LONDON: Printed for A. MILLAR, over-against Catherine-street in the Strand. 1751.


  • SECTION. Page.
  • I. Of the general Principles of Morals. 1
  • II. Of Benevolence. 11
  • III. Of Justice. 33
  • IV. Of Political Society. 63
  • V. Why Utility pleases. 73
  • VI. Of Qualities useful to Ourselves. 105
  • VII. Of Qualities immediately agreeable to Our­selves. 143
  • VIII. Of Qualities immediately agreeable to Others. 161
  • IX. Conclusion of the Whole. 171
  • APPENDIX I. Concerning Moral Sentiment. 197
  • APPENDIX II. Some farther Considerations with regard to Justice. 213
  • A Dialogue. 223


Page 1. Line 10. for excepted read expected. P. 12. L.24. read our own Gratification. P. 15. L. 2. for one read a. P. 18. L. 3. for others read other Motives. P. 19. L. 9. for for read of. P. 21. L. 1. for from it read from Fame. P. 36. L. 6. for Fellow read Fellows. P. 43. L. 1. for pointed read painted. P. 46. L. 22. read serve to no manner. P. 47. L. 4. for to whom he is not bound by any Ties read to none of which he is bound. P. 50. L. ult. read Render Possessions ever so equal, Men's different De­grees. P. 69. L. 17. where the Search for Health or Pleasure brings. P. 82. L. 18. for then read these. P. 83. L. 4. read that of the Community. P. 86. L. 15. read Circumstance. P. 91. L. 1. read threaten'd. P. 95. L. 1. for alone read along, P. 98. L. 5. for will read shall. P. 117. L. 10. read pretty nearly of the same Kind or Species. P. 129. L. 11. for prof sses read possesses. P. 145. L. 5. read this Passage. P. 150. L. 22. for even read ever. P. 174. L. 18. read serve to no manner. P. 178. L. 24. read arise. P. 202. L. 9. read is often highly laudable. P. 205. L. 6. read and must suspend. P. 217. L. penult. read tends. P. 227. L. 17. read had been courted. P. 233. L. 11. read that there was a Nation.

In the Notes,

Page 15. Line penult. for these Essays read this [...] P. 55. L. 9. for Essay read Section.


Of the General Principles of MORALS.

DISPUTES with Persons, pertinaciously obstinate in their Principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, per­haps, those with Persons, who really do not believe at all the Opinion they defend, but engage in the Controversy, from Affectation, from a Spirit of Op­position, or from a Desire of showing Wit and Inge­nuity, superior to the rest of Mankind. The same blind Adherence to their own Arguments is to be ex­cepted in both; the same Contempt of their Antago­nists; and the same passionate Vehemence, in inforc­ing Sophistry and Falshood. And as reasoning is not the Source, whence either Disputant derives his Tenets; 'tis in vain to expect, that any Logic, which speaks not to the Affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder Principles.

[Page 2] THOSE who have refused the Reality of moral Distinctions, may be ranked in the latter Class, a­mongst the disingenuous Disputants; nor is it con­ceivable, that any human Creature could ever seri­ously believe, that all Characters and Actions were alike entitled to the Affection and Regard of every one. The Difference, which Nature has plac'd be­twixt one Man and another, is so wide, and this Difference is still so much farther widened, by Educa­tion, Example, and Habit, that, where the opposite Extremes come at once under our Apprehension, there is no Scepticism so scrupulous, and scarce any Assurance so determin'd, as absolutely to deny all Distinction betwixt them. Let a Man's Insensibility be ever so great, he must often be touch'd with the Images of RIGHT and WRONG; and let his Prejudices be ever so obstinate, he must observe, that others are susceptible of like Impressions. The only Way, therefore, of converting an Antagonist of this Kind, is to leave him to himself. For, finding that No-body keeps up the Controversy with him, 'tis probable he will, at last, of himself, from mere Weariness, come over to the Side of common Sense and Reason.

THERE has been a Controversy started of late, much better worth Examination, concerning the [Page 3] general Foundation of MORALS, whether they are derived from REASON or from SENTI­MENT; whether we attain the Knowledge of them by a Chain of Argument and Deduction, or by an immediate Feeling and finer internal Sense; whe­ther, like all sound Judgment of Truth and Falshood, they should be the same in every rational intelligent Being; or whether, like the Perception of Beauty and Deformity, they are founded entirely on the par­ticular Fabric and Constitution of the human Species.

THE antient Philosophers, tho' they often affirm, that Virtue is nothing but Conformity to Reason, yet, in general, seem to consider Morals as deriving their Existence from Taste and Sentiment. On the other Hand, our modern Enquirers, tho' they also talk much of the Beauty of Virtue, and Deformity of Vice, yet have commonly endeavoured to account for these Distinctions by metaphysical Reasonings, and by Deductions from the most abstract Principles of human Understanding. Such Confusion reign'd in these Subjects, that an Opposition of the greatest Consequence could prevail betwixt one System and another, and even in the Parts almost of each indivi­dual System; and yet No-body, till very lately, was ever sensible of it. The elegant and sublime Lord Shaftesbury, who first gave Occasion to remark this Distinction, and who, in general, adher'd to the [Page 4] Principles of the Antients, is not, himself, entirely free from the same Confusion.

IT must be acknowledged, that both Sides of the Question are susceptible of specious Arguments. Moral Distinctions, it may be said, are discernible by pure Reason: Else, whence the many Disputes, that reign, in common Life, as well as in Philosophy, with regard to this Subject: The long Chain of Proofs often adduc'd on both Sides; the Examples cited, the Authorities appeal'd to, the Analogies employ'd, the Fallacies detected, the Inferences drawn, and the se­veral Conclusions adjusted to their proper Principles. Truth is disputable; not, Taste: What exists in the Nature of Things is the Standard of our Judgment; what each Man feels within himself is the Standard of Sentiment. Propositions in Geometry may be prov'd, Systems in Physics may be controverted; but the Harmony of Verse, the Tenderness of Passion, the Brilliancy of Wit must give immediate Pleasure. No Man reasons concerning another's Beauty; but frequently concerning the Justice or Injustice of his Actions. In every Trial of Criminals, their first Ob­ject is to disprove the Facts alledged, and deny the Actions imputed to them: The second to prove, that even if these Actions were real, they might be justified, as innocent and lawful. 'Tis confessedly by Deduc­tions of the Understanding, that the first Point is as­certain'd: [Page 5] How can we suppose, that a different Fa­culty of the Mind is employ'd in fixing the other?

ON the other Hand, those, who would resolve all moral Determinations into Sentiment, may endeavour to show, that 'tis impossible for Reason ever to draw Conclusions of this Nature. To Virtue, say they, it belongs to be amiable, and Vice odious. This forms their very Nature or Essence. But can Reason or Ar­gumentation distribute these different Epithets to any Subjects, and pronounce a priori, that this must pro­duce Love, and that Hatred? Or what other Rea­son can we ever assign for these Affections, but the original Fabric and Formation of the human Mind, which is naturally adapted to receive them?

THE End of all moral Speculations is to teach us our Duty; and by proper Representations of the De­formity of Vice and Beauty of Virtue, beget cor­respondent Habits, and engage us to avoid the one, and embrace the other. But is this ever to be ex­pected from Inferences and Conclusions of the Un­derstanding, which, of themselves, have no Hold of the Affections, nor set the active Powers of Men in Motion and Employment? They discover Truth; but where the Truths they discover are indifferent, and beget no Desire or Aversion, they can have no Influence on Conduct and Behaviour. What is ho­nourable, [Page 6] what is fair, what is becoming, what is noble, what is generous, takes Possession of the Heart, and animates us to embrace and to maintain it. What is intelligible, what is evident, what is probable, what is true, procures only the cool Assent of the Un­derstanding; and gratifying a speculative Curiosity, puts an end to our Researches.

EXTINGUISH all the warm Feelings and Preposses­sions in favour of Virtue, and all Disgust or Aversion against Vice: Render Men totally indifferent towards these Distinctions; and Morality is no longer a prac­tical Study, nor has any Tendency to regulate our Lives and Actions.

THESE Arguments on both Sides (and many more might be adduc'd) are so plausible, that I am apt to suspect they may, both of them, be solid and satis­factory, and that Reason and Sentiment concur in al­most all moral Determinations and Conclusions. The final Sentence, 'tis probable, which pronounces Characters and Actions amiable or odious, praise­worthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the Mark of Honour or Infamy, Approbation or Censure; that which renders Morality an active Prin­ciple, and constitutes Virtue our Happiness, and Vice our Misery: 'Tis probable, I say, that this final Sentence depends on some internal Sense or Feeling, [Page 7] which Nature has made universal to the whole Species. For what else can have an Influence of this Nature? But, in order to pave the Way for such a Sentiment, and give Men a proper Discernment of its Object, 'tis often necessary, we find, that much Reasoning should precede, that nice Distinctions he made, just Conclusions drawn, distant Comparisons form'd, accurate Relations examin'd, and general Facts fix'd and ascertain'd. Some Species of Beauty, especially the natural Kinds, on their first Appear­ance, command our Affection, and Approbation; and where they fail of this Effect, 'tis impossible for any Reasoning to redress their Influence, or adapt them better to our Taste and Sentiment. But in many Orders of Beauty, particularly those of the finer Arts, 'tis requisite to employ much Reasoning, in order to feel the proper Sentiment; and a false Relish may frequently be corrected by Argument and Re­flection. There are just Grounds to conclude, that moral Beauty partakes much of this latter Species, and demands the Assistance of our intellectual Fa­culties, in order to give it a suitable Influence on the human Mind.

BUT tho' this Question, concerning the general Principle of Morals, be extremely curious and im­portant; 'tis needless for us, at present, to employ farther Care in our Enquiries concerning it. For if we can be so happy, in the Course of this Enquiry, [Page 8] as to fix the just Origin of Morals, 'twill then easily appear how far Sentiment or Reason enters into all Determinations of this Nature*. Mean while, it will scarce be possible for us, 'ere this Controversy is fully decided, to proceed in that accurate Manner, requir'd in the Sciences; by beginning with exact Definitions of VIRTUE and VICE, which are the Objects of our present Enquiry. But we shall do what may justly be esteem'd as satisfactory. We shall consider the Matter as an Object of Experience. We shall call every Quality or Action of the Mind, vir­tuous, which is attended with the general Approbation of Mankind: And we shall denominate vicious, every Quality, which is the Object of general Blame or Cen­sure. These Qualities we shall endeavour to collect; and after examining, on both Sides, the several Circumstances, in which they agree, 'tis hop'd we may, at last, reach the Foundation of Ethics, and find those universal Principles, from which all moral Blame or Approbation is ultimately derived. As this is a Question of Fact, not of abstract Science, we can only expect Success, by following this expe­rimental Method, and deducing general Maxims from a Comparison of particular Instances. The other scientifical Method; where a general abstract Prin­ciple is first establish'd, and is afterwards branch'd [Page 9] out into a Variety of Inferences and Conclusions, may be more perfect in itself, but suits less the Im­perfection of human Nature, and is a common Source of Illusion and Mistake, in this as well as in other Subjects. Men are now cured of their Passion for Hypotheses and Systems in natural Philosophy, and will hearken to no Arguments but those deriv'd from Experience. 'Tis full Time they should begin a like Reformation in all moral Disquisitions; and reject every System of Ethics, however subtile or in­genious, that is not founded on Fact and Observa­tion.



THERE is a Principle, suppos'd to prevail a­mongst many, which is utterly incompatible with all Virtue or moral Sentiment; and as it can proceed from nothing but the most deprav'd Dispo­sition, so in its Turn it tends still farther to foster and encourage that Depravity. This Principle is, that all Benevolence is mere Hypocrisy, Friendship a Cheat, Public Spirit a Farce, Fidelity a Snare to procure Trust and Confidence; and while all of us, at the Bottom, pursue only our private Interest, we wear these fair Disguises, in order to put others off their Guard, and expose them the more to our Wiles and Machinations. What Heart one must be possess'd of, who professes such Principles, and who feels no internal Sentiment to belye so pernicious a Theory, 'tis easy to imagine: And also, what Degree of Af­fection and Benevolence he can bear to a Species, [Page 12] whom he represents under such odious Colours, and supposes so little susceptible of Gratitude or any Re­turn of Affection. Or if we will not ascribe these Principles altogether to a corrupted Heart, we must, at least, account for them from the most careless and precipitate Examination. Superficial Reasoners, indeed, observing many false Pretences amongst Mankind, and feeling, perhaps, no very strong Re­straint in their own Disposition, might draw a general and a hasty Conclusion, that all is equally corrupted, and that Men, different from all other Animals, and indeed from all other Species of Existence, admit of no Degrees of Good or Bad, but are, in every In­stance, the same Creatures, under different Disguises and Appearances.

THERE is another Principle, somewhat resembling, the former; which has been much insisted on by Philosophers, and has been the Foundation of many a fair System; that whatever Affection one may feel, or imagine he feels for others, no Passion is, or can be disinterested; that the most generous Friendship, however sincere, is a Modification of Self-love; and, that even unknown to Ourselves, we seek only our Gratification, while we appear the most deeply en­gag'd in Schemes for the Liberty and Happiness of Mankind. By a Turn of Imagination, by a Refine­ment of Reflection, by an Enthusiasin of Passion, [Page 13] we seem to take Part in the Interests of others, and imagine Ourselves divested of all selfish Views and Considerations: But at the Bottom, the most generous Patriot and most niggardly Miser, the bravest Hero and most abject Coward, have, in every Action, an equal Regard to their own Happiness and Welfare.

WHOEVER concludes, from the seeming Tendency of this Opinion, that those, who make Profession of it, cannot possibly feel the true Sentiments of Bene­volence, or have any Regard for genuine Virtue, will often find himself, in Practice, very much mistaken. Probity and Honour were no Strangers to Epicurus and his Sect. Atticus and Horace seem to have en­joy'd from Nature, and cultivated by Reflection, as generous and friendly Dispositions as any Disciple of the austerer Schools. And amongst the Moderns, Hobbes and Locke, who maintain'd the selfish System of Morals, liv'd most irreproachable Lives; tho' the former lay not under any Restraints of Religion, which might supply the Defects of his Philosophy.

AN Epicurean or a Hobbist readily allows, that there is such a Thing as Friendship in the World, without Hypocrisy or Disguise; tho' he may attempt, by a philosophical Chymistry, to resolve the Elements of this Passion, if I may so speak, into those of another, and explain every Affection to be Self-love, twisted [Page 14] and moulded into a Variety of Shapes and Appear­ances. But as the same Turn of Imagination pre­vails not in every Man, nor gives the same Direction to the original Passion; this is sufficient, even ac­cording to the selfish System, to make the widest Dif­ference in human Characters, and denominate one Man virtuous and humane, another vicious and meanly interested. I esteem the Man, whose Self­love, by whatever Means, is so directed as to give him a Concern for others, and render him serviceable to Society: As I hate or despise him, who has no Regard to any Thing beyond his own pitiful Gratifi­cations and Enjoyments. In vain would you suggest, that these Characters, tho' seemingly opposite, are, at the Bottom, the same, and that a very inconsider­able Turn of Imagination forms the whole Difference betwixt them. Each Character, notwithstanding these inconsiderable Differences, appears to me, in Practice, pretty durable and untransmutable. And I find not, in this, more than in other Subjects, that the natural Sentiments, arising from the general Ap­pearances of Things, are easily destroy'd by resin'd Reflections concerning the minute Origin of these Appearances. Does not the lively, cheerful Colour of a Countenance inspire me with Complacency and Pleasure; even tho' I learn from Philosophy, that all Difference of Complexion arises from the most mi­nute [Page 15] Differences of Thickness, in the most minute Parts of the Skin; by which Differences one Super­ficies is qualify'd to reflect one of the original Colours of Light, and absorb the others?

BUT tho' the Question, concerning the universal or partial Selfishness of Man, be not so material, as is usually imagin'd, to Morality and Practice, it is certainly of great Consequence in the speculative Science of human Nature, and is a proper Object of Curiosity and Enquiry. It may not, therefore, be improper, in this Place, to bestow a few Reflections upon it*.

THE most obvious Objection to the selfish Hypo­thesis, is, that being contrary to common Feeling and our most unprejudic'd Notions and Opinions; there [Page 16] is requir'd the highest Stretch of Philosophy to esta­blish so extraordinary a Paradox. To the most care­less Observer, there appear to be such Dispositions as Benevolence and Generosity; such Affections as Love, Friendship, Compassion, Gratitude. These Sentiments have their Causes, Effects, Objects, and Operations, markt by common Language and Obser­vation, and plainly distinguish'd from the selfish Pas­sions. And as this is the obvious Appearance of Things, it must be admitted; till some Hypothesis be discover'd, which, by penetrating deeper into human Nature, may prove the former Affections to be No­thing but Modifications of the latter. All Attempts of this Kind have hitherto prov'd fruitless, and seem to have proceeded entirely from that Love of Simpli­city, which has been the Source of much false Rea­soning in Philosophy. I shall not here enter into any Detail on the present Subject. Many able Philoso­phers have shown the Insufficiency of these Systems. And I shall take for granted what, I believe, the smallest Reflection will make evident to every impar­tial Enquirer.

BUT the Nature of the Subject furnishes the strong­est Presumption, that no better System will ever, for the future, be invented, to account for the Origin of the benevolent from the selfish Affections, and reduce all the various Emotions of the human Mind to a per­fect [Page 17] Simplicity and Uniformity. The Case is not the same in this Species of Philosophy as in Physics. Many an Hypothesis in Nature, contrary to first Ap­pearances, has been found, on more accurate Scru­tiny, solid and satisfactory. Instances of this Kind are so frequent, that a judicious, as well as witty Phi­losopher * has ventur'd to affirm, if there be more than one Way, in which any Phaenomenon may be produc'd, that there is a general Presumption for its arising from the Causes, which are the least obvious and familiar. But the Presumption always lies on the other Side, in all Enquiries concerning the Origin of our Passions, and the internal Operations of the hu­man Mind. The simplest and most obvious Cause, that can there be assign'd for any Phaenomenon, is probably the true one. When a Philosopher, in the Explication of his System, is oblig'd to have Recourse to some very intricate and refin'd Reflections, and to suppose them essential to the Production of any Pas­sion or Emotion, we have Reason to be extremely on our Guard against so fallacious an Hypothesis. The Affections are not susceptible of any Impression from the Refinements of Reason or Imagination; and 'tis always found, that a vigorous Exertion of the latter Faculties, from the narrow Capacity of the human Mind, destroys all Energy and Activity in the former. [Page 18] Our predominant Motive or Intention is, indeed, frequently conceal'd from Ourselves, when it is mingled and confounded with others, which the Mind, from Vanity or Self-conceit, is desirous of supposing of greater Force and Influence: But there is no Instance, that a Concealment of this Nature has ever arisen from the Abstruseness and Intricacy of the Motive. A Man, who has lost a Friend and Patron, may flatter himself, that all his Grief arises from generous Sentiments, without any Mixture of narrow or interested Considerations: But a Man, who grieves for a valuable Friend, that needed his Patron­age and Protection; how can we suppose, that his passionate Tenderness arises from some metaphysical Regards to a Self-interest, which has no Foundation or Reality? We may as well imagine, that minute Wheels and Springs, like those of a Watch, give Motion to a loaded Waggon, as account for the Origin of Passion from such abstruse Reflections.

ANIMALS are found susceptible of Kindness, both to their own Species and to ours; nor is there, in this Case, the least Suspicion of Disguise or Artifice. Shall we account for all their Sentiments too, from refin'd Deductions of Self-interest? Or if we ad­mit a disinterested Benevolence in the inferior Species, by what Rule of Analogy can we refuse it in the Su­perior?

[Page 19] LOVE betwixt the Sexes begets a Complacency and Good-will, very distinct from the Gratification of an Appetite. Tenderness to their Offspring, in all sensible Beings, is commonly able alone to counterballance the strongest Motives of Self-love, and has no Manner of Dependance on that Affection. What Interest can a fond Mother have in View, who loses her Health by assiduous Attendance on her sick Child, and afterwards languishes, and dies for Grief, when freed, by its Death, from the Slavery of that Attendance?

Is Gratitude no Affection of the human Breast, or is that a Word merely, without any Meaning or Reality? Have we no Complacency or Satisfaction in one Man's Company above another's, and no Desire of the Welfare of our Friend, even tho' Absence or Death should prevent us from all Participation in it? Or what is it commonly, that gives us any Partici­pation in it, even while alive and present, but our Affection and Regard to him?

THESE and a thousand other Instances are Marks of a generous Benevolence in human Nature, where no real Interest binds us to the Object. And how an imaginary Interest, known and avow'd for such, can be the Origin of any Passion or Emotion, seems dif­ficult [Page 20] to explain. No satisfactory Hypothesis of this Kind has yet been discover'd; nor is there the smallest Probability, that the future Industry of Men will ever be attended with more favourable Success.

BUT farther, if we consider rightly of the Matter, we shall find, that the Hypothesis, which allows of a disinterested Benevolence, distinct from Self-love, has really more Simplicity in it, and is more conformable to the Analogy of Nature, than that which pretends to resolve all Friendship and Humanity into this latter Principle. There are bodily Wants or Appetites, acknowledged by every one, which necessarily pre­cede all sensual Enjoyment, and carry us directly to seek Possession of the Object. Thus, Hunger and Thirst have eating and drinking for their End; and from the Gratification of these primary Appetites arises a Pleasure, which may become the Object of another Species of Desire or Inclination, that is se­condary and interested. In the same Manner, there are mental Passions, by which we are impell'd immediately to seek particular Objects, such as Fame or Power or Vengeance, without any Regard to Interest; and when these Objects are attain'd, a pleasing Enjoyment ensues, as the Consequence of our indulg'd Affections. Nature must, by the internal Frame and Constitution of the Mind, give an origi­nal Propensity to Fame, 'ere we can reap any Pleasure [Page 21] from it, or pursue it from Motives of Self-love, and a Desire of Happiness. If I have no Vanity, I take no Delight in Praise: If I be void of Ambition, Power gives no Enjoyment: If I be not angry, the Punishment of an Adversary is totally indifferent to me. In all these Cases, there is a Passion, which points immediately to the Object, and constitutes it our Good or Happiness; as there are other secon­dary Passions, which afterwards arise, and pursue it as a Part of our Happiness, when once it is consti­tuted such, by our original Affections. Were there no Appetites of any Kind, antecedent to Self-love, that Propensity could scarce ever exert itself; because we should, in that Case, have felt few and slender Pains or Pleasures, and have little Misery or Happi­ness, to avoid or to pursue.

Now where is the Difficulty of conceiving, that this may likewise be the Case with Benevolence and Friendship, and that, from the original Frame of our Temper, we may feel a Desire of another's Happi­ness or Good, which, by Means of that Affection, becomes our own Good, and is afterwards pursued, from the conjoin'd Motives of Benevolence and Self-enjoyment? Who sees not that Vengeance, from the Force alone of Passion, may be so eagerly pur­sued, as to make us knowingly neglect every Consi­deration of Ease, Interest, or Safety; and, like [Page 22] some vindictive Animals, infuse our very Souls into the Wounds we give an Enemy*? And what a ma­lignant Philosophy must it be, that will not allow, to Humanity and Friendship, the same Privileges, which are indisputably granted to the darker Passions of En­mity and Resentment? Such a Philosophy is more like a Satyr, than a true Delineation or De­scription, of human Nature; and may be a good Foundation for paradoxical Wit and Raillery, but is a very bad one for any serious Argument or Reason­ing.


IT may be esteem'd, perhaps, a superfluous Task to prove, that the benevolent or softer Affections are VIRTUOUS; and wherever they appear, attract the Esteem, Approbation, and Good-will of Mankind. The Epithets sociable, good-natur'd, hu­mane, merciful, grateful, friendly, generous, beneficent, are known in all Languages, and universally express the highest Merit, which human Nature is capable of attaining: Where these amiable Qualities are at­tended with Birth and Power and eminent Abilities, and display themselves in the good Government or [Page 23] useful Instruction of Mankind, they seem even to raise the Possessors of them above the Rank of human Nature, and approach them, in some Measure, to the Divine. Exalted Capacity, undaunted Courage, prosperous Success; these may only expose a Hero or Politician to the Envy and Malignity of the Pub­lic: But as soon as the Praises are added of humane and beneficent; when Instances are display'd of Lenity, Tenderness, or Friendship; Envy itself is silent, or joins the general Voice of Applause and Acclamation.

WHEN Pericles, the great Athenian Statesman and General, was on his Death-bed, his surrounding Friends, esteeming him now insensible, began to indulge their Sorrow for their expiring Patron, by enumerating his great Qualities and Successes, his Conquests and Victories, the unusual Length of his Administration, and his nine Trophies, erected over the Enemies of the Republic. You forget, cries the dying Hero, who had heard all, you forget the most eminent of my Praises, while you dwell so much on those vulgar Advantages, in which Fortune had a principal Share. You have not observ'd, that no Citizen has ever yet wore Mourning on my Account *.

[Page 24] IN Men of more ordinary Talents and Capacity, the social Virtues become, if possible, still more es­sentially requisite; there being nothing eminent, in that Case, to compensate for the Want of them, or preserve the Person from our severest Hatred, as well as Contempt. A high Ambition, an elevated Cou­rage is apt, says Cicero, in less perfect Characters, to degenerate into a turbulent Ferocity. The more social and softer Virtues are there chiefly to be re­garded. These are always good and amiable*.

THE principal Advantage, which Juvenal disco­vers in the extensive Capacity of the human Species, is, that it renders our Benevolence also more exten­sive, and gives us larger Opportunities of spreading our kindly Influence than what are indulg'd to the inferior Creation. It must, indeed, be confest, that by doing Good only, can a Man truly enjoy the Advantages of being eminent. His exalted Station, of itself, but the more exposes him to Tempest and Thunder. His sole Prerogative is to afford Shelter to Inferiors, who repose themselves under his Cover and Protection.

BUT I forget, that it is not my present Business to recommend Generosity and Benevolence, or to paint, [Page 25] in their true Colours, all the genuine Charms of the social Virtues. These, indeed, sufficiently engage every Heart, on the first Apprehension of them; and 'tis difficult to abstain from some Sally of Panegyric, as often as they occur in Discourse or Reasoning. But our Object here being more the speculative, than the practical Part of Morals, 'twill suffice to remark, what will readily, I believe, be allow'd, that no Qualities are more entitled to the general Good-will and Approbation of Mankind, than Beneficence and Humanity, Friendship and Gratitude, Natural Af­fection and Public Spirit, or whatever proceeds from a tender Sympathy with others, and a generous Concern for our Kind and Species. These, where­ever they appear, seem to transfuse themselves, in a Manner, into each Beholder, and to call forth, in their own Behalf, the same favourable and affection­ate Sentiments, which they exert on all around them.


WE may observe, that, in displaying the Praises of any humane, beneficent Man, there is one Circumstance, which never fails to be amply in­sisted on, viz. the Happiness and Satisfaction, de­riv'd to Society from his Intercourse and Good­offices. [Page 26] To his Parents, we are apt to say, he en­dears himself, by his pious Attachment and duteous Care, still more than by the Connexions of Nature. His Children never feel his Authority, but when em­ploy'd for their Advantage. With him, the Ties of Love are consolidated by Beneficence and Friend­ship. The Ties of Friendship approach, in a fond Observance of ech obliging Office, to those of Love and Inclination. His Domestics and Dependants have in him a sure Resource; and no longer dread the Power of Fortune, but so far as she exercises it over him. From him, the hungry receive Food, the naked Cloathing, the ignorant and slothful Skill and Industry. Like the Sun, an inferior Minister of Providence, he cheers, invigorates, and sustains the surrounding World.

Is consin'd to private Life, the Sphere of his Ac­tivity is narrower; but his Influence is all benign and gentle. If exalted into a higher Station, Man­kind and Posterity reap the Fruit of his Labours.

As these Topics of Praise never fail to be em­ploy'd, and with Success, where we would inspire Esteem for any one; may we not thence conclude, that the UTILITY, resulting from the social Virtues, forms, at least, a Part of their Merit, and [Page 27] is one Source of that Approbation and Regard so uni­versally pay'd them?

WHEN we recommend even an Animal or Plant as useful and beneficial, we give it an Applause and Re­commendation suited to its Nature. As on the other Hand, Reflection on the baneful Influence of any of these inferior Beings always inspires us with the Sentiments of Aversion. The Eye is pleas'd with the Prospect of Corn-fields and loaded Vine­yards; Horses grazing, and Flocks pasturing: But flies the View of Bryars and Brambles, affording Shelter to Wolves and Serpents.

A Machine, a Piece of Furniture, a Garment, a House, well contriv'd for Use and Conveniency, is so far beautiful, and is contemplated with Pleasure and Approbation. An experienc'd Eye is here sen­sible to many Excellencies, which escape Persons ignorant and uninstructed.

CAN any Thing stronger be said in Praise of a Profession, such as Merchandize or Manufactory, than to observe the Advantages, which it procures to Society? And is not a Monk and Inquisitor en­rag'd, when we treat his Rank and Order as useless or pernicious to Mankind?

[Page 28] THE Historian exults in displaying the Benefit arising from his Labours. The Writer of Romances alleviates or denies the bad Consequences ascrib'd to his Manner of Composition.

IN general, what Praise is imply'd in the simple Epithet, useful! What Reproach in the contrary!

YOUR Gods, says Cicero *, in Opposition to the Epicureans, cannot justly claim any Worship or Ado­ration, with whatever imaginary Perfections you may suppose them endow'd. They are totally useless and inactive. And even the Egyptians, whom you so much ridicule, never consecrated any Animal but on Account of its Utility.

THE Sceptics assert, tho' absurdly, that the Origin of all religious Worship was deriv'd from the Utility of inanimate Objects, as the Sun and Moon, to the Support and Well-being of Mankind. This is also the common Reason, assign'd by Historians, for the Deification of eminent Heroes and Legislators.

To plant a Tree, to cultivate a Field, to beget Children; meritorious Acts, according to the Re­ligion of Zoroaster.

