Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V - The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy
Return to Title Page for The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER V - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Another class of laws.Let us therefore enquire into the laws of our nature, relative to utility or interest, to private and publick good; the natural end and happiness of every man in particular, and of society or our kind in general.
Those relative to interest or private and public good.One of the best modern writers on morals has given us a very accurate division of the chief questions relative to morality.a “The firstis, to know (says he) whether there are not some actions or affections which obtain the approbation of any spectator or<142> observer, and others which move his dislike and condemnation. Now this question, as every man can answer for himself, so universal experience and history shew that in all nations it is so; and consequently the moral sense is universal. 2. Whether there be any particular quality, which, whenever it is perceived, gains approbation, and the contrary raises disapprobation? Now we shall find this quality to be kind affection or study of the public good of others.The serveral enquiries about morals classed. And thus the moral senses of men are generally uniform. About these two questions there is little reasoning: we know how to answer them by reflecting on our own sentiments, or by consulting others. 3. But what actions do really evidence kind affections, or do really tend to the greatest public good? About this question is all the special reasoning of those who treat of particular laws of nature, or even civil laws. This is the largest field, and the most useful subject of reasoning, which remains upon every scheme of morals. 4. What are the motives, which even from self-love, would excite each individual to do those actions which are particularly useful. Now it is probable, indeed, no man would approve as virtuous, an action publickly useful, to which the agent was only excited by self-love, without any kind affection: it is also probable, that no view of interest can raise that kind affection which we approve as virtuous; nor can any reasoning do it, except that which shews some moral goodness, or kind affections in the objects; for this never fails, when it is observed or supposed in any person to raise the love of the observer; so that virtue cannot be taught. Yet since all men have naturally self-love, as well as kind affections, the former may often counteract the latter, or the latter the former: in each case, the agent is in some degree uneasy and unhappy. The first rash views of human affairs often represent private interest as opposite to the public: when it is apprehended self-love<143> may often engage men in public hurtful actions, which their moral sense will condemn, and this is the ordinary course of vice. To represent these motives of self-interest to engage men to publickly useful actions, is therefore the most necessary point in morals.” Now this is what I proceed to consider, in order to shew that by the laws of our nature, what the moral sense approves or virtue is private, as well as public good; and what the moral sense disapproves or vice is private as well as public ill.
Beauty is inseparply connected with uility thrughout all nature.I. And first of all I would observe, that there is no philosophical subject which affords more pleasure to the mind, than the consideration of the strict union and connexion between beauty and utility prevailing throughout nature,a as far as we are able to pry into it; and which therefore must be carefully attended to, and observed in all the arts which imitate nature. It is this union and connexion, (as I have observed in my treatis on ancient painting) between beauty and advantage, or utility in all subjects, natural and moral, throughout the whole of nature that renders nature one, or a beautiful coherent analogous system; and for the same reason renders all the sciences and arts one body, or makes them so intimately related and so inseparable one from another.
It is so in all the imitative arts, architecture, painting, &c.Tho’ beauty be an agreeable perception excited in us, necessarily and immediately on the first sight or contemplation of certain objects qualified by nature<144> to affect our mind with that pleasing idea; yet when we come to examine these objects attentively, we find, that wherever we perceive beauty, there is truth, proportion, regularity and unity of design to bring about, by a proper variety of parts, one advantageous end: one useful end that could not be accomplished by simpler or fewer means. That is to say, wherever we find beauty we find utility. Whatever is beautiful is advantageous, consonant or well contrived for a good end.
Every one who has any notion of architecture, painting or statuary, will immediately perceive that in all these arts, this connexion is so necessary, so unalterable, that it is not possible to deviate from utility without falling proportionably short of beauty to the sight: or alternately, the rules in architecture which produce beauty are all founded on utility, or necessarily produce it. And in the other arts of design, the truth and beauty of every figure is measured from the perfection of nature in her just adapting every limb and part to the activity, strength, dexterity, and vigour of the particular species designed. Now, what is the reason of this?Because it is so in nature the standard of truth. But, because it is so in nature, where universally the proportionate and regular state is the truly prosperous and natural one in every subject. Health of the body is the just proportion, truth and regular course of things, or the sound ballance of parts in our constitution. The same features which produce deformity, create incommodiousness and disease. It is so in our mundan system.And as it is in the human body, so is it every where throughout nature. The sound state is the beautiful one. Whence it is justly laid down, by the ancients, as an universal canon with regard to arts and sciences, and with regard also to moral conduct, because it is everywhere true or an universal law of nature, “That just proportions and beauty are inseparably connected with utility.” Nunquam a vero dividitur utile.46 What is<145> beautiful is good and useful, and what is good and useful is beautiful.
Is not the order of our mundan system most transportingly beautiful and pleasant in idea or contemplation? But do not the same general laws which produce that delightful ravishing beauty, order and greatness, like-wise tend to the greatest good and advantage of the whole system? What law can be altered without introducing inconveniencies proportionable to irregularity? And what is it that charms us when we survey with rapture the beauty of the mundan system? Is it not the simplicity and the consent of the few laws which hold such a vast complication of mighty orbs in due and advantageous order?And on the bodies of all animals. And when we contemplate the human body, or any other animal structure; or in general, wherever we see beauty and order in nature, what is it we find to be the basis of all that beauty and order which so strongly attracts us?—Is it not the simplicity, the frugality, the analogy, and constancy of nature, in bringing about an useful end; or, in disposing, adjusting, and compounding various parts, so as may best serve a particular good end, without either too little or too much? All that we admire, as has been already observed, is fitly expressed in this general rule observed steadily by nature. Nil frustra natura facit.47 ,a Which frustra is likewise very well defined<146> by Frustra fit pluribus quod fieri potest paucioribus.48 And therefore with regard to all arts which imitate nature, poetry, painting, architecture and statuary; and even with regard to all reasonings, arrangements of truths, or demonstrations in the sciences, this is the only rule to attain to beauty, truth and utility.
Denique sit quodvis simplex duntaxat & unum.49
It is, and must be so likewise with respect to the fabrick of the human mind, affections, actions, and characters.Now, as it is with regard to the sensible world, and to all arts and sciences, so is it also with respect to our mental fabrick: its health, soundness, and beauty, consist in the due ballance of all its powers and affections, or in just subordination to a well improved moral sense. This produces moral beauty in affections, in actions, and in character or temper; and this temper is the most advantageous one: It is the sound, the healthful, the natural, the most pleasant state: Every exercise of the affections and powers, in such a constitution is beautiful, and it is pleasant: Agreeable in immediate feeling, and good and agreeable in its consequences: every deviation, by whatever affection, from this temper or state, is proportional deformity, disease and suffering. And, finally, in proportion as the mind is nearer to this its perfect state, or further removed from it, so it is in all its exercises more happy or more wretched.
The proof of this must be fetched from the anatomy or texture of the mind.II. To prove this, we must consider the nature of our affections, their operations, and their mutual bearings, dependencies and connexions. The solution<147> to this question must be fetched from the anatomy or structure of the mind, in like manner, as the answer to any questions about the natural, or sound, and advantageous state of the body, must be brought from the science of its oeconomy and texture. Now, my Lord Shaftsbury, in his enquiry concerning virtue, has fully demonstrated, “That, according to our make and frame, or the laws of our nature, the same affections which work towards public good, work likewise towards private good, and the same affections which work towards public ill work likewise towards private ill.”50 I shall not repeat his arguments to prove this, but ’tis well worth while to take particular notice of the manner in which he proceeds; because its an excellent example of the way in which moral philosophy ought to be carried on, and in which alone indeed it can bring forth solid conclusions.
