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Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, ed. Douglas den Uyl (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001). 3 vols. Vol. 2.
This new Liberty Fund edition of Characteristicks presents the complete 1732 text of this classic work of philosophy and political theory. Also included are faithful reproductions of the stirring engravings that Shaftesbury created to facilitate the reader’s consideration of his meditations on the interrelationships among truth, goodness, beauty, virtue, liberty, responsibility, society, and the state.
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Virtue, or Merit.
Formerly Printed from an Imperfect Copy:
Now Corrected, and Publish’d intire.
The jest set aside, let us inquire
about serious matters. Hor. Sat. I.
Printed first in the Year M.DC.XC.IX.
Occasion of this INQUIRY.RELIGION and VIRTUE appear in many respects so nearly related, that they are generally presum’d inseparable Companions. And so willing we are to believe well of their Union, that we hardly allow it just to speak, or even think of ’em apart. It may however be question’d, whether the Practice of the World, in this respect, be answerable to our Speculation. ’Tis certain that we sometimes meet with Instances which seem to make against this general Supposition. We have known People, who having the Appearance of great Zeal in Religion, have yet wanted even the common Affections of Humanity, and shewn themselves extremely degenerate and corrupt. Others, again, who have paid little regard to Religion, and been consider’d as mere Atheists, have yet been observ’d to practice the Rules of Morality, and act in many Cases with such good Meaning and Affection towards Mankind, as might seem to force an Acknowledgment of their being virtuous. And, in general, we find mere moral Principles of such weight, that in our dealings with Men, we are seldom satisfy’d by the fullest Assurance given us of their Zeal in Religion, till we hear something further of their Character. If we are told, a Man is religious; we still ask, “What are his Morals?” But if we hear at first that he has honest moral Principles, and is a Man of natural Justice and good Temper, we seldom think of the other Question, “Whether he be religious and devout?”
This has given occasion to enquire, “What Honesty or Virtue is, consider’d by it-self; and in what manner it is influenc’d by Religion: How far Religion necessarily implies Virtue; and whether it be a true Saying, That it is impossible for an Atheist to be virtuous, or share any real degree of Honesty, orMerit.”
And here it cannot justly be wonder’d at, if the Method of explaining Things shou’d appear somewhat unusual; since the Subject-Matter has been so little examin’d, and is of so nice and dangerous Speculation. For so much is the religious part of Mankind alarm’d by the Freedom of some late Pens; and so great a Jealousy is rais’d every-where on this Account; that whatever an Author may suggest in favour of Religion, he will gain little Credit in the Cause, if he allows the least Advantage to any other Principle. On the other side, the Men of Wit and Raillery, whose pleasantest Entertainment is in the exposing the weak sides of Religion, are so desperately afraid of being drawn into any serious Thoughts of it, that they look upon a Man as guilty of foul Play, who assumes the air of a Free Writer, and at the same time preserves any regard for the Principles of Natural Religion. They are apt to give as little quarter as they receive: And are resolv’d to think as ill of the Morals of their Antagonists, as their Antagonists can possibly think of theirs. Neither of ’em, it seems, will allow the least Advantage to the other. ’Tis as hard to persuade one sort, that there is any Virtue in Religion, as the other, that there is any Virtue out of the Verge of their particular Community. So that, between both, an Author must past his time ill, who dares plead for Religion and Moral Virtue, without lessening the force of either; but allowing to each its proper Province, and due Rank, wou’d hinder their being made Enemys by Detraction.
However it be: If we wou’d pretend to give the least new light, or explain any thing effectually, within the intended Compass of this Inquiry; ’tis necessary to take Things pretty deep; and endeavour, by some short Scheme, to represent the Original of each Opinion, whether natural or unnatural, relating to the Deity. And if we can happily get clear of this thorny part of our Philosophy; the rest, ’tis hop’d, may prove more plain and easy.
State of Opinions.IN the Whole of Things (or in the Universe) either all is according to a good Order, and the most agreeable to a general Interest: or there is that which is otherwise, and might possibly have been better constituted, more wisely contriv’d, and with more advantage to the general Interest of Beings, or of the Whole.
If every thing which exists be according to a good Order, and for the best; then of necessity there is no such thing as real ILL in the Universe, nothing ILL with respect to the Whole.
Whatsoever, then, is so as that it cou’d not really have been better, or any way better order’d, is perfectly good. Whatsoever in the Order of the World can be call’d ILL, must imply a possibility in the nature of the thing to have been better contriv’d, or order’d. For if it cou’d not; it is perfect, and as it shou’d be.
Whatsoever is really ILL, therefore, must be caus’d or produc’d, either by Design, (that is to say, with Knowledg and Intelligence) or, in defect of this, by Hazard, and mere Chance.
If there be any thing ILL in the Universe from Design, then that which disposes all things, is no one good designing Principle. For either the one designing Principle is it-self corrupt; or there is some other in being which operates contrarily, and is ILL.
If there be any ILL in the Universe from mere Chance; then a designing Principle or Mind, whether Good or Bad, cannot be the Cause of all things. And consequently, if there be suppos’d a designing Principle, who is the Cause only of Good, but cannot prevent the Ill which happens from Chance, or from a contrary ill Design; then there can be suppos’d in reality no such thing as a superior good Design or Mind, other than what is impotent and defective: For not to correct, or totally exclude that Ill of Chance, or of a contrary ill Design, must proceed either from Impotency, or Ill-Will.
Whatsoever is superior in any degree over the World, or rules in Nature with Discernment and a Mind, is what, by universal Agreement, Men call God. If there are several such superior Minds, they are so many Gods: But if that single, or those several Superiors are not in their nature necessarily good, they rather take the name of Daemon.
To believe therefore that every thing is govern’d, order’d, or regulated for the best, by a designing Principle, or Mind, necessarily good and permanent, is to be a perfect Theist.
To believe nothing of a designing Principle or Mind, nor any Cause, Measure, or Rule of Things, but Chance; so that in Nature neither the Interest of the Whole, nor of any Particulars, can be said to be in the least design’d, pursu’d, or aim’d at; is to be a perfect Atheist.
To believe no one supreme designing Principle or Mind, but rather two, three, or more, (tho in their nature good) is to be a Polytheist.
To believe the governing Mind, or Minds, not absolutely and necessarily good, nor confin’d to what is best, but capable of acting according to mere Will or Fancy; is to be a Daemonist.
There are few who think always consistently, or according to one certain Hypothesis, upon any Subject so abstruse and intricate as the Cause of all Things, and the OEconomy or Government of the Universe. For ’tis evident in the Case of the most devout People, even by their own Confession, that there are Times when their Faith hardly can support ’em in the Belief of a supreme Wisdom; and that they are often tempted to judg disadvantageously of a Providence, and just Administration in the Whole.
That alone, therefore, is to be call’d a Man’s Opinion, which is of any other the most habitual to him, and occurs upon most occasions. So that ’tis hard to pronounce certainly of any Man, that he is an Atheist; because unless his whole Thoughts are at all Seasons, and on all Occasions, steddily bent against all Supposition or Imagination of Design in Things, he is no perfectAtheist. In the same manner, if a Man’s Thoughts are not at all times steddy and resolute against all Imagination of Chance, Fortune, or ill Design in Things, he is no perfectTheist. But if anyone believes more of Chance and Confusion than of Design; he is to be esteem’d more anAtheist than a Theist, from that which most predominates, or has the ascendent. And in case he believes more of the Prevalency of an ill-designing Principle, than of a good one, he is rather a Daemonist; and may be justly so call’d, from the Side to which the Balance of his Judgment most inclines.
All these sorts both of Daemonism, Polytheism, Atheism, and Theism, may be mix’d. Religion excludes only perfect Atheism. Perfect Daemonists undoubtedly there are in Religion; because we know whole Nations who worship a Devil or Fiend, to whom they sacrifice and offer Prayers and Supplications, in reality on no other account than because they fear him. And we know very well that, in some Religions, there are those who expresly give no other Idea of God, than of a Being arbitrary, violent, causing Ill, and ordaining to Misery; which in effect is the same as to substitute a Daemon, or Devil, in his room.
Now since there are these several Opinions concerning a superior Power; and since there may be found perhaps some Persons, who have no form’d Opinion at all upon this Subject; either thro’ Scepticism, Negligence of Thought, or Confusion of Judgment: the Consideration is, how any of these Opinions, or this want of any certain Opinion, may possibly consist with Virtue and Merit; or be compatible with an honest or moral Character.
A Constitution.WHEN we reflect on any ordinary Frame or Constitution either of Art or Nature; and consider how hard it is to give the least account of a particular Part, without a competent Knowledg of the Whole:Whole and Parts. we need not wonder to find our-selves at a loss in many things relating to the Constitution and Frame of Nature her-self. For to what End in Nature many things, even whole Species of Creatures, refer; or to what purpose they serve; will be hard for any-one justly to determine: But to what End the many Proportions and various Shapes of Parts in many Creatures actually serve; we are able, by the help of Study and Observation, to demonstrate, with great exactness.
We know that every Creature has a private Good and Interest of his own; which Nature has compel’d him to seek, by all the Advantages afforded him, within the compass of his Make. We know that there is in reality a right and a wrong State of every Creature; and that his right-one is by Nature forwarded, and by himself affectionately sought. There being therefore in every Creature a certain Interest or Good;Interest or End in Creatures. there must be also a certain End, to which every thing in his Constitution must naturally refer. To this End, if any thing, either in his Appetites, Passions, or Affections, be not conducing, but the contrary; we must of necessity own it ill to him. And in this manner he is ill, with respect to himself; as he certainly is, with respect to othersof his kind, when any such Appetites or Passions make him any-way injurious to them.Interest of the Species. Now, if by the natural Constitution of any rational Creature, the same Irregularitys of Appetite which make him ill to Others, make him ill also to Him-self; and if the same Regularity of Affections, which causes him to be good in one sense, causes him to be good also in the other;Goodness. then is that Goodness by which he is thus useful to others, a real Good and Advantage to himself. And thus Virtue and Interest may be found at last to agree.
Of this we shall consider particularly in the latter part of our Inquiry. Our first Design is, to see if we can clearly determine what that Quality is to which we give the Name of Goodness, or Virtue.
Private Good.Shou’d a Historian or Traveller describe to us a certain Creature of a more solitary Disposition than ever was yet heard of; one who had neither Mate nor Fellow of any kind; nothing of his own Likeness, towards which he stood well-affected or inclin’d; nor any thing without, or beyond himself, for which he had the least Passion or Concern: we might be apt to say perhaps, without much hesitation, “That this was doubtless a very melancholy Creature, and that in this unsociable and sullen State he was like to have a very disconsolate kind of Life.” But if we were assur’d, that notwithstanding all Appearances, the Creature enjoy’d himself extremely, had a great relish of Life, and was in nothing wanting to his own Good; we might acknowledg perhaps, “That the Creature was no Monster, nor absurdly constituted as to himself.”Private SYSTEM. But we shou’d hardly, after all, be induc’d to say of him, “That he was a good Creature.” However, shou’d it be urg’d against us, “That such as he was, the Creature was still perfect in himself, and therefore to be esteem’d good: For what had he to do with others?” In this sense, indeed, we might be forc’d to acknowledg, “That he was a good Creature; if he cou’d be understood to be absolute and compleat in himself; without any real relation to any thing in the Universe besides.” For shou’d there be any where in Nature a System,System of the Species. of which this living Creature was to be consider’d as a Part; then cou’d he no-wise be allow’d good; whilst he plainly appear’d to be such a Part, as made rather to the harm than good of that System or Whole in which he was included.
If therefore in the Structure of this or any other Animal, there be any thing which points beyond himself, and by which he is plainly discover’d to have relation to some other Being or Nature besides his own; then will this Animal undoubtedly be esteem’d a Part of some other System. For instance, if an Animal has the Proportions of a Male, it shews he has relation to a Female. And the respective Proportions both of the Male and Female will be allow’d, doubtless, to have a joint-relation to another Existence and Order of things beyond themselves. So that the Creatures are both of ’em to be consider’d as Parts of another System: which is that of a particular Race or Species of living Creatures, who have some one common Nature, or are provided for, by some one Order or Constitution of things subsisting together, and co-operating towards their Conservation, and Support.
Animal System.In the same manner, if a whole Species of Animals contribute to the Existence or Well-being of some other; then is that whole Species, in general, a Part only of some other System.
For instance; To the Existence of the Spider, that of the Fly is absolutely necessary. The heedless Flight, weak Frame, and tender Body of this latter Insect, fit and determine him as much a Prey, as the rough Make, Watchfulness, and Cunning of the former, fit him for Rapine, and the ensnaring part. The Web and Wing are suted to each other. And in the Structure of each of these Animals, there is as apparent and perfect a relation to the other, as in our own Bodys there is a relation of Limbs and Organs; or, as in the Branches or Leaves of a Tree, we see a relation of each to the other, and all, in common, to one Root and Trunk.
In the same manner are Flies also necessary to the Existence of other Creatures, both Fowls and Fish. And thus are other Species or Kinds subservient to one another; as being Parts of a certain System, and included in one and the same Order of Beings.
So that there is a System of all Animals; an Animal-Order or OEconomy, according to which the animal Affairs are regulated and dispos’d.
System of the Earth.Now, if the whole System of Animals, together with that of Vegetables, and all other things in this inferior World, be properly comprehended in one System of a Globe or Earth: And if, again, this Globe or Earth it-self appears to have a real Dependence on something still beyond; as, for example, either on its Sun, the Galaxy, or its Fellow-Planets;Planetary System. then is it in reality a Part only of some other System. And if it be allow’d, that there is in like manner a Systemof all Things, and a Universal Nature;Universal System. there can be no particular Being or System which is not either good or ill in that general one of the Universe: For if it be insignificant and of no use, it is a Fault or Imperfection, and consequently ill in the general System.
Therefore if any Being be wholly and reallyIll, it must be ill with respect to the Universal System; and then the System of the Universe is ill, or imperfect. But if the Ill of one private System be the Good of others; if it makes still to the Good of the general System, (as when one Creature lives by the Destruction of another; one thing is generated from the Corruption of another; or one planetary System or Vortex may swallow up another) then is the Ill of that private System no real Ill in it-self; any more than the pain of breeding Teeth is ill, in a System or Body which is so constituted, that without this occasion of Pain, it wou’d suffer worse, by being defective.
So that we cannot say of any Being, that it is wholly and absolutely ill,Absolute ILL. unless we can positively shew and ascertain, that what we call Ill is no where Good besides, in any other System, or with respect to any other Order or OEconomy whatsoever.
Relative ILL.But were there in the World any intire Species of Animals destructive to every other, it may be justly call’d an ill Species; as being ill in the Animal-System. And if in any Species of Animals (as in Men, for example) one Man is of a nature pernicious to the rest, he is in this respect justly styl’d an ill Man.
Good and ill Man.We do not however say of any-one, that he is an ill Man because he has the Plague-Spots upon him, or because he has convulsive Fits which make him strike and wound such as approach him. Nor do we say on the other side, that he is a good Man, when having his Hands ty’d up, he is hinder’d from doing the Mischief he designs; or (which is in a manner the same) when he abstains from executing his ill purpose, thro’ a fear of some impending Punishment, or thro’ the allurement of some exterior Reward.
Goodness thro’ Affection.So that in a sensible Creature, that which is not done thro’ any Affection at all, makes neither Good nor Ill in the nature of that Creature; who then only is suppos’d Good, when the Good or Ill of the System to which he has relation, is the immediate Object of some Passion or Affection moving him.
Since it is therefore by Affection merely that a Creature is esteem’d good or ill, natural or unnatural; our business will be, to examine which are the good and natural, and which the ill and unnatural Affections.
Private or Self-Affection.IN the first place then, it may be observ’d, that if there be an Affection towards any Subject consider’d as private Good, which is not really such, but imaginary; this Affection, as being superfluous, and detracting from the Force of other requisite and good Affections, is in it-self vitious and ill, even in respect of the private Interest or Happiness of the Creature.
If there can possibly be suppos’d in a Creature such an Affection towards Self-Good, as is actually, in its natural degree, conducing to his private Interest, and at the same time inconsistent with the publick Good; this may indeed be call’d still a vitious Affection: And on this Supposition a Creature *cannot really be good and natural in respect of his Society or Publick, without being ill and unnatural toward himself. But if the Affection be then only injurious to the Society, when it is immoderate, and not so when it is moderate, duly temper’d, and allay’d; then is the immoderate degree of the Affection truly vitious, but not the moderate. And thus, if there be found in any Creature a more than ordinary Self-concernment, or Regard to private Good, which is inconsistent with the Interest of the Species or Publick; this must in every respect be esteem’d an ill and vitious Affection. And this is what we commonly call Selfishness, and disapprove so much, in whatever Creature we happen to discover it.
On the other side, if the Affection towards private or Self-good, however selfish it may be esteem’d, is in reality not only consistent with publick Good, but in some measure contributing to it; if it be such, perhaps, as for the good of the Species in general, every Individual ought to share; ’tis so far from being ill, or blameable in any sense, that it must be acknowledg’d absolutely necessary to constitute a Creature Good. For if the want of such an Affection as that towards Self-preservation, be injurious to the Species; a Creature is ill and unnatural as well thro’ this Defect, as thro’ the want of any other natural Affection. And this no-one wou’d doubt to pronounce, if he saw a Man who minded not any Precipices which lay in his way, nor made any distinction of Food, Diet, Clothing, or whatever else related to his Health and Being. The same wou’d be aver’d of one who had a Disposition which render’d him averse to any Commerce with Womankind, and of consequence unfitted him thro’ Illness of Temper (and not merely thro’ a Defect of Constitution) for the propagation of his Species or Kind.
Thus the Affection towards Self-good, may be a good Affection, or an ill-one. For if this private Affection be too strong, (as when the excessive Love of Life unfits a Creature for any generous Act) then is it undoubtedly vitious; and if vitious, the Creature who is mov’d by it, is vitiously mov’d, and can never be otherwise than vitious in some degree, when mov’d by that Affection. Therefore if thro’ such an earnest and passionate Love of Life, a Creature be accidentally induc’d to do Good, (as he might be upon the same terms induc’d to do Ill) he is no more a good Creature for this Good he executes, than a Man is the more an honest or good Man either for pleading a just Cause, or fighting in a good one, for the sake merely of his Fee or Stipend.
Whatsoever therefore is done which happens to be advantageous to the Species, thro’ an Affection merely towards Self-good, does not imply any more Goodness in the Creature than as the Affection it-self is good. Let him, in any particular, act ever so well; if at the bottom, it be that selfish Affection alone which moves him; he is in himself still vitious. Nor can any Creature be consider’d otherwise, when the Passion towards Self-good, tho ever so moderate, is his real Motive in the doing that, to which a natural Affection for his Kind ought by right to have inclin’d him.
Temper.And indeed whatever exterior Helps or Succours an ill-dispos’d Creature may find, to push him on towards the performance of any one good Action; there can no Goodness arise in him, till his Temper be so far chang’d, that in the issue he comes in earnest to be led by some immediate Affection, directly, and not accidentally, to Good, and against Ill.
For instance; if one of those Creatures suppos’d to be by Nature tame, gentle, and favourable to Mankind, be, contrary to his natural Constitution, fierce and savage; we instantly remark the Breach of Temper, and own the Creature to be unnatural and corrupt. If at any time afterwards, the same Creature, by good Fortune or right Management, comes to lose his Fierceness, and is made tame, gentle, and treatable, like other Creatures of his Kind; ’tis acknowledg’d that the Creature thus restor’d becomes good and natural. Suppose, now, that the Creature has indeed a tame and gentle Carriage; but that it proceeds only from the fear of his Keeper; which if set aside, his predominant Passion instantly breaks out: then is his Gentleness not his real Temper; but, his true and genuine Nature or natural Temper remaining just as it was, the Creature is still as ill as ever.
Nothing therefore being properly either Goodness or Illness in a Creature, except what is from natural Temper; “A good Creature is such a one as by the natural Temper or Bent of his Affections is carry’d primarily and immediately, and 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 carry him directly towards Good, and bear him out against Ill; or who is carry’d by other Affections directly to Ill, and against Good.”
When in general, all the Affections or Passions are suted to the publick Good, or good of the Species, as above-mention’d; then is the natural Temper intirely good. If, on the contrary, any requisite Passion be wanting; or if there be any one supernumerary, or weak, or any-wise disserviceable, or contrary to that main End; then is the natural Temper, and consequently the Creature himself, in some measure corrupt and ill.
THERE is no need of mentioning either Envy, Malice, Frowardness, or other such hateful Passions; to shew in what manner they are ill, and constitute an ill Creature. But it may be necessary perhaps to remark, that even as to Kindness and Love of the most natural sort, (such as that of any Creature for its Offspring) if it be immoderate and beyond a certain degree, it is undoubtedly vitious. For thus over-great Tenderness destroys the Effect of Love, and excessive Pity renders us uncapable of giving succour. Hence the Excess of motherly Love is own’d to be a vitious Fondness; over-great Pity, Effeminacy and Weakness; over-great Concern for Self-preservation, Meanness and Cowardice; too little, Rashness; and none at all, or that which is contrary, (viz. a Passion leading to Self-destruction) a mad and desperate Depravity.
BUT to proceed from what is esteem’d mere Goodness, and lies within the reach and capacity of all sensible Creatures, to that which is call’d Virtue or Merit, and is allow’d to Man only.
Reflex Affection.In a Creature capable of forming general Notions of Things, not only the outward Beings which offer themselves to the Sense, are the Objects of the Affection; but the very Actions themselves, and the Affections of Pity, Kindness, Gratitude, and their Contrarys, being brought into the Mind by Reflection, become Objects. So that, by means of this reflected Sense, there arises another kind of Affection towards those very Affections themselves, which have been already felt, and are now become the Subject of a new Liking or Dislike.
The Case is the same in mental or moral Subjects, as in ordinary Bodys, or the common Subjects of Sense. The Shapes, Motions, Colours, and Proportions of these latter being presented to our Eye; there necessarily results a Beauty or Deformity, according to the different Measure, Arrangement and Disposition of their several Parts. So in Behaviour and Actions, when presented to our Understanding, there must be found, of necessity, an apparent Difference, according to the Regularity or Irregularity of the Subjects.
Moral Beauty and Deformity.The Mind, which is Spectator or Auditor of other Minds, cannot be without its Eye and Ear; so as to discern Proportion, distinguish Sound, and scan each Sentiment or Thought which comes before it. It can let nothing escape its Censure. It feels the Soft and Harsh, the Agreeable and Disagreeable, in the Affections; and finds a Foul and Fair, a Harmonious and a Dissonant, as really and truly here, as in any musical Numbers, or in the outward Forms or Representations of sensible Things. Nor can it with-hold its Admiration and Extasy, its Aversion and Scorn, any more in what relates to one than to the other of these Subjects. So that to deny the common and natural Sense of a Sublime and Beautiful in Things, will appear an Affectation merely, to any-one who considers duly of this Affair.
Now as in the sensible kind of Objects, the Species or Images of Bodys, Colours, and Sounds, are perpetually moving before our Eyes, and acting on our Senses, even when we sleep; so in the moral and intellectual kind, the Forms and Images of Things are no less active and incumbent on the Mind, at all Seasons, and even when the real Objects themselves are absent.
In these vagrant Characters or Pictures of Manners, which the Mind of necessity figures to it-self, and carrys still about with it, the Heart cannot possibly remain neutral; but constantly takes part one way or other. However false or corrupt it be within it-self, it finds the difference, as to Beauty and Comeliness, between one Heart and another, one Turn of Affection, one Behaviour, one Sentiment and another; and accordingly, in all disinterested Cases, must approve in some measure of what is natural and honest, and disapprove what is dishonest and corrupt.
Thus the several Motions, Inclinations, Passions, Dispositions, and consequent Carriage and Behaviour of Creatures in the various Parts of Life, being in several Views or Perspectives represented to the Mind, which readily discerns the Good and Ill towards the Species or Publick; there arises a new Trial or Exercise of the Heart: which must either rightly and soundly affect what is just and right, and disaffect what is contrary; or, corruptly affect what is ill, and disaffect, what is worthy and good.
Publick Good an Object.And in this Case alone it is we call any Creature worthy or virtuous, when it can have the Notion of a publick 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 vitious, yet we never say of a good one, nor of any mere Beast, Idiot, or Changeling, tho ever so good-natur’d, 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:GOODNESS and VIRTUE. for thus, and no otherwise, he is capable of having a Sense of Right or Wrong; a Sentiment or Judgment of what is done, thro’ just, equal, and good Affection, or the contrary.
Unequal Affection, or Iniquity.Whatsoever is done thro’ any unequal Affection, is iniquous, wicked, and wrong. If the Affection be equal, found, and good, and the Subject of the Affection such as may with advantage to Society be ever in the same manner prosecuted, or affected; this must necessarily constitute what we call Equity and Right in any Action. For, Wrong is not such Action as is barely the Cause of Harm, (since at this rate a dutiful Son aiming at an Enemy, but by mistake or ill chance happening to kill his Father, wou’d do a Wrong) but when any thing is done thro’ insufficient or unequal Affection, (as when a Son shews no Concern for the Safety of a Father; or, where there is need of Succour, prefers an indifferent Person to him) this is of the nature of Wrong.
Neither can any Weakness or Imperfection in the Senses be the occasion of Iniquity or Wrong;Impair’d Sense. if the Object of the Mind it-self be not at any time absurdly fram’d, nor any way improper, but sutable, just, and worthy of the Opinion and Affection apply’d to it. For if we will suppose a Man, who being sound and intire both in his Reason and Affection, has nevertheless so deprav’d a Constitution or Frame of Body, that the natural Objects are, thro’ his Organs of Sense, as thro’ ill Glasses, falsly convey’d and misrepresented; ’twill be soon observ’d, in such a Person’s case, that since his Failure is not in his principal or leading Part; he cannot in himself be esteem’d iniquous, or unjust.
Corrupt Opinion.’Tis otherwise in what relates to Opinion, Belief, or Speculation. For as the Extravagance of Judgment or Belief is such, that in some Countrys even Monkeys, Cats, Crocodiles, and other vile or destructive Animals, have been esteem’d holy, and worship’d even as Deitys; shou’d it appear to any-one of the Religion or Belief of those Countrys, that to save such a Creature as a Cat, preferably to a Parent, was Right; and that other Men, who had not the same religious Opinion, were to be treated as Enemys, till converted; this wou’d be certainly Wrong, and wicked in the Believer: and every Action, grounded on this Belief, wou’d be an iniquous, wicked, and vitious Action.
Right and Wrong.And thus whatsoever causes a Misconception or Misapprehension of the Worth or Value of any Object, so as to diminish a due, or raise any undue, irregular, or unsocial Affection, must necessarily be the occasion of Wrong. Thus he who affects or loves a Man for the sake of something which is reputed honourable, but which is in reality vitious, is himself vitious and ill. The beginnings of this Corruption may be noted in many Occurrences: As when an ambitious Man, by the Fame of his high Attempts, a Conqueror or a Pirate by his boasted Enterprizes, raises in another Person an Esteem and Admiration of that immoral and inhuman Character, which deserves Abhorrence: ’tis then that the Hearer becomes corrupt, when he secretly approves the Ill he hears. But on the other side, the Man who loves and esteems another, as believing him to have that Virtue which he has not, but only counterfeits, is not on this account either vitious or corrupt.
A Mistake therefore in Fact being no Cause or Sign of ill Affection, can be no Cause of Vice. But a Mistake of Right being the Cause of unequal Affection, must of necessity be the Cause of vitious Action, in every intelligent or rational Being.
But as there are many Occasions where the matter of Right may even to the most discerning part of Mankind appear difficult, and of doubtful Decision, ’tis not a slight Mistake of this kind which can destroy the Character of a virtuous or worthy Man. But when, either thro’ Superstition or ill Custom, there come to be very gross Mistakes in the assignment or application of the Affection; when the Mistakes are either in their nature so gross, or so complicated and frequent, that a Creature cannot well live in a natural State; nor with due Affections, compatible with human Society and civil Life; then is the Character of Virtue forfeited.
And thus we find how far Worth and Virtue depend on a knowledg of Right and Wrong,VICE in Opinion. and on a use of Reason, sufficient to secure a right application of the Affections; that nothing horrid or unnatural, nothing unexemplary, nothing destructive of that natural Affection by which the Species or Society is upheld, may, on any account, or thro’ any Principle or Notion of Honour or Religion, be at any time affected or prosecuted as a good and proper object of Esteem. For such a Principle as this must be wholly vitious: and whatsoever is acted upon it, can be no other than Vice and Immorality.Vitious Worship. And thus if there be any thing which teaches Men either Treachery, Ingratitude, or Cruelty, by divine Warrant; or under colour and pretence of any present or future Good to Mankind: if there be any thing which teaches Men to persecute their Friends thro’ Love; or to torment Captives of War in sport; or to offer human Sacrifice; or to torment, macerate, or mangle themselves, in a religious Zeal, before their God; or to commit any sort of Barbarity, or Brutality, as amiable or becoming: be it Custom which gives Applause, or Religion which gives a Sanction; this is not, nor ever can be Virtue of any kind, or in any sense; but must remain still horrid Depravity,Vitious Custom. notwithstanding any Fashion, Law, Custom, or Religion; which may be ill and vitious it-self, but can never alter the eternal Measures, and immutable independent Nature of Worth and Virtue.
Sensible and rational Objects.UPON the whole. As to those Creatures which are only capable of being mov’d by sensible Objects; they are accordingly good or vitious, as the sensible Affections stand with them. ’Tis otherwise in Creatures capable of framing rational Objects of moral Good. For in one of this kind, shou’d the sensible Affections stand ever so much amiss; yet if they prevail not, because of those other rational Affections spoken of; ’tis evident, the Temper still holds good in the main; and the Person is with justice esteem’d virtuous by all Men.
Trial of Virtue.More than this. If by Temper any one is passionate, angry, fearful, amorous; yet resists these Passions, and notwithstanding the force of their Impression, adheres to Virtue; we say commonly in this case, that the Virtue is the greater: and we say well. Tho if that which restrains the Person, and holds him to a virtuous-like Behaviour, be no Affection towards Goodness or Virtue it-self, but towards private Good merely, he is not in reality the more virtuous; as has been shewn before. But this still is evident, that if voluntarily, and without foreign Constraint, an angry Temper bears, or an amorous one refrains, so that neither any cruel or immodest Action can be forc’d from such a Person, tho ever so strongly tempted by his Constitution; we applaud his Virtue above what we shou’d naturally do, if he were free of this Temptation, and these Propensitys. At the same time, there is no body will say that a Propensity to Vice can be an Ingredient in Virtue, or any way necessary to compleat a virtuous Character.
There seems therefore to be some kind of difficulty in the Case: but it amounts only to this. If there be any part of the Temper in which ill Passions or Affections are seated, whilst in another part the Affections towards moral Good are such as absolutely to master those Attempts of their Antagonists; this is the greatest Proof imaginable, that a strong Principle of Virtue lies at the bottom, and has possess’d it-self of the natural Temper. Whereas if there be no ill Passions stirring, a Person may be indeed more cheaply virtuous; that is to say, he may conform himself to the known Rules of Virtue, without sharing so much of a virtuous Principle as another. Yet if that other Person, who has the Principle of Virtue so strongly implanted, comes at last to lose those contrary Impediments suppos’d in him, he certainly loses nothing in Virtue; but on the contrary, losing only what is vitious in his Temper, is left more intire to Virtue, and possesses it in a higher degree.
Degrees of Virtue.Thus is Virtue shar’d in different degrees by rational Creatures; such at least as are call’d rational; but who come short of that sound and well-establish’d Reason, which alone can constitute a just Affection, a uniform and steddy Will and Resolution. And thus Vice and Virtue are found variously mix’d, and alternately prevalent in the several Characters of Mankind. For it seems evident from our Inquiry, that how ill soever the Temper or Passions may stand with respect either to the sensible or the moral Objects; however passionate, furious, lustful, or cruel any Creature may become; however vitious the Mind be, or whatever ill Rules or Principles it goes by; yet if there be any Flexibleness or favourable Inclination towards the least moral Object, the least appearance of moral Good (as if there be any such thing as Kindness, Gratitude, Bounty, or Compassion), there is still something of Virtue left; and the Creature is not wholly vitious and unnatural.
Thus a Ruffian, who out of a sense of Fidelity and Honour of any kind, refuses to discover his Associates; and rather than betray them, is content to endure Torments and Death; has certainly some Principle of Virtue, however he may misapply it. ’Twas the same Case with that Malefactor, who rather than do the Office of Executioner to his Companions, chose to keep ’em company in their Execution.
In short: As it seems hard to pronounce of any Man, “That he is absolutely an Atheist”; so it appears altogether as hard to pronounce of any Man, “That he is absolutely corrupt or vitious”; there being few, even of the horridest Villains, who have not something of Virtue in this imperfect sense. Nothing is more just than a known saying, “That it is as hard to find a Man wholly Ill, as wholly Good”: because wherever there is any good Affection left, there is certainly some Goodness or Virtue still in being.
And, having consider’d thus of Virtue,What it is in it-self; we may now consider how it stands with respect to the Opinions concerning aDeity, as above-mention’d.
Causes of VICE.THE Nature of Virtue consisting (as has been explain’d) in a certain just Disposition, or proportionable Affection of a rational Creature towards the moral Objects of Right and Wrong; nothing can possibly in such a Creature exclude a Principle of Virtue, or render it ineffectual, except what,
Of VIRTUE.On the other side, nothing can assist, or advance the Principle of Virtue, except what either in some manner nourishes and promotes a Sense of Right and Wrong; or preserves it genuine and uncorrupt; or causes it, when such, to be obey’d, by subduing and subjecting the other Affections to it.
We are to consider, therefore, how any of the above-mention’d Opinions on the Subject of a Deity, may influence in these Cases, or produce either of these three Effects.
IT will not surely be understood, that by this is meant the taking away the Notion of what is good or ill in the Species, or Society. For of the Reality of such a Good and Ill, no rational Creature can possibly be insensible. Every one discerns and owns a publick Interest, and is conscious of what affects his Fellowship or Community. When we say therefore of a Creature, “That he has wholly lost the Sense of Right and Wrong”; we suppose that being able to discern the Good and Ill of his Species, he has at the same time no Concern for either, nor any Sense of Excellency or Baseness in any moral Action, relating to one or the other. So that except merely with respect to a private and narrowly confin’d Self-good, ’tis suppos’d there is in such a Creature no Liking orDislike of Manners; no Admiration, or Love of any thing as morally good; nor Hatred of any thing as morally ill, be it ever so unnatural or deform’d.
Moral Sense.There is in reality no rational Creature whatsoever, who knows not that when he voluntarily offends or does harm to any-one, he cannot fail to create an Apprehension and Fear of like harm, and consequently a Resentment and Animosity in every Creature who observes him. So that the Offender must needs be conscious of being liable to such Treatment from every-one, as if he had in some degree offended All.
Thus Offence and Injury are always known as punishable by every-one; and equal Behaviour, which is therefore call’d Merit, as rewardable and well-deserving from every-one. Of this even the wickedest Creature living must have a Sense. So that if there be any further meaning in this Sense of Right and Wrong; if in reality there be any Sense of this kind which an absolute wicked Creature has not; it must consist in a real Antipathy or Aversion to Injustice or Wrong, and in a real Affection or Love towards Equity and Right, for its own sake, and on the account of its own natural Beauty and Worth.
’Tis impossible to suppose a mere sensible Creature originally so ill-constituted, and unnatural, as that from the moment he comes to be try’d by sensible Objects, he shou’d have no one good Passion towards his Kind, no foundation either of Pity, Love, Kindness, or social Affection. ’Tis full as impossible to conceive, that a rational Creature coming first to be try’d by rational Objects, and receiving into his Mind the Images or Representations of Justice, Generosity, Gratitude, or other Virtue, shou’d have no Liking of these, or Dislike of their contrarys; but be found absolutely indifferent towards whatsoever is presented to him of this sort. A Soul, indeed, may as well be without Sense, as without Admiration in the Things of which it has any knowledg. Coming therefore to a Capacity of seeing and admiring in this new way, it must needs find a Beauty and a Deformity as well in Actions, Minds, and Tempers, as in Figures, Sounds, or Colours. If there be no real Amiableness or Deformity in moral Acts, there is at least an imaginary one of full force. Tho perhaps the Thing itself shou’d not be allow’d in Nature, the Imagination or Fancy of it must be allow’d to be from Nature alone. Nor can any thing besides Art and strong Endeavour, with long Practice and Meditation, overcome such a natural Prevention, or Prepossession of the Mind, in favour of this moral Distinction.
How impair’d:Sense of Right and Wrong therefore being as natural to us as natural Affection itself, and being a first Principle in our Constitution and Make; there is no speculative Opinion, Persuasion or Belief, which is capable immediately or directly to exclude or destroy it. That which is of original and pure Nature, nothing beside contrary Habit and Custom (a second Nature) is able to displace. And this Affection being an original one of earliest rise in the Soul or affectionate Part;By opposite Affection, or Antipathy; nothing beside contrary Affection, by frequent check and controul, can operate upon it, so as either to diminish it in part, or destroy it in the whole.
’Tis evident in what relates to the Frame and Order of our Bodys; that no particular odd Mein or Gesture, which is either natural to us, and consequent to our Make, or accidental and by Habit acquir’d, can possibly be overcome by our immediate Disapprobation, or the contrary Bent of our Will, ever so strongly set against it. Such a Change cannot be effected without extraordinary Means, and the intervention of Art and Method, a strict Attention, and repeated Check. And even thus, Nature, we find, is hardly master’d; but lies sullen, and ready to revolt, on the first occasion. Much more is this the Mind’s Case in respect of that natural Affection and anticipating Fancy, which makes the sense of Right and Wrong. ’Tis impossible that this can instantly, or without much Force and Violence,Not by Opinion merely. be effac’d, or struck out of the natural Temper, even by means of the most extravagant Belief or Opinion in the World.
Neither Theism therefore, nor Atheism, nor Daemonism, nor any religious or irreligious Belief of any kind, being able to operate immediately or directly in this Case, but indirectly, by the intervention of opposite or of favourable Affections casually excited by any such Belief; we may consider of this Effect in our last Case, where we come to examine the Agreement or Disagreement of other Affections with this natural and moral one which relates to Right and Wrong.
THIS can proceed only from the Force of Custom and Education in opposition to Nature; as may be noted in those Countrys where, according to Custom or politick Institution, certain Actions naturally foul and odious are repeatedly view’d with Applause, and Honour ascrib’d to them. For thus ’tis possible that a Man, forcing himself, may eat the Flesh of his Enemys, not only against his Stomach, but against his Nature; and think it nevertheless both right and honourable; as supposing it to be of considerable service to his Community, and capable of advancing the Name, and spreading the Terror of his Nation.
Causes of this Corruption.But to speak of the Opinions relating to a Deity; and what effect they may have in this place. As to Atheism, it does not seem that it can directly have any effect at all towards the setting up a false Species of Right or Wrong. For notwithstanding a Man may thro’ Custom,Custom. or by licentiousness of Practice, favour’d by Atheism, come in time to lose much of his natural moral Sense; yet it does not seem that Atheism shou’d of it-self be the cause of any estimation or valuing of any thing as fair, noble, and deserving, which was the contrary. It can never, for instance, make it be thought that the being able to eat Man’s Flesh, or commit Bestiality, is good and excellent in it-self. But this is certain, that by means of corrupt Religion, or Superstition,Superstition. many things the most horridly unnatural and inhuman, come to be receiv’d as excellent, good, and laudable in themselves.
Nor is this a wonder. For where-ever any-thing, in its nature odious and abominable, is by Religion advanc’d, as the suppos’d Will or Pleasure of a supreme Deity; if in the eye of the Believer it appears not indeed in any respect the less ill or odious on this account; then must the Deity of necessity bear the blame, and be consider’d as a Being naturally ill and odious, however courted, and sollicited, thro’ Mistrust and Fear. But this is what Religion, in the main, forbids us to imagine. It everywhere prescribes Esteem and Honour in company with Worship and Adoration. Whensoever therefore it teaches the Love and Admiration of a Deity, who has any apparent Character of Ill; it teaches at the same time a Love and Admiration of that Ill, and causes that to be taken for good and amiable, which is in it-self horrid and detestable.
For instance: if Jupiter be He who is ador’d and reverenc’d; and if his History represents him amorously inclin’d, and permitting his Desires of this kind to wander in the loosest manner; ’tis certain that his Worshipers, believing this History to be literally and strictly true, must of course be taught a greater Love of amorous and wanton Acts. If there be a Religion which teaches the Adoration and Love of a God, whose Character it is to be captious, and of high resentment, subject to Wrath and Anger, furious, revengeful; and revenging himself, when offended, on others than those who gave the Offence: and if there be added to the Character of this God, a fraudulent Disposition, encouraging Deceit and Treachery amongst Men; favourable to a few, tho for slight causes, and cruel to the rest: ’tis evident that such a Religion as this being strongly enforc’d, must of necessity raise even an Approbation and Respect towards the Vices of this kind, and breed a sutable Disposition, a capricious, partial, revengeful, and deceitful Temper. For even Irregularitys and Enormitys of a heinous kind must in many cases appear illustrious to one, who considers them in a Being admir’d and contemplated with the highest Honour and Veneration.
This indeed must be allow’d; that if in the Cult or Worship of such a Deity there be nothing beyond common Form, nothing beside what proceeds from mere Example, Custom, Constraint, or Fear; if there be, at the bottom, no real Heartiness, no Esteem or Love imply’d; the Worshiper perhaps may not be much misled as to his Notion of Right and Wrong. If in following the Precepts of his suppos’d God, or doing what he esteems necessary towards the satisfying of such his Deity, he is compel’d only by Fear, and, contrary to his Inclination, performs an Act which he secretly detests as barbarous and unnatural; then has he an Apprehension or Sense still of Right and Wrong, and, according to what has been already observ’d, is sensible of Ill in the Character of his God; however cautious he may be of pronouncing any thing on this Subject, or so thinking of it, as to frame any formal or direct Opinion in the case. But if by insensible degrees, as he proceeds in his religious Faith and devout Exercise, he comes to be more and more reconcil’d to the Malignity, Arbitrariness, Pariality, or Revengefulness of his believ’d Deity; his Reconciliation with these Qualitys themselves will soon grow in proportion; and the most cruel, unjust, and barbarous Acts, will, by the power of this Example, be often consider’d by him, not only as just and lawful, but as divine, and worthy of imitation.
For whoever thinks there is a God, and pretends formally to believe that he is just and good, must suppose that there is independently such a thing as Justice and Injustice, Truth and Falshood, Right andWrong; according to which he pronounces that God is just, righteous, and true. If the mere Will, Decree, or Law of God be said absolutely to constitute Right and Wrong, then are these latter words of no significancy at all. For thus if each part of a Contradiction were affirm’d for Truth by the supreme Power, they wou’d consequently become true. Thus if one Person were decreed to suffer for another’s fault, the Sentence wou’d be just and equitable. And thus, in the same manner, if arbitrarily, and without reason, some Beings were destin’d to endure perpetual Ill, and others as constantly to enjoy Good; this also wou’d pass under the same Denomination. But to say of any thing that it is just or unjust, on such a foundation as this, is to say nothing, or to speak without a meaning.
And thus it appears, that where a real Devotion and hearty Worship is paid to a supreme Being, who in his History or Character is represented otherwise than as really and truly just and good; there must ensue a Loss of Rectitude, a Disturbance of Thought, and a Corruption of Temper and Manners in the Believer. His Honesty will, of necessity, be supplanted by his Zeal, whilst he is thus unnaturally influenc’d, and render’d thus immorally devout.
Influence of Religion.To this we need only add, that as the ill Character of a God does injury to the Affections of Men, and disturbs and impairs the natural Sense of Right and Wrong; so, on the other hand, nothing can more highly contribute to the fixing of right Apprehensions, and a sound Judgment or Sense of Right and Wrong, than to believe a God who is ever, and on all accounts, represented such as to be actually a true Model and Example of the most exact Justice, and highest Goodness and Worth. Such a View of divine Providence and Bounty, extended to All, and express’d in a constant good Affection towards the Whole, must of necessity engage us, within our Compass and Sphere, to act by a like Principle and Affection. And having once the Good of our Species or Publick in view, as our End or Aim, ’tis impossible we shou’d be misguided by any means to a false Apprehension or Sense of Right or Wrong.
As to this second Case therefore; Religion (according as the kind may prove) is capable of doing great Good, or Harm; and Atheism nothing positive in either way. For however it may be indirectly an occasion of Mens losing a good and sufficient Sense of Right and Wrong; it will not, as Atheism merely, be the occasion of setting up a false Species of it; which only false Religion, or fantastical Opinion, deriv’d commonly from Superstition and Credulity, is able to effect.
’TIS evident, that a Creature having this sort of Sense or good Affection in any degree, must necessarily act according to it; if it happens not to be oppos’d, either by some settled sedate Affection towards a conceiv’d private Good, or by some sudden, strong and forcible Passion, as of Lust or Anger; which may not only subdue the Sense of Right and Wrong, but the very Sense of private Good it-self; and overrule even the most familiar and receiv’d Opinion of what is conducing to Self-interest.
But it is not our business in this place to examine the several Means or Methods by which this Corruption is introduc’d or increas’d. We are to consider only how the Opinions concerning a Deity can influence one way or another.
Rise of Moral Sense.That it is possible for a Creature capable of using Reflection, to have a Liking or Dislike of moral Actions, and consequently a Sense of Right and Wrong, before such time as he may have any settled Notion of a God, is what will hardly be question’d: it being a thing not expected, or any-way possible, that a Creature such as Man, arising from his Childhood, slowly and gradually, to several degrees of Reason and Reflection, shou’d, at the very first, be taken up with those Speculations, or more refin’d sort of Reflections, about the Subject of God’s Existence.
Let us suppose a Creature, who wanting Reason, and being unable to reflect, has, notwithstanding, many good Qualitys and Affections; as Love to his Kind, Courage, Gratitude, or Pity. ’Tis certain that if you give to this Creature a reflecting Faculty, it will at the same instant approve of Gratitude, Kindness, and Pity; be taken with any shew or representation of the social Passion, and think nothing more amiable than this, or more odious than the contrary. And this is to be capable ofVirtue, and to have a Sense ofRightandWrong.
Before the time, therefore, that a Creature can have any plain or positive Notion one way or other, concerning the Subject of a God, he may be suppos’d to have an Apprehension or Sense of Right and Wrong, and be possess’d of Virtue and Vice in different degrees; as we know by Experience of those, who having liv’d in such places, and in such a manner as never to have enter’d into any serious Thoughts of Religion, are nevertheless very different among themselves, as to their Characters of Honesty and Worth: some being naturally modest, kind, friendly, and consequently Lovers of kind and friendly Actions; others proud, harsh, cruel, and consequently inclin’d to admire rather the Acts of Violence and mere Power.
DEITY.Now, as to the Belief of a Deity, and how Men are influenc’d by it; we may consider, in the first place, on what account Men yield Obedience, and act in conformity to such a supreme Being. It must be either in the way of hisPower, as presupposing some Disadvantage or Benefit to accrue from him: or in the way of hisExcellency and Worth, as thinking it the Perfection of Nature to imitate and resemble him.
If, as in the first Case, there be a Belief or Conception of a Deity,Hope and Fear. who is consider’d only as powerful over his Creature, and inforcing Obedience to his absolute Will by particular Rewards and Punishments; and if on this account, thro’ hope merely of Reward, or fear of Punishment, the Creature be incited to do the Good he hates, or restrain’d from doing the Ill to which he is not otherwise in the least degree averse; there is in this Case (as has been already shewn) no Virtue or Goodness whatsoever. The Creature, notwithstanding his good Conduct, is intrinsecally of as little Worth, as if he acted in his natural way, when under no dread or terror of any sort. There is no more of Rectitude, Piety, or Sanctity in a Creature thus reform’d, than there is Meekness or Gentleness in a Tiger strongly chain’d, or Innocence and Sobriety in a Monkey under the Discipline of the Whip. For however orderly and well those Animals, or Man himself upon like terms, may be induc’d to act, whilst the Will is neither gain’d, nor the Inclination wrought upon, but Awe alone prevails and forces Obedience; the Obedience is servile, and all which is done thro’ it, merely servile. The greater degree of such a Submission or Obedience, is only the greater Servility; whatever may be the Object. For whether such a Creature has a good Master,Fear. or an ill one, he is neither more or less servile in his own nature. Be the Master or Superior ever so perfect, or excellent, yet the greater Submission caus’d in this Case, thro’ this sole Principle or Motive, is only the lower and more abject Servitude; and implies the greater Wretchedness and Meanness in the Creature, who has those Passions of Self-love so predominant, and is in his Temper so vitious and defective, as has been explain’d.
Honour and Love.As to the second Case. If there be a Belief or Conception of a Deity, who is consider’d as worthy and good, and admir’d and reverenc’d as such; being understood to have, besides mere Power and Knowledg, the highest Excellence of Nature, such as renders him justly amiable to All: and if in the manner this Sovereign and mighty Being is represented, or, as he is historically describ’d, there appears in him a high and eminent regard to what is good and excellent, a Concern for the good of All, and an Affection of Benevolence and Love towards the Whole;Divine Example. such an Example must undoubtedly serve (as above explain’d) to raise and increase the Affection towards Virtue, and help to submit and subdue all other Affections to that alone.
Nor is this Good effected by Example merely. For where the Theistical Belief is intire and perfect, there must be a steddy Opinion of the Superintendency of a Supreme Being, a Witness and Spectator of human Life, and conscious of whatsoever is felt or acted in the Universe: So that in the perfectest Recess or deepest Solitude, there must be One still presum’d remaining with us; whose Presence singly must be of more moment than that of the most august Assembly on Earth. In such a Presense,Divine Presence. ’tis evident, that as the Shame of guilty Actions must be the greatest of any; so must the Honour be, of well-doing, even under the unjust Censure of a World. And in this Case, ’tis very apparent how conducing a perfect Theism must be to Virtue, and how great Deficiency there is in Atheism.
Fear and Hope.What the Fearof future Punishment, and Hopeof future Reward, added to this Belief, may further contribute towards Virtue, we come now to consider more particularly. So much in the mean while may be gather’d from what has been said above; That neither this Fear or Hope can possibly be of the kind call’d good Affections, such as are acknowledg’d the Springs and Sources of all Actions truly good. Nor can this Fear or Hope, as above intimated, consist in reality with Virtue, or Goodness; if it either stands as essential to any moral Performance, or as a considerable Motive to any Act, of which some better Affection ought, alone, to have been a sufficient Cause.
Self-love,It may be consider’d withal; That, in this religious sort of Discipline, the Principle of Self-love,How advanc’d. which is naturally so prevailing in us, being no-way moderated or restrain’d, but rather improv’d and made stronger every day, by the exercise of the Passions in a Subject of more extended Self-interest; there may be reason to apprehend lest the Temper of this kind shou’d extend it-self in general thro’ all the Parts of Life. For if the Habit be such as to occasion, in every particular, a stricter Attention to Self-good, and private Interest; it must insensibly diminish the Affections towards publick Good, or the Interest of Society; and introduce a certain Narrowness of Spirit, which (as some pretend) is peculiarly observable in the devout Persons and Zealots of almost every religious Persuasion.
Its Effects in Religion.This, too, must be confess’d; That if it be true Piety, to love Godfor his own sake; the over-sollicitous regard to private Good expected from him, must of necessity prove a diminution of Piety. For whilst God is belov’d only as the Cause of private Good, he is no otherwise belov’d than as any other Instrument or Means of Pleasure by any vitious Creature. Now the more there is of this violent Affection towards private Good, the less room is there for the other sort towards Goodness it-self, or any good and deserving Object, worthy of Love and Admiration for its own sake; such as God is universally acknowledg’d, or at least by the generality of civiliz’d or refin’d Worshipers.
’Tis in this respect that the strong Desire and Love of Life may also prove an Obstacle to Piety, as well as to Virtue and publick Love. For the stronger this Affection is in any-one, the less will he be able to have true Resignation, or Submission to the Rule and Order of the Deity.False Resignation. And if that which he calls Resignation depends only on the expectation of infinite Retribution or Reward, he discovers no more Worth or Virtue here, than in any other Bargain of Interest: The meaning of his Resignation being only this, “That he resigns his present Life and Pleasures, conditionally for That, which he himself confesses to be beyond an Equivalent; eternal living in a State of highest Pleasure and Enjoyment.”
But notwithstanding the Injury which the Principle of Virtue may possibly suffer, by the Increase of the selfish Passion, in the way we have been mentioning; ’tis certain, on the other side,Belief of future Life; that the Principle of Fear of future Punishment, and Hope of future Reward, how mercenary or servile soever it may be accounted, is yet, in many Circumstances,How advantageous. a great Advantage, Security, and Support to Virtue.
It has been already consider’d, that notwithstanding there may be implanted in the Heart a real Sense of Right and Wrong,Supporting. a real good Affection towards the Species or Society; yet by the violence of Rage, Lust, or any other counterworking Passion, this good Affection may frequently be controul’d and overcome. Where therefore there is nothing in the Mind capable to render such ill Passions the Objects of its Aversion, and cause them earnestly to be oppos’d; ’tis apparent how much a good Temper in time must suffer, and a Character by degrees change for the worse. But if Religion interposing, creates a Belief that the ill Passions of this kind, no less than their consequent Actions, are the Objects of a Deity’s Animadversion; ’tis certain, that such a Belief must prove a seasonable Remedy against Vice, and be in a particular manner advantageous to Virtue. For a Belief of this kind must be suppos’d to tend considerably towards the calming of the Mind, and disposing or fitting the Person to a better Recollection of himself, and to a stricter Observance of that good and virtuous Principle, which needs only his Attention, to engage him wholly in its Party and Interest.
Saving.And as this Belief of a future Reward and Punishment is capable of supporting those who thro’ ill Practice are like to apostatize from Virtue; so when by ill Opinion and wrong Thought, the Mind it-self is bent against the honest Course, and debauch’d even to an Esteem, and deliberate Preference of a vitious one; the Belief of the kind mention’d may prove on this occasion the only Relief and Safety.
