A treatise of human nature: being an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects. ... [pt.3]
Hume, David, 1711-1776.
Page  201

PART III. Of the other virtues and vices.

SECT. I. Of the origin of the natural virtues and vices.

WE come now to the examination of such virtues and vices as are entirely natural, and have no dependance on the ar∣tifice and contrivance of men. The exami∣nation of these will conclude this system of morals.

THE chief spring or actuating principle of the human mind is pleasure or pain; and when these sensations are remov'd, both from our thought and feeling, we are, in a great measure, incapable of passion or action, of desire or volition. The most immediate effects of pleasure and pain are the propense Page  202 and averse motions of the mind; which are diversified into volition, into desire and aver∣sion, grief and joy, hope and fear, accord∣ing as the pleasure or pain changes its situ∣ation, and becomes probable or improbable, certain or uncertain, or is consider'd as out of our power for the present moment. But when along with this, the objects, that cause pleasure or pain, acquire a relation to our∣selves or others; they still continue to excite desire and aversion, grief and joy: But cause, at the same time, the indirect passions of pride or humility, love or hatred, which in this case have a double relation of im∣pressions and ideas to the pain or pleasure.

WE have already observ'd, that moral distinctions depend entirely on certain pe∣culiar sentiments of pain and pleasure, and that whatever mental quality in ourselves or others gives us a satisfaction, by the survey or reflection, is of course virtuous; as every thing of this nature, that gives uneasiness, is vicious. Now since every quality in our∣selves or others, which gives pleasure, al∣ways causes pride or love; as every one, that produces uneasiness, excites humility or ha∣tred: It follows, that these two particulars are to be consider'd as equivalent, with regard to our mental qualities, virtue and the power Page  203 of producing love or pride, vice and the power of producing humility or hatred. In every case, therefore, we must judge of the one by the other; and may pronounce any quality of the mind virtuous, which causes love or pride; and any one vicious, which causes hatred or humility.

IF any action be either virtuous or vicious, 'tis only as a sign of some quality or cha∣racter. It must depend upon durable prin∣ciples of the mind, which extend over the whole conduct, and enter into the personal character. Actions themselves, not proceed∣ing from any constant principle, have no influence on love or hatred, pride or humi∣mility; and consequently are never con∣sider'd in morality.

THIS reflection is self-evident, and de∣serves to be attended to, as being of the ut∣most importance in the present subject. We are never to consider any single action in our enquiries concerning the origin of morals; but only the quality or character from which the action proceeded. These alone are dura∣ble enough to affect our sentiments concern∣ing the person. Actions are, indeed, better indications of a character than words, or even wishes and sentiments; but 'tis only so far as they are such indications, that they Page  204 are attended with love or hatred, praise or blame.

TO discover the true origin of morals, and of that love or hatred, which arises from mental qualities, we must take the matter pretty deep, and compare some principles, which have been already examin'd and ex∣plain'd.

WE may begin with considering a-new the nature and force of sympathy. The minds of all men are similar in their feelings and operations; nor can any one be actuated by any affection, of which all others are not, in some degree, susceptible. As in strings equally wound up, the motion of one communicates itself to the rest; so all the affections readily pass from one person to another, and beget correspondent move∣ments in every human creature. When I see the effects of passion in the voice and gesture of any person, my mind imme∣diately passes from these effects to their causes, and forms such a lively idea of the passion, as is presently converted into the passion itself. In like manner, when I per∣ceive the causes of any emotion, my mind is convey'd to the effects, and is actuated with a like emotion. Were I present at any of the more terrible operations of surgery, Page  205 'tis certain, that even before it begun, the preparation of the instruments, the laying of the bandages in order, the heating of the irons, with all the signs of anxiety and con∣cern in the patient and assistants, wou'd have a great effect upon my mind, and excite the strongest sentiments of pity and terror. No passion of another discovers itself immedi∣ately to the mind. We are only sensible of its causes or effects. From these we in∣fer the passion: And consequently these give rise to our sympathy.

OUR sense of beauty depends very much on this principle; and where any object has a tendency to produce pleasure in its possessor, it is always regarded as beautiful; as every object, that has a tendency to produce pain, is disagreeable and deform'd. Thus the con∣veniency of a house, the fertility of a field, the strength of a horse, the capacity, secu∣rity, and swift-sailing of a vessel, form the principal beauty of these several objects. Here the object, which is denominated beau∣tiful, pleases only by its tendency to pro∣duce a certain effect. That effect is the pleasure or advantage of some other person. Now the pleasure of a stranger, for whom we have no friendship, pleases us only by sympathy. To this principle, therefore, is Page  206 owing the beauty, which we find in every thing that is useful. How considerable a part this is of beauty will easily appear upon reflection. Wherever an object has a ten∣dency to produce pleasure in the possessor, or in other words, is the proper cause of pleasure, it is sure to please the spectator, by a delicate sympathy with the possessor. Most of the works of art are esteem'd beau∣tiful, in proportion to their fitness for the use of man, and even many of the pro∣ductions of nature derive their beauty from that source. Handsome and beautiful, on most occasions, is not an absolute but a re∣lative quality, and pleases us by nothing but its tendency to produce an end that is agreeable a.

THE same principle produces, in many in∣stances, our sentiments of morals, as well as those of beauty. No virtue is more esteem'd than justice, and no vice more detested than injustice; nor are there any qualities, which go farther to the fixing the character, either as amiable or odious. Now justice is a mo∣ral virtue, merely because it has that tendency Page  207 to the good of mankind; and, indeed, is no∣thing but an artificial invention to that pur∣pose. The same may be said of allegiance, of the laws of nations, of modesty, and of good-manners. All these are mere human contrivances for the interest of society. And since there is a very strong sentiment of mo∣rals, which, in all nations, and all ages, has attended them, we must allow, that the re∣flecting on the tendency of characters and mental qualities, is sufficient to give us the sentiments of approbation and blame. Now as the means to an end can only be agree∣able, where the end is agreeable; and as the good of society, where our own interest is not concern'd, or that of our friends, pleases only by sympathy: It follows, that sympa∣thy is the source of the esteem, which we pay to all the artificial virtues.

THUS it appears, that sympathy is a very powerful principle in human nature, that it has a great influence on our taste of beauty, and that it produces our sentiment of morals in all the artificial virtues. From thence we may presume, that it also gives rise to many of the other virtues; and that quali∣ties acquire our approbation, because of their tendency to the good of mankind. This pre∣sumption must become a certainty, when we Page  208 find that most of those qualities, which we naturally approve of, have actually that ten∣dency, and render a man a proper member of society: While the qualities, which we naturally disapprove of, have a contrary ten∣dency, and render any intercourse with the person dangerous or disagreeable. For hav∣ing found, that such tendencies have force enough to produce the strongest sentiment of morals, we can never reasonably, in these cases, look for any other cause of approba∣tion or blame; it being an inviolable maxim in philosophy, that where any particular cause is sufficient for an effect, we ought to rest satisfied with it, and ought not to multiply causes without necessity. We have happily attain'd experiments in the artificial virtues, where the tendency of qualities to the good of society, is the sole cause of our approba∣tion, without any suspicion of the concur∣rence of another principle. From thence we learn the force of that principle. And where that principle may take place, and the qua∣lity approv'd of is really beneficial to society, a true philosopher will never require any other principle to account for the strongest appro∣bation and esteem.

THAT many of the natural virtues have this tendency to the good of society, no one Page  209 can doubt of. Meekness, beneficence, cha∣rity, generosity, clemency, moderation, equi∣ty, bear the greatest figure among the moral qualities, and are commonly denominated the social virtues, to mark their tendency to the good of society. This goes so far, that some philosophers have represented all moral distinctions as the effect of artifice and edu∣cation, when skilful politicians endeavour'd to restrain the turbulent passions of men, and make them operate to the public good, by the notions of honour and shame. This sy∣stem, however, is not consistent with ex∣perience. For, first, there are other virtues and vices beside those which have this ten∣dency to the public advantage and loss. Se∣condly, had not men a natural sentiment of approbation and blame, it cou'd never be ex∣cited by politicians; nor wou'd the words laudable and praise-worthy, blameable and odious, be any more intelligible, than if they were a language perfectly unknown to us, as we have already observ'd. But tho' this sy∣stem be erroneous, it may teach us, that mo∣ral distinctions arise, in a great measure, from the tendency of qualities and characters to the interests of society, and that 'tis our con∣cern for that interest, which makes us ap∣prove or disapprove of them. Now we Page  210 have no such extensive concern for society but from sympathy; and consequently 'tis that principle, which takes us so far out of our∣selves, as to give us the same pleasure or uneasiness in the characters of others, as if they had a tendency to our own advantage or loss.

THE only difference betwixt the natural virtues and justice lies in this, that the good, which results from the former, arises from every single act, and is the object of some natural passion: Whereas a single act of justice, consider'd in itself, may often be contrary to the public good; and 'tis only the concurrence of mankind, in a general scheme or system of action, which is advan∣tageous. When I relieve persons in distress, my natural humanity is my motive; and so far as my succour extends, so far have I promoted the happiness of my fellow-crea∣tures. But if we examine all the questions, that come before any tribunal of justice, we shall find, that, considering each case apart, it wou'd as often be an instance of humanity to decide contrary to the laws of justice as conformable them. Judges take from a poor man to give to a rich; they bestow on the dissolute the labour of the industrious; and put into the hands of the vicious the means Page  211 of harming both themselves and others. The whole scheme, however, of law and justice is advantageous to the society; and 'twas with a view to this advantage, that men, by their voluntary conventions, estab∣lish'd it. After it is once establish'd by these conventions, it is naturally attended with a strong sentiment of morals; which can proceed from nothing but our sympathy with the interests of society. We need no other explication of that esteem, which at∣tends such of the natural virtues, as have a tendency to the public good.