[Page 29] IN all Determinations of Morality, this Circum­stance of public Utility is ever principally in View; and wherever Disputes arise, whether in Philosophy or common Life, concerning the Bounds of Duty, the Question cannot, by any Means, be decided with greater Certainty, than by ascertaining, on any Side, the true Interests of Mankind. If any false Opinion, embrac'd from Appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther Experience, and sounder Reasoning have given us juster Notions of human Affairs; we retract our first Sentiments, and adjust a-new the Boundaries of moral Good and Evil.

ALMS to common Beggars is naturally prais'd; because it seems to carry Relief to the distrest and indigent: But when we observe the Encourage­ment thence arising to Idleness and Debauchery, we regard that Species of Charity rather as a Weakness than a Virtue.

Tyrannicide or the Assassination of Usurpers and oppressive Princes was highly prais'd in antient Times; because it both freed Mankind from many of these Monsters, and seem'd to keep the others in Awe, whom the Poinard or the Poison could not reach. But History and Experience having since convinc'd [Page 30] us, that this Practice encreases the Jealousy and Cruelty of Princes; a Timoleon and a Brutus, tho' treated with Indulgence on Account of the Prejudices of their Times, are now consider'd as very improper Models for Imitation.

LIBERATITY in Princes is regarded as a Mark of Beneficence: But when it occurs, that the homely Bread of the Honest and Industrious is often thereby converted into delicious Cates for the Idle and the Prodigal, we soon retract our heedless Praises. The Regrets of a Prince, for having lost a Day, were noble and generous: But had he intended to have spent it in Acts of Generosity to his greedy Courtiers, 'twas better lost than misemploy'd after that Man­ner.

LUXURY, or a Refinement on the Pleasures and Conveniencies of Life, had long been suppos'd the Source of every Corruption and Disorder in Go­vernment, and the immediate Cause of Faction, Sedition, civil Wars, and the total Loss of Liberty. It was, therefore, universally regarded as a Vice, and was an Object of Declamation to all Satyrists and severe Moralists. Those, who prove, or at­tempt to prove, that such Refinements rather tend to the Encrease of Industry, Civility, and Arts, regu­late a new our moral as well as political Sentiments, [Page 31] and represent as laudable and innocent, what had formerly been regarded as pernicious and blame­able.

UPON the Whole, then, it seems undeniable, that there is such a Sentiment in human Nature as dis­interested Benevolence; that nothing can bestow more Merit on any human Creature than the Pos­session of it in an eminent Degree; and that a Part, at least, of its Merit arises from its Tendency to promote the Interests of our Species, and bestow Happiness on human Society. We carry our View into the salutary Consequences of such a Character and Disposition; and whatever has so benign an In­fluence, and forwards so desirable an End is beheld with Complacency and Pleasure. The social Vir­tues are never regarded without their beneficial Tendencies, nor view'd as barren and unfruitful. The Happiness of Mankind, the Order of Society, the Harmony of Families, the mutual Support of Friends are always consider'd as the Result of their gentle Dominion over the Breasts of Men.

How considerable a Part of their Merit we ought to ascribe to their Utility, will better appear from future Disquisitions*; as well as the Reason, why this Circumstance has such a Command over our Esteem and Approbation..



THAT JUSTICE is useful to Society, and consequently that Part of its Merit, at least, must arise from that Consideration; 'twould be a­superfluous Undertaking to prove. That public Utility is the sole Origin of Justice, and that Re­flections on the beneficial Consequences of this Vir­tue are the sole Foundation of its Merit; this Pro­position, being more curious and important, will better deserve our Examination and Enquiry.

LET us suppose, that Nature has bestow'd on hu­man Race such profuse Abundance of all external Conveniencies, that, without any Uncertainty in the Event, without any Care or Industry on our Part, every Individual finds himself fully provided of [Page 34] whatever his most voracious Appetites can want, or luxurious Imagination wish or desire. His natural Beauty, we shall suppose, surpasses all acquir'd Or­naments: The perpetual Clemency of the Seasons renders useless all Cloaths or Covering: The raw Herbage affords him the most delicious Fare; the clear Fountain, the richest Beverage. No laborious Occupation requir'd: No Tillage: No Navigation. Music, Poetry, and Contemplation form his sole Business: Conversation, Mirth, and Friendship his sole Amusement.

IT seems evident, that, in such a happy State, every other social Virtue would flourish, and receive a tenfold Encrease; but the cautious, jealous Virtue of Justice would never once have been dreamt of. For what Purpose make a Partition of Goods, where every one has already more than enough? Why give Rise to Property, where there cannot possibly be any Injury? Why call this Object mine, when, upon the Seizure of it by another, I need but stretch out my Hand to possess myself of what is equally valuable? Justice, in that Case, being totally USELESS, would be an idle Ceremonial, and could never possibly have Place amongst the Cata­logue of Virtues.

[Page 35] WE see, even in the present necessitous Condition of Mankind, that, wherever any Benefit is bestow'd by Nature in an unlimited Abundance, we leave it always in common amongst the whole human Race, and make no Subdivisions of Right and Property. Water and Air, tho' the most necessary of all Ob­jects, are not challeng'd by Individuals; nor can any one commit Injustice by the most lavish Use and Enjoyment of these Blessings. In fertile, extensive Countries, with few Inhabitants, Land is regarded on the same Footing. And no Topic is so much in­sisted on by those, who defend the Liberty of the Seas, as the unexhausted Use of them in Navigation. Were the Advantages, procur'd by Navigation, as inexhaustible, these Reasoners never had had any Adversaries to refute; nor had any Claims been ever advanc'd of a separate, exclusive Dominion over the Ocean.

IT may happen in some Countries, at some Pe­riods, that there be establish'd a Property in Water, none in Land*; if the latter be in greater Abun­dance than can be us'd by the Inhabitants, and the former be found, with Difficulty, and in very small Quantities.

[Page 36] AGAIN; suppose, that, tho' the Necessities of hu­man Race continue the same as at present, yet the Mind is so enlarg'd, and so replete with Friendship and Generosity, that every Man has the utmost Ten­derness for every Man, and feels no more Concern for his own Interest than for that of his Fellow: It seems evident, that the USE of Justice would, in this Case, be suspended by such an extensive Bene­volence, nor would the Divisions and Barriers of Property and Obligation have ever been thought of. Why should I bind another, by a Deed or Promise, to do me any Good-office, when I know he is be­fore-hand prompted, by the strongest Inclination, to seek my Happiness, and would, of himself, per­form the desir'd Service; except the Hurt, he there­by receives, be greater than the Benefit accruing to me: In which Case, he knows, that, from my in­nate Humanity and Friendship, I should be the first to oppose myself to his imprudent Generosity? Why raise Land-marks betwixt my Neighbour's Field and mine, when my Heart has made no Divi­sion betwixt our Interests; but shares all his Joys and Sorrows with equal Force and Vivacity as if origi­nally my own? Every Man, upon this Supposition, being a Second-self to another, would trust all his Interests to the Discretion of every Man, without Jealousy, without Partition, without Distinction. [Page 37] And the whole Race of Mankind would form only one Family; where all lay in common, and was us'd, freely, without Regard to Property; but cau­tiously too, with as entire Regard to the Necessities of each Individual, as if our own Interests were most intimately concern'd.

IN the present Disposition of the human Heart, 'twould, perhaps, be difficult to find compleat In­stances of such enlarg'd Affections; but still we may observe, that the Case of Families approaches to­wards it; and the stronger is the mutual Benevolence amongst the Individuals, the nearer it approaches; till all Distinction of Property be, in a great Measure, lost and confounded amongst them. Be­twixt marry'd Persons, the Cement of Friend­ship is by the Laws suppos'd so strong as to abolish all Division of Possessions; and has often, in Reality, the Force ascribed to it. And 'tis observable, that, during the Ardour of new En­thusiasms, where every Principle is inflam'd into Extravagance, the Community of Goods has fre­quently been attempted; and nothing but Experience of its Inconveniencies, from the returning or dis­guis'd Selfishness of Men, could make the imprudent Fanatics adopt a-new the Ideas of Justice and of se­parate Property. So true is it, that that Virtue de­rives [Page 38] its Existence altogether from its necessary Use to the Intercourse and Society of Mankind.

To make this Truth more evident, let us reverse the foregoing Suppositions; and carrying every Thing to the opposite Extreme, consider what would be the Effect of these new Situations. Suppose a Society to fall into such Want of all common Ne­cessaries, that the utmost Frugality and Industry can­not preserve the greatest Number from perishing, and the whole from extreme Sufferance: It will readily, I believe, be admitted, that the strict Laws of Justice are suspended, in such a pressing Emer­gence, and give Place to the stronger Motives of Necessity and Self-preservation. Is it any Crime, after a Shipwreck, to seize whatever Means or In­strument of Safety one can lay hold of, without Re­gard to former Limitations of Property? Or if a City besieg'd were starving with Hunger; can we imagine, that Men will see any Means of Life be­fore them, and perish, from a scrupulous Regard to what, in other Situations, would be the Rules of Equity and Justice? The USE and TENDENCY of that Virtue is to procure Happiness and Security, by preserving Order in Society: But where the So­ciety is ready to perish from extreme Necessity, no greater Evil can be dreaded from Violence and In­ [...]ustice; and every Man may now provide for himself, [Page 39] by all Means, which Prudence can dictate, or Hu­manity permit. The Public, even in less urgent Ne­cessities, open Granaries, without the Consent of Proprietors; as justly supposing, that the Authority of Magistracy may, consistent with Equity, extend so far: But were any Number of Men to assemble, without the Tye of Laws or civil Jurisdiction; would an equal Partition of Bread in a Famine, even without the Proprietor's Consent, be regarded as criminal or injurious?

SUPPOSE also, that it should be a virtuous Man's Fate to fall into the Society of Ruffians, remote from the Protection of Laws and Government; what Conduct must he embrace in that melancholy Situation? He sees such a desperate Rapaciousness prevail; such a Disregard to Equity, such Contempt of Order, such stupid Blindness to future Conse­quences, as must immediately have the most tragical Conclusion, and must terminate in Destruction to the greater Number, and in a total Dissolution of Society to the rest. He, mean while, can have no other Expedient, than to arm himself, to whom­ever the Sword he seizes, or the Buckler may be­long: Make Provision of all Means of Defence and Security: And his particular Regard to Justice being no longer of USE to his own Safety or that of others, he must consult alone the Dictates of Self-preservation, [Page 40] without Concern for those, who no longer merit his Care and Attention.

WHEN any Man, even in political Society, renders himself, by his Crimes, obnoxious to the Public, he is punish'd by the Laws in his Goods and Person; that is, the ordinary Rules of Justice are, with Re­gard to him, suspended for a Moment, and it be­comes equitable to inflict on him, for the Benefit of Society, what, otherwise, he could not suffer with­out Wrong or Injury.

THE Rage and Violence of public War; what is it but a Suspension of Justice amongst the warring. Parties, who perceive, that that Virtue is now no longer of any Use or Advantage to them? The Laws of War, which then succeed to those of Equity and Justice, are Rules calculated for the Advantage and Utility of that particular State, in which Men are now plac'd. And were a civiliz'd Nation engag'd with Barbarians, who observ'd no Rules even of War; the former must also suspend their Observance of them, where they no longer serve to any Purpose; and must render every Action or Rencounter as bloody and pernicious as possible to the first Ag­gressors.

[Page 41] THUS the Rules of Equity or Justice depend en­tirely on the particular State and Condition, in which Men are plac'd, and owe their Origin and Existence to that UTILITY, which results to the Public from their strict and regular Observance. Reverse, in any considerable Circumstance, the Con­dition of Men: Produce extreme Abundance or extreme Necessity: Implant in the human Breast perfect Moderation and Humanity, or perfect Rapa­ciousness and Malice: By rendering Justice totally useless, you thereby totally destroy its Essence, and suspend its Obligation upon Mankind.

THE common Situation of Society is a Medium amidst all these Extremes. We are naturally par­tial to Ourselves, and to our Friends; but are ca­pable of learning the Advantage, resulting from a more equal Conduct. Few Enjoyments are given us from the open and liberal Hand of Nature; but by Art, Labour, and Industry, we can extract them in great Abundance. Hence the Ideas of Pro­perty become necessary in all civil Society: Hence Justice derives its Usefulness to the Public: And hence alone arises its Merit and moral Obligation.

THESE Conclusions are so natural and obvious, that they have not escap'd even the Poets, in their [Page 42] Descriptions of the Felicity, attending the Golden Age or the Reign of Saturn. The Seasons, in that first Period of Nature, were so temperate, if we credit these agreeable Fictions, that there was no Necessity for Men to provide themselves with Cloaths and Houses, as a Security against the Violence of Heat and Cold: The Rivers flow'd with Wine and Milk: The Oaks yielded Honey; and Nature spontaneously produc'd her greatest Delicacies. Nor were these the chief Advantages of that happy Age. The Storms and Tempests were not alone remov'd from Nature; but those more furious Tempests were unknown to human Breasts, which now cause such Uproar, and engender such Confusion. Avarice, Ambition, Cruelty, Selfishness were never heard of: Cordial Affection, Compassion, Sympathy were the only Movements, with which the Mind was yet ac­quainted. Even the punctilious Distinction of Mine and Thine was banish'd from amongst that happy Race of Mortals, and carry'd with it the very No­tion of Property and Obligation, Justice and In­justice.

THIS poetical Fiction of the Golden Age is, in some Respects, of a Piece with the philosophical Fiction of the State of Nature; only that the former is re­presented as the most charming and most peaceable Condition, that can possibly be imagin'd; whereas the [Page 43] latter is pointed out as a State of mutual War and Violence, attended with the most extreme Necessity. On the first Origin of Mankind, as we are told, their Ignorance and savage Nature were so prevalent, that they could give no mutual Trust, but must each depend upon himself, and his own Force or Cunning for Protection and Security. No Law was heard of: No Rule of Justice known: No Distinction of Pro­perty regarded: Power was the only Measure of Right; and a perpetual War of All against All was the Result of their untam'd Selfishness and Barba­rity*.

[Page 44] WHETHER such a Condition of human Nature could ever exist, or if it did, could continue so long as to merit the Appellation of a State, may justly be doubted. Men are necessarily born in a Family-society, at least; and are train'd up by their Parents to some Rule of Conduct and Behaviour. But this must be admitted, that if such a State of mutual War and Violence was ever real, the Suspension of all Laws of Justice, from their absolute Inutility, is a necessary and infallible Consequence.

THE more we vary our Views of human Life, and the newer and more unusual the Lights are, in which we survey it, the more shall we be convinc'd, that the Origin here assign'd for the Virtue of Justice is real and satisfactory.

WERE there a Species of Creatures, intermingied with Men, which, tho' rational, were possest of such [Page 45] inferior Strength, both of Body and Mind, that they were incapable of all Resistance, and could never, upon the highest Provocation, make us feel the Effects of their Resentment; the necessary Con­sequence, I think, is, that we should be bound, by the Laws of Humanity, to give gentle Usage to these Creatures, but should not, properly speaking, lie under any Restraint of Justice with Regard to them, nor could they possess any Right or Property, exclusive of such arbitrary Lords. Our Intercourse with them could not be call'd Society, which sup­poses a Degree of Equality; but absolute Command on the one Side, and servile Obedience on the other. Whatever we covet, they must instantly resign: Our Permission is the only Tenure, by which they hold their Possessions: Our Compassion and Kindness the only Check, by which they curb our lawless Will: And as no Inconvenience ever results from the Ex­ercise of a Power, so firmly establish'd in Nature, the Restraints of Justice and Property, being totally useless, would never have Place, in so unequal a Con­federacy.

THIS is plainly the Situation of Men with regard to Animals; and how far these may be said to pos­sess Reason, I leave it to others to determine. The great Superiority of civiliz'd Europeans above bar­barous Indians, tempted us to imagine ourselves on [Page 46] the same Footing with regard to them, and made us throw off all Restraints of Justice, and even of Hu­manity, in our Treatment of them. In many Na­tions, the female Sex are reduc'd to like Slavery, and are render'd incapable of all Property, in Op­position to their lordly Masters. But tho' the Males, when united, have, in all Countries, brute Force sufficient to maintain this severe Tyranny; yet such are the Insinuation, Address, and Charms of their fair Companions, that they are commonly able to break the Confederacy, and share with the superior Sex in all the Rights and Privileges of Society.

WERE the human Species so fram'd by Nature as that each Individual possest within himself every Faculty, requisite both for his own Preservation and for the Propagation of his Kind: Were all Society and Intercourse cut off betwixt Man and Man, by the primary Intention of the supreme Creator: It seems evident, that so solitary a Being would be as much incapable of Justice, as of social Discourse and Conversation. Where mutual Regards and For­bearance serve no Manner of Purpose, they would never direct the Conduct of any reasonable Man. The headlong Course of the Passions would be check'd by no Reflection on future Consequences. And as each Man is here suppos'd to love himself alone, and to depend only on himself and his own [Page 47] Activity for Safety and Happiness, he would, on every Occasion, to the utmost of his Power, chal­lenge the Preference above every other Being, to whom he is not bound by any Ties, either of Nature or of Interest.

BUT suppose the Conjunction of the Sexes to be establish'd in Nature, a Family immediately arises; and particular Rules being found requisite for its Subsistance, these are immediately embrac'd; tho' without comprehending the rest of Mankind within their Prescriptions. Suppose, that several Families unite together into one Society, which is totally dis­join'd from all others, the Rules, which preserve Peace and Order, enlarge themselves to the utmost Extent of that Society; but, being entirely useless, lose their Force when carry'd one Step farther. But again suppose, that several distinct Societies main­tain a Kind of Entercourse for mutual Convenience and Advantage, the Boundaries of Justice still grow larger and larger, in Proportion to the Largeness of Men's Views, and the Force of their mutual Con­nexions. History, Experience, Reason sufficiently instruct us in this natural Progress of human Senti­ments, and the gradual Encrease of our Regards to Property and Justice in Proportion as we become acquainted with the extensive Utility of that Virtue.


IF we examine all the particular Laws, by which Justice is directed, and Property determin'd; we shall still be presented with the same Conclusion. The Good of Mankind is the only Object of all these Laws and Regulations. Not only 'tis requisite, for the Peace and Interest of Society, that Men's Possessions should be separated; but the Rules, which we follow in making the Separation, are such as can best be contriv'd to serve farther the Interests of Society.

WE shall suppose, that a Creature, possest of Reason, but unacquainted with human Nature, de­liberates with himself what RULES of Justice or Property would best promote public Interest, and establish Peace and Security amongst Mankind: His most obvious Thought would be, to assign the largest Possessions to the most extensive Virtue, and give every one the Power of doing Good, propor­tion'd to his Inclination. In a perfect Theocracy, where a Being, infinitely intelligent, governs by par­ticular Volitions, this Rule would certainly have Place, and might serve the wisest Purposes: But were Mankind to execute such a Law; (so great is the Uncertainty of Merit, both from its natural Ob­scurity, [Page 49] and from the Self-conceit of each Indivi­dual) that no determinate Rule of Conduct would ever result from it; and the total Dissolution of So­ciety must be the immediate Consequence. Fanatics may suppose, that Dominion is founded in Grace, and that Saints alone inherit the Earth; but the civil Magistrate very justly puts these sublime Theorists on the same Footing with common Robbers, and teaches them, by the severest Discipline, that a Rule, which, in Speculation, may seem the most advanta­geous to Society, may yet be found, in Practice, to­tally pernicious and destructive.

THAT there were religious Fanatics of this kind in England, during the civil Wars, we learn from History; tho' 'tis probable, that the obvious Ten­dency of these Principles excited such Horrour in Mankind, as soon oblig'd the dangerous Enthusiasts to renounce, or at least conceal their Tenets. Per­haps, the Levellers, who claim'd an equal Distribu­tion of Property, were a Kind of political Fanatics, which arose from the religious Species, and more openly avow'd their Pretensions, as carrying a more plausible Appearance, of being practicable, as well as useful to human Society.

IT must, indeed, be confest, that Nature is so liberal to Mankind, that were all her Presents equally [Page 50] divided amongst the Species, and improv'd by Art and Industry, every Individual would enjoy all the Necessaries, and even most of the Comforts of Life; nor would ever be liable to any Ills, but such as might accidentally arise from the sickly Frame and Constitution of his Body. It must also be confest, that, wherever we depart from this Equality, we rob the Poor of more Satisfaction than we add to the Rich, and that the slight Gratification of a fri­volous Vanity, in one Individual, frequently costs more than Bread to many Families, and even Pro­vinces. It may appear withal, that the Rule of Equality, as it would be highly useful, is not altoge­ther impracticable; but has taken Place, at least, in an imperfect Degree, in some Republics; particu­larly, that of Sparta; where it was attended, as 'tis said, with the most beneficial Consequences. Not to mention, that the Agrarian Laws, so frequently claim'd in Rome, and carry'd to Execution in many Greek Cities, proceeded, all of them, from a general Idea of the Utility of this Principle.

But Historians, and even common Sense, may in­form us, that, however specious these Ideas of per­fect Equality may seem, they are really, at the Bot­tom, impracticable; and were they not so, would be extremely pernicious to human Society. Render the Possessions of Men ever so equal, their different De­grees [Page 51] of Art, Care, and Industry will immediately break that Equality. Or if you check these Virtues, you reduce Society to the extremest Indigence; and instead of preventing Want and Beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole Community. The most rigorous Inquisition too, is requisite to watch every Inequality on its first Appearance; and the most severe Jurisdiction, to punish and redress it. But besides, that so much Authority must soon de­generate into Tyranny, and be exerted with great Partialities; who can possibly be possest of it, in such a Situation as is here suppos'd? Perfect Equa­lity of Possessions, destroying all Subordination, weakens extremely the Authority of Magistracy, and must reduce all Power nearly to a Level, as well as Property.

WE may conclude, therefore, that, in order to establish Laws for the Regulation of Property, we must be acquainted with the Nature and Situation of Man, must reject Appearances, which may be false, tho' specious, and must search for those Rules, which are, on the whole, most useful, and beneficial, Vulgar Sense and slight Experience are sufficient for this Purpose; where Men give not way to too selfish Avidity, or too extensive Enthusiasm.

[Page 52] WHO sees not, for Instance, that whatever is pro­duc'd or improv'd by a Man's Art or Industry ought, for ever, to be secur'd to him, in order to give En­couragement to such useful Habits and Accomplish­ments? That the Property ought also to descend to Children and Relations, for the same useful Purpose? That it may be alienated by Consent, in order to be­get that Commerce and Intercourse, which is so be­neficial to human Society? And that all Contracts and Promises ought carefully to be fulfill'd, in order to secure mutual Trust and Confidence, by which the general Interest of Mankind is so much pro­moted?

EXAMINE the Writers on the Laws of Nature; and you will always find, that, whatever Principles they set out with, they are sure to terminate here at last, and to assign, as the ultimate Reason for every Rule they establish, the Convenience and Necessities of Mankind. A Concession thus extorted, in Op­position to Systems, has more Authority, than if it had been made, in Prosecution of them.

WHAT other Reason, indeed, could Writers ever give, why this must be mine and that yours; since uninstructed Nature, surely, never made any such Distinction? These Objects are, of themselves, [Page 53] foreign to us; they are totally disjoin'd and separate; and nothing but the general Interests of Society can form the Connection.

SOMETIMES, the Interests of Society may require a Rule of Justice in a particular Case; but may no [...] determine any particular Rule, amongst several, which are all equally beneficial. In that Case, the slightest Analogies are laid hold of, in order to pre­vent that Indifference and Ambiguity, which would be the Source of perpetual Quarrels and Dissentions. Thus Possession alone, and first Possession, is suppos'd to convey Property, where no-body else has any precedent Claim and Pretension. Many of the Reasonings of Lawyers are of this analogical Na­ture, and depend on very slight Connexions of the Imagination.

Is it ever scrupled, in extraordinary Cases, to vio­late all Regard to the private Property of Individuals, and sacrifice to public Interest a Distinction, which had been establish'd for the Sake of that Interest? The Safety of the People is the supreme Law: All other particular Laws are subordinate to it, and de­pendant on it: And if, in the common Course of Things, they be followed and regarded; 'tis only because the public Safety and Interest, commonly de­mand so equal and impartial an Administration.

[Page 54] SOMETIMES both Utility and Analogy fail, and leave the Laws of Justice in total Uncertainty. Thus, 'tis highly requisite, that Prescription or long Pos­session should convey Property; but what Number of Days or Months or Years should be sufficient for that Purpose, 'tis impossible for Reason alone to de­termine. Civil Laws here supply the Place of the natural Code, and assign different Terms for Prescrip­tion, according to the different Utilities, propos'd by the Legislator. Bills of Exchange and promissory Notes, by the Laws of most Countries, prescribe sooner than Bonds and Mortgages, and Contracts of a more formal Nature.

IN general we may observe, that all Questions of Property are subordinate to the Authority of civil Laws, which extend, restrain, modify, and alter the Rules of natural Justice, according to the par­ticular Convenience of each Community. The Laws have, or ought to have, a constant Reference to the Constitution of Government, the Manners, the Cli­mate, the Religion, the Commerce, the Situation of each Society. A late Author of great Genius, as well as extensive Learning, has prosecuted this Sub­ject at large, and has establish'd, from these Prin­ciples, the best System of political Knowledge, that, [Page 55] perhaps, has ever yet been communicated to the World*.

[Page 56] WHAT is a Man's Property? Any Thing, which it is lawful for him and for him alone, to use. But what Rule have we, by which we can distinguish these Objects? Here we must have Recourse to Statutes, Customs, Precedents, Analogies, and a hundred other Circumstances; some of which are constant and inflexible, some variable and arbitrary. But the ultimate Point, in which they all professedly terminate, is, the Interest and Happiness of human Society. Where this enters not into Consideration, nothing can appear more whimsical, unnatural, and even superstitious than all or most of the Laws of Justice and of Property.

THOSE, who ridicule vulgar Superstitions, and ex­pose the Folly of particular Regards to Meats, Days, Places, Postures, Apparel, have an easy Task; while they consider all the Qualities and Relations of the Objects, and discover no adequate Cause for that Affection or Antipathy, Veneration or Horrour, which have so mighty an Influence over a con­siderable Part of Mankind. A Syrian would have starv'd rather than taste Pigeon; an Egyptian would [Page 57] not have approach'd Bacon: But if these Species of Food be examin'd by the Senses of Sight, Smell or Taste, or scrutiniz'd by the Sciences of Chymistry, Medicine, or Physics; no Difference is ever found betwixt them and any other Species, nor can that precise Circumstance be pitch'd on, which may afford a just Foundation for the religious Passion. A Fowl on Thursday is lawful Food; on Friday, abominable: Eggs in this House, and in this Diocese are per­mitted during Lent; a hundred Paces farther, to eat them is a damnable Sin. This Earth or Building▪ yesterday, was prophane; to-day, by the muttering of certain Words, it has become holy and sacred. Such Reflections, as these, in the Mouth of a Philo­sopher, one may safely say, are too obvious to have any Influence; because they must always, to every Man, occur at first Sight; and where they prevail not, of themselves, they are surely obstructed by Education, Prejudice and Passion, not by Ignorance or Mistake.

IT may appear, to a careless View; or rather, a too abstracted Reflection; that there enters a like Superstition into all the Regards of Justice; and that, if a Man subjects its Objects, or what we call Pro­perty, to the same Scrutiny of Sense and Science, he will not, by the most accurate Enquiry, find any Foundation for the Difference made by moral [Page 58] Sentiment. I may lawfully nourish myself from this Tree; but the Fruit of another of the same Species, ten Paces off, 'tis criminal for me to touch. Had I wore this Apparel an Hour ago, I had merited the severest Punishment; but a Man, by pronouncing a few magical Syllables, has now render'd it fit for my Use and Service. Were this House plac'd in the neighbouring Territory, it had been immoral for me to dwell in it; but being built on this Side the River, it is subject to a different municipal Law, and I incur no Blame or Censure. The same Species of Reason­ing, it may be thought, which so successfully exposes Superstition, is also applicable to Justice; nor is it possible, in the one Case more than in the other, to point out, in the Object, that precise Quality or Cir­cumstance, which is the Foundation of the Sentiment.

BUT there is this material Difference betwixt Superstition and Justice, that the former is frivolous, useless, and burthensome; the latter is absolutely re­quisite to the Well-being of Mankind and Existence of Society. When we abstract from this Circum­stance (for 'tis too apparent ever to be overlookt) it must be confest, that all Regards to Right and Pro­perty, seem entirely without Foundation, as much as the grossest and most vulgar Superstition. Were the Interests of Society no way concern'd, 'tis as unin­telligible, why another's articulating certain Sounds, [Page 59] implying Consent, should change the Nature of my Actions with regard to a particular Object, as why the reciting of a Liturgy by a Priest, in a certain Habit and Posture, should dedicate a Heap of Brick and Timber, and render it, thenceforth and for ever, sacred*

[Page 60] THESE Reflections are far from weakening the Ob­ligations of Justice, or diminishing any Thing from the most sacred Attention to Property. On the con­trary, such Sentiments must acquire new Force from the present Reasoning. For what stronger Founda­tion can be desir'd or conceiv'd for any Duty than to observe, that human Society, or even human Nature could not subsist, without the Establishment of it, and will still arrive at greater Degrees of Happiness and Perfection, the more inviolable the Regard is, which is pay'd to that Duty?

[Page 61] THUS we seem, upon the Whole, to have attain'd a Knowledge of the Force of that Principle here in­sisted on, and can determine what Degree of Esteem or moral Approbation may result from Reflections on public Interest and Utility. The Necessity of Justice to the Support of Society is the SOLE Foundation of that Virtue; and since no moral Excellence is more highly esteem'd, we may conclude, that this Circumstance of Usefulness has, in general, the strongest Energy, and most entire Command over our Sentiments. It must, therefore, be the Source of a considerable Part of the Merit, ascrib'd to Humanity, Benevolence, Friendship, public Spirit, and other social Virtues of that Stamp; as it is the SOLE Source of the moral Approbation pay'd to Fidelity, Justice, Veracity, Integrity, and those other estimable and useful Qualities and Principles. 'Tis entirely agreeable to the Rules of Philosophy, and even of common Reason; where any Principle has been found to have a great Force and Energy in one Instance, to ascribe to it a like Energy in all similar Instances*.