A Person, for instance, who has much of Goodness and natural Rectitude in his Temper, but withal, so much Softness, or Effeminacy, as unfits him to bear Poverty, Crosses or Adversity; if by ill Fortune he meets with many Trials of this kind, it must certainly give a Sourness and Distaste to his Temper, and make him exceedingly averse to that which he may falsly presume the occasion of such Calamity or Ill. Now if his own Thoughts,Belief of future Life; or the corrupt Insinuations of other Men, present it often to his Mind, “That hisHonestyis the occasion of this Calamity, and that if he were deliver’d from this Restraint ofVirtueandHonesty,he might be much happier”: ’tis very obvious that his Esteem of these good Qualitys must in proportion diminish every day, as the Temper grows uneasy, and quarrels with it-self. But if he opposes to this Thought the Consideration, “That Honesty carrys with it, if not a present, at least a future Advantage, such as to compensate that Loss of private Good which he regrets”; then may this injury to his good Temper and honest Principle be prevented, and his Love or Affection towards Honesty and Virtue remain as it was before.
Improving.In the same manner, where instead of Regard or Love, there is rather an Aversion to what is good and virtuous, (as, for instance, where Lenity and Forgiveness are despis’d, and Revenge highly thought of, and belov’d) if there be this Consideration added, “That Lenity is, by its Rewards, made the cause of a greater Self-good and Enjoyment than what is found in Revenge”; that very Affection of Lenity and Mildness may come to be industriously nourish’d, and the contrary Passion depress’d. And thus Temperance, Modesty, Candour, Benignity, and other good Affections, however despis’d at first, may come at last to be valu’d for their own Sakes, the contrary Species rejected, and the good and proper Object belov’d and prosecuted, when the Reward or Punishment is not so much as thought of.
Rewards and Punishments,Thus in a civilState or Publick, we see that a virtuous Administration, and an equal and just Distribution of Rewards and Punishments, is of the highest service; not only by restraining the Vitious, and forcing them to act usefully to Society;In the State. but by making Virtue to be apparently the Interest of every-one, so as to remove all Prejudices against it, create a fair reception for it, and lead Men into that path which afterwards they cannot easily quit. For thus a People rais’d from Barbarity or despotick Rule, civiliz’d by Laws, and made virtuous by the long Course of a lawful and just Administration; if they chance to fall suddenly under any Misgovernment of unjust and arbitrary Power, they will on this account be the rather animated to exert a stronger Virtue, in opposition to such Violence and Corruption. And even where, by long and continu’d Arts of a prevailing Tyranny, such a People are at last totally oppress’d, the scatter’d Seeds of Virtue will for a long time remain alive, even to a second Generation; ere the utmost Force of misapply’d Rewards and Punishments can bring them to the abject and compliant State of long-accustom’d Slaves.
But tho a right Distribution of Justice in a Government be so essential a cause of Virtue, we must observe in this Case, that it is Example which chiefly influences Mankind, and forms the Character and Disposition of a People. For a virtuous Administration is in a manner necessarily accompany’d with Virtue in the Magistrate. Otherwise it cou’d be of little effect, and of no long duration. But where it is sincere and well establish’d, there Virtue and the Laws must necessarily be respected and belov’d. So that as to Punishments and Rewards, their Efficacy is not so much from the Fear or Expectation which they raise, as from a natural Esteem of Virtue, and Detestation of Villany, which is awaken’d and excited by these publick Expressions of the Approbation and Hatred of Mankind in each Case. For in the publick Executions of the greatest Villains, we see generally that the Infamy and Odiousness of their Crime, and the Shame of it before Mankind, contribute more to their Misery than all besides; and that it is not the immediate Pain, or Death it-self, which raises so much Horror either in the Sufferers or Spectators, as that ignominious kind of Death which is inflicted for publick Crimes, and Violations of Justice and Humanity.
In the Family.And as the Case of Reward and Punishment stands thus in the Publick, so, in the same manner, as to private Familys. For Slaves and mercenary Servants, restrain’d and made orderly by Punishment, and the Severity of their Master, are not on this account made good or honest. Yet the same Master of the Family using proper Rewards and gentle Punishments towards his Children, teaches them Goodness; and by this help instructs them in a Virtue, which afterwards they practice upon other grounds, and without thinking of a Penalty or Bribe. And this is what we call a Liberal Education and a Liberal Service: the contrary Service and Obedience, whether towards God or Man, being illiberal, and unworthy of any Honour or Commendation.
In the Case of Religion, however, it must be consider’d,In Religion. that if by the Hope of Reward be understood the Love and Desire of virtuous Enjoyment, or of the very Practice and Exercise of Virtue in another Life; the Expectation or Hope of this kind is so far from being derogatory to Virtue, that it is an Evidence of our loving it the more sincerely and for its own sake. Nor can this Principle be justly call’d selfish: for if the Love of Virtue be not mere Self-Interest, the Love and Desire of Life for Virtue’s sake cannot be esteem’d so. But if the Desire of Life be only thro’ the Violence of that natural Aversion to Death; if it be thro’ the Love of something else than virtuous Affection, or thro’ the Unwillingness of parting with something else than what is purely of this kind; then is it no longer any sign or token of real Virtue.
Thus a Person loving Life for Life’s sake, and Virtue not at all, may by the Promise or Hope of Life, and Fear of Death, or other Evil, be induc’d to practice Virtue, and even endeavour to be truly virtuous, by a Love of what he practices. Yet neither is this very Endeavour to be esteem’d a Virtue: For tho he may intend to be virtuous, he is not become so, for having only intended, or aim’d at it, thro’ love of the Reward. But as soon as he is come to have any Affection towards what is morally good, and can like or affect such Good for its own sake, as good and amiable in itself; then is he in some degree good and virtuous, and not till then.
Security to Virtue.Such are the Advantages or Disadvantages which accrue to Virtue from Reflection upon private Good or Interest. For tho the Habit of Selfishness, and the Multiplicity of interested Views, are of little Improvement to real Merit or Virtue; yet there is a necessity for the preservation of Virtue, that it shou’d be thought to have no quarrel with true Interest, and Self-enjoyment.
Whoever therefore, by any strong Persuasion or settled Judgment, thinks in the main, That Virtue causes Happiness, and Vice Misery, carrys with him that Security and Assistance to Virtue which is requir’d. Or tho he has no such Thought, nor can believe Virtue his real Interest, either with respect to his own Nature and Constitution, or the Circumstances of human Life; yet if he believes any supreme Powers concern’d in the present Affairs of Mankind, and immediately interposing in behalf of the Honest and Virtuous, against the Impious and Unjust; this will serve to preserve in him, however, that just Esteem of Virtue, which might otherwise considerably diminish. Or shou’d he still believe little of the immediate Interposition of Provindence in the Affairs of this present Life; yet if he believes a God dispensing Rewards and Punishments to Vice and Virtue in a future; he carrys with him still the same Advantage and Security;Caution. whilst his Belief is steddy, and no-wise wavering or doubtful. For it must be observ’d, that an Expectation and Dependency, so miraculous and great as this, must naturally take off from other inferior Dependencys and Encouragements. Where infinite Rewards are thus inforc’d, and the Imagination strongly turn’d towards them, the other common and natural Motives to Goodness are apt to be neglected, and lose much by Dis-use. Other Interests are hardly so much as computed, whilst the Mind is thus transported in the pursuit of a high Advantage and Self-Interest, so narrowly confin’d within our-selves. On this account, all other Affections towards Friends, Relations, or Mankind, are often slightly regarded, as being worldly, and of little moment, in respect of the Interest of our Soul. And so little thought is there of any immediate Satisfaction arising from such good Offices of Life,Imprudent Zeal. that it is customary with many devout People zealously to decry all temporal Advantages of Goodness, all natural Benefits of Virtue; and magnifying the contrary Happiness of a vitious State, to declare, “That except only for the sake of future Reward, and fear of future Punishment, they wou’d divest themselves of all Goodness at once, and freely allow themselves to be most immoral and profligate.” From whence it appears, that in some respects there can be nothing more fatal to Virtue, than the weak and uncertain Belief of a future Reward and Punishment. For the stress being laid wholly here, if this Foundation come to fail, there is no further Prop or Security to Mens Morals. And thus Virtue is supplanted and betray’d.
Atheism.Now as to Atheism: tho it be plainly deficient and without remedy, in the case of ill Judgment on the Happiness of Virtue; yet it is not, indeed, of necessity the Cause of any such ill Judgment. For without an absolute Assent to any Hypothesis of Theism, the Advantages of Virtue may possibly be seen and own’d, and a high Opinion of it establish’d in the Mind. However, it must be confess’d, that the natural Tendency of Atheism is very different.
’Tis in a manner impossible, to have any great opinion of the Happiness of Virtue, without conceiving high thoughts of the Satisfaction resulting from the generous Admiration and Love of it: And nothing beside the Experience of such a Love is likely to make this Satisfaction credited. The chief Ground and Support therefore of this Opinion of Happiness in Virtue, must arise from the powerful feeling of this generous moral Affection, and the knowledg of its Power and Strength. But this is certain, that it can be no great strengthning to the moral Affection, no great support to the pure Love of Goodness and Virtue, to suppose there is neither Goodness nor Beauty in the Whole it-self; nor any Example, or Precedent of good Affection in any superior Being. Such a Belief must tend rather to the weaning the Affections from any thing amiable or self-worthy, and to the suppressing the very Habit and familiar Custom of admiring natural Beautys, or whatever in the Order of things is according to just Design, Harmony, and Proportion. For how little dispos’d must a Person be, to love or admire any thing as orderly in the Universe, who thinks the Universe it-self a Pattern of Disorder? How unapt to reverence or respect any particular subordinate Beauty of a Part; when even the Whole it-self is thought to want Perfection, and to be only a vast and infinite Deformity?
Nothing indeed can be more melancholy, than the Thought of living in a distracted Universe, from whence many Ills may be suspected, and where there is nothing good or lovely which presents it-self, nothing which can satisfy in Contemplation, or raise any Passion besides that of Contempt, Hatred, or Dislike. Such an Opinion as this may by degrees imbitter the Temper, and not only make the Love of Virtue to be less felt, but help to impair and ruin the very Principle of Virtue, viz. natural and kind Affection.
Theism.Upon the whole; whoever has a firm Belief of a God, whom he does not merely call good, but of whom in reality he believes nothing beside real Good, nothing beside what is truly sutable to the exactest Character of Benignity and Goodness; such a Person believing Rewards or Retributions in another Life, must believe them annex’d to real Goodness and Merit, real Villany and Baseness, and not to any accidental Qualitys or Circumstances; in which respect they cannot properly be styl’d Rewards or Punishments, but capricious Distributions of Happiness or Unhappiness to Creatures. These are the only Terms, on which the Belief of a World to come can happily influence the Believer. And on these Terms, and by virtue of this Belief, Man perhaps may retain his Virtue and Integrity, even under the hardest Thoughts of human Nature; when either by any ill Circumstance or untoward Doctrine, he is brought to that unfortunate Opinion of Virtue’s being naturally an Enemy to Happiness in Life.
This, however, is an Opinion which cannot be suppos’d consistent with soundTheism. For whatever be decided as to a future Life, or the Rewards and Punishments of hereafter; he who, as a sound Theist, believes a reigning Mind, sovereign in Nature, and ruling all things with the highest perfection of Goodness, as well as of Wisdom and Power, must necessarily believe Virtue to be naturally good and advantageous. For what cou’d more strongly imply an unjust Ordinance, a Blot and Imperfection in the general Constitution of Things, than to suppose Virtue the natural Ill, and Vice the natural Good of any Creature?
Atheism and Theism.And now last of all, there remains for us to consider a yet further Advantage to Virtue, in the Theistical Belief above the Atheistical. The Proposition may at first sight appear over-refin’d, and of a sort which is esteem’d too nicely philosophical. But after what has been already examin’d, the Subject perhaps may be more easily explain’d.
There is no Creature, according to what has been already prov’d,Effects of each. who must not of necessity be ill in some degree, by having any Affection or Aversion in a stronger degree than is sutable to his own private Good, or that of the System to which he is join’d. For in either Case the Affection is ill and vitious. Now if a rational Creature has that Degree of Aversion which is requisite to arm him against any particular Misfortune, and alarm him against the Approach of any Calamity; this is regular and well. But if after the Misfortune is happen’d, his Aversion continues still, and his Passion rather grows upon him; whilst he rages at the Accident, and exclaims against his private Fortune or Lot; this will be acknowledg’d both vitious in present, and for the future; as it affects the Temper, and disturbs that easy Course of the Affections on which Virtue and Goodness so much depend. On the other side, the patient enduring of the Calamity, and the bearing up of the Mind under it, must be acknowledg’d immediately virtuous, and preservative of Virtue. Now,Of Atheism. according to the Hypothesis of those who exclude a general Mind, it must be confess’d, there can nothing happen in the Course of things to deserve either our Admiration, and Love, or our Anger, and Abhorrence. However, as there can be no Satisfaction at the best in thinking upon what Atoms and Chance produce; so upon disasterous Occasions, and under the Circumstances of a calamitous and hard Fortune, ’tis scarce possible to prevent a natural kind of Abhorrence and Spleen, which will be entertain’d and kept alive by the Imagination of so perverse an Order of Things. But in another Hypothesis (that of perfect Theism) it is understood,Of Theism. “That whateverthe Order of the World produces, is in the main both just and good.” Therefore in the Course of Things in this World, whatever Hardship of Events may seem to force from any rational Creature a hard Censure of his private Condition or Lot; he may by Reflection nevertheless, come to have Patience, and to acquiesce in it. Nor is this all. He may go further still in this Reconciliation; and from the same Principle may make the Lot it-self an Object of his good Affection; whilst he strives to maintain this generous Fealty, and stands so well-dispos’d towards the Laws and Government of his higher Country.
Such an Affection must needs create the highest Constancy in any State of Sufferance, and make us in the best manner support whatever Hardships are to be endur’d for Virtue’s sake. And as this Affection must of necessity cause a greater Acquiescence and Complacency with respect to ill Accidents, ill Men, and Injurys; so of course it cannot fail of producing still a greater Equality, Gentleness, and Benignity in the Temper. Consequently the Affection must be a truly good one, and a Creature the more truly good and virtuous, by possessing it. For whatsoever is the occasion or means of more affectionately uniting a rational Creature to his Part in Society, and causes him to prosecute the publick Good, or Interest of his Species, with more Zeal and Affection than ordinary; is undoubtedly the Cause of more than ordinary Virtue in such a Person.
Contemplation.This too is certain; That the Admiration and Love of Order, Harmony and Proportion, in whatever kind, is naturally improving to the Temper, advantageous to social Affection, and highly assistant to Virtue; which is it-self no other than the Love of Order and Beauty in Society. In the meanest Subjects of the World, the Appearance of Order gains upon the Mind, and draws the Affection towards it. But if the Order of the World it-self appears just and beautiful; the Admiration and Esteem of Order must run higher, and the elegant Passion or Love of Beauty, which is so advantageous to Virtue, must be the more improv’d by its Exercise in so ample and magnificent a Subject.Religious Affection. For ’tis impossible that such aDivine Order shou’d be contemplated without Extasy and Rapture; since in the common Subjects of Science, and the liberal Arts, whatever is according to just Harmony and Proportion, is so transporting to those who have any Knowledg or Practice in the kind.
Now if the Subject and Ground of this divine Passion be not really just or adequate, (the Hypothesis of Theism being suppos’d false) the Passion still in it-self is so far natural and good, as it proves an Advantage to Virtue and Goodness; according to what has been above demonstrated. But if, on the other side, the Subject of this Passion be really adequate and just, (the Hypothesis of Theism being real, and not imaginary) then is the Passion also just, and becomes absolutely due and requisite in every rational Creature.
Conclusion.HENCE we may determine justly the Relation which Virtue has to Piety; the first being not compleat but in the latter: Since where the latter is wanting, there can neither be the same Benignity, Firmness, or Constancy; the same good Composure of the Affections, or Uniformity of Mind.
And thus the Perfection and Height of Virtue must be owing to the Belief of aGod.
WE have consider’d whatVirtueis, and to whom the Character belongs. It remains to inquire,Obligation to VIRTUE.What Obligation there is toVirtue; or what Reason to embrace it.
We have found, that to deserve the name of good or virtuous, a Creature must have all his Inclinations and Affections, his Dispositions of Mind and Temper, sutable, and agreeing with the Good of his Kind, or of that System in which he is included, and of which he constitutes a Part. To stand thus well affected, and to have one’s Affections right and intire, not only in respect of one’s self, but of Society and the Publick: This is Rectitude, Integrity, or Virtue. And to be wanting in any of these, or to have their Contrarys, is Depravity, Corruption, and Vice.
Difficulty stated.It has been already shewn, that in the Passions and Affections of particular Creatures, there is a constant relation to the Interest of a Species, or common Nature. This has been demonstrated in the case of natural Affection, parental Kindness, Zeal for Posterity, Concern for the Propagation and Nurture of the Young, Love of Fellowship and Company, Compassion, mutual Succour, and the rest of this kind. Nor will any-one deny that this Affection of a Creature towards the Good of the Species or common Nature, is as proper and natural to him, as it is to any Organ, Part or Member of an Animal-Body, or mere Vegetable, to work in its known Course, and regular way of Growth. ’Tis not more natural for the Stomach to digest, the Lungs to breathe, the Glands to separate Juices, or other Intrails to perform their several Offices; however they may by particular Impediments be sometimes disorder’d, or obstructed in their Operations.
There being allow’d therefore in a Creature such Affections as these towards the common Nature,Union with a Kind or Species. or System of the Kind, together with those other which regard the private Nature, or Self-system; it will appear that in following the first of these Affections, the Creature must on many Occasions contradict and go against the latter. How else shou’d the Species be preserv’d? Or what wou’d signify that implanted natural Affection, by which a Creature thro’ so many Difficultys and Hazards preserves its Offspring, and supports its Kind?
Opposition from Self-interest.It may therefore be imagin’d, perhaps, that there is a plain and absolute Opposition between these two Habits or Affections. It may be presum’d, that the pursuing the common Interest or publick Good thro’ the Affections of one kind, must be a hindrance to the Attainment of private Good thro’ the Affections of another. For it being taken for granted, that Hazards and Hardships, of whatever sort, are naturally the Ill of the private State; and it being certainly the Nature of those publick Affections to lead often to the greatest Hardships and Hazards of every kind; ’tis presently infer’d, “That ’tis the Creature’s Interest to be without any publick Affection whatsoever.”
This we know for certain; That all social Love, Friendship, Gratitude, or whatever else is of this generous kind, does by its nature take place of the self-interesting Passions, draws us out of our-selves, and makes us disregardful of our own Convenience and Safety. So that according to a known way of reasoning on Self-interest, that which is of a social kind in us, shou’d of right be abolish’d. Thus Kindness of every sort, Indulgence, Tenderness, Compassion, and in short, all natural Affection shou’d be industriously suppress’d, and, as mere Folly, and Weakness of Nature, be resisted and overcome; that, by this means, there might be nothing remaining in us, which was contrary to a direct Self-end; nothing which might stand in opposition to a steddy and deliberate Pursuit of the most narrowly confin’d Self-interest.
According to this extraordinary Hypothesis, it must be taken for granted, “That in the System of a Kind or Species, the Interest of the private Nature is directly opposite to that of the common one; the Interest of Particulars directly opposite to that of the Publick in general.”—A strange Constitution! in which it must be confess’d there is much Disorder and Untowardness; unlike to what we observe elsewhere in Nature. As if in any vegetable or animal Body, the Part or Member cou’d be suppos’d in a good and prosperous State as to it-self, when under a contrary Disposition, and in an unnatural Growth or Habit as to itsWhole.
Reconciliation.Now that this is in reality quite otherwise, we shall endeavour to demonstrate; so as to make appear, “That what Men represent as an ill Order and Constitution in the Universe, by making moral Rectitude appear the Ill, and Depravity the Good or Advantage of a Creature, is in Nature just the contrary. That to be well affected towards the Publick Interest and one’s own, is not only consistent, but inseparable: and that moral Rectitude, or Virtue, must accordingly be the Advantage, and Vice the Injury and Disadvantage of every Creature.”
Contradictory Notions.THERE are few perhaps, who when they consider a Creature void of natural Affection, and wholly destitute of a communicative or social Principle, will suppose him, at the same time, either tolerably happy in himself, or as he stands abroad, with respect to his Fellow-Creatures or Kind. ’Tis generally thought, that such a Creature as this, feels slender Joy in Life, and finds little Satisfaction in the mere sensual Pleasures which remain with him, after the Loss of social Enjoyment, and whatever can be call’d Humanity or Good-nature. We know that to such a Creature as this, ’tis not only incident, to be morose, rancorous and malignant;Dissolute or immoral State. but that, of necessity, a Mind or Temper thus destitute of Mildness and Benignity, must turn to that which is contrary, and be wrought by Passions of a different kind. Such a Heart as this must be a continual Seat of perverse Inclinations and bitter Aversions, rais’d from a constant ill Humour, Sourness, and Disquiet. The Consciousness of such a Nature, so obnoxious to Mankind, and to all Beings which approach it, must overcloud the Mind with dark Suspicion and Jealousy, alarm it with Fears and Horror, and raise in it a continual Disturbance, even in the most seeming fair and secure State of Fortune, and in the highest degree of outward Prosperity.
In whole.This, as to the compleat immoral State, is what, of their own accord, Men readily remark. Where there is this absolute Degeneracy, this total Apostacy from all Candour, Equity, Trust, Sociableness, or Friendship; there are few who do not see and acknowledg the Misery which is consequent. Seldom is the Case misconstru’d, when at worst. The misfortune is, we look not on this Depravity,In part. nor consider how it stands, in less degrees. The Calamity, we think, does not of necessity hold proportion with the Injustice or Iniquity. As if to be absolutely immoral and inhuman, were indeed the greatest misfortune and misery; but that to be so, in a little degree, shou’d be no misery nor harm at all! Which to allow, is just as reasonable as to own, that ’tis the greatest Ill of a Body to be in the utmost manner distorted and maim’d; but that to lose the use only of one Limb, or to be impair’d in some one single Organ or Member, is no Inconvenience or Ill worthy the least notice.
Inward Proportion.The Parts and Proportions of the Mind, their mutual Relation and Dependency, the Connexion and Frame of those Passions which constitute the Soul or Temper, may easily be understood by any-one who thinks it worth his while to study this inward Anatomy. ’Tis certain that the Order or Symmetry of this inward Part is, in it-self, no less real and exact, than that of the Body. However, ’tis apparent that few of us endeavour to become Anatomists of this sort. Nor is any-one asham’d of the deepest Ignorance in such a Subject. For tho the greatest Misery and Ill is generally own’d to be from Disposition, and Temper; tho ’tis allow’d that Temper may often change, and that it actually varys on many occasions, much to our disadvantage; yet how this Matter is brought about, we inquire not. We never trouble our-selves to consider thorowly by what means or methods our inward Constitution comes at any time to be impair’d or injur’d. The Solutio Continui,Continuity. which bodily Surgeons talk of, is never apply’d in this case, by Surgeons of another sort. The Notion of a Whole and Parts is not apprehended in this Science. We know not what the effect is, of straining any Affection, indulging any wrong Passion, or relaxing any proper and natural Habit, or good Inclination. Nor can we conceive how a particular Action shou’d have such a sudden Influence on the whole Mind, as to make the Person an immediate Sufferer. We suppose rather that a Man may violate his Faith, commit any Wickedness unfamiliar to him before, engage in any Vice or Villany, without the least prejudice to himself, or any Misery naturally following from the ill Action.
’Tis thus we hear it often said, “Such a Person has done ill indeed: But what is he the worse for it?” Yet speaking of any Nature thorowly savage, curst, and inveterate, we say truly, “Such a one is a plague and torment to himself”: And we allow, “That thro’ certain Humours, or Passions, and from Temper merely, a Man may be compleately miserable; let his outward Circumstances be ever so fortunate.” These different Judgments sufficiently demonstrate that we are not accustom’d to think with much coherency on these moral Subjects; and that our Notions, in this respect, are not a little confus’d, and contradictory.
Fabrick or System of the Affections.Now if the Fabrick of the Mind or Temper appear’d such to us as it really is; if we saw it impossible to remove hence any one good or orderly Affection, or introduce any ill or disorderly one, without drawing on, in some degree, that dissolute State, which at its height is confess’d to be so miserable: ’twou’d then undoubtedly be own’d, that since no ill, immoral, or unjust Action cou’d be committed without either a new inroad and breach on the Temper and Passions, or a farther advancing of that Execution already begun; whoever did ill, or acted in prejudice of his Integrity, Good-nature, or Worth, wou’d of necessity act with greater Cruelty towards himself, than he who scrupled not to swallow what was poisonous, or who with his own hands shou’d voluntarily mangle or wound his outward Form or Constitution, natural Limbs or Body.
SYSTEM explain’d.IT has been shewn before, that no Animal can be said properly to act, otherwise than thro’ Affections or Passions, such as are proper to an Animal. For in convulsive Fits, where a Creature strikes either himself or others, ’tis a simple Mechanism, an Engine, or Piece of Clock-work, which acts, and not the Animal.
Spring of Actions.Whatsoever therefore is done or acted by any Animal as such, is done only thro’ some Affection or Passion, as of Fear, Love, or Hatred moving him.
And as it is impossible that a weaker Affection shou’d overcome a stronger, so it is impossible but that where the Affections or Passions are strongest in the main, and form in general the most considerable Party, either by their Force or Number; thither the Animal must incline: And according to this Balance he must be govern’d, and led to Action.
Affections, three kinds.The Affections or Passions which must influence and govern the Animal, are either,
So that according as these Affections stand, a Creature must be virtuous or vitious, good or ill.
The latter sort of these Affections, ’tis evident, are wholly vitious. The two former may be vitious or virtuous, according to their degree.
It may seem strange, perhaps, to speak of natural Affections as too strong,Degrees of Affection. or of Self-affections as too weak. But to clear this Difficulty, we must call to mind what has been already explain’d, “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 requir’d; or as when Love to the Offspring proves such a Fondness as destroys the Parent, and consequently the Offspring it-self. And notwithstanding it may seem harsh to call that unnatural and vitious, which is only an Extreme of some natural and kind Affection; yet ’tis most certain, that where-ever 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. For a Creature possess’d with such an immoderate Degree of Passion, must of necessity allow too much to that one, and too little to others of the same Character, and equally natural and useful as to their End. And this must necessarily be the occasion of Partiality and Injustice, whilst only one Duty or natural Part is earnestly follow’d; and other Parts or Dutys neglected, which shou’d accompany it, and perhaps take place and be prefer’d.
This may well be allow’d true in all other respects; since even Religion it-self, consider’d as a Passion, not of the selfish but nobler kind, may in some Characters be strain’d beyond its natural Proportion, and be said also to be in too high a degree. For as the End of Religion is to render us more perfect, and accomplish’d in all moral Dutys and Performances; if by the height of devout Extasy and Contemplation we are rather disabled in this respect, and render’d more unapt to the real Dutys and Offices of civil Life; it may be said that Religion indeed is then too strong in us. For how, possibly, can we call this Superstition, whilst the Object of the Devotion is acknowledg’d just, and the Faith orthodox? ’Tis only the Excess of Zeal, which, in this Case, is so transporting, as to render the devout Person more remiss in secular Affairs, and less concern’d for the inferior and temporal Interests of Mankind.
Now as in particular Cases, publick Affection, on the one hand, may be too high; so private Affection may, on the other hand, be too weak. For if a Creature be self-neglectful, and insensible of Danger; or if he want such a degree of Passion in any kind, as is useful to preserve, sustain, or defend himself; this must certainly be esteem’d vitious, in regard of the Design and End of Nature. She her-self discovers this in her known Method and stated Rule of Operation. ’Tis certain, that her provisionary Care and Concern for the whole Animal, must at least be equal to her Concern for a single Part or Member. Now to the several Parts she has given, we see proper Affections, sutable to their Interest and Security; so that even without our Consciousness, they act in their own Defense, and for their own Benefit and Preservation. Thus an Eye, in its natural State, fails not to shut together, of its own accord, unknowingly to us, by a peculiar Caution and Timidity; which if it wanted, however we might intend the Preservation of our Eye, we shou’d not in effect be able to preserve it, by any Observation or Forecast of our own. To be wanting therefore in those principal Affections, which respect the Good of the whole Constitution, must be a Vice and Imperfection, as great surely in the principal part, (the Soul or Temper) as it is in any of those inferior and subordinate parts, to want the self-preserving Affections which are proper to them.
And thus the Affections towards private Good become necessary and essential to Goodness. For tho no Creature can be call’d good, or virtuous, merely for possessing these Affections; yet since it is impossible that the publick Good, or Good of the System, can be preserv’d without them; it follows that a Creature really wanting in them, is in reality wanting in some degree to Goodness and natural Rectitude; and may thus be esteem’d vitious and defective.
’Tis thus we say of a Creature, in a kind way of Reproof, that he is too good; when his Affection towards others is so warm and zealous, as to carry him even beyond his Part; or when he really acts beyond it, not thro’ too warm a Passion of that sort, but thro’ an over-cool one of another, or thro’ want of some Self-passion to restrain him within due Bounds.
It may be objected here, that the having the natural Affections too strong, (where the Self-affections are over-much so) or the having the Self-affections defective or weak, (where the natural Affections are also weak) may prove upon occasion the only Cause of a Creature’s acting honestly and in moral proportion. For, thus, one who is to a fault regardless of his Life, may with the smallest degree of natural Affection do all which can be expected from the highest Pitch of social Love, or zealous Friendship. And thus, on the other hand, a Creature excessively timorous may, by as exceeding a degree of natural Affection, perform whatever the perfectest Courage is able to inspire.
To this it is answer’d, That whenever we arraign any Passion as too strong, or complain of any as too weak; we must speak with respect to a certain Constitution or OEconomy of a particular Creature, or Species. For if a Passion, leading to any right end, be only so much the more serviceable and effectual, for being strong; if we may be assur’d that the strength of it will not be the occasion of any disturbance within, nor of any disproportion between it-self and other Affections; then consequently the Passion, however strong, cannot be condemn’d as vitious. But if to have all the Passions in equal proportion with it, be what the Constitution of the Creature cannot bear; so that only some Passions are rais’d to this height, whilst others are not, nor can possibly be wrought up to the same proportion; then may those strong Passions, tho of the better kind, be call’d excessive. For being in unequal proportion to the others, and causing an ill Balance in the Affection at large, they must of course be the occasion of Inequality in the Conduct, and incline the Party to a wrong moral Practice.
OEconomy of the Passions.But to shew more particularly what is meant by the OEconomy of the Passions, from Instances in the Species or Kinds below us. As for the Creatures who have no manner of Power or Means given them by Nature for their defense against Violence, nor any-thing by which they can make themselves formidable to such as injure or offend them; ’tis necessary they shou’d have an extraordinary degree of Fear, but little or no Animosity, such as might cause ’em to make resistance, or incline ’em to delay their Flight. For in this their Safety lies, and to this the Passion of Fear is serviceable, by keeping the Senses on the watch, and holding the Spirits in readiness to give the start.
And thus Timorousness, and an habitual strong Passion of Fear, may be according to the OEconomy of a particular Creature, both with respect to himself, and to the rest of his Species. On the other hand, Courage may be contrary to his OEconomy, and therefore vitious. Even in one and the same Species, this is by Nature differently order’d, with respect to different Sexes, Ages, and Growths. The tamer Creatures of the grazing kind, who live in Herds, are different from the wilder, who herd not, but live in Pairs only, apart from Company, as is natural and sutable to their rapacious Life. Yet is there found, even among the former inoffensive kind, a Courage proportionable to their Make and Strength. At a time of danger, when the whole Herd flies, the Bull alone makes head against the Lion, or whatever other invading Beast of Prey, and shews himself conscious of his Make. Even the Female of this kind is arm’d, we see, by Nature, in some degree, to resist Violence; so as not to fly a common Danger. As for a Hind, or Doe, or any other inoffensive and mere defenceless Creature; ’tis no way unnatural or vitious in them, when the Enemy approaches, to desert their Offspring, and fly for Safety. But for Creatures who are able to make Resistance, and are by Nature arm’d offensively; be they of the poorest Insect-kind, such as Bees or Wasps; ’tis natural to ’em to be rouz’d with Fury, and at the hazard of their Lives, oppose any Enemy or Invader of their Species. For by this known Passion in the Creature, the Species it-self is secur’d; when by Experience ’tis found that the Creature, tho unable to repel the Injury, yet voluntarily exposes his Life for the Punishment of the Invader; and suffers not his Kind to be injur’d with Impunity. And of all other Creatures, Man is in this Sense the most formidable: since if he thinks it just and exemplary, he may possibly in his own, or in his Country’s Cause, revenge an Injury on any-one living; and by throwing away his own Life (if he be resolute to that degree) is almost certain Master of another’s, however strongly guarded. Examples of this nature have often serv’d to restrain those in Power, from using it to the utmost Extent, and urging their Inferiors to Extremity.
Measure. Tone.Upon the whole: It may be said properly to be the same with the Affections or Passions in an Animal-Constitution, as with the Cords or Strings of a Musical Instrument. If these, tho in ever so just proportion one to another, are strain’d beyond a certain degree, ’tis more than the Instrument will bear: The Lute or Lyre is abus’d, and its Effect lost. On the other hand, if while some of the Strings are duly strain’d, others are not wound up to their due proportion; then is the Instrument still in disorder, and its Part ill perform’d. The several Species of Creatures are like different sorts of Instruments: And even in the same Species of Creatures (as in the same sort of Instrument) one is not intirely like the other, nor will the same Strings fit each. The same degree of Strength which winds up one, and fits the several Strings to a just Harmony and Concert, may in another burst both the Strings and Instrument it-self. Thus Men who have the liveliest Sense, and are the easiest affected with Pain or Pleasure, have need of the strongest Influence or Force of other Affections, such as Tenderness, Love, Sociableness, Compassion, in order to preserve a rightBalancewithin,Balance. and to maintain them in their Duty, and in the just performance of their Part: whilst others, who are of a cooler Blood, or lower Key, need not the same Allay or Counterpart; nor are made by Nature to feel those tender and indearing Affections in so exquisite a degree.
It might be agreeable, one wou’d think, to inquire thus into the different Tunings of the Passions, the various Mixtures and Allays by which Men become so different from one another.TEMPER. For as the highest Improvements of Temper are made in human kind;Best or worst in Man. so the greatest Corruptions and Degeneracys are discoverable in this Race. In the other Species of Creatures around us, there is found generally an exact Proportionableness, Constancy and Regularity in all their Passions and Affections; no failure in the care of the Offspring, or of the Society, to which they are united; no Prostitution of themselves; no Intemperance, or Excess, in any kind. The smaller Creatures, who live as it were in Citys (as Bees and Ants) continue the same Train and Harmony of Life: Nor are they ever false to those Affections, which move them to operate towards their Publick Good. Even those Creatures of Prey, who live the farthest out of Society, maintain, we see, such a Conduct towards one another, as is exactly sutable to the Good of their own Species. Whilst Man, notwithstanding the Assistance of Religion, and the Direction of Laws, is often found to live in less conformity with Nature; and, by means of Religion it-self, is often render’d the more barbarous and inhuman. Marks are set on Men: Distinctions form’d: Opinions decreed, under the severest Penaltys: Antipathys instill’d, and Aversions rais’d in Men against the generality of their own Species. So that ’tis hard to find in any Region a human Society which has human Laws. No wonder if in such Societys ’tis so hard to find a Man who lives naturally, and as a Man.
State of the Argument.BUT having shewn what is meant by a Passion’s being in too high, or in too low a degree; and that,“To have any natural Affection too high, or any Self-affection too low,” tho it be often approv’d as Virtue, is yet, strictly speaking, a Vice and Imperfection: we come now to the plainer and more essential part of Vice, and which alone deserves to be consider’d as such: that is to say.
Otherwise than thus, it is impossible any Creature can be such as we call ill or vitious. So that if once we prove that it is really not the Creature’s Interest to be thus vitiously affected, but contrariwise; we shall then have prov’d, “That it is his Interest to be wholly Good and Virtuous”: Since in a wholesom and sound State of his Affections, such as we have describ’d, he cannot possibly be other than sound, good and virtuous, in his Action and Behaviour.
Our Business, therefore, will be, to prove;
FIRST Proof, from the natural Affections.TO begin therefore with this Proof, “That to have the Natural Affections (such as are founded in Love, Complacency, Good-will, and in a Sympathy with the Kind or Species) is to have the chief Means and Power of Self-enjoyment:AndThat to want them is certain Misery and Ill.”
We may inquire, first, what those are, which we call Pleasures or Satisfactions;Pleasures of the BODY and MIND. from whence Happiness is generally computed. They are (according to the common distinction) Satisfactions and Pleasures either of the Body, or of the Mind.
The latter preferable.That the latter of these Satisfactionsare the greatest, is allow’d by most People, and may be prov’d by this: That whenever the Mind, having conceiv’d a high Opinion of the Worth of any Action or Behaviour, has receiv’d the strongest Impression of this sort, and is wrought up to the highest pitch or degree of Passion towards the Subject; at such time it sets itself above all bodily Pain as well as Pleasure, and can be no-way diverted from its purpose by Flattery or Terror of any kind. Thus we see Indians, Barbarians, Malefactors, and even the most execrable Villains, for the sake of a particular Gang or Society, or thro’ some cherish’d Notion or Principle of Honour or Gallantry, Revenge, or Gratitude, embrace any manner of Hardship, and defy Torments and Death. Whereas, on the other hand, a Person being plac’d in all the happy Circumstances of outward Enjoyment, surrounded with every thing which can allure or charm the Sense, and being then actually in the very moment of such a pleasing Indulgence; yet no sooner is there any thing amiss within, no sooner has he conceiv’d any internal Ail or Disorder, any thing inwardly vexatious or distemper’d, than instantly his Enjoyment ceases, the pleasure of Sense is at an end; and every means of that sort becomes ineffectual, and is rejected as uneasy, and subject to give Distaste.
Inference.The Pleasures of the Mind being allow’d, therefore, superior, to those of theBody; it follows, “That whatever can create in any intelligent Being a constant flowing Series or Train of mental Enjoyments, or Pleasures of the Mind, is more considerable to his Happiness, than that which can create to him a like constant Course or Train of sensual Enjoyments, or Pleasures of the Body.”
Mental Enjoyments, whence.Now the mental Enjoyments are either actually the very natural Affections themselves in their immediate Operation: Or they wholly in a manner proceed from them, and are no other than their Effects.
If so; it follows, that the natural Affections duly establish’d in a rational Creature, being the only means which can procure him a constant Series or Succession of the mental Enjoyments, they are the only means which can procure him a certain and solid Happiness.
Energy of natural Affections.NOW, in the first place, to explain, “How much the natural Affections are in themselves the highest Pleasures and Enjoyments”: There shou’d methinks be little need of proving this to any-one of human Kind, who has ever known the Condition of the Mind under a lively Affection of Love, Gratitude, Bounty, Generosity, Pity, Succour, or whatever else is of a social or friendly sort. He who has ever so little Knowledg of human Nature, is sensible what pleasure the Mind perceives when it is touch’d in this generous way. The difference we find between Solitude and Company, between a common Company and that of Friends; the reference of almost all our Pleasures to mutual Converse, and the dependence they have on Society either present or imagin’d; all these are sufficient Proofs in our behalf.
How much the social Pleasures are superior to any other, may be known by visible Tokens and Effects. The very outward Features, the Marks and Signs which attend this sort of Joy, are expressive of a more intense, clear, and undisturb’d Pleasure, than those which attend the Satisfaction of Thirst, Hunger, and other ardent Appetites. But more particularly still may this Superiority be known, from the actual Prevalence and Ascendency of this sort of Affection over all besides. Where-ever it presents it-self with any advantage, it silences and appeases every other Motion of Pleasure. No Joy, merely of Sense, can be a Match for it. Whoever is Judg of both the Pleasures, will ever give the preference to the former. But to be able to judg of both, ’tis necessary to have a Sense of each. The honest Man indeed can judg of sensual Pleasure, and knows its utmost Force. For neither is his Taste, or Sense the duller; but, on the contrary, the more intense and clear, on the account of his Temperance, and a moderate Use of Appetite. But the immoral and profligate Man can by no means be allow’d a good Judg of social Pleasure, to which he is so mere a Stranger by his Nature.
Nor is it any Objection here; That in many Natures the good Affection, tho really present, is found to be of insufficient force. For where it is not in its natural degree, ’tis the same indeed as if it were not, or had never been. The less there is of this good Affection in any untoward Creature, the greater the wonder is, that it shou’d at any time prevail; as in the very worst of Creatures it sometimes will. And if it prevails but for once, in any single Instance; it shews evidently, that if the Affection were thorowly experienc’d or known, it wou’d prevail in all.
Thus theCharm of kind Affection is superior to all other Pleasure: since it has the power of drawing from every other Appetite or Inclination. And thus in the Case of Love to the Offspring, and a thousand other Instances, the Charm is found to operate so strongly on the Temper, as, in the midst of other Temptations, to render it susceptible of this Passion alone; which remains as the Master-Pleasure and Conqueror of the rest.
There is no-one who, by the least progress in Science or Learning, has come to know barely the Principles of Mathematicks, but has found, that in the exercise of his Mind on the Discoverys he there makes, tho merely of speculative Truths, he receives a Pleasure and Delight superior to that of Sense. When we have thorowly search’d into the nature of this contemplative Delight, we shall find it of a kind which relates not in the least to any private Interest of the Creature, nor has for its Object any Self-good or Advantage of the private System. The Admiration, Joy, or Love, turns wholly upon what is exterior, and foreign to our-selves. And tho the reflected Joy or Pleasure, which arises from the notice of this Pleasure once perceiv’d, may be interpreted a Self-passion, or interested Regard: yet the original Satisfaction can be no other than what results from the Love of Truth, Proportion, Order, and Symmetry, in the Things without. If this be the Case, the Passion ought in reality to be rank’d with natural Affection. For having no Object within the compass of the private System; it must either be esteem’d superfluous and unnatural, (as having no tendency towards the Advantage or Good of any thing in Nature) or it must be judg’d to be, what it truly is, “A natural Joy in the Contemplation of those Numbers, that Harmony, Proportion, and Concord, which supports the universal Nature, and is essential in the Constitution and Form of every particular Species, or Order of Beings.”
But this speculative Pleasure, however considerable and valuable it may be, or however superior to any Motion of mere Sense; must yet be far surpass’d by virtuous Motion, and the Exercise of Benignity and Goodness; where, together with the most delightful Affection of the Soul, there is join’d a pleasing Assent and Approbation of the Mind to what is acted in this good Disposition and honest Bent. For where is there on Earth a fairer Matter of Speculation, a goodlier View or Contemplation, than that of a beautiful, proportion’d, and becoming Action? Or what is there relating to us, of which the Consciousness and Memory is more solidly and lastingly entertaining?
We may observe, that in the Passion of Love between the Sexes, where, together with the Affection of a vulgar sort, there is a mixture of the kind and friendly, the Sense or Feeling of this latter is in reality superior to the former; since often thro’ this Affection, and for the sake of the Person belov’d, the greatest Hardships in the World have been submitted to, and even Death it-self voluntarily imbrac’d, without any expected Compensation. For where shou’d the Ground of such an Expectation lie? Not here, in this World surely; for Death puts an end to all. Nor yet hereafter, in any other: for who has ever thought of providing a Heaven or future Recompence for the suffering Virtue of Lovers?
We may observe, withal, in favour of the natural Affections, that it is not only when Joy and Sprightliness are mix’d with them that they carry a real Enjoyment above that of the sensual kind. The very Disturbances which belong to natural Affection, tho they may be thought wholly contrary to Pleasure, yield still a Contentment and Satisfaction greater than the Pleasures of indulg’d Sense. And where a Series or continu’d Succession of the tender and kind Affections can be carry’d on, even thro’ Fears, Horrors, Sorrows, Griefs; the Emotion of the Soul is still agreeable. We continue pleas’d even with this melancholy Aspect or Sense of Virtue. Her Beauty supports it-self under a Cloud, and in the midst of surrounding Calamitys. For thus, when by mere Illusion, as in a Tragedy, the Passions of this kind are skilfully excited in us; we prefer the Entertainment to any other of equal duration. We find by our-selves, that the moving our Passions in this mournful way, the engaging them in behalf of Merit and Worth, and the exerting whatever we have of social Affection, and human Sympathy, is of the highest Delight; and affords a greater Enjoyment in the way of Thought and Sentiment, than any thing besides can do in a way of Sense and common Appetite. And after this manner it appears, “How much the mental Enjoyments are actually the very natural Affections themselves.”
Effects of natural Affection.NOW, in the next place, to explain, “How they proceed from them, as their natural Effects”; we may consider first, That the Effects of Love or kind Affection, in a way of mental Pleasure, are, “An Enjoyment of Good by Communication: A receiving it, as it were by Reflection, or by way of Participation in the Good of others”: And “A pleasing Consciousness of the actual Love, merited Esteem or Approbation of others.”
How considerable a part of Happiness arises from the former of these Effects, will be easily apprehended by one who is not exceedingly ill natur’d. It will be consider’d how many the Pleasures are, of sharing Contentment and Delight with others; of receiving it in Fellowship and Company; and gathering it, in a manner, from the pleas’d and happy States of those around us, from accounts and relations of such Happinesses, from the very Countenances, Gestures, Voices and Sounds, even of Creatures foreign to our Kind, whose Signs of Joy and Contentment we can anyway discern. So insinuating are these Pleasures of Sympathy, and so widely diffus’d thro’ our whole Lives, that there is hardly such a thing as Satisfaction or Contentment, of which they make not an essential part.
As for that other Effect of social Love, viz. the Consciousness of merited Kindness or Esteem; ’tis not difficult to perceive how much this avails in mental Pleasure, and constitutes the chief Enjoyment and Happiness of those who are, in the narrowest sense, voluptuous. How natural is it for the most selfish among us, to be continually drawing some sort of Satisfaction from a Character, and pleasing our-selves in the Fancy of deserv’d Admiration and Esteem? For tho it be mere Fancy, we endeavour still to believe it Truth; and flatter our-selves, all we can, with the Thought of Merit of some kind, and the Persuasion of our deserving well from some few at least, with whom we happen to have a more intimate and familiar Commerce.
What Tyrant is there, what Robber, or open Violater of the Laws of Society, who has not a Companion, or some particular Set, either of his own Kindred, or such as he calls Friends; with whom he gladly shares his Good; in whose Welfare he delights; and whose Joy and Satisfaction he makes his own? What Person in the world is there, who receives not some Impressions from the Flattery or Kindness of such as are familiar with him? ’Tis to this soothing Hope and Expectation of Friendship, that almost all our Actions have some reference. ’Tis this which goes thro’ our whole Lives, and mixes it-self even with most of our Vices. Of this, Vanity, Ambition, and Luxury, have a share; and many other Disorders of our Life partake. Even the unchastest Love borrows largely from this Source. So that were Pleasure to be computed in the same way as other things commonly are; it might properly be said, that out of these two Branches (viz. Community or Participation in the Pleasures of others, and Belief of meriting well from others) wou’d arise more than nine Tenths of whatever is enjoy’d in Life. And thus in the main Sum of Happiness, there is scarce a single Article, but what derives it-self from social Love, and depends immediately on the natural and kind Affections.
Now such as Causes are, such must be their Effects. And therefore as natural Affection or social Love is perfect, or imperfect; so must be the Content and Happiness depending on it.
Partial Affection examin’d.BUT lest any shou’d imagine with themselves that an inferior Degree of natural Affection, or an imperfect partial Regard of this sort, can supply the place of an intire, sincere, and truly moral one; lest a small Tincture of social Inclination shou’d be thought sufficient to answer the End of Pleasure in Society, and give us that Enjoyment of Participation and Community which is so essential to our Happiness; we may consider first, That Partial Affection, or social Love in part, without regard to a compleat Society or Whole, is in it-self an Inconsistency, and implies an absolute Contradiction. Whatever Affection we have towards any thing besides our-selves; if it be not of the natural sort towards the System, or Kind; it must be, of all other Affections, the most dissociable, and destructive of the Enjoyments of Society: If it be really of the natural sort, and apply’d only to some one Part of Society, or of a Species, but not to the Species or Society it-self; there can be no more account given of it, than of the most odd, capricious, or humoursom Passion which may arise. The Person, therefore, who is conscious of this Affection, can be conscious of no Merit or Worth on the account of it. Nor can the Persons on whom this capricious Affection has chanc’d to fall, be in any manner secure of its Continuance or Force. As it has no Foundation or Establishment in Reason; so it must be easily removable, and subject to alteration, without Reason. Now the Variableness of such sort of Passion, which depends solely on Capriciousness and Humour, and undergoes the frequent Successions of alternate Hatred and Love, Aversion and Inclination, must of necessity create continual Disturbance and Disgust, give an allay to what is immediately enjoy’d in the way of Friendship and Society, and in the end extinguish, in a manner, the very Inclination towards Friendship and human Commerce. Whereas, on the other hand, Intire Affection (from whence Integrity has its name) as it is answerable to it-self, proportionable, and rational; so it is irrefragable, solid, and durable. And as in the case of Partiality, or vitious Friendship, which has no rule or order, every Reflection of the Mind necessarily makes to its disadvantage, and lessens the Enjoyment; so in the case of Integrity, the Consciousness of just Behaviour towards Mankind in general,Partial Affection. casts a good reflection on each friendly Affection in particular, and raises the Enjoyment of Friendship still the higher, in the way of Community or Participation above-mention’d.
And in the next place, as partial Affection is fitted only to a short and slender Enjoyment of those Pleasures of Sympathy or Participation with others; so neither is it able to derive any considerable Enjoyment from that other principal Branch of human Happiness, viz. Consciousness of the actual or merited Esteem of others. From whence shou’d this Esteem arise? The Merit, surely, must in it-self be mean, whilst the Affection is so precarious and uncertain. What Trust can there be to a mere casual Inclination or capricious Liking? Who can depend on such a Friendship as is founded on no moral Rule, but fantastically assign’d to some single Person, or small Part of Mankind, exclusive of Society, and the Whole?
It may be consider’d, withal, as a thing impossible; that they who esteem or love by any other Rule than that of Virtue, shou’d place their Affection on such Subjects as they can long esteem or love. ’Twill be hard for them, in the number of their so belov’d Friends, to find any, in whom they can heartily rejoice; or whose reciprocal Love or Esteem they can sincerely prize and enjoy. Nor can those Pleasures be sound or lasting, which are gather’d from a Self-flattery, and false Persuasion of the Esteem and Love of others, who are incapable of any sound Esteem or Love. It appears therefore how much the Men of narrow or partial Affection must be Losers in this sense, and of necessity fall short in this second principal part of mental Enjoyment.
Intire Affection.Mean while intire Affection has all the opposite advantages. It is equal, constant, accountable to it-self, ever satisfactory, and pleasing. It gains Applause and Love from the best; and in all disinterested cases, from the very worst of Men. We may say of it, with justice, that it carrys with it a Consciousness of merited Love and Approbation from all Society, from all intelligent Creatures, and from whatever is original to all other Intelligence. And if there be in Nature any such Original; we may add, that the Satisfaction which attends intire Affection, is full and noble, in proportion to its final Object, which contains all Perfection; according to the Sense of Theism above-noted. For this, as has been shewn, is the result of Virtue. And to have this intire Affection or Integrity of Mind, is to live according to Nature, and the Dictates and Rules of supreme Wisdom. This is Morality, Justice, Piety, and natural Religion.
BUT lest this Argument shou’d appear perhaps too scholastically stated, and in Terms and Phrases, which are not of familiar use; we may try whether possibly we can set it yet in a plainer light.
Let any-one, then, consider well those Pleasures which he receives either in private Retirement, Contemplation, Study, and Converse with himself; or in Mirth, Jollity, and Entertainment with others; and he will find, That they are wholly founded in An easy Temper, free of Harshness,Mind and Temper.Bitterness, or Distaste; and in A Mind or Reason well compos’d, quiet, easy within it-self, and such as can freely bear its own Inspection and Review. Now such a Mind, and such a Temper, which fit and qualify for the Enjoyment of the Pleasures mention’d, must of necessity be owing to the natural and good Affections.
TEMPER.As to what relates to Temper, it may be consider’d thus. There is no State of outward Prosperity, or flowing Fortune, where Inclination and Desire are always satisfy’d, Fancy and Humour pleas’d. There are almost hourly some Impediments or Crosses to the Appetite; some Accidents or other from without; or something from within, to check the licentious Course of the indulg’d Affections. They are not always to be satisfy’d by mere Indulgence. And when a Life is guided by Fancy only, there is sufficient ground of Contrariety and Disturbance. The very ordinary Lassitudes, Uneasinesses, and Defects of Disposition in the soundest Body; the interrupted Course of the Humours, or Spirits, in the healthiest People; and the accidental Disorders common to every Constitution, are sufficient, we know, on many occasions, to breed Uneasiness and Distaste. And this, in time, must grow into a Habit; where there is nothing to oppose its progress, and hinder its prevailing on the Temper. Now the only sound Opposite to Ill Humour, is natural and kind Affection. For we may observe, that when the Mind, upon reflection, resolves at any time to suppress this Disturbance already risen in the Temper, and sets about this reforming Work with heartiness, and in good earnest; it can no otherwise accomplish the Undertaking, than by introducing into the affectionate Part some gentle Feeling of the social and friendly kind; some enlivening Motion of Kindness, Fellowship, Complacency, or Love, to allay and convert that contrary Motion of Impatience and Discontent.