Lord Shaftsbury’s reasoning to prove it.First, he takes notice, “that no animal can properly be said to act otherwise, than through affections or passions, such as are peculiar to that animal. For, in convulsive fits, when a creature either strikes himself or others, it is a simple mechanism, an engine or piece of clock-work that acts, and not the animal. Whatsoever then is done or acted by an animal as such, is done only through some affections, as of fear, love, or hatred moving him: and as it is impossible that a weaker passion should overcome a stronger; so it is impossible when the affections or passions are strongest in the main, and form in general the most considerable party either by their force or number, but thither the animal must incline.”51 “Nothing therefore being properly goodness or illness in a creature, except what is from natural temper; a good creature is such a one as by the natural bent of its temper or affections, is carried presently52 and immediately, not secondarily and accidentally to good and against ill. And an ill creature is just the contrary, viz. one who is wanting in right affections of force enough to<148> carry him directly towards good, and bear him out against ill, or who is carried by other affections directly to ill and against good.”53 2. “But to proceed, says he, from what is esteemed meer goodness, and lies within the reach and capacity of all sensible creatures, to that which is called virtue or merit, and allowed to man only.”54 “In this case alone, it is that we call any creature worthy or virtuous, when it can have the notion of a public interest, and can attain the speculation or science of what is morally good or ill, admirable or blameable, right or wrong. For tho’ we may vulgarly call an ill horse vicious, yet we never say of a good one, or of any meer beast, ideot or changeling, that he is worthy or virtuous. So that if a creature be generous, kind, constant, compassionate, yet if he cannot reflect on what he himself does, or sees others do, so as to take notice of what is worthy or honest; and make that notice or conception of worth and honesty to be an object of his affection, he has not the character of being virtuous: for thus, and no otherwise he is capable of having a sense of right and wrong, a sentiment or judgment of what is done, through just, equal, and good affection, or the contrary.”55
Having thus defined and distinguished goodness and virtue, he observes, that “the affections or passions which must govern the animal, are either, 1. The natural affections which lead to the good of the public. 2. Or the self-affections which lead to the good of the private. 3. Or such, as neither of these, not tending to any good of the public or private; but contrariwise: and which may therefore be justly stiled unnatural affections.
“So that according as these affections stand, a creature must be either virtuous or vicious, good or ill; the later sort of these affections, ’tis evident, are wholly vicious; the two former may be vicious or virtuous according to their degree.<149>
“It may seem strange, says our author, to speak of natural affections as too strong, or of self-affections as too weak: but to clear this difficulty, we must call to mind, that natural affection may in particular cases be excessive, and in an unnatural degree; as when pity is so overcoming as to destroy its own end, and prevent the succour and relief required: or as when love to the offspring proves such fondness as destroys the parent, and consequently the off spring itself. And, notwithstanding, it may seem harsh to call that unnatural and vicious, which is only an extream of some natural and kind affection; yet it is most certain, that whenever any single good affection of this sort is over great, it must be injurious to the rest, and detract in some measure from their force and natural operation.”56 This he illustrates at great length. “But having shewn what is meant by passions being too high or in too low a degree, and that to have any natural affection too high, and any self-affection too low, tho’ it be often approved as virtue, is yet strictly speaking a vice and imperfection; he now comes to the plainer and more essential part of vice, and which alone deserves to be considered as such, that is to say. 1. When either the public affections are weak and deficient. 2. Or the private and self-affections too strong. 3. Or that such affections arise, as are neither of these, nor in any degree tending to the support either of the public or private system.
“Otherwise than this, it is impossible any creature can be such as we call ill or vicious. So that if once we prove that ’tis not the creature’s interest to be thus viciously affected, but contrariwise; we shall then have proved, that it is his interest to be wholly good and virtuous in his action and behaviour: our business therefore, says he, will be to prove,
“1. That to have the natural, kindly or generous affections strong and powerful towards the good of the public, is to have the chief means and power of<150> self-enjoyment, and that to want them is certain misery and ill. 2. That to have the private or self-affections too strong, or beyond that degree of subordinacy to the kindly and natural, is also miserable. 3. And that to have the unnatural affections, (viz. such as are neither founded on the interest of the kind or public, nor of the private person or creature himself) is to be miserable in the highest degree.”57
Now all these points he has clearly proved, in the way of moral arithmetic, by a full examination of all our affections, private or public, and their effects and consequences. Whence he concludes, that virtue is the good, and vice the ill of every one by our natural constitution. But for his arguments, I must refer the reader to himself. I have only taken notice of his way of proceeding, to shew by this example how enquiries into the human mind ought to be carried on.
Another train of reasoning to prove that virtue is private interest.That virtue is the natural good, and vice the natural evil of every one, has been evinced by several different ways of reasoning. And I think the few following propositions, which are universally owned to be true, not only amount to a full proof of it, but likewise shew that the truth is universally received and admitted.
