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than a monitor to ourselves, or that it is capable of reading the hearts of others, he must certainly allow that it is the quality of the action only. Now this quality must depend either on the motives that inspired it, or on the effects that follow it. The former more properly belong to the agent, and should characterize rather the design than the fact. Indeed our Philosopher appears to admit, that the consequence of actions should distinguish their quality. “Men (says he) are by nature rather friends than enemies, a state of warfare being unnatural. An innate sentiment of benevolence makes them find a pleasure in doing each other good, and a repugnance to see each other suffer : this Instinct strongly induces them to approve all that is useful to mankind, and to blame every thing that is prejudicial to them.” Here we fee, that the utility and prejudice to mankind, are made the criterion of the Good or Evil of those things, which the Moral Instinct is said to approve or blame. Hence the natural consequences of the action, independent of the design of the agent, must denominate its quality; for though, speaking of this Instinct, our Author says elsewhere, Rien n'est bon que par lui, he certainly can mean no more, than that it must necessarily approve every thing that is good, and not that its approbation constituted that goodness. – Might we not ask him now, how this infallible Instinct appears to be innate, and how it operates in man? Will an action, naturally tending to the utility of mankind, and consequently such as the Moral Instinct must approve, make its utility known merely by its being seen or related to the spectator or auditor? Or wil the Moral Instinct of either immediately discover it? If not, will the fight of such an action, or the hearing of it related, as our Author supposes, excite the Moral Sense to approbation? Surely no: that Instinct, or Sense, may compel us to approve, and take pleasure in actions or characters, that, we conceive, tend to the Good of our fellow creatures; but it is by other means we must form such conceptions of them, and not merely by Moral Instinct. There is, therefore, in man no such infallible Instinct, as our Philosopher supposes, capable of rightly approving or disapproving a moral action or quality, at firit sight. Children and fools (he says) know very well when they do amiss. In some things probably they may; but we believe never till they are told, or have learned by experience the good or ill effects of their actions; which effects are not always mechanically impressed on any sense, at the time the actions are committed, but are discovered afterwards and connected by the association of ideas with such actions. Thus
the good never till in some fools the a moral aluppores, in man
a deed, that might strike us with horror did we know the natural or usual consequences of it, might be looked on with indifference, such consequences being unknown. It is not therefore the action that carries with it the impression of its Morality or Immorality, but it is the memory, or the underftanding, operating in conjunction with the perception of such action, that must represent its moral quality to its pro- . per sense.
It is said our emotions, in favour or detestation of moral actions, are frequently sudden and involuntary, and there, fore cannot be owing to the operations of our reason, to any deliberate examination into the good or ill qualities, or effects of those actions. This is very true : the Moral Sense, like all others, is acted on by appearances, and by our alreadyacquired notions of things, and does not wait for the assistance of reason. Hence it is that we are fo frequently deceived in these emotions, and conscientiously detest an action as vicious; which, when we come to know its motives and consequences, the same Instinct, which moved us to detest, excites us to applaud or approve.
Virtuous actions, we are told, give pleasure, and vicious ones pain, to the Moral Sense; which pleasure and pain are in both cases purely organical, and are the simple effect of the impression made on that sense by the object, in the same manper as a fine scent delights, and a rank one offends the smell.' But here we would ask, Whether that approbation which the conscience (supposed to be this Moral Sense, or immediately under the direction of it) bestows on good actions, arises from, and is proportionable to, the pleasure such actions give that sense? Or whether it arises from a consciousness or con: ception of the utility, of which such actions might prove to mankind? In other words, is the pleasure we take, in fee. ing or contemplating virtuous actions, the cause or the confequence of that approbation? Doth this Moral Sense delight in what gives it pleasure, merely for its so doing; or doth it feel pleasure from the fact, in consequence of the good it promises to be of to others? If the former be the case, it appears to be that only of a selfish appetite, not taking pleasure in virtue for the sake of virtue, but for the sake of its own gratification, which is as well served by the appearance of a good action as by the reality. And, if it be the latter, it is evidently necessary that this sense should be directed to its proper object, by reason or information, as it cannot other
wise discern the good or ill consequences of actions, on which depends their morality.