I MUST farther add, that there are several circumstances, which render this hypothesis much more probable with regard to the natural than the artificial virtues. 'Tis cer∣tain, that the imagination is more affected by what is particular, than by what is gene∣ral; and that the sentiments are always mov'd with difficulty, where their objects are, in any degree, loose and undetermin'd: Now every particular act of justice is not beneficial to society, but the whole scheme or system: And it may not, perhaps, be any individual person, for whom we are concern'd, who receives benefit from justice, but the whole society alike. On the con∣trary, every particular act of generosity, or Page  212 relief of the industrious and indigent, is beneficial; and is beneficial to a particular person, who is not undeserving of it. 'Tis more natural, therefore, to think, that the tendencies of the latter virtue will affect our sentiments, and command our approbation, than those of the former; and therefore, since we find, that the approbation of the former arises from their tendencies, we may ascribe, with better reason, the same cause to the approbation of the latter. In any number of similar effects, if a cause can be discover'd for one, we ought to extend that cause to all the other effects, which can be accounted for by it: But much more, if these other effects be attended with peculiar circumstances, which facilitate the operation of that cause.

BEFORE I proceed farther, I must ob∣serve two remarkable circumstances in this affair, which may seem objections to the present system. The first may be thus ex∣plain'd. When any quality, or character, has a tendency to the good of mankind, we are pleas'd with it, and approve of it; be∣cause it presents the lively idea of pleasure; which idea affects us by sympathy, and is itself a kind of pleasure. But as this sym∣pathy is very variable, it may be thought, Page  213 that our sentiments of morals must admit of all the same variations. We sympathize more with persons contiguous to us, than with persons remote from us: With our acquaint∣ance, than with strangers: With our coun∣trymen, than with foreigners. But notwith∣standing this variation of our sympathy, we give the same approbation to the same moral qualities in China as in England. They appear equally virtuous, and recommend themselves equally to the esteem of a judi∣cious spectator. The sympathy varies with∣out a variation in our esteem. Our esteem, therefore, proceeds not from sympathy.

TO this I answer: The approbation of moral qualities most certainly is not deriv'd from reason, or any comparison of ideas; but proceeds entirely from a moral taste, and from certain sentiments of pleasure or dis∣gust, which arise upon the contemplation and view of particular qualities or characters. Now 'tis evident, that those sentiments, whence-ever they are deriv'd, must vary according to the distance or contiguity of the objects; nor can I feel the same lively pleasure from the virtues of a person, who liv'd in Greece two thousand years ago, that I feel from the virtues of a familiar friend and acquaintance. Yet I do not say, that I Page  214 esteem the one more than the other: And therefore, if the variation of the sentiment, without a variation of the esteem, be an objection, it must have equal force against every other system, as against that of sym∣pathy. But to consider the matter a-right, it has no force at all; and 'tis the easiest matter in the world to account for it. Our situation, with regard both to persons and things, is in continual fluctuation; and a man, that lies at a distance from us, may, in a little time, become a familiar acquaint∣ance. Besides, every particular man has a peculiar position with regard to others; and 'tis impossible we cou'd ever converse toge∣ther on any reasonable terms, were each of us to consider characters and persons, only as they appear from his peculiar point of view. In order, therefore, to prevent those con∣tinual contradictions, and arrive at a more stable judgment of things, we fix on some steady and general points of view; and al∣ways, in our thoughts, place ourselves in them, whatever may be our present situation. In like manner, external beauty is deter∣min'd merely by pleasure; and 'tis evident, a beautiful countenance cannot give so much pleasure, when seen at the distance of twenty paces, as when it is brought nearer us. We Page  215 say not, however, that it appears to us less beautiful: Because we know what effect it will have in such a position, and by that reflection we correct its momentary ap∣pearance.

IN general, all sentiments of blame or praise are variable, according to our situa∣tion of nearness or remoteness, with regard to the person blam'd or prais'd, and accord∣ing to the present disposition of our mind. But these variations we regard not in our ge∣neral decisions, but still apply the terms expressive of our liking or dislike, in the same manner, as if we remain'd in one point of view. Experience soon teaches us this method of correcting our sentiments, or at least, of correcting our language, where the sentiments are more stubborn and inalterable. Our servant, if diligent and faithful, may excite stronger sentiments of love and kind∣ness than Marcus Brutus, as represented in history; but we say not upon that ac∣count, that the former character is more laudable than the latter. We know, that were we to approach equally near to that renown'd patriot, he wou'd command a much higher degree of affection and admiration. Such corrections are common with regard to all the senses; and indeed 'twere impossible Page  216 we cou'd ever make use of language, or communicate our sentiments to one another, did we not correct the momentary appear∣ances of things, and overlook our present situation.

'TIS therefore from the influence of cha∣racters and qualities, upon those who have an intercourse with any person, that we blame or praise him. We consider not whether the persons, affected by the qualities, be our acquaintance or strangers, country∣men or foreigners. Nay, we over-look our own interest in those general judgments; and blame not a man for opposing us in any of our pretensions, when his own interest is particularly concern'd. We make allowance for a certain degree of selfishness in men; because we know it to be inseparable from human nature, and inherent in our frame and constitution. By this reflection we cor∣rect those sentiments of blame, which so naturally arise upon any opposition.

BUT however the general principle of our blame or praise may be corrected by those other principles, 'tis certain, they are not altogether efficacious, nor do our pas∣sions often correspond entirely to the present theory. 'Tis seldom men heartily love what lies at a distance from them, and what no Page  217 way redounds to their particular benefit; as 'tis no less rare to meet with persons, who can pardon another any opposition he makes to their interest, however justifiable that op∣position may be by the general rules of mo∣rality. Here we are contented with saying, that reason requires such an impartial con∣duct, but that 'tis seldom we can bring our∣selves to it, and that our passions do not readily follow the determination of our judg∣ment. This language will be easily under∣stood, if we consider what we formerly said concerning that reason, which is able to op∣pose our passion; and which we have found to be nothing but a general calm determina∣tion of the passions, founded on some distant view or reflection. When we form our judgments of persons, merely from the ten∣dency of their characters to our own bene∣fit, or to that of our friends, we find so many contradictions to our sentiments in society and conversation, and such an uncer∣tainty from the incessant changes of our situ∣ation, that we seek some other standard of merit and demerit, which may not admit of so great variation. Being thus loosen'd from our first station, we cannot afterwards fix ourselves so commodiously by any means as by a sympathy with those, who have any Page  218 commerce with the person we consider. This is far from being as lively as when our own interest is concern'd, or that of our parti∣cular friends; nor has it such an influence on our love and hatred: But being equally conformable to our calm and general princi∣ples, 'tis said to have an equal authority over our reason, and to command our judgment and opinion. We blame equally a bad action, which we read of in history, with one perform'd in our neighbourhood t'other day: The meaning of which is, that we know from reflection, that the former action wou'd excite as strong sentiments of disap∣probation as the latter, were it plac'd in the same position.

I NOW proceed to the second remarkable circumstance, which I propos'd to take no∣tice of. Where a person is possess'd of a character, that in its natural tendency is beneficial to society, we esteem him virtuous, and are delighted with the view of his cha∣racter, even tho' particular accidents prevent its operation, and incapacitate him from be∣ing serviceable to his friends and country. Virtue in rags is still virtue; and the love, which it procures, attends a man into a dungeon or desart, where the virtue can no longer be exerted in action, and is lost to Page  219 all the world. Now this may be esteem'd an objection to the present system. Sympa∣thy interests us in the good of mankind; and if sympathy were the source of our esteem for virtue, that sentiment of appro∣bation cou'd only take place, where the virtue actually attain'd its end, and was bene∣ficial to mankind. Where it fails of its end, 'tis only an imperfect means; and there∣fore can never acquire any merit from that end. The goodness of an end can bestow a merit on such means alone as are com∣pleat, and actually produce the end.

To this we may reply, that where any object, in all its parts, is fitted to attain any agreeable end, it naturally gives us pleasure, and is esteem'd beautiful, even tho' some ex∣ternal circumstances be wanting to render it altogether effectual. 'Tis sufficient if every thing be compleat in the object itself. A house, that is contriv'd with great judgment for all the commodities of life, pleases us upon that account; tho' perhaps we are sen∣sible, that no-one will ever dwell in it. A fertile soil, and a happy climate, delight us by a reflection on the happiness which they wou'd afford the inhabitants, tho' at present the country be desart and uninhabited. A man, whose limbs and shape promise strength Page  220 and activity, is esteem'd handsome, tho' condemn'd to perpetual imprisonment. The imagination has a set of passions belonging to it, upon which our sentiments of beauty much depend. These passions are mov'd by degrees of liveliness and strength, which are inferior to belief, and independent of the real existence of their objects. Where a character is, in every respect, fitted to be beneficial to society, the imagination passes easily from the cause to the effect, without considering that there are still some circumstances want∣ing to render the cause a compleat one. General rules create a species of probability, which sometimes influences the judgment, and always the imagination.

'TIS true, when the cause is compleat, and a good disposition is attended with good fortune, which renders it really beneficial to society, it gives a stronger pleasure to the spectator, and is attended with a more lively sympathy. We are more affected by it; and yet we do not say that it is more vir∣tuous, or that we esteem it more. We know, that an alteration of fortune may render the benevolent disposition entirely im∣potent; and therefore we separate, as much as possible, the fortune from the disposition. The case is the same, as when we correct Page  221 the different sentiments of virtue, which pro∣ceed from its different distances from our∣selves. The passions do not always follow our corrections; but these corrections serve sufficiently to regulate our abstract notions, and are alone regarded, when we pronounce in general concerning the degrees of vice and virtue.