HAD every Man sufficient Sagacity to perceive, at all Times, the strong Interest, which binds him to the Observance of Justice and Equity, and Strength of Mind sufficient to persevere in a steady Adherence to a general and a distant Interest, in Op­position to the Allurements of present Pleasure and Advantage: There had never, in that Case, been any such Thing as Government or political Society, but each Man following his natural Liberty, had liv'd in entire Peace and Harmony with all others. What Need of positive Laws, where natural Justice is, of itself, a sufficient Restraint? Why create Magistrates, where there never arises any Disorder or Iniquity? Why abridge our native Freedom, when, in every Instance, the utmost Exertion of it is found innocent and beneficial? 'Tis evident, that, if Government were totally useless, it never could have Place, and that the SOLE Foundation of the [Page 4] Duty of ALLEGIANCE is the Advantage which it procures to Society, by preserving Peace and Order amongst Mankind.

WHEN a Number of political Societies are erected, and maintain a great Entercourse together; a new Set of Rules are immediately discover'd to be useful in that particular Situation; and accordingly take place, under the Title of LAWS of NATIONS. Of this Kind are, the Sacredness of the Persons of Ambassadors, abstaining from poison'd Arms, Quar­ter in War, with others of that Kind; which are plainly calculated for the Advantage of States and Kingdoms, in their Entercourse with each other.

THE Rules of Justice, such as prevail amongst Individuals, are not altogether suspended amongst political Societies. All Princes pretend a Regard to the Rights of others; and some, no doubt, without Hypocrisy. Alliances and Treaties are every Day made betwixt independent States, which would only be so much Waste of Parchment, if they were not found, by Experience, to have some Influence and Authority. But here is the Difference betwixt King­doms and Individuals. Human Nature cannot, by any Means, subsist, without the Association of Indi­viduals; and that Association never could have Place, were no Regard pay'd to the Laws of Equity [Page 65] and Justice. Disorder, Confusion, the War of All against All are the necessary Consequences of such a licentious Conduct. But Nations can flourish with­out Entercourse. They may even subsist, in some Degree, under a general War. The Observance of Justice, tho' useful among them, is not guarded by so strong a Necessity as among Individuals; and the moral Obligation holds Proportion with the Usefulness. All Politicians will allow, and most Philosophers, that REASONS of STATE may, in parti­cular Emergencies, dispence with the Rules of Justice, and invalidate any Treaty or Alliance, where the strict Observance of it would be prejudicial, in a considerable Degree, to either of the contracting Parties. But nothing less than the extremest Necessity, 'tis confest, can justify Individuals in a Breach of Promise, or an Invasion of the Properties of others.

IN a confederated Commonwealth, such as the Achaean Republic of old, or the Swiss Cantons and United Provinces in modern Times; as the League has here a peculiar Utility, the Conditions of Union have a peculiar Sacredness and Authority, and a Violation of them would be equally criminal, or even more criminal, than any private Injury or In­justice.


[Page 66] THE long and helpless Infancy of Man requires the Combination of Parents for the Subsistance of their Young; and that Combination requires the Virtue of CHASTITY or Fidelity to the Mar­riage-bed. Without such an Utility, 'twill readily be own'd, such a Virtue would never have been thought of*.

AN Infidelity of this Nature is much more per­nicious in Women than in Men. Hence the Laws of Chastity are much stricter over the one Sex than over the other.

[Page 67] THOSE who live in the same Family have so many Opportunities of Licences of this Kind, that nothing could preserve Purity of Manners, were Marriage allow'd amongst the nearest Relations, or any Inter­course of Love betwixt them ratify'd by Law and Custom. INCEST, therefore, being pernicious in a superior Degree, has also a superior Turpitude and moral Deformity, annex'd to it.

WHAT is the Reason, why, by the Greek Laws, one might marry a Half-sister by the Father, but not by the Mother? Plainly this. The Manners of the Greeks were so reserv'd, that a Man was never per­mitted [Page 68] to approach the Women's Apartment, even in the same Family, unless where he visited his own Mother. His Step-mother and her Children were as much shut up from him as the Women of any other Family, and there was as little Danger of any crimi­nal Intercourse betwixt them: Uncles and Nieces, for a like Reason, might marry at Athens; but neither these nor Half-brothers and Sisters could contract that Alliance at Rome, where the Intercourse was more open betwixt the Sexes. Public Utility is the Cause of all these Variations.

To repeat, to a Man's Prejudice, any Thing that escap'd him in private Conversation, or to make any such Use of his private Letters, is highly blam'd. The free and social Intercourse of Minds must be ex­tremely checkt, where no such Rules of Fidelity are establish'd.

EVEN in repeating Stories, whence we can see no ill Consequences to result, the giving one's Authors is regarded as a Piece of Indiscretion, if not of Immo­rality. These Stories, in passing from Hand to Hand, and receiving all the usual Variations, frequently come about to the Persons concern'd, and produce Animosities and Quarrels among People, whose Intentions are the most innocent and inoffensive.

[Page 69] To pry into Secrets, to open or even read the Letters of others, to play the Spy upon their Words and Looks and Actions: What Habits more incon­venient in Society? What Habits, of consequence, more blameable?

THIS Principle is also the Foundation of most of the Laws of Good-manners; a Kind of lesser Mora­lity calculated for the Ease of Company and Con­versation. Too much or too little Ceremony are both blam'd, and every Thing, that promotes Ease, without an indecent Familiarity, is useful and laud­able.

CONSTANCY in Friendships, Attachments, and Fa­miliarities is commonly very laudable, and is requisite to support Trust and good Correspondence in Society. But in Places of general, tho' casual Concourse, where Health and Pleasure bring People promis­cuously together, public Conveniency has dispens'd with this Maxim; and Custom there promotes an unreserv'd Conversation for the Time, by indulging the Privilege of dropping afterwards every indifferent Acquaintance, without Breach of Civility or Good­manners.

[Page 70] EVEN in Societies, that are establish'd on Principles the most immoral, and the most destructive to the Interests of the general Society, there are requir'd certain Rules and Maxims, which a Species of false Honour, as well as private Interest, engages the Members to observe. Robbers and Pyrates, it has often been remark'd, could not maintain their per­nicious Confederacy, did they not establish a new distributive Justice amongst themselves, and recall those Laws of Equity, which they have violated with the rest of Mankind.

I HATE a drinking Companion, says the Greek Pro­verb, who never forgets. The Follies of the last Debauch should be buried in eternal Oblivion, in order to give full Scope to the Follies of the next.

AMONGST Nations, where an immoral Gallantry, if cover'd with a thin Veil of Mystery, is, in some Degree, authoriz'd by Custom, there immediately arise a Set of Rules, calculated for the Conveniency of that Attachment. The famous Court or Parlia­ment of Love in Provence decided formally all dif­ficult Cases of this Nature.

IN Societies for Play, there are Laws requir'd for the Conduct of the Game, and these Laws are dif­ferent [Page 71] in each Game. The Foundation, I own, of such Societies is frivolous; and the Laws are, in a great Measure, tho' not altogether, capricious and arbitrary. So far is there a material Difference be­twixt them and the Rules of Justice, Fidelity and Loyalty. The general Societies of Men are abso­lutely requisite for the Subsistence of the Species; and the public Conveniency, which regulates Morals, is inviolably establish'd in the Nature of Man, and of the World, in which he lives. The Comparison, therefore, in these Respects, is very imperfect. We may only learn from it the Necessity of Rules, where­ever Men have any Intercourse with each other.

THEY cannot even pass each other on the Road without Rules. Waggoners, Coachmen, and Posti­lions have Principles, by which they give way; and these are chiefly founded on mutual Ease and Con­venience. Sometimes also they are arbitrary, or at best dependant on a Kind of capricious Analogy, like many of the Reasonings of Lawyers*.

[Page 72] To carry the Matter farther, we may observe, that 'tis impossible for Men so much as to murther each other without Statutes and Maxims, and an Idea of Justice and Honour. War has it Laws as well as Peace; and even that sportive Kind of War carried on amongst Wrestlers, Boxers, Cudgel-players, Gladiators, is supported by fixt Principles and Regu­lations. Common Interest and Utility beget infallibly a Standard of Right and Wrong amongst the Parties concern'd.

Why UTILITY pleases.


IT seems so natural a Thought to ascribe to their Utility the Praise which we bestow on the social Virtues, that one would expect to meet with this Principle every-where in moral Writers, as the chief Foundation of their Reasoning and Inquiry. In common Life, we may observe, that the Circumstance of Utility is always appeal'd to; nor is it suppos'd, that a greater Elogy can be given to any Man, than to display his Usefulness to the Public, and enumerate the Services he has perform'd to Mankind and Society. What Praise, even of an inanimate Form, if the Regularity and Elegance of its Parts destroy not its Fitness for any useful Purpose! And how satis­factory an Apology for any Disproportion of seeming Deformity, if we can show the Necessity of that [Page 74] particular Construction for the Use intended! A Ship appears infinitely more beautiful to an Artist, or one moderately skill'd in Navigation; where its Prow is wide and swelling beyond its Poop, than if it were fram'd with a precise geometrical Regularity, in Contradiction to all the Laws of Mechanics. A Building, whose Doors and Windows were exact Squares, would hurt the Eye by that very Proportion; as ill adapted to the human Figure, for whose Service the Fabric was intended What Wonder then, that a Man, whose Habits and Conduct are hurtful to Society, and dangerous or pernicious to every one, that has an Intercourse with him, should, on that Account, be an Object of Disapprobation, and com­municate to every Spectator the strongest Sentiments of Disgust and Hatred*?

[Page 75] BUT perhaps the Difficulty of accounting for these Effects of Usefulness, or its contrary, has kept Philo­sophers from admitting them into their Systems of Ethics, and has induc'd them rather to employ any other Principle, in explaining the Origin of moral Good and Evil. But 'tis no just Reason for rejecting any Principle, confirm'd by Experience, that we can give no satisfactory Account of its Origin, nor are able to resolve it into other more general Principles. And if we would employ a little Thought on the present Subject, we need be at no Loss to account for the Influence of Utility, and to deduce it from Prin­ciples, the most known and avow'd in human Na­ture.

[Page 76] FROM the apparent Usefulness of the social Virtues, it has readily been inferr'd by Sceptics, both antient and modern, that all moral Distinctions arise from Education, and were, at first, invented, and after­wards encourag'd, by the Arts of Politicians, in order to render Men tractable, and subdue their natural Ferocity and Selfishness, which incapacitated them for Society. This Principle, indeed, of Precept and Education must be so far own'd to have a powerful Influence, that it may frequently encrease or dimi­nish, beyond their natural Standard, the Sentiments of Approbation or Dislike; and may even, in par­ticular Instances, create, without any natural Prin­ciple, a new Sentiment of this Kind; as is evident in all superstitious Practices and Observances: But that all moral Affection or Dislike arises from this Origin will never surely be allow'd by any judicious Enquirer. Had Nature made no such Distinction, founded on the original Frame and Constitution of the Mind, the Words, honourable and shameful, lovely and odious, noble and despicable, never had had place in any Language; nor could Politicians, had they invented these Terms, ever have been able to render them intelligible, or make them convey any Idea to the Audience. So that nothing can be more super­ficial than this Paradox of the Sceptics; and 'twere well, if, in the abstruser Studies of Logics and Me­taphysics, [Page 77] we could as easily get rid of the Cavils of that Sect, as in the more practical and intelligible Sciences of Politics and Morals.

THE social Virtues must, therefore, be allow'd to have a natural Beauty and Amiableness, which, at first, antecedent to all Precept or Education, recom­mends them to the Esteem of uninstructed Mankind, and engages their Affections. And as the Utility of these Virtues is the chief Circumstance, whence they derive their Merit, it follows, that the End, which they have a Tendency to promote, must be some way agreeable to us, and take hold of some natural Affection. It must please, either from Considerations of Self-interest, or from more generous Motives and Regards.

IT has often been asserted, that, as every Man has a strong Connexion with Society, and perceives the Impossibility of his solitary Subsistence, he becomes, on that Account, favourable to all those Habits or Principles, which promote Order in Society, and en­sure to him the quiet Possession of so inestimable a Blessing. As much as we value our own Happiness and Welfare, as much must we value the Practice of Justice and Humanity, by which alone the social Confederacy can be maintain'd, and every Man reap the Fruits of mutual Protection and Assistance.

[Page 78] THIS Deduction of Morals from Self-love or a Regard to private Interest, is a very obvious Thought, and has not arisen altogether from the wanton Sallies and sportive Assaults of the Sceptics. To mention no others, Polybius, one of the gravest, and most judicious, as well as most moral Writers of Antiquity, has assign'd this selfish Origin to all our Sentiments of Virtue.*. But tho' the solid, practical Sense of that Author, and his Aversion to all vain Subtilties render his Authority on the present Subject very consider­able; yet this is not an Affair to be decided by Au­thority; and the Voice of Nature and Experience seems plainly to oppose the selfish Theory.

WE frequently bestow Praises on virtuous Actions, perform'd in very distant Ages and remote Countries; where the utmost Subtilty of Imagination would not discover any Appearance of Self-interest, or find any [Page 79] Connexion of our present Happiness and Security with Events so widely separated from us.

A generous, a brave, a noble Deed, perform'd by an Adversary, commands our Approbation; while in its Consequences it may be acknowledged preju­dicial to our particular Interests.

WHERE private Advantage concurs with general Affection for Virtue, we readily perceive and avow the Mixture of these distinct Sentiments, which have a very different Feeling and Influence on the Mind. We praise, perhaps, with more Alacrity, where the generous, humane Action contributes to our particu­lar Interest: But the Topics of Praise we insist on are very wide of this Circumstance. And we may attempt to bring over others to our Sentiments, with­out endeavouring to convince them, that they reap any Advantage from the Actions, which we recom­mend to their Approbation and Applause.

FRAME the Model of a praise-worthy Character, consisting of all the most amiable moral Virtues: Give Instances, in which these display themselves, after an eminent and extraordinary Manner: You readily engage the Esteem and Approbation of all your Audience, who never so much as enquir'd in what Age and Country the Person liv'd, who possest [Page 80] these noble Qualities: A Circumstance, however, of all others, the most material to Self-love, or a Concern for our own individual Happiness.

ONCE on a Time, a Statesmen, in the Shock and Concurrence of Parties, prevail'd so far as to procure, by his Eloquence, the Banishment of an able Adver­sary; whom he secretly follow'd, offering him. Money for his Support during his Exile, and sooth­ing him with Topics of Consolation on his Misfor­tunes. Alas! cries the banish'd Statesman, with what Regret must I leave my Friends in this City, where even Enemies are so generous! Virtue, tho' in an Enemy, here pleas'd him: And we also give it the just Tribute of Praise and Approbation; nor do we retract these Sentiments, when we hear, that the Action past at Athens, about two thousand Years ago, and that the Persons Names were Eschines and De­mosthenes.

WHAT is that to me? There are few Occasions, when this Question is not pertinent: And had it that universal, infallible Influence suppos'd, it would turn into Ridicule every Composition, and almost every Conversation, which contain any Praise or Censure of Men and Manners.

[Page 81] 'Tis but a weak Subterfuge, when press'd by these Facts and Arguments, to say, that we transport our­selves, by the Force of Imagination, into distant Ages and Countries, and consider the Advantage, which we should have reapt from these Characters, had we been Contemporaries, and had any Commerce with the Persons. 'Tis not conceivable, how a real Sentiment or Passion can ever arise from a known imaginary Interest; especially when our real Interest is still kept in View, and is often acknowledg'd to be entirely distinct from the imaginary, and even sometimes opposite to it.

A Man, brought to the Brink of a Precipice, cannot look down without trembling; and the Sen­timent of imaginary Danger actuates him, in Oppo­sition to the Opinion and Belief of real Safety. But the Imagination is here assisted by the Presence of a striking Object; and yet prevails not, except it be also aided by Novelty, and the unusual Appearance of the Object. Custom soon reconciles us to Heights and Precipices, and wears off these false and delusive Terrors. The Reverse is observable in the Estimates we form of Characters and Manners; and the more we habituate ourselves to an accurate Scrutiny of the moral Species, the more delicate Feeling do we acquire of the most minute Distinctions betwixt Vice [Page 82] and Virtue. Such frequent Occasion, indeed, have we, in common Life, to pronounce all Kinds of moral Determinations, that no Object of this Kind can be new or unusual to us; nor could any false Views or Prepossessions maintain their Ground against an Experience, so common and familiar. Experi­ence and Custom being chiefly what form the As­sociations of Ideas, 'tis impossible, that any Associ­ation could establish and support itself, in direct Op­position to these Principles.

USEFULNESS is agreeable, and engages our Ap­probation. This is a Matter of Fact, confirm'd by daily Observation. But, useful? For what? For some Body's Interest, surely. Whose Interest then? Not our own only: For our Approbation frequently extends farther. It must, therefore, be the Interest of those, who are serv'd by the Character or Action approv'd of; and then we may conclude, however remote, are not totally indifferent to us. By open­ing up this Principle, we shall discover the great Secret of moral Distinctions.


SELF-LOVE is a Principle in human Na­ture of such extensive Energy, and the Interest of each Individual is, in general, so closely con­nected with that of Community, that those Philoso­phers were excusable, who fancy'd, that all our Concern for the Public might, perhaps, be resolv'd into a Concern for our own Happiness and Preser­vation. They saw, every Moment, Instances of Ap­probation or Blame, Satisfaction or Displeasure to­wards Characters and Actions; they denominated the Objects of these Sentiments, Virtues or Vices; they observ'd, that the former had a Tendency to en­crease the Happiness, and the latter the Misery of Society; they ask'd, if it was possible we could have any general Concern for Society, or any disinterested Resentment of the Welfare or Injury of others; they found it simpler to consider all these Sentiments as Modifications of Self-love; and they discover'd a Pretext, at least, for this Unity of Principle, in that close Union of Interest, which is so observable betwixt the Public and each Individual.

BUT notwithstanding this frequent Confusion of Interests, 'tis easy to attain what natural Philoso­phers, after my Lord Bacon, have affected to call [Page 84] the Experimentum crucis, or that Experiment, which points out the Way we should follow, in any Doubt or Ambiguity. We have found Instances, wherein private Interest was separate from public; wherein it was even contrary: And yet we observ'd the moral Sentiment to continue, notwithstanding this Disjunction of Interests. And wherever these distinct Interests sensibly concur'd, we always found a sen­sible Encrease of the Sentiment, and a more warm Affection to Virtue, and Detestation of Vice, or what we properly call, Gratitude and Revenge. Compell'd by these Instances, we must renounce the Theory, which accounts for every moral Sentiment by the Principle of Self-love. We must adopt a more pub­lic Affection, and allow, that the Interests of Society are not, even on their own Account, altogether indif­ferent to us. Usefulness is only a Tendency to a cer­tain End; and 'tis a Contradiction in Terms, that any Thing pleases as Means to an End, where the End itself does no way affect us. If therefore Usefulness be a Source of moral Sentiment, and if this Useful­ness be not always consider'd with a Reference to Self; it follows, that every Thing, which contri­butes to the Happiness of Society, recommends it­self directly to our Approbation and Good-will. Here is a Principle, which accounts, in great Part, for the Origin of Morality: And what need we seek [Page 85] for abstruse and remote Systems, when there occurs one so obvious and natural*?

HAVE we any Difficulty to comprehend the Force of Humanity and Benevolence? Or to conceive, that the very Aspect of Happiness, Joy, Prosperity, gives Pleasure; that of Pain, Sufferance, Sorrow, communicates Uneasiness? The human Countenance, says Horace , borrows Smiles or Tears from the human Countenance. Reduce a Person to Solitude, and he loses all Enjoyment, except merely of the speculative Kind; and that because the Movements of his Heart are not forwarded by correspondent [Page 86] Movements in his Fellow-creatures. The Signs of Sorrow and Mourning, tho' arbitrary, affect us with Melancholy; but the natural Symptoms, Tears, and Cries, and Groans, never fail to infuse Com­passion and Uneasiness. And if the Effects of Misery touch us in so lively a Manner; can we be suppos'd altogether insensible or indifferent towards its Causes; when a malicious or treacherous Character and Be­haviour is presented to us?

WE enter, I shall suppose, into a convenient, warm, well-contriv'd Apartment: We necessarily receive a Pleasure from its very Survey; because it presents us with the pleasing Ideas of Ease, Satis­faction, and Enjoyment. The hospitable, good­humour'd, humane Landlord appears. This Cir­stance surely must embellish the whole; nor can we easily forbear reflecting, with Pleasure, on the Satis­faction and Enjoyment, which results to every one from his Intercourse and Good-offices.

HIS whole Family, by the Freedom, Ease, Confidence, and calm Satisfaction, diffus'd over their Countenances, sufficiently express their Hap­piness. I have a pleasing Sympathy in the Prospect of so much Joy, and can never consider the Source of it, without the most agreeable Emotions.

[Page 87] HE tells me, that an oppressive and powerful Neighbour had attempted to dispossess him of his Inheritance, and had long disturb'd all his innocent and social Enjoyments. I feel an immediate Indig­nation arise in me against such Violence and Injury.

BUT 'tis no Wonder, he adds, that a private Wrong should proceed from a Man, who had en­slav'd Provinces, depopulated Cities, and made the Field and Scaffold stream with human Blood. I am struck with Horror at the Prospect of so much Misery and am actuated by the strongest Antipathy against its Author.

IN general, 'tis certain, that wherever we go, whatever we reflect on or converse about; every Thing still presents us with the View of human Hap­piness or Misery, and excites in our Breasts a sym­pathetic Movement of Pleasure or Uneasiness. In our serious Occupations, in our careless Amusements, this Principle still exerts its active Energy.

A MAN, who enters the Theatre, is immediately struck with the View of so great a Multitude, par­ticipating of one common Amusement; and expe­riences, from their very Aspect, a superior Sensibi­lity [Page 88] or Disposition of being affected with every Sen­timent, which he shares with his Fellow-creatures.

HE observes the Actors to be animated by the Appearance of a full Audience; and rais'd to a Degree of Enthusiasm, which they cannot command in any solitary or calm Moment.

EVERY Movement of the Theatre, by a skillful Poet, is communicated, as it were by Magic, to the Spectators, who weep, tremble, resent, rejoice, and are enflam'd with all the Variety of Passions, which actuate the several Personages of the Drama.

WHERE any Event crosses our Wishes, and inter­rupts the Happiness of the favourite Personages, we feel a sensible Anxiety and Concern. But where their Sufferings proceed from the Treachery, Cruelty or Tyranny of an Enemy, our Breasts are affected with the liveliest Resentment against the Author of these Calamities.

'TIS here esteem'd contrary to the Rules of Art to represent any Thing cool and indifferent. A distant Friend, or a Confident, who has no immedi­ate Interest in the Catastrophe, ought, if possible, to be avoided by the Poet; as communicating a like [Page 89] Indifference to the Audience, and checking the Progress of the Passions.

No Species of Poetry is more entertaining than Pastoral; and every one is sensible, that the chief Source of its Pleasure arises from those Images of a gentle and tender Tranquillity, which it represents in its Personages, and of which it communicates a like Sentiment to the Readers. Sannazarius, who transfer'd the Scene to the Sea-shore, tho' he pre­sented the most magnificent Object in Nature, is confest to have err'd in his Choice. The Idea of Toil, Labour, and Danger, suffer'd by the Fisher­men, is painful, by an unavoidable Sympathy, which attends every Conception of human Happiness or Misery.

WHEN I was twenty, says a French Poet, Ovid was my Choice: Now I am forty, I declare for Horace. We enter, to be sure, more readily into Sentiments, that resemble those we feel every Mo­ment: But no Passion, when well represented, can be altogether indifferent to us; because there is none, of which every Man has not within him, at least, the Seeds and first Principles. 'Tis the Busi­ness of Poetry to approach every Object by lively Imagery and Description, and make it look like Truth and Reality: A certain Proof, that wherever [Page 90] that Reality is found, our Minds are dispos'd to be strongly affected by it.

ANY recent Event or Piece of News, by which the Fortunes of States, Provinces or many Indivi­duals, are affected, is extremely interesting even to those whose Welfare is not immediately engag'd. Such Intelligence is propagated with Celerity, heard with Avidity, and enquir'd into with Attention and Concern. The Interests of Society appear, on this Occasion, to be, in some Degree, the Interests of each Individual. The Imagination is sure to be af­fected; tho' the Passions excited may not always be so strong and steady as to have great Influence on the Conduct and Behaviour.

THE Perusal of a History seems a calm Entertain­ment; but would be no Entertainment at all, did not our Hearts beat with correspondent Movements to those described by the Historian.

Thucydides and Guicciardin support with Difficulty our Attention, while the former describes the trivial Rencounters of the small Cities of Greece, and the latter the harmless Wars of Pisa. The few Persons interested, and the small Interest fill not the Imagi­nation, and engage not the Affections. The deep Distress of the numerous Athenian Army before Sy­racuse; [Page 91] the Danger, which so nearly threatens Venice; these excite Compassion; these move Terror and Anxiety.

THE indifferent, uninteresting Stile of Suetonius, equally with the masterly Pencil of Tacitus, may convince us of the cruel Depravity of Nero or Ti­berius: But what a Difference of Sentiment! While the former coldly relates the Facts; and the latter sets before our Eyes the venerable Figures of a Soranus and a Thrasea, intrepid in their Fate, and only mov'd by the melting Sorrows of their Friends and Kindred. What Sympathy then touches every human Heart! What Indignation against the in­human Tyrant, whose causeless Fear or unprovok'd Malice, gave rise to such detestable Barbarity!

IF we bring these Subjects nearer: If we remove all Suspicion of Fiction and Deceit: What powerful Concern is excited, and how much superior, in many Instances, to the narrow Attachments of Self-love and private Interest! Popular Sedition, Party Zeal, a devoted Obedience to factious Leaders; these are some of the most visible, tho' less laudable Effects of this social Sympathy in human Nature.

[Page 92] THE Frivolousness of the Subject too, we may observe, is not able to detach us entirely from what carries an Image of human Sentiment and Affection.

WHEN a Person stutters, and pronounces with Difficulty, we even sympathize with this trivial Un­easiness, and suffer for him. And 'tis a Rule in Criticism, that every Combination of Syllables or Letters, which gives Pain to the Organs of Speech in the Recital, appears also, from a Species of Sym­pathy, harsh and disagreeable to the Ear. Nay, when we run over a Book with our Eye, we are sensible of such unharmonious Composition; be­cause we still imagine, that a Person recites it to us, and suffers from the Pronunciation of these jarring Sounds. So delicate is our Sympathy!

EASY and unconstrain'd Postures and Motions are always beautiful: An Air of Health and Vigour is agreeable: Cloaths, that warm, without burthen­ing the Body; that cover, without imprisoning the Limbs, are well-fashion'd. In every Judgment of Beauty, the Sentiments are Feelings of the Persons affected enter into Consideration, and communicate to the Spectators similar Touches of Pain or Plea­sure*. [Page 93] What Wonder, then, if we can pronounce no Sentence concerning the Characters and Con­duct of Men without considering the Tendencies of their Actions, and the Happiness or Misery, which thence arises to Society? What Association of Ideas would ever operate, were that Principle here totally inactive?

[Page 94] IF any Man, from a cold Insensibility, or narrow Selfishness of Temper, is unaffected with the Images of human Happiness or Misery, he must be equally indifferent to the Images of Vice and Virtue: As on the other Hand, 'tis always found, that a warm Concern for the Interests of our Species is attended with a delicate Feeling of all moral Distinctions; a strong Resentment of Injury done to Men; a lively Approbation of their Welfare. In this Particular, tho' great Superiority is observable of one Man above another; yet none are so entirely indifferent to the Interest of their Fellow-creatures, as to per­ceive no Distinctions of moral Good and Evil, in consequence of the different Tendencies of Actions and Principles. How, indeed, can we suppose it possible of any one, who wears a human Heart, that, if there be subjected to his Censure, one Cha­racter or System of Conduct, which is beneficial, and another, which is pernicious, to his Species or Community, he will not so much as give a cool Preference to the former, or ascribe to it the smallest Merit or Regard? Let us suppose such a Person ever so selfish; let private Interest have ingrost ever so much his Attention; yet in Instances, where that is not concern'd, he must unavoidably feel some Propensity to the Good of Mankind, and make it an Object of Choice, if every Thing else be equal. [Page 95] Would any Man, that is walking alone, tread just as willingly on another's gouty Toes, whom he has no Quarrel with, as on the hard Flint and Pave­ment? There is here surely a Difference in the Case. We surely take into Consideration the Hap­piness and Misery of others, in weighing the several Motives of Action, and incline to the former, where no private Regards draw us to seek our own Pro­motion or Advantage by the Injury of our Fellow-Creatures. And if the Principles of Humanity are capable, in many Instances, of influencing our Actions, they must, at all Times, have some Autho­rity over our Sentiments, and give us a general Ap­probation of what is useful to Society, and Blame of what is dangerous or pernicious. The Degrees of these Sentiments may be the Subject of Contro­versy, but the Reality of their Existence, one should think, must be admitted, in every Theory or System.

A CREATURE, absolutely malicious and spiteful, were there any such in Nature, must be worse than indifferent to the Images of Vice and Virtue. All his Sentiments must be inverted, and directly oppo­site to those, which prevail in the human Species. Whatever contributes to the Good of Mankind, as it crosses the constant Bent of his Wishes and De­sires, must produce Uneasiness and Disapprobation; and on the contrary, whatever is the Source of Dis­order [Page 96] order and Misery in Society, must, for the same Reason, be regarded with Pleasure and Complacency. Timon, who probably from his affected Spleen, more than any inveterate Malice, was denominated the Man-hater, embrac'd Alcibiades, 'tis said, with great Fondness. Go on, my Boy! cries he, Acquire the Confidence of the People: You will one Day, I fore­see, be the Cause of great Calamities to them *. Could we admit the two Principles of the Manichaeans, 'tis an infallible Consequence, that their Sentiments of human Actions, as well as of every Thing else, must be totally opposite; and that every Instance of Justice and Humanity, from its necessary Tendency, must please the one Deity, and displease the other. All Mankind so far resemble the good Principle, that where Interest or Revenge or Envy perverts not our Disposition, we are always enclin'd, from our natural Philanthropy, to give the Preference to the Happiness of Society, and consequently to Virtue, above its opposite. Absolute, unprovok'd, disinter­ested Malice has never, perhaps, Place in any human Breast; or if it had, must there pervert all the Sen­timents of Morals, as well as the Feelings of Huma­nity. If the Cruelty of Nero be allow'd altogether voluntary, and not rather the Effect of constant Fear and Resentment; 'tis evident, that Tigellinus, [Page 97] preferably to Seneca or Burrhus, must have possest his steady and uniform Approbation.

