« السابقةمتابعة »
we may entertain desires so immoderate, that their gratification will debilitate even the capacity of enjoyment; in which cafe the disgust arising from that gratification will not be proportionably so great ; but the consequences will be still worse, because it will weaken the faculty of future enjoyment, even as the overbending or stretching a spring destroys its elafticity.
But, to return to our author ; who, considering man as a compound being, conceives bis power of gratification capable of being increased not only by physical, but political means. In regard to the former, he prescribes various rules to augment animal vigour and sentimental fortitude : all these, however, amount to no more than saying, " preserve health, and acquire knowledge.” But tho' happiness be incompatible with sickness and ignorance, yet it is not necessarily conferred by health and knowledge : his remarks on the political means of encreasing our power of gratification, are more pertinent; these tending to a point, which, as we before observed, is actually, tho' still comparatively, attainable *. Our power of gratification, says he, is to be considerably augmented by the allistance of others; whose concurrence in our favour is to be purchased either by riches or services. It were necessary, however, to possess a boundless and inexhaustible resource of riches, in order to interest a great number of persons, for any considerable time, to contribute to our peculiar gratification. The influence of wealth, lays our author, is in this respect temporary; and is employed to the greatest advantage in those conjunctures, which may serve to give a lasting establishment to that superiority which it occasionally gives us. The influence of our services is of larger duration ; but it rather tends to prevent others from injuring us, than to excite them to be active in our favour. When people are attached to us on account of our wealth, their attachment is immediately united to a sense
cally happy, it would not make us more physically fo, unless we place fuch happiness in the duration of our capacity for the alternate fucceffion of pain and pleasure : but this is nothing more than longevity, which if the sum of our pains and pleasures should be perfeály equal, would be, a state of infpidicy not of happiness.
* What we mean is this; it is posible that the pbysical happiness of individuals in all ages and climés may be equal ; but it cannot be doubted that the political happiness of an European, or of any other inhabitant of polished nations, is much greater than that of the barbarians of primitive ages, or the favages of the present. It is honte evident alio, that political happineis, tho' attainable, is only fo in a comparative degree ; for we know not that the most refined, voluptuous and independent people on earth, have as yet attained the ne plus ultra of political happiness.
of all the this entre superior
of their own wants ; but when they are only bound to us by moral obligation, they are held by the slender and uneven ties of mere opinion. Now chance or caprice have so great an effect on popular opinion, that its possession is of all things the. most uncertain. A man, who is solicitous of obtaining the. good opinion of mankind, by endeavouring to serve them, muit make a total and perpetual facrifice of his own sense and senli. bility; he must regulate both his words and actions by the caprices of public opinion; renouncing, as it were, his own being, to assume an heterogeneous existence foreign to himself, and similar to that of the multitude. And this facrifice he must make merely for the enjoyment of an imaginary good, which is every moment ready to escape him. Where is the man, of the least elevation of soul, capable of acting long fo, inconsistently and absurdly? There are two ways to induce others to cooperate with our designs ; the first is by acquiring their approbation or consent to what we have an inclination to do ; and the other by artfully taking the advantage of human weakness, to inculcate incessantly their natural inferiority with regard to ourselves. It is by this method mankind are the most effectually subjected to our pleasure ; as they are thus bound by the most indissoluble of all ties, that of fear. The most certain rule, by which to attain this end, is that of displaying on every proper occasion, an inconteftible superiority in point of fortitude or courage : this being a virtue the most conspicuous and cominanding in all ages and all countries. There is à method, our author observes, also, of depriving others of the opportunity of laying a restraint on our powers of gratifia cation; this is by withdrawing ourselves from society, and living in obscurity under the protection of the laws. This last condition, says he, is absolutely indispenfible; left that sense of fuperiority, which is common to men in a state of society, Ahould make them rush into acts of injustice against an helpless solitary, incapable of refifting their violence. This last method is the least perilous, as well as the least subject to interruption from the caprices of others; and is therefore that which hath been generally preferred by the sages. A proper application of these principles, assisted by refeétion, our author conceives, would greatly meliorate the lot of humanity, by ei. tablishing an equilibrium between their desires and their means of gratification. There are but a few privileged minds, however, that he thinks capable of entering so far into the necer sary examination of themselves. The greater part of mankind, says he, are like those; who, being wounded or diseared, are afraid to look at their fores. The savages, having satisfied their physical wants, enjoy a state of perfect tranquillity; but in proportion as mankind recede from a ftale of foliaude, they acNn 3
of cohere is
quire a inultitude of social ideas ; from the confufion and disorder of which, arises a deep sense of their own weakness, and of a laslitude which makes even life itself a burthen *. Hence it is that we endeavour to go beyond that personal sphere, which seems too confined for our delires ; to live, as it were, at a distance from ourselves in the midst of society. Our lives become in general, habitually and meanly subjected to the influence of present objects; to which, reflection very seldom opposes the image of those which are diftant: a consideration this, which is sufficient to give those, who can find enjoyment in solitude, a sense of real superiority above the rest of mankind. To preserve this superiority also, it is highly necessary to reflect maturely in every important action of our lives : by which means, we shall the more rarely commit such as we may have reafon to repent. A good conscience is almost always the acqui. sition of reflection : for what is a good conscience, but a sense of the conformity of our actions with the rules of justice ; and what is justice, but the conformity of actions with the laws of fociety? By the laws of society, however, our author does not mean the statutes or customs of particular states ; which may sometimes be even contradictory to those general rules, or principles by which all societies should be regulated. He remarks in particular, that one of those laws which has ever had the greatest influence on mankind, is that universal notion to which we give the name of honour. Yet this notion which hath formerly effected such wonders, is frequently found to be in direct opposition to particular inftitutions, both ecclefiaftical and civil.
