Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION II: Of Sobriety and Temperance. - An Historical View of the English Government
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SECTION II: Of Sobriety and Temperance. - John Millar, An Historical View of the English Government 
An Historical View of the English Government, From the Settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Revolution in 1688, in four volumes, edited by Mark Salber Philips and Dale R. Smith, introduction by Mark Salber Philips (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Of Sobriety and Temperance.
The motives by which men are excited to action may be reduced to two classes: the desire of obtaining what is pleasant or agreeable, and that of avoiding what is painful or disagreeable. By the constitution of our nature, a pleasure that is near makes a stronger impression upon us than<202> one that is distant; whence it frequently happens, that we become unable to estimate properly those different objects; and by yielding to a present or immediate enjoyment, we sacrifice a future happiness of greater importance.
The virtue of temperance consists in correcting this vicious tendency, by balancing our several enjoyments, and by never allowing an inferior to usurp the place of a superior pleasure. Fortitude, which has already been considered, exercises a self-command of another kind, by holding a similar balance between painful or disagreeable objects.
The most violent appetites which often produce the greatest irregularity and inconsistency of conduct, are those of hunger and thirst, and those which relate to the intercourse of the sexes. The virtue of temperance therefore is chiefly employed in restraining the excesses of those two natural propensities.
The appetite for food, it is evident, will assume a different aspect in every country and its gratification will be variously modi-<203>fied, according as the inhabitants experience a greater plenty or scarcity of provisions. Very poor and rude nations, who have collected no regular fund for subsistence, but depend upon their daily exertions for supplying the calls of nature, are often exposed to the extremities of hunger, and when by good fortune they obtain a plentiful repast, are apt to indulge in the excesses of gluttony. Man, in this miserable state, appears to resemble those voracious brute animals who are fitted to endure a long abstinence, and who, by gormandizing sometimes destroy their vital functions.
The arts which enabled men to accumulate a stock of provisions, render them of course careful and provident of the future. Having been exposed to the pain of hunger, they endeavour to guard against that calamity; and the most obvious reflection will teach them to store up the food which they have no immediate occasion to use. The disposition to hoard grows upon them by favourable circumstances, and inspires not only anxiety to acquire, but reluctance to consume. From the slow and gradual pro-<204>gress of those improvements which tend to multiply and accumulate the necessaries of life, the pursuits of mankind are principally directed to the acquisition of daily food, and the want of this continues for a long time to be the chief object of their apprehensions. Frugality, therefore, and even parsimony, in this article, are in early ages considered as indispensible qualities, and profusion as an odious vice. In those European nations who have made considerable advances in opulence, we still find evident vestiges of this primitive way of thinking. To cast away any thing that contributes to the subsistence of man is regarded with superstitious abhorrence, as tending to provoke the resentment of Providence, “You know not what you may come to,” is the reproach which an act of this kind commonly excites among the populace in Scotland. To have a small appetite was regarded as a recommendation. “You eat nothing—one would not know what you live upon,” were the old-fashioned compliments by which the mistress of the house was accustomed to flatter her guests.<205>
From the diffusion of wealth by commerce and manufactures, there has arisen in some countries, such a regular and plentiful supply of provisions as among people in the higher and even middling ranks, to banish the idea of scarcity, and to produce, in this respect, a total change of manners. What was formerly a mere necessary expence is now converted into a matter of refinement; and the relief of hunger is lost in the enjoyments of the table. Upon the gratification of the palate, upon the natural hilarity inspired by good cheer, are ingrafted the pleasures of social intercourse; and both corporeal and mental faculties are expected to contribute their share towards an elegant entertainment. As this entertainment is level to every capacity; as it takes hold of propensities which are<206> very universal, and which from the time consumed in their indulgence, are greatly strengthened by the power of habit: as by exhibiting an appearance of wealth, it becomes in many cases a great source of ostentation and vanity; we need not wonder that it should sometimes run into prodigious excess, that it should frequently encroach upon the important business and attentions of mankind, and that it should prove hurtful and even ruinous to the fortunes of many individuals.
