« PreviousContinue »
Characters, you were. insensibly led into an Argument, which demonstrates Benevolence to be the original Growth of Man's Heart, and what must consequently have drawn him into Society. Pity, you have allowed, is a natural Passion. And what is Pity, but Love softened by a Degree of Sorrow, the Meltings of a benevolent Heart? This then was the generous Sympathy, which knit Mankind together, and blended them in one common Interest. From hence then it appears, that, if Nature did not directly dictate Associations to the human Kind, she yet gave them such preparative Faculties, as drew them, by Degrees, into national Brotherhoods. In this View, "she seems to have treated us as a Painter does "his Disciples, to whom he commits some rude '* Sketches and Out-lines ; which they them"selves are to color and complete [z]."
The Passion of Pity is then a full Proof, that Men have naturally a Love for their Species, however it may be checked or stifled by some Counter-inclination; which, it cannot be denied, is too often the Cafe. Sensible of this Truth, the Legislators took infinite Pains, and called forth all their Skill, to rouze the dormant Passion. This seems to be the concealed Meaning of what the Poets tell us concerning Orpbeut and. his Lyre.
[z] Ut Phidias potest a prfino instituere signum, idqueperficere j potest ab alio inchoatum accipere & abfolvere: Huic est fapientia snnilis. Non enim ipfa genuit hominem, sed accepit a natura inchoatum: hanc ergd intueiw, debet institutiun illud, quasi signum. absolvere.
Cicsko de Finibus,p. yg. Edit. Aid. Manuc.
Thus, in every View, it seems evident, that H was Asfection for the Species, which drew Men into Society; and that, without it, they never did, and never can subsist. For could Nature intend to preserve and propagate the Species, and not maintain Fellowship and mutual Asfection? Whence arises that strict Agreement between the Sexes, in the Care of their growing Offspring, but from Love? J*tnd can you stop here? How (as I remember Lord Shastesbury closely puts the Question) "How should Man "break off from this Society, if once begun? And "that it began thus, and grew into an Houshold, "is an incontestable Fact. And must not this "Houfhold have soon grown into a Tribe? that "Tribe into a Nation?"
Here Pbilocles paused—when, looking stedfastly on his Friend—O Sopbronius, faid he, is it possible you can, in good Earnest, contend against the Reality of the kind and generous Affections? Is it possible you cannot discover a moral Attraction in our Natures, which unites Mankind to each other, previous to all Considerations of Interest or Convenience?
But I have long suspected, that we are drawn into Opinions from our constitutional Propensities, as the Stream follows the several Declivities of the Ground, through which it flows. Something, perhaps, of this Kind may have given a Bias to my Friend's Sentiments, and turned them aside from that Scheme he is opposing. But I will not despair of reconciling you to more favourable Thoughts of the human Kind. No Method
seems seems mere probable to effect this, than a Contemplation of Nature in these her visible Operations. From her (it is confessed) the designing and imitative Arts derive all their Energy and Grace. And yet she herself, it seems, (helpless Parent !) is destitute of all those Charms and Delicacies, she confers on her acknowledged Offspring! But—
It is very possible, interrupted Sopbronius, that the Opinions of Mankind may be influenced by their Tempers. The Fruit, no Doubt, will partake of the Nature of the Soil. But Pbiloclet st»ouki remember, that the fame Observation wiil serve to explain the Rise of his Sentiments, iW less than mine. I am, however, very willing 'to confess, that I am always ashamed of being pleased, where I cannot assign the Cause; and. am extremely apt to suspect my Judgment concerning any Object, that moves my Passion. For" this Reason, I mould hardly send my Disciple to the School of Arts (for there, Pbilocles, you seemed to be pointing) for his Instruction in the Truth of severe Philosophy. A good Picture, a well-executed Statue, or a fine Style, give me (so far as I am able to discover clearly their respective Beauties) some Degree of Pleasure. But when the professed Admirers, the Connoisseurs in these several Arts, talk of their nameless Graces, their certain inexplicable Delicacies, and I know not what other fine Terms, of which they themselves do not pretend to explain the Meaning ; there, I
conseis, confess, I am left behind, 'and reserve my Rapture, till I receive my Conviction.
For tell me, Philocks, what is this Delicacy, either in the Arts or Conduct of Life, which you are constantly extolling in such high Strains, and with such an Air .of Earnestness, as if you were persuaded that there is something in it real and substantial?
Phihcles was going to reply; when a Servant informed them that tupper was upon the TableHowever, in their Way to the House, he took Occasion, from the beautiful Scenes they passedi to throw out some general Reflexions in Support of his favourite Doctrine : for he was determined to omit no Opportunity of drawing his Friend into the Love and Study of Refinement, the Disregard to which Accomplishment he looked upon as the chief Deficiency in the Character of Sopbronius.
AS Sopbronius is an early riser, he was amufing himself in the Library, before Pbilocles was yet stirring. But his Friend, perceiving it now Day, soon followed him thither, being unwilling to lose any Opportunity of enjoying a Converfation, in which he sound himself often instructed, and always entertained.
How happy (faid Pbilocles entering the Room) how happy would it be for the fashionable World, were they as well acquainted " with this sweet "Hour of Prime," as you, Sopbronius, are, who seldom suffer the Sun to rise upon you in Bed!
Rather, replied Sopbronius, how much happier would it be for the World in general, would certain active Spirits be persuaded to slumber Life away! since they wake but to pursue their Ambition, or vent their Impertinences, and rife only to embroil or miflead Mankind.
Undoubtedly, faid Pbilocles, if many of those, whose Actions fill our Histories, or whose Speculations swell our Libraries, had passed their whole Lives in profound Sleep; the World would have been obliged to them for their Repose, but can only now lament that they were ever awake.
I was reading the other Day (continued he) a Treatise upon Bees: The ingenious Author,