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A MANLY SPIRIT,
AS OPPOSED TO
TT has been obferved, that to complain I of present degeneracy from former days is common in every age, but that the complaint is always weak and unjust; that mankind are still much the same; that there is nearly an equal quantity of virtue and vice still subfisting in the world; that it is only distributed in various proportions, through different countries, at different times; and what is taken from the general stock in any one nation, at any particular period, is transferred to some other. The first part of the observation may be true: but we can by no means subscribe to the rest. If Human Nature remains always uniformly the same, with respect to her essential principles, they are yet influenced in their operation by so vast a diversity of external and accidental circumstances and situations, as to occafion, in the succeflion of ages, appearances the most different, and often the most opposite, that can be imagined. The original properties of the soil may continue; but the produce may be totally changed by the state of the seasons, concurring with that of the culture.
We appeal to history for an instance or two, out of many which might be adduced. You will not say, that, in the times when Polytheism universally reigned, there was to be found among men the same degree of purity, of probity, or of mutual benevolence, which has been fince frequently discovered in those countries, where idolatry gave place to the knowledge and worship of the One Supreme. The best days of pagan antiquity might display, here and there, higher flights of friendship, fortitude, and patriotism, than have been often seen in after generations that enjoyed superior light; owing, we suppose, chiefly to a stronger passion for fame, anciently propagated, as has been before remarked, with equal assiduity and skill by lawgivers and others, who laid hold on the love of glory implanted in the human mind, as the most powerful handle they could employ for inciting to those actions that would aggrandize their countrymen, and reflect honour on themselves. By joining with this motive institutions directly calculated to inspire temperance, patience of toil, fearlessness of danger, disregard to wealth, and a zeal for their country, they' certainly produced wonderful effects in the way of magnanimity and heroism. But then those splendid exhibitions were unequal, interrupted, and too commonly obscured by scandalous vices, or great failings, which the actors feemed little foli