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of the Irtish to the wall of China. During these preparations, the emperor achieved the final conquest of Georgia, passed the winter on the banks of the Araxes, appeased the troubles of Persia, and slowly returned to his capital, after a campaign of four years and nine months. On the throne of Samarcand, he displayed in a short repose his magnificence and power; listened to the complaints of the people, distributed a just measure of rewards and punishments, employed his riches in the architecture of palaces and temples, and gave audience to the ambassadors of Egypt, Arabia, India, Tartary, Russia, and Spain, the last of whom presented a suit of tapestry which eclipsed the pencil of the oriental artists. The marriage of six of the emperor's grandsons was esteemed an act of religion as well as of paternal tenderness; and the pomp of the ancient caliphs was revived in their nuptials. They were celebrated in the gardens of Canighul, decorated with innumerable tents and pavilions, which displayed the luxury of a great city and the spoils of a victorious camp. Whole forests were cut down to supply fuel for the kitchens; the plain was spread with pyramids of meat and vases of every liquor, to which thousands of guests were courteously invited ; the orders of the state, and the nations of the earth, were marshalled at the royal banquet; nor were the ambassadors of Europe (says the haughty Persian) excluded from the feast ; since even the casses, the smallest of fish, find their place in the ocean. The public joy was testified by illuminations and masquerades; the trades of Samarcand passed in review; and every trade was emulous to execute some quaint device, some marvellous pageant, with the materials of their peculiar art. After the marriage-contracts had been ratified by the cadhis, the bridegrooms and their brides retired to the nuptial chambers; nine times, according to the Asiatic fashion, they were dressed and undressed; and at each change of apparel, pearls and rubies were showered on their heads, and contemptuously abandoned to their attendants. A general indulgence was proclaimed; every law was relaxed, every pleasure was allowed; the people were free, the sovereign was idle; and the historian of Timour may remark, that, after devoting fifty years to the attainment of empire, the only happy period of his life was the two months in which he ceased to exercise his power. But he was soon awakened to the cares of government and war. The standard was unfurled for the invasion of China; the emirs made their report of two hundred thousand, the select and veteran soldiers of Iran and Touran ; their baggage and provisions were transported by five hundred great wagons, and an immense train of horses and camels; and the troops might prepare for a long absence, since more than six months were employed in the tranquil journey of a caravan from Samarcand to Pekin. Neither age nor the severity of the winter could retard the impatience of Timour; he mounted on horseback, passed the Sihoon on the ice, marched seventy-six parasangs (three hundred miles) from his capital, and pitched his last camp in the neighbourhood of Otrar, where he was expected by the angel of death. Fatigue, and the indiscreet use of iced water, accelerated the progress of his fever; and the conqueror of Asia expired in the seventieth year of his age, thirty-five years after he had ascended the throne of i. His designs were lost; his armies were disbanded; China was saved; and fourteen years after his decease, the most powerful of his children sent an embassy of friendship and commerce to the court of Pekin. The same of Timour has pervaded the east and west; his posterity is still invested with the imperial title; and the admiration of his subjects, who revered him almost as a deity, may be justified in some de
gree by the praise or confession of his bitterest enemies. Although he was lame of a hand and foot, his form and stature were not unworthy of his rank; and his vigorous health, so essential to himself and to the world, was corroborated by temperance and exercise. In his familiar discourse he was grave and modest, and if he was ignorant of the Arabic language, he spoke with fluency and elegance the Persian and Turkish idioms. It was his delight to converse with the learned on topics of history and science; and the amusement of his leisure hours was the game of chess, which he improved or corrupted with new refinements. In his religion he was a zealous, though not perhaps an orthodox, Mussulman; but his sound understanding may tempt us to believe that a superstitious reverence for omens and prophesies, for saints and astrologers, was only affected as an instrument of policy. In the government of a vast empire he stood alone and absolute, without a rebel to oppose his power, a favourite to seduce his affections, or a minister to mislead his judgment. It was his firmest maxim, that, whatever might be the consequence, the word of the prince should never be disputed or recalled; but his foes have maliciously observed, that the commands of anger and destruction were more strictly executed than those of beneficence and favour. His sons and grandsons, of whom Timour left six-and-thirty at his decease, were his first and most submissive subjects; and whenever they deviated from their duty, the