1. It will not be disputed, that wherever the natures and connexions of pleasures and pains are fixed, there must be real differences with regard to greater and less; this must hold true in every case, as necessarily as in any one case. If therefore the natures and proportions of moral objects are fixed and determinate things, there must necessarily be in the nature of things with regard to them, as well as any other kinds of quantity, a truth and falshood of the case, a true and a false account or estimation. And therefore with respect to them, it must be our business to attain to as full a knowledge of their true values as we can, in order to make a just judgment or estimation of them. This is prudence: and prudence necessarily<151> supposes wherever it can take place, the natures or moments of things to be ascertainable. 2. But such prudence with regard to our moral conduct we can attain to; for, notwithstanding all the diversity there is among mankind in constitution, and consequently in sensibility with respect to sentiments, affections, passions, desires, uneasinesses, and, in one word, sensations of whatever kind, inward or outward; yet there is obviously such a conformity in feeling, and sentiment amongst mankind,a that it is unanimously agreed, that there is not only a real satisfaction in every exercise of social and kindly affections, but a pleasure which never cloys or ends in disgust, and which is, in that respect, superior to all the enjoyments of meer sense. And, on the other hand, the unnatural passions, such as hatred, envy, malice, misanthropy, or utter aversion to society, are allowed with universal consent, to produce compleat misery, where they are habitual and wrought into temper. But, 3. If that be true, then every step in the nature of things towards the establishment of bad and unsocial temper, must be a step toward the introduction of compleat misery into the mind; and contrariwise, every indulgence of social affection,<152> every virtuous exercise, must be an advancement toward fixing and settling that benign, generous, good temper, which is compleat joy, chearfulness and self-contentment; and therefore is commonly called the happy temper. Where there is an absolute degeneracy, a total apostacy from all candor, equity, trust, sociableness, or friendship, there are none who do not see and acknowledge the misery which is consequent: but the calamity must of necessity hold proportion with the corruption of the temper. It is impossible that it can be compleat misery, to be absolutely immoral and inhuman, and yet be no misery or ill at all to be so in any however little degree. But, besides, it is beyond all controversy, that habitudes are formed by repeated acts. Every indulgence therefore to any passion, has a tendency to fix and settle it in the mind, or to form it into temper and habit. And thus, tho’ there were no considerable ill in any one exercise of immoral affection; yet it must be contrary to interest, as it necessarily tends in consequence of the structure of our minds, that is, the dependence of our affections, to bring on the habitual temper; which is owned to be compleat misery: so far therefore our prudent part is easily descernible. Now, 4. With respect to all outward conveniencies and advantages, by the unanimous consent of all mankind, temperance is allowed universally, not only to be the best preservative of health, without which there can be no enjoyment; but to be necessary, to be able to relish pleasures in the highest degree; to be sauce to them, if one may use that vulgar phrase. And honesty is likewise owned to be the best policy: or the safest, the securest way of living and acting in society; nay, indeed the only way of securing to ourselves any solid or durable happiness. But these two truths being owned, they together with the foregoing propositions prove, “That, by the unanimous consent of mankind, founded upon universal experience, it is prudent to<153> be virtuous, and foolish to be vicious; or that virtue is the private good of every one, in all views, whether with respect to temper of mind, or outward security and advantage.” Indeed such is the universal agreement among mankind with respect to the good consequences of virtuous behaviour, and the bad ones of every vice, that there is no country in which at all times the chief virtues have not been recommended from the advantages naturally redounding from them; and, on the other hand, almost all vices are condemned on account of the disadvantages naturally resulting from them, by familiar proverbs in every one’s mouth? This we shall find to be true, if we but look into the collections of proverbs of different nations. For where, for instance, or in what nation however barbarous, is not cunning distinguished from true prudence; and are not temperance, honesty, faithfulness and generosity or benevolence, strongly inculcated by some very expressive apothegm? Nor can it indeed be otherwise, so plain and evident are the good effects of virtue, and the bad consequences of vice; and so clearly distinguishable is virtue in every case from its contrary.
But the question we are now upon is of such moment, that it is well worth while to give a short view of some of the different ways ancient philosophers have taken to shew, that virtue is man’s natural end; at once his dignity and his happiness.
The way Cicero reasons about our natural end, dignity and happiness, shewing that all these must mean the same thing.I. If we would know (says Cicero) for what end man is made and fitted, let us analyse his structure, and consider for what end it is adapted; for thus only can we know the end of any constitution, frame, or whole. Now if we look into the frame and constitution of man, and carefully<154> examine its parts and their references to one another, we shall plainly see, says he,a that it is fitted for those four virtues, prudence, benevolence, magnanimity, and moderation, or harmony and decorum; for these four virtues are nothing else but his four most distinguishing natural powers and dispositions, brought by due culture to their perfection. There are, says he, in our constitution, together with the desire of self-preservation, common to all perceptive beings, four distinguishing principles which render man capable of a peculiar dignity, perfection and happiness, superior to what merely perceptive beings can attain to. “The desire of knowledge, or the love of truth, and the capacity of attaining to it; a social disposition, or the love of public good, and the capacity of intending and pursuing it.” The desire of power and dominion, principatus, or of making ourselves great and able to do much good to ourselves and others, and the capacity of attaining to great esteem, power, and authority among mankind. And lastly, the sense and love of harmony, order, beauty, and consistency in our behaviour, and the capacity of attaining to a regular and orderly administration of our appetites.
These are the endowments, dispositions, and capacities which constitute our distinguishing excellence, or give us a higher rank in being, than the merely sensitive appetites which we have in common with other animals: but if it be so, then must the improvement<155> of these powers and principles in our nature to the highest pitch of perfection they can be brought to, be our highest end, our duty, our dignity, our happiness, if these words have any meaning at all. And accordingly all the virtues and graces which adorn man, or make him perfect and happy, may be reduced to four, which are nothing else but the best improvements of these our four above mentioned distinguishing powers and principles; prudence, benevolence, magnanimity and moderation. ’Tis these virtues mixing and blending together, which make up the beauty and greatness of actions, the beauty and greatness of life, and the proper happiness of man as man: that is, it is in the exercise of these virtues in proportion to their improvement, that all the happiness we can enjoy which is peculiar to us as intelligent rational beings of a higher order than meer sensitive animals consists. This reasoning must be just, if these principles do really take place in our nature; for if they do, they must be placed there, in order to work together jointly in proper proportions, or with forces duly and proportionally regulated and combined; and the perfection of our nature must necessarily consist in their so working; that is, in our taking care that they be all duly improved, and have all of them due exercise. If these principles do really belong to us, then it as necessarily follows that we are made by nature for acquiring and exercising prudence, benevolence, and magnanimity, and for reducing all our sensual appetites into comely and decent order; as that the perfection of any piece of mechanism, must lie in its operating regularly towards the end for which its whole structure consisting of various powers, proportioned to one another, and duly combined, is fitted. It cannot be more true, that the perfection of clockwork consists in its aptitude to measure time regularly, than that the<156> perfection of a being, endowed with the powers and dispositions fitted for acquiring knowledge, perceiving public good with delight and complacency, and for regulating all its appetites and affections, according to a sense of order, fitness, decency, and greatness, must lie in exercising all those powers and dispositions. To acquire these virtues and exercise them is therefore, with regard to man, to follow nature, and live agreeably to it; for it is to follow and live agreeably to his constitution. Virtue is therefore man’s natural end or excellence, in any sense that any thing can be said to have a natural end or excellence.
Now having fixed this point, Cicero,a after explaining fully the several exercises of these powers which by being duly improved to their perfection are the human virtues or duties, and the imperfections to which these powers are liable, thro’ neglect of proper culture and discipline, or misguidance; he proceeds to shew, that credit, reputation, esteem, love, power, authority, health, self-enjoyment, and all the advantages of life, are the natural effects and consequences of prudence, benevolence, fortitude of mind, and rightly moderated appetites; and that every vicious indulgence or neglect is as dangerous and hurtful, according to the natural course of things, as it is base and contrary to the perfection to which we are made to attain. And indeed it cannot be disputed, that it is the real interest of every man to be good, since the villain finds himself obliged to assume the semblance of virtue; and it is much easier to be really good, than to act the counterfeit part successfully; for how rarely is one able to carry on a scheme of villany under a masque,<157> without being discovered; and what are all the advantages of life, if reputation is lost?
Virtue is the surest way, according to the natural course of things to health, safety, peace, esteem, and to all the goods of life: it of itself makes or causes no unhappiness; it naturally produces no hurtful consequences, and even from the vicious, virtue commands esteem and respect. But without the love and esteem of mankind, how miserable must man be!a He is a disjointed limb, forlorn and destitute; for no limb is more dependent on the well-being of the rest, and its union with the whole body, than every man is upon society.
