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parel, is of itself a vice, can never enter into a head that is not disordered by the frenzies of enthusiasm. I have indeed heard of a monk abroad, who, because the windows of his cell opened upon a noble prospect, made a covenant with his eyes never to turn that way, or receive so sensual a gratification. And such is the crime of drinking champagne or Burgundy, preferable to small-beer or porter. These indulgences are only vices when they are pursued at the expense of some virtue, as liberality or charity; in like manner as they are follies when for them a man ruins his fortune, and reduces himself to want and beggary. Where they intrench upon no virtue, but leave ample subject whence to provide for friends, family, and every proper object of generosity or compassion, they are entirely innocent, and have in every age been acknowledged such by almost all moralists. To be entirely occupied with the luxury of the table, for instance, without any relish for the pleasures of ambition, study, or conversation, is a mark of stupidity, and is incompatible with any vigor of temper or genius. To confine one's expense entirely to such a gratification, without regard to friends or family, is an indication of a heart destitute of humanity or benevolence. But if a man reserves time sufficient for all laudable pursuits, and money sufficient for all generous purposes, he is free from every shadow of blame or reproach.
Since luxury may be considered either as innocent or blamable, one may be surprised at those preposterous opinions which have been entertained concerning it: while men of libertine principles bestow praises even on vicious luxury, and represent it as highly advantageous to society; and on the other hand, men of severe morals blame even the most innocent luxury, and represent it as the source of all corruptions, disorders, and factions incident to civil government. We shall here endeavor to correct both these extremes, by proving, first, that the ages of refinement are both the happiest and most virtuous ; secondly, that wherever luxury ceases to be innocent it also ceases to be beneficial; and when carried a degree too far, is a quality pernicious, though perhaps not the most pernicious, to political society.
To prove the first point, we need but consider the effects of refinement both on private and on public life. Human happiness, according to the most received notions, seems to consist in three ingredients, — action, pleasure, and indolence; and though these ingredients ought to be mixed in different proportions, according to the particular disposition of the person, yet no one ingredient can be entirely wanting, without destroying in some measure the relish of the whole composition. Indolence or repose, indeed, seems not of itself to contribute much to our enjoyment; but like sleep, is requisite as an indulgence to the weakness of human nature, which cannot support an uninterrupted course of business or pleasure. That quick march of the spirits which takes a man from himself, and chiefly gives satisfaction, does in the end exhaust the mind, and requires some intervals of repose, which though agreeable for a moment, yet if prolonged beget a languor and lethargy that destroy all enjoyment. Education, custom, and example have a mighty influence in turning the mind to any of these pursuits; and it must be owned that where they promote a relish for action and pleasure, they are so far favorable to human happiness. In times when industry and the arts flourish, men are kept in perpetual occupation, and enjoy as their reward the occupation itself, as well as those pleasures which are the fruit of their labor. The mind acquires new vigor; enlarges its powers and faculties; and by an assiduity in honest industry, both satisfies its natural appetites and prevents the growth of unnatural ones, which commonly spring up when nourished by ease and idleness. Banish those arts from society, you deprive men both of action and of pleasure; and leaving nothing but indolence in their place, you even destroy the relish of indolence, which never is agreeable but when it succeeds to labor, and recruits the spirits exhausted by too much application and fatigue.
Another advantage of industry and of refinements in the mechanical arts is, that they commonly produce some refinements in the liberal; nor can one be carried to perfection without being accompanied in some degree with the other. The same age which produces great philosophers and politicians, renowned generals and poets, usually abounds with skilful weavers and ship carpenters. We cannot reasonably expect that a piece of woollen cloth will be brought to perfection in a nation which is ignorant of astronomy, or where ethics are neglected. The spirit of the age affects all the arts; and the minds of men, being once roused from their lethargy and put into a fermentation, turn themselves on all sides and carry improvements into every art and science. Profound ignorance is totally banished, and men enjoy the privilege of rational creatures, to think as well as to act, to cultivate the pleasures of the mind as well as those of the body.
The more these refined arts advance, the more sociable men become. Nor is it possible that when enriched with science, and possessed of a fund of conversation, they should be contented to remain in solitude, or live with their fellow-citizens in that distant manner which is peculiar to ignorant and barbarous nations. They flock into cities; love to receive and communicate knowledge, to show their wit or their breeding, their taste in conversation or living, in clothes or furniture. Curiosity allures the wise, vanity the foolish, and pleasure both. Particular clubs and societies are everywhere formed. Both sexes meet in an easy and sociable manner; and the tempers of men as well as their behavior refine apace. So that beside the improvements which they receive from knowledge and the liberal arts, it is impossible but they must feel an increase of humanity from the very habit of conversing together, and contributing to each other's pleasure and entertainment. Thus industry, lenowledge, and humanity are linked together by an indissoluble chain; and are found, from experience as well as reason, to be peculiar to the more polished and what are commonly denominated the more luxurious ages.