But this Philosopher has made an egregious blunder, in not properly distinguishing between such an infallible Instinct, as he supposes in one place, and such a sense in all respects like the other senses, in another. The Creator (he says) would not trust our preservation to our reason, but has committed it to the care of our senses; in the fidelity of whose operations he knew there was a greater security than in the caprices of the understanding : and that by so much as refleétion is lower in its operations than the mechanical motions accelerated by sentiment. We know not how far Instinct or Sentiment, might be a better preservative of the animal than reason, in a savage and solitary state ; but certainly in such a state the Moral Instinct, our Author contends for, could be of little use. And in the present situation of man, though it must be owned the operations of reason in matters quite novel and abstruse are slow; yet those ideas, which are immediately necessary to preservation, are so readily gained, and, when gained, are so ready for use at the command of the senses, that we find no occafion to prefer the office of mere fentiment. Our Author is surely the first Philosopher that ever so strenuoully maintained the Infallibility of Perception, and at the same time declaimed against the Caprices of Reason. But this is owing to his want of making a proper use of the latter, and his mistaking the operations of one for the other. Of this we might give more than one instance. In order to illustrate the manner, in which, he conceives, moral actions operate on their respective sense, by comparing it with that of the other senses, he tells us that every object carries with it its qualities, such as colour, figure, taste, &c. of which qualities a sensation is excited, at the same time, with the sensation of such object. We must remind him, however, that objects, abstracted from their qualities, are ideal and not perceptible ; they are not perceived by any sense, but formed by the imagination, or inferred by the understanding, in conséquence of the perceptions excited by their qualities. The allusion, therefore, which our Author here makes between moral and physical objects can never hold good.,
On the whole, however, we admit, with this Philosopher, that the idea of moral relations does not necessarily affect the heart; we conceive, nevertheless, that the heart could never be affected by moral actions, if the understanding had formed no idea of those relations,
With regard to the fourth part of this work, wherein our Author treats of the Soul, it may be sufficient just to remark, that he considers it as distinct and separate from the Body; a distinction which, however just and proper to be made, we are very little qualified, as Phyfiologists, to make. This Philosopher, indeed, confiders the Soul as an organical being, only more diminutive and of a finer substance than the grofler Body; on its union with which, nevertheless, the developement of its organs depends. But we must here take leave of this performance, with observing that, throughout the whole, there is discovered more ingenuity than found reasoning; and that we cannot help applauding the fertility of the Writer's imagination, even where we are obliged to censure the inaccuracy of his judgment. .
Briefe von den Herrn Gellert und Rabener,
Letters that passed between Messieurs Gellert and Rabener,
Leipfic, 1761. THE publication of these Letters, which are only four in
1 number, has, it seems, been made without the privity or consent of the Writers; on which account those Gentlemen may probably be displeased, notwithstanding the very favourable reception they have met with from the public. Several Editions have already been printed, to some of which is annexed a real or pretended conversation between Mr. Gellert and his Prussian Majesty. They are, on the whole, we are assured, not unworthy their Authors, although not of sufficient merit to authorize those lavish encomiums bestowed on them, or the avidity with which they have been bought up and read in Germany.
It is somewhat remarkable, however, that the horrors of war, amidst which this literary correspondence was carried on, Thould not have deprived it of that spirit and pleasantry with which thefe Letters abound; especially as the parties themselves were considerable sufferers in their private fortunes, from the circumstances attending the common calamity. As for poor Rabener, he had the mortification of seeing his house, his books, manuscripts, and all his other effects burnt and destroyed; an account of which accident he gives to his friend in the following manner :
« A shower of bullets and fhells, pouring about my house, I left it, and took sanctuary with the Governor ; whither, about five o'clock, my honest Valet came to acquaint me that my house was levelled with the ground; that the bombs had made their way into the vaults, and had burnt every thing I had placed there. To my comfort, indeed, he told me, the cellar was not damaged, but that it was very carefully fillaged by the soldiers who were sent to put out the fire. This was a terrible stroke, my dear friend, a cutting blow, indeed! My furniture, cloaths, linnen, provision, all my books and manuscripts, together with your letters, which I ever carefully prelerved, all were loft. Of effects, to the amount of three thousand rixdollars, I have not saved to the value of ten. An old surtout, which I put on to assist in preventing the fire;. an old peruke, picked up for the same purpose; a little linnen, so much worn as to have been already consigned to the use of my servant; and a night-gown : these are all the remains of my wardrobe. To the great confolation also of all fools that came after me, those valuable manuscripts which should have been printed when I was dead and gone, are all gone before me! Alas, every single sheet of them burnt to aihes ! . So that at present it is hardly worth while for me to die at all, since I have no posthumous piece to bequeath to the world. Before this fatal accident, indeed, I had some consolation in the thoughts of dying, from the noise my Writings would make after my decease; but now I am fully determined to live as long and as commodiously as I can. My heart, indeed, bleeds within me when I think of my darling books; the loss of which I should never cease to regret, did not a thread-bare surtout and a dirty shirt put ine in mind of the comforts of a good coat and clean linnen. In Thort, my dear friend, I am reduced even to the beggary of a Poet.”
These are thy triumphs, thy exploits, O CÆSAR! K nok
Sleeds within mhould never ceare put ine"
For M A Y, 1762.
E M : Or,