'TIS observ'd by critics, that all words or sentences, which are difficult to the pro∣nunciation, are disagreeable to the ear. There is no difference, whether a man hear them pronounc'd, or read them silently to himself. When I run over a book with my eye, I imagine I hear it all; and also, by the force of imagination, enter into the uneasiness, which the delivery of it wou'd give the speaker. The uneasiness is not real; but as such a composition of words has a natu∣ral tendency to produce it, this is sufficient to affect the mind with a painful sentiment, and render the discourse harsh and disagree∣able. 'Tis a similar case, where any real quality is, by accidental circumstances, ren∣der'd impotent, and is depriv'd of its natural influence on society.

UPON these principles we may easily re∣move any contradiction, which may appear to be betwixt the extensive sympathy, on Page  222 which our sentiments of virtue depend, and that limited generosity which I have fre∣quently observ'd to be natural to men, and which justice and property suppose, accord∣ing to the precedent reasoning. My sym∣pathy with another may give me the sen∣timent of pain and disapprobation, when any object is presented, that has a tendency to give him uneasiness; tho' I may not be willing to sacrifice any thing of my own in∣terest, or cross any of my passions, for his satisfaction. A house may displease me by being ill-contriv'd for the convenience of the owner; and yet I may refuse to give a shil∣ling towards the rebuilding of it. Senti∣ments must touch the heart, to make them controul our passions: But they need not extend beyond the imagination, to make them influence our taste. When a building seems clumsy and tottering to the eye, it is ugly and disagreeable; tho' we be fully assur'd of the solidity of the workmanship. 'Tis a kind of fear, which causes this sen∣timent of disapprobation; but the passion is not the same with that which we feel, when oblig'd to stand under a wall, that we really think tottering and insecure. The seeming tendencies of objects affect the mind: And the emotions they excite are of a like Page  223 species with those, which proceed from the real consequences of objects, but their feeling is different. Nay, these emotions are so dif∣ferent in their feeling, that they may often be contrary, without destroying each other; as when the fortifications of a city belonging to an enemy are esteem'd beautiful upon ac∣count of their strength, tho' we cou'd wish that they were entirely destroy'd. The imagination adheres to the general views of things, and distinguishes the feelings they produce, from those which arise from our particular and momentary situation.

IF we examine the panegyrics that are commonly made of great men, we shall find, that most of the qualities, which are attributed to them, may be divided into two kinds, viz. such as make them perform their part in society; and such as render them serviceable to themselves, and enable them to promote their own interest. Their pru∣dence, temperance, frugality, industry, assi∣duity, enterprize, dexterity, are celebrated, as well as their generosity and humanity. If we ever give an indulgence to any quality, that disables a man from making a figure in life, 'tis to that of indolence, which is not suppos'd to deprive one of his parts and ca∣pacity, Page  224 but only suspends their exercise; and that without any inconvenience to the per∣son himself, since 'tis, in some measure, from his own choice. Yet indolence is al∣ways allow'd to be a fault, and a very great one, if extreme: Nor do a man's friends ever acknowledge him to be subject to it, but in order to save his character in more material articles. He cou'd make a figure, say they, if he pleas'd to give application: His understanding is sound, his conception quick, and his memory tenacious; but he hates business, and is indifferent about his fortune. And this a man sometimes may make even a subject of vanity; tho' with the air of confessing a fault: Because he may think, that this incapacity for business implies much more noble qualities; such as a philosophical spirit, a fine taste, a delicate wit, or a relish for pleasure and society. But take any other case: Suppose a quality, that without being an indication of any other good qualities, incapacitates a man always for business, and is destructive to his interest; such as a blundering understanding, and a wrong judgment of every thing in life; in∣constancy and irresolution; or a want of address in the management of men and busi∣ness: These are all allow'd to be imperfec∣tions Page  225 in a character; and many men wou'd rather acknowledge the greatest crimes, than have it suspected, that they are, in any de∣gree, subject to them.

'TIS very happy, in our philosophical re∣searches, when we find the same phaenome∣non diversified by a variety of circumstances; and by discovering what is common among them, can the better assure ourselves of the truth of any hypothesis we may make use of to explain it. Were nothing esteem'd virtue but what were beneficial to society, I am persuaded, that the foregoing explication of the moral sense ought still to be receiv'd, and that upon sufficient evidence: But this evidence must grow upon us, when we find other kinds of virtue, which will not ad∣mit of any explication except from that hypothesis. Here is a man, who is not re∣markably defective in his social qualities; but what principally recommends him is his dexterity in business, by which he has extricated himself from the greatest difficul∣ties, and conducted the most delicate affairs with a singular address and prudence. I find an esteem for him immediately to arise in me: His company is a satisfaction to me; and before I have any farther acquaintance with him, I wou'd rather do him a service Page  226 than another, whose character is in every other respect equal, but is deficient in that particular. In this case, the qualities that please me are all consider'd as useful to the person, and as having a tendency to pro∣mote his interest and satisfaction. They are only regarded as means to an end, and please me in proportion to their fitness for that end. The end, therefore, must be agree∣able to me. But what makes the end agree∣able? The person is a stranger: I am no way interested in him, nor lie under any obligation to him: His happiness concerns not me, farther than the happiness of every human, and indeed of every sensible crea∣ture: That is, it affects me only by sym∣pathy. From that principle, whenever I discover his happiness and good, whether in its causes or effects, I enter so deeply into it, that it gives me a sensible emotion. The appearance of qualities, that have a tendency to promote it, have an agreeable effect upon my imagination, and command my love and esteem.

THIS theory may serve to explain, why the same qualities, in all cases, produce both pride and love, humility and hatred; and the same man is always virtuous or vicious, accomplish'd or despicable to others, Page  227 who is so to himself. A person, in whom we discover any passion or habit, which ori∣ginally is only incommodious to himself, be∣comes always disagreeable to us, merely on its account; as on the other hand, one whose character is only dangerous and dis∣agreeable to others, can never be satisfied with himself, as long as he is sensible of that disadvantage. Nor is this observable only with regard to characters and manners, but may be remark'd even in the most mi∣nute circumstances. A violent cough in another gives us uneasiness; tho' in itself it does not in the least affect us. A man will be mortified, if you tell him he has a stink∣ing breath; tho' 'tis evidently no annoyance to himself. Our fancy easily changes its situation; and either surveying ourselves as we appear to others, or considering others as they feel themselves, we enter, by that means, into sentiments, which no way be∣long to us, and in which nothing but sym∣pathy is able to interest us. And this sym∣pathy we sometimes carry so far, as even to be displeas'd with a quality commodious to us, merely because it displeases others, and makes us disagreeable in their eyes; tho' perhaps we never can have any interest in rendering ourselves agreeable to them.

Page  228 THERE have been many systems of mo∣rality advanc'd by philosophers in all ages; but if they are strictly examin'd, they may be reduc'd to two, which alone merit our attention. Moral good and evil are certainly distinguish'd by our sentiments, not by rea∣son: But these sentiments may arise either from the mere species or appearance of cha∣racters and passions, or from reflections on their tendency to the happiness of mankind, and of particular persons. My opinion is, that both these causes are intermix'd in our judgments of morals; after the same manner as they are in our decisions concerning most kinds of external beauty: Tho' I am also of opinion, that reflections on the tendencies of actions have by far the greatest influence, and determine all the great lines of our duty. There are, however, instances, in cases of less moment, wherein this immediate taste or sentiment produces our approbation. Wit, and a certain easy and disengag'd behaviour, are qualities immediately agreeable to others, and command their love and esteem. Some of these qualities produce satisfaction in others by particular original principles of human nature, which cannot be accounted for: Others may be resolv'd into principles, Page  229 which are more general. This will best ap∣pear upon a particular enquiry.

As some qualities acquire their merit from their being immediately agreeable to others, without any tendency to public interest; so some are denominated virtuous from their being immediately agreeable to the person himself, who possesses them. Each of the passions and operations of the mind has a particular feeling, which must be either agreeable or disagreeable. The first is vir∣tuous, the second vicious. This particular feeling constitutes the very nature of the passion; and therefore needs not be account∣ed for.

BUT however directly the distinction of vice and virtue may seem to flow from the immediate pleasure or uneasiness, which par∣ticular qualities cause to ourselves or others; 'tis easy to observe, that it has also a con∣siderable dependence on the principle of sym∣pathy so often insisted on. We approve of a person, who is possess'd of qualities im∣mediately agreeable to those, with whom he has any commerce; tho' perhaps we our∣selves never reap'd any pleasure from them. We also approve of one, who is possess'd of qualities, that are immediately agreeable to himself; tho' they be of no service to Page  230 any mortal. To account for this we must have recourse to the foregoing principles.

THUS, to take a general review of the present hypothesis: Every quality of the mind is denominated virtuous, which gives pleasure by the mere survey; as every quality, which produces pain, is call'd vicious. This pleasure and this pain may arise from four different sources. For we reap a pleasure from the view of a character, which is na∣turally fitted to be useful to others, or to the person himself, or which is agreeable to others, or to the person himself. One may, perhaps, be surpriz'd, that amidst all these interests and pleasures, we shou'd forget our own, which touches us so nearly on every other occasion. But we shall easily satisfy ourselves on this head, when we consider, that every particular person's pleasure and in∣terest being different, 'tis impossible men cou'd ever agree in their sentiments and judgments, unless they chose some common point of view, from which they might survey their object, and which might cause it to appear the same to all of them. Now in judging of characters, the only interest and pleasure, which appears the same to every spectator, is that of the person him∣self, whose character is examin'd; or that Page  231 of persons, who have a connexion with him. And tho' such interests and pleasures touch us more faintly than our own, yet being more constant and universal, they counter-ballance the latter even in practice, and are alone admitted in speculation as the standard of virtue and morality. They alone produce that particular feeling or sentiment, on which moral distinctions depend.

