annoy its enemy, finds no object of greater moment than the increaſe of its numbers. Captives who may be adopted, or children of either ſex who may be reared for the public, are accordingly conſidered as the richeſt ſpoil of an enemy. The practice of the Romans in admitting the vanquiſhed to ſhare in the privileges of their city, the rape of the Sabines, and the ſubſequent coalition with that people, were not ſingular or uncommon examples in the hiſtory of mankind. The ſame policy has been followed, and was natural and obvious where-ever the ſtrength of a ſtate conſiſted in the arms of a few, and where men were valued in themſelves, diſtinct from the conſideration of eſtate or of fortune.

IN rude ages, therefore, while mankind ſubſiſt in ſmall diviſions, it ſhould appear, that if the earth be thinly peopled, this defect does not ariſe from a diſregard to numbers on the part of ſtates. It is even probable, that the moſt effectual courſe that could be taken to increaſe the ſpecies, would be, to prevent the coalition of nations, and to oblige mankind to act in ſuch ſmall bodies as would make the preſervation of their numbers, a principal object of their care. This alone, it is [Page 208] true, would not be ſufficient: we muſt probably add the encouragement for rearing families, which mankind enjoy under a favourable policy, and the means of ſubſiſtence which they owe to the practice of arts.

THE mother is unwilling to increaſe her offſpring, and is ill provided to rear them, where ſhe herſelf is obliged to undergo great hardſhips in the ſearch of her food. In North America, we are told, that ſhe joins to the reſerves of a cold or a moderate temperament, the abſtinencies to which ſhe ſubmits from the conſideration of this difficulty. In her apprehenſion, it is matter of prudence, and of conſcience, to bring one child to the condition of feeding on veniſon, and of following on foot, before ſhe will hazard a new burden in travelling the woods.

IN warmer latitudes, by the different temperament, perhaps, which the climate beſtows, and by a greater facility in procuring ſubſiſtence, the numbers of mankind increaſe, while the object itſelf is neglected; and the commerce of the ſexes, without any concern for population, is made a ſubject of mere debauch. In ſome places, we are told, it is even made the object of a barbarous policy, to defeat or to reſtrain the intentions of nature. In the iſland of Formoſa, the males are prohibited to marry before the age of forty; and females, if pregnant before the age of thirty-ſix, have an abortion procured by order of the magiſtrate, who employs a violence that endangers the life of the mother, together with that of the child*.

[Page 209] IN China, the permiſſion given to parents to kill or to expoſe their children, was probably meant as a relief from the burden of a numerous offspring. But notwithſtanding what we hear of a practice ſo repugnant to the human heart, it has not, probably, the effects in reſtraining population, which it ſeems to threaten; but, like many other inſtitutions, has an influence the reverſe of what it ſeemed to portend. The parents marry with this means of relief in their view, and the children are ſaved.

HOWEVER important the object of population may be held by mankind, it will be difficult to find, in the hiſtory of civil policy, any wiſe or effectual eſtabliſhments ſolely calculated to obtain it. The practice of rude or feeble nations is inadequate, or cannot ſurmount the obſtacles which are found in their manner of life. The growth of induſtry, the endeavours of men to improve their arts, to extend their commerce, to ſecure their poſſeſſions, and to eſtabliſh their rights, are indeed the moſt effectual means to promote population: but they ariſe from a different motive; they ariſe from regards to intereſt and perſonal ſafety. They are intended for the benefit of thoſe who exiſt, not to procure the increaſe of their numbers.

IT is, in the mean time, of importance to know, that where a people are fortunate in their political eſtabliſhments, and ſucceſsful in the purſuits of induſtry, their population is likely to grow in proportion. Moſt of the other devices thought of for this purpoſe, only ſerve to fruſtrate the [Page 210] expectations of mankind, or to miſlead their attention.

IN planting a colony, in ſtriving to repair the occaſional waſtes of peſtilence or war, the immediate contrivance of ſtateſmen may be uſeful; but if in reaſoning on the increaſe of mankind in general, we overlook their freedom, and their happineſs, our aids to population become weak and ineffectual. They only lead us to work on the ſurface, or to purſue a ſhadow, while we neglect the ſubſtantial concern; and in a decaying ſtate, make us tamper with palliatives, while the roots of an evil are ſuffered to remain. Octavius revived or inforced the laws that related to population at Rome: but it may be ſaid of him, and of many ſovereigns in a ſimilar ſituation, that they adminiſter the poiſon, while they are deviſing the remedy; and bring a damp and a palſy on the principles of life, while they endeavour, by external applications to the ſkin, to reſtore the bloom of a decayed and a ſickly body.

IT is indeed happy for mankind, that this important object is not always dependent on the wiſdom of ſovereigns, or the policy of ſingle men. A people intent on freedom, find for themſelves a condition in which they may follow the propenſities of nature with a more ſignal effect, than any which the councils of ſtate could deviſe. When ſovereigns, or projectors, are the ſuppoſed maſters of this ſubject, the beſt they can do, is to be cautious of hurting an intereſt they cannot greatly promote, and of making breaches they cannot repair.

[Page 211] ‘When nations were divided into ſmall territories, and petty commonwealths, where each man had his houſe and his field to himſelf, and each county had its capital free and independent what a happy ſituation for mankind,’ ſays Mr. Hume, ‘how favourable to induſtry and agriculture, to marriage, and to population!’ Yet here were probably no ſchemes of the ſtateſman for rewarding the married, or for puniſhing the ſingle; for inviting foreigners to ſettle, or for prohibiting the departure of natives. Every citizen finding a poſſeſſion ſecure, and a proviſion for his heirs, was not diſcouraged by the gloomy fears of oppreſſion or want: and where every other function of nature was free, that which furniſhed the nurſery could not be reſtrained. Nature has required the powerful to be juſt; but ſhe has not otherwiſe intruſted the preſervation of her works to their viſionary plans. What fewel can the ſtateſman add to the fires of youth? Let him only not ſmother it, and the effect is ſecure. Where we oppreſs or degrade mankind with one hand, it is vain, like Octavius, to hold out in the other, the baits of marriage, or the whip to barrenneſs. It is vain to invite new inhabitants from abroad, while thoſe we already poſſeſs are made to hold their tenure with uncertainty; and to tremble, not only under the proſpect of a numerous family, but even under that of a precarious and doubtful ſubſiſtence for themſelves, The arbitrary ſovereign, who has made this the condition of his ſubjects, owes the remains of his people to the powerful inſtincts of nature, not to any device of his own.

[Page 212] MEN will croud where the ſituation is tempting, and, in a few generations, will people every country to the meaſure of its means of ſubſiſtence. They will even increaſe under circumſtances that portend a decay. The frequent wars of the Romans, and of many a thriving community; even the peſtilence, and the market for ſlaves, find their ſupply, if, without deſtroying the ſource, the drain become regular; and if an iſſue is made for the offspring, without unſettling the families from which they ariſe. Where a happier proviſion is made for mankind, the ſtateſman, who by premiums to marriage, by allurements to foreigners, or by confining the natives at home, apprehends, that he has made the numbers of his people to grow, is often like the fly in the fable, who admired its ſucceſs, in turning the wheel, and in moving the carriage: he has only accompanied what was already in motion; he has daſhed with his oar, to haſten the cataract; and waved with his fan, to give ſpeed to the winds.

PROJECTS of mighty ſettlement, and of ſudden population, however ſucceſsful in the end, are always expenſive to mankind. Above a hundred thouſand peaſants, we are told, were yearly driven, like ſo many cattle, to Peterſburgh, in the firſt attempts to repleniſh that ſettlement, and yearly periſhed for want of ſubſiſtence*. The Indian only attempts to ſettle in the neighbourhood of the plantain, and while his family increaſes, he adds a tree to the walk.

[Page 213] IF the plantain, the cocoa, or the palm, were ſufficient to maintain an inhabitant, the race of men in the warmer climates might become as numerous as the trees of the foreſt. But in many parts of the earth, from the nature of the climate, and the ſoil, the ſpontaneous produce being next to nothing; the means of ſubſiſtence are the fruits only of labour and ſkill. If a people, while they retain their frugality, increaſe their induſtry, and improve their arts, their numbers muſt grow in proportion. Hence it is, that the cultivated fields of Europe are more peopled than the wilds of America, or the plains of Tartary.

BUT even the increaſe of mankind which attends the accumulation of wealth, has its limits. The neceſſary of life is a vague and a relative term: it is one thing in the opinion of the ſavage; another in that of the poliſhed citizen: it has a reference to the fancy, and to the habits of living. While arts improve, and riches increaſe; while the poſſeſſions of individuals, or their proſpects of gain, come up to their opinion of what is required to ſettle a family, they enter on its cares with alacrity. But when the poſſeſſion, however redundant, falls ſhort of the ſtandard, and a fortune ſuppoſed ſufficient for marriage is attained with difficulty, population is checked, or begins to decline. The citizen, in his own apprehenſion, returns to the ſtate of the ſavage; his children, he thinks, muſt periſh for want; and he quits a ſcene overflowing with plenty, becauſe he has not the fortune which his ſuppoſed rank, or his wiſhes, require. No ultimate remedy is applied to this evil, by merely accumulating wealth; for rare and [Page 214] coſtly materials, whatever theſe are, continue to be ſought; and if ſilks and pearl are made common, men will begin to covet ſome new decorations, which the wealthy alone can procure. If they are indulged in their humour, their demands are repeated: For it is the continual increaſe of riches, not any meaſure attained, that keeps the craving imagination at eaſe.

MEN are tempted to labour, and to practiſe lucrative arts, by motives of intereſt. Secure to the workman the fruit of his labour, give him the proſpects of independence or freedom, the public has found a faithful miniſter in the acquiſition of wealth, and a faithful ſteward in hoarding what he has gained. The ſtateſman in this, as in the caſe of population itſelf, can do little more than avoid doing miſchief. It is well, if, in the beginnings of commerce, he knows how to repreſs the frauds to which it is ſubject. Commerce, if continued, is the branch in which men committed to the effects of their own experience, are leaſt apt to go wrong.

THE trader, in rude ages, is ſhort-ſighted, fraudulent, and mercenary; but in the progreſs and advanced ſtate of his art, his views are enlarged, his maxims are eſtabliſhed: he becomes punctual, liberal, faithful, and enterpriſing; and in the period of general corruption, he alone has every virtue, except the force to defend his acquiſitions. He needs no aid from the ſtate, but its protection; and is often in himſelf its moſt intelligent and reſpectable member. Even in China, we are informed, where pilfering, fraud, and corruption, are the reigning practice with all [Page 215] the other orders of men, the great merchant is ready to give, and to procure confidence: while his countrymen act on the plans and under the reſtrictions of a police adjuſted to knaves, he acts on the reaſons of trade, and the maxims of mankind.

IF population be connected with national wealth, liberty and perſonal ſecurity is the great foundation of both: and if this foundation be laid in the ſtate, nature has ſecured the increaſe and the induſtry of its members; the one by deſires the moſt ardent in the human frame; the other by a conſideration the moſt uniform and conſtant of any that poſſeſſes the mind. The great object of policy, therefore, with reſpect to both, is, to ſecure to the family its means of ſubſiſtence and ſettlement; to protect the induſtrious in the purſuit of his occupation; to reconcile the reſtrictions of police, and the ſocial affections of mankind, with their ſeparate and intereſted purſuits.

IN matters of particular profeſſion, induſtry, and trade, the experienced practitioner is the maſter, and every general reaſoner is a novice. The object in commerce is to make the individual rich; the more he gains for himſelf, the more he augments the wealth of his country. If a protection be required, it muſt be granted; if crimes and frauds be committed, they muſt be repreſſed; and government can pretend to no more. When the refined politician would lend an active hand, he only multiplies interruptions and grounds of complaint; when the merchant forgets his own intereſt to lay plans for his country, the period of viſion and chimera is near, and the ſolid baſis of [Page 216] commerce withdrawn. He might be told, perhaps, that while he purſues his advantage, and gives no cauſe of complaint, the intereſt of commerce is ſafe.

THE general police of France, proceeding on a ſuppoſition that the exportation of corn muſt drain the country where it has grown, had, till of late, laid that branch of commerce under a ſevere prohibition. The Engliſh landholder and the farmer had credit enough to obtain a premium for exportation, to favour the ſale of their commodity; and the event has ſhewn, that private intereſt is a better patron of commerce and plenty, than the refinements of ſtate. One nation lays the refined plan of a ſettlement on the continent of North America, and truſts little to the conduct of traders and ſhort-ſighted men; another leaves men to find their own poſition in a ſtate of freedom, and to think for themſelves. The active induſtry and the limited views of the one, made a thriving ſettlement; the great projects of the other were ſtill in idea.

BUT I willingly quit a ſubject in which I am not much converſant, and ſtill leſs engaged by the views with which I write. Speculations on commerce and wealth have been delivered by the ableſt writers, who have left nothing ſo important to be offered on the ſubject, as the general caution, not to conſider theſe articles as making the ſum of national felicity, or the principal object of any ſtate.

ONE nation, in ſearch of gold and of precious metals, neglect the domeſtic ſources of wealth, [Page 217] and become dependent on their neighbours for the neceſſaries of life: another ſo intent on improving their internal reſources, and on increaſing their commerce, that they become dependent on foreigners for the defence of what they acquire. It is even painful in converſation to find the intereſts of trade give the tone to our reaſonings, and to find a ſubject perpetually offered as the great buſineſs of national councils, to which any interpoſition of government is ſeldom, with propriety, applied, or never beyond the protection it affords.

WE complain of a want of public ſpirit; but whatever may be the effect of this error in practice, in ſpeculation it is none of our faults [...] we reaſon perpetually for the public; but the want of national views were frequently better than the poſſeſſion of thoſe we expreſs: we would have nations, like a company of merchants, think of nothing but the increaſe of their ſtock; aſſemble to deliberate on profit and loſs; and, like them too, intruſt their protection to a force which they do not poſſeſs in themſelves.

BECAUSE men, like other animals are maintained in multitudes, where the neceſſaries of life are amaſſed, and the ſtore of wealth is enlarged, we drop our regards for the happineſs, the moral and political character of a people; and anxious for the herd we would propagate, carry our views no farther than the ſtall and the paſture. We forget that the few have often made a prey of the many; that to the poor there is nothing ſo enticing as the coffers of the rich; and that when the price of freedom comes to be paid, the heavy [Page 218] ſword of the victor may fall into the oppoſite ſcale.

WHATEVER be the actual conduct of nations in this matter, it is certain, that many of our arguments would hurry us, for the ſake of wealth and of population, into a ſcene where mankind being expoſed to corruption, are unable to defend their poſſeſſions; and where they are, in the end, ſubject to oppreſſion and ruin. We cut off the roots, while we would extend the branches, and thicken the foliage.

IT is poſſibly from an opinion that the virtues of men are ſecure, that ſome who turn their attention to public affairs, think of nothing but the numbers and wealth of a people: it is from a dread of corruption, that others think of nothing but how to preſerve the national virtues. Human ſociety has great obligations to both. They are oppoſed to one another only by miſtake; and even when united, have not ſtrength ſufficient to combat the wretched party, that refers every object to perſonal intereſt, and that cares not for the ſafety or increaſe of any ſtock but its own.

1.3.5. SECT. V.
Of National Defence and Conqueſt.

[Page 219]

IT is impoſſible to aſcertain how much of the policy of any ſtate has a reference to war, or to national ſafety. ‘Our legiſlator,’ ſays the Cretan in Plato, ‘thought that nations were by nature in a ſtate of hoſtility: he took his meaſures accordingly; and obſerving that all the poſſeſſions of the vanquiſhed pertain to the victor, he held it ridiculous to propoſe any benefit to his country, before he had provided that it ſhould not be conquered.’

CRETE, which is ſuppoſed to have been a model of military policy, is commonly conſidered as the original from which the celebrated laws of Lycurgus were copied. Mankind, it ſeems, in every inſtance, muſt have ſome palpable object to direct their proceedings, and muſt have a view to ſome point of external utility, even in the choice of their virtues. The diſcipline of Sparta was military; and a ſenſe of its uſe in the field, more than the force of unwritten and traditionary laws, or the ſuppoſed engagements of the public faith obtained by the lawgiver, may have induced this people to perſevere in the obſervance of many rules, which to other nations do not appear neceſſary, except in the preſence of an enemy.

[Page 220] EVERY inſtitution of this ſingular people gave a leſſon of obedience, of fortitude, and of zeal for the public: but it is remarkable that they choſe to obtain, by their virtues alone, what other nations are fain to buy with their treaſure; and it is well known, that, in the courſe of their hiſtory, they came to regard their diſcipline merely on account of its moral effects. They had experienced the happineſs of a mind courageous, diſintereſted, and devoted to its beſt affections; and they ſtudied to preſerve this character in themſelves, by reſigning the intereſts of ambition, and the hopes of military glory, even by ſacrificing the numbers of their people.

IT was the fate of Spartans who eſcaped from the field, not of thoſe who periſhed with Cleombrotus at Leuctra, that filled the cottages of Lacedemon with mourning and ſerious reflection*: it was the fear of having their citizens corrupted abroad, by intercourſe with ſervile and mercenary men, that made them quit the ſtation of leaders in the Perſian war, and leave Athens, during fifty years, to purſue, unrivalled, that career of ambition and profit, by which ſhe made ſuch acquiſitions of power and of wealth.

WE have had occaſion to obſerve, that in every rude ſtate, the great buſineſs is war; and that in barbarous times, mankind, being generally divided into ſmall parties, are engaged in almoſt [Page 221] perpetual hoſtilities. This circumſtance gives the military leader a continued aſcendant in his country, and inclines every people, during warlike ages, to monarchical government.

THE conduct of an army can leaſt of all ſubjects be divided: and we may be juſtly ſurpriſed to find, that the Romans, after many ages of military experience, and after having recently felt the arms of Hannibal, in many encounters, aſſociated two leaders at the head of the ſame army, and left them to adjuſt their pretenſions, by taking the command, each a day in his turn. The ſame people, however, on other occaſions, thought it expedient to ſuſpend the exerciſe of every ſubordinate magiſtracy, and in the time of great alarms, to intruſt all the authority of the ſtate in the hands of one perſon.

REPUBLICS have generally found it neceſſary, in the conduct of war, to place great confidence in the executive branch of their government. When a conſul at Rome had proclaimed his levies, and adminiſtered the military oath, he became from that moment maſter of the public treaſury, and of the lives of thoſe who were under his command*. The axe and the rods were no longer a mere badge of magiſtracy, or an empty pageant, in the hands of the lictor: they were, at the command of the father, ſtained with the blood of his own children; and fell, without appeal, on the mutinous and the diſobedient of every condition.

[Page 222] IN every free ſtate, there is a perpetual neceſſity to diſtinguiſh the maxims of martial law from thoſe of the civil; and he who has not learned to give an implicit obedience, where the ſtate has given him a military leader, and to reſign his perſonal freedom in the field, from the ſame magnanimity with which he maintains it in the political deliberations of his country, has yet to learn the moſt important leſſon of civil ſociety, and is only fit to occupy a place in a rude, or in a corrupted ſtate, where the principles of mutiny and of ſervility being joined, the one or the other is frequently adopted in the wrong place.

FROM a regard to what is neceſſary in war, nations inclined to popular or ariſtocratical government, have had recourſe to eſtabliſhments that bordered on monarchy. Even where the higheſt office of the ſtate was in common times adminiſtered by a plurality of perſons, the whole power and authority belonging to it was, on particular occaſions, committed to one; and upon great alarms, when the political fabric was ſhaken or endangered, a monarchical power has been applied, like a prop, to ſecure the ſtate againſt the rage of the tempeſt. Thus were the dictators occaſionally named at Rome, and the ſtadtholders in the United Provinces; and thus, in mixed governments, the royal prerogative is occaſionally enlarged, by the temporary ſuſpenſion of laws*, and the barriers of liberty appear to be removed, in order to veſt a dictatorial power in the hands of the king.

[Page 223] HAD mankind, therefore, no view but to warfare, it is probable that they would continue to prefer monarchical government to any other; or at leaſt that every nation, in order to procure ſecret and united councils, would intruſt the executive power with unlimited authority. But, happily for civil ſociety, men have objects of a different ſort: and experience has taught, that although the conduct of armies requires an abſolute and undivided command; yet a national force is beſt formed, where numbers of men are inured to equality; and where the meaneſt citizen may conſider himſelf, upon occaſion, as deſtined to command as well as to obey. It is here that the dictator finds a ſpirit and a force prepared to ſecond his councils; it is here too that the dictator himſelf is formed, and that numbers of leaders are preſented to the public choice; it is here that the proſperity of a ſtate is independent of ſingle men, and that a wiſdom which never dies, with a ſyſtem of military arrangements permanent and regular, can, even under the greateſt misfortunes, prolong the national ſtruggle. With this advantage, the Romans, finding a number of diſtinguiſhed leaders ariſe in ſucceſſion, were at all times almoſt equally prepared to contend with their enemies of Aſia or Africa; while the fortune of thoſe enemies, on the contrary depended on the caſual appearance of ſingular men, of a Mithridates, or of a Hannibal.

THE ſoldier, we are told, has his point of honour; and a faſhion of thinking, which he wears with his ſword. This point of honour, in free and uncorrupted ſtates, is a zeal for the public; and [Page 224] war to them, is an operation of paſſions, not the mere purſuit of a calling. Its good and its ill effects are felt in extremes: the friend is made to experience the warmeſt proofs of attachment, the enemy the ſevereſt effects of animoſity. On this ſyſtem the celebrated nations of antiquity made war under their higheſt attainments of civility, and under their greateſt degrees of refinement.

IN ſmall and rude ſocieties, the individual finds himſelf attacked in every national war; and none can propoſe to devolve his defence on another. ‘The King of Spain is a great prince,’ ſaid an American chief to the governor of Jamaica, who was preparing a body of troops to join in an enterpriſe againſt the Spaniards: ‘do you propoſe to make war upon ſo great a king with ſo ſmall a force?’ Being told that the forces he ſaw were to be joined by troops from Europe, and that the governor could then command no more: ‘Who are theſe then,’ ſaid the American, ‘who form this croud of ſpectators? are they not your people? and why do you not all go forth to ſo great a war?’ He was anſwered, That the ſpectators were merchants, and other inhabitants, who took no part in the ſervice: ‘Would they be merchants ſtill,’ continued this ſtateſman, ‘if the King of Spain was to attack you here? For my part, I do not think that merchants ſhould be permitted to live in any country: when I go to war, I leave no body at home but the women.’ It ſhould ſeem that this ſimple warrior conſidered merchants as a kind of neutral perſons, who took no part in the quarrels of their country; and that he did not know how much [Page 225] war itſelf may be made a ſubject of traffic; what mighty armies may be put in motion from behind the counter; how often human blood is, without any national animoſity, bought and ſold for bills of exchange; and how often the prince, the nobles, and the ſtateſmen, in many a poliſhed nation, might, in his account, be conſidered as merchants.

IN the progreſs of arts and of policy, the members of every ſtate are divided into claſſes; and in the commencement of this diſtribution, there is no diſtinction more ſerious than that of the warrior and the pacific inhabitant; no more is required to place men in the relation of maſter and ſlave. Even when the rigours of an eſtabliſhed ſlavery abate, as they have done in modern Europe, in conſequence of a protection, and a property, allowed to the mechanic and labourer, this diſtinction ſerves ſtill to ſeparate the noble from the baſe, and to point out that claſs of men who are deſtined to reign and to domineer in their country.

IT was certainly never foreſeen by mankind, that in the purſuit of refinement, they were to reverſe this order; or even that they were to place the government, and the military force of nations, in different hands. But is it equally unforeſeen, that the former order may again take place? and that the pacific citizen, however diſtinguiſhed by privilege and rank, muſt one day bow to the perſon with whom he has intruſted his ſword. If ſuch revolutions ſhould actually follow, will this new maſter revive in his own order the ſpirit of the noble and the free? Will he renew the characters of the warrior and the ſtateſman? Will he [Page 226] reſtore to his country the civil and military virtues? I am afraid to reply. Monteſquieu obſerves, that the government of Rome, even under the emperors, became in the hands of the troops, elective and republican: but the Fabii or the Bruti were heard of no more, after the praetorian bands became the republic.

WE have enumerated ſome of the heads under which a people, as they emerge from barbarity, may come to be claſſed. Such are, the nobility, the people, the adherents of the prince; and even the prieſthood have not been forgotten: when we arrive at times of refinement, the army muſt be joined to the liſt. The departments of civil government and of war being ſevered, and the preeminence being given to the ſtateſman, the ambitious will naturally devolve the military ſervice on thoſe who are contented with a ſubordinate ſtation. They who have the greateſt ſhare in the diviſion of fortune, and the greateſt intereſt in defending their country, having reſigned the ſword, muſt pay for what they have ceaſed to perform; and armies, not only at a diſtance from home, but in the very boſom of their country, are ſubſiſted by pay. A diſcipline is invented to inure the ſoldier to perform, from habit, and from the fear of puniſhment, thoſe hazardous duties, which the love of the public, or national ſpirit, no longer inſpire.

WHEN we conſider the breach that ſuch an eſtabliſhment makes in the ſyſtem of national virtues, it is unpleaſant to obſerve, that moſt nations who have run the career of civil arts, have, in ſome degree, adopted this meaſure. Not only [Page 227] ſtates, which either have wars to maintain, or precarious poſſeſſions to defend at a diſtance; not only a prince jealous of his authority, or in haſte to gain the advantage of diſcipline, are diſpoſed to employ foreign troops, or to keep ſtanding armies; but even republics, with little of the former occaſion, and none of the motives which prevail in monarchy, have been found to tread in the ſame path.

IF military arrangements occupy ſo conſiderable a place in the domeſtic policy of nations, the actual conſequences of war are equally important in the hiſtory of mankind. Glory and ſpoil were the earlieſt ſubject of quarrels; a conceſſion of ſuperiority, or a ranſom, were the prices of peace. The love of ſafety, and the deſire of dominion, equally lead mankind to wiſh for acceſſions of ſtrength. Whether as victors or as vanquiſhed, they tend to a coalition; and powerful nations conſidering a province, or a fortreſs acquired on their frontier, as ſo much gained, are perpetually intent on extending their limits.

THE maxims of conqueſt are not always to be diſtinguiſhed from thoſe of ſelf-defence. If a neighbouring ſtate be dangerous, if it be frequently troubleſome, it is a maxim founded in the conſideration of ſafety, as well as of conqueſt, That it ought to be weakened or diſarmed: If, being once reduced, it be diſpoſed to renew the conteſt, it muſt from thenceforward be governed in form. Rome never avowed any other maxims of conqueſt; and ſhe every where ſent her inſolent armies, under the ſpecious pretence of procuring to herſelf and her allies a laſting peace, which ſhe alone would reſerve the power to diſturb.

[Page 228] THE equality of thoſe alliances which the Grecian ſtates formed againſt each other, maintained, for a time, their independence and ſeparation; and that time was the ſhining and the happy period of their ſtory. It was prolonged more by the vigilance and conduct which they ſeverally applied, than by the moderation of their councils, or by any peculiarities of domeſtic policy which arreſted their progreſs. The victors were ſometimes contented, with merely changing to a reſemblance of their own forms the government of the ſtates they ſubdued. What the next ſtep might have been in the progreſs of impoſitions, is hard to determine. But when we conſider, that one party fought for the impoſition of tributes, another for the aſcendant in war, it cannot be doubted, that the Athenians, from a national ambition, and from the deſire of wealth, and the Spartans, though they originally only meant to defend themſelves, and their allies, were both, at laſt, equally willing to become the maſters of Greece; and were preparing for each other at home, that yoke, which both, together with their confederates, were obliged to receive from abroad.

IN the conqueſts of Philip, the deſire of ſelfpreſervation and ſecurity ſeemed to be blended with the ambition natural to princes. He turned his arms ſucceſſively to the quarters on which he found himſelf hurt, from which he had been alarmed or provoked: and when he had ſubdued the Greeks he propoſed to lead them againſt their ancient enemy of Perſia. In this he laid the plan which was carried into execution by his ſon.

[Page 229] THE Romans, become the maſters of Italy, and the conquerors of Carthage, had been alarmed on the ſide of Macedon, and were led to croſs a new ſea in ſearch of a new field, on which to exerciſe their military force. In proſecution of their wars, from the earlieſt to the lateſt date of their hiſtory, without intending the very conqueſts they made, perhaps without foreſeeing what advantage they were to reap from the ſubjection of diſtant provinces, or in what manner they were to govern their new acquiſitions, they ſtill proceeded to ſeize what came ſucceſſively within their reach; and, ſtimulated by a policy which engaged them in perpetual wars, which led to perpetual victory and acceſſions of territory, they extended the frontier of a ſtate, which, but a few centuries before, had been confined within the ſkirts of a village, to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Weſer, the Forth, and the ocean.

IT is vain to affirm, that the genius of any nation is adverſe to conqueſt. Its real intereſts indeed moſt commonly are ſo; but every ſtate which is prepared to defend itſelf, and to obtain victories, is likewiſe in hazard of being tempted to conquer.

IN Europe, where mercenary and diſciplined armies are every where formed, and ready to traverſe the earth, where like a flood pent up by ſlender banks, they are only reſtrained by political forms, or a temporary balance of power; if the ſluices ſhould break, what inundations may we not expect to behold: Effeminate kingdoms and empires are ſpread from the ſea of Corea to the Atlantic [Page 230] ocean. Every ſtate, by the defeat of its troops, may be turned into a province; every army oppoſed in the field to-day may be hired tomorrow; and every victory gained, may give the acceſſion of a new military force to the victor.

THE Romans, with inferior arts of communication both by ſea and land, maintained their dominion in a conſiderable part of Europe, Aſia, and Africa, over fierce and intractable nations: What may not the fleets and armies of Europe, with the acceſs they have by commerce to every part of the world, and the facility of their conveyance, effect, if that ruinous maxim ſhould prevail, That the grandeur of a nation is to be eſtimated from the extent of its territory; or, That the intereſt of any particular people conſiſts in reducing their neighbours to ſervitude?

1.3.6. SECT. VI.
Of Civil Liberty.

[Page 231]

IF war, either for depredation or defence, were the principal object of nations, every tribe would, from its earlieſt ſtate, aim at the condition of a Tartar horde; and in all its ſucceſſes would haſten to the grandeur of a Tartar empire. The military leader would ſuperſede the civil magiſtrate; and preparations to fly with all their poſſeſſions, or to purſue with all their forces, would, in every ſociety, make the ſum of their public arrangements.

HE who firſt on the banks of the Wolga, or the Jeniſca, had taught the Scythian to mount the horſe, to move his cottage on wheels, to haraſs his enemy alike by his attacks and his flights, to handle at full ſpeed the lance and the bow, and when beat from the field, to leave his arrows in the wind to meet his purſuer; he who had taught his countrymen to uſe the ſame animal for every purpoſe of the dairy, the ſhambles, and the field; would be eſteemed the founder of his nation; or, like Ceres and Bacchus among the Greeks, would be inveſted with the honours of a god, as the reward of his uſeful inventions. Amidſt ſuch inſtitutions, the names and atchievements of Hercules and Jaſon might have been tranſmitted to poſterity; [Page 232] but thoſe of Lycurgus or Solon, the heroes of political ſociety, could have gained no reputation, either fabulous or real, in the records of fame.

EVERY tribe of warlike barbarians may entertain among themſelves the ſtrongeſt ſentiments of affection and honour, while they carry to the reſt of mankind the aſpect of banditti and robbers*. They may be indifferent to intereſt, and ſuperior to danger; but our ſenſe of humanity, our regard to the rights of nations, our admiration of civil wiſdom and juſtice, even our effeminacy itſelf, make us turn away with contempt, or with horror, from a ſcene which exhibits ſo few of our good qualities, and which ſerve ſo much to reproach our weakneſs.

IT is in conducting the affairs of civil ſociety, that mankind find the exerciſe of their beſt talents, as well as the object of their beſt affections. It is in being grafted on the advantages of civil ſociety, that the art of war is brought to perfection; that the reſources of armies, and the complicated ſprings to be touched in their conduct, are beſt underſtood. The moſt celebrated warriors were alſo citizens: Oppoſed to a Roman, or a Greek, the chieftain of Thrace, of Germany, or Gaul, was a novice. The native of Pella learned the principles of his art from Epaminondas and Pelopidas.

[Page 233] IF nations, as hath been obſerved in the preceding ſection, muſt adjuſt their policy on the proſpect of war from abroad, they are equally bound to provide for the attainment of peace at home. But there is no peace in the abſence of juſtice. It may ſubſiſt with diviſions, diſputes, and contrary opinions; but not with the commiſſion of wrongs. The injurious, and the injured, are, as implied in the very meaning of the terms, in a ſtate of hoſtility.

WHERE men enjoy peace, they owe it either to their mutual regards and affections, or to the reſtraints of law. Thoſe are the happieſt ſtates which procure peace to their members by the firſt of theſe methods: But it is ſufficiently uncommon to procure it even by the ſecond. The firſt would with-hold the occaſions of war and of competition: The ſecond adjuſts the pretenſions of men by ſtipulations and treaties. Sparta taught her citizens not to regard intereſt: Other free nations ſecure the intereſt of their members, and conſider this as a principal part of their rights.

LAW is the treaty to which members of the ſame community have agreed, and under which the magiſtrate and the ſubject continue to enjoy their rights, and to maintain the peace of ſociety. The deſire of lucre is the great motive to injuries: law therefore has a principal reference to property. It would aſcertain the different methods by which property may be acquired, as by preſcription, conveyance, and ſucceſſion; and it makes the neceſſary proviſions for rendering the poſſeſſion of property ſecure.

[Page 234] BESIDE avarice, there are other motives from which men are unjuſt; ſuch are pride, malice, envy, and revenge. The law would eradicate the principles themſelves, or at leaſt prevent their effects.

FROM whatever motive wrongs are committed, there are different particulars in which the injured may ſuffer. He may ſuffer in his goods, in his perſon, or in the freedom of his conduct. Nature has made him maſter of every action which is not injurious to others. The laws of his particular ſociety intitle him perhaps to a determinate ſtation, and beſtow on him a certain ſhare in the government of his country. An injury, therefore, which in this reſpect puts him under any unjuſt reſtraint, may be called an infringement of his political rights.