A STATESMAN or Patriot, that serves our own Country, in our own Time, has always a more passionate Regard paid him, than one whose bene­ficial Influence operated on distant Ages or remote Nations; where the Good, resulting from his gene­rous Humanity, being less connected with us, seems more obscure, and affects us with a less lively Sym­pathy. We may own the Merit to be equally great, tho' our Sentiments are not rais'd to an equal Height, in both Cases. The Judgment here cor­rects the Inequalities of our internal Emotions and Perceptions; in like Manner, as it preserves us from Error, in the several Variations of Images, presented to our external Senses. The same Object, at a double Distance, really throws on the Eye a Picture of but half the Bulk; and yet we imagine it ap­pears of the same Size in both Situations; because we know, that, on our Approach to it, its Image would expand on the Senses, and that the Difference consists not in the Object itself, but in our Position with regard to it. And, indeed, without such Cor­rection of Appearances, both in internal and exter­nal Sentiment, Men could never think or talk steadily on any Subject; while their fluctuating Si­tuations produce a continual Variation on Objects, [Page 98] and throw them into such different and contrary Lights and Positions*.

THE more we converse with Mankind, and the greater social Entercourse we maintain, the more will we be familiariz'd to these general Preferences and Distinctions, without which our Conversation and Discourse could scarcely be render'd intelligible to each other. Every Man's Interest is peculiar to himself, and the Aversions and Desires, which re­sult from it, cannot be suppos'd to affect others in a [Page 99] like Degree. General Language, therefore, being form'd for general Use, must be moulded on some more general Views, and must affix the Epithets of Praise or Blame, in Conformity to Sentiments, which arise from the general Interests of the Com­munity. And if these Sentiments, in most Men, be not so strong as those, which have a Reference to private Good; yet still they must make some Distinction, even in Persons the most deprav'd and selfish; and must attach the Notion of Good to a beneficent Conduct, and of Evil to the contrary. Sympathy, we shall allow, is much fainter than our Concern for Ourselves, and Sympathy with Persons, remote from us, much sainter than that with Persons, near and contiguous; but for this very Reason, 'tis necessary for us, in our calm Judgments and Discourse concerning the Characters of Men, to neglect all these Differences, and render our Senti­ments more public and social. Besides, that we Ourselves often change our Situation in this Parti­cular, we every Day meet with Persons, who are in a different Situation from us, and who could never con­verse with us on any reasonable Terms, were we to remain constantly in that Position and Point of View, which is peculiar to Ourself. The Entercourse of Sentiments, therefore, in Society and Conversation makes us form some general, inalterable Standard, by which we may approve or disapprove of Cha­racters [Page 100] and Manners. And tho' the Heart takes not part entirely with those general Notions, nor regu­lates all its Love and Hatred, by the universal, ab­stract Differences of Vice and Virtue, without re­gard to Self or the Persons, with whom we are more immediately connected; yet have these moral Dif­ferences a considerable Influence, and being suffici­ent, at least, for Discourse, serve all our Purposes in Company, in the Pulpit, on the Theatre, and in the Schools*.

THUS, in whatever Light we take this Subject, the Merit, ascrib'd to the social Virtues, appears still uniform, and arises chiefly from that Regard, which the natural Sentiment of Benevolence engages us to pay to the Interests of Mankind and Society. If we consider the Principles of the human Make; such as they appear to daily Experience and Obser­vation [Page 101] we must, a priori, conclude it impossible for such a Creature as Man to be totally indifferent to the Well or Ill-being of his Fellow-creatures, and not readily, of himself, to pronounce, where no­thing gives him any particular Byass, that what pro­motes their Happiness is good, what tends to their Misery is evil, without any farther Regard or Con­sideration. Here then are the faint Rudiments, at least, or Outlines, of a general Distinction betwixt Actions; and in Proportion as the Humanity of the Person is suppos'd to encrease, his Connexion to those injur'd or benefited, and his lively Conception of their Misery or Happiness; his consequent Cen­sure or Approbation acquires proportionable Force and Vigour. There is no Necessity, that a generous Action, barely mention'd in an old History or remote Gazette, should communicate any strong Feelings of Applause and Admiration. Virtue, plac'd at such a Distance, is like a fixt Star, which, tho', to the Eye of Reason, it may appear as luminous as the Sun in his Meridian, is so infinitely remov'd, as to affect the Senses, neither with Light nor Heat. Bring this Virtue nearer, by our Acquaintance or Connexion with the Persons, or even by an eloquent Narration and Recital of the Case; our Hearts are immediately caught, our Sympathy enliven'd, and our cool Ap­probation converted into the warmest Sentiments of Friendship and Regard. These seem necessary and [Page 102] infallible Consequences of the general Principles of human Nature, as discover'd in common Life and Practice.

AGAIN; reverse these Views and Reasonings: Consider the Matter a posteriori; and weighing the Consequences, enquire, if the Merit of all social Virtue is not deriv'd from the Feelings of Humanity, with which it affects the Spectators. It appears to be Matter of Fact, that the Circumstance of Utility, in all Subjects, is a Source of Praise and Approba­tion: That it is constantly appeal'd to in all moral Decisions concerning the Merit and Demerit of Actions: That it is the sole Source of that high Re­gard paid to Justice, Fidelity, Honour, Allegiance and Chastity: That it is inseperable from all the other social Virtues of Humanity, Generosity, Cha­rity, Affability, Lenity, Mercy and Moderation: And in a Word, that it is the Foundation of the chief Part of Morals, which has a Reference to Mankind and Society.

IT appears also, in our general Approbation or Judgment of Characters and Manners, that the use­ful Tendency of the social Virtues moves us not by any Regards to Self-interest, but has an Influence much more universal and extensive. It appears, that a Tendency to public Good, and to the pro­moting [Page 103] of Peace, Harmony, and Concord in So­ciety, by affecting the benevolent Principles of our Frame, engages us on the Side of the social Virtues. And it appears, as an additional Confirmation, that these Principles of Humanity and Sympathy enter so deep into all our Sentiments, and have so power­ful an Influence, as may enable them to excite the strongest Censure and Applause. The present Theory is the simple Result of all these Inferences, each of which seems founded on uniform Experience and Observation.

WERE it doubtful, whether there was any such Principle in our Nature as Humanity or a Concern for others, yet when we see, in numberless Instances, that, whatever has a Tendency to promote the In­terests of Society, is so highly approv'd of, we ought thence to learn the Force of the benevolent Principle; since 'tis impossible for any Thing to please as Means to an End, where the End itself is totally indifferent: On the other Hand, were it doubtful, whether there was, implanted in our Natures, any general Prin­ciple of moral Blame and Approbation, yet when we see, in numberless Instances, the Influence of Humanity, we ought thence to conclude, that 'tis impossible, but that every Thing, which promotes the Interests of Society, must communicate Pleasure, and what is pernicious give Uneasiness. But when [Page 104] these different Reflections and Observations concur in establishing the same Conclusion, must they not bestow an undisputed Evidence upon it?

'Tis however hop'd, that the Progress of this Ar­gument will bring a farther Confirmation of the pre­sent Theory, by showing the Rise of other Senti­ments of Esteem and Regard from the same or like Principles.

Of QUALITIES useful to Ourselves.


NOTHING is more usual, than for Philoso­phers to encroach upon the Province of Gram­marians; and to engage in Disputes of Words, while they imagine, that they are handling Controversies of the deepest Importance and Concern. Thus, were we here to assert or to deny, that all laudable Qualities of the Mind were to be consider'd as Virtues or moral Attributes, many would imagine, that we had enter'd upon one of the profoundest Speculations of Ethics; tho' 'tis probable, all the while, that the greatest Part of the Dispute would be found entirely verbal. To avoid, therefore, all frivolous Subtilties and Altercations, as much as possible, we shall con­tent Ourselves with observing, first, that, in common Life, the Sentiments of Censure or Approbation, produc'd by mental Qualities of every Kind, are [Page 106] very similar; and secondly, that all antient Moralists, (the best Models) in treating of them, make little or no Difference amongst them.

FIRST. It seems certain, that the Sentiment of conscious Worth, the Self-satisfaction, proceeding from a Review of a Man's own Conduct and Cha­racter; it seems certain, I say, that this Sentiment, which, tho' the most common of all others, has no proper Name in our Language* arises from the Endowments of Courage and Capacity, Industry and Ingenuity, as well as from any other mental Excel­lencies. Who, on the other Hand, is not deeply mortify'd with reflecting on his own Folly or Disso­luteness, and feels not a secret Sting or Compunction, whenever his Memory presents any past Occurence, where he behav'd with Stupidity or Ill-manners? No Time can efface the cruel Ideas of a Man's own Ill-conduct, or of Affronts, which Cowardice or Impudence have brought upon him. They still [Page 107] haunt his solitary Hours, damp his most aspiring Thoughts, and show him, even to himself, in the most contemptible and most odious Colours imagin­able.

WHAT is there too we are more anxious to conceal from others than such Blunders, Infirmities, and Meannesses, or more dread to have expos'd by Rail­lery and Satyre? And is not the chief Object of Vanity, our Bravery or Learning, our Wit or Breed­ing, our Eloquence or Address, our Taste or Ability? These we display with Care, if not with Ostentation; and commonly show more Ambition of excelling in them, than even in the social Virtues themselves, which are, in Reality, of such superior Excellence. Good-nature and Honesty, especially the latter, are so indispensibly requir'd, that, tho' the greatest Cen­sure attends any Violation of these Duties, no emi­nent Praise follows such common Instances of them, as seem essential to the Support of human Society. And hence the Reason, in my Opinion, why, tho' Men often praise so liberally the Qualities of their Heart, they are shy of commending the Endowments of their Head; because the latter Virtues, being sup­pos'd more rare and extraordinary, are observ'd to be the more usual Objects of Pride and Self-conceit; and when boasted of, beget a strong Suspicion of these Sentiments.

[Page 108] 'Tis hard to tell, whether you hurt a Man's Cha­racter most by calling him a Knave or a Coward, and whether a beasily Glutton or Drunkard be not as odious and contemptible as a selfish, ungenerous Miser. Give me my Choice; and I would rather, for my own Happiness and Self-enjoyment, have a friendly, humane Heart than possess all the other Virtues of Demosthenes and Philip united: But I would rather pass with the World for one endow'd with ex­tensive Genius and intrepid Courage, and should thence expect stronger Instances of general Applause and Admiration. The Figure a Man makes in Life, the Reception he meets with in Company, the Esteem paid him by his Acquaintance; all these Advantages depend as much upon his good Sense and Judgment as upon any other Part of his Character. Had a Man the best Intentions in the World, and were the farthest remov'd from all Injustice and Violence, he would never be able to make himself be much re­garded, without a moderate Share, at least, of Parts and Understanding.

WHAT is it then we can here dispute about? If Sense and Courage, Temperance and Industry, Wit and Knowledge confessedly form a considerable Part of personal Merit; if a Man possest of them is both better satisfy'd with himself, and better entitled [Page 109] to the Good-will, Esteem, and Services of others, than one entirely devoid of them; if, in short, the Sentiments be similar, that arise from these Endow­ments and from the social Virtues; is there any Rea­son for being so extremely scrupulous about a Word, or doubting whether they are entitled to the Deno­mination of Virtue*? It may, indeed, be pre­tended, that the Sentiment of Approbation, which those Accomplishments produce, besides its being in­ferior, is also somewhat different from that, which attends the Virtues of Justice and Humanity. But this seems not a sufficient Reason for ranking them entirely under different Classes and Appellations. The Character of Caesar and that of Cato, as drawn by Salust, 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, [Page 110] Esteem: The one is amiable; the other awful: We could wish to meet the one Character in a Friend; the other we should be ambitious of in Ourselves. In like Manner the Approbation, which attends na­tural Abilities or Temperance or Industry, may be somewhat different from that which is paid to the social Virtues, without making them entirely of a different Species. And indeed, we may observe, that the natural Abilities, no more than the other Virtues, produce not, all of them, the same Kind of Approbation. Good Sense and Genius beget Esteem and Regard: Wit and Humour excite Love and Af­fection*.

[Page 111] MOST People, I believe, will naturally, without Premeditation, assent to the Definition of the elegant and judicious Poet.

Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a Fool)
Is Sense and Spirit, with Humanity*.

WHAT Pretensions has a Man to our generous As­sistance or Good-offices, who has dissipated his Wealth in profuse Expences, idle Vanities, chimeri­cal Projects, dissolute Pleasures, or extravagant Gaming? These Vices (for we scruple not to call them such) bring Misery unpity'd, and Contempt on every one addicted to them.

ACHAEUS, a wise and prudent Prince, fell into a fatal Snare, which cost him his Crown and Life, after having us'd every reasonable Precaution to guard himself against it. On that Account, says the Historian, he is a just Object of Regard and Compassion: His Betrayers alone of Hatred and Contempt.

[Page 112] THE precipitate Flight and improvident Negli­gence of Pompey, at the Beginning of the civil Wars, appear'd such notorious Blunders to Cicero, as quite pall'd his Friendship towards that great Man In the same Manner, says he, as Want of Cleanliness, De­cency, or Discretion in a Mistress are found to alienate our Affections. For so he expresses himself, where he talks, not in the Character of a Philosopher, but in that of a Statesman and Man of the World, to his Friend Atticus *.

BUT secondly, the same Cicero, in Imitation of all the antient Moralists, when he reasons as a Philoso­pher, enlarges very much his Ideas of Virtue, and comprehends every laudable Quality or Endowment of the Mind, under that honourable Appellation. The Prudence, explain'd in his Offices , is that Sa­gacity, which leads to the Discovery of Truth, and preserves us from Error and Mistake. Magnanimity, Temperance, Decency are there also at large discours'd of. And as that eloquent Moralist follow'd the com­mon receiv'd Division of the four cardinal Virtues, our social Duties form but one Head, in the general Distribution of his Subject.

[Page 113] WE need only peruse the Titles of Chapters in Aristotle's Ethics to be convinc'd, that he ranks Cou­rage, Temperance, Magnificence, Magnanimity, Modesty, Prudence, and a manly Freedom amongst the Virtues, as well as Justice and Friendship.

To sustain and to abstain, that is, to be patient and continent, appear'd to some of the Antients, a sum­mary Comprehension of all Morals.

EPICTETUS has scarce ever mentioned the Sentiment of Humanity and Compassion, but in order to put his Disciples on their Guard against it. The Virtue of the Stoics seems to consist chiefly in a firm Temper and a sound Understanding. With them, as with Solomon and the Eastern Moralists, Folly and Wisdom are equivalent to Vice and Virtue.

MEN will praise thee, says David *, when thou dost well unto thyself. I hate a wise Man, says the Greek Poet, who is not wise to himself.

PLUTARCH is no more crampt by Systems in his Philosophy than in his History. Where he compares the great Men of Greece and Rome, he fairly [Page 114] sets in Opposition all their Blemishes and Accom­plishments of whatever Kind, and omits nothing considerable, that can either depress or exalt their Characters. His moral Discourses contain the same free and natural Censure of Men and Manners.

THE Character of Hannibal, as drawn by Livy *, is esteem'd partial, but allows him many eminent Virtues. Never was there a Genius, says the Histo­rian, more equally sitted for those opposite Offices of Command and Obedience; and 'twere, therefore, difficult to determine whether he render'd himself dearer to the General or to the Army: To none, would Hasdrubal entrust more willingly the Conduct of any dangerous Enterprize; under none, did the Soldiers discover more Courage and Confidence. Great Boldness in affronting Danger; great Prudence in the Midst of it. No Labour could fatigue his Body or subdue his Mind. Cold and Heat were in­different to him: Meat and Drink he sought as Sup­plies to the Necessities of Nature, not as Gratifica­tions of his voluptuous Appetites: Waking or Rest he us'd indiscriminately, by Night or by Day—These great VIRTUES were ballanc'd by great VICES: Inhuman Cruelty; Perfidy more than Punic; no Truth, no Faith, no Regard to Oaths, Promises or Religion.

[Page 115] THE Character of Alexander the Sixth, to be found in Guicciardin *, is pretty similar, but juster; and is a Proof, that even the Moderns, where they speak naturally, hold the same Language with the Antients. In this Pope, says he, there was a singular Capacity and Judgment: Admirable Prudence; a wonderful Talent of Persuasion; and in all momentuous En­terprizes, a Diligence and Dexterity incredible But these Virtues were infinitely overballanc'd by his Vices; no Faith, no Religion, insatiable Avarice, exorbitant Ambition, and a more than barbarous Cruelty.

POLYBIUS , reprehending Timaeus for his Partiality against Agathocles, whom he himself allows to be the most cruel and impious of all Tyrants, says: If he took Refuge in Syracuse, as asserted by that Historian, flying the Dirt and Smoke and Toil of his former Profession of a Potter; and if, pro­ceeding from such slender Beginnings, he became Master, in a little Time, of all Sicily; brought the Carthaginian State into the utmost Danger; and at last dy'd in Old-age, and in Possession of kingly Dignity: Must he not be allow'd something prodi­gious and extraordinary, and to have possest great Talents and Capacity for Business and Action? [Page 116] His Historian, therefore, ought not to have alone related what tended to his Reproach and Infamy; but also what might redound to his PRAISE and HONOUR.

IN general, we may observe, that the Distinction of voluntary or involuntary was little regarded by the Antients in their moral Reasonings; where they frequently treated the Question as very doubtful, whether Virtue could be taught or not *? They justly consider'd, that Cowardice, Meanness, Levity, Anxiety, Impatience, Folly, and many other Qua­lities of the Mind, might appear ridiculous, and de­form'd, contemptible and odious, tho' independant of the Will. Nor could it be suppos'd, at all Times, in every Man's Power to attain every Kind of mental, more than exterior Beauty.

BUT modern Philosophers, treating all Morals, as on a like Footing with civil Laws, guarded by the Sanctions of Reward and Punishment, were necessa­rily led to render this Circumstance, of voluntary or involuntary, the Foundation of their whole Theory. Every one may employ Terms in what Sense he pleases: But this, in the mean Time, must [Page 117] be allow'd, that Sentiments are every Day experienc'd of Blame and Praise, which have Objects beyond the Dominion of the Will or Choice, and of which it behoves us, if not as Moralists, as speculative Philosophers at least, to give some satisfactory Theory and Explication.

A BLEMISH, a Fault, a Vice, a Crime; these Expressions seem to denote different Degrees of Cen­sure and Disapprobation; which are, however, all of them, at the Bottom, pretty nearly the same Kind of Species. The Explication of one will lead us easily into a just Conception of the others.


IT seems evident, that where a Quality or Habit is subjected to our Examination, if it appear, in any respect, prejudicial to the Person, possest of it, or such as incapacitates him for Business and Action, it is instantly blam'd, and rank'd amongst his Faults and Imperfections. Indolence, Negligence, Want of Order and Method, Obstinacy, Fickleness, Rash­ness, Credulity; no one ever esteem'd these Qua­lities, indifferent to a Character; much less, extoll'd them as Accomplishments or Virtues. The Preju­dice, resulting from them, immediately strikes our [Page 118] Eye, and gives us the Sentiment of Pain and Dis­approbation.

No Qualiity, 'tis allow'd, is absolutely either blameable or praise-worthy. 'Tis all according to its Degrees. A due Medium, say the Peripatetics, is the Characteristic of Virtue. But this Medium is chiefly determin'd by Utility. A proper Celerity, for Instance, and Dispatch in Business is commend­able. When defective, no Progress is ever made in the Execution of any Purpose: When excessive, it engages us in precipitate, and ill-concerted Measures and Enterprizes. By such Reasonings as these we fix the proper and commendable Mediocrity in all moral and prudential Disquisitions; and never lose View of the Advantages, which result from any Character or Habit.

Now as these Advantages are enjoy'd by the Per­son, possest of the Character, it can never be Self-love, which renders the Prospect of them agreeable to us, the Spectators, and prompts our Esteem and Approbation. No Force of Imagination can con­vert us into another Person, and make us fancy, that we being that Person, reap Benefit from those valuable Qualities, which belong to him. Or if it did, no Celerity of Imagination could immediately transport us back, into ourselves, and make us love and esteem the Person, as different from us. Views [Page 119] and Sentiments, so opposite to known Truth, and to each other, could never have place, at the same Time, in the same Person. All Suspicion, therefore, of selfish Regards are here totally excluded. 'Tis a quite different Principle, which actuates our Bosom, and interests us in the Felicity of the Person we contem­plate. Where his natural Talents and acquir'd Abi­lities give us the Prospect of Elevation, Advance­ment, a Figure in Life, prosperous Success, a steady Command over Fortune, and the Execution of great or advantageous Undertakings; we are struck with such agreeable Images, and feel a Complacency and Regard immediately arise towards him. The Ideas of Happiness, Joy, Triumph, Prosperity are con­nected with every Circumstance of his Character, and diffuse over our Minds a pleasing Sentiment of Sympathy and Humanity*.

[Page 120] LET us suppose a Person originally so fram'd as to have no Manner of Concern for his Fellow crea­tures, but to regard the Happiness and Misery of all sensible Beings with greater Indifference even than two contiguous Shades of the same Colour. Let us suppose, if the Prosperity of Nations were lay'd on the one hand and their Ruin on the other, and he were desir'd to choose; that he would stand, like the Schoolman's Ass, irresolute and undeter­min'd, betwixt equal Motives; or rather, like the same Ass betwixt two Pieces of Wood or Marble, without any Inclination or Propensity on either Side. The Consequence, I believe, must be allow'd just, that such a Person, being absolutely unconcern'd, either as to the public Good of a Community or the private Utility of others, would look on every Qua­lity, however pernicious, or however beneficial, to Society or to its Possessor, with the same Indifference as on the most common and uninteresting Object.

BUT if, instead of this fancy'd Monster, we sup­pose a Man to form a Judgment or Determination in [Page 121] the Case; there is to him a plain Foundation of Preference, where every Thing else is equal; and however cool his Choice may be, if his Heart be selfish, or if the Persons interested be remote from him; there must still be a Choice, and a Distinction betwixt what is useful, and what is pernicious. Now this Distinction is the same in all its Parts, with the moral Distinction, whose Foundation has been so os­ten, and so much in vain, enquir'd after. The same Endowments of the Mind, in every Circumstance, are agreeable to the Sentiment of Morals and to that of Humanity; the same Temper is susceptible of high Degrees of the one Sentiment and of the other; and the same Alteration in the Objects, by their nearer Approach or by Connexions, enlivens the one and the other. By all the Rules of Philosophy, therefore, we must conclude, that these Sentiments are originally the same; since, in each particular, even the most minute, they are govern'd by the same Laws, and are mov'd by the same Objects.

WHY do Philosophers infer, with the greatest Certainty, that the Moon is kept in its Orbit by the same Force of Gravity, which makes Bodies fall near the Surface of the Earth, but because these Effects are, upon Computation, found similar and equal? And must not this Argument bring equal Conviction, in moral as in natural Disquisitions?

[Page 122] To prove, by any long Detail, that all the Qua­lities, useful to the Possessor, are approv'd, and the contrary censur'd, would be superfluous. The least Reflection, on what is every Day experienc'd in Life, will be sufficient. We shall only mention a few In­stances, in order to remove, if possible, all Doubt and Hesitation.

THE Quality, the most necessary for the Execution of any useful Enterprize, is DISCRETION; by which we carry on a safe Intercourse with others, give due Attention to our own and to their Character, weigh each Circumstance of the Business we under­take, and employ the surest and safest Means for the Attainment of any End or Purpose. To a Cromwell, perhaps, or a De Retz, Discretion may appear an Alderman-like Virtue, as Dr. Swift calls it; and being incompatible with those vast Designs, to which their Courage and Ambition prompted them, it might really, in them, be a Fault or Imperfection. But in the Conduct of ordinary Life, no Virtue is more requisite, not only to obtain Success, but to avoid the most fatal Miscarriages and Disappoint­ments. The greatest Parts without it, as observ'd by an elegant Writer, may be fatal to their Owner; as Polyphemus depriv'd of his Eye was only the more ex­pos'd, [Page 123] on Account of his enormous Strength and Stature.

THE best Character, indeed, were it not rather too perfect for human Nature, is that which gives no­thing to Temper of any Kind; but alternately em­ploys Enterprize and Caution, as each is useful to the particular Purpose intended. Such is the Excellence, which St. Evremond ascribes to Mareschal Turenne, who display'd every Campaign, as he grew older, more Temerity in his military Enterprizes; and be­ing now, from long Experience, perfectly acquainted with every Incident in War, he advanc'd with greater Firmness and Boldness, in a Road so well known to him. Fabius, says Machiavel, was cau­tious; Scipio enterprizing: And both succeeded, because the Situation of the Roman Affars, during the Command of each, was peculiarly adapted to his Genius; but both would have fail'd, had these Situations been inverted. He is happy, whose Cir­cumstances suit his Temper; but he is more excellent, who can suit his Temper to any Circumstances.

WHAT need is there to display the Praises of INDUSTRY, and to extol its Advantages, in the Acquisition of Power and Riches, or in raising what we call a Fortune in the World? The Tortoise, according to the Fable, by his Assiduity, gain'd the [Page 124] Race of the Hare, tho' possest of much superior Swiftness. A Man's Time, when well husbanded, is like a cultivated Field, of which a few Acres pro­duce more of what is useful to Life, than extensive Provinces, even of the richest Soil, when over-run with Weeds and Brambles.

BUT all Prospect of Success in Life, or even of tolerable Subsistence, must fail, where a reasonable FRUGALITY is wanting. The Heap, in­stead of encreasing, diminishes daily, and leaves its Possessor so much more unhappy, that not having been able to confine his Expences to a larger Reve­nue, he will still less be able to live contentedly on a smaller. The Souls of Men, according to Plato *, inflam'd with impure Appetites, and losing the Body, which alone afforded Means of Satisfaction, hover about the Earth, and haunt the Places, where their Bodies are reposited; possest with a longing Desire to recover the lost Organs of Sensation So may we see worthless Prodigals, having consum'd their For­tunes in wild Debauches, thrusting themselves into every plentiful Table, and every Party of Pleasure, hated even by the vicious, and despis'd even by Fools.

[Page 125] THE one Extreme of Frugality is Avarice, which, as it both deprives a Man of all Use of his Riches, and checks Hospitality and every social Enjoyment, is justly censur'd on a double Account: Prodigality, the other Extreme, is commonly more hurtful to a Man himself; and each of these Extremes is blam'd above the other, according to the Temper of the Person who censures, and according to his greater or less Sensibility to Pleasure, either social or sensual.

ALL Men, 'tis allow'd, are equally desirous of Happiness; but all Men are not equally successful in the Pursuit: Of which one chief Cause is the common Want of STRENGTH of MIND, which might enable us to resist the Temptation of present Ease or Pleasure, and carry us forward in the Search of more distant Profit and Enjoyment. Our Affec­tions, on a general Prospect of their Objects, form certain Rules of Conduct, and certain Measures of Preference of one above another: And these De­cisions, tho' really the Result of our calm Passions, and Propensities, (for what else can pronounce any Object eligible or the contrary?) are yet said, by a natural Abuse of Terms, to be the Determinations of pure Reason and Reflection. But when some of these Objects approach nearer us, or acquire the Ad­vantages of favourable Lights and Positions, which [Page 126] catch the Heart or Imagination; our general Reso­lutions are frequently confounded, a small Enjoyment preferr'd, and lasting Shame and Sorrow entail'd upon us. And however Poets may employ their Wit and Eloquence, in celebrating present Pleasure, and rejecting all distant Views to Fame, Health, or Fortune; 'tis obvious, that this Practice is the Source of all Dissoluteness and Debauchery, Repentance and Misery. A Man of a strong and determin'd Temper adheres tenaciously to his general Resolu­tions, and is neither seduc'd by the Allurements of Pleasure, nor terrify'd by the Menaces of Pain; but keeps still in View those distant Pursuits, by which he, at once, ensures his Happiness and his Ho­nour.

SELF-SATISFACTION, at least in some Degree, is an Advantage, that equally attends the FOOL and the WISE-MAN: But 'tis the only one; nor is there any other Circumstance in the Conduct of Life, where they are upon an equal Footing. Business, Books, Conversation; for all of these, a Fool is totally incapacitated, and except condemn'd by his Station to the coarsest Drudgery, remains a useless Burthen upon the Earth. Accordingly, 'tis found, that Men are infinitely jealous of their Cha­racter in this Particular; and many Instances are seen of Profligacy and Treachery, the most avow'd, [Page 127] and unreserved; none of bearing patiently the Im­putation of Ignorance and Stupidity. Dicaearchus, the Macedonian General, who, as Polybius * tells us, openly erected one Altar to Impiety, and another to Injustice, in order to bid Defiance to Mankind; even he, I am well assur'd, would have started at the Epithet of Fool, and have meditated Revenge for so injurious an Appellation. Except the Affection of Parents, the strongest and most indissoluble Bond in Nature, no Connexion has Strength sufficient to sup­port the Disgust arising from this Character. Love itself, which can subsist under Treachery, Ingrati­tude, Malice, and Infidelity, is immediately ex­tinguish'd by it, when perceiv'd and acknowledg'd; nor are Deformity and Old-age more fatal to the Do­minion of that Passion. So dreadful are the Ideas of an utter Incapacity for any Purpose or Under­taking, and of continu'd Error and Misconduct in Life!

WHEN 'tis ask'd, whether a quick or a slow Ap­prehension be most valuable? Whether one, that, at first View, penetrates far into a Subject, 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 [Page 128] Invention? Whether a profound Genius or a sure Judgment? In short, what Character, or peculiar Turn of 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 faithest in any of his Undertakings.

IF refin'd Sense and exalted Sense be not so useful as common Sense, their Rarity, their Novelty, and the Nobleness of their Objects make some Compen­sation, and render them the Admiration of Man­kind: As Gold, tho' less serviceable than Iron, ac­quires, from its Scarcity, a Value, which is much superior.

