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and the brute.* He might almost as well join the animal and vegetable creation together, and reason accordingly. If health
• The Author of Epistles Philofophical and Moral, makes the following remark on the above passage from Rousseau : “ What use is here made of the word Nature! I would ask, If mankind even were in this state of solitude, how came it about they are united in a social "one_Were they led to it by inclination, or neceflity? If by inclination, nature evidently prescribed it; if by the necessities peculiar to their species, a state of society was not only prescribed but enforced by nature. Indeed, whoever before doubted of man's being, by nature, a social animal?" The fame Writer thus replies to this kind of reasoning:
Let talh Polemicks idly prate
To social converse tun'd the ear,
The weak and honelt from the knave.
be natural, he dares almost affirm that refcction is unnatural, and a thinking man is a depraved animal.
Would it not be thought very strange should we take upon us to affirm health and reflection to be incompatible, and that man hath derived the faculty of thinking from the depravity of society? Yet our Author's assertion is tantamount to this. We cannot impeach the wisdom of nature so much, however, as to suppose the exertion of our mental faculties inconsistent with the corporeal functions of the human frame. The state of nature he describes, is, therefore, a state of brutality; the state of the animal before the distinguishing faculties of the man had time and opportunity to expand themselves, and display a superior being, formed for reflection and society. Indeed our Author pretends that man has no instinct peculiar to his species; that he has no natural curiosity; that the progress of his reason is owing entirely to his passions, and that he covets knowlege only because he covets enjoyment. It is impossible to conceive, he fays, why a man, exempt from fears and desires, should take the trouble to reason. Perhaps so; but is it not t-ually impossible for us to conceive why many other things are done, that we daily fee actually are done, from the effect of instinct ? We do not suppose, however, that man reasons immediately from instinct: but may he not covet knowlege from instinct ? And may not that passion be as essential to man as any other? In which case he will receive pleasure even in the mere gratification of it; and as the exertion of the rational faculties furnishes the means of such gratification, he will naturally be induced to exert them. The immoderate gratification of this passion may, like that of all others, be prejudicial to health, as long application and intense study are known to be ; but it is certainly more noble to sacrifice the animal to the man, than, as our Author seems to advise, the man to the animal. - The best Writers on the subject are now pretty generally agreed, as to the reality of a moral inftinet in human nature; and as they are better philosophers than to carry it so far as the advocates for innate ideas formerly did, the arguments they bring, in support of the doctrine of moral sentiment, are in some measure unanswerable. Our Author would find no little difficulty also to prove, that curiosity, or a desire of knowlege, tending to the invention of speech and the cominunicative difpofition of society, is not inttinctive, and peculiarly so to the human species.
But : But we can easily account for Mr. Rousseau's mistakes ort this subject. Philosophers have been long accustomed to call the primitive state of man, when they supposed him unsocial as well as uncivilized, a state of nature. We have no more authority, however, to call civilized man the creature of society, than to call society the state nature dictated to uncivilized man. It is something very strange and fingular, nevertheless, that, after describing man in his supposed natural state, and placing him on a level in his enjoyments with the brutes, our Author should call such a state, a state of real happiness, and that of society, a state of imaginary eale. “ Civilized man (says Mr. Rousseau) is a mischievous being; a lamentable and constant experience makes the proof of it neceffary : Man, however, is naturally good; I think I have demonstrated it: what then could have depraved him to such a degree, unless the changes that have happened in his conftitution, his improvements, and the lights he has acquired? Let us cry up human society as much as we please, it will not be the less true that it necessarily engages men to hate each other in proportion as their in crests clash; to do each other apparent services, and in fact, heap upon each other every imaginable mischief. What are we to think of a commerce, in which the interest of every individual dictates to him maxims diametrically opposite to those, which the intereft of the community recommends to the body of society ; a commerce, in which every man finds his account in the misfortunes of his neighbour? There is not, perhaps, a single man in easy circumstances, whose death his greedy heirs, nay and too often his own children, do not secretly wish for; not a ship at fea, the loss of which would not be an agreeable piece of news for some merchant or another; not a house, which a debtor would not be glad to see reduced to ashes with all the papers in it ; not a nation, which does not rejoice at the milfortunes of its neighbours. It is thus we find our advantage in the disasters of our fellows, and that the loss of one man . almost always constitutes the prosperity of another. But, what is still more dangerous, public calamities are ever the objects of the hopes and expectations of a multitude of private persons. Some are for fickness, others for mortality; these for war, those for famine. I have seen monsters of men weep for grief at the appearance of a plentiful season ; and the great and fatal conflagration of London, which cost so many wretches their lives or their fortunęs, proved, perhaps, the making of more than ten thousand persons. I know that