WHERE the citizen is ſuppoſed to have rights of property and of ſtation, and is protected in the exerciſe of them, he is ſaid to be free; and the very reſtraints by which he is hindered from the commiſſion of crimes, are a part of his liberty. No perſon is free, where any perſon is ſuffered to do wrong with impunity. Even the deſpotic prince on his throne, is not an exception to this general rule. He himſelf is a ſlave, the moment he pretends that force ſhould decide any conteſt. The diſregard he throws on the rights of his people recoils on himſelf; and in the general uncertainty of all conditions, there is no tenure more precarious than his own.

[Page 235] FROM the different particulars to which men refer, in ſpeaking of liberty, whether to the ſafety of the perſon and the goods, the dignity of rank, or the participation of political importance, as well as from the different methods by which their rights are ſecured, they are led to differ in the interpretation of the term; and every people is apt to imagine, that its ſignification is to be found only among themſelves.

SOME having thought, that the unequal diſtribution of wealth is unjuſt, required a new diviſion of property, as the foundation of freedom. This ſcheme is ſuited to democratical government; and in ſuch only it has been admitted with any degree of effect.

NEW ſettlements, like that of the people of Iſrael, and ſingular eſtabliſhments, like thoſe of Sparta and Crete, have furniſhed examples of its actual execution; but in moſt other ſtates, even the democratical ſpirit could attain no more than to prolong the ſtruggle for Agrarian laws; to procure, on occaſion, the expunging of debts; and to keep the people in mind, under all the diſtinctions of fortune, that they ſtill had a claim to equality.

THE citizen at Rome, at Athens, and in many republics, contended for himſelf, and his order. The Agrarian law was moved and debated for ages: it ſerved to awaken the mind: it nouriſhed the ſpirit of equality, and furniſhed a field on which to exert its force; but was never eſtabliſhed with any of its other and more formal effects.

[Page 236] MANY of the eſtabliſhments which ſerve to defend the weak from oppreſſion, contribute, by ſecuring the poſſeſſion of property, to favour its unequal diviſion, and to increaſe the aſcendant of thoſe from whom the abuſes of power may be feared. Thoſe abuſes were felt very early both at Athens and Rome*.

IT has been propoſed to prevent the exceſſive accumulation of wealth in particular hands, by limiting the increaſe of private fortunes, by prohibiting entails, and by with-holding the right of primogeniture in the ſucceſſion of heirs. It has been propoſed to prevent the ruin of moderate eſtates, and to reſtrain the uſe, and conſequently the deſire, of great ones, by ſumptuary laws. Theſe different methods are more or leſs conſiſtent with the intereſts of commerce, and may be adopted, in different degrees, by a people whoſe national object is wealth: and they have their degree of effect, by inſpiring moderation, or a ſenſe of equality, and by ſtifling the paſſions by which mankind are prompted to mutual wrongs.

IT appears to be, in a particular manner, the object of ſumptuary laws, and of the equal diviſion of wealth, to prevent the gratification of vanity, to check the oſtentation of ſuperior fortune, and, by this means, to weaken the deſire of riches, and to preſerve in the breaſt of the citizen, that moderation and equity which ought to regulate his conduct.

[Page 237] THIS end is never perfectly attained in any ſtate where the unequal diviſion of property is admitted, and where fortune is allowed to beſtow diſtinction and rank. It is indeed difficult, by any methods whatever, to ſhut up this ſource of corruption. Of all the nations whoſe hiſtory is known with certainty, the deſign itſelf, and the manner of executing it, appear to have been underſtood in Sparta alone.

THERE property was indeed acknowledged by law; but in conſequence of certain regulations and practices, the moſt effectual, it ſeems, that mankind have hitherto found out. The manners that prevail among ſimple nations before the eſtabliſhment of property, were in ſome meaſure preſerved*; the paſſion for riches was, during many ages, ſuppreſſed; and the citizen was made to conſider himſelf as the property of his country, not as the owner of a private eſtate.

IT was held ignominious either to buy or to ſell the patrimony of a citizen. Slaves were, in every family, intruſted with the care of its effects, and freemen were ſtrangers to lucrative arts; juſtice was eſtabliſhed on a contempt of the ordinary allurement to crimes; and the preſervatives of civil liberty applied by the ſtate, were the diſpoſitions that were made to prevail in the hearts of its members.

[Page 238] THE individual was relieved from every ſolicitude that could ariſe on the head of his fortune: he was educated, and he was employed for life in the ſervice of the public; he was fed at a place of common reſort, to which he could carry no diſtinction but that of his talents and his virtues; his children were the wards and the pupils of the ſtate; he himſelf was taught to be a parent, and a director to the youth of his country, not the anxious father of a ſeparate family.

THIS people, we are told, beſtowed ſome care in adorning their perſons, and were known from afar by the red or the purple they wore; but could not make their equipage, their buildings, or their furniture, a ſubject of fancy, or of what we call taſte. The carpenter and the houſebuilder were reſtricted to the uſe of the axe and the ſaw: their workmanſhip muſt have been ſimple, and probably, in reſpect to its form, continued for ages the ſame. The ingenuity of the artiſt was employed in cultivating his own nature, not in adorning the habitations of his fellowcitizens.

ON this plan, they had ſenators, magiſtrates, leaders of armies, and miniſters of ſtate; but no men of fortune. Like the heroes of Homer, they diſtributed honours by the meaſure of the cup and the platter. A citizen, who, in his political capacity, was the arbiter of Greece, thought himſelf honoured by receiving a double portion of plain entertainment at ſupper. He was active, penetrating, brave, diſintereſted, and generous; bu [...] his eſtate, his table, and his furniture, might, [...] [Page 239] our eſteem, have marred the luſtre of all his virtues. Neighbouring nations, however, applied for commanders to this nurſery of ſtateſmen and warriors, as we apply for the practitioners of every art to the countries in which they excel; for cooks to France, and for muſicians to Italy.

AFTER all, we are, perhaps, not ſufficiently inſtructed in the nature of the Spartan laws and inſtitutions, to underſtand in what manner all the ends of this ſingular ſtate were obtained; but the admiration paid to its people, and the conſtant reference of contemporary hiſtorians to their avowed ſuperiority, will not allow us to queſtion the facts. ‘When I obſerved,’ ſays Xenophon, ‘that this nation, though not the moſt populous, was the moſt powerful ſtate of Greece, I was ſeized with wonder, and with an earneſt deſire to know by what arts it attained its preeminence; but when I came to the knowledge of its inſtitutions, my wonder ceaſed.—As one man excels another, and as he who is at pains to cultivate his mind, muſt ſurpaſs the perſon who neglects it; ſo the Spartans ſhould excel every nation, being the only ſtate in which virtue is ſtudied as the object of government.'!’

THE ſubjects of property, conſidered with a view to ſubſiſtence, or even to enjoyment, have little effect in corrupting mankind, or in awakening the ſpirit of competition and of jealouſy; but conſidered with a view to diſtinction and honour, where fortune conſtitutes rank, they excite the moſt vehement paſſions, and abſorb all the ſentiments of the human ſoul: they reconcile avarice [Page 240] and meanneſs with ambition and vanity; and lead men through the practice of ſordid and mercenary arts to the poſſeſſion of a ſuppoſed elevation and dignity.

WHERE this ſource of corruption, on the contrary, is effectually ſtopped, the citizen is dutiful, and the magiſtrate upright; and form of government may be wiſely adminiſtered; places of truſt are likely to be well ſupplied; and by whatever rule office and power are beſtowed, it is likely that all the capacity and force that ſubſiſts in the ſtate will come to be employed in its ſervice: for on this ſuppoſition, experience and abilities are the only guides and the only titles to public confidence; and if citizens be ranged into ſeparate claſſes, they become mutual checks by the difference of their opinions, not by the oppoſition of their intereſted deſigns.

WE may eaſily account for the cenſures beſtowed on the government of Sparta, by thoſe who conſidered it merely on the ſide of its forms. It was not calculated to prevent the practice of crimes, by balancing againſt each other the ſelfiſh and partial diſpoſitions of men; but to inſpire the virtues of the ſoul, to procure innocence by the abſence of criminal inclinations, and to derive its internal peace from the indifference of its members to the ordinary motives of ſtrife and diſorder. It were trifling to ſeek for its analogy to any other conſtitution of ſtate, in which its principal characteriſtic and diſtinguiſhing feature is not to be found. The collegiate ſovereignty, the ſenate, and the Ephori, had their counterparts in other republics, and a reſemblance has been found in particular [Page 241] to the government of Carthage*: but what affinity of conſequence can be found between a ſtate whoſe ſole object was virtue, and another whoſe principal object was wealth; between a people whoſe aſſociated kings being lodged in the ſame cottage, had no fortune but their daily food; and commercial republic, in which a proper eſtate was required as a neceſſary qualification for the higher offices of ſtate?

OTHER petty commonwealths expelled kings, when they became jealous of their deſigns, or after having experienced their tyranny; here the hereditary ſucceſſion of kings was preſerved: other ſtates were afraid of the intrigues and cabals of their members in competition for dignities; here ſolicitation was required as the only condition upon which a place in the ſenate was obtained. A ſupreme inquiſitorial power was, in the perſons of the ephori, ſafely committed to a few men, who were drawn by lot, and without diſtinction, from every order of the people: and if a contraſt to this, as well as to many other articles of the Spartan policy, be required, it may be found in the general hiſtory of mankind.

BUT Sparta, under every ſuppoſed error of its form, proſpered for ages, by the integrity of its manners, and by the character of its citizens. When that integrity was broken, this people did not languiſh in the weakneſs of nations ſunk in effeminacy. They fell into the ſtream by which other ſtates had been carried in the torrent of violent [Page 242] paſſions, and in the outrage of barbarous times. They ran the career of other nations, after that of ancient Sparta was finiſhed: They built walls, and began to improve their poſſeſſions, after they ceaſed to improve their people; and on this new plan, in their ſtruggle for political life, they ſurvived the ſyſtem of ſtates that periſhed under the Macedonian dominion: They lived to act with another which aroſe in the Achaean league; and were the laſt community of Greece that became a village in the empire of Rome.

IF it ſhould be thought we have dwelt too long on the hiſtory of this ſingular people, it may be remembered, in excuſe, that they alone, in the language of Xenophon, made virtue an object of ſtate.

WE muſt be contented to derive our freedom from a different ſource; to expect juſtice from the limits which are ſet to the powers of the magiſtrate, and to rely for protection on the laws which are made to ſecure the eſtate, and the perſon of the ſubject. We live in ſocieties, where men muſt be rich, in order to be great; where pleaſure itſelf is often purſued from vanity; where the deſire of a ſuppoſed happineſs ſerves to inflame the worſt of paſſions, and is itſelf the foundation of miſery, where public juſtice, like fetters applied to the body, may, without inſpiring the ſentiments of candour and equity, prevent the actual commiſſion of crimes.

MANKIND come under this deſcription the moment they are ſeized with their paſſions for riches and power. But their deſcription in every [Page 243] inſtance is mixed: in the beſt there is an alloy of evil; in the worſt a mixture of good. Without any eſtabliſhments to preſerve their manners, beſides penal laws, and the reſtraints of police, they derive, from inſtinctive feelings, a love of integrity and candour, and, from the very contagion of ſociety itſelf, an eſteem for what is honourable and praiſe-worthy. They derive, from their union, and joint oppoſition to foreign enemies, a zeal for their own community, and courage to maintain its rights. If the frequent neglect of virtue as a political object, tend to diſcredit the underſtandings of men, its luſtre, and its frequency, as a ſpontaneous offspring of the heart, will reſtore the honours of our nature.

IN every caſual and mixed ſtate of the national manners, the ſafety of every individual, and his political conſequence, depends much on himſelf, but more on the party to which he is joined. For this reaſon, all who feel a common intereſt, are apt to unite in parties; and, as far as that intereſt requires, mutually ſupport each other.

WHERE the citizens of any free community are of different orders, each order has a peculiar ſet of claims and pretenſions: relatively to the other members of the ſtate, it is a party; relatively to the differences of intereſt among its own members, it may admit of numberleſs ſubdiviſions But in every ſtate there are two intereſts very readily apprehended; that of a prince and his adherents, that of a nobility, or of any temporary faction, oppoſed to the people,

WHERE the ſovereign power is reſerved by the collective body, it appears unneceſſary to think [Page 244] of additional eſtabliſhments for ſecuring the rights of the citizen. But it is difficult, if not impoſſible, for the collective body to exerciſe this power in a manner that ſuperſedes the neceſſity of every other political caution.

IF popular aſſemblies aſſume every function of government; and if, in the ſame tumultuous manner in which they can, with great propriety, expreſs their feelings, the ſenſe of their rights, and their animoſity to foreign or domeſtic enemies, they pretend to deliberate on points of national conduct, or to decide queſtions of equity and juſtice; the public is expoſed to manifold inconveniencies; and popular governments would, of all others, be the moſt ſubject to errors in adminiſtration, and to weakneſs in the execution of public meaſures.

TO avoid theſe diſadvantages, the people are always contented to delegate part of their powers. They eſtabliſh a ſenate to debate, and to prepare, if not to determine, queſtions that are brought to the collective body for a final reſolution. They commit the executive power to ſome council of this ſort, or to a magiſtrate who preſides in their meetings. Under the uſe of this neceſſary and common expedient, even while democratical forms are moſt carefully guarded, there is one party of the few, another of the many. One attacks, the other defends; and they are both ready to aſſume in their turns. But though, in reality, a great danger to liberty ariſes on the part of the people themſelves, who, in times of corruption, are eaſily made the inſtruments of uſurpation and tyranny; yet, in the ordinary aſpect of government, the [Page 245] executive carries an air of ſuperiority, and the rights of the people ſeem always expoſed to incroachment.

THOUGH on the day that the Roman people aſſembled in their tribes, the ſenators mixed with the croud, and the conſul was no more than the ſervant of the multitude; yet, when this awful meeting was diſſolved, the ſenators met to preſcribe buſineſs for their ſovereign, and the conſul went armed with the axe and the rods, to teach every Roman, in his ſeparate capacity, the ſubmiſſion which he owed to the ſtate.

THUS, even where the collective body is ſovereign, they are aſſembled only occaſionally: and though on ſuch occaſions they determine every queſtion relative to their rights and their intereſts as a people, and can aſſert their freedom with irreſiſtible force; yet they do not think themſelves, nor are they in reality, ſafe, without a more conſtant and more uniform power operating in their favour.

THE multitude is every where ſtrong; but requires, for the ſafety of its members, when ſeparate as well as when aſſembled, a head to direct and to employ its ſtrength. For this purpoſe, the ephori, we are told, were eſtabliſhed at Sparta, the council of a hundred at Carthage, and the tribunes at Rome. So prepared, the popular party has, in many inſtances, been able to cope with its adverſaries, and has even trampled on the powers, whether ariſtocratical or monarchical, with which it would have been otherwiſe unequally matched. The ſtate, in ſuch caſes, commonly [Page 246] ſuffered by the delays, interruptions, and confuſions; which popular leaders, from private envy, or a prevailing jealouſy of the great, ſeldom failed to create in the proceedings of government.

WHERE the people, as in ſome larger communities, have only a ſhare in the legiſlature, they cannot overwhelm the collateral powers, who having likewiſe a ſhare, are in condition to defend themſelves: Where they act only by their repreſentatives, their force may be uniformly employed. And they may make part in a conſtitution of government more laſting than any of thoſe in which the people poſſeſſing or pretending to the entire legiſlature, are, when aſſembled, the tyrants, and when diſperſed, the ſlaves, of a diſtempered ſtate. In governments properly mixed, the popular intereſt, finding a counterpoiſe in that of the prince or of the nobles, a balance is actually eſtabliſhed between them, in which the public freedom and the public order are made to conſiſt.

FROM ſome ſuch caſual arrangement of different intereſts, all the varieties of mixed government proceed; and on the degree of conſideration which every ſeparate intereſt can procure to itſelf, depends the equity of the laws they enact, and the neceſſity they are able to impoſe, of adhering ſtrictly to the terms of law in its execution. States are accordingly unequally qualified to conduct the buſineſs of legiſlation, and unequally fortunate in the completeneſs, and regular obſervance, of their civil code.

IN democratical eſtabliſhments, citizens, feeling themſelves poſſeſſed of the ſovereignty, are not equally anxious, with the ſubject of other [Page 247] governments, to have their rights explained, or secured, by actual ſtatute. They truſt to perſonal vigour, to the ſupport of party, and to the ſenſe of the public.

IF the collective body perform the office of judge, as well as of legiſlator, they ſeldom think of deviſing rules for their own direction, and are found ſtill more ſeldom to follow any determinate rule, after it is made. They diſpenſe, at one time, with what they enacted at another; and in their judicative, perhaps even more than in their legiſlative, capacity, are guided by paſſions and partialties that ariſe from circumſtances of the caſe before them.

BUT under the ſimpleſt governments of a different ſort, whether ariſtocracy or monarchy, there is a neceſſity for law, and there are a variety of intereſts to be adjuſted in framing every ſtatute. The ſovereign wiſhes to give ſtability and order to adminiſtration, by expreſs and promulgated rules. The ſubject wiſhes to know the conditions and limits of his duty. He acquieſces, or he revolts, according as the terms on which he is made to live with the ſovereign, or with his fellow-ſubjects, are, or are not, conſiſtent with the ſenſe of his rights.

NEITHER the monarch, nor the council of nobles, where either is poſſeſſed of the ſovereignty, can pretend to govern, or to judge at diſcretion. No magiſtrate, whether temporary or hereditary, can with ſafety neglect that reputation for juſtice and equity, from which his authority, and the reſpect that is paid to his perſon, are in a great [Page 248] meaſure derived. Nations, however, have been fortunate in the tenor, and in the execution of their laws, in proportion as they have admitted every order of the people, by repreſentation or otherwiſe, to an actual ſhare of the legiſlature. Under eſtabliſhments of this ſort, law is literally a treaty, to which the parties concerned have agreed, and have given their opinion in ſettling its terms. The intereſts to be affected by a law, are likewiſe conſulted in making it. Every claſs propounds an objection, ſuggeſts an addition or an amendment of its own. They proceed to adjuſt, by ſtatute, every ſubject of controverſy: and while they continue to enjoy their freedom, they continue to multiply laws, and to accumulate volumes, as if they could remove every poſſible ground of diſpute, and were ſecure of their rights, merely by having put them in writing.

ROME and England, under their mixed governments, the one inclining to democracy, the other to monarchy, have proved the great legiſlators among nations. The firſt has left the foundation, and great part of the ſuperſtructure of its civil code, to the continent of Europe: the other, in its iſland, has carried the authority and government of law to a point of perfection, which they never before attained in the hiſtory of mankind.

UNDER ſuch favourable eſtabliſhments, known cuſtoms, the practice and deciſions of courts, as well as poſitive ſtatutes, acquire the authority of laws; and every proceeding is conducted by ſome fixed and determinate rule. The beſt and moſt effectual precautions are taken for the impartial application of rules to particular caſes; and it is [Page 249] remarkable, that, in the two examples we have mentioned, a ſurpriſing coincidence is found in the ſingular methods of their juriſdiction. The people in both reſerved in a manner the office of judgement to themſelves, and brought the deciſion of civil rights, or of criminal queſtions, to the tribunal of peers, who, in judging of their fellowcitizens, preſcribed a condition of life for themſelves.

IT is not in mere laws, after all, that we are to look for the ſecurities to juſtice, but in the powers by which thoſe laws have been obtained, and without whoſe conſtant ſupport they muſt fall to diſuſe. Statutes ſerve to record the rights of a people, and ſpeak the intention of parties to defend what the letter of the law has expreſſed: but without the vigour to maintain what is acknowledged as a right, the mere record, or the feeble intention, is of little avail.

A POPULACE rouſed by oppreſſion, or an order of men poſſeſſed of a temporary advantage, have obtained many charters, conceſſions, and ſtipulations, in favour of their claims; but where no adequate preparation was made to preſerve them, the written articles were often forgotten, together with the occaſion on which they were framed.

THE hiſtory of England, and of every free country, abounds with the example of ſtatutes enacted when the people or their repreſentatives aſſembled, but never executed when the crown or the executive was left to itſelf. The moſt equitable laws on paper are conſiſtent with the utmoſt [Page 250] deſpotiſm in adminiſtration. Even the form of trial by juries in England had its authority in law, while the proceedings of courts were arbitrary and oppreſſive.

WE muſt admire, as the key-ſtone of civil liberty, the ſtatute which forces the ſecrets of every priſon to be revealed, the cauſe of every commitment to be declared, and the perſon of the accuſed to be produced, that he may claim his enlargement, or his trial, within a limited time. No wiſer form was ever oppoſed to the abuſes of power. But it requires a fabric no leſs than the whole political conſtitution of Great Britain, a ſpirit no leſs than the refractory and turbulent zeal of this fortunate people, to ſecure its effects.

IF even the ſaſety of the perſon, and the tenure of property, which may be ſo well defined in the words of a ſtatute, depend, for their preſervation, on the vigour and jealouſy of a free people, and on the degree of conſideration which every order of the ſtate maintains for itſelf; it is ſtill more evident, that what we have called the political freedom, or the right of the individual to act in his ſtation for himſelf and the public, cannot be made to reſt on any other foundation. The eſtate may be ſaved, and the perſon releaſed, by the forms of a civil procedure; but the rights of the mind cannot be ſuſtained by any other force but its own.

1.3.7. SECT. VII.
Of the Hiſtory of Arts.

[Page 251]

WE have already obſerved, that art is natural to man; and that the ſkill he acquires after many ages of practice, is only the improvement of a talent he poſſeſſed at the firſt. Vitruvius finds the rudiments of architecture in the form of a Scythian cottage. The armourer may find the firſt productions of his calling in the ſling and the bow; and the ſhip-wright of his in the canoe of the ſavage. Even the hiſtorian and the poet may find the original eſſays of their arts in the tale, and the ſong, which celebrate the wars, the loves, and the adventures of men in their rudeſt condition.

DESTINED to cultivate his own nature, or to mend his ſituation, man finds a continual ſubject of attention, ingenuity, and labour. Even where he does not propoſe any perſonal improvement, his faculties are ſtrengthened by thoſe very exerciſes in which he ſeems to forget himſelf: his reaſon and his affections are thus profitably engaged in the affairs of ſociety; his invention and his ſkill are exerciſed in procuring his accommodations and his food; his particular purſuits are preſcribed to him by circumſtances of the age and of the country in which he lives: in one ſituation he is occupied with wars and political deliberations; in [Page 252] another, with the care of his intereſt, of his perſonal eaſe, or conveniency. He ſuits his means to the ends he has in view; and, by multiplying contrivances, proceeds, by degrees, to the perfection of his arts. In every ſtep of his progreſs, if his ſkill be increaſed, his deſire muſt likewiſe have time to extend: and it would be as vain to ſuggeſt a contrivance of which he ſighted the uſe, as it would be to tell him of bleſſings which he could not command.

AGES are generally ſuppoſed to have borrowed from thoſe who went before them, and nations to have derived their portion of learning or of art from abroad. The Romans are thought to have learned from the Greeks, and the moderns of Europe from both. In this imagination we frequently proceed ſo far as to admit of nothing original in the practice or manners of any people. The Greek was a copy of the Egyptian, and even the Egyptian was an imitator, though we have loſt ſight of the model on which he was formed.

IT is known, that men improve by example and intercourſe; but in the caſe of nations, whoſe members excite and direct each other, why ſeek from abroad the origin of arts, of which every ſociety, having the principles in itſelf, only requires a favourable occaſion to bring them to light? When ſuch occaſion preſents itſelf to any people, they generally ſeize it; and while it continues, they improve the inventions to which it gave riſe among themſelves, or they willingly copy from others; but they never employ their own invention, nor look abroad, for inſtruction on ſubjects that do not lie in the way of their common purſuits; they never [Page 25] adopt a refinement of which they have not diſcovered the uſe.

INVENTIONS, we frequently obſerve, are accidental; but it is probable, that an accident which eſcapes the artiſt in one age, may be ſeized by one who ſucceeds him, and who is better appriſed of its uſe. Where circumſtances are favourable, and where a people is intent on the objects of any art, every invention is preſerved, by being brought into general practice; every model is ſtudied, and every accident is turned to account. If nations actually borrow from their neighbours, they probably borrow only what they are nearly in a condition to have invented themſelves.

ANY ſingular practice of one country, therefore, is ſeldom transferred to another, till the way be prepared by the introduction of ſimiliar circumſtances. Hence our frequent complaints of the dullneſs or obſtinacy of mankind, and of the dilatory communication of arts, from one place to another. While the Romans adopted the arts of Greece, the Thracians and Illyrians continued to behold them with indifference. Thoſe arts were, during one period, confined to the Greek colonies, and during another, to the Roman. Even where they were ſpread by a viſible intercourſe, they were ſtill received by independent nations with the ſlowneſs of invention. They made a progreſs not more rapid at Rome than they had done at Athens; and they paſſed to the extremities of the Roman empire, only in company with new colonies, and joined to Italian policy.

THE modern race, who came abroad to the poſſeſſion of cultivated provinces, retained the arts [Page 254] they had practiſed at home: the new maſter hunted the boar, or paſtured his herds, where he might have raiſed a plentiful harveſt: he built a cottage in the view of a palace: he buried, in one common ruin, the edifices, ſculptures, paintings, and libraries, of the former inhabitant: he made a ſettlement upon a plan of his own, and opened anew the ſource of inventions, without perceiving from a diſtance to what length their progreſs might lead his poſterity. The cottage of the preſent race, like that of the former, by degrees enlarged its dimenſions; public buildings acquired a magnificence in a new taſte. Even this taſte came, in a courſe of ages, to be exploded, and the people of Europe recurred to the models which their fathers deſtroyed, and wept over the ruins which they could not reſtore.

THE literary remains of antiquity were ſtudied and imitated, after the original genius of modern nations had broke forth: the rude efforts of poetry in Italy and Provence, reſembled thoſe of the Greeks and the ancient Romans. How far the merit of our works might, without the aid of their models, have riſen by ſucceſſive improvements, or whether we have gained more by imitation than we have loſt by quitting our native ſyſtem of thinking, and our vein of fable, muſt be left to conjecture. We are certainly indebted to them for the materials, as well as the form, of many of our compoſitions; and without their example, the ſtrain of our literature, together with that of our manners and policy, would have been different from what they at preſent are. This much however may be ſaid with aſſurance, that although the Roman and the modern literature ſavour alike of the Greek original, [Page 255] yet mankind in either inſtance would not have drank of this fountain, unleſs they had been haſtening to open ſprings of their own.

SENTIMENT and fancy, the uſe of the hand or the head, are not inventions of particular men; and the flouriſhing of arts that depend on them, are, in the caſe of any people, a proof rather of political felicity at home, than of any inſtruction received from abroad, or of any natural ſuperiority in point of induſtry or talents.

WHEN the attentions of men are turned toward particular ſubjects, when the acquiſitions of one age are left entire to the next, when every individual is protected in his place, and left to purſue the ſuggeſtion of his wants, devices accumulate; and it is difficult to find the original of any art. The ſteps which lead to perfection are many; and we are at a loſs on whom to beſtow the greateſt ſhare of our praiſe; on the firſt or on the laſt who may have bore a part in the progreſs.

1.3.8. SECT. VIII.
Of the Hiſtory of Literature.

[Page 256]

IF we may rely on the general obſervations contained in the laſt ſection, the literary, as well as mechanical arts, being a natural produce of the human mind, will riſe ſpontaneouſly where-ever men are happily placed; and in certain nations it is not more neceſſary to look abroad for the origin of literature, than it is for the ſuggeſtion of any of the pleaſures or exerciſes in which mankind, under a ſtate of proſperity and freedom, are ſufficiently inclined to indulge themſelves.

WE are apt to conſider arts as foreign and adventitious to the nature of man: but there is no art that did not find its occaſion in human life, and that was not, in ſome one or other of the ſituations in which our ſpecies is found, ſuggeſted as a means for the attainment of ſome uſeful end. The mechanic and commercial arts took their riſe from the love of property, and were encouraged by the proſpects of ſafety and of gain: the literary and liberal arts took their riſe from the underſtanding, the fancy and the heart. They are mere exerciſes of the mind in ſearch of its peculiar pleaſures and occupations; and are promoted by circumſtances that ſuffer the mind to enjoy itſelf.

[Page 257] MEN are equally engaged by the paſt, the preſent, and the future, and are prepared for every occupation that gives ſcope to their powers. Productions therefore, whether of narration, fiction, or reaſoning, that tend to employ the imagination, or move the heart, continue for ages a ſubject of attention, and a ſource of delight. The memory of human tranſactions being preſerved in tradition or writing, is the natural gratification of a paſſion that conſiſts of curioſity, admiration, and the love of amuſement.

BEFORE many books are written, and before ſcience is greatly advanced, the productions of mere genius are ſometimes complete: the performer requires not the aid of learning where his deſcription or ſtory relates to near and contiguous objects; where it relates to the conduct and characters of men with whom he himſelf has acted, and in whoſe occupations and fortunes he himſelf has borne a part.

WITH this advantage, the poet is the firſt to offer the fruits of his genius, and to lead in the career of thoſe arts by which the mind is deſtined to exhibit its imaginations, and to expreſs its paſſions. Every tribe of barbarians have their paſſionate or hiſtoric rhymes, which contain the ſuperſtition, the enthuſiaſm, and the admiration of glory, with which the breaſts of men, in the earlieſt ſtate of ſociety, are poſſeſſed. They delight in verſe-compoſitions, either becauſe the cadence of numbers is natural to the language of ſentiment, or becauſe, not having the advantage of writing, they are obliged to bring the ear in aid of the memory, [Page 258] in order to facilitate the repetition, and inſure the preſervation of their works.

WHEN we attend to the language which ſavages employ on any ſolemn occaſion, it appears that man is a poet by nature. Whether at firſt obliged by the mere defects of his tongue, and the ſcantineſs of proper expreſſions, or ſeduced by a pleaſure of the fancy in ſtating the analogy of its objects, he clothes every conception in image and metaphor. ‘We have planted the tree of peace,’ ſays an American orator; ‘we have buried the axe under its roots: we will henceforth repoſe under its ſhade; we will join to brighten the chain that binds our nations together.’ Such are the collections of metaphor which thoſe nations employ in their public harangues. They have likewiſe already adopted thoſe lively figures, and that daring freedom of language, which the learned have afterwards found ſo well fitted to expreſs the rapid tranſitions of the imagination, and the ardours of a paſſionate mind.

IF we are required to explain, how men could be poets, or orators, before they were aided by the learning of the ſcholar and the critic? we may inquire, in our turn, how bodies could fall by their weight, before the laws of gravitation were recorded in books? Mind, as well as body, has laws, which are exemplified in the practice of men, and which the critic collects only after the example has ſhewn what they are.

OCCASIONED, probably, by the phyſical connection we have mentioned, between the emotions of a heated imagination, and the impreſſions received [Page 259] from muſic and pathetic ſounds, every tale among rude nations is repeated in verſe, and is made to take the form of a ſong. The early hiſtory of all nations is uniform in this particular. Prieſts, ſtateſmen, and philoſophers, in the firſt ages of Greece, delivered their inſtructions in poetry, and mixed with the dealers in muſic and heroic fable.

IT is not ſo ſurpriſing, however, that poetry ſhould be the firſt ſpecies of compoſition in every nation, as it is, that a ſtyle apparently ſo difficult, and ſo far removed from ordinary uſe, ſhould be almoſt as univerſally the firſt to attain its maturity. The moſt admired of all poets lived beyond the reach of hiſtory, almoſt of tradition. The artleſs ſong of the ſavage, the heroic legend of the bard, have ſometimes a magnificent beauty, which no change of language can improve, and no refinements of the critic reform.

UNDER the ſuppoſed diſadvantage of a limited knowledge, and a rude apprehenſion, the ſimple poet has impreſſions that more than compenſate the defects of his ſkill. The beſt ſubjects of poetry, the characters of the violent and the brave, the generous and the intrepid, great dangers, trials of fortitude and fidelity, are exhibited within his view, or are delivered in traditions which animate like truth, becauſe they are equally believed. He is not engaged in recalling, like Virgil or Taſſo, the ſentiments or ſcenery of an age remote from his own: he needs not be told by the critic*, to [Page 260] recollect what another would have have thought, or in what manner another would have expreſſed his conception. The ſimple paſſions, friendſhip, reſentment, and love, are the movements of his own mind, and he has no occaſion to copy. Simple and vehement in his conceptions and feelings, he knows no diverſity of thought, or of ſtyle, to miſlead or to exerciſe his judgement. He delivers the emotions of the heart, in words ſuggeſted by the heart: for he knows no other. And hence it is, that while we admire the judgement and invention of Virgil, and of other later poets, theſe terms appear miſapplied to Homer. Though intelligent, as well as ſublime, in his conceptions, we cannot anticipate the lights of his underſtanding, nor the movements of his heart: he appears to ſpeak from inſpiration, not from invention; and to be guided in the choice of his thoughts and expreſſions by a ſupernatural inſtinct, not by reflection.

THE language of early ages, is in one reſpect, ſimple and confined; in another, it is varied and free: it allows liberties, which, to the poet of after times, are denied.

IN rude ages men are not ſeparated by diſtinctions of rank or profeſſion. They live in one manner, and ſpeak one dialect. The bard is not to chuſe his expreſſion among the ſingular accents of different conditions. He has not to guard his language from the peculiar errors of the mechanic, the peaſant, the ſcholar, or the courtier, in order to find that elegant propriety, and juſt elevation, which is free from the vulgar of one claſs, the pedantic of the ſecond, or the flippant of the third. The name of every object, and of every [Page 261] ſentiment, is fixed; and if his conception has the dignity of nature, his expreſſion will have a purity which does not depend on his choice.

WITH this apparent confinement in the choice of his words, he is at liberty to break through the ordinary modes of conſtruction; and in the form of a language not eſtabliſhed by rules, may find for himſelf a cadence agreeable to the tone of his mind. The liberty he takes, while his meaning is ſtriking, and his language is raiſed, appears an improvement, not a treſpaſs on grammar. He delivers a ſtyle to the ages that follow, and becomes a model from which his poſterity judge.

