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tunate appetites, to put it in mind of its charge : knowing, that if we should eat and drink no oftener than cold abstracted speculation should put us upon these exercises, and then leave it to reason to prescribe the quantity, we should soon refine ourselves out of this bodily life. And, indeed, it is obvious to remark, that we follow nothing heartily unless carried to it by inclinations which anticipate our reason, and, like a bias, draw the mind strongly towards it. In order, therefore, to establish a perpetual intercourse of benefits among mankind, their Maker would not fail to give them this generous prepossession of benevolence, if, as I have said, it were possible. And from whence can we go about to argue its impossibility? Is it inconsistent with selflove? Are their motions contrary? No more than the diurnal rotation of the earth is opposed to its annual; or its motion round its own centre, which might be improved as an illustration of self-love, to that which whirls it about the common centre of the world, answering to universal benevolence. Is the force of self-love abated, or its interest prejudiced, by benevolence ? So far from it, that benevolence, though a distinct principle, is extremely serviceable to self-love, and then doth most service when it is least designed.
But to descend from reason to matter of fact; the pity which arises on sight of persons in distress, and the satisfaction of mind which is the consequence of having removed them into a happier state, are instead of a thousand arguments to prove such a thing as a disinterested benevolence. Did pity proceed from a reflection we make upon our liableness to the same ill accidents we see befal others, it were nothing
present purpose; but this is assigning an artificial cause of a natural passion, and can by no means be admitted as a tolerable account of it, because
children and persons most thoughtless about their own condition, and incapable of entering into the prospects of futurity, feel the most violent touches of compassion. And then, as to that charming delight which immediately follows the giving joy to another, or relieving his sorrow, and is, when the objects are numerous, and the kindness of importance, really inexpressible, what can this be owing to but consciousness of a man's having done something praiseworthy, and expressive of a great soul? Whereas, if in all this he only sacrificed to vanity and self-love, as there would be nothing brave in actions that make the most shining appearance, so nature would not have rewarded them with this divine pleasure; nor could the commendations, which person
receives for benefits done upon selfish views, be at all more satisfactory than when he is applauded for what he doth without design; because in both cases the ends of self-love are equally answered. The conscience of approving one's self a benefactor to mankind is the noblest recompense for being so; doubtless it is, and the most interested cannot propose any thing so much to their own advantage; notwithstanding which, the inclination is nevertheless unselfish. The pleasure which attends the gratification of our hunger and thirst is not the cause of these appetites; they are previous to any such prospect; and so likewise is the desire of doing good; with this difference, that, being seated in the intellectual part, this last, though antecedent to reason, may yet be improved and regulated by it; and, I will add, is no otherwise a virtue than as it is so. Thus have I contended for the dignity of that nature I have the honour to partake of; and, after all the evidence produced, think I have a right to conclude, against the motto of this paper, that there is such a thing as generosity in the world. Though, if I were under a mistake in this, I should say as Cicero in relation to the immortality of the soul, I willingly err, and should believe it very much for the interest of mankind to lie under the same delusion. For the contrary notion naturally tends to dispirit the mind, and sinks it into a meanness fatal to the godlike zeal of doing good: as, on the other hand, it teaches people to be ungrateful, by possessing them with a persuasion concerning their benefactors, that they have no regard to them in the benefits they bestow. Now he that banishes gratitude from among men, by so doing, stops up the stream of beneficence: for though in conferring kindnesses a truly generous man doth not aim at a return, yet he looks to the qualities of the person obliged; and as nothing renders a person more unworthy of a benefit than his being without all resentment of it, he will not be extremely forward to oblige such a man.
No 589. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1714.
Persequitur scelus ille suum; labefactaque tandem
OVID. Met. viii. 774.
• SIR, 'I am so great an admirer of trees, that the spot of ground I have chosen to build a small seat
in the country is almost in the midst of a large wood. I was obliged, much against my will, to cut down several trees, that I might have any such thing as a
walk in my gardens ; but then I have taken care to leave the
walk as much a wood as I found it. The moment you turn either to the right or left you are in a forest, where Nature sents you with a much more beautiful scene than could have been raised by art.
Instead of tulips or carnations I can shew you oaks in my gardens of four hundred years' standing, and a knot of elms that might shelter a troop of horse from the rain.
* It is not without the utmost indignation, that I observe several prodigal young heirs in the neighbourhood felling down the most glorious monuments of their ancestor's industry, and ruining, in a day, the product of ages.
I am mightily pleased with your discourse upon planting, which put me upon looking into my books, to give you some account of the veneration the ancients had for trees. There is an old tradition, that Abraham planted a cypress, a pine, and a cedar; and that these three incorporated into one tree, which was cut down for the building of the temple of Solomon.
Isidorus, who lived in the reign of Constantius, assures us, that he saw, even in his time, that famous oak in the plains of Mamre, under which Abraham is reported to have dwelt; and adds, that the people looked upon it with a great veneration, and preserved it as a sacred tree.
• The heathens still went farther, and regarded it as the highest piece of sacrilege to injure certain trees which they took to be protected by some deity. The story of Erisicthon, the grove of Dodona, and that at Delphi, are all instances of this kind.
If we consider the machine in Virgil, so much blamed by several critics, in this light, we shall hardly think it too violent.
• Æneas, when he built his feet in order to sail for Italy, was obliged to cut down the grove on mount Ida, which however he durst not do until he had obtained leave from Cybele to whom it was dedicated. The goddess could not but think herself obliged to protect the ships, which were made of consecrated timber, after a very extraordinary manner, and therefore desired Jupiter, that they might not be obnoxious to the power of waves or winds. Jupiter would not grant this, but promised her that as many as came safe to Italy should be transformed into goddesses of the sea; which the poet tells us was accordingly executed.
And now at length the number'd hours were come,
• O Trojan race, your needless aid forbear:
ease the bold Rutulian may
DRYDEN'S VIRG. ". The common opinion concerning the nymphs, whom the ancients called Hamadryads, is more to the honour of trees than any thing yet mentioned.