were corrected, according to the laws of Zingis, wit
the bastonnade, and afterwards restored to honour and command. Perhaps his heart was not devoid of the social virtues; perhaps he was not incapable of loving his friends and pardoning his enemies; but the rules of morality are founded on the public interest; and it may be sufficient to applaud the wisdom of a monarch for the liberality by which he is not impoverished, and for the justice by which he is strengthened and enriched. To maintain the harmony of authority and obedience, to chastise the proud, to protect the weak, to reward the deserving, to banish vice and idleness from his dominions, to secure the traveller and merchant, to restrain the depredations of the soldier, to cherish the labours of the husbandman, to encourage industry and learning, and, by an equal and moderate assessment, to increase the revenue without increasing the taxes, are indeed the duties of a prince; but, in the discharge of these duties, he finds an ample and immediate recompense. Timour might boast that, at his accession to the throne, Asia was the prey of anarchy and rapine, whilst under his prosperous monarchy a child, fearless and unhurt, might carry a purse of gold from the east to the west. Such was his confidence of merit, that from this reformation he derived an excuse for his victories, and a title to universal dominion. The four following observations will serve to appreciate his claim to the public gratitude; and perhaps we shall conclude, that the Mogul emperor was rather the scourge than the benefactor of mankind. 1. If some partial disorders, some local oppressions, were healed by the sword of Timour, the remedy was far more pernicious than the disease. By their rapine, cruelty, and discord, the petty tyrants of Persia might afflict their subjects; but whole nations were crushed under the footsteps of the reformer. The ground which had been occupied by flourishing cities was often marked by his abominable trophies—by columns or pyramids of human heads. Astracan, Carizme, Delhi, Ispahan, Bagdad, Aleppo, Damascus, Boursa, Smyrna, and a thousand others, were sacked, or burned, or utterly destroyed in his presence, and by his troops; and perhaps his conscience would have been startled if a priest or philosopher had dared to number the millions of victims whom he had sacrificed to the establishment of peace and order. 2. His most destructive wars were rather inroads than conquests. He invaded Turkestan, Kipzak, Russia, Hindostan, Syria, Anatolia, Armenia, and Georgia, without a hope or a desire of preserving those distant provinces. From thence he departed laden with spoil; but he left behind him neither troops to awe the contumacious, nor magistrates to protect the obedient natives. When he had broken the fabric of their ancient government, he abandoned them to the evils which his invasion had aggravated or caused; nor were these evils compensated by any present or possible benefits. 3. The kingdoms of Transoxiana and Persia were the proper field which he laboured to cultivate and adorn, as the perpetual inheritance of his family. But his peaceful labours were often interrupted, and sometimes blasted, by the absence of the conqueror. While he triumphed on the Volga or the Ganges, his servants, and even his sons, forgot their master and their duty. The public and private injuries were poorly redressed by the tardy rigour of inquiry and punishment; and we must be content to praise the institutions of Timour as the specious idea of a perfect monarchy. . 4. Whatsoever might be the blessings of his administration, they evaporated with his life. To reign, rather than to govern, was the ambition of his children and grandchildren, the enemies of each other and of the people. A fragment of the empire was upheld with some glory by Sharokh, his youngest son; but after his decease, the scene was again involved in darkness and blood; and before the end of a century, Transoxiana and Persia were trampled by the Uzbecks from the north, and the Turkmans of the black and white sheep. The race of Timour would have been extinct, if a hero, his descendant in the fifth degree, had not fled before the Uzbek arms to the conquest of Hindostan. His successors (the great Moguls) extended their sway from the mountains of Cashmir to Cape Comorin, and from Candahar to the Gulf of Bengal. Since the reign of Aurungzebe, their empire has been dissolved ; their treasures of Delhi have been rifled by a Persian robber; and the richest of their kingdoms is now possessed by a company of Christian merchants, of a remote island in the northern ocean.