BUT whatever may be the early diſpoſition of mankind to poetry, or the advantages they poſſeſs in cultivating this ſpecies of literature; whether the early maturity of poetical compoſitions ariſe from their being the firſt ſtudied, or from their having a charm to engage perſons of the livelieſt genius, who are beſt qualified to improve the eloquence of their native tongue; it is a remarkable fact, that, not only in countries where every vein of compoſition was original, and was opened in the order of natural ſucceſſion; but even at Rome, and in modern Europe, where the learned began early to practiſe on foreign models, we have poets of every nation, who are peruſed with pleaſure, while the proſe writers of the ſame ages are neglected.

AS Sophocles and Euripides preceded the hiſtorians and moraliſts of Greece, not only Naevius and Ennius, who wrote the Roman hiſtory in verſe, but Lucilius, Plautus, Terence, and we [Page 262] may add Lucretius, were prior to Cicero, Salluſt, or Caeſar. Dante and Petrarch went before any good proſe writer in Italy; Corneille and Racine brought on the fine age of proſe compoſitions in France; and we had in England, not only Chaucer and Spencer, but Shakeſpear and Milton, while our attempts in hiſtory or ſcience were yet in their infancy; and deſerve our attention, only for the ſake of the matter they treat.

HILLANICUS, who is reckoned among the firſt proſe writers in Greece, and who immediately preceded, or was the contemporary of Herodotus, ſet out with declaring his intention to remove from hiſtory the wild repreſentations, and extravagant fictions, with which it had been diſgraced by the poets*. The want of records or authorities, relating to any diſtant tranſactions, may have hindered him, as it did his immediate ſucceſſor, from giving truth all the advantage it might have reaped from this tranſition to proſe. There are, however, ages in the progreſs of ſociety, when ſuch a propoſition muſt be favourably received. When men become occupied on the ſubjects of policy, or commercial arts, they wiſh to be informed and inſtructed, as well as moved. They are intereſted by what was real in paſt tranſactions. They build on this foundation, the reflections and reaſonings they apply to preſent affairs, and wiſh to receive information on the ſubject of different purſuits, and of projects in which they begin to be engaged. The manners of men, the practice of ordinary life, and the form of ſociety, furniſh [Page 263] their ſubjects to the moral and political writer. Mere ingenuity, juſtneſs of ſentiment, and correct repreſentation, though conveyed in ordinary language, are underſtood to conſtitute literary merit, and by applying to reaſon more than to the imagination and paſſions, meet with a reception that is due to the inſtruction they bring.

THE talents of men come to be employed in a variety of affairs, and their inquiries directed to different ſubjects. Knowledge is important in every department of civil ſociety, and requiſite to the practice of every art. The ſcience of nature, morals, politics, and hiſtory, find their ſeveral admirers; and even poetry itſelf which retains its former ſtation in the region of warm imagination and enthuſiaſtic paſſion, appears in a growing variety of forms.

MATTERS have proceeded ſo far, without the aid of foreign examples, or the direction of ſchools. The cart of Theſpia was changed into a theatre, not to gratify the learned, but to pleaſe the Athenian populace: and the prize of poetical merit was decided by this populace equally before and after the invention of rules. The Greeks were unacquainted with every language but their own; and if they became learned, it was only by ſtudying what they themſelves had produced: the childiſh mythology, which they are ſaid to have copied from Aſia, was equally of little avail in promoting their love of arts, or their ſucceſs in the practice of them.

[Page 264] WHEN the hiſtorian is ſtruck with the events he has witneſſed, or heard; when he is excited to relate them by his reflections or his paſſions; when the ſtateſman, who is required to ſpeak in public, is obliged to prepare for every remarkable appearance in ſtudied harangues; when converſation becomes extenſive and refined; and when the ſocial feelings and reflections of men are committed to writing, a ſyſtem of learning may ariſe from the buſtle of an active life. Society itſelf is the ſchool, and its leſſons are delivered in the practice of real affairs. An author writes from obſervations he has made on his ſubject, not from the ſuggeſtion of books; and every production carries the mark of his character as a man, not of his mere proficiency as a ſtudent or ſcholar. It may be made a queſtion, whether the trouble of ſeeking for diſtant models and of wading for inſtruction, through dark alluſions and languages unknown, might not have quenched his fire, and rendered him a writer of a very inferior claſs.

IF ſociety may thus be conſidered as a ſchool for letters, it is probable that its leſſons are varied in every ſeparate ſtate, and in every age. For a certain period, the ſevere applications of the Roman people to policy and war ſuppreſſed the literary arts, and appear to have ſtifled the genius even of the hiſtorian and the poet. The inſtitutions of Sparta gave a profeſſed contempt for whatever was not connected with the practical virtues of a vigorous and reſolute ſpirit: the charms of imagination, and the parade of language, were by this people claſſed with the arts of the cook and the [Page 265] perfumer: their ſongs in praiſe of fortitude are mentioned by ſome writers; and collections of their witty ſayings and repartees are ſtill preſerved: they indicate the virtues and the abilities of an active people, not their proficiency in ſcience or literary taſte. Poſſeſſed of what was eſſential to happineſs in the virtues of the heart, they had a diſcernment of its value, unimbarraſſed by the numberleſs objects on which mankind in general are ſo much at a loſs to adjuſt their eſteem: fixed in their own apprehenſion, they turned a ſharp edge on the follies of mankind. ‘When will you begin to practiſe?’ was the queſtion of a Spartan to a perſon, who, in an anvanced age of life, was ſtill occupied with queſtions on the nature of virtue.

WHILE this people confined their ſtudies to one queſtion, How to improve and to preſerve the courage and the diſintereſted affections of the human heart? their rivals the Athenians gave a ſcope to refinement on every object of reflection or paſſion. By the rewards, either of profit or of reputation, which they beſtowed on every effort of ingenuity employed in miniſtering to the pleaſure, the decoration, or the conveniency of life; by the variety of conditions in which their citizens were placed; by their inequalities of fortune, and their ſeveral purſuits in war, politics, commerce, and lucrative arts, they awakened whatever was either good or bad in the natural diſpoſitions of men. Every road to eminence was opened: eloquence, fortitude, military ſkill, envy, detraction, faction, and treaſon, even the muſe herſelf, was courted to beſtow importance among a buſy, acute, and turbulent people.

[Page 266] FROM this example, we may ſafely conclude, that although buſineſs is ſometimes a rival to ſtudy, retirement and leiſure are not the principal requiſites to the improvement, perhaps not even to the exerciſe, of literary talents. The moſt ſtriking exertions of imagination and ſentiment have a reference to mankind: they are excited by the preſence and intercourſe of men: they have moſt vigour when actuated in the mind by the operation of its principal ſprings, by the emulations, the friendſhips, and the oppoſitions, which ſubſiſt among a forward and aſpiring people. Amidſt the great occaſions which put a free, and even a licentious, ſociety in motion, its members become capable of every exertion; and the ſame ſcenes which gave employment to Themiſtocles and Thraſybulus, inſpired, by contagion, the genius of Sophocles and Plato. The petulant and the ingenuous find an equal ſcope to their talents; and literary monuments become the repoſitories of envy and folly, as well as of wiſdom and virtue.

GREECE, divided into many little ſtates, and agitated, beyond any ſpot on the globe, by domeſtic contentions and foreign wars, ſet the example in every ſpecies of literature. The fire was communicated to Rome; not when the ſtate ceaſed to be warlike, and had diſcontinued her political agitations, but when ſhe mixed the love of refinement and of pleaſure with her national purſuits, and indulged an inclination to ſtudy in the midſt of ferments, occaſioned by the wars and pretenſions of oppoſite factions. It was revived in modern Europe among the turbulent ſtates of [Page 267] Italy, and ſpread to the North, together with the ſpirit which ſhook the fabric of the Gothic policy; it roſe while men were divided into parties, under civil or religious denominations, and when they were at variance on ſubjects held the moſt important and ſacred.

WE may be ſatisfied, from the example of many ages, that liberal endowments beſtowed on learned ſocieties, and the leiſure with which they were furniſhed for ſtudy, are not the likelieſt means to excite the exertions of genius: even ſcience itſelf, the ſuppoſed offspring of leiſure, pined in the ſhade of monaſtic retirement. Men at a diſtance from the objects of uſeful knowledge, untouched by the motives that animate an active and a vigorous mind, could produce only the jargon of a technical language, and accumulate the impertinence of accademical forms.

TO ſpeak or to write juſtly from an obſervation of nature, it is neceſſary to have felt the ſentiments of nature. He who is penetrating and ardent in the conduct of life, will probably exert a proportional force and ingenuity in the exerciſe of his literary talents: and although writing may become a trade, and require all the application and ſtudy which are beſtowed on any other calling; yet the principal requiſites in this calling are, the ſpirit and ſenſibility of a vigorous mind.

IN one period, the ſchool may take its light and direction from active life; in another, it is true, the remains of an active ſpirit are greatly ſupported by literary monuments, and by the hiſtory [Page 268] of tranſactions that preſerve the examples and the experience of former and of better times. But in whatever manner men are formed for great efforts of elocution or conduct, it appears the moſt glaring of all other deceptions, to look for the accompliſhments of a human character in the mere attainments of ſpeculation, whilſt we neglect the qualities of fortitude and public affection, which are ſo neceſſary to render our knowledge an article of happineſs or of uſe.

Of Conſequences that reſult from the Advancement of Civil and Commercial Arts.

[Page 269]

1.4.1. SECT. I.
Of the Separation of Arts and Profeſſions.

IT is evident, that, however urged by a ſenſe of neceſſity, and a deſire of convenience, or favoured by any advantages of ſituation and policy, a people can make no great progreſs in cultivating the arts of life, until they have ſeparated, and committed to different perſons, the ſeveral taſks, which require a peculiar ſkill and attention. The ſavage, or the barbarian, who muſt build and plant, and fabricate for himſelf, prefers in the interval of great alarms and fatigues, the enjoyments of ſloth to the improvement of his fortune: he is, [Page 270] perhaps, by the diverſity of his wants, diſcouraged from induſtry; or, by his divided attention, prevented from acquiring ſkill in the management of any particular ſubject.

THE enjoyment of peace, however, and the proſpect of being able to exchange one commodity for another, turns by degrees, the hunter and the warrior into a tradeſman and a merchant. The accidents which diſtribute the means of ſubſiſtence unequally, inclination, and favourable opportunities, aſſign the different occupations of men; and a ſenſe of utility leads them, without end, to ſubdivide their profeſſions.

THE artiſt finds, that the more he can confine his attention to a particular part of any work, his productions are the more perfect, and grow under his hands in the greater quantities. Every undertaker in manufacture finds, that the more he can ſubdivide the taſks of his workmen, and the more hands he can employ on ſeparate articles, the more are his expences diminiſhed, and his profits increaſed. The conſumer too requires, in every kind of commodity, a workmanſhip more perfect than hands employed on a variety of ſubjects can produce; and the progreſs of commerce is but a continued ſubdiviſion of the mechanical arts.

EVERY craft may ingroſs the whole of a man's attention, and has a myſtery which muſt be ſtudied or learned by a regular apprenticeſhip. Nations of tradeſmen come to conſiſt of members who, beyond their own particular trade, are ignorant of all human affairs, and who may contribute to the preſervation and enlargement of their commonwealth [Page 271] without making its intereſt an object of their regard or attention. Every individual is diſtinguiſhed by his calling, and has a place to which he is fitted. The ſavage who knows no diſtinction but that of his merit, of his ſex, or of his ſpecies, and to whom his community is the ſovereign object of his affection, is aſtoniſhed to find, that in a ſcene of this nature, his being a man does not qualify him for any ſtation whatever: he flies to the woods with amazement, diſtaſte, and averſion.

BY the ſeparation of arts and profeſſions, the ſources of wealth are laid open; every ſpecies of material is wrought up to the greateſt perfection, and every commodity is produced in the greateſt abundance. The ſtate may eſtimate its profits and its revenues by the number of its people. It may procure, by its treaſure, that national conſideration and power, which the ſavage maintains at the expence of his blood.

THE advantage gained in the inferior branches of manufacture by the ſeparation of their parts, ſeem to be equalled by thoſe which ariſe from a ſimilar device in the higher departments of policy and war. The ſoldier is relieved from every care but that of his ſervice; ſtateſmen divide the buſineſs of civil government into ſhares; and the ſervants of the public, in every office, without being ſkilful in the affairs of ſtate, may ſucceed, by obſerving forms which are already eſtabliſhed on the experience of others. They are made, like the parts of an engine, to concur to a purpoſe, without any concert of their own: and, equally blind with the trader to any general combination, they [Page 272] unite with him, in furniſhing to the ſtate its reſources, its conduct, and its force.

THE artifices of the beaver, the ant, and the bee, are aſcribed to the wiſdom of nature. Thoſe of poliſhed Nations are aſcribed to themſelves, and are ſuppoſed to indicate a capacity ſuperior to that of rude minds. But the eſtabliſhments of men, like thoſe of every animal, are ſuggeſted by nature, and are the reſult of inſtinct, directed by the variety of ſituations in which mankind are placed. Thoſe eſtabliſhments aroſe from ſucceſſive improvements that were made, without any ſenſe of their general effect; and they bring human affairs to a ſtate of complication, which the greateſt reach of capacity with which human nature was ever adorned, could not have projected; nor even when the whole is carried into execution, can it be comprehended in its full extent.

WHO could anticipate, or even enumerate, the ſeparate occupations and profeſſions by which the members of any commercial ſtate are diſtinguiſhed; the variety of devices which are practiſed in ſeparate cells, and which the artiſt, attentive to his own affair, has invented, to abridge or to facilitate his ſeparate taſk? In coming to this mighty end, every generation, compared to its predeceſſors, may have appeared to be ingenious; compared to its followers, may have appeared to be dull: and human ingenuity, whatever heights it may have gained in a ſucceſſion of ages, continues to move with an equal pace, and to creep in making the laſt as well as the firſt ſtep of commercial or civil improvement.

[Page 273] IT may even be doubted, whether the meaſure of national capacity increaſes with the advancement of arts. Many mechanical arts, indeed, require no capacity; they ſucceed beſt under a total ſuppreſſion of ſentiment and reaſon; and ignorance is the mother of induſtry as well as of ſuperſtition. Reflection and fancy are ſubject to err; but a habit of moving the hand, or the foot, is independent of either. Manufactures, accordingly, proſper moſt, where the mind is leaſt conſulted, and where the workſhop may, without any great effort of imagination, be conſidered as an engine, the parts of which are men.

THE foreſt has been felled by the ſavage without the uſe of the axe, and weights have been raiſed without the aid of the mechanical powers. The merit of the inventor, in every branch, probably deſerves a preference to that of the performer; and he who invented a tool, or could work without its aſſiſtance, deſerved the praiſe of ingenuity in a much higher degree than the mere artiſt, who, by its aſſiſtance, produces a ſuperior work.

BUT if many parts in the practice of every art, and in the detail of every department, require no abilities, or actually tend to contract and to limit the views of the mind, there are others which lead to general reflections, and to enlargement of thought. Even in manufacture, the genius of the maſter, perhaps, is cultivated, while that of the inferior workman lies waſte. The ſtateſman may have a wide comprehenſion of human affairs, while the tools he employs are ignorant of the ſyſtem in which they are themſelves combined. The general [Page 274] officer may be a great proficient in the knowledge of war, while the ſoldier is confined to a few motions of the hand and the foot. The former may have gained, what the latter has loſt; and being occupied in the conduct of diſciplined armies, may practiſe on a larger ſcale, all the arts of preſervation, of deception, and of ſtratagem, which the ſavage exerts in leading a ſmall party, or merely in defending himſelf.

THE practitioner of every art and profeſſion may afford matter of general ſpeculation to the man of ſcience; and thinking itſelf, in this age of ſeparations, may become a peculiar craft. In the buſtle of civil purſuits and occupations, men appear in a variety of lights, and ſuggeſt matter of inquiry and fancy, by which converſation is enlivened, and greatly enlarged. The productions of ingenuity are brought to the market; and men are willing to pay for whatever has a tendency to inform or amuſe. By this means the idle, as well as the buſy, contribute to forward the progreſs of arts, and beſtow on poliſhed nations that air of ſuperior ingenuity, under which they appear to have gained the ends that were purſued by the ſavage in his foreſt, knowledge, order, and wealth.

1.4.2. SECT. II.
Of the Subordination conſequent to the Separation of Arts and Profeſſions!

[Page 275]

THERE is one ground of ſubordination in the difference of natural talents and diſpoſitions; a ſecond in the unequal diviſion of property; and a third, not leſs ſenſible, in the habits which are acquired by the practice of different arts.

SOME employments are liberal, others mechanic. They require different talents, and inſpire different ſentiments; and whether or not this be the cauſe of the preference we actually give, it is certainly reaſonable to form our opinion of the rank that is due to men of certain profeſſions and ſtations, from the influence of their manner of life in cultivating the powers of the mind, or in preſerving the ſentiments of the heart.

THERE is an elevation natural to man, by which he would be thought, in his rudeſt ſtate, however urged by neceſſity, to riſe above the conſideration of mere ſubſiſtence, and the regards of intereſts: He would appear to act only from the heart, in its engagements of friendſhip, or oppoſition; he would ſhew himſelf only upon occaſions of danger or difficulty, and leave ordinary cares to the weak or the ſervile.

[Page 276] THE ſame apprehenſions, in every ſituation, regulate his notions of meanneſs or of dignity. In that of poliſhed ſociety, his deſire to avoid the character of ſordid, makes him conceal his regard for what relates merely to his preſervation or his livelihood. In his eſtimation, the beggar, who depends upon charity; the labourer, who toils that he may eat; the mechanic, whoſe art requires no exertion of genius, are degraded by the object they purſue, and by the means they employ to attain it. Profeſſions requiring more knowledge and ſtudy; proceeding on the exerciſe of fancy, and the love of perfection; leading to applauſe as well as to profit, place the artiſt in a ſuperior claſs, and bring him nearer to that ſtation in which men are ſuppoſed to be higheſt; becauſe in it they are bound to no taſk; becauſe they are left to follow the diſpoſition of the mind, and to take that part in ſociety, to which they are led by the ſentiments of the heart, or by the calls of the public.

THIS laſt was the ſtation, which, in the diſtinction betwixt freemen and ſlaves, the citizens of every ancient republic ſtrove to gain, and to maintain for themſelves. Women, or ſlaves, in the earlieſt ages, had been ſet apart for the purpoſes of domeſtic care, or bodily labour; and in the progreſs of lucrative arts, the latter were bred to mechanical profeſſions, and were even intruſted with merchandiſe for the benefit of their maſters. Freemen would be underſtood to have no object beſide thoſe of politics and war. In this manner, the honours of one half of the ſpecies were ſacrificed to thoſe of the other; as ſtones from the ſame quarry are buried in the foundation, to ſuſtain [Page 277] the blocks which happen to be hewn for the ſuperior parts of the pile. In the midſt of our encomiums beſtowed on the Greeks and the Romans, we are, by this circumſtance, made to remember, that no human inſtitution is perfect.

IN many of the Grecian ſtates, the benefits ariſing to the free from this cruel diſtinction, were not conferred equally on all the citizens. Wealth being unequally divided, the rich alone were exempted from labour; the poor were reduced to work for their own ſubſiſtence: intereſt was a reigning paſſion in both, and the poſſeſſion of ſlaves, like that of any other lucrative property, became an object of avarice, not an exemption from ſordid attentions. The entire effects of the inſtitution were obtained, or continued to be enjoyed for any conſiderable time, at Sparta alone. We feel its injuſtice; we ſuffer for the helot, under the ſeverities and unequal treatment to which he was expoſed: but when we think only of the ſuperior order of men in this ſtate; when we attend to that elevation and magnanimity of ſpirit, for which danger had no terror, intereſt no means to corrupt; when we conſider them as friends, or as citizens, we are apt to forget, like themſelves, that ſlaves have a title to be treated like men.

WE look for elevation of ſentiment, and liberality of mind, among thoſe orders of citizens, who, by their condition, and their fortunes, are relieved from ſordid cares and attentions. This was the deſcription of a free man at Sparta; and if the lot of a ſlave among the ancients was really more wretched than that of the indigent labourer and the mechanic among the moderns, it may be [Page 278] doubted, whether the ſuperior orders, who are in poſſeſſion of conſideration and honours, do not proportionally fail in the dignity which befits their condition. If the pretenſions to equal juſtice and freedom ſhould terminate in rendering every claſs equally ſervile and mercenary, we make a nation of helots, and have no free citizens.

IN every commercial ſtate, notwithſtanding any pretenſion to equal rights, the exaltation of a few muſt depreſs the many. In this arrangement, we think that the extreme meanneſs of ſome claſſes muſt ariſe chiefly from the defect of knowledge, and of liberal education; and we refer to ſuch claſſes, as to an image of what our ſpecies muſt have been in its rude and uncultivated ſtate. But we forget how many circumſtances, eſpecially in populous cities, tend to corrupt the loweſt orders of men. Ignorance is the leaſt of their failings. An admiration of wealth unpoſſeſſed, becoming a principle of envy, or of ſervility; a habit of acting perpetually with a view to profit, and under a ſenſe of ſubjection; the crimes to which they are allured, in order to feed their debauch, or to gratify their avarice, are examples, not of ignorance, but of corruption and baſeneſs. If the ſavage has not received our inſtructions, he is likewiſe unacquainted with our vices. He knows no ſuperior, and cannot be ſervile; he knows no diſtinctions of fortune, and cannot be envious; he acts from his talents in the higheſt ſtation which human ſociety can offer, that of the counſellor, and the ſoldier of his country. Toward forming his ſentiments, he knows all that the heart requires to be known; he can diſtinguiſh the friend whom he loves, and the public intereſt which awakens his zeal.

[Page 279] THE principal objections to democratical or popular government, are taken from the inequalities which ariſe among men in the reſult of commercial arts. And it muſt be confeſſed, that popular aſſemblies, when compoſed of men whoſe diſpoſitions are ſordid, and whoſe ordinary applications are illiberal, however they may be intruſted with the choice of their maſters and leaders, are certainly, in their own perſons, unfit to command. How can he who has confined his views to his own ſubſiſtence or preſervation, be intruſted with the conduct of nations? Such men, when admitted to deliberate on matters of ſtate, bring to its councils confuſion and tumult, or ſervility and corruption; and ſeldom ſuffer it to repoſe from ruinous factions, or the effect of reſolutions ill formed or ill conducted.

THE Athenians retained their popular government under all theſe defects. The mechanic was obliged, under a penalty, to appear in the public market-place, and to hear debates on the ſubjects of war, and of peace. He was tempted by pecuniary rewards, to attend on the trial of civil and criminal cauſes. But notwithſtanding an exerciſe tending ſo much to cultivate their talents, the indigent came always with minds intent upon profit, or with the habits of an illiberal calling. Sunk under the ſenſe of their perſonal diſparity and weakneſs, they were ready to reſign themſelves entirely to the influence of ſome popular leader, who flattered their paſſions, and wrought on their ſears; or, actuated by envy, they were ready to baniſh from the ſtate whomſoever was reſpectable and eminent in the ſuperior order of citizens: [Page 280] and whether from their neglect of the public at one time, or their male-adminiſtration at another, the ſovereignty was every moment ready to drop from their hands.

THE people, in this caſe, are, in fact, frequently governed by one, or a few, who know how to conduct them. Pericles poſſeſſed a ſpecies of princely authority at Athens; Craſſus, Pompey, and Caeſar, either jointly or ſucceſſively, poſſeſſed for a conſiderable period the ſovereign direction at Rome.

WHETHER in great or in ſmall ſtates, democracy is preſerved with difficulty, under the diſparities of condition, and the unequal cultivation of the mind, which attend the variety of purſuits, and applications, that ſeparate mankind in the advanced ſtate of commercial arts. In this, however, we do but plead againſt the form of democracy, after the principle is removed; and ſee the abſurdity of pretenſions to equal influence and conſideration, after the characters of men have ceaſed to be ſimilar.

1.4.3. SECT. III.
Of the Manners of Poliſhed and Commercial Nations.

[Page 281]

MANKIND, when in their rude ſtate, have a great uniformity of manners; but when civilized, they are engaged in a variety of purſuits; they tread on a larger field, and ſeparate to a greater diſtance. If they be guided, however, by ſimilar diſpoſitions, and by like ſuggeſtions of nature, they will probably, in the end, as well as in the beginning of their progreſs, continue to agree in many particulars; and while communities admit, in their members, that diverſity of ranks and profeſſions which we have already deſcribed, as the conſequence or the foundation of commerce, they will reſemble each other in many effects of this diſtribution, and of other circumſtances in which they nearly concur.

UNDER every form of government, ſtateſmen endeavour to remove the dangers by which they are threatened from abroad, and the diſturbances which moleſt them at home. By this conduct, if ſucceſsful, they in a few ages gain an aſcendant for their country; eſtabliſh a frontier at a diſtance from its capital; they find, in the mutual deſires of tranquility, which come to poſſeſs mankind, and in thoſe public eſtabliſhments which tend to keep the peace of ſociety, a reſpite from foreign wars, and a relief from domeſtic diſorders. They [Page 282] learn to decide every conteſt without tumult, and to ſecure, by the authority of law, every citizen in the poſſeſſion of his perſonal rights.

IN this condition, to which thriving nations aſpire, and which they in ſome meaſure attain, mankind having laid the baſis of ſafety, proceed to erect a ſuperſtructure ſuitable to their views. The conſequence is various in different ſtates; even in different orders of men of the ſame community; and the effect to every individual correſponds with his ſtation. It enables the ſtateſman and the ſoldier to ſettle the forms of their different procedure; it enables the practitioner in every profeſſion to purſue his ſeparate advantage; it affords the man of pleaſure a time for refinement, and the ſpeculative, leiſure for literary converſation or ſtudy.

IN this ſcene, matters that have little reference to the active purſuits of mankind, are made ſubjects of enquiry, and the exerciſe of ſentiment and reaſon itſelf becomes a profeſſion. The ſongs of the bard, the harangues of the ſtateſman and the warrior, the tradition and the ſtory of ancient times, are conſidered as the models, or the earlieſt production, of ſo many arts, which it becomes the object of different profeſſions to copy or to improve. The works of fancy, like the ſubjects of natural hiſtory, are diſtinguiſhed into claſſes and ſpecies; the rules of every particular kind are diſtinctly collected; and the library is ſtored, like the warehouſe, with the finiſhed manufacture of different arts, who, with the aids of the grammarian and the critic, aſpire, each in his particular way, to inſtruct the head, or to move the heart.

[Page 283] EVERY nation is a motley aſſemblage of different characters, and contains, under any political form, ſome examples of that variety, which the humours, tempers, and apprehenſions of men, ſo differently employed, are likely to furniſh. Every profeſſion has its point of honour, and its ſyſtem of manners; the merchant his punctuality and fair dealing; the ſtateſman his capacity and addreſs; the man of ſociety, his good breeding and wit. Every ſtation has a carriage, a dreſs, a ceremonial, by which it is diſtinguiſhed, and by which it ſuppreſſes the national character under that of the rank, or of the individual.

THIS deſcription may be applied equally to Athens and Rome, to London and Paris. The rude or the ſimple obſerver would remark the variety he ſaw in the dwellings and in the occupations of different men, not in the aſpect of different nations. He would find, in the ſtreets of the ſame city, as great a diverſity, as in the territory of a ſeparate people. He could not pierce through the cloud that was gathered before him, nor ſee how the tradeſman, mechanic, or ſcholar, of one country, ſhould differ from thoſe of another. But the native of every province can diſtinguiſh the foreigner; and when he himſelf travels, is ſtruck with the aſpect of a ſtrange country, the moment he paſſes the bounds of his own. The air of the perſon, the tone of the voice, the idiom of language, and the ſtrain of converſation, whether pathetic or languid, gay or ſevere, are no longer the ſame.

[Page 284] MANY ſuch differences may ariſe among poliſhed nations, from the effects of climate, or from ſources of faſhion, that are ſtill more unaccountable and obſcure; but the principal diſtinctions on which we can reſt, are derived from the part a people are obliged to act in their national capacity; from the objects placed in their view by the ſtate; or from the conſtitution of government, which preſcribing the terms of ſociety to its ſubjects, has a great influence in forming their apprehenſions and habits.

THE Roman people, deſtined to acquire wealth by conqueſt, and by the ſpoil of provinces; the Carthaginians, intent on the returns of merchandiſe, and the produce of commercial ſettlements, muſt have filled the ſtreets of their ſeveral capitals with men of a different diſpoſition and aſpect. The Roman laid hold of his ſword when he wiſhed to be great, and the ſtate found her armies prepared in the dwellings of her people. The Carthaginian retired to his counter on a ſimilar project; and, when the ſtate was alarmed, or had reſolved on a war, lent of his profits to purchaſe an army abroad.

THE member of a republic, and the ſubject of a monarchy, muſt differ; becauſe they have different parts aſſigned to them by the forms of their country: the one deſtined to live with his equals, or, by his perſonal talents and character, to contend for pre-eminence; the other born to a determinate ſtation, where any pretence to equality creates a confuſion, and where nought but precedence is ſtudied. Each, when the inſtitutions [Page 285] of his country are mature, may find in the laws a protection to his perſonal rights; but thoſe rights themſelves are differently underſtood, and with a different ſet of opinions, give riſe to a different temper of mind. The republican muſt act in the ſtate, to ſuſtain his pretenſions; he muſt join a party, in order to be ſafe; he muſt form one, in order to be great. The ſubject of monarchy refers to his birth for the honour he claims; he waits on a court, to ſhew his importance; and holds out the enſigns of dependence and favour, to gain him eſteem with the public.

IF national inſtitutions, calculated for the preſervation of liberty, inſtead of calling upon the citizen to act for himſelf, and to maintain his rights, ſhould give a ſecurity, requiring, on his part, no perſonal attention or effort; this ſeeming perfection of government might weaken the bands of ſociety, and, upon maxims of independence, ſeparate and eſtrange the different ranks it was meant to reconcile. Neither the parties formed in republics, nor the courtly aſſemblies which meet in monarchical governments, could take place, where the ſenſe of a mutual dependence ſhould ceaſe to ſummon their members together. The reſorts for commerce might be frequented, and mere amuſement might be purſued in the croud, while the private dwelling became a retreat for reſerve, averſe to the trouble ariſing from regards, and attentions, which it might be part of the political creed to believe of no conſequence, and a point of honour to hold in contempt.

THIS humour is not likely to grow either in republics or monarchies: it belongs more properly [Page 286] to a mixture of both; where the adminiſtration of juſtice may be better ſecured; where the ſubject is tempted to look for equality, but where he finds only independence in its place; and where he learns, from a ſpirit of equality, to hate the very diſtinctions to which, on account of their real importance, he pays a remarkable deference.

IN either of the ſeparate forms of republic or monarchy, or in acting on the principles of either, men are obliged to court their fellow-citizens, and to employ parts and addreſs to improve their fortunes, or even to be ſafe. They find in both a ſchool for diſcernment and penetration; but in the one, are taught to overlook the merits of a private character, for the ſake of abilities that have weight with the public; and in the other, to overlook great and reſpectable talents, for the ſake of qualities engaging or pleaſant in the ſcene of entertainment, and private ſociety. They are obliged, in both, to adapt themſelves with care to the faſhion and manners of their country. They find no place for caprice or ſingular humours. The republican muſt be popular, and the courtier polite. The firſt muſt think himſelf well placed in every company; the other muſt chuſe his reſorts, and deſire to be diſtinguiſhed only where the ſociety itſelf is eſteemed. With his inferiors, he takes an air of protection; and ſuffers, in his turn, the ſame air to be taken with himſelf. It did not, perhaps, require in a Spartan, who feared nothing but a failure in his duty, who loved nothing but his friend and the ſtate, ſo conſtant a guard on himſelf to ſupport his character, as it frequently does in the ſubject of a monarchy, to [Page 287] adjuſt his expence and his fortune to the deſires of his vanity, and to appear in a rank as high as his birth, or ambition, can poſſibly reach.

THERE is no particular, in the mean time, in which we are more frequently unjuſt, than in applying to the individual the ſuppoſed character of his country; or more frequently miſled, than in taking our notion of a people from the example of one, or a few of their members. It belonged to the conſtitution of Athens, to have produced a Cleon, and a Pericles; but all the Athenians were not, therefore, like Cleon, or Pericles. Themiſtocles and Ariſtides lived in the ſame age; the one adviſed what was profitable; the other told his country what was juſt.

1.4.4. SECT. IV.
The ſame ſubject continued.

[Page 288]

THE law of Nature, with reſpect to nations, is the ſame that it is with reſpect to individuals: it gives to the collective body a right to preſerve themſelves; to employ, undiſturbed, the means of life; to retain the fruits of labour; to demand obſervance of ſtipulations and contracts. In the caſe of violence, it condemns the aggreſſor, and eſtabliſhes, on the part of the injured, the right of defence, and a claim to retribution. Its applications, however, admit of diſputes, and give riſe to variety in the apprehenſion, as well as the practice of mankind.

NATIONS have agreed univerſally, in diſtinguiſhing right from wrong; in exacting the reparation of injuries by conſent or by force. They have always repoſed, in a certain degree, on the faith of treaties; but have acted as if force were the ultimate arbiter in all their diſputes, and the power to defend themſelves, the ſureſt pledge of their ſafety. Guided by theſe common apprehenſions, they have differed from one another, not merely in points of form, but in points of the greateſt importance, reſpecting the uſage of war, the effects of captivity, and the rights of conqueſt and victory.

[Page 289] WHEN a number of independent communities have been frequently involved in wars, and have had their ſtated alliances and oppoſitions, they adopt cuſtoms which they make the foundation of rules, or of laws, to be obſerved, or alledged, in all their mutual tranſactions. Even in war itſelf, they would follow a ſyſtem, and plead for the obſervance of forms in their very operations for mutual deſtruction.

