« السابقةمتابعة »
because others loiter: and if once they come within profpect of fuccefs and profit, fome will be greedy and others envious; fome will undertake more than they can perform, to enlarge their claims of advantage; fome will perform lefs than they undertake, left their labours should chiefly turn to the benefit of others.
The hiftory of mankind informs us that a single power is very feldom broken by a confederacy. States of different interefts, and afpects malevolent to each other, may be united for a time by common diftrefs; and in the ardour of felf-prefervation fall unanimously upon an enemy, by whom they are all equally endangered. But if their first attack can be withstood, time will never fail to diffolve their union: fuccefs and miscarriage will be equally destructive: after the conqueft of a province, they will quarrel in the divifion; after the lofs of a battle, all will be endeavouring to fecure themfelves by abandoning the reft.
From the impoffibility of confining numbers to the conftant and uniform profecution of a common intereft, arifes the difficulty of fecuring fubjects against the encroachment of governors. Power is always gradually ftealing away from the many to the few, becaufe the few are more vigilant and confiftent; it ftill contracts to a finaller number, till in time it centers in a fingle perfon.
Thus all the forms of government instituted among mankind, perpetually tend towards monarchy; and power, however diffufed through the whole community, is by negligence or corruption,
commotion or distress, reposed at last in the chief magistrate.
"There never appear," fays Swift, "more than << five or fix men of genius in an age; but if they "were united, the world could not ftand before "them." It is happy, therefore, for mankind, that of this union there is no probability. As men take in a wider compafs of intellectual furvey, they are more likely to chufe different objects of pursuit; as they see more ways to the fame end, they will be lefs eafily perfuaded to travel together; as each is better qualified to form an independent scheme of private greatness, he will reject with greater obftinacy the project of another; as each is more able to distinguish himself as the head of a party, he will lefs readily be made a follower or an affociate.
The reigning philofophy informs us, that the vast bodies which conftitute the universe, are regulated in their progress through the etherial spaces, by the perpetual agency of contrary forces; by one of which they are reftrained from deferting their orbits, and lofing themselves in the immenfity of heaven; and held off by the other from rufhing together, and clustering round their center with everlasting cohefron.
The fame contrariety of impulfe may be perhaps discovered in the motions of men: we are formed for fociety, not for combination; we are equally unqualified to live in a clofe connection with our fellow-beings, and in total feparation from them; we are attracted towards each other by general fympathy, but kept back from contact by private interests,
Some philofophers have been foolish enough to imagine, that improvements might be made in the fyftem of the univerfe, by a different arrangement of the orbs of heaven; and politicians, equally ignorant and equally prefumptuous, may easily be led to fuppofe, that the happiness of our world would be promoted by a different tendency of the human mind. It appears, indeed, to a flight and fuperficial obferver, that many things impracticable in our prefent ftate, might be eafily effected, if mankind were better difpofed to union and co-operation: but a little reflection will difcover, that if confederacies were cafily formed, they would lofe their efficacy, fince numbers would be opposed to numbers, and unanimity to unanimity; and inftead of the prefent petty competitions of individuals or fingle families, multitudes would be fupplanting multitudes, and thoufands plotting against thousands.
There is no clafs of the human fpecies, of which the union feems to have been more expected, than of the learned: the reft of the world have almost always agreed to fhut fcholars up together in colleges and cloifters; furely not without hope, that they would look for that happiness in concord, which they were debarred from finding in variety; and that fuch conjunctions of intellect would recompenfe the munificence of founders and patrons, by performances above the reach of any fingle mind.
But difcord, who found means to roll her apple into the banqueting chamber of the goddeffes, has had the addrefs to scatter her laurels in the feminaries of learning. The friendship of ftudents and of beauties is for the most part equally fincere, and equallý
durable as both depend for happiness on the regard of others, on that of which the value arifes merely from comparison, they are both exposed to perpetual jealoufies, and both inceffantly employed in fchemes to intercept the praises of each other.
I am, however, far from intending to inculcate, that this confinement of the ftudious to ftudious companions, has been wholly without advantage to the public: neighbourhood, where it does not conciliate friendship, incites competition; and he that would contentedly reft in a lower degree of excellence, where he had no rival to dread, will be urged by his impatience of inferiority to inceffant endeavours after great attainments.
These ftimulations of honeft rivalry are, perhaps, the chief effects of academies and focieties; for whatever be the bulk of their joint labours, every single piece is always the production of an individual, that owes nothing to his colleagues but the contagion of diligence, a refolution to write, because the reft are writing, and the scorn of obfcurity while the reft are illuftrious.
NUMB. 50. SATURDAY, April 28, 1753
Quicunque turpi fraude femel innotuit,
The wretch that often has deceiv'd,
HEN Ariftotle was once afked, what a man could gain by uttering falfehoods; he replied, "Not to be credited when he fhall tell the
The character of a liar is at once fo hateful and contemptible, that even of thofe who have loft their virtue it might be expected, that from the violation of truth they fhould be reftrained by their pride. Almost every other vice that difgraces human nature, may be kept in countenance by applaufe and affociation: the corrupter of virgin innocence fees himfelf envied by the men, and at least not detefted by the women: the drunkard may easily unite with beings, devoted like himself to noify merriments or filent infenfibility, who will celebrate his victories over the novices of intemperance, boaft themselves the companions of his prowefs, and tell with rapture of the multitudes whom unfuccefsful emulation has hurried to the grave: even the robber and the cutthroat have their followers, who admire their addrefs and intrepidity, their ftratagems of rapine, and their fidelity to the gang.