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187. Distinction between Occasional and Habitual Freedom.-In all ancient democracies, the great body of the people enjoyed no liberty at all; and those who were called freemen exercised it only by starts, for the purpose of revenging injuries,—not in a regular constituted mode of preventing them; the body politic used liberty as a medicine, and not as daily bread Hence it has happened, that the history of ancient democracies and of modern insurrections are quoted upon us, to the insult of common sense, to prove that a whole people is not capable of governing itself. The wbole of the reasoning on this subject, from the profi und disquisitions of Aristotle, down to the puny winings of Dr Tatham, are founded on a direct inversion of historical fact. It is the want of liberty, and not the enjoyment of it, which has occasioned all the factions in society from the beginning of time, and will do so to the end; it is because the people are not habitually free from civil and ecclesiastical tyrants, that they are disposed to exercise tyranny themselves. Habitual freedom produces effects directly the reverse in every particular. For a proof of this, look into America; or if that be too much trouble, look into buman nature with the eyes of common sense.
Barlow's Advice to the Privileged Orders.
189. Life. He that embarks oo the voyage of life will always wish to advance, rather by the impulse of the wind, than the strokes of the oar; and many founder in their passage, while they lie waiting for the gale.
189. On the Pursuit of Truth.—The pure wish to arrive at truth is indeed as rare as the integrity which strictly observes the golden rule to act towards others as we would wish others to act towards us. For this several reasons may be assigned. A principai one is, that men's interests are often indissolubly connected with the prevalence of certain opinions; they are therefore naturally anxious to find out every possible ground why these opinions should be held: their personal consequence too is often implicated in their support; they are pledged by their rank or office, or previous declarations, to the maintenance of a determinate line of argument, and they feel that it would be a disparagement to their intellectual powers and to their reputation, were it proved to be unsound,
Another reason is, that such opinions are sometimes really objects of affection, and things of habit. We
e are accustomed to regard them as true, and it is troublesome to look at thein in a different light; or perhaps we love them as the rallying points of pleasant ideas and cherished feelings.
In addition to all this, men are glad to find in their opinions some excuse for their practices. They naturally, therefore, wish to meet with a confirmation of those doctrines which are conducive to their self-complacency.
These, and other similar circumstances, create in the mind a desire to find some given opinion true; and of course, as far as their influence extends, extinguish the desire to find the truth.
Essays on the Pursuit of Truth, fre. 190. Revolution, in the physical world, means nothing more than harmonious progress, the obedient accommodation of the planetary bodies to the laws of succession and change. Why, in the political world, bas it acquired so tremendous a meaning? Because all motion is attended with resistance, which, up to a certain point, may be a regulating and conservative power, but when accumulated to a degree that would arrest the onward course of things, it gives birth to a violence of reaction that becomes disorderly and destructive. Revolution then becomes another name for reform resisted too long and yielded too late.--Eclectic Review.
191. Error differs from Ignorance.--It is almost as difficult to make a man unlearn bis errors, as his knowledge. Mal-information is more hopeless than non-information; for error is always more busy than ignorance. Ignorance is a blank sheet on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one on which we must first erase. Ignorance is contented to stand still with her back to the truth; but error is more presumptuous, and proceeds in the same direction. Ignorance has nu light, but error follows a
The consequence is, that error, when she retraces her footsteps, bas farther to go, before she can arrive at the truth, than ignorance.
The Rev, C. C. Colton.
192. Orthodoxy Hereditary. The first great object of the priest is to establish a belief in the minds of the people, that he himself is possessed of supernatural powers; and the church at all times has made its way in the world, in proportion as the priest has succeeded in this particular. 'This is the foundation of every thing,--the life and soul of all that is subversive and unaccountable in human affairs; it is introducing a new element into society; it is the rudder under the water, steering the ship almost directly contrary to the wind that gives it motion.
A belief in the supernatural powers of the priest has been inspired by means, which in different nations have been known by different names,--such as astrologies, auguries, oracles or incantations. This article once established, its continuation is not a difficult task. For as the church acquires wealth, it furnishes itself with the necessary apparatus, and the trade is carried on to advantage. The imposition too becomes more easy from the authority of precedent, by which the inquisitive faculties of the mind are benambed; men believe by prescription, and orthodoxy is hereditary.
Barlow's Advice to the Privileged Orders.
193. The Poor.-'Twould be a considerable consolation to the poor and discontented, could they but see the means whereby the wealth they covet has been acquired, or the misery that it entails.--Ziminerman.
194. Representation of the Labouring Classes. If the labouring part of the people are not competent to choose legislators, the English constitution is essentially wrong; especially in its present state, where the importance of each vote is enhanced by the paucity of thu electors.--Robert Hall.
fuer sinaves.-It proceeds rather from revenge than malice, when we hear a man affirm, that all the world are knaves. Por, before a man draws this conclusion of the world, the world has usually anticipated him, and concluded all this of him who makes the observation. Such men may be compared to Brothers the prophet, who, on being asked by a friend how he came to be clapped up into Bedlam, replied, I and the world happened to have a slight difference of opinion; the world said I was mad, and I said the world was mad; I was outvoted, and here I am.
The Rev. C.C. Colton.
196. Change of Employment.-—Wherever a man betakes himself to an occupation, which, at the time he enters npon it, is useful and necessary to the well-being of society, but which, by the introduction of machinery, or any other unforeseen cause, comes to be afterwards superseded, it is quite monstrous that the person so thrown out of employment should not be made a partaker, to the full extent with others, of the benefit so arising to society by the establishment of a national provision for his support, until he can be otherwise profitably employed. -Gray.