If it be said perhaps, that in the case before us, Religious Affection or Devotion is a sufficient and proper Remedy; we answer, That ’tis according as the Kind may happily prove. For if it be of the pleasant and chearful sort, ’tis of the very kind of natural Affection it-self: if it be of the dismal or fearful sort; if it brings along with it any Affection opposite to Manhood, Generosity, Courage, or Free-thought; there will be nothing gain’d by this Application; and the Remedy will, in the issue, be undoubtedly found worse than the Disease. The severest Reflections on our Duty, and the Consideration merely of what is by Authority and under Penaltys enjoin’d, will not by any means serve to calm us on this occasion. The more dismal our Thoughts are on such a Subject, the worse our Temper will be, and the readier to discover it-self in Harshness, and Austerity. If, perhaps, by Compulsion, or thro’ any Necessity or Fear incumbent, a different Carriage be at any time effected, or different Maxims own’d; the Practice at the bottom will be still the same. If the Countenance be compos’d; the Heart, however, will not be chang’d. The ill Passion may for the time be with-held from breaking into Action; but will not be subdu’d, or in the least debilitated against the next occasion. So that in such a Breast as this, whatever Devotion there may be; ’tis likely there will in time be little of an easy Spirit, or good Temper remaining; and consequently few and slender Enjoyments of a mental kind.
If it be objected, on the other hand, that tho in melancholy Circumstances ill Humour may prevail, yet in a Course of outward Prosperity, and in the height of Fortune, there can nothing probably occur which shou’d thus sour the Temper, and give it such disrelish as is suggested; we may consider, that the most humour’d and indulg’d State is apt to receive the most disturbance from every Disappointment or smallest Ail. And if Provocations are easiest rais’d, and the Passions of Anger, Offence, and Enmity, are found the highest in the most indulg’d State of Will and Humour; there is still the greater need of a Supply from social Affection, to preserve the Temper from running into Savageness and Inhumanity. And this, the Case of Tyrants, and most unlimited Potentates, may sufficiently verify and demonstrate.
MIND.NOW as to the other part of our Consideration, which relates to a Mindor Reason well compos’d and easy within it-self; upon what account this Happiness may be thought owing to natural Affection,Reflection. we may possibly resolve our-selves, after this manner. It will be acknowledg’d that a Creature, such as Man, who from several degrees of Reflection has risen to that Capacity which we call Reason and Understanding; must in the very use of this his reasoning Faculty, be forc’d to receive Reflections back into his Mind of what passes in it-self, as well as in the Affections, or Will; in short, of whatsoever relates to his Character, Conduct, or Behaviour amidst his Fellow-Creatures, and in Society. Or shou’d he be of himself unapt; there are others ready to remind him, and refresh his Memory, in this way of Criticism. We have all of us Remembrancers enow to help us in this Work. Nor are the greatest Favourites of Fortune exempted from this Talk of Self-inspection. Even Flattery itself, by making the View agreeable, renders us more attentive this way, and insnares us in the Habit. The vainer any Person is, the more he has his Eye inwardly fix’d upon himself; and is, after a certain manner, employ’d in this home-Survey. And when a true Regard to our-selves cannot oblige us to this Inspection, a false Regard to others, and a Fondness for Reputation raises a watchful Jealousy, and furnishes us sufficiently with Acts of Reflection on our own Character and Conduct.
In whatever manner we consider of this, we shall find still, that every reasoning or reflecting Creature is, by his Nature, forc’d to endure the Review of his own Mind, and Actions; and to have Representations of himself, and his inward Affairs, constantly passing before him, obvious to him, and revolving in his Mind. Now as nothing can be more grievous than this is, to one who has thrown off natural Affection; so nothing can be more delightful to one who has preserv’d it with sincerity.
Conscience.There are two Things, which to a rational Creature must be horridly offensive and grievous; viz. “To have the Reflection in his Mind of any unjust Action or Behaviour, which he knows to be naturally odious and ill-deserving: Or, of any foolish Action or Behaviour, which he knows to be prejudicial to his own Interest or Happiness.”
Moral Conscience.The former of these is alone properly call’d Conscience; whether in a moral, or religious Sense. For to have Awe and Terror of the Deity, does not, of it-self, imply Conscience. No one is esteem’d the more conscientious for the fear of evil Spirits, Conjurations, Enchantments, or whatever may proceed from any unjust, capricious, or devilish Nature. Now to fearGod any otherwise than as in consequence of some justly blameable and imputable Act, is to fear a devilish Nature, not a divine one. Nor does the Fear of Hell, or a thousand Terrors of theDeity, imply Conscience; unless where there is an Apprehension of what is wrong, odious, morally deform’d, and ill-deserving. And where this is the Case, there Conscience must have effect, and Punishment of necessity be apprehended; even tho it be not expresly threaten’d.
And thus religious Conscience supposes moral or natural Conscience. And tho the former be understood to carry with it the Fear of divine Punishment; it has its force however from the apprehended moral Deformity and Odiousness of any Act, with respect purely to the Divine Presence, and the natural Veneration due to such a suppos’d Being. For in such a Presence, the Shame of Villany or Vice must have its force, independently on that farther Apprehension of the magisterial Capacity of such a Being, and his Dispensation of particular Rewards or Punishments in a future State.
It has been already said, that no Creature can maliciously and intentionally do ill, without being sensible, at the same time, that he deserves ill. And in this respect, every sensible Creature may be said to haveConscience. For with all Mankind, and all intelligent Creatures, this must ever hold, “That what they know they deserve from every-one, that they necessarily must fear and expect from all.” And thus Suspicions and ill Apprehensions must arise, with Terror both of Men and of theDeity. But besides this, there must in every rational Creature, be yet farther Conscience; viz. from Sense of Deformity in what is thus ill-deserving and unnatural: and from a consequent Shame or Regret of incurring what is odious, and moves Aversion.
There scarcely is, or can be any Creature, whom Consciousness of Villany, as such merely, does not at all offend; nor any thing opprobrious or heinously imputable, move, or affect. If there be such a one; ’tis evident he must be absolutely indifferent towards moral Good or Ill. If this indeed be his Case; ’twill be allow’d he can be no-way capable of natural Affection: If not of that, then neither of any social Pleasure, or mental Enjoyment, as shewn above; but on the contrary, he must be subject to all manner of horrid, unnatural, and ill Affection. So that to want Conscience, or natural Sense of the Odiousness of Crime and Injustice, is to be most of all miserable in Life: but where Conscience, or Sense of this sort, remains; there, consequently, whatever is committed against it, must of necessity, by means of Reflection, as we have shewn, be continually shameful, grievous and offensive.
A Man who in a Passion happens to kill his Companion, relents immediately on the sight of what he has done. His Revenge is chang’d into Pity, and his Hatred turn’d against himself. And this merely by the Power of the Object. On this account he suffers Agonys; the Subject of this continually occurs to him; and of this he has a constant ill Remembrance and displeasing Consciousness. If on the other side, we suppose him not to relent or suffer any real Concern or Shame; then, either he has no Sense of the Deformity of the Crime and Injustice, no natural Affection, and consequently no Happiness or Peace within: or if he has any Sense of moral Worth or Goodness, it must be of a perplex’d, and contradictory kind. He must pursue an inconsistent Notion,False Conscience. idolize some false Species of Virtue; and affect as noble, gallant, or worthy, that which is irrational and absurd. And how tormenting this must be to him, is easy to conceive. For never can such a Phantom as this be reduc’d to any certain Form. Never can this Proteus of Honour be held steddy, to one Shape. The Pursuit of it can only be vexatious and distracting. There is nothing beside real Virtue, as has been shewn, which can possibly hold any proportion to Esteem, Approbation, or good Conscience. And he who, being led by false Religion or prevailing Custom, has learnt to esteem or admire any thing as Virtue which is not really such; must either thro’ the Inconsistency of such an Esteem, and the perpetual Immoralitys occasion’d by it, come at last to lose all Conscience, and so be miserable in the worst way: or, if he retains any Conscience at all, it must be of a kind never satisfactory, or able to bestow Content. For ’tis impossible that a cruel Enthusiast, or Bigot, a Persecutor, a Murderer, a Bravo, a Pirate, or any Villain of less degree, who is false to the Society of Mankind in general, and contradicts natural Affection; shou’d have any fix’d Principle at all, any real Standard or Measure by which he can regulate his Esteem, or any solid Reason by which to form his Approbation of any one moral Act. And thus the more he sets up Honour, or advances Zeal; the worse he renders his Nature, and the more detestable his Character. The more he engages in the Love or Admiration of any Action or Practice, as great and glorious, which is in it-self morally ill and vitious; the more Contradiction and Self-disapprobation he must incur. For there being nothing more certain than this, “That no natural Affection can be contradicted, nor any unnatural one advanc’d, without a prejudice in some degree to all natural Affection in general”: it must follow, “That inward Deformity growing greater, by the Incouragement of unnatural Affection; there must be so much the more Subject for dissatisfactory Reflection, the more any false Principle of Honour, any false Religion, or Superstition prevails.”
So that whatever Notions of this kind are cherish’d; or whatever Character affected, which is contrary to moral Equity, and leads to Inhumanity, thro’ a false Conscience, or wrong Sense of Honour,Causes Reproach from true. serves only to bring a Man the more under the lash of real and just Conscience, Shame, and Self-reproach. Nor can any one, who, by any pretended Authority, commits one single Immorality, be able to satisfy himself with any Reason, why he shou’d not at another time be carry’d further, into all manner of Villany; such perhaps as he even abhors to think of. And this is a Reproach which a Mind must of necessity make to it-self upon the least Violation of natural Conscience; in doing what is morally deform’d, and ill-deserving; tho warranted by any Example or Precedent amongst Men, or by any suppos’d Injunction or Command of higher Powers.
Conscience, from Interest.Now as for that other part of Conscience, viz. the remembrance of what was at any time unreasonably and foolishly done, in prejudice of one’s real Interest or Happiness: This dissatisfactory Reflection must follow still and have effect, wheresoever there is a Sense of moral Deformity, contracted by Crime, and Injustice. For even where there is no Sense of moral Deformity, as such merely; there must be still a Sense of the ill Merit of it with respect to God and Man. Or tho there were a possibility of excluding for ever all Thoughts or Suspicions of any superior Powers, yet considering that this Insensibility towards moral Good or Ill implies a total Defect in natural Affection, and that this Defect can by no Dissimulation be conceal’d; ’tis evident that a Man of this unhappy Character must suffer a very sensible Loss in the Friendship, Trust, and Confidence of other Men; and consequently must suffer in his Interest and outward Happiness. Nor can the Sense of this Disadvantage fail to occur to him; when he sees, with Regret, and Envy, the better and more grateful Terms of Friendship, and Esteem, on which better People live with the rest of Mankind. Even therefore where natural Affection is wanting; ’tis certain still, that by Immorality, necessarily happening thro’ want of such Affection, there must be disturbance from Conscience of this sort, viz. from Sense of what is committed imprudently, and contrary to real Interest and Advantage.
Conclusion drawn from the MENTAL PLEASURES.From all this we may easily conclude, how much our Happiness depends on natural and good Affection. For if the chief Happiness be from the Mental Pleasures; and the chief mental Pleasures are such as we have describ’d, and are founded in natural Affection; it follows, “That to have the natural Affections, is to have the chief Means and Power of Self-enjoyment, the highest Possession and Happiness of Life.”
Pleasures of the SENSE, Dependent also on natural Affection.NOW as to the Pleasures ofthe Body, and the Satisfactions belonging to mereSense; ’tis evident, they cannot possibly have their Effect, or afford any valuable Enjoyment, otherwise than by the means of social and natural Affection.
To live well, has no other meaning with some People, than to eat and drink well.Vulgar Epicurism. And methinks ’tis an unwary Concession we make in favour of these pretended good Livers, when we join with ’em, in honouring their way of Life with the Title of living fast. As if they liv’d the fastest who took the greatest pains to enjoy least of Life: For if our Account of Happiness be right; the greatest Enjoyments in Life are such as these Men pass over in their haste,Pleasures of the Sense, and have scarce ever allow’d themselves the liberty of tasting.
But as considerable a Part of Voluptuousness as is founded in the Palat; and as notable as the Science is, which depends on it; one may justly presume that the Ostentation of Elegance,Imagination, Fancy. and a certain Emulation and Study how to excel in this sumptuous Art of Living, goes very far in the raising such a high Idea of it, as is observ’d among the Men of Pleasure. For were the Circumstances of a Table and Company, Equipages, Services, and the rest of the Management withdrawn; there wou’d be hardly left any Pleasure worth acceptance, even in the Opinion of the most debauch’d themselves.
A Debauch.The very Notion of a Debauch (which is a Sally into whatever can be imagin’d of Pleasure and Voluptuousness) carrys with it a plain reference to Society, or Fellowship. It may be call’d a Surfeit,Pleasures of the Sense. or Excess of Eating and Drinking, but hardly a Debauch of that kind, when the Excess is committed separately, out of all Society, or Fellowship. And one who abuses him-self in this way, is often call’d a Sot, but never a Debauchee. The Courtizans, and even the commonest of Women,Women. who live by Prostitution, know very well how necessary it is, that every-one whom they entertain with their Beauty, shou’d believe there are Satisfactions reciprocal; and that Pleasures are no less given than receiv’d. And were this Imagination to be wholly taken away, there wou’d be hardly any of the grosser sort of Mankind, who wou’d not perceive their remaining Pleasure to be of slender Estimation.
Who is there can well or long enjoy any thing, when alone, and abstracted perfectly, even in his very Mind and Thought, from every thing belonging to Society? Who wou’d not, on such Terms as these, be presently cloy’d by any sensual Indulgence? Who wou’d not soon grow uneasy with his Pleasure, however exquisite, till he had found means to impart it, and make it truly pleasant to him, by communicating, and sharing it at least with some one single Person? Let Men imagine what they please; let ’em suppose themselves ever so selfish; or desire ever so much to follow the Dictates of that narrow Principle, by which they wou’d bring Nature under restraint: Nature will break out; and in Agonys, Disquiets, and a distemper’d State, demonstrate evidently the ill Consequence of such Violence, the Absurdity of such a Device, and the Punishment which belongs to such a monstrous and horrid Endeavour.
Pleasures of the Sense,Thus, therefore, not only the Pleasures of the Mind, but even those of the Body, depend on natural Affection: insomuch that where this is wanting, they not only lose their Force, but are in a manner converted into Uneasiness and Disgust. The Sensations which shou’d naturally afford Contentment and Delight,Convertible into Disgust; produce rather Discontent and Sourness, and breed a Wearisomness and Restlessness in the Disposition. This we may perceive by the perpetual Inconstancy, and Love of Change,Variable: so remarkable in those who have nothing communicative or friendly in their Pleasures. Good Fellowship, in its abus’d Sense, seems indeed to have something more constant and determining. The Company supports the Humour. ’Tis the same in Love.Insupportable. A certain Tenderness and Generosity of Affection supports the Passion, which otherwise wou’d instantly be chang’d. The perfectest Beauty cannot, of it-self, retain, or fix it. And that Love which has no other Foundation, but relies on this exterior kind, is soon turn’d into Aversion. Satiety, perpetual Disgust, and Feverishness of Desire, attend those who passionately study Pleasure. They best enjoy it, who study to regulate their Passions. And by this they will come to know how absolute an Incapacity there is in any thing sensual to please, or give contentment, where it depends not on something friendly or social, something conjoin’d, and in affinity with kind or natural Affection.
Balance of the Affections.BUT ERE we conclude this Article of social or natural Affection, we may take a general View of it, and bring it, once for all, into the Scale; to prove what kind of Balance it helps to make within; and what the Consequence may be, of its Deficiency, or light Weight.
There is no-one of ever so little Understanding in what belongs to a human Constitution, who knows not that without Action, Motion, and Employment, the Body languishes, and is oppress’d; its Nourishment turns to Disease; the Spirits, unimploy’d abroad, help to consume the Parts within; and Nature, as it were, preys upon her-self. In the same manner, the sensible and living Part, the Soul or Mind, wanting its proper and natural Exercise, is burden’d and diseas’d. Its Thoughts and Passions being unnaturally with-held from their due Objects, turn against it-self, and create the highest Impatience and Ill-humour.
In Brutes, and other Creatures, which have not the Use of Reason and Reflection,Instance in the animal Kinds. (at least not after the manner of Mankind) ’tis so order’d in Nature, that by their daily Search after Food, and their Application either towards the Business of their Livelihood, or the Affairs of their Species or Kind,Balance of the Affections. almost their whole time is taken up, and they fail not to find full Imployment for their Passion, according to that degree of Agitation to which they are fitted, and which their Constitution requires. If any one of these Creatures be taken out of his natural laborious State, and plac’d amidst such a Plenty as can profusely administer to all his Appetites and Wants; it may be observ’d, that as his Circumstances grow thus luxuriant, his Temper and Passions have the same growth. When he comes, at any time, to have the Accommodations of Life at a cheaper and easier rate than was at first intended him by Nature, he is made to pay dear for ’em in another way; by losing his natural good Disposition, and the Orderliness of his Kind or Species.
This needs not to be demonstrated by particular Instances. Whoever has the least knowledg of natural History, or has been an Observer of the several Breeds of Creatures, and their ways of Life, and Propagation, will easily understand this Difference of Orderliness between the wild and the tame of the same Species. The latter acquire new Habits; and deviate from their original Nature. They lose even the common Instinct and ordinary Ingenuity of their Kind;Animal Kinds. nor can they ever regain it, whilst they continue in this pamper’d State: but being turn’d to shift abroad, they resume the natural Affection and Sagacity of their Species. They learn to unite in stricter Fellowship; and grow more concern’d for their Offspring. They provide against the Seasons, and make the most of every Advantage given by Nature for the Support and Maintenance of their particular Species, against such as are foreign and hostile. And thus as they grow busy and imploy’d, they grow regular and good. Their Petulancy and Vice forsakes them, with their Idleness and Ease.
Mankind.It happens with Mankind, that whilst some are by necessity confin’d to Labour, others are provided with abundance of all things, by the Pains and Labour of Inferiors. Now, if among the superior and easy sort, there be not something of fit and proper Imployment rais’d in the room of what is wanting in common Labour and Toil; if instead of an Application to any sort of Work, such as has a good and honest End in Society, (as Letters, Sciences, Arts, Husbandry, publick Affairs,Balance of the Affections. OEconomy, or the like) there be a thorow Neglect of all Duty or Imployment; a settled Idleness, Supineness, and Inactivity; this of necessity must occasion a most relax’d and dissolute State: It must produce a total Disorder of the Passions, and break out in the strangest Irregularitys imaginable.
We see the enormous Growth of Luxury in capital Citys, such as have been long the Seat of Empire. We see what Improvements are made in Vice of every kind, where numbers of Men are maintain’d in lazy Opulence, and wanton Plenty. ’Tis otherwise with those who are taken up in honest and due Imployment, and have been well inur’d to it from their Youth. This we may observe in the hardy remote Provincials, the Inhabitants of smaller Towns, and the industrious sort of common People; where ’tis rare to meet with any Instances of those Irregularitys, which are known in Courts and Palaces; and in the rich Foundations of easy and pamper’d Priests.
Now if what we have advanc’d concerning an inward Constitution be real and just; if it be true that Nature works by a just Order and Regulation as well in the Passions and Affections, as in the Limbs and Organs which she forms; if it appears withal, that she has so constituted this inward Part, that nothing is so essential to it as Exercise; and no Exercise so essential as that of social or natural Affection: it follows, that where this is remov’d or weaken’d, the inward Part must necessarily suffer and be impair’d. Let Indolence, Indifference, or Insensibility, be study’d as an Art, or cultivated with the utmost Care; the Passions thus restrain’d will force their Prison, and in one way or other procure their Liberty, and find full Employment. They will be sure to create to themselves unusual and unnatural Exercise, where they are cut off from such as is natural and good. And thus in the room of orderly and natural Affection, new and unnatural must be rais’d, and all inward Order and OEconomy destroy’d.OEconomy.
One must have a very imperfect Idea of the Order of Nature in the Formation and Structure of Animals, to imagine that so great a Principle, so fundamental a Part as that of natural Affection shou’d possibly be lost or impair’d, without any inward Ruin or Subversion of the Temper and Frame of Mind.Balance of the Affections.
Whoever is the least vers’d in this moral kind of Architecture, will find the inward Fabrick so adjusted, and the whole so nicely built;Fabrick. that the barely extending of a single Passion a little too far, or the continuance of it too long, is able to bring irrecoverable Ruin and Misery. He will find this experienc’d in the ordinary Case of Phrenzy, and Distraction; when the Mind, dwelling too long upon one Subject, (whether prosperous or calamitous) sinks under the weight of it, and proves what the necessity is, of a due Balance, and Counterpoise in the Affections. He will find, that in every different Creature, and distinct Sex, there is a different and distinct Order, Set, or Suit of Passions; proportionable to the different Order of Life, the different Functions and Capacitys assign’d to each. As the Operations and Effects are different, so are the Springs and Causes in each System. The inside Work is fitted to the outward Action and Performance. So that where Habits or Affections are dislodg’d, misplac’d, or chang’d; where those belonging to one Species are intermix’d with those belonging to another, there must of necessity be Confusion and Disturbance within.
Monsters.All this we may observe easily, by comparing the more perfect with the imperfect Natures, such as are imperfect from their Birth, by having suffer’d Violence within, in their earliest Form, and inmost Matrix. We know how it is with Monsters, such as are compounded of different Kinds, or different Sexes. Nor are they less Monsters, who are mishapen or distorted in an inward Part. The ordinary Animals appear unnatural and monstrous, when they lose their proper Instincts, forsake their Kind, neglect their Offspring, and pervert those Functions or Capacitys bestow’d by Nature. How wretched must it be, therefore, for Man, of all other Creatures, to lose that Sense, and Feeling, which is proper to him as aMan, and sutable to his Character, and Genius? How unfortunate must it be for a Creature, whose dependence on Society is greater than any others, to lose that natural Affection by which he is prompted to the Good and Interest of his Species, and Community? Such indeed is Man’s natural Share of this Affection, that He, of all other Creatures,Balance of the Affections. is plainly the least able to bear Solitude. Nor is any thing more apparent, than that there is naturally in every Man such a degree of social Affection as inclines him to seek the Familiarity and Friendship of his Fellows. ’Tis here that he lets loose a Passion, and gives reins to a Desire, which can hardly by any struggle or inward violence be with-held; or if it be, is sure to create a Sadness, Dejection, and Melancholy in the Mind. For whoever is unsociable, and voluntarily shuns Society, or Commerce with the World, must of necessity be morose and ill-natur’d. He, on the other side, who is with-held by force or accident, finds in his Temper the ill Effects of this Restraint. The Inclination, when suppress’d, breeds Discontent; and on the contrary, affords a healing and enlivening Joy, when acting at its liberty, and with full scope: as we may see particularly, when after a time of Solitude and long Absence, the Heart is open’d, the Mind disburden’d, and the Secrets of the Breast unfolded to a Bosom-Friend.
This we see yet more remarkably instanc’d in Persons of the most elevated Stations; even in Princes, Monarchs, and those who seem by their Condition to be above ordinary human Commerce, and who affect a sort of distant Strangeness from the rest of Mankind. But their Carriage is not the same towards all Men. The wiser and better sort, it’s true, are often held at a distance; as unfit for their Intimacy, or secret Trust. But to compensate this, there are others subtituted in their room, who, tho they have the least Merit, and are perhaps the most vile and contemptible of Men, are sufficient, however, to serve the purpose of an imaginary Friendship, and can become Favourites in form. These are the Subjects of Humanity in the Great. For These we see them often in concern and pain: in These they easily confide: to These they can with pleasure communicate their Power and Greatness, be open, free, generous, confiding, bountiful; as rejoicing in the Action it-self: having no Intention or Aim beyond it; and their Interest, in respect of Policy, often standing a quite contrary way. But where neither the Love of Mankind, nor the Passion for Favourites prevails, the tyrannical Temper fails not to shew it-self in its proper colours, and to the life, with all the Bitterness, Cruelty, and Mistrust, which belong to that solitary and gloomy State of un-communicative and un-friendly Greatness. Nor needs there any particular Proof from History, or present Time, to second this Remark.
THUS it may appear, how much natural Affection is predominant; how it is inwardly join’d to us, and implanted in our Natures; how interwoven with our other Passions; and how essential to that regular Motion and Course of our Affections, on which our Happiness and Self-enjoyment so immediately depend.
And thus we have demonstrated, That as, on one side,To have the natural and good Affections, is to have the chief Means and Power of Self-enjoyment: So, on the other side,to want them, is certain Misery, and Ill.
IN order to this, we must, according to Method, enumerate those Home-affections which relate to the private Interest or separate OEconomy of the Creature: such as Love of Life;—Resentment of Injury;—Pleasure, or Appetite towards Nourishment, and the Means of Generation;—Interest, or Desire of those Conveniences, by which we are well provided for, and maintain’d;—Emulation, or Love of Praise and Honour;—Indolence, or Love of Ease and Rest.—These are the Affections which relate to the private System, and constitute whatever we call Interestedness or Self-love.
Now these Affections, if they are moderate, and within certain bounds, are neither injurious to social Life, nor a hindrance to Virtue: but being in an extreme degree, they become Cowardice,—Revengefulness,—Luxury,—Avarice,—Vanity and Ambition,—Sloth;—and, as such, are own’d vitious and ill, with respect to human Society.Self-passions. How they are ill also with respect to the private Person, and are to his own disadvantage as well as that of the Publick, we may consider, as we severally examine them.
Love of Life.IF THERE were any of these Self-passions, which for the Good and Happiness of the Creature might be oppos’d to Natural Affection, and allow’d to over-balance it; the Desire and Love of Life wou’d have the best Pretence. But it will be found perhaps, that there is no Passion which, by having much allow’d to it, is the occasion of more Disorder and Misery.
There is nothing more certain, or more universally agreed than this; “That Life may sometimes be even a Misfortune and Misery.” To inforce the continuance of it in Creatures reduc’d to such Extremity, is esteem’d the greatest Cruelty. And tho Religion forbids that anyone shou’d be his own Reliever; yet if by some fortunate accident, Death offers of it-self, it is embrac’d as highly welcome. And on this account the nearest Friends and Relations often rejoice at the Release of one intirely belov’d; even tho he himself may have been so weak as earnestly to decline Death, and endeavour the utmost Prolongment of his own un-eligible State.
Since Life, therefore, may frequently prove a Misfortune and Misery; and since it naturally becomes so, by being only prolong’d to the Infirmitys of old Age; since there is nothing, withal, more common than to see Life over-valu’d, and purchas’d at such a Cost as it can never justly be thought worth: it follows evidently, that the Passion it-self (viz. the Love of Life, and Abhorrence or Dread of Death) if beyond a certain degree, and over-balancing in the Temper of any Creature, must lead him directly against his own Interest; make him, upon occasion, become the greatest Enemy to himself; and necessitate him to act as such.
But tho it were allow’d the Interest and Good of a Creature, by all Courses and Means whatsoever, in any Circumstances, or at any rate, to preserve Life; yet wou’d it be against his Interest still to have this Passion in a high degree. For it wou’d by this means prove ineffectual, and no-way conducing to its End. Various Instances need not be given.Self-passions. For what is there better known, than that at all times an excessive Fear betrays to danger, instead of saving from it? ’Tis impossible for any-one to act sensibly, and with Presence of Mind, even in his own Preservation and Defense, when he is strongly press’d by such a Passion. On all extraordinary Emergences, ’tis Courage and Resolution saves; whilst Cowardice robs us of the means of Safety, and not only deprives us of our defensive Facultys, but even runs us to the brink of Ruin, and makes us meet that Evil which of it-self wou’d never have invaded us.
But were the Consequences of this Passion less injurious than we have represented; it must be allow’d still that in it-self it can be no other than miserable; if it be Misery to feel Cowardice, and be haunted by those Specters and Horrors, which are proper to the Character of one who has a thorow Dread of Death. For ’tis not only when Dangers happen, and Hazards are incurr’d, that this sort of Fear oppresses and distracts. If it in the least prevails, it gives no quarter, so much as at the safest stillest hour of Retreat and Quiet. Every Object suggests Thought enough to employ it. It operates when it is least observ’d by others; and enters at all times into the pleasantest parts of Life; so as to corrupt and poison all Enjoyment, and Content. One may safely aver, that by reason of this Passion alone, many a Life, if inwardly and closely view’d, wou’d be found to be thorowly miserable, tho attended with all other Circumstances which in appearance render it happy. But when we add to this, the Meannesses, and base Condescensions, occasion’d by such a passionate Concern for living; when we consider how by means of it we are driven to Actions we can never view without Dislike, and forc’d by degrees from our natural Conduct, into still greater Crookednesses and Perplexity; there is no-one, surely, so disingenuous as not to allow, that Life, in this case, becomes a sorry Purchase, and is pass’d with little Freedom or Satisfaction. For how can this be otherwise, whilst every thing which is generous and worthy, even the chief Relish, Happiness, and Good of Life, is for Life’s sake abandon’d and renounc’d?
And thus it seems evident, “That to have this Affection of Desire and Love of Life,Love of Life. too intense, or beyond a moderate degree, is against the Interest of a Creature, and contrary to his Happiness and Good.”
Resentment.THERE is another Passion very different from that of Fear, and which in a certain degree is equally preservative to us, and conducing to our Safety. As that is serviceable, in prompting us to shun Danger; so is this, in fortifying us against it, and enabling us to repel Injury, and resist Violence when offer’d. ’Tis true, that according to strict Virtue, and a just Regulation of the Affections in a wise and virtuous Man, such Efforts towards Action amount not to what is justly styl’d Passion or Commotion. A Man of Courage may be cautious without real Fear. And a Man of Temper may resist or punish without Anger. But in ordinary Characters there must necessarily be some Mixture of the real Passions themselves; which however, in the main, are able to allay and temper one another. And thus Anger in a manner becomes necessary. ’Tis by this Passion that one Creature offering Violence to another, is deter’d from the Execution; whilst he observes how the Attempt affects his Fellow; and knows by the very Signs which accompany this rising Motion, that if the Injury be carry’d further, it will not pass easily, or with impunity. ’Tis this Passion withal, which, after Violence and Hostility executed, rouzes a Creature in opposition, and, assists him in returning like Hostility and Harm on the Invader. For thus, as Rage and Despair increase, a Creature grows still more terrible; and being urg’d to the greatest extremity, finds a degree of Strength and Boldness unexperienc’d till then, and which had never risen, except thro’ the height of Provocation. As to this Affection therefore, notwithstanding its immediate Aim be indeed the Ill or Punishment of another, yet it is plainly of the sort of those which tend to the Advantage and Interest of the Self-system, the Animal himself; and is withal in other respects contributing to the Good and Interest of the Species. But there is hardly need we shou’d explain how mischievous and self-destructive Anger is, if it be what we commonly understand by that word: if it be such a Passion as is rash, and violent in the Instant of Provocation; or such as imprints it-self deeply, and causes a settled Revenge, and an eager vindicative Pursuit. No wonder indeed that so much is done in mere Revenge, and under the Weight of a deep Resentment, when the Relief and Satisfaction found in that Indulgence is no other than the assuaging of the most torturous Pain, and the alleviating the most weighty and pressing Sensation of Misery. The Pain of this sort being for a-while remov’d or alleviated, by the accomplishment of the Desire, in the Ill of another, leaves indeed behind it the perception of a delicious Ease, and an overflowing of soft and pleasing Sensation. Yet is this, in truth, no better than the Rack it-self. For whoever has experienc’d racking Pains, can tell in what manner a sudden Cessation or Respite is us’d to affect him. From hence are those untoward Delights of Perverseness, Frowardness, and an envenom’d malignant Disposition, acting at its liberty. For this is only a perpetual assuaging ofAngerperpetually renew’d. In other Characters, the Passion arises not so suddenly, or on slight Causes; but being once mov’d, is not so easily quieted. The dormant Fury,Revenge, being rais’d once, and wrought up to her highest pitch, rests not till she attains her End; and, that attain’d, is easy, and reposes; making our succeeding Relief and Ease so much the more enjoy’d, as our preceding Anguish and incumbent Pain was of long duration, and bitter sense. Certainly if among Lovers, and in the Language of Gallantry, the Success of ardent Love is call’d the assuaging of a Pain; this other Success may be far more justly term’d so. However soft or flattering the former Pain may be esteem’d, this latter surely can be no pleasing one: Nor can it be possibly esteem’d other than sound and thorow Wretchedness, a grating and disgustful Feeling, without the least mixture of any thing soft, gentle, or agreeable.
’Tis not very necessary to mention the ill effects of this Passion, in respect of our Minds, or Bodys, our private Condition, or Circumstances of Life. By these Particulars we may grow too tedious. These are of the moral sort of Subjects, join’d commonly with Religion, and treated so rhetorically, and with such inforc’d repetition in publick, as to be apt to raise the Satiety of Mankind. What has been said, may be enough perhaps to make this evident, “That to be subject to such a Passion as we have been mentioning, is, in reality, to be very unhappy”: And, “That the Habit it-self is a Disease of the worst sort; from which Misery is inseparable.”
PLEASURE. Luxury.NOW AS to Luxury, and what the World calls Pleasure: Were it true (as has been prov’d the contrary) that the most considerable Enjoyments were those merely of the Sense; and were it true, withal, that those Enjoyments of the Sense lay in certain outward things, capable of yielding always a due and certain Portion of Pleasure, according to their degree and quality; it wou’d then follow, that the certain way to obtain Happiness, wou’d be to procure largely of these Subjects, to which Happiness and Pleasure were thus infallibly annex’d. But however fashionably we may apply the Notion of good Living, ’twill hardly be found that our inward Facultys are able to keep pace with these outward Supplies of a luxuriant Fortune. And if the natural Disposition and Aptness from within be not concurring; ’twill be in vain that these Subjects are thus multiply’d from abroad, and acquir’d with ever so great facility.
It may be observ’d in those, who by Excess have gain’d a constant Nauseating and Distaste, that they have nevertheless as constant a Craving or Eagerness of Stomach. But the Appetite of this kind is false and unnatural; as is that of Thirst arising from a Fever, or contracted by habitual Debauch. Now the Satisfactions of the natural Appetite, in a plain way, are infinitely beyond those Indulgences of the most refin’d and elegant Luxury. This is often perceiv’d by the Luxurious them-selves. It has been experienc’d in People bred after the sumptuous way, and us’d never to wait, but to prevent Appetite; that when by any new Turn of Life they came to fall into a more natural Course, or for a while, as on a Journy, or a day of Sport, came accidentally to experience the Sweet of a plain Diet, recommended by due Abstinence and Exercise; they have with freedom own’d, that it was then they receiv’d the highest Satisfaction and Delight which a Table cou’d possibly afford.
On the other side, it has been as often remark’d in Persons accustom’d to an active Life, and healthful Exercise; that having once thorowly experienc’d this plainer and more natural Diet, they have upon a following Change of Life regretted their Loss, and undervalu’d the Pleasures receiv’d from all the Delicacys of Luxury, in comparison with those remember’d Satisfactions of a preceding State. ’Tis plain, that by urging Nature, forcing the Appetite, and inciting Sense, the Keenness of the natural Sensations is lost. And tho thro’ Vice or ill Habit the same Subjects of Appetite may, every day, be sought with greater Ardour; they are enjoy’d with less Satisfaction. Tho the Impatience of abstaining be greater; the Pleasure of Indulgence is really less. The Palls or Nauseatings which continually intervene, are of the worst and most hateful kind of Sensation. Hardly is there any thing tasted which is wholly free from this ill relish of a surfeited Sense and ruin’d Appetite. So that instead of a constant and flowing Delight afforded in such a State of Life, the very State it-self is in reality a Sickness and Infirmity, a Corruption of Pleasure, and destructive of every natural and agreeable Sensation. So far is it from being true; “That in this licentious Course we enjoyLifebest, or are likely to make the most of it.”
As to the Consequences of such an Indulgence; how fatal to the Body, by Diseases of many kinds, and to the Mind, by Sottishness and Stupidity; this needs not any explanation.
The Consequences as to Interest are plain enough. Such a State of impotent and unrestrain’d Desire, as it increases our Wants, so it must subject us to a greater Dependence on others. Our private Circumstances, however plentiful or easy they may be, can less easily content us. Ways and Means must be invented to procure what may administer to such an imperious Luxury, as forces us to sacrifice Honour to Fortune, and runs us out into all irregularity and extravagance of Conduct. The Injurys we do our-selves, by Excess and Unforbearance, are then surely apparent, when thro’ an Impotence of this sort, and an Impossibility of Restraint, we do what we our-selves declare to be destructive to us. But these are Matters obvious of themselves.PLEASURE. And from less than what has been said, ’tis easy to conclude, “That Luxury, Riot, and Debauch, are contrary to real Interest, and to the true Enjoyment of Life.”
Amours.THERE is another Luxury superior to the kind we have been mentioning, and which in strictness can scarce be call’d a Self-passion, since the sole End of it is the Advantage and Promotion of the Species. But whereas all other social Affections are join’d only with a mental Pleasure, and founded in mere Kindness and Love; this has more added to it, and is join’d with a Pleasure of Sense. Such Concern and Care has Nature shewn for the Support and Maintenance of the several Species, that by a certain Indigence and kind of Necessity of their Natures, they are made to regard the Propagation of their Kind. Now whether it be the Interest or Good of the Animal to feel this Indigence beyond a natural and ordinary degree; is what we may consider.
Having already said so much concerning natural and unnatural Appetite, there needs less to be said on this occasion. If it be allow’d, that to all other Pleasures there is a Measure of Appetite belonging, which cannot possibly be exceeded without prejudice to the Creature, even in his very Capacity of enjoying Pleasure; it will hardly be thought that there is no certain Limit or just Boundary of this other Appetite of theAmorouskind. There are other sorts of ardent Sensations accidentally experienc’d, which we find pleasant and acceptable whilst they are held within a certain degree; but which, as they increase, grow oppressive and intolerable. Laughter provok’d by Titillation, grows an excessive Pain; tho it retains still the same Features of Delight and Pleasure. And tho in the case of that particular kind of Itch which belongs to a Distemper nam’d from that effect, there are some who, far from disliking the Sensation, find it highly acceptable and delightful; yet it will hardly be reputed such among the more refin’d sort, even of those who make Pleasure their chief Study, and highest Good.
Now if there be in every Sensation of mere Pleasure, a certain Pitch or Degree of Ardour, which by being further advanc’d, comes the nearer to mere Rage and Fury;PLEASURE. if there be indeed a necessity of stopping somewhere, and determining on some Boundary for the Passion; where can we fix our Standard, or how regulate our-selves but with regard to Nature, beyond which there is no Measure or Rule of things? Now Nature may be known from what we see of the natural State of Creatures, and of Man himself, when unprejudic’d by vitious Education.
Where happily any-one is bred to a natural Life, inur’d to honest Industry and Sobriety, and un-accustom’d to any thing immoderate or intemperate; he is found to have his Appetites and Inclinations of this sort at command. Nor are they on this account less able to afford him the Pleasure or Enjoyment of each kind. On the contrary; as they are more sound, healthy, and un-injur’d by Excess and Abuse, they must afford him proportionate Satisfaction. So that were both these Sensations to be experimentally compar’d; that of a virtuous Course which belong’d to one who liv’d a natural and regular Life, and that of a vitious Course which belong’d to one who was relax’d and dissolute; there is no question but Judgment wou’d be given in favour of the former, without regard to Consequences, and only with respect to the very Pleasure of Sense it-self.
As to the Consequences of this Vice, with respect to the Health and Vigour of the Body; there is no need to mention any thing. The Injury it does the Mind, tho less notic’d, is yet greater. The Hinderance of all Improvement, the wretched Waste of Time, the Effeminacy, Sloth, Supineness, the Disorder and Looseness of a thousand Passions, thro’ such a relaxation and enervating of the Mind; are all of them Effects sufficiently apparent, when reflected on.
What the Disadvantages are of this Intemperance, in respect of Interest, Society, and the World; and what the Advantages are of a contrary Sobriety, and Self-command, wou’d be to little purpose to mention. ’Tis well known there can be no Slavery greater than what is consequent to the Dominion and Rule of such a Passion. Of all other, it is the least manageable by Favour or Concession, and assumes the most from Privilege and Indulgence. What it costs us in the Modesty and Ingenuity of our Natures, and in the Faith and Honesty of our Characters, is as easily apprehended by anyone who will reflect. And it will from hence appear, “That there is no Passion, which in its Extravagance and Excess more necessarily occasions Disorder and Unhappiness.”
INTEREST.NOW AS to that Passion which is esteem’d peculiarly interesting; as having for its Aim the Possession of Wealth, and what we call a Settlement or Fortune in the World: If the Regard towards this kind be moderate, and in a reasonable degree; if it occasions no passionate Pursuit, nor raises any ardent Desire or Appetite; there is nothing in this Case which is not compatible with Virtue, and even sutable and beneficial to Society. The publick as well as private System is advanc’d by the Industry, which this Affection excites. But if it grows at length into a real Passion; the Injury and Mischief it does the Publick, is not greater than that which it creates to the Person himself. Such a one is in reality a Self-oppressor, and lies heavier on himself than he can ever do on Mankind.
How far a coveting or avaritious Temper is miserable, needs not, surely, be explain’d. Who knows not how small a Portion of worldly Matters is sufficient for a Man’s single Use and Convenience; and how much his Occasions and Wants might be contracted and reduc’d, if a just Frugality were study’d, and Temperance and a natural Life came once to be pursu’d with half that Application, Industry and Art, which is bestow’d on Sumptuousness and Luxury? Now if Temperance be in reality so advantageous, and the Practice as well as the Consequences of it so pleasing and happy, as has been before express’d; there is little need, on the other side, to mention any thing of the Miserys attending those covetous and eager Desires after things which have no Bounds or Rule; as being out of Nature, beyond which there can be no Limits to Desire. For where shall we once stop, when we are beyond this Boundary? How shall we fix or ascertain a thing wholly unnatural and unreasonable? Or what Method, what Regulation shall we set to mere Imagination, or the Exorbitancy of Fancy, in adding Expence to Expence, or Possession to Possession?Interest.
Hence that known Restlessness of covetous and eager Minds, in whatever State or Degree of Fortune they are plac’d; there being no thorow or real Satisfaction, but a kind of Insatiableness belonging to this Condition. For ’tis impossible there shou’d be any real Enjoyment, except in consequence of natural and just Appetite. Nor do we readily call that an Enjoyment of Wealth or of Honour, when thro’ Covetousness or Ambition, the Desire is still forward, and can never rest satisfy’d with its Gains. But against this Vice of Covetousness, there is enough said continually in the World; and in our common way of speaking, “A covetous, and a miserable Temper, has, in reality, one and the same Signification.”
Emulation.NOR IS there less said, abroad, as to the Ills of that other aspiring Temper, which exceeds an honest Emulation, or Love of Praise, and passes the Bounds even of Vanity and Conceit. Such is that Passion which breaks into an enormous Pride and Ambition. Now if we consider once the Ease, Happiness, and Security which attend a modest Disposition and quiet Mind, such as is of easy Self-command, fitted to every Station in Society, and able to sute it-self with any reasonable Circumstances whatever; ’twill, on the first view, present us with the most agreeable and winning Character. Nor will it be found necessary, after this, to call to mind the Excellence and Good of Moderation, or the Mischief and Self-injury of immoderate Desires, and conceited fond Imaginations of personal Advantage, in such things as Titles, Honours, Precedencys, Fame, Glory, or vulgar Astonishment, Admiration, and Applause.
This too is obvious, that as the Desires of this kind are rais’d, and become impetuous, and out of our command; so the Aversions and Fears of the contrary part, grow proportionably strong and violent, and the Temper accordingly suspicious, jealous, captious, subject to Apprehensions from all Events, and uncapable of bearing the least Repulse or ordinary Disappointment. And hence it may be concluded, “That all Rest and Security as to what is future, and all Peace, Contentedness and Ease as to what is present, is forfeited by the aspiring Passions of this emulous kind; and by having the Appetites towards Glory and outward Appearance thus transporting and beyond command.”
Indolence.THERE is a certain Temper plac’d often in opposition to those eager and aspiring Aims of which we have been speaking. Not that it really excludes either the Passion of Covetousness or Ambition; but because it hinders their Effects, and keeps them from breaking into open Action. ’Tis this Passion, which by soothing the Mind, and softning it into an excessive Love of Rest and Indolence, renders high Attempts impracticable, and represents as insuperable the Difficultys of a painful and laborious Course towards Wealth and Honours. Now tho an Inclination to Ease, and a Love of moderate Recess and Rest from Action, be as natural and useful to us as the Inclination we have towards Sleep; yet an excessive Love of Rest, and a contracted Aversion to Action and Imployment, must be a Disease in the Mind equal to that of a Lethargy in the Body.
How necessary Action and Exercise are to the Body, may be judg’d by the difference we find between those Constitutions which are accustom’d, and those which are wholly strangers to it; and by the different Health and Complexion which Labour and due Exercise create, in comparison with that Habit of Body we see consequent to an indulg’d State of Indolence and Rest. Nor is the lazy Habit ruinous to the Body only. The languishing Disease corrupts all the Enjoyments of a vigorous and healthy Sense, and carrys its Infection into the Mind; where it spreads a worse Contagion. For however the Body may for a-while hold out, ’tis impossible that the Mind, in which the Distemper is seated, can escape without an immediate Affliction and Disorder. The Habit begets a Tediousness and Anxiety, which influences the whole Temper, and converts the unnatural Rest into an unhappy sort of Activity, ill Humour, and Spleen: of which there has been enough said above, where we consider’d the want of a due Balance in the Affections.
’Tis certain, that as in the Body, when no Labour or natural Exercise is us’d, the Spirits which want their due Imployment, turn against the Constitution, and find work for themselves in a destructive way; so in a Soul, or Mind, unexercis’d, and which languishes for want of proper Action and Employment, the Thoughts and Affections being obstructed in their due Course, and depriv’d of their natural Energy, raise Disquiet, and foment a rancorous Eagerness and tormenting Irritation. The Temper from hence becomes more impotent in Passion, more incapable of real Moderation; and, like prepar’d Fuel, readily takes fire by the least Spark.
As to Interest, how far it is here concern’d; how wretched that State is, in which by this Habit a Man is plac’d, towards all the Circumstances and Affairs of Life, when at any time he is call’d to Action; how subjected he must be to all Inconveniences, wanting to himself, and depriv’d of the Assistance of others; whilst being unfit for all Offices and Dutys of Society, he yet of any other Person most needs the help of it, as being least able to assist or support himself; all this is obvious. And thus ’tis evident, “That to have this over-biassing Inclination towards Rest, this slothful, soft, or effeminate Temper, averse to Labour and Imployment, is to have an unavoidable Mischief, and attendent Plague.”
Self-passions in general.THUS have we consider’d the Self-passions; and what the Consequence is of their rising beyond a moderate degree. These Affections, as self-interesting as they are, can often, we see, become contrary to our real Interest. They betray us into most Misfortunes, and into the greatest of Unhappinesses, that of a profligate and abject Character. As they grow imperious and high, they are the occasion that a Creature in proportion becomes mean and low. They are original to that which we call Selfishness, and give rise to that sordid Disposition of which we have already spoken. It appears there can be nothing so miserable in it-self, or so wretched in its Consequence, as to be thus impotent in Temper, thus master’d by Passion, and by means of it, brought under the most servile Subjection to the World.
’Tis evident withal, that as this Selfishness increases in us, so must a certain Subtlety, and feignedness of Carriage, which naturally accompanys it. And thus the Candour and Ingenuity of our Natures, the Ease and Freedom of our Minds must be forfeited; all Trust and Confidence in a manner lost; and Suspicions, Jealousys, and Envys multiply’d. A separate End and Interest must be every day more strongly form’d in us; generous Views and Motives laid aside: And the more we are thus sensibly disjoin’d every day from Society and our Fellows; the worse Opinion we shall have of those uniting Passions, which bind us in strict Alliance and Amity with others. Upon these Terms we must of course endeavour to silence and suppress our natural and good Affections: since they are such as wou’d carry us to the good of Society, against what we fondly conceive to be our private Good and Interest; as has been shewn.
Now if these selfish Passions, besides what other Ill they are the occasion of, are withal the certain means of losing us our natural Affections; then (by what has been prov’d before) ’tis evident, “That they must be the certain means of losing us the chief Enjoyment of Life, and raising in us those horrid and unnatural Passions, and that Savageness of Temper, which makes the greatest of Miserys, and the most wretched State of Life”: as remains for us to explain.
THIRD Proof; from the unnatural Affections.THE Passions therefore, which, in the last place, we are to examine, are those which lead neither to a publick nor a private Good; and are neither of any advantage to the Species in general, or the Creature in particular. These, in opposition to the social and natural, we call the unnatural Affections.
Inhumanity.Of this kind is that unnaturalandinhuman Delightin beholding Torments, and in viewing Distress, Calamity, Blood, Massacre and Destruction, with a peculiar Joy and Pleasure. This has been the reigning Passion of many Tyrants, and barbarous Nations; and belongs, in some degree, to such Tempers as have thrown off that Courteousness of Behaviour, which retains in us a just Reverence of Mankind, and prevents the Growth of Harshness and Brutality. This Passion enters not where Civility or affable Manners have the least place. Such is the Nature of what we call good Breeding, that in the midst of many other Corruptions, it admits not of Inhumanity, or savage Pleasure. To see the Sufferance of an Enemy with cruel Delight, may proceed from the height of Anger, Revenge, Fear, and other extended Self-passions: But to delight in the Torture and Pain of other Creatures indifferently, Natives or Foreigners, of our own or of another Species, Kindred or no Kindred, known or unknown; to feed, as it were, on Death, and be entertain’d with dying Agonys; this has nothing in it accountable in the way of Self-interest or private Good above-mention’d, but is wholly and absolutely unnatural, as it is horrid and miserable.
Petulancy.There is another Affection nearly related to this, which is a gay and frolicksome Delight in what is injurious to others; a sort of wanton Mischievousness, and Pleasure in what is destructive; a Passion which, instead of being restrain’d, is usually encourag’d in Children: so that ’tis indeed no wonder if the Effects of it are very unfortunately felt in the World. For ’twill be hard, perhaps, for any-one to give a reason why that Temper, which was us’d to delight in Disorder and Ravage, when in a Nursery; shou’d not afterwards find delight in other Disturbances, and be the occasion of equal Mischief in Familys, amongst Friends, and in the Publick it-self. But of this Passion there is not any foundation in Nature; as has been explain’d.
Malignity.Malice, Malignity, or Ill-Will, such as is grounded on no Self-consideration, and where there is no Subject of Anger or Jealousy, nor any thing to provoke or cause such a Desire of doing ill to another; this also is of that kind of Passion.
Envy.Envy too, when it is such as arises from the Prosperity or Happiness of another Creature no ways interfering with ours, is of the same kind of Passion.
Moroseness.There is also among these, a sort of Hatred of Mankind and Society; a Passion which has been known perfectly reigning in some Men,MISANTHROPY. and has had a peculiar Name given to it. A large share of this belongs to those who have long indulg’d themselves in a habitual Moroseness, or who by force of ill Nature, and ill Breeding, have contracted such a Reverse of Affability, and civil Manners, that to see or meet a Stranger is offensive. The very Aspect of Mankind is a disturbance to ’em, and they are sure always to hate at first sight. The Distemper of this kind is sometimes found to be in a manner National; but peculiar to the more savage Nations,Inhospitality, Barbarity. and a plain Characteristick of unciviliz’d Manners, and Barbarity. This is the immediate Opposite to that noble Affection, which, in antient Language, was term’d Hospitality, viz. extensive Love of Mankind, and Relief of Strangers.
Superstition.We may add likewise to the number of the unnatural Passions, all those which are rais’d from Superstition, (as before-mention’d) and from the Customs of barbarous Countrys: All which are too horrid and odious in themselves, to need any proof of their being miserable.
Unnatural Lusts.There might be other Passions nam’d, such as unnatural Lusts, in foreign Kinds or Species, with other Perversions of the amorous Desire within our own. But as to these Depravitys of Appetite, we need add nothing here; after what has been already said, on the Subject of the more natural Passions.
Such as these are the only Affections or Passions we can strictly call unnatural, ill, and of no tendency so much as to any separate or private Good. Others indeed there are which have this tendency, but are so exorbitant and out of measure, so beyond the common Bent of any ordinary Self-passion, and so utterly contrary and abhorrent to all social and natural Affection, that they are generally call’d, and may be justly esteem’d, unnatural and monstrous.
Tyranny.Among these may be reckon’d such an enormous Pride or Ambition, such an Arrogance and Tyranny, as wou’d willingly leave nothing eminent, nothing free, nothing prosperous in the World: such an Anger as wou’d sacrifice every thing to it-self: such a Revenge as is never to be extinguish’d, nor ever satisfy’d without the greatest Crueltys: such an Inveteracy and Rancour as seeks, as it were, occasion to exert it-self; and lays hold of the least Subject, so as often to make the weight of its Malevolence fall even upon such as are mere Objects of Pity and Compassion.
Treachery, Ingratitude.Treachery and Ingratitude are in strictness mere negative Vices; and, in themselves, no real Passions; having neither Aversion or Inclination belonging to them; but are deriv’d from the Defect, Unsoundness, or Corruption of the Affections in general. But when these Vices become remarkable in a Character, and arise in a manner from Inclination and Choice; when they are so forward and active, as to appear of their own accord, without any pressing occasion; ’tis apparent they borrow something of the mere unnatural Passions, and are deriv’d from Malice, Envy, and Inveteracy; as explain’d above.
Unnatural Pleasure in general.IT MAY be objected here, that these Passions, unnatural as they are, carry still a sort of Pleasure with them; and that however barbarous a Pleasure it be, yet still it is a Pleasure and Satisfaction which is found in Pride, or Tyranny, Revenge, Malice, or Cruelty exerted. Now if it be possible in Nature, that any-one can feel a barbarous or malicious Joy, otherwise than in consequence of mere Anguish and Torment, then may we perhaps allow this kind of Satisfaction to be call’d Pleasure or Delight. But the Case is evidently contrary. To love, and to be kind; to have social or natural Affection, Complacency and Good-will, is to feel immediate Satisfaction and genuine Content. ’Tis in it-self original Joy, depending on no preceding Pain or Uneasiness; and producing nothing beside Satisfaction merely. On the other side, Animosity, Hatred and Bitterness, is original Misery and Torment, producing no other Pleasure or Satisfaction, than as the unnatural Desire is for the instant satisfy’d by something which appeases it. How strong soever this Pleasure, therefore, may appear; it only the more implies the Misery of that State which produces it. For as the cruellest bodily Pains do by intervals of Assuagement, produce (as has been shewn) the highest bodily Pleasure; so the fiercest and most raging Torments of the Mind, do, by certain Moments of Relief, afford the greatest of mental Enjoyments, to those who know little of the truer kind.
