صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

have enriched his understanding by a knowlege of the world, and the theory of moral duties; he might be a compleat master of the theory of human life, and yet discover himself to be very weak in his actions. Men judge of things from their understanding ; but they act from their pasions : and hence it is that many blockheads pass through life, without betraying any want of sense by their actions, while men of genius frequently betray as much stupidity and folly by their conduct, as they display in genuity and sagacity in their writings *. This consideration alone ought to convince modern preceptors how much they are in the wrong, in their endeavours to instill theories of morals, when they should enforce habits of action; and in striving to enforce habits of thought when they should cultivate the faculty of thinking. A man's conduct is of much more importance to society, than his mode of thinking; and it is notorious that habit almost entirely subdues those passions, which are deaf to the loudest voice of reason.

With regard to the superior advantages which man is supposed to enjoy in his solitary or savage ftate, our Author very justly observes they are altogether chimerical.

. It is scarcely possible (says he) to educate men more for themselves, and less for others, than are the Indians in the province of Quito, acrording to the description given of them by Don George Juan and Don Antonio de Ulloa, in their excellent relation. These are men in a state of nature, they live only for themselves, and are subjected only to natural wants.

i They have so little ambition, that an Indian will receive, with the same indifference, the office of alcaid, or that of a hangman. Interest has no sway over them, for they will frequently refuse to do the most triAing service for the greatest reward.

The Indian, seated by his little fire-fide, undisturbed, fees his wife at work. The traveller, who has lost his way, will never be able to persuade him to quit that posture, in order to conduct him one step. The only thing they never refuse is, to divert themselves, but then they must have plenty of liquor. When they are drunk, they lie all together without distinction, men and women, giving themselves little concern whether they are by the side of another man's wife, or their own sister or daughter ; on these occasions every duty is forgot. :

"Would not one imagine that these were the men in a state of nature, mentioned in his treatise on the Inequality of Cona ditions? Yet thefe men, who have not been spoiled by civil

only for them. Thered Don A

* Several recent infances, indeed, might be given of men, of whom it might be justly said, in the words of the satirist, that they ne. ver said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one.

education,

edacation, these men formed by the hand of nature alone, by the gradual opening of their mental faculties, according to the account of our learned Spaniards, just mentioned, poffefs no like perior advantages considering them merely as men. " If we look upon them, say they, as men, the extent of their understanding seems to fall short of the excellence of the soul, and their weakness is so apparent, that, in certain cases, we can scarcely have any other idea of them, than we have of the beasts of the field ”

? This depraved state of the inhabitants will probably be at. tributed to the badness of the climate, and I have not the least doubt, but that it may, in part, be ascribed to this cause.

It is equally unreasonable to ascribe the whole as nothing to the climate. It is only of late we have fallen into these two extremes, and the dispute is in no other respect novel, mankind being never at a loss how to judge in such matters. However, let the influence of the climate on the dispositions of the Indians of Peru be as great as it may, it will alivays afford a proof of the power a civil education has to correct it.

The above mentioned authors have observed, that the children of the Indians of this fame province of Quito, when they are brought up in the towns, become as reasonable as other men, any appear of a nature quite different from the rest of the nation.. Sve On the other hand, they have also remarked, that in the various and valt provinces through which they passed, the uncivilized Indians differed no ways one from the others; that those of Quito were not more ignorant and stupid than those of the Vallies, or of Lima, nor these last more intelligent than those of Chili or Arauca. Yet what a difference of climate is there amongst all these people? It is, therefore, very evident, that the want of a civil educa:ion has an equal influence on entire nations which inhabit very different climates, and that in the same climate education has the power of civilizing those who enjoy the advantages of it, though the nation they spring from should be totally barbarous.'

. We shall not trouble our Readers with any of the commonplace and hackney'd arguments, with which father Gerdil combats the minuter novelties of Mr. Rousseau's system. But we cannot pass over his remonftrance against the progress of philo. fophy. Rousseau had objected against public institutions for the purposes of education, as being of no use. These, says our Author, are distinguished into three several departments, namely, that of letters to form the mind *, that of philosophy to forin

The Author should have said the rhetorician; for how is mind difinguished from citizen and Christian? Have not each of these minds?

the win an unknow up to attenonfift. It fophy

the citizen, and that of religion' to form the Christian. He objects, however, to the second ; and is inclined to think, that if we pretend to form citizens by philosophy alone, we shall find ourselves deceived. No. Like a true Barnabite, he will have nothing to be done without religion. His reasons are thefe :

<First, because philofophy is above the capacity of the inul. titude. Talk philosophy to farmers and artizans, and you speak to them in an unknown language. People of business have their time too much taken up to attend wholly to philofophy, yet in there does the bulk of citizens confift. It is, therefore, neceffary to have some other principle, besides philosophy, to form the greatest part of the citizens, and as this principle should be universal, it ought of course to form all the citizens.

Secondly, becaufe philosophy is easily depraved in those who only skim the surface of it. This is an obfervation of the Lord Chancellor Bacon ; found philosophy is, therefore, limited tó a small number. If it is ever of use to a state, it is more Jikely to prove so by the good which three or four great philosophers may be able to do, than by that visible and superficial diffusion of philosophy, which every day gains ground, and spreads itself through every order of society.

• Of what use is it to a state, to have twenty thousand idle citizens with a superficial knowlege in astronomy? The knowJége of these people will never serve either to regulate the calen-' dar, or to perfect the thecries which may be of use to society. The ftare derives advantage from the labours of a ceriain num.' ber of true astronomers, the rest is all pure lols. Yet there is this difference between astronomy and philosophy; namely, that a superficial knowlege ih astronomy is of no injury to him who has it ; but, on the contrary, serves to embellilh his mind, and give him a taste for good things, whereas, if philosophy does no good, it scarcely ever fails doing harm.