Upon what the arguments of ancient philosophers, to prove that virtue is private good, chiefly turn or depend.But the main stress of ancient reasoning to prove that virtue is happiness lies upon this, “That man is so made that the pleasures of the mind, i.e. of knowledge and virtue, are far superior to those of sense; and that even the best enjoyments of sense are those which the virtuous man receives from his temperate and well regulated gratifications.” Not only is it in consequence of our make the highest satisfaction which one can enjoy, to be able to approve our conduct to reason and to a moral sense; but so are we also framed, that social exercises, virtuous affections, and the temperate use of bodily pleasures are the gratifications which afford us the most exquisite touches of joy and satisfaction<158> in the way of immediate sensation, and their contraries are really painful. Whatever may be the course of outward circumstances, it is virtue alone that can make truly happy, even in immediate enjoyment, abstracting from all the pleasures of reflection upon good conduct. For external goods or means of happiness are only ministers of true satisfaction to those, whose reason and moral conscience preside over all their pursuits, and prescribe all their enjoyments. This is evident, if we take a complete view of our frame; and to prove it, I think, among many other considerations, the following are sufficient: and they are all taken from ancient writers; for the advantageousness or utility of virtue is no new discovery.
The happiness of an insect or brute can only make an insect or brute happy. A nature with further powers must have further enjoyments. The happiness of a being must be of a kind with its faculties, powers and disposition; or, in one word, with its constitution, because it must result from it. Man therefore, considering the powers and dispositions he is endowed with, must have another happiness, another set of enjoyments in order to be satisfied, than a being merely consisting of senses, without reason, conscience of merit, a public sense and generous affections. It is only a reasonable and moral happiness that can satisfy moral powers and dispositions; so that a man must first divest himself of his moral powers and dispositions before he can be made happy by mere sense alone. ’Tis true, he is not merely made for moral or intellectual happiness, being a sensitive as well as a rational creature, or a compound of these two natures. But being a compounded being, even his sensitive happiness must be rational as well as sensitive, in order to be fitted to his constitution; that is, his sensitive appetites, and their gratifications must be guided and ruled by his rational part, and partake of it.<159> Accordingly we have many a plain, incontestible experiment of the insufficiency of the most advantageous circumstances of outward enjoyment to make happy. But we have none of unhappiness produced by a well regulated mind, or well governed affections; none of unhappiness produced by the presidence of reason and virtue over our conduct. For how many are extremely happy through virtue, not only in mean but in distressed circumstances; and who are they whom affluence and wealth alone, without any assistance from virtue, have made so much as easy and contented? How tiresome is the circle of mere sensual indulgences to man in consequence of his frame! Let the fretfulness, the peevishness, the spleen, the disgusts of those, who with large estates are strangers to the luxury of doing good witness! All their complaints are so many demonstrations that virtue alone is happiness, and that they who seek it any where else do indeed labour in vain.
We are not made for sensual pleasures, but for them of the mind, or rational pleasures.Ifa we consider our frame, we shall find that the end of man is not to seek after merely sensual pleasures; but, on the contrary, he is made to raise his mind above them, and to receive more<160> satisfaction from nobly despising them, than from enjoying them in the way of ordinary appetite. It is not only greater, but it is pleasanter because it is greater to contemn all pomp, pageantry, and sensuality, than to possess the means of them. Virtue, in its original signification, means strength of mind, or such firmness as is able to withstand all temptation, whether from the side of enchanting pleasure, or from terrifying pain, rather than contradict our natural sense of what is fit and becoming; and there is not only a pleasure arising from the conscience of such strength of mind upon reflexion which is ineffable, but there is a divine satisfaction in every act of such fortitude.
Some of the ancients divided virtue thus defined into two principal parts or branches,a “Being able to deny ourselves any sensible pleasure, if reason or our moral sense forbid the indulgence: being able to withhold from the fairest promises of pleasure, till we have fully considered their pretensions, and what our moral conscience says of the fitness or unfitness of the pursuit. And being able, on the other hand, to endure with magnanimity any pain rather than counteract our sense of honour, esteem and true merit.” And man, instead of being made for voluptuousness, is made for those virtues, sustinence and abstinence. In exerting these he feels more sincere delight, than in wallowing in sensuality; because he is made to love power. We cannot have these virtues in perfection, but as all other perfections and habits<161> are acquired, but we are made to attain to them by exercise and application. Virtue is, and must be, in the nature of things, a progress. But tho’ it be a progress, a study, a struggle, a violent struggle, in like manner as getting to perfection in any science or art is; yet it is a pleasant exercise, a pleasant struggle in every step. Man is made for exercise, for making acquisitions by labour and industry. And therefore exercise is necessary to the welfare and pleasant feeling, so to speak, both of body and mind. And this is the exercise for which man is best fitted, and in which he feels the highest pleasure, even the vigorous efforts of his mind to improve his rational powers, to keep his sensitive appetites in due subjection to reason, or to obtain the mastership and command of them, and of himself.The virtuous pursuit alone can gratify our natural desire of power and dominion engrafted in us for that purpose. Virtue is therefore at the same time, that it is asserted to be man’s pleasantest employment, very justly represented by the ancients as a warfare, as a striving for victory, as contending after perfection, and mounting up towards it. It indeed chiefly consists in conquering our sensual concupiscences; and in submitting them to the rule and government of reason: but it does not follow from this, that virtue is not happiness. This brave warfare is at once our honour and our happiness; For thus alone can the natural greatness of the human mind, or its ardent desire of power, dominion and independency be satisfied. It is true, virtue is not so delightful in its first steps, as it becomes in proportion as it improves. We must distinguish here in the same manner as with regard to any science or art: as there the first elements are harsh and only afford pleasure to students, because they know they must ascend by degrees to perfection; and that the science, when once they have made any considerable advances in it, will well reward their labour and become easier, and that they are suitably employing<162> their time and talents: so is it likewise in the first steps of virtue, especially if one has bad habits and long indulged, impetuous, passions to grapple with and conquer. But virtue, like science or art, becomes more pleasant as one improves or proceeds in it. When one is become master of his passions, and virtuous inclinations are become, as it were, the bent of the soul, then all goes smoothly and equally on; and in the mean time the gradual advancement recompenses all the labour it requires, because the mind feels itself greaten, feels itself suitably employed, and feels its power and dominion increase. We have already mentioned some good effects of the greatness of our mind, with relation to knowledge; but herein chiefly does its usefulness consist, that it moves us to seek after true strength of mind; and no power, no dominion affords satisfaction to the mind of man equal to that power over ourselves and our appetites, to excite us to endeavour after which the desire of greatness was implanted in us. It is because the natural desire of power must be satisfied in some manner that other power is sought; and it is because this true power, the sweetest and pleasantest of all power, is not earnestly contended for, that the mind, if it is not employed in the pursuit of some false species of power, preys upon itself, frets and sours; and becomes at last quite languid and insensible, or quite cankered and insupportable. But the mind gradually greatning and expanding itself, as it advances in the dominion which virtue gives, is ever pleased and happy; for thus a natural and essential appetite of our nature is gratified, even the desire of power, (principatus,60 as Cicero calls it).a The extensive power <163> to which inward independence and self-command is absolutely requisite.
Some other considerations on the same subject, taken from ancient authors.Let me subjoin to all this, in order to illustrate a point of the greatest importance in the philosophy of our nature, the three following considerations, all of which are likewise urged by ancient authors with a beauty and force of expression I am not able to approach.