[Invention and Use of Gunpowder.]
The only hope of salvation for the Greek empire and the adjacent kingdoms, would have been some more powerful weapon, some discovery in the art of war, that should give them a decisive superiority over their Turkish foes. Such a weapon was in their hands; such a discovery had been made in the critical moment of their fate. The chemists of China or |
Europe had found, by casual or elaborate experiments, that a mixture of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal, produces, with a spark of fire, a tremendous explosion. It was soon observed, that if the expansive force were compressed in a strong tube, a ball of stone or iron might be expelled with irresistible and destructive velocity. The precise era of the invention and application of gunpowder is involved in doubtful traditions and equivocal language; yet we may clearly discern that it was known before the middle of the fourteenth century; and that before the end of the same, the use of artillery in battles and sieges, by sea and land, was familiar to the states of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and England. The priority of nations is of small account; none could derive any exclusive benefit from their previous or superior knowledge; and in the common improvement, they stood on the same level of relative power and military science. Nor was it possible to circumscribe the secret within the pale of the church; it was disclosed to the Turks by the treachery of apostates and the selfish policy of rivals; and the sultans had sense to adopt, and wealth to
reward, the talents of a Christian engineer. The Genoese, who transported Amurath into Europe, must be accused as his preceptors; and it was probably by their hands that his cannon was cast and directed at the siege of Constantinople. The first attempt was indeed unsuccessful; but in the general warfare of the age, the advantage was on their side who were most commonly the assailants; for a while the proportion of the attack and defence was suspended; and this thundering artillery was pointed against the walls and towers which had been erected only to resist the less potent engines of antiquity. By the Venetians, the use of gunpowder was communicated without reproach to the sultans of Egypt and Persia, their allies against the Ottoman power; the secret was soon propagated to the extremities of Asia; and the advantage of the European was confined to his easy victories over the savages of the new world. If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind.
[Letter of Gibbon to Mrs Porten—Account of his Mode of Life at Lausanne.]
December 27, 1783.
The unfortunate are loud and loquacious in their complaints, but real happiness is content with its own silent enjoyment; and if that happiness is of a quiet uniform kind, we suffer days and weeks to elapse without communicating our sensations to a distant friend. By you, therefore, whose temper and understanding have extracted from human life, on every occasion, the best and most comfortable ingredients, my silence will always be interpreted as an evidence of content, and you would only be alarmed (the danger is not at hand) by the too frequent repetition of my letters. Perhaps I should have continued to slumber, I don’t know how long, had I not been awakened by the anxiety which you express in your last letter. * *
From this base subject I descend to one which more seriously and strongly engages your thoughts—the consideration of my health and happiness. And you will give me credit when I assure you, with sincerity, that I have not repented a single moment of the step which I have taken, and that I only regret the not having executed the same design two, or five, or even ten years ago. By this time I might have returned independent and rich to my native country; I should have escaped many disagreeable events that have happened in the meanwhile, and I should have avoided the parliamentary life, which experience has proved to be neither suitable to my temper nor conducive to my fortune. In speaking of the happiness which I | enjoy, you will agree with me in giving the preference. to a sincere and sensible friend ; and though you | cannot discern the full extent of his merit, you will easily believe that Deyverdun is the man. Perhaps
two persons so perfectly fitted to live together were never formed by nature and education. We have both read and seen a great variety of objects; the lights and shades of our different characters are happily blended; and a friendship of thirty years has taught us to enjoy our mutual advantages, and to support our unavoidable imperfections. In love and marriage some harsh sounds will sometimes interrupt the harmony, and in the course of time, like our neighbours, we must expect some disagreeable moments; but confidence and freedom are the two pillars of our union, and I am much mistaken if the building be not solid and comfortable. * * In this season I rise (not at four in the morning, but) a little before eight; at nine I am called from my study to breakfast, which I always perform alone, in the English