Never, surely, was there any thing more absurd than the above positions. We know not what idea this Writer has of philosophy, or of the capacities and leisure of men of business ;" but this we know, that some of the greatest philosophers in Europe are men of the greatest business in it. We know also that business is so far from incapacitating the minds of men, that it renders them acute and discerning ; while indolence too frequently leads to inattention, and noth to stupidity. It must be owned, indeed, that, in the time of Lord Bacon, a proficiency in philosophy was not so eafily attained as it is at present : but we have seen many veils of ignorance removed since his time, and God forbid it should be in the power of any Barnabi!e to persuade us to spread them again, and to sit down contented in darkness. He says, three or four great philosophers may be of use to a state, but a great number of smatterers cannot. Pray,

good

good Father Gerdil, who are the state? To be of use to the ftate, properly speaking, is to be useful to the individuals composing that state. And is not every thing that contributes to the sational gratification of those individuals, of use to the state? Do they live only for the sake of their governors? Do they exist merely to eat, drink, and pay taxes for the support of the administration? Is nothing of use to a state, but what serves to aggrandize magistrates and princes? to support them in their fplendour and luxury, and to feed the fatness of a parcel of . fall-fed priests, to tyrannize over the souls, as the former do. over the bodies of their subjects? Is there any thing, on this fide heaven, equal to the gratification of knowing and contemplating the wisdom of God in the wonderful works of the creation? And is this pleasure to be denied to all but a few philofophers and priests, who would become the tools of tyranny to keep the people in ignorance, and let them on a level with the brutes ? May not an honest plain man be astronomer enough to enjoy this fatisfaction, this supreme delight, without being capable of making almanacks and calculating eclipses? But the diffusion of knowlege is diametrically opposite to the interests of popery. The grand object of the church of Rome is te keep the Jaity in darkness. But what business have we to be troubled with encomiums on the utility of ignorance? or, in-. deed, what 'need have we for the alliftance of popish writers, to defend us against reputed infidels? Did the officious Translator* of these reflections conceive an incapacity in the writers of our own religion and country, to combat openly so doughty a champion as Rousseau, or to produce an antidote against any latent, poison that might be couched in his writings?

But after all, it does not appear that this learned Barnabite knows what philosophy is. • Philosophy (says he) is only an affemblage of different systems, the work of different brains, which perpetually contradict each other, either in their principles or their consequences. In fact, there is nothing in which philosophers agree, but in the mere term philosophy; in other respects, there are as many systems as there are heads. , Hobbes confounds right with strength, an idea shocking in the opinion of Mr. de Montesquieu, and strongly opposed by Mr. Rousseau. Some derive the origin of politic right from pa

* We cannot help, in this place expresiing our with, that English booksellers and translators would be more confiientious, and more feru. pulous of disseminating, as they do, in this country, the principles of foreign popish writers, by translations of their works; for certainly this is a point that deferves the attention of every true friend to the free. dom of the human mind, every sincere well-wisher to the protestant religioa.

ternal ternal authority; others, from express, or tacit conventions. Mr. Rousseau requires, besides, that the suffrages should be unanimous. The author of the " Essay on the Understanding” acknowledges no probity that has relation to all mankind, no moral intrinsic difference betwixt virtue and vice.

• Mr. de Montesquieu establishes this difference on instances of justice and equity anterior to all positive law. On the other hand, Mr. de Montesquieu pretends that virtue is not necessary in monarchies : Mr. de Voltaire facetiously says, in some part of his works, that it would be too great a misfortune to the world, if he should happen to be right in this opinion; and Mr. Rousseau openly condemns it. . However, Mr. de Montesquieu admits, that virtue is necessary to republics ; on the contrary, the “ Author of the Enquiries into the Oriental Despocism” says, that virtue has been injurious to certain ancient republics. Mr. de Montesquieu attributes much to the climate ; Mr. Helvetius will have nothing attributed to it. Bayle pretends, that fociety might sublift without religion; and after having abused all religions, he dishonours the Christian by prefuming to assert, that true Christians are not capable of forming a state which could subsist: this paradox is refuted by Mr. de Montg quiad

The author of the “ Code of Nature" ventures to say, that no one has hitherto understood the true principles of legislation or morality, and establishes the community of property as the basis both of the one and the other.

• Many are of opinion, that the life which children receive from their father and mother does not require any return of duty. Mr. Rousseau would not have obedience exist amongst men. One excuses suicide, another apologizes for duelling; a third represents luxury as the source of prosperity in a state ; a fourth thinks this is derived from the restraint which men are under in great monarchies. Mr. D'Alembert seems absolutely to condemn it. Some think even vices necessary to a state, and that they cause it to flourish. One exclaims against the indissolubility of the marriage knot, others, again, justify the temporary union of free parties.'

Is not this a mighty pretty picture of philosophy? Our Readers, howeyer, will not forget that the painter is a popish priest. For our own part, we have heard of systems of philosophy, but never before heard that philosophy was a system, much less an inconAftent farrago of different and discordant opinions. PhiloSophy is the love of truth, attended with a disinterested zeal for inveltigating it, a determined resolution to embrace it wherever found, and a sincere and liberal desire for its universal propagation. A philofopher is not like a sectary. It is by no means pecesary that all philosophers thould be of the fame opinion:

they

« السابقةمتابعة »