AS to the good or ill desert of virtue or vice, 'tis an evident consequence of the sen∣timents of pleasure or uneasiness. These sentiments produce love or hatred; and love or hatred, by the original constitution of human passion, is attended with benevolence or anger; that is, with a desire of making happy the person we love, and miserable the person we hate. We have treated of this more fully on another occasion.

SECT. II. Of greatness of mind.

IT may now be proper to illustrate this general system of morals, by applying it to particular instances of virtue and vice, and shewing how their merit or demerit Page  232 arises from the four sources here explain'd. We shall begin with examining the passions of pride and humility, and shall consider the vice or virtue that lies in their excesses or just proportion. An excessive pride or over∣weaning conceit of ourselves is always e∣steem'd vicious, and is universally hated; as modesty, or a just sense of our weakness, is esteem'd virtuous, and procures the good∣will of every-one. Of the four sources of moral distinctions, this is to be ascrib'd to the third; viz, the immediate agreeableness and disagreeableness of a quality to others, without any reflections on the tendency of that quality.

IN order to prove this, we must have re∣course to two principles, which are very con∣spicuous in human nature. The first of these is the sympathy, and communication of sentiments and passions above-mention'd. So close and intimate is the correspondence of human souls, that no sooner any person ap∣proaches me, than he diffuses on me all his opinions, and draws along my judgment in a greater or lesser degree. And tho', on many occasions, my sympathy with him goes not so far as entirely to change my sen∣timents, and way of thinking; yet it seldom is so weak as not to disturb the easy course Page  233 of my thought, and give an authority to that opinion, which is recommended to me by his assent and approbation. Nor is it any way material upon what subject he and I employ our thoughts. Whether we judge of an indifferent person, or of my own cha∣racter, my sympathy gives equal force to his decision: And even his sentiments of his own merit make me consider him in the same light, in which he regards himself.

THIS principle of sympathy is of so powerful and insinuating a nature, that it enters into most of our sentiments and pas∣sions, and often takes place under the ap∣pearance of its contrary. For 'tis remark∣able, that when a person opposes me in any thing, which I am strongly bent upon, and rouzes up my passion by contradiction, I have always a degree of sympathy with him, nor does my commotion proceed from any other origin. We may here observe an evi∣dent conflict or rencounter of opposite prin∣ciples and passions. On the one side there is that passion or sentiment, which is natural to me; and 'tis observable, that the stronger this passion is, the greater is the commotion. There must also be some passion or senti∣ment on the other side; and this passion can proceed from nothing but sympathy. The Page  234 sentiments of others can never affect us, but by becoming, in some measure, our own; in which case they operate upon us, by op∣posing and encreasing our passions, in the very same manner, as if they had been ori∣ginally deriv'd from our own temper and disposition. While they remain conceal'd in the minds of others, they can never have any influence upon us: And even when they are known, if they went no farther than the imagination, or conception; that faculty is so accustom'd to objects of every different kind, that a mere idea, tho' contrary to our sentiments and inclinations, wou'd never alone be able to affect us.

THE second principle I shall take notice of is that of comparison, or the variation of our judgments concerning objects, according to the proportion they bear to those with which we compare them. We judge more of objects by comparison, than by their in∣trinsic worth and value; and regard every thing as mean, when set in opposition to what is superior of the same kind. But no comparison is more obvious than that with ourselves; and hence it is that on all occa∣sions it takes place, and mixes with most of our passions. This kind of comparison is directly contrary to sympathy in its opera∣tion, Page  235 as we have observ'd in treating of compassion and malice.aIn all kinds of com∣parison an object makes us always receive from another, to which it is compar'd, a sensation contrary to what arises from itself in its direct and immediate survey. The direct survey of another's pleasure naturally gives us pleasure; and therefore produces pain, when compar'd with our own. His pain, con∣sider'd in itself, is painful; but augments the idea of our own happiness, and gives us plea∣sure.

SINCE then those principles of sympathy, and a comparison with ourselves, are directly contrary, it may be worth while to consider, what general rules can be form'd, beside the particular temper of the person, for the pre∣valence of the one or the other. Suppose I am now in safety at land, and wou'd wil∣lingly reap some pleasure from this consider∣ation: I must think on the miserable con∣dition of those who are at sea in a storm, and must endeavour to render this idea as strong and lively as possible, in order to make me more sensible of my own happi∣ness. But whatever pains I may take, the comparison will never have an equal efficacy, Page  236 as if I were really on b the shore, and saw a ship at a distance, tost by a tempest, and in danger every moment of perishing on a rock or sand-bank. But suppose this idea to become still more lively. Suppose the ship to be driven so near me, that I can per∣ceive distinctly the horror, painted on the countenance of the seamen and passengers, hear their lamentable cries, see the dearest friends give their last adieu, or embrace with a resolution to perish in each others arms: No man has so savage a heart as to reap any pleasure from such a spectacle, or withstand the motions of the tenderest com∣passion and sympathy. 'Tis evident, there∣fore, there is a medium in this case; and that if the idea be too feint, it has no in∣fluence by comparison; and on the other hand, if it be too strong, it operates on us entirely by sympathy, which is the contrary to comparison. Sympathy being the con∣version of an idea into an impression, de∣mands a greater force and vivacity in the idea than is requisite to comparison.

ALL this is easily applied to the present subject. We sink very much in our own Page  237 eyes, when in the presence of a great man, or one of a superior genius; and this humi∣lity makes a considerable ingredient in that respect, which we pay our superiors, accord∣ing to our c foregoing reasonings on that passion. Sometimes even envy and hatred arise from the comparison; but in the greatest part of men, it rests at respect and esteem. As sympathy has such a powerful influence on the human mind, it causes pride to have, in some measure, the same effect as merit; and by making us enter into those elevated sentiments, which the proud man entertains of himself, presents that com∣parison, which is so mortifying and disagree∣able. Our judgment does not entirely ac∣company him in the flattering conceit, in which he pleases himself; but still is so shaken as to receive the idea it presents, and to give it an influence above the loose con∣ceptions of the imagination. A man, who, in an idle humour, wou'd form a notion of a person of a merit very much superior to his own, wou'd not be mortified by that fiction: But when a man, whom we are really persuaded to be of inferior merit, is presented to us; if we observe in him any extraordinary degree of pride and self-conceit; Page  238 the firm persuasion he has of his own merit, takes hold of the imagination, and dimi∣nishes us in our own eyes, in the same man∣ner, as if he were really possess'd of all the good qualities which he so liberally attributes to himself. Our idea is here precisely in that medium, which is requisite to make it operate on us by comparison. Were it ac∣companied with belief, and did the person appear to have the same merit, which he assumes to himself, it wou'd have a contrary effect, and wou'd operate on us by sympathy. The influence of that principle wou'd then be superior to that of comparison, contrary to what happens where the person's merit seems below his pretensions.

THE necessary consequence of these prin∣ciples is, that pride, or an over-weaning conceit of ourselves, must be vicious; since it causes uneasiness in all men, and presents them every moment with a disagreeable com∣parison. 'Tis a trite observation in philo∣sophy, and even in common life and con∣versation, that 'tis our own pride, which makes us so much displeas'd with the pride of other people; and that vanity becomes insupportable to us merely because we are vain. The gay naturally associate themselves with the gay, and the amorous with the Page  239 amorous: But the proud never can endure the proud, and rather seek the company of those who are of an opposite disposition. As we are, all of us, proud in some degree, pride is universally blam'd and condemn'd by all mankind; as having a natural ten∣dency to cause uneasiness in others by means of comparison. And this effect must fol∣low the more naturally, that those, who have an ill-grounded conceit of themselves, are for ever making those comparisons, nor have they any other method of supporting their vanity. A man of sense and merit is pleas'd with himself, independent of all foreign considerations: But a fool must al∣ways find some person, that is more foolish, in order to keep himself in good humour with his own parts and understanding.

BUT tho' an over-weaning conceit of our own merit be vicious and disagreeable, no∣thing can be more laudable, than to have a value for ourselves, where we really have qualities that are valuable. The utility and advantage of any quality to ourselves is a source of virtue, as well as its agreeableness to others; and 'tis certain, that nothing is more useful to us in the conduct of life, than a due degree of pride, which makes Page  240 us sensible of our own merit, and gives us a confidence and assurance in all our pro∣jects and enterprizes. Whatever capacity any one may be endow'd with, 'tis entirely useless to him, if he be not acquainted with it, and form not designs suitable to it. 'Tis requisite on all occasions to know our own force; and were it allowable to err on either side, 'twou'd be more advantageous to over∣rate our merit, than to form ideas of it, below its just standard. Fortune commonly favours the bold and enterprizing; and no∣thing inspires us with more boldness than a good opinion of ourselves.

ADD to this, that tho' pride, or self-ap∣plause, be sometimes disagreeable to others, 'tis always agreeable to ourselves; as on the other hand, modesty, tho' it give pleasure to every one, who observes it, produces often uneasiness in the person endow'd with it. Now it has been observ'd, that our own sensations determine the vice and virtue of any quality, as well as those sensations, which it may excite in others.