Virtue saves and delivers from many evils, it brings no pains along with it; it is the only support under accidental calamities, and frequently brings good from them, and converts them into real benefits to ourselves and others. Its enjoyments never fade or become insipid, but on the contrary wax more pleasant and delightful by use and practice. And as true virtue knows no reward, but in the exercises and fruitions of more improved and exalted virtue, so it is pregnant with the most comfortable, joyous hopes.
I. Virtue saves from many terrible evils, the natural concomitants or followers of vice. Ignorance is full of doubts and fears, from which knowledge of nature, or of the real connexions of things, delivers: for he who encreaseth in knowledge, increaseth in strength; the wise man is strong; he is steady and immoveable, but the ignorant are weak and feeble, a reed shaken with every wind. And it is the calm undisturbed empire of reason over the appetites that saves from inward riot and tumult, and preserves the mind in that serene chearful state, without which it is impossible to relish any pleasure in the happiest circumstances of outward enjoyment: that chearful estate which is health to<164> the heart, and marrow to the bones. For nothing can please the man who is displeased with himself; and the vicious person cannot bear to see his own image. What vice is not either painful in the immediate exercise, or brings suffering after it, or is in both these respects a great evil and mischief, as well as base and unworthy: for abstracting from the ill consciousness which the vicious mind, ever self-condemned, cannot escape or fly from, does not envy torture the mind, emaciate the body, and render one contemptible, or rather hateful, as a common enemy, which he must necessarily be considered to be? Does not avarice cark and corrode with the vile double cares of hoarding and guarding, starve the body, and eat up the soul?a Does not intemperance and sensuality surfeit, sicken, and at last destroy the very sense of pleasure, and load the body with wearisome, fatiguing pains? Are not anger and revenge a boiling, scorching fever? The little pleasure they afford when their end is accomplished, what else is it but a short-lived relaxation from the most tormenting pain, which is quickly followed by remorse and just fears? And malice, or Misanthropy, is it not misery; universal and constant bitterness of mind? It is an invenomed heart always throwing out its poison, and yet never relieved from the cruel, inward rackings<165> of its exhaustless gall and discontent. Now virtue, or well regulated affections, save from all those miseries of body and mind, which vice pulls upon us inevitably, in consequence of the frame of our minds, and the connexions of things, that the mind may fly from every tendency towards the immoral state: that it may guard against vice as its greatest enemy, as well as debaser, and run to virtue as its health and peace, its preserver, upholder and comforter, as well as its exalter and ennobler.
What pain does temperance bring along with it? What disturbance did ever goodness and generosity produce within the breast? Or what mischievous consequence, can we say any of the virtues hath naturally and necessarily attached to it? Do regularity, good humour, and sweetness of temper, and generous affection, incapacitate for the pleasures of sense? Do they not rather double them? And what signifies it to be surrounded with all the best means of pleasure, if the mind is uneasy, or galled and fretted by evil consciousness, or by turbulent peevish appetites and passions. If it be dissatisfied with itself, and keenly set upon some-thing without its reach. And what is there with in our power, or absolutely dependent on ourselves, besides the regulation of our passions and appetites, and their happy effects within ourselves? It is the joys of virtue only which nothing can take from us. The happiness of the sensualist is as independent upon him as the wind or the tide. For do not riches make to themselves wings and fly away?61 whereas a good conscience abideth for ever. Does virtue either bring diseases upon the body, or introduce uneasiness into the mind? Does it render us hateful to others, or deprive us of their esteem, trust and confidence? Does it not, on the contrary, command respect, and excite love, and trustful reliance, self-approbation, and the gladsome sense of merited affection. Must not the vicious man put on the<166> mask, the semblance of virtue, in order not to be marked out for a common enemy; and to gain his selfish, base ends? Dare he declare his inward thoughts to others? Or can he approve of them to himself? Can we be said to be fitted for luxury, debauches and voluptuousness, since the gratifications of sense, when they exceed the bounds which reason prescribes, produce uneasiness, consume the body, and are not more opposite to the exercises of reason and understanding, or even to the pleasures which imagination, when it is well formed and refined yields, so far superior to those of mere sense; than it is to a continued flow of agreeable bodily sensations? Are not a very great share of the very worst distempers and pains with which the body is sometimes so violently tormented, justly attributed to excessive sensual indulgences? Whence else come broken constitutions? Whence else comes rottenness, corruption and insensibility so early upon those who live in riot and wantonness? whilst the sober, the industrious and temperate, are generally healthful and easy, and truly venerable in their old age. The old age in which a well spent life naturally terminates, is full of satisfaction, fit for council, and highly honourable.a
II. Virtue is the only support under calamities, but vice adds to every torture. By accidental calamities, I mean all such, as arising either from the laws of matter and motion, or from our social connexions, are inevitable by prudence and virtue. A disease may be entailed by a father on a son. Virtue often suffers in society through the vices of others; and distempers or losses which flow from the constitution of the air, and other material causes which work uniformly and invariably, must<167> happen alike to all men, good and bad: but under such distresses, virtue can alleviate pain, and bear up the mind. It hath many cordials to relieve and strengthen the soul; but whither can the vicious fly for ease and comfort in such cases? since he dares not look within his own breast, without being yet more exquisitely tormented; nor can he have any satisfaction from the sense of merited esteem and love, but must consider every one of his fellow creatures at best as his despisers: and since spurning and fretting but augments his suffering. A man may sustain bodily infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear?62 The horrors of a guilty mind are truly insupportable. On the contrary, wherever the virtuous man is able to turn his thoughts, every object, whether within or without him, affords him pleasant matter of reflexion; and his being able to with-hold himself from complaining and fretting is itself a very comfortable consciousness of becoming strength of mind, or manly patience. But which is more, wisdom and virtue are able not seldom to extract goods out of such evils, and to convert them into blessings. In distresses that leave room for thought, the virtuous make reflexions which are of great use to the temper: this all the good, who have been afflicted, know; nor can it be doubted by any, seeing even the vicious are often brought by distress to a just sense of things; and come forth out of the furnace of affliction purified from much dross and corruption: made fitter for the offices of society, better friends and neighbours, more prudent, regular and virtuous in their conduct, and consequently much happier.