style; and, with the aid of Caplin,” I perceive no difference between Lausanne and Bentinck Street. Our mornings are usually passed in separate studies; we never approach each other's door without a previous message, or thrice knocking, and my apartment is already sacred and formidable to strangers. I dress at half past one, and at two (an early hour, to which I am not perfectly reconciled) we sit down to dinner. We have hired a female cook, well skilled in her prosession, and accustomed to the taste of every nation; as, for instance, we had excellent mince-pies yesterday. After dinner and the departure of our company— one, two, or three friends—weread together some amusing book, or play at chess, or retire to our rooms, or make visits, or go to the coffee-house. Between six and seven the assemblies begin, and I am oppressed only with their number and variety. Whist, at shillings or half-crowns, is the game I generally play, and I play three rubbers with pleasure. Between nine and ten we withdraw to our bread and cheese, and friendly converse, which sends us to bed at eleven ; but these sober hours are too often interrupted by private or numerous suppers, which I have not the courage to resist, though I practise a laudable abstinence at the best furnished tables. Such is the skeleton of my life; it is impossible to communicate a perfect idea of the vital and substantial parts, the characters of the men and women with whom I have very easily connected myself in looser and closer bonds, according to their inclination and my own. If I do not deceive myself, and if Deyverdun does not flatter me, I am already a general favourite; and as our likings and dislikes are commonly mutual, I am equally satisfied with the freedom and elegance of manners, and (after proper allowances and exceptions) with the worthy and amiable qualities of many individuals. The autumn has been beautiful, and the winter hitherto mild, but in January we must expect some severe frost. Instead of rolling in a coach, I walk the streets, wrapped up in a fur cloak ; but this exercise is wholesome, and, except an accidental fit of the gout of a few days, I never enjoyed better health. I am no longer in Pavilliard's house, where I was almost starved with cold and hunger, and you may be assured that I now enjoy every benefit of comfort, plenty, and even decent luxury. You wish me happy; acknowledge that such a life is more conducive to happiness than five nights in the week passed in the House of Commons, or five mornings spent at the Custom-house.
[Remarks on Reading.]
[These remarks form the preface to a series of memoranda begun by Gibbon in 1761, under the title of Abstract of my Readings.]
“Reading is to the mind,” said the Duke of Vivonne to Louis XIV., “what your partridges are to my chops.’ It is, in fact, the nourishment of the mind ; for by reading we know our Creator, his works, ourselves chiefly, and our fellow-creatures. But this nourishment is easily converted into poison. Salmasius had read as much as Grotius, perhaps more ; but their different modes of reading made the one an enlightened philosopher, and the other, to speak plainly, a pedant, puffed up with a useless erudition. Let us read with method, and propose to ourselves an end to which all our studies may point. Through neglect of this rule, gross ignorance often disgraces great readers; who, by skipping hastily and irregularly from one subject to another, render themselves incapable of combining their ideas. So many detached parcels of knowledge cannot form a whole.
* His English valet de chambre.
This inconstancy weakens the energies of the mind, creates in it a dislike to application, and even robs it of the advantages of natural good sense. Yet let us avoid the contrary extreme, and respect method, without rendering ourselves its slaves. While we propose an end in our reading, let not this end be too remote; and when once we have attained it, let our attention be directed to a different subject. Inconstancy weakens the understanding; a long and exclusive application to a single object hardens and contracts it. Our ideas no longer change easily into a different channel, and the course of reading to which we have too long accustomed ourselves is the only one that we can pursue with pleasure. We ought, besides, to be careful not to make the order of our thoughts subservient to that of our subjects; this would be to sacrifice the principal to the accessory. The use of our reading is to aid us in thinking. The perusal of a particular work gives birth, perhaps, to ideas unconnected with the subject of which it treats. I wish to pursue these ideas; they withdraw me from my proposed plan of reading, and throw me into a new track, and from thence, perhaps, into a second and a third. At length I begin to perceive whither my researches tend. Their result, perhaps, may be profitable; it is worth while to try; whereas, had I followed the high road, I should not have been able, at the end of my long journey, to retrace the progress of my thoughts. This plan of reading is not applicable to our early studies, since the severest method is scarcely sufficient to make us conceive objects altogether new. Neither can it be adopted by those who read in order to write, and who ought