THUS self-satisfaction and vanity may not only be allowable, but requisite in a cha∣racter. 'Tis, however, certain, that good∣breeding and decency require that we shou'd avoid all signs and expressions, which tend Page  241 directly to show that passion. We have, all of us, a wonderful partiality for our∣selves, and were we always to give vent to our sentiments in this particular, we shou'd mutually cause the greatest indignation in each other, not only by the immediate pre∣sence of so disagreeable a subject of com∣parison, but also by the contrariety of our judgments. In like manner, therefore, as we establish the laws of nature, in order to secure property in society, and prevent the opposition of self-interest; we establish the rules of good-breeding, in order to prevent the opposition of men's pride, and render conversation agreeable and inoffensive. No∣thing is more disagreeable than a man's over∣weaning conceit of himself: Every one al∣most has a strong propensity to this vice: No one can well distinguish in himself be∣twixt the vice and virtue, or be certain, that his esteem of his own merit is well∣founded: For these reasons, all direct ex∣pressions of this passion are condemn'd; nor do we make any exception to this rule in favour of men of sense and merit. They are not allow'd to do themselves justice openly, in words, no more than other people; and even if they show a reserve and secret doubt in doing themselves justice in Page  242 their own thoughts, they will be more ap∣plauded. That impertinent, and almost uni∣versal propensity of men, to over-value themselves, has given us such a prejudice against self-applause, that we are apt to condemn it, by a general rule, wherever me meet with it; and 'tis with some difficulty we give a privilege to men of sense, even in their most secret thoughts. At least, it must be own'd, that some disguise in this parti∣cular is absolutely requisite; and that if we harbour pride in our breasts, we must carry a fair outside, and have the appearance of mo∣desty and mutual deference in all our con∣duct and behaviour. We must, on every occasion, be ready to prefer others to our∣selves; to treat them with a kind of defer∣ence, even tho' they be our equals; to seem always the lowest and least in the company, where we are not very much distinguish'd above them: And if we observe these rules in our conduct, men will have more indul∣gence for our secret sentiments, when we dis∣cover them in an oblique manner.

I BELIEVE no one, who has any prac∣tice of the world, and can penetrate into the inward sentiments of men, will assert, that the humility, which good-breeding and decency require of us, goes beyond the out∣side, Page  243 or that a thorough sincerity in this particular is esteem'd a real part of our duty. On the contrary, we may observe, that a genuine and hearty pride, or self-esteem, if well conceal'd and well founded, is essential to the character of a man of honour, and that there is no quality of the mind, which is more indispensibly requisite to procure the esteem and approbation of mankind. There are certain deferences and mutual sub∣missions, which custom requires of the dif∣ferent ranks of men towards each other; and whoever exceeds in this particular, if thro' interest, is accus'd of meanness; if thro' ig∣norance, of simplicity. 'Tis necessary, there∣fore, to know our rank and station in the world, whether it be fix'd by our birth, fortune, employments, talents or reputation. 'Tis necessary to feel the sentiment and passion of pride in conformity to it, and to regulate our actions accordingly. And shou'd it be said, that prudence may suffice to re∣gulate our actions in this particular, with∣out any real pride, I wou'd observe, that here the object of prudence is to conform our actions to the general usage and custom; and that 'tis impossible those tacit airs of superiority shou'd ever have been establish'd Page  244 and authoriz'd by custom, unless men were generally proud, and unless that passion were generally approv'd, when well-grounded.

IF we pass from common life and con∣versation to history, this reasoning acquires new force, when we observe, that all those great actions and sentiments, which have become the admiration of mankind, are founded on nothing but pride and self∣esteem. Go, says Alexander the Great to his soldiers, when they refus'd to follow him to the Indies, go tell your countrymen, that you left Alexander compleating the conquest of the world. This passage was always par∣ticularly admir'd by the prince of Conde, as we learn from St. Evremond.

said that prince,
"abandon'd by his soldiers, among barbarians, not yet fully subdu'd, felt in himself such a dignity and right of empire, that he cou'd not believe it possi∣ble any one cou'd refuse to obey him. Whether in Europe or in Asia, among Greeks or Persians, all was indifferent to him: Wherever he found men, he fancied he had found subjects."

IN general we may observe, that what∣ever we call heroic virtue, and admire under the character of greatness and elevation of mind, is either nothing but a steady and well-establish'd pride and self-esteem, or Page  245 partakes largely of that passion. Courage, intrepidity, ambition, love of glory, mag∣nanimity, and all the other shining virtues of that kind, have plainly a strong mixture of self-esteem in them, and derive a great part of their merit from that origin. Accord∣ingly we find, that many religious de∣claimers decry those virtues as purely pagan and natural, and represent to us the excel∣lency of the Christian religion, which places humility in the rank of virtues, and corrects the judgment of the world, and even of philosophers, who so generally admire all the efforts of pride and ambition. Whether this virtue of humility has been rightly un∣derstood, I shall not pretend to determine. I am content with the concession, that the world naturally esteems a well-regulated pride, which secretly animates our conduct, with∣out breaking out into such indecent ex∣pressions of vanity, as may offend the vanity of others.

THE merit of pride or self-esteem is de∣riv'd from two circumstances, viz. its utility and its agreeableness to ourselves; by which it capacitates us for business, and, at the same time, gives us an immediate satisfaction. When it goes beyond its just bounds, it loses the first advantage, and even becomes pre∣judicial; Page  246 which is the reason why we con∣demn an extravagant pride and ambition, however regulated by the decorums of good∣breeding and politeness. But as such a passion is still agreeable, and conveys an elevated and sublime sensation to the person, who is actuated by it, the sympathy with that satisfaction diminishes considerably the blame, which naturally attends its dangerous influence on our conduct and behaviour. Accordingly we may observe, that an ex∣cessive courage and magnanimity, especially when it displays itself under the frowns of fortune, contributes, in a great measure, to the character of a hero, and will render a person the admiration of posterity; at the same time, that it ruins his affairs, and leads him into dangers and difficulties, with which otherwise he wou'd never have been ac∣quainted.

HEROISM, or military glory, is much admir'd by the generality of mankind. They consider it as the most sublime kind of merit. Men of cool reflection are not so sanguine in their praises of it. The in∣finite confusions and disorder, which it has caus'd in the world, diminish much of its merit in their eyes. When they wou'd op∣pose the popular notions on this head, they Page  247 always paint out the evils, which this sup∣pos'd virtue has produc'd in human society; the subversion of empires, the devastation of provinces, the sack of cities. As long as these are present to us, we are more inclin'd to hate than admire the ambition of heroes. But when we fix our view on the person himself, who is the author of all this mis∣chief, there is something so dazling in his character, the mere contemplation of it so elevates the mind, that we cannot refuse it our admiration. The pain, which we re∣ceive from its tendency to the prejudice of society, is over-power'd by a stronger and more immediate sympathy.

THUS our explication of the merit or demerit, which attends the degrees of pride or self-esteem, may serve as a strong argu∣ment for the preceding hypothesis, by shew∣ing the effects of those principles above ex∣plain'd in all the variations of our judgments concerning that passion. Nor will this rea∣soning be advantageous to us only by shew∣ing, that the distinction of vice and virtue arises from the four principles of the advan∣tage and of the pleasure of the person him∣self, and of others: But may also afford us Page  248 a strong proof of some under-parts of that hypothesis.

NO one, who duly considers of this matter, will make any scruple of allowing, that any piece of ill-breeding, or any expression of pride and haughtiness, is displeasing to us, merely because it shocks our own pride, and leads us by sympathy into a comparison, which causes the disagreeable passion of hu∣mility. Now as an insolence of this kind is blam'd even in a person who has always been civil to ourselves in particular; nay, in one, whose name is only known to us in history; it follows, that our disapprobation proceeds from a sympathy with others, and from the reflection, that such a character is highly displeasing and odious to every one, who converses or has any intercourse with the person possest of it. We sympathize with those people in their uneasiness; and as their uneasiness proceeds in part from a sym∣pathy with the person who insults them, we may here observe a double rebound of the sympathy; which is a principle very similar to what we have observ'd on another occasion a.

Page  249

SECT. III. Of goodness and benevolence.

HAVING thus explain'd the origin of that praise and approbation, which attends every thing we call great in human affections; we now proceed to give an ac∣count of their goodness, and shew whence its merit is deriv'd.

WHEN experience has once given us a competent knowledge of human affairs, and has taught us the proportion they bear to human passion, we perceive, that the gene∣rosity of men is very limited, and that it seldom extends beyond their friends and fa∣mily, or, at most, beyond their native coun∣try. Being thus acquainted with the nature of man, we expect not any impossibilities from him; but confine our view to that narrow circle, in which any person moves, in order to form a judgment of his moral character. When the natural tendency of his passions leads him to be serviceable and useful within his sphere, we approve of his character, and love his person, by a sym∣pathy Page  250 with the sentiments of those, who have a more particular connexion with him. We are quickly oblig'd to forget our own interest in our judgments of this kind, by reason of the perpetual contradictions, we meet with in society and conversation, from persons that are not plac'd in the same situ∣ation, and have not the same interest with ourselves. The only point of view, in which our sentiments concur with those of others, is, when we consider the tendency of any passion to the advantage or harm of those, who have any immediate connexion or inter∣course with the person possess'd of it. And tho' this advantage or harm be often very remote from ourselves, yet sometimes 'tis very near us, and interests us strongly by sympathy. This concern we readily extend to other cases, that are resembling; and when these are very remote, our sympathy is proportionably weaker, and our praise or blame fainter and more doubtful. The case is here the same as in our judgments con∣cerning external bodies. All objects seem to diminish by their distance: But tho' the ap∣pearance of objects to our senses be the ori∣ginal standard, by which we judge of them, yet we do not say, that they actually dimi∣nish by the distance; but correcting the ap∣pearance Page  251 by reflection, arrive at a more con∣stant and establish'd judgment concerning them. In like manner, tho' sympathy be much fainter than our concern for ourselves, and a sympathy with persons remote from us much fainter than that with persons near and contiguous; yet we neglect all these dif∣ferences in our calm judgments concerning the characters of men. Besides, that we ourselves often change our situation in this particular, we every day meet with persons, who are in a different situation from our∣selves, and who cou'd never converse with us on any reasonable terms, were we to re∣main constantly in that situation and point of view, which is peculiar to us. The in∣tercourse of sentiments, therefore, in society and conversation, makes us form some general inalterable standard, by which we may ap∣prove or disapprove of characters and man∣ners. And tho' the heart does not always take part with those general notions, or re∣gulate its love and hatred by them, yet are they sufficient for discourse, and serve all our purposes in company, in the pulpit, on the theatre, and in the schools.