III. In fine, the pleasures of virtue never fade or become insipid: who was ever weary of acts of generosity, friendship and goodness? or who was ever disturbed by the consciousness of order, and worth,<168> and of merit, with all good and wise beings? Whence proceed dissatisfaction, fickleness of appetite, and nauseating amidst the greatest affluence of outward enjoyments, but from selfishness and sensuality, from seeking pleasure where it is not placed by nature, and cannot therefore be found; from endeavouring to derive more satisfaction from external objects than they are capable to afford; and from overstraining our bodily senses, while in the mean time the exercises of reason and social affection are quite discarded, and have no place in our pursuits and employments? Ambition of doing good may not have means equal to its generous desires, or may be disappointed; but the inward sense of good intention, sufficiently rewards all its scheming, all its activity. But selfishness is tormented with continual disappointments, and by the want of means equal to its insatiability; and if it reflects upon itself, is yet more so by the inward consciousness of its worthless, base, sordid demands. It has been often justly observed, that with regard to the pleasures of the body and the mind, the virtuous man, or he who is acquainted with the exercises of reason and virtue, is the properest judge to make a decision as to the preference; since none can say the pleasures of sense are less satisfactory to him, and he alone hath fully experimented the other. But we may appeal even to the vicious, the most sensual and selfish, whether their joys are durable, and do not commonly terminate in disgust and discontent? or whether, if at any time they have felt the workings of the good affections excited in them, and they have indulged them for a little, these were not the happiest moments they ever enjoyed; the only moments which they take delight to call to mind and reflect upon. No man is so corrupt, so lost to all sense of humanity, as not to have, on some occasions, felt so much of the pleasure attending virtuous affections, as to be able to<169> judge of the happiness the habitually good must enjoy; how pure, how constant and unchanging it must be: and he who is thoroughly acquainted with the pleasures of knowledge, of the contemplation of order and beauty, and above all of benevolence, places his happiness so entirely in them, that he can desire no reward, but better opportunities of exercising and improving virtue. The only longings of his soul are after more knowledge, larger views of nature, and better occasions of exercising friendship, goodness, and social love. What other happiness, wholly distinct from this, can be offered to him which he would look upon as a recompence? Would he prefer larger draughts of merely sensual joy to an improved mind, and more entensive insight into the beauty, order, wisdom and goodness in nature? Or would he imagine himself bettered for all his generous, benign, social, public-spirited endeavours, by any change of circumstances, into ease and softness, in which he should never again feel those amiable, transporting workings of a good mind, which are now his supreme delight? Virtue alone can be its own reward: There can be nothing in nature superior to virtue, either in worth and excellence, or in pleasure and satisfaction, but higher and more enlarged virtue; and therefore to suppose it recompensed by any other enjoyments, of whatever kind,a is to suppose it rewarded by being sunk into a merely animal state, consisting of no higher gratifications than those of sense, without the exercises of reason and generous affection. For all other enjoyments are necessarily as much inferior to virtue, as merely animal or vegetative life is to reason and intelligence.<170>
In whatever light therefore we consider virtue, it is man’s highest excellence and happiness, and the end to which his whole moral structure points and prompts him. Tho’ one may suffer by the vices of others, since no evil in society can be single, but as in the natural body, so in every system, where one member suffers, the whole must suffer in some proportion, the more adjacent parts chiefly. And tho’ one may also suffer with all his virtue by means of the necessary operation of those very laws on which many portions of his happiness, as a certain species or a part of a system, depend; yet without virtue no person can have any happiness of the rational kind, and but very little even in the sensitive way, or by gratifying common lower appetites. The reason is, as hath been said, because in the nature of things the happiness of an insect or brute will only make an insect or brute happy: A nature with further powers must have further enjoyments; and therefore, man, considering the power she is endowed with, must have another happiness, another set of enjoyments, in order to be satisfied, than a being merely consisting of senses without reason, conscience of merit, a public sense and generous affections.
All I have been now saying, is most feelingly expressed by our excellent moral Poet.
Conclusions concerning virtue; that it is interest or private good.Thus then it appears that we are made for virtue; and that it is our truest interest; and that whether we are to subsist after this life or not; it is present happiness, the only present happiness which bears any proportion to our constitution.
Some observations on the disputes among modern moralists about obligation.I shall conclude this article with observing, that philosophers, ancient and modern, have taken routs, which at first view appear very different in establishing the nature of human duty and happiness, but all these terminate in the same conclusion. Whether we consider the fitness of things, the truth of the case, our interest or our dignity, ’twill still come out, that virtue is what man is made for. As for the quibling and jangling about obligation, it is sufficient for us to remark,
I. If by it is meant a moral necessity arising from the power of a superior to enforce his commands, by rewards and punishments, then obligation being so defined, a man cannot be said to be obliged to virtue, but simply in respect of his being under the influence of a superior, who commands him to be virtuous by laws, which he has sufficient power to enforce by rewards and punishments. If by it is meant a moral necessity arising from natural connexions,<172> which make it our interest to behave virtuously, then is man obliged to virtue simply in this respect, (that being then the definition of obligation) because such is the natural order and establishment of things, that virtue is his interest. If by it be meant the same as more reasonable, more becoming, more perfect, &c. then is man obliged to virtue for the sake of virtue, or on account of its becomingness and excellency.
II. Now in all these different views may obligation be taken if philosophers please. And in all these different senses have philosophers proved man to be obliged to virtue: whence it must follow, that when it is owned, that virtue is fit, becoming, reasonable, and our perfection, if man is not allowed to be obliged to virtue in that sense, it must only be because obligation is thought more properly to mean one or other, or both of the other moral necessities, and not the last one named; and so the debate is merely about the use of the word obligation.
III. But it is obvious, that in all reasonings to prove that man is obliged to virtue in the first sense, the fitness or becomingness, or the natural beauty and excellence of virtue, must be laid down as the principle upon which they proceed and are founded. For how else can we know the will of the Deity with regard to our conduct; but by knowing what is in itself best and fittest? For how indeed can we prove the Being of a GOD, unless we have first formed and established, adequate and clear ideas of moral excellence and perfection? ’Till we have conceived what virtue or merit is, we cannot have any idea of GOD, or consequently of what he wills and approves.
IV. With regard to the other sense of obligation in which it means the same as interest. As all reasonings<173> about the obligations to virtue, which suppose its excellence must be highly assistant to virtue, and consequently are of the greatest importance in moral philosophy; so, on the other hand, whatever pretences are made to supporting virtue by any philosophers who deny the dignity of virtue, they are but such adherents to it as some are said to have been to the doctrines of Jesus Christ, who followed him for the sake of the loaves with which he fed them. I use this similitude, because if there be a real difference between esteem, love and friendship, for the sake of one’s amiable temper, and great and good qualities, and that hypocritical pretended affection which only eyes some selfish advantage, there must likewise be a real difference between the inward esteem and love of virtue for its own intrinsic beauty, and meer outward conformity to its rules for the sake of some conveniencies and advantages, without any inward liking to it.a If there be any real difference in the one case there must be a real one in the other. He alone can be said to do a virtuous action, who does it with delight and complacency in it as such; otherwise one who inwardly hates the person he caresses and flatters in order to get his confidence, and then betray him, is his real friend till the moment he hurts him, notwithstanding his dissimulation and evil intention; and he who abstains from robbing for fear of the gallows is as honest as he who would rather suffer the cruelest torments than commit the least injury to any one in thought, word or deed.
But all that hath been said, (from which it clearly follows, that the laws of our nature with regard to virtue, and private and public good are so fitly<174> chosen) will be yet clearer when we consider our constitution or frame with regard to society. Mean time we may conclude with my Lord Shaftsbury. “Thus the wisdom of what rules, and is first and chief in nature, has made it to be according to the private interest and good of every one, to work towards the general good; which if a creature ceases to promote, he is actually so far wanting to himself, and ceases to promote his own happiness and wellfare. He is, on this account, directly his own enemy: nor can he otherwise be good or useful to himself, than as he continues good to society, and to that whole of which he is himself a part. So that virtue, which of all excellencies and virtues is the chief and most amiable; that which is the prop and ornament of human affairs; which upholds communities, maintains union, friendship and correspondence amongst men; that by which countries as well as private families flourish and are happy; and for want of which every thing comely, conspicuous, great and worthy, must perish and go to ruin; that single quality, thus beneficial to all society, and to mankind in general, is found equally a happiness and good to each creature in particular; and is, that by which alone man can be happy, and without which he must be miserable.”65
[a. ]See Hutcheson on the passions. [Hutcheson, Passions, II.iv.]