By the bountiful disposition of nature, the removal of the painful sensation of thirst is, in most countries and situations, attended with no labour or trouble. But here in the rudest forms of society, mankind have generally introduced a species of luxury; some artificial beverage, to relieve the insipidity of simple water, or rather to obtain the exhilarating effect of intoxication. Some invention for this purpose appears to have taken place in almost every age and country. The poor savage, upon whose mind there are few traces of thought beyond what arise from the few objects which impress his external senses,<207> and who, if not roused to exertion for the relief of his wants, passes many a tiresome melancholy hour, flies with avidity to this terrestrial nectar, which creates a new world before his eyes, makes all nature smile and dance around him, and at length steeps his senses in a grateful oblivion of his miserable existence. Our European merchants who traffic in the human species, know sufficiently the effect of this powerful charm, to conquer his affections, or to drown his feelings of humanity; and they scruple not to take advantage of his weakness, by purchasing his wife or his child for a bottle or two of spirituous liquor, or by exciting him for a bribe of the same kind, to kidnap his neighbours, or to join in bloody wars which may give rise to a plentiful harvest of prisoners.
When the use of intoxicating liquors has grown up, and been spread over a country, it is not easily eradicated. The vice of drunkenness, which is universally prevalent among barbarians, is not quickly banished, though in the progress of civilization it may be somewhat modified and restrained. Among the higher ranks, even in countries<208> far advanced in the arts, the bottle continues to be the great enlivener of conversation, the source of gaiety and pleasantry, which, if it does not always produce true wit, never fails to soften criticism, and while it blunts the faculties of the speaker, it augments in a greater proportion, the indulgence and facile applause of the company. The same happy instrument of social mirth bestows upon our failings the garb and aspect of virtue, by inspiring the glow of kindness and affection, by improving the ordinary companion into the bosom friend, and by opening the heart to the overflowings of generosity and benevolence.
We cannot, however, expect that the mirth which rises from the enchanted cup will be always the most refined or polished; or that it will not exceed the bounds of decency and decorum. The same blind and head-strong power which exalts the soul, without the guidance of reason, to sudden friendships and attachments, will also, without cause, provoke and irritate the self-important, the resentful, and discordant passions. The modest Graces wing their<209> flight from the revels of Bacchus, and are succeeded by loose riot and disorder, by rude and boisterous disputes, and by groundless and unmeaning, though sometimes fatal quarrels.
To the lower orders of the community, to the labouring poor, the delusive poison of intoxication is productive of consequences far more pernicious. It affords, indeed, a healing balsam to their toils and cares; and our fellow-feelings must reclaim against that rigid severity which would altogether deny this consolation to a class of men, by whose painful exertions the prosperity of every state is principally supported, and the rest of the society maintained in ease and affluence. But their excesses in this particular are so pregnant with mischief, so destructive of all industry and domestic attention, and lead so directly to complete dissipation, and shameless profligacy, that sobriety, or temperance in the use of intoxicating liquors, has been justly regarded as the leading virtue of the populace, and the contrary, if not the most inexcusable vice, at least the great inlet to every sort of immorality.<210>
It has been commonly thought that the propensity to strong liquors arises from physical causes; and that it is peculiarly prevalent in cold climates. It is probable that the manners of the people in the northern parts of Europe have given rise to this opinion. But it ought to be remembered that the same people, from the nature of the soil, and from the temperature of the weather, lie under great disadvantages with respect to agriculture and the common arts of life, and have therefore long remained in a situation which is favourable to this propensity. As in countries which are exposed to the extremities of cold, the savage life must be the more bitter and uncomfortable, it seems, on that account, to stand more in need of the friendly aid of intoxication; and as the progress of improvement in those countries must be slower and more difficult, so the custom of hard drinking will, in proportion as it has remained longer, be so much the more confirmed.