FROM these principles we may easily ac∣count for that merit, which is commonly ascrib'd to generosity, humanity, compassion,Page  252gratitude, friendship, fidelity, zeal, disin∣terestedness, liberality, and all those other qualities, which form the character of good and benevolent. A propensity to the tender passions makes a man agreeable and useful in all the parts of life; and gives a just direction to all his other qualities, which otherwise may become prejudicial to society. Courage and ambition, when not regulated by bene∣volence, are fit only to make a tyrant and public robber. 'Tis the same case with judg∣ment and capacity, and all the qualities of that kind. They are indifferent in them∣selves to the interests of society, and have a tendency to the good or ill of mankind, ac∣cording as they are directed by these other passions.

AS love is immediately agreeable to the person, who is actuated by it, and hatred immediately disagreeable; this may also be a considerable reason, why we praise all the passions that partake of the former, and blame all those that have any considerable share of the latter. 'Tis certain we are in∣finitely touch'd with a tender sentiment, as well as with a great one. The tears natu∣rally start in our eyes at the conception of it; nor can we forbear giving a loose to the same tenderness towards the person who ex∣erts Page  253 it. All this seems to me a proof, that our approbation has, in those cases, an origin different from the prospect of utility and ad∣vantage, either to ourselves or others. To which we may add, that men naturally, without reflection, approve of that character, which is most like their own. The man of a mild disposition and tender affections, in forming a notion of the most perfect virtue, mixes in it more of benevolence and huma∣nity, than the man of courage and enter∣prize, who naturally looks upon a certain elevation of mind as the most accom∣plish'd character. This must evidently pro∣ceed from an immediate sympathy, which men have with characters similar to their own. They enter with more warmth into such sentiments, and feel more sensibly the pleasure, which arises from them.

'TIS remarkable, that nothing touches a man of humanity more than any instance of extraordinary delicacy in love or friendship, where a person is attentive to the smallest concerns of his friend, and is willing to sacri∣fice to them the most considerable interest of his own. Such delicacies have little influence on society; because they make us regard the greatest trifles: But they are the more en∣gaging, the more minute the concern is, and Page  254 are a proof of the highest merit in any one, who is capable of them. The passions are so contagious, that they pass with the greatest facility from one person to another, and pro∣duce correspondent movements in all human breasts. Where friendship appears in very signal instances, my heart catches the same passion, and is warm'd by those warm senti∣ments, that display themselves before me. Such agreeable movements must give me an affection to every one that excites them. This is the case with every thing that is agreeable in any person. The transition from pleasure to love is easy: But the transition must here be still more easy; since the agree∣able sentiment, which is excited by sym∣pathy, is love itself; and there is nothing requir'd but to change the object.

HENCE the peculiar merit of benevolence in all its shapes and appearances. Hence even its weaknesses are virtuous and amiable; and a person, whose grief upon the loss of a friend were excessive, wou'd be esteem'd upon that account. His tenderness bestows a merit, as it does a pleasure, on his melan∣choly.

WE are not, however, to imagine, that all the angry passions are vicious, tho' they are disagreeable. There is a certain indul∣gence Page  255 due to human nature in this respect. Anger and hatred are passions inherent in our very frame and constitution. The want of them, on some occasions, may even be a proof of weakness and imbecillity. And where they appear only in a low degree, we not only excuse them because they are na∣tural; but even bestow our applauses on them, because they are inferior to what ap∣pears in the greatest part of mankind.

WHERE these angry passions rise up to cruelty, they form the most detested of all vices. All the pity and concern which we have for the miserable sufferers by this vice, turns against the person guilty of it, and pro∣duces a stronger hatred than we are sensible of on any other occasion.

EVEN when the vice of inhumanity rises not to this extreme degree, our sentiments concerning it are very much influenc'd by re∣flections on the harm that results from it. And we may observe in general, that if we can find any quality in a person, which renders him incommodious to those, who live and converse with him, we always allow it to be a fault or blemish, without any farther examina∣tion. On the other hand, when we enu∣merate the good qualities of any person, we always mention those parts of his character, Page  256 which render him a safe companion, an easy friend, a gentle master, an agreeable hus∣band, or an indulgent father. We consider him with all his relations in society; and love or hate him, according as he affects those, who have any immediate intercourse with him. And 'tis a most certain rule, that if there be no relation of life, in which I cou'd not wish to stand to a particular person, his character must so far be allow'd to be perfect. If he be as little wanting to himself as to others, his character is entirely perfect. This is the ultimate test of merit and virtue.

SECT. IV. Of natural abilities.

NO distinction is more usual in all systems of ethics, than that betwixt natural abilities and moral virtues; where the former are plac'd on the same footing with bodily endowments, and are suppos'd to have no merit or moral worth annex'd to them. Whoever considers the matter accu∣rately, will find, that a dispute upon this head wou'd be merely a dispute of words, Page  257 and that tho' these qualities are not alto∣gether of the same kind, yet they agree in the most material circumstances. They are both of them equally mental qualities: And both of them equally produce pleasure; and have of course an equal tendency to pro∣cure the love and esteem of mankind. There are few, who are not as jealous of their character, with regard to sense and know∣ledge, as to honour and courage; and much more than with regard to temperance and sobriety. Men are even afraid of passing for good-natur'd; lest that shou'd be taken for want of understanding: And often boast of more debauches than they have been really engag'd in, to give themselves airs of fire and spirit. In short, the figure a man makes in the world, the reception he meets with in company, the esteem paid him by his acquaintance; all these advantages depend almost as much upon his good sense and judgment, as upon any other part of his character. Let a man have the best inten∣tions in the world, and be the farthest from all injustice and violence, he will never be able to make himself be much regarded, without a moderate share, at least, of parts and understanding. Since then natural abi∣lities, tho', perhaps, inferior, yet are on the Page  258 same footing, both as to their causes and effects, with those qualities which we call moral virtues, why shou'd we make any distinction betwixt them?

THO' we refuse to natural abilities the title of virtues, we must allow, that they procure the love and esteem of mankind; that they give a new lustre to the other vir∣tues; and that a man possess'd of them is much more intitled to our good-will and services, than one entirely void of them. It may, indeed, be pretended, that the senti∣ment of approbation, which those qualities produce, besides its being inferior, is also somewhat different from that, which attends the other virtues. But this, in my opinion, is not a sufficient reason for excluding them from the catalogue of virtues. Each of the virtues, even benevolence, justice, gratitude, integrity, excites a different sentiment or feeling in the spectator. The characters of Caesar and Cato, as drawn by Sallust, are both of them virtuous, in the strictest sense of the word; but in a different way: Nor are the sentiments entirely the same, which arise from them. The one produces love; the other esteem: The one is amiable; the other awful: We cou'd wish to meet with the one character in a friend; the other cha∣racter Page  259 we wou'd be ambitious of in ourselves. In like manner, the approbation, which at∣tends natural abilities, may be somewhat different to the feeling from that, which arises from the other virtues, without making them entirely of a different species. And indeed we may observe, that the natu∣ral abilities, no more than the other virtues, produce not, all of them, the same kind of approbation. Good sense and genius beget esteem: Wit and humour excite love a.

THOSE, who represent the distinction be∣twixt natural abilities and moral virtues as very material, may say, that the former are entirely involuntary, and have therefore no merit attending them, as having no depend∣ance on liberty and free-will. But to this I answer, first, that many of those qualities, which all moralists, especially the antients, comprehend under the title of moral virtues, are equally involuntary and necessary, with the qualities of the judgment and imagina∣tion. Page  260 Of this nature are constancy, forti∣tude, magnanimity; and, in short, all the qualities which form the great man. I might say the same, in some degree, of the others; it being almost impossible for the mind to change its character in any con∣siderable article, or cure itself of a passionate or splenetic temper, when they are natural to it. The greater degree there is of these blameable qualities, the more vicious they become, and yet they are the less voluntary. Secondly, I wou'd have any one give me a reason, why virtue and vice may not be in∣voluntary, as well as beauty and deformity. These moral distinctions arise from the natu∣ral distinctions of pain and pleasure; and when we receive those feelings from the general consideration of any quality or cha∣racter, we denominate it vicious or virtuous. Now I believe no one will assert, that a quality can never produce pleasure or pain to the person who considers it, unless it be perfectly voluntary in the person who pos∣sesses it. Thirdly, As to free-will, we have shewn that it has no place with regard to the actions, no more than the qualities of men. It is not a just consequence, that what is voluntary is free. Our actions are more voluntary than our judgments; but we Page  261 have not more liberty in the one than in the other.