Montaigne Montaigne finds fault with Demades the Athenian for having caused a workman to be punished, who, selling his coffins very dear, was a great gainer by the deaths of his fellow citizens : but Montaigne's reason being, that by the same rule every man should be punished, it is plain that it confirms my argument. Let us therefore look through our frivolous demonstrations of benevolence at what pafles in the inmost re. cesses of the heart, and reflect on what must be that state of things, in which men are forced with the same breath to caress and curse each other, and in which they are born, enemies by duty, and knaves by interest. Perhaps somebody will object that society is so forined, that every man gains by serving the reft. It may be so; but does he not gain still more by injuring them? There is no lawful profit but what is greatly exceeded by what may be unlawfully made ; and we always gain more by hurting our neighbours than by doing them good. The only objection therefore, that now remains, is the difficulty which malefactors find in screening themselves from punishment; and it is to accomplish this, that the powerful employ all their strength, and the weak all their cunning.
« Savage man, when he has dined, is at peace with the whole creation, and the friend of all his fellows. Does a dispute sometimes happen about a meal ? He seldom comes to blows without having first compared the difficulty of conquering with that of finding a fupply in some other place; and, as pride has no share in the squabble, it ends in a few cuffs : the conqueror eats, the conquered retires to seek his fortune elsewhere, and all is quiet again. But with man in focicty the case is quite different; in the first place, necessaries are to be provided, and then fuperfluities ; delicacies follow, and then immense riches, and then subjects, and then slaves. He does not enjoy the least relaxation; what is moft extraordinary, the less natural and pressing are his wants, the more headstrong his passions become, and what is still worse, the greater is his power of satisfying them; so that after a long series of prosperity, after having swallowed up immense treasures and ruined thousands, our hero closes the scene by cutting every throat, till he at last finds himself sole master of an empty universe. Such is in miniature the moral table, if not of human affairs, at least of the secret pretensions of every civilized heart," ** We leave our Readers to judge whether this be a fair and impartial representation of human society. That many of those evils here enumerated may be exemplified among indi
viduals, cannot be doubted; but the veriest Tyro in morals and politics, cannot be ignorant of the fallacy of his maxim, that 6 we always gain more by hurting our neighbours than by doing them good.” If there were still more exceptions. than there are to our old English proverb, Honesty is the best policy, it would yet remain a maxim founded in nature, and established on truth.
Our Author goes on to enumerate the calamities of war, and the ruinous effects of luxury and disease ; declaiming violently against fociety as the cause of their production. He hath many reflections on this subject deserving the notice of the politician, though few worthy the serious consideration of the philosopher.
The vices of man, in a state of society, are doubtless more Aagrant and manifold than they could possibly be in a state of fimplicity, wherein he ran wild in the woods; but what virtues could he then boast equal to the social virtues practised in a civilized state? It is in society only we behold the man; in Mr. Rousseau's state of nature, we see only a mere animal, a brute! And as to happiness, it is absurd to pretend to it. If savage man hath fewer wants, he hath fewer enjoyments; if he be subject to fewer diseases, he hath not the same opportunity of indulging the passions and appetites of health. What is granted him in the article of pain, is denied him in that of pleasure; and all his pretended fuperiority of virtue and happiness, consists in unconscious innocence and stupid insensibility :
The inference our Author draws, therefore, from this ingenious piece of declamation, is, in our opinion, unphilosophical and absurd. It is this ; that, supposing man a being whose views are confined to this life, a itate of society is unnatural, and he would be happier to live wild among the brutes; and that nothing but religious motives can make society eligible, or even supportable. Now, though we readily and joyfully admit, that the social disposition of man, and the faculties he displays in the midst of society, are eminent and convincing proofs of the superior destination of the human ípecies; yet, were it otherwise, and should we even admit that man dies like the brute, we cannot be persuaded he ought, or would be happier, to live so.
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