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rendered him lefs ferviceable in Bufinefs, than others of inferior Abilities without the fame Refinement of 'Temper. He is arrived to that Period of Life, when the Powers of the Mind are in their trueft Vigour: And having converfed at large long enough to give him a thorough Knowledge of Mankind, he has narrowed his Friendfhips, as well as Acquaintance} defiring but few of either.
The Spot he has chofen for his Retirement is within a convenient Diftance of the Town, yet not fo near as to want any Advantages of the Country. He is a profefled Admirer of what he calls Refined Simplicity, and difcovers that Chaftity of Tafte, not only in his Judgment of the fine Arts, but in his Houfe," his Furniture, his Equipage; and in fhort, throughout the whole Conduit and CEconomy of his Life.
At a fmall Diftanee from his Houfe ftands a Wood j which has fo many natural Beauties attending it, that with a very inconfiderable Expence, and by judicioufly humouring the Genius of the Place, he has made it one of the moft delightful Scenes imaginable* In the Center he has erected a little Temple, the Materials of which are cheap and common; yet they are chofen with fuch Judgment, and thrown together with fuch Art, that perhaps the moft coftly Ornaments could not have produced any thing more pleafing to a juft Eye. It is covered with Thatch, and paved with Pebbles; and the Pillars are nothing more than the Trunks of fome old Oaks, which grew upon
the the Spot. But the Plan is fo happily (Jefigned, and fo neatly executed; and the feveral Parts are fo harmonioufly proportioned to each other, as well as to the whole, that it forms one of the moft.agreeable Structures I ever beheld.
To this favourite Scene Philocles retires, whenever he would enjoy himfetf or his Friend without Interruption. And here it was that Sophronius found him in his Evening Meditations, having been informed at his Houfe, that he was taking a Walk in the Wood.
Sopbronius and Philocles have long lived together in the ftridteft Intimacy, and moft unreferved Communication of dentiments. Sopbronius has a juft, rather than a lively Imagination. His Senfe is ftrong, but improved more by the Force of his own Reflexions, than by Books; for he has thought much more than he has read. Not that he is unacquainted with the capital Authors, both Ancient and Modern; but it is his Maxim, that "Books have made more "Fools than ever Nature defigned." Truth is the fingle Aim of his Enquiries; and to ftrew her Paths with Flowers, is, he thinks, to retard rather than to forward the Progrefs towards her. The Mind is amufing herfelf with little artificial Beauties in the Way, whilft foe fhould be pufhing forward to the End of her Journey. In fhorr, as he is naturally of a phlegmatic Conftitution, he declares againft Enthufiafm of every Sort, efteeming her as the worft Enemy that Truth has to fear. He frequently rallies Pbiltchs upon this Article; whom he thinks, upon 4 many many Occafions, efpecially where the fine Arts are concerned, A downright Vifiohary.
After the general Compliments had pafled between thefe two Friends— How, faid Sophronius (miling, fhall I anfwer it to the Dryad of thefe Groves, for thus breaking in upon the Contemplations of her Votary; when, perhaps, fhe is even now expe&ing you under fome venerable Oak, or favourite Elm?
However romantic you may affect to think me in my Amours, replied Philocles, you do not, in good Earneft, I hope, believe me fo ill a Judge of real Happinefs, as to imagine me capable of thinking I could exchange the Pleafures of Friendfhip for any more valuable Enjoyment. No, Sophronius! as great an Admirer as I am of thefe Beauties of Nature, Ihe is no where fo charming to me, as in her moral Operations, and that Harmony fhe produces from focial Concord.
Were I to have traced the Genealogy of Friendfhip, returned Sopbronius, I fhould hardly have expected to find Nature her Parent. It feems to me much more reafonable to fuppofe this Union derived from Neceffity and Convenience, or fome other Principle arifing from our Wants and Imperfe&ions, than any implanted Biafs in our Frame, previous to thofe uneafy Feelings. The State of Nature could not have admitted of this refined Commerce; fince every Individual, at that Period, muft have had a feparate and oppofite Intereft.
It is for that Reafon, among others, anfwered Pbilocles, why I think it improbable, that fuch a State fhould ever have exifted. There is in our Frame fo ftrong a Biafs, fuch an irreftftible Tendency to unite in the focial Circle, that we muft either fuppofe Mankind formed originally with Affe&ions very different from what appear in them at prefent, or give up the Notion of this barbarous State, as an abfurd and groundlefs Suppofition.
It is not to be wondered, faid Sophrtnius, that the firft View of this rude State fhould ftartle a Mind* which has been accuftomed to a regular Community, and has formed its Ideas of Truth from familiar Appearances of improved Nature. But it is very eafy to miftake Habits for Affections, and afcribe to the direct Impulfe of Nature, what is, in reality, owing to the Maturity of Time, and the Difcipline of many Generations. Societies have been long eftablifhed: Ufe has taught us the Advantages, that are derived from them; and therefore we fancy that Men fall naturally and unavoidably into Aflbciations; when the Truth is, they are only inclined to be fociable from Practice, rather than from any immediate Incitement of Nature, or the Love of their Species. Look back upon the Accounts which Poets, Philofophers, and Hiiiorians give of Mankind in the Infancy of the World; and you will have a View very inconfiftent with a Principle of friendly Union and focial Coalition. They defcribe them noi only without Arts and Sciences, but without Habitations,
Vol. I.. X Laws, Laws, or even Language itfelf, and feeding upon the raw Herbage, like their fellow Brutes, the Tenants of the fame Shade and Pafture. I remember a Paflage in Cicero, where he fpeaks to this Purpofe of the firft Race of Mortals [«]. And Horace [i], as well as Lucretius [c], you know, talk of them exactly in the fame Manner.
In fhort, all the Records of Antiquity affirm, that in the firft Ages, the Conceptions of Mankind, their Manners and Difpofitions were rude, barbarous, and brutal; that their Attainments went no higher than fatisfying, at any rate, the coarfe Demands of their unreftrained Appetites: And thus being under no Controul in the Gratification of their felfifh Paffions, they ran into the moft violent Excefles, and were perpetually invading and feizing each other's Property. This is the defpicable Figure Mankind make in the feveral ancient Pictures of their original State.
I acknowledge, faid Philocles, that this was the Doctrine of the Epicureans; but the Principles of a particular Sect cannot be looked upon as the Standard
[«] Nam fuit quoddam tempus, cum in agris homines, beftiarum more vagabantur: nee quidquam ratione animi, fed pleraque viribuj corporis adminiftrabant. Non jus aequabile, quicquid utilitatis haberet acceperat, Sec. Cicero de Invent, lib. i.
££] Cum prorepferunt primis animalia terris,
Mutum & turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
f/3 r— Nemora atque cavas monies fylvafque colebant,
Et frutices inter condtb.mt tquallida membra. Lucret.