There is, however, from the history of the world, no ground to believe that the<211> vice of drunkenness is peculiar to cold climates. The ancient Greeks, though living in the southern part of Europe, appear to have been great drinkers. The same circumstance is mentioned as characteristic of the Gauls. It appears that the modern inhabitants of Spain were formerly distinguished by a similar character; for, in the agreeable novel of Gil Blas,16 so highly celebrated for its pictures of real manners, the fine gentlemen of Madrid are described as passing the whole night in hard drinking, and as reeling home to bed late in the morning, in the very style which is fashionable in the most drunken parts of Europe. It is true, the author has hinted in his preface, that though the scene of his work is laid in Spain, there are frequent allusions to the manners of his own countrymen; but whether we consider this feature as belonging to the Spaniards or the French, it serves equally to prove that even in modern times, the vice of drunkenness has not been confined to the northern parts of Europe.
The ancient inhabitants of Persia, a still warmer country, were notorious drunkards,<212> insomuch that Alexander, a man of universal ambition, could not think to be out-done in this respect by a people whom he had conquered in arms.* It is hardly necessary to add, that the use of opium among the Turks, who are forbid by their religion to drink wine, answers the same purpose, and has been introduced upon the same principle, with the fermented and distilled liquors of Europe.
But though debauchery in drinking may for a long time maintain its ground in those countries where it has once been firmly rooted, we have reason to expect that after a certain pitch of improvement in arts and sciences, it will be expelled from every country. The advancement of knowledge contributes, at least in the higher and middling ranks of life, to supply a fund of ideas, productive of continual amusement, and proves a powerful antidote to melancholy or dejection. To people who are<213> provided with constant resources for entertainment from the powers of imagination and reflection, the aid of intoxication is not necessary to exalt their spirits, or to enliven conversation. From the advancement of taste, they are disgusted with that coarse mirth which is the effect of strong liquors, and with that ferment of delirious joy, which is commonly requited by a subsequent mental depression and bodily indisposition. If they call in a cheerful glass, they are not tempted to such a degree of excess as will disturb the feast of reason, or interrupt the flow of elegant pleasantry. In a word, the use of the bottle is rendered subordinate to the correct enjoyment of social intercourse and becomes merely a branch of that good cheer which constitutes the most learned luxury of the table.
These observations may be illustrated by the change of manners which, in later times, have taken place in Britain and the countries connected with it. In England the custom of hard drinking among people of the better sort, is in a great measure exploded. The inhabitants of Scotland,<214> though they still lie under a bad character in point of sobriety, appear to be rapidly following the footsteps of their southern neighbours, in this as well as in other improvements. If the inhabitants of Ireland discover, in this respect, a greater attachment to the ancient usage, it is because the arts in general have made less progress in that country. Though the populace, in any of these countries, are doubtless more invariably under the dominion of those propensities which lead to intoxication, there is ground to hope that from increasing habits of industry and frugality, and from the prevailing fashion among their superiors, they will be more and more disposed to correct a vicious indulgence, which they find so prejudicial to their interest.17
With regard to the intercourse of the sexes, the virtue of temperance may be considered in three different aspects. The first is exhibited in early and rude nations.
The instinct which leads to the propagation of the species, is less necessary than the appetite for food, which is directed to the preservation of the individual. The former<215> is more affected by education than the latter, and according to the habits acquired in different situations, puts on a greater variety of aspects. The demands of hunger require a constant and regular supply, while those of the sexual appetite occur only at intervals, and are excluded by numberless wants and cares of greater importance. The former is equally an object of attention in all ages and countries; but the latter must be in great measure overlooked in that miserable state of society where men have made no provision for subsistence, and are engaged in continual struggles for procuring the bare necessaries of life.