THE ancient ſtates of Greece and Italy derived their manners in war from the nature of their republican government; thoſe of modern Europe, from the influence of monarchy, which, by its prevalence in this part of the world, has a great effect on nations, even where it is not the form eſtabliſhed. Upon the maxims of this government, we apprehend a diſtinction between the ſtate and its members, as that between the King and the people, which renders war an operation of policy, not of popular animoſity. While we ſtrike at the public intereſt, we would ſpare the private; and we carry a reſpect and conſideration for individuals, which often ſtops the iſſues of blood in the ardour of victory, and procures to the priſoner of war an hoſpitable reception in the very city which he came to deſtroy. Theſe practices are ſo well eſtabliſhed, that ſcarcely any provocation on the part of an enemy, or any exigence of ſervice, can excuſe a treſpaſs on the ſuppoſed rules of humanity, or ſave the leader who commits it from becoming an object of deteſtation and horror.

TO this, the general practice of the Greeks and the Romans was oppoſite. They endeavoured to wound the ſtate by deſtroying its members, [Page 290] by deſolating its territory, and by ruining the poſſeſſions of its ſubjects. They granted quarter only to inſlave, or to bring the priſoner to a more ſolemn execution; and an enemy, when diſarmed, was, for the moſt part, either ſold in the market, or killed, that he might never return to ſtrengthen his party. When this was the iſſue of war, it was no wonder, that battles were fought with deſperation, and that every fortreſs was defended to the laſt extremity. The game of human life went upon a high ſtake, and was played with a proportional zeal.

THE term barbarian, in this ſtate of manners, could not be employed by the Greeks or the Romans in that ſenſe in which we uſe it; to characteriſe a people regardleſs of commercial arts; profuſe of their own lives, and of thoſe of others; vehement in their attachment to one ſociety, and implacable in their antipathy to another. This, in a great and ſhining part of their hiſtory, was their own character, as well as that of ſome other nations, whom, upon this very account, we diſtinguiſh by the appellations of barbarous or rude.

IT has been obſerved, that thoſe celebrated nations are indebted, for a great part of their eſtimation, not to the matter of their hiſtory, but to the manner in which it has been delivered, and to the capacity of their hiſtorians, and other writers. Their ſtory has been told by men who knew how to draw our attention on the proceedings of the underſtanding and of the heart, more than on the detail of fact; and who could exhibit characters to be admired and loved, in the midſt of actions which we ſhould now univerſally hate or condemn. [Page 291] Like Homer, the model of Grecian literature, they could make us forget the horrors of a vindictive, cruel and remorſeleſs proceeding towards an enemy, in behalf of the ſtrenuous conduct, the courage, and vehement affections, with which the hero maintained the cauſe of his friend and of his country.

OUR manners are ſo different, and the ſyſtem upon which we regulate our apprehenſions, in many things, ſo oppoſite, that no leſs could make us endure the practice of ancient nations. Were that practice recorded by the mere journaliſt, who retains only the detail of events, without throwing any light on the character of the actors; who, like the Tartar hiſtorian, tells only what blood was ſpilt in the field, and how many inhabitants were maſſacred in the city; we ſhould never have diſtinguiſhed the Greeks from their barbarous neighbours, nor have thought, that the character of civility pertained even to the Romans, till very late in their hiſtory, and in the decline of their empire.

IT would, no doubt, be pleaſant to ſee the remarks of ſuch a traveller as we ſometimes ſend abroad to inſpect the manners of mankind, left, unaſſiſted by hiſtory, to collect the character of the Greeks from the ſtate of their country, or from their practice in war. ‘This country,’ he might ſay, ‘compared to ours, has an air of barrenneſs and deſolation. I ſaw upon the road troops of labourers, who were employed in the fields; but no where the habitations of the maſter and the landlord. It was unſafe, I was told, to reſide in the country; and the people of every diſtrict [Page 292] crouded into towns to find a place of defence. It is indeed impoſſible, that they can be more civilized, till they have eſtabliſhed ſome regular government, and have courts of juſtice to hear their complaints. At preſent, every town, nay, I may ſay, every village, acts for itſelf, and the greateſt diſorders prevail. I was not indeed moleſted; for you muſt know, that they call themſelves nations, and do all their miſchief under the pretence of war.’

‘I do not mean to take any of the liberties of travellers, nor to vie with the celebrated author of the voyage to Lilliput; but cannot help endeavouring to communicate what I felt on hearing them ſpeak of their territory, their armies, their revenue, treaties, and alliances. Only imagine the church-wardens and conſtables of Highgate or Hampſtead turned ſtateſmen and generals, and you will have a tolerable conception of this ſingular country. I paſſed through one ſtate, where the beſt houſe in the capital would not lodge the meaneſt of your labourers, and where your very beggars would not chuſe to dine with the King; and yet they are thought a great nation, and have no leſs than two kings. I ſaw one of them; but ſuch a potentate! he had ſcarcely cloaths to his back; and for his Majeſty's table, he was obliged to go to the eating-houſe with his ſubjects. They have not a ſingle farthing of money; and I was obliged to get food at the public expence, there being none to be had in the market. You will imagine, that there muſt have been a ſervice of plate, and great attendance, to wait upon the illuſtrious ſtranger; but my fare was a meſs of ſorry pottage, brought me by a naked ſlave, [Page 293] who left me to deal with it as I thought proper: and even this I was in continual danger of having ſtolen from me by the children, who are as vigilant to ſeize opportunities, and as dextrous in ſnatching their food, as any ſtarved greyhound you ever ſaw. The miſery of the whole people, in ſhort, as well as my own, while I ſtaid there, was beyond deſcription. You would think that their whole attention were to torment themſelves as much as they can: they are even diſpleaſed with one of their kings for being well liked. He had made a preſent, while I was there, of a cow to one favourite, and of a waiſtcoat to another*; and it was publicly ſaid, that this method of gaining friends was robbing the public. My landlord told me very gravely, that a man ſhould come under no obligation that might weaken the love which he owes to his country; nor form any perſonal attachment beyond the mere habit of living with his friend, and of doing him a kindneſs when he can.’

‘I aſked him once, Why they did not, for their own ſakes, enable their kings to aſſume a little more ſtate? Becauſe ſays he, we intend them the happineſs of living with men. When I found fault with their houſes, and ſaid in particular, that I was ſurpriſed they did not build better churches; What would you be then, ſays he, if you found religion in ſtone walls? This will ſuffice for a ſample of our converſation; and ſententious as it was, you may believe I did not ſtay long to profit by it.’

[Page 294] ‘THE [...] are not quite ſo ſtupid. [...] large ſquare of a market-place [...] tolerable buildings; and, I am told, [...] have ſome barks and lighters employed in trade, which they likewiſe, upon occaſion, muſter into a fleet, like my Lord Mayor's ſhew. But what pleaſes me moſt, is, that I am likely to get a paſſage from hence, and bid farewell to this wretched country. I have been at ſome pains to obſerve their cercmonies of religion, and to pick up curioſities. I have copied ſome inſcriptions, as you will ſee when you come to peruſe my journal, and will then judge, whether I have met with enough to compenſate the fatigues and bad entertainment to which I have ſubmitted. As for the people, you will believe, from the ſpecimen I have given you, that they could not be very engaging company: though poor and dirty, they ſtill pretend to be proud; and a fellow who is not worth a groat, is above working for his livelihood. They come abroad barefooted, and without any cover to the head, wrapt up in the coverlets under which you would imagine they had ſlept. They throw all off, and appear like ſo many naked cannibals, when they go to violent ſports and exerciſes: at which they highly value feats of dexterity and ſtrength. Brawny limbs, and muſcular arms, the faculty of ſleeping out all nights, of faſting long, and of putting up with any kind of food, are thought genteel accompliſhments. They have no ſettled government that I could learn; ſometimes the mob, and ſometimes the better ſort, do what they pleaſe: they meet in great crouds in the [Page 295] open air, and ſeldom agree about any thing. If a fellow has preſumption enough, and a loud voice, he can make a great figure. There was a tanner here, ſome time ago, who, for a while, carried every thing before him. He cenſured ſo loudly what others had done, and talked ſo big of what might be performed, that he was ſent out at laſt to make good his words, and to curry the enemy inſtead of his leather*. You will imagine, perhaps, that he was preſſed for a recruit; no;—he was ſent to command the army. They are indeed ſeldom long of one mind, except in their readineſs to haraſs their neighbours. They go out in bodies, and rob, pillage, and murder where-ever they come.’ So far may we ſuppoſe our traveller to have written; and upon a recollection of the reputation which thoſe nations have acquired at a diſtance, he might have added, perhaps, ‘That he could not underſtand how ſcholars, fine gentlemen, and even women, ſhould combine to admire a people, who ſo little reſemble themſelves.’

TO form a judgement of the character from which they acted in the field, and in their competitions with neighbouring nations, we muſt obſerve them at home. They were bold and fearleſs in their civil diſſenſions; ready to proceed to extremities, and to carry their debates to the deciſion of force. Individuals ſtood diſtinguiſhed by their perſonal ſpirit and vigour, not by the valuation of their eſtates, or the rank of their birth. They had a perſonal elevation founded on the ſenſe of equality, not of precedence. The general of one campaign was, during the next, a private ſoldier, and ſerved [Page 296] in the ranks. They were ſolicitous to acquire bodily ſtrength; becauſe, in the uſe of their weapons, battles were a trial of the ſoldier's ſtrength, as well as of the leader's conduct. The remains of their ſtatuary, ſhews a manly grace, an air of ſimplicity and eaſe, which being frequent in nature, were familiar to the artiſt. The mind, perhaps, borrowed a confidence and force, from the vigour and addreſs of the body; their eloquence and ſtyle bore a reſemblance to the carriage of the perſon. The underſtanding was chiefly cultivated in the practice of affairs. The moſt reſpectable perſonages were obliged to mix with the croud, and derived their degree of aſcendency, only from their conduct, their eloquence, and perſonal vigour. They had no forms of expreſſion, to mark a ceremonious and guarded reſpect. Invective proceeded to railing, and the groſſeſt terms were often employed by the moſt admired and accompliſhed orators. Quarrelling had no rules but the immediate dictates of paſſion, which ended in words of reproach, in violence and blows. They fortunately went always unarmed; and to wear a ſword in times of peace, was among them the mark of a barbarian. When they took arms in the diviſions of faction, the prevailing party ſupported itſelf by expelling their opponents, by proſcriptions, and bloodſhed. The uſurper endeavoured to maintain his ſtation by the moſt violent and prompt executions. He was oppoſed, in his turn by conſpiracies and aſſaſſinations, in which the moſt reſpectable citizens were ready to uſe the dagger.

SUCH was the character of their ſpirit, in its occaſional ferments at home; and it burſt commonly [Page 297] with a ſuitable violence and force, againſt their foreign rivals and enemies. The amiable plea of humanity was little regarded by them in the operations of war. Cities were razed, or inſlaved; the captive ſold, mutilated, or condemned to die.

WHEN viewed on this ſide, the ancient nations have but a ſorry plea for eſteem with the inhabitants of modern Europe, who profeſs to carry the civilities of peace into the practice of war; and who value the praiſe of indiſcriminate lenity at a higher rate than even that of military proweſs, or the love of their country. And yet they have in other reſpects, merited and obtained our praiſe. Their ardent attachment to their country; their contempt of ſuffering, and of death, in its cauſe; their manly apprehenſions of perſonal independence, which rendered every individual, even under tottering eſtabliſhments, and imperfect laws, the guardian of freedom to his fellowcitizens; their activity of mind; in ſhort, their penetration, the ability of their conduct, and force of their ſpirit, have gained them the firſt rank among nations.

IF their animoſities were great, their affections were proportionate: they, perhaps, loved, where we only pity; and were ſtern and inexorable, where we are not merciful, but only irreſolute. After all, the merit of a man is determined by his candour and generoſity to his aſſociates, by his zeal for national objects, and by his vigour in maintaining political rights; not by moderation alone, which proceeds frequently from indifference to national and public intereſts, and which [Page 298] ſerves to relax the nerves on which the force of a private as well as a public character depends.

WHEN under the Macedonian and the Roman monarchies, a nation came to be conſidered as the eſtate of a prince, and the inhabitants of a province to be regarded as a lucrative property, the poſſeſſion of territory, not the deſtruction of its people, became the object of conqueſt. The pacific citizen had little concern in the quarrels of ſovereigns; the violence of the ſoldier was reſtrained by diſcipline. He fought, becauſe he was taught to carry arms, and to obey: he ſometimes ſhed unneceſſary blood in the ardour of victory; but, except in the caſe of civil wars, had no paſſions to excite his animoſity beyond the field and the day of battle. Leaders judged of the objects of an enterpriſe, and they arreſted the ſword when theſe were obtained.

IN the modern nations of Europe, where extent of territory admits of a diſtinction between the ſtate and its ſubjects, we are accuſtomed to think of the individual with compaſſion, ſeldom of the public with zeal. We have improved on the laws of war, and on the lenitives which have been deviſed to ſoften its rigours; we have mingled politeneſs with the uſe of the ſword; we have learned to make war under the ſtipulations of treaties and cartels, and truſt to the faith of an enemy whoſe ruin we meditate. Glory is more ſucceſsfully obtained by ſaving and protecting, than by deſtroying the vanquiſhed: and the moſt amiable of all objects is, in appearance, attained; the employing of force, only for the obtaining of juſtice, and for the preſervation of national rights.

[Page 299] THIS is, perhaps, the principal characteriſtic, on which, among modern nations, we beſtow the epithets of civilized or of poliſhed. But we have ſeen, that it did not accompany the progreſs of arts among the Greeks, nor keep pace with the advancement of policy, literature, and philoſophy. It did not await the returns of learning and politeneſs among the moderns; it was found in early periods of our hiſtory, and diſtinguiſhed, perhaps, more than at preſent, the manners of ages otherwiſe rude and undiſciplined. A King of France, priſoner in the hands of his enemies, was treated, about four hundred years ago, with as much diſtinction and courteſy, as a crowned head, in the like circumſtances, could poſſibly expect in this age of politeneſs*. The Prince of Conde, defeated and taken in the battle of Dreux, ſlept at night in the ſame bed with his enemy the Duke of Guiſe.

IF the moral of popular traditions, and the taſte of fabulous legends, which are the production or entertainment of particular ages, are likewiſe ſure indications of their notions and characters, we may preſume, that the foundation of what is now held to be the law of war, and of nations, was laid in the manners of Europe, together with the ſentiments which are expreſſed in the tales of chivalry, and of gallantry. Our ſyſtem of war differs not more from that of the Greeks, than the favourite characters of our early romance differed [Page 300] from thoſe of the Iliad, and of every ancient poem. The hero of the Greek fable, endued with ſuperior force, courage, and addreſs, takes every advantage of an enemy, to kill with ſafety to himſelf; and actuated by a deſire of ſpoil, or by a principle of revenge, is never ſtayed in his progreſs by interruptions of remorſe or compaſſion. Homer, who, of all poets, knew beſt how to exhibit the emotions of a vehement affection, ſeldom attempts to excite commiſeration. Hector falls unpitied, and his body is inſulted by every Greek.

OUR modern fable, or romance, on the contrary, generally couples an object of pity, weak, oppreſſed, and defenceleſs, with an object of admiration, brave, generous, and victorious; or ſends the hero abroad in ſearch of mere danger, and of occaſions to prove his valour. Charged with the maxims of a refined courteſy, to be obſerved even towards an enemy; and of a ſcrupulous honour, which will not ſuffer him to take any advantages by artifice or ſurpriſe; indifferent to ſpoil, he contends only for renown, and employs his valour to reſcue the diſtreſſed, and to protect the innocent. If victorious, he is made to riſe above nature as much in his generoſity and gentleneſs, as in his military proweſs and valour.

IT may be difficult, upon ſtating this contraſt between the ſyſtem of ancient and modern fable, to aſſign, among nations equally rude, equally addicted to war, and equally fond of military glory, the origin of apprehenſions on the point of honour, ſo different, and ſo oppoſite. The hero of Greek poetry proceeds on the maxims of animoſity and [Page 301] hoſtile paſſion. His maxims in war are like thoſe which prevail in the woods of America. They require him to be brave, but they allow him to practiſe againſt his enemy every ſort of deception. The hero of modern romance profeſſes a contempt of ſtratagem, as well as of danger, and unites in the ſame perſon, characters and diſpoſitions ſeemingly oppoſite; ferocity with gentleneſs, and the love of blood with ſentiments of tenderneſs and pity.

THE ſyſtem of chivalry, when completely formed, proceeded on a marvellous reſpect and veneration to the fair ſex, on forms of combat eſtabliſhed, and on a ſuppoſed junction of the heroic and ſanctified character. The formalities of the duel, and a kind of judicial challenge, were known among the ancient Celtic nations of Europe. The Germans, even in their native foreſts, paid a kind of devotion to the female ſex. The Chriſtian religion injoined meekneſs and compaſſion to barbarous ages. Theſe different principles combined together, may have ſerved as the foundation of a ſyſtem, in which courage was directed by religion and love, and the warlike and gentle were united together. When the characters of the hero and the ſaint were mixed, the mild ſpirit of Chriſtianity, though often turned into venom by the bigotry of oppoſite parties, though it could not always ſubdue the ferocity of the warrior, nor ſuppreſs the admiration of courage and force, may have confirmed the apprehenſions of men in what was to be held meritorious and ſplendid in the conduct of their quarrels.

[Page 302] IN the early and traditionary hiſtory of the Greeks and the Romans, rapes were aſſigned as the moſt frequent occaſions of war; and the ſexes were, no doubt, at all times, equally important to each other. The enthuſiaſm of love is moſt powerful in the neighbourhood of Aſia and Africa; and beauty, as a poſſeſſion, was probably more valued by the countrymen of Homer, than it was by thoſe of Amadis de Gaul, or by the authors of modern gallantry. ‘What wonder,’ ſays the old Priam, when Helen appeared, ‘that nations ſhould contend for the poſſeſſion of ſo much beauty?’ This beauty, indeed, was poſſeſſed by different lovers; a ſubject on which the modern hero had many refinements, and ſeemed to ſoar in the clouds. He adored at a reſpectful diſtance, and employed his valour to captivate the admiration, not to gain the poſſeſſion of his miſtreſs. A cold and unconquerable chaſtity was ſet up, as an idol to be worſhipped, in the toils, the ſufferings, and the combats of the hero and the lover.

THE feudal eſtabliſhments, by the high rank to which they elevated certain families, no doubt greatly favoured this romantic ſyſtem. Not only the luſtre of a noble deſcent, but the ſtately caſtle beſet with battlements and towers, ſerved to inflame the imagination, and create a veneration for the daughter and the ſiſter of gallant chiefs, whoſe point of honour it was to be inacceſſible and chaſte, and who could perceive no merit but that of the high-minded and the brave, nor be approached in any other accents than thoſe of gentleneſs and reſpect.

[Page 303] WHAT was originally ſingular in theſe apprehenſions, was, by the writer of romance, turned to extravagance; and under the title of chivalry was offered as a model of conduct, even in common affairs: the fortunes of nations were directed by gallantry; and human life, on its greateſt occaſions, became a ſcene of affectation and folly. Warriors went forth to realize the legends they had ſtudied; princes and leaders of armies dedicated their moſt ſerious exploits to a real or to a fancied miſtreſs.

BUT whatever was the origin of notions, often ſo lofty and ſo ridiculous, we cannot doubt of their laſting effects on our manners. The point of honour, the prevalence of gallantry in our converſations, and on our theatres, many of the opinions which the vulgar apply even to the conduct of war; their notion, that the leader of an army, being offered battle upon equal terms, is diſhonoured by declining it, are undoubtedly remains of this antiquated ſyſtem: and chivalry, uniting with the genius of our policy, has probably ſuggeſted thoſe particularities in the law of nations, by which modern ſtates are diſtinguiſhed from the ancient. And if our rule in meaſuring degrees of politeneſs and civilization is to be taken from hence, or from the advancement of commercial arts, we ſhall be found to have greatly excelled any of the celebrated nations of antiquity.

Of the Decline of Nations.

[Page 305]

1.5.1. SECT. I.
Of ſuppoſed National Eminence, and of the Viciſſitudes of Human Affairs.

NO nation is ſo unfortunate as to think itſelf inferior to the reſt of mankind: few are even willing to put up with the claim to equality. The greater part having choſen themſelves, as at once, the judges and the models of what is excellent in their kind, are firſt in their own opinion, and give to others conſideration or eminence, ſo far only as they approach to their own condition. One nation is vain of the perſonal character, or of the learning, of a few of its members; another, of its policy, its wealth, its tradeſmen, its gardens, and its buildings; and they who have nothing to boaſt, are vain, becauſe [Page 306] they are ignorant. The Ruſſians, before the reign of Peter the Great, thought themſelves poſſeſſed of every national honour, and held the Nemei, or dumb Nations, (the name which they beſtowed on their weſtern neighbours of Europe), in a proportional degree of contempt*. The map of the world, in China, was a ſquare plate, the greater part of which was occupied by the provinces of this great empire, leaving on its ſkirts a few obſcure corners, into which the wretched remainder of mankind were ſuppoſed to be driven. ‘If you have not the uſe of our letters, nor the knowledge of our books,’ ſaid the learned Chineſe to the European miſſionary, ‘what literature, or what ſcience, can you have?’

THE term poliſhed, if we may judge from its etymology, originally referred to the ſtate of nations in reſpect to their laws and government. In its later application, it refers no leſs to their proficiency in the liberal and mechanical arts, in literature, and in commerce. But whatever may be its applications, it appears, that if there were a name ſtill more reſpectable than this, every nation, even the moſt barbarous, or the moſt corrupted, would aſſume it; and beſtow its reverſe where they conceived a diſlike, or apprehended a difference. The names of alien, or foreigner, are ſeldom pronounced without ſome degree of intended reproach. That of barbarian, in uſe with one arrogant people, and that of gentil, with another, only ſerved to diſtinguiſh the ſtranger, whoſe language and pedigree differed from theirs.

[Page 307] EVEN where we pretend to found our opinions on reaſon, and to juſtify our preference of one nation to another, we frequently beſtow our eſteem on circumſtances which do not relate to national character, and which have little tendency to promote the welfare of mankind. Conqueſt, or great extent of territory, however peopled, and great wealth, however diſtributed or employed, are titles upon which we indulge our own, and the vanity of other nations, as we do that of private men on the ſcore of their fortunes and honours. We even ſometimes contend, whoſe capital is the moſt overgrown; whoſe king has the moſt abſolute power: and at whoſe court the bread of the ſubject is conſumed in the moſt ſenſeleſs riot. Theſe indeed are the notions of vulgar minds; but it is impoſſible to determine, how far the notions of vulgar minds may lead mankind.

THERE have certainly been very few examples of ſtates, who have, by arts or policy, improved the original diſpoſitions of human nature, or endeavoured, by wiſe and effectual precautions, to prevent its corruption. Affection, and force of mind, which are the band and the ſtrength of communities, were the inſpiration of God, and original attributes in the nature of man. The wiſeſt policy of nations, except in a very few inſtances, has tended, we may ſuſpect, rather to maintain the peace of ſociety, and to repreſs the external effects of bad paſſions, than to ſtrengthen the diſpoſition of the heart itſelf to juſtice and goodneſs. It has tended, by introducing a variety of arts, to exerciſe the ingenuity of men, and by engaging them in a variety of purſuits, inquiries, [Page 308] and ſtudies, to inform, but frequently to corrupt the mind. It has tended to furniſh matter of diſtinction and vanity; and by incumbering the individual with new ſubjects of perſonal care, to ſubſtitute the anxiety he entertains for himſelf, inſtead of the confidence and the affection he ſhould entertain for his fellow-creatures.

WHETHER this ſuſpicion be juſt or no, we are come to point at circumſtances tending to verify, or to diſprove it: and if to underſtand the real felicity of nations be of importance, it is certainly ſo likewiſe, to know what are thoſe weakneſſes, and thoſe vices, by which men not only mar this felicity, but in one age forfeit all the external advantages they had gained in a former.

THE wealth, the aggrandizement and power of nations, are commonly the effects of virtue; the loſs of theſe advantages, is often a conſequence of vice.

WERE we to ſuppoſe men to have ſucceeded in the diſcovery and application of every art by which ſtates are preſerved, and governed; to have attained, by efforts of wiſdom and magnanimity, the admired eſtabliſhments and advantages of a civilized and flouriſhing people; the ſubſequent part of their hiſtory, containing, according to vulgar apprehenſion, a full diſplay of thoſe fruits in maturity, of which they had till then carried only the bloſſom, and the firſt formation, ſhould, ſtill more than the former, merit our attention, and excite our admiration.

[Page 309] THE event, however, has not correſponded to this expectation. The virtues of men have ſhone moſt during their ſtruggles, not after the attainment of their ends. Thoſe ends themſelves, though attained by virtue, are frequently the cauſes of corruption and vice. Mankind, in aſpiring to national felicity, have ſubſtituted arts which increaſe their riches, inſtead of thoſe which improve their nature. They have entertained admiration of themſelves, under the titles of civilized and of poliſhed, where they ſhould have been affected with ſhame; and even where they have for a while acted on maxims tending to raiſe, to invigorate, and to preſerve the national character, they have, ſooner or later, been diverted from their object, and fallen a prey to misfortune, or to the neglects which proſperity itſelf had encouraged.

WAR, which furniſhes mankind with a principal occupation of their reſtleſs ſpirit, ſerves, by the variety of its events, to diverſify their fortunes. While it opens to one tribe or ſociety, the way to eminence, and leads to dominion, it brings another to ſubjection, and cloſes the ſcene of their national efforts. The celebrated rivalſhip of Carthage and Rome was, in both parties, the natural exerciſe of an ambitious ſpirit, impatient of oppoſition, or even of equality. The conduct and the fortune of leaders, held the balance for ſome time in ſuſpence; but to which ever ſide it had inclined, a great nation was to fall; a ſeat of empire, and of policy, was to be removed from its place; and it was then to be determined, whether [Page 310] the Syriac or the Latin ſhould contain the erudition that was, in future ages, to occupy the ſtudies of the learned.

STATES have been thus conquered from abroad, before they gave any ſigns of internal decay, even in the midſt of proſperity, and in the period of their greateſt ardour for national objects. Athens, in the height of her ambition, and of her glory, received a fatal wound, in ſtriving to extend her maritime power beyond the Grecian ſeas. And nations of every deſcription, formidable by their rude ferocity, reſpected for their diſcipline and military experience, when advancing, as well as when declining, in their ſtrength, fell a prey, by turns, to the ambition and arrogant ſpirit of the Romans. Such examples may excite and alarm the jealouſy and caution of ſtates; the preſence of ſimilar dangers may exerciſe the talents of politicians and ſtateſmen; but mere reverſes of fortune are the common materials of hiſtory, and muſt long ſince have ceaſed to create our ſurpriſe.

DID we find, that nations advancing from ſmall beginnings, and arrived at the poſſeſſion of arts which lead to dominion, became ſecure of their advantages, in proportion as they were qualified to gain them; that they proceeded in a courſe of uninterrupted felicity, till they were broke by external calamities; and that they retained their force, till a more fortunate or vigorous power aroſe to depreſs them; the ſubject in ſpeculation could not be attended with many difficulties, nor give riſe to many reflections. But when we obſerve among [Page 311] nations a kind of ſpontaneous return to obſcurity and weakneſs; when, in ſpite of perpetual admonitions of the danger they run, they ſuffer themſelves to be ſubdued, in one period, by powers which could not have entered into competition with them in a former, and by forces which they had often baffled and deſpiſed; the ſubject becomes more curious, and its explanation more difficult.

THE fact itſelf is known in a variety of different examples. The empire of Aſia was, more than once, transferred from the greater to the inferior power. The ſtates of Greece, once ſo warlike, felt a relaxation of their vigour, and yielded the aſcendant they had diſputed with the monarchs of the eaſt, to the forces of an obſcure principality, become formidable in a few years, and raiſed to eminence under the conduct of a ſingle man. The Roman empire, which ſtood alone for ages; which had brought every rival under ſubjection, and ſaw no power from whom a competition could be feared, ſunk at laſt before an artleſs and contemptible enemy. Abandoned to inroad, to pillage, and at laſt to conqueſt, on her frontier, ſhe decayed in all her extremities, and ſhrunk on every ſide. Her territory was diſmembered, and whole provinces gave way, like branches fallen down with age, not violently torn by ſuperior force. The ſpirit with which Marius had baffled and repelled the attacks of barbarians in a former age, the civil and military force with which the conſul and his legions had extended this empire, were now no more. The Roman greatneſs, doomed to ſink as it roſe, by ſlow degrees, was impaired in every encounter. [Page 312] It was reduced to its original dimenſions, within the compaſs of a ſingle city; and depending for its preſervation on the fortune of a ſiege, it was extinguiſhed at a blow; and the brand, which had filled the world with its flames, ſunk like a taper in the ſocket.

SUCH appearances have given riſe to a general apprehenſion, that the progreſs of ſocieties to what we call the heights of national greatneſs, is not more natural, than their return to weakneſs and obſcurity is neceſſary and unavoidable. The images of youth, and of old age, are applied to nations; and communities, like ſingle men, are ſuppoſed to have a period of life, and a length of thread, which is ſpun by the fates in one part uniform and ſtrong, in another weakened and ſhattered by uſe; to be cut, when the deſtined aera is come, and to make way for a renewal of the emblem in the caſe of thoſe who ariſe in ſucceſſion. Carthage, being ſo much older than Rome, had felt her decay, ſays Polybius, ſo much the ſooner: and the ſurvivor too, he foreſaw, carried in her boſom the ſeeds of mortality.

THE image indeed is appoſite, and the hiſtory of mankind renders the application familiar. But it muſt be obvious, that the caſe of nations, and that of individuals, are very different. The human frame has a general courſe; it has, in every individual, a frail contexture, and a limited duration; it is worn by exerciſe, and exhauſted by a repetition of its functions: But in a ſociety, whoſe conſtituent members are renewed in every generation, where the race ſeems to enjoy perpetual [Page 313] youth, and accumulating advantages, we cannot, by any parity of reaſon, expect to find imbecilities connected with mere age and length of days.

THE ſubject is not new, and reflections will croud upon every reader. The notions, in the mean time, which we entertain, even in ſpeculation, upon a ſubject ſo important, cannot be entirely fruitleſs to mankind; and however little the labours of the ſpeculative may influence the conduct of men, one of the moſt pardonable errors a writer can commit, is to believe that he is about to do a great deal of good. But leaving the care of effects to others, we proceed to conſider the grounds of inconſtancy among mankind, the ſources of internal decay, and the ruinous corruptions to which nations are liable, in the ſuppoſed condition of accompliſhed civility.

1.5.2. SECT. II.
Of the Temporary Efforts and Relaxations of the National Spirit.

[Page 314]

FROM what we have already obſerved on the general characteriſtics of human nature, it has appeared, that man is not made for repoſe. In him, every amiable and reſpectable quality is an active power, and every ſubject of commendation an effort. If his errors and his crimes are the movements of an active being, his virtues and his happineſs conſiſt likewiſe in the employment of his mind; and all the luſtre which he caſts around him, to captivate or engage the attention of his fellow-creatures, like the flame of a meteor, ſhines only while his motion continues: the moments of reſt and of obſcurity are the ſame. We know, that the taſks aſſigned him frequently may exceed, as well as come ſhort of his powers; that he may be agitated too much, as well as too little; but cannot aſcertain a preciſe medium between the ſituations in which he would be haraſſed, and thoſe in which he would fall into languor. We know, that he may be employed on a great variety of ſubjects, which occupy different paſſions; and that, in conſequence of habit, he becomes reconciled to very different ſcenes. All we can determine in general [Page 315] is, that whatever be the ſubjects with which he is engaged, the frame of his nature requires him to be occupied, and his happineſs requires him to be juſt.

WE are now to inquire, why nations ceaſe to be eminent; and why ſocieties which have drawn the attention of mankind by great examples of magnanimity, conduct, and national ſucceſs, ſhould ſink from the height of their honours, and yield, in one age, the palm which they had won in a former. Many reaſons will probably occur. One may be taken from the fickleneſs and inconſtancy of mankind, who become tired of their purſuits and exertions, even while the occaſions that gave riſe to thoſe purſuits, in ſome meaſure continue: Another, from the change of ſituations, and the removal of objects which ſerved to excite their ſpirit.

THE public ſafety, and the relative intereſts of ſtates; political eſtabliſhments, the pretenſions of party, commerce, and arts, are ſubjects which engage the attention of nations. The advantages gained in ſome of theſe particulars, determine the degree of national proſperity. The ardour and vigour with which they are at any one time purſued, is the meaſure of a national ſpirit. When thoſe objects ceaſe to animate, nations may be ſaid to languiſh; when they are during any conſiderable time neglected, ſtates muſt decline, and their people degenerate.

IN the moſt forward, enterpriſing, inventive, and induſtrious nations, this ſpirit is fluctuating; [Page 316] and they who continue longeſt to gain advantages, or to preſerve them, have periods of remiſſneſs, as well as of ardour. The deſire of public ſafety, is, at all times, a powerful motive of conduct; but it operates moſt, when combined with occaſional paſſions, when provocations inflame, when ſucceſſes encourage, or mortifications exaſperate.

A WHOLE people, like the individuals of whom they are compoſed, act under the influence of temporary humours, ſanguine hopes, or vehement animoſities. They are diſpoſed, at one time, to enter on national ſtruggles with vehemence; at another, to drop them from mere laſſitude and diſguſt. In their civil debates and contentions at home, they are occaſionally ardent or remiſs. Epidemical paſſions ariſe or ſubſide, on trivial, as well as important, grounds. Parties are ready, at one time, to take their names, and the pretence of their oppoſitions, from mere caprice or accident; at another time, they ſuffer the moſt ſerious occaſions to paſs in ſilence. If a vein of literary genius be caſually opened, or a new ſubject of diſquiſition be ſtarted, real or pretended diſcoveries ſuddenly multiply, and every converſation is inquiſitive and animated. If a new ſource of wealth be found, or a proſpect of conqueſt be offered, the imaginations of men are inflamed, and whole quarters of the globe are ſuddenly engaged in ruinous or in ſucceſsful adventures.

COULD we recall the ſpirit that was exerted, or enter into the views that were entertained, by our anceſtors, when they burſt, like a deluge, from their ancient ſeats, and poured into the Roman [Page 317] Empire, we ſhould probably, after their firſt ſucceſſes, at leaſt, find a ferment in the minds of men, for which no attempt was too arduous, no difficulties inſurmountable.