THE Desects of Judgment can be supply'd by no Art or Invention; but those of MEMORY fre­quently may, both in Business and in Study, by Method and Industry, and by Diligence in commit­ting every Thing to Paper; and we scarce ever hear a short Memory given as a Reason for a Man's Want of Success in any Undertaking. But in antient Times, when no Man could make a Figure without the Talent of speaking, and when the Audience were too delicate to bear such crude, undigested Harangues as our extemporary Orators offer to pub­lic Assemblies; the Faculty of Memory was then of [Page 129] the utmost Consequence, and was accordingly much more valued than at present. Scarce any great Genius is mention'd in Antiquity, who is not cele­brated for this Talent; and Cicero enumerates it amongst the other sublime Qualities of Caesar him­self*.

PARTICULAR Customs and Manners alter the Use­fulness of Qualities: they also alter their Merit. Particular Situations and Accidents have, in some Degree, the same Influence. He will always be more esteem'd, who professes those Talents and Ac­complishments, which suit his Station and Pro­fession, than the whom Fortune has misplac'd in the Part she has assign'd him. The private or selfish Virtues are, in this respect, more arbitrary than the public and social. In other respects, they are, per­haps, less liable to Doubt and Controversy.

IN this Kingdom, such continu'd Ostentation, of late Years, has been display'd among Men in active Life, with regard to public Spirit, and among those in speculative with regard to Benevolence; and so many false Pretensions to each have been, no doubt, detected, that Men of the World are apt, without [Page 130] any bad Intention, to discover a sullen Incredulity on the head of these moral Endowments, and even sometimes absolutely to deny their Existence and Reality. In like Manner, I find, that, of old, the perpetual Cant of the Stoics and Cynics concerning Virtue, their magnificent Professions and slender Per­formances, bred a Disgust in Mankind; and Lucian, who, tho' licentious on the Article of Pleasure, is yet, in other respects, a very moral Writer, cannot, sometimes, talk of Virtue, so much boasted, with­out betraying Symptoms of Spleen and Irony*. But surely, this peevish Delicacy, whence-ever it arises, can never be carry'd so far as to make us deny the Existence of every Species of Virtue, and all Distinc­tion of Manners and Behaviour. Besides Discretion, Caution, Enterprize, Industry, Assiduity, Fragality, OEconomy, Good-sense, Prudence, Discernment; besides these Virtues, I say, whose very Names force an Avowal of their Merit, there are many others, to which the most determin'd Sceptism cannot, for a Moment, refuse the Tribute of Praise and Appro­bation: Temperance, Sobriety, Patience, Constancy, [Page 131] Perseverance, Forethought, Considerateness, Secrecy, Order, Insinuation, Address, Presence of Mind, Quick­ness of Conception, Facility of Expression; these and a thousand more of the same Kind, no Man will ever deny to be Excellencies and Endowments. As their Merit consists in their Tendency to serve the Person, possest of them, without any magnificent Claims of public and social Desert, we are the less jealous of their Pretensions, and readily admit them into the Catalogue of Virtues. We are not sensible, that, by this Concession, we have pav'd the Way for all the other moral Excellencies, and cannot consistently hesitate any longer, with regard to disinterested Be­nevolence, Patriotism, and Humanity.

IT seems, indeed, certain, that first Appearances are here, as usual, extremely deceitful, and that 'tis more difficult, in a speculative Way, to resolve into Self-love the Merit we ascribe to the selfish Virtues above-mention'd, than that even of the social Virtues of Justice and Beneficence. For this latter Purpose, we need but say, that whatever Conduct and Beha­viour promotes the Good of the Community, is lov'd, prais'd, and esteem'd by the Community, on Account of that Utility and Interest, of which every one partakes: And tho' this Affection and Regard be, in Reality, Gratitude, not Self-love, yet a Distinction, even of this obvious Nature, may not [Page 132] readily be made by superficial Reasoners; and there is Room, at least, to support the Cavil and Dispute for a Moment. But as Qualities, which tend only to the Utility of their Possessor, without any Refer­ence to us, or to the Community, are yet esteem'd and valu'd; by what Theory or System can we ac­count for this Sentiment from Self-love, or deduce it from that favourite Origin? There seems here a Necessity of confessing that the Happiness and Misery of others are not Spectacles altogether in­different to us, but that the View of the former, whether in its Causes or Effects, like Sun-shine or the Prospect of well-cultivated Plains (to carry our Pretensions no higher) communicates a secret Joy and Satisfaction; the Appearance of the latter, like a lowering Cloud or barren Landskip, throws a melancholy Damp over the Imagination. And this Concession being once made, the Difficulty is over; and a natural, unforc'd Interpretation of the Phae­nomena of human Life will afterwards, we may hope, prevail, amongst all speculative Enquirers.


IT may not be improper, in this Place, to exa­mine the Influence of bodily Endowments and of the Goods of Fortune, over our Sentiments of Re­gard and Esteem, and to consider whether these Phaenomena strengthen or weaken the present Theory.

'TIS evident, that one considerable Source of Beauty in all Animals is the Advantage they reap from the particular Fabric or Structure of their Limbs and Members, suitable to the particular Manner of Life, to which they are by Nature destin'd. The just Proportions of a Horse, describ'd by Xenophon and Virgil, are the same, which are receiv'd at this Day by our modern Jockeys; because the Founda­tion of them is the same, viz. Experience of what is detrimental or useful in the Animal.

BROAD Shoulders, a lank Belly, firm Joints, taper Legs; all these are beautiful in our Species, because Signs of Force and Vigour. Ideas of Uti­lity and its contrary, tho' they do not altogether de­termine what is handsome or deform'd, are evidently [Page 134] the Source of a considerable Part of Approbation or Dislike.

IN ancient Times, bodily Strength and Dexterity, being of greater Use and Importance in War, was also much more esteem'd and valu'd, than at present. Not to insist on Homer and the Poets, we may ob­serve, that Historians scruple not to mention Force of Body among the other Accomplishments even of Epaminondas, whom they acknowledge to be the greatest Hero, Statesman, and General of all the Greeks *. A like Praise is given to Pompey, one of the greatest of the Romans . This Instance is fimilar to what we observ'd above with regard to Memory.

WHAT Derision and Contempt, with both Sexes, attend Impotence; while the unhappy Object is re­garded [Page 135] as one depriv'd of so capital a Pleasure in Life, and at the same Time, as disabled from com­municating it to others. Barrenness in Women, be­ing also a Species of Inutility, is a Reproach, but not in the same Degree: Of which the Reason is very obvious, according to the present Theory*.

THERE is no Rule in Painting or Statuary more indispensible than that of ballancing the Figures, and placing them with the greatest Exactness on their proper Center of Gravity. A Figure, which is not justly ballanc'd is ugly; because it conveys the dis­agreeable Ideas of Fall, Harm and Pain.

[Page 136] A DISPOSITION or Turn of Mind, which quali­fies a Man to rise in the World, and advance his Fortune, is entitled to Esteem and Regard, as has been already explain'd. It may, therefore, naturally be suppos'd, that the actual Possession of Riches and Authority will have a considerable Influence over these Sentiments.

LET us examine any Hypothesis, by which we can account for the Regard, pay'd the Rich and Power­ful: We shall find none satisfactory but that which derives it from the Enjoyment, communicated by the Images of Prosperity, Happiness, Ease, Plenty, Command, and the Gratification of every Appetite. Self-love, for Instance, which some affect so much to consider as the Source of every Sentiment, is [Page 137] plainly insufficient to this Purpose. Where no Good­will or Friendship appears, 'tis difficult to conceive on what we can found our Hope of Advantage from the Riches of others; tho' we naturally esteem and respect the Rich, even before they discover any such favourable Disposition towards us.

WE are affected with the same Sentiments, when we lie so much out of the Sphere of their Activity, that they cannot even be suppos'd to possess the Power of serving us. A Prisoner of War, in all civiliz'd Nations, is treated with a Regard, suited to his Condition; and Riches, 'tis evident, go far to­wards fixing the Condition of any Person. If Birth and Quality enter for a Share, this still affords us an Argument to our present Purpose. For what is it we call a Man of Birth, but one, who is descended from a long Succession of rich and powerful An­cestors, and who acquires our Esteem by his Con­n [...]ion with Persons, whom we esteem? His An­cestors, therefore, tho' dead, are respected, in some Measure, on Account of their Riches; and conse­quently, without any Kind of Expectation.

BUT not to go so far as Prisoners of War or the Dead, to find Instances of this disinterested Regard for Riches; we may only observe, with a little At­tention, those Phaenomena, that occur in common [Page 138] Life and Conversation. A Man, who is himself, we shall suppose, of a competent Fortune, and of no Profession, coming into a Company of Strangers, naturally treats them with different Degrees of Res­pect and Deference, as he is inform'd of their dif­ferent Fortunes and Conditions; tho' 'tis impossible he can so suddenly propose, and perhaps would not accept of, any pecuniary Advantage from them. A Traveller is always admitted into Company, and meets with Civility, in Proportion as his Train and Equipage speak him a Man of great or moderate Fortune. In short, the different Ranks of Man are, in a great Measure, regulated by Riches; and that with regard to Superiors as well as Inferiors, Strangers as well as Acquaintance.

WHAT remains, therefore, but to conclude, that as Riches are desir'd for ourself only as the Means of gratifying our Appetites, either at present or in some imaginary future Period; they beget Esteem in others merely from their having that Influence. This indeed is their very Nature or Essence: They have a direct Reference to the Commodities, Con­veniencies, and Pleasures of Life: A Banker's Bill, who is broke, or Gold in a desart Island, would otherwise be full as valuable. When we approach a Man, who is, as we say, at his Ease, we are pre­sented with the pleasing Ideas of Plenty, Satisfaction, [Page 139] Cleanliness, Warmth; a chearful House, elegant Furniture, ready Service, and whatever is desirable in Meat, Drink, or Apparel. On the contrary, when a poor Man appears, the disagreeable Images of Want, Penury, hard Labour, dirty Furniture, coarse or ragged Cloaths, nauseous Meat and distaste­ful Liquor, immediately strike our Fancy. What else do we mean by saying the one is rich, the other poor? And as Regard or Contempt is the natural Consequence of these different Situations in Life; 'tis easily seen what additional Light and Evidence this throws on our preceding Theory, with Regard to all moral Distinctions*.

[Page 140] A MAN, who has cur'd himself of all ridiculous Prepossessions, and is fully, sincerely, and steddily convinc'd, from Experience as well as Philosophy, that the Differences of Fortune make less Difference in Happiness than is vulgarly imagin'd; such a one measures not out Degrees of Esteem according to the Rent-rolls of his Acquaintance. He may, indeed, externally pay a superior Deference to the great Lord above the Vassal; because Riches are the most con­venient, being the most fixt and determinate, Source of Distinction: But his internal Sentiments are more regulated by the personal Characters of Men, than by the accidental and capricious Favours of For­tune.

IN most Countries of Europe, Family, that is, hereditary Riches, mark'd with Titles and Symbols from the Sovereign, is the chief Source of Distinc­tion In England, more Regard is paid to present Opulence and Plenty. Each Practice has its Ad­vantages and Disadvantages. Where Birth is re­spected, unactive spiritless Minds remain in haughty Indolence, and dream of nothing but Pedigrees and Genealogies: The generous and ambitious seek Honour and Command and Reputation and Favour. Where Riches are the chief Idol, Corruption, Ve­nality, Rapine prevail: Arts, Manufactures, Com­merce, [Page 141] Agriculture flourish. The former Prejudice, being favourable to military Virtue, is more suited to Monarchies. The other being the chief Spur to Industry, agrees better with a republican Govern­ment. And we accordingly find, that each of these Forms of Government, by varying the Utility of those Customs, has commonly a proportionable Effect on the Sentiments of Mankind.

Of QUALITIES immediately agreeable to Ourselves.

WHOEVER has past an Evening with serious melancholy People, and has ob­serv'd how suddenly the Conversation was animated, and what Sprightliness diffus'd itself over the Coun­tenance, Discourse, and Behaviour of every one, on the Accession of a good-humour'd, lively Com­panion; such a one, I say, will easily allow, that CHEERFULNESS carries great Merit with it, and naturally conciliates the Affection and Good­will of Mankind. No Quality, indeed, more rea­dily communicates itself to all around; because none has a greater Propensity to display itself, in jovial Talk and pleasant Entertainment. The Flame spreads thro' the whole Circle; and the most sullen and morose are often caught by it. That the me­lancholy [Page 144] hate the merry, even tho' Horace says it, I have some Difficulty to allow; because I have al­ways observ'd, that, where the Jollity is moderate and decent, serious People are so much the more de­lighted, that it dissipates the Gloom, with which they are commonly opprest; and gives them an un­usual Satisfaction and Enjoyment.

FROM this Influence of Cheerfulness, both to communicate itself, and to engage Approbation, we may perceive, that there are another Set of Virtues, which, without any Utility or any Tendency to farther Good, either of the Community or of the Possessor, diffuse a Satisfaction on the Beholders, and conciliate Friendship and Regard. Their im­mediate Sensation, to the Person possest of them, is agreeable: Others enter into the same Humour, and catch the Sentiment, by a Contagion or natural Sympathy: And as we cannot forbear loving what­ever pleases, a kindly Emotion arises towards the Person, who communicates so much Delight and Satisfaction. He is a more animating Spectacle: His Presence diffuses over us more serene Compla­cency and Enjoyment: Our Imagination, entering into his Feelings and Disposition, is affected in a more agreeable Manner, than if a melancholy, de­jected, sullen, anxious Temper were presented to our Notice and Observation. Hence the Affection [Page 145] and Approbation, which attends the former: The Aversion and Disgust, with which we regard the latter*.

FEW Men would envy the Character, which Caesar gives Cassius.

He loves no Play,
As thou do'st, Anthony: He hears no Music:
Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a Sort,
As if he mockt himself, and scorn'd his Spirit
That could be mov'd to smile at any thing.

Not only such Men, as Caesar adds, are commonly dangerous, but also, having little Enjoyment within themselves, they can never become agreeable to others, or contribute any Thing to social Pleasure and Entertainment. In all polite Nations and Ages, a Relish of Pleasure, if accompany'd with Tempe­rance and Decency, is esteem'd a considerable [Page 146] Merit, even in the greatest Men; and becomes still more requisite in those of infe [...]ior Rank and Cha­racter. 'Tis an agreeable Representation. Which a French Writer gives of the Situation of his own Mind in this Particular. Virtue I love, says he, without Aisterity: Pleasure, without Effeminacy: And Life, without securing its End *.

WHO is not struck with any signal Instance of GREATNESS of MIND or Dignity of Character; with Elevation of Sentiments, Disdain of Slavery, and with that noble Pride and Spirit, which arises from conscious Worth and Virtue? The Sublime, says Longinus, is often nothing but the Echo or Image of Magnanimity; and where this Quality appears in any one, even without uttering a Syllable, it excites our Applause and Admiration; as may be observ'd of the famous Silence of Ajax in the Odyssey, which expresies more noble Disdain and resolute Indignation, than any Language can con­vey.

Were I Alexander, say'd Parmenio, I would accept of these Offers made by Darius. So would I too, reply'd Alexander, were I Parmenio. This Saying is admir­able, says Longinus, from a like Principle.

[Page 147] GO! cries the same Hero to his Soldiers, when they refus'd to follow him to the Indies, go tell your Countrymen, you left Alexander compleating the Con­quest of the World. ‘"Alexander,"’ said the Prince of Condé, who always admir'd the Passage, ‘"abandon'd by his Soldiers, amongst Barbarians, not yet fully subdu'd, felt in himself such a Dignity and Right of Empire, that he could not believe it possible any one would refuse to obey him. Whether in Europe or in Asia, amongst Greeks or Persians, all was indifferent to him: Wherever he found Men, he fancy'd he would find Subjects."’

THE Confident of Medea in the Tragedy recom­mends Caution and Submission; and enumerating all the Distresses of that unfortunate Heroine, asks her, what she has to support her against so many Enemies. Myself, replies she; Myself, I say; and it is enough. Boilcau justly recommends this Passage as an Instance of true Sublime*.

WHEN Phocion, the modest, the gentle Phocion, was led to Execution, he turn'd about to one of his Fellow-sufferers, who was lamenting his own hard [Page 148] Fate. Is it not Glory enough for you, says he, that you die along with Phocion*?

PLACE in Opposition the Picture which Tacitus draws of Vitellius, fallen from Empire, prolonging his lgnominy from a wretched Love of Life, de­liver'd over to the merciless Rabble; tost, buffetted, and kickt about; and constrain'd, by their holding a Poynard under his Chin, to raise his Head, and expose himself to every Contumely. What abject Infamy! What low Humiliation! Yet even here, says the Historian, he discover'd some Symptoms of a Mind not altogether degenerate. To a Tribune, who insulted him, he reply'd, I am still your Em­peror .

WE never excuse the absolute Want of Spirit and Dignity of Character, or a proper Sense of what is due to one's self, in Society and the common Inter­course [Page 149] of Life. This Vice constitutes what we pro­perly call Meanness; when a Man can submit to the basest Slavery, in order to gain his Ends; fawn upon those, who abuse him; and degrade himself by In­timacies and Familiarities with undeserving Inferiors. A certain Degree of generous Pride or Self-value is so requisite, that the Absence of it in the Mind dis­pleases after the same Manner, as the Want of a Nose, Eye, or any of the most material Features of the Face or Members of the Body*.

THE Utility of COURAGE, both to the Public and to the Person possest of it, is an obvious Foundation of Merit: But to any one, who con­siders the Matter justly, it will appear, that this Quality has a peculiar Lustre, which it derives alto­gether from itself, and from that noble Elevation inseperable from it. Its Figure, drawn by Painters and by Poets, displays, in each Feature, a Sublimity [Page 150] and daring Confidence; which catches the Eye, en­gages the Affections, and diffuses, by Sympathy, a like Sublimity of Sentiment over every Spectator.

UNDER what glorious Colours does Demosthenes * represent Philip; where the Orator apologizes for his own Administration, and justifies that pertina­cious Love of Liberty, with which he had inspir'd the Arhenians. ‘"I beheld Philip,"’ says he, ‘"he, with whom was your Contest, resolutely, while in Pursuit of Empire and Dominion, exposing himself to every Wound; his Eye goar'd, his Neck wrested, his Arm, his Thigh piere'd, whatever Part of his Body Fortune should seize on, that cheerfully relinquishing, provided that, with what remain'd, he might live in Honour and Renown. And shall it be said, that he, born in Pella, a Place heretofore mean and ignoble, should be inspir'd with so high an Ambition and Thirst of Fame: While you, Athenians, &c."’ These Praises excite the highest Admiration; but the Views presented by the Orator, carry us not, we see, beyond the Hero himself, nor even regard the future advantageous Consequences of his Valour.

THE martial Temper of the Romans, inflam'd by continued Wars, had rais'd their Esteem of Courage [Page 151] so high, that, in their Language, it was call'd Virtue, by way of Excellence and Distinction from all other moral Qualities. The Suevi, in the Opi­nion of Tacitus *, drest their Hair with a laudable Intent: Not for the Pnrposes of loving or being belov'd: They adorn'd themselves only for their Enemies, and in order to appear more terrible. A Sentiment of the Historian, which would sound a little oddly, in other Nations and other Ages.

THE Scythians, according to Herodotus , after fl [...]aing the Skin from the Heads of their Enemies, whom they have slain, dress it like Leather, and use it as a Towel; and whoever has most of these Towels is most esteem'd amongst them. So much had martial Bravery, in that Nation, as well as in many others, destroy'd the Sentiments of Humanity; a Virtue surely much more useful and engaging.

'Tis indeed observable, that, amongst all uncul­tivated Nations, which have not, as yet, had full Experience of the Advantages, attending Benefi­cence, Justice, and the social Virtues, Courage is the predominant Excellence; what is most celebrated by Poets, recommended by Parents and Instructors, and admir'd by the Public in general. The Ethics [Page 152] of Homer are, in this Particular, very different from those of Fenelon, his elegant Imitator; and such as are well suited to an Age, wherein one Hero, as re­markt by Thucydides *, could ask another, without Offence, if he was a Robber or not. Such also, very lately, was the System of Ethics, that prevail'd in many barbarous Parts of Ireland; if we may credit Spenser, in his judicious Account of the State of that Kingdom.

OF the same Class of Virtues with Courage is that undisturb'd, philosophical TRANQUILLITY, superior to Pain, Sorrow, Anxiety, and each Assault of adverse Fortune. Conscious of his own Virtue, say the Philosophers, the Sage elevates himself above every Accident of Life; and securely plac'd in the Temple of Wisdom, looks down on inferior Mor­tals, engag'd in Pursuit of Honours, Riches, Re­putation, and each frivolous Enjoyment. These Pretensions, no doubt, when stretch'd to the utmost, [Page 153] are much too magnificent for human Nature. They carry, however, a Grandeur, with them, which seizes the Spectator, and strikes him with Admira­tion. And the nearer we can approach, in Practice, to this sublime Tranquillity and Indifference (for we must distinguish it from a stupid Insensibility) the more secure Enjoyment shall we attain within our­selves, and the more Greatness of Mind shall we discover to the World. The philosophical Tran­quillity may, indeed, be consider'd only as a Branch of Magnanimity.

WHO admires not Socrates; his perpetual Serenity and Contentment, amidst the greatest Poverty and domestic Vexations; his resolute Contempt of Riches, and magnanimous Care of preserving Liberty, while he refused all Assistance from his Friends and Disciples, and avoided even the Dependance of an Obligation? Epictetus had not so much as a Door to his little House or Hovel; and therefore, soon lost his Iron Lamp, the only Furniture he had worth taking. But resolving to disappoint all Robbers for the future, he supply'd its Place with an earthen Lamp, which he very peaceably kept Possession of ever after.

[Page 154] IN Antiquity, the Heroes of Philosophy, as well as those of War and Patriotism, have a Grandeur and Force of Sentiment, which astonishes our nar­row Souls, and is rashly rejected as extravagant and supernatural. They, in their Turn, I allow, would have had equal Reason to consider, as romantic and incredible, the Degree of Humanity, Clemency, Order, Tranquillity, and other social Virtues, to which, in the Administration of Government, we have attain'd in modern Times, had any one been then able to have made a fair Representation of them. Such is the Compensation, which Nature, or rather Education has made, in the Distribution of Excellencies and Virtues, in these different Ages.

THE Merit of BENEVOLENCE, arising from its Utility, and its Tendency to the Good of Man­kind, has been already explain'd, and is, no doubt, the Source of a considerable Part of that Esteem, which is so universally pay'd it But it will also be allow'd, that the very Softness and Tenderness of the Sentiment, its engaging Endearments, its fond Expressions, its de­licate Attentions, and all that Flow of mutual Con­fidence and Regard, which enter into a warm At­tachment of Love and Friendship: It will be al­low'd, I say, that these Feelings being delightful in themselves, are necessarily communicated to the [Page 155] Spectators, and melt them into the same Fondness and Delicacy. The Tears naturally start in our Eyes on the Observation of a warm Sentiment of this Nature: Our Breast heaves, our Heart is agitat­ed, and every humane tender Principle of our Frame, is set in Motion, and gives us the purest and most satisfactory Enjoyment.

WHEN Poets form Descriptions of Elyzian Fields, where the blessed Inhabitants stand in no Need of each other's Assistance, they yet represent them, as maintaining a constant Entercourse of Love and Friendship, and sooth our Fancy with the pleasing Image of these soft and gentle Passions. The Idea of tender Tranquillity in a pastoral Arcadia is agree­able from a like Principle, as has been observ'd above*.

WHO would live amidst perpetual Wrangling, and Scolding, and mutual Reproaches? The Rough­ness and Harshness of these Emotions disturb and displease us: We suffer by Contagion and Sympathy; nor can we remain indifferent Spectators, even tho' certain, that no pernicious Consequences would ever follow from such angry Passions.

[Page 156] As a certain Proof, that the whole Merit of Bene­volence is not deriv'd from its Usefulness, we may observe, that, in a kind Way of Blame, we say, a Person is too good; when he exceeds his Part in So­ciety, and carries his Attention for others beyond the proper Bounds and Measure. In like Manner, we say a Man is too high-spirited, too intrepid, too indiffer­ent about Fortune: Reproaches, which really, at the bottom, imply more Regard and Esteem than many Panegyrics. Being accustom'd to rate the Merit and Demerit of Characters chiefly by their useful or per­nicious Tendencies, we cannot forbear applying the Epithet of Blame, when we discover a Sentiment, which rises to a Degree that is hurtful: But it may happen, at the same Time, that its noble Elevation, or its engaging Tenderness so seizes the Heart, as rather to encrease our Friendship and Concern for the Person*.

THE Amours and Attachments of Harry the IVth, during the civil Wars of the League, frequently hurt his Interest and his Cause; but all the young, at [Page 157] least, and amorous, who can sympathize with that Passion, will allow, that this very Weakness (for they will readily call it such) chiefly endears that Hero, and interests them in his Fortunes.

THE excessive Bravery and resolute Inflexibility of Charles the XIIth ruin'd his own Country, and in­fested all his Neighbours: But have such Splendour and Greatness in their Appearance, as strike us with Admiration; and they might, in some Degree, be even approv'd of, if they betray'd not sometimes too evident Symptoms of Madness and Disorder.

THE Athenians pretended to the first Invention of Agriculture and of Laws; and always valu'd them­selves extremely on the Benefit thereby procur'd to the whole Race of Mankind. They also boasted, and with Reason, of their warlike Enterprizes; particularly against those innumerable Fleets and Armies of Persians, which invaded Greece during the Reign of Darius and of Xerxes. But tho' there be no Comparison, in Point of Utility, betwixt these peaceful and military Honours; yet we find, that the Orators, who have wrote such elaborate Pane­gyrics on that famous City, have chiefly triumph'd in displaying the warlike Atchievments. Lysias, Thucy­dides, Plato and Isocrates discover, all of them, the same Partiality: which, tho' condemn'd by calm [Page 158] Reason and Reflection, appears so natural in the Mind of Man.

'Tis observable, that the great Charm of Poetry consists in lively Pictures of the sublime Passions, Magnanimity, Courage, Disdain of Fortune; or those of the tender Affections, Love and Friendship; which warm the Heart, and diffuse over us similar Sentiments and Emotions. And tho' every Kind of Passion, even the most disagreeable, such as Grief and Anger, are observ'd, when excited by Poetry, to convey a Pleasure and Satisfaction, from a Me­chanism of Nature, not easy to be explain'd: Yet those more elevated or softer Affections have a pecu­liar Influence, and please from more than one Cause or Principle. Not to mention, that they alone in­terest us in the Fortune of the Persons represented, or communicate any Esteem and Affection for their Character.

AND can it possibly be doubted, that this Talent itself of Poets, to move the Passions, this PA­THETIC and SUBLIME of Sentiment, is a very considerable Merit, and being enhanc'd by its extreme Rarity, may exalt the Person possest of it, above every Character of the Age, in which he lives? The Prudence, Address, Steadiness, and be­nign Government of Augustus, adorn'd with all the [Page 159] Splendour of his noble Birth and imperial Crown, render him but an unequal Competitor for Fame with Virgil, who lays nothing into the opposite Scale but the divine Beauties of his poetical Genius.

THE very Sensibility to these Beauties or a DELICACY of Taste, is itself a Beauty in any Character; as conveying the purest, the most dur­able, and most innocent of all Enjoyments.

THESE are some Instances of the Species of Virtue, that are prais'd from the immediate Pleasure, which they communicate to the Person, possest of them. No Views of Utility or of future beneficial Consequences enter into this Sentiment of Appro­bation; yet is it of a similar Kind to that other Sentiment, which arises from Views of public or private Utility. The same social Sympathy, we may observe, or Fellow-feeling with human Happiness or Misery, gives Rise to both; and this Analogy in all the Parts of the present Theory may justly be re­garded as a Confirmation of it.

Of QUALITIES immediately agreeable to Others*.

AS the mutual Shocks, in Society, and the Op­positions of Interest and Self-love have con­strain'd Mankind to establish the Laws of Justice; in order to preserve the Advantages of common As­sistance and Protection: in like Manner, the eternal Contrarieties, in Company, of Men's Pride and Self-conceit have introduc'd the Rules of GOOD-MANNERS or POLITENESS, in order to facilitate the Intercourse of Minds, and an un­disturb'd Commerce and Conversation. Amongst [Page 162] well-bred People, a mutual Deference is affected; Contempt of others disguis'd: Authority conceal'd: Attention given to each in his Turn: And an easy Stream of Conversation maintain'd, without Vehe­mence, without mutual Interruption, without Eager­ness for Victory, and without any Airs of Superio­rity. These Attentions and Regards are immediately agreeable to others, abstracted from any Regard to Utility or beneficial Tendencies: They conciliate Affection, promote Esteem, and enhance extremely the Merit of the Person, who regulates his Behaviour by them.

MANY of the Forms of Breeding are arbitrary and casual: But the Thing exprest by them is still the same. A Spaniard goes out of his own House before his Guest, to signify, that he leaves him Master of all. In other Countries, the Landlord walks out last, as a common Mark of Deference and Regard.

BUT in order to render a Man perfect Good-company, he must have WIT and INGENUITY as well as Good-manners. What Wit is, it may not be easy to define; but 'tis easy surely to determine, that 'tis a Quality immediately agreeable to others, and com­municating, on its first Appearance, a lively Joy and Satisfaction to every one, that has any Comprehen­sion [Page 163] of it. The most profound Metaphysics, indeed, might be employ'd, in explaining the various Kinds and Species of Wit; and many Classes of it, which are now receiv'd on the simple Testimony of Taste and Sentiment, might, perhaps, be resolv'd into more general Principles. But this is sufficient for our present Purpose, that it does affect Taste and Sentiment, and bestowing an immediate Enjoyment, is a sure Source of Approbation and Affection.

IN Countries, where Men pass all their Time in Conversation, and Visits and Assemblies, these compa­nionable Qualities, so to speak, are of high Estima­tion, and form a chief Part of personal Merit. In Countries, where Men live a more domestic Life, and either are employ'd in Business or amuse them­selves in a narrower Circle of Acquaintance, the more solid Qualities are chiefly regarded. Thus, I have observ'd, that, amongst the French, the first Questions, with regard to a Stranger, are, Is he polite? Has he Wit? In our own Country, the chief Praise bestow'd is always that of a good-natur'd, sensible Fellow.