Unnatural State.The Men of gentlest Dispositions, and best of Tempers, have at some time or other been sufficiently acquainted with those Disturbances, which, at ill hours, even small occasions are apt to raise. From these slender Experiences of Harshness and Ill-humour, they fully know and will confess the ill Moments which are pass’d, when the Temper is ever so little gall’d or fretted. How must it fare, therefore, with those who hardly know any better hours in Life; and who, for the greatest part of it, are agitated by a thorow active Spleen, a close and settled Malignity, and Rancour? How lively must be the Sense of every thwarting and controuling Accident? How great must be the Shocks of Disappointment, the Stings of Affront, and the Agonys of a working Antipathy, against the multiply’d Objects of Offence? Nor can it be wonder’d at, if to Persons thus agitated and oppress’d, it seems a high Delight to appease and allay for the while those furious and rough Motions, by an Indulgence of their Passion in Mischief and Revenge.
Now as to the Consequences of this unnatural State, in respect of Interest, and the common Circumstances of Life; upon what Terms a Person who has in this manner lost all which we call Nature, can be suppos’d to stand, in respect of the Society of Mankind; how he feels himself in it; what Sense he has of his own Disposition towards others, and of the mutual Disposition of others towards himself; this is easily conceiv’d.
What Injoyment or Rest is there for one, who is not conscious of the merited Affection or Love, but, on the contrary, of the Ill-will and Hatred of every human Soul? What ground must this afford for Horror and Despair? What foundation of Fear, and continual Apprehension from Mankind, and from superior Powers? How thorow and deep must be that Melancholy, which being once mov’d, has nothing soft or pleasing from the side of Friendship, to allay or divert it? Wherever such a Creature turns himself; whichever way he casts his Eye; every thing around must appear ghastly and horrid; every thing hostile, and, as it were, bent against a private and single Being, who is thus divided from every thing, and at defiance and war with the rest of Nature.
’Tis thus, at last, that a Mind becomes a Wilderness; where all is laid waste, every thing fair and goodly remov’d, and nothing extant beside what is savage and deform’d. Now if Banishment from one’s Country, Removal to a foreign Place, or any thing which looks like Solitude or Desertion, be so heavy to endure; what must it be to feel this inward Banishment, this real Estrangement from human Commerce; and to be after this manner in a Desart, and in the horridest of Solitudes, even when in the midst of Society? What must it be to live in this Disagreement with every thing, this Irreconcilableness and Opposition to the Order and Government of the Universe?
HENCE it appears, That the greatest of Miserys accompanys that State which is consequent to the Loss of natural Affection; and That to have those horrid, monstrous, and unnatural Affections, is to be miserable in the highest Degree.
THUS have we endeavour’d to prove what was propos’d in the beginning. And since in the common and known Sense of Vice and Illness, no-one can be vitious or ill, except either,
It must follow, that if each of these are pernicious and destructive to the Creature, insomuch that his compleatest State of Misery is made from hence; To be wicked or vitious, is to be miserable and unhappy.
And since every vitious Action must in proportion, more or less, help towards this Mischief, and Self-ill; it must follow,Conclusion. That every vitious action mustbe self-injurious and ill.
On the other side; the Happiness and Good of Virtue has been prov’d from the contrary Effect of other Affections, such as are according to Nature, and the OEconomy of the Species or Kind. We have cast up all those Particulars, from whence (as by way of Addition and Subtraction) the main Sum or general Account of Happiness, is either augmented or diminish’d. And if there be no Article exceptionable in this Scheme of Moral Arithmetick; the Subject treated may be said to have an Evidence as great as that which is found in Numbers, or Mathematicks. For let us carry Scepticism ever so far, let us doubt, if we can, of every thing about us; we cannot doubt of what passes within our-selves. Our Passions and Affections are known to us. They are certain, whatever the Objects may be, on which they are employ’d. Nor is it of any concern to our Argument, how these exterior Objects stand; whether they are Realitys, or mere Illusions; whether we wake or dream. For ill Dreams will be equally disturbing. And a good Dream, if Life be nothing else, will be easily and happily pass’d. In this Dream of Life, therefore, our Demonstrations have the same force; our Balance and OEconomy hold good, and our Obligation to Virtue is in every respect the same.
Upon the whole: There is not, I presume, the least degree of Certainty wanting in what has been said concerning the Preferableness of the mental Pleasures to thesensual; and even of the sensual, accompany’d with good Affection, and under a temperate and right use, to those which are no ways restrain’d, nor supported by any thing social or affectionate.
Nor is there less Evidence in what has been said, of the united Structure and Fabrick of the Mind, and of those Passions which constitute the Temper, or Soul; and on which its Happiness or Misery so immediately depend. It has been shewn, That in this Constitution, the impairing of any one Part must instantly tend to the disorder and ruin of other Parts, and of the Whole it-self; thro’ the necessary Connexion and Balance of the Affections: That those very Passions thro’ which Men are vitious, are of themselves a Torment and Disease; and that whatsoever is done which is knowingly ill, must be of ill Consciousness; and in proportion, as the Act is ill, must impair and corrupt social Enjoyment, and destroy both the Capacity of kind Affection, and the Consciousness of meriting any such. So that neither can we participate thus in Joy or Happiness with others, or receive Satisfaction from the mutual Kindness or imagin’d Love of others: on which, however, the greatest of all our Pleasures are founded.
If this be the Case of moral Delinquency; and if the State which is consequent to this Defection from Nature, be of all other the most horrid, oppressive, and miserable; ’twill appear, “That to yield or consent to any thing ill or immoral, is a Breach of Interest, and leads to the greatest Ills”: and, “That on the other side, Every thing which is an Improvement of Virtue, or an Establishment of right Affection and Integrity, is an Advancement of Interest, and leads to the greatest and most solid Happiness and Enjoyment.”
Thus the Wisdom of what rules, and is first and chiefin 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 Welfare. He is, on this account, directly his own Enemy: Nor can he any 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 Excellencys and Beautys is the chief, and most amiable; that which is the Prop and Ornament of human Affairs; which upholds Communitys, maintains Union, Friendship, and Correspondence amongst Men; that by which Countrys, as well as private Familys, 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.
And, thus, Virtue is the Good, and Vicethe Ill of every-one.
A Philosophical Rhapsody.
of certain Conversations on
Natural and Moral Subjects.
To seek the truth amidst the groves of Academe.
Horat. Ep. 2. Lib. 2.
Publish’d in the Year M.DCC.IX.
WHAT Mortal, if he had never chanc’d to hear your Character, Palemon, cou’d imagine that a Genius fitted for the greatest Affairs, and form’d amidst Courts and Camps, shou’d have so violent a Turn towards Philosophy and the Schools? Who is there cou’d possibly believe that one of your Rank and Credit in the fashionable World, shou’d be so thorowly conversant in the learned one, and deeply interested in the Affairs of a People so disagreeable to the Generality of Mankind and Humour of the Age?
I Believe truly, You are the only well-bred Man who wou’d have taken the Fancy to talk Philosophy in such a Circle of good Company as we had round us yesterday, when we were in your Coach together, in the Park. How you cou’d reconcile the Objects there, to such Subjects as these, was unaccountable. I cou’d only conclude, that either you had an extravagant Passion for Philosophy, to quit so many Charms for it; or that some of those tender Charms had an extravagant Effect, which sent you to Philosophy for Relief.
In either Case I pity’d you; thinking it a milder Fate, to be, as I truly was, for my own part, a more indifferent Lover. ’Twas better, I told you, to admire Beauty and Wisdom a little more moderately. ’Twas better, I maintain’d, to ingage so cautiously as to be sure of coming off with a whole Heart, and a Fancy as strong as ever towards all the pretty Entertainments and Diversions of the World. For these, methought, were things one wou’d not willingly part with, for a fine romantick Passion of one of those Gentlemen whom they call’d Virtuoso’s.
The Name I took to belong in common to your Lover and Philosopher. No matter what the Object was; whether Poetry, Musick, Philosophy, or the Fair. All who were enamour’d any-way, were in the same Condition. You might perceive it, I told you, by their Looks, their Admiration, their profound Thoughtfulness, their waking ever and anon as out of a Dream, their talking still of one thing, and scarce minding what they said on any other Subject.—Sad Indications!
But all this Warning serv’d not to deter you. For you, Palemon, are one of the Adventurous, whom Danger rather animates than discourages. And now nothing less will satisfy you than to have our Philosophical Adventures recorded. All must be laid before you, and summ’d in one compleat Account; to remain, it seems, as a Monument of that unseasonable Conversation, so opposite to the reigning Genius of Gallantry and Pleasure.
I MUST own, indeed, ’tis become fashionable in our Nation to talk Politicks in every Company, and mix the Discourses of State-affairs with those of Pleasure and Entertainment. However,PHILOSOPHY. ’tis certain we approve of no such Freedom in Philosophy. Nor do we look upon Politicks to be of her Province, or in the least related to her. So much have we Moderns degraded her, and stripp’d her of her chief Rights.
You must allow me, Palemon, thus to bemoan Philosophy; since you have forc’d me to ingage with her at a time when her Credit runs so low. She is no longer active in the World; nor can hardly, with any advantage, be brought upon the publick Stage. We have immur’d her (poor Lady!) in Colleges and Cells; and have set her servilely to such Works as those in the Mines. Empiricks, and pedantick Sophists are her chief Pupils. The School-syllogism, and the Elixir, are the choicest of her Products. So far is she from producing Statesmen, as of old, that hardly any Man of Note in the publick cares to own the least Obligation to her. If some few maintain their Acquaintance, and come now and then to her Recesses, ’tis as the Disciple of Quality came to his Lord and Master; “secretly, and by night.”
Morals.But as low as Philosophy is reduc’d; if Morals be allow’d belonging to her, Politicks must undeniably be hers. For to understand the Manners and Constitutions of Men in common, ’tis necessary to study Manin particular, and know the Creature, as he is in himself, before we consider him in Company, as he is interested in the State, or join’d to any City or Community. Nothing is more familiar than to reason concerning Man in his confederate State and national Relation; as he stands ingag’d to this or that Society, by Birth or Naturalization: Yet to consider him as a Citizen or Commoner of the World, to trace his Pedegree a step higher, and view his End and Constitution in Nature it-self, must pass, it seems, for some intricate or over-refin’d Speculation.
It may be properly alledg’d perhaps, as a Reason for this general Shyness in moral Inquirys; that the People to whom it has principally belong’d to handle these Subjects, have done it in such a manner as to put the better Sort out of countenance with the Undertaking. The appropriating this Concern to mere Scholasticks, has brought their Fashion and Air into the very Subject. There are formal Set-places, where, we reckon, there is enough said and taught on the Head of these graver Subjects. We can give no quarter to any thing like it in good Company. The least mention of such matters gives us a disgust, and puts us out of humour.Language. If Learning comes a-cross us, we count it Pedantry; if Morality, ’tis Preaching.
One must own this, however, as a real Disadvantage of our modern Conversations; that by such a scrupulous Nicety they lose those masculine Helps of Learning and sound Reason. Even the Fair Sex, in whose favour we pretend to make this Condescension, may with reason despise us for it, and laugh at us for aiming at their peculiar Softness. ’Tis no Compliment to them, to affect their Manners, and be effeminate. Our Sense, Language, and Style, as well as our Voice, and Person, shou’d have something of that Male-Feature, and natural Roughness, by which our Sex is distinguish’d. And whatever Politeness we may pretend to, ’tis more a Disfigurement than any real Refinement of Discourse, to render it thus delicate.
Style.No Work of Wit can be esteem’d perfect without that Strength and Boldness of Hand, which gives it Body and Proportions. A good Piece, the Painters say, must have good Muscling as well as Colouring and Drapery. And surely no Writing or Discourse of any great moment, can seem other than enervated, when neither strong Reason, nor Antiquity, nor the Records of Things, nor the natural History of Man, nor any-thing which can be call’d Knowledg, dares accompany it; except perhaps in some ridiculous Habit, which may give it an Air of Play and Dalliance.
THIS brings to my mind a Reason I have often sought for; why we Moderns, who abound so much in Treatises and Essays, are so sparing in the way of Dialogue;DIALOGUE. which heretofore was found the politest and best way of managing even the graver Subjects. The truth is; ’twou’d be an abominable Falshood, and belying of the Age, to put so much good Sense together in any one Conversation, as might make it hold out steddily, and with plain coherence, for an hour’s time, till any one Subject had been rationally examin’d.
To lay Colours, to draw, or describe, against the Appearance of Nature and Truth, is a Liberty neither permitted the Painter nor the Poet. Much less can the Philosopher have such a Privilege; especially in his own Case. If he represents his Philosophy as making any figure in Conversation; if he triumphs in the Debate, and gives his own Wisdom the advantage over that of the World; he may be liable to sound Raillery, and possibly be made a Fable of.
A Fable.’Tis said of the Lion, that being in civil Conference with the Man, he wisely refus’d to yield the Superiority of Strength to him; when instead of Fact, the Man produc’d only certain Figures and Representations of human Victorys over the Lionkind. These Master-pieces of Art the Beast discover’d to be wholly of human Forgery: and from these he had good right to appeal. Indeed had he ever in his life been witness to any such Combats as the Man represented to him in the way of Art; possibly the Example might have mov’d him. But old Statues of a Hercules, a Theseus, or other Beast-subduers, cou’d have little power over him, whilst he neither saw nor felt any such living Antagonist capable to dispute the Field with him.
We need not wonder, therefore, that the sort of moral Painting, by way of Dialogue, is so much out of fashion; and that we see no more of these philosophical Portraitures now-a-days. For where are the Originals? Or what tho you, Palemon, or I, by chance, have lighted on such a one; and pleas’d our-selves with the Life? Can you imagine it shou’d make a good Picture?
Academists.YOU know too, that in this Academick Philosophy I am to present you with, there is a certain way of Questioning and Doubting, which no-way sutes the Genius of our Age. Men love to take party instantly. They can’t bear being kept in suspence. The Examination torments ’em. They want to be rid of it, upon the easiest terms. ’Tis as if Men fansy’d themselves drowning, whenever they dare trust to the Current of Reason. They seem hurrying away, they know not whither; and are ready to catch at the first Twig. There they chuse afterwards to hang, tho ever so insecurely, rather than trust their Strength to bear ’em above Water. He who has got hold of an Hypothesis, how slight soever, is satisfy’d. He can presently answer every Objection, and, with a few Terms of Art, give an account of every thing without trouble.
Alchymists.’Tis no wonder if in this Age the Philosophy of the Alchymists prevails so much: since it promises such Wonders, and requires more the Labour of Hands than Brains. We have a strange Fancy to be Creators, a violent Desire at least to know the Knack or Secret by which Nature does all. The rest of our Philosophers only aim at that in Speculation, which our Alchymists aspire to in Practice. For with some of these it has been actually under deliberation how to make Man, by other Mediums than Nature has hitherto provided. Every Sect has a Recipe. When you know it, you are Master of Nature: you solve all her Phaenomena: you see all her Designs, and can account for all her Operations. If need were, you might, perchance too, be of her Laboratory, and work for her. At least one wou’d imagine the Partizans of each modern Sect had this Conceit. They are all Archimedes’s in their way, and can make a World upon easier terms than he offer’d to move one.
Dogmatists.In short; there are good Reasons for our being thus superficial, and consequently thus dogmatical in Philosophy. We are too lazy and effeminate, and withal a little too cowardly, to dare doubt. The decisive way best becomes our Manners. It sutes as well with our Vices as with our Superstition. Which-ever we are fond of, is secur’d by it. If in favour of Religion we have espous’d an Hypothesis, on which our Faith, we think, depends; we are superstitiously careful not to be loosen’d in it. If, by means of our ill Morals, we are broken with Religion; ’tis the same Case still: We are as much afraid of Doubting. We must be sure to say, “It cannot be”; and “’tis Demonstrable: For otherwise Who knows? And not to know, is to yield!”—
Thus we will needs know every thing, and be at the pains of examining nothing. Of all Philosophy, therefore, how absolutely the most disagreeable must that appear, which goes upon no establish’d Hypothesis, nor presents us with any flattering Scheme, talks only of Probabilitys, Suspence of Judgment, Inquiry, Search, and Caution not to be impos’d on, or deceiv’d? This is that Academick Discipline in which formerly the Youth were train’d:Antients. when not only Horsemanship and Military Arts had their publick Places of Exercise; but Philosophy too had its Wrestlers in repute. Reason and Wit had their Academy, and underwent this Trial; not in a formal way, apart from the World; but openly, among the better sort, and as an Exercise of the genteeler kind. This the greatest Men were not asham’d to practise, in the Intervals of publick Affairs, in the highest Stations and Employments, and at the latest hour of their Lives. Hence that way of Dialogue, and Patience of Debate and Reasoning, of which we have scarce a Resemblance left in any of our Conversations, at this season of the World.
CONSIDER then, Palemon, what our Picture is like to prove: and how it will appear; especially in the Light you have unluckily chosen to set it. For who wou’d thus have confronted Philosophy with the Gaiety, Wit, and Humour of the Age?—If this, however, can be for your Credit, I am content. The Project is your own. ’Tis you who have match’d Philosophy thus unequally. Therefore leaving you to answer for the Success, I begin this inauspicious Work, which my ill Stars and you have assign’d me; and in which I hardly dare ask Succour of the Muses, as poetical as I am oblig’d to shew my-self in this Enterprize.
“OWRETCHED State of Mankind!—Hapless Nature, thus to have err’d in thy chief Workmanship!—Whence sprang this fatal Weakness? What Chance or Destiny shall we accuse? Or shall we mind the Poets, when they sing thy Tragedy (Prometheus!) who with thy stoln celestial Fire, mix’d with vile Clay, didst mock Heaven’s Countenance, and in abusive Likeness of the Immortals mad’st the compound Man; that wretched Mortal, ill to himself, and Cause of Ill to all.”—
What say you, Palemon, to this Rant, now upon second thoughts? Or have you forgot ’twas just in such a romantick Strain that you broke out against human Kind, upon a Day when every thing look’d pleasing, and the Kind it-self (I thought) never appear’d fairer, or made a better shew?
But ’twas not the whole Creation you thus quarrel’d with: Nor were you so out of conceit with all Beauty. The Verdure of the Field, the distant Prospects, the gilded Horizon, and purple Sky, form’d by a setting Sun, had Charms in abundance, and were able to make impression on you. Here, Palemon, you allow’d me to admire as much as I pleas’d; when, at the same instant, you wou’d not bear my talking to you of those nearer Beautys of our own Kind, which I thought more natural for Men at our Age to admire. Your Severity however cou’d not silence me upon this Subject. I continu’d to plead the Cause of the Fair, and advance their Charms above all those other Beautys of Nature. And when you took advantage from this Opposition, to shew how little there was of Nature, and how much of Art in what I admir’d, I made the best Apology I cou’d; and fighting for Beauty, kept the Field as long as there was one Fair-one present.
Gallantry.Considering how your Genius stood inclin’d to Poetry, I wonder’d most to find you on a sudden grown so out of conceit with our modern Poets, and Galante Writers; whom I quoted to you, as better Authoritys than any Antient in behalf of the Fair Sex, and their Prerogative. But this you treated slightly. You acknowledg’d it to be true indeed, what had been observ’d by some late Wits, “That Gallantrywas of a modern Growth.” And well it might be so, you thought, without dishonour to the Antients; who understood Truth and Nature too well, to admit so ridiculous an Invention.
’Twas in vain, therefore, that I held up this Shield in my defense. I did my Cause no service, when in behalf of the Fair I pleaded all the fine things which are usually said, in this romantick way, to their advantage. You attack’d the very Fortress of Gallantry, ridicul’d the Point of Honour, with all those nice Sentiments and Ceremonials belonging to it. You damn’d even our Favourite Novels; those dear sweet natural Pieces, writ most of ’em by the Fair Sex themselves. In short, this whole Order and Scheme of Wit you condemn’d absolutely, as false, monstrous, and Gothick; quite out of the way of Nature, and sprung from the mere Dregs of Chivalry or Knight-Errantry; a thing which in it-self you prefer’d, as of a better Taste than that which reigns at present in its stead. For at a time when this Mystery of Gallantry carry’d along with it the Notion of doughty Knighthood; when the Fair were made Witnesses, and in a manner, Partys to Feats of Arms, enter’d into all the Points of War and Combat, and were won by dint of Launce and manly Prowess; ’twas not altogether absurd, you thought, on such a foundation as this, to pay ’em Homage and Adoration, make ’em the Standard of Wit and Manners, and bring Mankind under their Laws. But in a Country where no She-Saints were worship’d by any Authority from Religion, ’twas as impertinent and sensless, as it was profane, to deify the Sex, raise ’em to a Capacity above what Nature had allow’d, and treat ’em with a Respect, which in the natural way of Love they themselves were the aptest to complain of.
Indeed as for the Moral Part, ’twas wonderful, you said, to observe the Licentiousness which this foppish courtly Humour had establish’d in the World. What such a flattering way of Address to all the Sex in common cou’d mean, you knew not; unless it were to render ’em wholly common indeed, and make each Fair-one apprehend that the Publick had a right to her; and that Beauty was too communicative and divine a Thing, to be made a Property, and confin’d to One at once.
MEAN while our Company began to leave us. The Beau-monde, whom you had been thus severely censuring, drew off apace: for it grew late. I took notice that the approaching Objects of the Night were the more agreeable to you, for the Solitude they introduc’d; and that the Moon and Planets which began now to appear, were in reality the only proper Company for a Man in your Humour. For now you began to talk with much Satisfaction of natural Things, and of all Orders of Beautys, Man only excepted. Never did I hear a finer Description than you made of the Order of the heavenly Luminarys, the Circles of the Planets, and their attendent Satellites. And you, who wou’d allow nothing to those fair earthly Luminarys in the Circles which just now we mov’d in; you, Palemon, who seem’d to overlook the Pride of that Theater, began now to look out with Ravishment on this other, and triumph in the new philosophical Scene of Worlds unknown. Here, when you had pretty well spent the first Fire of your Imagination, I wou’d have got you to reason more calmly with me upon that other Part of the Creation, your own Kind; to which, I told you, you discover’d so much Aversion,Misanthropy. as wou’d make one believe you a compleat Timon, or Man-hater.
“Can you then, O Philocles,” (said you in a high strain, and with a moving air of Passion) “Can you believe me of that Character? Or can you think it of me in earnest, that being Man, and conscious of my Nature, I shou’d have yet so little of Humanity, as not to feel the Affections of a Man? Or feeling what is natural towards my Kind, that I shou’d hold their Interest light, and be indifferently affected with what affects or seriously concerns them? Am I so ill a Lover of my Country? Or is it that you find me indeed so ill a Friend? For what are all Relations else? What are the Ties of private Friendship, if that to Mankind be not obliging? Can there be yet a Bond in Nature, if That be none? O Philocles! Believe me when I say I feel it one, and fully prove its Power within me. Think not that I wou’d willingly break my Chain: Nor count me so degenerate or unnatural, as whilst I hold this Form, and wear a human Heart, I shou’d throw off Love, Compassion, Kindness, and not befriend Mankind.—But O what Treacherys! what Disorders! And how corrupt is all!—Did you not observe e’en now, when all this Space was fill’d with goodly Rows of Company, how peaceful all appear’d.—What Charms there are in publick Companys! What Harmony in Courts and Courtly Places! How pleas’d is every Face! How courteous and humane the general Carriage and Behaviour!—What Creature capable of Reflection, if he thus saw us Mankind, and saw no more, wou’d not believe our Earth a very Heaven? What Foreigner (the Inhabitant, suppose, of some near Planet) when he had travel’d hither, and survey’d this outward Face of things, wou’d think of what lay hid beneath the Mask?—But let him stay a-while. Allow him leisure; till he has gain’d a nearer View, and following our dissolv’d Assemblys to their particular Recesses, he has the power of seeing ’em in this new Aspect.—Here he may behold those great Men of the Ministry, who not an hour ago in publick appear’d such Friends, now plotting craftily each other’s Ruin, with the Ruin of the State it-self, a Sacrifice to their Ambition. Here he may see too those of a softer kind, who knowing not Ambition, follow only Love. Yet (Philocles) who wou’d think it?”—
At these words, you may remember, I discover’d the Lightness of my Temper, and laugh’d aloud; which I cou’d hardly hope you wou’d have pardon’d, had I not freely told you the true reason. ’Twas not for want of being affected with what you spoke. I only imagin’d a more particular Cause had provok’d you, when having pass’d over the Ambitious, you were coming full-charg’d against the People of a softer Passion. At first, I look’d on you as deeply in the Spleen: But now I concluded you in love, and so unhappily engag’d as to have reason to complain of Infidelity. “This,” thought I, “has mov’d Palemon thus. Hence the sad World! Here was that Corruption, and those Disorders he lamented!”
Cause of Ill.AFTER I had begg’d pardon for my rude Mirth, which had the good fortune however to make some change in your Humour; we fell naturally into cool Reasoning about the Nature and Cause of ILL in general: “Thro’ what Contingency, what Chance; by what fatal Necessity, what Will, or what Permission it came upon the World; or being come once, shou’d still subsist.” This Inquiry, which with slight Reasoners is easily got over, stuck hard, I found, with one of your close Judgment and Penetration. And this insensibly led us into a nice Criticism of Nature; whom you sharply arraign’d for many Absurditys you thought her guilty of, in relation to Mankind, and his peculiar State.
Fain wou’d I have persuaded you to think with more Equality of Nature, and to proportion her Defects a little better. My Notion was, that the Grievance lay not altogether in one part, as you plac’d it; but that every thing had its share of Inconvenience. Pleasure and Pain, Beauty and Deformity, Good and Ill, seem’d to me every-where interwoven; and one with another made, I thought, a pretty Mixture, agreeable enough, in the main. ’Twas the same, I fansy’d, as in some of those rich Stuffs, where the Flowers and Ground were oddly put together, with such irregular Work, and contrary Colours, as look’d ill in the Pattern, but mighty natural and well in the Piece.
But you were still upon Extremes. Nothing wou’d serve to excuse the Faults or Blemishes of this Part of the Creation, Mankind; even tho all besides were fair, without a Blemish. The very Storms and Tempests had their Beauty in your account, those alone excepted which arose in human Breasts. ’Twas only for this turbulent Race of Mortals you offer’d to accuse Nature. And I now found why you had been so transported with the Story of Prometheus. You wanted such an Operator as this for Mankind: And you were tempted to wish the Story cou’d have been confirm’d in modern Divinity; that clearing the supreme Powers of any Concern or Hand in the ill Workmanship, you might have the liberty of inveighing against it, without Profaneness.
This however, I told you, was but a slight Evasion of the religious Poets among the Antients. ’Twas easy to answer every Objection by a Prometheus: as, “Why had Mankind originally so much Folly and Perverseness? Why so much Pride, such Ambition, and strange Appetites? Why so many Plagues, and Curses, entail’d on him and his Posterity?”—Prometheus was the Cause. The plastick Artist, with his unlucky Hand, solv’d all. “ ’Twas His Contrivance (they said) and He was to answer for it.” They reckon’d it a fair Game, if they cou’d gain a singleRemove, and put the evil Cause farther off. If the People ask’d a Question, they told ’em a Tale, and sent ’em away satisfy’d. None besides a few Philosophers wou’d be such Busy-bodys, they thought, as to look beyond, or ask a second Question.
And in reality, continu’d I, ’tis not to be imagin’d how serviceable a Tale is, to amuse others besides mere Children; and how much easier the Generality of Men are paid in this Paper-coin, than in Sterling Reason. We ought not to laugh so readily at the Indian Philosophers, who to satisfy their People how this huge Frame of the World is supported, tell ’em ’tis by an Elephant.—And the Elephant how?—A shreud Question! but which by no means shou’d be answer’d. ’Tis here only that our Indian Philosophers are to blame. They shou’d be contented with the Elephant, and go no further. But they have a Tortoise in reverse; whose Back, they think, is broad enough. So the Tortoise must bear the new Load: And thus the matter stands worse than before.
The Heathen Story of Prometheus was, I told you, much the same with this Indian one: only the Heathen Mythologists were so wise as not to go beyond the first Remove. A single Prometheus was enough to take the Weight from Jove. They fairly made Jove a Stander-by. He resolv’d, it seems, to be Neuter; and see what wou’d come of this notable Experiment; how the dangerous Man-moulder wou’d proceed; and what wou’d be the Event of his Tampering.—Excellent Account, to satisfy the Heathen Vulgar! But how, think you, wou’d a Philosopher digest this? “For the Gods” (he wou’d say presently) “either cou’d have hinder’d Prometheus’s Creation, or they cou’d not. If they cou’d, they were answerable for the Consequences; if they cou’d not, they were no longer Gods, being thus limited and controul’d. And whether Prometheus were a Name for Chance, Destiny, a plastick Nature, or an evil Daemon; whatever was design’d by it; ’twas still the same Breach of Omnipotence.”
That such a hazardous Affair as this of Creation shou’d have been undertaken by those who had not perfect Foresight as well as Command, you own’d was neither wise nor just. But you stood to Foresight. You allow’d the Consequences to have been understood by the creating Powers, when they undertook their Work: and you deny’d that it wou’d have been better for them to have omitted it; tho they knew what wou’d be the Event. “ ’Twas better still that the Project shou’d be executed, whatever might become of Mankind, or how hard soever such a Creation was like to fall on the generality of this miserable Race. For ’twas impossible, you thought, that Heaven shou’d have acted otherwise than for the best. So that even from this Misery and Ill of Man, there was undoubtedly some Good arising; something which over-balanc’d all, and made full amends.”
THIS was a Confession I wonder’d indeed how I came to draw from you: And soon afterwards I found you somewhat uneasy under it. For here I took up your own part against you; and setting all those Villanys and Corruptions of human Kind in the same light you had done just before, I put it upon you to tell, where possibly cou’d be the Advantage or Good arising hence; or what Excellence or Beauty cou’d redound from those tragical Pictures you your-self had drawn so well after the Life. Whether it must not be a very strong philosophical Faith, which shou’d persuade one that those dismal Parts you set to view were only the necessary Shades of a fine Piece, to be reckon’d among the Beautys of the Creation: Or whether possibly you might look upon that Maxim as very fit for Heaven, which I was sure you did not approve at all in Mankind; “To doIllthatGoodmight follow.”
This, I said, made me think of the manner of our modern Prometheus’s,the Mountebanks, who perform’d such Wonders of many kinds, here on our earthly Stages. They cou’d create Diseases, and make Mischief, in order to heal, and to restore. But shou’d we assign such a Practice as this to Heaven? Shou’d we dare to make such Empiricks of the Gods, and such a Patient of poor Nature? “Was this a reason for Nature’s Sickliness? Or how else came she (poor Innocent!) to fall sick, or run astray? Had she been originally healthy, or created sound at first; she had still continu’d so. ’Twas no credit to the Gods to leave her destitute, or with a Flaw which wou’d cost dear the mending, and make them Sufferers for their own Work.”—
I was going to bring Homer to witness for the many Troubles of Jove, the Death of Sarpedon, and the frequent Crosses Heaven met with, from the fatal Sisters. But this Discourse, I saw, displeas’d you.Scepticism. I had by this time plainly discover’d my Inclination to Scepticism. And here not only Religion was objected to me, but I was reproach’d too on the account of that Gallantry which I had some time before defended. Both were join’d together in the Charge you made against me, when you saw I adher’d to nothing: but was now as ready to declaim against the Fair, as I had been before to plead their Cause, and defend the Moral of Lovers. This, you said, was my constant way in all Debates: I was as well pleas’d with the Reason on one side, as on the other: I never troubled my-self about the Success of the Argument, but laugh’d still, whatever way it went; and even when I convinc’d others, never seem’d as if I was convinc’d myself.
I own’d to you, Palemon, there was Truth enough in your Charge. For above all things I lov’d Ease; and of all Philosophers those who reason’d most at their ease, and were never angry or disturb’d; as those call’d Scepticks, you own’d, never were. I look’d upon this kind of Philosophy as the prettiest, agreeablest, roving Exercise of the Mind, possible to be imagin’d. The other kind, I thought, was painful and laborious; “To keep always in the Limits of one Path; to drive always at a Point; and hold precisely to what Men, at a venture, call’dthe Truth: A Point, in all appearance, very unfix’d, and hard to ascertain.” Besides, my way hurt no body. I was always the first to comply on any occasion; and for Matters of Religion, was further from Profaneness and erroneous Doctrine than any-one. I cou’d never have the Sufficiency to shock my spiritual and learned Superiors. I was the furthest from leaning to my own Understanding: nor was I one who exalted Reason above Faith, or insisted much upon what the dogmatical Men call Demonstration, and dare oppose to the sacred Mysterys of Religion. And to shew you, continu’d I, how impossible it is for the Men of our sort ever to err from the Catholick and Establish’d Faith, pray consider; That whereas Others pretend to see with their own Eyes, what is properest and best for them in Religion; We, for our parts, pretend not to see with any other than those of our spiritual Guides. Neither do we presume to judg those Guides our-selves; but submit to them, as they are appointed us by our just Superiors. In short, you who are Rationalists, and walk by Reason in every thing, pretend to know all things, whilst you believe little or nothing: We for our parts know nothing, and believe all.
HERE I ended; and, in return, you only ask’d me coldly, “Whether with that fine Scepticism of mine, I made no more distinction between Sincerity and Insincerity in Actions, than I did between Truth and Falshood, Right and Wrong, in Arguments?”
I durst not ask what your Question drove at. I was afraid I saw it too plainly; and that by this loose way of talking, which I had learnt in some fashionable Conversations of the World, I had given you occasion to suspect me of the worst sort of Scepticism, such as spar’d nothing; but overthrew all Principles, Moral and Divine.
Forgive me, said I, good Palemon: you are offended, I see, and not without cause. But what if I shou’d endeavour to compensate my Sceptical Misbehaviour, by using a known Sceptick Privilege, and asserting strenuously the Cause I have hitherto oppos’d? Do not imagine that I dare aspire so high as to defend reveal’d Religion, or the holy Mysterys of the Christian Faith. I am unworthy of such a Task, and shou’d profane the Subject. ’Tis of mere Philosophy I speak: And my Fancy is only to try what I can muster up thence, to make head against the chief Arguments of Atheism, and reestablish what I have offer’d to loosen in the System of Theism.
Deism.Your Project, said you, bids fair to reconcile me to your Character, which I was beginning to mistrust. For as averse as I am to the Cause of Theism, or Name of Deist, when taken in a sense exclusive of Revelation; I consider still that, in strictness, the Root of all is Theism; and that to be a settled Christian, it is necessary to be first of all a goodTheist. For Theism can only be oppos’d to Polytheism, or Atheism. Nor have I patience to hear the Name of Deist (the highest of all Names) decry’d, and set in opposition to Christianity. “As if our Religion was a kind of Magick, which depended not on the Belief of a single supreme Being. Or as if the firm and rational Belief of such a Being, on philosophical Grounds, was an improper Qualification for believing any thing further.” Excellent Presumption, for those who naturally incline to the Disbelief of Revelation, or who thro’ Vanity affect a Freedom of this kind!—
But let me hear, continu’d you, whether in good Earnest, and thorow Sincerity, you intend to advance any thing in favour of that Opinion which is fundamental to all Religion; or whether you design only to divert your-self with the Subject, as you have done hitherto? “Whatever your Thoughts are, Philocles, I am resolv’d to force ’em from you. You can no longer plead the Unsutableness of the Time or Place to such grave Subjects. The gaudy Scene is over with the Day. Our Company have long since quitted the Field. And the solemn Majesty of such a Night as this, may justly sute with the profoundest Meditation, or most serious Discourse.”
Thus, Palemon, you continu’d to urge me; till by necessity I was drawn into the following Vein of Philosophical Enthusiasm.
YOU shall find then, said I (taking a grave Air) that it is possible for me to be serious; and that ’tis probable I am growing so, for good and all. Your Over-seriousness a-while since, at such an unseasonable time, may have driven me perhaps into a contrary Extreme, by opposition to your melancholy Humour. But I have now a better Idea of that Melancholy you discover’d; and notwithstanding the humorous Turn you were pleas’d to give it, I am persuaded it has a different Foundation from any of those fantastical Causes I then assign’d to it. “Love,LOVE. doubtless, is at the bottom; but a nobler Love than such as common Beautys inspire.”—
Here, in my turn, I began to raise my Voice, and imitate the solemn way you had been teaching me. “Knowing as you are,” continu’d I, “well-knowing and experienc’d in all the Degrees and Orders of Beauty,Beauty. in all the mysterious Charms of the particular Forms; you rise to what is more general; and with a larger Heart, and Mind more comprehensive, you generously seek that which is highest in the kind. Not captivated by the Lineaments of a fair Face, or the well-drawn Proportions of a human Body, you view the Life it-self, and embrace rather the Mind, which adds the Lustre, and renders chiefly amiable.
Society.“Nor is the Enjoyment of such a single Beauty sufficient to satisfy such an aspiring Soul. It seeks how to combine more Beautys, and by what Coalition of these, to form a beautiful Society. It views Communitys, Friendships, Relations, Dutys; and considers by what Harmony of particular Minds the general Harmony is compos’d, and Commonweal establish’d.
“Nor satisfy’d even with publick Good in one Community of Men, it frames it-self a nobler Object,Virtue. and with enlarg’d Affection seeks the Good of Mankind. It dwells with Pleasure amidst that Reason, and those Orders on which this fair Correspondence and goodly Interest is establish’d. Laws, Constitutions, civil and religious Rites; whatever civilizes or polishes rude Mankind; the Sciences and Arts, Philosophy, Morals, Virtue; the flourishing State of human Affairs, and the Perfection of human Nature; these are its delightful Prospects, and this the Charm of Beauty which attracts it.
Universe.“Still ardent in this Pursuit (such is its Love of Order and Perfection) it rests not here; nor satisfies it-self with the Beauty of a Part; but extending further its communicative Bounty, seeks the Good of All, and affects the Interest and Prosperity of the Whole. True to its native World and higher Country, ’tis here it seeks Order and Perfection; wishing the best, and hoping still to find a just and wise Administration.
“And since all Hope of this were vain and idle, if no universal Mind presided;GOD. since without such a supreme Intelligence and providential Care, the distracted Universe must be condemn’d to suffer infinite Calamitys; ’tis here the generous Mind labours to discover that healing Cause by which the Interest of the Whole is securely establish’d, the Beauty of Things, and the universal Order happily sustain’d.
Ill natural and moral.“This, Palemon, is the Labour of your Soul: and This its Melancholy; when unsuccessfully pursuing the supreme Beauty, it meets with darkning Clouds which intercept its Sight. Monsters arise, not those from Lybian Desarts, but from the Heart of Man more fertile; and with their horrid Aspect cast an unseemly Reflection upon Nature. She, helpless (as she is thought) and working thus absurdly, is contemn’d, the Government of the World arraign’d, and Deity made void.
“Much is alledg’d in answer, to shew why Nature errs, and how she came thus impotent and erring from an unerring Hand. But I deny she errs; and when she seems most ignorant or perverse in her Productions, I assert her even then as wise and provident, as in her goodliest Works. For ’tis not then that Men complain of the World’s Order, or abhor the Face of things, when they see various Interests mix’d and interfering; Natures subordinate, of different kinds, oppos’d one to another, and in their different Operations submitted, the higher to the lower. ’Tis on the contrary, from this Order of inferior and superior Things, that we admire the World’s Beauty, founded thus on Contrarietys: whilst from such various and disagreeing Principles, a universal Concord is establish’d.
“Thus in the several Orders of terrestrial Forms, a Resignation is requir’d, a Sacrifice and mutual yielding of Natures one to another. The Vegetables by their Death sustain the Animals: and Animal Bodys dissolv’d, enrich the Earth, and raise again the vegetable World. The numerous Insects are reduc’d by the superior Kinds of Birds and Beasts: and these again are check’d by Man; who in his turn submits to other Natures, and resigns his Form a Sacrifice in common to the rest of Things. And if in Natures so little exalted or pre-eminent above each other, the Sacrifice of Interests can appear so just; how much more reasonably may all inferior Natures be subjected to the superior Nature of the World! That World, Palemon, which even now transported you, when the Sun’s fainting Light gave way to these bright Constellations, and left you this wide System to contemplate.
“Here are those Laws which ought not, nor can submit to any thing below. The central Powers, which hold the lasting Orbs in their just Poize and Movement, must not be controul’d to save a fleeting Form, and rescue from the Precipice a puny Animal, whose brittle Frame, howe’er protected, must of it-self so soon dissolve. The ambient Air, the inward Vapours, the impending Meteors, or whatever else is nutrimental or preservative of this Earth, must operate in a natural Course: and other Constitutions must submit to the good Habit and Constitution of the all-sustaining Globe.
“Let us not therefore wonder, if by Earthquakes, Storms, pestilential Blasts, nether or upper Fires, or Floods, the animal Kinds are oft afflicted, and whole Species perhaps involv’d at once in common Ruin: But much less let us account it strange, if either by outward Shock, or some interior Wound from hostile Matter, particular Animals are deform’d even in their first Conception, when the Disease invades the Seats of Generation, and seminal Parts are injur’d and obstructed in their accurate Labours. ’Tis then alone that monstrous Shapes are seen: Nature still working as before, and not perversly or erroneously; not faintly, or with feeble Endeavours; but o’erpower’d by a superior Rival, and by another Nature’s justly conquering Force.
“Nor need we wonder, if the interior Form, the Soul and Temper, partakes of this occasional Deformity, and sympathizes often with its close Partner. Who is there can wonder either at the Sicknesses of Sense, or the Depravity of Minds inclos’d in such frail Bodys, and dependent on such pervertible Organs?
Good.“Here then is that Solution you require: and hence those seeming Blemishes cast upon Nature. Nor is there ought in this beside what is natural and good. ’Tis Good which is predominant; and every corruptible and mortal Nature by its Mortality and Corruption yields only to some better, and all in common to that best and highest Nature, which is incorruptible and immortal.”
I SCARCE had ended these Words, ere you broke out in admiration; asking what had befall’n me, that of a sudden I had thus chang’d my Character, and enter’d into Thoughts, which must certainly, you suppos’d, have some Foundation in me, since I cou’d express them with such seeming Affection as I had done.
O, said I, Palemon! that it had been my fortune to have met you the other day, just at my Return out of the Country from a Friend, whose Conversation had in one day or two made such an Impression on me, that I shou’d have suted you to a Miracle. You wou’d have thought indeed that I had been cur’d of my Scepticism and Levity, so as never to have rally’d more, at that wild rate, on any Subject, much less on these which are so serious.
Truly, said you, I cou’d wish I had met you rather at that time, or that those good and serious Impressions of your Friend had without interruption lasted with you till this moment.
Whatever they were, I told you, Palemon, I had not so lost ’em neither, as not easily, you saw, to revive ’em on occasion; were I not afraid. “Afraid!” said you. “For whose sake, good Philocles, I intreat you? For mine or your own?” “For both,” reply’d I. “For tho I was like to be perfectly cur’d of my Scepticism; ’twas by what I thought worse,Enthusiast. downright Enthusiasm. You never knew a more agreeable Enthusiast!”
Were he my Friend, said you, I shou’d hardly treat him in so free a manner. Nor shou’d I, perhaps, judg that to be Enthusiasm which you so freely term so. I have a strong suspicion that you injure him. Nor can I be satisfy’d till I hear further of that serious Conversation for which you tax him as Enthusiastick.
I must confess, said I, he had nothing of that savage Air of the vulgar enthusiastick Kind. All was serene, soft, and harmonious. The manner of it was more after the pleasing Transports of those antient Poets you are often charm’d with, than after the fierce unsociable way of modern Zealots; those starch’d gruff Gentlemen, who guard Religion as Bullys do a Mistress, and give us the while a very indifferent Opinion of their Lady’s Merit, and their own Wit, by adoring what they neither allow to be inspected by others, nor care themselves to examine in a fair light. But here I’ll answer for it; there was nothing of Disguise or Paint. All was fair, open, and genuine, as Nature herself. ’Twas Nature he was in love with: ’Twas Nature he sung. And if any-one might be said to have a natural Mistress, my Friend certainly might, whose Heart was thus ingag’d. But Love, I found, was every-where the same. And tho the Object here was very fine, and the Passion it created very noble; yet Liberty, I thought, was finer than all: And I who never car’d to ingage in other Loves of the least continuance, was the more afraid, I told you, of this which had such a power with my poor Friend, as to make him appear the perfectest Enthusiast in the World, Ill-humour only excepted. For this was singular in him, “That tho he had all of the Enthusiast, he had nothing of the Bigot. He heard every thing with Mildness and Delight; and bore with me when I treated all his Thoughts as visionary; and when, Sceptick-like, I unravel’d all his Systems.”
Here was that Character and Description which so highly pleas’d you, that you wou’d hardly suffer me to come to a conclusion. ’Twas impossible, I found, to give you satisfaction, without reciting the main of what pass’d in those two days between my Friend and me, in our Country-Retirement. Again and again I bid you beware: “You knew not the danger of this philosophical Passion; nor consider’d what you might possibly draw upon your-self, and make me the Author of. I was far enough engag’d already: and you were pushing me further, at your own hazard.”
All I cou’d say made not the least impression on you. But rather than proceed any further this night, I engag’d, for your sake, to turn Writer, and draw up the Memoirs of those two philosophical Days; beginning with what had pass’d this last Day between our-selves; as I have accordingly done, you see, by way of Introduction to my Story.
BY this time, being got late to Town, some hours after the latest of our Company, you set me down at my own Lodging; and thus we bad Good-night.
AFTER such a Day as Yesterday, I might well have thought it hard, when I awak’d the next Morning, to find my-self under positive Engagements of proceeding in the same philosophical way, without intermission, and upon harder terms than ever. For ’twas no longer the agreeable Part of a Companion which I had now to bear. Your Conversation, Palemon, which had hitherto supported me, was at an end. I was now alone; confin’d to my Closet; oblig’d to meditate by my-self; and reduc’d to the hard Circumstances of an Author, and Historian, in the most difficult Subject.
But here, methought, propitious Heaven, in some manner, assisted me. For if Dreams were, as Homer teaches, sent from the Throne of Jove; I might conclude I had a favourable one, of the true sort, towards the Morning-light; which, as I recollected my-self, gave me a clear and perfect Idea of what I desir’d so earnestly to bring back to my Memory.
I found my-self transported to a distant Country, which presented a pompous rural Scene. It was a Mountain not far from the Sea, its Brow adorn’d with antient Wood, and at its foot a River and well-inhabited Plain: beyond which the Sea appearing, clos’d the Prospect.
No sooner had I consider’d the Place, than I discern’d it to be the very same where I had talk’d with Theocles the second Day I was with him in the Country. I look’d about to see if I cou’d find my Friend; and calling Theocles! I awak’d. But so powerful was the Impression of my Dream, and so perfect the Idea rais’d in me, of the Person, Words, and Manner of my Friend, that I cou’d now fansy myself philosophically inspir’d, as that RomanSage by his AEgeria, and invited, on this occasion, to try my HistoricalMuse. For justly might I hope for such Assistance in behalf of Theocles, who so lov’d the Muses, and was, I thought, no less belov’d by them.
TO RETURN therefore to that original rural Scene, and that HeroickGenius, the Companion and Guide of my first Thoughts in these profounder Subjects: I found him the first Morning with his belov’d MantuanMuse, roving in the Fields; where, as I had been inform’d at his House, he was gone out, after his usual way, to read. The moment he saw me, his Book vanish’d, and he came with friendly haste to meet me. After we had embrac’d, I discover’d my Curiosity to know what he was reading; and ask’d, “if it were of a secret kind, to which I cou’d not be admitted.” On this he shew’d me his Poet; and looking pleasantly, “Now tell me truly,” said he, “Philocles, did you not expect some more mysterious Book than this?” I own’d I did, considering his Character, which I took to be of so contemplative a kind. “And do you think,” said he, “that without being contemplative, one can truly relish these diviner Poets?” “Indeed,” said I, “I never thought there was any need of growing contemplative, or retiring from the World, to read Virgil or Horace.”
Retirement.You have nam’d two, said he, who can hardly be thought so very like; tho they were Friends, and equally good Poets. Yet joining ’em, as you are pleas’d to do, I wou’d willingly learn from you, whether in your opinion there be any Disposition so fitted for reading ’em, as that in which they writ themselves. In this, I am sure, they both join’d heartily; to love Retirement: when for the sake of such a Life and Habit as you call contemplative, they were willing to sacrifice the highest Advantages, Pleasures, and Favour of a Court. But I will venture to say more in favour of Retirement: “That not only the best Authors, but the best Company, require this seasoning.” Society it-self cannot be rightly enjoy’d without some Abstinence and separate Thought. All grows insipid, dull, and tiresom, without the help of some Intervals of Retirement. Say, Philocles, whether you your-self have not often found it so? Do you think those Lovers understand the Interests of their Loves, who by their good-will wou’d never be parted for a moment? Or wou’d they be discreet Friends, think you, who wou’d chuse to live together on such Terms? What Relish then must the World have (that common World of mix’d and undistinguish’d Company) without a little Solitude; without stepping now and then aside, out of the Road and beaten Track of Life, that tedious Circle of Noise and Show, which forces weary’d Mankind to seek relief from every poor Diversion?
By your Rule, said I, Theocles, there shou’d be no such thing as Happiness or Good in Life, since every Enjoyment wears out so soon; and growing painful, is diverted by some other thing; and that again by some other; and so on. I am sure, if Solitude serves as a Remedy or Diversion to any thing in the World, there is nothing which may not serve as Diversion to Solitude; which wants it more than any thing besides. And thus there can be no Good which is regular or constant. Happiness is a thing out of the way, and only to be found in wandring.
O Philocles, reply’d he,Happiness. Good. I rejoice to find you in the pursuit of Happiness and Good; however you may wander. Nay, tho you doubt whether there be that Thing; yet if you reason, ’tis sufficient; there is hope still. But see how you have unawares engag’d your-self! For if you have destroy’d all Good, because in all you can think of, there is nothing will constantly hold so; then you have set it as a Maxim, (and very justly in my Opinion) “That Nothing can be good but what is constant.”
I own, said I, that all I know of worldly Satisfaction is inconstant. The Things which give it, are never at a stay: and the Good it-self, whatever it be, depends no less on Humour than on Fortune. For that which Chance may often spare, Time will not. Age, Change of Temper, other Thoughts, a different Passion, new Engagements, a new Turn of Life, or Conversation, the least of these are fatal, and alone sufficient to destroy Enjoyment. Tho the Object be the same, the Relish changes, and the short-liv’d Good expires. But I shou’d wonder much if you cou’d tell me any thing in Life, which was not of as changeable a Nature, and subject to the same common Fate of Satiety and Disgust.
Pleasure.I FIND then, reply’d he, that the current Notion of Good is not sufficient to satisfy you. You can afford to scepticize, where no-one else will so much as hesitate. For almost every-one philosophizes dogmatically on this Head. All are positive in this, “That our real Good is Pleasure.”
If they wou’d inform us “Which,” said I, “or What sort,” and ascertain once the very Species and distinct Kind; such as must constantly remain the same, and equally eligible at all times; I shou’d then perhaps be better satisfy’d. But when Will and Pleasure are synonymous; when every thing which pleases us is call’d Pleasure, and we never chuse or prefer but as we please, ’tis trifling to say, “Pleasure is our Good.” For this has as little meaning as to say, “We chuse what we think eligible”: and, “We are pleas’d with what delights or pleases us.” The Question is, “Whether we are rightly pleas’d, and chuse as we shou’d do?” For as highly pleas’d as Children are with Baubles, or with whatever affects their tender Senses; we cannot in our hearts sincerely admire their Enjoyment, or imagine ’em Possessors of any extraordinary Good. Yet are their Senses, we know, as keen and susceptible of Pleasure as our own. The same Reflection is of force as to mere Animals, who in respect of the Liveliness and Delicacy of Sensation, have many of ’em the advantage of us. And as for some low and sordid Pleasures of human Kind; shou’d they be ever so lastingly enjoy’d, and in the highest credit with their Enjoyers; I shou’d never afford ’em the name of Happiness or Good.
Wou’d you then appeal, said he, from the immediate Feeling and Experience of one who is pleas’d, and satisfy’d with what he enjoys?
Most certainly I shou’d appeal, said I, (continuing the same Zeal which Theocles had stirr’d in me, against those Dogmatizers on Pleasure). For is there that sordid Creature on earth, who does not prize his own Enjoyment? Does not the frowardest, the most rancorous distemper’d Creature do as much? Is not Malice and Cruelty of the highest relish with some Natures? Is not a hoggish Life the height of some Mens Wishes? You wou’d not ask me surely to enumerate the several Species of Sensations, which Men of certain Tastes have adopted, and own’d for their chief Pleasure and Delight. For with some Men even Diseases have been thought valuable and worth the cherishing, merely for the Pleasure found in allaying the Ardor of an irritating Sensation. And to these absurd Epicures those other are near a-kin, who by study’d Provocatives raise unnatural Thirst and Appetite; and to make way for fresh Repletion, prepare Emeticks, as the last Desert; the sooner to renew the Feast. ’Tis said, I know, proverbially, “That Tastes are different, and must not be disputed.” And I remember some such Motto as this plac’d once on a Devise, which was found sutable to the Notion. A Fly was represented feeding on a certain Lump. The Food, however vile, was natural to the Animal. There was no Absurdity in the Case. But shou’d you shew me a brutish or a barbarous Man thus taken up, and solac’d in his Pleasure; shou’d you shew me a Sot in his solitary Debauch, or a Tyrant in the exercise of his Cruelty, with this Motto over him, to forbid my Appeal; I shou’d hardly be brought to think the better of his Enjoyment: Nor can I possibly suppose that a mere sordid Wretch, with a base abject Soul, and the best Fortune in the World, was ever capable of any real Enjoyment.