THE ſubſequent ages of enterpriſe in Europe, were thoſe in which the alarm of enthuſiaſm was rung, and the followers of the croſs invaded the Eaſt, to plunder a country, and to recover a ſepulchre; thoſe in which the people in different ſtates contended for freedom, and aſſaulted the fabric of civil or religious uſurpation; that in which having found means to croſs the Atlantic, and to double the Cape of Good Hope, the inhabitants of one half the world were let looſe on the other, and parties from every quarter, wading in blood, and at the expence of every crime, and of every danger, traverſed the earth in ſearch of gold.

EVEN the weak and the remiſs are rouſed to enterpriſe, by the contagion of ſuch remarkable ages; and ſtates which have not in their form the principles of a continued exertion, either favourable or adverſe to the welfare of mankind, may have paroxyſms of ardour, and a temporary appearance of national vigour. In the caſe of ſuch nations, indeed, the returns of moderation are but a relapſe to obſcurity, and the preſumption of one age is turned to dejection in that which ſucceeds.

BUT in the caſe of ſtates that are fortunate in their domeſtic policy, even madneſs itſelf may, in the reſult [...] of violent convulſions, ſubſide into [Page 318] wiſdom; and a people return to their ordinary mood, cured of their follies, and wiſer by experience: or, with talents improved, in conducting the very ſcenes which frenzy had opened, they may then appear beſt qualified to purſue with ſucceſs the object of nations. Like the ancient republics, immediately after ſome alarming ſedition, or like the kingdom of Great Britain, at the cloſe of its civil wars, they retain the ſpirit of activity, which was recently awakened, and are equally vigorous in every purſuit, whether of policy, learning, or arts. From having appeared on the brink of ruin, they paſs to the greateſt proſperity.

MEN engage in purſuits with degrees of ardour not proportioned to the importance of their object. When they are ſtated in oppoſition, or joined in confederacy, they only wiſh for pretences to act. They forget, in the heat of their animoſities, the ſubject of their controverſy; or they ſeek, in their formal reaſonings concerning it, only a diſguiſe for their paſſions. When the heart is inflamed, no conſideration can repreſs its ardour; when its fervour ſubſides, no reaſoning can excite, and no eloquence awaken, its former emotions.

THE continuance of emulation among ſtates, muſt depend on the degree of equality by which their forces are balanced; or on the incentives by which either party, or all, are urged to continue their ſtruggles. Long intermiſſions of war, ſuffer, equally in every period of civil ſociety, the military ſpirit to languiſh. The reduction of [Page 319] Athens by Lyſander, ſtruck a fatal blow at the inſtitutions of Lycurgus; and the quiet poſſeſſion of Italy, happily, perhaps, for mankind, had almoſt put an end to the military progreſs of the Romans. After ſome years of repoſe, Hannibal found Italy unprepared for his onſet, and the Romans in a diſpoſition likely to drop, on the banks of the Po, that martial ambition, which, being rouſed by the ſenſe of a new danger, afterwards carried them to the Euphrates and the Rhine.

STATES even diſtinguiſhed for military proweſs, ſometimes lay down their arms from laſſitude, and are weary of fruitleſs contentions: but if they maintain the ſtation of independent communities, they will have frequent occaſions to recall, and exert their vigour. Even under popular governments, men ſometimes drop the conſideration of their political rights, and appear at times remiſs or ſupine; but if they have reſerved the power to defend themſelves, the intermiſſion of its exerciſe cannot be of long duration. Political rights, when neglected, are always invaded; and alarms from this quarter muſt frequently come to renew the attention of parties. The love of learning, and of arts, may change its purſuits, or droop for a ſeaſon; but while men are poſſeſſed of freedom, and while the exerciſes of ingenuity are not ſuperſeded, the public may proceed, at different times, with unequal fervour; but its progreſs is ſeldom altogether diſcontinued, or the advantages gained in one age are ſeldom entirely loſt to the following.

[Page 320] IF we would find the cauſes of final corruption, we muſt examine thoſe revolutions of ſtate that remove or with-hold the objects of every ingenious ſtudy, or liberal purſuit; that deprive the citizen of occaſions to act as the member of a public; that cruſh his ſpirit; that debaſe his ſentiments, and diſqualify his mind for affairs.

1.5.3. SECT. III.
Of Relaxations in the National Spirit incident to Poliſhed Nations.

[Page 321]

IMPROVING nations, in the courſe of their advancement, have to ſtruggle with foreign enemies, to whom they bear an extreme animoſity, and with whom, in many conflicts, they contend for their exiſtence as a people. In certain periods too, they feel in their domeſtic policy inconveniencies and grievances, which beget an eager impatience; and they apprehend reformations and new eſtabliſhments, from which they have ſanguine hopes of national happineſs. In early ages, every art is imperfect, and ſuſceptible of many improvements. The firſt principles of every ſcience are yet ſecrets to be diſcovered, and to be ſucceſſively publiſhed with applauſe and triumph.

WE may fancy to ourſelves, that in ages of progreſs, the human race, like ſcouts gone abroad on the diſcovery of fertile lands, having the world open before them, are preſented at every ſtep with the appearance of novelty. They enter on every new ground with expectation and joy: They engage in every enterpriſe with the ardour of men, who believe they are going to arrive at national felicity, and permanent glory; and forget paſt diſappointments amidſt the hopes of future ſucceſs. [Page 322] From mere ignorance, rude minds are intoxicated with every paſſion; and partial to their own condition, and to their own purſuits, they think that every ſcene is inferior to that in which they are placed. Rouſed alike by ſucceſs, and by misfortune, they are ſanguine, ardent, and precipitant; and leave to the more knowing ages which ſucceed them, monuments of imperfect ſkill, and of rude execution in every art; but they leave likewiſe the marks of a vigorous and ardent ſpirit, which their ſucceſſors are not always qualified to ſuſtain, or to imitate.

THIS may be admitted, perhaps, as a fair deſcription of proſperous ſocieties, at leaſt during certain periods of their progreſs. The ſpirit with which they advance may be unequal, in different ages, and may have its paroxyſms, and intermiſſions, ariſing from the inconſtancy of human paſſions, and from the caſual appearance or removal of occaſions that excite them. But does this ſpirit, which for a time continues to carry on the project of civil and commercial arts, find a natural pauſe in the termination of its own purſuits? May the buſineſs of civil ſociety be accompliſhed, and may the occaſion of farther exertion be removed? Do continued diſappointments reduce ſanguine hopes, and familiarity with objects blunt the edge of novelty? Does experience itſelf cool the ardour of the mind? May the ſociety be again compared to the individual? And may it be ſuſpected, although the vigour of a nation, like that of a natural body, does not waſte by a phyſical decay, that yet it may ſicken for want of exerciſe, and die in the cloſe of its own exertions? May ſocieties, in the completion of [Page 323] all their deſigns, like men in years, who diſregard the amuſements, and are inſenſible to the paſſions, of youth, become cold and indifferent to objects that uſed to animate in a ruder age? And may a poliſhed community be compared to a man, who having executed his plan, built his houſe, and made his ſettlement; who having, in ſhort, exhauſted the charms of every ſubject, and waſted all his ardour, ſinks into languor and liſtleſs indifference? If ſo, we have found at leaſt another ſimile to our purpoſe. But it is probable, that here too, the reſemblance is imperfect; and the inference that would follow, like that of moſt arguments drawn from analogy, tends rather to amuſe the fancy, than to give any real information on the ſubject to which it refers.

THE materials of human art are never entirely exhauſted, and the applications of induſtry are never at an end. The national ardour is not, at any particular time, proportioned to the occaſion there is for activity; nor curioſity, to the extent of ſubject that remains to be ſtudied.

THE ignorant and the artleſs, to whom objects of ſcience are new, and who are worſt furniſhed with the conveniencies of life, inſtead of being more active, and more curious, are commonly more quieſcent, and leſs inquiſitive, than the knowing and the poliſhed. When we compare the particulars which occupy mankind in their rude and in their poliſhed condition, they will be found greatly multiplied and enlarged in the laſt. The queſtions we have put, however, deſerve to be anſwered; and if, in the advanced ages of ſociety, we do not find the objects of human [Page 324] purſuit removed, or greatly diminiſhed, we may find them at leaſt changed; and in eſtimating the national ſpirit, we may find a negligence in one part, but ill compenſated by the growing attention which is paid to another.

IT is true, in general, that in all our purſuits, there is a termination of trouble, and a point of repoſe to which we aſpire. We would remove this inconvenience, or gain that advantage, that our labours may ceaſe. When I have conquered Italy and Sicily, ſay Pyrrhus, I ſhall then enjoy my repoſe. This termination is propoſed in our national as well as in our perſonal exertions; and in ſpite of frequent experience to the contrary, is conſidered at a diſtance as the height of felicity. But nature has wiſely, in moſt particulars, baffled our project; and placed no where within our reach this viſionary bleſſing of abſolute eaſe. The attainment of one end is but the beginning of a new purſuit; and the diſcovery of one art is but a prolongation of the thread by which we are conducted to further inquiries, and only hope to eſcape from the labyrinth.

AMONG the occupations that may be enumerated, as tending to exerciſe the invention, and to cultivate the talents of men, are the purſuits of accommodation and wealth, including all the different contrivances which ſerve to increaſe manufactures, and to perfect the mechanical arts. But it muſt be owned, that as the materials of commerce may continue to be accumulated withou [...] any determinate limit, ſo the arts which are applied to improve them, may admit of perpetua [...] refinements. No meaſure of fortune, or degree [...] [Page 325] ſkill, is found to diminiſh the ſuppoſed neceſſities of human life; refinement and plenty foſter new deſires, while they furniſh the means, or practiſe the methods, to gratify them.

IN the reſult of commercial arts, inequalities of fortune are greatly increaſed, and the majority of every people are obliged by neceſſity, or at leaſt ſtrongly incited by ambition and avarice, to employ every talent they poſſeſs. After a hiſtory of ſome thouſand years employed in manufacture and commerce, the inhabitants of China are ſtill the moſt laborious and induſtrious of any people on the ſurface of the earth.

SOME part of this obſervation may be extended to the elegant and literary arts. They too have their materials, which cannot be exhauſted, and proceed from deſires which cannot be ſatiated. But the reſpect paid to literary merit is fluctuating, and matter of tranſient faſhion. When learned productions accumulate, the acquiſition of knowledge occupies the time that might be beſtowed on invention. The object of mere learning is attained with moderate or inferior talents, and the growing liſt of pretenders diminiſhes the luſtre of the few who are eminent. When we only mean to learn what others have taught, it is probable, that even our knowledge will be leſs than that of our maſters. Great names continue to be repeated with admiration, after we have ceaſed to examine the foundations of our praiſe; and new pretenders are rejected, not becauſe they fall ſhort of their predeceſſors, but becauſe they do not excel them; or becauſe, in reality, we have, without examination, taken for granted the merit of the firſt, and cannot judge of either.

[Page 326] AFTER libraries are furniſhed, and every path of ingenuity is occupied, we are, in proportion to our admiration of what is already done, prepoſſeſſed againſt farther attempts. We become ſtudents and admirers, inſtead of rivals; and ſubſtitute the knowledge of books, inſtead of the inquiſitive or animated ſpirit in which they were written.

THE commercial and lucrative arts may continue to proſper, but they gain an aſcendant at the expence of other purſuits. The deſire of profit ſtifles the love of perfection. Intereſt cools the imagination, and hardens the heart; and, recommending employments in proportion as they are lucrative, and certain in their gains, it drives ingenuity, and ambition itſelf, to the counter and the workſhop.

BUT apart from theſe conſiderations, the ſeparation of profeſſions, while it ſeems to promiſe improvement of ſkill, and is actually the cauſe why the productions of every art become more perfect as commerce advances; yet in its termination, and ultimate effects, ſerves, in ſome meaſure, to break the bands of ſociety, to ſubſtitute form in place of ingenuity, and to withdraw individuals from the common ſcene of occupation, on which the ſentiments of the heart, and the mind, are moſt happily employed.

UNDER the diſtinction of callings, by which the members of poliſhed ſociety are ſeparated from each other, every individual is ſuppoſed to poſſeſs his ſpecies of talent, or his peculiar ſkill, [Page 327] in which the others are confeſſedly ignorant; and ſociety is made to conſiſt of parts, of which none is animated with the ſpirit of ſociety itſelf. ‘We ſee in the ſame perſons,’ ſaid Pericles, ‘an equal attention to private and to public affairs; and in men who have turned to ſeparate profeſſions, a competent knowledge of what relates to the community; for we alone conſider thoſe who are inattentive to the ſtate, as perfectly inſignificant.’ This encomium on the Athenians, was probably offered under an apprehenſion, that the contrary was likely to be charged by their enemies, or might ſoon take place. It happened accordingly, that the buſineſs of ſtate, as well as of war, came to be worſe adminiſtred at Athens, when theſe, as well as other applications, became the objects of ſeparate profeſſions; and the hiſtory of this people abundantly ſhewed, that men ceaſed to be citizens, even to be good poets and orators, in proportion as they came to be diſtinguiſhed by the profeſſion of theſe, and other ſeparate crafts.

ANIMALS lefs honoured than we, have ſagacity enough to procure their food, and to find the means of their ſolitary pleaſures; but it is reſerved for man to conſult, to perſuade, to oppoſe, to kindle in the ſociety of his fellow-creatures, and to loſe the ſenſe of his perſonal intereſt or ſafety, in the ardour of his friendſhips and his oppoſitions.

WHEN we are involved in any of the diviſions into which mankind are ſeparated, under the denominations of a country, a tribe, or an order of men any way affected by common intereſts, and guided by communicating paſſions, the mind [Page 328] recogniſes its natural ſtation; the ſentiments of the heart, and the talents of the underſtanding, find their natural exerciſe. Wiſdom, vigilance, fidelity, and fortitude, are the characters requiſite in ſuch a ſcene, and the qualities which it tends to improve.

IN ſimple or barbarous ages, when nations are weak, and beſet with enemies, the love of a country, of a party, or a faction, are the ſame. The public is a knot of friends, and its enemies are the reſt of mankind. Death, or ſlavery, are the ordinary evils which they are concerned to ward off; victory and dominion, the objects to which they aſpire. Under the ſenſe of what they may ſuffer from foreign invaſions, it is one object, in every proſperous ſociety, to increaſe its force, and to extend its limits. In proportion as this object is gained, ſecurity increaſes. They who poſſeſs the interior diſtricts, remote from the frontier, are unuſed to alarms from abroad. They who are placed on the extremities, remote from the ſeats of government, are unuſed to hear of political intereſts; and the public becomes an object perhaps too extenſive, for the conceptions of either. They enjoy the protection of its laws, or of its armies; and they boaſt of its ſplendor, and its power; but the glowing ſentiments of public affection, which, in ſmall ſtates, mingle with the tenderneſs of the parent and the lover, of the friend and the companion, merely by having their object enlarged, loſe great part of their force.

THE manners of rude nations require to be reformed. Their foreign quarrels, and domeſtic diſſenſions, are the operations of extreme and ſanguinary [Page 329] paſſions. A ſtate of greater tranquility hath many happy effects. But if nations purſue the plan of enlargement and pacification, till their members can no longer apprehend the common ties of ſociety, nor be engaged by affection in the cauſe of their country, they muſt err on the oppoſite ſide, and by leaving too little to agitate the ſpirits of men, bring on ages of languor, if not of decay.

THE members of a community may, in this manner, like the inhabitants of a conquered province, be made to loſe the ſenſe of every connection, but that of kindred or neighbourhood; and have no common affairs to tranſact, but thoſe of trade: Connections, indeed, or tranſactions, in which probity and friendſhip may ſtill take place; but in which the national ſpirit, whoſe ebbs and flows we are now conſidering, cannot be exerted.

WHAT we obſerve, however, on the tendency of enlargement to looſen the bands of political union, cannot be applied to nations who, being originally narrow, never greatly extended their limits, nor to thoſe who, in a rude ſtate, had already the extenſion of a great kingdom.

IN territories of conſiderable extent, ſubject to one government, and poſſeſſed of freedom, the national union, in rude ages, is extremely imperfect. Every diſtrict forms a ſeparate party; and the deſcendents of different families are oppoſed to one another, under the denomination of tribes or of clans: they are ſeldom brought to act with a ſteady concert; their feuds and animoſities give more frequently the appearance of ſo many nations [Page 330] at war, than of a people united by connections of policy. They acquire a ſpirit, however, in their private diviſions, and in the midſt of a diſorder, otherwiſe hurtful, of which the force, on many occaſions, redounds to the power of the ſtate.

WHATEVER be the national extent, civil order, and regular government, are advantages of the greateſt importance; but it does not follow, that every arrangement made to obtain theſe ends, and which may, in the making, exerciſe and cultivate the beſt qualities of men, is therefore of a nature to produce permanent effects, and to ſecure the preſervation of that national ſpirit from which it aroſe.

WE have reaſon to dread the political refinements of ordinary men, when we conſider, that repoſe, or inaction itſelf, is in a great meaſure their object; and that they would frequently model their governments, not merely to prevent injuſtice and error, but to prevent agitation and buſtle; and by the barriers they raiſe againſt the evil actions of men, would prevent them from acting at all. Every diſpute of a free people, in the opinion of ſuch politicians, amounts to diſorder, and a breach of the national peace. What heart-burnings? What delay to affairs? What want of ſecrecy and diſpatch? What defect of police? Men of ſuperior genius ſometimes ſeem to imagine, that the vulgar have no title to act, or to think. A great prince is pleaſed to ridicule the precaution by which judges in a free country are confined to the ſtrict interpretation of law*.

[Page 331] WE eaſily learn to contract our opinions of what men may, in conſiſtence with public order, be ſafely permitted to do. The agitations of a republic, and the licence of its members, ſtrike the ſubjects of monarchy with averſion and diſguſt. The freedom with which the European is left to traverſe the ſtreets and the fields, would appear to a Chineſe a ſure prelude to confuſion and anarchy. ‘Can men behold their ſuperior and not tremble? Can they converſe without a preciſe and written ceremonial? What hopes of peace, if the ſtreets are not barricaded at an hour? What wild diſorder, if men are permitted in any thing to do what they pleaſe?’

IF the precautions which men thus take againſt each other be neceſſary to repreſs their crimes, and do not ariſe from a corrupt ambition, or from cruel jealouſy in their rulers, the proceeding itſelf muſt be applauded, as the beſt remedy of which the vices of men will admit. The viper muſt be held at a diſtance, and the tyger chained. But if a rigorous policy, applied to enſlave, not to reſtrain from crimes, has an actual tendency to corrupt the manners, and to extinguiſh the ſpirit of nations; if its ſeverities be applied to terminate the agitations of a free people, not to remedy their corruptions; if forms be often applauded as ſalutary, becauſe they tend merely to ſilence the voice of mankind, or be condemned as pernicious, becauſe they allow this voice to be heard; we may expect that many of the boaſted improvements of civil ſociety, will be mere devices to lay the political ſpirit at reſt, and will chain up the active virtues more than the reſtleſs diſorders of men.

[Page 232] IF to any people it be the avowed object of policy, in all its internal refinements, to ſecure the perſon and the property of the ſubject, without any regard to his political character, the conſtitution indeed may be free, but its members may likewiſe become unworthy of the freedom they poſſeſs, and unfit to preſerve it. The effects of ſuch a conſtitution may be to immerſe all orders of men in their ſeparate purſuits of pleaſure, which they may now enjoy with little diſturbance; or of gain, which they may preſerve without any attention to the commonwealth.

IF this be the end of political ſtruggles, the deſign, when executed, in ſecuring to the individual his eſtate, and the means of ſubſiſtence, may put an end to the exerciſe of thoſe very virtues that were required in conducting its execution. A man, who, in concert with his fellow-ſubjects, contends with uſurpation in defence of his eſtate or his perſon, may find an exertion of great generoſity, and of a vigorous ſpirit; but he who, under political eſtabliſhments, ſuppoſed to be fully confirmed, betakes him, becauſe he is ſafe, to the mere enjoyment of fortune, has in fact turned to a ſource of corruption the very advantages which the virtues of the other procured. Individuals, in certain ages, derive their protection chiefly from the ſtrength of the party to which they adhere; but in times of corruption, they flatter themſelves, that they may continue to derive from the public that ſafety which, in former ages, they muſt have owed to their own vigilance and ſpirit, to the warm attachment of their friends, and to the exerciſe of every talent which could [Page 333] render them reſpected, feared, or beloved. In one period, therefore, mere circumſtances ſerve to excite the ſpirit, and to preſerve the manners of men; in another, great wiſdom and zeal for the good of mankind on the part of their leaders, are required for the ſame purpoſes.

ROME, it may be thought, did not die of a lethargy, nor periſh by the remiſſion of her political ardours at home. Her diſtemper appeared of a nature more violent and acute. Yet if the virtues of Cato and of Brutus found an exerciſe in the dying hour of the republic, the neutrality, and the cautious retirement of Atticus, found its ſecurity in the ſame tempeſtuous ſeaſon; and the great body of the people lay undiſturbed, below the current of a ſtorm, by which the ſuperior ranks of men were deſtroyed. In the minds of the people, the ſenſe of a public was defaced; and even the animoſity of faction had ſubſided: they only could ſhare in the commotion, who were the ſoldiers of a legion, or the partiſans of a leader. But this ſtate fell not into obſcurity for want of eminent men. If at the time of which we ſpeak, we look only for a few names diſtinguiſhed in the hiſtory of mankind, there is no period at which the liſt was more numerous. But thoſe names became diſtingiſhed in the conteſt for dominion, not in the exerciſe of equal rights: the people was corrupted; the empire of the known world ſtood in need of a maſter.

REPUBLICAN governments, in general, are in hazard of ruin from the aſcendant of particular factions, and from the mutinous ſpirit of a populace, who being corrupted, are no longer fit to [Page 334] ſhare in the adminiſtration of ſtate. But under other eſtabliſhments, where liberty may be more ſucceſsfully attained if men are corrupted, the national vigour declines from the abuſe of that very ſecurity which is procured by the ſuppoſed perfection of public order.

A diſtribution of power and office; an execution of law, by which mutual incroachments and moleſtations are brought to an end; by which the perſon and the property are, without friends, without cabal, without obligation, perfectly ſecured to individuals, does honour to the genius of a nation; and could not have been fully eſtabliſhed, without thoſe exertions of underſtanding and integrity, thoſe trials of a reſolute and vigorous ſpirit, which adorn the annals of a people, and leave to future ages a ſubject of juſt admiration and applauſe. But if we ſuppoſe that the end is attained, and that men no longer act, in the enjoyment of liberty, from liberal ſentiments, or with a view to the preſervation of public manners; if individuals think themſelves ſecure without any attention or effort of their own; this boaſted advantage may be found only to give them an opportunity of enjoying, at leiſure, the conveniencies and neceſſaries of life; or, in the language of Cato, teach them to value their houſes, their villas, their ſtatues, and their pictures, at a higher rate than they do the republic. They may be found to grow tired in ſecret of a free conſtitution, of which they never ceaſe to boaſt in their converſation, and which they always neglect in their conduct.

[Page 335] THE dangers to liberty are not the ſubject of our preſent conſideration; but they can never be greater from any cauſe than they are from the ſuppoſed remiſſneſs of a people, to whoſe perſonal vigour every conſtitution, as it owed its eſtabliſhment, ſo muſt continue to owe its preſervation. Nor is this bleſſing ever leſs ſecure than it is in the poſſeſſion of men who think that they enjoy it in ſafety, and who therefore conſider the public only as it preſents to their avarice a number of lucrative employments; for the ſake of which they may ſacrifice thoſe very rights which render themſelves objects of management or conſideration.

FROM the tendency of theſe reflections, then, it ſhould appear, that a national ſpirit is frequently tranſient, not on account of any incurable diſtemper in the nature of mankind, but on account of their voluntary neglects and corruptions. This ſpirit ſubſiſted ſolely, perhaps, in the execution of a few projects, entered into for the acquiſition of territory or wealth; it comes, like a uſeleſs weapon, to be laid aſide after its end is attained.

ORDINARY eſtabliſhments terminate in a relaxation of vigour, and are ineffectual to the preſervation of ſtates; becauſe they lead mankind to rely on their arts, inſtead of their virtues, and to miſtake for an improvement of human nature, a mere acceſſion of accommodation, or of riches. Inſtitutions that fortify the mind, inſpire courage, and promote national felicity, can never tend to national ruin.

[Page 336] IS it not poſſible, amidſt our admiration of arts, to find ſome place for theſe? Let ſtateſmen, who are intruſted with the government of nations, reply for themſelves. It is their buſineſs to ſhew, whether they climb into ſtations of eminence, merely to diſplay a paſſion for intereſt, which they had better indulge in obſcurity; and whether they have capacity to underſtand the happineſs of a people, the conduct of whoſe affairs they are ſo willing to undertake.

1.5.4. SECT. IV.
The ſame ſubject continued.

[Page 337]

MEN frequently, while they ſtudy to improve their fortunes, neglect themſelves; and while they reaſon for their country, forget the conſiderations that moſt deſerve their attention. Numbers, riches, and the other reſources of war, are highly important▪ but nations conſiſt of men▪ and a nation conſiſting of degenerate and cowardly men, is weak; a nation conſiſting of vigorous, public-ſpirited, and reſolute men, is ſtrong. The reſources of war, where other advantages are equal, may decide a conteſt; but the reſources of war, in hands that cannot employ them, are of no avail.

VIRTUE is a neceſſary conſtituent of national ſtrength: capacity, and a vigorous underſtanding, are no leſs neceſſary to ſuſtain the fortune of ſtates. Both are improved by diſcipline, and by the exerciſes in which men are engaged. We deſpiſe, or we pity, the lot of mankind, while they lived under uncertain eſtabliſhments, and were obliged to ſuſtain in the ſame perſon, the character of the ſenator, the ſtateſman, and the ſoldier. Poliſhed nations diſcover, that any one of theſe characters is ſufficient in one perſon; and that the ends of each, when disjoined, are more eaſily accompliſhed. The firſt, however, were circumſtances under which nations advanced and proſpered; the ſecond were [Page 338] thoſe in which the ſpirit relaxed, and the nation went to decay.

WE may, with good reaſon, congratulate our ſpecies on their having eſcaped from a ſtate of barbarous diſorder and violence, into a ſtate of domeſtic peace and regular policy; when they have ſheathed the dagger, and diſarmed the animoſities of civil contention; when the weapons with which they contend are the reaſonings of the wiſe, and the tongue of the eloquent. But we cannot, meantime, help to regret, that they ſhould ever proceed, in ſearch of perfection, to place every branch of adminiſtration behind the counter, and come to employ, inſtead of the ſtateſman and warrior, the mere clerk and accountant.

BY carrying this ſyſtem to its height, men are educated, who could copy for Caeſar his military inſtructions, or even execute a part of his plans; but none who could act in all the different ſcenes for which the leader himſelf muſt be qualified, in the ſtate and in the field, in times of order or of tumult, in times of diviſion or of unanimity; none who could animate the council when deliberating on ordinary occaſions, or when alarmed by attacks from abroad.

THE policy of China is the moſt perfect model of an arrangement, at which the ordinary refinements of government are aimed; and the inhabitants of this empire poſſeſs, in the higheſt degree, thoſe arts on which vulgar minds make the felicity and greatneſs of nations to depend. The ſtate has acquired, in a meaſure unequalled in the hiſtory of mankind, numbers of men, and the [Page 339] other reſources of war. They have done what we are very apt to admire; they have brought national affairs to the level of the meaneſt [...]pacity; they have broke them into parts, and thrown them into ſeparate departments; they have clothed every proceeding with ſplendid ceremonies, and majeſtical forms; and where the reverence of forms cannot repreſs diſorder, a rigorous and ſevere police, armed with every ſpecies of corporal puniſhment, is applied to the purpoſe. The whip, and the cudgel, are held up to all orders of men; they are at once employed, and they are dreaded by every magiſtrate. A mandarine is whipped, for having ordered a pickpocket to receive too few or too many blows.

EVERY department of ſtate is made the object of a ſeparate profeſſion, and every candidate for office muſt have paſſed through a regular education; and, as in the graduations of the univerſity, muſt have obtained by his proficiency, or his ſtanding, the degree to which he aſpires. The tribunals of ſtate, of war, and of the revenue, as well as of literature, are conducted by graduates in their different ſtudies; but while learning is the great road to preferment, it terminates, in being able to read, and to write; and the great object of government conſiſts in raiſing, and in conſuming the fruits of the earth. With all theſe reſources, and this learned preparation, which is made to turn theſe reſources to uſe, the ſtate is in reality weak; has repeatedly given the example which we ſeek to explain; and among the doctors of war or of policy, among the millions who are ſet apart for the military profeſſion, can find none of its members who are fit to ſtand forth in the [Page 340] dangers of their country, or to form a defence againſt the repeated inroads of an enemy reputed to be artleſs and mean.

IT is difficult to tell how long the decay of ſtates might be ſuſpended by the cultivation of arts on which their real felicity and ſtrength depend; by cultivating in the higher ranks thoſe talents for the council and the field, which cannot, without great diſadvantage, be ſeparated; and in the body of a people, that zeal for their country, and that military character, which enable them to take a ſhare in defending its rights.

TIMES may come, when every proprietor muſt defend his own poſſeſſions, and every free people maintain their own independence. We may imagine, that againſt ſuch an extremity, an army of hired troops is a ſufficient precaution; but their own troops are the very enemy againſt which a people is ſometimes obliged to fight. We may flatter ourſelves, that extremities of this ſort, in any particular caſe, are remote; but we cannot, in reaſoning on the general fortunes of mankind, avoid putting the caſe, and referring to the examples in which it has happened. It has happened in every inſtance where the poliſhed have fallen a prey to the rude, and where the pacific inhabitant has been reduced to ſubjection by military force.

IF the deſence and government of a people be made to depend on a few, who make the conduct of ſtate or of war their profeſſion; whether theſe be foreigners or natives; whether they be called away of a ſudden, like the Roman legion from [Page 341] Britain; whether they turn againſt their employers, like the army of Carthage, or be overpowered and diſperſed by a ſtroke of fortune, the multitude of a cowardly and undiſciplined people muſt, on ſuch an emergence, receive a foreign or a domeſtic enemy, as they would a plague or an earthquake, with hopeleſs amazement and terror, and by their numbers, only ſwell the triumphs, and enrich the ſpoil of a conqueror.

STATESMEN and leaders of armies, accuſtomed to the mere obſervance of forms, are diſconcerted by a ſuſpenſion of cuſtomary rules; and on ſlight grounds deſpair of their country. They were qualified only to go the rounds of a particular track; and when forced from their ſtations, are in reality unable to act with men. They only took part in formalities, of which they underſtood not the tendency; and together with the modes of procedure, even the very ſtate itſelf, in their apprehenſion, has ceaſed to exiſt. The numbers, poſſeſſions, and reſources of a great people, only ſerve, in their view, to conſtitute a ſcene of hopeleſs confuſion and terror.

IN rude ages, under the appellations of a community, a people, or a nation, was underſtood a number of men; and the ſtate, while its members remained, was accounted entire. The Scythians, while they fled before Darius, mocked at his childiſh attempt; Athens ſurvived the devaſtations of Xerxes; and Rome, in its rude ſtate, thoſe of the Gauls. With poliſhed and mercantile ſtates, the caſe is ſometimes reverſed. The nation is a territory, cultivated and improved by [Page 342] its owners; deſtroy the poſſeſſion, even while the maſter remains, the ſtate is undone.

THAT weakneſs and effeminacy of which poliſhed nations are ſometimes accuſed, has it place probably in the mind alone. The ſtrength of animals, and that of man in particular, depends on his feeding, and the kind of labour to which he is uſed. Wholeſome food, and hard labour, the portion of many in every poliſhed and commercial nation, ſecure to the public a number of men endued with bodily ſtrength, and inured to hardſhip and toil.

EVEN delicate living, and good accommodation, are not found to enervate the body. The armies of Europe have been obliged to make the experiment; and the children of opulent families, bred in effeminacy, or nurſed with tender care, have been made to contend with the ſavage. By imitating his arts, they have learned, like him, to traverſe the foreſt; and, in every ſeaſon, to ſubſiſt in the deſert. They have, perhaps, recovered a leſſon, which it has coſt civilized nations many ages to unlearn, That the fortune of a man is entire while he remains poſſeſſed of himſelf.

IT may be thought, however, that few of the celebrated nations of antiquity, whoſe fate has given riſe to ſo much reflection on the viciſſitudes of human affairs, had made any great progreſs in thoſe enervating arts we have mentioned; or made thoſe arrangements from which the danger in queſtion could be ſuppoſed to ariſe. The Greeks, in particular, at the time of their fall under the Macedonian yoke, had certainly not carried the [Page 343] commercial arts to ſo great a height as is common with the moſt flouriſhing and proſperous nations of Europe. They had ſtill retained the form of independent republics; the people were generally admitted to a ſhare in the government; and not being able to hire armies, they were obliged, by neceſſity, to bear a part in the defence of their country. By their frequent wars and domeſtic commotions, they were accuſtomed to danger, and were familiar with alarming ſituations: they were accordingly ſtill accounted the beſt ſoldiers and the beſt ſtateſmen of the known world. The younger Cyrus promiſed himſelf the empire of Aſia by means of their aid; and after his fall, a body of ten thouſand, although bereft of their leaders, baffled, in their retreat, all the military force of the Perſian empire. The victor of Aſia did not think himſelf prepared for that conqueſt, till he had formed an army from the ſubdued republics of Greece.

IT is, however, true, that in the age of Philip, the military and political ſpirit of thoſe nations appears to have been conſiderably impaired, and to have ſuffered, perhaps, from the variety of intereſts and purſuits, as well as of pleaſures, with which their members came to be occupied: they even made a kind of ſeparation between the civil and military character. Phocion, we are told by Plutarch, having obſerved that the leading men of his time followed different courſes, that ſome applied themſelves to civil, others to military affairs, determined rather to follow the examples of Themiſtocles, Ariſtides, and Pericles, the leaders of a former age, who were equally prepared for either.