IN Conversation, the lively Spirit of Dialogue is agreeable, even to those who desire not to have any Share of the Discourse: Hence a Teller of long Stories or a pompous Declaimer is very little approv'd [Page 164] of. But most Men desire likewise their Share in the Conversation, and regard, with a very evil Eye, that Loquacity, which deprives them of a Right they are naturally so jealous of.

THERE are a Set of harmless Lyars, frequently to be met with in Company, who deal much in the Mar­velous and Extraordinary. Their usual Intention is to please and entertain; but as Men are delighted with nothing but what they conceive to be Truth, these People mistake extremely the Means of pleasing, and incur universal Blame. Some Indulgence, how­ever, to Lying or Fiction is given in humourous Stories; because it is there agreeable and enter­taining; and Truth is not of any Importance.

ELOQUENCE, Genius of all Kinds, even good Sense, and sound Reasoning, when it rises to an eminent Degree, and is employ'd upon Subjects of any considerable Dignity and nice Discernment; all these Qualities seem immediately agreeable, and have a Merit distinct from their Usefulness. Rarity, likewise, which so much enhances the Price of every Thing, must set an additional Value on these noble Talents of the human Mind.

MODESTY may be understood in different Senses, even abstracted from Chastity, which has [Page 165] been already treated of. It sometimes means that Tenderness and Nicety of Honour, that Apprehen­sion of Blame, that Dread of Intrusion or Injury to­wards others, that Pudor, which is the proper Guar­dian of every Kind of Virtue, and a sure Preserva­tive against Vice and Corruption. But its most usual Meaning is, when it is oppos'd to Impudence and Ar­rogance, and expresses a Diffidence of our own Judg­ment, and a due Attention and Regard to others. In young Men chiefly, this Quality is a sure Sign of Good-sense; and is also the certain Means of aug­menting that Endowment, by preserving their Ears open to Instruction, and making them still grasp after new Attainments. But it has a farther Charm to every Spectator; by flattering each Man's Vanity, and presenting the Appearance of a docile Pupil, who receives, with proper Attention and Respect, every Word they utter*.

[Page 166] A DESIRE of Fame, Reputation, or a Character with others, is so far from being blameable, that it [Page 167] seems inseparable from Virtue, Genius, Capacity, and a generous or noble Disposition. An Attention, even to trivial Matters, in order to please, is also expected and demanded by Society; and no one is surpriz'd, if he finds a Man in Company, to observe a greater Elegance of Dress and more pleasant Flow of Conversation, than when he passes his Time, at home, and altogether with his own Family. Where­in, then, consists VANITY, which is so justly regarded as a Fault or Imperfection? It seems to consist chiefly in such an intemperate Display of our Advantages, Honours and Accomplishments; in such an importunate and open Demand of Praise and Admiration, as is offensive to others, and encroaches too far on their secret Vanity and Ambition It is besides a sure Symptom of the Want of true Dignity [Page 168] and Elevation of Mind, which is so great an Orna­ment to any Character. For why that impatient Desire of Applause; as if you were not justly en­titled to it, and might not reasonably expect it would for ever attend you? Why so anxious to inform us of the great Company you have kept; the obliging Things, that were said to you; the Honours, the Distinctions you met with; as if these were not Things of Course, and what we could readily, of ourselves, have imagin'd, without being told of them?

DECENCY, or a proper Regard to Age, Sex, Character and Station in the World, may be rank'd among the Qualities, which are immediately agree­able to others, and which, by that Means, acquire Praise and Approbation. An effeminate Behaviour in a Man, a rough Manner in a Woman; these are ugly, because unsuitable to each Character, and different from the Qualities we expect in the Sexes. 'Tis as if a Tragedy abounded in comic Beauties, or a Comedy in tragic. The Disproportions hurt the Eye, and convey a disagreeable Sentiment to the Spectators, the Source of Blame and Disapproba­tion. This is that Indecorum, which is explain'd so much at large by Cicero in his Offices.

[Page 169] AMONGST the other Virtues, we may also give CLEANLINESS a Place; since it naturally renders us agreeable to others, and is no inconsider­able Source of Love and Affection. No one will deny, that a Negligence in this Particular 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 Origin of moral Distinctions, about which the Learned have involved themselves in such Mazes of Perplexity and Error.

BUT besides all the agreeable Qualities, the Origin of whose Beauty we can, in some Degree, explain and account for, there still remains something myste­rious and unaccountable, which conveys an imme­diate Satisfaction to the Spectators, but how, or why, or for what Reason, they cannot pretend to determine. There is a MANNER, a Grace, a Genteelness, an I-know-not-what, which some Men possess above others, which is very different from ex­ternal Beauty and Comeliness, and which, however, catches our Affection almost as suddenly and power­fully. And tho' this Manner be chiefly talk'd of in the Passion betwixt the Sexes, where the conceal'd Magic is easily explain'd, yet surely much of it pre­vails [Page 170] in all our Estimation of Characters, and forms no inconsiderable Part of personal Merit. This Class of Virtues, therefore, must be trusted entirely to the blind, but sure Testimony of Taste and Sentiment; and must be consider'd as a Part of Ethics, left by Nature to baffle all the Pride of Philosophy, and make her sensible of her narrow Boundaries and slender Acquisitions.

WE approve of another, because of his Wit, Po­liteness, Modesty, Decency, or any agreeable Qua­lity he possesses, although he be not of our Acquain­tance, nor has ever given us any Entertainment, by Means of these Accomplishments. The Idea, which we form of their Effect on his Acquaintance, has an agreeable Influence on our Imagination, and gives us the Sentiment of Approbation. This Principle enters into all the Judgments, which we form concerning Morals.

CONCLUSION of the Whole.


IT may justly appear surprizing, that any Man, in so late an Age, should find it requisite to prove, by elaborate Reasonings, that VIRTUE or PERSONAL MERIT consists altogether in the Possession of Qualities, useful or agreeable to the Person himself or to others. It might be expected that this Principle would have occur'd even to the first rude, unpractis'd Enquirers concerning Morals, and been receiv'd, from its own Evidence, without any Argument or Disputation. Whatever is valuable in any Kind so naturally classes itself under the Di­vision of useful or agreeable, the utile or the dulce, that 'tis not easy to imagine, why we should ever seek farther, or consider the Question as a Matter of nice Research or Enquiry. And as every Thing [Page 172] useful or agreeable must possess these Qualities with regard either to the Person himself or to others, the compleat Delineation or Description of Merit seems to be perform'd as naturally as a Shadow is cast by the Sun, or an Image is reflected upon Water. If the Ground, on which the Shadow is cast, be not broken and uneven, nor the Surface, from which the Image is reflected, disturb'd and confus'd, a just Figure is immediately presented, without any Art or Attention. And it seems a reasonable Presump­tion, that Systems and Hypotheses have perverted our natural Understanding, when a Theory, so simple and obvious, could so long have escap'd the most elaborate Scrutiny and Examination.

BUT however the Case may have far'd with Phi­losophy; in common Life, these Principles are still implicitely maintain'd; nor is any other Topic of Praise or Blame ever recur'd to, when we employ any Panegyric or Satyre, any Applause or Censure of human Action and Behaviour. If we observe Men, in every Intercourse of Business or Pleasure, in each Conference and Conversation, we shall find them no where, except in the Schools, at any Loss upon this Subject. What so natural, for Instance, as the following Dialogue? You are very happy, we shall suppose one to say, addressing himself to [Page 173] another, that you have given your Daughter to Cle­anthes: He is a Man of Honour and Humanity. Every one, who has any Intercourse with him, is sure of fair and kind Treatment*. I congratulate you too, says another, on the promising Expectations of this Son-in-law; whose assiduous Application to the Sudy of the Laws, whose quick Penetration and early Knowledge both of Men and Business, prog­nosticate the greatest Honours and Advancement. You surprize me much, replies a third, when you talk of Cleanthes as a Man of Business and Appli­cation. I met him lately in a Circle of the gayest Company, and he was the very Life and Soul of our Conversation: So much Wit with Good-manners; so much Gallantry without Affectation; so much in­genious Knowledge so genteely deliver'd, I have never before observ'd in any one. You would ad­mire him still more, says a fourth, if you knew him more familiarly. That Cheerfulness, which you might remark in him, is not a sudden Flash struck out by Company: It runs thro' the whole Tenor of his Life, and preserves a perpetual Serenity on his Countenance, and Tranquillity in his Soul. He has met with severe Trials, Misfortunes as well as Dangers; and by his Greatness of Mind, was still [Page 174] superior to all of them*. The Image, Gentlemen, you have here delineated of Cleanthes, cry I, is that of accomplish'd Merit. Each of you has given a Stroke of the Pencil to his Figure; and you have unawares exceeded all the Pictures drawn by Gratian or Castiglione. A Philosopher might select this Cha­racter as a Model of perfect Virtue.

AND as every Quality, which is useful or agreeable to ourselves or others, is, in common Life, admitted under the Denomination of Virtue or personal Merit; so no other will ever be receiv'd, where Men judge of Things by their natural, unprejudic'd Reason, without the delusive Glosses of Superstition and false Religion. Celibacy, Fasting, Penances, Mortification, Self-denial, Humility, Silence, So­litude and the whole Train of monkish Virtues; for what Reason are they every where rejected by Men of Sense, but because they serve no Manner of Purpose; neither advance a Man's Fortune in the World, nor render him a more valuable Member of Society; neither qualify him for the Entertainment of Company, nor encrease his Power of Self-en­joyment? We observe, on the contrary, that they cross all these desirable Ends; stupify the Under­standing and harden the Heart, obscure the Fancy [Page 175] and sower the Temper. We justly, therefore trans­fer them to the opposite Column, and place them in the Catalogue of Vices; nor has any Superstition Force sufficient, amongst Men of the World, to pervert entirely these natural Sentiments. A gloomy, hair-brain'd Enthusiast, after his Death, may have Place in the Calendar; but will scarce ever be ad­mitted, when alive, into Intimacy and Society, ex­cept by those who are as delirious and dismal as himself.

IT seems a Happiness in the present Theory, that it enters not into that vulgar Dispute concerning the Degrees of Benevolence or Self-love, which prevail in human Nature; a Dispute, which is never likely to have any Issue, both because Men, who have taken Party, are not easily convinc'd, and because the Phaenomena, which can be produc'd on either Side, are so dispers'd, so uncertain, and subject to so many Interpretations, that 'tis scarce possible accu­rately to compare them, or draw from them any de­terminate Inference or Conclusion. 'Tis sufficient for our present Purpose, if it be allow'd, what surely, without the greatest Absurdity, cannot be disputed, that there is some Benevolence, however small, in­fus'd into our Bosom; some Spark of Friendship for human Kind; some Particle of the Dove, kneaded into our Frame, along with the Elements of the [Page 176] Wolf and Serpent. Let these generous Sentiments be suppos'd ever so weak; let them be hardly suf­ficient to move even a Hand or Finger of our Body; they must still direct the Determinations of our Mind, and where every Thing else is equal, produce a cool Preference of what is useful and serviceable to Man­kind, above what is pernicious and dangerous. A moral Distinction, therefore, immediately arises; a general Sentiment of Blame and Approbation; a Tendency, however faint, to the Objects of the one, and a proportionable Aversion to those of the other. Nor will those Reasoners, who so earnestly maintain the predominant Selfishness of human Kind, be any way scandaliz'd at hearing of the weak Sentiments of Virtue, implanted in our Nature. On the con­trary, they are found as ready to maintain the one Tenet as the other; and their Spirit of Satyre, (for such it appears, rather than of Corruption) naturally gives Rise to both Opinions; which have, indeed, a great, and almost indissoluble Connexion together.

AVARICE, Ambition, Vanity, and all Passions, vulgarly, tho' improperly, compriz'd under the De­nomination of Self-love, are here excluded from our Theory concerning the Origin of Morals, not be­cause they are too weak, but because they have not a proper Direction, for that Purpose. The Notion of Morals implies some Sentiment, common to all [Page 177] Mankind, which recommends the same Object to general Approbation, and makes every Man, or most Men, agree in the same Opinion or Decision concerning it. It also implies some Sentiment, so universal and comprehensive as to extend to all Man­kind, and render the Actions and Conduct, even of Persons the most remote, an Object of Censure or Applause, according as they agree or disagree with that Rule of Right, which is establish'd. These two requisite Circumstances belong alone to the Senti­ment of Humanity here insisted on. The other Passions produce, in every Breast, many strong Sen­timents of Desire and Aversion, Affection and Hatred; but these neither are felt so much in com­mon, nor are so comprehensive, as to be the Foun­dation of any general System and establish'd Theory of Blame or Approbation.

WHEN a Man denominates another his Enemy, his Rival, his Antagonist, his Adversary, he is understood to speak the Language of Self-love, and to express Sentiments, peculiar to himself, and arising from his particular Circumstances and Situation: But when he bestows on any Man the Epithets of vicious or odious or deprav'd, he then speaks another Language, and expresses Sentiments, in which he expects all his Audience are to concur with him. He must here, therefore, depart from his private and particular [Page 178] Situation, and must choose a Point of View, com­mon to him with others: He must move some uni­versal Principle of the human Frame, and touch a String, to which all Mankind have an Accord and Symphony. If he means, therefore, to express, that this Man possesses Qualities, whose Tendency is pernicious to Society, he has chosen this common Point in View, and has touch'd the Principle of Hu­manity, in which every Man, in some Degree, concurs. While the human Heart is compounded of the same Elements as at present, it will never be al­together indifferent to the Good of Mankind, nor entirely unaffected with the Tendencies of Characters and Manners. And tho' this Affection of Humanity may not generally be esteem'd so strong, as Ambition or Vanity, yet, being common to all Men, it can alone be the Foundation of Morals, or of any ge­neral System of Conduct and Behaviour. One Man's Ambition is not another's Ambition; nor will the same Event or Object satisfy both: But the Huma­nity of one Man is the Humanity of every one; and the same Object touches this Passion in all human Creatures.

BUT the Sentiments, which arises from Humanity, are not only the same in all human Creatures, and produce the same Approbation or Censure; but they also comprehend all human Creatures; nor is there [Page 179] any one, whose Conduct and Character is not, by their Means, an Object, to every one, of Censure or Approbation. On the contrary those other Pas­sions, commonly denominated selfish, both produce different Sentiments in each Individual, according to his particular Situation; and also contemplate the greatest Part of Mankind with the utmost Indiffe­rence and Unconcern. Whoever has a high Regard and Esteem for me flatters my Vanity; whoever expresses Contempt mortifies and displeases me: But as my Name is known but to a small Part of Man­kind, there are few, that come within the Sphere of this Passion, or excite, on its Account, either my Affection or Disgust. But if you represent a tyran­nical, insolent, or barbarous Behaviour, in any Country or in any Age of the World; I soon carry my Eye to the pernicious Tendency of such a Con­duct, and feel the Sentiments of Repugnance and Displeasure towards it. No Character can be so re­mote as to be, in this Light, altogether indifferent to me. What is beneficial to Society or to the Person himself must still be prefer'd. And every Quality or Action, of every human Being, must, by this Means, be rank'd under some Class or Denomination, expressive of general Censure or Applause.

[Page 180] WHAT more, therefore, can we ask to distinguish the Sentiments, dependant on Humanity, from those [...] any other Passion, or to satisfy us [...] the Origin of Morals, and not the [...]? Whatever Conduct gains my Approbation, by [...] Humanity, procures also the Ap­plause o [...] all Mankind, by affecting the same Prin­ciple in [...]. But what serves my Avarice or Am­bition pleases only these Passions in me, and affects not the Avarice or Ambition of the rest of Mankind. No Conduct, in any Man. which has a beneficial Tendency, but is agreeable to my Humanity, how­ever remote the Person: But every Man, so far re­mov'd as neither to cross nor serve my Avarice and Ambition, is altogether indifferent to those Passions. The Distinction, therefore, betwixt those different Species of Sentiment being so strong and evident, Language must soon be moulded upon it, and must invent a peculiar Set of Terms to express those uni­versal Sentiments of Censure or Approbation, which arise from Humanity or from Views of general Use­fulness and its contrary. VIRTUE and VICE become then known: Morals are recogniz'd: Cer­tain general Ideas are fram'd of human Conduct and Behaviour: Such Measures are expected from Men, in such Situations: This Action is determin'd con­formable [Page 181] to our abstract Rule; that other, contrary. And by such universal Principles are the particular Sentiments of Self-love frequently controul'd and limited*.

FROM Instances of popular Tumults, Seditions, Factions, Panics, and all Passions, which are shar'd with a Multitude; we may learn the Influence of Society, in exciting and supporting any Emotion; [Page 182] while the most ungovernable Disorders are rais'd, we find, by that Means, from the slightest and most frivolous Occasions. Solon was no very cruel, tho', perhaps, an unjust Legislator, who punish'd Neuters in civil Wars; and few, I believe, would, in such Cases, incur the Penalty, were their Affection and Discourse allow'd sufficient to absolve them. No Selfishness, and scarce any Philosophy, has there Force sufficient to support a total Coolness and Indif­ference; and he must be more or less than Man, who kindles not in the common Blaze. What Won­der, then, that moral Sentiments are found of such Influence in Life; tho' springing from Principles, which may appear, at first Sight, somewhat small and delicate? But these Principles, we must remark, are social and universal: They form, in a Manner, the Party of Human-kind against Vice or Disorder, its common Enemy: And as the benevolent Concern for others is diffus'd, in a greater or less Degree, over all Men, and is the same in all, it occurs more frequently in Discourse, is foster'd by Society and Conversation, and the Blame and Approbation, consequent on it, are thereby rouz'd from that Le­thargy, into which they are probably lull'd, in so­litary and uncultivated Nature. Other Passions, tho' perhaps originally stronger, yet being selfish and private, are often over-power'd by its Force, and [Page 183] yield the Dominion of our Breast to those social and public Principles.

ANOTHER Spring of our Constitution, that brings great Addition of Force to moral Sentiment, is, the Love of Fame; which rules, with such uncontrol'd Authority, in all generous Minds, and is often the grand Object of all their Designs and Undertakings. By our continual and earnest Pursuit of a Character, a Name, a Reputation in the World, we bring our own Deportment and Conduct frequently in Review, and consider how they appear in the Eyes of those, who approach and regard us. This constant Habit of surveying ourself, as it were, in Reflexion, keeps alive all the Sentiments of Right and Wrong, and begets, in noble Natures, a certain Reverence for themselves as well as others; which is the surest Guardian of every Virtue. The animal Conve­niencies and Pleasures sink gradually in their Value; while every inward Beauty and moral Grace is studi­ously acquir'd, and the Mind is accomplish'd in each Perfection, that can adorn or embellish a rational Creature.

HERE is the most perfect Morality we are ac­quainted with: Here is display'd the Force of many Sympathies. Our moral Sentiment is itself a Feeling chiefly of that Nature: And our Regard to a Cha­racter [Page 184] with others seems to arise only from a Care of preserving a Character with ourselves, in order to which we find it necessary to prop our tottering Judgment on the correspondent Approbation of Mankind.

BUT in order to accommodate Matters, and re­move, if possible, every Difficulty, let us allow all these Reasonings to be false. Let us allow, that when we resolve the Pleasure, that arises from Views of Utility, into the Sentiments of Humanity and Sympathy, we have embrac'd a wrong Hypothesis. Let us confess it necessary to find some other Expli­cation of that Applause, which is paid to all Ob­jects, whether inanimate, animate or rational, if they have a Tendency to promote the Welfare and Advantage of others. However difficult it be to conceive, that an Object is approv'd of, on Account of its Tendency to a certain End, while the End itself is totally indifferent; let us swallow this Ab­surdity, and consider what are the Consequences. The preceding Delineation or Definition of VIRTUE must still retain its Evidence and Authority: It must still be allow'd, that every Quality of the Mind, which is useful or agreeable to the Person himself or to others, communicates a Pleasure to the Spectator, engages his Esteem, and is admitted under the ho­nourable Denomination of Virtue or Merit. Are [Page 185] not Justice, Fidelity, Honour, Veracity, Allegiance, Chastity esteem'd solely on Account of their Ten­dency to promote the Good of Society? Is not that Tendency inseperable from Humanity, Benevolence, Lenity, Generosity, Gratitude, Moderation, Ten­derness, Friendship, and all the other social Vir­tues? Can it possibly be doubted, that Industry, Discretion, Frugality, Secrecy, Order, Perseverance, Forethought, Judgment, and that whole Class of Virtues, of which many Pages would not contain the Catalogue; can it be be doubted, I say, that the Tendency of these Virtues to promote the In­terest and Happiness of their Possessor is the sole Foundation of their Merit? Who can dispute that a Mind, which supports a perpetual Serenity and Cheerfulness, a noble Dignity and undaunted Spirit, a tender Affection and Good-will to all around; as it has more Enjoyment within itself, is also a more animating and rejoicing Spectacle, than if de­jected with Melancholy, tormented with Anxiety, irritated with Rage, or sunk into the most abject Baseness and Degeneracy? And as to the Qualities, immediately agreeable to others, they speak sufficiently for themselves; and he must be unhappy, indeed, either in his own Temper, or in his Situation and Circumstances, who has never perceiv'd the Charms of a facetious Wit or flowing Affability, of a delicate [Page 186] Modesty or decent Genteelness of Address and Man­ner.

I AM sensible, that nothing can be more unphilo­sophical than to be positive or dogmatical on any Subject; and that, even if excessive Scepticism could be maintain'd, it would not be more destructive to all just Reasoning and Enquiry. I am convinc'd, that, where Men are the must sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken, and have there given Reins to Passion, without that proper Delibera­tion and Suspence, which can alone secure them from the grossest Absurdities. Yet I must confess, that this Enumeration puts the Matter in so strong a Light, that I cannot, at present, be more assur'd of any Truth, which I learn from Reasoning and Ar­gument, than that Virtue consists altogether in the Usefulness or Agreeableness of Qualities to the Person himself, possest of them, or to others, who have any Intercourse with him. But when I reflect, that, tho' the Bulk and Figure of the Earth have been measur'd and delineated, tho' the Motions of the Tides have been accounted for, the Order and Oeconomy of the heavenly Bodies subjected to their proper Laws, and INFINITE itself reduc'd to Calculation; yet Men still dispute concerning the Foundation of their moral Duties: When I reflect on this, I say, I fall back into Diffidence and Scep­ticism, [Page 187] and suspect, that an Hypothesis, so obvious▪ had it been a true one, would, long 'ere now, have been receiv'd, by the unanimous Suffrage and Con­sent of Mankind.


THERE remains nothing, but to consider briefly our Obligation to Virtue, and to en­quire, whether every Man, who has any Regard to his own Happiness and Welfare, will not best find his Account in the Practice of every moral Duty. If this can be clearly ascertain'd from the foregoing Theory, we shall have the Satisfaction to reflect, that we have advanc'd Principles, which not only, 'tis hop'd, will stand the Test of Reasoning and Enquiry, but may contribute to the Amendment of Men's Lives, and their Improvement in Morality and social Virtue. And tho' the philosophical Truth of any Proposition by no Means depends on its Tendency to promote the Interest of Society; yet a Man has but a bad Grace, who delivers a Theory, however true, which, he must confess, leads to a Practice, dangerous and pernicious. Why rake into those Corners of Nature, which spread a Nuisance all around? Why dig up the Pestilence from the Pit, in which it is bury'd? The Ingenuity of your [Page 188] Researches may be admir'd; but your Systems will be detested: And Mankind will agree, if they can­not refute them, to sink them, at least, in eternal Silence and Oblivion: Truths, which are pernicious to Society, if any such there be, will yield to Errors, which are salutary and advantageous.

BUT what philosophical Truths can be more ad­vantageous to Society, than those here deliver'd, which represent Virtue in all her genuine and most engaging Charms, and make us approach her with Ease, Familiarity and Affection? The dismal Dress falls off, with which many Divines, and some Philo­sophers had cover'd her; and nothing appears but Gentleness, Humanity, Beneficence, Affability; nay even, at proper Intervals, Play, Frolic, and Gaiety. She talks not of useless Austerities and Rigors, Suf­ferance and Self-denial. She declares, that her sole Purpose is, to make her Votaries and all Mankind, during every Instant of their Existence, if possible, cheerful and happy; nor does she ever willingly part with any Pleasure but in Hopes of ample Compen­sation in some other Period of their Lives. The sole Trouble she demands is that of just Calculation, and a steady Preference of the greater Happiness. And if any austere Pretenders approach her, Enemies to Joy and Pleasure, she either rejects them as Hypo­crites and Deceivers, or if she admits them in her [Page 189] Train, they are rank'd, however, among the least favour'd of her Votaries.

AND indeed, to drop all figurative Expression, what Hopes can we ever have of engaging Mankind to a Practice, which we confess full of Austerity and Rigour? Or what Morality can ever serve any use­ful Purpose, unless it can show, by a particular Detail, that all the Duties it recommends, are also the true Interest of each Individual? And the peculiar Ad­vantage of the foregoing Theory, seems to be, that it furnishes proper Mediums for that Purpose.

THAT the Virtues, which are immediately useful or agreeable to the Person, possest of them, are de­sirable in a View to Self-interest, it would surely be superfluous to prove. Moralists, indeed, may spare themselves all the Pains they often take in recom­mending these Duties. To what Purpose collect Arguments to evince, that Temperance is advanta­geous, and the Excesses of Pleasure hurtful? When it appears, that these Excesses are only denominated such, because they are hurtful; and that, if the un­limited Use of strong Liquors, for Instance, no more impair'd Health or the Faculties of the Mind and Body than the Use of Air or Water, it would not be a whit more vicious or blameable.

[Page 190] IT seems equally superfluous to prove, that the companionable Virtues of Good-manners and Wit, Decency and Genteelness are more desirable than the contrary Qualities. Vanity alone, without other Considerations, is a sufficient Motive to make us wish the Possession of these Accomplishments. No Man was ever willingly deficient in this Particular. All our Failures here proceed from bad Education, Want of Capacity, or a perverse and unpliable Dis­position. Would you have your Company coveted, admir'd, follow'd; rather than hated, despis'd, avoided? Can any one seriously deliberate in the Case? As no Enjoyment is sincere, without some Reference to Company and Society; so no Society can be agreeable or even tolerable, where a Man feels his Presence unwelcome, and discovers all around him Symptoms of Aversion and Disgust.

BUT why, in the greater Society or Confederacy of Mankind, should not the Case be the same as in particular Clubs and Companies? Why is it more doubtful, that the enlarg'd Virtues of Humanity, Generosity, Beneficence are desirable with a View to Happiness and Self-interest, than the limited En­dowments of Ingenuity and Politeness? Are we apprehensive, that those social Affections have a greater and more immediate Interference, than any [Page 191] other Pursuits, with private Utility, and cannot be gratify'd without some important Sacrifices of Ho­nour and Advantage? If so, we are but ill instructed in the Nature of the human Passions, and are more influenc'd by verbal Distinctions than by real Dif­ferences.

WHATEVER Contradiction, may vulgarly be sup­pos'd betwixt the social and selfish Sentiments or Dis­positions, they are really no more opposite than selfish and ambitious, selfish and revengeful, selfish and vain. 'Tis requisite there be an original Pro­pensity of some Kind, in order to be a Basis to Self-love, by giving a Relish to the Objects of its Pur­suit; and none more fit for this Purpose than Bene­ficence or Humanity. The Goods of Fortune are spent in one Gratification or other: The Miser, who accumulates his annual Income, and lends it out at Interest, has really spent it in the Gratification of his Avarice. And 'twould be difficult to show, why a Man is more a Loser by a generous Action, than by any other Method of Expence; since the utmost he can attain, by the most elaborate Selfishness, is the Indulgence of some Affection.

NOW if Life, without Passion, must be altogether insipid and tiresome; let a Man suppose he has full Power of modelling his own Disposition, and let [Page 192] him deliberate what Appetite or Desire he would choose for the Foundation of his Happiness and Enjoyment. Every Affection, he would observe, when gratify'd by Success, gives a Satisfaction, pro­portion'd to its Force and Violence; but besides this Advantage, common to all, the immediate Feeling of Benevolence and Friendship, Humanity and Kindness, is sweet, smooth, tender, and agreeable, independent of all Fortune and Accidents. These Virtues are besides attended with a pleasing Con­sciousness and Remembrance, and keep us in Hu­mour with ourselves as well as others; while we re­tain the agreeable Reflection of having done our Part towards Mankind and Society. And tho' all Men show a Jealousy of our Success in the Pursuits of Avarice or Ambition; yet are we almost sure of their Good-will and Good-wishes, so long as we persevere in the Paths of Virtue, and employ our­selves in the Execution of generous Plans and Pur­poses. What other Passion is there, where we shall find so many Advantages united; an agreeable Sen­timent, a pleasing Consciousness, a good Reputa­tion? But of these Truths, we may observe, Men are, of themselves, pretty much convinc'd; nor are they deficient in their Duty to Society, because they would not wish to be generous, friendly, and hu­mane; but because they do not feel themselves such.

[Page 193] TREATING Vice with the greatest Candour, and making it all possible Concessions, we must acknow­ledge, that there is not, in any Instance, the smallest Pretext for giving it the Preference above Virtue, with a View to Self-interest; except, perhaps, in the Case of Justice, where a Man, taking Things in a certain Light, may often seem to be a Loser by his Integrity. And tho' 'tis acknowledg'd, that, without a Regard to Property, no Society could subsist; yet according to the imperfect Way, in which human Affairs are conducted, a sensible Knave, in particular Incidents, may think, that an Act of Ini­quity or Infidelity will make a considerable Addition to his Fortune, without causing any considerable Breach in the social Union and Confederacy. That Honesty is the best Policy, may be a good general Rule; but is liable to many Exceptions: And he, it may, perhaps, be judg'd, conducts himself with most Wisdom, who observes the general Rule, and takes Advantage of all the Exceptions.

