Obrazy na stronie


226. Mauvaise Honte.-We may observe the like pertinacious adherence of feelings, at variance with our reason, in those who are subject to the passion of mauvaise honte. To this passion some are doubtless constitutionally more prone than others; but the strength of it, and the occasions on which it is evinced, depend greatly on the associations of ideas and feelings formed in early life. If a child is brought up, for instance, in a family where receiving and paying visits are regarded as extraordinary events, and attended by formality and constraint of manner, company becomes formidable to his imagination; and it will require frequent intercourse with society in after-life to overcome the effects of such an impression. Notwithstanding the clearest perception, of the absurdity of feeling embarrassed before his fellow-creaiures, he will often find himself disconcerted in their presence, and thrown into consusion by trifles which his good sense thoroughly despises. In the same manner, an involuntary deferencc for rank be observed amidst the strongest conviction of the emptiness of aristocratical distinctions, and the most decided republican principles. The lingering spirit of the feudal system, and the general forms and institutions of society in Europe, have a tendency to infuse into the minds of certain classes such feelings of respect for the greatness of high life, as, when they find themselves in its presence, sometimes

overpower the opposite influence of mature opinions. It is the force of such impressions that produces su much awkwardness in the manners of our peasantry, and it is freedoin from them that often gives an air of dignity to the deportment of the savage,

Essays on the Formation and Publication of Opinions. 227, Heroes and Conquerors. It is not known where he that invented the plough was born, nor where he died; yet he has effected more for the happiness of the world, than the whole race of heroes and of conquerors, who have drenched it with tears, and manured it with blood, and whose birth, parentage, and education liave been handed down to us with a precision precisely proportionate to the mischief they have done.

The Rev. C. C, Colton. 228. The Science of the Politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense.-Dragonetti.

229. A Tory. He is a poor creature that the march of events has left behind; he is like a short-legged drummer who cannot keep up with the movement of the regiment; he is a being of a byegone age, singing an old song, telling a forgotten tale ; his mind is hung with cobwebs; he is the preter-pluperfect tense of politics; he is an extract from the lumber room, where we have thrown our ghosts, witches, and alchymists. We may laugh at Tories—there is no harm in that inasmuch as no man is morally culpable for doing what he cannot help. But I would not persecute the poor creatures. I would let them live if it were only for antiquity's sake.

Tait's Magazine. 230. Private Vices.—The absurd and abominable doctrine, that private vices are public benefits, it is hoped, will be blotted from the memory of man, expunged from the catalogue of human follies, with the systems of governments which gave it birth. The ground of this insulting doctrine is, that advantage may be taken of the extravagant foibles of individuals to increase the revenues of the state; as if the chief end of society were, to steal money for the government's purse! to be squandered by the governors, to render them more insolent in their oppressions! It is humiliating to answer such argunents as these; where we must lay open the most degrading retreats of prostituted logic, to discover the positions on which they are founded. But Orders and Privileges will lead to any thing: once teach a man, that some are born to command and others to be commanded; and after that, there is no camel too big for him to swallow.

Barlow's Advice to the Privileged Orders.

231. Rent for Land.—The claims now made by landlords and fariners, to be allowed to tax the rest of the community for the capital vested in the soil are neither more nor less than claims to make us pay them for the labor they have extracted from the parish-fed peasant. There is no other capital vested in the ground, nor can there be any other than the labour of the labourers; and his task-master, having alread grown rich on it, now tries to exact a further reward for his oppression.-Hodgskin.

232. The Passions.-To subdue the passions of creatures who are all passion, is absurd, impossible; to regulate them appears to be absolutely necessary: and what are those passions that make such havoc, causing striking differences, exalting and depressing the spirits, leading to extatic enjoyment, or plunging us in the severest affiictions; what are they more than the developement of our sensibility ?-Zimmerman.

233. On the Progress of Knowledge.—The principle of the progressive improvement of mankind, and the consequences resulting from it, I acknowledge as well as yourself. It was implied indeed in my assertion, that it required ages upon ages to bring the race to any thing like a state of rationality; an assertion, which, while it admits the tendency to improvement, certainly encourages no very sanguine expectations of the rapidity of the progress. In our anticipations on this point we differ. When I look back on the past, or around me on the present, I cannot help feeling convinced, that if men are to advance, as I think they inevitably must, it will be by a very slow march. There are a thousand obstacles in the way. It is but a poor eulogy on human capabilities, that mankind have been four or five thousand years in attaining to their present partial and imperfect civilization, which, extolled as it generally has been, is scarcely entitled to the appellation of semi-barbarism. If we are to be guided by experience, if we are to expect hereafter only what we have found in the past, our anticipations of the rapidity of future improvement will not be very extravagant.