[Page 344] WE find in the orations of Demoſthenes, a perpetual reference to this ſtate of manners. We find him exhorting the Athenians, not only to declare war, but to arm themſelves for the execution of their own military plans. We find that there was an order of military men, who eaſily paſſed from the ſervice of one ſtate to that of another; and who, when they were neglected at home, turned away to enterpriſes on their own account. There were not, perhaps, better warriors in any former age; but thoſe warriors were not attached to any ſtate; and the ſettled inhabitants of every city thought themſelves diſqualified for military ſervice. The diſcipline of armies was perhaps improved; but the vigour of nations was gone to decay. When Philip, or Alexander, defeated the Grecian armies, which were chiefly compoſed of ſoldiers of fortune, they found an eaſy conqueſt with the other inhabitants: and when the latter, afterwards ſupported by thoſe ſoldiers, invaded the Perſian empire, he ſeems to have left little martial ſpirit behind him; and by removing the military men, to have taken precaution enough, in his abſence, to ſecure his dominion over this mutinous and refractory people.

THE ſubdiviſion of arts and profeſſions, in certain examples, tends to improve the practice of them, and to promote their ends. By having ſeparated the arts of the clothier and the tanner, we are the better ſupplied with ſhoes and with cloth. But to ſeparate the arts which form the citizen and the ſtateſman, the arts of policy and war, is an attempt to diſmember the human character, and to deſtroy thoſe very arts we mean to [Page 345] improve. By this ſeparation, we in effect deprive a free people of what is neceſſary to their ſafety; or we prepare a defence againſt invaſions from abroad, which gives a proſpect of uſurpation, and threatens the eſtabliſhment of military government at home.

WE may be ſurpriſed to find the beginning of certain military inſtructions at Rome, referred to a time no earlier than that of the Cimbric war. It was then, we are told by Valerius Maximus, that Roman ſoldiers were made to learn from gladiators the uſe of a ſword: and the antagoniſts of Phyrrhus and of Hannibal were, by the account of this writer, ſtill in need of inſtruction in the firſt rudiments of their trade. They had already, by the order and choice of their incampments, impreſſed the Grecian invader with awe and reſpect; they had already, not by their victories, but by their national vigour and firmneſs, under repeated defeats, induced him to ſue for peace. But the haughty Roman, perhaps, knew the advantage of order and of union, without having been broke to the inferior arts of the mercenary ſoldier; and had the courage to face the enemies of his country, without having practiſed the uſe of his weapon under the fear of being whipped. He could ill be perſuaded, that a time might come, when refined and intelligent nations would make the art of war to conſiſt in a few technical forms; that citizens and ſoldiers might come to be diſtinguiſhed as much as women and men; that the citizen would become poſſeſſed of a property which he would not be able, or required, to defend; that the ſoldier would be appointed to keep for another what he would be taught to deſire, and what he [Page 346] would be enabled to ſeize for himſelf; that, in ſhort, one ſet of men were to have an intereſt in the preſervation of civil eſtabliſhments, without the power to defend them; that the other were to have this power, without either the inclination or the intereſt.

THIS people, however, by degrees came to put their military force on the very footing to which this deſcription alludes. Marius made a capital change in the manner of levying ſoldiers at Rome: He filled his legions with the mean and the indigent, who depended on military pay for ſubſiſtence; he created a force which reſted on mere diſcipline alone, and the ſkill of the gladiator; he taught his troops to employ their ſwords againſt the conſtitution of their country, and ſet the example of a practice which was ſoon adopted and improved by his ſucceſſors.

THE Romans only meant by their armies to incroach on the freedom of other nations, while they preſerved their own. They forgot, that in aſſembling ſoldiers of fortune, and in ſuffering any leader to be maſter of a diſciplined army, they actually reſigned their political rights, and ſuffered a maſter to ariſe for the ſtate. This people, in ſhort, whoſe ruling paſſion was depredation and conqueſt, periſhed by the recoil of an engine which they themſelves had erected againſt mankind.

THE boaſted refinements, then, of the poliſhed age, are not diveſted of danger. They open a door, perhaps, to diſaſter, as wide and acceſſible as any of thoſe they have ſhut. If they build walls [Page 347] and ramparts, they enervate the minds of thoſe who are placed to defend them; if they form diſciplined armies, they reduce the military ſpirit of entire nations; and by placing the ſword where they have given a diſtaſte to civil eſtabliſhments, they prepare for mankind the government of force.

IT is happy for the nations of Europe, that the diſparity between the ſoldier and the pacific citizen can never be ſo great as it became among the Greeks and the Romans. In the uſe of modern arms, the novice is made to learn, and to practiſe with eaſe, all that the veteran knows; and if to teach him were a matter of real difficulty, happy are they who are not deterred by ſuch difficulties, and who can diſcover the arts which tend to fortify and preſerve, not to enervate and ruin their country.

1.5.5. SECT. V.
Of National Waſte.

[Page 348]

THE ſtrength of nations conſiſts in the wealth, the numbers, and the character, of their people. The hiſtory of their progreſs from a ſtate of rudeneſs, is, for the moſt part, a detail of the ſtruggles they have maintained, and of the arts they have practiſed, to ſtrengthen, or to ſecure themſelves. Their conqueſts, their population, and their commerce, their civil and military arrangements, their ſkill in the conſtruction of weapons, and in the methods of attack and defence; the very diſtribution of taſks, whether in private buſineſs or in public affairs, either tend to beſtow, or promiſe to employ with advantage, the conſtituents of a national force, and the reſources of war.

IF we ſuppoſe, that together with theſe advantages, the military character of a people remains, or is improved, it muſt follow, that what is gained in civilization, is a real increaſe of ſtrength; and that the ruin of nations could never take its riſe from themſelves. Where ſtates have ſtopped ſhort in their progreſs, or have actually gone to decay, we may ſuſpect, that however diſpoſed to advance, they have found a limit, beyond which they could not proceed; or from a remiſſion of the national ſpirit, and a weakneſs of [Page 349] character, were unable to make the moſt of their reſources, and natural advantages. On this ſuppoſition, from being ſtationary, they may begin to relapſe, and by a retrograde motion, in a ſucceſſion of ages, arrive at a ſtate of greater weakneſs, than that which they quitted in the beginning of their progreſs; and with the appearance of better arts, and ſuperior conduct, expoſe themſelves to become a prey to barbarians, whom, in the attainment, or the height of their glory, they had eaſily baffled or deſpiſed.

WHATEVER may be the natural wealth of a people, or whatever may be the limits beyond which they cannot improve on their ſtock, it is probable, that no nation has ever reached thoſe limits, or has been able to poſtpone its misfortunes, and effects of miſconduct, until its fund of materials, and the fertility of its ſoil, were exhauſted, or the numbers of its people were greatly reduced. The ſame errors in policy, and weakneſs of manners, which prevent the proper uſe of reſources, likewiſe check their increaſe, or improvement.

THE wealth of the ſtate conſiſts in the ſortune of its members. The actual revenue of the ſtate is that ſhare of every private fortune, which the public has been accuſtomed to demand for national purpoſes. This revenue cannot be always proportioned to what may be ſuppoſed redundant in the private eſtate, but to what is, in ſome meaſure, thought ſo by the owner; and to what he may be made to ſpare, without intrenching on his manner of living, and without ſuſpending his projects of expence, or of commerce. It ſhould appear, [Page 350] therefore, that any immoderate increaſe of private expence is a prelude to national weakneſs: government, even while each of its ſubjects conſumes a princely eſtate, may be ſtraitened in point of revenue, and the paradox be explained by example, That the public is poor, while its members are rich.

WE are frequently led into error by miſtaking money for riches; we think that a people cannot be impoveriſhed by a waſte of Money which is ſpent among themſelves. The fact is, that men are impoveriſhed, only in two ways; either by having their gains ſuſpended, or by having their ſubſtance conſumed; and money expended at home, being circulated, and not conſumed, cannot, any more than the exchange of a tally, or a counter, among a certain number of hands, tend to diminiſh the wealth of the company among whom it is handed about. But while money circulates at home, the neceſſaries of life, which are the real conſtituents of wealth, may be idly conſumed; the induſtry which might be employed to increaſe the ſtock of a people, may be ſuſpended, or turned to abuſe.

GREAT armies, maintained either at home or abroad, without any national object, are ſo many mouths unneceſſarily opened to waſte the ſtores of the public, and ſo many hands with-held from the arts by which its profits are made. Unſucceſsful enterpriſes are ſo many ventures thrown away, and loſſes ſuſtained, proportioned to the capital employed in the ſervice. The Helvetii in order to invade the Roman province of Gaul, burnt their habitations, dropt their inſtruments of [Page 351] huſbandry, and conſumed, in one year, the ſavings of many. The enterpriſe failed of ſucceſs, and the nation was undone.

STATES have endeavoured, in ſome inſtances, by pawning their credit, inſtead of employing their capital, to diſguiſe the hazards they ran. They have found, in the loans they raiſed, a caſual reſource, which encouraged their enterpriſes. They have ſeemed, by their manner of erecting transferrable funds, to leave the capital for purpoſes of trade, in the hands of the ſubject, while it is actually expended by the government. They have, by theſe means proceeded to the execution of great national projects, without ſuſpending private induſtry, and have left future ages to anſwer, in part, for debts contracted with a view to future emolument. So far the expedient is plauſible, and appears to be juſt. The growing burden too, is thus gradually laid; and if a nation be to ſink in ſome future age, every miniſter hopes it may ſtill keep afloat in his own. But the meaſure, for this very reaſon, is, with all its advantages, extremely dangerous, in the hands of a precipitant and ambitious adminiſtration, regarding only the preſent occaſion, and imagining a ſtate to be inexhauſtible, while a capital can be borrowed, and the intereſt be paid.

WE are told of a nation, who, during a certain period, rivalled the glories of the ancient world, threw off the dominion of a maſter armed againſt them with the powers of a great kingdom, broke the yoke with which they had been oppreſſed, and almoſt within the courſe of a century, raiſed, by their induſtry and national vigour, a [Page 352] new and formidable power, which ſtruck the former potentates of Europe with awe and ſuſpenſe, and turned the badges of poverty with which they ſet out, into the enſigns of war and dominion. This end was attained by the great efforts of a ſpirit awaked by oppreſſion, by a ſucceſsful purſuit of national wealth, and by a rapid anticipation of future revenue. But this illuſtrious ſtate is ſuppoſed, not only in the language of a former ſection, to have preoccupied the buſineſs; they have ſequeſtered the inheritance of many ages to come.

GREAT national expence, however, does not imply the neceſſity of any national ſuffering. While revenue is applied with ſucceſs, to obtain ſome valuable end; the profits of every adventure, being more than ſufficient to repay its coſts, the public ſhould gain, and its reſources ſhould continue to multiply. But an expence, whether ſuſtained at home or abroad, whether a waſte of the preſent, or an anticipation of future, revenue, if it bring no proper return, is to be reckoned among the cauſes of national ruin.

Of Corruption and Political Slavery.

[Page 353]

1.6.1. SECT. I.
Of Corruption in general.

IF the fortune of nations, and their tendency to aggrandiſement, or to ruin, were to be eſtimated by merely balancing, on the principles of laſt ſection, articles of profit and loſs, every argument in politics would reſt on a compariſon of national expence with national gain; on a compariſon of the numbers who conſume, with thoſe who produce or amaſs the neceſſaries of life. The columns of the induſtrious, and the idle, would include all order of men; and the ſtate itſelf, being allowed as many magiſtrates, politicians, and warriors, as were barely ſufficient for its defence and its government, ſhould place, [Page 354] on the ſide of its loſs, every name that is ſupernumerary on the civil or the military liſt; all thoſe orders of men, who, by the poſſeſſion of fortune, ſubſiſt on the gains of others, and by the nicety of their choice, require a great expence of time and of labour, to ſupply their conſumption; all thoſe who are idly employed in the train of perſons of rank; all thoſe who are engaged in the profeſſions of law, phyſic, or divinity, together with all the learned, who do not, by their ſtudies, promote or improve the practice of ſome lucrative trade. The value of every perſon, in ſhort, ſhould be computed from his labour; and that of labour itſelf, from its tendency to procure and amaſs the means of ſubſiſtence. The arts employed on mere ſuperfluities ſhould be prohibited, except when their produce could be exchanged with foreign nations, for commodities that might be employed to maintain uſeful men for the public.

THESE appear to be the rules by which a miſer would examine the ſtate of his own affairs, or thoſe of his country; but ſchemes of perfect corruption are at leaſt as impracticable as ſchemes of perfect virtue. Men are not univerſally miſers; they will not be ſatisfied with the pleaſure of hoarding; they muſt be ſuffered to enjoy their wealth, in order that they may take the trouble of becoming rich. Property, in the common courſe of human affairs, is unequally divided: we are therefore obliged to ſuffer the wealthy to ſquander, that the poor may ſubſiſt; we are obliged to tolerate certain orders of men, who are above the neceſſity of labour, in order that, in their condition, there may be an object of ambition, and a rank to which the buſy aſpire. We are not only obliged to admit numbers, [Page 355] who, in ſtrict oeconomy, may be reckoned ſuperfluous, on the civil, the military, and the political liſt; but becauſe we are men, and prefer the occupation, improvement, and felicity of our nature, to its mere exiſtence, we muſt even wiſh, that as many members as poſſible, of every community, may be admitted to a ſhare of its defence and its government.

MEN, in fact, while they purſue in ſociety different objects, or ſeparate views, procure a wide diſtribution of power, and by a ſpecies of chance, arrive at a poſture for civil engagements, more favourable to human nature than what human wiſdom could ever calmly deviſe.

IF the ſtrength of a nation, in the mean time, conſiſts in the men on whom it may rely, and who are fortunately or wiſely combined for its preſervation, it follows, that manners are as important as either numbers or wealth; and that corruption is to be accounted a principal cauſe of national declenſion and ruin.

WHOEVER perceives what are the qualities of man in his excellence, may eaſily, by that ſtandard, diſtinguiſh his defects or corruptions. If an intelligent, a courageous, and an affectionate mind, conſtitutes the perfection of his nature, remarkable failings in any of thoſe particulars, muſt proportionally ſink or debaſe his character.

WE have obſerved, that it is the happineſs of the individual to make a right choice of his conduct; that this choice will lead him to loſe in [Page 356] ſociety the ſenſe of a perſonal intereſt; and, in the conſideration of what is due to the whole, to ſtifie thoſe anxieties which relate to himſelf as a part.

THE natural diſpoſition of man to humanity, and the warmth of his temper, may raiſe his character to this fortunate pitch. His elevation, in a great meaſure depends on the form of his ſociety; but he can, without incurring the charge of corruption, accommodate himſelf to great variations in the conſtitutions of government. The ſame integrity, and vigorous ſpirit, which, in democratical ſtates renders him tenacious of his equality, may, under ariſtocracy or monarchy, lead him to maintain the ſubordinations eſtabliſhed. He may entertain, towards the different ranks of men with whom he is yoked in the ſtate, maxims of reſpect and of candour: he may, in the choice of his actions, follow a principle of juſtice, and of honour, which the conſiderations of ſafety, preferment, or profit, cannot efface.

FROM our complaints of national depravity, it ſhould, notwithſtanding, appear, that whole bodies of men are ſometimes infected with an epidemical weakneſs of the head, or corruption of heart, by which they become unfit for the ſtations they occupy, and threaten the ſtates they compoſe, however flouriſhing, with a proſpect of decay, and of ruin.

A CHANGE of national manners for the worſe, may ariſe from a diſcontinuance of the ſcenes in which the talents of men were happily cultivated, and brought into exerciſe; or from a change in [Page 357] the prevailing opinions relating to the conſtituents of honour or of happineſs. When mere riches, or court-favour, are ſuppoſed to conſtitute rank; the mind is miſled from the conſideration of qualities on which it ought to rely. Magnanimity, courage, and the love of mankind, are ſacrificed to avarice and vanity, or ſuppreſſed under a ſenſe of dependence. The individual conſiders his community ſo far only as it can be rendered ſubſervient to his perſonal advancement or profit: he ſtates himſelf in competition with his fellow-creatures; and, urged by the paſſions of emulation, of fear and jealouſy, of envy and malice, he follows the maxims of an animal deſtined to preſerve his ſeparate exiſtence, and to indulge his caprice or his appetite, at the expence of his ſpecies.

ON this corrupt foundation, men become either rapacious, deceitful, and violent, ready to treſpaſs on the rights of others; or ſervile, mercenary, and baſe, prepared to relinquiſh their own. Talents, capacity, and force of mind, poſſeſſed by a perſon of the firſt deſcription, ſerve to plunge him the deeper in miſery, and to ſharpen the agony of cruel paſſions; which lead him to wreak on his fellow-creatures the torments that prey on himſelf. To a perſon of the ſecond, imagination, and reaſon itſelf, only ſerve to point out falſe objects of fear, or deſire, and to multiply the ſubjects of diſappointment, and of momentary joy. In either caſe, and whether we ſuppoſe that corrupt men are urged by covetouſneſs, or betrayed by fear, and without ſpecifying the crimes which from either diſpoſition they are prepared to commit, we may ſafely affirm, with Socrates, ‘That [Page 358] every maſter ſhould pray he may not meet with ſuch a ſlave; and every ſuch perſon, being unfit for liberty, ſhould implore that he may meet with a merciful maſter.’

MAN, under this meaſure of corruption, although he may be bought for a ſlave by thoſe who know how to turn his faculties and his labour to profit; and although, when kept under proper reſtraints, his neighbourhood may be convenient or uſeful; yet is certainly unfit to act on the footing of a liberal combination or concert with his fellow-creatures: his mind is not addicted to friendſhip or confidence; he is not willing to act for the preſervation of others, nor deſerves that any other ſhould hazard his own ſafety for his.

THE actual character of mankind, mean-time, in the worſt, as well as the beſt condition, is undoubtedly mixed: and nations of the beſt deſcription are greatly obliged for their preſervation, not only to the good diſpoſition of their members, but likewiſe to thoſe political inſtitutions, by which the violent are reſtrained from the commiſſion of crimes, and the cowardly, or the ſelfiſh, are made to contribute their part to the public defence or proſperity. By means of ſuch inſtitutions, and the wiſe precautions of government, nations are enabled to ſubſiſt, and even to proſper, under very different degrees of corruption, or of public integrity.

SO long as the majority of a people is ſuppoſed to act on maxims of probity, the example of the good, and even the caution of the bad, give a general appearance of integrity and of innocence [Page 359] Where men are to one another objects of affection and of confidence, where they are generally diſpoſed not to offend, government may be remiſs; and every perſon may be treated as innocent, till he is found to be guilty. As the ſubject in this caſe does not hear of the crimes, ſo he need not be told of the puniſhments inflicted on perſons of a different character. But where the manners of a people are conſiderably changed for the worſe, every ſubject muſt ſtand on his guard, and government itſelf muſt act on ſuitable maxims of fear and diſtruſt. The individual, no longer fit to be indulged in his pretenſions to perſonal conſideration, independence, or freedom, each of which he would turn to abuſe, muſt be taught, by external force, and from motives of fear, to counterfeit thoſe effects of innocence, and of duty, to which he is not diſpoſed: he muſt be reſerred to the whip, or the gibbet, for arguments in ſupport of a caution, which the ſtate now requires him to aſſume, on a ſuppoſition that he is inſenſible to the motives which recommend the practice of virtue.

THE rules of deſpotiſm are made for the government of corrupted men. They were indeed followed on ſome remarkable occaſions, even under the Roman common-wealth; and the bloody axe, to terrify the citizen from his crimes, and to repel the caſual and temporary irruptions of vice, was repeatedly committed to the arbitrary will of the dictator. They were finally eſtabliſhed on the ruins of the republic itſelf when either the people became too corrupted for freedom, or when the magiſtrate became too corrupted to reſign his dictatorial power. This ſpecies of government comes naturally in the termination of a continued [Page 360] and growing corruption; but has no doubt, in ſome inſtances, come too ſoon, and has ſacrificed remains of virtue, that deſerved a better fate, to the jealouſy of tyrants, who were in haſte to augment their power. This method of government cannot, in ſuch caſes, fail to introduce that meaſure of corruption, againſt whoſe external effects it is deſired as a remedy. When fear is ſuggeſted as the only motive to duty, every heart becomes rapacious or baſe. And this medicine, if applied to a healthy body, is ſure to create the diſtemper it is deſtined to cure.

THIS is the manner of government into which the covetous, and the arrogant, to ſatiate their unhappy deſires, would hurry their fellow-creatures: it is a manner of government to which the timorous and the ſervile ſubmit at diſcretion; and when theſe characters of the rapacious and the timid divide mankind, even the virtues of Antoninus or Trajan, can do no more than apply, with candour and with vigour, the whip and the ſword; and endeavour, by the hopes of reward, or the fear of puniſhment, to find a ſpeedy and a temporary cure for the crimes, or the imbecilities of men.

OTHER ſtates may be more or leſs corrupted: this has corruption for its baſis. Here juſtice may ſometimes direct the arm of the deſpotical ſovereign; but the name of juſtice is moſt commonly employed to ſignify the intereſt, or the caprice, of a reigning power. Human ſociety, ſuſceptible of ſuch a variety of forms, here finds the ſimpleſt of all. The toils and poſſeſſions of many are deſtined to aſſwage the paſſions of one [Page 361] or a few; and the only parties that remain among mankind, are the oppreſſor who demands, and the oppreſſed who dare not refuſe.

NATIONS, while they were intitled to a milder fate, as in the caſe of the Greeks, repeatedly conquered, have been reduced to this condition by military force. They have reached it too in the maturity of their own depravations; when, like the Romans, returned from the conqueſt, and loaded with the ſpoils, of the world, they gave looſe to ſaction, and to crimes too bold and too frequent for the correction of ordinary government; and when the ſword of juſtice, dropping with blood, and perpetually required to ſuppreſs accumulating diſorders on every ſide, could no longer await the delays and precautions of an adminiſtration fettered by laws.

IT is, however, well known from the hiſtory of mankind, that corruption of this, or of any other degree, is not peculiar to nations in their decline, or in the reſult of ſignal proſperity, and great advances in the arts of commerce. The bands of ſociety, indeed, in ſmall and infant eſtabliſhments, are generally ſtrong; and their ſubjects, either by an ardent devotion to their own tribe, or a vehement animoſity againſt enemies, and by a vigorous courage founded on both, are well qualified to urge, or to ſuſtain, the fortune of a growing community. But the ſavage, and the barbarian, have given, notwithſtanding, in the caſe of entire nations, ſome examples of a weak and timorous character*. They have in more inſtances, fallen [Page 362] into that ſpecies of corruption which we have already deſcribed in treating of barbarous nations; they have made rapine their trade, not merely as a ſpecies of warfare, or with a view to enrich their community, but to poſſeſs, in property, what they learned to prefer even to the ties of affection or of blood.

IN the loweſt ſtate of commercial arts, the paſſions for wealth, and for dominion, have exhibited ſcenes of oppreſſion, or ſervility, which the moſt finiſhed corruption of the arrogant, the cowardly, and the mercenary, founded on the deſire of procuring, or the fear of loſing, a fortune, could not exceed. In ſuch caſes, the vices of men, unreſtrained by forms, and unawed by police, are ſuffered to riot at large, and to produce their entire effects. Parties accordingly unite, or ſeparate, on the maxims of a gang of robbers; they ſacrifice to intereſt the tendereſt affections of human nature. The parent ſupplies the market for ſlaves, even by the ſale of his own children; the cottage ceaſes to be a ſanctuary for the weak and the defenceleſs ſtranger; and rites of hoſpitality, often ſo ſacred among nations in their primitive ſtate, come to be violated, like every other tie of humanity, without fear or remorſe*.

NATIONS, which in later periods of their hiſtory became eminent for civil wiſdom and juſtice, had, perhaps, in a former age, paroxyſms of lawleſs diſorder, to which this deſcription might in part be applied. The very policy by which they arrived at their degree of national felicity, was deviſed as a remedy for outrageous abuſe. The [Page 363] eſtabliſhment of order was dated from the commiſſion of rapes and murders; indignation, and private revenge, were the principles on which nations proceeded to the expulſion of tyrants, to the emancipation of mankind, and the full explanation of their political rights.

DEFECTS of government, and of law, may be in ſome caſes conſidered as a ſymptom of innocence and of virtue. But where power is already eſtabliſhed, where the ſtrong are unwilling to ſuffer reſtraint, or the weak unable to find a protection, the defects of law are marks of the moſt perfect corruption.

AMONG rude nations, government is often defective; both becauſe men are not yet acquainted with all the evils for which poliſhed nations have endeavoured to find a redreſs; and becauſe, even where evils of the moſt flagrant nature have long afflicted the peace of ſociety, they have not yet been able to apply the cure. In the progreſs of civilization, new diſtempers break forth, and new remedies are applied: but the remedy is not always applied the moment the diſtemper appears: and laws, though ſuggeſted by the commiſſion of crimes, are not the ſymptom of a recent corruption, but of a deſire to find a remedy that may cure, perhaps, ſome inveterate evil which has long afflicted the ſtate.

THERE are corruptions, however, under which men ſtill poſſeſs the vigour and the reſolution to correct themſelves. Such are the violence and the outrage which accompany the colliſion of fierce and daring ſpirits, occupied in the ſtruggles which [Page 364] ſometimes precede the dawn of civil and commercial improvements In ſuch caſes, men have frequently diſcovered a remedy for evils, of which their own miſguided impetuoſity, and ſuperior force of mind, were the principal cauſes. But if to a depraved diſpoſition, we ſuppoſe to be joined a weakneſs of ſpirit; if to an admiration, and deſire of riches, be joined an averſion to danger or buſineſs; if thoſe orders of men whoſe valour is required by the public, ceaſe to be brave; if the members of ſociety, in general, have not thoſe perſonal qualities which are required to fill the ſtations of equality, or of honour, to which they are invited by the forms of the ſtate; they muſt ſink to a depth from which their imbecility, even more than their depraved inclinations, may prevent their riſe.

1.6.2. SECT II.
Of Luxury.

[Page 365]

WE are far from being agreed on the application of the term luxury, or on that degree of its meaning which is conſiſtent with national proſperity, or with the moral rectitude of our nature. It is ſometimes employed to ſignify a manner of life which we think neceſſary to civilization, and even to happineſs. It is, in our panegyric of poliſhed ages, the parent of arts, the ſupport of commerce, and the miniſter of national greatneſs, and of opulence. It is, in our cenſure of degenerate manners, the ſource of corruption, and the preſage of national declenſion and ruin. It is admired, and it is blamed; it is treated as ornamental and uſeful; and it is proſcribed as a vice.

WITH all this diverſity in our judgements, we are generally uniform in employing the term to ſignify that complicated apparatus which mankind deviſe for the eaſe and convenience of life. Their buildings, furniture, equipage, cloathing, train of domeſtics, refinement of the table, and, in general, all that aſſemblage which is rather intended to pleaſe the fancy, than to obviate real wants, and which is rather ornamental than uſeful.

[Page 366] WHEN we are diſpoſed, therefore, under the appellation of luxury, to rank the enjoyment of of theſe things among the vices, we either tacitly refer to the habits of ſenſuality, debauchery, prodigality, vanity, and arrogance, with which the poſſeſſion of high fortune is ſometimes attended; or we apprehend a certain meaſure of what is neceſſary to human life, beyond which all enjoyments are ſuppoſed to be exceſſive and vicious. When, on the contrary, luxury is made an article of national luſtre and felicity, we only think of it as an innocent conſequence of the unequal diſtribution of wealth, and as a method by which different ranks are rendered mutually dependent, and mutually uſeful. The poor are made to practiſe arts, and the rich to reward them. The public itſelf is made a gainer by what ſeems to waſte its ſtock, and it receives a perpetual increaſe of wealth, from the influence of thoſe growing appetites, and delicate taſtes, which ſeem to menace conſumption and ruin.

IT is certain, that we muſt either, together with the commercial arts, ſuffer their fruits to be enjoyed, and even, in ſome meaſure, admired; or, like the Spartans, prohibit the art itſelf, while we are afraid of its conſequences, or while we think that the conveniencies it brings exceed what nature requires.

WE may propoſe to ſtop the advancement of arts at any ſtage of their progreſs, and ſtill incur the cenſure of luxury from thoſe who have not advanced ſo far. The houſe-builder and the carpenter at Sparta were limited to the uſe of the [Page 367] axe and the ſaw; but a Spartan cottage might have paſſed for a palace in Thrace: and if the diſpute were to turn on the knowledge of what is phyſically neceſſary to the preſervation of human life, as the ſtandard of what is morally lawful, the faculties of phyſic, as well as of morality, would probably divide on the ſubject, and leave every individual, as at preſent, to find ſome rule for himſelf. The caſuiſt, for the moſt part, conſiders the practice of his own age and condition, as a ſtandard for mankind. If in one age or condition, he condemn the uſe of a coach, in another he would have no leſs cenſured the wearing of ſhoes; and the very perſon who exclaims againſt the firſt, would probably not have ſpared the ſecond, if it had not been already familiar in ages before his own. A cenſor born in a cottage, and accuſtomed to ſleep upon ſtraw, does not propoſe that men ſhould return to the woods and the caves for ſhelter; he admits the reaſonableneſs and the utility of what is already famil [...]r; and apprehends an exceſs and corruption, only in the neweſt refinement of the riſing generation.

THE clergy of Europe have preached ſucceſſively againſt every new faſhion, and every innovation in dreſs. The modes of youth are the ſubject of cenſure to the old; and modes of the laſt age, in their turn, are matter of ridicule to the flippant, and the young. Of this there is not always a better account to be given, than that the old are diſpoſed to be ſevere, and the young to be merry.

[Page 368] THE argument againſt many of the conveniencies of life, drawn from the mere conſideration of their not being neceſſary, was equally proper in the mouth of the ſavage, who diſſuaded from the firſt applications of induſtry, as it is in that of the moraliſt, who inſiſts on the vanity of the laſt. ‘Our anceſtors,’ he might ſay, ‘found their dwelling under this rock; they gathered their food in the foreſt; they allayed their thirſt from the fountain; and they were clothed in the ſpoils of the beaſt they had ſlain. Why ſhould we indulge a falſe delicacy, or require from the earth fruits which ſhe is not accuſtomed to yield? The bow of our fathers is already too ſtrong for our arms; and the wild beaſt begins to lord it in the woods.’

THUS the moraliſt may have found, in the proceedings of every age, thoſe topics of blame, from which he is ſo much diſpoſed to arraign the manners of his own; and our embarraſſment on the ſubject, is, perhaps, but a part of that general perplexity which we undergo, in trying to define moral characters by external circumſtances, which may, or may not, be attended with faults in the mind and the heart. One man finds a vice in the wearing of linen; another does not, unleſs the fabric be fine; and if, mean-time, it be true, that a perſon may be dreſſed in manufacture, either courſe or fine; that he may ſleep in the fields, or lodge in a palace; tread upon carpet, or plant his foot on the ground; while the mind either retains, or has loſt, its penetration, and its vigour, and the heart its affection to mankind, it is vain, under any ſuch circumſtance, to ſeek for the diſtinctions [Page 369] of virtue and vice, or to tax the poliſhed citizen with weakneſs for any part of his equipage, or for his wearing a ſur, perhaps, in which ſome ſavage was dreſſed before him. Vanity is not diſtinguiſhed by any peculiar ſpecies of dreſs. It is betrayed by the Indian in the phantaſtic aſſortments of his plumes, his ſhells, his party-coloured furs, and in the time he beſtows at the glaſs and the toilet. Its projects in the woods and in the town are the ſame: in the one, it ſeeks, with the viſage bedaubed, and with teeth artificially ſtained, for that admiration, which it courts in the other with a gilded equipage, and liveries of ſtate.

POLISHED nations, in their progreſs, often come to ſurpaſs the rude in moderation, and ſeverity of manners. ‘The Greek,’ ſays Thucydides, ‘not long ago, like barbarians, wore golden ſpangles in the hair, and went armed in times of peace.’ Simplicity of dreſs in this people, became a mark of politeneſs: and the mere materials with which the body is nouriſhed or clothed, are probably of little conſequence to any people. We muſt look for the characters of men in the qualities of the mind, not in the ſpecies of their food, or in the mode of their apparel. What are now the ornaments of the grave, and ſevere; what is owned to be a real conveniency, were once the ſopperies of youth, or were deviſed to pleaſe the effeminate. The new faſhion, indeed, is often the mark of the coxcomb; but we frequently change our faſhions, without increaſing the meaſures of our vanity or folly.

ARE the apprehenſions of the ſevere, therefore, in every age, equally groundleſs and unreaſonable [Page 370] Are we never to dread any error in the article of a refinement beſtowed on the means of ſubſiſtence, or the conveniencies of life? The fact is, that men are perpetually expoſed to the commiſſion of error in this article, not merely where they are accuſtomed to high meaſures of accommodation, or to any particular ſpecies of food, but where-ever theſe objects, in general, may come to be preferred to friends, to a country, or to mankind; they actually commit ſuch error, whereever they admire paultry diſtinctions or frivolous advantages; where-ever they ſhrink from ſmall inconveniencies, and are incapable of diſcharging their duty with vigour. The uſe of morality on this ſubject, is not to limit men to any particular ſpecies of lodging, diet, or cloaths; but to prevent their conſidering theſe conveniencies as the principal objects of human life. And if we are aſked, Where the purſuit of trifling accommodations ſhould ſtop, in order that a man may devote himſelf entirely to the higher engagements of life? we may anſwer, That it ſhould ſtop where it is. This was the rule followed at Sparta: The object of the rule was, to preſerve the heart entire for the public, and to occupy men in cultivating their own nature, not in accumulating wealth, and external conveniencies. It was not expected otherwiſe, that the axe or the ſaw ſhould be attended with greater political advantage, than the plane and the chiſel. When Cato walked the ſtreets of Rome without his robe, and without ſhoes, he did ſo, moſt probably, in contempt of what his countrymen were ſo prone to admire; not in hopes of finding a virtue in one ſpecies of dreſs, or a vice in another.

[Page 371] LUXURY, therefore, conſidered as a predilection in favour of the objects of vanity, and the coſtly materials of pleaſure, is ruinous to the human character; conſidered as the mere uſe of accommodations and conveniencies which the age has procured, rather depends on the progreſs which the mechanical arts have made, and on the degree in which the fortunes of men are unequally parcelled, than on the diſpoſitions of particular men either to vice or to virtue.