I MUST confess, that if a Man thinks, that this Reasoning much requires an Answer, 'twill be a little difficult to find any, that will to him appear satisfactory and convincing. If his Heart does not rebel against such pernicious Maxims, if he feels no [Page 194] Reluctance to the Thoughts of Villainy or Baseness, he has indeed lost a considerable Motive to Virtue; and we may expect, that his Practice will be an­swerable to his Speculation. But in all ingenuous Natures, the Antipathy to Treachery and Roguery is too strong to be counter-ballanc'd by any Views of Profit or pecuniary Advantage. Inward Peace of Mind, Consciousness of Integrity, a satisfactory Re­view of our own Conduct; these are Circumstances very requisite to Happiness, and will be cherish'd and cultivated by every honest Man, who feels the Im­portance of them.

SUCH a one has, besides, the frequent Satisfaction of seeing Knaves, with all their pretended Cunning and Ability, betray'd by their own Maxims; and while they purpose to cheat only with Moderation and Secrecy, a tempting Incident occurs, Nature is frail, and they give into the Snare; whence they can never extricate themselves, without a total Loss of Reputation, and the Forfeiture of all future Trust and Confidence with Mankind.

BUT were they ever so secret and successful, the honest Man, if he has any Tincture of Philosophy, or even common Observation and Reflection, will discover, that they themselves are, in the End, the greatest Dupes, and have sacrific'd the invaluable [Page 195] Enjoyment of a Character, with themselves at least, for the Acquisition of worthless Toys and Gewgaws. How little is requisite to supply the Necessities of Na­ture? And in the View of Pleasure, what Compa­rison betwixt the unbought Satisfactions of Conver­sation, Society, Study, even Health and the common Beauties of Nature, but especially the peaceful Re­flection on one's own Conduct: What Comparison, I say, betwixt these, and the feverish, empty Amuse­ments of Luxury and Expence? These natural Plea­sures, indeed, are really without Price; both because they are below all Price in their Attainment, and above it in their Enjoyment.

Concerning moral SENTIMENT.

IF the foregoing Hypothesis be receiv'd, 'twill now be easy for us to determine the Question first stated*, concerning the general Principles of Morals; and tho' we postpon'd the Decision of that Question, lest it should then involve us in intricate Speculations, which are totally unfit for moral Discourses, we may resume it at present, and examine how far either Reason or Sentiment enters into all moral Determi­nations.

THE chief Foundation of moral Praise being sup­pos'd to lie in the Usefulness of any Quality or Action; 'tis evident, that Reason must enter for a considerable Share in all Determinations of this Kind; since nothing but that Faculty can instruct us in the Tendency of Qualities and Actions, and point [Page 198] out their beneficial Consequences to Society and to their Possessors. In many Cases, this is an Affair liable to great Controversy: Doubts may arise; op­posite Interests occur; and a Preference must be given to one Side, from very nice Views and a small Overballance of Utility. This is particularly re­markable in Questions with regard to Justice; as is, indeed, natural to suppose from that Species of Uti­lity, which attends this Virtue*. Were every single Instance of Justice, like that of Benevolence, bene­ficial and useful to Society; this would be a more simple State of the Case, and seldom liable to great Controversy. But as single Instances of Justice are often pernicious, in their first and immediate Ten­dency, and as the Advantage to Society results only from the Observance of the general Rule, and from the Concurrence and Combination of several Persons in the same equitable Conduct; the Case here be­comes more intricate and involv'd. The various Cir­cumstances of Society; the various Consequences of any Practice; the various Interests, which may be propos'd: These on many Occasions are doubtful, and subject to great Discussion and Enquiry. The Object of municipal Laws is to fix all Questions with regard to Justice: The Debates of Civilians; the Reflections of Politicians; the Pre­cedents [Page 199] of Histories and public Records, are all directed to the same Purpose. And a very accurate Reason or Judgment is often requisite, to give the true Determination, amidst such intricate Doubts arising from obscure or opposite Utilities.

BUT tho' Reason, when fully assisted and improv'd, be sufficient to instruct us in the pernicious or useful Tendencies of Qualities and Actions; it is not alone sufficient to produce any moral Blame or Approba­tion. Utility is only a Tendency to a certain End; and were the End totally indifferent to us, we should feel the same Indifference towards the Means. 'Tis requisite a Sentiment should here display itself, in order to give a Preference to the useful above the perni­cious Tendencies. This Sentiment can be no other than a Feeling for the Happiness of Mankind, and a Resentment of their Misery; since these are the different Ends, which Virtue and Vice have a Ten­dency to promote. Here therefore, Reason instructs us in the several Tendencies of Actions, and Huma­nity makes a Distinction in favour of those, which are useful and beneficial.

THIS Partition betwixt the Faculties of Under­standing and Sentiment, in all moral Decisions, seems clear from the preceding Hypothesis. But I shall suppose that Hypothesis false: 'Twill then be [Page 200] requisite to look out for some other Theory, that may be satisfactory; and I dare venture to affirm, that none such will ever be found, as long as we suppose Reason to be the sole Source of Morals. To prove this, it will be proper to weigh the five follow­ing Considerations.

I. 'Tis easy for a false Hypothesis to maintain some Appearance of Truth, while it keeps altoge­ther in Generals, makes use of undefin'd Terms, and employs Comparisons, instead of Instances. This is particularly remarkable in that Philosophy, which ascribes the Discernment of all moral Distinctions to Reason alone without the Concurrence of Sentiment. 'Tis impossible, in any particular Instance, that this Hypothesis can so much as be render'd intelligible; whatever specious Figure it may make in general Declamations and Discourses. Examine the Crime of Ingratitude, for Instance; which has Place, wherever we observe Good-will, exprest and known, along with Good-offices perform'd, on the one Side, and a Return of Ill-will or Indifference, with Ill-offices or Neglect, on the other: Anatomize all these Circumstances, and examine, by your Reason alone, wherein consists the Demerit or Blame: You never will come to any Issue or Conclusion.

[Page 201] REASON judges either of Matter of Fact or of Re­lations. Enquire then, first, where is that Matter of Fact, which we here call Crime; point it out; de­termine the Time of its Existence; describe its Essence or Nature; explain the Sense or Faculty, to which it discovers itself. It resides in the Mind of the Person, who is ungrateful. He must, therefore, feel it and be conscious of it. But nothing is there, except the Passion of Ill-will or absolute Indifference. You cannot say, that these, of themselves, always, and in all Circumstances, are Crimes. No: They are only Crimes, when directed towards Persons, who have before exprest and display'd Good-will towards us. Consequently, we may infer, that the Crime of Ingratitude is not any particular individual Fact; but arises from a Complication of Circum­stances, which, being presented to the Spectator, excites the Sentiment of Blame, by the particular Structure and Fabric of his Mind.

THIS Representation, you say, is false. Crime, indeed, consists not in a particular Fact, of whose Reality we are assur'd by Reason: But it consists in certain moral Relations, discoverable by Reason, in the same Manner as we discover, by Reason, the Truths of Geometry or Algebra. But what are the Relations, I ask, of which you here talk? In [Page 202] the Case stated above, I see first Good-will and Good-offices, in one Person; then Ill-will and Ill-offices in the other: Betwixt these, there is the Relation of Contrariety. Does the Crime consist in that Re­lation? But suppose a Person bore me Ill-will or did me Ill-offices; and I, in return, were indifferent towards him, or did him Good-offices: Here is the same Relation of Contrariety; and yet my Conduct is highly laudable. Twist and turn this Matter, as much as you will, you can never rest the Morality on Relation; but must have Recourse to the Deci­sions of Sentiment.

WHEN 'tis affirm'd, that two and three are equal to the half of ten; this Relation of Equality, I understand perfectly. I conceive, that if ten be di­vided into two Parts, of which one had as many Unites as the other; and if any of these Parts be compar'd to two added to three, it will contain as many Unites as that compound Number. But when you draw thence a Comparison to moral Relations, I own, I am altogether at a loss to understand you. A moral Action, a Crime, such as Ingratitude, is a complicated Object. Does the Morality consist in the Relation of its Parts to each other. How? After what Manner? Specify the Relation: Be more particular and explicite in your Propositions; and you will easily see their Falshood.

[Page 203] NO, say you, the Morality consists in the Relation of Action to the Rule of Right; and they are de­nominated good or ill, according as they agree or disagree with it. What then is this Rule of Right? Wherein does it consist? How is it determin'd? By Reason, you'll say, which examines the moral Relations of Actions. So that moral Relations are determin'd by the Comparison of Actions to a Rule. And the Role is determin'd by considering the moral Relations of Objects. Is not this fine Rea­soning?

ALL this is Metaphysics, you cry. That is enough: There needs nothing more to give a strong Presumption of Falshood. Yes, reply I: Here are Metaphysics surely: But they are all on your Side, who advance an abstruse Hypothesis, which can never be made intelligible, nor quadrate to any par­ticular Instance or Illustration. The Hypothesis we embrace is plain. It maintains, that Morality is de­termin'd by Sentiment. It defines Virtue to be, whatever mental Action or Quality gives to a Spectator the pleasing Sentiment of Approbation; and Vice the contrary. We then proceed to examine a plain Matter of Fact, viz. what Actions have this Influ­ence: We consider all the Circumstances, in which these Actions agree: And from thence endeavour to [Page 204] extract some general Observations with regard to these Sentiments. If you call this Metaphysics, and find any thing abstruse here, you need only conclude, that your Turn of Mind is not suited to the moral Sciences.

II. WHEN a Man, at any Time, deliberates con­cerning his own Conduct, (as, whether he had better, in a particular Emergence, assist a Brother or a Benefactor) he must consider these separate Rela­tions, with the whole Circumstances and Situation of the Persons, in order to determine his superior Duty and Obligation: And in order to determine the Proportion of Lines in any Triangle, 'tis ne­cessary to examine the Nature of that Figure, and the Relations, which its several Parts bear to each other. But notwithstanding this apparent Similarity in the two Cases, there is, at the bottom, an ex­treme Difference betwixt them. A speculative Reasoner concerning Triangles or Circles considers the several known and given Relations of the Parts of these Figures; and from thence infers some un­known Relation, which is dependent on the former. But in moral Deliberations, we must be acquainted, before-hand, with all the Objects, and all their Re­lations to each other; and from a Comparison of the whole, fix our Choice or Approbation. No new Fact to be ascertain'd: No new Relation to be [Page 205] discover'd. The whole Circumstances of the Case are suppos'd to be laid before us, 'ere we can fix any Sentence of Blame or Approbation. If any material Circumstance by yet unknown or doubtful, we must first employ our Enquiry or intellectual Faculties to assure us of it; and suspend for a Time all moral Decision or Sentiment. While we are ignorant, whether a Man was Aggressor or not, how can we determine, whether the person, who kill'd him, be criminal or innocent? But after every Circumstance, every Relation is known, the Understanding has no farther Room to operate, nor any Object, on which it could employ itself. The Approbation or Blame, which then ensues, cannot be the Work of the Judg­ment, but of the Heart, and is not a speculative Pro­position or Affirmation, but an active Feeling or Sen­timent. In the Disquisitions of the Understanding, from known Circumstances and Relations, we infer some new and unknown. In moral Decisions, the whole Circumstances and Relations must be ante­cedently known; and the Mind, from the Contem­plation of the Whole, feels some new Impression of Affection of Disgust, Esteem or Contempt, Appro­bation or Blame.

HENCE the great Difference betwixt a Mistake of Fact and one of Right; and hence the Reason, why the one is commonly criminal and not the other. [Page 206] When OEdipus kill'd Laius, he was ignorant of the Relation, and from Circumstances, innocent and in­voluntary, form'd erroneous Opinions concerning the Action he committed. But when Nero kill'd Agrippina, all the Relations betwixt himself and the person, and all the Circumstances of the Fact were antecedently known to him: But the Motive of Re­venge, or Fear or Interest, in his savage Heart, pre­vail'd over the Sentiments of Duty and Humanity. And when we express a Detestation against him, to which he, himself, in a little Time, became insen­sible; 'tis not, that we see any Relations, of which he was ignorant, but that, from the Rectitude of our Disposition, we feel Sentiments, against which he was harden'd, from Flattery and a long Perseve­rance in the most enormous Crimes. In these Sen­timents, then, not in a Discovery of Relations of any Kind, do all moral Determinations consist. Before we can pretend to form any Decision of this kind, every Thing must be known and ascertain'd on the Side of the Object or Action. Nothing re­mains but to feel, on our Part, some Sentiment of Blame or Approbation, whence we pronounce the Action criminal or virtuous.

III. THIS Doctrine will become still more evident, if we compare moral Beauty with natural, to which, in many Particulars, it bears so near a Resemblance. [Page 207] 'Tis on the Proportion, Relation, and Position of Parts, that all natural Beauty depends; but 'twould be absurd thence to infer, that the Perception of Beauty, like that of Truth in geometrical Problems, consists altogether in the Perception of Relations, and was perform'd entirely by the Understanding or intellectual Faculties. In all the Sciences, our Mind, from the known Relations, investigates the unknown: But in all Decisions of Taste or external Beauty, the whole Relations are before-hand obvious to the Eye, and we thence proceed to feel a Senti­ment of Complacency or Disgust, according to the Nature of the Object, and Disposition of our Or­gans.

EUCLID has fully explain'd all the Qualities of the Circle; but has not, in any Proposition, said a Word of its Beauty. The Reason is evident. The Beauty is not a Quality of the Circle. It lies not in any Part of the Line, whose Parts are all equally distant from a common Center. It is only the Effect, which that Figure operates upon the Mind, whose peculiar Fabric or Structure renders it susceptible of such Sentiments. In vain, would you look for it in the Circle, or seek it, either by your Senses or by mathematical Reasonings, in all the Properties of that Figure.

[Page 208] ATTEND to Palladio and Perrault, while they ex­plain all the Parts and Proportions of a Pillar: They talk of the Cornice and Freeze and Base and Enta­blature and Shaft and Architrave; and give the De­scription and Position of each of these Members. But should you ask the Description and Position of its Beauty, they would readily reply, that the Beauty is not any of the Parts or Members of a Pillar, but results from the Whole, when that complicated Fi­gure is presented to an intelligent Mind, susceptible of those finer Sensations. Till such a Spectator ap­pear, there is nothing but a Figure of such particular Dimensions and Proportions: From his Sentiments alone arises its Elegance and Beauty.

AGAIN; attend to Cicero, while he paints the Crimes of a Verres or a Catiline; you must acknow­ledge, that the moral Turpitude results, in the same Manner, from the Contemplation of the Whole, when presented to a Being, whose Organs have such a particular Structure and Formation. The Orator may paint Rage, Insolence, Barbarity on the one Side: Meekness, Sufferance, Sorrow, Innocence on the other: But if you feel no Indignation or Com­passion arise in you from this Complication of Cir­cumstances, you would in vain ask him, wherein consist, the Crime or Villainy, which he so vehe­mently [Page 209] exclaims against: At what Time, or on what Subject it first began to exist: And what has a few Months afterwards become of it, when every Dis­position and Thought of all the Actors is totally alter'd or annihilated. No satisfactory Answer can be given to any of these Questions, upon the abstract Hypothesis of Morals; and we must at last acknow­ledge, that the Crime or Immorality is no particular Fact or Relation, which can be the Object of the Understanding: But arises altogether from the Sen­timent of Disapprobation, which, by the Structure of human Nature, we unavoidably feel on the Ap­prehension of Barbarity or Treachery.

IV. INANIMATE Objects may bear to each other all the same Relations, which we observe in moral Agents; tho' the former can never be the Object of Love or Hatred, nor are consequently susceptible of Merit or Iniquity. A young Tree, that over-tops or destroys its Parent, from whose Seed it sprung, stands in all the same Relations with Nero, when he murder'd Agrippina; and if Morality consisted in any abstract Relations, would, no doubt, be equally criminal.

V. IT appears evident, that the ultimate Ends of human Actions can never, in any Case, be accounted for by Reason, but recommend themselves entirely to [Page 210] the Sentiments and Affections of Mankind, without any Dependance on the intellectual Faculties. Ask a Man, why he uses Exercise; he will answer, because he desires to keep his Health. If you then enquire, why he desires Health, he will readily reply, because Sickness is painful. If you push your Enquiries farther, and desire a Reason, why he hates Pain, 'tis impossible he can ever give any. This is an ultimate End, and is never refer'd to any other Object.

PERHAPS, to your second Question, why he desires Health, he may also reply, that 'tis requisite for the Exercise of his Calling. If you ask, why he is anxious on that head, he will answer, because he desires to get Money. If you demand, Why? It is the Instrument of Pleasure, says he. And beyond this, 'tis an Ab­surdity to ask for a Reason. 'Tis impossible there can be a Progress in infinitum; and that one Thing can always be the Reason, why another is desir'd. Something must be desirable on its own Account, and because of its immediate Accord or Agreement with human Sentiment and Affection.

NOW as Virtue is an End, and is desirable on its own Account, without Fee or Reward, merely for the immediate Satisfaction it conveys; 'tis requisite there should be some Sentiment, which it touches; some internal Taste or Feeling, or whatever you [Page 211] please to call it, which distinguishes moral Good and Evil, and which embraces the one and rejects the other.

THUS the distinct Boundaries and Offices of Reason and Taste are easily ascertain'd. The former conveys the Knowledge of Truth and Falshood: The latter gives the Sentiment of Beauty and Deformity, Vice and Virtue. The one discovers Objects, as they really stand in Nature, without Addition or Diminution: The other has a productive Faculty, and guilding or staining all natural Objects with the Colours, borrow'd from internal Sentiment, raises in a Manner, a new Creation. Reason, being cool and disengag'd, is no Motive to Action, and directs only the Impulse, receiv'd from Appetite or Inclina­tion, by showing us the Means of obtaining Happi­ness or avoiding Misery: Taste, as it gives Pleasure or Pain, and thereby constitutes Happiness or Misery, becomes a Motive to Action, and is the first Spring or Impulse to Desire and Volition. From Circum­stances and Relations, known or suppos'd, the for­mer leads us to the Discovery of the conceal'd and unknown: After all Circumstances and Relations are laid before us, the latter makes us feel from the Whole a new Sentiment of Blame or Approbation. The Standard of the one, being founded on the Na­ture of Things, is eternal and inflexible, even by [Page 212] the Will of the Supreme Being: The Standard of the other, arising from the internal Frame and Constitu­tion of Animals, is ultimately deriv'd from that Su­preme Will, who bestow'd on each being its peculiar Nature, and arrang'd the several Classes and Orders of Existence.

Some farther Considerations with regard to JUSTICE.

THE Intention of this Appendix is to give some more particular Explication of the Ori­gin and Nature of Justice, and mark some Diffe­rences betwixt it and the other Virtues.

THE social Virtues of Humanity and Benevolence exert their Influence immediately, by a direct Ten­dency or Instinct, which keeps chiefly in View the simple Object, that moves the Affections, and com­prehends not any Scheme or System, nor the Conse­quences resulting from the Concurrence, Imitation, or Example of others. A Parent flies to the Relief of his Child; transported by that natural Sympathy, which actuates him, and which affords no Leisure to reflect on the Sentiments or Conduct of the rest of Mankind in like Circumstances. A generous [Page 214] Man embraces cheerfully an Opportunity of serving his Friend; because he then feels himself under the Dominion of the beneficent Affections, nor is he concern'd whether any other Person in the Universe was ever before actuated by such noble Motives, or will ever afterwards prove their Influence. In all these Cases, the social Passions have in View a single individual Object, and pursue alone the Safety or Happiness of the Person, lov'd and esteem'd. With this, they are satisfy'd: In this, they acquiesce. And as the Good resulting from their benign Influ­ence, is in itself compleat and entire, it also excites the moral Sentiment of Approbation, without any Reflection on farther Consequences, or more enlarg'd Views of the Concurrence or Imitation of the other Members of Society. On the contrary, were the generous Friend or disinterested Patriot to stand alone in the Practice of Beneficence; this would rather in­hance his Value in our Eyes, and join the Praise of Rarity and Novelty to his other more exalted Merits.

THE Case is not the same with the social Virtues of Justice and Fidelity. They are highly useful, or indeed absolutely necessary to the Well-being of Mankind: But the Benefit, resulting from them, is not the Consequence of every individual single Act; but arises from the whole Scheme or System, con­cur'd [Page 215] in by the whole, or the greatest Part of the So­ciety. General Peace and Order is the Attendant of Justice or a general Abstinence from the Posses­sions of others: But a particular Regard to the par­ticular Right of one individual Citizen may fre­quently, consider'd in itself, be attended with per­nicious Consequences. The Result of the several Acts is here often directly opposite to that of the whole System of Actions; and the former may be extremely hurtful, while the latter is, to the highest Degree, advantageous. Riches, inherited from a Parent, are, in a bad Man's Hand, the Instruments of Mischief. The Right of Succession may, in one Instance, be hurtful. Its Benefit arises only from the Observance of the general Rule; and 'tis suf­ficient, if Compensation be thereby made for all the Ills and Inconveniencies, which flow from particular Characters and Situations.

CYRUS, young and unexperienc'd, consider'd only the individual Case before him, and reflected on its limited Fitness and Convenience, when he assign'd the long Coat to the tall Boy, and the short Coat to the other of smaller Size. His Governor instructed him better; while he pointed out more enlarg'd Views and Consequences, and inform'd his Pupil of the general, inflexible Rules, requisite to support general Peace and Order in Society.

[Page 216] THE Happiness and Prosperity of Mankind, arising from the social Virtue of Benevolence and its Subdivisions, may be compar'd to a Wall, built by many Hands; which still rises by each Stone, that is heap'd upon it, and receives proportional Encrease to the Diligence and Care of each Workman. The same Happiness, rais'd by the social Virtue of Justice and its Subdivisions, may be compar'd to the build­ing of a Vault, where each individual Stone would, of itself, fall to the Ground; nor does the whole Fabric support itself, but by the mutual Assistance and Combination of its correspondent Parts.

ALL the Laws of Nature, which regulate Pro­perty, as well as all civil Laws, are general, and regard alone some essential Circumstances of the Case, without taking into Consideration the Cha­racters, Situations and Connexions of the Persons concern'd, or any particular Consequences, that may result from the Determination of these Laws, in every particular Case, that offers. They deprive, without Scruple, a beneficent Man of all his Posses­sions, if acquir'd by Mistake, without a good Title; in order to bestow them on a selfish Miser, who has already heap'd up immense Stores of superfluous Riches Public Utility requires, that Property should be regulated by general inflexible Rules; and tho' [Page 217] such Rules are adopted as best serve the same End of public Utility, 'tis impossible for them to prevent all particular Hardships, or make beneficial Conse­quences result from every individual Case. 'Tis sufficient, if the whole Plan or Scheme be necessary to the Support of civil Society, and if the Ballance of Good, in the main, does thereby preponderate much above that of Evil. Even the general Laws of the Universe, tho' plann'd by infinite Wisdom, cannot exclude all Evil or Inconvenience, in every particular Operation.

IT has been asserted by some, that all Justice arises from HUMAN CONVENTIONS, and pro­ceeds from the voluntary Choice, Consent, or Com­bination of Mankind. If by Convention be here meant a Promise (which is the most usual Sense of the Word) nothing can be more absurd, than this Position. The Observance of Promises is itself one of the most considerable Parts of Justice; and we are not surely bound to keep our Word, because we have given our Word to keep it. But if by Con­vention be meant a Sense of common Interest; which Sense each Man feels in his own Breast, which he observes in his Fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general Plan or System of Actions, that tend to public Utility; it must be own'd, that, in this Sense, Justice arises [Page 218] from human Conventions. For if it be allow'd (what is, indeed, evident) that the particular Con­sequences of a particular Act of Justice may be hurtful to the Public as well as to Individuals; it follows, that every Man, in embracing that Virtue, must have an Eye to the whole Plan or System, and must expect the Concurrence of his Fellows in the same Conduct and Behaviour. Were all his Views to terminate in the particular Consequences of each particular Act of his own, his Benevolence and Hu­manity, as well as Self-love, might often prescribe to him Measures of Conduct very different from those, which are agreeable to the strict Rules of Right and Justice.

THUS two Men pull the Oars of a Boat, by com­mon Convention, for common Interest, without any Promise or Contract: Thus Gold and Silver are made the Measures of Exchange; thus Speech and Words and Language are fixt, by human Convention and Agreement. Whatever is advantageous to two or more Persons, if all perform their Part; but what loses all Advantage, if only one perform, can arise from no other Principle. There would otherwise be no Motive for any one of them to enter into that Scheme of Conduct*.

[Page 219] THE Word, natural, is commonly taken in so many Senses, and is of such loose Signification, that it seems to little Purpose to dispute, whether Justice be natural or not. If Self-love, if Benevolence be natural to Man; if Reason and Forethought be also natural; then may the same Epithet be apply'd to Justice, Order, Fidelity, Property, Society. Men's Inclination, their Necessities lead them to combine; their Understanding and Experience tell them, that this Combination is impossible, where each governs himself by no Rule, and pays no Regard to the Possessions of others: And from these Passions and Reflections conjoin'd, as soon as we observe [Page 220] like Passions and Reflections in others, the Sentiment of Justice, thro' all Ages, has infallibly and certainly had place, to some Degree or other, in every Indi­vidual of human Species. In so sagacious an Ani­mal, what necessarily arises from the Exertion of his intellectual Faculties, may justly be esteem'd na­tural*.

AMONGST all civiliz'd Nations, it has been the constant Endeavour to remove every Thing arbitrary and partial from the Decision of Property, and to fix the Sentence of Judges by such general Views and Considerations, as may be equal to every Member of the Society. For besides, that nothing could be more dangerous than to accustom the Bench, even in the smallest Instance, to regard pri­vate Friendship or Enmity; 'tis certain, that Men, [Page 221] where they imagine, that there was no other Reason for the Preference of their Adversary but personal Favour, are apt to entertain the strongest Jealousy and Ill-will against the Magistrates and Judges. When natural Reason, therefore, points out no fixt View of public Utility, by which a Controversy of Property can be decided, positive Laws are often fram'd to supply its Place, and direct the Procedure of all Courts of Judicature. Where these too fail, as often happens, Precedents are call'd for; and a former Decision, tho' given itself without any suffici­ent Reason, justly becomes a sufficient Reason for a new Decision. If direct Laws and Precedents be wanting, imperfect and indirect ones are brought in Aid; and the controverted Case is rang'd under them, by analogical Reasonings, and Comparisons, and Similitudes, and Correspondencies, that are often more fanciful than real. In general, it may safely be asserted, that Jurisprudence is, in this respect, different from all the Sciences; and in many of its nicer Questions, there cannot properly be said to be Truth or Falshood on either Side. If one Pleader brings the Case under any former Law or Precedent, by a refin'd Analogy or Comparison; the opposite Pleader is not at a Loss to find an opposite Analogy or Comparison: And the Preference given by the Judge is often founded more on Taste and Imagination. [Page 222] than on any solid Argument. Public Utility is the general View of all Courts of Judicature; and this Utility too requires a stable Rule in all Controversies: But where several Rules, nearly equal and indif­ferent, present themselves, 'tis a very slight Turn of Thought, which fixes the Decision in favour of either Party.


MY Friend, Palamedes, who is as great a Ram­bler in his Principles as in his Person, and who has run over, by Study and Travel, almost every Region of the intellectual and material World, surpriz'd me lately with an Account of a Nation, with whom, he told me, he had pass'd a considerable Part of his Life, and whom he found, in the main, an extreme civiliz'd, intelligent People.

THERE is a State, say'd he, in the World, call'd Fourli, no matter for its Longitude or Latitude, whose Ways of thinking in many Things, particu­larly in Morals, are diametrically opposite to ours. When I came amongst them, I found I must submit to double Pains; first to learn the Meaning of the Terms in their Language, and then to know the Im­port of those Terms, and the Praise or Blame at­tach'd to them. After a Word had been explain'd to me, and the Character, which it exprest, had [Page 224] been describ'd, I concluded, that such an Epithet must necessarily be the greatest Reproach in the World; and was extremely surpriz'd to find one, in a public Company, apply it to a Person, with whom he liv'd in the strictest Intimacy and Friendship. You fancy, said I, one Day, to an Acquaintance, that Changuis is your mortal Enemy: I love to ex­tinguish Quarrels; and I must, therefore, tell you, that Heard him talk of you in the most advantageous Manner. But to my great Astonishment, when I repeated Changuis's Words, tho' I had both remember'd and un­derstood them perfectly, I found, that they were taken for the most mortal Affront, and that I had very innocently render'd the Breach betwixt these Persons altogether irreparable.

As it was my Fortune to come amongst this People on a very advantageous Footing, I was immediately introduc'd to the best Company; and being desir'd to live with Alcheic, I readily accepted his Invitation, as I found him universally esteem'd for his personal Merit; and indeed regarded by every one in Fourli, as a perfect Character.

ONE Evening he invited me, as an Amusement, to bear him Company in a Serenade, which he in­tended to give Gulki, with whom, he told me, he was extremely enamour'd; and I foon found his [Page 225] Taste was not singular: For we met many of his Rivals, who had come on the same Errand. I very naturally concluded, that this Flame of his must be one of the finest Women in Town; and I already felt a secret Inclination to see her, and be acquainted with her. But as the Moon began to rise, I was much surpriz'd to find, that we were in the Midst of the University, where Gulki study'd: And I was somewhat asham'd for having attended my Friend, on such an Errand.

I WAS told afterwards, that Alcheic's Choice of Gulki was very much approv'd of by all the good Company in Town; and that 'twas expected, while he gratify'd his own Passion, he would perform to that young Man the same good Office, which he had himself ow'd to Elcouf. It seems Alcheic had been very handsome in his Youth, and been courted by many Lovers; but had bestow'd his Favours chiefly on the sage Elcouf; to whom he was suppos'd to owe, in a great Measure, the astonishing Progress he had made in Philosophy and Virtue.

IT gave me some Surprize, that Alcheic's Wife (who by-the-bye happen'd also to be his Sister) was no way scandaliz'd at this Species of Infidelity.

[Page 226] MUCH about the same Time I discover'd (for it was not attempted to be kept a Secret from me or any Body) that Alcheic was a Murderer and a Parri­cide, and had put to Death an innocent Person, the most nearly connected with him, and whom he was oblig'd to protect and defend by all the Ties of Na­ture and Humanity. When I ask'd, with all the Caution and Deference imaginable, what was his Motive for this Action; he reply'd coolly, that he was not then so much at his Ease as he is at present, and that he had acted, in that Particular, by the Ad­vice of all his Friends.