BUT tho' this distinction betwixt volun∣tary and involuntary be not sufficient to ju∣stify the distinction betwixt natural abilities and moral virtues, yet the former distinction will afford us a plausible reason, why mo∣ralists have invented the latter. Men have observ'd, that tho' natural abilities and moral qualities be in the main on the same footing, there is, however, this difference betwixt them, that the former are almost invariable by any art or industry; while the latter, or at least, the actions, that proceed from them, may be chang'd by the motives of rewards and punishments, praise and blame. Hence legislators, and divines, and moralists, have principally applied themselves to the regu∣lating these voluntary actions, and have en∣deavour'd to produce additional motives for being virtuous in that particular. They knew, that to punish a man for folly, or exhort him to be prudent and sagacious, wou'd have but little effect; tho' the same punishments and exhortations, with regard to justice and injustice, might have a con∣siderable influence. But as men, in com∣mon life and conversation, do not carry those ends in view, but naturally praise or blame Page  262 whatever pleases or displeases them, they do not seem much to regard this distinction, but consider prudence under the character of vir∣tue as well as benevolence, and penetration as well as justice. Nay, we find, that all moralists, whose judgment is not perverted by a strict adherence to a system, enter into the same way of thinking; and that the antient moralists in particular made no scru∣ple of placing prudence at the head of the cardinal virtues. There is a sentiment of esteem and approbation, which may be ex∣cited, in some degree, by any faculty of the mind, in its perfect state and condition; and to account for this sentiment is the busi∣ness of Philosophers. It belongs to Gram∣marians to examine what qualities are en∣titled to the denomination of virtue; nor will they find, upon trial, that this is so easy a task, as at first sight they may be apt to imagine.

THE principal reason why natural abili∣ties are esteem'd, is because of their tendency to be useful to the person, who is possess'd of them. 'Tis impossible to execute any design with success, where it is not conducted with prudence and discretion; nor will the good∣ness of our intentions alone suffice to pro∣cure us a happy issue to our enterprizes. Page  263 Men are superior to beasts principally by the superiority of their reason; and they are the degrees of the same faculty, which set such an infinite difference betwixt one man and another. All the advantages of art are owing to human reason; and where fortune is not very capricious, the most considerable part of these advantages must fall to the share of the prudent and sagacious.

WHEN it is ask'd, whether a quick or a slow apprehension be most valuable? whether one, that at first view penetrates into a sub∣ject, but can perform nothing upon study; or a contrary character, which must work out every thing by dint of application? whether a clear head, or a copious inven∣tion? whether a profound genius, or a sure judgment? in short, what character, or pe∣culiar understanding, is more excellent than another? 'Tis evident we can answer none of these questions, without considering which of those qualities capacitates a man best for the world, and carries him farthest in any of his undertakings.

THERE are many other qualities of the mind, whose merit is deriv'd from the same origin. Industry, perseverance, patience, ac∣tivity, vigilance, application, constancy, with other virtues of that kind, which 'twill be Page  264 easy to recollect, are esteem'd valuable upon no other account, than their advantage in the conduct of life. 'Tis the same case with temperance, frugality, oeconomy, resolution: As on the other hand, prodigality, luxury, irresolution, uncertainty, are vicious, merely because they draw ruin upon us, and inca∣pacitate us for business and action.

As wisdom and good-sense are valued, because they are useful to the person possess'd of them; so wit and eloquence are valued, because they are immediately agreeable to others. On the other hand, good humour is lov'd and esteem'd, because it is immediately agreeable to the person himself. 'Tis evi∣dent, that the conversation of a man of wit is very satisfactory; as a chearful good-hu∣mour'd companion diffuses a joy over the whole company, from a sympathy with his gaiety. These qualities, therefore, being agreeable, they naturally beget love and esteem, and answer to all the characters of virtue.

'Tis difficult to tell, on many occasions, what it is that renders one man's conversation so agreeable and entertaining, and another's so insipid and distasteful. As conversation is a transcript of the mind as well as books, the same qualities, which render the one Page  265 valuable, must give us an esteem for the other. This we shall consider afterwards. In the mean time it may be affirm'd in ge∣neral, that all the merit a man may derive from his conversation (which, no doubt, may be very considerable) arises from no∣thing but the pleasure it conveys to those who are present.

IN this view, cleanliness is also to be re∣garded as a virtue; since it naturally renders us agreeable to others, and is a very con∣siderable source of love and affection. No one will deny, that a negligence in this par∣ticular is a fault; and as faults are nothing but smaller vices, and this fault can have no other origin than the uneasy sensation, which it excites in others, we may in this instance, seemingly so trivial, clearly discover the ori∣gin of the moral distinction of vice and vir∣tue in other instances.

BESIDES all those qualities, which render a person lovely or valuable, there is also a certain je-ne-sçai-quoi of agreeable and hand∣some, that concurs to the same effect. In this case, as well as in that of wit and elo∣quence, we must have recourse to a certain sense, which acts without reflection, and re∣gards not the tendencies of qualities and characters. Some moralists account for all Page  266 the sentiments of virtue by this sense. Their hypothesis is very plausible. Nothing but a particular enquiry can give the preference to any other hypothesis. When we find, that almost all the virtues have such particular ten∣dencies; and also find, that these tendencies are sufficient alone to give a strong senti∣ment of approbation: We cannot doubt, after this, that qualities are approv'd of, in proportion to the advantage, which results from them.

THE decorum or indecorum of a quality, with regard to the age, or character, or sta∣tion, contributes also to its praise or blame. This decorum depends, in a great measure, upon experience. 'Tis usual to see men lose their levity, as they advance in years. Such a degree of gravity, therefore, and such years, are connected together in our thoughts. When we observe them separated in any person's character, this imposes a kind of violence on our imagination, and is disagree∣able.

THAT faculty of the soul, which, of all others, is of the least consequence to the character, and has the least virtue or vice in its several degrees, at the same time, that it admits of a great variety of degrees, is the memory. Unless it rise up to that stupen∣dous Page  267 height as to surprize us, or sink so low as, in some measure, to affect the judgment, we commonly take no notice of its varia∣tions, nor ever mention them to the praise or dispraise of any person. 'Tis so far from being a virtue to have a good memory, that men generally affect to complain of a bad one; and endeavouring to persuade the world, that what they say is entirely of their own invention, sacrifice it to the praise of genius and judgment. Yet to consider the matter abstractedly, 'twou'd be difficult to give a reason, why the faculty of recalling past ideas with truth and clearness, shou'd not have as much merit in it, as the faculty of placing our present ideas in such an order, as to form true propositions and opinions. The reason of the difference certainly must be, that the memory is exerted without any sensation of pleasure or pain; and in all its middling degrees serves almost equally well in business and affairs. But the least varia∣tions in the judgment are sensibly felt in their consequences; while at the same time that faculty is never exerted in any eminent de∣gree, without an extraordinary delight and satisfaction. The sympathy with this utility and pleasure bestows a merit on the under∣standing; and the absence of it makes us Page  268 consider the memory as a faculty very in∣different to blame or praise.

BEFORE I leave this subject of natural abilities, I must observe, that, perhaps, one source of the esteem and affection, which attends them, is deriv'd from the importance and weight, which they bestow on the per∣son possess'd of them. He becomes of greater consequence in life. His resolutions and actions affect a greater number of his fellow-creatures. Both his friendship and enmity are of moment. And 'tis easy to observe, that whoever is elevated, after this manner, above the rest of mankind, must excite in us the sentiments of esteem and approbation. Whatever is important engages our attention, fixes our thought, and is con∣templated with satisfaction. The histories of kingdoms are more interesting than do∣mestic stories: The histories of great empires more than those of small cities and principa∣lities: And the histories of wars and revo∣lutions more than those of peace and order. We sympathize with the persons that suffer, in all the various sentiments which belong to their fortunes. The mind is occupied by the multitude of the objects, and by the strong passions, that display themselves. And this occupation or agitation of the mind is Page  269 commonly agreeable and amusing. The same theory accounts for the esteem and regard we pay to men of extraordinary parts and abilities. The good and ill of multitudes are connected with their actions. Whatever they undertake is important, and challenges our attention. Nothing is to be over-look'd and despis'd, that regards them. And where any person can excite these sentiments, he soon acquires our esteem; unless other cir∣cumstances of his character render him odious and disagreeable.

SECT. V. Some farther reflections concerning the natural virtues.

IT has been observ'd, in treating of the passions, that pride and humility, love and hatred, are excited by any advantages or disadvantages of the mind, body, or fortune; and that these advantages or disadvantages have that effect by producing a separate im∣pression of pain or pleasure. The pain or pleasure, which arises from the general sur∣vey or view of any action or quality of the mind, constitutes its vice or virtue, and gives Page  270 rise to our approbation or blame, which is nothing but a fainter and more imperceptible love or hatred. We have assign'd four dif∣ferent sources of this pain and pleasure; and in order to justify more fully that hypo∣thesis, it may here be proper to observe, that the advantages or disadvantages of the body and of fortune, produce a pain or pleasure from the very same principles. The ten∣dency of any object to be useful to the per∣son possess'd of it, or to others; to convey pleasure to him or to others; all these cir∣cumstances convey an immediate pleasure to the person, who considers the object, and command his love and approbation.

TO begin with the advantages of the body; we may observe a phaenomenon, which might appear somewhat trivial and ludicrous, if any thing cou'd be trivial, which fortified a con∣clusion of such importance, or ludicrous, which was employ'd in a philosophical rea∣soning. 'Tis a general remark, that those we call good women's men, who have either signaliz'd themselves by their amorous ex∣ploits, or whose make of body promises any extraordinary vigour of that kind, are well received by the fair sex, and naturally engage the affections even of those, whose virtue pre∣vents any design of ever giving employment Page  271 to those talents. Here 'tis evident, that the ability of such a person to give enjoyment, is the real source of that love and esteem he meets with among the females; at the same time that the women, who love and esteem him, have no prospect of receiving that en∣joyment themselves, and can only be affected by means of their sympathy with one, that has a commerce of love with him. This instance is singular, and merits our atten∣tion.