DIFFERENT meaſures of luxury are, however, variouſly ſuited to different conſtitutions of government. The advancement of arts ſuppoſes an unequal diſtribution of fortune; and the means of diſtinction they bring, ſerve to render the ſeparation of ranks more ſenſible. Luxury is, upon this account, apart from all its moral effects, adverſe to the form of democratical government; and in any ſtate of ſociety, can be ſafely admitted in that degree only in which the members of the community are ſuppoſed of unequal rank, and conſtitute public order by means of a regular ſubordination. High degrees of it appear ſalutary, and even neceſſary, in monarchical and mixed governments; where, beſides the encouragement to arts and commerce, it ſerves to give luſtre to thoſe hereditary or conſtitutional dignities which have a place of importance in the political ſyſtem. Whether even here luxury leads to abuſe peculiar to ages of high refinement and opulence, we ſhall proceed to conſider in the following ſections.

1.6.3. SECT. III.
Of the Corruption incident to Poliſhed Nations.

[Page 372]

LUXURY and corruption are frequently coupled together, and even paſs for ſynonymous terms. But in order to avoid any diſpute about words, by the firſt we may underſtand that accumulation of wealth, and that refinement on the ways of enjoying it, which are the objects of induſtry, or the fruits of mechanic and commercial arts: And by the ſecond a real weakneſs, or depravity of the human character, which may accompany any ſtate of thoſe arts, and be found under any external circumſtances or condition whatſoever. It remains to inquire, What are the corruptions incident to poliſhed nations, arrived at certain meaſures of luxury, and poſſeſſed of certain advantages, in which they are generally ſuppoſed to excel?

WE need not have recourſe to a parallel between the manners of entire nations, in the extremes of civilization and rudeneſs, in order to be ſatisfied, that the vices of men are not proportioned to their fortunes; or that the habits of avarice, or of ſenſuality, are not founded on any certain meaſures of wealth, or determinate kind of enjoyment. Where the ſituations of particular men are varied as much by their perſonal ſtations, as they can be by the ſtate of national refinements, the ſame paſſions for intereſt, or pleaſure, prevail in every condition. They ariſe from temperament, [Page 373] or an acquired admiration of property; not from any particular manner of life in which the parties are engaged, nor from any particular ſpecies of property, which may have occupied their cares and their wiſhes.

TEMPERANCE and moderation are, at leaſt. as frequent among thoſe whom we call the ſuperior, as they are among the lower claſſes of men; and however we may affix the character of ſobriety to mere cheapneſs of diet, and other accommodations with which any particular age, or rank of men, appear to be contented, it is well known, that coſtly materials are not neceſſary to conſtitute a debauch, nor profligacy leſs frequent under the thatched roof, than under the lofty ceiling. Men grow equally familiar with different conditions, receive equal pleaſure, and are equally allured to ſenſuality, in the palace, and in the cave. Their acquiring in either habits of intemperance or ſloth, depends on the remiſſion of other purſuits, and on the diſtaſte of the mind to other engagements. If the affections of the heart be awake, and the paſſions of love, admiration, or anger, be kindled, the coſtly furniture of the palace, as well as the homely accommodations of the cottage, are neglected: and men, when rouſed, reject their repoſe; or, when wearied, embrace it alike on the ſilken bed, or on the couch of ſtraw.

WE are not, however, from hence to conclude, that luxury, with all its concomitant circumſtances, which either ſerve to favour its increaſe, or which, in the arrangements of civil ſociety, follow it as conſequences, can have no effect to the diſadvantage of national manners. If that reſpite from [Page 372] [...] [Page 373] [...] [Page 374] public dangers and troubles which gives a leiſure for the practice of commercial arts, be continued, or increaſed, into a diſuſe of national efforts; if the individual, not called to unite with his country, be left to purſue his private advantage; we may find him become effeminate, mercenary, and ſenſual; not becauſe pleaſures and profits are become more alluring, but becauſe he has fewer calls to attend to other objects; and becauſe he has more encouragement to ſtudy his perſonal advantages, and purſue his ſeparate intereſts.

IF the diſparities of rank and fortune which are neceſſary to the purſuit or enjoyment of luxury, introduce falſe grounds of precedency and eſtimation; if, on the mere conſiderations of being rich or poor, one order of men are, in their own apprehenſion, elevated, another debaſed; if one be criminally proud, another meanly dejected; and every rank in its place, like the tyrant, who thinks that nations are made for himſelf, be diſpoſed to aſſume on the rights of mankind: although, upon the compariſon, the higher order may be leaſt corrupted; or from education, and a ſenſe of perſonal dignity, have moſt good qualitles remaining; yet the one becoming mercenary and ſervile; the other imperious and arrogant; both regardleſs of juſtice, and of merit; the whole maſs is corrupted, and the manners of a ſociety changed for the worſe, in proportion as its members ceaſe to act on principles of equality, independence, or freedom.

UPON this view, and conſidering the merits of men in the abſtract, a mere change from the habits of a republic to thoſe of a monarchy; [Page 375] from the love of equality, to the ſenſe of a ſubordination founded on birth, titles, and fortune, is a ſpecies of corruption to mankind. But this degree of corruption is ſtill conſiſtent with the ſafety and proſperity of ſome nations; it admits of a vigorous courage, by which the rights of individuals, and of kingdoms, may be long preſerved.

UNDER the form of monarchy, while yet in its vigour, ſuperior fortune is, indeed, one mark by which the different orders of men are diſtinguiſhed; but there are ſome other ingredients, without which wealth is not admitted as a foundation of precedency, and in favour of which it is often deſpiſed, and laviſhed away. Such are birth and titles, the reputation of courage, courtly manners, and a certain elevation of mind. If we ſuppoſe, that theſe diſtinctions are forgotten, and nobility itſelf only to be known by the ſumptuous retinue which money alone may procure; and by a laviſh expence, which the more recent fortunes can generally beſt ſuſtain; luxury muſt then be allowed to corrupt the monarchical as much as the republican ſtate, and to introduce a fatal diſſolution of manners, under which men of every condition, although they are eager to acquire, or to diſplay their wealth, have no remains of real ambition. They have neither the elevation of nobles, nor the fidelity of ſubjects; they have changed into effeminate vanity, that ſenſe of honour which gave rules to the perſonal courage; and into a ſervile baſeneſs, that loyalty, which bound each in his place, to his immediate ſuperior, and the whole to the throne.

[Page 376] NATIONS are moſt expoſed to corruption from this quarter, when the mechanical arts, being greatly advanced, furniſh numberleſs articles, to be applied in ornament to the perſon, in furniture, entertainment, or equipage; when ſuch articles as the rich alone can procure are admired; and when conſideration, precedence, and rank, are accordingly made to depend on fortune.

IN a more rude ſtate of the arts, although wealth be unequally divided, the opulent can amaſs only the ſimple means of ſubſiſtence: They can only fill the granary, and furniſh the ſtall; reap from more extended fields, and drive their herds over a larger paſture. To enjoy their magnificence they muſt live in a croud; and to ſecure their poſſeſſions, they muſt be surrounded with friends that eſpouſe their quarrels. Their honours, as well as their ſafety, conſiſt in the numbers who attend them; and their perſonal diſtinctions are taken from their liberality, and ſuppoſed elevation of mind. In this manner, the poſſeſſion of riches ſerves only to make the owner aſſume a character of magnanimity, to become the guardian of numbers, rr the public object of reſpect and affection. But when the bulky conſtituents of wealth, and of ruſtic magnificence, can be exchanged for refinements; and when the produce of the ſoil may be turned into equipage, and mere decoration; when the combination of many is no longer required for perſonal ſafety; the maſter may become the ſole conſumer of his own eſtate: he may refer the uſe of every ſubject to himſelf; he may employ the materials of generoſity to feed a perſonal vanity, or to indulge a ſickly and effeminate fancy, [Page 377] which has learned to enumerate the trappings of weakneſs or folly among the neceſſaries of life.

THE Perſian ſatrape, we are told, when he ſaw the King of Sparta at the place of their conference, ſtretched on the graſs with his ſoldiers, bluſhed at the proviſion he had made for the accommodation of his own perſon: he ordered the furs and the carpets to be withdrawn; he felt his own inferiority; and recollected, that he was to treat with a man, not to vie with a pageant in coſtly attire and magnificence.

WHEN, amidſt circumſtances that make no trial of the virtues or talents of men, we have been accuſtomed to the air of ſuperiority, which people of fortune derive from their retinue, we are apt to loſe every ſenſe of diſtinction ariſing from merit, or even from abilities. We rate our fellow-citizens by the figure they are able to make; by their buildings, their dreſs, their equipage, and the train of their followers. All theſe circumſtances make a part in our eſtimate of what is excellent; and if the maſter himſelf is known to be a pageant in the midſt of his fortune, we nevertheleſs pay our court to his ſtation, and look up with an envious, ſervile, or dejected mind, to what is, in itſelf, ſcarcely fit to amuſe children; though, when it is worn as a badge of diſtinction, it inflames the ambition of thoſe we call the great, and ſtrikes the multitude with awe and reſpect.

WE judge of entire nations by the productions of a few mechanical arts, and think we are talking of men, while we are boaſting of their eſtates, their dreſs, and their palaces. The ſenſe in which [Page 378] we apply the terms, great, and noble, high rank, and high life, ſhew, that we have, on ſuch occaſions, transferred the idea of perfection from the character to the equipage; and that excellence itſelf is, in our eſteem, a mere pageant, adorned at a great expence, by the labours of many workmen.

TO thoſe who overlook the ſubtile tranſitions of the imagination, it might appear, ſince wealth can do no more than furniſh the means of ſubſiſtence, and purchaſe animal pleaſures, that covetouſneſs, and venality itſelf, ſhould keep pace with our fears of want, or with our appetite for ſenſual enjoyments; and that where the appetite is ſatiated, and the fear of want is removed, the mind ſhould be at eaſe on the ſubject of fortune. But they are not the mere pleaſures that riches procure, nor the choice of viands which cover the board of the wealthy, that inflame the paſſions of the covetous and the mercenary. Nature is eaſily ſatisfied in all her enjoyments. It is an opinion of eminence, connected with fortune; it is a ſenſe of debaſement attending on poverty, which renders us blind to every advantage, but that of the rich; and inſenſible to every diſgrace, but that of the poor. It is this unhappy apprehenſion, that occaſionally prepares us for the deſertion of every duty, for a ſubmiſſion to every indignity, and for the commiſſion of every crime that can be accompliſhed in ſafety.

AURENGZEBE was not more renowned for ſobriety in his private ſtation, and in the conduct of a ſuppoſed diſſimulation, by which he aſpired to ſovereign power, than he continued to be, even [Page 379] on the throne of Indoſtan. Simple, abſtinent, and ſevere in his diet, and other pleaſures, he ſtill led the life of a hermit, and occupied his time with a ſeemingly painful application to the affairs of a great empire*. He quitted a ſtation in which, if pleaſure had been his object, he might have indulged his ſenſuality without reſerve; he made his way to a ſcene of diſquietude and care; he aimed at the ſummit of human greatneſs, in the poſſeſſion of imperial fortune, not at the gratifications of animal appetite, or the enjoyment of eaſe. Superior to ſenſual pleaſure, as well as to the feelings of nature, he dethroned his father, and he murdered his brothers, that he might roll on a carriage incruſted with diamond and pearl; that his elephants, his camels, and his horſes, on the march, might form a line extending many leagues; might preſent a glittering harneſs to the ſun; and loaded with treaſure, uſher to the view of an abject and admiring croud, that awful majeſty, in whoſe preſence they were to ſtrike the forehead on the ground, and be overwhelmed with the ſenſe of his greatneſs, and with that of their own debaſement.

AS theſe are the objects which prompt the deſire of dominion, and excite the ambitious to aim at the maſtery of their fellow-creatures; ſo they inſpire the ordinary race of men with a ſenſe of infirmity and meanneſs, that prepares them to ſuffer indignities, and to become the property of perſons, whom they conſider as of a rank and a nature ſo much ſuperior to their own.

[Page 380] THE chains of perpetual ſlavery, accordingly, appear to be rivetted in the Eaſt, no leſs by the pageantry which is made to accompany the poſſeſſion of power, than they are by the fears of the ſword, and the terrors of a military execution. In the Weſt, as well as the Eaſt, we are willing to bow to the ſplendid equipage, and ſtand at an awful diſtance from the pomp of a princely eſtate. We too, may be terrified by the frowns, or won by the ſmiles, of thoſe whoſe favour is riches and honour, and whoſe diſpleaſure is poverty and neglect. We too may overlook the honours of the human ſoul, from an admiration of the pageantries that accompany fortune. The proceſſion of elephants harneſſed with gold might dazzle into ſlaves, the people who derive corruption and weakneſs from the effect of their own arts and contrivances, as well as thoſe who inherit ſervility from their anceſtors, and are enfeebled by their natural temperament, and the enervating charms of their ſoil, and their climate.

IT appears, therefore, that although the mere uſe of mateeials which conſtitute luxury, may be diſtinguiſhed from actual vice; yet nations under a high ſtate of the commercial arts, are expoſed to corruption, by their admitting wealth, unſupported by perſonal elevation and virtue, as the great foundation of diſtinction, and by having their attention turned on the ſide of intereſt, as the road to conſideration and honour.

WITH this effect, luxury may ſerve to corrupt democratical ſtates, by introducing a ſpecies [Page 381] of monarchical ſubordination, without that ſenſe of high birth and hereditary honours which render the boundaries of rank fixed and determinate, and which teach men to act in their ſtations with force and propriety. It may prove the occaſion of political corruption, even in monarchical governments, by drawing reſpect towards mere wealth; by caſting a ſhade on the luſtre of perſonal qualities, or family-diſtinctions; and by infecting all orders of men, with equal venality, ſervility, and cowardice.

1.6.4. SECT. IV.
The ſame ſubject continued.

[Page 382]

THE increaſing regard with which men appear, in the progreſs of commercial arts, to ſtudy their profit, or the delicacy with which they refine on their pleaſures; even induſtry itſelf, or the habit of application to a tedious employment, in which no honours are won, may, perhaps, be conſidered as indications of a growing attention to intereſt, or of effeminacy, contracted in the enjoyment of eaſe and conveniency. Every ſucceſſive art, by which the individual is taught to improve on his fortune, is, in reality, an addition to his private engagements, and a new avocation of his mind from the public.

CORRUPTION, however, does not ariſe from the abuſe of commercial arts alone; it requires the aid of political ſituation; and is not produced by the objects that occupy a ſordid and a mercenary ſpirit, without the aid of circumſtances that enable men to indulge in ſafety any mean diſpoſition they have acquired.

PROVIDENCE has fitted mankind for the higher engagements which they are ſometimes obliged to fulfil; and it is in the midſt of ſuch engagements that they are moſt likely to acquire or to preſerve their virtues. The habits of a vigorous [Page 383] mind are formed in contending with difficulties, not in enjoying the repoſe of a pacific ſtation; penetration and wiſdom are the fruits of experience, not the leſſons of retirement and leiſure; ardour and generoſity are the qualities of a mind rouſed and animated in the conduct of ſcenes that engage the heart, not the gifts of reflection or knowledge. The mere intermiſſion of national and political efforts is, notwithſtanding, ſometimes miſtaken for public good; and there is no miſtake more likely to foſter the vices, or to flatter the weakneſs, of feeble and intereſted men.

IF the ordinary arts of policy, or rather, if a growing indifference to objects of a public nature, ſhould prevail, and, under any free conſtitution, put an end to thoſe diſputes of party, and ſilence that noiſe of diſſenſion, which generally accompany the exerciſe of freedom, we may venture to prognoſticate corruption to the national manners, as well as remiſſneſs to the national ſpirit. The period is come, when, no engagement remaining on the part of the public, private intereſt, and animal pleaſure, become the ſovereign objects of care. When men, being relieved from the preſſure of great occaſions, beſtow their attention on trifles; and having carried what they are pleaſed to call ſenſibility and delicacy, on the ſubject of eaſe or moleſtation, as far as real weakneſs or folly can go, have recourſe to affectation, in order to enhance the pretended demands, and accumulate the anxieties, of a ſickly fancy, and enfeebled mind.

IN this condition, mankind generally flatter their own imbecility under the name of politeneſs. They are perſuaded, that the celebrated ardour, [Page 384] generoſity, and fortitude, of former ages, bordered on frenzy, or were the mere effects of neceſſity, on men who had not the means of enjoying their eaſe, or their pleaſure. They congratulate themſelves on having eſcaped the ſtorm which required the exerciſe of ſuch arduous virtues; and with that vanity which accompanies the human race in their meaneſt condition, they boaſt of a ſcene of affectation, of languor, or of folly, as the ſtandard of human felicity, and as furniſhing the propereſt exerciſe of a rational nature.

IT is none of the leaſt menacing ſymptoms of an age prone to degeneracy, that the minds of men become perplexed in the diſcernment of merit, as much as the ſpirit becomes enfeebled in conduct, and the heart miſled in the choice of its objects. The care of mere fortune is ſuppoſed to conſtitute wiſdom; retirement from public affairs, and real indifference to mankind, receive the applauſes of moderation and virtue.

GREAT fortitude, and elevation of mind, have not always, indeed, been employed in the attainment of valuable ends; but they are always reſpectable, and they are always neceſſary when we would act for the good of mankind, in any of the more arduous ſtations of life. While, therefore we blame their miſapplication, we ſhould beware of depreciating their value. Men of a ſevere and ſententious morality have not always ſufficiently obſerved this caution; nor have they been duly aware of the corruptions they flattered, by the ſatire they employed againſt what is aſpiring and prominent in the character of the human ſoul.

[Page 385] IT might have been expected, that in an age of hopeleſs debaſement*, the talents of Demoſthenes and Tully, even the ill-governed magnanimity of a Macedonian, or the daring enterpriſe of a Carthaginian leader, might have eſcaped the acrimony of a ſatiriſt, who had ſo many objects of correction in his view, and who poſſeſſed the arts of declamation in ſo high a degree:

I, demens, et ſaevos curre per Alpes,
Ut pueris placeas, et declamatio fias,

is part of the illiberal cenſure which is thrown by this poet on the perſon and action of a leader, who by his courage and conduct, in the very ſervice to which the ſatire referred, had well nigh ſaved his country from the ruin with which it was at laſt overwhelmed.

Heroes are much the ſame, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede,

is a diſtich, in which another poet of beautiful talents, has attempted to depreciate a name, to which, probably, few of his readers are found to aſpire.

IF men muſt go wrong, there is a choice of their very errors, as well as of their virtues. Ambition, the love of perſonal eminence, and the deſire of fame, although they ſometimes lead to the commiſſion of crimes, yet always engage men in [Page 386] purſuits that require to be ſupported by ſome of the greateſt qualities of the human ſoul; and if eminence is the principal object of purſuit, there is, at leaſt, a probability, that thoſe qualities may be ſtudied on which a real elevation of mind is raiſed. But when public alarms have ceaſed, and contempt of glory is recommended as an article of wiſdom, the ſordid habits, and mercenary diſpoſitions, to which, under a general indifference to national objects, the members of a poliſhed or commerical ſtate are expoſed, muſt prove at once the moſt effectual ſuppreſſion of every liberal ſentiment, and the moſt fatal reverſe of all thoſe principles from which communities derive their hopes of preſervation, and their ſtrength.

IT is noble to poſſeſs happineſs and independence, either in retirement, or in public life. The Characteriſtic of the happy, is to acquit themſelves well in every condition; in the court, or in the village; in the ſenate, or in the private retreat. But if they affect any particular ſtation, it is ſurely that in which their actions may be rendered moſt extenſively uſeful. Our conſidering mere retirement, therefore, as a ſymptom of moderation, and of virtue, is either a remnant of that ſyſtem, under which monks and anchorets, in former ages, have been canonized; or proceeds from a habit of thinking, which appears equally fraught with moral corruption, from our conſidering public life as a ſcene for the gratification of mere vanity, avarice, and ambition; never as furniſhing the beſt opportunity for a juſt and a happy engagement of the mind and the heart.

[Page 387] EMULATION, and the deſire of power, are but ſorry motives to public conduct; but if they have been, in any caſe, the principal inducements from which men have taken part in the ſervice of their country, any diminution of their prevalence or force is a real corruption of national manners; and the pretended moderation aſſumed by the higher orders of men, has a fatal effect in the ſtate. The diſintereſted love of the public, is a principle without which ſome conſtitutions of government cannot ſubſiſt: but when we conſider how ſeldom this has appeared a reigning paſſion, we have little reaſon to impute the proſperity or preſervation of nations, in every caſe, to its influence.

IT is ſufficient, perhaps, under one form of government, that men ſhould be fond of their independence; that they ſhould be ready to oppoſe uſurpation, and to repel perſonal indignities: under another, it is ſufficient that they ſhould be tenacious of their rank, and of their honours; and inſtead of a zeal for the public, entertain a vigilant jealouſy of the rights which pertain to themſelves. When numbers of men retain a certain degree of elevation and fortitude, they are qualified to give a mutual check to their ſeveral errors, and are able to act in that variety of ſituations which the different conſtitutions of government have prepared for their members: but, under the diſadvantages of a feeble ſpirit, however directed, and however informed, no national conſtitution is ſafe; nor can any degree of enlargement to which a ſtate has arrived, ſecure its political welfare.

[Page 388] IN ſtates where property, diſtinction, and pleaſure, are thrown out as baits to the imagination, and incentives to paſſion, the public ſeems to rely for the preſervation of its political life, on the degree of emulation and jealouſy with which parties mutually oppoſe and reſtrain each other. The deſires of preferment and profit in the breaſt of the citizen, are the motives from which he is excited to enter on public affairs, and are the conſiderations which direct his political conduct. The ſuppreſſion, therefore, of ambition, of party-animoſity, and of public envy, is probably, in every ſuch caſe, not a reformation, but a ſymptom of weakneſs, and a prelude to more ſordid purſuits, and ruinous amuſements.

ON the eve of ſuch a revolution in manners, the higher ranks, in every mixed or monarchical government, have need to take care of themſelves. Men of buſineſs, and of induſtry, in the inferior ſtations of life, retain their occupations, and are ſecured, by a kind of neceſſity, in the poſſeſſion of thoſe habits on which they rely for their quiet, and for the moderate enjoyments of life. But the higher orders of men, if they relinquiſh the ſtate, if they ceaſe to poſſeſs that courage and elevation of mind, and to exerciſe thoſe talents which are employed in its defence, and its government, are, in reality, by the ſeeming advantages of their ſtation, become the refuſe of that ſociety of which they once were the ornament; and from being the moſt reſpectable, and the moſt happy, of its members, are become the moſt wretched and corrupt. In their approach to this condition, and in the abſence of every manly occupation, they feel a [Page 389] diſſatisfaction and languor which they cannot explain: They pine in the midſt of apparent enjoyments; or, by the variety and caprice of their different purſuits and amuſements, exhibit a ſtate of agitation, which, like the diſquiet of ſickneſs, is not a proof of enjoyment or pleaſure, but of ſuffering and pain. The care of his buildings, his equipage, or his table, is choſen by one; literary amuſement, or ſome frivolous ſtudy, by another. The ſports of the country, and the diverſions of the town; the gaming-table*, dogs, horſes, and wine, are employed to fill up the blank of a liſtleſs and unprofitable life. They ſpeak of human purſuits, as if the whole difficulty were to find ſomething to do: They fix on ſome frivolous occupation, as if there was nothing that deſerved to be done: They conſider what tends to the good of their fellow-creatures, as a diſadvantage to themſelves: They fly from every ſcene, in which any efforts of vigour are required, or in which they might be allured to perform any ſervice to their country. We miſapply our compaſſion in pitying the poor; it were much more juſtly applied to the rich, who become the firſt victims of that wretched inſignificance, into which the members of every corrupted ſtate, by the tendency of their weakneſſes, and their vices, are in haſte to plunge themſelves.

IT is in this condition, that the ſenſual invent all thoſe refinements on pleaſure, and deviſe thoſe [Page 390] incentives to a ſatiated appetite, which tend to foſter the corruptions of a diſſolute age. The effects of brutal appetite, and the mere debauch, are more flagrant, and more violent, perhaps, in rude ages, than they are in the later periods of commerce and luxury: but that perpetual habit of ſearching for animal pleaſure where it is not to be found, in the gratifications of an appetite that is cloyed, and among the ruins of an animal conſtitution, is not more fatal to the virtues of the ſoul, than it is even to the enjoyment of ſloth, or of pleaſure; it is not a more certain avocation from public affairs, or a ſurer prelude to national decay, than it is a diſappointment to our hopes of private felicity.

IN theſe reflections, it has been the object, not to aſcertain a preciſe meaſure to which corruption has riſen in any of the nations that have attained to eminence, or that have gone to decay; but to deſcribe that remiſſneſs of ſpirit, that weakneſs of ſoul, that ſtate of national debility, which is likely to end in political ſlavery; an evil which remains to be conſidered as the laſt object of caution, and beyond which there is no ſubject of diſquiſition in the periſhing fortunes of nations.

1.6.5. SECT. V.
Of Corruption, as it tends to Political Slavery.

[Page 391]

LIBERTY, in one ſenſe, appears to be the portion of poliſhed nations alone. The ſavage is perſonally free, becauſe he lives unreſtrained, and acts with the members of his tribe on terms of equality, The barbarian is frequently independent from a continuance of the ſame circumſtances, or becauſe he has courage and a ſword. But good policy alone can provide for the regular adminiſtration of juſtice, or conſtitute a force in the ſtate, which is ready on every occaſion to defend the rights of its members.

IT has been found, that, except in a few ſingular caſes, the commercial and political arts have advanced together. Theſe arts have been in modern Europe ſo interwoven, that we cannot determine which were prior in the order of time, or derived moſt advantage from the mutual influences with which they act and re-act upon one another. It has been obſerved, that in ſome nations the ſpirit of commerce, intent on ſecuring its profits, has led the way to political wiſdom. A people, poſſeſſed of wealth, and become jealous of their properties, have formed the project of emancipation, and have proceeded, under favour of an importance recently gained, ſtill farther to enlarge their pretenſions, and to diſpute the prerogatives which their ſovereign had been in uſe to employ. But it is in vain that we expect in one age, from the poſſeſſion of wealth, the fruit which it is ſaid to have borne in a former. Great acceſſions of fortune, when recent, when accompanied with frugality, [Page 392] and a ſenſe of independence, may render the owner confident in his ſtrength, and ready to ſpurn at oppreſſion. The purſe which is open, not to perſonal expence, or to the indulgence of vanity, but to ſupport the intereſts of a faction, to gratify the higher paſſions of party, render the wealthy citizen formidable to thoſe who pretend to dominion; but it does not follow, that in a time of corruption, equal, or greater, meaſures of wealth ſhould operate to the ſame effect.

ON the contrary, when wealth is accumulated only in the hands of the miſer, and runs to waſte from thoſe of the prodigal; when heirs of family find themſelves ſtraitened and poor, in the midſt of affluence; when the cravings of luxury ſilence even the voice of party and faction; when the hopes of meriting the rewards of compliance, or the fear of loſing what is held at diſcretion, keep men in a ſtate of ſuſpenſe and anxiety; when fortune, in ſhort, inſtead of being conſidered as the inſtrument of a vigorous ſpirit, becomes the idol of a covetous or a profuſe, of a rapacious or a timorous mind; the foundation on which freedom was built, may ſerve to ſupport a tyranny; and what, in one age, raiſed the pretenſions, and foſtered the confidence of the ſubject, may, in another, incline him to ſervility, and furniſh the price to be paid for his proſtitutions. Even thoſe, who, in a vigorous age, gave the example of wealth, in the hands of the people, becoming an occaſion of freedom, may, in times of degeneracy, verify likewiſe the maxim of Tacitus, That the admiration of riches leads to deſpotical government*.

[Page 393] MEN who have taſted of freedom, and who have felt their perſonal rights, are not eaſily taught to bear with incroachments on either, and cannot, without ſome preparation, come to ſubmit to oppreſſion. They may receive this unhappy preparation, under different forms of government, from different hands, and arrive at the ſame end by different ways▪ They follow one direction in republics, another in monarchies, and in mixed governments. But where-ever the ſtate has, by means that do not preſerve the virtue of the ſubject, effectually guarded his ſafety; remiſſneſs, and neglect of the public, are likely to follow; and poliſhed nations of every deſcription, appear to encounter a danger, on this quarter, proportioned to the degree in which they have, during any continuance, enjoyed the uninterrupted poſſeſſion of peace and proſperity.

LIBERTY reſults, we ſay, from the government of laws; and we are apt to conſider ſtatutes, not merely as the reſolutions and maxims of a people determined to be free, not as the writings by which their rights are kept on record,; but as a power erected to guard them, and as a barrier which the caprice of man cannot tranſgreſs.

WHEN a Baſha, in Aſia, pretends to decide every controverſy by the rules of natural equity, we allow that he is poſſeſſed of diſcretionary powers. When a judge in Europe is left to decide, according to his own interpretation of written laws, is he in any ſenſe more reſtrained than the former? Have the multiplied words of a ſtatute an influence over the conſcience, and the heart, more powerful than that of reaſon and nature? Does the party, in any judicial proceeding, enjoy a leſs degree [Page 394] of ſafety, when his rights are diſcuſſed, on the foundation of a rule that is open to the underſtandings of mankind, than when they are referred to an intricate ſyſtem, which it has become the object of a ſeparate profeſſion to ſtudy and to explain?

IF forms of proceeding, written ſtatutes, or other conſtituents of law, ceaſe to be enforced by the very ſpirit from which they aroſe; they ſerve only to cover, not to reſtrain, the iniquities of power: they are poſſibly reſpected even by the corrupt magiſtrate, when they favour his purpoſe; but they are contemned or evaded, when they ſtand in his way: And the influence of laws, where they have any real effect in the preſervation of liberty, is not any magic power deſcending from ſhelves that are loaded with books, but is, in reality, the influence of men reſolved to be free; of men, who, having adjuſted in writing the terms on which they are to live with the ſtate, and with their fellow-ſubjects, are determined, by their vigilance and ſpirit, to make theſe terms be obſerved.

WE are taught, under every form of government, to apprehend uſurpations, from the abuſe, or from the extenſion of the executive power. In pure monarchies, this power is commonly hereditary, and made to deſcend in a determinate line. In elective monarchies, it is held for life. In republics, it is exerciſed during a limited time. Where men, or families, are called by election to the poſſeſſion of temporary dignities, it is more the object of ambition to perpetuate, than to extend their powers. In hereditary monarchies, the ſovereignty is already perpetual; and the aim of every ambitious prince, is to enlarge his prerogative. Rebublics, and, in times of commotion, communities [Page 395] of every form, are expoſed to hazard, not from thoſe only who are formally raiſed to places of truſt, but from every perſon whatever, who is incited by ambition, and who is ſupported by faction.

IT is no advantage to a prince, or other magiſtrate, to enjoy more power than is conſiſtent with the good of mankind; nor is it of any benefit to a man to be unjuſt: but theſe maxims are a feeble ſecurity againſt the paſſions and follies of men. Thoſe who are intruſted with any meaſures of influence, are diſpoſed, from a mere averſion to conſtraint, to remove oppoſition. Not only the monarch who wears a hereditary crown, but the magiſtrate who holds his office for a limited time, grows fond of his dignity. The very miniſter, who depends for his place on the momentary will of his prince, and whoſe perſonal intereſts are, in every reſpect, thoſe of a ſubject, ſtill has the weakneſs to take an intereſt in the growth of prerogative, and to reckon as gain to himſelf the incroachments he has made on the rights of a people, with whom he himſelf and his family are ſoon to be numbered.

EVEN with the beſt intentions towards mankind, we are inclined to think, that their welfare depends, not on the felicity of their own inclinations, or the happy employment of their own talents, but on their ready compliance with what we have deviſed for their good. Accordingly, the greateſt virtue of which any ſovereign has hitherto ſhown an example, is not a deſire of cheriſhing in his people the ſpirit of freedom and independence; but what is in itſelf-ſufficiently rare, and highly meritorious, a ſteady regard to the diſtribution of [Page 396] juſtice in matters of property, a diſpoſition to protect and to oblige, to redreſs the grievances, and to promote the intereſt of his ſubjects. It was from a reference to theſe objects, that Titus computed the value of his time, and judged of its application. But the ſword, which in this beneficent hand was drawn to protect the ſubject, and to procure a ſpeedy and effectual diſtribution of juſtice, was likewiſe ſufficient in the hands of a tyrant, to ſhed the blood of the innocent, and to cancel the rights of men. The temporary proceedings of humanity, though they ſuſpended the exerciſe of oppreſſion, did not break the national chains: the prince was even the better enabled to procure that ſpecies of good which he ſtudied; becauſe there was no freedom remaining, and becauſe there was no where a force to diſpute his decrees, or to interrupt their execution.

WAS it in vain, that Antoninus became acquainted with the characters of Thraſea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, and Brutus? Was it in vain, that he learned to underſtand the form of a free community, raiſed on the baſis of equality and juſtice; or of a monarchy, under which the liberties of the ſubject were held the moſt ſacred object of adminiſtration*? Did he miſtake the means of procuring to mankind what he points out as a bleſſing? Or did the abſolute power with which he was furniſhed, in a mighty empire, only diſable him from executing what his mind had perceived as a national good? In ſuch a caſe, it were vain to flatter the monarch or his people. The firſt cannot beſtow liberty, without raiſing a ſpirit, which may, on occaſion, ſtand in oppoſition to his [Page 397] own deſigns; nor the latter receive this bleſſing, while they own that it is in the right of a maſter to give or to with-hold it. The claim of juſtice is firm and peremptory. We receive favours with a ſenſe of obligation and kindneſs; but we would inforce our rights, and the ſpirit of freedom in this exertion cannot take the tone of ſupplication, or of thankfulneſs, without betraying itſelf. ‘You have intreated Octavius,’ ſays Brutus to Cicero, ‘that he would ſpare thoſe who ſtand foremoſt among the citizens of Rome. What if he will not? Muſt we periſh? Yes; rather than owe our ſafety to him.’