HAVING heard Alcheic's Virtue so extremely cele­brated, I pretended to join in the general Voice of Acclamation, and only ask'd, by way of Curiosity, as a Stranger, which of all his noble Actions was most highly applauded; and I soon found, that all Sentiments were united in giving the Preference to the Assassination of Usbek. This Usbek had been to the last Moment Alcheic's intimate Friend, had lay'd many high Obligations upon him, had even sav'd his Life on a certain Occasion, and had, by his Will, which was found after the Murder, made him his Heir to a considerable Part of his Fortune. Alcheic, it seems, conspir'd with about twenty or thirty more, most of them also Usbek's Friends; and falling all [Page 227] together on that unhappy Man, when he was not aware, they had tore him with a hundred Wounds; and given him that Reward for all his past Favours and Obligations. Usbek, said the general Voice of the People, had many great and good Qualities: His very Vices were shining, magnificent, and ge­nerous: But this Action of Alcheic sets him far above Usbek in the Eyes of all Judges of Merit; and is one of the noblest, that ever perhaps the Sun shone upon.

ANOTHER Part of Alcheic's Conduct, which I also found highly applauded, was his Behaviour towards Calish, with whom he was join'd in a Project or Undertaking of some Importance. Calish, being a passionate Man, gave Alcheic, one Day, a sound Drubbing; which he took very patiently, waited the Return of Calish's good Humour, kept still a fair Correspondence with him; and by that Means brought the Affair, in which they were join'd, to a happy Issue, and gain'd himself immortal Honour by his remarkable Temper and Moderation.

I HAVE lately receiv'd a Letter from a Correspon­dent in Fourli, by which I learn, that since my De­parture, Alcheic, falling into a bad State of Health, has fairly hang'd himself; and has dy'd universally regreted and applauded by every one in that Country. So virtuous and noble a Life, says each Fourlian, [Page 228] could not be better crown'd than by so noble an End; and he has prov'd by this, as well as by all his other Actions, what was his constant Principle during his Life, and what he boasted of near his last Moments, that a wise Man is scarce inferior to the great God, Vitzli. This is the Name of the Supreme Deity amongst the Fourlians.

THE Notions of this People, continu'd Palamedes, are as extraordinary with regard to Good-manners and Sociableness, as with regard to Morals. My Friend Alcheic form'd once a Party for my Entertain­ment, compos'd of all the prime Wits and Philoso­phers of Fourli; and each of us brought his Mess along with him to the Place, where we assembled. I observ'd one of them to be worse provided than the rest, and offer'd him a Share of mine, which hap­pen'd to be a roasted Pullet: And I could not but remark, that he, and all the rest of the Company star'd at my Simplicity. I was told, that Alcheic had once so much Interest with his Club as to prevail with them to eat in common, and that he had made use of an Artifice to that Purpose. He persuaded those, whom he observ'd to be worst provided, to offer their Mess to the Company; after which, the others, who had brought more delicate Fare, were asham'd not to make the same Offer. This is regarded as so extraordinary a Event, that it has since, as I [Page 229] learn, been recorded in the History of Alcheic's Life, compos'd by one of the greatest Geniuses of Fourli.

PRAY, says I, Palamedes, when you was at Fourli, did you also learn the Art of turning your Friends into Ridicule, by telling them strange Stories, and then laughing at them, if they believ'd you. I assure you, reply'd he, that had I been dispos'd to learn such a Lesson, there was no Place in the World more proper. My Friend, so often mention'd, did no­thing, from Morning to Night, but sneer, and banter, and railly; and you could scarce ever distin­guish, whether he was in Jest or Earnest; But you think, then, that my Story is improbable; and that I have us'd, or rather abus'd the Privilege of a Traveller. To be sure, says I, you was but in Jest. Such barbarous and savage Manners are not only in­compatible with a civiliz'd, intelligent People, such as you said these were; but are scarce compatible with human Nature. They exceed all we ever read of, amongst the Mingrelians and Topinamboues.

HAVE a care, cry'd he, have a care! You are not aware you are speaking Blasphemy, and are abusing your Favourites, the Greeks, especially the Athenians, whom I have couch'd all along, under these bizarre Names I employ'd. If you consider aright, there is not one Stroke of the foregoing [Page 230] Character, which might not be fo [...]nd in the Man of highest Merit at Athens, without diminishing, in the least, from the Brightness of his Character. The Greek Love, their Marriages*, and the exposing of their Children cannot but strike you immediately. The Death of Usbek is an exact Counter-part to that of Caesar.

ALL to a Trifle, say'd I, interrupting him; you did not mention, that Usbek was an Usurper.

I DID not, reply'd he; lest you should discover the Parallel I aim'd at. But even adding this Circum­stance, we should make no Scruple, according to our Sentiments of Morals, to denomitate Brutus, and Cassius, ungrateful Traitors and Assassins: Tho' you know, that they are, perhaps, the highest Characters of all Antiquity; and the Athenians erected Statues to them; which they plac'd near those of Harmodius and Aristogiton, their own Deliverers. And if you think this Circumstance, you mention, so material to absolve these Patriots, I shall compensate it by another, not mention'd, which will equally aggra­vate their Crime. A few Days before the Execution [Page 231] of their fatal Purpose, they all swore Fealty to Caesar; and protesting to hold his Person ever sacred, they touch'd the Altar with those Hands, which they had already arm'd for his Destruction*.

I NEED not put you in mind of the famous and applauded Story of Themistocles, and of his Patience towards Eurybiades, the Spartan, his commanding Officer, who, heated by a Debate, lifted his Cane to him in a Council of War (the same Thing as if he had cudgel'd him) Strike! Cries the Athenian, Strike! but hear me.

YOU are too good a Scholar not to discover Socrates and his Athenian Club in my last Story; and you would certainly observe, that it is exactly copy'd from Xenophon, with a Variation only of the Names. And I think I have fairly made appear, that an Athenian Man of Merit might be such a one as with us would pass for Incestuous, a Parricide, an Assassin, an ungrateful, perjur'd Traitor, and something else too abominable to be nam'd; not to mention his Rusticity and Ill-manners. And having liv'd in this Manner, his Death may be entirely suitable: He [Page 232] may conclude the Scene by a desperate Act of Self-murder, and dye with the most absurd Blasphemies in his Mouth. And notwithstanding all this, he shall have Statues, if not Altars, erected to his Memory; Poems and Orations shall be compos'd in his Praise; great Sects shall be proud of calling themselves by his Name; and the most distant Poste­rity shall blindly continue their Admiration: Tho' were such a one to arise amongst themselves, they would justly regard him with Horror and Execra­tion.

I MIGHT have been aware, reply'd I, of your Artifice. You seem to take Pleasure in this Topic; and are indeed the only Man I ever knew, who was well acquainted with the Antients, and did not ex­tremely admire them. But instead of attacking their Philosophy, their Eloquence, or Poetry, the usual Subjects of Controversy betwixt us, you now seem to impeach their Morals, and accuse them of Igno­rance in a Science, which is the only one, in my Opinion, wherein they are not surpass'd by the Mo­derns. Geometry, Physics, Astronomy, Anatomy, Botany, Geography, Navigation; in these we justly claim the Superiority: But what have we to oppose to their Moralists? Your Representation of Things is fallacious. You have no Indulgence for the Man­ners and Customs of different Ages. Would you try [Page 233] a Greek or Roman by the Common-law of England? Hear him defend himself by his own Maxims; and then pronounce.

THERE are no Manners so innocent or reasonable, which may not be render'd odious or ridiculous, if measur'd by a Standard, unknown to the Persons; especially, if you employ a little Art or Eloquence, in aggravating some Circumstances, and extenuating others, as best serves the Purpose of your Discourse. All these Artifices may easily be retorted on you. Could I inform the Athenians, for Instance, there was a Nation, wherein Adultery, both active and passive, so to speak, was in the highest Vogue and Esteem: Wherein every Man of Education chose for his Mistress a marry'd Woman, the Wife, perhaps, of his Friend and Companion; and valu'd himself upon these infamous Conquests, as much as if he had been several Times a Conqueror in Boxing or Wrestling at the Olympic Games. Wherein every Man, also, took a Pride in his Tameness and Facility with re­gard to his own Wife, and was glad to make Friends or gain Interest by allowing her to prostitute her Charms; and even, without any such Motive, gave her full Liberty and Indulgence. I ask, what Sen­timents the Athenians would entertain of such a Peo­ple; they who never mention'd the Crime of Adul­tery but in Conjunction with Robbery and Poison­ing? [Page 234] Which would they admire most, the Villainy or the Meanness of such a Conduct?

SHOULD I add, that the same People were as proud of their Slavery and Dependance as the Athenians were of their Liberty; and tho' a Man among them were opprest, disgrac'd, impoverish'd, insulted, or imprison'd by the Tyrant, he would still regard it as the highest Merit to love, serve, and obey him; and even to die for his smallest Glory or Satisfaction: These noble Greeks would probably ask me, whether I spoke of a human Society, or of some inferior, servile Species.

'TWAS then I might inform my Athenian Audience, that these People, however, wanted not Spirit and Bravery. If a Man, says I, tho' their intimate Friend, should throw out, in a private Company, a Raillery against them, nearly approaching any of those, with which your Generals and Demagogues every Day regale each other, in the Face of the whole City, they never can forgive him; but in order to revenge themselves, they oblige him imme­diately to run them thro' the Body, or be himself murder'd. And if a Man, who is an absolute Stranger to them, should desire them, at the Peril of their own Life, to cut the Throat of their Bosom-companion▪ they immediately obey, and think them­selves [Page 235] highly oblig'd and honour'd by the Commission. These are their Maxims of Honour: This is their favourite Morality.

BUT tho' so ready to draw their Sword against their Friends and Countrymen; no Disgrace, no In­famy, no Pain, no Poverty will ever engage these People to turn the Point of it against their own Breast. A Man of Rank would row in the Gallies, would beg his Bread, would languish in Prison, would suffer any Tortures; and still preserve his wretched Life. Rather than escape his Enemies by a generous Contempt of Death, he would infamously receive the same Death from his Enemies, aggra­vated by their triumphant Insults, and by the most exquisite Sufferings.

'TIS very usual too, continu'd I, amongst this People to shut up several of their Children in a per­petual Prison (where every Art of plaguing, and tormenting them is carefully study'd and practis'd) in order, that another Child, whom they own to have no greater or rather less Merit than the rest, may enjoy their whole Fortune, and wallow in every Kind of Voluptuousness and Pleasure. Nothing so virtuous in their Opinion as this barbarous Partia­lity.

[Page 236] BUT what is more particular in this whimsical Nation, say I to the Athenians, is, that a Frolic of yours during the Saturnalia, *, when the Slaves are serv'd by their Masters, is seriously con­tinu'd by them thro' the whole Year, and thro' the whole Course of their Lives; and accompany'd too with some Circumstances, which still farther augment the Absurdity and Ridicule. Your Sport only elevates for a few Days those whom Fortune has thrown down, and whom she too, in Sport, may really ele­vate for ever above you: But this Nation gravely exalt those, whom Nature has subjected to them, and whose Inferiority and Infirmities are absolutely incurable. The Women, tho' without Virtue, are their Masters and Sovereigns: These they reverence, praise, and magnify: To these, they pay the highest Deference and Respect: And in all Places and at all Times, the Superiority of the Females is readily acknowledg'd and submitted to by every one, who has the least Pretensions to Education and Politeness. Scarce any Crime would be so universally detested as an Infraction of this Rule.

[Page 237] YOU need go no farther, reply'd Palamedes, I can easily conjecture the People you aim at. The Strokes, with which you have painted them, are pretty just; and yet you must acknowledge, that scarce any People are to be found, either in antient or modern Times, whose national Character is, upon the Whole, less liable to Exceptions. But I give you Thanks for helping me our with my Argument. I had no In­tention of exalting the Moderns at the Expence of the Antients. I only meant to represent the Uncer­tainty of all these Judgments concerning Characters; and to convince you, that Fashion, Vogue, Custom, and Law were the chief Foundation of all moral Determinations. The Athenians surely, were a civi­liz'd, intelligent People, if ever there was one; and yet their Man of Merit might, in this Age, be held in Horror and Execration. The French are also, without doubt, a very civiliz'd, intelligent People; and yet their Man of Merit might, with the Athenians, be an Object of the highest Contempt and Ridicule, and even Hatred. And what renders the Matter more extraordinary: These two national Characters are suppos'd to be the most similar of any in antient or modern Times; and while the English flatter themselves that they resemble the Romans, their Neighbours on the Continent draw the Parallel betwixt themselves and these polite Greeks. What [Page 238] wide Difference, therefore, in the Sentiments of Morals, must be found betwixt civiliz'd Nations and Barbarians, or betwixt Nations whose Characters have little in common? How shall we pretend to fix a Standard for Judgments of this Nature?

BY tracing Matters, reply'd I, a little higher, and examining the first Principles, which each Nation establishes, of Blame or Censure. The Rhine flows North, the Rhone South; yet both spring from the same Mountain, and are also actuated, in their op­posite Directions, by the same Principle of Gravity: The different Inclinations of the Ground, on which they run, cause all the Difference of their Courses.

IN how many Circumstances would an Athenian and French Man of Merit certainly concur? Good-sense, Knowledge, Wit, Eloquence, Humanity, Fidelity, Truth, Justice, Courage, Temperance, Constancy, Dignity of Mind. These you have all omitted; in order to insist only on the Points, in which they may, by Accident, differ. Very well: I am willing to comply with you; and shall endea­vour to account for these Differences from the most universal, establish'd Principles of Morals.

THE Greek Loves, I care not to examine more par­ticularly. I shall only observe, that, however blame­able, [Page 239] they arose from a very innocent Cause, the Frequency of the Gymnastic Exercises amongst that People; and were recommended, tho' absurdly, as the Source of Friendship, Sympathy, mutual Attach­ment, and Fidelity*; Qualities esteem'd in all Na­tions and all Ages.

THE Marriage of Half-brothers and Sisters seems no great Difficulty. Love betwixt the nearer Rela­tions is contrary to Reason and public Utility; but the precise Point, where we are to stop, can scarcely be determin'd by natural Reason; and is therefore a very proper Subject of municipal Law or Custom. If the Athenians went a little too far on the one Side, the Canon Law has surely push'd Matters a great way into the other Extremity.

HAD you ask'd a Parent at Athens, why he bereav'd his Child of that Life, which he had so lately given it. 'Tis because I love it, he would reply; and re­gard the Poverty it must inherit from me, as a greater Evil than a Death, which it is not capable of dread­ing, feeling, or resenting.

HOW is public Liberty, the most valuable of all Blessings, to be recover'd from the Hands of an [Page 240] Usurper or Tyrant, if his Power shields him from public Rebellion, and our Scruples from private Vengeance? That his Crime is capital by Law, you acknowledge: And must the highest Aggravation of his Crime, the putting himself above Law, form his full Security? You can reply nothing, but by show­ing the great Inconveniencies of Assassination; which, could any one have prov'd clearly to the Antients, he had reform'd their Sentiments in this Particular.

AGAIN, to cast your Eye on the Picture I have drawn of modern Manners; there is almost as great Difficulty, I acknowledge, to justify French as Greek Gallantry; except only, that the former is much more natural and agreeable than the latter. But our Neighbours, it seems, have resolv'd to sacrifice some of the domestic to the sociable Pleasures; and to prefer Ease, Freedom, and an open Commerce to a strict Fidelity and Constancy. These Ends are both good, and are somewhat difficult to reconcile; nor need we be surpriz'd, if the Customs of Nations en­cline too much, sometimes to the one Side, sometimes to the other.

THE most inviolable Attachment to the Laws of our Country is every-where acknowledg'd a capital Virtue; and where the People are not so happy, as [Page 241] to have any other Legislature but a single Person, the strictest Loyalty is, in that Case, the truest Pa­triotism.

NOTHING surely can be more absurd and barbarous than the Practice of Duelling; but those, who justify it, say, that it begets Civility and Good-man­ners. And a Duelist, you may observe, always values himself upon his Courage, his Sense of Ho­nour, his Fidelity and Friendship; Qualities, which are here indeed very oddly directed, but have been esteem'd universally, since the Foundation of the World.

HAVE the Gods forbid Self-murder? An Athe­nian allows, that it ought to be foreborn. Has the Deity permitted it? A Frenchman allows, that Death is preferable to Pain and Infamy.

YOU see then, continu'd I, that the Principles, upon which Men reason in Morals are always the same; tho' the Conclusions they draw are often very different. That they all reason aright with regard to this Subject, more than with regard to any other, it is not incumbent on any Moralist to show. 'Tis sufficient, that the original Principles of Censure or Blame are uniform, and that erroneus Conclusions can be corrected by sounder Reasonings and a larger [Page 242] Experience. As many Ages as have elaps'd since the Fall of Greece and Rome, and such Changes as have arriv'd in Religion, Language, Laws, and Customs; none of these Revolutions has ever pro­duc'd any considerable Innovation in the primary Sentiments of Morals, more than in those of external Beauty. Some minute Differences, perhaps, may be observ'd in both. Horace * celebrates a low Fore­head, and Anacreon join'd Eye-brows: But the Apollo and the Venus of Antiquity are still our Models for Male and Female Beauty; in like Manner as the Character of Scipio continues our Standard for the Glory of Heroes, and that of Cornelia for the Ho­nour of Matrons.

IT appears, that there never was any Quality, re­commended by any one, as a Virtue or moral Ex­cellence; but on account of its being useful, or agreeable, to a Man himself, or to others. For what other Reason can there ever be for Praise or Appro­bation? Or where would be the Sense of extolling good Character of Action, which, at the same Time, is allow'd to be good for nothing? All the Diffe­rences, therefore, in Morals may be reduc'd to this [Page 243] one general Foundation, and may be accounted for by the different Views, which People take of these Circumstances.

SOMETIMES Men differ in their Judgment about the Usefulness of any Habit or Action: Sometimes also the peculiar Circumstances of Things render one moral Quality more useful than others, and give it a peculiar Preference.

'TIS not surprising, that, during a Period of War and Disorder, the military Virtues should be more celebrated than the pacific, and attract more the Ad­miration and Attention of Mankind.‘"How usual is it,"’ says Tully *, ‘"to find Cimbrians, Celtibe­rians, and other Barbarians, who bear, with in­flexible Constancy, all the Fatigues and Dangers of the Field; but are immediately dispirited under the Suffrance and Hazard of a languishing Distemper: While, on the other hand▪ the Grecks patiently endure the slow Approaches of Death, when arm'd with Sickness and Disease; but ti­morously fly his Presence, when he attacks them violently with Swords and Falchions!"’ So oppo­site is even the same Virtue of Courage amongst warlike or peaceful Nations! And indeed, we may [Page 244] observe, that as the Difference betwixt War and Peace is the greatest, that arises among Nations and public Societies, it produces also the greatest Varia­tions in moral Sentiment, and diversifies the most our Idea of Virtue and personal Merit.

SOMETIMES too, Magnanimity, Greatness of Mind, Disdain of Slavery, inflexible Rigour and Integrity may suit better the Circumstances of one Age than those of another, and have a more kindly In­fluence, both on public Affairs, and on a Man's own Safety and Advancement. Our Idea of Merit, therefore, will also vary a little with these Variations; and Labeo, perhaps, be censur'd for the same Qua­lities, which procur'd Cato the highest Approbation.

A DEGREE of Luxury may be ruinous and perni­cious in a Native of Switzerland, which only fosters the Arts, and encourages Industry in a Frenchman or Englishman. We are not, therefore, to expect, either the same Sentiment, or the same Laws in Berne, that prevail in London or Paris.

DIFFERENT Customs have also some Influence, as well as different Utilities; and by giving an early Biass to the Mind, may produce a superior Propen­sity, either to the useful or the agreeable Qualities; to [Page 245] those, which regard Self, or those, which extend to Society. These four Sources of moral Sentiment still subsist; but particular Accidents may, at one Time, make one of them flow with greater Abun­dance than at another.

THE Customs of some Nations shut up the Women from all social Commerce: Those of others make them so essential a Part of Society and Conversation, that, except where Business is canvass'd, the Male-sex alone are suppos'd absolutely incapable of mutual Discourse and Entertainment. As this Difference is the most material, that can happen in private Life, it must also produce the greatest Variation in our moral Sentiments.

OF all Nations in the World, where Polygamy was not allow'd, the Greeks seem to have been the most reserv'd in their Commerce with the Fair-sex, and to have impos'd on them the strictest Laws of Modesty and Decency. We have a strong Instance of this in an Oration of Lysias *. A Widow injur'd, ruin'd, undone, calls a Meeting of a few of her nearest Friends and Relations; and tho' never before ac­custom'd, says the Orator, to speak in the Presence of Men, the Distress of her Circumstances constrain'd [Page 246] her to lay the Case before them. Her very Opening her Mouth in such Company requir'd, it seems, an Apology.

WHEN Demosthenes prosecuted his Tutors, to make them refund his Patrimony, it became necessary for him, in the Course of the Law suit, to prove that the Marriage of Aphobus's Sister with Oneter was en­tirely fraudulent, and that, notwithstanding her Sham-marriage, she had liv'd with her Brother at Athens for two Years last past, ever since her Divorce from her former Husband. And 'tis remarkable, that tho' these were People of the first Fortune and Distinction in the City, the Orator could prove this Fact no Way, but by calling for her female Slaves to be put to the Question, and by the Evidence of one Physician, who had seen her in her Brother's House during her Illness*. So reserv'd were Greek Manners.

WE may be certain, that an extreme Purity was the Consequence of this Reserve. Accordingly, we find, that, except the fabulous Stories of an Helen and a Clytemnestra, there scarce is an Instance of any Event in the Greek History, that proceeded from the Intrigues of Women. On the other hand, in modern [Page 247] Times, particularly in a neighbouring Nation, the Females enter into all Transactions and all Manage­ment of Church and State; and no Man can suc­ceed, who takes not care to obtain their good Graces. Harry the third, by incurring the Displeasure of the Fair, endanger'd his Crown, and lost his Life, as much as by his Indulgence to Heresy.

'TIS needless to dissemble: The Consequence of a very free Commerce betwixt the Sexes, and of their living much together, will often terminate in In­trigues and Gallantry. We must sacrifice somewhat of the useful, if we be very anxious to obtain all the agreeable Qualities; and cannot pretend to reach alike every Kind of Advantage. Instances of Licence, daily multiplying, will weaken the Scandal with the one Sex, and teach the other, by Degrees, to adopt the famous Maxim of la Fontaine, with regard to female Infidelity, that if one knows it, it is but a small Matter; if one knows it not, it is nothing *.

SOME People are inclin'd to think, that the best Way of adjusting all Differences, and of keeping the proper Medium betwixt the agreeable and useful Qualities of the Sex is to live with them after the [Page 248] Manner of the Romans and the English (for the Customs of these two Nations seem similar in this Respect*) that is, without Gallantry and without Jealousy. By a Parity of Reason, the Customs of the Spaniards and of the Italians of an Age ago (for the present are very different) must be the worst of any; because they favour both Gallantry and Jea­lousy.

NOR will these different Customs of Nations affect only the one Sex: The Idea of personal Merit in the Males must also be somewhat different, with re­gard, at least, to Conversation, Address, and Hu­mour. The one Nation, where the Men live much apart, will naturally more esteem Prudence; the other, Gaiety: With the one, Simplicity of Man­ners will be in the highest Respect; with the other, Politeness. The one will distinguish themselves by [Page 249] Good-sense and Judgment; the other, by Taste and Delicacy: The Eloquence of the former will shine most in the Senate; that of the other, on the The­atre.

THESE, I say, are the natural Effects of such Customs. For it must be confest, that Chance has a great Influence on national Manners; and many Events happen in Society, which are not to be accounted for by general Rules. Who could imagine, for Instance, that the Romans, who liv'd freely with their Women, should be very indifferent about Music, and esteem Dancing infamous: While the Greeks, who never almost saw a Woman but in their own Houses, were continually piping, singing, and danc­ing?

THE Differences of moral Sentiment, which na­turally arise from a republican or monarchical Go­vernment, are also very obvious; as well as those, which proceed from general Riches or Poverty, Union or Faction, Ignorance or Learning. I shall conclude this long Discourse with observing, that different Customs and Situations vary the original Ideas of Merit (however they may, some Conse­quences) in no very essential Point, and prevail chiefly with regard to young Men, who can aspire [Page 250] to the agreeable Qualities, and may attempt to please, The MANNER, the ORNAMENTS, the GRACES, that succeed in this Shape, are more arbitrary and casual: But the Merit of riper Years is almost every-where the same; and consists chiefly in Integrity, Humanity, Ability, Knowledge and the other more solid and useful Qualities of the human Mind.

WHAT you insist on, reply'd Palamedes, may have some Foundation, when you stick to the Maxims of common Life and ordinary Conduct. Experience and the Practice of the World readily correct any great Extravagance on either Side. But what say you to artificial Lives and Manners? How do you reconcile the Maxims, on which these are founded?

WHAT do you understand by artificial Lives and Manners, said I? I explain myself, reply'd he. You know, that Religion had, in antient Times' very little Influence on common Life, and that, after Men had perform'd their Duty in Sacrifices and Prayers at the Temple, they thought, that the Gods left the rest of their Conduct to themselves, and were little pleas'd, or offended with those Virtues and Vices, that only affected the Peace and Happiness of human Society. In those Ages, 'twas the Business of Philosophy alone to regulate Men's ordinary Be­haviour [Page 251] and Deportment; and accordingly, we may observe, that this being the sole Principle, by which a Man could elevate himself above his Fellows, it acquir'd a mighty Ascendant over many, and pro­duc'd great Singularities of Maxims and of Con­duct. At present, that Philosophy has lost the Al­lurement of Novelty, it has no such extensive Influ­ence; but seems to confine itself mostly to Specula­tions in the Closet; in the same Manner, as the an­tient Religion was limited to Sacrifices in the Tem­ple. Its Place is now supply'd by the modern Reli­gion, which inspects our whole Conduct, and pre­scribes an universal Rule to our Actions, to our Words, to our very Thoughts and Inclinations; a Rule so much the more austere, that it is guarded by infinite, tho' distant. Rewards and Punishments; and no Infraction of it can ever be conceal'd or dis­guis'd.

DIOGENES is the most celebrated Model of extravagant Philosophy. Let us seek a Parallel to him in modern Times. We shall not disgrace any philosophic Name by a Comparison with the Domi­nics or Loyolas, or any canoniz'd Monk or Friar. Let us compare him to Pascal, a Man of Parts and Genius as well as Diogenes himself; and perhaps too, [Page 252] a Man of Virtue, had he allow'd his virtuous Incli­nations to have exerted and display'd themselves.

THE Foundation of Diogenes's Conduct was to render himself an independent Being as much as possible, and to confine all his Wants and Desires and Pleasures within himself and his own Mind: The Aim of Pascal was to keep a perpetual Sense of his Dependance before his Eyes, and never to forget his numberless Wants and Necessities. The Antient supported himself by Magnanimity, Ostentation, Pride, and the Idea of his own Superiority above his Fellow-creatures. The Modern made constant Profession of Humility and Abasement, of the Con­tempt and Hatred of himself; and endeavour'd to attain these suppos'd Virtues, as far as they are at­tainable. The Austerities of the Greek were in order to inure himself to Hardships, and prevent his ever suffering: Those of the Frenchman were embrac'd merely for their own Sake, and in order to suffer as much as possible. The Philosopher indulg'd himself in the most beastly Pleasures, even in public: The Saint refus'd himself the most innocent, even in private: The former thought it his Duty to love his Friends, and to rail at them, and reprove them, and scold them: The latter endeavour'd to be absolutely in­different towards his nearest Relations, and to love and speak well of his Enemies. The great Object [Page 253] of Diogenes's Wit was every Kind of Superstition, that is, every Kind of Religion known in his Time. The Mortality of the Soul was his Standard Prin­ciple; and even his Sentiments of a Divine Provi­dence seem to have been very licentious. The most ridiculous Superstitions directed Pascal's Faith and Practice; and an extreme Contempt of this Life, in Comparison of the future, was the chief Foundation of his Conduct.

IN such a remarkable Contrast do these two Men stand: Yet both of them have met with universal Admiration in their different Ages, and have been propos'd as Models of Imitation. Where then is the universal Standard of Morals, which you talk of? And what Rule shall we establish for the many different, nay contrary Sentiments of Mankind?

AN Experiment, said I, that succeeds in the Air, will not always succeed in a Vacuum. When Men depart from the Maxims of common Reason, and affect these artificial Lives, as you call them, no-one can answer for what will please or displease them. They are in a different Element from the rest of Mankind; and the natural Principles of their Mind play not with the same Regularity, as if left to them­selves, free from the Illusions of religious Superstition or philosophical Enthusiasm.


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ESSAYS MORAL and POLITICAL. Containing, I. The Delicacy of Taste and Passion. II. Of the Liberty of the Press. III. Of Impudence and Modesty. IV. That Politics may be reduced to a Science. V. Of the first Principles of Government. VI. Of Love and Marriage. VII. Of the Sudy of History. VIII. Of the Independency of Parlia­ment. IX. Whether the British Government inclines more to absolute Monarchy, or to a Republic. X. Of Parties in general. XI. Of the Parties of Great Britain. XII. Of Superstition and Enthusiasm. XIII. Of Avarice. XIV. Of the Dignity of hu­man Nature. XV. Of Liberty and Despotism. XVI. Of Eloquence. XVII. Of the Rise and Progress of Arts and Sciences. XVIII. The Epicurean. XIX. The Stoic. XX. The Platonist. XXI. The Sceptic. XXII. Of Polygamy and Divorces. XXIII. Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing. XXIV. Of national Characters. XXV. Of original Contract. XXVI. Of Passive Obedience.

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9. All the Works of JOHN LOCKE, Esq With Alphabetical Tables. The Fifth Edition. In 3 vols.

10. The Works of Mr. THOMSON. In 3 vols. Octavo, with Cuts.

11. Ditto Four Volumes Twelves. To both which are added, Some POEMS never before printed.

12. His Scasons. In a Pocket Edition, and most of his Pieces separate.

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