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Mankind in any other Light, is, to degrade them even below the Beasts. What a despicable Opinion must that Man entertain of the Order of Beings, to which he belongs, what Regard for Virtue !— ',
Pardon me, good Phllochs, if I cannot forbear interrupting you. Men of an elevated Spirit are constantly exalting their Species to the Skies, and branding all those, who talk more temperately on the Subject, as Enemies to Virtue. But you greatly mistake me, if you imagine I have taken this Side of the Question with any Intention to weaken the Cause of Morality. It is your Way to paint Mankind, as your generous Warmth inclines you to wish they had been formed; whilst Men of cooler Temper are cement to view Things as they really are, rather than as a fafse, though pleasing Light may represent them. They find nothing to support those high Notions you entertain of the intrinsic Dignity of the Species,— no Principles in Mankind, which lead directly and necessarily to combining Fellowships. Man, fay theyi was created frail and weak, subject to Wants, which in a single Capacity he could not supply, and obnoxious to Dangers, against which his 'own unassisted Arm was not a sufficient Defence. An Union of the Many was therefore formed., as a Remedy for the Imbecillity of separate Individuals. Hence Justice arose; and the Rule of Right was ascertained and enforced, as a necessary Means to maintain the Plan of social Order. You assert, that the Law of Equity is an original implanted Principle in the human
Breast. Breast. But if I were inclined to dispute this Point with youi I might ask, what Occasion would there have been for such a Law, if Man had been framed with so ardent an Affection towards his Species, as you contend for? Where Love reigns in full Power, Property cannot be a Subject of Contention. So"far is she from doing Violence and Wrong, that she is ever tender of the Welfare and Interest of the Object beloveds and even lavish in her Munificence.
I do not contend, said Pbilocles, that the social iiiid kind Affections are so strong as to subdue all the rest; but only that there are such Passions in Mankind* in Conjunction with others. The Love of our Species cannot therefore be faid to "supersede the Love of Equity; On the contrary, they arc entirely compatible with each other. Nor does it seem in the least to follow, that, if the Cafe be as I have stated it, univerfal Peace and Justice must for ever prevail. For Man being liable to great Errors, not only from the Mis-rule of his Passions, but the Imperfection of his Reason, many Occasions of moral Evil must necessarily arise, notwithstanding the social Affections are allowed to exist in all the Strength, which I contend for. .
But had mutual Affection, returned Sopbronhis, been only a leading Passion in us; or had it been equally ballanced with Self-regard, all legal Restraints had been entirely unnecessary.. Man would have been in no Danger from the secret Attempts of Fraud, or the bold Attacks of barcN 4 faced faced Oppression: His whole Life would have been one continued Scene of Security and Happiness. But the Legislators found his real State to be quite another Thing. If they did perceive that Nature had clearly dictated the Law of Equity; yet Experience taught them, " That the Admi"nistration of that Law was so incompetently "and irregularly executed, as to inflame rather "than heal.the Evils of-the undisciplined State,
whilst there was no common Arbiter to adjust "and enforce its Operations
These are the Reasons, which induce me to. believe, that Dangers and Necessities gave Birth to the Plan of Government. And when Society was established upon a.proper Basis, and equitable Laws had given Security to Mankind, the Community-had full Experience of its happy Effects. But as Particulars still felt many Wants, for which the public Combinations afforded no Relies'; it was natural for them to look out for a Supply to this Deficiency. The most obvious seems to be private Fellowships; which by . an Union of Hearts, and amicable Intercourses, might procure Enjoyments, which do not result from genera! Associations.
This I take to be the true Source of Friendihip: Nor does it appear to me any Derogation to the Loveliness of the Affection. For, what but the Imbecillity of our Frame gives Rife to that Passion, which is looked upon as the most amiable belonging to our Nature? Had the Firm
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ness of our Minds been greater, our Compassion' had certainly been less. For it is ever found, that as the softest Metals are most easily dissolved; so the tenderest Minds soonest melt into Pity. This, perhaps, is the Reason, why that Sex, whose Characteristic is, by no means, Strength, are most liable to the Impressions ot this afflicting Passion.
Pity, returned Philocles,an hardly be faid to flow from Weakness in the fame Sense that you suppose social AffectioiMo do: In the latter,Weaknessis the Attribute of that Subject, from whence the Affection is supposed to proceed; Men united, because they found themselves too weak to subsist. in a separate State :—But m the former, Weakness can only be the Attribute of that Subject, on which the Passion is supposed to operate. It is not the Weakness of the distressed Object, but ot him who beholds it, which produces the sympathizing Sorrow. Imbecillity therefore cannot give Rise to social Inclinations, in the fame Way you imagine it does to Compassion. The only Inference, that can fairly be drawn from your Argument, seems to be, that the Tenderness osSenfations, or Weakness (if you will call it so) is the Means whereby the Passion operates upon any Subject: But it does not therefore follow, that it is the Fountain of the Passion; or that it is grounded on no other Principle in Nature- For why should Sopbronius ascribe this Susceptibility of Compassion, to a Weakness of Mind? Is it not
far more reasonable to derive it from the quick Feeling ©f the Sentiments of Humanity, and the sudden Exertion of generous Sympathy? Examine the Condition of your own Breast under a lively Sense of Pity; and tell me whether you do not always find, that it gives you an exalted Idea of the Generosity ofyour Temper, when it is touched in this kind and benevolent Way? And though it may, perhaps, draw Tears from your Eyes; yet they are the Tears of manly Affection, and not the Meltings of weak Effeminacy. For surely, Sopbronius, there can be no Weakness in Compassion, purely and abstractedly considered ; since the noblest Souls are open to the strongest Impressions of this Kind. Homer, who had a complete Insight into Human Nature, and so well understood what it was that gave the finishing Excellence to a Character, represents the Hero of his Poem, the great Achilles. himself, melting into Pity at the Miseries of a venerable aged Monarch, on his Knees begging him to restore the Body of his- Son Heflor. Nay, he not only makes him relent, but even endeavour to assuage the Sorrows of the unhappy Prince, with the most tender, as well as rational, Consolations [y]. Pity then; in the Estimation of this judicious JPoet, who was always
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"From the high Throne divine Achilles rose: