Слике страница
PDF
ePub

LXXIV. Intimidation not Conviction. Whoever is not persuaded by reason, will not be convinced by authority.-Feyjoo.

[ocr errors]

Modern Legislators.-Ancient lawgivers studied the nature of man, and formed his mind to virtue and glory; but the founders of modern republics think mind altoge. ther unworthy of their attention; they take no measures to prevent the existence of vice, but suppose they have fulfilled their duty when they inflict punishment on the virtuous.

What wouldst thou think of a physician to whom some prince had committed the care of the health of his subjects, who, instead of recommending temperance and ex. ercise, and using every means in his power to prevent the existence of disease, instead of watching the approaches of distemper, and administering, in good time, the necessary remedy, should encourage the objects of his care in every species of excess, and pay no attention whatever to the cause or progress of indisposition, but when the pa. tient should become absolutely incurable, would order his head to be taken off by an attendant? Such is the con. duct of modern legislators : they never attempt to form the mind to implant the seeds of honour, patriotism, friendship, heroism to awaken in the breast a love of glory, and stir up the sparks of noble ambition. No: they permit every species of vice to flourish until it has taken such deep root in society, that it cannot be extir. pated. What then? The sapient legislators assemble, and make a law against this productive vice; and in obedience to this law, the sword of justice is sent forth to destroy

those members of the community who are most deeply infected with the prevailing distemper--a distemper which, if the government had done its duty, would never have existed. Another vice becomes universal, and ano. ther law is made against the vicious. Crimes are multi. plied, and laws are multiplied also, until men lose the idea of right and wrong in that of lawful and unlawful; and, however base, perfidious, and unjust their conduct may be, they account themselves “good men and true," if they do not incur the penalty of the law.

It is amusing to hear those, who thrive by the vices and follies of others, and fatten on the corruption of so. ciety, boast of their civilization, and adduce the multiplicity of their laws as a proof of their refinement; whereas, in truth, the multiplicity of their laws proves nothing but the multiplicity of their crimes.- The Savageby Pio. mingo.

LXXVI. Belief.-It has been said, that a right faith is the con. sequence of being well and properly disposed. It is very true, that a man may dispose himself, i. e. he may warp and bias his mind so as to make any doctrine or principle suit it: but all kinds of predisposition and pre-arrange. ment are injuries to the judgment; and it would be as difficult for the mind to determine fairly on a fact or the truth of a principle, when it was so predisposed, as it would be for a judge to determine fairly in a càuse, on one side of which he was bribed. Our faith is meritorious only as it is a proof that we use our intellectual fa. culties in the pursuit of truth, just as seeing is a proof that we use our eyes, or hearing, that we use our ears. And the common insolence, rage, and cruelty of zealots on

account of faith, is owing to their extreme ignorance or extreme wickedness; for they, in fact, must have the least real faith of all mankind. They have taken every thing for granted, without examination or judgment, and have consequently nothing which they truly believe. David Williams.

. : LXXVII. Strife.-The Hottentots, even, run to the suppression of strife when it has invaded a family, the same as we do to extinguish a fire; and allow themselves no repose till every matter in dispute is adjusted.-Mador.

LXXVIII. . The People the source of Power.-All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people. Power in the people is like light in the sun-native, original, inherent, and unlimited by any thing human. In governors, it may be compared to the reflected light of the moon; for it is only borrowed, delegated, and limited by the intention of the people, whose it is and to whom governors are to consider themselves as responsible, while the people are answerable only to God; themselves being the losers, if they pursue a false scheme of politics. As the people are the fountain of power, so are they the object of government, in such manner, that where the people are safe, the ends of government are answered, and where the people are sufferers, by their governors, those governors have failed in the main design of their institution, and it is of no importance what other ends they may have answered. As the people are the fountain of power, and the object of government, so are they the last resource when governors betray their trust; and happy is that

people, who originally have so principled their constitution, that they themselves can, without violence to it, lay hold of its power, wield it as they please, and turn it (when necessary) against those to whom it was intrusted, and who have exerted it to the prejudice of the original proprietors.-James Burgh's Political Disquisitions. 1774.

S . LXXIX. * Children not Born Wicked.-Bring together all the children of the universe, you will see nothing in them but innocence, -gentleness, and fear: were they born wicked, spiteful, and cruel, some signs of it would come from them; as little snakes strive to bite, and little tigers to tear. But nature having been as sparing of offensive weapons to man as to pigeons and rabbits, it cannot have given them an instinct to mischief and destruction. Voltaire.

Lxxx. Acquaintance with Human Nature.--He who has ac. quired a competent knowledge of the views that occupy the generality of men, who has studied a great variety of characters, and attentively observed the force and violenco of human passions, together with the infirmities and contradiction they produce in the conduct of life, will find in this knowledge, a key to the secret reasons and motives which gave rise to many of the most important events of ancient times, -Mosheim,

LXXXI. Effects of Civilization.-Shall your cooks and your waiters, your carters and your ditchers, be accounted equally civilized with yourselves? Shall they who watch

the look, and tremble at the frowns of a superior, be allowed to possess delicacy of sentiment and dignity of character? No; they are deprived of all personal con. sequence in society. Their own interest is annihilated. They are merely a necessary part of the luxurious esta. blishment of their principal.

We passed by the residence of Polydore. We saw his gorgeous palace and widely extended fields. We examined his gardens, his park, his orchards; and were struck with astonishment at the splendour of his establishment. And is this all, we inquired, designed for the accommodation of one man? Can one creature, not six feet high, occupy all these splendid apartments? Behold the flocks, and herds, and fields of corn! Can all these be necessary for the sustenance of one? But if all this be the product of his own labour, he has full liberty to enjoy it. Poly. dore must be a giant. Did he pile up these massy stones, and erect these ponderous buildings? Did he subdue the lordly forest, and cover the fields with waving grain ? No: Polydore has done nothing. He owes all this to the labour of others. But how then, we inquired, with amazement, did Polydore gain this ascendency over others? How did he compel his fellows to cultivate his fields, or labour in his ditches? Polydore did not compel them, they were compelled by their necessities. A for. tunate concurrence of circumstances, and the laws of the country, have made Polydore rich; but these men are poor. A small portion of the product of their labour goes to the support of themselves and their families ; but the far greater part is applied to the aggrandizement of Polydore's establishment. And as this aggrandizement in. creases, in like manner increases his aseendency over others.

« ПретходнаНастави »