Essays on the Pursuit of Truth, fc, · 234. Extension of the Suffrage.-In no country could the franchise be committed to the people with more safety than in England. They are cool, intelligent, and orderly; the middle class is numerous, and possessed of much practical knowledge. Even the working classes in towns, and England is now nearly one great town, are accustomed to discussion, and capable of weighing proofs and arguments to an extent of which there is elsewhere no example. Besides, the character of the nation is rather strength to resist than briskness in attack. The patience and forbearance displayed so long under an almost universal conviction of the necessity of Parliamentary Reform, as the only means by which the nation can be rescued from a destroying and all pervading corruption, afford the best answer to those who affect to entertain apprehensions from the communication of the suffrage to the middle classes.-Morning Chronicle.

235. Great Men:-Great men, like comets, are eccentric in their courses, and formed to do extensive good, by modes unintelligible to vulgar minds. Hence, like those erratic orbs in the firmament, it is their fate to be miscomprehended by fools, and misrepresented by knaves; to be abused for all the good they actually do, and to be accused of ills with which they have nothing to do, neither in design nor execution.-The Rev. C.C. Colton.

236. Duty of the Governinent to Instruct the People.—A method of communicating instruction to every member of society, is not difficult to discover, and would not be expensive in practice. The government generally establishes ministers of justice in every part of the dominion. The first object of these ministers ought to be, to see that every person is well instructed in bis duties and in his rights; that he is rendered perfectly acquainted with every law, in its true spirit and tendency. in order that he may know the reason of his obedience, and the manner of obtaining redress, in case he should deem it unjust; that he is taught to feel the cares and interests of an active citizen, to consider himself as a real member of the state, know that the government is his own, that the society is his friend, and that the officers of the state are the servants of the people. A person possessing these ideas will never violate the law, unless it be from necessity; and such necessity is to be prevented by means which are equally obvious.

Barlow's Advice to the Privileged Orders.

237. Luther and the Reformation.-Luther, an Augustin monk ex. claimed against the Romish church, because the exclusive privilege of selling indulgences was not confined to his Order. Had the Dominicans enjoyed no share of this spiritual licence to swindle, 'tis more than probable that the reformation in religion would not have taken place so soon.

Zimmerman's Reflections.


Published by J. H. STARIE, 59, Museum Street, J. PATTIE, 17, High Street, St. Giles;

and may be had of all Booksellers.

[J. H. Starie, Printer, 59, Museum Street

Materials for Thinking.


[ocr errors]

As when an object is of little value we are not greatly concerned in what manner we pursue it, the importance of this discussion evidently depends on the value of truth itself, on which in the present day it is scarcely necossary


to insist. That it intimately concerns mankind, that not only the properties of external pature, but the consequences of human actions, the effects of different agencies on our sensibility, the results of the various combinations of society on individual happiness, the relations of man to other beings, should be precisely ascertained and accurately understood, is a proposition so undeniable when clearly expressed, as barely to escape the character of a truism. The overwhelming importance of this knowledge, is attested by the sad tale of error and suffering, which every page of history presents to our observation. What possible problem can mankind have to solve but one, how to make themselves conjointly as happy, and for that purpose as noble-minded and virtuous as they can during the short term of their mortal existence? And how have they hitherto solved this problem! In what numerous ways have they proved themselves totally blind to their real interests, perverted their resources, exasperated the unavoidable evils of their condition, and inflicted gratuitous and unprofitable misery on each other and on themselves? It is clear that men can have no interest in suffering, no preference for unhappiness in itself, and wherever they are found in headlong career after it, it must be under an impression that they are in the pursuit of a different object. It is error therefore, it is illusion, it is an incapacity on their part to see the real consequences of actions, the real issues of events, that gives rise to all those evils which desolate the world, except such as can be traced to the physical circumstances of man's nature and condition.

The prevalence of misery, as the consequence of ignorance, shows at once the paramount importance of the pursuit of accurate knowledge. To discover truth, is in fact to do good on a grand scale. The detection of an error, the establishment of a fact, the determination of a doubtful principle, may spread its benefits over large portions of the human race, and be the means of lessening the misery or increasing the happiness of myriads of unborn generations. The great interests of mankind then demand, that the way of discovery should be open, that there should be no obstructions to inquiry, that every facility and encouragement should be given to efforts which are directed to the detection of their errors; and yet one of the greatest discouragements which at present exists, is the state of their own moral sentiments. Although he who has achieved the discovery of truth in a matter of importance has the satisfaction of reflecting that he has conferred a benefit on his fellow-men, to which tiine itself can prescribe no limits, the probability is, that instead of attracting sympathy aud gratitude, he will meet with a considerable share of odium and persecution as the consequence of his perspicacity.

A state of things in which the real interests and moral sentiments of the community are placed in strong opposition, cannot fail to be fruitful in evil, and he would perform no slight service who could hasten its termination. The likeliest means of doing this, is to show in a clear light wbat our duties in relation to inquiry really are; or in other words, by what conduct, in reference to the investigation of truth, the general interests are best promoted. Tardy as mankind show themselves in all changes of moral sentiments, they cannot permanently continue to bestow their approbation on

« PoprzedniaDalej »