By this Zeal, reply’d Theocles, which you have shewn in the refuting a wrong Hypothesis, one wou’d imagine you had in reality some Notion of a right; and began to think that there might possibly be such a thing at last as Good.
That there is something nearer to Good, and more like it than another, I am free, said I, to own. But what realGood is, I am still to seek, and must therefore wait till you can better inform me. This I only know; “That either All Pleasure is Good, or only Some.” If all, then every kind of Sensuality must be precious and desirable. If some only, then we are to seek, what kind; and discover, if we can, what it is which distinguishes between one Pleasure and another: and makes one indifferent, sorry, mean;another valuable, and worthy. And by this Stamp, this Character, if there be any such, we must define Good; and not by Pleasure it-self; which may be very great, and yet very contemptible. Nor can any-one truly judg the Value of any immediate Sensation, otherwise than by judging first of the Situation of his own Mind. For that which we esteem a Happiness in one Situation of Mind, is otherwise thought of in another. Which Situation therefore is the justest, must be consider’d; “How to gain that Point of Sight, whence probably we may best discern; and How to place our-selves in that unbiass’d State, in which we are fittest to pronounce.”
O Philocles, reply’d he, if this be unfeignedly your Sentiment; if it be possible you shou’d have the Fortitude to with-hold your Assent in this Affair, and go in search of what the meanest of Mankind think they already know so certainly: ’tis from a nobler turn of thought than what you have observ’d in any of the modern Scepticks you have convers’d with. For if I mistake not, there are hardly anywhere at this day a sort of People more peremptory, or who deliberate less on the choice of Good. They who pretend to such a Scrutiny of other Evidences, are the readiest to take the Evidence of the greatest Deceivers in the World, their own Passions. Having gain’d, as they think, a Liberty from some seeming Constraints of Religion, they suppose they employ this Liberty to perfection, by following the first Motion of their Will, and assenting to the first Dictate or Report of any prepossessing Fancy, any foremost Opinion or Conceit of Good. So that their Privilege is only that of being perpetually amus’d; and their Liberty that of being impos’d on in their most important Choice. I think one may say with assurance, “That the greatest of Fools is he who imposes on himself, and in his greatest Concern thinks certainly he knows that which he has least study’d, and of which he is most profoundly ignorant.” He who is ignorant, but knows his Ignorance, is far wiser. And to do justice to these fashionable Men of Wit; they are not all of ’em, indeed, so insensible as not to perceive something of their own Blindness and Absurdity. For often when they seriously reflect on their past Pursuits and Engagements, they freely own, “That for what remains of Life, they know not whether they shall be of a-piece with themselves; or whether their Fancy, Humour, or Passion will not hereafter lead ’em to a quite different Choice in Pleasure, and to a Disapprobation of all they ever enjoy’d before.”—Comfortable Reflection!
To bring the Satisfactions of the Mind, continu’d he, and the Enjoyments of Reason and Judgment under the Denomination of Pleasure, is only a Collusion, and a plain receding from the common Notion of the Word. They deal not fairly with us, who in their philosophical Hour, admit that for Pleasure, which at an ordinary time, and in the common Practice of Life, is so little taken for such. The Mathematician who labours at his Problem, the bookish Man who toils, the Artist who endures voluntarily the greatest Hardships and Fatigues; none of these are said “To follow Pleasure.” Nor will the Men of Pleasure by any means admit ’em to be of their number. The Satisfactions which are purely mental, and depend only on the Motion of a Thought; must in all likelihood be too refin’d for the Apprehensions of our modern Epicures, who are so taken up with Pleasure of a more substantial kind. They who are full of the Idea of such a sensible solid Good, can have but a slender Fancy for the mere spiritual and intellectual sort. But ’tis this latter they set up and magnify upon occasion; to save the Ignominy which may redound to ’em from the former. This done, the latter may take its chance: Its Use is presently at an end. For ’tis observable, that when the Men of this sort have recommended the Enjoyments of the Mind under the title of Pleasure; when they have thus dignify’d the Word, and included in it whatever is mentally good or excellent, they can afterwards suffer it contentedly to slide down again into its own genuine and vulgar Sense; whence they rais’d it only to serve a turn. When Pleasure is call’d in question, and attack’d, then Reason and Virtue are call’d in to her Aid, and made principal parts of her Constitution. A complicated Form appears, and comprehends straight all which is generous, honest, and beautiful in human Life. But when the Attack is over, and the Objection once solv’d, the Specter vanishes: Pleasure returns again to her former Shape: She may e’en be Pleasure still, and have as little concern with dry sober Reason, as in the nature of the thing, and according to common Understanding, she really has. For if this rational sort of Enjoyment be admitted into the Notion of Good, how is it possible to admit withal that kind of Sensation, which in effect is rather opposite to this Enjoyment? ’Tis certain that in respect of the Mind and its Enjoyments, the Eagerness and Irritation of mere Pleasure,Pleasure and Pain. is as disturbing as the Importunity and Vexation of Pain. If either throws the Mind off its biass, and deprives it of the Satisfaction it takes in its natural Exercise and Employment; the Mind in this case must be Sufferer as well by one as by the other. If neither does this, there is no harm on either side.—
By the way, said I, interrupting him; As sincere as I am in questioning, “Whether Pleasure be really Good”; I am not such a Sceptick as to doubt “Whether Pain be really Ill.”
Whatever is grievous, reply’d he, can be no other than Ill. But that what is grievous to one, is not so much as troublesom to another; let Sportsmen, Soldiers, and others of the hardy Kinds be witness. Nay, that what is Pain to one, is Pleasure to another, and so alternately, we very well know: since Men vary in their Apprehension of these Sensations, and on many occasions confound one with the other. Has not even Nature her-self, in some respects, as it were blended ’em together, and (as a wise Man said once) “join’d the Extremity of one so nicely to the other, that it absolutely runs into it, and is undistinguishable?”
IN FINE then, said I, if Pleasure and Pain be thus convertible and mix’d; if, according to your Account, “That which is now Pleasure, by being strain’d a little too far, runs into Pain, and Pain, when carry’d far, creates again the highest Pleasure, by mere Cessation, and a kind of natural Succession; if some Pleasures to some are Pains, and some Pains to others are Pleasures”: All this, if I mistake not, makes still for my Opinion, and shows That there is nothing you can assign which can really stand as Good.Good. For if Pleasure be not Good, nothing is. And if Pain be Ill, (as I must necessarily take for granted) we have a shreud Chance on the ill side indeed, but none at all on the better. So that we may fairly doubt, “Whether Lifeit-self be not mere Misery”; since Gainers by it we can never be: Losers we may sufficiently, and are like to be, every hour of our Lives. Accordingly, what our English Poetess says of Good, shou’d be just and proper: “ ’Tis good not to be born.”—And thus for any thing of Good which can be expected in Life, we may e’en “Beg pardon of Nature; and return her Present on her hands, without waiting for her Call.” For what shou’d hinder us? or What are we the better for living?
The Query, said he, is pertinent. But why such Dispatch, if the Case be doubtful? This, surely, my good Philocles! is a plain Transgression of your sceptical Bounds. We must be sufficiently dogmatical, to come to this Determination.Futurity. ’Tis a deciding as well concerning Death as Life; “What possibly may be hereafter, and What not.” Now to be assur’d that we can never be concern’d in any thing hereafter, we must understand perfectly what it is which concerns or engages us in any thing present. We must truly know our-selves,Self. and in what this Self of ours consists. We must determine against Pre-existence, and give a better reason for our having never been concern’d in ought before our Birth, than merely, “Because we remember not, nor are conscious.” For in many things we have been concern’d to purpose, of which we have now no Memory or Consciousness remaining. And thus we may happen to be again and again, to perpetuity, for any reason we can show to the contrary. All is Revolution in us. We are no more the self-same Matter, or System of Matter, from one day to another. What Succession there may be hereafter, we know not; since even now, we live by Succession, and only perish and are renew’d. ’Tis in vain we flatter our-selves with the assurance of our Interest’s ending with a certain Shape or Form. What interested us at first in it, we know not; any more than how we have since held on, and continue still concern’d in such an Assemblage of fleeting Particles. Where besides, or in What else we may have to do,Futurity. perchance, in time to come, we know as little; nor can tell how Chance or Providence, hereafter, may dispose of us. And if Providence be in the case, we have still more reason to consider how we undertake to be our own Disposers. It must needs become a Sceptick above all Men to hesitate in matters of Exchange. And tho he acknowledges no present Good or Enjoyment in Life, he must be sure, however, of bettering his Condition, before he attempts to alter it. But as yet, Philocles, even this Point remains undetermin’d between us:Good. “Whether in this present Life there be not such a thing as realGood.”
Be you therefore, said I, my Instructor, sagacious Theocles! and inform me, “What that Good is, or Where, which can afford Contentment and Satisfaction always alike, without variation or diminution.” For tho on some Occasions, and in some Subjects, the Mind may possibly be so bent, and the Passion so wrought up, that for the time no bodily Sufferance or Pain can alter it; yet this is what can seldom happen, and is unlikely to last long: since without any Pain or Inconvenience, the Passion in a little time does its own work, the Mind relaxes with its Bent, and the Temper weary’d with Repetition finds no more Enjoyment, but runs to something new.
HEAR then! said Theocles. For tho I pretend not to tell you at once the Nature of this which I call Good; yet I am content to shew you something of it, in your-self, which you will acknowledg to be naturally more fix’d and constant, than any thing you have hitherto thought on. Tell me, my Friend! if ever you were weary of doing good to those you lov’d?Friendship. Say when you ever found it unpleasing to serve a Friend? Or whether when you first prov’d this generous Pleasure, you did not feel it less than at this present; after so long Experience? Believe me, Philocles, this Pleasure is more debauching than any other. Never did any Soul do good, but it came readier to do the same again, with more Enjoyment. Never was Love, or Gratitude, or Bounty practis’d but with increasing Joy, which made the Practiser still more in love with the fair Act.Friendship private, publick. Answer me, Philocles, you who are such a Judg of Beauty, and have so good a Taste of Pleasure; is there any thing you admire, so fair as Friendship? or any thing so charming as a generous Action? What wou’d it be therefore, if all Life were in reality but one continu’d Friendship, and cou’d be made one such intire Act? Here surely wou’d be that fix’d and constantGood you sought. Or wou’d you look for any thing beyond?
Perhaps not, said I. But I can never, surely, go beyond this, to seek for a Chimera, if this Good of yours be not thorowly chimerical. For tho a Poet may possibly work up such a single Action, so as to hold a Play out; I can conceive but very faintly how this high Strain of Friendship can be so manag’d as to fill a Life. Nor can I imagine where the Object lies of such a sublime heroick Passion.
Can any Friendship, said he, be so heroick, as that towards Mankind? Do you think the Love of Friends in general, and of one’s Country, to be nothing? or that particular Friendship can well subsist without such an enlarg’d Affection, and Sense of Obligation to Society? Say, if possible, you are a Friend, but hate yourCountry. Say, you are true to the Interest of a Companion, but false to that of Society. Can you believe your-self? Or will you lay the Name aside, and refuse to be call’d the Friend, since you renounce theMan?
That there is something, said I, due to Mankind, is what I think will not be disputed by one who claims the Name of Friend. Hardly indeed cou’d I allow the Name of Man to one who never cou’d call or be call’d Friend. But he who justly proves himself a Friend, is Man enough; nor is he wanting to Society. A single Friendship may acquit him. He has deserv’d a Friend, and is Man’s Friend; tho not in strictness, or according to your high moral Sense, the Friend of Mankind. For to say truth, as to this sort of Friendship; it may by wiser Heads be esteem’d perhaps more than ordinarily manly, and even heroick, as you assert it: But for my part, I see so very little Worth in Mankind, and have so indifferent an Opinion of the Publick, that I can propose little Satisfaction to my-self in loving either.
Gratitude.“Do you, then, take Bounty and Gratitude to be among the Acts of Friendship and Good-nature?” “Undoubtedly: for they are the chief.” “Suppose then, that the oblig’d Person discovers in the Obliger several Failings; does this exclude the Gratitude of the former?” “Not in the least.” “Or does it make the Exercise of Gratitude less pleasing?” “I think rather the contrary. For when depriv’d of other means of making a Return, I might rejoice still in that sure way of shewing my Gratitude to my Benefactor, by bearing his Failings as a Friend.” “And as to Bounty: Tell me, I beseech you,Bounty. is it to those only who are deserving that we shou’d do good? Is it only to a good Neighbour, or Relation, a good Father, Child, or Brother? Or does Nature, Reason, and Humanity better teach us, to do good still to a Father, because a Father; and to a Child, because a Child; and so to every Relation in human Life?” “I think,” said I, “this last is rightest.”
O Philocles, reply’d he, consider then what it was you said, when you objected against the Love of Mankind because of human Frailty; and seem’d to scorn the Publick, because of its Misfortunes. See if this Sentiment be consistent with that Humanity which elsewhere you own and practise. For where can Generosity exist, if not here?Love of Mankind. Where can we ever exert Friendship, if not in this chief Subject? To what shou’d we be true or grateful in the World, if not to Mankind, and that Society to which we are so deeply indebted? What are the Faults or Blemishes which can excuse such an Omission, or in a grateful Mind can ever lessen the Satisfaction of making a grateful kind return?Good-breeding. Can you then out of Good-breeding merely, and from a Temper natural to you, rejoice to shew Civility, Courteousness, Obligingness, seek Objects of Compassion, and be pleas’d with every Occurrence where you have power to do some service even to People unknown? Can you delight in such Adventures abroad in foreign Countrys, or in the case of Strangers here at home; to help, assist, relieve all who require it, in the most hospitable, kind, and friendly manner? And can your Country, or what is more, yourKind, require less Kindness from you, or deserve less to be consider’d, than even one of these Chance-Creatures?—O Philocles!Good-nature. how little do you know the Extent and Power of Good-nature, and to what an heroick pitch a Soul may rise, which knows the thorow Force of it; and distributing it rightly, frames in it-self an equal, just, and universal Friendship!
JUST as he had ended these Words, a Servant came to us in the Field, to give notice of some Company, who were come to dine with us, and waited our coming in. So we walk’d home-wards. I told Theocles, going along, that I fear’d I shou’d never make a good Friend or Lover after his way. As for a plain natural Love of one single Person in either Sex, I cou’d compass it, I thought, well enough; but this complex universal sort was beyond my reach. I cou’d love the Individual, but not the Species.Mystical Love. This was too mysterious; too metaphysical an Object for me. In short, I cou’d love nothing of which I had not some sensible material Image.
“How!” reply’d Theocles, “can you never love except in this manner? when yet I know that you admir’d and lov’d a Friend long ere you knew his Person. Or was Palemon’s Character of no force, when it engag’d you in that long Correspondence which preceded your late personal Acquaintance?” “The Fact,” said I, “I must, of necessity, own to you. And now, methinks, I understand your Mystery, and perceive how I must prepare for it: For in the same manner as when I first began to love Palemon, I was forc’d to form a kind of material Object, and had always such a certain Image of him, ready-drawn, in my Mind, whenever I thought of him; so I must endeavour to order it in the Case before us: if possibly by your help I can raise any such Image, or Specter, as may represent this odd Being you wou’d have me love.”
Methinks, said he, you might have the same Indulgence for Nature or Mankind, as for the People of oldRome; whom, notwithstanding their Blemishes, I have known you in love with, many ways; particularly under the Representation of a beautiful Youth call’d theGeniusof the People.Genius of a Country. For I remember, that viewing once some Pieces of Antiquity, where the People were thus represented, you allow’d ’em to be no disagreeable Object.
Indeed, reply’d I, were it possible for me to stamp upon my Mind such a Figure as you speak of, whether it stood for Mankind or Nature,Nature. it might probably have its effect; and I might become perhaps a Lover after your way: But more especially, if you cou’d so order it, as to make things reciprocal between us, and bring me to fansy of this Genius, that it cou’d be “sensible of my Love, and capable of a Return.” For without this, I shou’d make but an ill Lover, tho of the perfectest Beauty in the World.
’Tis enough, said Theocles, I accept the Terms: And if you promise to love, I will endeavour to shew you thatBeauty which I count the perfectest, and most deserving ofLove; and which will not fail of a Return.—To-morrow, when the eastern Sun (as Poets describe) with his first Beams adorns the Front of yonder Hill; there, if you are content to wander with me in the Woods you see, we will pursue those Loves of ours, by favour of the Silvan Nymphs: and invoking first the Genius of the Place, we’ll try to obtain at least some faint and distant View of the sovereignGenius and firstGenius of the World.Beauty. This if you can come once to contemplate, I will answer for it, that all those forbidding Features and Deformitys, whether of Nature or Mankind, will vanish in an instant, and leave you that Lover I cou’d wish.—But now, enough!—Let us to our Company; and change this Conversation for some other more sutable to our Friends and Table.
YOU see here, Palemon, what a Foundation is laid for the Enthusiasms I told you of; and which, in my Opinion (I told you too) were the more dangerous, because so very odd, and out of the way. But Curiosity had seiz’d you, I perceiv’d, as it had done me before. For after this first Conversation, I must own, I long’d for nothing so much as the next day, and the appointed Morning-walk in the Woods.
We had only a Friend or two at dinner with us; and for a good while we discours’d of News and indifferent things, till I, who had my head still running upon those other Subjects, gladly laid hold of something dropt by chance concerning Friendship;Friendship. and said, That for my own part, truly, tho I once thought I had known Friendship, and really counted my-self a good Friend during my whole Life; yet I was now persuaded to believe my-self no better than a Learner: since Theocles had almost convinc’d me, “That to be a Friend to any one in particular, ’twas necessary to be first a Friend to Mankind.” But how to qualify my-self for such a Friendship, was, methought, no little difficulty.
Indeed, said Theocles, you have given us a very indifferent Character of your-self, in saying so. If you had spoken thus of the Friendship of any great Man at Court, or perhaps of a Court it-self, and had complain’d, “How hard it was for you to succeed, or make Interest with such as govern’d there”; we shou’d have concluded in your behalf, that there were such Terms to be comply’d with, as were unworthy of you. But “To deserve well of the Publick,” and “To be justly styl’d the Friend of Mankind,”Virtue. requires no more than to be good and virtuous; Terms which for one’s own sake one wou’d naturally covet.
Motives.How comes it then, said I, that even these good Terms themselves are so ill accepted, and hardly ever taken, if I may so express it, except on further Terms? For Virtue,by it-self, is thought but an ill Bargain: and I know few, even of the Religious and Devout, who take up with it any otherwise than as Children do with Physick; where the Rod and Sweetmeat are the potent Motives.
They are Children indeed, reply’d Theocles, and shou’d be treated so, who need any Force or Persuasion to do what conduces to their Health and Good. But where, I beseech you, are those forbidding Circumstances which shou’d make Virtue go down so hardly? Is it not, among other things, that you think your-self by this means precluded the fine Tables and costly Eating of our modern Epicures; and that perhaps you fear the being reduc’d to eat always as ill as now, upon a plain Dish or two, and no more?
This, I protested, was injuriously suppos’d of me. For I wish’d never to eat otherwise than I now did, at his Table; which, by the way, had more resemblance (I thought) of Epicurus’s, than those which now-a-days preposterously pass’d under his name. For if his Opinion might be taken, the highest Pleasures in the World were owing to Temperance, and moderate Use.
If then the merest Studier of Pleasure, (answer’d Theocles) even Epicurus himself, made that favourable Report of Temperance,Temperance. so different from his modern Disciples; if he cou’d boldly say, “That with such Fare as a mean Garden afforded, he cou’d vie even with the Gods for Happiness”; how shall we say of this part of Virtue, that it needs be taken upon Terms? If the immediate Practice of Temperance be thus harmless; are its Consequences injurious? Does it take from the Vigour of the Mind, consume the Body, and render both the one and the other less apt to their proper Exercises, “the Enjoyments of Reason or Sense, or the Employments and Offices of civil Life?” Or is it that a Man’s Circumstances are the worse for it, as he stands towards his Friends, or Mankind? Is a Gentleman in this sense to be pity’d, “As One burdensom to himself, and others; One whom all Men will naturally shun, as an ill Friend, and a Corrupter of Society and Good Manners?”—Shall we consider our Gentleman in a publick Trust, and see whether he is like to succeed best with this restraining Quality; or whether he may be more rely’d on, and thought more incorrupt, if his Appetites are high, and his Relish strong towards that which we call Pleasure? Shall we consider him as a Soldier, in a Campain, or Siege; and advise with our-selves how we might be best defended, if we had occasion for such a one’s Service? “Which Officer wou’d make the best for the Soldiers; Which Soldier for the Officers; or Which Army for their Country?”—What think you of our Gentleman, for a Fellow-traveller? Wou’d he, as a temperate Man, be an ill Choice? Wou’d it indeed be more eligible and delightful, “To have a Companion, who, in any shift or necessity, wou’d prove the most ravenous, and eager to provide in the first place for himself, and his own exquisite Sensations?”—I know not what to say where Beauty is concern’d. Perhaps the amorous Galants, and exquisite Refiners on this sort of Pleasure, may have so refin’d their Minds and Tempers, that, notwithstanding their accustom’d Indulgence, they can, upon occasion, renounce their Enjoyment, rather than violate Honour, Faith, or Justice.—And thus, at last, there will be little Virtue or Worth ascrib’d to this patient sober Character. “The dull temperate Man is no fitter to be trusted than the elegant luxurious one. Innocence, Youth, and Fortune may be as well committed to the Care of this latter Gentleman. He wou’d prove as good an Executor, as good a Trustee, as good a Guardian, as he wou’d a Friend. The Family which entrusted him wou’d be secure; and no Dishonour, in any likelihood, wou’d happen from the honest Man of Pleasure.”
THE Seriousness with which Theocles spoke this, made it the more pleasant; and set our other Company upon saying a great many good things on the same Subject, in commendation of a temperate Life. So that our Dinner by this time being ended, and the Wine, according to Custom, plac’d before us; I found still we were in no likelihood of proceeding to a Debauch. Every-one drank only as he fansy’d, in no Order or Proportion, and with no regard to circular Healths or Pledges: A Manner which the sociable Men of another Scheme of Morals wou’d have censur’d no doubt, as a heinous Irregularity, and Corruption of Good Fellowship.
I own, said I, I am far from thinking Temperance so disagreeable a Character. As for this part of Virtue, I think there is no need of taking it on any other Terms to recommend it, than the mere Advantage of being sav’d from Intemperance, and from the desire of things unnecessary.
How! said Theocles, are you thus far advanc’d? And can you carry this Temperance so far as to Estates and Honours, by opposing it to Avarice and Ambition?—Nay, then truly, you may be said to have fairly embark’d your-self in this Cause. You have pass’d the Channel, and are more than half-seas over. There remains no further Scruple in the case of Virtue, unless you will declare your-self a Coward, or conclude it a happiness to be born one. For if you can be temperate withal towards Life, and think it not so great a business, whether it be of fewer or more Years; but satisfy’d with what you have liv’d, can rise a thankful Guest from a full liberal Entertainment; Is not this the Sum of all? the finishing Stroke and very Accomplishment of Virtue? In this Temper of Mind, what is there can hinder us from forming for our-selves as heroick a Character as we please? What is there either good, generous, or great, which does not naturally flow from such a modest Temperance? Let us once gain this simple plain-look’d Virtue, and see whether the more shining Virtues will not follow. See what that Country of the Mind will produce, when by the wholesom Laws of this Legislatress it has obtain’d its Liberty!LIBERTY, Civil. You, Philocles, who are such an Admirer of Civil Liberty, and can represent it to your-self with a thousand several Graces and Advantages; can you imagine no Grace or Beauty in that original native Liberty,Moral. which sets us free from so many in-born Tyrannys, gives us the Privilege of our-selves, and makes us our own, and independent? A sort of Property, which, methinks, is as material to us to the full, as that which secures us our Lands, or Revenues.
I shou’d think, said he (carrying on his Humour) that one might draw the Picture of this moral Dame to as much advantage as that of her political Sister; whom you admire, as describ’d to us “in her Amazon-Dress, with a free manly Air becoming her; her Guards the Laws, with their written Tables, like Bucklers, surrounding her; Riches, Traffick, and Plenty, with the Cornucopia, serving as her Attendents; and in her Train the Arts and Sciences, like Children, playing.”—The rest of the Piece is easy to imagine: “Her Triumph over Tyranny, and lawless Rule of Lust and Passion.”—But what a Triumph wou’d her Sister’s be! What Monsters of savage Passions wou’d there appear subdu’d! “There fierce Ambition, Lust, Uproar, Misrule, with all the Fiends which rage in human Breasts, wou’d be securely chain’d. And when Fortune her-self, the Queen of Flatterys, with that Prince of Terrors, Death, were at the Chariot-wheels, as Captives; how natural wou’d it be to see Fortitude, Magnanimity, Justice, Honour, and all that generous Band attend as the Companions of our inmate Lady Liberty! She, like some new-born Goddess, wou’d grace her Mother’s Chariot, and own her Birth from humble Temperance, that nursing Mother of the Virtues; who like the Parent of the Gods, old Reverend Cybele, wou’d properly appear drawn by rein’d Lions, patient of the Bit, and on her Head a Turret-like Attire: the Image of defensive Power, and Strength of Mind.”
BY THIS Picture Theocles, I found, had given Entertainment to the Company; who from this rough Draught of his fell to designing upon the same Subject, after the antient manner; tillProdicus and Cebes, and all the Antients were exhausted.
VIRTUE.Gentlemen, said I, the Descriptions you have been making, are, no doubt, the finest in the world: But after all, when you have made Virtue as glorious and triumphant as you please, I will bring you an authentick Picture of another kind, where we shall see this Triumph in reverse; “Virtue her-self a Captive in her turn; and by a proud Conqueror triumph’d over, degraded, spoil’d of all her Honours, and defac’d; so as to retain hardly one single Feature of real Beauty.”—
I offer’d to go on further, but cou’d not, being so violently decry’d by my two Fellow-guests; who protested they wou’d never be brought to own so detestable a Picture: And one of ’em (a formal sort of Gentleman, somewhat advanc’d in Years) looking earnestly upon me, said, in an angry Tone, “That he had hitherto, indeed, conceiv’d some hopes of me; notwithstanding he observ’d my Freedom of Thought, and heard me quoted for such a passionate Lover of Liberty: But he was sorry to find that my Principle of Liberty extended in fine to a Liberty from all Principles” (so he express’d himself) “And none, he thought, beside a Libertine in Principle wou’d approve of such a Picture of Virtue, as only an Atheist cou’d have the impudence to make.”
Theocles the while sat silent; tho he saw I minded not my Antagonists, but kept my Eye fix’d steddily on himself, expecting to hear what he wou’d say. At last, fetching a deep Sigh, O Philocles, said he, how well you are Master of that Cause you have taken on you to defend! How well you know the way to gain advantage to the worst of Causes, from the imprudent Management of those who defend the best!—I dare not, for my own share, affirm to you, as my worthy Friends have done, “That ’tis the Atheist alone can lay this load on Virtue, and picture her thus disgracefully.”—No—There are other over-officious and less suspected Hands, which do her perhaps more injury, tho with a better colour.
That Virtue shou’d, with any shew of Reason, be made a Victim, (continu’d he, turning himself to his Guests) must have appear’d strange to you, no doubt, to hear asserted with such assurance as has been done by Philocles. You cou’d conceive no tolerable ground for such a Spectacle. In this revers’d Triumph you expected perhaps to see some foreign Conqueror exalted; as either Vice it-self, or Pleasure, Wit, spurious Philosophy, or some false Image of Truth or Nature. Little were you aware that the cruel Enemy oppos’d to Virtue shou’d be Religion itself!Religion and Virtue. But you will call to mind, that even innocently, and without any treacherous design, Virtue is often treated so, by those who wou’d magnify to the utmost the Corruption of Man’s Heart; and in exposing, as they pretend, the Falshood of human Virtue, think to extol Religion. How many religious Authors, how many sacred Orators turn all their edge this way, and strike at moral Virtue as a kind of Step-dame, or Rival to Religion!— “Morality must not be nam’d; Nature has no pretence; Reason is an Enemy; Common Justice, Folly; and Virtue, Misery. Who wou’d not be vitious, had he his Choice? Who wou’d forbear, but because he must? Or who wou’d value Virtue, but for hereafter?”
Truly, said the old Gentleman, interrupting him, if this be the Triumph of Religion, ’tis such as her greatest Enemy, I believe, wou’d scarce deny her: and I must still be of opinion, with Philocles’s leave, that it is no great sign of Tenderness for Religion,Zeal to be so zealous in honouring her at the cost of Virtue.
Perhaps so, said I. Yet that there are many such Zealots in the World, you will acknowledg. And that there is a certain Harmony between this Zeal and what you call Atheism,Theocles, you hear,Atheism. has allow’d.—But let us hear him out; if perhaps he will be so free as to discover to us what he thinks of the generality of our religious Writers, and their Method of encountring their common Enemy, the Atheist. This is a Subject which possibly may need a better clearing. For ’tis notorious that the chief Opposers of Atheism write upon contrary Principles to one another, so as in a manner to confute themselves. Some of ’em hold zealously for Virtue, and are Realists in the Point. Others, one may say, are only nominal Moralists,MORALISTS, Nominal, Real. by making Virtue nothing in it-self, a Creature of Will only, or a mere Name of Fashion. ’Tis the same in natural Philosophy: Some take one Hypothesis,Naturalists. and some another. I shou’d be glad to discover once the true Foundation; and distinguish those who effectually refute their other Antagonists as well as the Atheists, and rightly assert the joint-Cause of Virtue and Religion.
HERE, Palemon, I had my Wish. For by degrees I engag’d Theocles to discover himself fully upon these Subjects; which serv’d as a Prelude to those we were to ingage in, the next Morning; for the approach of which, I so impatiently long’d. If his Speculations prov’d of a rational kind, this previous Discourse, I knew, wou’d help me to comprehend ’em; if only pleasing Fancys, this wou’d help me however, to please my-self the better with ’em.
Here then began his Criticism of Authors; which grew by degrees into a continu’d Discourse. So that had this been at a University, Theocles might very well have pass’d for some grave Divinity-Professor, or Teacher of Ethicks, reading an Afternoon Lecture to his Pupils.
Divinity.IT wou’d be undoubtedly, said he, a happy Cause which cou’d have the benefit of such Managers as shou’d never give their Adversarys any handle of advantage against it. I cou’d wish that in the Cause of Religion we had reason to boast as much. But since ’tis not impossible to write ill even in the best of Causes, I am inclin’d to think this great one of Religion may have run at least an equal hazard with any other;Divines. since they who write in defense of it, are apt generally to use so much the less caution, as they are more exempt from the fear of Censure or Criticism in their own Person. Their Adversary is well secur’d and silenc’d to their hand. They may safely provoke him to a Field, where he cannot appear openly, or as a profess’d Antagonist. His Weapons are private, and can often reach the Cause without offence to its Maintainers; whilst no direct Attack robs them of their imaginary Victory. They conquer for themselves, and expect to be approv’d still for their Zeal, however the Cause it-self may have suffer’d in their hands.—
Perhaps then, said I, (interrupting him) it may be true enough, what was said once by a Person who seem’d zealous for Religion, “That none writ well against the Atheists beside the Clerk,Atheist. who drew the Warrant for their Execution.”
If this were the true Writing, reply’d he, there wou’d be an end of all Dispute or Reasoning in the Case. For where Force is necessary, Reason has nothing to do. But on the other hand, if Reason be needful, Force in the mean while must be laid aside: For there is no Enforcement of Reason, but by Reason. And therefore if Atheists are to be reason’d with, at all; they are to be reason’d with, like other Men; since there’s no other way in nature to convince ’em.
This I own, said I, seems rational and just: But I’m afraid that most of the devout People will be found ready to abandon the patient, for the more concise Method. And tho Force without Reason may be thought somewhat hard, yet your other way of Reason without Force, I am apt to think, wou’d meet with fewer Admirers.
But perhaps, reply’d Theocles, ’tis a mere Sound which troubles us. The Word or Name of Atheist may possibly occasion some disturbance, by being made to describe two Characters so very different as His who absolutely denies, and His who only doubts. Now he who doubts, may possibly lament his own Unhappiness, and wish to be convinc’d. He who denies, is daringly presumptuous, and sets up an Opinion against the Interest of Mankind, and Being of Society. ’Tis easily seen that one of these Persons may bear a due respect to the Magistrate and Laws, tho not the other; who being obnoxious to them,Punishment. is therefore punishable. But how the former is punishable by Man, will be hard to say; unless the Magistrate had dominion over Minds, as well as over Actions and Behaviour; and had power to exercise an Inquisition within the inmost Bosoms and secret Thoughts of Men.
I apprehend you, said I. And by your account, as there are two sorts of People who are call’d Atheists, so there are two ways of writing against them, which may be fitly us’d apart, but not so well jointly. You wou’d set aside mere Menaces, and separate the Philosopher’s Work from the Magistrate’s; taking it for granted,Magistrate. that the more discreet and sober part of Unbelievers, who come not under the dispatching Pen of the Magistrate, can be affected only by the more deliberate and gentle one of Philosophy. Now the Language of the Magistrate, I must confess, has little in common with that of Philosophy. Nothing can be more unbecoming the magisterial Authority than a philosophical Style: and nothing can be more unphilosophical than a magisterial one. A Mixture of these must needs spoil both. And therefore, in the Cause before us, “If any one besides the Magistrate can be said to write well; ’tis He (according to your account) who writes as becomes Philosophy, with Freedom of Debate, and Fairness towards his Adversary.”
“Allow it,” reply’d he. “For what can be more equitable?” “Nothing. But will the World be of the same Opinion? And may this Method of writing be justly practis’d in it?” “Undoubtedly it may. And for a Proof, we have many Instances in Antiquity to produce.Philosophy. The Freedom taken in this philosophical way was never esteem’d injurious to Religion, or prejudicial to the Vulgar: since we find it to have been a Practice both in Writing and Converse among the great Men of a virtuous and religious People; and that even those Magistrates who officiated at the Altars, and were the Guardians of the publick Worship, were Sharers in these free Debates.”
Forgive me, Theocles, said I, if I presume to say, that still this reaches not the Case before us. We are to consider Christian Times, such as are now present.Jealousy of Authors. You know the common Fate of those who dare to appear fair Authors. What was that pious and learned Man’s Case, who wrote the Intellectual System of the Universe? I confess it was pleasant enough to consider, that tho the whole World were no less satisfy’d with his Capacity and Learning, than with his Sincerity in the Cause of Deity; yet was he acus’d of giving the upper hand to the Atheists, for having only stated their Reasons, and those of their Adversarys, fairly together. And among other Writings of this kind, you may remember how a certain FairInquiry (as you call’d it) was receiv’d, and what offence was taken at it.
I am sorry, said Theocles, it prov’d so. But now indeed you have found a way which may, perhaps, force me to discourse at large with you on this head; by entering the Lists in defense of a Friend unjustly censur’d for this philosophical Liberty.
I confess’d to Theocles and the Company, that this had really been my Aim: And that for this reason alone I made my-self the Accuser of this Author; “Whom I here actually charg’d, as I did all those other moderate calm Writers, with no less than Profaneness, for reasoning so unconcernedly and patiently, without the least shew of Zeal or Passion, upon the Subject of a Deity, and a future State.”
And I, on the other side, reply’d Theocles, am rather for this patient way of Reasoning; and will endeavour to clear my Friend of this Imputation, if you can have patience enough to hear me out, in an Affair of such a compass.
We all answer’d for our-selves, and he began thus.
Authors.OF THE many Writers ingag’d in the Defense of Religion, it seems to me that the greatest part are imploy’d, either in supporting the Truth of the Christian Faith in general, or in refuting such particular Doctrines as are esteem’d Innovations in the Christian Church. There are not, ’tis thought, many Persons in the World who are loose in the very Grounds and Principles of all Religion: And to such as these we find, indeed, there are not many Writers who purposely apply themselves. They may think it a mean Labour, and scarce becoming them, to argue sedately with such as are almost universally treated with Detestation and Horror. But as we are requir’d by our Religion to have Charity for all Men, so we cannot surely avoid having a real Concern for those whom we apprehend to be under the worst of Errors, and whom we find by Experience to be with the greatest difficulty reclaim’d. Neither ought they perhaps in prudence to be treated with so little regard, whose Number, however small, is thought to be rather increasing; and this too among the People of no despicable Rank. So that it may well deserve some Consideration, “Whether in our Age and Country the same Remedys may serve, which have hitherto been try’d; or whether some other may not be prefer’d, as being sutable to Times of less Strictness in Matters of Religion, and Places less subject to Authority.”
This might be enough to put an Author upon thinking of such a way of reasoning with these deluded Persons, as in his Opinion might be more effectual for their Benefit, than the repeated Exclamations and Invectives with which most of the Arguments us’d against them are commonly accompany’d. Nor was it so absurd to imagine that a quite different Method might be attempted; by which a Writer might offer Reason to these Men with so much more Favour and Advantage, as he appear’d un-prepossess’d, and willing to examine every thing with the greatest Unconcern and Indifference. For to such Persons as these, ’tis to be fear’d, ’twill always appear, “That what was never question’d, was never prov’d: and That whatever Subject had not, at some time or other, been examin’d with perfect Indifference, was never rightly examin’d, nor cou’d rightly be believ’d.” And in a Treatise of this kind, offer’d as an Essay or Inquiry only, they wou’d be far from finding that Impartiality and Indifference which is requisite: if instead of a Readiness to comply with whatever Consequences such an Examination as this, and the Course of Reasoning brought forth, the Author shou’d shew a previous Inclination to the Consequences only on one side, and an Abhorrence of any Conclusion on the other.
Others therefore, in different Circumstances, may perhaps have found it necessary, and becoming their Character, to shew all manner of Detestation both of the Persons and Principles of these Men. Our Author, on the contrary, whose Character exceeds not that of a Layman, endeavours to shew Civility and Favour, by keeping the fairest Measures he possibly can with the Men of this sort; allowing ’em all he is able, and arguing with a perfect Indifference, even on the Subject of a Deity. He offers to conclude nothing positive himself, but leaves it to others to draw Conclusions from his Principles: having this one chief Aim and Intention; “How, in the first place, to reconcile these Persons to the Principles of Virtue; That by this means, a Way might be laid open to Religion; by removing those greatest, if not only Obstacles to it, which arise from the Vices and Passions of Men.”
Fundamental Principles.’Tis upon this account he endeavours chiefly to establish Virtue on Principles, by which he is able to argue with those who are not as yet induc’d to own a God, or Future State. If he cannot do thus much, he reckons he does nothing. For how can Supreme Goodness be intelligible to those who know not what Goodness it-self is? Or how can Virtue be understood to deserve Reward, when as yet its Merit and Excellence is unknown? We begin surely at the wrong end, when we wou’d prove Meritby Favour, and Orderby a Deity.—This our Friend seeks to redress. For being, in respect of Virtue, what you lately call’d a Realist; he endeavours to shew, “That it is really something in it-self, and in the nature of Things: not arbitrary or factitious, (if I may so speak) not constituted from without, or dependent on Custom, Fancy, or Will; not even on the Supreme Will it-self, which can no-way govern it: but being necessarily good, is govern’d by it, and ever uniform with it.” And notwithstanding he has thus made Virtue his chief Subject, and in some measure independent on Religion, yet I fansy he may possibly appear at last as high a Divine as he is a Moralist.
Theists, Nominal, Real.I wou’d not willingly advance it as a Rule, “That those who make only a Name of Virtue make no more of Deity, and cannot without Affectation defend the Principles of Religion”: But this I will venture to assert; “That whoever sincerely defends Virtue, and is a Realist in Morality, must of necessity, in a manner, by the same Scheme of Reasoning, prove as very a Realist in Divinity.”
All Affectation, but chiefly in Philosophy, I must own, I think unpardonable. And you, Philocles, who can give no quarter to ill Reasoning, nor endure any unfound or inconsistent Hypothesis; you will be so ingenuous, I dare say, as to reject our modern Deism, and challenge those who assume a Name to which their Philosophy can never in the least intitle ’em.
Commend me to honest Epicurus, who raises his Deitys aloft in the imaginary Spaces; and setting ’em apart out of the Universe and Nature of Things, makes nothing of ’em beyond a Word. This is ingenuous, and plain dealing: For this every one who philosophizes may easily understand.
The same Ingenuity belongs to those Philosophers whom you, Philocles, seem inclin’d to favour. When a Sceptick questions, “Whether a real Theology can be rais’d out of Philosophy alone, without the help of Revelation”; he does no more than pay a handsom Compliment to Authority and the receiv’d Religion. He can impose on no-one who reasons deeply: since whoever does so, will easily conceive, that at this rate Theology must have no Foundation at all. For Revelation it-self, we know, is founded on the Acknowledgment of a divine Existence: And ’tis the Province of Philosophy alone to prove what Revelation only supposes.
I look on it, therefore, as a most unfair way, for those who wou’d be Builders, and undertake this proving part, to lay such a Foundation as is insufficient to bear the Structure. Supplanting and Undermining may, in other Cases, be fair War: But in philosophical Disputes, ’tis not allowable to work under-ground, or as in Sieges by the Sap. Nothing can be more unbecoming than to talk magisterially and in venerable Terms of “A supremeNature, an infinite Being, and a Deity”; when all the while a Providence is never meant, nor any thing like Order or the Government of a Mind admitted. For when these are understood, and real Divinity acknowledg’d; the Notion is not dry, and barren; but such Consequences are necessarily drawn from it, as must set us in Action, and find Employment for our strongest Affections. All the Dutys of Religion evidently follow hence; and no exception remains against any of those great Maxims which Revelation has establish’d.
Now whether our Friend be unfeignedly and sincerely of this latter sort of real Theologists, you will learn best from the Consequences of his Hypothesis. You will observe, whether instead of ending in mere Speculation, it leads to Practice: And you will then surely be satisfy’d, when you see such a Structure rais’d, as with the Generality of the World must pass at least for high Religion, and with some, in all likelihood, for no less than Enthusiasm.
For I appeal to you, Philocles, whether there be any thing in Divinity which you think has more the Air of Enthusiasm than that Notion of DivineLove,Divine Love. such as separates from every thing worldly, sensual, or meanly-interested? A Love which is simple, pure, and unmix’d; which has no other Object than merely the Excellency of that Being it-self, nor admits of any other Thought of Happiness, than in its single Fruition. Now I dare presume you will take it as a substantial proof of my Friend’s being far enough from Irreligion, if it be shewn that he has espous’d this Notion, and thinks of making out this high Point of Divinity, from Arguments familiar even to those who oppose Religion.
According, therefore, to his Hypothesis, he wou’d in the first place, by way of prevention, declare to you, That tho the disinterested Love ofGod were the most excellent Principle; yet he knew very well, that by the indiscreet Zeal of some devout well-meaning People it had been stretch’d too far, perhaps even to Extravagance and Enthusiasm; as formerly among the Mysticks of the antient Church,Mysticks. whom these of latter days have follow’d. On the other hand, that there were those who in opposition to this devout mystick way, and as profess’d Enemys to what they call Enthusiasm, had so far exploded every thing of this ecstatick kind, as in a manner to have given up Devotion; and in reality had left so little of Zeal, Affection, or Warmth, in what they call their Rational Religion, as to make them much suspected of their Sincerity in any. For tho it be natural enough (he wou’d tell you) for a mere political Writer to ground his great Argument for Religion on the necessity of such a Belief as that of a future Reward and Punishment; yet, if you will take his Opinion, ’tis a very ill Token of Sincerity in Religion, and in the Christian Religion more especially, to reduce it to such a Philosophy as will allow no room to that other Principle of Love; but treats all of that kind as Enthusiasm, for so much as aiming at what is call’d Disinterestedness, or teaching the Love of God or Virtue for God or Virtue’s sake.
Here, then, we have two sorts of People (according to my Friend’s account) who in these opposite Extremes expose Religion to the Insults of its Adversarys. For as, on one hand, ’twill be found difficult to defend the Notion of that high-rais’d Love, espous’d with so much warmth by those devout Mysticks; so, on the other hand, ’twill be found as hard a Task, upon the Principles of these cooler Men,RELIGION, liberal, illiberal. to guard Religion from the Imputation of Mercenariness, and a slavish Spirit. For how shall one deny, that to serve God by Compulsion, or for Interest merely, is servile and mercenary? Is it not evident, that the only true and liberal Service paid either to that supreme Being, or to any other Superior, is that, “which proceeds from an Esteem or Love of the Person serv’d, a Sense of Duty or Gratitude, and a Love of the dutiful and grateful Part, as good and amiable, in it-self?” And where is the Injury to Religion, from such a Concession as this? Or what Detraction is it from the Belief of an After-Reward or Punishment, to own “That the Service caus’d by it, is not equal to that which is voluntary and with Inclination, but is rather disingenuous and of the slavish kind?” Is it not still for the Good of Mankind and of the World, that Obedience to the Rule of Right shou’d some way or other be paid; if not in the better way, yet at least in this imperfect one? And is it not to be shewn, “That altho this Service of Fear be allow’d ever so low or base: yet Religion still being a Discipline, and Progress of the Soul towards Perfection, the Motive of Reward and Punishment is primary and of the highest moment with us;Rewards and Punishments. till being capable of more sublime Instruction, we are led from this servile State, to the generous Service of Affection and Love?”
To this it is that in our Friend’s Opinion we ought all of us to aspire, so as to endeavour “That the Excellence of the Object, not the Reward or Punishment, shou’d be our Motive: But that where thro’ the Corruption of our Nature, the former of these Motives is found insufficient to excite to Virtue, there the latter shou’d be brought in aid,Supplemental Motives. and on no account be undervalu’d or neglected.”
Now this being once establish’d, how can Religion be any longer subject to the Imputation of Mercenariness? But thus we know Religion is often charg’d. “Godliness,” say they, “is great Gain: nor is God devoutly serv’d for nought.”—Is this therefore a Reproach? Is it confess’d there may be a better Service, a more generous Love?—Enough, there needs no more. On this Foundation our Friend presumes it easy to defend Religion, and even that devoutest Part, which is esteem’d so great a Paradox of Faith. For if there be in Nature such a Service as that of Affection and Love,Object of Love. there remains then only to consider of the Object, whether there be really that supreme-One we suppose. For if there be divine Excellence in Things; if there be in Nature a supreme Mind or Deity; we have then an Object consummate, and comprehensive of all which is good or excellent. And this Object, of all others, must of necessity be the most amiable, the most ingaging, and of highest Satisfaction and Enjoyment. Now that there is such a principal Object as this in the World, the World alone (if I may say so) by its wise and perfect Order must evince. This Order, if indeed perfect, excludes all realIll. And that it really does so, is what our Author so earnestly maintains, by solving the best he can those untoward Phaenomena and ill Signs, taken from the Course of Providence in the seemingly unequal Lot of Virtue in this World.
’Tis true: tho the Appearances hold ever so strongly against Virtue, and in favour of Vice, the Objection which arises hence against a Deity may be easily remov’d, and all set right again on the supposal of a future State. This to a Christian,Future State. or one already convinc’d of so great a Point, is sufficient to clear every dark Cloud of Providence. For he needs not be over-and-above sollicitous as to the Fate of Virtuein this World, who is secure of Hereafter. But the case is otherwise as to the People we are here to encounter. They are at a loss for Providence, and seek to find it in the World. The Aggravation of the appearing Disorders in worldly Affairs, and the blackest Representation of Society and Human Nature, will hardly help ’em to this View. ’Twill be difficult for ’em to read Providence in such Characters. From so uncomely a Face of things below, they will presume to think unfavourably of all above. By the Effects they see, they will be inclin’d to judg the Cause; and by the Fate of Virtue to determine of a Providence. But being once convinc’d of Order and a Providence as to things present,Previous Proof. they may soon, perhaps, be satisfy’d even of a future State. For if Virtue be to it-self no small Reward, and Vice in a great measure its own Punishment; we have a solid ground to go upon.A Providence. ORDER. The plain Foundations of a distributive Justice, and due Order in this World, may lead us to conceive a further Building. We apprehend a larger Scheme, and easily resolve our-selves why Things were not compleated in this State; but their Accomplishment reserv’d rather to some further Period. For had the good and virtuous of Mankind been wholly prosperous in this Life; had Goodness never met with Opposition, nor Merit ever lain under a Cloud; where had been the Trial, Victory, or Crown of Virtue? Where had the Virtues had their Theater, or whence their Names? Where had been Temperance or Self-denial? Where Patience, Meekness, Magnanimity? Whence have these their being? What Merit, except from Hardship? What Virtue without a Conflict, and the Encounter of such Enemys as arise both within, and from abroad?
But as many as are the Difficultys which Virtue has to encounter in this World, her Force is yet superior. Expos’d as she is here, she is not however abandon’d or left miserable. She has enough to raise her above Pity, tho not above our Wishes: and as happy as we see her here, we have room for further Hopes in her behalf. Her present Portion is sufficient to shew Providence already ingag’d on her side. And since there is such Provision for her here, such Happiness and such Advantages even in this Life; how probable must it appear, that this providential Care is extended yet further to a succeeding Life, and perfected hereafter?
This is what, in our Friend’s opinion, may be said in behalf of a future State, to those who question Revelation. ’Tis this must render Revelation probable, and secure that first step to it, the Belief of a Deity and Providence.Recapitulation. A Providence must be prov’d from what we see of Order in things present. We must contend for Order; and in this part chiefly, where Virtue is concern’d. All must not be refer’d to a Hereafter. For a disorder’d State, in which all present Care of Things is given up, Vice uncontroul’d, and Virtue neglected, represents a very Chaos, and reduces us to the belov’d Atoms, Chance, and Confusion of the Atheists.
What therefore can be worse done in the Cause of a Deity, than to magnify Disorder, and exaggerate (as some zealous People do) the Misfortunes of Virtue, so far as to render it an unhappy Choice with respect to this World? They err widely, who propose to turn Men to the Thoughts of a better World,Future State. by making ’em think so ill of this. For to declaim in this manner against Virtue to those of a looser Faith, will make ’em the less believe a Deity, but not the more a future State. Nor can it be thought sincerely that any Man, by having the most elevated Opinion of Virtue, and of the Happiness it creates,Favourers of the Opinion. was ever the less inclin’d to the Belief of a future State. On the contrary, it will ever be found, that as they who are Favourers of Vice are always the least willing to hear of a future Existence; so they who are in love with Virtue, are the readiest to embrace that Opinion which renders it so illustrious, and makes its Cause triumphant.
Antients.Thus it was, that among the Antients the great Motive which inclin’d so many of the wisest to the Belief of this Doctrine unreveal’d to ’em, was purely the Love of Virtue in the Persons of those great Men, the Founders and Preservers of Societys, the Legislators, Patriots, Deliverers, Heroes, whose Virtues they were desirous shou’d live and be immortaliz’d. Nor is there at this day any thing capable of making this Belief more engaging among the Good and Virtuous than the Love of Friendship,Friendship. which creates in ’em a Desire not to be wholly separated by Death, but that they may enjoy the same bless’d Society hereafter. How is it possible, then, that an Author shou’d, for exalting Virtue merely, be deem’d an Enemy to a future State? How can our Friend be judg’d false to Religion, for defending a Principle on which the very Notion of God and Goodness depends? For this he says only, and this is the Sum of all: “That by building a future State on the Ruins of Virtue,Conclusion.Religion in general, and the Cause of a Deity is betray’d; and by making Rewards and Punishments the principal Motives to Duty, the Christian Religion in particular is overthrown, and its greatest Principle, that of Love, rejected and expos’d.”
Upon the whole then, we may justly as well as charitably conclude, that it is truly our Author’s Design, in applying him-self with so much Fairness to the Men of looser Principles, to lead ’em into such an Apprehension of the Constitution of Mankind and of human Affairs, as might form in ’em a Notion of Order in Things, and draw hence an Acknowledgment of that Wisdom, Goodness, and Beauty, which is supreme; that being thus far become Proselytes, they might be prepar’d for that divine Love which our Religion wou’d teach ’em, when once they shou’d embrace its Precepts, and form themselves to its sacred Character.
THUS, continu’d he, I have made my Friend’s Apology; which may have shewn him to you perhaps a good Moralist; and, I hope, no Enemy to Religion. But if you find still that the Divine has not appear’d so much in his Character as I promis’d, I can never think of satisfying you in any ordinary way of Conversation. Shou’d I offer to go further, I might be ingag’d deeply in spiritual Affairs, and be forc’d to make some new Model of a Sermon upon his System of Divinity. However, I am in hopes, now that in good earnest Matters are come well nigh to Preaching, you will acquit me for what I have already perform’d.
JUST as he had made an end of speaking came in some Visitants, who took us up the remaining part of the Afternoon in other Discourses. But these being over, and our Strangers gone, (all except the old Gentleman, and his Friend, who had din’d with us) we began a-new with Theocles, by laying claim to his Sermon, and intreating him, again and again, to let us hear him, at large, in his theological way.
This he complain’d was persecuting him: As you have seen Company, said he, often persecute a reputed Singer, not out of any fancy for the Musick, but to satisfy a malicious sort of Curiosity, which ends commonly in Censure and Dislike.
However it might be, we told him we were resolv’d to persist. And I assur’d our Companions, that if they wou’d second me heartily in the manner I intended to press him, we shou’d easily get the better.
In revenge then, said he, I will comply on this Condition; That since I am to sustain the part of the Divine and Preacher, it shall be at Philocles’s cost; who shall bear the Part of the Infidel, and stand for the Person preach’d to.
Truly, said the old Gentleman, the Part you have propos’d for him is so natural and sutable, that, I doubt not, he will be able to act it without the least Pain. I cou’d wish rather, that you had spar’d your-self the trouble of putting him thus in mind of his proper Character. He wou’d have been apt enough of his own accord to interrupt your Discourse by his perpetual Cavils. Therefore since we have now had Entertainment enough by way of Dialogue, I desire the Law of Sermon may be strictly observ’d; and “That there be no answering to whatever is argu’d or advanc’d.”
I consented to all the Terms, and told Theocles I wou’d stand his Mark willingly: And besides, if I really were that Infidel he was to suppose me, I shou’d count it no Unhappiness; since I was sure of being so thorowly convinc’d by him, if he wou’d vouchsafe to undertake me.