It is observed, that the greater part of animals, who have much difficulty in procuring their food, which is remarkably the case of all the carnivorous, are restricted in the intercourse of the sexes to particular seasons; and it is probable that in the human species, when they subsist principally by hunting and fishing, the propensities of nature are usually so feeble as to be consistent with similar restrictions.<216>
Even at this early period, however, some kind of marriage, or permanent union between persons of different sexes, for the purpose of rearing and maintaining their children, has generally taken place. That natural affection which is implanted not only in all mankind, but in the more sagacious of the brute animals, disposes the parents universally to co-operate in maintaining their offspring. In the brute creation, indeed, the union arising from that circumstance is commonly of short duration; because the young animal, soon after the birth, is in a condition to provide for its own subsistence. But the offspring of the human species remains, for so long a period, in a state of perfect imbecillity, that the parents, in the natural course of things, are likely to have propagated several children before their protection and care of the first can be dispensed with. Their connection, therefore, from the same circumstance which gave rise to it is prolonged, not only while the mother is capable of child-bearing, but until the youngest child is able to maintain<217> itself; and the habits which they acquire by living so long in the same family, in the company of each other and of their children, must render it agreeable, and in most cases expedient, that their union should be continued for the rest of their life.
Thus the society produced by marriage, though doubtless, originating in a blind propensity, is promoted and supported by feelings of a superior order. The conjugal, the parental, and filial relations give rise to various modifications of mutual sympathy and benevolence, which, in their range are not the most extensive, but which operating in a sphere adapted to the limited capacities of the human heart, are exerted in such directions as are most conducive to the great purposes of human nature. The good which we can do to mankind at large is commonly inconsiderable; but the benefits which may result from our acting with propriety in the exercise of domestic affections, are above all calculation.
In this early state of society, the manners of mankind, with relation to the intercourse of the sexes, are usually removed at the<218> greatest distance from intemperance. The propensity or instinct which leads to the continuance of the species is commonly no more than sufficient to answer the purpose for which it is implanted in all mankind. In very rude ages, people are so far from being addicted to excess in its indulgence, that upon the slightest degree of refinement in this particular, they become ashamed of its ordinary gratifications. In many barbarous tribes it is a punctilio of decorum that the husband and wife should cohabit by stealth; and if among such people, correct notions of chastity are in a great measure unknown, this proceeds not from habits of debauchery, but from ignorance of those principles which recommend personal fidelity to an individual. It may, at the same time, be remarked, that although the conjugal affection, when joined to the love of offspring, has been capable, at an early period, of cementing families, and thus laying the foundation of political society, it is not of itself sufficient in those times, to give much consideration and dignity to the wife, or even to prevent her, in consequence of her<219> inferiority in strength and courage, from becoming the servant or slave of the husband.
The second aspect of society to which I alluded, is that which arises from the advancement of the useful arts, from the consequent acquisition and extension of property, and from the progress of civil government.
The advancement of a people in the various arts, which procure the progressive accommodations and conveniencies of life, and the accumulation of property in different proportions by individuals, must affect the intercourse of the sexes in two different ways. In the first place, when men are placed in a situation which relieves them from the pressure of immediate want, and supplies them with abundance of whatever is necessary to subsistence, their attention is, of course, directed to other less important gratifications; they obey the suggestions of nature by indulging their various propensities, and become, from the influence of habit, more and more addicted to pleasure. The different degrees of wealth, on<220> the other hand, which arise from the talents or the fortune of individuals, give rise to such differences of rank and condition, as remove different families to a distance from each other, inflame and swell them with family pride and jealousy, and, from an apprehension of unsuitable and degrading alliances, renders them averse from that familiarity and freedom of intercourse which might be attended either with licentious indulgence, or with hasty and inconsiderate matrimonial connections.
The indiscriminate gratification of the propensity between the sexes is further obstructed by the general improvements of society. From a gradual refinement of taste and manners, there is produced a nicer selection of objects, and a stronger preference of those individuals, by whose beauty, or other personal qualities, our desires have been peculiarly exerted. But the same circumstances, which create more diversity of taste, will tend more frequently to prevent a reciprocity of inclination, and consequently, will often render it more difficult<221> for the lover to attain the object of his wishes.
