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AGAIN : Is not power of every degree as much contested for as wealth? - Are not magistracies, honours, principalities and empire, the subjects of strife and everlasting contention I replied; they were. And why, said he, this? To obtain what end? Is it not to help us, like wealth, to the posseffion of what we defire ? Is it not farther to ascertain, to fecure our enjoyments; that when others would deprive us, we may be strong enough to refift them? I replied, it was.
Or, to invert the whole : Why are there, who seek recesses the most distant and retired; flee courts and power, and sub. mit to parfimony and obscurity? Why all this, but from the fame intention? From an opinion that small possessions, used moderately, are permanent: That larger poffeffions raise envy, and are more frequently invaded : That the safety of power and dignity is more precarious than that of retreat; and that therefore they have chosen, what is most eligible upon the whole? It is not, said I, improbable, that they act by some fuch motive.
Do you not fee then continued he, two or three more prea conceptions of the Sovereign Good, which are fought for by all, as essential to constitute it? And what, said I, are these? That it should not be transient, nor derived from the will of others, nor in their power to take away; but be durable, selfderived, and (if I may use the expreflion) indeprivable. I confess, said I, it appears fo. But we have already found it to be considered, as something agreeable to our nature; conducive not to mere being, but to well-being; and what we aim to have accommodated to all places and times. We have. THERE
e may be other characteristics, said he, but these f think sufficient. See then its idea; behold it, as collected from the original, natural and universal pre-conceptions of all mankind. The Sovereign Good, they have taught us, ought
to be fomething agreeable to our nature; conducive to well-being; accommodated to all places and times; durable, self-deserved, and indeprivable. Your account, faid I, appears just.
CHA P. II.
THE SAME SUBJECT. BRUTUS perished untimely, and Cæsar did no more.These words I was repeating the next day to myself, when my friend appeared, and cheerfully bade me good-morrow. I could not return his compliment with an equal gaiety, being intent, somewhat more than usual, on what had passed the day before. Seeing this, he proposed a walk into the fields. The face of Nature, said he, will perhaps dispel these glooms. No aslistance on my part, shall be wanting, you may be assured. I accepted his proposal; the walk began; and our former conversation insensibly renewed.
BRUTUS, said he, perished untimely, and Cæfar did no more.--It was thus, as I remember, nar long since you were exprefling yourself. And yet fuppose their fortunes to have been exactly paralldi-Which would you have preferred Would
have been Cæfar or Brutus ? Brutus, replied I, beyond ali controversy. He asked me, Why? Where was the difference, when their fortunes, as we now supposed them, were considered as the fame? There seems, faid I, abstract from their fortunes, famething, I know not what, intrin. fically preferable in the life and character of Brutus. If
that, said he, be true, then must we derive it, not from the fuccess of his endeavours, but from their truth and rectitude. He had the comfort to be conscious, that his cause was a just one. It was impossible the other should have
such feeling. I believe, said I, you have explained it.
SUPPOSE then, continued he, (it is but merely an hypothesis) suppose, I say, we were to place the Sovereign Good in such a rectitude of conduct, in the conduct merely, and not in the event. Suppose we were to fix our happiness, not in the actual attainment of that health, that perfection of a social state, that fortunate concurrence of externals, which is congruous to our nature, and which all have a right to pursue ; but folely fix it in the mere doing whatever is correspondent to fuch an.end, even though we never attain, or are near attaining it. In few words; What if we make our natural state the standard only to determine our conduct and place our happiness in the rectitude of this conduct alone? On such an hypothefis (and we consider it as nothing farther) we should not want a good, perhaps, to correspond to our pre-conceptions; for this, it is evident, would be correspondent to them all. Your do&rine, replied I, is so new and ftrange, that though you have been copious in explaining, I can hardly yet comprehend you.
Ir amounts all, said he, but to this: Place your happiness where your praise is. I asked, Where he supposed that? Not, replied he, in the pleasures which you feel, more than your disgrace lies in the pain; not in the casual prosperity of fortune, more than your disgrace in the calual adversity; but in just complete action throughout every part of life, whatever be the face of things, whether favourable or the contrary.
But why then, said I, such accuracy about externals? So much pains to be informed, what are pursuable, what avoidable? It behoves the pilot, replied he, to know the feas and the winds; the nature of tempests, calms, and tides. They are the subjects, about which his art is conversant, Withcut a just experience of them, he can never prove himself an artist. Yet we look not for his reputation either in fair gales, or in adverse ; but in the skilfulness of his : conduct, be thefe events as they happen. In like manner fares it with the moral artist. He, for a subject, has the whole of human life: health and fickness; pleasure and pain; with every other possible incident, which can befal him during his existence. If his knowledge of all these be accurate and exact, fo too muft his conduct, in which we place his happiness. But if his knowledge be defectives must not his conduct be defective alfo? I replied, so it fhould feem. And if his conduct, then his happiness ? It is true.
You see then, continued he, even though externals were as nothing; though it was true, in their own nature, they. were neither good nor evil ; -yet-an accurate knowledge of them is, from our hypothesis, absolutely necessary. Indeed, said I, you have proved it.
He continued-Inferior artists may be at a stand, because they want materials. From their stubbornness and intractability, they may often be disappointed. But as long as life is passing, and nature continues to operate, the moral artist of life has at all times all he defires. He can never want a subject fit: to exercise him in his proper calling; and that with this happy motive to the constancy of his endeavours, that the crosser, the harsher, the more untoward the events, the greater his praise, the more illustrious his reputation.
All this, said I, is true, and cannot be denied. But one circumstance there
fimile seems to fail. The praise indeed of the pilot we allow to be in his conduct ; but it is in the success of that conduct, where we look for his happiness. If a storm arise, and the ship be loft, we call him not happy, how well soever he may have conducted it. It is then only we congratulate him, when he has reached the desired haven. Your distinction, said he, is just. And it is here lies the noble prerogative of moral artists, above all others. But yet I know not how to explain myself, I fear my doctrine will appear so strange. You may proceed, said I safely, since you advance it but as an hypothesis.
Thus then, continued he-the end in other arts is ever distant and removed. It consists not in the mere conduct, much less in a single energy; but it is the just result of many energies, each of which are essential to it. Hence, by obstacles unavoidable, it may often be retarded: nay more, may be so embarrassed, as never possibly to be attained. But in the moral art of life, the very conduct is the End; the very conduct, I say, itself, throaghout every its minutest energy; because each of these, however minute, partake as truly of rectitude, as the largest combinations of them, when considered colle&tively. Hence, of all arts this is the only one perpetually complete in every inftant, because it needs not, like other arts, time to arrive at that perfection, at which in every inftant it is arrived already. Hence, by duration, it is not rendered either more or less perfect; completion, like truth, admitting of no degrees, and being in no sense capable of either intention or remission. . And hence too by necessary connection (which is a greater paradox than all) even that Happiness or Sovereign Good, the end of this