Theocles then propos’d we shou’d walk out; the Evening being fine, and the free Air suting better, as he thought, with such Discourses, than a Chamber.
ACCORDINGLY we took our Evening-Walk in the Fields, from whence the laborious Hinds were now retiring. We fell naturally into the Praises of a Country Life; and discours’d a-while of Husbandry, and the Nature of the Soil. Our Friends began to admire some of the Plants, which grew here to great perfection. And it being my fortune (as having acquir’d a little Insight into the nature of Simples) to say something they mightily approv’d upon this Subject, Theocles immediately turning about to me; “O my ingenious Friend!” said he, “whose Reason, in other respects, must be allow’d so clear and happy; How is it possible that with such Insight, and accurate Judgment in the Particulars of natural Beings and Operations, you shou’d no better judg of the Structure of Things in general, and of the Order and Frame of Nature? Who better than your-self can shew the Structure of each Plant and Animal-Body, declare the Office of every Part and Organ,Organization. and tell the Uses, Ends, and Advantages to which they serve? How therefore, shou’d you prove so ill a Naturalist in thisWhole, and understand so little the Anatomy of the World and Nature, as not to discern the same Relation of Parts, the same Consistency and Uniformity in the Universe!
“Some Men perhaps there are of so confus’d a Thought, and so irregularly form’d within themselves, that ’tis no more than natural for them to find fault, and imagine a thousand Inconsistences and Defects in this wider Constitution. ’Twas not, we may presume, the absolute Aim or Interest of the Universal Nature, to render every private-one infallible, and without defect. ’Twas not its Intention to leave us without some Pattern of Imperfection; such as we perceive in Minds, like these, perplex’d with froward Thought. But you, my Friend, are Master of a nobler Mind. You are conscious of better Order within, and can see Workmanship and Exactness in your-self, and other innumerable Parts of the Creation. Can you answer it to your-self, allowing thus much, not to allow all? Can you induce yourself ever to believe or think, that where there are Parts so variously united, and conspiring fitly within themselves,WHOLE and Parts.theWhole it-self shou’d have neither Union nor Coherence; and where inferior and private Natures are often found so perfect, the Universal-one shou’d want Perfection, and be esteem’d like whatsoever can be thought of, most monstrous, rude, and imperfect?
“Strange! That there shou’d be in Nature the Idea of an Order and Perfection, which Nature her-self wants! That Beings which arise from Nature shou’d be so perfect, as to discover Imperfection in her Constitution; and be wise enough to correct that Wisdom by which they were made!
“Nothing surely is more strongly imprinted on our Minds, or more closely interwoven with our Souls, than the Idea or Sense of Order and Proportion.Proportion. Hence all the Force of Numbers, and those powerful Arts founded on their Management and Use. What a difference there is between Harmony and Discord! Cadency and Convulsion! What a difference between compos’d and orderly Motion, and that which is ungovern’d and accidental! between the regular and uniform Pile of some noble Architect, and a Heap of Sand or Stones! between an organiz’d Body, and a Mist or Cloud driven by the Wind!
“Now as this Difference is immediately perceiv’d by a plain internal Sensation, so there is withal in Reason this account of it; That whatever Things have Order,Union. the same have Unity of Design, and concur in one, are Parts constituent of oneWhole, or are, in themselves, intire Systems. Such is a Tree, with all its Branches; an Animal, with all its Members; an Edifice, with all its exterior and interior Ornaments. What else is even a Tune or Symphony, or any excellent Piece of Musick, than a certain System of proportion’d Sounds?
System.“Now in this which we call the Universe, whatever the Perfection may be of any particular Systems; or whatever single Parts may have Proportion, Unity, or Form within themselves; yet if they are not united all in general, in OneSystem, but are, in respect of one another, as the driven Sands, or Clouds, or breaking Waves; then there being no Coherence in the Whole, there can be infer’d no Order, no Proportion, and consequently no Project or Design. But if none of these Parts are independent, but all apparently united, then is the Wholea System compleat, according to one simple, consistent, and uniformDesign.
“Here then is our main Subject, insisted on: That neither Man, nor any other Animal, tho ever so compleat a System of Parts, as to all within, can be allow’d in the same manner compleat, as to all without; but must be consider’d as having a further relation abroad to the System of his Kind.Animal-System. So even this System of his Kind to the Animal-System; this to the World (our Earth;) and this again to the bigger World, and to the Universe.
“All things in this World are united.System of the World. For as the Branch is united with the Tree, so is the Tree as immediately with the Earth, Air, and Water, which feed it. As much as the fertile Mould is fitted to the Tree, as much as the strong and upright Trunk of the Oak or Elm is fitted to the twining Branches of the Vine or Ivy; so much are the very Leaves, the Seeds, and Fruits of these Trees fitted to the various Animals: These again to one another, and to the Elements where they live, and to which they are, as Appendices, in a manner fitted and join’d; as either by Wings for the Air, Fins for the Water, Feet for the Earth, and by other correspondent inward Parts of a more curious Frame and Texture. Thus in contemplating all on Earth, we must of necessity view All in One, as holding to one common Stock. Thus too in the System of the bigger World. See there the mutual Dependency of Things! the Relation of one to another; of the Sun to this inhabited Earth, and of the Earth and other Planets to the Sun! the Order, Union, and Coherence of the Whole! And know, my ingenious Friend,Universal System. that by this Survey you will be oblig’d to own the Universal System, and coherent Scheme of Things, to be establish’d on abundant Proof, capable of convincing any fair and just Contemplator of the Works of Nature. For scarce wou’d any-one, till he had well survey’d this Universal Scheme, believe a Union thus evidently demonstrable, by such numerous and powerful Instances of mutual Correspondency and Relation, from the minutest Ranks and Orders of Beings to the remotest Spheres.
Appearance ofIllnecessary.“Now, in this mighty UNION, if there be such Relations of Parts one to another as are not easily discover’d; if on this account the End and Use of Things does not every-where appear, there is no wonder; since ’tis no more indeed than what must happen of necessity: Nor cou’d supreme Wisdom have otherwise order’d it. For in an Infinity of Things thus relative, a Mind which sees not infinitely, can see nothing fully: And since each Particular has relation to all in general, it can know no perfect or true Relation of any Thing, in a World not perfectly and fully known.
Solution.“The same may be consider’d in any dissected Animal, Plant, or Flower; where he who is no Anatomist, nor vers’d in natural History, sees that the many Parts have a relation to the Whole; for thus much even a slight View affords: But he who like you, my Friend, is curious in the Works of Nature, and has been let into a Knowledge of the animal and vegetable Worlds, he alone can readily declare the just Relation of all these Parts to one another, and the several Uses to which they serve.
Example.“But if you wou’d willingly enter further into this Thought, and consider how much we ought not only to be satisfy’d with this our View of Things, but even to admire its Clearness; imagine only some Person intirely a Stranger to Navigation, and ignorant of the Nature of the Sea or Waters, how great his Astonishment wou’d be, when finding himself on board some Vessel, anchoring at Sea, remote from all Land-prospect, whilst it was yet a Calm, he view’d the ponderous Machine firm and motionless in the midst of the smooth Ocean, and consider’d its Foundations beneath, together with its Cordage, Masts, and Sails above. How easily wou’d he see the Whole one regular Structure, all things depending on one another; the Uses of the Rooms below, the Lodgments, and Conveniences of Men and Stores? But being ignorant of the Intent or Design of all above, wou’d he pronounce the Masts and Cordage to be useless and cumbersom, and for this reason condemn the Frame, and despise the Architect? O my Friend! let us not thus betray our Ignorance; but consider where we are, and in what a Universe. Think of the many Parts of the vast Machine, in which we have so little Insight, and of which it is impossible we shou’d know the Ends and Uses; when instead of seeing to the highest Pendants, we see only some lower Deck, and are in this dark Case of Flesh, confin’d even to the Hold, and meanest Station of the Vessel.
“Now having recogniz’d this uniform consistent Fabrick, and own’d the Universal System,Universal Mind. we must of consequence acknowledg a UniversalMind; which no ingenious Man can be tempted to disown, except thro’ the Imagination of Disorder in the Universe, its Seat. For can it be suppos’d of any-one in the World, that being in some Desart far from Men, and hearing there a perfect Symphony of Musick, or seeing an exact Pile of regular Architecture arising gradually from the Earth in all its Orders and Proportions, he shou’d be persuaded that at the bottom there was no Design accompanying this, no secret Spring of Thought, no active Mind? Wou’d he, because he saw no Hand, deny the Handy-Work, and suppose that each of these compleat and perfect Systems were fram’d, and thus united in just Symmetry, and conspiring Order, either by the accidental blowing of the Winds, or rolling of the Sands?
“What is it then shou’d so disturb our Views of Nature,Disturbance, whence. as to destroy that Unity of Design and Order of a Mind, which otherwise wou’d be so apparent? All we can see either of the Heavens or Earth, demonstrates Order and Perfection; so as to afford the noblest Subjects of Contemplation to Minds, like yours, enrich’d with Sciences and Learning. All is delightful, amiable, rejoicing, except with relation to Man only,Human Affairs. and his Circumstances, which seem unequal. Here the Calamity and Ill arises; and hence the Ruin of this goodly Frame. All perishes on this account; and the whole Order of the Universe, elsewhere so firm, intire, and immoveable, is here o’erthrown, and lost by this one View; in which we refer all things to our-selves:Selfishness. submitting the Interest of theWhole to the Good and Interest of so small a Part.
“But how is it you complain of the unequal State of Man, and of the few Advantages allow’d him above the Beasts? What can a Creature claim, so little differing from ’em, or whose Merit appears so little above ’em, except in Wisdom and Virtue, to which so few conform? Man may be virtuous; and by being so, is happy. His Merit is Reward. By Virtue he deserves; and in Virtue only can meet his Happiness deserv’d. But if even Virtue it-self be unprovided for,Virtue and Vice. and Vice more prosperous be the better Choice; if this, as you suppose, be in the Nature of Things, then is all Order in reality inverted, and supreme Wisdom lost: Imperfection and Irregularity being, after this manner, undoubtedly too apparent in the moral World.
“Have you then, ere you pronounc’d this Sentence,Their Power, Effect. consider’d of the State of Virtue and Vice with respect to this Life merely; so as to say, with assurance, When, and how far, in what particulars, and how circumstantiated, the one or the other is Good or Ill? You who are skill’d in other Fabricks and Compositions, both of Art and Nature, have you consider’d of the Fabrick of theMind,A Mind. the Constitution of the Soul, the Connexion and Frame of all its Passions, and Affections; to know accordingly the Order and Symmetry of the Part, and how it either improves or suffers; what its Force is, when naturally preserv’d in its found State;Improvement. and what becomes of it, when corrupted and abus’d? Till this (my Friend!) be well examin’d and understood, how shall we judg either of the Force of Virtue, or Power of Vice? Or in what manner either of these may work to our Happiness or Undoing?”
“Here therefore is that Inquiry we shou’d first make. But who is there can afford to make it as he ought? If happily we are born of a good Nature; if a liberal Education has form’d in us a generous Temper and Disposition,Temper. well-regulated Appetites, and worthy Inclinations, ’tis well for us; and so indeed we esteem it. But who is there endeavours to give these to himself, or to advance his Portion of Happiness in this kind? Who thinks of improving, or so much as of preserving his Share, in a World where it must of necessity run so great a hazard, and where we know an honest Nature is so easily corrupted? All other things relating to us are preserv’d with Care, and have some Art or OEconomy belonging to ’em; this which is nearest related to us, and on which our Happiness depends, is alone committed to Chance: And Temper is the only thing ungovern’d, whilst it governs all the rest.
Appetites.“Thus we inquire concerning what is good and sutable to our Appetites; but what Appetites are good and sutable to us, is no part of our Examination. We inquire what is according to Interest, Policy, Fashion, Vogue; but it seems wholly strange, and out of the way, to inquire what is according toNature. The Balance of Europe, of Trade, of Power, is strictly sought after; while few have heard of the Balanceof their Passions,Balance. or thought of holding these Scales even. Few are acquainted with this Province, or knowing in these Affairs. But were we more so, as this Inquiry wou’d make us, we shou’d then see Beauty and Decorum here, as well as elsewhere in Nature; and the Order of the Moral World wou’d equal that of the Natural. By this the Beauty ofVirtue wou’d appear; and hence, as has been shewn,Virtue. Deity.the Supreme and SovereignBeauty, the Original of all which is Good or Amiable.
“But lest I shou’d appear at last too like an Enthusiast, I chuse to express my Sense, and conclude this Philosophical Sermon, in the words of one of those antient Philologists, whom you are us’d to esteem. For Divinity it-self, says he, is surely beauteous, and of all Beautys the brightest; tho not a beauteous Body, but that from whence the Beauty of Bodys is deriv’d: Not a beauteous Plain, but that from whence the Plain looks beautiful. The River’s Beauty, the Sea’s, the Heaven’s, and Heavenly Constellations, all flow from hence, as from a Source Eternal and Incorruptible. As Beings partake of this, they are fair, and flourishing, and happy: As they are lost to this, they are deform’d, perish’d, and lost.”
WHEN Theocles had thus spoken, he was formally complimented by our Two Companions. I was going to add something in the same way: but he presently stop’d me, by saying, he shou’d be scandaliz’d, if instead of commending him, I did not, according to my Character, chuse rather to criticize some part or other of his long Discourse.
If it must be so then, reply’d I; in the first place, give me leave to wonder that, instead of the many Arguments commonly brought for proof of a Deity, you make use only of one single-one to build on. I expected to have heard from you, in customary form, of a first Cause, a first Being, and a Beginning of Motion: How clear the Idea was of an immaterial Substance: And how plainly it appear’d,Matter and Thought. that at some time or other Matter must have been created. But as to all this, you are silent. As for what is said, of “A material unthinking Substance being never able to have produc’d an immaterial thinking one”; I readily grant it: but on the condition, that this great Maxim of Nothing being ever made from Nothing, may hold as well on my side as my Adversary’s: And then, I suppose, that whilst the World endures, he will be at a loss how to assign a Beginning to Matter; or how to suggest a Possibility of annihilating it. The spiritual Men may, as long as they please, represent to us, in the most eloquent manner, “That Matter consider’d in a thousand different Shapes, join’d and disjoin’d, vary’d and modify’d to Eternity, can never, of it-self, afford one single Thought, never occasion or give rise to any thing like Sense or Knowledg.” Their Argument will hold good against a Democritus, an Epicurus, or any of the elder or latter Atomists. But it will be turn’d on them by an examining Academist: and when the two Substances are fairly set asunder, and consider’d apart as different kinds; ’twill be as strong Sense, and as good Argument, to say as well of the immaterial kind; “That do with it as you please, modify it a thousand ways, purify it, exalt it, sublime it, torture it ever so much, or rack it, as they say, with thinking, you will never be able to produce or force the contrary Substance out of it.” The poor Dregs of sorry Matter can no more be made out of the simple pure Substance of immaterial Thought, than the high Spirits of Thought or Reason can be extracted from the gross Substance of heavy Matter. So let the Dogmatists make of this Argument what they can.
But for your part, continu’d I, as you have stated the Question, ’tis not about what was first, or foremost; but what is instant, and now in being. “For if Deity be now really extant; if by any good Token it appears that there is at this present a universal Mind; ’twill easily be yielded there ever was one.”—This is your Argument.—You go (if I may say so) upon Fact, and wou’d prove that things actually are in such a state and condition, which if they really were, there wou’d indeed be no dispute left. Your UNION is your main Support. Yet how is it you prove this? What Demonstration have you given? What have you so much as offer’d at, beyond bare Probability? So far are you from demonstrating any thing, that if this uniting Scheme be the chief Argument for Deity, (as you tacitly allow) you seem rather to have demonstrated, “That the Case it-self is incapable of Demonstration.” For, “How,” say you, “can a narrow Mind see All Things?”—And yet if, in reality, It sees not All, It had as good see Nothing. The demonstrable part is still as far behind. For grant that this All, which lies within our view or knowledg, is orderly and united, as you suppose: this mighty All is a mere Point still, a very Nothing compar’d to what remains.Atheistical Hypothesis. “ ’Tis only a separate By-World,” we’ll say, “of which perhaps there are, in the wide Waste, Millions besides, as horrid and deform’d, as this of ours is regular and proportion’d. In length of time, amidst the infinite Hurry and Shock of Beings, this single odd World, by accident, might have been struck out, and cast into some Form, (as among infinite Chances, what is there which may not happen?) But for the rest of Matter, ’tis of a different hue. Old FatherChaos (as the Poets call him) in these wild Spaces, reigns absolute, and upholds his Realms of Darkness. He presses hard upon our Frontier; and one day, belike, shall by a furious Inroad recover his lost Right, conquer his Rebel-State, and reunite us to primitive Discord and Confusion.”
This, said I, Theocles! (concluding my Discourse) is all I dare offer in opposition to your Philosophy. I imagin’d, indeed, you might have given me more Scope: But you have retrench’d your-self in narrower Bounds. So that to tell you truth, I look upon your Theology to be hardly so fair or open as that of our Divines in general. They are strict, it’s true, as to Names; but allow a greater Latitude in Things. Hardly indeed can they bear a home-Charge, a downright questioning of Deity: But in return, they give always fair play against Nature,NATURE, arraign’d. and allow her to be challeng’d for her Failings. She may freely err, and we as freely censure. Deity, they think is not accountable for her: Only she for her-self. But you are straiter, and more precise in this point. You have unnecessarily brought Nature into the Controversy, and taken upon you to defend her Honour so highly, that I know not whether it may be safe for me to question her.
Let not this trouble you, reply’d Theocles: but be free to censure Nature; whatever may be the Consequence. ’Tis only my Hypothesis can suffer. If I defend it ill, my Friends need not be scandaliz’d. They are fortify’d, no doubt, with stronger Arguments for a Deity, and can well employ those metaphysical Weapons, of whose Edge you seem so little apprehensive. I leave them to dispute this Ground with you, whenever they think fit. For my own Arguments, if they can be suppos’d to make any part of this Defense, they may be look’d upon only as distant Lines, or Outworks, which may easily perhaps be won; but without any danger to the Body of the Place.
NOTWITHSTANDING, then, said I, that you are willing I shou’d attack Naturein Form, I chuse to spare her in all other Subjects, except Man only. How comes it, I intreat you,NATURE in Man. that in this noblest of Creatures, and worthiest her Care, she shou’d appear so very weak and impotent; whilst in mere Brutes, and the irrational Species, she acts with so much Strength,In Brutes. and exerts such hardy Vigour? Why is she spent so soon in feeble Man, who is found more subject to Diseases, and of fewer years than many of the wild Creatures? They range secure; and proof against all the Injurys of Seasons and Weather, want no help from Art, but live in careless Ease, discharg’d of Labour, and freed from the cumbersom Baggage of a necessitous human Life. In Infancy more helpful, vigorous in Age, with Senses quicker, and more natural Sagacity, they pursue their Interests, Joys, Recreations, and cheaply purchase both their Food and Maintenance; cloth’d and arm’d by Nature her-self, who provides them both a Couch and Mansion. So has Nature order’d for the rest of Creatures. Such is their Hardiness, Robustness, Vigour. Why not the same for Man?—
And do you stop thus short, said Theocles, in your Expostulation? Methinks ’twere as easy to proceed, now you are in the way; and instead of laying claim to some few Advantages of other Creatures, you might as well stand for All, and complain “That Man, for his part,Nature in Man. shou’d be any thing less than a Consummation of all Advantages and Privileges which Nature can afford.” Ask not merely, why Man is naked, why unhoof’d, why slower-footed than the Beasts? Ask, “Why he has not Wings also for the Air, Fins for the Water, and so on; that he might take possession of each Element, and reign in All?”
Not so, said I, neither. This wou’d be to rate him high indeed! As if he were, by Nature, Lordof All: which is more than I cou’d willingly allow.
’Tis enough, reply’d he, that this is yielded. For if we allow once a Subordination in his Case; if Nature her-self be not for Man, but Man for Nature; then must Man, by his good leave, submit to the Elements ofNature, and not the Elements to him. Few of these are at all fitted to him: and none perfectly. If he be left in Air, he falls headlong; for Wings were not assign’d him. In Water he soon sinks. In Fire he consumes. Within Earth he suffocates.—
As for what Dominion he may naturally have in other Elements, said I, my concern truly is not very great in his behalf; since by Art he can even exceed the Advantages Nature has given to other Creatures: But for the Air, methinks it had been wonderfully obliging in Nature to have allow’d him Wings.
Volatiles.And what wou’d he have gain’d by it, reply’d Theocles? For consider what an Alteration of Form must have ensu’d. Observe in one of those wing’d Creatures, whether the whole Structure be not made subservient to this purpose, and all other Advantages sacrific’d to this single Operation.Anatomy. The Anatomy of the Creature shews it, in a manner, to be all Wing: its chief Bulk being compos’d of two exorbitant Muscles, which exhaust the Strength of all the other, and engross (if I may say so) the whole OEconomy of the Frame. ’Tis thus the aerial Racers are able to perform so rapid and strong a Motion, beyond comparison with any other kind, and far exceeding their little share of Strength elsewhere: these Parts of theirs being made in such superior proportion, as in a manner to starve their Companions. And in Man’s Architecture, of so different an Order, were the flying Engines to be affix’d; must not the other Members suffer, and the multiply’d Parts starve one another? What think you of the Brain in this Partition?The Brain. Is it not like to prove a Starveling? Or wou’d you have it be maintain’d at the same high rate, and draw the chief Nourishment to it-self, from all the rest?—
I understand you, said I, Theocles (interrupting him): The Brain certainly is a great Starver, where it abounds; and the thinking People of the World, the Philosophers and Virtuoso’s especially, must be contented, I find, with a moderate Share of bodily Advantages, for the sake of what they call Parts and Capacity in another sense.Parts. The Parts, it seems, of one kind agree ill in their OEconomy with the Parts of the other. But to make this even on both sides, let us turn the Tables; and the Case, I suppose, will stand the same with the Milo’s of the Age, the Men of bodily Prowess and Dexterity. For not to mention a vulgar sort, such as Wrestlers, Vaulters, Racers, Hunters; what shall we say of our fine-bred Gentlemen, our Riders, Fencers, Dancers, Tennis-players, and such like? ’Tis the Body surely is the Starver here: and if the Brain were such a terrible Devourer in the other way; the Body and bodily Parts seem to have their Reprisals in this Rank of Men.
If then, said he, the Case stands thus between Man and Man, how must it stand between Man and a quite different Creature? If the Balance be so nice,Balance. that the least thing breaks it, even in Creatures of the same Frame and Order; of what fatal effect must it be to change the Order it-self, and make some essential Alteration in the Frame? Consider therefore how it is we censure Nature in these and such-like Cases. “Why,” says one, “was I not made by Nature strong as a Horse? Why not hardy and robust as this Brute-Creature? or nimble and active as that other?”—And yet when uncommon Strength, Agility, and Feats of Body are subjoin’d, even in our own Species, see what befals! So that for a Person thus in love with an AthletickMilonean Constitution, it were better, me-thinks, and more modest in him, to change the Expostulation, and ask, “Why was I not made in good earnest a veryBrute?” For that wou’d be more sutable.
I am apt indeed, said I, to think that the Excellence of Man lies somewhat different from that of a Brute: and that such amongst us as are more truly Men, shou’d naturally aspire to manly Qualitys, and leave the Brute his own. But Nature, I see, has done well to mortify us in this particular, by furnishing us with such slight Stuff, and in such a tender Frame, as is indeed wonderfully commodious to support that Man-Excellence of Thought and Reason; but wretchedly scanty and ineffectual for other Purposes. As if it were her very Design, “To hinder us from aspiring ridiculously to what was misbecoming our Character.”
I see, said Theocles, you are not one of those timorous Arguers, who tremble at every Objection rais’d against their Opinion or Belief, and are so intent in upholding their own side of the Argument, that they are unable to make the least Concession on the other. Your Wit allows you to divert your-self with whatever occurs in the Debate: And you can pleasantly improve even what your Antagonist brings as a Support to his own Hypothesis. This indeed is a fairer sort of Practice than what is common now-a-days. But ’tis no more than sutable to your Character. And were I not afraid of speaking with an Air of Compliment, in the midst of a philosophical Debate; I shou’d tell you perhaps what I thought of the becoming manner of your Scepticism, in opposition to a kind of Bigot-Scepticks; who forfeit their Right to the philosophick Character, and retain hardly so much as that of the Gentleman or Good Companion.—But to our Argument.—
Distribution.Such then, continu’d he, is the admirable Distribution of Nature, her adapting and adjusting not only the Stuff or Matter to the Shape and Form, and even the Shape it-self and Form to the Circumstance, Place, Element or Region; but also the Affections, Appetites, Sensations, mutually to each other, as well as to the Matter, Form, Action, and all besides: “All manag’d for the best, with perfect Frugality and just Reserve: profuse to none, but bountiful to all: never employing in one thing more than enough; but with exact OEconomy retrenching the superfluous, and adding Force to what is principal in every thing.” And is not Thought and Reasonprincipal in Man? Wou’d he have no Reserve for these? no saving for this part of his Engine?Principal Part. Or wou’d he have the same Stuff or Matter, the same Instruments or Organs serve alike for different purposes, and an Ounce be equivalent to a Pound?—It cannot be. What wonders, then, can he expect from a few Ounces of Blood in such a narrow Vessel, fitted for so small a District of Nature? Will he not rather think highly of that Nature, which has thus manag’d his Portion for him, to best advantage, with this happy Reserve, (happy indeed for him, if he knows and uses it!) by which he has so much a better Use of Organs than any other Creature? by which he holds his Reason, is aMan,Reason. and not a Beast?
But Beasts, said I, have Instincts,Instinct. which Man has not.
True, said he, they have indeed Perceptions, Sensations, and Pre-sensations, (if I may use the Expression) which Man,Animals. for his part, has not in any proportionable degree. Their Females, newly pregnant, and before they have bore Young, have a clear Prospect or Pre-sensation of their State which is to follow; know what to provide, and how, in what manner, and at what time. How many things do they pre-ponderate? How many at once comprehend? The Seasons of the Year, the Country, Climate, Place, Aspect, Situation, the Basis of their Building, the Materials, Architecture; the Diet and Treatment of their Offspring; in short, the whole OEconomy of their Nursery: and all this as perfectly at first, and when unexperienc’d, as at any time of their Life afterwards. And “Why not this,” say you, “in Human Kind?”Human Kind. Nay, rather on the contrary, I ask “Why this? Where was the Occasion or Use? Where the Necessity? Why this Sagacity for Men? Have they not what is better, in another kind? Have they not Reason and Discourse? Does not this instruct them? What need then of the other? Where wou’d be the prudent Management at this rate? Where the Reserve?”
The Young of most other Kinds, continu’d he, are instantly helpful to them-selves, sensible, vigorous, known to shun Danger, and seek their Good: A human Infant is of all the most helpless, weak, infirm. And wherefore shou’d it not have been thus order’d? Where is the loss in such a Species? Or what is Man the worse for this Defect, amidst such large Supplies? Does not this Defect engage him the more strongly to Society,Society. and force him to own that he is purposely, and not by accident, made rational and sociable; and can no otherwise increase or subsist, than in that social Intercourse and Community which is his natural State? Is not both conjugal Affection, and natural Affection to Parents, Duty to Magistrates, Love of a common City, Community, or Country, with the other Dutys and social Parts of Life, deduc’d from hence, and founded in these very Wants? What can be happier than such a Deficiency, as is the occasion of so much Good? What better than a Want so abundantly made up, and answer’d by so many Enjoyments? Now if there are still to be found among Mankind such as even in the midst of these Wants seem not asham’d to affect a Right of Independency, and deny them-selves to be by Nature sociable; where wou’d their Shame have been, had Nature otherwise supply’d these Wants? What Duty or Obligation had been ever thought of? What Respect or Reverence of Parents, Magistrates, their Country, or their Kind? Wou’d not their full and self-sufficient State more strongly have determin’d them to throw off Nature, and deny the Ends and Author of their Creation?
WHILST Theocles argu’d thus concerning Nature, the old Gentleman, my Adversary, express’d great Satisfaction in hearing me, as he thought, refuted, and my Opinions expos’d. For he wou’d needs believe these to be strongly my Opinions, which I had only started as Objections in the Discourse. He endeavour’d to reinforce the Argument by many Particulars from the common Topicks of the School-men and Civilians. He added withal, “That it was better for me to declare my Sentiments openly; for he was sure I had strongly imbib’d that Principle,State of Nature. that the State of Nature was a State of War.”
“That it was no State of Government, or publick Rule,” reply’d I, “you your-self allow.” “I do so.” “Was it then a State of Fellowship, or Society?” “No: For when Men enter’d first into Society, they pass’d from the State of Nature into that new one which is founded upon Compact.” “And was that former State a tolerable one?” “Had it been absolutely intolerable, there had never been any such. Nor cou’d we properly call that a State, which cou’d not stand or endure for the least time.” “If Man therefore cou’d endure to live without Society; and if it be true that he actually liv’d so, when in the State of Nature; how can it be said, That he is by Nature sociable?”
The old Gentleman seem’d a little disturb’d at my Question. But having recover’d himself, he said in answer, “That Man indeed, from his own natural Inclination, might not, perhaps, have been mov’d to associate; but rather from some particular Circumstances.”
His Nature then, said I, was not so very good, it seems; since having no natural Affection, or friendly Inclination belonging to him, he was forc’d into a social State, against his will: And this, not from any necessity in respect of outward Things, (for you have allow’d him a tolerable Subsistence) but in probability from such Inconveniences as arose chiefly from himself, and his own malignant Temper and Principles. And indeed ’twas no wonder if Creatures who were naturally thus unsociable, shou’d be as naturally mischievous and troublesom. If according to their Nature, they cou’d live out of Society, with so little Affection for one another’s Company, ’tis not likely that upon occasion they wou’d spare one another’s Persons. If they were so sullen as not to meet for Love, ’tis more than probable they wou’d fight for Interest. And thus from your own Reasoning it appears, “That the State of Nature must in all likelihood have been little different from a State ofWar.”
He was going to answer me with some sharpness, as by his Looks appear’d; when Theocles interposing, desir’d, That as he had occasion’d this Dispute, he might be allow’d to try if he cou’d end it, by setting the Question in a fairer Light. You see, said he to the old Gentleman, what Artifice Philocles made use of, when he engag’d you to allow, that the State of Nature, and that of Society were perfectly distinct. But let us question him now in his turn, and see whether he can demonstrate to us, “That there can be naturally any Human State which is not social.”
What is it then, said the old Gentleman, which we call the State of Nature?
Not that imperfect rude Condition of Mankind, said Theocles, which some imagine; but which, if it ever were in Nature, cou’d never have been of the least continuance, or any-way tolerable, or sufficient for the Support of human Race. Such a Condition cannot indeed so properly be call’d a State. For what if speaking of an Infant just coming into the World, and in the moment of the Birth, I shou’d fansy to call this a State; wou’d it be proper?
Hardly so, I confess.
Just such a State, therefore, was that which we suppose of Man, ere yet he enter’d into Society, and became in truth a Human Creature. ’Twas the rough Draught of Man, the Essay or first Effort of Nature, a Species in the Birth, a Kind as yet unform’d; not in its natural State, but under Violence, and still restless, till it attain’d its natural Perfection.
And thus, said Theocles, (addressing still more particularly to the old Gentleman) the Case must necessarily stand, even on the supposal “That there was ever such a Condition or State of Men, when as yet they were unassociated, unacquainted, and consequently without any Language or Form of Art.” But “That it was their natural State, to live thus separately,” can never without Absurdity be allow’d. For sooner may you divest the Creature of any other Feeling or Affection, than that towards Society and his Likeness. Allowing you, however, the Power of divesting him at pleasure; allowing you to reduce even whole Parts and Members of his present Frame; wou’d you transform him thus, and call him still a Man? Yet better might you do this indeed, than you cou’d strip him of his natural Affections, separate him from all his Kind, and inclosing him like some solitary Insect in a Shell, declare him still aMan. So might you call the human Egg, or Embrio, the Man. The Bug which breeds the Butterfly is more properly a Fly, tho without Wings, than this imaginary Creature is a Man. For tho his outward Shape were human, his Passions, Appetites, and Organs must be wholly different. His whole inward Make must be revers’d, to fit him for such a recluse OEconomy, and separate Subsistence.
To explain this a little further, continu’d he: Let us examine this pretended State of Nature; how and on what Foundation it must stand. “For either Man must have been from Eternity, or not. If from Eternity, there cou’d be no primitive or original State, no State of Nature, other than we see at present before our eyes. If not from Eternity, he arose either all at once, (and consequently he was at the very first as he is now) or by degrees, thro’ several Stages and Conditions, to that in which he is at length settled, and has continu’d for so many Generations.”
For instance, let us suppose he sprang, as the old Poets feign’d, from a big-belly’d Oak: and then belike he might resemble more a Man-drake than a Man. Let us suppose him at first with little more of Life than is discover’d in that Plant which they call the Sensitive. But when the Mother-Oak had been some time deliver’d, and the false Birth by some odd Accident or Device was wrought into Form; the Members were then fully display’d, and the Organs of Sense began to unfold themselves. “Here sprang an Ear: there peep’d an Eye. Perhaps a Tail too came in company. For what Superfluitys Nature may have been charg’d with at first, is difficult to determine. They dropt off, it seems, in time; and happily have left things, at last, in a good posture, and (to a wonder!) just as they should be.”
This surely is the lowest View of the original Affairs of human Kind. For if a Providence, and not Chance, gave Man his being, our Argument for his social Nature must surely be the stronger. But admitting his Rise to be, as we have describ’d, and as a certain sort of Philosophers wou’d needs have it; Nature has then had no Intention at all, no Meaning or Design in this whole Matter. So how any thing can be call’d natural in the Case; how any State can be call’d a State of Nature, or according to Nature, one more than another, I know not.
Let us go on however, and on their Hypothesis consider, Which State we may best call Nature’s own. “She has by Accident, thro’ many Changes and Chances, rais’d a Creature, which springing at first from rude Seeds of Matter, proceeded till it became what now it is; and arriv’d where for many Generations it has been at a stay.” In this long Procession (for I allow it any length whatever) I ask, “Where was it that this State of Nature cou’d begin?” The Creature must have endur’d many Changes: and each Change, whilst he was thus growing up, was as natural, one as another. So that either there must be reckon’d a hundred different States of Nature; or if one, it can be only that in which Nature was perfect, and her Growth compleat. Here where She rested, and attain’d her End, here must be her State, or no-where.
Cou’d she then rest, think you, in that desolate State before Society? Cou’d she maintain and propagate the Species, such as it now is, without Fellowship or Community? Shew it us in fact anywhere, amongst any of our own Kind. For as for Creatures which may much resemble us in outward Form, if they differ yet in the least part of their Constitution, if their Inwards are of a different Texture, if their Skin and Pores are otherwise form’d or harden’d; if they have other Excrescences of Body, another Temper, other natural inseparable Habits or Affections, they are not truly of our Kind. If, on the other hand, their Constitution be as ours; their natural Parts or inward Facultys as strong, and their bodily Frame as weak as ours; if they have Memory, and Senses, and Affections, and a Use of Organs as ours: ’tis evident they can no more by their good-will abstain from Society, than they can possibly preserve themselves without it.
And here (my Friends!) we ought to remember what we discours’d a-while since, and was advanc’d by Philocles himself, concerning the Weakness of human Bodys, and the necessitous State of Man, in respect of all other Creatures; “His long and helpless Infancy, his feeble and defenseless Make, by which he is more fitted to be a Prey himself, than live by Prey on others.” Yet ’tis impossible for him to subsist like any of those grazing Kinds. He must have better Provision and choicer Food than the raw Herbage; a better Couch and Covering than the bare Earth or open Sky. How many Conveniences of other kinds does he stand in need of? What Union and strict Society is requir’d between the Sexes, to preserve and nurse their growing Offspring? This kind of Society will not, surely, be deny’d to Man, which to every Beast of Prey is known proper, and natural. And can we allow this social Part to Man, and go no further? Is it possible he shou’d pair, and live in Love and Fellowship with his Partner and Offspring, and remain still wholly wild, and speechless, and without those Arts of Storing, Building, and other OEconomy, as natural to him surely as to the Beaver, or to the Ant, or Bee? Where, therefore, shou’d He break off from this Society, if once begun? For that it began thus, as early as Generation, and grew into a Houshold and OEconomy, is plain. Must not this have grown soon into a Tribe? and this Tribe into a Nation? Or tho it remain’d a Tribe only; was not this still a Society for mutual Defense and common Interest? In short, if Generation be natural, if natural Affection and the Care and Nurture of the Offspring be natural, Things standing as they do with Man, and the Creature being of that Form and Constitution he now is; it follows, “That Society must be also natural to him”; And “That out of Society and Community he never did, nor ever can subsist.”
To conclude, said he, (addressing still to the two Companions) I will venture to add a word in behalf of Philocles: That since the Learned have such a fancy for this Notion, and love to talk of this imaginary State of Nature, I think ’tis even Charity to speak as ill of it as we possibly can. Let it be a State ofWar,Rapine, and Injustice. Since ’tis unsocial, let it e’en be as uncomfortable and as frightful as ’tis possible. To speak well of it, is to render it inviting, and tempt Men to turn Hermites. Let it, at least, be look’d on as many degrees worse than the worst Government in being. The greater Dread we have of Anarchy, the better Country-men we shall prove, and value more the Laws and Constitution under which we live, and by which we are protected from the outrageous Violences of such an unnatural State. In this I agree heartily with those Transformers of Human Nature, who considering it abstractedly and apart from Government or Society, represent it under monstrous Visages of Dragons, Leviathans, and I know not what devouring Creatures. They wou’d have done well however, to have express’d themselves more properly in their great Maxim. For to say in disparagement of Man, “That he is to Man a Wolf,” appears somewhat absurd, when one considers that Wolves are to Wolves very kind and loving Creatures. The Sexes strictly join in the Care and Nurture of the Young; and this Union is continu’d still between ’em. They houl to one another, to bring Company; whether to hunt, or invade their Prey, or assemble on the discovery of a good Carcase. Even the swinish Kinds want not common Affection, and run in Herds to the assistance of their distress’d Fellows. The meaning therefore of this famous Sentence, if it has any meaning at all, must be, “That Man is naturally to Man, as a Wolf is to a tamer Creature”: as, for instance, to a Sheep. But this will be as little to the purpose as to tell us, “That there are different Species or Characters of Men; That all have not this wolfish Nature, but That one half at least are naturally innocent and mild.” And thus the Sentence comes to nothing. For without belying Nature, and contradicting what is evident from natural History, Fact, and the plain Course of Things, ’tis impossible to assent to this ill-natur’d Proposition, when we have even done our best to make tolerable sense of it.—But such is Mankind! And even hereHuman Nature shews it-self, such as it is; not perfect, or absolutely successful, tho rightly tending,Sect. 5. and mov’d by proper and just Principles. ’Tis here, therefore, in Philosophy, as in the common Conversations of the World. As fond as Men are of Company, and as little able to enjoy any Happiness out of it, they are yet strangely addicted to the way of Satir. And in the same manner, as a malicious Censure craftily worded, and pronounc’d with Assurance, is apt to pass with Mankind for shreud Wit; so a virulent Maxim in bold Expressions, tho without any Justness of Thought, is readily receiv’d for truePhilosophy.
IN these Discourses the Evening ended; and Night advancing, we return’d home from our Walk. At Supper, and afterwards for the rest of that Night, Theocles said little. The Discourse was now manag’d chiefly by the two Companions, who turn’d it upon a new sort of Philosophy; such as you will excuse me (good Palemon!) if I pass over with more haste.
Miracles. Prodigys.There was much said, and with great Learning, on the Nature of Spirits and Apparitions; of which, the most astonishing Accounts were the most ravishing with our Friends: who endeavour’d to exceed one another in this admirable way; and perform’d to a miracle in raising one another’s Amazement. Nothing was so charming with them, as that which was disagreeing and odd: nothing so soothing, as that which mov’d Horror. In short, whatever was rational, plain, and easy, bore no relish; and nothing came amiss which was cross to Nature, out of Sort and Order, and in no Proportion or Harmony with the rest of Things. Monstrous Births, Prodigys, Inchantments, Elementary Wars, and Convulsions, were our chief Entertainment. One wou’d have thought that in a kind of Rivalship between Providence and Nature, the latter Lady was made to appear as homely as possible; that her Deformitys might recommend and set off the Beautys of the former. For to do our Friends Justice, I must own I thought their Intention to be sincerely religious. But this was not a Face of Religion I was like to be enamour’d with. It was not from hence I fear’d being made enthusiastick, or superstitious. If ever I became so, I found it wou’d rather be after Theocles’s manner. The Monuments and Church-yards were not such powerful Scenes with me, as the Mountains, the Plains, the solemn Woods and Groves; of whose Inhabitants I chose much rather to hear, than of the other. And I was readier to fansy Truth in those poetical Fictions which Theocles made use of, than in any of his Friends ghastly Storys, so pompously set off, after the usual way, in a lofty Tone of Authority, and with an assuming Air of Truth.
Scepticism.You may imagine, Palemon, that my Scepticism, with which you so often reproach me, cou’d not well forsake me here: Nor cou’d it fail to give disturbance to our Companions, especially to the grave Gentleman, who had clash’d with me some time before. He bore with me a-while; till having lost all patience, One must certainly, said he, be Master of no small share of Assurance, to hold out against the common Opinion of the World, and deny things which are known by the Report of the most considerable part of Mankind.
This, said I, is far from being my case. You have never yet heard me deny any thing; tho I have question’d many. If I suspend my Judgment, ’tis because I have less Sufficiency than others. There are People, I know, who have so great a regard to every Fancy of their own, that they can believe their very Dreams. But I who cou’d never pay any such deference to my sleeping Fancys, am apt sometimes to question even my waking Thoughts, and examine, “Whether these are not Dreams too”; since Men have a Faculty of dreaming sometimes with their Eyes open. You will own, ’tis no small pleasure with Mankind to make their Dreams pass for Realitys; and that the Love of Truth is, in earnest, not half so prevalent as this Passion for Novelty and Surprize, join’d with a Desire of making Impression, and being admir’d. However, I am so charitable still, as to think there is more of innocent Delusion than voluntary Imposture in the World:Imposture. and that they who have most impos’d on Mankind, have been happy in a certain Faculty of imposing first upon themselves; by which they have a kind of Salvo for their Consciences, and are so much the more successful, as they can act their Part more naturally, and to the life. Nor is it to be esteem’d a Riddle, that Mens Dreams shou’d sometimes have the good fortune of passing with ’em for Truth; when we consider, that in some Cases, that which was never so much as dreamt of, or related as Truth, comes afterwards to be believ’d by one who has often told it.
So that the greatest Impostor in the World, reply’d he, at this rate may be allow’d sincere.
As to the main of his Imposture, said I, perhaps he may; notwithstanding some pious Frauds made use of between whiles, in behalf of a Belief thought good and wholesom. And so very natural do I take this to be, that in all Religions, except the true, I look upon the greatest Zeal to be accompany’d with the strongest Inclination to deceive. For the Design and End being the Truth, ’tis not customary to hesitate or be scrupulous about the Choice of Means. Whether this be true or no, I appeal to the Experience of the last Age: in which ’twill not be difficult to find very remarkable Examples, where Imposture and Zeal, Bigotry and Hypocrisy have liv’d together, in one and the same Character.
Let this be as it will, reply’d he, I am sorry, upon the whole, to find you of such an incredulous Temper.
’Tis just, said I, that you shou’d pity me as a Sufferer, for losing that Pleasure which I see others enjoy. For what stronger Pleasure is there with Mankind, or what do they earlier learn, or longer retain, than the Love of hearing and relatingthings strange and incredible?Wonderment. How wonderful a thing is the Love of wondering, and of raising Wonder! ’Tis the Delight of Children to hear Tales they shiver at, and the Vice of Old Age to abound in strange Storys of Times past. We come into the World wondering at every thing; and when our Wonder about common things is over, we seek something new to wonder at. Our last Scene is to tell Wonders of our own, to all who will believe ’em. And amidst all this, ’tis well if Truth comes off, but moderately tainted.
’Tis well, reply’d he, if with this moderateFaith of yours, you can believe any Miracles whatever.
No matter, said I, how incredulous I am of modern Miracles, if I have a right Faith in those of former Times, by paying the deference due to sacred Writ. ’Tis here I am so much warn’d against Credulity,Credulity. and enjoin’d never to believe even the greatest Miracles which may be wrought, in opposition to what has been already taught me. And this Injunction I am so well fitted to comply with, that I can safely engage to keep still in the same Faith, and promise never to believe amiss.
But is this a Promise which can well be made?
If not, and that my Belief indeed does not absolutely depend upon my self, how am I accountable for it? I may be justly punish’d for Actions, in which my Will is free: but with what justice can I be challeng’d for my Belief, if in this I am not at my liberty? If Credulity and Incredulity are Defects only in the Judgment; and the best-meaning Person in the world may err on either side, whilst a much worse Man, by having better Parts, may judg far better of the Evidence of things: how can you punish him who errs, unless you wou’d punish Weakness, and say, ’tis just for Men to suffer for their Unhappiness, and not their Fault?
I am apt to think, said he, that very few of those who are punish’d for their Incredulity, can be said to be Sufferers for their Weakness.
Taking it for granted then, reply’d I, that Simplicity and Weakness is more the Character of the Credulous than of the Unbelieving; yet I see not, but that even this way still we are as liable to suffer by our Weakness, as in the contrary Case by an over-refin’d Wit. For if we cannot command our own Belief, how are we secure against those false Prophets, and their deluding Miracles, of which we have such Warning given us? How are we safe from Heresy and false Religion? Credulity being that which delivers us up to all Impostures of this sort, and which actually at this day hold the Pagan and Mahometan World in Error and blind Superstition. Either therefore there is no Punishment due to wrong Belief, because we cannot believe as we will our-selves; or if we can, why shou’d we not promise never to believe amiss? Now in respect of Miracles to come, the surest way never to believe amiss, is never to believe at all. For being satisfy’d of the Truth of our Religion by past Miracles, so as to need no other to confirm us; the Belief of new may often do us harm, but can never do us good. Therefore as the truest Mark of a believing Christian is to seek after no Sign or Miracle to come; so the safest Station in Christianity is his, who can be mov’d by nothing of this kind, and is thus Miracle-proof. For if the Miracle be on the side of his Faith, ’tis superfluous, and he needs it not; if against his Faith, let it be as great as possible, he will never regard it in the least, or believe it any other than Imposture, tho coming from an Angel. So that with all that Incredulity for which you reproach me so severely, I take my-self to be still the better and more Orthodox Christian. At least I am more sure of continuing so than you, who with your Credulity may be impos’d upon by such as are far short of Angels. For having this preparatory Disposition, ’tis odds you may come in time to believe Miracles in any of the different Sects, who, we know, all pretend to them. I am persuaded therefore, that the best Maxim to go by, is that common one, “That Miracles are ceas’d”: And I am ready to defend this Opinion of mine to be the most probable in it-self, as well as most sutable to Christianity.
THIS Question, upon further Debate, happen’d to divide our two Companions. For the elderly Gentleman, my Antagonist, maintain’d, “That the giving up of Miracles for the time present, wou’d be of great advantage to the Atheists.” The younger Gentleman, his Companion, question’d, “Whether the allowing ’em might not be of as great advantage to the Enthusiasts and Sectarys, against the National Church: This of the two being the greatest Danger, he thought, both to Religion and the State.” He was resolv’d, therefore, for the future to be as cautious in examining these modern Miracles, as he had before been eager in seeking ’em. He told us very pleasantly what an Adventurer he had been of that kind; and on how many Partys he had been engag’d, with a sort of People who were always on the hot Scent of some new Prodigy or Apparition, some upstart Revelation or Prophecy. This, he thought, was true Fanaticism errant.Fanaticism. He had enough of this visionary Chace, and wou’d ramble no more in blind Corners of the World, as he had been formerly accustom’d, in ghostly Company of Spirit-hunters, Witch-finders, and Layers-out for hellish Storys and diabolical Transactions. There was no need, he thought, of such Intelligences from Hell, to prove the Power of Heaven, and Being of a God. And now at last he begun to see the Ridicule of laying such a stress on these Matters: As if a Providence depended on them, and Religion were at stake, when any of these wild Feats were question’d. He was sensible there were many good Christians who made themselves strong Partisans in this Cause; tho he cou’d not avoid wondring at it, now he began to consider, and look back.
The Heathens, he said, who wanted Scripture, might have recourse to Miracles: And Providence perhaps had allow’d them their Oracles and Prodigys, as an imperfect kind of Revelation. The Jews too, for their hard Heart, and harder Understanding, had this allowance; when stubbornly they ask’d for Signs and Wonders. But Christians, for their parts, had a far better and truer Revelation; they had their plainer Oracles, a more rational Law, and clearer Scripture, carrying its own Force, and withal so well attested, as to admit of no dispute. And were I, continu’d he, to assign the exact time when Miracles probably might first have ceas’d, I shou’d be tempted to fansy it was when Sacred Writ took place, and was compleated.
Miracles, past, present.This is Fancy indeed, (reply’d the grave Gentleman) and a very dangerous one to that Scripture you pretend is of it-self so well attested. The Attestation of Men dead and gone, in behalf of Miracles past and at an end, can never surely be of equal force with Miracles present: And of these, I maintain, there are never wanting a Number sufficient in the World to warrant a Divine Existence. If there were no Miracles now-a-days, the World wou’d be apt to think there never were any. The present must answer for the Credibility of the past. This is “GOD witnessingfor himself”;Human Testimony. not “Men for GOD.” For who shall witness for Men, if in the Case of Religion they have no Testimony from Heaven in their behalf?
What it is may make the Report of Men credible, (said the younger Gentleman) is another Question. But for mere Miracles, it seems to me, they cannot be properly said “To witness either for GOD or Men.” For who shall witness for the Miracles themselves? And what tho they are ever so certain? What Security have we, that they are not acted by Daemons? What Proof that they are not wrought by Magick? In short, “What Trust is there to any thing above, or below, if the Signs are only of Power, and not of Goodness?”
And are you so far improv’d then, reply’d the severe Companion, under your new sceptical Master, (pointing to me) that you can thus readily discard all Miracles, as useless?—
The young Gentleman, I saw, was somewhat daunted with this rough Usage of his Friend; who was going on still with his Invective. Nay then (said I, interposing) ’tis I who am to answer for this young Gentleman, whom you make to be my Disciple. And since his Modesty, I see, will not allow him to pursue what he has so handsomly begun, I will endeavour it my-self, if he will give me leave.
The young Gentleman assented; and I went on, representing his fair Intention of establishing in the first place a rational and just Foundation for our Faith; so as to vindicate it from the Reproach of having no immediate Miracles to support it. He wou’d have done this, I said, undoubtedly, by shewing how good Proof we had already for our sacred Oracles, from the Testimony of the Dead; whose Characters and Lives might answer for them, as to the Truth of what they reported to us from God. This, however, was by no means “Witnessing for GOD,” as the zealous Gentleman had hastily express’d himself. For this was above the reach either of Men, or Miracles. Nor cou’d God witness for himself, or assert his Being any other way to Men,Divine Testimony. than “By revealing himself to their Reason, appealing to their Judgment, and submitting his Ways to their Censure, and cool Deliberation.” The Contemplation of the Universe, its Laws and Government, was, I aver’d, the only means which cou’d establish the sound Belief of a Deity. For what tho innumerable Miracles from every part assail’d the Sense, and gave the trembling Soul no respite?Miracles no proof of Divinity. What tho the Sky shou’d suddenly open, and all kinds of Prodigys appear, Voices be heard, or Characters read? What wou’d this evince more than “That there were certainPowers cou’d do all this?” But “WhatPowers; Whether One, or more; Whether Superior, or Subaltern; Mortal, or Immortal; Wise, or Foolish; Just, or Unjust; Good, or Bad”: this wou’d still remain a Mystery; as wou’d the true Intention, the Infallibility or Certainty of whatever thesePowers asserted. Their Word cou’d not be taken in their own case. They might silence Men indeed, but not convince them: since “Power can never serve as Proof for Goodness; and Goodness is the only Pledg of Truth.” By Goodness alone, Trust is created. By GoodnesssuperiorPowers may win Belief. They must allow their Works to be examin’d, their Actions criticiz’d: And thus, thus only, they may be confided in; “When by repeated Marks their Benevolence is prov’d, and their Character of Sincerity and Truth establish’d.” To whom therefore the Laws of this Universe and its Government appear just and uniform; to him they speak the Government of one Just-One; to him they reveal and witness a God: and laying in him the Foundation of this first Faith, they fit him for asubsequent One.Revelation. He can then hearken to Historical Revelation: and is then fitted, and not till then, for the reception of any Message or miraculous Notice from Above; where he knows beforehand all is just and true. But this, no Power of Miracles, nor any Power besides his Reason, can make him know, or apprehend.
BUT now, continu’d I, since I have been thus long the Defendent only; I am resolv’d to take up offensive Arms, and be Aggressor in my turn; provided Theocles be not angry with me for borrowing Ground from his Hypothesis.
Whatever you borrow of his, reply’d my Antagonist, you are pretty sure of spoiling it: And as it passes thro’ your hands, you had best beware lest you seem rather to reflect on Him than Me.
I’ll venture it, said I; whilst I maintain that most of those Maxims you build upon, are fit only to betray your own Cause. For whilst you are labouring to unhinge Nature; whilst you are searching Heaven and Earth for Prodigys,Atheism from Superstition. and studying how to miraculize every thing; you bring Confusion on the World, you break its Uniformity, and destroy that admirable Simplicity of Order, from whence the One infinite and perfect Principle is known. Perpetual Strifes, Convulsions, Violences, Breach of Laws, Variation and Unsteddiness of Order, shew either no Controul, or several uncontroul’d and unsubordinate Powers in Nature. We have before our eyes either the Chaos and Atoms of the Atheists, or the Magick andDaemons of the Polytheists. Yet is this tumultuous System of the Universe asserted with the highest Zeal by some who wou’d maintain a Deity. This is that Face of Things, and these the Features by which they represent Divinity. Hither the Eyes of our more inquisitive and ingenuous Youth are turn’d with care, lest they see any thing otherwise than in this perplex’d and amazing View. As if Atheism were the most natural Inference which cou’d be drawn from a regular and orderly State of Things! But after all this mangling and disfigurement of Nature; if it happens, as oft it does, that the amaz’d Disciple coming to himself, and searching leisurely into Nature’s Ways, finds more of Order, Uniformity, and Constancy in Things than he suspected; he is of course driven into Atheism: And this merely by the Impressions he receiv’d from that preposterous System, which taught him to seek for Deity in Confusion, and to discover Providence in an irregular disjointed World.