Nor are these advantages attended with disadvantages that bear any proportion to them. The more men refine upon pleasure, the less will they indulge in excesses of any kind; because nothing is more destructive to true pleasure than such excesses. One may safely affirm that the Tartars are oftener guilty of beastly gluttony, when they feast on their dead horses, than European courtiers with all their refinements of cookery. And if (libertinism] be more frequent in polite ages, when it is often regarded only as a piece of gallantry, drunkenness on the other hand is much less common.
But industry, knowledge, and humanity are not advantageous in private life alone: they diffuse their beneficial influence on the public, and render the government as great and flourishing as they make individuals happy and prosperous. The increase and consumption of all the commodities which serve to the ornament and pleasure of life are advantages to society ; because, at the same time that they multiply those innocent gratifications to individuals, they are a kind of storehouse of labor, which in the exigencies of State may be turned to the public service. In a nation where there is no demand for such superfluities, men sink into indolence, lose all enjoyment of life, and are useless to the public, which cannot maintain or support its fleets and armies from the industry of such slothful members.
The bounds of all the European kingdoms are at present nearly the same as they were two hundred years ago. But what a difference is there in the power and grandeur of those kingdoms! which can be ascribed to nothing but the increase of art and industry. When Charles VIII. of France invaded Italy, he carried with him about 20,000 men; yet this armament so exhausted the nation, as we learn from Guicciardin, that for some years it was not able to make so great an effort. The late King of France in time of war kept in pay above 400,000 men; though from Mazarine's death to his own he was engaged in a course of wars that lasted near thirty years.
This industry is much promoted by the knowledge inseparable from ages of art and refinement; as on the other hand this knowledge enables the public to make the best advantage of the industry of its subjects. Laws, order, police, discipline, - these can never be carried to any degree of perfection before human reason has refined itself by exercise, and by an application to the more vulgar arts, at least, of commerce and manufacture. Can we expect that a government will be well modelled by a people who know not how to make a spinning-wheel, or to employ a loom to advantage? Not to mention that all ignorant ages are infested with superstition, which throws the government off its bias, and disturbs men in the pursuit of their interest and happiness.
Knowledge in the arts of government naturally begets mildness and moderation, by instructing men in the advantages of humane maxims above rigor and severity, which drive subjects into rebellion, and make the return to submission impracticable by cutting off all hopes of pardon. When the tempers of men are softened as well as their knowledge improved, this humanity appears still more conspicuous, and is the chief characteristic which distinguishes a civilized age from times of barbarity and ignorance. Factions are then less inveterate, revolutions less tragical, authority less severe, and seditions less frequent. Even foreign wars abate of their cruelty ; and after the field of battle, where honor and interest steel men against compassion as well as fear, the combatants divest themselves of the brute and resume the man.
Nor need we fear that men, by losing their ferocity, will lose their martial spirit, or become less undaunted and vigorous in defence of their country or their liberty. The arts have no such effect in enervating either the mind or body. On the contrary, industry, their inseparable attendant, adds new force to both. And if anger, which is said to be the whetstone of courage, loses somewhat of its asperity by politeness and refinement, - a sense of honor which is a stronger, more constant, and more governable principle, acquires fresh vigor by that elevation of genius which arises from knowledge and a good education. Add to this that courage can neither have any duration, nor be of any use, when not accompanied with discipline and martial skill, which are seldom found among a barbarous people. The ancients remarked that Datames was the only barbarian that ever knew the art of
And Pyrrhus, seeing the Romans marshal their arıny with some art and skill, said with surprise, “ These barbarians have nothing barbarous in their discipline!” It is observable that as the old Romans, by applying themselves solely to war, were almost the only uncivilized people that ever possessed military discipline, so the modern Italians are the only civilized people among Europeans that ever wanted courage and a martial spirit. Those who would ascribe this effeminacy of the Italians to their luxury, or politeness, or application to the arts, need but consider the French and English, whose bravery is as incontestable as their love for the arts and their assiduity in commerce. The Italian historians give us a more satisfactory reason for this degeneracy of their countrymen. They show us how the sword was dropped at once by all the Italian sovereigns: while the Venetian aristocracy was jealous of its subjects, the Florentine democracy applied itself entirely to commerce, Rome was governed by priests and Naples by women. War then became the business of soldiers of fortune, who spared one another, and to the astonishment of the world, could engage a whole day in what they called a battle, and return at night to their camp without the least bloodshed.
What has chiefly induced severe moralists to declaim against refinement in the arts is the example of ancient Rome, which, joining to its poverty and rusticity virtue and public spirit, rose to such a surprising height of grandeur and liberty : but having learned from its conquered provinces the Asiatic luxury, fell into every kind of corruption; whence arose sedition and civil wars, attended at last with the total loss of liberty. All the Latin classics whom we peruse in our infancy are full of these sentiments, and universally ascribe the ruin of their State to the arts and riches imported from the East; insomuch that Sallust represents a taste for painting as a vice, no less than lewdness and drinking. And so popular were these sentiments during the late