This consideration leads our author into an examination of the nature of laws and the fundamental principles of society ; after which he endeavours to shew, that the moral duty and the political interest of every individual, are the same thing; the one term signifying the genus, and the other the species. Thus our duty is our interest regulated by law; altho' we may, it is true, in some particular cases, have an intereft where we are not bound in duty ; because there are many actions, concerning which the laws are silent. It is impossible, how. ever, that our true interest should be contrary to the laws, because it is a fat contradiction to pretend that it is our interest
* And yet, who that ever tasted, or has a taste for the pleasures of 1 focicty, would wish to have been a savage,,or can envy that stupid tran ! quillity which is here recommended ? we may with indeed, that our ! desires had been more moderaie, and our gratifications less exquisite, ir order that we might have longer enjoyed the charms of society without disgust. But tho’ we look back on past pleasure with regret, we cannot look forward at indifference with delight,
to purchase even a great pleasure at the price of a greater pain. .. One of the principal conditions of human happiness, says this writer, is the acquisition of a just knowlege of mankind, the connections by which they are bound, and the relations in which they stand to each other. He seems to think, also, that this knowledge is to be acquired to such a degree, as to let our opinion above the casual influence of particular events and circumstances : none of which should in such a care, prevent our forming a just estimate of men and things. But, by whom is this acquisition to be made ? By a man possessed equally of courage and candour ; without affectation and without weakness; equally distant from an unpolished severity of manners, as from a despicable and complacent servility. If such a man could be found, indeed, he would bid fair to be as happy, as our author's advice could make him ; but we fear, that in this age of timidity, dependence and irresolution, the generality of his readers will be apt to think the greater part of what he hath advanced, to be merely fine talking! It is doubtless much easier to say than to do: but it does by no means invalidate the truth of a proposition, or shew the impracticability of a design, to say it is eafier said than DONE.
L’Antiquité dévoilée par ses usages. Antiquity unveiled; or a critical Enquiry into the principal Opi
nions, Ceremonies and Institutions, religious and political, of the different Inhabitants of the Earth. By the late Mr. Boulanger. 2 Vols. 12mo. Amsterdam, 1766.
TN a letter prefixed to this performance, we have some account 1 of the life and writings of its author ; of which the writer, who professes himself to have been his intimate friend, speaks with a degree of warmth that evidently borders on partiality. The well known talents, however, of Mr. Boulanger, may, fufficiently apologize, if not justify, this instance of the letterwriter's regard for his deceased friend. There is, indeed, something so fingular in his account of the progress of this author's genius, that we cannot resist the temptation of selecting a few : passages from this introductory epistle. · After having acquainted the reader that Mr. Boulanger was remarkably dull and backward in his learning when a school- · boy, he proceeds to inform us, that when about the age of 18, our author applied himself with success to the study of the mathematics and architecture ; il consequence of which he af. terwards was made engineer, and was appointed to execute Nn4
several difficult works in the construction of the highway's and bridges in Champaigne, Lorraine, Burgundy, and other provinces of France. It was in the midst of this active and Jaborious employment, that he first conceived the design of enquiring into the ancient state of that earth, whose surface daily aff rded him proofs of the great variety of changes it must necessarily have undergone. - Il vit, (says this writer) la multitude des fulfiances diverses, que la terre recéle dans son sein; et qui attestent son ancienneté et la suite innombrable de ses revolutions fous l'aire qui l'eclaire; les climats changés, et les contrées qu'un fleil perpendiculaire brul.it autrefois, maintenant effleurées de les rayons obliques et paljagers, et chargée de glaces éternelles ; il ramalja du bois, des pierres, des coquilles : il vit dans nos carrieres l'empreinte des plantes qui naissent sur la côte de l'Inde ; la charrue retourner, dans nos champs, des éires dont les analogues fint caches dans l'abîme des mers ; i'bomne couché au nord sur les os de l'élephant, et le promenant ici sur la demeure des baicines ; il vit la nourriture doux monde présent croissant sur la surface de cent mondes palles : il considera l'ordre que les couches de la ierre gardoient entre elles: ordre tanto fi regulier, tantôi si troublé, qu'ici le globe tout neuf semble fortir des mains d! grund ouvrier ; lu n'offrir qu'un cahes ancien qui cherche à se debrouiller ; ailleurs que les ruines d'un vefie édifice renversi, reioftruit et renversé derechof, jans qu'à travers tant de bouleverse. mnens fucccdifs, l'imagination méme puisse remonter au premier.'
It was from those observations, and his reflections on the great revolutions which must have happened in the natural history of the earth, that he was led to consider the influence which such numerous changes in the physical state of soils and climates must neceilarily have had over its inhabitants : hence arose a variety of conjectures in his mind concerning the prinitive state of society, of religion, and of government. It was necefiary, however, to verify these conjectures by comparing them with the facts recorded in history, or transmitted by tra. dition. To this end he applied himself to the latin writers; but first of all was obliged to learn their language, and even when he had obviared this difficulty, he found himself little the better; the Latins were too ignorant and tod modern. He betook himself, therefore, to the Greeks; learned their language, and presently ran through their poets, philosophers and historians: but in these he was equally disappointed ; the Greek writ. ers being full of fictions, falsehoods and misrepresentations. He concluded, therefore, he might find greater satisfaction in his researches into the Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldean and Arabic write's: ail which languages he undertook to learn, and foon made himself a competent master of them. Such was the resolution, labour and perseverance of our author, in compaffing his favourite point. How far the success of his attempts to decy