And when you, reply’d he, with your newly-espous’d System, have brought all things to be as uniform, plain, regular, and simple, as you cou’d wish; I suppose you will send your Disciple to seek for Deity in Mechanism; that is to say, in some exquisite System of self-govern’d Matter. For what else is it you Naturalists make of the World, than a mere Machine?
Nothing else, reply’d I, if to the Machine you allow a Mind. For in this case ’tis not a Self-govern’d, but a God-govern’d Machine.
And what are the Tokens, said he, which shou’d convince us? What Signs shou’d this dumb Machine give of its being thus govern’d?
The present, reply’d I, are sufficient. It cannot possibly give stronger Signs of Life and steddy Thought. Compare our own Machines with this great-One; and see, Whether by their Order, Management and Motions, they betoken either so perfect a Life, or so consummate an Intelligence. The one is regular, steddy, permanent; the other are irregular, variable, inconstant. In one there are the Marks of Wisdom and Determination; in the other, of Whimsy and Conceit: In one there appears Judgment; in the other, Fancy only: In one, Will; in the other, Caprice: In one, Truth, Certainty, Knowledg; in the other, Error, Folly, and Madness.—But to be convinc’d there is something above, which thinks and acts, we want, it seems, the latter of these Signs; as supposing there can be no Thought or Intelligence beside what is like our own. We sicken and grow weary with the orderly and regular Course of Things. Periods, and stated Laws, and Revolutions just and proportionable, work not upon us, nor win our Admiration. We must have Riddles, Prodigys, Matter for Surprize and Horror! By Harmony, Order and Concord, we are made Atheists: By Irregularity and Discord, we are convinc’d ofDeity! “The World is mere Accident, if it proceeds in Course; but an Effect of Wisdom, if it runs mad!”
THUS I took upon me the part of a sound Theist, whilst I endeavour’d to refute my Antagonist, and shew that his Principles favour’d Atheism. The zealous Gentleman took high Offence: And we continu’d debating warmly, till late at night. But Theocles was Moderator: And we retir’d at last to our Repose, all calm and friendly. However, I was not a little rejoic’d to hear that our Companions were to go away early the next Morning, and leave Theocles to me alone.
For now (Palemon!) that Morning was approaching,Sect. 1. for which I so much long’d. What your Longing may prove, I may have reason to fear. You have had enough, one wou’d think, to turn the edge of your Curiosity in this kind. Can it be imagin’d, that after the Recital of Two such Days already past, you can with patience hear of Another yet to come, more Philosophical than either?—But you have made me promise; and now, whate’er it cost, take it you must, as follows.
IT was yet deep Night, as I imagin’d, when I wak’d with the noise of People up in the House. I call’d to know the matter; and was told that Theocles had a little before parted with his Friends; after which he went out to take his Morning-Walk, but wou’d return, they thought, pretty soon: For so he had left word; and that no-body in the mean time shou’d disturb my Rest.
This was Disturbance sufficient, when I heard it. I presently got up; and finding it light enough to see the Hill, which was at a little distance from the House, I soon got thither; and at the foot of it, overtook Theocles; to whom I complain’d of his Unkindness. For I was not certainly, I told him, so effeminate and weak a Friend, as to deserve that he shou’d treat me like a Woman: Nor had I shown such an Aversion to his Manners or Conversation, as to be thought fitter for the dull Luxury of a soft Bed and Ease, than for Business, Recreation, or Study with an early Friend. He had no other way therefore of making me amends, than by allowing me henceforward to be a Party with him in his serious Thoughts, as he saw I was resolv’d to be in his Hours and Exercises of this sort.
“You have forgot then,” said Theocles, “the Assignation you had yesterday with the SilvanNymphs at this Place and Hour?” “No, truly,” said I: “For, as you see, I am come punctually to the Place appointed. But I never expected you shou’d have come hither without me.” “Nay then,” said Theocles, “there’s hope you may in time become a Lover with me: for you already begin to shew Jealousy. How little did I think these Nymphs cou’d raise that Passion in you?” “Truly,” said I, “for the Nymphs you mention, I know little of ’em as yet. My Jealousy and Love regard You only. I was afraid you had a mind to escape me. But now that I am again in possession of you, I want no Nymph to make me happy here; unless it were perhaps to join Forces against you, in the manner your belov’d Poet makes the NymphAEgle join with his two Youths, in forcing the God Silenus to sing to ’em.”
I dare trust your Gallantry, reply’d Theocles, that if you had such fair Company as you speak of, you wou’d otherwise bestow your time than in an Adventure of Philosophy.—But do you expect I shou’d imitate the Poet’s God you mention’d, and sing “The Rise of Things from Atoms; the Birth of Order from Confusion; and the Origin of Union, Harmony, and Concord, from the sole Powers of Chaos, and blind Chance?” The Song indeed was fitted to the God. For what cou’d better sute his jolly Character, than such a drunken Creation; which he lov’d often to celebrate, by acting it to the life? But even this Song was too harmonious for the Night’s Debauch. Well has our Poet made it of the Morning, when the God was fresh: For hardly shou’d we be brought ever to believe that such harmonious Numbers cou’d arise from a mere Chaos of the Mind. But we must hear our Poet speaking in the Mouth of some soberer Demi-God or Hero. He then presents us with a different Principle of Things, and in a more proper Order of Precedency, gives Thought the upper hand. He makes Mind originally to have govern’d Body; not BodyMind: For this had been a Chaos everlasting, and must have kept all things in a Chaos-State to this day, and for ever, had it ever been. But,
Here, Philocles, we shall find our sovereign Genius; if we can charm the Genius of the Place (more chaste and sober than your Silenus) to inspire us with a truer Song of Nature, teach us some celestial Hymn, and make us feel Divinity present in these solemn Places of Retreat.
Haste then, I conjure you, said I, good Theocles, and stop not one moment for any Ceremony or Rite. For well I see, methinks, that without any such Preparation, some Divinity has approach’d us, and already moves in you. We are come to the sacred Groves of the Hamadryads, which formerly were said to render Oracles. We are on the most beautiful part of the Hill; and the Sun, now ready to rise, draws off the Curtain of Night, and shews us the open Scene of Nature in the Plains below. Begin: For now I know you are full of those Divine Thoughts which meet you ever in this Solitude. Give ’em but Voice and Accents: You may be still as much alone as you are us’d, and take no more notice of me than if I were absent.
JUST as I had said this, he turn’d away his Eyes from me, musing a-while by himself: and soon afterwards, stretching out his Hand, as pointing to the Objects round him, he began.
Meditation.“Ye Fields and Woods, my Refuge from the toilsome World of Business, receive me in your quiet Sanctuarys, and favour my Retreat and thoughtful Solitude.—Ye verdant Plains, how gladly I salute ye!—Hail all ye blissful Mansions! Known Seats! Delightful Prospects! Majestick Beautys of this Earth, and all ye Rural Powers and Graces!—Bless’d be ye chaste Abodes of happiest Mortals, who here in peaceful Innocence enjoy a Life un-envy’d, tho Divine; whilst with its bless’d Tranquillity it affords a happy Leisure and Retreat for Man; who, made for Contemplation, and to search his own and other Natures, may here best meditate the Cause of Things; and plac’d amidst the various Scenes of Nature, may nearer view her Works.
“O glorious Nature! supremely Fair, and sovereignly Good! All-loving and All-lovely, All-divine! Whose Looks are so becoming, and of such infinite Grace; whose Study brings such Wisdom, and whose Contemplation such Delight; whose every single Work affords an ampler Scene, and is a nobler Spectacle than all which ever Art presented!—O mighty Nature! Wise Substitute of Providence! impower’d Creatress! Or Thou impowering Deity, supreme Creator! Thee I invoke, and Thee alone adore. To thee this Solitude, this Place, these Rural Meditations are sacred; whilst thus inspir’d with Harmony of Thought, tho unconfin’d by Words, and in loose Numbers, I sing of Nature’s Order in created Beings, and celebrate the Beautys which resolve in Thee, the Source and Principle of all Beauty and Perfection.
“Thy Being is boundless, unsearchable, impenetrable. In thy Immensity all Thought is lost; Fancy gives o’er its Flight: and weary’d Imagination spends it-self in vain; finding no Coast nor Limit of this Ocean, nor in the widest Tract thro’ which it soars, one Point yet nearer the Circumference than the first Center whence it parted.—Thus having oft essay’d, thus sally’d forth into the wide Expanse, when I return again within my-self, struck with the Sense of this so narrow Being, and of the Fulness of that Immense-one; I dare no more behold the amazing Depths, nor sound the Abyss of Deity.—
“Yet since by Thee (O SovereignMind!) I have been form’d such as I am, intelligent and rational; since the peculiar Dignity of my Nature is to know and contemplate Thee; permit that with due freedom I exert those Facultys with which thou hast adorn’d me. Bear with my ventrous and bold Approach. And since nor vain Curiosity, nor fond Conceit, nor Love of ought save Thee alone, inspires me with such Thoughts as these, be thou my Assistant, and guide me in this Pursuit; whilst I venture thus to tread the Labyrinth of wide Nature, and endeavour to trace thee in thy Works.”—
HERE he stop’d short, and starting, as out of a Dream; Now, Philocles, said he, inform me, How have I appear’d to you in my Fit? Seem’d it a sensible kind of Madness, like those Transports which are permitted to our Poets? or was it downright Raving?
I only wish, said I, that you had been a little stronger in your Transport, to have proceeded as you began, without ever minding me. For I was beginning to see Wonders in that Nature you taught me, and was coming to know the Hand of your divine Artificer. But if you stop here, I shall lose the Enjoyment of the pleasing Vision. And already I begin to find a thousand Difficultys in fansying such a Universal Genius as you describe.
Unity.“Why,” said he, “is there any difficulty in fansying the Universe to be One Intire Thing? Can one otherwise think of it, by what is visible, than that All hangs together, as of a Piece?” “Grant it: And what follows?” “Only this; that if it may indeed be said of the World, ‘That it is simply One,’ there shou’d be something belonging to it which makes it One.” “As how?” “No otherwise than as you may observe in every thing. For to instance in what we see before us; I know you look upon the Trees of this vast Wood to be different from one another: And this tall Oak, the noblest of the Company, as it is by it-self a different thing from all its Fellows of the Wood, so with its own Wood of numerous spreading Branches (which seem so many differentTrees) ’tis still, I suppose, one and theself-sameTree. Now shou’d you, as a mere Caviller, and not as a fair Sceptick, tell me that if a Figure of Wax, or any other Matter, were cast in the exact Shape and Colours of this Tree, and temper’d, if possible, to the same kind of Substance, it might therefore possibly be a real Tree of the same Kind or Species; I wou’d have done with you, and reason no longer. But if you question’d me fairly, and desir’d I shou’d satisfy you what I thought it was which made this Oneness or Sameness in the Tree or any other Plant; or by what it differ’d from the waxen Figure, or from any such Figure accidentally made, either in the Clouds, or on the Sand by the Sea-shore; I shou’d tell you, that neither the Wax, nor Sand, nor Cloud thus piec’d together by our Hand or Fancy, had any real relation within themselves, or had any Nature by which they corresponded any more in that near Situation of Parts, than if scatter’d ever so far asunder. But this I shou’d affirm, ‘That wherever there was such a Sympathizing of Parts, as we saw here, in our realTree; Wherever there was such a plain Concurrence in one common End, and to the Support, Nourishment, and Propagation of so fair a Form; we cou’d not be mistaken in saying there was a peculiarNature belonging to this Form, and common to it with others of the same kind.’ By virtue of this, our Tree is a real Tree; lives, flourishes, and is still One and the same; even when by Vegetation and change of Substance, not one Particle in it remains the same.”
At this rate indeed, said I, you have found a way to make very adorable Places of these Silvan Habitations. For besides the living Genius of each Place, the Woods too, which, by your account, are animated, have their Hamadryads, no doubt, and the Springs and Rivulets their Nymphs in store belonging to ’em: And these too, by what I can apprehend, of immaterial and immortal Substances.
We injure ’em then, reply’d Theocles, to say “they belong to these Trees”; and not rather “these Trees to them.” But as for their Immortality, let them look to it themselves. I only know, that both theirs and all other Natures must for their Duration depend alone on that Nature on which the World depends: And that every Genius else must be subordinate to that One goodGenius, whom I wou’d willingly persuade you to think belonging to this World, according to our present way of speaking.
Leaving, therefore, these Trees, continu’d he, to personate themselves the best they can,Personality. let us examine this thing of Personality between you and me; and consider how you, Philocles, are You, and I’m My-self. For that there is a Sympathy of Parts in these Figures of ours,Self. other than in those of Marble form’d by a Phidias or Praxiteles; Sense, I believe, will teach us. And yet that our own Marble, or Stuff, (whate’er it be, of which we are compos’d) wears out in seven, or, at the longest, in twice seven Years, the meanest Anatomist can tell us. Now where, I beseech you, will that same One be found at last, supposing it to lie in the Stuff it-self, or any part of it? For when that is wholly spent, and not one Particle of it left, we are Our-selves still as much as before.
What you Philosophers are, reply’d I, may be hard perhaps to determine: But for the rest of Mankind, I dare affirm, that few are so long themselves as half seven Years. ’Tis good fortune if a Man be one and the same only for a day or two: A Year makes more Revolutions than can be number’d.
True, said he: But tho this may happen to a Man, and chiefly to one whose contrary Vices set him at odds so often with himself; yet when he comes to suffer, or be punish’d for those Vices, he finds himself, if I mistake not, still one and the same. And you (Philocles!) who, tho you disown Philosophy, are yet so true a Proselyte to Pyrrhonism; shou’d you at last, feeling the Power of the Genius I preach, be wrought upon to own the divine Hypothesis,Identity. and from this new Turn of Thought admit a total Change in all your Principles and Opinions; yet wou’d you be still the self-same Philocles: tho better yet, if you will take my Judgment, than the present-one, as much as I love and value him. You see therefore, there is a strange Simplicity in this You and Me, that in reality they shou’d be still one and the same, when neither one Atom of Body, one Passion, nor one Thought remains the same. And for that poor Endeavour of making out this Sameness or Identity of Being, from some self-same Matter, or Particle of Matter,Matter. suppos’d to remain with us when all besides is chang’d; this is by so much the more contemptible, as that Matter it-self is not really capable of such Simplicity. For I dare answer, you will allow this You and Me to be each of us simply and individually One, better than you can allow the same to any thing of mere Matter; unless, quitting your Inclination for Scepticism, you fall so in love with the Notion of an Atom, as to find it full as intelligible and certain to you, as that You are Your-self.
But whatever, continu’d Theocles, be suppos’d of uncompounded Matter, (a Thing, at best, pretty difficult to conceive) yet being compounded,Form. and put together in a certain number of such Parts as unite and conspire in these Frames of ours, and others like them; if it can present us with so many innumerable Instances of particular Forms, who share this simple Principle, by which they are really One, live, act, and have a Nature or Genius peculiar to themselves,A Genius. and provident for their own Welfare; how shall we at the same time overlook this in the Whole, and deny the Great and General-One of the World? How can we be so unnatural as to disown divine Nature,The Supreme One. our common Parent, and refuse to recognize the universal and sovereignGenius?
Sovereigns, said I, require no Notice to be taken of ’em, when they pass incognito, nor any Homage where they appear not in due Form. We may even have reason to presume they shou’d be displeas’d with us for being too officious, in endeavouring to discover them, when they keep themselves either wholly invisible, or in very dark disguise. As for the Notice we take of these invisible Powers in the common way of our Religion, we have our visible Sovereigns to answer for us. Our lawful Superiors teach us what we are to own, and to perform, in Worship. And we are dutiful in complying with them, and following their Example. But in a philosophical way, I find no warrant for our being such earnest Recognizers of a controverted Title. However it be, you must allow one at least to understand the Controversy, and know the Nature of these Powers describ’d. May one not inquire, “What Substances they are of?Substance Material, Immaterial. whether material or immaterial?”
May one not, on the other hand, reply’d Theocles, inquire as well, “What Substance, or which of these two Substances you count your real and proper Self.” Or wou’d you rather be no Substance, but chuse to call your-self a Mode or Accident?
Truly, said I, as accidental as my Life may be, or as that random Humour is, which governs it; I know nothing, after all, so real or substantial as My-self. Therefore if there be that Thing you call a Substance, I take for granted I am one. But for any thing further relating to this Question, you know mySceptick Principles: I determine neither way.
Allow me then, reply’d he (good Philocles!) the same Privilege of Scepticism in this respect; since it concerns not the Affair before us, Which way we determine, or Whether we come to any Determination at all in this point. For be the Difficulty ever so great; it stands the same, you may perceive, against your own Being, as against that which I am pretending to convince you of. You may raise what Objections you please on either hand; and your Dilemma may be of notable force against the manner of such a supreme Being’s Existence. But after you have done all, you will bring the same Dilemma home to you, and be at a loss still about Your-self.Metaphysicks. When you have argu’d ever so long upon these Metaphysical Points of Mode and Substance, and have philosophically concluded from the Difficultys of each Hypothesis, “That there cannot be in Nature such a Universal-One as This”; you must conclude,A Mind. from the same Reasons, “That there cannot be any such particular One as Your-self.” But that there is actually such a one as this latter, your own Mind, ’tis hop’d, may satisfy you. And of this Mind ’tis enough to say, “That it is something which acts upon a Body, and has something passive under it, and subject to it: That it has not only Body or mere Matter for its Subject, but in some respect even it-self too, and what proceeds from it: That it superintends and manages its own Imaginations, Appearances, Fancys; correcting, working, and modelling these, as it finds good; and adorning and accomplishing, the best it can, this composite Order of Body and Understanding.” Such a Mind and governing Part, I know there is somewhere in the World. Let Pyrrho, by the help of such another, contradict me, if he pleases. We have our several Understandings and Thoughts,Particular Minds. however we came by ’em. Each understands and thinks the best he can for his own purpose: He for Himself; I for another Self. And who, I beseech you, for theWhole?—No-one? Nothing at all?—The World, perhaps,Mind of the Whole. you suppose to be mere Body: A Mass of modify’d Matter. The Bodys of Men are part therefore of this Body. The Imaginations, Sensations, Apprehensions of Men are included in this Body, and inherent in it, produc’d out of it, and resum’d again into it; tho the Body, it seems, never dreams of it! The Worldit-self is never the wiser for all the Wit and Wisdom it breeds! It has no Apprehension at all of what is doing; no Thought kept to it-self, for its own proper use, or purpose; not a single Imagination or Reflection, by which to discover or be conscious of the manifold Imaginations and Inventions which it sets a-foot, and deals abroad with such an open hand! The goodly Bulk so prolifick, kind, and yielding for every-one else, has nothing left at last for its own share; having unhappily lavish’d all away!—By what Chance I wou’d fain understand. “How? or by what necessity?—Who gives the Law?—Who orders and distributes thus?” “Nature,” say you.Nature. “And what is Nature? Is it Sense? Is it a Person? Has she Reason or Understanding?” “No.” “Who then understands for her, or is interested or concern’d in her behalf?” “No-one; not a Soul: But Every one for himself.”
Come on then. Let us hear further, Is not this Nature still a Self? Or, tell me, I beseech you, How are Youone? By what Token? Or by virtue of What? “By a Principle which joins certain Parts, and which thinks and acts consonantly for the Use and Purpose of those Parts.” “Say, therefore, What is your whole System a Part of? Or is it, indeed, no Part, but a Whole, by it-self, absolute, independent, and unrelated to any thing besides? If it be indeed a Part, and really related; to what else, I beseech you, than to the Whole ofNature? Is there then such a uniting Principle in Nature? If so,Nature subject to a Mind. how are you then a Self, and Nature not so? How have you something to understand and act for you, and Nature, who gave this Understanding, nothing at all to understand for her, advise her, or help her out (poor Being!) on any occasion, whatever Necessity she may be in? Has the World such ill fortune in the main? Are there so many particular understanding active Principles every where? And is there Nothing, at last, which thinks, acts, or understands for All? Nothing which administers or looks after All?”
Contrary Belief.No (says one of a modern Hypothesis) for the World was from Eternity, as you see it; and is no more than barely what you see: “Matter modify’d; a Lump in motion, with here and there a Thought, or scatter’d Portion of dissoluble Intelligence.”—No (says one of an antienter Hypothesis) for the World was once without any Intelligence or Thought at all; “Mere Matter, Chaos,Two sorts.and a Play of Atoms; till Thought, by chance, came into play, and made up a Harmony which was never design’d, or thought of.”—Admirable Conceit!—Believe it who can.Faith of Atheism. For my own share (thank Providence) I have a Mind in my possession, which serves, such as it is, to keep my Body and its Affections, my Passions, Appetites, Imaginations, Fancys, and the rest, in tolerable Harmony and Order. But the Order of theUniverse, I am persuaded still, is much the better of the two. Let Epicurus, if he please, think his the better; and believing no Genius or Wisdom above his own, inform us by what Chance ’twas dealt him, and how Atoms came to be so wise.
In fine, continu’d Theocles (raising his Voice and Action) being thus, even by Scepticism it-self, convinc’d the more still of my own Being, and of this Self of mine,Faith of Theism. “That ’tis a real Self, drawn out, and copy’d from another principal and originalSelf (the Great-one of the World)” I endeavour to be really one with it, and conformable to it, as far as I am able. I consider, That as there is one general Mass, one Body of the Whole; so to this Body there is an Order, to this Order a Mind: That to this generalMind each particular-one must have relation; as being of like Substance, (as much as we can understand of Substance) alike active upon Body, original to Motion and Order; alike simple, uncompounded, individual; of like Energy, Effect, and Operation; and more like still, if it co-operates with it to general Good, and strives to will according to the best of Wills. So that it cannot surely but seem natural, “That the particularMind shou’d seek its Happiness in conformity with the general-one, and endeavour to resemble it in its highest Simplicity and Excellence.”
THEREFORE, Now, said I, good Theocles, be once again the Enthusiast; and let me hear a-new that divine Song with which I was lately charm’d. I am already got over my Qualm, and begin better than ever to fansy such a Nature as you speak of; insomuch that I find myself mightily in its Interest, and concern’d that all shou’d go happily and well with it. Tho at the rate it often runs, I can scarce help being in some pain on its account.
Energy of Nature.“Fear not, my Friend,” reply’d he. “For know that every particularNature certainly and constantly produces what is good to it-self; unless something foreign disturbs or hinders it, either by over-powering and corrupting it within, or by Violence from without. Thus Nature in the Patient struggles to the last, and strives to throw off the Distemper. Thus even in these Plants we see round us, everyparticularNature thrives, and attains its Perfection, if nothing from without obstructs it, nor any thing foreign has already impair’d or wounded it: And even in this case, it does its utmost still to redeem it-self. What are all Weaknesses,Distempers. Distortions, Sicknesses, imperfect Births, and the seeming Contradictions and Perversitys of Nature, other than of this sort? And how ignorant must one be of all natural Causes and Operations, to think that any of these Disorders happen by a Miscarriage of the particular Nature, and not by the Force of some foreign Nature which over-powers it? If therefore every particular Nature be thus constantly and unerringly true to it-self, and certain to produce only what is good for it-self, and conducing to its own right State; shall not the general-one, TheNatureof the Whole, do full as much? Shall That alone miscarry or fail? Or is there any thing foreign, which shou’d at any time do violence upon it, or force it out of its natural way? If not,General Good. then all it produces is to its own advantage and good; the Good of All in general: And what is for the good of all in general, is Just and Good.” “ ’Tis so,” said I, “I confess.”
Then you ought to rest satisfy’d, reply’d he; and not only so, but be pleas’d and rejoice at what happens, knowing whence it comes, and to what Perfection it contributes.Resignation.
BLESS me! said I, Theocles, into what a Superstition are you like to lead me! I thought it heretofore the Mark of a superstitious Mind, to search for Providence in the common Accidents of Life, and ascribe to the Divine Power those common Disasters and Calamitys which Nature has entail’d on Mankind. But now, I find, I must place all in general to one Account; and viewing things thro’ a kind of Magical Glass, I am to see the worst of Ills transform’d to Good, and admire equally whatever comes from one and the same perfect Hand.—But no matter; I can surmount all. Go on, Theocles, and let me advise you in my own behalf, that since you have rekindled me, you do not by delaying give me time to cool again.
I wou’d have you know, reply’d he, I scorn to take the advantage of a warm Fit, and be beholden to Temper or Imagination for gaining me your Assent. Therefore ere I go yet a step farther, I am resolv’d to enter again into cool Reason with you; and ask, If you admit for Proof what I advanc’d yesterday upon that head, “Of a Universal UNION,Principle of Order.Coherence, or Sympathizing of Things?”
By Force of Probability, said I, you overcame me. Being convinc’d of a Consent and Correspondence in all we saw of Things, I consider’d it as unreasonable not to allow the same thro’out!
Unreasonable indeed! reply’d he. For in the infinite Residue, were there no Principle of Union; it wou’d seem next to impossible, that things within our Sphere shou’d be consistent, and keep their Order.Why universal. “For what was infinite, wou’d be predominant.” “It seems so.”
Tell me then, said he, after this Union own’d, how you can refuse to allow the name of Demonstration to the remaining Arguments, which establish the Government of a perfect Mind.
Phaenomena of Ill.Your Solutions, said I, of the ill Appearances are not perfect enough to pass for Demonstration. And whatever seems vitious or imperfect in the Creation, puts a stop to further Conclusions, till the thing be solv’d.
“Did you not then,” said he, “agree with me, when I aver’d that the Appearances must of necessity stand as they are, and things seem altogether as imperfect, even on the Concession of a perfect Supreme Mind existent?” “I did so.”
“And is not the same Reason good still? viz. ‘That in an infinity of Things, mutually relative, a Mind which sees not infinitely, can see nothing fully;Whence.and musttherefore frequently see that as imperfect, which in it-self is really perfect.’ ” “The Reason is still good.”
“Are the Appearances, then, any Objection to our Hypothesis?” “None, whilst they remain Appearances only.”
Can you then prove them to be any more? For if you cannot, you prove nothing. And that it lies on you to prove, you plainly see: since the Appearances do not only agree with the Hypothesis, but are a necessary Consequence from it. To bid me prove, therefore, in this case, is, in a manner, the same as to bid me be infinite. For nothing beside what is infinite can see infinite Connexions.”
The Presumption, I must confess, said I, by this reckoning, is wholly on your side. Yet still this is only Presumption.
Demonstration.“Take Demonstration then,” said he, “if you can endure I shou’d reason thus abstractedly and drily. The Appearances of Ill, you say, are not necessarily that Ill they represent to you.” “I own it.”
“Therefore what they represent may possibly be Good.” “It may.”
“And therefore there may possibly be no realIll in things: but all may be perfectly concurrent to one Interest; the Interest of that Universal One.” “It may be so.”
“Why, then, if it may be so, (be not surpriz’d) ‘It follows that it must be so’; on the account of that great Unit, and simple Self-principle, which you have granted in theWhole. For whatever is possible in the Whole, the Nature or Mind of the Whole will put in execution for the Whole’s Good: And if it be possible to exclude Ill, it will exclude it. Therefore since notwithstanding the Appearances, ’tis possible that Ill may actually be excluded; count upon it, ‘That actually it is excluded.’ For nothing merely passive can oppose this universally active Principle. If any thing active oppose it, ’tis another Principle.” “Allow it.”Manichaeism.
’Tis impossible. For were there in Nature Two or more Principles, either they must agree, or not. If they agree not, all must be Confusion, till one be predominant. If they agree, there must be some natural Reason for their Agreement; and this natural Reason cannot be from Chance, but from some particular Design, Contrivance, or Thought: which brings us up again to One Principle, and makes the other two to be subordinate. And thus when we have compar’d each of the Three Opinions, viz. “That thereis no designing active Principle;Conclusion. That there is more than one”; or, “That finally there is butOne”; we shall perceive, that the only consistent Opinion is the last. And since one or other of these Opinions must of necessity be true; what can we determine, other than that the last is, and must be so, demonstrably? if it be Demonstration “That in Three Opinions, One of which must necessarily be true, Two being plainly absurd, the Third must be the Truth.”
Enough, said I, Theocles. My Doubts are vanish’d. Malice and Chance (vain Phantoms!) have yielded to that all-prevalentWisdom which you have establish’d. You are Conqueror in the cool way of Reason, and may with Honour now grow warm again, in your poetick Vein. Return therefore, I intreat you, once more, to that Perfection of Being; and address your-self to it as before, on our Approaches to these Silvan Scenes, where first it seem’d to inspire you. I shall now no longer be in danger of imagining either Magick or Superstition in the case; since you invoke no other Power than that single One, which seems so natural.
THUS I continue then, said Theocles, addressing my-self, as you wou’d have me, to that Guardian-Deity and Inspirer, whom we are to imagine present here;Meditation. but not here only. For, “O mighty Genius! Sole-animating and inspiring Power! Author and Subject of these Thoughts! Thy Influence is universal: and in all Things, thou art inmost. From Thee depend their secret Springs of Action. Thou mov’st them with an irresistible unweary’d Force, by sacred and inviolable Laws, fram’d for the Good of each particular Being; as best may sute with the Perfection, Life, and Vigour of the Whole. The vital Principle is widely shar’d, and infinitely vary’d: dispers’d thro’out; nowhere extinct. All lives; and by Succession still revives. The temporary Beings quit their borrow’d Forms, and yield their elementary Substance to New-Comers. Call’d, in their several turns, to Life, they view the Light, and viewing pass; that others too may be Spectators of the goodly Scene, and greater numbers still enjoy the Privilege of Nature. Munificent and Great, she imparts her-self to most; and makes the Subjects of her Bounty infinite. Nought stays her hastning Hand. No Time nor Substance is lost or un-improv’d. New Forms arise: and when the old dissolve, the Matter whence they were compos’d is not left useless, but wrought with equal Management and Art, even in Corruption, Nature’s seeming Waste, and vile Abhorrence. The abject State appears merely as the Way or Passage to some better. But cou’d we nearly view it, and with Indifference, remote from the Antipathy of Sense; we then perhaps shou’d highest raise our Admiration: convinc’d that even the Way it-self was equal to the End. Nor can we judg less favourably of that consummate Art exhibited thro’ all the Works of Nature; since our weak Eyes, help’d by mechanick Art, discover in these Works a hidden Scene of Wonders; Worlds within Worlds, of infinite Minuteness, tho as to Art still equal to the greatest, and pregnant with more Wonders than the most discerning Sense, join’d with the greatest Art, or the acutest Reason, can penetrate or unfold.
“But ’tis in vain for us to search the bulky Mass of Matter: seeking to know its Nature; how great the Whole it-self, or even how small its Parts.
“If knowing only some of the Rules of Motion, we seek to trace it further, ’tis in vain we follow it into the Bodys it has reach’d. Our tardy Apprehensions fail us, and can reach nothing beyond the Body it-self, thro’ which it is diffus’d. Wonderful Being, (if we may call it so) which Bodys never receive, except from others which lose it; nor ever lose, unless by imparting it to others. Even without Change of Place it has its Force: And Bodys big with Motion labour to move, yet stir not; whilst they express an Energy beyond our Comprehension.
“In vain too we pursue that PhantomTime, too small, and yet too mighty for our Grasp; when shrinking to a narrow point, it scapes our Hold, or mocks our scanty Thought by swelling to Eternity, an Object unproportion’d to our Capacity, as is thy Being, O thou Antient Cause! older than Time, yet young with fresh Eternity.
“In vain we try to fathom the Abyss of Space, the Seat of thy extensive Being; of which no Place is empty, no Void which is not full.
“In vain we labour to understand that Principle of Sense and Thought, which seeming in us to depend so much on Motion, yet differs so much from it, and from Matter it-self, as not to suffer us to conceive how Thought can more result from this, than this arise from Thought. But Thought we own pre-eminent, and confess the reallest of Beings; the only Existence of which we are made sure, by being conscious. All else may be only Dream and Shadow. All which even Sense suggests may be deceitful. The Senseit-self remains still; Reason subsists; and Thought maintains its Eldership of Being. Thus are we in a manner conscious of that original and eternally existentThought, whence we derive our own. And thus the Assurance we have of the Existence of Beings above our Sense, and of Thee, (the great Exemplar of thy Works) comes from Thee, the All-True, and Perfect, who hast thus communicated thy-self more immediately to us, so as in some manner to inhabit within our Souls; Thou who art OriginalSoul, diffusive, vital in all, inspiriting the Whole.
“All Nature’s Wonders serve to excite and perfect this Idea of their Author. ’Tis here he suffers us to see, and even converse with him, in a manner sutable to our Frailty. How glorious is it to contemplate him, in this noblest of his Works apparent to us, The System of the bigger World!”—
HERE I must own, ’twas no small Comfort to me, to find that, as our Meditation turn’d, we were likely to get clear of an entangling abstruse Philosophy. I was in hopes Theocles, as he proceeded, might stick closer to Nature, since he was now come upon the Borders of our World. And here I wou’d willingly have welcom’d him, had I thought it safe at present to venture the least Interruption.
“Besides the neighbouring Planets,” (continu’d he, in his rapturous Strain) “what Multitudes of fix’dStars did we see sparkle, not an hour ago, in the clear Night, which yet had hardly yielded to the Day? How many others are discover’d by the help of Art? Yet how many remain still, beyond the reach of our Discovery! Crouded as they seem, their Distance from each other is as unmeasurable by Art, as is the Distance between them and us. Whence we are naturally taught the Immensity of that Being, who thro’ these immense Spaces has dispos’d such an Infinite of Bodys, belonging each (as we may well presume) to Systems as compleat as our own World: Since even the smallest Spark of this bright Galaxy may vie with this our Sun; which shining now full out, gives us new Life, exalts our Spirits, and makes us feel Divinity more present.
“Prodigious Orb! Bright Source of vital Heat, and Spring of Day!—Soft Flame, yet how intense, how active! How diffusive, and how vast a Substance; yet how collected thus within it-self, and in a glowing Mass confin’d to the Center of this planetary World!—Mighty Being! Brightest Image, and Representative of the Almighty! Supreme of the corporeal World! Unperishing in Grace, and of undecaying Youth! Fair, beautiful, and hardly mortal Creature! By what secret ways dost thou receive the Supplies which maintain Thee still in such unweary’d Vigour, and un-exhausted Glory; notwithstanding those eternally emitted Streams, and that continual Expence of vital Treasures, which inlighten and invigorate the surrounding Winds?—
“Around him all the Planets, with this our Earth, single, or with Attendants, continually move; seeking to receive the Blessing of his Light, and lively Warmth! Towards him they seem to tend with prone descent, as to their Center; but happily controul’d still by another Impulse, they keep their heavenly Order; and in just Numbers, and exactest Measure, go the eternal Rounds.
“But, O thou who art the Author and Modifier of these various Motions! O sovereign and sole Mover, by whose high Art the rolling Spheres are govern’d, and these stupendous Bodys of our World hold their unrelenting Courses! O wise OEconomist, and powerful Chief, whom all the Elements and Powers of Nature serve! How hast thou animated these moving Worlds? What Spirit or Soul infus’d? What Biass fix’d? Or how encompass’d them in liquid AEther, driving them as with the Breath of living Winds, thy active and unweary’d Ministers in this intricate and mighty Work?
“Thus powerfully are the Systems held intire, and kept from fatal interfering. Thus is our ponderousGlobe directed in its annual Course; daily revolving on its own Center: whilst the obsequious Moon with double Labour, monthly surrounding this our bigger Orb, attends the Motion of her Sister-Planet, and pays in common her circular Homage to the Sun.
“Yet is this Mansion-Globe, this Man-Container, of a much narrower compass even than other its Fellow-Wanderers of our System. How narrow then must it appear, compar’d with the capacious System of its own Sun? And how narrow, or as nothing, in respect of those innumerable Systems of other apparent Suns? Yet how immense a Body it seems, compar’d with ours of human Form, a borrow’d Remnant of its variable and oft-converted Surface? tho animated with a sublime Celestial Spirit, by which we have Relation and Tendency to Thee our Heavenly Sire, Center of Souls; to whom these Spirits of ours by Nature tend, as earthly Bodys to their proper Center.—O did they tend as unerringly and constantly!—But Thou alone composest the Disorders of the corporeal World, and from the restless and fighting Elements raisest that peaceful Concord, and conspiring Beauty of the ever-flourishing Creation. Even so canst thou convert these jarring Motions of intelligent Beings, and in due time and manner cause them to find their Rest; making them contribute to the Good and Perfection of theUniverse, thy all-good and perfect Work.”—
HERE again he broke off, looking on me as if he expected I shou’d speak; which when he found plainly I wou’d not, but continu’d still in a posture of musing Thought: Why Philocles! (said he, with an Air of Wonder) What can this mean, that you shou’d suffer me thus to run on, without the least Interruption? Have you at once given over your scrupulous Philosophy, to let me range thus at pleasure thro’ these aerial Spaces and imaginary Regions, where my capricious Fancy or easy Faith has led me? I wou’d have you to consider better, and know, my Philocles, that I had never trusted my-self with you in this Vein of Enthusiasm, had I not rely’d on you to govern it a little better.
I find then, said I, (rouzing my-self from my musing Posture) you expect I shou’d serve you in the same capacity as that Musician, whom an antient Orator made use of at his Elbow, to strike such moving Notes as rais’d him when he was perceiv’d to sink; and calm’d him again, when his impetuous Spirit was transported in too high a Strain.
“You imagine right,” reply’d Theocles; “and therefore I am resolv’d not to go on, till you have promis’d to pull me by the Sleeve when I grow extravagant.” “Be it so,” said I; “you have my Promise.” “But how if instead of rising in my Transports, I shou’d grow flat and tiresom: What Lyre or Instrument wou’d you imploy to raise me?”
The Danger, I told him, cou’d hardly be suppos’d to lie on this hand. His Vein was a plentiful one; and his Enthusiasm in no likelihood of failing him. His Subject too, as well as his Numbers, wou’d bear him out. And with the Advantage of the rural Scene around us, his number’d Prose, I thought, supply’d the room of the best Pastoral Song. For in the manner I was now wrought up, ’twas as agreeable to me to hear him, in this kind of Passion, invoke his Stars and Elements, as to hear one of those amorous Shepherds complaining to his Flock, and making the Woods and Rocks resound the Name of Her whom he ador’d.—Begin therefore (continu’d I, still pressing him) Begin a-new, and lead me boldly thro’ your Elements. Wherever there is danger, be it on either hand, I promise to give you warning, when I perceive it.
LET us begin then, said he, with this our Element of Earth, which yonder we see cultivated with such Care by the early Swains now working in the Plain below.—“Unhappy restless Men, who first disdain’d these peaceful Labours, gentle rural Tasks, perform’d with such Delight! What Pride or what Ambition bred this Scorn? Hence all those fatal Evils of your Race! Enormous Luxury, despising homely Fare, ranges thro’ Seas and Lands, rifles the Globe; and Men ingenious to their Misery, work out for themselves the means of heavier Labour, anxious Cares, and Sorrow: Not satisfy’d to turn and manure for their Use the wholesom and beneficial Mould of this their Earth, they dig yet deeper, and seeking out imaginary Wealth, they search its very Entrails.
“Here, led by Curiosity, we find Minerals of different Natures, which by their Simplicity discover no less of the Divine Art, than the most compounded of Nature’s Works. Some are found capable of surprizing Changes; others as durable, and hard to be destroy’d or chang’d by Fire, or utmost Art. So various are the Subjects of our Contemplation, that even the Study of these inglorious Parts of Nature, in the nether World, is able it-self alone to yield large Matter and Employment for the busiest Spirits of Men, who in the Labour of these Experiments can willingly consume their Lives.—But the noisom poisonous Steams which the Earth breathes from these dark Caverns, where she conceals her Treasures, suffer not prying Mortals to live long in this Search.
“How comfortable is it to those who come out hence alive, to breathe a purer Air! to see the rejoicing Light of Day! and tread the fertile Ground! How gladly they contemplate the Surface of the Earth, their Habitation, heated and enliven’d by the Sun, and temper’d by the fresh Air of fanning Breezes! These exercise the resty Plants, and scour the unactive Globe. And when the Sun draws hence thick clouded Steams and Vapours, ’tis only to digest and exalt the unwholesom Particles, and commit ’em to the sprightly Air; which soon imparting its quick and vital Spirit, renders ’em again with improvement to the Earth, in gentle Breathings, or in rich Dews and fruitful Showers. The same Air, moving about the mighty Mass, enters its Pores, impregnating the Whole: And both the Sun and Air conspiring, so animate this Mother-Earth, that tho ever breeding, her Vigour is as great, her Beauty as fresh, and her Looks as charming, as if she newly came out of the forming Hands of her Creator.
“How beautiful is the Water among the inferior Earthly Works! Heavy, liquid, and transparent: without the springing Vigour and expansive Force of Air; but not without Activity. Stubborn and un-yielding, when compress’d; but placidly avoiding Force, and bending every way with ready Fluency! Insinuating, it dissolves the lumpish Earth, frees the intangled Bodys, procures their Intercourse, and summons to the Field the keen terrestrial Particles; whole happy Strifes soon ending in strict Union, produce the various Forms which we behold. How vast are the Abysses of the Sea, where this soft Element is stor’d; and whence the Sun and Winds extracting, raise it into Clouds! These soon converted into Rain, water the thirsty Ground, and supply a-fresh the Springs and Rivers; the Comfort of the neighbouring Plains, and sweet Refreshment of all Animals.
“But whither shall we trace the Sources of theLight? or in what Ocean comprehend the luminous Matter so wide diffus’d thro’ the immense Spaces which it fills? What Seats shall we assign to that fierce Element of Fire, too active to be confin’d within the Compass of the Sun, and not excluded even the Bowels of the heavy Earth? The Air it-self submits to it, and serves as its inferior Instrument. Even this our Sun, with all those numerous Suns, the glittering Host of Heaven, seem to receive from hence the vast Supplies which keep them ever in their splendid State. The invisible etherial Substance, penetrating both liquid and solid Bodys, is diffus’d thro’out the Universe. It cherishes the cold dull massy Globe, and warms it to its Center. It forms the Minerals; gives Life and Growth to Vegetables; kindles a soft, invisible, and vital Flame in the Breasts of living Creatures; frames, animates, and nurses all the various Forms; sparing, as well as imploying for their Use, those sulphurous and combustible Matters of which they are compos’d. Benign and gentle amidst all, it still maintains this happy Peace and Concord, according to its stated and peculiar Laws. But these once broken, the acquitted Being takes its Course unrul’d. It runs impetuous thro’ the fatal Breach, and breaking into visible and fierce Flames, passes triumphant o’er the yielding Forms, converting all into it-self, and dissolving now those Systems which it-self before had form’d. ’Tis thus”—
HERE Theocles stopt on a sudden, when (as he imagin’d) I was putting my Hand out, to lay hold on his Sleeve.
O Philocles, said he, ’tis well remember’d. I was growing too warm, I find; as well I might indeed, in this hot Element. And here perhaps I might have talk’d yet more mysteriously, had you been one who cou’d think otherwise than in the common way of the soft Flames of Love. You might, perhaps, have heard Wonders in this kind: “How all things had their Being hence, and how their noblest End was to be here wrapt up, consum’d and lost.”—But in these high Flights, I might possibly have gone near to burn my Wings.
Indeed, said I, you might well expect the Fate of Icarus, for your high-soaring. But this, indeed, was not what I fear’d. For you were got above Danger; and, with that devouring Element on your side, had master’d not only the Sun himself, but every thing which stood in your way. I was afraid it might, in the issue, run to what they tell us of a universal Conflagration; in which I knew not how it might go, possibly, with our Genius.
I am glad, said he, Philocles! to find this grown such a Concern with you. But you may rest secure here, if the Case you meant were that periodical Conflagration talk’d of by some Philosophers. For there the Genius wou’d of necessity be all in all: And in those Intervals of Creation, when no Form, nor Species existed any-where out of the Divine Mind, all then was Deity: All was that One, collected thus within it-self, and subsisting (as they imagin’d) rather in a more simple and perfect manner, than when multiply’d in more ways; and becoming productive, it unfolded it-self in the various Map of Nature, and this fair visible World.
But for my part, said I, (interrupting him) who can much better see Divinityunfolded, than in that involv’d and solitary State before Creation; I cou’d wish you wou’d go a little further with me in the Map of Nature; especially if descending from your lofty Flights, you wou’d be content to pitch upon this humble Spot of Earth; where I cou’d better accompany you, where’er you led me.
But you, reply’d he, who wou’d confine me to this heavy Earth, must yet allow me the same Wings of Fancy. How else shall I fly with you, thro’ different Climates, from Pole to Pole, and from the Frigid to the Torrid Zone?
O, said I, for this purpose I will allow you the Pegasus of the Poets, or that wing’d Griffin which an Italian Poet of the Moderns gave to one of his Heroes: Yet on this Condition, that you take no such extravagant Flight, as his was, to the Moon; but keep closely to this Orb of Earth.
SINCE you will have it so, reply’d Theocles, let us try first on the darkest and most imperfect Parts of our Map, and see how you can endure the Prospect. “How oblique and faintly looks the Sun on yonder Climates, far remov’d from him! How tedious are the Winters there! How deep the Horrors of the Night, and how uncomfortable even the Light of Day! The freezing Winds employ their fiercest Breath, yet are not spent with blowing. The Sea, which elsewhere is scarce confin’d within its Limits, lies here immur’d in Walls of Chrystal. The Snow covers the Hills, and almost fills the lowest Valleys. How wide and deep it lies, incumbent o’er the Plains, hiding the sluggish Rivers, the Shrubs, and Trees, the Dens of Beasts, and Mansions of distress’d and feeble Men!—See! where they lie confin’d, hardly secure against the raging Cold, or the Attacks of the wild Beasts, now Masters of the wasted Field, and forc’d by Hunger out of the naked Woods.—Yet not dishearten’d (such is the Force of human Breasts) but thus provided for, by Art and Prudence, the kind compensating Gifts of Heaven, Men and their Herds may wait for a Release. For at length the Sun approaching, melts the Snow, sets longing Men at liberty, and affords them Means and Time to make provision against the next Return of Cold. It breaks the icy Fetters of the Main; where vast Sea-Monsters pierce thro’ floating Islands, with Arms which can withstand the Chrystal Rock: whilst others, who of themselves seem great as Islands, are by their Bulk alone arm’d against all but Man; whose Superiority over Creatures of such stupendous Size and Force, shou’d make him mindful of his Privilege of Reason, and force him humbly to adore the great Composer of these wondrous Frames, and Author of his own superior Wisdom.
“But leaving these dull Climates, so little favour’d by the Sun, for those happier Regions, on which he looks more kindly, making perpetual Summer; How great an Alteration do we find? His purer Light confounds weak-sighted Mortals, pierc’d by his scorching Beams. Scarce can they tread the glowing Ground. The Air they breathe cannot enough abate the Fire which burns within their panting Breasts. Their Bodys melt. O’ercome and fainting, they seek the Shade, and wait the cool Refreshments of the Night. Yet oft the bounteousCreator bestows other Refreshments. He casts a veil of Clouds before ’em, and raises gentle Gales; favour’d by which, the Men and Beasts pursue their Labours; and Plants refresh’d by Dews and Showers, can gladly bear the warmest Sun-beams.
“And here the varying Scene opens to new Wonders. We see a Country rich with Gems, but richer with the fragrant Spices it affords. How gravely move the largest of Land-Creatures on the Banks of this fair River! How ponderous are their Arms, and vast their Strength, with Courage, and a Sense superior to the other Beasts! Yet are they tam’d, we see, by Mankind, and brought even to fight their Battels, rather as Allies and Confederates, than as Slaves.—But let us turn our Eyes towards these smaller, and more curious Objects; the numerous and devouring Insects on the Trees in these wide Plains. How shining, strong, and lasting are the subtile Threds spun from their artful Mouths! Who, beside the All-wise, has taught ’em to compose the beautiful soft Shells; in which recluse and bury’d, yet still alive, they undergo such a surprizing Change; when not destroy’d by Men, who clothe and adorn themselves with the Labours and Lives of these weak Creatures, and are proud of wearing such inglorious Spoils? How sumptuously apparel’d, gay, and splendid, are all the various Insects which feed on the other Plants of this warm Region! How beautiful the Plants themselves in all their various Growths, from the triumphant Palm down to the humble Moss!
“Now may we see that happy Country where precious Gums and Balsams flow from Trees; and Nature yields her most delicious Fruits. How tame and tractable, how patient of Labour and of Thirst, are those large Creatures; who lifting up their lofty Heads, go led and loaden thro’ these dry and barren Places! Their Shape and Temper show them fram’d by Nature to submit to Man, and fitted for his Service: who from hence ought to be more sensible of his Wants, and of the Divine Bounty, thus supplying them.
“But see! not far from us, that fertilest of Lands, water’d and fed by a friendly generous Stream, which, ere it enters the Sea, divides it-self into many Branches, to dispense more equally the rich and nitrous Manure, it bestows so kindly and in due time, on the adjacent Plains.—Fair Image of that fruitful and exuberant Nature, who with a Flood of Bounty blesses all things, and, Parent-like, out of her many Breasts sends the nutritious Draught in various Streams to her rejoicing Offspring!—Innumerable are the dubious Forms and unknown Species which drink the slimy Current: whether they are such as leaving the scorch’d Desarts, satiate here their ardent Thirst, and promiscuously engendring, beget a monstrous Race; or whether, as it is said, by the Sun’s genial Heat, active on the fermenting Ooze, new Forms are generated, and issue from the River’s fertile Bed.—See there the noted Tyrant of the Flood, and Terror of its Borders! when suddenly displaying his horrid Form, the amphibious Ravager invades the Land, quitting his watry Den, and from the deep emerging, with hideous rush, sweeps o’er the trembling Plain. The Natives from afar behold with wonder the enormous Bulk, sprung from so small an Egg. With Horror they relate the Monster’s Nature, cruel and deceitful: how he with dire Hypocrisy, and false Tears, beguiles the Simple-hearted; and inspiring Tenderness and kind Compassion, kills with pious Fraud.—Sad Emblem of that spiritual Plague, dire Superstition! Native of this Soil; where first Religion grew unsociable, and among different Worshipers bred mutual Hatred, and Abhorrence of each others Temples. The Infection spreads: and Nations now profane one to another, war fiercer, and in Religion’s Cause forget Humanity: whilst savage Zeal, with meek and pious Semblance, works dreadful Massacre; and for Heaven’s sake (horrid Pretence!) makes desolate the Earth.—
“Here let us leave these Monsters (glad if we cou’d here confine ’em!) and detesting the dire prolifick Soil, fly to the vast Desarts of these Parts. All ghastly and hideous as they appear, they want not their peculiar Beautys. The Wildness pleases. We seem to live alone with Nature. We view her in her inmost Recesses, and contemplate her with more Delight in these original Wilds, than in the artificial Labyrinths and feign’d Wildernesses of the Palace. The Objects of the Place, the scaly Serpents, the savage Beasts, and poisonous Insects, how terrible soever, or how contrary to human Nature, are beauteous in themselves, and fit to raise our Thoughts in Admiration of that Divine Wisdom, so far superior to our short Views. Unable to declare the Use or Service of all things in this Universe, we are yet assur’d of the Perfection of all, and of the Justice of that OEconomy, to which all things are subservient, and in respect of which, Things seemingly deform’d are amiable; Disorder becomes regular; Corruption wholesom; and Poisons (such as these we have seen) prove healing and beneficial.
“But behold! thro’ a vast Tract of Sky before us, the mighty Atlas rears his lofty Head, cover’d with Snow above the Clouds. Beneath the Mountain’s foot, the rocky Country rises into Hills, a proper Basis of the ponderous Mass above: where huge embody’d Rocks lie pil’d on one another, and seem to prop the high Arch of Heaven.—See! with what trembling Steps poor Mankind tread the narrow Brink of the deep Precipices! From whence with giddy Horror they look down, mistrusting even the Ground which bears ’em; whilst they hear the hollow Sound of Torrents underneath, and see the Ruin of the impending Rock; with falling Trees which hang with their Roots upwards, and seem to draw more Ruin after ’em. Here thoughtless Men, seiz’d with the Newness of such Objects, become thoughtful, and willingly contemplate the incessant Changes of this Earth’s Surface. They see, as in one instant, the Revolutions of past Ages, the fleeting Forms of Things, and the Decay even of this our Globe; whose Youth and first Formation they consider, whilst the apparent Spoil and irreparable Breaches of the wasted Mountain shew them the World it-self only as a noble Ruin, and make them think of its approaching Period.—But here mid-way the Mountain, a spacious Border of thick Wood harbours our weary’d Travellers: who now are come among the ever-green and lofty Pines, the Firs, and noble Cedars, whose towring Heads seem endless in the Sky; the rest of Trees appearing only as Shrubs beside them. And here a different Horror seizes our shelter’d Travellers, when they see the Day diminish’d by the deep Shapes of the vast Wood; which closing thick above, spreads Darkness and eternal Night below. The faint and gloomy Light looks horrid as the Shade it-self: and the profound Stillness of these Places imposes Silence upon Men, struck with the hoarse Echoings of every Sound within the spacious Caverns of the Wood. Here Space astonishes. Silence it-self seems pregnant; whilst an unknown Force works on the Mind, and dubious Objects move the wakeful Sense. Mysterious Voices are either heard or fansy’d: and various Forms of Deity seem to present themselves, and appear more manifest in these sacred Silvan Scenes; such as of old gave rise to Temples, and favour’d the Religion of the antient World. Even we our-selves, who in plain Characters may read Divinity from so many bright Parts of Earth, chuse rather these obscurer Places, to spell out that mysterious Being, which to our weak Eyes appears at best under a Veil of Cloud.”—
HERE he paus’d a-while, and began to cast about his Eyes, which before seem’d fix’d. He look’d more calmly, with an open Countenance and free Air; by which, and other Tokens, I cou’d easily find we were come to an end of our Descriptions; and that whether I wou’d or no, Theocles was now resolv’d to take his leave of the Sublime: the Morning being spent, and the Forenoon by this time well advanc’d.