LIBERTY is a right which every individual muſt be ready to vindicate for himſelf, and which he who pretends to beſtow as a favour, has by that very act in reality denied. Even political eſtabliſhments, though they appear to be independent of the will and arbitration of men, cannot be relied on for the preſervation of freedom; they may nouriſh, but ſhould not ſuperſede that firm and reſolute ſpirit, with which the liberal mind is always prepared to reſiſt indignities, and to refer its ſafety to itſelf.

WERE a nation, therefore, given to be moulded by a ſovereign, as the clay is put into the hands of the potter, this project of beſtowing liberty on a people who are actually ſervile, is, perpaps, of all others, the moſt difficult, and requires moſt to be executed in ſilence, and with the deepeſt reſerve. Men are qualified to receive this bleſſing, only in proportion as they are made to apprehend their own rights; and are made to reſpect the juſt pretenſions of mankind; in proportion as they are willing to ſuſtain, in their own [Page 398] perſons, the burden of government, and of national defence; and are willing to prefer the engagements of a liberal mind, to the enjoyments of ſloth, or the deluſive hopes of a ſafety purchaſed by ſubmiſſion and fear.

I SPEAK with reſpect, and, if I may be allowed the expreſſion, even with indulgence, to thoſe who are intruſted with high prerogatives in the political ſyſtem of nations. It is, indeed, ſeldom their fault that ſtates are inſlaved. What ſhould be expected from them, but that being actuated by human deſires, they ſhould be averſe to diſappointment, or even to delay; and in the ardour with which they purſue their object, that they ſhould break through the barriers that would ſtop their career? If millions recede before ſingle men, and ſenates are paſſive, as if compoſed of members who had no opinion or ſenſe of their own; on whoſe ſide have the defences of freedom given way, or to whom ſhall we impute their fall? to the ſubject, who has deſerted his ſtation; or to the ſovereign, who has only remained in his own; and who, if the collateral or ſubordinate members of government ſhall ceaſe to queſtion his power, muſt continue to govern without any reſtraint?

IT is well known, that conſtitutions framed for the preſervation of liberty, muſt conſiſt of many parts; and that ſenates, popular aſſemblies, courts of juſtice, magiſtrates of different orders, muſt combine to balance each other, while they exerciſe, ſuſtain, or check the executive power. If any part is ſtruck out, the fabric muſt totter, or fall; if any member is remiſs, the others muſt incroach. In aſſemblies conſtituted by men of different talents, habits, and apprehenſions, it were ſomething more [Page 399] than human that could make them agree in every point of importance; having different opinions and views, it were want of integrity to abſtain from diſputes: our very praiſe of unanimity, therefore, is to be conſidered as a danger to liberty. We wiſh for it, at the hazard of taking in its place, the remiſſneſs of men grown indifferent to the public; the venality of thoſe who have ſold the rights of their country; or the ſervility of others, who give implicit obedience to a leader by whom their minds are ſubdued. The love of the public, and reſpect to its laws, are the points in which mankind are bound to agree; but if, in matters of controverſy, the ſenſe of any individual or party is invariably purſued, the cauſe of freedom is already betrayed.

HE whoſe office it is to govern a ſupine or an abject people, cannot, for a moment, ceaſe to extend his powers. Every execution of law, every movement of the ſtate, every civil and military operation, in which his power is exerted, muſt ſerve to confirm his authority, and preſent him to the view of the public, as the ſole object of conſideration, fear, and reſpect. Thoſe very eſtabliſhments which were deviſed, in one age, to limit, or to direct the exerciſe of an executive power, will ſerve, in another, to ſettle its foundations, and to give it ſtability; they will point out the channels in which it may run, without giving offence, or without exciting alarms, and the very councils which were inſtituted to check its incroachments, will, in time of corruption, furniſh an aid to its uſurpations.

THE paſſion for independence, and the love of dominion, frequently ariſe from a common ſource: There is, in both, an averſion to controul; and [Page 400] he, who, in one ſituation, cannot brook a ſuperior, muſt, in another, diſlike to be joined with an equal.

WHAT the prince, under a pure or limited monarchy, is, by the conſtitution of his country, the leader of a faction would willingly become in republican governments. If he attains to this envied condition, his own inclination, or the tendency of human affairs, ſeem to open before him the career of a royal ambition: but the circumſtances in which he is deſtined to act, are very different from thoſe of a king. He encounters with men who are unuſed to diſparity; he is obliged, for his own ſecurity, to hold the dagger continually unſheathed. When he hopes to be ſafe, poſſibly means to be juſt; but is hurried, from the firſt moment of his uſurpation, into every exerciſe of deſpotical power. The heir of a crown has no ſuch quarrel to maintain with his ſubjects: his ſituation is flattering; and the heart muſt be uncommonly bad, that does not glow with affection to a people, who are, at once, his admirers, his ſupport, and the ornaments of his reign. In him, perhaps, there is no explicit deſign of treſpaſſing on the rights of his ſubjects; but the forms intended to preſerve their freedom, are not, on this account, always ſafe in his hands.

SLAVERY has been impoſed upon mankind in the wantonneſs of a depraved ambition, and tyrannical cruelties have been committed in the gloomy hours of jealouſy and terror: yet theſe demons are not neceſſary to the creation, or to the ſupport of an arbitrary power. Although no policy was ever more ſucceſsful than that of the Roman republic in maintaining a national fortune; yet ſubjects, as well as their princes, frequently imagine [Page 401] that freedom is a clog on the proceedings of government: they imagine, that deſpotical power is beſt fitted to procure diſpatch and ſecrecy in the execution of public councils; to maintain what they are pleaſed to call political order *, and to give a ſpeedy redreſs of complaints. They even ſometimes acknowledge, that if a ſucceſſion of good princes could be found, deſpotical government is beſt calculated for the happineſs of mankind. While they reaſon thus, they cannot blame a ſovereign, who, in the confidence that he is to employ his power for good purpoſes, endeavours to extend its limits, and, in his own apprehenſion, ſtrives only to ſhake off the reſtraints which ſtand in the way of reaſon, and which prevent the effect of his friendly intentions.

THUS prepared for uſurpation, let him, at the head of a free ſtate, employ the force with which he is armed, to cruſh the ſeeds of apparent diſorder in every corner of his dominions; let him effectually curb the ſpirit of diſſenſion and variance among his people; let him remove the interruptions to government, ariſing from the refractory humours and the private intereſts of his ſubjects; [Page 402] let him collect the force of the ſtate againſt its enemies, by availing himſelf of all it can furniſh in the way of taxation and perſonal ſervice: it is extremely probable, that, even under the direction of wiſhes for the good of mankind, he may break through every barrier of liberty, and eſtabliſh a deſpotiſm, while he flatters himſelf, that he only follows the dictates of ſenſe and propriety.

WHEN we ſuppoſe government to have beſtowed a degree of tranquility which we ſometimes hope to reap from it, as the beſt of its fruits, and public affairs to proceed, in the ſeveral departments of legiſlation and execution, with the leaſt poſſible interruption to commerce and lucrative arts; ſuch a ſtate, like that of China, by throwing affairs into ſeparate offices, where conduct conſiſts in detail, and in the obſervance of forms, by ſuperſeding all the exertions of a great or a liberal mind, is more akin to deſpotiſm than we are apt to imagine.

WHETHER oppreſſion, injuſtice, and cruelty, are the only evils which attend on deſpotical government, may be conſidered apart. In the mean time it is ſufficient to obſerve, that liberty is never in greater danger than it is when we meaſure national felicity by the bleſſings which a prince may beſtow, or by the mere tranquility which may attend on equitable adminiſtration. The ſovereign may dazzle with his heroic qualities; he may protect his ſubjects in the enjoyment of every animal advantage or pleaſure: but the benefits ariſing from liberty are of a different ſort; they are not the fruits of a virtue, and of a goodneſs, which operate in the breaſt of one man, but the communication of virtue itſelf to many; and ſuch a diſtribution [Page 403] of functions in civil ſociety, as gives to numbers the exerciſes and occupations which pertain to their nature.

THE beſt conſtitutions of government are attended with inconvenience; and the exerciſe of liberty may, on many occaſions, give riſe to complains. When we are intent on reforming abuſes, the abuſes of freedom may lead us to incroach on the ſubject from which they are ſuppoſed to ariſe. Deſpotiſm itſelf has certain advantages, or at leaſt, in times of civility and moderation, may proceed with ſo little offence, as to give no public alarm. Theſe circumſtances may lead mankind, in the very ſpirit of reformation, or by mere inattention, to apply or to admit of dangerous innovations in the ſtate of their policy.

SLAVERY, however, is not always introduced by mere miſtake; it is ſometimes impoſed in the ſpirit of violence and rapine. Princes become corrupt as well as their people; and whatever may have been the origin of deſpotical government, its pretenſions, when fully explained, give riſe to a conteſt between the ſovereign and his ſubjects, which force alone can decide. Theſe pretenſions have a dangerous aſpect to the perſon, the property, or the life of every ſubject; they alarm every paſſion in the human breaſt; they diſturb the ſupine; they deprive the venal of his hire; they declare war on the corrupt as well as the virtuous; they are tamely admitted only by the coward; but even to him muſt be ſupported by a force that can work on his fears. This force the conqueror brings from abroad; and the domeſtic uſurper endeavours to find in his faction at home.

[Page 404] WHEN a people is accuſtomed to arms, it is difficult for a part to ſubdue the whole; or before the eſtabliſhment of diſciplined armies, it is difficult for any uſurper to govern the many by the help of a few. Theſe difficulties, however, the policy of civilized and commercial nations has ſometimes removed; and by forming a diſtinction between civil and military profeſſions, by committing the keeping and the enjoyment of liberty to different hands, has prepared the way for the dangerous alliance of faction with military power, in oppoſition to mere political forms, and the rights of mankind.

A PEOPLE who are diſarmed in compliance with this fatal refinement, have reſted their ſafety on the pleadings of reaſon and juſtice at the tribunal of ambition and of ſorce. In ſuch an extremity, laws are quoted, and ſenates are aſſembled, in vain. They who compoſe a legiſlature, or who occupy the civil departments of ſtate, may deliberate on the meſſages they receive from the camp or the court; but if the bearer, like the centurion who brought the petition of Octavius to the Roman ſenate, ſhew the hilt of his ſword*, they find that petitions are become commands, and that they themſelves are become the pageants, not the repoſitories of ſovereign power.

THE reflections of this ſection may be unequally applied to nations of unequal extent. Small communities, however corrupted, are not prepared for deſpotical government: their members crouded together, and contiguous to the ſeats of power, never forget their relation to the public; they pry, with habits of familiarity and freedom, into the [Page 405] pretenſions of thoſe who would rule; and where the love of equality, and the ſenſe of juſtice, have failed, they act on motives of faction, emulation, and envy. The exiled Tarquin had his adherents at Rome; but if by their means he had recovered his ſtation, it is probable, that in the exerciſe of his royalty, he muſt have entered on a new ſcene of contention with the very party that reſtored him to power.

IN proportion as territory is extended, its parts loſe their relative importance to the whole. Its inhabitants ceaſe to perceive their connection with the ſtate, and are ſeldom united in the execution of any national, or even of any factious, deſigns. Diſtance from the ſeats of adminiſtration, and indifference to the perſons who contend for preferment, teach the majority to conſider themſelves as the ſubjects of a ſovereignty, not as the members of a political body. It is even remarkable, that enlargement of territory, by rendering the individual of leſs conſequence to the public, and leſs able to intrude with his counſel, actually tends to reduce national affairs within a narrower compaſs, as well as to diminiſh the numbers who are conſulted in legiſlation, or in other matters of government.

THE diſorders to which a great empire is expoſed, require ſpeedy prevention, vigilance, and quick execution. Diſtant provinces muſt be kept in ſubjection by military force; and the dictatorial powers, which, in free ſtates, are ſometimes raiſed to quell inſurrections, or to oppoſe other occaſional evils, appear, under a certain extent of dominion, at all times equally neceſſary to ſuſpend the diſſolution of a body, whoſe parts were aſſembled, and muſt be cemented, by meaſures forcible, deci [...] and ſecret. Among the circumſtances, therefore, [Page 406] which in the event of national proſperity, and in the reſult of commercial arts, lead to the eſtabliſhment of deſpotiſm, there is none, perhaps, that arrives at this termination, with ſo ſure an aim, as the perpetual enlargement of territory. In every ſtate, the freedom of its members depends on the balance and adjuſtment of its interior parts; and the exiſtence of any ſuch freedom among mankind, depends on the balance of nations. In the progreſs of conqueſt, thoſe who are ſubdued are ſaid to have loſt their liberties; but from the hiſtory of mankind, to conquer, or to be conquered, has appeared, in effect, the ſame.

1.6.6. SECT. VI.
Of the Progreſs and Termination of Deſpotiſm.

MANKIND, when they degenerate, and tend to their ruin, as well as when they improve, and gain real advantages, frequently proceed by ſlow, and almoſt inſenſible, ſteps. If, during ages of activity and vigour, they fill up the meaſure of national greatneſs to a height which no human wiſdom could at a diſtance foreſee; they actually incur, in ages of relaxation and weakneſs, many evils which their fears did not ſuggeſt, and which, perhaps, they had thought far removed by the tide of ſucceſs and proſperity.

WE have already obſerved, that where men are remiſs or corrupted, the virtue of their leaders, or the good intention of their magiſtrates, will not always ſecure them in the poſſeſſion of political freedom. Implicit ſubmiſſion to any leader, or the uncontrouled exerciſe of any power, even when it is [Page 407] intended to operate for the good of mankind, may frequently end in the ſubverſion of legal eſtabliſhments. This fatal revolution, by whatever means it is accompliſhed, terminates in military government; and this, though the ſimpleſt of all governments, is rendered complete by degrees. In the firſt period of its exerciſe over men who have acted as members of a free community, it can have only laid the foundation, not completed the fabric, of a deſpotical policy. The uſurper, who has poſſeſſed with an army, the centre of a great empire, ſees around him, perhaps, the ſhattered remains of a former conſtitution; he may hear the murmurs of a reluctant and unwilling ſubmiſſion; he may even ſee danger in the aſpect of many, from whoſe hands he may have wreſted the ſword, but whoſe minds he has not ſubdued, nor reconciled to his power.

THE ſenſe of perſonal rights, or the pretenſion to privilege and honours, which remain among certain orders of men, are ſo many bars in the way of a recent uſurpation. If they are not ſuffered to decay with age, and to wear away in the progreſs of a growing corruption, they muſt be broken with violence, and the entrance to every new acceſſion of power muſt be ſtained with blood. The effect, even in this caſe, is frequently tardy. The Roman ſpirit, we know, was not entirely extinguiſhed under a ſucceſſion of maſters, and under a repeated application of bloodſhed and poiſon. The noble and reſpectable family ſtill aſpired to its original honours: the hiſtory of the republic, the writings of former times, the monuments of illuſtrious men, and the leſſons of a philoſophy fraught with heroic conceptions, continued to nouriſh the ſoul in retirement, and formed thoſe eminent characters, whoſe elevation, [Page 408] and whoſe fate, are, perhaps, the moſt affecting ſubjects of human ſtory. Though unable to oppoſe the general bent to ſervility, they became, on account of their ſuppoſed inclinations, objects of diſtruſt and averſion; and were made to pay with their blood, the price of a ſentiment which they foſtered in ſilence, and which glowed only in the heart.

WHILE deſpotiſm proceeds in its progreſs, by what principle is the ſovereign conducted in the choice of meaſures that tend to eſtabliſh his government? By a miſtaken apprehenſion of his own good, ſometimes even of that of his people, and by the deſire which he feels on every particular occaſion, to remove the obſtructions which impede the execution of his will. When he has fixed a reſolution, whoever reaſons or demonſtrates againſt it is an enemy; when his mind is elated, whoever pretends to erninence, and is diſpoſed to act for himſelf, is a rival. He would leave no dignity in the ſtate, but what is dependent on himſelf; no active power, but what carries the expreſſion of his momentary pleaſure. Guided by a perception as unerring as that of inſtinct, he never fails to ſelect the proper objects of his antipathy or of his favour. The aſpect of independence repels him; that of ſervility attracts. The tendency of his adminiſtration is to quiet every reſtleſs ſpirit, and to aſſume every function of government to himſelf*. When the power is adequate to the end, it operates as much in the hands of thoſe who do not perceive the termination [Page 409] as it does in the hands of others by whom it is beſt underſtood: the mandates of either, when juſt, ſhould not be diſputed; when erroneous or wrong, they are ſupported by force.

YOU muſt die, was the anſwer of Octavius to every ſuit, from a people that implored his mercy. It was the ſentence which ſome of his ſucceſſors pronounced againſt every citizen that was eminent for his birth or his virtues. But are the evils of deſpotiſm confined to the cruel and ſanguinary methods, by which a recent dominion over a refractory and a turbulent people is eſtabliſhed or maintained? And is death the greateſt calamity which can afflict mankind under an eſtabliſhment by which they are diveſted of all their rights? They are, indeed, frequently ſuffered to live; but diſtruſt, and jealouſy, the ſenſe of perſonal meanneſs, and the anxieties which ariſe from the care of a wretched intereſt, are made to poſſeſs the ſoul; every citizen is reduced to a ſlave; and every charm by which the community engaged its members, has ceaſed to exiſt. Obedience is the only duty that remains, and this is exacted by force. If under ſuch an eſtabliſhment, it be neceſſary to witneſs ſcenes of debaſement and horror, at the hazard of catching the infection, death becomes a relief; and the libation which Thraſea was made to pour from his arteries, is to be conſidered as a proper ſacrifice of gratitude to Jove the Deliverer.*.

[Page 410] OPPRESSION and cruelty are not always neceſſary to deſpotical government; and even when preſent, are but a part of its evils. It is founded on corruption, and on the ſuppreſſion of all the civil and the political virtues; it requires its ſubjects to act from motives of fear; it would aſſwage the paſſions of a few men at the expence of mankind; and would erect the peace of ſociety itſelf on the ruins of that freedom and confidence from which alone the enjoyment, the force, and the elevation of the human mind, are found to ariſe.

DURING the exiſtence of any free conſtitution, and whilſt every individual poſſeſſed his rank and his privilege, or had his apprehenſion of perſonal rights, the members of every community were to one another objects of conſideration and of reſpect; every point to be carried in civil ſociety, required the exerciſe of talents, of wiſdom, perſuaſion, and vigour, as well as of power. But it is the higheſt refinement of a deſpotical government, to rule by ſimple commands, and to exclude every art but that of compulſion. Under the influence of this policy, therefore, the occaſions which employed and cultivated the underſtandings of men, which awakened their ſentiments, and kindled their imaginations, are gradually removed; and the progreſs by which mankind attained to the honours of their nature, in being engaged to act in ſociety upon a liberal footing, was not more uniform, or leſs interrupted, than that by which they degenerate in this unhappy condition.

WHEN we hear of the ſilence which reigns in the ſeraglio, we are made to believe, that ſpeech itſelf is become unneceſſary; and that the ſigns of the mute are ſufficient to carry the moſt important [Page 411] mandates of government. No arts, indeed, are required to maintain an aſcendant where terror alone is oppoſed to force, where the powers of the ſovereign are delegated entire to every ſubordinate officer: nor can any ſtation beſtow a liberality of mind in a ſcene of ſilence and dejection, where every breaſt is poſſeſſed with jealouſy and caution, and where no object, but animal pleaſure, remains to balance the ſufferings of the ſovereign himſelf, or thoſe of his ſubjects.

IN other ſtates, the talents of men are ſometimes improved by the exerciſes which belong to an eminent ſtation: but here the maſter himſelf is probably the rudeſt and leaſt cultivated animal of the herd; he is inferior to the ſlave whom he raiſes from a ſervile office to the firſt places of truſt or of dignity in his court. The primitive ſimplicity which formed ties of familiarity and affection betwixt the ſovereign and the keeper of his herds*, appears, in the abſence of all affections, to be reſtored, or to be counterfeited amidſt the ignorance and brutality which equally characteriſe all orders of men, or rather which level the ranks, and deſtroy the diſtinction of perſons in a deſpotical court.

CAPRICE and paſſion are the rules of government with the prince. Every delegate of power is left to act by the ſame direction; to ſtrike when he is provoked; to favour when he is pleaſed. In what relates to revenue, juriſdiction, or police, every governor of a province acts like a leader in an enemy's country; comes armed with the terrors of fire and ſword; and inſtead of a tax, levies a contribution by force: he ruins or ſpares as either [Page 412] may ſerve his purpoſe. When the clamours of the oppreſſed, or the reputation of a treaſure amaſſed at the expence of a province, have reached the ears of the ſovereign, the extortioner is indeed made to purchaſe impunity by imparting a ſhare, or by forfeiting the whole of his ſpoil; but no reparation is made to the injured; nay, the crimes of the miniſter are firſt employed to plunder the people, and afterwards puniſhed to fill the coffers of the ſovereign.

IN this total diſcontinuance of every art that relates to juſt government and national policy, it is remarkable, that even the trade of the ſoldier is itſelf greatly neglected. Diſtruſt and jealouſy on the part of the prince, come in aid of his ignorance and incapacity; and theſe cauſes operating together, ſerve to deſtroy the very foundation on which his power is eſtabliſhed. Any undiſciplined rout of armed men paſſes for an army, whilſt a weak, diſperſed, and unarmed people, are ſacrificed to military diſorder, or expoſed to depredation on the frontier from an enemy, whom the deſire of ſpoil, or the hopes of conqueſt, may have drawn to their neighbourhood.

THE Romans extended their empire till they left no poliſhed nation to be ſubdued, and found a frontier which was every where ſurrounded by fierce and barbarous tribes; they even pierced through uncultivated deſerts, in order to remove to a greater diſtance the moleſtation of ſuch troubleſome neighbours, and in order to poſſeſs the avenues through which they feared their attacks. But this policy put the finiſhing hand to the internal corruption of the ſtate. A few years of tranquility were ſufficient to make even the government forget its danger; and in the cultivated province, prepared [Page 413] for the enemy, a tempting prize and an eaſy victory.

WHEN by the conqueſt and annexation of every rich and cultivated province, the meaſure of empire is full, two parties are ſufficient to comprehend mankind; that of the pacific and the wealthy, who dwell within the pale of empire; and that of the poor, the rapacious, and the fierce, who are inured to depredation and war. The laſt bear to the firſt nearly the ſame relation which the wolf and the lion bear to the fold; and they are naturally engaged in a ſtate of hoſtility.

WERE deſpotic empire, mean-time, to continue for ever unmoleſted from abroad, while it retains that corruption on which it was founded, it appears to have in itſelf no principle of new life, and preſents no hope of reſtoration to freedom and political vigour. That which the deſpotical maſter has ſown, cannot quicken unleſs it die; it muſt languiſh and expire by the effect of its own abuſe, before the human ſpirit can ſpring up anew, or bear thoſe fruits which conſtitute the honour and the felicity of human nature. In times of the greateſt debaſement, indeed, commotions are felt; but very unlike the agitations of a free people: they are either the agonies of nature, under the ſufferings to which men are expoſed; or mere tumults, confined to a few who ſtand in arms about the prince, and who, by their conſpiracies, aſſaſſinations, and murders, ſerve only to plunge the pacific inhabitant ſtill deeper in the horrors of fear or deſpair. Scattered in the provinces, unarmed, unacquainted with the ſentiments of union and confederacy, reſtricted by habit to a wretched oeconomy, [Page 414] and dragging a precarious life on thoſe poſſeſſions which the extortions of government have left; the people can no where, under theſe circumſtances, aſſume the ſpirit of a community, nor form any liberal combination for their own defence. The injured may complain; and while he cannot obtain the mercy of government, he may implore the commiſeration of his fellow-ſubject. But that fellow-ſubject is comforted, that the hand of oppreſſion has not ſeized on himſelf: he ſtudies his intereſt, or ſnatches his pleaſure, under that degree of ſafety which obſcurity and concealment beſtow.

THE commercial arts, which ſeem to require no foundation in the minds of men, but the regard to intereſt; no encouragement, but the hopes of gain, and the ſecure poſſeſſion of property, muſt periſh under the precarious tenure of ſlavery, and under the apprehenſion of danger ariſing from the reputation of wealth. National poverty, however, and the ſuppreſſion of commerce, are the means by which deſpotiſm comes to accompliſh its own deſtruction. Where there are no longer any profits to corrupt, or fears to deter, the charm of dominion is broken, and the naked ſlave, as awake from a dream, is aſtoniſhed to find he is free. When the fence is deſtroyed, the wilds are open, and the herd breaks looſe. The paſture of the cultivated field is no longer preferred to that of the deſert. The ſufferer willingly flies where the extortions of government cannot overtake him; where even the timid and the ſervile may recollect they are men; where the tyrant may threaten, but where he is known to be no more than a fellow-creature; where he can take nothing but life, and even this at the hazard of his own.

[Page 415] AGREEABLY to this deſcription, the vexations of tyranny have overcome, in many parts of the Eaſt, the deſire of ſettlement. The inhabitants of a village quit their habitations, and infeſt the public ways; thoſe of the valleys fly to the mountains, and, equipt for flight, or poſſeſſed of a ſtrong hold, ſubſiſt by depredation, and by the war they make on their former maſters.

THESE diſorders conſpire with the impoſitions of government to render the remaining ſettlements ſtill leſs ſecure: but while devaſtation and ruin appear on every ſide, mankind are forced anew upon thoſe confederacies, acquire again that perſonal confidence and vigour, that ſocial attachment, that uſe of arms, which, in former times, rendered a ſmall tribe the ſeed of a great nation; and which may again enable the emancipated ſlave to begin the career of civil and commercial arts. When human nature appears in the utmoſt ſtate of corruption, it has actually begun to reform.

IN this manner, the ſcenes of human life have been frequently ſhifted. Security and preſumption forfeit the advantages of proſperity; reſolution and conduct retrieve the ills of adverſity; and mankind, while they have nothing on which to rely but their virtue, are prepared to gain every advantage; and when they confide moſt in their fortune, are moſt expoſed to feel its reverſe: We are apt to draw theſe obſervations into rule; and when we are no longer willing to act for our country, we plead in excuſe of our own weakneſs or folly, a ſuppoſed fatality in human affairs.

[Page 416] THE inſtitutions of men are, indeed, likely to have their end as well as their beginning: but their duration is not fixed to any limited period; and no nation ever ſuffered internal decay but from the vice of its members. We are ſometimes willing to acknowledge this vice in our countrymen; but who was ever willing to acknowledge it in himſelf? It may be ſuſpected, however, that we do more than acknowledge it, when we ceaſe to oppoſe its effects, and when we plead a fatality, which at leaſt, in the breaſt of every individual, is dependent on himſelf. Men of real fortitude, integrity, and ability, are well placed in every ſcene; they reap, in every condition, the principal enjoyments of their nature; they are the happy inſtruments of providence employed for the good of mankind; or, if we muſt change this language, they ſhow, that while they are deſtined to live, the ſtates they compoſe are likewiſe doomed by the ſates to ſurvive, and to proſper.

ROUSSEAU ſur l'origine de l'inegalité parmi les hommes.
Traité de l'eſprit.
Lafitau moeurs des ſauvages.
Abulgaze Bahadur Chan.; Hiſtory of the Tartars.
Collection of Dutch voyages.
Charlevoix; Hiſt. Canada.
See Charlevoix's hiſtory of Canada.
Mankind, we are told, are devoted to intereſt; and this, in all commercial nations, is undoubtedly true: but it does not follow, that they are, by their natural diſpoſitions, averſe to ſociety and mutual affection: proofs of the contrary remain, even where intereſt triumphs moſt. What muſt we think of the force of that diſpoſition to compaſſion, to candour, and good will, which, notwithſtanding the prevailing opinion that the happineſs of a man conſiſts in poſſeſſing the greateſt poſſible ſhare of riches, preferments, and honours, ſtill keeps the parties who are in competition for thoſe objects, on a tolerable footing of amity, and leads them to abſtain even from their own ſuppoſed good, when their ſeizing it appears in the light of a dettiment to others? What might we not expect from the human heart in circumſtances which prevented this apprehenſion on the ſubject of fortune, or under the influence of an opinion as ſteady and general as the former, that human felicity does not conſiſt in the indulgences of animal appetite, but in thoſe of a benevolent heart; not in fortune or intereſt, but in the contempt of this very object, in the courage and freedom which ariſe from this contempt, joined to a reſolute choice of conduct, directed to the good of mankind, or to the good of that particular ſociety to which the party belongs?
Perſian Letters.
Maupertuis; Eſſai de Morale.
Life of Lord Herbert.
Letters of the Right Hon. Lady M [...]y W [...]y M [...]e.
The ſame maxim will apply throughout every part of nature. To love, is to enjoy pleaſure: To bate, is to be in pain.
Mrs. Carter's tranſlation of the works of Epictetus.
Hume's Hiſtory, ch. 8. p. 278.
Ibid. p. 73.
Hiſtory of the Caribbees.
Wafer's account of the Iſthmus of Darien.
Colden's Hiſtory of the Five Nations.
Lafitau, Charlevoix, Colden, &c.
Muneribus gaudent, ſed nec data imputant, noc acceptis obligantur.
Ib. This writer ſays, that he has ſeen a boy and a girl, having bound their naked arms together, place a burning coal between them, to try who would ſhake it off firſt.
Tacitus, Lafitau, Charlevoix.
‘Caeſar queſtus, quod quum ultro in continentem legatis miſſis pacem a ſe petiſſent, bellum ſine cauſa intuliſſent. Lib. 4.
Abulgaze's Genealogical Hiſtory of the Tartars.
‘Pigrum quin immo et iners videtur, ſudore acquirere quod poſſis ſanguine parare.’
Hiſtory of the Caribbees.
Tacitus de moribus Germanorum.
Jean du Plan Carpen. Rubruquis, Caeſar, Tacit.
Kolbe; Deſcription of the Cape of Good Hope.
Simon de St. Quintin.
De moribus Germanorum.
Chardin's Travels.
See Hume's hiſtory of the Tudors.—There ſeemed to be nothing wanting to eſtabliſh a perfect deſpotiſm in that houſe, but a few regiments of troops under the command of the crown.
See the Hiſtory of the Huns.
De Bello Gallico, lib. 6.
Ib. lib. 3.
Priſcus, when employed on an embaſſy to Attila, was accoſted in Greek, by a perſon who wore the dreſs of a Scythian. Having expreſſed ſurpriſe, and being deſirous to know the cauſe of his ſtay in ſo wild a company, was told, that this Greek had been a captive, and for ſome time a ſlave, till he obtained his liberty in reward of ſome remarkable action. ‘I live more happily here,’ ſays he, ‘than ever I did under the Roman government: for they who live with the Scythians, if they can endure the fatigues of war, have nothing elſe to moleſt them; they enjoy their poſſeſſions undiſturbed: whereas you are continually a prey to foreign enemies, or to bad government; you are forbid to carry arms in your own defence; you ſuffer from the remiſſneſs and ill conduct of thoſe who are appointed to protect you; the evils of peace are even worſe than thoſe of war; no puniſhment is ever inflicted on the powerful or the rich; no mercy is ſhown to the poor; although your inſtitutions were wiſely deviſed, yet in the management of corrupted men, their effects are pernicious and cruel.’ Excerpta de legationibus.
D'Arvieux's Hiſt. of the Wild Arabs.
Ubi tranſcendit florentes viribus annos,
Impatiens aevi ſpernit noviſſe ſenectam,
Silius, lib. 1. 225.
Liv. lib. xli. 11, Dio Caſſ.
See Ruſſian Atlas.
Notes to the Genealogical Hiſtory of the Tartars.
The Dutch ſailors who were employed in the [...] of Malaco, tore or burnt the ſail-cloth which was given them to make tents, that they might not have the trouble of making or pitching them. Voy. de Matelief.
Compare the ſtate of Hungary with that of Holland.
De Retz Memoirs.
Part 1. ſect. 10.
See Dr. Robertſon's Hiſtory of Scotland, b. 1.
Collection of Dutch voyages.
Thucydides, book. 1.
In Britain, by the ſuſpenſion of the Habeas corpus.
D'Arvieux's Hiſt. of the Arabs.
Plutarch in the life of Solon.—Livy.
See part 2. ſect. 2.
See Longinus.
Quoted by Demetrius Phalerius.
Plutarch, in the life of Ageſilaus.
Thucydides, lib. 4.—Ariſtophanes.
Hume's Hiſtory of England.
Gemelli Carceri.
Memoirs of Brandenburg.
The barbarous nations of Siberia, in general, are ſervile and timid.
Chardin's travel's through Mingrelia into Perſia.
Gemelli Carceri.
Juvenal's 10th ſatire.
Theſe different occupations differ from each other, in reſpect to their dignity, and their innocence; but none of them are the ſchools from which men are brought to ſuſtain the tottering fortune of nations; they are equally avocations from what ought to be the principal purſuit of man, the good of mankind.
‘Eſt apud illos et opibus honos; eoque unus imperitat, &c Tacitus de mor. Ger. c. 44.
M. Antoninus, lib. 1.
Our notion of order in civil ſociety is frequently falſe: it is taken from the analogy of ſubjects inanimate and dead; we conſider commotion and action as contrary to its nature; we think it conſiſtent only with obedience, ſecrecy, and the ſilent paſſing of affairs through the hands of a few. The good order of ſtones in a wall, is their being properly fixed in the places for which they are hewn; were they to ſtir the building muſt fall: but the good order of men in ſociety, is their being placed where they are properly qualified to act. The firſt is a fabric made of dead and inanimate parts, the ſecond is made of living and active members. When we ſeek in ſociety for the order of mere inaction and tranquility, we forget the nature of our ſubject, and find the order of ſlaves, not that of free men.
It is ridiculous to hear men of a reſtleſs ambition, who would be the only actors in every ſcene, ſometimes complain of a refractory ſpirit in mankind; as if the ſame diſpoſition from which they deſire to uſurp every office, did not incline every other perſon to reaſon and to act at leaſt for himſelf.
‘Porrectiſque utriuſque brachii venis, poſtquam cruorem effudit, humum ſuper ſpargens, proprius vocato Quaeſtore, Libemus, inquit, Jovi Liberatori. Specta juvenis; et omen quidem Dii prohibeant; ceterum in ea tempora natus es, quibus firmare animum deceat conſtantibus exemplis. Tacit. Ann. lib. 16.
See Odyſſey.