ANOTHER source of the pleasure we re∣ceive from considering bodily advantages, is their utility to the person himself, who is possess'd of them. 'Tis certain, that a con∣siderable part of the beauty of men, as well as of other animals, consists in such a con∣formation of members, as we find by ex∣perience to be attended with strength and agility, and to capacitate the creature for any action or exercise. Broad shoulders, a lank belly, firm joints, taper legs; all these are beautiful in our species, because they are signs of force and vigour, which being ad∣vantages we naturally sympathize with, they convey to the beholder a share of that satis∣faction they produce in the possessor.

SO far as to the utility, which may attend any quality of the body. As to the imme∣diate Page  272pleasure, 'tis certain, that an air of health, as well as of strength and agility, makes a considerable part of beauty; and that a sickly air in another is always dis∣agreeable, upon account of that idea of pain and uneasiness, which it conveys to us. On the other hand, we are pleas'd with the re∣gularity of our own features, tho' it be nei∣ther useful to ourselves nor others; and 'tis necessary for us, in some measure, to set our∣selves at a distance, to make it convey to us any satisfaction. We commonly consider ourselves as we appear in the eyes of others, and sympathize with the advantageous sen∣timents they entertain with regard to us.

HOW far the advantages of fortune pro∣duce esteem and approbation from the same principles, we may satisfy ourselves by reflecting on our precedent reasoning on that subject. We have observ'd, that our approbation of those, who are possess'd of the advantages of fortune, may be ascrib'd to three different causes. First, To that im∣mediate pleasure, which a rich man gives us, by the view of the beautiful cloaths, equi∣page, gardens, or houses, which he possesses. Secondly, To the advantage, which we hope to reap from him by his generosity and libe∣rality. Thirdly, To the pleasure and advan∣tage, Page  273 which he himself reaps from his pos∣sessions, and which produce an agreeable sympathy in us. Whether we ascribe our esteem of the rich and great to one or all of these causes, we may clearly see the traces of those principles, which give rise to the sense of vice and virtue. I believe most people, at first sight, will be inclin'd to ascribe our esteem of the rich to self-interest, and the prospect of advantage. But as 'tis certain, that our esteem or deference extends beyond any prospect of advantage to ourselves, 'tis evident, that that sentiment must proceed from a sympathy with those, who are de∣pendent on the person we esteem and respect, and who have an immediate connexion with him. We consider him as a person capable of contributing to the happiness or enjoy∣ment of his fellow-creatures, whose senti∣ments, with regard to him, we naturally embrace. And this consideration will serve to justify my hypothesis in preferring the third principle to the other two, and ascribing our esteem of the rich to a sympathy with the pleasure and advantage, which they them∣selves receive from their possessions. For as even the other two principles cannot operate to a due extent, or account for all the phae∣nomena, without having recourse to a sym∣pathy Page  274 of one kind or other; 'tis much more natural to chuse that sympathy, which is immediate and direct, than that which is re∣mote and indirect. To which we may add, that where the riches or power are very great, and render the person considerable and important in the world, the esteem attend∣ing them, may, in part, be ascrib'd to ano∣ther source, distinct from these three, viz. their interesting the mind by a prospect of the multitude, and importance of their con∣sequences: Tho', in order to account for the operation of this principle, we must also have recourse to sympathy; as we have ob∣serv'd in the preceding section.

IT may not be amiss, on this occasion, to remark the flexibility of our sentiments, and the several changes they so readily receive from the objects, with which they are con∣join'd. All the sentiments of approbation, which attend any particular species of ob∣jects, have a great resemblance to each other, tho' deriv'd from different sources; and, on the other hand, those sentiments, when di∣rected to different objects, are different to the feeling, tho' deriv'd from the same source. Thus the beauty of all visible objects causes a pleasure pretty much the same, tho' it be sometimes deriv'd from the mere species and Page  275 appearance of the objects; sometimes from sympathy, and an idea of their utility. In like manner, whenever we survey the actions and characters of men, without any particu∣lar interest in them, the pleasure, or pain, which arises from the survey (with some minute differences) is, in the main, of the same kind, tho' perhaps there be a great diversity in the causes, from which it is de∣riv'd. On the other hand, a convenient house, and a virtuous character, cause not the same feeling of approbation; even tho' the source of our approbation be the same, and flow from sympathy and an idea of their utility. There is something very inex∣plicable in this variation of our feelings; but 'tis what we have experience of with regard to all our passions and sentiments.

SECT. VI. Conclusion of this book.

THUS upon the whole I am hopeful, that nothing is wanting to an accu∣rate proof of this system of ethics. We are certain, that sympathy is a very powerful principle in human nature. We are also Page  276 certain, that it has a great influence on our sense of beauty, when we regard external objects, as well as when we judge of morals. We find, that it has force sufficient to give us the strongest sentiments of approbation, when it operates alone, without the con∣currence of any other principle; as in the cases of justice, allegiance, chastity, and good-manners. We may observe, that all the circumstances requisite for its operation are found in most of the virtues; which have, for the most part, a tendency to the good of society, or to that of the person possess'd of them. If we compare all these circumstances, we shall not doubt, that sym∣pathy is the chief source of moral distinctions; especially when we reflect, that no objection can be rais'd against this hypothesis in one case, which will not extend to all cases. Justice is certainly approv'd of for no other reason, than because it has a tendency to the public good: And the public good is in∣different to us, except so far as sympathy in∣terests us in it. We may presume the like with regard to all the other virtues, which have a like tendency to the public good. They must derive all their merit from our sym∣pathy with those, who reap any advantage from them: As the virtues, which have a Page  277 tendency to the good of the person possess'd of them, derive their merit from our sym∣pathy with him.

MOST people will readily allow, that the useful qualities of the mind are virtuous, be∣cause of their utility. This way of think∣ing is so natural, and occurs on so many oc∣casions, that few will make any scruple of admitting it. Now this being once admit∣ted, the force of sympathy must necessarily be acknowledg'd. Virtue is consider'd as means to an end. Means to an end are only valued so far as the end is valued. But the happiness of strangers affects us by sympathy alone. To that principle, there∣fore, we are to ascribe the sentiment of ap∣probation, which arises from the survey of all those virtues, that are useful to society, or to the person possess'd of them. These form the most considerable part of mo∣rality.

WERE it proper in such a subject to bribe the readers assent, or employ any thing but solid argument, we are here abundantly sup∣plied with topics to engage the affections. All lovers of virtue (and such we all are in speculation, however we may degenerate in practice) must certainly be pleas'd to see Page  278 moral distinctions deriv'd from so noble a source, which gives us a just notion both of the generosity and capacity of human nature. It requires but very little knowledge of hu∣man affairs to perceive, that a sense of mo∣rals is a principle inherent in the soul, and one of the most powerful that enters into the composition. But this sense must certainly acquire new force, when reflecting on itself, it approves of those principles, from whence it is deriv'd, and finds nothing but what is great and good in its rise and origin. Those who resolve the sense of morals into ori∣ginal instincts of the human mind, may de∣fend the cause of virtue with sufficient autho∣rity; but want the advantage, which those possess, who account for that sense by an extensive sympathy with mankind. Accord∣ing to their system, not only virtue must be approv'd of, but also the sense of virtue: And not only that sense, but also the prin∣ciples, from whence it is deriv'd. So that nothing is presented on any side, but what is laudable and good.

THIS observation may be extended to justice, and the other virtues of that kind. Tho' justice be artificial, the sense of its mo∣rality is natural. 'Tis the combination of men, in a system of conduct, which renders Page  279 any act of justice beneficial to society. But when once it has that tendency, we natu∣rally approve of it; and if we did not so, 'tis impossible any combination or convention cou'd ever produce that sentiment.

MOST of the inventions of men are sub∣ject to change. They depend upon humour and caprice. They have a vogue for a time, and then sink into oblivion. It may, per∣haps, be apprehended, that if justice were allow'd to be a human invention, it must be plac'd on the same footing. But the cases are widely different. The interest, on which justice is founded, is the greatest imaginable, and extends to all times and places. It can∣not possibly be serv'd by any other inven∣tion. It is obvious, and discovers itself on the very first formation of society. All these causes render the rules of justice stedfast and immutable; at least, as immutable as human nature. And if they were founded on ori∣ginal instincts, cou'd they have any greater stability?

THE same system may help us to form a just notion of the happiness, as well as of the dignity of virtue, and may interest every principle of our nature in the embracing and cherishing that noble quality. Who in∣deed does not feel an accession of alacrity in Page  280 his pursuits of knowledge and ability of every kind, when he considers, that besides the advantage, which immediately result from these acquisitions, they also give him a new lustre in the eyes of mankind, and are universally attended with esteem and appro∣bation? And who can think any advantages of fortune a sufficient compensation for the least breach of the social virtues, when he considers, that not only his character with regard to others, but also his peace and in∣ward satisfaction entirely depend upon his strict observance of them; and that a mind will never be able to bear its own survey, that has been wanting in its part to man∣kind and society? But I forbear insisting on this subject. Such reflections require a work a-part, very different from the genius of the present. The anatomist ought never to emu∣late the painter; nor in his accurate dis∣sections and portraitures of the smaller parts of the human body, pretend to give his figures any graceful and engaging attitude or expression. There is even something hideous, or at least minute in the views of things, which he presents; and 'tis necessary the ob∣jects shou'd be set more at a distance, and be more cover'd up from sight, to make them engaging to the eye and imagination. An Page  281 anatomist, however, is admirably fitted to give advice to a painter; and 'tis even im∣practicable to excel in the latter art, with∣out the assistance of the former. We must have an exact knowledge of the parts, their situation and connexion, before we can de∣sign with any elegance or correctness. And thus the most abstract speculations concern∣ing human nature, however cold and un∣entertaining, become subservient to practi∣cal morality; and may render this latter sci∣ence more correct in its precepts, and more persuasive in its exhortations.