« EdellinenJatka »
and human societies would live in order, harmony, and peace. In those scenes of mischief and violence which fill the world, let man behold, with shame, the picture of his vices, his ignorance, and folly. Let him be humbled by the mortifying view of his oivn perverseness; but let not his “heart fret against the Lord.”
On disinterested friendship. 1. I AM informed that certain Greek writers (philosophers, it seeins, in the opinion of their countrymen) have advanced some very extraordinary positionsá relating to friendship ; as, indeed, what subject is there, which the subtle geniuses have not tortured with their sopbistry ?c
2. The authors to whom I refer, dissuade their disciples from entering into any strong attachments, as unavoidably creating supernumerary disquietudes to those who engage in them; and, as every man has more than sufficient to call forth his solicitude, in the course of his own affairs, it is a weakness, they contend, anxiously to involve himself in the concerns of others.
3. They recommend it also, in all connexions of this kind, to hold the bands of union extremely loose ; so as always to have it in one's power to straiten or relax them, as, circumstances and situations shall render most expedient. They add, as a capital, article of their doctrine, that, “ to live exempt from cares, is an essential ingredients to constitute human happiness : but an ingredient, however, which he, who voluntarily distresses himself with cares, in which he has no necessary and personal interest, must never hope to possess."
4. I have been told likewise, that there is another set of pretended philosophers, of the same country, whose tenets, concerning this subject, are of a still more illiberal and ungenerous cast. - 5. The propositions they attempt to establish, is, that ** friendship is an affair of self-interest entirely ; and that the proper motive for engaging in it, is not in order to gratify the kind and benevolent affections, but for the benefit of that assistance and support which are to be derived from the connexion."
6. Accordingly they assert, that those persons are most disposed to have recourse to auxiliary" alliances of this kind, who are least qualified by nature, or fortune, to depend upon their own strength and powers; the weaker sex, for instance, being generally more inclined to engage in friendships, than the male part of our species ; and those who are depressed by indigence,i or labouring under misfortunes, than the wealthy and the prosperous.
7. Excellent and obligingk sages, these, undoubtedly! To strike-out the friendly affections from the moral world, would be like extinguishing the sun in the natural; each of them being the source of the best and most grateful satisfactions, that Heaven has conferred on the sons of men. But I should be glad to know, what the real value of this boasted exemption from care, which they promise their disciples, justly amounts to ? an exemption Nattering to self-luve, I confess ; but which, upon many occurrences in human life, should be rejected with the utmost disdain.
8. For nothing, surely, can be more inconsistent with a well-poisedm and manlý spirit, than to decline engaging in any laudable action, or to be discouraged from persevering in it, by an apprehension of the trouble and solicia tude with which it may probably be attended.
9. Virtue herself, indeed, ought to be totally renounced,n if it be right to avoid every possible means that may be productive of uneasiness ; for who, that is actuated. by her principles, can observer the conduct of an opposite character, without being affected with some degree of secret dissatisfaction ?
10. Are not the just, the brave, and the good, necessarily exposed to the disagreeable emotions of dislike and aversion, 9 when they respectively meet with instances of fraud, of cowardice, or of villany ? It is an essential property of every well constituted mind, to be affected with pain, or pleasure, according to the nature of those moral appearances that present themselves to observation.
11. If sensibility, therefore, be not incompatibler with true wisdom, (and it surely is not, unless we suppose that philosophy deadens every finer feeling of our nature,) what just reason can be assigned, why the sympathetic sufferings which may result from friendship, should be a sufficient inducement for banishing that generous affection from the human breast?
12. Extinguish all emotions of the heart, and what difference will remain, I do not say between man and brute, but between man and a mere inanimate clod? Away then with those austere philosophers, who represent virtue as hardening the soul' against all the softer impressions of bumanity!
13. The fact, certainly, is much otherwise. A truly good man is upon many occasions, extremely susceptible of tender sentiments; and his heart expands with joy; or shrinks with sorrow, as good or ill fortune accompanies his friend. Upon the whole, then, it may fairly be concluded, that as in the case of virtue, so in that of friendship, those painful sensations which may sometimes be produced by the one, as well as by the other, are equally insufficient grounds for excluding cither of them from taking possession of our bosoms.
14. They who insist that " utility is the first and prevailing motive, which induces inankind to enter into particular friendships," appear to me to divest the association of its most amiable and engaging principle. For to a mind rightly disposed, it is not so much the benefits received, as the affectionate zeal from which they flow, that gives them their best and most valuable recommendation.
15. It is so far indeed from being verified by fact, that a sense of our wants is the original cause of forming these amicable alliances ; that, on the contrary, it is observable, that none have been more distinguished in their friendships than those, whose power and opulence, but, above all, whose superior virtue, (a much firmer support,) have raised them above every necessity of having recourse to the assistance of others. : 16. The true distinction then, in this question, is, that
“ although friendship is certainly productive of utility, yet utility is not the primary motive of friendship." Those selfish sensualists, therefore, who, lulledu in the lap of luxury, presume to maintain the reverse, have surely no claim to attention ; as they are neither qualified by reflection, nor experience, to be competent judges of the subject.
17. Is there a man upon the face of the earth, who would deliberately accept of all the wealth, and all the affluence this world can bestow, if offered to him upon the severe terms of his being unconnected with a single mortal whom he could love, or by whom he should be beloved ? This would be to lead the wretched life of a detested tyrant, who, amidst perpetual suspicions and alarms, passes his miserable days a stranger to every tender sentiment; and utterly precludedo from the heart-felt satisfactions of friendship.
Melmoth's translation of Cicero's Lælius.
On the immortality of the soul. 1. I was yesterday walking alone, in one of my friend's ... woods; and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over, in my mind, the several arguments that establish this great point ; which is the basis of morality, and the source of all the pleasing hopes, and secret joys, that can arise in the heart of a reasonable creature. I consid.
ered those several proofs drawn, first, from the nature of the soul itself, and particularly its immateriality ;' which, though not absolutely necessary to the eternity of its duration, has, I think, been evinced to almost a demonstration.
2. Secondly, from its passions and sentiments; as particularly, from its love of existence ; its horror of annihilation ; and its hopes of immortality; with that secret satisfaction which it finds in the practice of virtue ; and that uneasiness which follows upon the commissiond of vice.-Thirdly, from the nature of the supreme Being, whose justice, goodness, wisdom, and veracity,' are all concerned in this point.
3. But among those, and other excellent arguments for the immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from the perpetual progresss of the soul to its perfection, without a possibility of ever arriving! at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others, who have written on this subject, though it seems to me to carry a very great weight with it.
4. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the soul, which is capable of immense perfections, and of receiving new improvements to all eternity, shall fall away into nothing, almost as soon as it is created ? Are such abilities made for no purpose ? A brute arrives at a point. of perfection, that he can never pass : in a few years he has all the endowments be is capable of; and were he to live ten thousand more, would be the same thing he is at present
5. Were a human soul thus at a stand in her accomplishments ; were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of farther enlargements; I could imagine she might fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of improvement, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad' into the works of her Creator, and made a few discoveriesh of his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power, must perish at her first setting out, and in the very beginning of her inquiries ?
6. Man, considered only in his present state, seems sent into the world merely to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a successori; and immediately quits his post to make room for him. He does not seem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This ja