The restraints which are thus laid upon the sexual correspondence, contribute, in a high degree, to improve and augment the pleasures which result from it. The difficulties, the delays, the disappointments, which we experience in pursuit of a favourite gratification, cannot fail to enhance its value, by fixing our attention for a length of time upon the same object, by disposing us to estimate the attainment in proportion to the distress which we feel from the want of it, and by rousing the imagination to paint every circumstance in such colours as may flatter our prevailing inclinations. These are the great expedients of nature, which give rise to peculiar attachments, and by which a simple desire or appetite is often converted into a violent passion.
The effects of mere facility in procuring subsistence, while no difficulties occur in the indulgence of the sexual propensities, may be illustrated by the manners which prevail in Otaheite18 and those neighbouring islands in the South Sea, with which Euro-<222>pean travellers have lately made us acquainted. Those people, from their singularly happy climate, are without industry or labour, possessed of all the necessaries of life. As they have, at the same time, accumulated little or no wealth, they are, in a great measure, strangers to those distinctions of rank which divide and separate the inhabitants of civilized countries; and, as they have never been roused to active exertions, either of body or mind, they are unacquainted with those refinements of taste and manners which arise from the cultivation of the arts. Living, therefore, in constant ease and idleness, they are strongly addicted to sensual pleasure; but they are debauched without passion, and voluptuous without elegance, or even discrimination of objects.
The effect of uncommon restraints upon the intercourse of the sexes may, on the other hand, be observed in the manners of those Gothic nations, who over-ran and subdued the western provinces of the Roman empire. Those nations, acquiring large possessions by their conquest, and spreading themselves over an extensive territory, were<223> formed into a multitude of separate baronies, under the authority of a sovereign, but so independent, and so feebly united, as to be under little restraint in the exercise of mutual hostilities and depredations. By these peculiar circumstances, which remained for several centuries, neighbouring families contracted such animosities, and entertained such apprehension and jealousy of each other, as became an insuperable bar to their intimate correspondence, and therefore interrupted, in proportion, the communication of the sexes. To this interruption we may ascribe the romantic love, the uncommon purity and delicacy of sentiment, which appear so conspicuously in the manners of that period, and of which there are still very evident and remarkable traces in the turn of thinking, the usages, and the literature of the present European nations.
The ordinary state of civilized society exhibits a medium between those two extremes; with neither the voluptuousness of the former, nor the fantastic love and admiration of the latter; but with a moderate sensibility to pleasure, derived from the<224> advancement of taste, and with a degree of passion excited by the usual impediments to gratification. Upon the first considerable advances of commerce and the arts, the situation of mankind is rendered so easy and comfortable, as disposes them commonly to enter into marriage whenever they arrive at that period of life which fits them for the discharge of its duties; and in forming this connection, they must frequently, from differences of rank or personal qualities, or from accidental circumstances, meet with various obstacles to the attainment of their wishes, and be engaged in a long courtship, which, by inflaming their desires, and fixing their imagination upon the same object, is likely to create a sincere and lasting attachment; an attachment, upon which all the domestic virtues are easily engrafted, and which is capable of rendering all the cares of the marriage state light and agreeable. The ardour of a blind appetite is thus controuled by feelings of a superior order; and the passion of love becomes the guardian of temperance.<225>
The high cultivation of the elegant arts, and the introduction of immoderate opulence, give rise to a third variety, by which, in relation to the present subject, the manners of society require to be distinguished.