to dwell on their subject till they have sounded its depths. These reflections, however, I do not absolutely warrant. On the supposition that. they are just, they may be so, perhaps, for myself only. The constitution of minds differs like that of bodies; the same regimen will not suit all. Each individual ought to study his own. To read with attention, exactly to define the expressions of our author, never to admit a conclusion without comprehending its reason, often to pause, reflect, and interrogate ourselves, these are so many advices which it is easy to give, but difficult to follow. The same may be said of that almost evangelical maxim of forgetting friends, country, religion, of giving merit its due praise, and embracing truth wherever it is to be found. But what ought we to read Each individual must answer this question for himself, agreeably to the object of his studies. The only general precept that I would venture to give, is that of Pliny, “to read much, rather than many things;’ to make a careful selection of the best works, and to render them familiar to us by attentive and repeated perusals. Without expatiating on the authors so generally known and approved, I would simply observe, that in matters of reasoning, the best are those who have augmented the number of useful truths; who have discovered truths, of whatever nature they may be ; in one word, those bold spirits who, quitting the beaten track, prefer being in the wrong alone, to being in the right with the multitude. Such authors increase the number of our ideas, and even their mistakes are useful to their successors. With all the respect due to Mr Locke, I would not, however, neglect the works of those academicians who destroy errors without hoping to substitute truth in their stead. In works of fancy, invention ought to bear away the palm; chiefly that invention which creates a new kind of writing; and next, that which displays the charms of novelty in its subject, characters, situation, pictures, thoughts, and sentiments. Yet this invention will miss its effect, unless it be accompanied with a genius capable of adapting itself to every variety of the subject—successively sublime, pathetic, flowery, majestic, and playful; and with a judgment which admits nothing indecorous, and a style which expresses well whatever ought to be said. As to compilations which are intended merely to treasure up the thoughts of others, I ask whether they are written with perspicuity, whether superfluities are lopped off, and dispersed observations skilfully collected; and agreeably to my answers to those questions, I estimate the merit of such performances.
The public taste has been almost wholly withdrawn from metaphysical pursuits, which at this time constituted a favourite study with men of letters. Ample scope was given for ingenious speculation in the inductive philosophy of the mind; and the example of a few great names, each connected with some particular theory of moral science, kept alive a zeal for such minute and often fanciful inquiries. In the higher branch of ethics, honourable service was rendered by Bishop Butler, but it was in Scotland that speculative philosophy obtained most favour and celebrity. After a long interval of a century and a half, §s FRANCIs HUTCHEson (1694-1747) introduced into Scotland a taste for metaphysics, which, in the sixteenth century, had prevailed to a great extent in the northern universities. Hutcheson was a native of Ireland, but studied in the university of Glasgow for six years, after which he returned to his native country, and kept an academy in Dublin. About the year 1726 he published his Inquiry into Beauty and Virtue, and his reputation was so high that he was called to be professor of moral philosophy in Glasgow in the year 1729. His great work, a System of Moral Philosophy, did not appear till after his death, when it was published in two volumes, quarto, by his son. The rudiments of his philosophy were borrowed from Shaftesbury, but he introduced a new term, the moral sense, into the metaphysical vocabulary, and assigned to it a sphere qf considerable importance. With him the moral sense was a capacity of perceiving moral qualities in action, which excite what he called ideas of those qualities, in the same manner as external things give us not merely pain or pleasure, but notions or ideas of hardmess, form, and colour. We agree with Dr Brown in considering this a great error; a moral sense considered strictly and truly a sense, as much so as any of those which are the source of our direct external perceptions, and not a state or act of the understanding, seems a purely fanciful hypothesis. The ancient doctrine, that virtue consists in benevolence, was supported by Hutcheson with much acuteness; but when he asserts that even the approbation of our own conscience diminishes the merit of a benevolent action, we instinctively reject his theory as unnatural and visionary. On account of these paradoxes, Sir James Mackintosh charges Hutcheson with confounding the theory of moral sentiments with the criterion of moral actions, but bears testimony to the ingenuity of his views, and the elegant simplicity of his language.
