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and delusive happiness, which comes not from the possession of any real and substantial good but from a spirit of levity, that drowns the memory of his real griefs, and occupies him with mean and contemptible things, utterly unworthy of his attention, much more of his love. It is a morbid and frantic joy, which flows not from the health of the soul, but from its disorder. It is the laugh of folly and of delusion. It is wonderful also to think what it is which pleases men in their sports and recreations. It is true, that by occupying the mind, they seduce it from the consciousness of its real sorrows: and so far is a reality. But then they are only capable of occupying the mind at all, because it has created for itself in them, a merely imaginary object of desire, to which it is fondly and passionately devoted.
What think you is the object of those men who are playing at tennis with such intense interest of mind and effort of body ? Merely to boast the next day among their friends, that they have played better than another. There is the spring of their devotedness.Others again in the same way toil in their closets, to shew the Sçavans that they have solved a question in algebra, which was never solved before. Others expose themselves, with at least equal folly, to the greatest dangers, to boast at length of some place that they have taken: and others there are, who wear out life in remarking on those things; not that they themselves may grow wiser, but purely to shew that they see the folly of them. And these seem the silliest of all; because they are conscious of their folly : whilst we may hope of the others, that they would act differently if they knew better.
3. A man will pass his days without weariness, in daily play for a trifling stake, whom you would make directly wretched, by giving to him each morning the probable winnings of the day, on condition of his not playing You will
66 But it is the amusement he wants, and not the gain.” Then make him play for nothing, and you will see that for want of risk, he will lose interest, and become weary. Evidently, then, it is not only amusement that he seeks. An amusement not calculated to excite the passions, is languid and fatiguing. He must get warmth, animation, stimulus, in the thought that he shall be happy in winning a trifle, that he would not consider worth a straw, if it were offered him without the risk of play. He must have an object of emotion adequate to excite desire, and anger, and hope, and fear.
So that the amusements which constitute men's happiness here, are not only mean,—they are false and deceitful: that is to say, they have for their object a set of phantoms and illusions, which actually could not occupy the human mind, if it had not lost its taste and feeling for that which is really good,-if it were not filled with low and mean propersities, with vanity, and levity, and pride, and a host of other vices. And these diversions only alleviate our present sorrows, by originating a misery more real and more humiliating. For it is they which mainly hinder us from thinking of ourselves, and make us lose our time without perceiving it. Without them, we should be unhappy, and this unhappiness would drive us to seek some satisfactory way of peace. But amusement allures and deceives us, and leads us down imperceptibly in thoughtlessness
Men finding that they had no remedy for death, misery, and ignorance, have imagined that the way to happiness was not to think of these things. This is all that they have been able to inyent, to console themselves in the midst of so much evil. But it is wretched comfort since it does not profess to cure the mischief, but merely to hide it for a short time. And it does so hide it, as to prevent all serious thought of an effectual cure. And thus a man, finds, that by a strange derangement of his nature, ennui, which is the evil that he most strongly feels, is in a certain sense his greatest good; and that amusement which he regards.as his best blessing, is, in fact, his most serious evil; because it operates more than any thing else to
prevent him from seeking a remedy for his miseries ; and both of them are a striking proof of the misery and corruption of man, and of his greatness also; since both that weariness which he feels in all things, and that restless search after various and incessant occupation, spring equally from the consciousness of a happiness which he has lost; which happiness, as he does not find it in himself, he seeks fruitlessly through the whole round of visible things; but never finds peace, because it is not in us, nor in the creature at all, but in
Whilst our own nature makes us miserable in whatever state we are, our desires paint to us another condition as being happy, because they join to that in which we are, the pleasures of a condition in which we are not; and whenever we shall attain to those expected pleasures, we shall not be therefore happy, because other desires will then spring up conformed to some other condition, yet new and unattained.
Imagine a number of men in chains, and all condemned to die, and that while some are slaughtered daily in the sight of their companions, those who yet remain see their own sad destiny in that of the slain, and gazing on each other in hopeless sorrow, await their doom. This is a picture of the condition of human nature.
THE WONDERFUL CONTRARIETIES WHICH ARE FOUND IN MAN
WITH RESPECT TO TRUTH, HAPPINESS, AND MANY OTHER SUBJECTS.
THERE is nothing more extraordinary in the nature of man, than the contrarieties, which are discovered in it on almost every subject. Man is formed for the knowledge of truth; he ardently desires it; he seeks it; and yet, when he strives to grasp it, he so com
pletely dazzles and confounds himself, that he gives occasion to doubt whether he has attained it or not.
This has given rise to the two sects of the Pyrrhonists and the Dogmatists, of whom the one would deny that men knew any thing of truth; the other professed to shew them that they knew it accurately; but each advanced reasons so improbable, that they only increased that confusion and perplexity in which man must continue, so long as he obtains no other light than that of his own understanding.
The chief reasons of the Pyrrhonists are these, that we have no assurance of the truth of our principles (setting aside faith and revelation) except that we find them intuitively within us. But this intuitive impression is not a convincing proof of their truth; because, as without the aid of faith, we have no certainty whether man was made by a benevolent Deity, or a wicked demon, whether man is from eternity, or the offspring of chance, it must remain doubtful whether these principles are given to us,--are true or false ; or like our origin, uncertain. Further, that excepting by faith, a man has no assurance whether he sleeps or wakes; seeing that in his sleep he does not the less firmly believe that he is awake, than when he really is so. He sees spaces, figures, movements ; he is sensible of the lapse of time; he measures it; he acts, in short, as if he were awake. So that as half of life is admitted by us to be passed in sleep, in which, however, it may appear otherwise, we have no perception of truth, and all our feelings are delusions; who knows but the other half of life, in which we think we are awake, is a sleep also, but in some respects different from the other, and from which we wake, when we, as we callit, sleep. As a man dreams often that he is dreaming, crowding one dreamy delusion on another.
I leave untouched the arguments of the Pyrrhonists against the impressions of habit, education, manners, and national customs, and the crowd of similar influences which carry along the majority of mankind, who build their opinions on no more solid foundation.
The only strong point of the Dogmatists is, that we cannot, consistently with honesty and sincerity, doubt our own intuitive principles. We know the truth, they say, not only by reasoning, but by feeling, and hy a quick and luminous power of direct comprehension ; and it is by this last faculty that we discern first principles. It is in vain for reasoning, which has no share in discovering these principles, to attempt subverting them. The Pyrrhonists who attempt this, must try in vain. However unable we may be by reasoning to prove the fact, yet we know that we do not dream. And this inability may prove the feebleness of our reason, but not as they pretend, the want of reality and substance in the subjects of our knowledge. For the knowledge of first principles, as the ideas of space, time, motion, number, matter, is as unequivocally certain, as any that reasoning imparts. And, after all, it is on the perceptions of common sense and feeling, that reason must, at last, sustain itself, and found its own argument. I perceive that space has three dimensions, and that number is infinite, and reason demonstrates from this, that there are not two square numbers, of which one is just double of the other. Principles are perceived, propositions are dednced : each part of the process is certain, though in different ways. And it is as ridiculous that reason should require of feeling and perception, proofs of these first principles, before she assents to them, as it would be that perception should require from reason an intuitive impression of all the propositions at which she arrives. This weakness, therefore, will only serveto abase that reason which would become the judge of all things, but not to invalidate the convictions of common sense, as if reason only could be our guide and teacher. Would to God, on the contrary, that we had no need of reason, but that we knew every thing intuitively by instinct and feeling. But this blessing is withheld from us by our nature; our knowledge by intuitive impression is very scanty; and every thing else must be attained by reasoning