Luxury and expensive living are the natural attendants of great wealth. Excited by mutual emulation, individuals, in proportion to their riches, endeavour more and more to surpass one another in elegance and magnificence, and in supplying those wants by which, from fashionable extravagance, they are continually solicited, must find at length that their income, however large, is inadequate to their demands. They become, of consequence, unwilling to take upon them the additional burden of maintaining a family. While the men, by whose courage and superior exertions property is, in a great measure engrossed, are thus generally disposed to remain in the state of bachelors, a proportional part of the other sex are laid under the necessity of remaining unmarried; and both, from the operation of the same causes, contract, unavoid-<226>ably, such habits as tend to disqualify them from enjoying happiness in the married state. It may, at the same time, be expected that persons, who, notwithstanding these discouragements, are induced to form a matrimonial connection, will endeavour to compensate the inconveniences attending it, by regarding the fortune more than the personal attractions of their yoke-mates. From such a mercenary traffic, it would be vain to look for that harmony which is requisite to promote the welfare of the family. To such marriages may be applied the maxim of the civil law: Societas est mater discordiarum.19
These observations are illustrated by the manners of ancient Rome about the beginning of her despotical government. The great wealth imported from the conquered provinces had then given rise to such a degree of luxury and expensive living as proved extremely unfavourable to marriage, and induced the Emperor Augustus to encourage that union, by various taxes and penalties upon celibacy, and by bestowing suitable premiums upon married people,<227> and upon those who had produced a number of children. The same circumstance introduced the avowed and very universal practice, among wealthy and unmarried persons, of keeping a concubine, whose children, being of inferior rank, were maintained at less expence, but who, in other respects, was viewed in a light somewhat similar to that of a wife.
So mercenary were the Romans in their matrimonial alliances, that a woman who brought no dower to her husband, was considered in a disgraceful situation; and unless there appeared good evidence of her marriage, she was held to be, not a wife, but a concubine.
The same circumstances which render marriage inconvenient and burdensome, in regard to pecuniary interest, are no less unfavourable to that connection from the general progress of dissipation and voluptuousness.
Among nations possessed of moderate wealth, who are chiefly occupied in the cultivation of the useful arts, the inhabitants are, for the most part, engaged in<228> serious employments, by which they are separated into various departments, and prevented from holding an extensive communication. The members of neighbouring families, the several knots of kindred and acquaintance, whom accidents, or the transactions of business, have collected in small circles, are accustomed to keep company with one another, but little intercourse is held with strangers. Among persons of different sexes, living in this retired situation, the imagination will frequently be led to form a reciprocal and permanent attachment. But the advancement of a people in those arts which are subservient to pleasure and amusement, occasions a more extensive correspondence among the different members of society. Almost all men of fortune, and of liberal education, whose residence admits of their intercourse, become acquainted with each other, and frequently assemble in all the fashionable meetings of pleasure and amusement. The more opulent they become, and the more polished in their manners, these meetings become the more numerous; and the com-<229>munication among people of rank and condition is, in proportion, extended and diversified. In these polite circles, the women claim an equal share with the other sex, and by their agreeable accomplishments, by their delicacy and vivacity, as well as by their personal charms, contribute no less to the entertainment.
The unreserved and extensive intercourse of the two sexes has, doubtless, a tendency to divide the attention among a great variety of objects, to efface the impression of one object by that of another; and, consequently, to prevent a strong or lasting attachment to any individual. The sensibility of the heart is thus gradually worn out and exhausted by continual dissipation; and the passion, which formerly excited all the tender affections, is at length converted into a mere vehicle of sensual enjoyment. A spirit of gallantry and intrigue, totally inconsistent with the duties of domestic society, is of course introduced in the higher ranks; to whom it affords that occupation and amusement which their inferiors derive from the pursuits of industry. In the natural<230> course of things, the dissipated manners of the rich are, by the force of example, communicated to the lower orders, among whom they lose that appearance of refinement in which they were enveloped, and appear in the undisguised form of gross debauchery and common prostitution.
This progress of dissipation and voluptuousness may be observed in all countries where the people have made great advances in the accumulation of wealth, and in the arts which administer to luxury and extravagance. In ancient Rome, in the great Asiatic nations, in modern Italy, France, and England, a dissoluteness of manners, in relation to the intercourse of the sexes, appears to have been the inseparable attendant of great opulence; though from peculiar circumstances in these different countries, it has been exhibited under various modifications.