METHINKS, said he, Philocles! (changing to a familiar Voice) we had better leave these unsociable Places, whither our Fancy has transported us, and return to our-selves here again, in our more conversable Woods, and temperate Climates. Here no fierce Heats nor Colds annoy us, no Precipices nor Cataracts amaze us. Nor need we here be afraid of our own Voices; whilst we hear the Notes of such a chearful Quire, and find the Echoes rather agreeable, and inviting us to talk.
I confess, said I, those foreign Nymphs (if there were any belonging to those miraculous Woods) were much too awful Beautys to please me. I found our familiar Home-Nymphs a great deal more to my humour. Yet for all this, I cannot help being concern’d for your breaking off just when we were got half the World over, and wanted only to take America in our way home. Indeed as for Europe, I cou’d excuse your making any great Tour there, because of the little Variety it wou’d afford us. Besides that it wou’d be hard to see it in any view, without meeting still that politick Face of Affairs, which wou’d too much disturb us in our philosophical Flights. But for the Western Tract, I cannot imagine why you shou’d neglect such noble Subjects as are there; unless perhaps the Gold and Silver, to which I find you such a bitter Enemy, frighted you from a Mother-Soil so full of it. If these Countrys had been as bare of those Metals as old Sparta, we might have heard more perhaps of the Peru’s and Mexico’s than of allAsia and Africa. We might have had Creatures, Plants, Woods, Mountains, Rivers, beyond any of those we have pass’d. How sorry am I to lose the noble Amazon! How sorry—
Here as I wou’d have proceeded, I saw so significant a Smile on Theocles’s Face, that it stopt me, out of Curiosity, to ask him his Thought.
Nothing, said he; nothing but this very Subject it-self.—Go on.—I see you’ll finish it for me. The Spirit of this sort of Prophecy has seiz’d you. And Philocles, the cold indifferent Philocles, is become a Pursuer of the same mysteriousBeauty.
’Tis true, said I, (Theocles!) I own it. Your Genius, the Genius of the Place, and the Great Genius have at last prevail’d. I shall no longer resist the Passion growing in me for Things of a natural kind; where neither Art,Natural Beautys. nor the Conceit or Caprice of Man has spoil’d their genuine Order, by breaking in upon that primitive State. Even the rude Rocks, the mossy Caverns, the irregular unwrought Grotto’s, and broken Falls of Waters, with all the horrid Graces of the Wilderness it-self, as representing Nature more, will be the more engaging, and appear with a Magnificence beyond the formal Mockery of princely Gardens.—But tell me, I intreat you, how comes it, That, excepting a few Philosophers of your sort,Passion of this kind. the only People who are enamour’d in this way, and seek the Woods, the Rivers, or Sea-shores, are your poor vulgar Lovers?
Say not this, reply’d he, of Lovers only. For is it not the same with Poets, and all those other Students in Nature, and the Arts which copy after her? In short, is not this the real Case of all who are Lovers either of the Muses or the Graces?
ENTHUSIASM.However, said I, all those who are deep in this romantick way, are look’d upon, you know, as a People either plainly out of their wits, or over-run with Melancholy and Enthusiasm. We always endeavour to recall ’em from these solitary Places. And I must own, that often when I have found my Fancy run this way, I have check’d my-self; not knowing what it was possess’d me, when I was passionately struck with Objects of this kind.
No wonder, reply’d he, if we are at a loss, when we pursue the Shadow for the Substance.Shadows. For if we may trust to what our Reasoning has taught us; whatever in Nature is beautiful or charming, is only the faint Shadow of that First Beauty.First Beauty. So that every realLove depending on the Mind, and being only the Contemplationof Beauty, either as it really is in it-self, or as it appears imperfectly in the Objects which strike the Sense; how can the rational Mind rest here, or be satisfy’d with the absurd Enjoyment which reaches the Sense alone?
From this time forward then, said I, I shall no more have reason to fear those Beautys which strike a sort of Melancholy, like the Places we have nam’d, or like these solemn Groves. No more shall I avoid the moving Accents of soft Musick, or fly from the enchanting Features of the fairest human Face.
“If you are already,” reply’d he, “such a Proficient in this newLove, that you are sure never to admire the Representative-Beauty, except for the sake of the Original;Original. nor aim at other Enjoyment, than of the rational kind; you may then be confident.” “I am so; and presume accordingly, to answer for my-self. However I shou’d not be ill satisfy’d, if you explain’d your-self a little better as to this Mistake of mine you seem to fear.” “Wou’d it be any help to tell you,Enjoyment. That the Absurdity lay in seeking the Enjoyment elsewhere than in the Subject lov’d?” “The Matter, I must confess, is still mysterious.” “Imagine then, good Philocles, if being taken with the Beauty of the Ocean which you see yonder at a distance, it shou’d come into your head, to seek how to command it; and like some mighty Admiral, ride Master of the Sea; wou’d not the Fancy be a little absurd?” “Absurd enough, in conscience. The next thing I shou’d do, ’tis likely, upon this Frenzy, wou’d be to hire some Bark, and go in Nuptial Ceremony, Venetian-like, to wed the Gulf, which I might call perhaps as properly my own.”
Let who will call it theirs, reply’d Theocles, you will own the Enjoyment of this kind to be very different from that which shou’d naturally follow from the Contemplation of the Ocean’s Beauty. The Bridegroom-Doge, who in his stately Bucentaur floats on the Bosom of his Thetis, has less Possession than the poor Shepherd, who from a hanging Rock, or Point of some high Promontory, stretch’d at his ease, forgets his feeding Flocks, while he admires her Beauty.—But to come nearer home, and make the Question still more familiar. Suppose (my Philocles!) that, viewing such a Tract of Country, as this delicious Vale we see beneath us, you shou’d for the Enjoyment of the Prospect, require the Property or Possession of the Land.
The covetous Fancy, reply’d I, wou’d be as absurd altogether, as that other ambitious one.
O Philocles! said he; May I bring this yet a little nearer? And will you follow me once more? Suppose that being charm’d, as you seem to be, with the Beauty of theseTrees, under whose shade we rest, you shou’d long for nothing so much as to taste some delicious Fruit of theirs; and having obtain’d of Nature some certain Relish by which these Acorns or Berrys of the Wood became as palatable as the Figs or Peaches of the Garden, you shou’d afterwards, as oft as you revisted these Groves, seek hence the Enjoyment of them, by satiating your-self in these new Delights.
The Fancy of this kind, reply’d I, wou’d be sordidly luxurious; and as absurd, in my Opinion, as either of the former.
Can you not then, on this occasion, said he, call to mind some other Forms of a fair kind among us, where the Admiration of Beauty is apt to lead to as irregular a Consequence?
I fear’d, said I, indeed, where this wou’d end, and was apprehensive you wou’d force me at last to think of certain powerful Forms in human Kind, which draw after ’em a Set of eager Desires, Wishes, and Hopes; no way sutable, I must confess, to your rational and refin’d Contemplation of Beauty. The Proportions of this living Architecture, as wonderful as they are, inspire nothing of a studious or contemplative kind. The more they are view’d, the further they are from satisfying by mere View. Let that which satisfies be ever so disproportionable an Effect, or ever so foreign to its Cause; censure it as you please, you must allow however that it’s natural. So that you, Theocles, for ought I see, are become the Accuser of Nature, by condemning a natural Enjoyment.
Far be it from us both, said he, to condemn a Joy which is from Nature. But when we spoke of the Enjoyment of these Woods and Prospects, we understood by it a far different kind from that of the inferior Creatures, who rifling in these places, find here their choicest Food. Yet we too live by tasteful Food; and feel those other Joys of Sense in common with them. But ’twas not here, my Philocles! that we had agreed to place our Good; nor consequently our Enjoyment. We who were rational, and had Minds, methought, shou’d place it rather in those Minds; which were indeed abus’d, and cheated of their real Good, when drawn to seek absurdly the Enjoyment of it in the Objects of Sense, and not in those Objects they might properly call their own: in which kind, as I remember, we comprehended all which was truly Fair, Generous, or Good.
So that Beauty, said I, and Good,Beauty and Good. with you, Theocles, I perceive are still one and the same.
’TIS SO, said he. And thus are we return’d again to the Subject of our Yesterday’s Morning-Conversation. Whether I have made good my Promise to you, in shewing the true Good, I know not. But so, doubtless, I shou’d have done with good success, had I been able in my poetick Extasys, or by any other Efforts, to have led you into some deep View of Nature, and the SovereignGenius. We then had prov’d the Force of DivineBeauty; and form’d in our-selves an Object capable and worthy of real Enjoyment.
O Theocles! said I, well do I remember now the Terms in which you engag’d me, that Morning when you bespoke my Love of this mysterious Beauty. You have indeed made good your part of the Condition, and may now claim me for a Proselyte. If there be any seeming Extravagance in the case, I must comfort myself the best I can, and consider that all sound Love and Admiration is Enthusiasm: “The Transports of Poets, the Sublime of Orators, the Rapture of Musicians, the high Strains of the Virtuosi; all mere Enthusiasm! Even Learning it-self, the Love of Arts and Curiositys, the Spirit of Travellers and Adventurers; Gallantry, War, Heroism; All, all Enthusiasm!”—’Tis enough: I am content to be this new Enthusiast, in a way unknown to me before.
And I, reply’d Theocles, am content you shou’d call this Love of ours Enthusiasm: allowing it the Privilege of its Fellow-Passions. For is there a fair and plausible Enthusiasm, a reasonable Extasy and Transport allow’d to other Subjects, such as Architecture, Painting, Musick; and shall it be exploded here? Are there Senses by which all those other Graces and Perfections are perceiv’d? and none by which this higher Perfection and Grace is comprehended? Is it so preposterous to bring that Enthusiasm hither, and transfer it from those secondary and scanty Objects, to this original and comprehensive One? Observe how the Case stands in all those other Subjects of Art or Science.Arts. What difficulty to be in any degree knowing! How long ere a true Taste is gain’d!A Judgment, Taste. How many things shocking, how many offensive at first, which afterwards are known and acknowledg’d the highest Beautys! For ’tis not instantly we acquire the Sense by which these Beautys are discoverable. Labour and Pains are requir’d, and Time to cultivate a natural Genius, ever so apt or forward. But Who is there once thinks of cultivating this Soil,Improvement. or of improving any Sense or Faculty which Nature may have given of this kind? And is it a wonder we shou’d be dull then, as we are, confounded, and at a loss in these Affairs, blind as to this higher Scene, these nobler Representations? Which way shou’d we come to understand better? which way be knowing in these Beautys? Is Study, Science, or Learning necessary to understand all Beautys else? And for the SovereignBeauty,Chief Science. is there no Skill or Science requir’d? In Painting there are Shades and masterly Strokes, which the Vulgar understand not, but find fault with: in Architecture there is the Rustick; in Musick the Chromatick kind, and skilful Mixture of Dissonancys. And is there nothing which answers to this, in TheWhole?
I must confess, said I, I have hitherto been one of those Vulgar, who cou’d never relish the Shades, the Rustick, or the Dissonancys you talk of. I have never dreamt of such Master-pieces in Nature. ’Twas my way to censure freely on the first view. But I perceive I am now oblig’d to go far in the pursuit of Beauty;Beauty. which lies very absconded and deep: And if so, I am well assur’d that my Enjoyments hitherto have been very shallow. I have dwelt, it seems, all this while upon the Surface, and enjoy’d only a kind of slight superficial Beautys; having never gone in search of Beauty it-self, but of what I fansy’d such. Like the rest of the unthinking World, I took for granted that what I liked was beautiful; and what I rejoic’d in, was my Good. I never scrupled loving what I fansy’d; and aiming only at the Enjoyment of what I lov’d, I never troubled my-self with examining what the Subjects were, nor ever hesitated about their Choice.
Begin then, said he, and chuse. See what the Subjects are; and which you wou’d prefer; which honour with your Admiration, Love and Esteem. For by these again you will be honour’d in your turn. Such, Philocles, as is the Worth of these Companions, such will your Worth be found. As there is Emptiness or Fulness here, so will there be in your Enjoyment. See therefore where Fulness is, and where Emptiness. See in what Subject resides the chief Excellence: where Beauty reigns: where ’tis intire, perfect, absolute; where broken, imperfect, short. View these terrestrial Beautys, and whatever has the appearance of Excellence, and is able to attract. See that which either really is, or stands as in the room of Fair, Beautiful, and Good: “A Mass of Metal; a Tract of Land; a Number of Slaves; a Pile of Stones; a human Body of certain Lineaments and Proportions.” Is this the highest of the kind? Is Beauty founded then in Body only; and not in Action, Life, or Operation?—
Hold! hold! said I, good Theocles! you take this in too high a Key, above my reach. If you wou’d have me accompany you, pray lower this Strain a little; and talk in a more familiar way.
“THUS THEN,” said he, (smiling) “Whatever Passion you may have for other Beautys; I know, good Philocles, you are no such Admirer of Wealth in any kind, as to allow much Beauty to it; especially in a rude Heap or Mass. But in Medals, Coins, Imbost-work, Statues, and well-fabricated Pieces, of whatever sort, you can discover Beauty, and admire the Kind.” “True,” said I; “but not for the Metal’s sake.” “ ’Tis not then the Metal or Matter which is beautiful with you.” “No.” “But the Art.” “Certainly.” “The Art then is the Beauty.” “Right.” “And the Art is that which beautifies.” “The same.” “So that the Beautifying, not the Beautify’d, is the really Beautiful.” “It seems so.” “For that which is beautify’d, is beautiful only by the accession of something beautifying: and by the recess or withdrawing of the same, it ceases to be beautiful.” “Be it.” “In respect of Bodys therefore, Beauty comes and goes.” “So we see.” “Nor is the Body it-self any Cause either of its coming or staying.” “None.” “So that there is no Principle of Beauty in Body.” “None at all.” “For Body can no-way be the Cause of Beauty to itself.” “No-way.” “Nor govern nor regulate it-self.” “Nor yet this.” “Nor mean nor intend it-self.” “Nor this neither.” “Must not that therefore, which means and intends for it, regulates and orders it, be the Principle of Beauty to it?” “Of necessity.” “And what must that be?” “Mind, I suppose; for what can it be else?”
Here then, said he, is all I wou’d have explain’d to you before: “That the Beautiful, the Fair, the Comely, were never in the Matter, but in the Art and Design; never in Body it-self, but in the Form or forming Power.” Does not the beautiful Form confess this, and speak the Beauty of the Design, whene’er it strikes you? What is it but the Design which strikes? What is it you admire but Mind, or the Effect of Mind? ’Tis Mind alone which forms. All which is void of Mind is horrid: and Matter formless is Deformity it-self.
Of all Forms then, said I, Those (according to your Scheme) are the most amiable, and in the first Order of Beauty, which have a power of making other Forms themselves: From whence methinks they may be styl’d the forming Forms. So far I can easily concur with you, and gladly give the advantage to the humanForm, above those other Beautys of Man’s Formation. The Palaces, Equipages and Estates shall never in my account be brought in competition with the original living Forms of Flesh and Blood. And for the other, the dead Forms of Nature, the Metals and Stones, however precious and dazling; I am resolv’d to resist their Splendour, and make abject Things of ’em, even in their highest Pride, when they pretend to set off human Beauty, and are officiously brought in aid of the Fair.
Orders of Beauty. First Order.“Do you not see then,” reply’d Theocles, “that you have establish’d Three Degrees or Orders of Beauty?” “As how?” “Why first, the dead Forms, as you properly have call’d ’em, which bear a Fashion, and are form’d, whether by Man, or Nature; but have no forming Power, no Action, or Intelligence.” “Right.” “Next, and as the second kind, the Forms which form;Second Order. that is, which have Intelligence, Action, and Operation.” “Right still.” “Here therefore is double Beauty. For here is both the Form (the Effect of Mind) and Mind it-self: The first kind low and despicable in respect of this other; from whence the dead Form receives its Lustre and Force of Beauty. For what is a mere Body, tho a human one, and ever so exactly fashion’d, if inward Form be wanting, and the Mind be monstrous or imperfect, as in an Idiot, or Savage?” “This too I can apprehend,” said I; “but where is the third Order?”
Have patience, reply’d he, and see first whether you have discover’d the whole Force of this second Beauty. How else shou’d you understand the Force of Love, or have the Power of Enjoyment? Tell me, I beseech you, when first you nam’d these the Forming Forms, did you think of no other Productions of theirs besides the dead Kinds, such as the Palaces, the Coins, the Brazen or the Marble Figures of Men? Or did you think of something nearer Life?
I cou’d easily, said I, have added, that these Forms of ours had a Virtue of producing other living Forms, like themselves. But this Virtue of theirs, I thought was from another Form above them, and cou’d not properly be call’d their Virtue or Art; if in reality there was a superior Art, or something Artist-like, which guided their Hand, and made Tools of them in this specious Work.
“Happily thought,” said he! “You have prevented a Censure which I hardly imagin’d you cou’d escape. And here you have unawares discover’d that third Order of Beauty,Third Order. which forms not only such as we call mere Forms, but even the Forms which form. For we our-selves are notable Architects in Matter, and can shew lifeless Bodys brought into Form, and fashion’d by our own hands: but that which fashions even Minds themselves, contains in it-self all the Beautys fashion’d by those Minds; and is consequently the Principle, Source, and Fountain of all Beauty.” “It seems so.”
“Therefore whatever Beauty appears in our second Order of Forms, or whatever is deriv’d or produc’d from thence, all this is eminently, principally, and originally in this last Order of Supreme and Sovereign Beauty.” “True.”
“Thus Architecture, Musick, and all which is of human Invention, resolves it-self into this last Order.” “Right,” said I: “and thus all the Enthusiasms of other kinds resolve themselves into ours. The fashionable Kinds borrow from us, and are nothing without us: We have undoubtedly the Honour of being Originals.”
“NOW therefore say again,” reply’d Theocles; “Whether are those Fabricks of Architecture, Sculpture, and the rest of that sort, the greatest Beautys which Man forms; or are there greater and better?” “None which I know,” reply’d I. “Think, think again,” said he: “and setting aside those Productions which just now you excepted against, as Master-pieces of another Hand; think What there are which more immediately proceed from us, and may more truly be term’d our Issue.” “I am barren,” said I, “for this time: you must be plainer yet, in helping me to conceive.” “How can I help you?” reply’d he. “Wou’d you have me be conscious for you, of that which is immediately your own, and is solely in, and from your-self?” “You mean my Sentiments,” said I. “Certainly,”Beauty moral. reply’d he: “and together with your Sentiments, your Resolutions, Principles, Determinations, Actions; whatsoever is handsom and noble in the kind; whatever flows from your good Understanding, Sense, Knowledg and Will; whatever is ingender’d in your Heart, (good Philocles!) or derives it-self from your Parent-Mind,Offspring. Generation. which, unlike to other Parents, is never spent or exhausted, but gains Strength and Vigor by producing. So You, my Friend! have prov’d it, by many a Work: not suffering that fertile Part to remain idle and unactive. Hence those good Parts, which from a natural Genius you have rais’d by due Improvement. And here, as I cannot but admire the pregnant Genius, and Parent-Beauty; so am I satisfy’d of the Offspring, that it is and will be ever beautiful.”
I took the Compliment, and wish’d (I told him) the Case were really as he imagin’d, that I might justly merit his Esteem and Love. My Study therefore shou’d be to grow beautiful, in his way of Beauty; and from this time forward I wou’d do all I cou’d to propagate that lovely Race of mental Children,Source. happily sprung from such a high Enjoyment, and from a Union with what was Fairest and Best. But ’tis you, Theocles, continu’d I, must help my labouring Mind, and be as it were the Midwife to those Conceptions; which else, I fear, will prove abortive.
You do well, reply’d he, to give me the Midwife’s part only: For the Mind conceiving of it-self, can only be, as you say, assisted in the Birth.Pregnancy. Its Pregnancy is from its Nature. Nor cou’d it ever have been thus impregnated by any other Mind, than that which form’d it at the beginning; and which, as we have already prov’d, is Original to all mental, as well as other Beauty.
Do you maintain then, said I, that these mental Children, the Notions and Principles, of Fair, Just, and Honest, with the rest of these Ideas, are innate?Innate Ideas.
“Anatomists,” said he, “tell us that the Eggs, which are Principles in Body, are innate; being form’d already in the Foetus before the Birth. But When it is, whether before, or at, or after the Birth, or at What time after, that either these, or other Principles, Organs of Sensation, or Sensations themselves, are first form’d in us, is a matter, doubtless, of curious Speculation, but of no great Importance. The Question is, whether the Principles spoken of are from Art, or Nature? If from Nature purely; ’tis no matter for the Time: nor wou’d I contend with you, tho you shou’d deny Life it-self to be innate, as imagining it follow’d rather than preceded the moment of Birth. But this I am certain of; that Life, and the Sensations which accompany Life, come when they will, are from mere Nature, and nothing else. Therefore if you dislike the word Innate, let us change it, if you will, for Instinct; and call Instinct,Instinct. that which Nature teaches, exclusive of Art, Culture, or Discipline.” “Content,” said I.
“Leaving then,” reply’d he, “those admirable Speculations to the Virtuosi, the Anatomists, and School-Divines; we may safely aver, with all their Consents, that the several Organs, particularly those of Generation,Generation. are form’d by Nature. Whether is there also from Nature, think you, any Instinct for the after-Use of them? Or whether must Learning and Experience imprint this Use?” “ ’Tis imprinted, said I, enough in Conscience. The Impression, or Instinct, is so strong in the Case, that ’twou’d be absurdity not to think it natural, as well in our own Species, as in other Creatures: amongst whom (as you have already taught me) not only the mere engendring of the Young, but the various and almost infinite Means and Methods of providing for them, are all foreknown. For thus much we may indeed discern in the preparatory Labours and Arts of these wild Creatures; which demonstrate their anticipating Fancys,Pre-conceptions.Pre-conceptions, or Pre-sensations; if I may use a word you taught me yesterday.”
“I allow your Expression,” said Theocles, “and will endeavour to show you that the same Pre-conceptions, of a higher degree, have place in human Kind.” “Do so,” said I, “I intreat you: For so far am I from finding in my-self these Pre-conceptions of Fair and Beautiful, in your sense, that methinks, till now of late, I have hardly known of any thing like them in Nature.” “How then,” said he, “wou’d you have known that outward Fair and Beautiful of human Kind; if such an Object (a fair fleshly one) in all its Beauty, had for the first time appear’d to you, by your-self, this morning, in these Groves? Or do you think perhaps you shou’d have been unmov’d, and have found no difference between this Form and any other; if first you had not been instructed?”
I have hardly any Right, reply’d I, to plead this last Opinion, after what I have own’d just before.
Well then, said he, that I may appear to take no advantage against you; I quit the dazling Form, which carrys such a Force of complicated Beautys; and am contented to consider separately each of those simple Beautys, which taken all together, create this wonderful effect. For you will allow, without doubt, that in respect of Bodys, whatever is commonly said of the unexpressible, the unintelligible, the I-know-not-what of Beauty; there can lie no Mystery here, but what plainly belongs either to Figure, Colour, Motion or Sound. Omitting therefore the three latter,Beauty of Body. and their dependent Charms; let us view the Charm in what is simplest of all, mere Figure. Nor need we go so high as Sculpture, Architecture, or the Designs of those who from this Study of Beauty have rais’d such delightful Arts. ’Tis enough if we consider the simplest of Figures; as either a round Ball, a Cube, or Dye. Why is even an Infant pleas’d with the first View of these Proportions? Why is the Sphere or Globe, the Cylinder and Obelisk prefer’d; and the irregular Figures, in respect of these, rejected and despis’d?
I am ready, reply’d I, to own there is in certain Figures a natural Beauty, which the Eye finds as soon as the Object is presented to it.
Beauty of Soul, As real, And necessarily moving.Is there then, said he, a natural Beauty of Figures? and is there not as natural a one of Actions? No sooner the Eye opens upon Figures, the Ear to Sounds, than straight the Beautiful results, and Grace and Harmony are known and acknowledg’d. No sooner are Actions view’d, no sooner the human Affections andPassions discern’d (and they are most of ’em as soon discern’d as felt) than straight an inwardEye distinguishes, and sees the Fair and Shapely, the Amiable and Admirable, apart from the Deform’d, the Foul,Idea Natural.theOdious, or the Despicable. How is it possible therefore not to own, “That as these Distinctions have their Foundation in Nature, the Discernment it-self is natural, and from Naturealone?”
If this, I told him, were as he represented it; there cou’d never, I thought, be any Disagreement among Men concerning Actions and Behaviour: as which was Base, which Worthy; which Handsom, and which Deform’d. But now we found perpetual Variance among Mankind; whose Differences were chiefly founded on this Disagreement in Opinion; “The one affirming, the other denying, that this, or that, was fit or decent.”
Even by this then, reply’d he, it appears there is Fitness and Decency in Actions;The Fit, and Decent. since The Fit and Decent is in this Controversy ever pre-suppos’d: And whilst Men are at odds about the Subjects, the Thing it-self is universally agreed. For neither is there Agreement in Judgments about other Beautys. ’Tis controverted “Which is the finest Pile, the loveliest Shape, or Face”: But without controversy, ’tis allow’d “There is a Beauty of each kind.” This no-one goes about to teach: nor is it learnt by any; but confess’d by All.Standard own’d.All own the Standard, Rule, and Measure: But in applying it to Things, Disorder arises, Ignorance prevails, Interest and Passion breed Disturbance. Nor can it otherwise happen in the Affairs of Life, whilst that which interests and engages Men as Good, is thought different from that which they admire and praise as Honest.—But with us, Philocles! ’tis better settled; since for our parts, we have already decreed, “That Beauty and Good are still the same.”
Confirmation.I REMEMBER, said I, what you forc’d me to acknowledg more than once before. And now, good Theocles! that I am become so willing a Disciple, I want not so much to be convinc’d, me-thinks, as to be confirm’d and strengthen’d. And I hope this last Work may prove your easiest Task.
“Not unless you help in it your-self,” reply’d Theocles: “For this is necessary, as well as becoming. It had been indeed shameful for you to have yielded without making good Resistance. To help one’s-self to be convinc’d, is to prevent Reason, and bespeak Error and Delusion. But upon fair Conviction, to give our heart up to the evident side, and reinforce the Impression, this is to help Reasonheartily. And thus we may be said honestly to persuade our-selves.” “Shew me then how I may best persuade my-self.”
Have courage, said he, Philocles! (raising his Voice) Be not offended that I say, Have Courage! ’Tis Cowardice alone betrays us. For whence can false Shame be, except from Cowardice? To be asham’d of what one is sure can never be shameful, must needs be from the want of Resolution. We seek the Right and Wrong in things; we examine what is Honourable, what Shameful: and having at last determin’d, we dare not stand to our own judgment, and are asham’d to own there is really a Shameful and an Honourable. “Hear me” (says one who pretends to value Philocles, and be valu’d by him) “There can be no such thing as real Valuableness or Worth; nothing in it-self estimable or amiable, odious or shameful. All is Opinion:Opinion, Fashion, ’Tis Opinion which makes Beauty, and unmakes it. The Graceful or Ungraceful in things, the Decorum and its Contrary, the Amiable and Un-amiable, Vice, Virtue,Measure of Virtue and Vice. Honour, Shame, all this is founded in Opinion only. Opinion is the Law and Measure. Nor has Opinion any Rule besides mere Chance; which varys it, as Custom varys: and makes now this, now that, to be thought worthy, according to the Reign of Fashion, and the ascendent Power of Education.”Falshood of this. “What shall we say to such a one? How represent to him his Absurdity and Extravagance? Will he desist the sooner? Or shall we ask what Shame, of one who acknowledges no Shameful?” “Yet he derides, and cries, Ridiculous!” “By what Right? what Title? For thus, if I were Philocles, wou’d I defend my-self: ‘Am I ridiculous? As how? What is ridiculous? Every-thing? or Nothing?’ ” “Ridiculous indeed!” “But something then, something there is Ridiculous: and the Notion, it seems, is right,Shame. ‘of aShameful and a Ridiculous, in things.’ ”
How then shall we apply the Notion? For this being wrong apply’d, cannot it-self but be ridiculous. Or will he who cries Shame, refuse to acknowledg any in his turn? Does he not blush, nor seem discountenanc’d on any occasion? If he does, the Case is very distinct from that of mere Grief or Fear. The Disorder he feels is from a Sense of what is shameful and odious in it-self, not of what is hurtful or dangerous in its Consequences. For the greatest Danger in the world can never breed Shame: nor can the Opinion of all the World compel us to it, where our own Opinion is not a Party. We may be afraid of appearing impudent, and may therefore feign a Modesty. But we can never really blush for any thing beside what we think truly Shameful, and what we shou’d still blush for, were we ever so secure as to our Interest, and out of the reach of all Inconvenience, which cou’d happen to us from the thing we were asham’d of.
Thus, continu’d he, shou’d I be able, by Anticipation, to defend my-self; and looking narrowly into Mens Lives, and that which influenc’d ’em on all occasions, I shou’d have Testimony enough to make me say within my-self, “Let who will be my Adversary in this Opinion, I shall find him some way or other prepossess’d with that of which he wou’d endeavour to dispossess me.”an Acknowledgment of moral Beauty and Deformity. Has he Gratitude or Resentment, Pride or Shame? Whichever way it be, he acknowledges a Sense of Just and Unjust, Worthy and Mean. If he be Grateful, or expects Gratitude, I ask “Why? and on What account?” If he be angry, if he indulges Revenge, I ask “How? and in what Case? Reveng’d of What? of a Stone, or Madman?”Anger. “Who is so mad?” “But for What? For a Chance-hurt? an Accident against Thought, or Intention?”Anger, an Acknowledgment of Just and Unjust. “Who is so unjust?” Therefore there is Just and Unjust; and belonging to it a natural Presumption or Anticipation, on which the Resentment or Anger is founded. For what else shou’d make the wickedest of Mankind often prefer the Interest of their Revenge to all other Interests, and even to Life it-self, except only a Sense of Wrong, natural to all Men, and a Desire to prosecute that Wrong at any rate? Not for their own sakes, since they sacrifice their very Being to it; but out of hatred to the imagin’d Wrong, and from a certain Love ofJustice, which even in unjust Men is by this Example shewn to be beyond the Love ofLifeit-self.
Pride,Thus as to Pride, I ask, “Why proud? Why conceited? and of What? Does any-one who has Pride, think meanly or indifferently of himself?” “No: but honourably.” And how this, if there be no real Honour or Dignity presuppos’d? For Self-valuation supposes Self-worth;Pride, an Acknowledgment of Worth and Baseness. and in a Person conscious of real Worth, is either no Pride, or a just and noble one.In the same manner, Self-contempt supposes a Self-meanness or Defectiveness; and may be either a just Modesty, or unjust Humility. But this is certain, that whoever is proud, must be proud of something. And we know that Men of thorow Pride will be proud even in the meanest Circumstances, and when there is no visible Subject for them to be proud of. But they descry a Merit in themselves, which others cannot: And ’tis this Merit they admire. No matter whether it be really in them, as they imagine: It is a Worth still, an Honour, or Merit which they admire, and wou’d do, wherever they saw it, in any Subject besides. For then it is, then only, that they are humbled, “When they see in a more eminent degree in others, What they respect and admire so much in themselves.”—And thus as long as I find Men either angry or revengeful, proud or asham’d, I am safe: For they conceive an Honourable and Dishonourable, a Foul and Fair, as well as I. No matter where they place it, or how they are mistaken in it: This hinders not my being satisfy’d “That the Thing is, and is universally acknowledg’d; That it is of Nature’s Impression, naturally conceiv’d,Natural Impression. and by no Art or Counter-Nature to be eradicated or destroy’d.”
AND NOW, what say you, Philocles, continu’d he, to this Defense I have been making for you? ’Tis grounded, as you see, on the Supposition of your being deeply ingag’d in this philosophical Cause. But perhaps you have yet many Difficultys to get over, ere you can so far take part with Beauty, as to make this to be your Good.Good.
“I have no difficulty so great,” said I, “as not to be easily remov’d. My Inclinations lead me strongly this way: for I am ready enough to yield there is no real Good beside the Enjoyment of Beauty.” “And I am as ready,” reply’d Theocles, “to yield There is no real Enjoyment of Beauty beside what is Good.” “Excellent! But upon reflection, I fear I am little beholden to you for your Concession.” “As how?” “Because shou’d I offer to contend for any Enjoyment of Beauty out of your mental Way, you wou’d, I doubt, call such Enjoyment of mine absurd; as you did once before.” “Undoubtedly I shou’d. For what is it shou’d enjoy,Mental Enjoyment. or be capable of Enjoyment, except Mind? Or shall we say, Body enjoys?” “By the help of Sense, perhaps; not otherwise.” “Is Beauty, then, the Object of Sense? Say how? Which way? For otherwise the help of Sense is nothing in the Case: And if Body be of it-self incapable,Body. and Sense no help to it, to apprehend or enjoy Beauty, there remains only the Mind which is capable either to apprehend or to enjoy.”
“True,” said I; “but show me, then, Why Beauty may not be the Object of theSense?”Sense. “Shew me first, I intreat you, Why, Where, or in What you fansy it may be so?” “Is it not Beauty which first excites the Sense, and feeds it afterwards in the Passion we call Love?” “Say in the same manner, That it is Beauty first excites the Sense, and feeds it afterwards in the Passion we call Hunger.”—You will not say it. The Thought, I perceive, displeases you. As great as the Pleasure is of good Eating, you disdain to apply the Notion of Beauty to the good Dishes which create it. You wou’d hardly have applauded the preposterous Fancy of some luxurious Romans of old, who cou’d relish a Fricassee the better for hearing it was compos’d of Birds which wore a beautiful Feather, or had sung deliciously. Instead of being incited by such a historical Account of Meats, you wou’d be apt, I believe, to have less Appetite, the more you search’d their Origin, and descended into the Kitchin-Science, to learn the several Forms and Changes they had undergone, ere they were serv’d at this elegant voluptuous Table. But tho the Kitchin-Forms be ever so disgraceful, you will allow that the Materials of the Kitchin, such, for instance, as the Garden furnishes, are really fair and beautiful in their kind. Nor will you deny Beauty to the wild Field, or to these Flowers which grow around us, on this verdant Couch. And yet, as lovely as are these Forms of Nature, the shining Grass, or silver’d Moss, the flowry Thyme, wild Rose, or Honey-suckle: ’tis not their Beauty allures the neighbouring Herds, delights the brouzing Fawn, or Kid, and spreads the Joy we see amidst the feeding Flocks: ’Tis not the Form rejoices; but that which is beneath the Form: ’tis Savouriness attracts, Hunger impels; and Thirst, better allay’d by the clear Brook than the thick Puddle, makes the fairNymph to be prefer’d, whose Form is otherwise slighted. For never can the Form be of real force where it is uncontemplated, unjudg’d of, unexamin’d, and stands only as the accidental Note or Token of what appeases provok’d Sense, and satisfies the brutish Part. Are you persuaded of this, good Philocles? or rather than not give Brutes the advantage of Enjoyment, will you allow them also a Mind and rational Part?—“Not so,” I told him.
If Brutes therefore, said he, be incapable of knowing and enjoying Beauty, as being Brutes, and having Sense only (the brutish part) for their own share; it follows, “That neither can Man by the same Sense or brutish Part, conceive or enjoy Beauty: But all the Beauty and Good he enjoys, is in a nobler way, and by the help of what is noblest, his Mind and Reason.”Reason. Here lies his Dignity and highest Interest: Here his Capacity toward Good and Happiness. His Ability or Incompetency, his Power of Enjoyment, or his Impotence, is founded in this alone. As this is sound, fair, noble, worthy; so are its Subjects, Acts and Employments. For as the riotousMind, captive to Sense, can never enter in competition, or contend for Beauty with the virtuousMind of Reason’s Culture;Comparison of Objects, so neither can the Objects which allure the former, compare with those which attract and charm the latter. And when each gratifies it-self in the Enjoyment and Possession of its Object;and Enjoyments. how evidently fairer are the Acts which join the latter Pair, and give a Soul the Enjoyment of what is generous and good? This at least, Philocles, you will surely allow, That when you place a Joy elsewhere than in the Mind; the Enjoyment it-self will be no beautiful Subject, nor of any graceful or agreeable Appearance. But when you think how Friendship is enjoy’d, how Honour, Gratitude, Candour, Benignity, and all internal Beauty; how all the social Pleasures, Society it-self, and all which constitutes the Worth and Happiness of Mankind; you will here surely allow Beauty in the Act, and think it worthy to be view’d, and pass’d in review often by the glad Mind, happily conscious of the generous Part, and of its own Advancement and Growth in Beauty.
Recapitulation.THUS, Philocles, (continu’d he, after a short Pause) thus have I presum’d to treat of Beauty before so great a Judg, and such a skilful Admirer as your-self. For taking rise from Nature’s Beauty, which transported me, I gladly ventur’d further in the Chase; and have accompany’d you in search of Beauty, as it relates to us, and makes our highest Good, in its sincere and natural Enjoyment. And if we have not idly spent our hours, nor rang’d in vain thro’ these deserted Regions; it shou’d appear from our strict Search, that there is nothing so divine as Beauty: which belonging not to Body, nor having any Principle or Existence except in Mind and Reason, is alone discover’d and acquir’d by this diviner Part, when it inspects it-self, the only Object worthy of it-self. For whate’er is void of Mind, is Void and Darkness to the Mind’sEye. This languishes and grows dim, whene’er detain’d on foreign Subjects; but thrives and attains its natural Vigour, when employ’d in Contemplation of what is like it-self. ’Tis thus the improvingMind, slightly surveying other Objects, and passing over Bodys, and the common Forms, (where only a Shadow of Beauty rests) ambitiously presses onward to its Source, and views the Original of Form and Order in that which is intelligent. And thus, O Philocles! may we improve and become Artists in the kind; learning “To know Our-selves, and what That is, which by improving, we may be sure to advance our Worth, and real Self-Interest.” For neither is this Knowledg acquir’d by Contemplation of Bodys, or the outward Forms,Knowledg of our-selves. the View of Pageantrys, the Study of Estates and Honours: nor is He to be esteem’d that self-improving Artist, who makes a Fortune out of these; but he, He only, is the wise and able Man, who with a slight regard to these Things, applies himself to cultivate another Soil, builds in a different Matter from that of Stone or Marble; and having righter Models in his Eye,Interest. becomes in truth the Architect of his own Life and Fortune; by laying within himself the lasting and sure Foundations of Order, Peace,Ability. and Concord.—But now ’tis time to think of returning home. The Morning is far spent. Come! Let us away, and leave these uncommon Subjects; till we retire again to these remote and unfrequented Places.
AT THESE words Theocles mending his pace, and going down the Hill, left me at a good distance; till he heard me calling earnestly after him. Having join’d him once again, I begg’d he wou’d stay a little longer: or if he were resolv’d so soon to leave both the Woods, and that Philosophy which he confin’d to ’em; that he wou’d let me however part with ’em more gradually, and leave the best Impression on me he cou’d, against my next Return. For as much convinc’d as I was, and as great a Convert to his Doctrine, my Danger still, I own’d to him, was very great: and I foresaw that when the Charm of these Places, and his Company was ceas’d, I shou’d be apt to relapse, and weakly yield to that too powerful Charm, the World. Tell me, continu’d I, how is it possible to hold out against it, and withstand the general Opinion of Mankind, who have so different a Notion of that which we call Good? Say truth now, Theocles, can any thing be more odd, or dissonant from the common Voice of the World, than what we have determin’d in this matter?
Whom shall we follow then? reply’d he. Whose Judgment or Opinion shall we take, concerning What is Good, What contrary? If All, or any part of Mankind are consonant with themselves, and can agree in this; I am content to leave Philosophy, and follow them: If otherwise; Why shou’d we not adhere to what we have chosen?—Let us then, in another View, consider how this Matter stands.
WE THEN walk’d gently homewards, it being almost Noon; and he continu’d his Discourse.
Manners of Men.One Man, said he, affects the Hero; esteems it the highest Advantage of Life, to have seen War, and been in Action in the Field. Another laughs at this Humour; counts it all Extravagance and Folly; prizes his own Wit and Prudence; and wou’d take it for a Disgrace to be thought adventurous.Contrary Pursuits. One Person is assiduous and indefatigable in advancing himself to the Character of a Man of Business. Another on the contrary thinks this impertinent; values not Fame, or a Character in the World: and by his goodwill wou’d always be in a Debauch, and never live out of the Stews or Taverns; where he enjoys, as he thinks, his highest Good. One values Wealth, as a means only to indulge his Palat, and to eat finely.Mutual Censure. Another loaths this, and affects Popularity, and a Name. One admires Musick and Paintings, Cabinet-Curiositys, and in-door Ornaments: Another admires Gardens, Architecture, and the Pomp of Buildings. Another, who has no Gusto of either sort, believes all those they call Virtuosi to be half-distracted. One looks upon all Expence to be Madness; and thinks only Wealth it-self to be Good. One games; another dresses, and studys an Equipage; another is full of Heraldry, Points of Honour,Disagreement with one another;a Family, and a Blood. One recommends Gallantry and Intrigue; another ordinary Good-fellowship; another Buffoonery, Satir, and the common Wit; another Sports, and the Country; another a Court; another Travelling, and the sight of foreign Parts; another Poetry, and the fashionable Learning.—All these go different ways.And with themselves. All censure one another, and are despicable in one another’s eyes. By fits too they are as despicable in their own, and as often out of conceit with themselves, as their Humour changes, and their Passion turns from one thing to another.—What is it then I shou’d be concern’d for? Whose Censure do I fear? Or by whom, after all, shall I be guided?
Riches.If I ask, “Are Richesgood, when only heap’d up, and unimploy’d?” One answers, “They are.” The rest deny. “How is it then they are to be imploy’d in order to be good?” All disagree. All tell me different things. “Since therefore Riches are not, of themselves, good, (as most of you declare); And since there is no Agreement among you which way they become good; why may not I hold it for my Opinion, that they are neither good in themselves, nor directly any Cause or Means of Good?”
If there be those who wholly despise Fame; And if among those who covet it,Fame and Honour. he who desires it for one thing, despises it for another; he who seeks it with some Men, despises it with others: Why may not I say, “That neither do I know how any Fame can be call’d a Good?”
If of those who covet Pleasure,Pleasure. they who admire it in one kind, are superior to it in another; Why may not I say, “That neither do I know which of these Pleasures, or how Pleasure it-self, can be call’d Good?”
Life.If among those who covet Life ever so earnestly, that Life which to One is eligible and amiable, is to Another despicable and vile; Why may I not say, “That neither do I know how Life it-self can, of it-self, be thought a Good?”
Inslavement.In the mean time, This I know certainly; “That the necessary Consequence of esteeming these things highly, is to be a Slave, and consequently miserable.”—But perhaps, Philocles, you are not yet enough acquainted with this odd kind of Reasoning.
More, said I, than I believe you can easily imagine. I perceiv’d the goodly Lady, your celebrated Beauty, was about to appear a-new:LIBERTY. and I easily knew again that fair Face of Liberty, which I had seen but once in the Picture you drew yesterday of that Moral Dame. I can assure you, I think of her as highly as possible: and find that without her Help, to raise one above these seemingly essential Goods,Goods of Fortune. and make one more easy and indifferent towards Life, and towards a Fortune; ’twill be the hardest thing in the world to enjoy either. Sollicitude, Cares, and Anxiety, will be multiply’d: and in this unhappy Dependency, ’tis necessary to make court, and be not a little servile. To flatter the Great, to bear Insults, to stoop, and fawn, and abjectly resign one’s Sense and Manhood; all this must courageously be endur’d, and carry’d off, with as free an Air, and good Countenance as possible, by one who studys Greatness of this sort, who knows the general way of Courts, and how to fix unsteddy Fortune. I need not mention the Envyings, the Mistrusts, and Jealousys—
No truly, said he, interrupting me, neither need you. But finding you so sensible, as I do, of this unhappy State, and of its inward Sores, (whatever may be its outward Looks) How is it possible but you must find the Happiness of that other contrary State? Can you not call to mind what we resolv’d concerning Nature? Can any thing be more desirable than to follow her? Or is it not by this Freedom from our Passions and low Interests, that we are reconcil’d to the goodly Order of the Universe; that we harmonize with Nature; and live in Friendship both with God and Man?
Let us compare, continu’d he,Goods of the Mind. the Advantages of each State, and set theirGoods one against another: On one side, those which we found were uncertainly so; and depended both on Fortune, Age, Circumstances, and Humour: On the other side, these which being certain themselves,Comparison. are founded on the Contempt of those others so uncertain. Is manly Liberty, Generosity, Magnanimity, not a Good? May we not esteem as Happiness, that Self-Enjoyment which arises from a Consistency of Life and Manners, a Harmony of Affections, a Freedom from the Reproach of Shame or Guilt, and a Consciousness of Worth and Merit with all Mankind, our Society, Country, and Friends: all which is founded in Virtue only? A Mind subordinate to Reason, a Temper humaniz’d, and fitted to all natural Affection; an Exercise of Friendship uninterrupted; a thorow Candor, Benignity, and Good Nature; with constant Security, Tranquillity, Equanimity, (if I may use such philosophical Terms) are not these ever, and at all seasons Good? Is it of these one can at any time nauseate and grow weary? Are there any particular Ages, Seasons, Places, Circumstances, which must accompany these, to make ’em agreeable? Are these variable and inconstant? Do these, by being ardently belov’d, or sought, occasion any Disturbance or Misery? Can these be at any time overvalu’d? Or, to say more yet, can these be ever taken from us, or can we ever be hinder’d in the Enjoyment of ’em, unless by our-selves? How can we better praise the Goodness of Providence, than in this, “That it has plac’d our Happiness and Good in things We can bestow upon ourselves?”
If this be so, said I, I see no reason we have to accuse Providence on any account. But Men, I fear, will hardly be brought to this good Temper, while their Fancy is so strong, as it naturally is, towards those other movable Goods. And in short, if we may depend on what is said commonly, “All Good is merely as we fansy it. ’Tis Conceit which makes it. All is Opinion and Fancy only.”Opinion All.
Wherefore then, said he, do we act at any time? Why chuse, or why prefer one thing to another?—You will tell me, I suppose, ’tis because we fansy it, or fansy Good in it.—Are we therefore to follow every present Fancy, Opinion, or Imagination of Good? If so, then we must follow that at one time, which we decline at another; approve at one time, what we disapprove at another; and be at perpetual variance with our-selves. But if we are not to follow all Fancy or Opinion alike; If it be allow’d, “That of Fancys, some are true, some false”; then we are to examine every Fancy; and there is some Rule or other, by which to judg, and determine. ’Twas the Fancy of one Man to set fire to a beautiful Temple, in order to obtain immortal Memory or Fame. ’Twas the Fancy of another Man to conquer the World, for the same Reason, or what was very like it. If this were really the Man’s Good; Why do we wonder at him? If the Fancy were wrong; say plainly in What it was so; or Why the Subject was not Good to him, as he fansy’d? Either therefore, “That is every Man’s Good which he fansys, and because he fansys it, and is not content without it”: Or otherwise, “There is That in which the Nature of Man is satisfy’d; and which alone must be hisGood.” If That in which the Nature of Man is satisfy’d, and can rest contented, be alone hisGood; then he is a Fool who follows that with Earnestness, as his Good, which a Man can be without, and yet be satisfy’d and contented. In the same manner is he a Fool who flies that earnestly as hisIll, which a Man may endure, and yet be easy and contented. Now a Man may possibly not have burnt a Temple, as Erostratus, and yet may be contented. Or tho he may not have conquer’d the World, as Alexander, yet he may be easy and contented: as he may still without any of those Advantages of Power, Riches, or Renown; if his Fancy hinders not. In short, we shall find, “That without any one of those which are commonly call’d Goods, a Man may be contented”: As, on the contrary, “He may possess them all, and still be discontented, and not a jot the happier.” If so; it follows, “That Happiness is from within, not from without.” “A goodFancy is the Main.” And thus, you see, I agree with you,Opinion All, in what sense. “That Opinionis all in all.”—But what is this, Philocles, which has seiz’d you? You seem of a sudden grown deeply thoughtful.
“To tell you truth,” said I, “I was considering What wou’d become of me, if, after all, I shou’d, by your means, turn Philosopher.” “The Change, truly, wou’d be somewhat extraordinary,” reply’d Theocles. “But be not concern’d. The Danger is not so great. And Experience shews us every day, That for talking or writing Philosophy, People are not at all the nearer being Philosophers.”
But, said I, the very Name is a kind of Reproach. The word Idiot stood formerly as the Opposite to Philosopher: but now-a-days it means nothing more commonly than thePhilosopherhim-self.
Philosophy.Yet, in effect, reply’d he, what else is it we all do in general, than philosophize? If Philosophy be, as we take it, the Study of Happiness; must not everyone, in some manner or other, either skilfully or unskilfully philosophize? Is not every Deliberation concerning our main Interest, every Correction of our Taste, every Choice and Preference in Life to be reckon’d of this kind? For “If Happiness be not allow’d to be from Self, and from within; then Either is it from outward Things alone, or from Self and outward Things together.” If from outward Things alone; shew it us, in fact, “That all Men are happy in proportion to these; and that no one who possesses them is ever miserable by his own fault.”—But this, it seems, hardly any-one will pretend to evince: All own the contrary.—Therefore “If Happiness be partly from Self, partly from outward Things; then Each must be consider’d, and a certain Value set on the Concerns of an inward kind, and which depend on Self alone.” If so: and that I consider “How, and in What these are to be prefer’d; When and on what occasion they are in season, or out of season; When properly to take place, when to yield”: What’s this, after all, but to philosophize? “Yet even this, still, is enough to put one out of the ordinary way of thinking, and give one an unhappy turn for Business, and the World.” “Right! For this also is to be consider’d, and well weigh’d.” And therefore This, still, is Philosophy; “To inquire Where, and in what respect one may be most a Loser; Which are the greatest Gains, the most profitable Exchanges”; since every thing in this World goes by Exchange. Nothing is had for nothing. Favour requires Courtship: Interest is made by Sollicitation: Honours are acquir’d with Hazard; Riches with Pains; Learning and Accomplishments by Study and Application. Security, Rest, Indolence are to be had at other Prices. They may be thought, perhaps, to come easy. For “What Hardship is there? Where is the Harm?” ’Tis only to abate of Fame and Fortune. ’Tis only to wave the Point of Honour, and share somewhat less of Interest. If this be easy; all is well. Some Patience, you see, is necessary in the case. Privacy must be endur’d; even Obscurity and Contempt.—Such are the Conditions. And thus every-thing has its Condition.Power and Preferments are to be had at one rate; Pleasures at another; Liberty and Honesty at another. A goodMind must be paid for, as other things. “But we had best beware lest, perhaps, we pay too dear for It. Let us be assur’d we have a good Bargain.” Come on then.—Let us account.—“What is a Mind worth? What Allowance may one handsomly make for it? Or What may one well afford it for?”—If I part with It, or abate of It, ’tis not for Nothing. Some value I must needs set upon my Liberty, some upon my inward Character. Something there is in what we call Worth; something in Sincerity, and a soundHeart.Orderly Affections, generous Thoughts, and a commandingReason, are fair Possessions, not slightly to be given up. I am to consider first, “What may be their Equivalent? Whether I shall find my Account in letting these inward Concerns run as they please; or Whether I shall not be better secur’d against Fortune by adjusting Matters at home, rather than by making Interest abroad, and acquiring first one great Friend, then another, to add still more and more to my Estate or Quality?” For Where am I to take up? Begin; and set the Bounds. Let me hear positively “How far I am to go, and Why no further?” What is a moderate Fortune, a Competency, and those other Degrees commonly talk’d of? Where is my Anger to stop? or how High may I suffer it to rise? How far may I engage in Love? How far give way to Ambition? How far to other Appetites? Or am I to let all loose? Are the Passions to take their swing; and no Application to be given to ’em, but all to the outward Things they aim at? Or if any Application be requisite; say plainly, “How much to one, and how much to the other?” How far are the Appetites to be minded, and how far outward Things? Give us the Measure and Rule. See Whether this be not to philosophize? and Whether willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly, Everyone does not as much? “Where, then, is the Difference? Which Manner is the best?” Here lies the Question. This is what I wou’d have you weigh and examine. “But the Examination,” say you, “is troublesom; and I had better be without it.” Who tells you thus? “Your Reason, you say, whose Force, of necessity, you must yield to.” Tell me therefore, have you fitly cultivated that Reason of your’s, polish’d it, bestow’d the necessary Pains on it, and exercis’d it on this Subject? Or is it like to determine full as well when un-exercis’d, as when thorowly exercis’d, or ever so expert? Consider, pray, in Mathematicks; Whose is the better Reason of the two, and fitter to be rely’d on? The Practiser’s, or his who is unpractis’d? Whose in the way of War, of Policy, or Civil Affairs? Whose in Merchandize, Law, Physick?—And in Morality and Life, I ask still, Whose? May he not, perhaps, be allow’d the best Judg of Living, who studysLife, and endeavours to form it by some Rule? Or is he indeed to be esteem’d most knowing in the matter, who slightly examines it, and who accidentally and unknowingly philosophizes?
Thus, Philocles (said he, concluding his Discourse) Thus is Philosophy establish’d. For Every-one, of necessity, must reason concerning his own Happiness; “What his Good is, and what his Ill.” The Question is only, “Who reasons best?” For even he who rejects this reasoning or deliberating Part, does it from a certain Reason, and from a Persuasion “That this is best.”
BY this time we found our-selves insensibly got home. Our Philosophy ended, and we return’d to the common Affairs of Life.
The End of the Second Volume.