197. Pursuit of Knowledge.-In any given mind, the intellectual state most favourable for the attainment of truth is obviously freedom from preconceived errors. The pre-occupation of the understanding by erroneous opinions is one of the greatest impediments which offer themselves in the pursuit of accurate knowledge. The mere preoccupancy itself is an obstacle scarcely to be overcome ; but as the opinions thus lodged are generally the objects of awe and veneration, the task of removing them becomes almost hopeless. No language cap describe with sufficient force the tenacity with which early received notions are retained: they seem to enter into the very essence of the soul, to weave themselves into the tissue of the understanding, till it transcends the power of conception to imagine them erroneous. Of those notions in particular, which are coeval with our earliest recollections, and the origin of which we cannot trace, we seem incapable of suspecting the falsity.
When such notions are combined with that kind of fear and awe which we have already described, there is no degree of absurdity to which they may not rise. A modern writer, in his travels through Mesopotamia, relates that at Orfah (the ancient Ur of the Chaldees) the river and the fish in it are regarded as sacred to Abraham, and the inhabitants firmly believe, that it any of the fish were caught, no process of cooking could make any impression on their bodies. Here is a notion which any one might at once put to the test by direct trial; a fact which they have only to stretch out their hands to verify or disprove; yet so thoroughly preoccupied are the minds of the people by the prejudice instilled in early infancy, such awe do they feel in relation to it, that they have not the slightest suspicion of its absurdity, and would think it profane to attempt to submit it to the ordeal of actual experiment.--Essays on the Pursuit of Truth, fc.
198. The Nobility.-In contemplating the peculiar destiny of this description of men, we cannot but feel a mixture of emotions, in which coinpassion gets the better of contempt. In addition to the misfortunes incident to other classes of society, their noble birth has entailed upon them a singular curse; it has interdicted them every kind of business or occupation, even for procuring the necessaries of life. Other men may be found who have been deprived of their just inheritance by the barbarous laws of descent, who may have been neglected in youth and not educated to business, or who by aversion to industry are rendered incapable of any useful employment; but none but the offspring of a noble family can experience the superadded fatality of being told, that to put his hand to the plough, or his foot into a counting house, would disgrace an illustrious line of ancestors, and wither a tree of genealogy, which takes its root in a groom of some fortunate robber, who perhaps was an archer of Charlemagne.
Barlow's Advice to the Privileged Orders.
199. Miracles are more extraordinary and remarkable for the miraculous effects they have produced in the intellectual than in the natural kingilom.-Miracles that can be explained lose their essence.
200 Wealth, a relative Thing.–Agur said,“ give me neither poverty nor riches ;” and this will ever be the prayer of the wise. Our incomes should be like our shoes, if too small they will gall and pinch us, but, if too large, they will cause us to stumble, and to trip. But wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much, but wants more. True contentment depends not upon what we have, but upon what we would have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.
The Rev. C. C. COLTON.
201. Philosophers and Kings. The whole of the eighteenth century may be summed up in a single idea. The philosophers said to the kings, the nobles, the priests_“You are no longer worthy to govern men, for you are no longer the most loving, the most intelligent, or the most industrious." The philosophers developed this idea in a thousand ways in their works, and stopped there. In their most adventurous dreams they hardly fancied
the greatest amongst them closed their eyes, when the people enlightened by their labours, got rid of the kings, the nobles, and the priests, who had been represented to them as tyrants and impostors.
Revue Encyclopedique. 202. Opinion is, when the assent of the understanding is so far gained by evidence of probability, that it rather inclines to one persuasion than to another, yet not altogether without a mixture of uncertainty and doubting.
Zimmerman's Reflections. 203. Knowledge Progressive.--As there are some prejudices which are hostile to inquiry, so there are some principles of an opposite character, the full and adequate conviction of which essentially conduces to promote it. Amongst these is the truth that knowledge is progressive, and that in this progress every age is placed in a more advantageous position for the comprehension of any subject of science than the last. Every inquirer, therefore, finds himself on higher ground than his predecessors; he can avail himself of their latest acquisitions without the labour of original discovery, and thus with unbroken spirits, and unsubdued vigour, he can commence his career at the ultimate boundary of theirs. Hence, without any presumption in the superiority of his faculties, he may hope to attain views more comprehensive and correct, than were enjoyed by men who immeasurably transcended him in capacity. All the advantage, nevertheless, which he has over his precursors, his successors will have over him. All his exertions will tend to place them above him; and the very truths which he discovers, should he be fortunate enough to discover any, will give them the power of detecting the errors, with which all truths on their first manifestation in any mind are inevitably conjoined.
Essays on the Pursuit of Truth, fc.
204. Law Suits.-Mr Jeremy Bentham considers litigation a great evil, and deems it the height of cruelty to load a law-suit, which is one evil, with taxation, which is another. It would be quite as fair, he thinks, to tax a man for being ill, by enacting that no physician should write a prescription without a stamp. Mr Pitt, on the contrary, considered a law suit a luxury! and held that, like other luxuries, it ought to be taxed. “ Westminster Hall," saiil he, “is as open to any man as the London Tavern;" to which Mr Sheridan replied, " he that entered either without money, would meet with a very scurvy reception.” Some will say that the heavy expences of law prevent the frequency of law-suits, but the practice does not confirm the theory. Others will say that they originate from men of obstinate and quarrelsome dispositions, and that such ought to suffer for their folly. There would be something in this, provided it were not necessary for a wise man to take a shield, when a fool has taken a sword. Law-suits, indeed, do generally originate with the obstinate and the ignorant, but they do not end with them; and that lawyer was right who left all his money to the support of an asylum for fools and lunatics, saying, that from such he got it, and to such he would bequeath it.- Rev. C. C. Colton.
205. Suicides pay the world a bad compliment. Indeed, it may so bappen, that the world has been beforehand with them in incivility. Granted. Even then the retaliation is at their own expence.--Zimmerman.
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