The ancient Romans passed very suddenly from poverty and barbarism to immoderate wealth and luxury; and, between these two extremes, there seems to have passed no interval which was calculated to refine and<231> exalt the passion between the sexes. When they advanced, therefore, into the latter situation, about the end of the commonwealth, they had acquired no previous habits, to prevent them from sinking at once into a degree of sensuality, and gross debauchery, of which there is no example. Among them, the shameless profligacy of a Messalina, was understood to exhibit the behaviour of a woman of rank, immoderately addicted to the pursuits of gallantry and pleasure.20
In the present opulent nations of Europe, the vestiges which remain of the refined sentiments of a former period, have produced in the higher ranks, a more elegant species of licentiousness; at the same time that the Christian religion, by exalting the merit of restraint, and even of total abstinence, in relation to the sexual correspondence, has contributed, no doubt, to retard a general relaxation of manners. In particular, the authority of the church, which was exerted to render marriage an indissoluble tie, has prevented parents, in many cases, from being led by caprice, or bad humour, to<232> form such connections as were incompatible with the interest of their children. The regulations to this effect have not, indeed, entirely maintained their ground, in opposition to the spirit of the later age. In some parts of Europe they have been subjected to limitations; in others they have been evaded; in France they have been wholly repealed.
In the great eastern nations, the practice of polygamy, though calculated to promote, in the one sex, an unlimited indulgence in sensual pleasure, is equally adverse, on the one hand, to gross prostitution; and, on the other, to the refinements of sentimental passion. The harams and seraglios of the east are said to exhibit an assemblage of beauty in the utmost variety of elegant forms; but they leave their indolent master nothing to desire except the capacity of enjoyment.
Some benevolent philosophers have indulged the pleasing speculation, that the faculties and virtues of mankind are universally improved by the progress of the arts and sciences; and that human nature, by<233> culture and education, is led to endless degrees of perfection.21 To this flattering, and perhaps generally well-founded hypothesis, the circumstance now suggested appears to form a remarkable exception. Nothing can be more inconsistent with the finer feelings of the heart; nothing more incompatible with the order of society; nothing more destructive of those bands which unite men together, and enable them to live in mutual confidence and security, than debauchery and dissolute manners. The indiscriminate voluptuousness of the one sex cannot fail to produce a still greater depravity of the other, by annihilating the female point of honour, and introducing universal prostitution. The rank of the women is thus degraded; marriage becomes hardly the source of a peculiar connection; and the unhappy child who is born in a family, instead of reaping advantage from the natural prepossessions and affections of its parents, is doomed to suffer the fatal consequences of their jealousy and discord. The effect of their negligence, in such a<234> situation, may easily be conceived, when we consider the hard fortune which is commonly experienced by the issue of an illegitimate correspondence.
Nature has wisely provided, that the education and even the maintenance of the human offspring, should not depend upon general philanthropy or benevolence, deduced from abstracted philosophical principles; but upon peculiar passions and feelings, which have a more powerful and immediate influence on the conduct of mankind: and, when these passions are weakened, these feelings destroyed, we shall in vain expect their place to be supplied by general views of utility to mankind, or particular interpositions of the legislature.<235>
[15. ]The lines are from Alexander Pope’s “Second Satire of the Second Book of Horace Imitated,” lines 91–98. See note 25 in this chapter.
[16. ]French picaresque novel by Alain René Lesage (1668–1747), which appeared in four volumes 1715–35.
[* ]Darius’s Epitaph on himself—“That he was a great conquerer and a great drinker.” See the facts collected on this subject by Mr. Hume. “Essay of Nat. Characters.”
[17. ]For a parallel discussion, see DR, chap. 1, sec. 4, 67–86.
[18. ]Former name of Tahiti.
[19. ]“Society is the mother of discord” (or, “Association is the mother of disagreements”).
[20. ]Valeria Messalina (ca. 24–48): third wife of emperor Claudius I (r. 41–54), notorious for her many affairs. She was executed by Claudius in 48.
[21. ]Millar’s reference is very likely to the perfectibilist philosophies of William Godwin (1756–1836) and Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat Condorcet (1743–94).