The system of Idealism, promulgated by Berkeley and the writings of Hutcheson, led to the first literary production of DAvid HUME—his Treatise on Human Nature, published in 1738. The leading doctrine of Hume is, that all the objects of our knowledge are divided in two classes—impressions
and ideas. From the structure of our minds he contended that we must for ever dwell in ignorance; and thus, “by perplexing the relations of cause and effect, he boldly aimed to introduce a universal scepticism, and to pour a more than Egyptian darkness into the whole region of morals.’ The ‘Treatise on Human Nature’ was afterwards re-cast and re-published under the title of An Inquiry concerning the Human Understanding; but it still failed to attract attention. He was now, however, known as a philosophical writer by his Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, published in 1742; a miscellany of thoughts at once
and is generally held to be successfully refuted by
Brown. In his own day, Dr Adam Smith thus ridiculed the doctrine. “It seems impossible,” he says, “that the approbation of virtue should be a sentiment of the same kind with that by which we approve of a convenient and well-contrived building; or that we should have no other reason for praising a man than for that for which we commend a chest of drawers ' Mr Hume's theory as to miracles, that there was more probability in the error or bad faith of the reporter than in any interference with the ordinary laws of nature, which the observations of scientific men show to be unswerving, was met, to the entire satisfaction of the
by any consideration of consequences. He saw that
they led to universal scepticism—" to doubts that would not only shake all inductive science to pieces, but would put a stop to the whole business of life'— to the absurd contradiction in terms, “a belief that there can be no belief"—but his love of theory and paradox, his philosophical acuteness and subtlety, involved him in the maze of scepticism, and he was content to be for ever in doubt. It is at the same time to be admitted, in favour of this remarkable man, that a genuine love of letters and of philosophy," and an honourable desire of distinction in these walks—which had been his predominating sentiment and motive from his earliest years, to the exclusion of more vulgar though dazzling ambitions—had probably a large concern in misleading him. In matters strictly philosophical, his thoughts were original and profound, and to him it might not be difficult to trace the origin of several ideas which have since been more fully elaborated, and exercised no small influence on human affairs.
* Of this ruling passion of Hume we have the following outburst in his account of the reign of James I.:—‘Such a superiority do the pursuits of literature possess above every other occupation, that oven he who attains but a mediocrity in them, merits the pre-eminence above those that excel the most in the common and vulgar professions."
emotions which they excite are soft and tender. They draw off the mind from the hurry of business and interest; cherish reflection; dispose to tranquillity; and | produce an agreeable melancholy, which, of all dispositions of the mind, is the best suited to love and friendship. In the second place, a delicacy of taste is favourable to love and friendship, by confining our choice to few people, and making us indifferent to the | company and conversation of the greater part of men. | You will seldom find that mere men of the world, | whatever strong sense they may be endowed with, are very nice in distinguishing characters, or in marking || those insensible differences and gradations which make one man preferable to another. Any one that has | competent sense is sufficient for their entertain| ment: they talk to him of their pleasure and affairs | with the same frankness that they would to another; | and finding many who are fit to supply his place, they never feel any vacancy or want in his absence. But, || to make use of the allusion of a celebrated French author, the judgment may be compared to a clock or watch where the most ordinary machine is sufficient | to tell the hours, but the most elaborate alone can | point out the minutes and seconds, and distinguish the smallest differences of time. One that has well digested his knowledge, both of books and men, has little enjoyment but in the company of a few select companions. He feels too sensibly how much all the rest of mankind fall short of the notions which he has entertained; and his affections being thus confined within a narrow circle, no wonder he carries them | further than if they were more general and undistinguished. The gaiety and frolic of a bottle companion improves with him into a solid friendship; and the ardours of a youthful appetite become an elegant passion.
| [On Simplicity and Refinement.]
[From the same.]