[a. ]This observation is taken from Cicero. See it explained by him at great length, de oratore, Lib. 3. No. 45. Edit. Schrevel. Sed ut in plerisque rebus incredibiliter hoc natura est ipsa fabricata: sic in oratione; ut ea quae maximam utilitatem in se continerent eadem haberent plurimum vel dignitatis, vel saepe etiam venustatis. Incolumitatis ac salutis, omnium causa videmus hunc statum esse totius mundi atque naturae—Referte nunc animum ad hominum vel etiam caeterorum animantium formam & figuram—linquamus naturam artesque videamus, &c. Compare this passage with what he says, Orat. ad Marc. Brutum, No. 22, 23, 24, 25. [Cicero, Deoratore, III.xlv.178-xlvi.180: “But in oratory as in most matters nature has contrived with incredible skill that the things possessing most utility also have the greatest amount of dignity, and indeed frequently of beauty also. We observe that for the safety and security of the universe this whole ordered world of nature is so constituted. . . . Now carry your mind to the form and figure of human beings or even of the other living creatures. . . . Let us leave nature and contemplate the arts, etc.” Cicero, De oratore, Book III, De fato, Paradoxa Stoicorum, De partitione oratoria, trans. H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1942).]
[46. ]“The useful is never separated from the true.”
[47. ]Appears as Natura nihil agit frustra—“Nature does nothing in vain” in Newton, Principia, Regulae philosophandi, regula 1. Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy: A New Translation, by I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1999).
[a. ]This maxim is well explained by Sir Isaac Newton, in these words. “Superfluis causis non luxuriat.” See moral beauty explained by Cicero in several parts of his offices: some of the passages have been already quoted. See what is said of it in the Chapter of knowledge. It consists in the middle between the nimium and parum. There is a decorum belonging to every particular character, and therefore to every man; for every man has his distinguishing peculiar character. This is treated of at large by Cicero. But the decorum belonging to a virtuous affection or action, consists in its being duly proportioned to its end, neither too little, nor too much; analogously to what is called ease and grace, in dancing, in any other exercise, or in any art. All the phrases among the ancients, used to signify the beauty, harmony, and consistency of virtuous manners, are taken from the beauty of sensible forms in nature, or in the arts which imitate nature, music, painting, &c. Such as Numeros modosque vitae, est modus in rebus. Decorum, quid verumatque decens; and innumerable such others. So that here we have a clear proof of that analogy between the moral world or moral effects, and the natural world or sensible effects, without which language could not be a moral paintress, or paint moral sentiments, and affections and their effects. [Newton, Principia, Regulae philosophandi, regula I: “[Nature] does not indulge in the luxury of superfluous causes.” The phrase nimium et parum —“excess and defect”—appears in Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938), I.xxv.89. The following Latin phrases are all from Horace: Numeros modosque vitae—“the rhythms and measures of life” in Epistles, II.ii.144; est modus in rebus —“there is a measure in all things” in Satires, I.i.106; and Decorum, quid verumatque decens —“the correct is right and seemly” in Epistles, I.i.11.]
[48. ]Appears as frustra fit per plura quod fieri potest per pauciora —“more causes are in vain when fewer suffice” in Newton, Principia, Regulae philosophandi, regula 1.
[49. ]Horace, Ars poetica, 23: “In short, be the work what you will, let it at least be simple and uniform.” Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars poetica, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926).
[50. ]This passage seems to be a paraphrase of Shaftesbury, “Virtue” II.i.3, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 196.
[51. ]Ibid., 195–96.
[52. ]Shaftesbury, from whom Turnbull is quoting, uses the word “primarily” here, not “presently”; see Characteristics, ed. Klein, 171.
[53. ]Shaftesbury, “Virtue” I.ii.2, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 171.
[54. ]Ibid. I.ii.3, 172.
[55. ]Ibid., 173.
[56. ]Shaftesbury, “Virtue” II.i.3, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 196.
[57. ]Ibid., 200.
[a. ]Etenim ratio—certe est communis, doctrina differens, discendi quidem facultate par, nam & sensibus eadem omnia comprehenduntur: & ea quae movent sensus, itidem movent omnium: quaeque in animis imprimuntur; de quibus ante dixi, inchoatae intelligentiae, similiter in omnibus imprimuntur; interpresque est mentis oratio, verbis discrepans, sententiis congruens. Nec est quisquam gentis ullius, qui ducem naturam nactus, ad virtutem pervenire non possit. Nec solum in rectis, sed etiam in pravitatibus insignis est humani generis similitudo. Nam & voluptate capiuntur omnes: quae etsi illecebra turpitudinis, tamen habet quiddam simile naturalis boni. Quae autem natio non comitatem non benignitatem, non gratum animum & beneficii memorem diligit, quae superbos quae maleficos, quae crudeles, quae ingratos non aspernatur? Quibus ex rebus cum omne genus hominum sociatum inter se esse intelligatur, illud extremum est quod recte vivendi ratio meliores efficit. Cicero de legibus, Lib. l. No. 11. [Cicero, De legibus, I.x.30-xi.32: “. . . and indeed reason . . . is certainly common to us all, and, though varying in what it learns, at least in the capacity to learn it is invariable. For the same things are invariably perceived by the senses, and those things which stimulate the senses, stimulate them in the same way in all men; and those rudimentary beginnings of intelligence to which I have referred, which are imprinted in our minds, are imprinted on all minds alike; and speech, the mind’s interpreter, though differing in the choice of words, agrees in the sentiments expressed. In fact, there is no human being of any race who, if he finds a guide, cannot attain to virtue. The similarity of the human race is clearly marked in its evil tendencies as well as in its goodness. For pleasure also attracts all men; and even though it is an enticement to vice, yet it has some likeness to what is naturally good. . . . But what nation does not love courtesy, kindliness, gratitude, and remembrance of favours bestowed? What people does not hate and despise the haughty, the wicked, the cruel, and the ungrateful? Inasmuch as these considerations prove to us that the whole human race is bound together in unity, it follows, finally, that knowledge of the principles of right living is what makes men better.”]
[58. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.215–16.
[a. ]Cicero de officiis, l. 1. Compare with that de finibus, Lib. 2. N. 15. and 34. and de inventione rhetorica, Lib. 2. N. 53. where he defines all the virtues. So all the ancients. Virtus enim in cujusque rei natura supremum est & perfectio—tum oculi, in oculi natura, supremum & perfectio; tum hominis, in hominis natura, supremum & perfectio. Timaeus Locrus de anima mundi. So Metopus Pythagoreus, in libro de virtute. Hominis virtus, est hominis naturae perfectio—nam & equi virtus est ea, quae naturam ejus ad supremum perducit, &c. [Timaeus Locrus, De anima mundi. This is in fact in Hippodamus Thurius, De felicitate: “For virtue is the highest level and the perfection in the nature of everything. The highest level and the perfection of the eye is in the nature of the eye. The highest level and the perfection in a man is in the nature of a man.” In Gale, ed., Opuscula mythologica, physica et ethica. Graece et Latine. . . ., 660.
[a. ]See the second book of the offices, and the books de finibus, where virtue is proved to be happiness. And Tusc. quaest. De virtute seipsa contenta. De aegritudine lenienda, &c. [“De virtute seipsa” and “De aegritudine lenienda” refer to books 5 and 3, respectively, of Cicero’s Tusculanae disputationes.]
[59. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.185–88.
[a. ]That emphatical sentence of Homer hath the air of a proverb familiar in his time.
[Homer, The Odyssey of Homer, trans. . . . (from the Greek) by Alexander Pope (Lon don: Richards, 1903), II.320.]
[a. ]Quod si etiam bestiae multa faciant duce suâ, quaeque natura, partim indulgenter, vel cum labore, ut in gignendo, in educando facile appareat, aliud quiddam iis propositum, non voluptatem?—Ergo in bestiis erunt secreta a voluptate humanarum quaedam simulacra virtutum: in ipsis hominibus nisi voluptatis causa virtus nulla erit?—Nos vero, si quidem in voluptate sunt omnia longe multumque superamur a bestiis:—Ad altiora quaedam, & magnificentiora mihi crede, Torquate, nati sumus: nec id ex animi solum partibus, in quibus inest memoria.—Tu autem etiam membra ipsa, sensusque considera: qui tibi ut reliquae corporis partes, non comites solum virtutum, sed ministri etiam videbuntur. Quid si in ipso corpore multa voluptati praeponenda sunt, ut vires, valetudo, velocitas, pulchritudo? Quid tandem in animis censes? De finibus, lib. 2.—Compare lib. 5. Atqui perspicuum est, hominem è corpore animoque constare, cum primae sint animi partes, secundae corporis, &c. [Cicero, De finibus, II.xxxiii.109-xxxiv.114: “But what if even animals are prompted by their several natures to do many actions conclusively proving that they have some other end in view than pleasure? . . . If animals therefore possess some semblance of the human virtues unconnected with pleasure, are men themselves to display no virtue except as a means to pleasure? . . . As a matter of fact if pleasure be all in all, the lower animals are far and away superior to ourselves. . . . No, Torquatus, believe me, we are born for loftier and more splendid purposes. Nor is this evidenced by the mental faculties alone, including as they doa memory. . . . But I would also have you consider our actual members, and our organs of sensation, which like the other parts of the body you for your part will esteem not as the comrades merely but actually as the servants of the virtues. But if even the body has many attributes of higher value than pleasure, such as strength, health, beauty, speed of foot, what pray think you of the mind?” Compare V.xii.34: “Now it is manifest that man consists of body and mind, although the mind plays the more important part and the body the less.” Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931).]
[a. ]See Epictetus and his ancient commentators. See particularly M. Antoninus Philosophus. Atqui vide, ne cum omnes recti animi affectiones virtutes appellantur, non sit hoc proprium nomen omnium, sed ab ea, quae una ceteris antecellit, omnes nominatae sint. Appellata enim est ex viro virtus: viri autem propria maxime est fortitudo. Cujus munera duo sunt maxima,—mortis dolorisque contemtio. Utendum estigitur his, si virtutis compotis, vel potius si viri volumus esse, quoniam a viris virtus nomen est mutuata. Cicero Tuscul. Quaest. lib. 2. No. 18. [Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes, II.xviii.43: “And yet, perhaps, though all right-minded states are called virtue, the term is not appropriate to all virtues, but all have got the name from the single virtue which was found to outshine the rest, for it is from the word for ‘man’ that the word virtue is derived; but man’s peculiar virtue is fortitude, of which there are two main functions, namely scorn of death and scorn of pain. These then we must exercise if we wish to prove possessors of virtue, or rather, since the word for ‘virtue’ is borrowed from the word for ‘man,’ if we wish to be men.” Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, trans. J. E. King, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1927).]
[60. ]“Preeminence”—Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938), II.xix.66.
[a. ]We had occasion already to mention the natural greatness of our mind in speaking of knowledge. It is the desire of liberty and power, or the disposition of the mind, to expand and dilate itself and prove its force, which is the foundation of all the great arts, and of all the great virtues. Virtue is really pleasant, because it brings forth the strength of the mind into action, and makes the mind feel its own power to enlarge itself.
[a. ]This is Homer’s phrase speaking of a melancholy person, θυμον κατεδων. Ipse cor suum edens. See Cicero Tuscul. Quest. B. 3. from whence all these arguments are taken. See Horace’s Epistles, Lib. III. Epist. 2.
He uses the same phrase—Si quid est animum, &c. Therefore philosophy is called Medicina mentis. Cicero Tuscul. Quaest. Lib. III. Est profecto animi medicina philosophia. See a fine description of it in Plutarch de educandis liberis. See Horace Epist. Ep. 1. Sunt certa piacula, &c. [Homer, Iliad, 6.202: “Eating up the soul.” The phrase is used of Bellerephon in his anguish; Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes, III.xxvi.63: “Eating his heart out alone”; Horace, Epistles, I.ii.56–57: “The covetous is ever in want. . . . The envious man grows lean when his neighbour waxes fat”; ibid., I.ii.38-39: “if aught is eating into your soul, etc.” Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars poetica, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926). Medicina mentis —“medicine of the mind.” Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes, III.iii.6: “Assuredly there is an art of healing the soul—I mean philosophy.” Plutarch, De liberis educandis, 7D: “For the illnesses and affections of the mind philosophy alone is the remedy.” Plutarch, Omnia quae extant opera, 2 vols. (Paris, 1624). Horace, Epistles, I.i.36: “There are fixed charms, etc.”]
[61. ]Paraphrase of Prov. 23.5.
[a. ]See Cicero de senectute. —Sua enim vitia insipientes, & suam culpam in senectutem conferunt, &c. [Cicero, De senectute, v.14: “For, in truth, it is their own vices and their own faults that fools charge to old age, etc.”]
[62. ]Prov. 28.14.
[a. ]Praemia virtutis & officii, sancta & casta esse oportere: neque ea aut cum improbis communicari, aut in mediocribus hominibus pervulgari. Cicero de inven. rhetorica, Lib. II. [Cicero, De inventione, II.xxxix.114: “that the rewards for heroism and devotion to duty ought to be considered sacred and holy and should not be shared with inferior men nor made common by being bestowed on men of no distinction. . . .” Cicero, De inventione. . . ., trans. H. M. Hubbell, Loeb Classical Library (Lon don: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949).]
[63. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.167–69.
[64. ]Ibid., IV.77–92.
[a. ]See Cicero de finibus, Lib. 2. No. 22. Nemo pius est qui pietatem metu capit, &c.—And, de legibus, Lib. 1. No. 14. Tum autem qui non ipso honesto movemur, ut boni viri simus sed, utilitate aliqua atque fructu, callidi sumus non boni, &c. [Cicero, De finibus, II.xxii.71: “None is good, whose love of goodness, etc.” De legibus, I.xiv.41: “furthermore, those of us who are not influenced by virtue itself to be good men, but by some consideration of utility and profit, are merely shrewd, not good.”]
[65. ]Shaftesbury, “Virtue” II.ii., conclusion, in Characteristics, ed. Klein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 230.