It is a certain rule that wit and passion are entirely incompatible. When the affections are moved, there is no place for the imagination. The mind of man being naturally limited, it is impossible that all its | faculties can operate at once; and the more any one predominates, the less room is there for the others to exert their vigour. For this reason a greater degree of simplicity is required in all compositions where men, and actions, and passions are painted, than in such as consist of reflections and observations. And, as the former species of writing is the more engaging and beautiful, one may safely, upon this account, give the preference to the extreme of simplicity above that of refinement. We may also observe, that those compositions which we read the oftenest, and which every man of taste has got by heart, have the recommendation of simplicity; and have nothing surprising in the thought when divested of that elegance of expression and harmony of numbers with which it is clothed. If the merit of the composition lie in a point of wit, it may strike at first; but the mind anticipates the thought in the second perusal, and is no longer affected by it. When I read an epigram of Martial, the first line recalls the whole; and I have no pleasure in repeating to myself what I know already. But each line, each word in Catullus, has its merit; and I am never tired with the perusal of him. It is sufficient to run over Cowle once; but Parnell, after the fiftieth reading, is as fres as the first. Besides, it is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of manner and of dress is | more engaging than that glare of paint, and airs, and apparel, ; may dazzle the eye but reaches not the affections. Terence is a modest and bashful beauty, to whom we grant everything, because he assumes
nothing; and whose purity and nature make a durable though not a violent impression on us.
[Estimate of the Effects of Lucury.] [From the same.]
Since luxury may be considered either as innocent or blameable, one may be surprised at those preposterous opinions which have been entertained concerning it; while men of libertine principles bestow praises even on vicious luxury, and represent it as highly advantageous to society; and, on the other hand, men of severe morals blame even the most innocent luxury, and represent it as the source of all the corruptions, disorders, and factions incident-to civil government. We shall here endeavour to correct both these extremes, by proving, first, that the ages of refinement are both the happiest and most virtuous; secondly, that wherever luxury ceases to be innocent, it also ceases to be beneficial; and when carried a degree too far, is a quality pernicious, though perhaps not the most pernicious, to political society.
To prove the first point, we need but consider the effects of refinement both on private and on public life. Human happiness, according to the Inost received notions, seems to consist in three ingredients; action, pleasure, and indolence. And though these ingredients ought to be mixed in different proportions, according to the particular disposition of the person, yet no one ingredient can be entirely wanting without destroying in some measure the relish of the whole composition. Indolence or repose, indeed, seems not of itself to contribute much to our enjoyment, but, like sleep, is requisite as an indulgence to the weakness of human nature, which cannot support an uninterrupted course of business or pleasure. That quick march of the spirits which takes a man from himself, and chiefly gives satisfaction, does in the end exhaust the mind, and requires some intervals of repose, which, though agreeable for a moment, yet, if prolonged, beget a languor and lethargy that destroy all enjoyment. Education, custom, and example, have a mighty influence in turning the mind to any of these pursuits; and it must be owned that, where they promote a relish for action and pleasure, they are so far favourable to human happiness. In times when industry and the arts flourish, men are kept in perpetual occupation, and enjoy as their reward the occupation itself, as well as those pleasures which are the fruit of their labour. The mind acquires new vigour, enlarges its powers and faculties, and, by an assiduity in honest industry, both satisfies its natural appetites and prevents the growth of unnatural ones, which commonly spring up when nourished by ease and idleness. Banish those arts from society, you deprive men both of action and of pleasure; and leaving nothing but indolence in their place, you even destroy the relish of indolence, which never is agreeable but when it succeeds to labour, and recruits the spirits exhausted by too much application and fatigue.
Another advantage of industry and of refinements in the mechanical arts is, that they commonly produce some refinements in the liberal; nor can one be carried to perfection without being accompanied in some degree with the other. The same age which produces great philosophers and politicians, renowned generals and poets, usually abounds with skilful weavers and ship-carpenters. We cannot reasonably expect that a piece of woollen cloth will be brought to perfection in a nation which is ignorant of astronomy, or where ethics are neglected. The spirit of the age affects all the arts, and the minds of men being once roused from their lethargy and put into a fermentation, turn themselves on all sides, and carry improvements into every art and science. Profound ignorance is totally banished, and men enjoy the privilege of *